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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Mar 16 2008 11:59pm
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PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online. It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards. Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards. For more information please visit pdcmagic.com

Sorry I have not been around more, but this last semester is a lot rougher than I thought it would be. A full course load in addition to a job search in addition to an assistantship and an internship leaves little time for PDC, let alone writing in depth articles about the format. However, I still love PDC and will return to writing on a more regular basis as soon as time allows (I am thinking close to May).

However, much is ado in the land of PDC. First things first, Morningtide is upon us with a whole slew of new cards. Keeping in theme of shaking up my set reviews, I am going to be going over the cards I feel will have the biggest impact across all PDC formats from this expansion. The criteria for these cards are therefore:

1) They must be powerful. These cards have to do something that is applicable and relevant in all three of the major PDC formats (Classic, Standard, and Extended-post 2008 rotation known as Future Extended or FutEx). They do not necessarily have to do something unique, but they have to do their job well. Like the members of Project Mayhem, they get the job done.

2) These cards are going to be as close to staples as you are going to get. Not every card will break into Classic and become the Next Big Thing. However, a lot of cards can become solid role-players and even niche all-stars. These are those cards. Some might become standouts, but most of the time, they will, as I said, get the job done. These are not the Kobe Bryants of the world, but are more like the Derek Fishers (I wish I could think of a more universal sport, but I am Ameri-centric in my sports, what can I say).

3) This review applies to all formats. I really do not care if (Fertillid) is the next big thing in Pauper Prismatic Singleton (an awesome format by the way, where I predict that card will be decent).

Shall we begin?

The Big Three: Negate, Disperse, and Shard Volley

It should be no surprise that these cards rank highly on my list. Each of these cards is simple, versatile, and powerful. Easily playable in any of the major PDC formats, these cards will be staples for years to come.

Why, though, if there are other cards that are just as good if not better in some cases?

First, Shard Volley. This is close to a staple card in FutEx and Standard aggressive Red decks as one damage for three mana is always a bargain. Coupled with Incinerate and other strong burn spells, Red decks could get a real shot in the arm in Standard and more importantly, FutEx.

In Classic, however, this card could push Burn Range back into the contender category. Additionally, Threshold abusing Red builds, a la Thresher, will love this card. Given the right circumstances, this could allow a Werebear to do an obscene amount of damage early. In these situations, the Volley will be akin to paying R for six damage, and then three more each turn after. Good deal.

Finally, this card could prove to be a strong out if land destruction makes a come back. All you need is one Red source untapped and that dead land can translate into three damage. Not the ideal use of this card, but one that matters nonetheless.

Shard Volley

Disperse is nice and comparable to Echoing Truth. Both, essentially, do the same thing. However, there will be situations where you are playing a mirror match and do not want to get rid of every Pillory of the Sleepless, but rather just the one holding you back. I expect this card to make waves in Standard more than any other format, where its ability to be a tempo-positive tool in a format that lacks very strong bounce will be most utile. Other, faster, formats, may prefer Unsummon or the aforementioned Truth.

Negate is awesome. End of story. There is an old adage that goes “never counter creatures, because if you're deck is good enough, the creatures won't matter.” In the right deck, Negate is almost as good as a Counterspell. Think about (Deep Dog), where its creatures will almost always win in one-on-one combat. In this deck, Negate is a powerful tool in that it stops any real threat to the deck.

In newer formats, this card will help to solidify control decks that run Blue as contenders. Think about a Dimir deck that seeks to win with Twisted Abomination in FutEx. With a creature that can totally dominate the red zone, Negate can again, stop any offending spell.

In Standard, this card might make a nice tandem with Mana Tithe in an undiscovered UW aggro-control build.

These three cards are the ones that will make the largest impact across all formats. I fully expect them to become staples and show up all over the place.

Ballyrush Banneret

The Bannerets: I wish these cards were better, but they are not. However, most of them are quite solid. Starting with Ballyrush Banneret, there is a moderate drop off. The White enable is good on its own and really can help muscle out some late game power. While there are no Kithkin at the top end of the curve, I certainly like the idea of powering out some cheap Soldiers. (Brightearth Banneret) is my next pick because not only does it enable Warriors early, it provides a permanent combat trick late. Frogtosser Banneret simply does not have enough cards to build around it to make it that beneficial to a Goblin or a Rogue build- more on Prowl later. Bosk Banneret is decent, but does not look to make a huge impact. Stonybrook Banneret is pretty awful. The stats are unimpressive and the tribes it enables are not the best in PDC. While it might see play, this is by far the worst of the bunch.

Prowl: When the set was first spoiled, Rogues were the hot trend. They have even shown up in some powerful decks in the world of regular Magic. In PDC, however, the pay off is not nearly enough. This hurts the utility of Frogtosser, and all the Prowl cards. The main problem with Rogues is that they are all fragile- most have a toughness of one. The Prowl cards available at common are lacking the stellar Noggin Whack and the game breaking rares. In other words, playing a mess of overly fragile creatures in formats where a high percentage of decks pack sweepers is really just a bad idea.

All that being said, I can see a deck of this nature succeeding sporadically in Standard, where its speed and synergy might overpower an unprepared field.

Reinforce: I love this mechanic. In my opinion, there are two cards I have yet to mention that really highlight the mechanic. The first is Earthbrawn which is great as a combat trick on either end. In some cases, it can Lightning Bolt and in others it will provide the necessary toughness to let you win at combat while also maintaining a permanent increased presence on the board. It is a potent tempo tool and one that I am sure to try and use all the time in the future.

The other is Mosquito Guard, which can be a strong player in White Weenie builds. Useful early and never dead late, this is a one drop that I can give my stamp of approval.

(Violet Pall): I really like this card. It does something you do not see very often in PDC. Seize the Soul was playable in Standard and Block in regular Magic. In slower mid-range and control builds, I could easily see the Pall being played, in all PDC formats. I also think it might infiltrate some quicker builds as a nice top of the curve, taking out their best threat and replacing it with a chump blocker. Good times.

Game-Trail Changeling: This card provides much needed Green fat in Standard. A nice end of the curve. Additionally, it could be used as a sideboard card against Black decks packing Rend Flesh, although this is definitely a niche role.
Lys Alana Bowmaster: This card is insane and does something Green needs. In Standard and FutEx, fliers are par for the course. Often times clunky and less than ideal solutions are dispatched to answer the airborne threat. With the addition of Bowmaster, however, these decks now have the option to machine gun Bats and Birds out of the sky. Good times.

Winnower Patrol

Winnower Patrol: This card has the potential to be absolutely ridiculous. In the right deck, this card could get very big very fast. This card will go into Elf and Warrior builds across all formats and might easily be the biggest impact card of the set. It could easily be four power of attackers on turn four, growing ever more dangerous. This card basically comes with a target painted on its art.

Finally, a word about Festercreep. This card is a fine sideboard tool but I have heard far too many people raving about this Elemental and running him main. This is wrong as it is simply not big enough to do anything in the main. Out of the side, however, in decks with access to Grim Harvest, this card could prove troublesome. At its best against a certain style of deck, I expect the creep to be excellent out of the board, but seen in the main more than it should.

Distant Melody is a card that has garnered a ton of hype, but I am not sold yet. For four mana, I want something for certain. Sure, there will be times where this might be a gamebreaker. More often than not, though, in the combat heavy world of PDC, this will simply be a win more card where the player already ahead simply draws a ton of cards, hastening the inevitable.

I hope to continue writing, but at least until May, my schedule is going to be a bit erratic.

Keep slingin' commons,



by yogev_ezra (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 03/21/2008 - 14:45
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First, Shard Volley. This is close to a staple card in FutEx and Standard aggressive Red decks as one damage for three mana is always a bargain. Coupled with Incinerate and other strong burn spells, Red decks could get a real shot in the arm in Standard and more importantly, FutEx.

Please explain me how one damage for three mana is a bargain, hehe :)

by kaityson36 (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 03/19/2008 - 14:57
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I wish Ravnica was still in STD so that we could play Snapback :(

Shard Volley is a dangerous card because you will not wanna play it early in a mid-range style of deck because you do not want to set yourself back a turn in terms of being able to fill out your curve. I totally agree though that it would work great in Thresher, but I would not expect to see it in any other deck.

Negate is a cool card. I don't like Disperse, bounce isn't that good in general.

by SpikeBoyM at Mon, 03/17/2008 - 13:38
SpikeBoyM's picture

Your points are all valid and make perfect sense.  With regards to Standard, I feel the format will speed up somewhat with the release of Morningtide (and the advent of Bannerets, the B, W, and R ones can help promote strong aggressive decks).  It is to that point that I advocated Disperse as a tool where sometimes you want to bounce a threat or perhaps a Prismatic Lens.  I understand there are analogs, but a card with such utile text should not go uncommented on.
I see Negate filling an important role, but after further examination of Standard, I may have been over-zealous in my assessment of the card.
Again, I was assessing the Changeling on my belief that Standard will speed up with the new set.  If this is the case, I think a 5 mana 4/4 might be better than a 6 mana 4/4, regardless of added benefits. 
Returning to Disperse, I can certainly think of times I would want it other than the one listed.  While Echoing Truth right be a strong answer in the format, there are times and metagames where you will want to only bounce one permanent.  At these times, Disperse will be a potent tool.

Again, I think you make valid points and agree with you on certain points.  I should have researched the formats a bit more before hand, but still believe that if Standard speeds up (as I predict), then some of my cards for that format review may be applicable.


by KingRitz (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/17/2008 - 13:07
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Spikeboym, I generally like your reviews but I believe that your promotion of Negate and (especially) Disperse for Standard shows a lack of understanding of that PDC format. Standard PDC lacks a single non-creature, non-land card worth bouncing, so I can see no conceivable reason to play Disperse in that format rather than Snapback, Unsummon, Whirlpool Whelm, or Boomerang (as the situation requires).

By the same token, Negate is a comparatively poor counterspell in Standard. Standard's biggest threats are mostly creatures (particularly creatures that are nearly impossible to handle in combat)... and those that aren't creatures tend to flash back or storm and make one-for-one counterspells look a little silly. Furthermore, Standard PDC has creatures filling many pseudo-spell roles -- just look at Mulldrifter. These considerations place Rune Snag, Faerie Trickery, and Remove Soul firmly above Negate in Standard PDC, so Negate is sideboard material at best there (though it may be good in Classic PDC).

Quick addendum: I also agree with our Anonymous friend that Game-Trail Changeling isn't that good in Standard. I see it mainly as a 1-of in Aurochs Herd decks, since it's an Aurochs. One minor selling point you missed is how it takes a free ride on opposing Sliver abilities, but if some Sliver deck is getting stalled by a 5-drop then it was likely to lose anyway.

Your reviews for Classic and even Future Extended are generally stronger, but I again have to question Disperse... PDC is not a format big on Artifacts and Enchantments for Disperse to hit, and the case of wanting to bounce only *opposing* enchantments (say, Pillory of the Sleepless) in a Future Extended mirror match, and thus preferring Disperse over Echoing Truth, is too narrow a corner case to justify running this card. Such a narrow selling-point must be weighed against the fact that every format has at least the threat of Sprout Swarm or Empty the Warrens, among many other considerations favoring other, better bounce spells. I would never under any circumstances even consider Disperse for my maindeck or sideboard in any current PDC format.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/17/2008 - 02:07
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well its glad to have you back writing and around the PDC scene in general.  Good review, the only thing I personally disagree with is the Game-Trail Changeling.  True it only costs 5 but right now green has access to Auroch Herd at 6.  For one extra mana it always you to chain threats together which I feel is more benficial than a single changeling.  I could be wrong but I think herd will still be the green fattie of choice.


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