e don't always get what we want in life. Card previews go out to many different people, and what one person may love, another may love less. That's why Wizards is smart enough to give us writers a "free week" after each set's previews – which gives some of us a chance to talk about the card(s) that really excite us.
I haven't analyzed the set long enough to know anything like a "Top Ten" yet – but I did see one fellow who I believe will have a lasting impact on multiplayer games:
When Rules Guru John Carter went over Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant, he handled all the relevant rules questions. (Please direct anything he missed to his email, since he will answer it earlier and better than I will.) For this column, we're free to examine the impact of this card in group play.
Welcome Back To The Abyss
Call to the Grave
was the last time a card came this close to reprinting the Legends
classic, The Abyss
. Call to the Grave
cost five. This costs three – and some way of killing three creatures.
Gosh, if only black had a way to kill creatures.
Frankly, I'm stunned Wizards put the threshold for flipping Kuon this low. I understand they had to consider duels (in which killing three creatures in the space of a turn can be pretty tricky); but the fact is, a single Innocent Blood probably gets the job done in any respectable group game. Good for R&D for keeping the power level high in multiplayer!
Abyss effects are wonderful in multiplayer because they get around some of the worst things that can happen to a black mage. Toward the top of this list is Akroma, Angel of Wrath (and several other angels). For multiplayer mages looking for a Chainer's Edict with a bit more staying power, this ogre is your, um, man.
Before You Email Me With The Combo I'm About To Ignore
Folks, black has an awful lot of ways to kill creatures. I'm not going to mention them all. I'm not even going to mention more than a dozen or so.
And the cards that aren't black (or artifacts)? Frankly, they probably don't belong in a deck with a card that costs . I suppose it's nice to dream, but this approach has its limits.
So after reading this article, if you write to me to tell me I "missed" a card, I won't exactly be apologetic.
That said, if you would like to share your thoughts on a great combination you've thought up, you should always feel free to share. You may indeed think up something wonderful. Just save the outrage for other issues. (For example, Mark Gottlieb's aberrant – and quite frankly, unpatriotic! – attachment to barrels, which aren't that funny anyway. Why, back in college, I had a roommate who was a barrel. He never cracked a smile, much less a joke. Perhaps he was just, you know, empty inside.)
(Alternately, you could direct your outrage toward over-long setups for horrific puns. The point is, the fact I didn't mention your pet card doesn't seem so important anymore, does it?)
So what are the only five ways in Magic you can possibly use to kill three creatures? After some careful research, I only found four. Wizards really needs to come up with more cards that can kill more than one creature at a time. If you want to kill three creatures in the space of a turn, these are the only ways to get it done! Do you hear me? The only ways!
Mass removal is great with Kuon, but free mass removal is amazing!
1. Massacre. Put as "near family" all those –X/-X effects, from Mutilate to Infest. I like Massacre because you can often play it the turn Kuon comes into play, for free.
The broad weenie sweep is also good for the enchantment portion of the card, since it reduces the number of soldiers, squirrels, slivers, elves, goblins, spirits, zombies, saprolings, dragons, beasts – um, okay, probably not dragons or beasts – and insects down to a more manageable zero.
Of course, red also has a million tools (most based on Earthquake or Pyroclasm) for killing lots of creatures with toughness 2 or less. But we're not talking about other colors, remember?
2. Engineered Explosives. The chosen representative of all things that sack to blow up the board. I like Explosives because you can more easily avoid hitting Kuon himself, for splashing only one additional color. (The "tainted" lands like Tainted Field work fine for this, and also allow you to insert some intriguing cards like Sigil of the New Dawn.)
But we're not talking about other colors!
Again you get the "sweep" synergy that makes sure weenie decks reset to zero. Folks, this is important. I can't tell you how depressing it is to watch a guy with 403 elves giggle like a freak and put a single card in the graveyard, all the while saying, "Gosh, that enchantment is killing me! I'm down to 402! Yuk yuk!" Yeah, buddy, you know where you and your elves can stuff it…
I'm sorry, is this microphone still on? Let's continue.
Black gives you an incredible number of tools to sacrifice your own permanents for short-term (or perhaps long-term) gain. There are tons of cards that fall into this category, at varying levels of required creativity (Greater Harvester
, Spawning Pit
, Stronghold Assassin
, etc.). Heck, even something like Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked
…but we're not talking about other colors!
4. Aluren. Okay, forget the mono-black thing. Unfortunately, Aluren is stupid with all sorts of cards, and this is one of them.
Here's the deal: you play Kuon not in a black deck, or even a green-black deck, but in the Aluren deck of your choice – mono-green, if you like. Or green-white, so you can play Wrath of God or whatever. Toward the end of a turn where lots of things have died – say, right after a rough combat phase between two other players – throw Kuon out there at instant speed. His trigger will still take effect at end of turn.
What happens after that is up to you. An Abyss-Aluren interplay can be effective if you have bounce (Man-o'-War or Wizard Mentor), or if you have things that are interesting when they die like zuberas or Abyssal Gatekeeper, or if you just want to fall into the tired rut of that godforsaken Cavern Harpy – bleah bleah combo that makes me want to vomit every time I think about it. Not that I have an opinion one way or the other.
Anyway, like I said. No other Magic cards work, so don't try. Creativity is your enemy.
Kuon You Build A Good Deck With This Card?
This deck has some awfully familiar elements to people who've read me for a long time, and/or people in our play group. I've made it Magic Online legal, so that people who are playing me Online once Saviors hits can quickly reference it and fool themselves into thinking I'd be dumb enough to play exactly what I write here:
The deck intentionally has no other Saviors cards – there are a few with obvious synergy (e.g. Measure of Wickedness); and others I'd like to test before recommending (e.g., Promise of Bunrei).
What Kuon Your Opponents Do?
Kuon is not invincible. He needs to be in play at the end of turn, no matter how many other creatures die. That means he could come under intense fire on any turn when opponents sense he's about to flip.
That makes the four toughness nice. But you should still expect a lot of post-combat attention on Kuon. Many smart players will enter combat, hit someone else, let three or more creatures die to thin out the field, and then casually toss a Terminate Kuon's way. So be prepared. Have Reverent Mantra, Shunt, or Misdirection handy.
At the very least, be ready to bring Kuon back from the graveyard. Zombify and similar cards can do the trick; but make sure you don't use Corpse Dance or Goryo's Vengeance. Both contain end-of-turn triggers that cause you to lose Kuon at the end of the turn, whether or not you've flipped him into an enchantment. (No, don't argue with me. Argue with John Carter in his Saturday column. That's what he's there for.)
No matter how many times you bring back Kuon, or with whatever cards, enjoy the ugly ascension!
Anthony cannot provide deck help. In fact, he has done away with the last three people who asked, in an effort to flip Kuon.