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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
May 30 2007 6:21pm
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Future Sight Release Survival Guide
Pete Jahn
 
The Future is about to arrive. Probably.  Future Sight goes on sale in two days (as I write this), and the drafts, PEs and release leagues start later this week. Probably. Future Sight is supposed to be full of cards “pulled from future expansions.” That may be true – but it also means that the set is full of new mechanics. Those mechanics may or may not be coded correctly.
 
Future Sight has a ton of new mechanics – or old concepts done in new ways. For example, we now have an aura that enchants cards in graveyards, lands and enchantments with Morph, a creature that is also an enchantment, a land that is also a creature and on and on. 
 
All of these cards need special coding. Some of these probably require recoding of long time rules – for example, I’m sure the MODO code used say that only permanents could be enchanted by Auras. Now cards in the graveyard can be enchanted. 
 
Future Sight requires a lot of new code. A lot. This is also happening at the same time that the Wizards coders are working hard on MTGO III – and playtesters are split between these two projects.
 
In short, expect glitches. (Probably, although the official FAQ does not list any so far. If that is indeed the case, NICE JOB ELF & CREW! They must have had a long weekend.)
 
The code release last week, which incorporated some of the code needed for Future Sight, and other things, broke a lot of stuff. As of last night, Extended was still missing inaction from the PEs and eight-man constructed queues. That makes me suspect that a lot of new cards may be buggy in atypical. Don’t let that stop you from playing the new cards, but be careful about building decks that heavily rely on new mechanics until you try them out. (Not – this advice works a lot better in Leagues than Drafts, of course, but it will be worthwhile to check the Magic Online message boards for posts on known bugs.
 
Personally, I’ll be playing in a coupe release leagues, once they fire, but not until Sunday. That’s not because I don’t trust the code – it’s just that real life will almost certainly stop me from firing up MODO until then. I bought my first packs immediately, cracked a couple to check some basic things – like card frames, then had to get back to my other commitments. 
 
Life happens. I have reported at least one bug in each of the last couple releases. When I lost sanctioned matches, I have generally been compensated.
 
Anyway, I’ll be playing – and I’ll bust a few packs cold. I have slots in decks for some of the new cards already.
 
Fortunately, half of the cards I really want – for the decks I am thinking about – are commons. I expect to have those soon. With 60 commons in the set, two dozen packs should – in theory – get me those cards. Unfortunately, those cards are also highly prized in drafts (see below), so I don’t expect to get passed many of them, unless I am sitting behind savage rare-drafters.
 
On to what’s new in the set:
 
New Card Frames
 
The first thing that people will notice on opening a Time Spiral pack is that it has yet more new card frames. These frames are “from the future” and may well represent what Magic will look like in a couple years. The “normal” cards have “normal” card frames. The future shifted cards look like this.
 
Nessian Courser Imperial Mask
 
I like the idea of full sized artwork for cards that would otherwise have nothing in the text box. I like having something useful in the text box even more. Plain vanilla creatures have never excited me – not even Savannah Lions.
 
New Keywords for Old Abilities
 
A few classic mechanics have got their own keywords. Some of these have been referred to by “keywords” for years, but never officially. Others are slightly changed (e.g. Fading and Vanishing, for those of you with memories that stretch back to the pre-MODO dark ages.) (Yes, Mercadian Masques was the dark ages. Trust me, I drafted that set and played MM block a lot.)
 
The mechanics are pretty straightforward. Everyone knows what Spirit Link does – the only change is that, if you have reminder text turned off, you will just see the keyword “Lifelink” instead of “Whenever enchanted creature deals damage, its controller gains that much life.”
 
Deathtouch (Whenever this creature deals damage to a creature, destroy that creature.)
 
Lifelink: (Whenever ~this~ deals damage, its controller gains that much life.)
 
Poisonous 3. (Whenever it deals combat damage to a player, that player gets three poison counters. A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.)
 
Reach (This creature can block creatures with flying.)
 
Shroud (This permanent can't be the target of spells or abilities.)
 
There are a few others – especially ones that appear only on one or two cards. It might make sense, if you haven’t played with paper copies, to turn reminder text back on for your first couple games. 
 
New Mechanics
 
The complete list is mechanics introduced in the set is long. Future Sight is supposedly highlighting mechanics that will appear in future sets. Those mechanics show up on individual cards – or occasionally pairs of cards. That makes for a lot of individual mechanics. However, the set also has a few themes and cycles.  Here are some of them:
 
Grandeur:
 
The first of the new mechanics is Grandeur, Wizards’ attempt to make playing four copies of a given legend worthwhile. 
 
Baru, Fist of Krosa
 
Grandeur is a decent mechanic, and nearly all of the Legends may be constructed worthy. If nothing else, they may bump up the price of Weird Harvest
 
Pacts:
 
Pact of the Titan
 
The Pacts are the scariest paper cards. If you forget to pay the upkeep, you really do lose the game. In MODO, you get a special prompt, asking if you really want to play the card, and a reminder to pay the upkeep. Just don’t click through that prompt.
 
Suspend from Play
 
Several new cards, once played, suspend themselves, then keep bouncing back into play. Three turns later. Here’s one:
 
Arc Blade
 
The red and blue ones are great in limited, but I doubt any will see play in Constructed (although a blue mana denial deck might consider it.)
 
Fateseal:
 
Here’s my least favorite mechanic.
 
Spin into Myth
 
I have a problem with blue being able to bounce permanents, and even more with the ability to enforce bad draws. It’s just a personal quirk, but I’m pretty sure fateseal is going to be both worth playing and extremely aggravating. 
 
Future Sight Sealed Deck
 
The Release leagues will start with triple Future Sight packs, plus a Time Spiral tournament pack. 
 
Evasion, especially flying, is much less common than it was in Ravnica block. It is a bit more valuable as a result.
 
As always, removal is golden – but the larger creatures in the format means that the two and three point damage spells will not always clear the way. 
 
Most importantly, mana fixing will be rarer, since Future Sight has nothing useful. We are back to the bad old days of two colors and a 1-3 card splash, at best. 
 
Other than that, it is just like Time Spiral / Planar Chaos sealed.
 
Future Sight Drafts
 
Starting next week, the release events will feature two different types of Future Sight drafts. The first is Time Spiral / Planar Chaos / Future Sight. The second is triple Future Sight.
 
I don’t have a lot to say about the TS / PC/ FUT drafts. If you are used to drafting TS/TS/PC, it is, in most respects, more of the same. The one caveat I would add is that mana fixing is even less common in Future Sight. Artifact mana is only available in a rare card, and the uncommon lands are all mono-colored. Even the one green land fetch card does not work if you have four other lands in play – so it won’t fetch your one Swamp to flash back Mystical TeachingsPrismatic Lens and terramorphic Expanse are higher picks than ever.
 
Triple Future Sight drafts will give you a lot more Future Sight cards – although drafting a small card pool can get repetitive. Of course, triple Future Sight will only be available for ten days or so. I know I’ll do a couple.
 
A note for rare-drafters: during the release events, the 8-4s are no better than 4-3-2-2 events. The 8-4s are also full of rare drafters, so you are unlikely to get more rares, while the mix of rare-drafters and real players make the 8-4s quite random. The 4-3-2-2s are also fairly random, but I have had more good matches in those events, and can win even  if I grab a couple rares that don’t really fit my deck.
 
Before jumping into the colors, I want to highlight the best common in the set. No matter what color you are playing, you grab this guy. 
 
Gathan Raiders
 
It isn’t really red. It costs 3, plus a card. It’s usually a 3/3 – and sometimes it’s a 5/5 for 3. It’s really good – maybe not Wrath of God level good, but very, very good. I have it in three constructed decks already. 
 
White:
 
Here are the best three white commons in Future Sight:
 
Judge Unworthy Knight of Sursi Lucent Liminid
   
Judge Unworthy is removal, and removal is good. About the only downside of Judge Unworthy is that it cannot hit annoying stay-at-home dudes, like Magus of the [whatever]. The other two are reasonably costed fliers. 
 
White has few playable combat tricks, but it does have a reasonable range of playable creatures, even at common. It has soe decent uncommons. Here’s one I’m having a hard time forgetting: Mistmeadow Skulk. Against badly built decks, with a overly high mana curve, he’s garbage. Against an swarm deck, he is the nuts. At the last Friday Night Magic, on Skulk held off my beater, while laughing at my handful of removal. I had Strangling Soot, Temporal Isolation, Sunlance, Ichor Slick and Judge Unworthy – and not one of those could get rid of a lousy 1/1.
 
(Patrician’s Scorn) is not particularly good, but if you draft a number of Lucent Luminds, you may want to hate then out around picks 10-13, just so opponents don’t wind up with them. When all your creatures are also enchantments, Patrician’s Scorn can be a splashable, one-sided Wrath of God. (That can also be something to consider when you are playing triple Future Sight drafts against a heavily white opponent.
 
White’s trickiest bomb is (Seth’s Tiger). This creature has flash and can give a player protection for a color until end of turn. If your opponent seems to leave himself open to a massive alpha strike from your mainly one color army, and has 2WW open, watch out for this. It’s a rare, but in a draft with 24 Future Sight packs, the odds are slightly over 40% that someone opened one. (Slightly over 40 % because someone might have opened a foil one, as well.)    
 
Blue: 
 
The best blue commons are:
 
Foresee Whip-Spine Drake Infiltrator il-Kor
 
Blue also gets its normal allotment of bounce cards ((Venser’s Diffusion), some cycling cards and counterspells. Blue is solid, but I wouldn’t want to be one of three blue drafters at the table. Too many of blue’s cards are headed for constructed, not draft. Still, blue has some decent support at uncommon, so if you open a good blue rare and don’t get completely screwed in your second color, you should do fine.
 
Black:
 
Ichor Slick Deepcavern Imp Death Rattle
 
Black, as it does in every set, gets a couple good removal cards, a flier with a drawback, and a 3/3 for three with a drawback.   Black has a limited range of madness cards – but Deepcavern Imp makes them much better. Blacks uncommons are nice, and it has a couple bomb rares. I other respects, it is like blue: perfect unless thee or four of you are fighting over it.
 
Red:
 
Red is the nuts.   It has three common removal spells, the best common in the set, decent fatties, great uncommons and some bomb rares. Here’s my initial choice for best three commons, but I could have added a couple more if I wanted to. Red is that good.
 
Ghostfire Fomori Nomad  Riddle of Lightning
 
 
About the only downside to red is that a lot of players will be grabbing red cards. Ghostfire and Gathan Raiders are totally splashable, so they may get snatched even by non-red players (but those players should remember that the format does not have many ways of getting that splash color. 
 
One red card worth noting is Flowstone Embrace. It is a removal spell, when necessary – just enchant the creature to be removed, then make it a x/0. It also combines well with Bloodshot Trainee – and since the Trainee is just an uncommon, you might well seen a couple during a draft.
 
Green:
 
In Future Sight, green goes back to its roots – and those roots are creatures. Green does not have a lot of combat tricks, or good removal cards, and even it’s artifact and enchantment destruction is marginal, but its creatures are good.
 
Sprout Swarm Sporoloth Ancient Edge of Autumn
 
 
Sprout Swarm is insane in TS / PC / FUT. It will be even worse in triple Future Sight.  I have seen a player wind up with eight tokens in play by the end of his opponent’s turn five – at which point the opponent conceded. 
 
Edge of Autumn is something I will have to play with before I’m sure whether it is chaff, or constructed quality. It is a Rampant Growth early, and a free cycling card late – but I’m not sure I want to adraw one in the mid-game.
 
Green has some fine uncommons – and Nacatl War-Pride may be the cream of the crop. So long as it isn’t buggy in some weird way, it is insane. It creates tokens for each creature an opponent controls, including those that cannot block, and those that are tapped. 
 
Green only gets the shaft in the rare department. Too many of it’s rares are just plain bad (e.g. Force of Savagery) or use the sucks-to-be-green “sharing” mechanic, ala Magus of the Vineyard or Rites of Flourishing.
 
Good luck with your drafts. Unless you play me, of course.
 
The Cards I Really Want:
 
I have some uncommons I fully expect to play in a lot of decks. I busted a few packs, to make sure the cards work, and I am already playing some of the lands.  I’d play more if I had them.   Here are my top three uncommon lands, in order of desirability from left to right:
 
Tolaria West Keldon Megaliths Zoetic Cavern
 
The rare dual lands are also chase cards, although nowhere near as good as the Ravnica duals. The best of them are better than the 9E painlands – the worst are down there with the Odyssey duals. Still, since they are new and what you can use in block, they will be worth some TIX. That worth will go up if the Ravnica duals are NOT in 10E, come July. The lands, in order of decreasing value, are:
 
Horizon Canopy
Graven Cairns
River of Tears
Nimbus Maze
Grove of the Burnwillows
 
The last may jump in value if RG stops being mainly a beatdown deck. 
 
The biggest chase cards, at the moment, may well be
 
Bridge from Below Narcomoeba
 
These cards combine into a brutal little dredge-based combo deck that is being hyped all over the web. A lot of people will be wanting to try this out in the weeks before Regional, and these cards are critical. After Regionals, depending on how well the combo does, these cards may stay high or fall – but they are money cards right now. 
 
The big money card (after Bridge) is probably this card:
 
Pact of Negation
 
I award this card the Psionic Blast trophy, as card most unlikely to hold its value. People are seeing this as the second coming of Force of Will. It is not, for a variety of reasons. It is very good in combo decks, and decent in small numbers in Mystical teachings-based control – but that’s it. Force of Will was a four of in every blue deck. Pact of Negation may be a four of in Dragonstorm – maybe – but beyond that it is a five mana Rewind. Sell them now.
 
In my Future Sight release survival guide, I recommended selling Psionic Blasts, then picking them up later. I predicted that the early 20 TIX price would halve. It went way below that. Pact will do the same: 10 TIX now, half that or less in a few months. 
 
Speaking of combo decks, Dredge and Dragonstorm, rare/money-drafters should keep an eye out for these two uncommmons.   Aven Mindcensor can hose Dragonstorm.  Yixlid Jailer does hose dredge.  Look for people to be hunting for them now, for Regionals testing.  At the moment, they will be worth decent TIX. Six months from now, once a lot of people have opened a lot of Future Sight packs, the not so much.
 
These two commons, however, will be worth TIX:
 
Street Wraith Delay
  
Street Wraith that might be played in Dragonstorm. Delay is a darn good Counterspell. These may not quite become Fact or Fictions, but Remand has certainly held its value. These should, too.
 
Molten Disaster may prove to be a good finisher in red decks. We’ll see. In any case, rare-draft it, if you can possibly generate RR, because X spells are always good in draft.
 
Finally, here’s the card that will be the biggest disappointment online. 
 
Bitter Ordeal
 
The card is great – and looks to be destined for a very good results at Regionals. However, this card fits best into combo decks, like Project X, which do not work on MODO. Project X did very well at Worlds, then boomed online while people tried it, only to fall off the face of the online world when people discovered that it cannot work with the interface and 30-miute Magic clock.  Maybe in 3.0, if they ever develop macros.
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” and “judge n bailiff” online
“judge n bailiff” in the MTGO Traders forums.
 
 

9 Comments

by McCombs at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:47
McCombs's picture

Good article. Would love to see some recaps of your fu fu fu drafts. I agree with your card picks. I would also mention that if you are playing white the whiptail drake is bomb in your deck whether blue is your second color or not

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 71.226.102.189 (not verified) at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:57
Anonymous (Unregistered) 71.226.102.189's picture

imma make a fateseal deck!!!!!!!!!!

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.206.193.206 (not verified) at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 03:33
Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.206.193.206's picture

Mistmeadow Skulk has protection from cc 3 or GREATER.

by Evu at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 10:46
Evu's picture

Pete, a fine article as always (though a slightly higher number of typos than usual).

I've done a few FFF drafts over the last few days, and I have to say that Gathan Raiders has really not lived up to expectations. Without doubt it is one of the best Black commons in the set. But colors that have no Madness cards and no other reason to want Hellbent -- that is, Blue, White, Green, and even Red if you don't pick up a Keldon Megaliths -- can usually do a lot better than to spend two cards and three mana for a vanilla 3/3 -- especially Green, which has Nessian Courser. Going out of your way to make it 5/5 is (a) harder than it sounds and (b) actually at odds with some of the best cards in the set, notably Sprout Swarm and Foresee.

Speaking of Sprout Swarm, it is as insane as advertised. An easy first pick, and probably worth splashing. I strongly recommend having a plan for dealing with it. Discard or counterspells are ideal; Subterranean Shambler, not so much.

I generally agree with the "best commons" lists, although I might rank Blade of the Sixth Pride over Lucent Liminid -- at least in FFF, which seems low on playable one-drops. One Black card that deserves honorable mention is Grave Scrabbler; I've found that it's rarely difficult to find a way to play it with Madness.

by dragonmage65 at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 01:24
dragonmage65's picture

Yeah, Gathan Raiders should be a complete powerhouse in PDC (Pete did mention that it was the best common in the set, period). Good article overall as well.

by runeliger at Wed, 05/30/2007 - 23:52
runeliger's picture

Well written as always... But Fomori Nomads > Gathan Raiders?! What the heck? I don't know where you got that idea from (I'm assuming you forgot Gathan Raiders is a common), but honestly Gathan Raiders is an amazing creature, so powerful, it belongs in color archetypes that don't run red.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 66.74.70.160 (not verified) at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 00:20
Anonymous (Unregistered) 66.74.70.160's picture

Eh... I think Peter was just trying to say the top 3 red commons BESIDES Gathan Raiders

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 72.86.69.106 (not verified) at Thu, 05/31/2007 - 01:12
Anonymous (Unregistered) 72.86.69.106's picture

You missed the section where he named it the best common of the entire set.

well written by purple dragon (Unregistered) 76.184.155.119 (not verified) at Wed, 05/30/2007 - 19:50
purple dragon (Unregistered) 76.184.155.119's picture

Very well written and very informative too. Thank you.