t's Worlds Week here this week, which means the best and brightest stars of the professional Magic world will be slinging cards in some little event in Rome. Rome, it feels, is a world away from the tables I play at each week. Of course it's at these tables that I really enjoy Magic: I can't imagine sitting down with a better group of guys than those who I high five every Thursday.
But Rome, Brussels, Melbourne, Calgary (Go Flames!), and other cities are great places to visit—Magic featured or not. Travelling to "exotic" locations is like adventuring to a different world. While some things may be familiar, customs and culture will obviously be a completely new experience, or at least one that's different from normal.
Fortunately for Magic players not jet-setting to global Magic events, there's an awesome way to experience the same sort of feeling as having the everyday Magic game spiced up, travelling a world away each time, and experiencing something new each step: Planechase.
Now Boarding Planeswalk Number 187
Planechase is the portal to an incredibly thrilling multiplayer format, Planar Magic. If you're not familiar with it, check out the rules and then swing on back.
Planechase is a dish best served big, so I rallied five other players to bring a general fun or multiplayer deck to chase the planes. Here's the turn order we established:
- Min, with a white-red Elemental clash deck
- Nick, with a heavily multicolor, Dragon-laden deck
- Me, with my Superheroes deck
- Dan, with a five-color Karona, False God EDH deck playing as a regular deck
- Brendan, a blue-based copy-themed deck
- Tim, with a black-red-green (Jund-colored) deck he called "Nom Nom"
While many of us had some, or all, of the available plane cards, not everyone did. There were two suggested solutions to this problem: 1) Everyone plays from a shared planar deck of every, or almost every, plane card available; or 2) Those with extra plane cards provide enough to fellow players so everyone has 10.
Now these solutions are pretty good, and I've heard of some seriously crazy things happening when every plane available is played. It would have been easy to just pile the planes up and run it that way, but I wanted to try something a little different. Since everyone had different decks I wanted to have an opportunity for each deck to get to planes it really wanted to see. So I proposed, and ran, a third solution: Each player drafts an equal number of plane cards to at least reach the 10 card planar deck minimum using the drafted planes as a shared planar deck.
That is to say that we each picked, secretly, two planes each and created a 12-card planar deck. We picked in reverse turn order, wheeling the picks, so that the players going later would be able to see more of the missing planes. Going last or next-to-last can be a real drag, so a little bonus seemed fair.
We didn't know all these picks at the time, but here is the breakdown of the planes selected:
Cliffside Market, Immersturm
Nick: Pools of Becoming, Celestine Reef
Me: Turri Island, Naya
Dan: Goldmeadow, Glimmervoid Basin
Brendan: Isle of Vesuva, Bant
Tim: Academy at Tolaria West, Feeding Grounds
It was certainly a planar deck packed with epic effects!
After getting the planes sorted out we started off the game at Isle of Vesuva, a pretty spicy start. Of course the first turn was spent laying a land and passing, which we all did—except for Tim, whose free roll nailed a planewalk to Cliffside Market without a need to switch life totals since we were all still at 20.
Turn two continued with "play a land, pass" until it got to me, where my free roll was rewarded with a planeswalk to Feeding Grounds. I was pretty happy to see this as I played a land and tapped my Forest to cast an Oran-Rief Survivalist for just one green. I looked over may hand of two Turntimber Rangers, Kazuul Warlord, another land, and a Harrow—I hoped this plane would stick around for awhile. Dan pulled a similarly fine play of playing a Plains to match his Forest, then cast a Dauntless Escort on the cheap. Brendan and Tim just played land.
Turn three started with Min desperately trying to planeswalk away; he whiffed. Nick, too, tried to walk. Instead he hit the first chaos roll of the game and was forced to add a number of +1/+1 counters each to its mana cost to a creature in play. He chose my Survivalist and paid to roll again. Bingo! A planeswalk away ... to Immersturm.
Most of us got a little big-eyed and looked over our hands. Those of us who had played Planechase before knew in our collective experience how big of a game-changer Immersturm could be.
I untapped to swing with my 4/4 Survivalist at the only fair target: Dan with his 3/3 Dauntless Escort. He took the 4, and I followed up with Harrow and Selesnya Guildmage, dealing 2 more damage to Dan. Dan untapped, cast a nicely timed Lightning Greaves, equipped his Escort, and swung into me for 3. Brendan played a land, then a morph, dealing 2 damage to my Guildmage (frown). Tim followed up with Dragon Fodder, which pinged me for 2 more, putting me at 15.
It came around to Min, who again tried to walk and failed, then cast Entangling Trap. He looked a little land-light. Nick tried the same thing and instead rolled chaos. He used the chaos trigger to flick a Goblin token away. I played a fresh Mountain I drew, then cast my Turntimber Ranger. I stacked the triggers so that the Immersturm damage triggers would resolve last. My 2/2 Wolf token returned the kill favor to Brendan's morph (revealing it was a Vesuvan Shapeshifter—yikes!), and the now 3/3 Ranger hit Brendan directly.
Now it headed over to Dan who continued the Immersturm shenanigans with a Madrush Cyclops, dealing 3 to my Ranger. Dan moved his Lightning Greaves over to the Cyclops then sent his Escort over at Tim, who chump-blocked with his other Goblin token, and his Cyclops over at Nick, who had to take the 3. Brendan followed up by casting another morph, which took out my Wolf token (sigh). With his free roll Brendan nailed chaos, and he gleefully flicked his morph: another Vesuvan Shapeshifter, which gladly entered the battlefield as a Madrush Cyclops. He dealt 3 straight to Dan's dome then sent the Doppelganger-Cyclops attacking over Min's way to deal 3 more there. Tim cast a Sprouting Thrinax, which dealt 3 to Nick. Everyone was bloodied up that round.
Back again to Min, he tried, again, to get us away from Immersturm. Instead he rolled chaos and, after a group discussion, flicked Brendan's Vesuvan Shapeshifter, which came back as a Madrush Cyclops again and dealt three to Tim's Sprouting Thrinax.
Tim got his three Saprolings and sent 1 damage each to Min, Dan, and Brendan for coming up with the plan. Min ended his turn after playing an Oblivion Ring to remove Dan's Lightning Greaves.
Nick finally nailed a planewalk, this time to Naya, to Nick's joy. He threw down three lands (Savannah, Plains, Karplusan Forest) and cast Entomb to put Dragon's Breath into his graveyard. He spent mana to try and walk again but failed. I played the last land in my hand and tried a roll: I got the chaos roll I was looking for and pumped my formerly 4/4 Survivalist up to a ground-pounding 11/11. I looked around and saw Dan, who was tapped out, had no blockers, and sat at exactly 11 life.
After the first player kill of the game, I cast a Gift of the Gargantuan and netted a Selesnya Guildmage and Jungle Shrine. I played the Shrine (thanks Naya!) and then the Guildmage. Brendan started off with his free roll and also nailed chaos. His Vesuvan Shapeshifter (still a Madrush Cyclops) became an 8/9 and swung into one of Tim's Saproling tokens. Tim just rolled for free (whiffed) and passed.
Min repeated Tim's uneventful turn. Nick, however, rolled out with a real bang as he tapped out to play Vampiric Dragon, which netted the free Dragon's Breath from the graveyard (Ah ha!). His free roll yielded nothing, and he decided to send the Dragon at Tim. Tim responded by casting Mercy Killing, and Nick ended the turn with five 1/1 Elf tokens instead.
I rolled (paying some) and nailed chaos again. My now 14/14 Survivalist swung at Min, who responded with Crib Swap. I shrugged, put my 1/1 Shapeshifter token with changeling into play, then followed up with Kazuul Warlord who gladly put a +1/+1 counter on my new token. Nice.
Brendan turned his Vesuvan Shapeshifter face down, only to unmorph it immediately and copy my Kazuul Warlord. He then cast a Duplicant to exile my Warlord (the only real target, which was no consolation to continually losing my Allies) and rolled a planeswalk to the Pools of Becoming, another plane with the potential to upend an entire game completely. Tim tried to planeswalk (nothing) and cast a Mycoloth what ate just one of his two Saproling tokens.
Min finally got into the action when he tapped out to play Sentry Oak, then choose me to clash with (I saw, and kept, a Kazandu Blademaster). The trigger from Entangling Trap tapped Tim's Mycoloth. Nick took his free roll (another whiff) and cast a Dragon Arch. I dropped my Blademaster and another Selesnya Guildmage, and paid to roll and ended up with a walk to Turri Island. I sent my 2/2 Shapeshifter into a blockerless Tim for two. Brendan paid to roll, getting a chaos to reveal two Islands and a Jodah's Avenger which he then played. Tim got his two Saprolings from Mycoloth, then free rolled to nail a walk to Glimmervoid Basin. Not happy with this, he tapped out to try to walk again but failed.
Min started his turn by moving briskly to the combat step. He clashed with me again, and I shipped a Forest to the bottom of my library while he kept an Oblivion Ring. After a moment, he cast Release the Ants targeting something. Due to Glimmervoid Basin's Radiate effect, it was copied nineteen times—Min got to clash a total of twenty times. Here was the outcome of resolving all these copies of Release the Ants:
Min, however, is a real peach, and followed this up with another Release the Ants. The copied triggers all stacked, then this exchange went down:
- I cast Ghostway to save my Selesnya Guildmage and Kazandu Blademaster.
- Brendan responded with Echoing Truth, which sent a copy at every creature on the board (geez!).
- Min responded with Redeem the Lost, naming blue, to keep Sentry Oak on the board, but lost the clash.
- Nick used Dragon Arch to bring out Bladewing the Risen (AH!), who got the Dragon Breath as well as brought back his Vampiric Dragon.
- Every creature other then Sentry Oak headed back to our hands.
- Min lost the clash for this second Release the Ants also.
All of this occurred during combat to boot!
Min then hit Tim with his Oak and rolled to planeswalk, getting chaos to copy Bladewing and send all the copies and the original to the graveyard. Nick then got his turn and cast his Fierce Empath,which tutored up Teneb, the Harvester, who he then tapped out to play (picking up the Dragon Breath yet again). Taking measure of the board, Nick swung at Brendan with both Teneb and Vampiric Dragon for the exact 11 needed to take him out.
Looking at my hand of Eldrazi Monument, Selesnya Guildmage, and Kazandu Blademaster, I make my push to stay in the game and dropped both the Monument and Guildmage. Tim cast Gilt-Leaf Ambush at the end of my turn, then used rolled for free during his turn and got lucky: he pulled the chaos needed for Teneb to repeat Bladewing's demise. He then ast a Predator Dragon, which ate two Elf tokens to enter the battlefield as an 8/8 with haste and immediately attack a vulnerable Nick.
We rounded back to Min, who led off with a Flamekin Harbinger fetching up a Rebellion of the Flamekin. He looked over to me as we headed to combat to clash with me again—I kept an Oran-Rief Survivalist to his Rebellion—then he swung for 5 with his Sentry Oak at Tim. After combat and with a solemn, plaintive statement from me, Min then cast Oblivion Ring to get rid of my Guildmage. I now had no creature to sacrifice at my upkeep that followed.
Shifting over to his turn, Nick cast a Fertile Ground then used his Vampiric Dragon to ping Min's Harbinger. With plenty of mana left untapped he rolled free to walk but whiffed. During my upkeep I dutifully sacrificed my Eldrazi Monument and moved to roll, which granted us a planeswalk to Celestine Reef, the promo plane from the Zendikar Prerelease.
I paid to roll and got chaos—I couldn't lose and my opponents couldn't win until we planeswalked. I then cast both my Kazandu Blademaster and Oran-Rief Survivalist, in that order. Tim just drew and passed for the turn, leaving his beefy 8/8 Dragon to hold the fort.
Min cast that Rebellion of the Flamekin, then moved to combat to clash with Tim (Tim kept Necrogenesis, Mins shipped a land away). Before Min ended his turn, Nick's Vampiric Dragon pinged away my Blademaster. Nick untapped with his now very big beatstick but just cast a Civic Wayfinder. I drew another Blademaster but, knowing the Nick's dragon would have just eaten him up, I sat on my Survivalist and hoped he would live up to his name. Tim cast his Necrogenesis and also sat tight.
Back around to Min, he cast another Entangling Trap and then took his free roll and planeswalked us onto Goldmeadow. Goat tokens, hurrah! Min chose to clash with me, both of us putting lands on the bottoms of our libraries, and paid to get a 3/1 Elemental Shaman token. Again, before Min ended his turn, Nick's dragon got hungry, and ate both Min's fresh token and my Survivalist. Afterward, he then simply untapped, drew, and passed to me
I topdecked a land then played it and my Blademaster. Would they all get eaten?
The answer was no, because after I passed to Tim, Min said he had a spell before Tim's combat step—a Lash Out pointed at my Blademaster. As I scratched my head and furrowed my brow at this strange play, Min chose to clash with Nick. He whiffed on the clash but got to tap down Vampiric Dragon with Entangling Trap. Tim smiled grimly as he sent a lethal 8/8 Predator Dragon over at Nick, who responded by using his now tapped dragon to kill off Min's Sentry Oak.
After combat, Tim used Necrogenesis to exile the Sentry Oak and Flamekin Harbinger from Min's graveyard and cast a Hellkite Hatchling, which ate a fresh Saproling.
Min started off turn twelve with his free roll, a whiff, then paid through to two mana to get us a walk to Bant. He passed over to me where I topdecked a nicely timed Gift of the Gargantuan. I used it to see an Eldrazi Monument (Why do you mock me?!), Oblivion Ring, Oran-Rief Survivalist, and Turntimber Ranger (Nice!). I took and cast the Ranger, which meant I was able to send, thanks to exalted, a 5/6 Goat into Tim's other Saproling token.
I tapped out trying to flee Bant—no dice. Tim untapped and used Necrogenesis to eat up the Turntimber Ranger, Selesnya Guildmage, and both copies of Kazandu Blademaster in my graveyard, then pummeled me with a 14/14 Predator Dragon (thanks, exalted ....) which was exactly what was needed to knock me out.
Min took his free roll, which netted a planeswalk to Academy at Tolaria West, and passed back to Tim. Tim then took aim at Min with the mighty 8/8 Dragon. Min responded with Release the Ants aimed at Tim directly (both saw lands and sent them away in the clash), paid for an Elemental Shaman token, tapped the Hellkite Hatchling and a Saproling, then took the 8 and dipped to a dangerously low 8 life. Tim followed up his attack by casting a Mycoloth, eating two Saprolings, and rolled to try and walk but didn't get it.
Min cast a fresh Sentry Oak which, when moving to combat, sent more lands away and tapped Tim's Mycoloth and another Saproling. At the end of Min's turn, Tim used Necrogenesis on the Sprouting Thrinax in his own graveyard. He then got some more Saprolings and tried to swing for the kill with both his 8/8 Predator Dragon and 3/3 Hellkite Hatchling, but Min had a nicely timed Pollen Lullaby. The clash showed Tim Doubling Season (which he gladly kept on top) and Min a Crib Swap (which also stayed). Using Entangling Trap, Min tapped the Mycoloth and a Saproling, but it left six Saprolings still untapped.
Min took his turn and cast Crib Swap on the Predator Dragon, then went to combat. The clash from Sentry Oak has Tim see Dragon Broodmother (a seriously fun card) and Min seeing a land. The Entangling Traps tapped down two Saprolings but Min's hand was empty so he gets the seven card refill at the end of his turn thanks to the Academy.
Tim netted more Saprolings and wanted to go to combat, but Min sent Lash Out at the 3/3 Hatchling before that step. The clash had Tim send away a land and Min keep another Lash Out. The Entangling Traps did their tapping thing again to turn Mycoloth and a Saproling sideways, and the Rebellion of the Flamekin let Min get a 3/1 token again. However, Tim had exactly the ten guys needed to swing against Min's two blockers. Tim turned his dudes sideways and Min responded ...
After twelve planes and almost two dozen turns, the game ended with Tim in a commanding finish.
Now it bears mentioning that before the game started I ordered some Chinese delivery, and thathalfway through the game it showed up. Now, with the game over, I get to enjoy the cold taste of defeat.
Nom nom indeed.
Inquiring Minds Wish to Know
Here's Tim's winning "Nom Nom" deck:
And if this little story has you looking for Planechase don't worry: According to the folks at Wizards, we can expect to see shelves everywhere restocked with all four sets in December—just in time for all your holiday season Magic-playing needs. If you don't have them, get your copies soon! And, please, share your epic Planechase stories. I can't wait to hear them!