started playing a long time ago. We are talking Ice Age/Fourth Edition long time ago. My first games were with a group of friends who had been playing for six months to a year, and no one even considered playing one on one. The games were huge and epic. There was a mystery about the game, since none of us, especially me, knew all the cards. When someone built a new deck or bought packs, we never knew what we were going to see.
In those early games, huge Dragons and impressive creatures were the top of the heap. Baron Sengir was my big gun and everything else was valued based on how big it was or how it would help get the Baron out a little faster.
The first card that I took notice of that wasn't a mana dork or big creature offered something a little different. The art was a gaping maw with runes inscribed into an entrance of darkness. Everyone at the table cheered when the card hit the battlefield. If a card offered cool art and everyone loved it, why wouldn't you run it in your deck?
Howling Mine | Art by Mark Poole
As a new player, this card just seemed like all upside. You got to draw another card! Sure, the other players also got to draw cards, but that didn't mean anything. If I found my big creature faster, I could get it into play faster and win more games. I wasn't thinking about all the cards the other players were drawing. I just knew I was drawing more cards. Besides, every time someone played a Howling Mine, everyone cheered! How bad could the card be?
After a year, I stopped playing Howling Mine. I discovered a few things that I hadn't realized before. The first problem was that you were the last to benefit. If the card stayed in play until your next turn, it seemed fine, but if Howling Mine was ever destroyed, you always drew fewer cards. If I'm providing the card that is giving everyone an extra card draw, shouldn't I benefit more than the other players? At the very least, I should be the first one to draw the extra cards!
Later, I realized a second problem with Howling Mine: it was symmetrical. I was spending a card to give everyone an extra card every turn, and my opponents were spending nothing while reaping the same benefit. Why not add another creature that could be a problem for my opponents, or just use cards that only gave me the extra cards? If someone else wanted to run a Howling Mine (everyone cheers!), that was fine, but I wouldn't be wasting the space in my decks anymore.
The thing is, the downsides for Howling Mine can be overcome, in a card that reminds me of those early crazy games. Let me introduce Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!)!
Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) is the latest in a long line of "Everybody draw a card!" effects. Howling Mine, Kami of the Crescent Moon, Rites of Flourishing, Spiteful Visions, and Temple Bell all give everyone playing an extra card. So what helps Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) succeed where Howling Mine struggles? The first word in the text box is a good start:
The first problem with Howling Mine was that you were the last to get the benefit. You play it on your turn (everyone cheers!), then you watch as everyone else draws two cards on their turns before you get the chance. And that assumed that some spoilsport didn't take out the Mine (Boo!) before you even got your chance. Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) gets right around that limitation with flash. Now, you can sit with three mana open, appearing to all at the table that you are ready to Cancel the next spell you don't like. Right before your turn starts, you cast Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!), and you are the first to benefit! One of the major drawbacks of the Howling Mine–style card-draw is gone!
The second issue was the symmetrical nature of the card. But isn't it even worse than that? When you play a duel, Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) is symmetrical. In multiplayer, it is even worse! For example, in a four-player game, your opponents are drawing three cards and you are drawing only one. Playing a Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) means your opponents are drawing six cards, and you are drawing two. The three to one ratio still exists, but you are giving up so many more cards that you begin to defy the odds if your opponents don't find what they need.
Dictate of Kruphix | Art by Daarken
Realistically, though, it isn't that bad. You need to remember that this is a four-player game, not a game with three opponents. You are not the Archenemy with three players constantly gunning for you. If the other players were constantly coming for you, you wouldn't win many games. That is where cards like Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) comes in.
Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!), Rites of Flourishing, and other cards like it, offer the other players the same benefit they offer you. The difference lies in who is providing that benefit. Think back to your last game where Rites of Flourishing hit the table. The fact that you were getting a benefit from that player had an effect on your decision making. You may still have attacked the player providing the benefit, but when a player gives you extra mana or cards, that becomes a factor. Opponents can become merely players simply because they want to keep drawing the extra cards that Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) provides.
The other consideration when looking at the symmetry these cards offer is that you know it is coming. You can build your deck to take advantage of it, breaking the symmetry. I think the deck that most obviously breaks the symmetry of a card like Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) would be a Nekusar, the Mindrazer Commander deck. A while back, the guys from The Mana Pool and I built a Nekusar Commander deck. I'll use that deck here, with one obvious change:
Nekusar, the Machrazor
The deck takes the symmetry and turns it into a sledge hammer, punishing the other players for drawing cards. Most players are okay with taking 2 points of damage to draw an extra card, but taking more and more damage is a whole other story! This is a prime example of turning symmetry into advantage.
Rather than try to wreck the symmetry by making a positive a great big negative for the other players in the game, you can go the route of too much symmetry. I like the idea of stuffing symmetry down everyone's throats. You like drawing cards, how about I choke you with all the card drawing? Back when Stybs was running the show here at Serious Fun, he talked about the Bear Hug deck. The deck gives you what you want—just way more of it than you could possibly want! The deck he came up with wraps its arms around you and squeezes until your ribs snap and your punctured lungs can't draw in a breath.
Bear Hug with Zedruu the Greathearted
I'm confident you can find a spot where Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) would easily fit into the deck.
I'm not going to tell you that Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) is the greatest card to come out of Journey into Nyx, or that this is just a spectacular card. However, this is a solid card. It is an enchantment with flash, so it should play well with the cards with constellation, offering a surprise your opponents will not be expecting. It allows you to leave mana open and use it at the last possible moment, assuming something better didn't come along. Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!) is a role player in the right deck that offers a valuable option at the right time.
And when you run into that group of new Magic players at your local store who appear to be cheering for a card that was just played, know there is a good chance it was a Dictate of Kruphix (everyone cheers!).
Bruce's games invariably involve a kitchen table, several opponents, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun playing Magic, then you are doing it wrong.