ey, labbies! We're getting close to the release of Dragon's Maze, and you know what that means: Previews! I've got an awesome card to show you today, but it's also a little... Weird.
Although not quite as crazy as some of the mutants the Simic have created, a Weird Wizard is definitely one of the most awesome type lines in this block. This is also the first time that a Weird has had a second creature type. Most Weirds are just plain Weird. But this guy? This guy is different. He's been created not as a servant or a pet, but to serve a far greater purpose. He is the Izzet champion, created for the sole purpose of traversing the deadly Implicit Maze.
After you've finished staring at Jason Chan's awesome art, take another look at what we have here. Melek is only a 2/4, and yet he costs six mana. Many players might see this as a downside, but I see it as a guarantee. At that price, this guy has to have some awesome abilities. It just wouldn't be fair for a six-mana 2/4 to do something less than incredible.
Well, that's something, I guess. Playing with the top card of your library revealed isn't exactly the earth-shattering ability we were hoping for, but then again, it is often a lead-in to another ability that uses that top card. Let's see what else Melek can do.
Now we're getting somewhere. Being able to cast instants and sorceries from the top of your library is a pretty big deal, especially since you can chain through them, casting as many as you can until you hit a card of another type or run out of mana. There are also a number of instants and sorceries you can cast to set up the top of your library, like Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, and many others. But now it's time to see Melek's final ability, the one that really puts him over the top and pushes him firmly into Awesomeville.
Now that's what I'm talking about! Not only does Melek allow you to cast spells off the top of your library, you get two for the price of one every time you do! Almost any instant or sorcery can take advantage of this, and some to extraordinary effect. Now, let's see the whole picture, and start putting together some decks.
Brainstorm seems absolutely amazing with Melek, Izzet Paragon on the battlefield. If you put two instants or sorceries back on top of your library, you can still cast them with Melek. It's as though they never even left your hand. Thanks to Melek, that Brainstorm was more like Ancestral Recall. Ponder isn't quite as good, but it can help you put an instant or sorcery on top after you draw a card, making it equivalent to drawing two cards. If you're unfortunate enough to not have any spells in the top three, you can easily shuffle them away and try again.
Mana Leak and Rune Snag are efficient counterspells that help you survive to cast Melek. Normally, your opponent can play around the additional cost later in the game, but if you cast one of these from the top of your library with Melek, your opponent will have to pay twice as much to save his or her spell.
Disperse can deal with any problem permanent, at least temporarily. It buys a lot of time and can be used to set up a counter to get rid of the card permanently. Flames of the Firebrand only kills creatures, but it does so very efficiently, often getting rid of two small creatures with a single card. With Melek on the battlefield, you get to divvy up a whopping 6 damage, which will often be enough to kill three or more creatures.
Time Warp seems like an awesome thing to cast from your library. Taking two extra turns will put you incredibly far ahead. If you don't just win the game, that is. If you had a creature or two to attack with, your opponent could easily be dead before he or she gets another turn. That's where the Dragons come in. Death by Dragons is an excellent political card in multiplayer, but in a duel it simply gives you a 5/5 Dragon token. For six mana, that's not particularly great. But when you cast it from your library with Melek, you get to double up on Dragons, something you can't do with a normal creature.
Feral Lightning doesn't work with the extra turns from Time Warp, but it does dish out a lot of damage. If your opponent doesn't have any blockers, it will deal 9 damage immediately, or 18 with Melek around to copy it. With Melek himself swinging in for 2, that's exactly enough to end the game.
At the Dragon's Maze Prerelease, you'll get to choose a guild to support, then open your box to find out which guild is your secret ally. For example, if you chose Izzet, there's a chance you might be allied with Dimir. That leads me to my next deck, where Melek teams up with some of the powerful Dimir cards from both visits to Ravnica to get rid of every card in your opponent's library.
Traumatize is the card that first led me down this road. While unfortunately a single copied Traumatize won't put your opponent's entire library into his or her graveyard, it will mill three-quarters of it. If your opponent started with a sixty-card deck, he or she will be left with thirteen cards at the most.
Glimpse the Unthinkable is perhaps the most powerful mill card ever printed, getting rid of the top ten cards of your opponent's library for just two mana. Of course, with some help from our Izzet friend, that will be twenty cards. Tome Scour is smaller, but just as efficient, doubling up into a Glimpse the Unthinkable with Melek around.
Thought Scour only gets rid of two cards, but it does replace itself, helping you dig for Melek. Once you have him, you basically get a Divination and a Tome Scour stapled together for just one mana, which is pretty amazing.
Coalition Relic and Worn Powerstone let you cast Melek on turn four, getting you rolling very quickly. On turn five, you'll get to start casting doubled spells, and you'll have an extra mana or two to do it with.
Mind Funeral and Mind Grind are more variable than the other mill cards, but still very powerful. A doubled Mind Funeral will keep going until you get eight lands. On average, this will be about twenty cards, so it's fairly comparable to Glimpse the Unthinkable, although it does cost one more mana. Mind Grind takes advantage of your mana ramp quite well, letting you easily get rid of the rest of your opponent's library after you've cast a few other spells.
The Man in the Mirror
Of course, we can't end without a From the Lab face-off, so I tossed Melek in the arena to fight... himself. Well, a Clone of him, anyway. Since both of these deck are built around a legendary creature, I decided to bend the legend rule for the purposes of this match. One deck can't have two copies of Melek, Izzet Paragon on the battlefield, but if each deck has one, we're just going to roll with it and see what happens.
Melek's Lightning won the roll and took a mulligan, starting things off with a Ponder. Melek's Mind opened with Crumbling Necropolis, while Sulfur Falls came down for the other team. Melek's Mind played another land and passed, and Melek's Lightning did the same. Melek's Mind cast Worn Powerstone, but Melek's Lightning countered it with a Rune Snag.
Melek's Lightning passed after just playing a land, and Melek's Mind stuck a Coalition Relic, putting a charge counter on it. Melek's Mind cast Melek, Izzet Paragon, but Melek's Lightning had another Rune Snag to stop it. Melek's Lightning passed the turn with no play, and Melek's Mind cast Traumatize, milling twenty-four cards.
Melek's Lighting cast Brainstorm, played a land, and cast Time Warp, taking an extra turn and using it to cast Melek. Melek's Mind cast another Traumatize, getting rid of all but ten cards. However, Melek's Lightning used Brainstorm to put Feral Lightning back on top of the deck, cast it to make six 3/1 Elementals, and attacked for exactly 20 damage.
Both sides played lands and passed for three turns, until on the fourth turn Melek's Mind cast Coalition Relic. Melek's Lightning countered it with Rune Snag. Melek's Lightning played a land and passed the turn again, and Melek's Mind landed a Worn Powerstone. However, Melek's Lightning returned it to its owner's hand at end of turn with Disperse. Melek's Mind cast the Powerstone again, and Melek's Lightning cast Brainstorm at the end of the turn.
Melek's Lightning summoned its master and a Tome Scour milled five cards. Brainstorm put a Time Warp back on top, and Melek's Lightning cast it to rack up two extra turns. On the first, Death by Dragons made a token, and on the second, the token attacked for 5, and a second Death by Dragons made another one. Melek's Mind cast a doubled Brainstorm off the top, putting two copies of Glimpse the Unthinkable back. Together, they milled Melek's Lightning's entire library.
Each deck started off by playing a land and passing the turn, then Melek's Mind cast Sensei's Divining Top on turn two. Melek's Lightning countered it with Mana Leak. Melek's Mind cast a Brainstorm, then cast Glimpse the Unthinkable to mill ten. Melek's Lightning played a land and passed. Melek's Mind cast a Worn Powerstone, but Melek's Lightning took care of that with Rune Snag. Melek's Lightning played Desolate Lighthouse, and Melek's Mind cast two more copies of Glimpse the Unthinkable. Melek's Lightning activated Desolate Lighthouse, then untapped and cast Melek, Izzet Paragon.
Melek's Mind cast Mind Grind for three, milling five cards and bringing Melek's Lightning down to eleven cards in the library. Melek's Lightning made a token with Death by Dragons and passed the turn. Melek's Mind got rid of the top five with Traumatize, and Melek's Lightning swung for 5 before taking an extra turn with Time Warp. Melek's Lighting drew the Mountain that was on top, revealed another Time Warp, and cast it with Melek to make enough extra turns to win with the Dragon token, despite having no cards left in the library on the last turn.
Para-Gone for Now
I hope you all have a blast playing with Melek, Izzet Paragon once Dragon's Maze is released, and I know many of you are already dreaming up Commander decks starring him. I might even make one myself. Make sure to come back next week, because I'll have another awesome preview card to show you.
This one has something that rhymes,
A pun I've made numerous times.
If [REDACTED] is your favorite guild,
You'll have many cool decks to build.
Mike Cannon signed on to write From the Lab at the end of 2012. An ardent casual player and lover of bizarre synergies, he'll be bringing you a selection of crazy combo decks every Monday.