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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 22 2007 12:00am
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The Planar Chaos Buy Now List

 Pete Jahn

No, you can’t buy Planar Chaos cards online.  However, the spoilers are out, the prerelease is this weekend, and we can see where the set is going.  Some cards and decks are going to get a lot better.  Others are getting a lot worse.  Let’s look at some existing archetypes and new archetypes, and speculate on the existing cards that might get a lot better once the new set hits play.  Those are the cards to buy now, before the rest of the world catches on.

Remember Vesuva?  That card started out at something like $0.20, then the price shot up as people began finding more and more uses for it.   It’s not $0.20 anymore.  I’ll try to identify some of the other cards that might get significantly better in the near future, and some that will be dropping. 

I should also note that I am working with the MTGSalvation spoiler, as of Wednesday, Jan. 17th.  A spoiler is a compendium of all the official and unofficial information they could find about the set – and sometimes the spoilers get cards wrong. 

That said, let’s go through some of the current archetypes being played in online Standard.

Mono Green Aggro:

Mono green aggro has a bunch of little, generally evasive beaters, Blanchwood Armor and Moldervine Cloak, and Spectral Force as a finisher.   It is doing reasonably well right now. 

That may not continue.

Green gets practically nothing useful in Planar Chaos.  It does get two rare beaters with Haste.  Here’s the first, from an official preview article on StarCity.

pic=TimbermareI like this card – except for the fact that it does not have evasion or untargetablility.  It’s “tap all creatures” clause means that it will be hard to block (but not impossible:  Jade Statute and Flash Foliage are two methods that spring to mind.) (Not that anyone plays those cards.)   Timbermare would be so much better if  it was untargettable.

One reason for that is that blue, according to the spoilers, gets a one mana removal spell that can destroy this completely.  Again, this is unconfirmed, but blue is supposed to be getting this card:

Pongify - U  

Instant (U)

Destroy target creature. It can't be regenerated. Its controller puts a 3/3 green Ape creature token into play.

This made me literally gag.  For one blue mana, at instant speed, blue can destroy any targetable creature.  Sure, the controller gets a 3/3 monkey – big deal.  It’s a minor advantage – but the emphasis is on minor.   Heck, the blue mage can even target his own creature, in response to an opponent’s removal spell or to lethal damage – then the blue mage gets the 3/3 ape.  Worst case: you get the monkey, the blue mage Repeals that Ape for U draws a card.

My first thought when I saw this:  it’s a blue Swords to Plowshares.

Swords to Plowshares.  Best. Removal. Spell. Ever. Printed.

Ever. Ever. Ever.

I’ve been playing since Antiquities.  I’ve seen them all.

Swords is the best removal spell ever printed. 


Pongify isn 't Swords, but it is really, really close.

The second green hasty dude is a reprint of a classic red card, Ball Lightning.  Ball Lightning was a 6/1 creature with Haste, Trample and “sacrifice this at end of turn.”  The green version is identical, except for the color.  Here’s the original Ball Lightning:

<server isn't getting the image.  ball lightning.jpg>

In case that image doesn't work, it is a 6/1 with Trample and Haste for RRR which dies at end of turn.  The new version, Gourndbreaker, is identical except that it costs GGG.  Hey, look, it’s also targetable.  You may cast this, and if the blue  mage does not simply counter it, they will give you a non-hasty 3/3 Ape.  Or they could Twiddle it.  That used to be a tech answer to this card – just tap it.  Icy Manipulator basically killed Ball Lightning, back in the day.

Blue did not get Twiddle back.  In this set they got something even better:  Kismet.

Kismet: 2WW, Enchantment:  all lands, creatures and artifacts opponents control come into play tapped. 

But blue.

With Kismet, Ball Lightning comes into play tapped, so it cannot attack.  It still dies at end of turn.  

I hated playing against Kismet.

I really hated it.  The only worse deck to play against was Stasis.  Stasis was an enchantment that forced everyone to skip their untap step.  Stasis was blue.  Early in the game, you tried to force some damage through, but the Stasis player had counters.  Then, mid game, the Stasis player simply locked everything up and slowly – s l o w l y – found some way to kill you.  In many versions, it did that by decking you.

Kismet was a part of many Stasis builds.  And speaking of Stasis – it’s back:

Soggy Pickles:

Soggy Pickles is a truly annoying blue deck built around Vesuvan Shapeshifter and morph creatures.  Soggy Pickles (the name is from some bad, highly forgettable in-joke) uses Fathom Seer – and Vesuvan Shapeshifter copying it – to draw cards, then locks up the board by having the Shapeshifter start unmorphing to copy a Brine Elemental.  

Brine Elemental has an unmorph cost of lots.  Vesuvan Shapeshifter has an unmorph cost of 1U.  So, if you have a Vesuvan Shapeshifter in play (copying anything), and a Brine Elemental, at the beginning of your upkeep you can turn the Shapeshifter face down, then unmorph it for 1U, copy Brine Elemental and the Briney’s “no untap” clause triggers.  Your opponent will never get another untap.  Remember those annoying Kamigawa block decks that locked their opponents by recurring Yosei to deny untap steps?  It’s like that, but faster, cheaper and with counterspell backup.

And it’s getting better.

Blue gets a couple more unmorph-to-do-stuff guys.  For example (again, from the MTGSalvation spoiler, so this may be wrong.)

Shaper Parasite - 1UU

Creature - Illusion (C)    2/3

Morph {2}{U}.   When Shaper Parasite is turned face up, target creature gets +2/-2 or -2/+2 until end of turn.

It’s removal.  It kills Soltari Priest and Paladin en-Vec and Hypnotic Specter and Dark Confidant – the list is endless.

And that’s not all.  The other morphs are also great, and Vesuvan Shapeshifter copies them all.  Get four shapeshifters now.  Their price is only going up.

I think blue is going to be good.  More than that, I think blue is going to be insane. 

Traditionally, blue was supposed to be about countering cards and bouncing permanents.  It was supposed to have problems with permanents (except, of course, when it could just steal them, like with Confiscate.)  It was other colors that got to destroy things.  Originally, there was only one card that could destroy any permanent:  Desert Twister, a green sorcery that cost six mana.  Then there was a black & white sorcery that could destroy anything for 3 mana – and Vindicate was considered the best destroy permanent possible.

Now blue gets this:

Reality Acid - 2U

Enchantment - Aura (C):  Enchant permanent

Vanishing - 3   When Reality Acid leaves play, the controller of enchanted permanent sacrifices it.

Vanishing is similar to suspend, but your play the card, then remove a vanish counter every upkeep.  When you can’t, then the permanent is put into a graveyard.  So, you enchant something with this and, four turns later, it is gone.   Yes, you have to wait, but this is not destroy, like Vindicate, it requires the controller to sacrifice it.  That means this even gets rid of Stuffy Doll, and Darksteel Colossus:  no matter how indestructible something is, it still goes away when sacrificed.  

Blue is the nuts.

Stuffy Doll

Yes, Stuffy Doll.  Rumor has it that red will get a sorcery that does 13 (yes THIRTEEN!) damage to target creature.  That means that if you target Stuffy with it, your opponent takes 13 to the dome.  I don’t know that it is enough by itself, but I could see it being played in a UR control deck.  Stuffy Doll is good on its own against all non-evasive creatures, and control decks have done well with that sort of strange combo in the past.  A few Extended seasons ago, a UR deck which won by putting Draco on top of it’s library and casting Erratic Explosion did fairly well.  The secret was packing lots of control elements and card drawing into the deck, and treating the combo as gravy. That should still work.

pic=stuffy Doll 

Might be worth getting a playset of Stuffy Dolls, just in case. 

If nothing else, some more casual decks are already playing decks that revolve around Stuffy, Lightning Axe and Skred.  They are good, not great, but Planar Chaos might just push them over the edge.

If nothing else, Stuffy Doll might prove useful for block. At the moment, Green decks have absolutely no way of dealing with Stuffy, short of trampling over it.  It may be sideboard tech, at the very least.   

Mono-Black Rack

This deck was like Comet McNaught two weeks back:  unseen, then bright and impressive for a few days, then disappearing again.  MBR could beat up on some decks, but once other decks adjusted to it, it stopped winning.  For one thing, decks like mono-green aggro just ran it down.

Planar Chaos gave it a boost.  A huge boost.

A Wrath of God sized boost.

Wrath of God is being reprinted in Planar Chaos, but now it is black.  An actual Black Wrath; a 2BB Sorcery that destroys all creatures, and they can’t be regenerated. 

Black wrath.

Mono-black Rack decks got into problems when people dropped a couple creatures, then started beating.  Cruel Edict could only kill the worst one.  Killing the Birds of Paradise when the Silhana Ledgewalker is the one wearing the armor and cloak is no fun.

Wrath kills them all.   The Birds, the ledgewalker, the elf, the innocent bystander, the girl from Kansas and her little dog too. 

Wrath kills them all.

It needs testing, but mono-black with The Rack, Stupor and so forth may have just gotten a lot better.  It might be time to stock up on those cards.

Pic =The Rack   

The black Wrath is called Damnation, BTW.  If you see one, grab it.  It will be close to 20 TIX for a couple months at least.  You won’t see many, of course.  It is a first pick in any draft.

Dralnu de Louvre

This started life as the UB control deck that Guilliame Wafo-Tapa played at Worlds.  It has changed slightly, but it is still very good. 

It gets the black Wrath, too.

UB is almost certainly the deck to beat now.

Look at the decklist.  It runs playsets of Watery Graves and Deserts.  Got them?   How about Rune Snags and Mystical Teachings?  Got them too?  Good.  If you like to play the best deck in the format, it is going to be either an update of this one or Soggy Pickles, and you need those cards for either one.

Actually, Dralnu himself is no longer in the Dralnu deck.  Teferi, Mage of Zephyr is, though.  Times three.  (Ditto for Soggy Pickles – that deck runs three copies of Teferi as well.)    

Scryb & Force:

Scryb and Force is a UG aggro control deck which wins quickly with Spectral Force, which can be powered out as early as turn 3 with a combination of Birds of Paradise and Scryb Ranger.   It wins longer games with a mix of counters, including Mystic Snake. 


I don’t know, yet, whether the new blue cards make this better or worse.  Pongify is a two edged sword, here.  It kills Spectral Force, but it can also stop some of the opposing creatures that this deck might fear.  However, with the exception of Spectral Force, the 3/3 Ape token can at least trade with everything Scryb & Force usually beats down with. 

Testing will tell.  Offhand, I would look for deals on Mystic Snake right now – anything blue and useful, which the snake clearly is, should appreciate in value.


Planar Chaos is all about colors getting things from other colors.  Red, for instance, gets bounce, as in a red Man-o-War.  It also Giant Growth and Thirst.  Giant Growth may well help Boros power through blockers, but the deck should still be good in any case.  It does not lose any of it’s speed, even if the new set does not help it all that much. 

I want to see the actual cards before I make any real judgments.  Boros is all about speed, and I’m not sure whether the new cards are any faster than the current set.  Even without the new set, Boros certainly doesn’t get any slower.

UW Tron:

I don’t know that this deck gets much (beyond the insane blue cards), and it may slip.  UW Tron played white for Wrath of God.  Now, with Wrath also available in black, UB control may just be better. 

I wouldn’t get rid of my Wraths right now, but I don’t think this is the best time to buy them, either.  They may fall in price two months from now.  Or maybe not.   

RG Beats and Zoo

What I said about Boros goes double here.  Red gets some nice stuff, but I don’t know if it helps get these aggro decks past the great UB menace.  Once again, the fast beat decks are all about being faster than the opposition.  Right now, they are not, and the UB and UW decks are getting better.   It might be worth testing, but I’m not holding my breath.

On the other hand, there is a chance that RG land destruction might be playable.  Red gets one interesting card:

Detritivore - 2RR

Creature - Lhurgorf (R)

Detritivore's power and toughness are equal to the number of nonbasic land cards in your opponents' graveyards.

Suspend X -{X}{3}{R}. X Can't be 0.

Whenever a time counter is removed from Detritivore while it's removed from the game, destroy target nonbasic land.


The interesting part is that the suspend ability is quite hard to get around.  That means that, if you can get a couple mana sources in play early, you could conceivably suspend this on turn four with an X of three or so.  That means you could start destroying lands, pretty much uncounterably, starting the next turn.  The downside is that this card targets non-basics, and your non-basics if your opponent does not play any.  Soggy Pickles runs 15 basic Islands.   However, the ability is decent, and it could combine well with Avalanche Riders.  It might be time to pick those up, while they are still cheap.  Cryoclasms, too.


Planar Chaos also has a ton of big fat creatures, including a revision of the Invasion dragon legends.  They are all nice cards, but totally unplayable in constructed.  When blue can destroy them for U, counter them for 1UU, and black has a half dozen ways to kill them for 2BB or less, they won’t survive.  Trade them to casual players. 

For the same reason, this is probably a decent time to trade away some of your other expensive creatures, like Firemane Angel and Akroma.  I think their time has passed.



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by lubster (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 02/04/2007 - 12:38
lubster (Unregistered)'s picture

Pretty cool article, but didn't you forgot about psionic blast? I'm sure that price of blast in few next weaks will be sky rocket. Obv we will c. Grats.

Great As Always by Dreager_Ex at Fri, 01/26/2007 - 14:31
Dreager_Ex's picture

I see why Heath hired you man, awesome....

As for teh ball lightning pic you gotta upload it yourself I don't think Mithy has teh PLC cards linkable yet....

Great article! by Mitchy at Thu, 01/25/2007 - 14:13
Mitchy's picture

Awesome Pete, thanks for the tips!

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