A bit of mid-week recovery from Discard Week

All Suns’ Dawn

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The letter H!opefully you're enjoying Discard Week to the fullest. I don't know what wonderful bit of genius my column-neighbor Anthony Alongi has brewed up for you this week, but I know it will be full of wise and wacky insights, as always. Depending on how you look at it, I've drawn either the short or the long straw – I get to sit this theme week out thanks to royal decree of our esteemed editor. As I was pouting, I decided it might be nice thinking about foils to discard (Spiritual Focus *cough* ). While there are plenty of great cards out there that might be effective foils to discard, a bit of playtesting and Five-color reminded me of an incredibly effective discard recovery tool that just happens to be a solid card all on its own: All Suns' Dawn. Yes, you can use All Suns' Dawn is a potentially huge recovery from discard, but that's just scratching the surface.

When the Mirrodin Block was being crafted, Fifth Dawn's role was to bring color back into the world of Artifacts. You can see this effect in so many of the cards, from the Bringers to Channel the Suns to Joiner Adept. All Suns' Dawn plays to this by recovering up to five cards, one of each color, but only one of each color. The card has been compared at times to Restock, but while it is slightly less flexible (no recovering Powder Keg or Gaea's Cradle here), it is incredibly more powerful.

Knowing what you are dealing with

I may be an adult, but I've come to take very seriously a lesson I learned years ago watching G.I. Joe: “Knowing is half the battle.” So true. There are so many cards out there that beg to be exploited, you really have to know how to tailor your own use of any card to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual card. Here are some key things to consider about All Suns' Dawn.

  • The more colors, the merrier.
    It might be completely obvious, but it bears saying: All Suns' Dawn is not all that hot if you're playing a mono-Green deck. Each additional color that you're using further increases the power of All Suns' Dawn.
  • There is no such thing as free lunch.
    Five mana is no joke. While it is possible to get five cards out of a single All Suns' Dawn, if you sit around forever waiting to get the mana for the card and get the fullest advantage out of All Suns' Dawn you've probably sat out most of the game with a useless card in your hand.
  • Having the colors is not enough.
    Just because you're playing four to five colors that does not mean you'll have those colors in your grave. You can't recycle cards that have never been used.

Five mana for five cards is a pretty good deal, but it is good to keep in mind that you are not simply casting an alternate version of Opportunity.

More than just power

Maybe you play Prismatic, maybe you play Five-Color, or maybe you're just running a constructed deck using all the colors in the rainbow. Just because you're playing the appropriate amount of colors, it does not immediately follow that your All Suns' Dawn is the world's most powerful Regrowth. There are a couple of factors that need to be further considered here. Look at these two piles of retrieved All Suns' Dawn cards.

Which do you prefer? I prefer B, and I'll get to why in just a bit.

When it comes to All Suns' Dawn targets, active spells are the ones that work best. Reactive spells look for an opportunity to be used and active spells can flow out of your hand like water. A great example of a card that is very reactive is Counterspell. With Counterspell, you are waiting for your opponent to do something worth stopping, so the card might sit in your hand for some time before being worth using. A lot of the time, you might not have that Counterspell in the grave to be retrieved by the All Suns' Dawn, and if you do, you aren't likely to be able to cast it immediately. Now, this is not to say that Counterspell and All Suns' Dawn shouldn't be used together, but rather that Counterspell doesn't really help out the All Suns' Dawn. There is rarely something “bad” about regrowing a Counter. About the only way to make Counterspell truly “active” though is to just throw it at any old spell that comes its way.

Some cards might be active in some places or reactive in another. A good example of this is the Oxidize. If you're playing Oxidize knowing full well that it is going to be useful in every game that you're playing, Oxidize can be a very active card. On the other hand, if you're boarding in a card like Naturalize to answer a very specific threat (say a Vedalken Shackles) it can become very reactive. Oxidize is still a great spell in this case, but it doesn't lend itself as well to All Suns' Dawn unless you know you can use it actively.

A low cost is also incredibly important. If you spend your entire turn casting All Suns' Dawn, and then spend nearly your entire turn casting one of the spells you picked up, and then do the same thing the following turn, it really is almost as if you'd never drawn that All Sun's Dawn in the first place. The quality of your cards is good and Card Advantage is good, but only if you actually get a chance to use the cards. Retrieving the Akroma, for example, is likely to be a waste of time.

Mana fixing is an excellent, active way to fight the high cost of All Suns' Dawn. You'll want these cards anyway to get the most of all of the colors you're intending to play. Very nearly all of these cards are green, and they all fit the bill of active: Sakura-Tribe Elder, Harrow, or Kodama's Reach all make for good fixers.

Essentially, Pile A is the stronger pile, card for card. Pile B, on the other hand, actually lets you play the cards you do return to your hand quickly. You won't sit around waiting to play everything, and with only a wee bit more than the five mana for the All Suns' Dawn, you'll probably be able to cast another spell immediately on that same turn. The best cards to retrieve generally end up being cheap card drawing, mana fixing, and elimination spells. If you can develop your board while bowing up your opponent's stuff, drawing five cards can be like a knockout punch.

The small “semi-cheats”

There are definitely ways to “cheat” with All Suns' Dawn. Split cards are one of the best. Burn cards can always be active, whether they are taking out your opponent's creatures or they are just going to the head. Magma Jet and the Fire side of Fire/Ice are great burn spells, but you can bring both back with an All Suns' Dawn since you can count on the Ice part of Fire/Ice to be a blue card.

Gold cards work just the same way. The Vindicate in Pile B (above) can fit into your White or Black retrieved card. Vindicate is an excellent active card, to be sure, but it is more useful with All Suns' Dawn for the same reason it's more useful in Prismatic or Five-Color: fitting into multiple colors actually matters.

Cycling cards are another simple semi-cheat. Whether it is Scrap or Elvish Aberration, these cards don't have to actually be the card that they are when cast. Instead they can be a Reach Through Mists or a land. This is actually very relevant as you're trying to fill up your grave and also get enough of the right colors into your graveyard to make the fullest use out of All Suns' Dawn that you can.

Building the perfect beast

There are some really excellent tutor cards and search cards out there. While cards like Mystical Tutor or Imperial Seal can give you the pinpoint accuracy of a single card, other search cards can find more than one piece at a time. Intuition doesn't have to be just about “Ack!Ack!Ack!” (three Accumulated Knowledges) or taking three copies of some other single card you want: you can stitch together your combo instead. In Classic, Intuitioning for Goblin Bombardment, Enduring Renewal, and Duress can be pretty potent when you have a All Suns' Dawn in your hand. With Gifts Ungiven, try Duress, Intruder Alarm, Animate Land, and Kaervek's Torch – all it takes is a Forbidden Orchard and the Dawn to go boom.

Beyond simple tutoring, powerful deck searching also becomes greatly enhanced. Fact or Fiction has always been one of those overly powerful card search spells (spawning the annoying internet acronym EOTFOFYL, “End of turn, Fact or Fiction, You lose”), but it becomes all the more terrifying and annoying when the Fact or Fiction flips over an All Suns' Dawn. Heck, even blatant graveyard filling like Tolarian Serpent can become scary if you can plan on tutoring out really powerful cards from your grave with the All Suns' Dawn.

Where it lives

In a smaller deck (say one that isn't Prismatic), the limitations of All Suns' Dawn can be such that you really don't want to run that many of them. Once you get to that five mana mark, you really want to be playing cards that start saying “I Win”. While you might think that drawing five cards is a win, it isn't by itself. Meloku is a “win the game” card. Drawing five cards is about finding a way to win. A sixty card deck can quickly run out of room, and at some point you need less cards that give you card advantage and more cards that just end the game.

For this year's Wisconsin States, Madisonian (and occasional PTer) Mike Hron built a deck that made use of a ton of the things that make All Suns' Dawn great. Here is his deck, “I Bring Gifts”.

He was playing only one All Suns' Dawn, but when it resolved, it was generally game. He ran active cards, mana fixing, and cheap spells. He used Gifts Ungiven to fill the graveyard and search out his “combo” (Worship/Pristine Angel). Against most of his opponents, it was just an attrition war, with the All Suns' Dawn throwing away any chance that the opponent usually had. He cruised to the Top 8 of that event and knocked out more than one of his friends running the same deck down into the Top 16. Even with only a single copy, that All Suns' Dawn was integral to making the deck's power shine.

The best place to abuse the card is the slower formats: Prismatic and Five-Color. You have plenty of time to get this card a-rollin. Your opponent will most likely be spending some amount of effort to develop their own board, and what Hron's deck does in Standard you can do back. In Five-Color, the card is restricted (retrieve Time Walk, Contract from Below, Regrowth, Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, anyone?), but Prismatic lets you run all four.

Wrapping Up

With all of that in mind, here is my All Suns' Dawn-loving Prismatic deck. All Suns' Dawn is great at keeping your deckbuilding focused. Good control decks in Prismatic and good All Suns' Dawn cards are basically one and the same. The principals to keep in mind: develop mana, be active, be fast. This doesn't mean that no card will be reactive, but the deck will definitely lean towards the active end.

It's a little fat for even a Prismatic deck, but I've always kind of been of the Wakefield school when it comes to decks like these: run a lot of mana, and run a few more cards. A huge amount of the deck is clearly dedicated to mana development, like any other Prismatic deck. Beyond that, a lot of the cards are dedicated to eliminating the opponent's resources or building your own. While there are certainly a few reactive cards like Evasive Action or more dramatically, Grim Reminder, it is mostly about playing for itself.

The rest of the cards are primarily about finishing the opponent off. Grim Reminder, as reactive as it is, fills this bill quite well, especially in a format where so many players play the same cards. When you do go about actually casting your All Suns' Dawn, you're likely to be retrieving the bare essentially: resource stripping cards, resource building cards, and the odd finisher.

If you don't have all of the more expensive cards here, you can still take advantage of cheaper options. More green mana search and less expensive land is the simplest change you could make. Other expensive cards (like Death Grasp) could easily just become some other decent form of elim. I play a lot more Five-Color than I do Prismatic, so for me it is a real treat to just be able to build a deck with a ton of the expensive cards (care of Wizards) if I'm going to have that extra treat of 4 All Suns' Dawn.

While everyone else this week makes you drop your cards, I hope you enjoyed an article about picking them back up. Have a great rest of the week!

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