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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Nov 02 2011 12:06pm
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As has been announced, the entire Masques block is coming to mtgo in December of this year.  It is the only remaining post-Mirage block not already online — and given what was accomplished by Master's Edition, it's doubtful that Arabian Nights through Alliances will ever be released online in full.  (Doubtful, but still possible.  Given enough time, who knows what WotC will do?)

I've already written a Johnny's-eye guide of the first set in the Masques block, but what about the second and third?  Let's run through them both at once (at 143 cards each, they combine to have still fewer cards than Mercadian Masques' 350).  I'll only be commenting on cards that aren't already online (sorry, Death Pit Offering).  And, as said in the title, I'll be reviewing the Johnny cards only.  If you want to hear about Saproling Burst or Parallax Wave, try somewhere else.

Like last time, rares first!


Avatar of Will

Easy enough condition to satisfy!  I already have a Howltooth Hollow deck, and it sure wouldn't mind a two-mana Mahamoti Djinn.

One single Necrogen Mists will get the job done given a few turns.  It might be less versatile than a Liliana of the Veil, but it's also two-tenths of a percent as many tickets.

If you're emptying hands in a blue deck, you can also add Imaginary Pet and even Veiled Crocodile.  Don't get mad — I said in the article title this was intended for Johnnies.  Spikes, if you're still reading, the whole article is going to be like this.

In the world of vanguard, this is an obvious pair with the Grinning Demon avatar, and a less obvious pair with Mayael the Anima (which btw would help you stay afloat during an active Necrogen Mists.


Heightened Awareness

At first glance it seems like a more expensive Grafted Skullcap or Bottled Cloister, and therefore unworthy of our attention, but notice!  You only have to discard your hand once, not every turn.

Now of course this makes it less of a combo with Ensnaring Bridge, but markedy better with any instants (and blue has a few).

The immediate discard also pairs well... with... Veiled Crocodile!  Okay that's the last time I'll mention him, I promise.

But if you're looking for serious reasons to use this instead of Honden of Seeing Winds, (1) it's not legendary and (2) it uh... enables madness??


Psychic Theft

I have always been a huge fan of Grinning Totem, the first card since Word of Command to let you cast a card of your opponent's.  And although Psychic Theft can't use your opponent's lands the way Word of Command can, this doesn't let your opponent tap out in response to make the whole spell useless.

Of course you'll need to come up with the color requirements on your own, but that's easy enough.  Fellwar Stone and Exotic Orchard are two colorless solutions, and neither is useless during the rest of the game.  I've already got the 8x of them in my Praetor's Grasp / Ornate Kanzashi deck, and I've never had a problem.



The fact is, this guy is just plain better than he was 11 years ago.

There are currently 134 merfolk cards in print, and they're not all the 2-mana dorks they used to be.  There are a whopping 32 at four mana and up!  And thanks to Lorwyn, you can even get a (very helpful) Merfolk enchantment.

So whether you're cheating out a huge Wanderwine Prophets, setting up a wacky Rootwater Matriarch combo, or just getting out yet another Merrow Reejerey, this guy is a card advantage machine.


Rhystic Tutor

It could be useful in the right kind of a deck!  Winter Orb has been online for a while now, as have Mana Web, Tectonic Instability, War's Toll, and... a little-known card called Mistbind Clique.

There's also good ol' fashioned waiting-for-the-right-moment, no matter what your deck is.  Either way, this card is cheaper than Diabolic Tutor and (usually) easier to set up than Infernal Tutor.  (I assume if you're reading this article you don't own any Lion's Eye Diamonds.)


Flowstone Overseer

With enough red mana, this guy can take out your opponent's whole army.  And sneak in a few extra damage from your own!

The double-red cost means you can't play any Heartstone tricks.  But there's always old reliable Mana Flare.



Most of what I said for Seahunter above is true for this guy as well.

It used to be that the best trick you could pull was getting a Goblin Marshal.  Seriously, if you want to understand what high-end goblins used to look like, take a look at Goblin Wizard.  And keep in mind too that Goblin King himself didn't used to be a goblin!

Of course, nowadays, Goblin King is a goblin, and we have such worthy targets as Wort, the Raidmother, Warren Pilferers, Siege-Gang Commander, Outrage Shaman, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and... you know, just have a look for yourself.  A full 200 goblin cards have been printed since Moggcatcher came out.


Search for Survivors

It's cheaper than Zombify, it's red, and with the slightest bit of manipulation, it can get exactly what you want.

Did I mention it's red?  Red doesn't usually get to do this sort of thing!



Stronghold Gambit

Don't just cast it blindly.

But you know what?  If you're sure your opponent doesn't HAVE a creature card in their hand, this thing becomes incredibly one-sided if not downright broken.

Let's say you make your opponent empty their hand first, or let's say you can catch a glimpse of it with Gitaxian Probe and don't see any creatures.  In either case, there is nothing to stop you from dropping an Eldrazi for 2 mana.

I repeat:

"there is nothing to stop you from dropping an Eldrazi for 2 mana."

Did you ever think Show and Tell would seem inefficient?


Task Mage Assembly

In the old days, you could combine this with a Wall of Stone to (probably) prevent the sacrifice clause from ever triggering.

Now you can use any indestructible creature, any pro red creature, or (perhaps best of all) a Stuffy Doll.

You're then free to mow down your opponent's army with a precision that Pyrohemia could never replicate.  And unlike Pyrohemia, creatures of yours with shroud will be safe from the damage.



Veteran Brawlers

In a world without mana burn, you can at least guarantee these guys will always be able to block.

But you don't want a 4/4 defender.  You want a 4/4 attacker!  So combine this guy with any of those cards I rattled off during the Rhystic Tutor description and go to town.  You can even use Icy Manipulator and Erratic Portal to help keep the opposing lands tapped.


Dual Nature

Any deck with a lot of creatures can benefit from this.  But there are a few creatures in particular that get an extra boost...

  • Brothers Yamazaki.  Pow.
  • Creakwood Liege.  Two 4/4s, and a 5/5 token every turn!
  • Primalcrux.  Two 14/14s.  With trample.  (Don't forget to look at the two G's in Dual Nature's casting cost!)
  • S.N.O.T.  It's not online, of course, but the ramifications of duplicate tokens are astounding.  (8 squared is 64, by the way.)

Get some extra mileage out of the tokens this cards creates by combining it with Intangible Virtue or Parallel Lives.

Or go the opposite route and combine it with Leyline of Singularity to shut your opponent's creatures down entirely.


Mungha Wurm

Its drawback is definitely one we can sidestep.  And unlike most "big" creatures from old sets, this one's stats are still impressive enough today to be worth the hassle of its drawback.

So how do we subsist on one land a turn?  If you don't like Seedborn Muse, pile some Wild Growths or Overgrowths on the same land.  Or use artifact mana.  Or use creature mana!  This is green, after all.  If you go the enchantment route, also consider Yavimaya Enchantress (it curves nicely into this guy's 4cc).


Skyshroud Poacher

What a cool cycle of cards!

Okay, 256 cards to get with it this time, including, at high mana costs:

Wurmskin Forger, Tolsimir Wolfblood, Marhault Elsdragon, Elvish Aberration, Sages of the Anima, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Deranged Hermit, Ambush Commander, Wilt-Leaf Liege, and Oracle of Mul Daya!

Unlike goblins and merfolk, there are a LOT of elves costing four mana and up.  Skyshroud Poacher is probably the best tribal rebel of all.


Parallax Inhibitor

You might think that creatures with fading can't be interacted with the way creatures with vanishing can, since they don't use time counters.  Not true!

You may not be able to interact with them in as many ways, but with a single Parallax Inhibitor, you can sustain that Blastoderm indefinitely.

Or give a little extra fuel to your Ancient Hydra.


Predator Flagship

It seems a bit much at first, but consider:

  • At 5 to cost and 7 to kill any creature, it's cheaper than Altar of Shadows.
  • It can kill natively flying creatures for only 5, saving you even more mana!
  • It's more reliable than Crooked Scales.
  • Without killing anybody, it can give your own guys flying.  More than one a turn, if you want to.

Is it great, of course not.  But it's worth considering.

Now uncommons:


Sunken Field

There's not a ton to say about this, but I could easily see it messing up your opponent's math, in addition to really slowing them down.

There are of course now many ways to untap lands and reuse this more than once.

Also remember: it's cheaper than Disruptive Student, doesn't have summoning sickness, and is a lot less fragile!  (You know, that five star tournament bomb Disruptive Student.)


Flowstone Surge

It's no Honor of the Pure, I know it.  But:

For one thing, it doesn't restrict your deck to a single color.

For another, it's red!!!  Red does not usually get to do this.  The closest it comes is stuff like Raid Bombardment or (for 4 mana!) Orcish Oriflamme.  The rest is all tribal.

So the toughness subtraction hurts, but there are still some uses for it.  In an aggro red deck, a 3/1 is better than a 2/2, so this fits in well with Goblin Guide-sized dudes.  It's also great on any first strike creature with 2 or higher toughness.

If we drift really far into Johnny territory, it helps you kill your own Rukh Egg and Zuberas.  And you can use it to give a punch to your 0-power defenders!



I already love Fling.  So what if you could fling a creature at several targets at once?

Even without Mogg Fanatic tricks, this is still good for the same reasons that Fling and Earthquake are already good.  And it's very much at home in a Ball Lightning deck.


Scoria Cat

One of the many cards whose functionality changed after the removal of mana burn.

A 6/6 for 5 mana isn't great... but it's certainly above the curve.  I mean it doesn't have Orgg's drawback at least.

Neither does it have his trample, though....

(weighs hands)



I don't think there's any reason to use this instead of The Rack.

It could be good in addition to The Rack, though!

Side note, I'm not sure the artist understands how racks work.  They're supposed to pull you apart, the original card's flavor being that if you're small the pull hurts more.

Whatever the flavor, they're not supposed to give you a hug!!!



Yep yep, this guy too.  Redundancy can be a good thing in the right deck.

They got the flavor right this time, although I'm not sure why the vise is limited to just the dude's arms.


And the commons:


Seal of Cleansing


I have put Seal of Primordium in more decks than I can even count, and for white to finally have access to the fun feels fantastic.  Why did it take so long?  This is the original color of Disenchant, need I remind!

Cast it now, use it later.  Or now.  Or while triggering your enchantresses (which white has more of than ever).


Accumulated Knowledge

The first copy cycles, and the rest are above-the-curve advantage.

The second copy is half the cost of the instant-speed Inspiration.  The third saves you three mana from Jace's Ingenuity, and the fourth is four off from Opportunity.

If you've got some self-mill going, you're often able to get some copies of this in the graveyard before casting any.

In any deck though, I'd rather cast two of these than two Think Twices.


Rhystic Deluge

Is this a giant waste of time, or is it a rapid-fire machine gun Icy Manipulator?

I can imagine this hogging all your mana to accomplish next to nothing.  I can also imagine it tying up all of your opponent's creatures AND lands while they accomplish next to nothing.  It all depends on the game state.

At least it's common so experimenting with it will be low risk, money-wise.


Rhystic Study

It's already online as a promo, but it's also over $4.

I think being reprinted as a common will lower that a little, even if it's in a set that wasn't very popular for drafting.


Seal of Removal

For the same reasons as Seal of Cleansing, above.

Blue doesn't have as many "enchantments matter" cards as white, but it does have a lot more "empty hands matter" cards.  There's one in particular I promised I wouldn't be mentioning again, so instead I'll mention Idle Thoughts.


Parallax Dementia

It's not a good card!

Or is it?  (I'm a pretty skilled writer.)  Consider that if you cast Parallax Dementia on a creature with evasion, you'll deal 6 extra damage for a mere two mana.  It'll die after that, but by then it may have done its job.


Spiteful Bully

Now this is a Johnny card!  Even more so than Cinder Giant, since it NEEDS another card to be useful.

If you want to deal damage to your guys, it's potentially better than Cinder Giant since it's more damage and cheaper to cast.  So for a Stuffy Doll combo, this is your guy.

Wall of Essence only triggers on combat damage, so he won't work there.  And he's too much damage for Wall of Hope.  But any wall with 4 or more toughness will at least let this guy survive, and will still be damage free on the turn walls need to be.  You could also boost this guy's toughness, or cast a Light of Sanction.

If you're into vanguard, the Raksha avatar will make the bully big enough to survive himself, plus give him first strike to (mostly) negate the downside of the damage he wears.


Flame Rift

Burn mages who have been around for a while know about this card.  4 damage is the best deal a red mage can get for 2 mana to this day.  And if you're building your burn deck correctly, you won't care much about the 4 it deals to you.

But that's Spike talk, and this is a Johnny article, so instead of combining this with Lava Spike I'll say to combine it with the Stuffy Doll avatar.  Oooh, six damage for 2 mana!


Spur Grappler

I want to say that 4/2 for 3 is a better deal than 6/6 for 5. (See Scoria Cat, above.)

Here's what red usually gets for 3 mana, ok?


Skyshroud Cutter

Could have a home in your Kavu Predator decks?  Maybe?

Combo with Sulfuric Vortex??

Put it in a deck that tries to win with something other than life loss???

I'm grasping at straws, but he must have a home somewhere.

Two mediocre sets, but many fun singles!  I'm looking forward to next month.

Shrieking Mogg's absence from the above lists was not an oversight.


No pictures of the cards? Not by smack8001 at Wed, 11/02/2011 - 13:43
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No pictures of the cards? Not even the oracle text? That's lazy. You want each and every one of your readers to have to open a Gatherer window, type in the name, and load up the cards? That's offloading work on a lot of people rather than just doing a little bit yourself (hyperlinks ftw).

what are you talking about? i by seydaneen at Wed, 11/02/2011 - 14:26
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what are you talking about? i see the pictures and links

anyway veteran brawlers is one of my all time favorite cards, not ebcause of the strenght but because of he picture and flaovr text.other than that, i appreciate your effort to pormote these sets but sadly most of these cards are really bad

Yeah, what kind of browser by CottonRhetoric at Wed, 11/02/2011 - 15:55
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Yeah, what kind of browser are you using, smack8001? The images should all be there. Maybe you have blocked or something? (I had to link to an outside website since these cards aren't on mtgotraders yet.)

<3 the Poacher. I am guessing by Paul Leicht at Wed, 11/02/2011 - 18:06
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<3 the Poacher. I am guessing you left out Lin because she is the obviously hot babe but really Poacher is nuts too if you have cards like Deranged Hermit, or any of the multicolor Elf legends. Glad to see you still representing the Johnny mystique here. :) Keep it up.

Good List by Alternate at Wed, 11/02/2011 - 18:31
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But you missed a few great overlooked cards from that set.

Dominate (Uncommon) - 2U1X Instant Gain control of target creature with converted mana cost X or less.
Stronghold Biologist (Uncommon) - U2 1/1 U2 and tap Discard a creature, counter a creature
Excavation (Uncommon) - U1 Enchantment (1) Sac a land, Draw a card. Anyone can play this ability. (It turns every land into a cycling land)
Noxious Field (Uncommon) - 2B1 Enchant Land, Land gets "Tap, this land deals 1 damage to each creature and player". (It turns a land into a mini-Pestilence)
Stronghold Zeppelin (Uncommon) - 2B2 3/3 Flying Can only block creatures with flying. (It's a 3/3 flyer for 4. I'll take it in Limited a LOT)
Angelic Favor (Uncommon) - W3 Instant, if you control a plains, you can play it for tapping a creature. Put a 4/4 Serra Angel into play. Play only during combat.

- And thanks to the new rule I dont remember them getting rid of, there is no more mana burn, so you have:

Scoria Car - 2R3 3/3 If all lands are tapped, it gets +3/+3. (It's essentially a 5 mana 6/6 whenever you want)
(Where did mana burn go btw? Does anyone remember when they got rid of it?)

*Avatar of Might is more badass than Avatar of WIll, and you cannot forget Rhox. Rhox is badass, and Blastoderm is overrated. I remember drafting it and it was blocked for 3 turns and then died.

But really who cares. People will only play to open a foiled Rishidan Port and buy 4 Lilliana's, haha.

it was either m10 or m11 i by JXClaytor at Wed, 11/02/2011 - 23:14
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it was either m10 or m11 i think when they got rid of mana burn

See I quit playing during 7th by Alternate at Thu, 11/03/2011 - 15:58
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See I quit playing during 7th edition. I think the Planeswalker saga was the last I played before coming back to MTGO and played SOM, which was a crazy transition btw. Who's idiotic idea was it to make planeswalkers anyway?

Thanks for telling me the rule change. I liked mana burn, but I guess they had to "dumb down" the game a little bit to make it easier.

I just wish I was around for Unhinged because Unglued was one of the greatest sets of all time. I mean that chaos card where you would rip it up and throw it in the air destroying everything on the board was fun, and the 99/99 double card was cool, and they had the greatest tribe ever... CHICKENS!!!!

But how could you forget the best card in the set? An instant mind control. That card in limited and other formats might be a $4-5 uncommon.

That card, Chaos Confetti, by Paul Leicht at Thu, 11/03/2011 - 17:24
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That card, Chaos Confetti, was based on Chaos Orb which people used to rip up to get more advantage out of it until the DCI ruled that was illegal play.

I didn't actually play with Unhinged besides a little fun drafting stuff but it was pretty silly. Sure showed some creative ideas for design space.

I wish they would make a by Alternate at Thu, 11/03/2011 - 18:36
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I wish they would make a third set. But I know about the original cards, I have them. I have boxes of everything from Beta to Planeshift in a storage locker. When I was a kid my dad bought me like 3 packs a day because I thought the pictures were nice. You would be amazed at how much money people are offering me now for the stuff I have. The unopened packs alone someone offered me $300. (At NG you could have bought beta Duals for $32 a piece, now they are like thousands. I could buy a newer car just with my dual lands)

But how is everyone forgetting about the greatest thing ever legal in Magic?

I mean sure Fallen Empires had those badass Saprolings, but Masques is bringing back the scariest group of creatures ever in the game (granted it is only 1 card).. But seriously...


I don't know about you guys, but the moment that set comes out, forget Rishidan Ports, I'm making myself the greatest ever squirrel deck. It will be insane.

They need to bring back squirrels hardcore in a set coming to a store near you.

They are also bringing back Thwart which is the poor mans Force of Will, and will be used in every deck.

Lets think of prices for cards.... Hmm.
Rishidan Port - $50 foiled $80
Thwart - $10 Foiled $25
Squee Goblin Nabob (Which I think was a staple) - $10
Misdirection - 30ish
Unmask - $25 easily
Food Chain - $15
Nether Spirit.. Hmmm This card is better than Bloodghast... 10?

Legions is worthless and the best card is a blue common Accumulated Knowledge.

Foil - $10 (A card you can argue is better than force of will depending on the deck and format)

And the rest of the set is terrible. The Avatars will be fun for a limited, but it's not like the old days when Avatars were Type 2 staples.

This will be a nice set to make money on, especially with all the lands. Like Dust Bowl etc.. This will definitely be worth the price of admission if you get lucky.

M10 was the big change. by GainsBanding at Thu, 11/03/2011 - 02:05
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M10 was the big change. Change in the numbering pattern of core sets. Change in the way core sets were made. Change in how often they came out. Change in rules. Have we forgotten our history already?

Spiteful Bully by vaarsuvius at Thu, 11/03/2011 - 11:03
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..... or you just could play Wild Nacatl, that Wolf 3/3 or any other better card...

don;t get me wrong, I like being Johnny , but you can push it to far and leave Johnny territory crossing over into the realm of madness.

Orgg does not have a draw by Hag of Holding at Mon, 11/07/2011 - 08:54
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Orgg does not have a draw back as long as you clear path for him. Can you really blame him for not wanting to fight anything that might have a outside chance to win? Why should he when there are always tons of other gits to bully into such teamwork?