ello and welcome back to the Lab! Fresh off the heels of the Planechase (2012 edition) previews (which snuck up on me with rather Ninja-like stealth (an appropriate comparison, considering my preview of Sakashima's Student)) I'm presented with yet another week to ramble on about the fun format. Let me warm up my rambling sprockets by first acknowledging a slight flavorful error that I made last week. Apparently, Sakashima the Impostor is one of those male-gendered beings. As someone in the forums pointed out, this is probably a testament to his immense disguising skills.
Sakashima the Impostor | Art by rk post
Okay, onto the issue at hand: Planechase. When this format was first introduced (a stretchy three years ago) I wrote a column called "Multiverse Meandering," which was a stylistic departure from my usual combo chattering. In it, I recounted a highly fortunate day in which I played Planechase with some friendly members of Wizards of the Coast. It was a blast, and I was all set to repeat the experience this time around. However, two crushing obstacles thwarted this plan: I'm currently dwelling/typing-this-article on the opposite coast, and Planechase (2012 edition) hasn't been released yet. Bummers.
So I should probably scramble for a new plan. As I mentioned above, Ninjas make their long awaited return to Magical cardboard within Planechase (2012 edition). However, it isn't the only mechanic to undergo a swift interplanar rehashing. Cascade, devour, and totem armor round out the nostalgic quartet. Since I gave the spotlight to ninjutsu last week, and since I normally build three decks each week (a regulation subconsciously etched into my brain matter), it makes perfect sense to highlight the rest of these mechanics today. Planechase (2012 edition) provides new cards that wield these abilities, many of which are super cool.
Devour was first introduced in Shards of Alara and it quickly gained a cult following. The possible mischief that was present in a mass sacrifice of creatures was exemplified by cards like Skullmulcher, Tar Fiend, and the über-Johnny insane-o-matic that is Mycoloth. I'm glad devour is returning, if only briefly, and in such style! Thromok the Insatiable will cause memories around battlefields for years to come.
Preyseizer Dragon | Art by Daarken
But my favorite new devouring creature has got to be Preyseizer Dragon. Following in the line of famished Dragons, this Dragon can clock in with a huge physique and straight-up maul stuff when it attacks. Preyseizer Dragon joins great company as a member of that previously mentioned lineage. Predator Dragon, Hellkite Hatchling, and the mighty Dragon Broodmother have previously held this torch of token munching.
Seems like a great opportunity to build this deck! Beetleback Chief and Brindle Shoat are nice additions to the pool of token-producing creatures, although in this Goblin-focused build I only used the Chief. Other Goblin producers include Dragon Fodder, the echoing Mogg War Marshal, and the singleton Goblin Warrens. Although any Dragon in the deck will happily snap them up for lunch, Voracious Dragon has a particular appetite for Goblins, turning their chewed-up carcasses into a spew of fiery removal.
As for the other fun additions, Fecundity can draw scads of cards every time you devour, restocking your hand. Viridian Emissary is a great creature to devour, as it accelerates your land base. Finally, a couple other singletons made the deck. Goblin Chieftain acts as a random sparkplug for your Goblins tokens, and In the Web of War is a similar enchantment. A hasty Preyseizer Dragon is a new part of my Magical diet.
Cascade also hails from Shards of Alara block. Its inherent random nature combined with my curious affinity with the converted mana costs of cards (a weird pocket of analysis for me) makes cascade a personal favorite mechanic of mine. I've had fun with it on various occasions. However, nothing could prepare me for the bottled insanity that got spilled onto the card that is Maelstrom Wanderer.
Maelstrom Wanderer | Art by Thomas M. Baxa
This card is totally rad. Most glaring, of course, is the double cascade. I never thought "Do it again" would ever resonate so effectively (or at least since Steely Dan's classic). Whether 7/5 Elemental beatsticks or jazz-rock legends are comparable is questionable; what's not is the amazing "All your guys have haste" facet. If you were to cascade into two biggish creatures, they would immediately be able to attack!
I looked for fatties that doubled as mana advancers. Krosan Tusker has filled this deck-building role for quite a while, being a handy cycler in the early game and a 6/5 later on. And Primeval Titan (okay, get your groans out... 'snot my fault it's ridiculous) ramps right into a next-turn Wanderer. Plus I hear it loves haste.
For some early game ramping, I used some Elves, naturally. Sylvan Ranger and Civic Wayfinder can filter the deck's three colors. Although it is a pain to hit one of these guys on a cascade, that's the way of chance. And they even inspired some oddball choices. Stampeding Serow somehow found a decklist, as it can return those Elves early on, and later it can bounce a Wanderer back to your hand for another dual cascade. The singleton Selective Memory, meanwhile, can purge your deck of the Elves, so your cascaders find only the bombs.
Oh right, what bombs? Inferno Titan (...) joins the ranks as a stellar creature. Deranged Hermit is an oldie but greatie, especially here, as his Squirrels will be faster than normal. Primal Command is a clutch card to wheel into, fulfilling many vital roles. And Into the Void is a solid tempo card I've been itching to use.
I couldn't resist adding one Etherium-Horn Sorcerer. That card's covered in crazy flavor paint.
Finally, onto the totem armor sect of Planechase (2012 Edition)'s new cards. Within this group I'm willing to include cards like Dreampod Druid, or basically any new card in the Savage Auras deck. The shining leader of this pack is Krond the Dawn-Clad, which is certainly worthy of a gasp or two.
Elderwood Scion | Art by Nils Hamm
The two new Auras with totem armor are interesting and powerful, but not necessarily build-around candidates. Indrik Umbra has a strident impact on the board, transforming its wearer into a behemoth that must be blocked. Felidar Umbra is most notable for its instant-speed attaching ability, which can save one of your creatures in a pinch (and I guess lifelink is pretty cool too).
But in terms of building today's last deck, I've got to go with Elderwood Scion, a card that reads elegantly and is capable of face-bashing. It reminds me of Spellwild Ouphe, but slightly reversed (and beefier). Your opponent's removal spells will now cost two more to cast, which is extra frustrating for your opponent when you load up the Scion with fat totem armor cards. Boar Umbra will cost a measly to target the Scion, functioning like a more permanent Giant Growth.
The goal of the deck is thus to cast the Scion and have it thump your opponent for lethal damage on the next turn. Regular old instants can help this strategy, including the impressive Might of Oaks. for +7/+7? Kay. And Double Cleave can send the Scion over the top. Imagine ramping into Elderwood Scion, then casting Might of Oaks and Double Cleave for a total of . The Scion will rumble in as an 11/11 trampling double-striker.
I added other creatures that like to get pumped up. Silhana Ledgewalker and Troll Ascetic make the deck as a couple of classic hexproof creatures. Elvish Visionary serves a simple purpose here (draw with potentially Oaked beats). Skinshifter is a trove of creatures nestled in a two-drop (perfect for a follow up Boar Umbra).
Until next time!