ello everybody! Welcome to House of Cards. Before I get to the business at hand, I'd like to issue a heartfelt cry of contrition. Four of them, in fact.
Apology 1: Last week, I hinted that Aaron Forsythe would be previewing a purple Horseshoe Crab. This couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, even on such a chaotic plane as this one, Aaron previewed a much cooler card: Magus of the Library. (Apology 1a: I'm extra sorry to the Horseshoe and/or Crab lovers for getting your hopes up.)
Apology 2: In that same article, I referred to the impatient, preview-hungry readers of this column as “jackals.” This was way out of line. My deepest apologies go out to any actual jackals reading my articles.
Apology 3: This one goes to the four non-green colours. You got swindled, fleeced, and/or taken to the cleaners. In one of the most lopsided deals in non-sports history, the colour green traded away Mirri, Cat Warrior for Ball Lightning, Thundermare, and Library of Alexandria-on-a-stick. I don't even think ex–Toronto Raptors General Manager Rob Babcock is capable of making a swap that unbalanced. I guess green is the new colour of “stealing”? Surely green would have to give up something else?
Apology 4: To the green mages: I'm sad to report that it does. What does it lose? Perhaps the most tantalizing, yet still unbroken, card-drawing engine ever made. Why not Recycle the concept, timeshift it, and put it in a colour that might make it even more dangerous?
Now that's some artwork! Admittedly, I haven't seen the art yet, but it's gotta be at least on par with the Recycle art, which featured Gerrard Capashen with a double-cheekful of what I have to believe is Soylent Green, or perhaps the much rarer Soylent Brown.
Start your engines!
This is the casual deckbuilding column. As such, when it comes to previews, I get the oddball build-around-me cards, just as The Ferrett gets multiplayer powerhouses slash funhouses, Mike Flores gets something tournament-worthy, Matt Cavotta often takes a peek at a flavourful Legend who may or may not be a merciless killer, and Aaron Forsythe usually previews a sneaky card that takes a while for people to realize how good it is (see: Vesuvan Shapeshifter, Orzhov Pontiff, Shining Shoal).
That said, don't dismiss Null Profusion too quickly just because I'm previewing it. After all, Mark Gottlieb previewed Skullclamp, Gifts Ungiven, and, uh, Barrel Down Sokenzan in this very column. Of all the cards I've covered during preview weeks, this one seems like it has the most potential for abuse.
Let's take a look at the card, line by line.
Six mana is a lot, let's face it. As I've said many times before, when I pay mana for something, it'd better win me the game. When I pay six, I expect to win the game six times as much. is a mana-cost with a pretty strong pedigree. You need to look no further than Kokusho, the Evening Star, Yawgmoth's Bargain, and Legions powerhouse Dripping Dead. But how will we pay all that mana?
. This kind of fast mana is no longer in black, having moved to red as evidenced by Rite of Flame, Seething Song, and the all-powerful Mana Geyser. Vintage, Legacy, and Online Classic players can still use their original Rituals, while everyone else has to make do with the newfangled red ones. It's not a big drop-off in quality.
Artifact Mana. Cards like Mana Vault, Grim Monolith, and even Chrome Mox are like colourless Dark Rituals. Silver Rituals, if you will, though you don't have to.
. Green's land search is probably pretty good with Null Profusion, but better still are cards that allow you to play multiple lands in a single turn, like Exploration
, Azusa, Lost but Seeking
, and Summer Bloom
Heartbeat of Spring
. It's been a key part in many recent combo decks and I see no reason why it wouldn't be good with Null Profusion as well.
Cost reducers. In this category, you've got Locket of Yesterdays, the Medallion cycle from Tempest, Helm of Awakening, the Planeshift Familiars, and others. Not only can these cards make your Null Profusion hit the table turns sooner than normal, but they can also make your post-Null Profusion turns that much more dramatic.
Storage Lands. If you're like me, when you were a kid and you wanted something expensive, you played the lottery. This was poorly thought out on my part, not to mention illegal. If you're not like me, you probably saved some kind of weekly allowance. That's what the Time Spiral lands like Dreadship Reef are for: saving for the future. For just this reason, I refer to them as the “allowance lands” for short (or for long).
Show and Tell
. Why pay full price for a Null Profusion when you can get it half off with Show and Tell or Hypergenesis, or at a 66.66 (repeating, of course) percent discount with Eureka?
While we're on the subject of cheating Null Profusion into play, I can't help but mention a pair of old-school enchantment lovers, Academy Rector and Replenish. The former has long been a pal of six-mana enchantments everywhere, most notably Yawgmoth's Bargain. To get the Rector into the bin, try a little Cabal Therapy. Replenish is only legal in Vintage, but it's worth mentioning. One card you definitely won't want to use with Null Profusion is Enduring Ideal. Seems kinda bad. You'd be better off fetching it with Enlightened Tutor or, god forbid, Golden Wish.
Skip your draw step.
As in most social situations, when playing a game of Magic, you don't want to get caught with your pants down. Unless, of course, you're squaring off against a Hurloon Wrangler or, for all I know, Mistform Ultimus (just keeping my bases covered with that one).
Well, playing with Null Profusion is like fetching your morning paper in your underwear. If you're not careful, your front door might swing shut behind you as you bend down to pick up your copy of the Wirewood Herald. In short, it can backfire, leaving you vulnerable and ashamed.
Almost every other card that requires you to skip your draw step is a card-drawing engine like Necropotence
, Yawgmoth's Bargain
, Psychic Possession
, and Symbiotic Deployment
. The only exceptions to this are Solitary Confinement
and probably Mistform Ultimus
. It's pretty hard for Psychic Possession
to backfire on you. The same goes for Necro and Bargain, since you'd have to run out of life to find yourself unable to draw cards, and in that case, guess what, you're dead (or soon to be). On the other hand, the green Necro (Symbiotic Deployment
), is pretty much backfire-in-a-can, since just about any kind of creature removal (especially sweepers) will prevent you from drawing cards for the rest of the game. Null Profusion has a similar vulnerability to discard spells. As long as you have a card in hand, you can keep churning through your deck, but an untimely Mindstab
or Haunting Hymn
will stop your deck dead in its small, rectangular tracks.
There are a couple things you can do about this problem. You can either ignore it, or you can put in some safe-guards. If I remember correctly, some Recycle decks of yore used the obscure Ghost Town to help ensure that you never ran out of cards. If you lost your hand to a Hymn to Tourach or Stupor, you could just pick up your Ghost Town and, uh, go to town with your Recycle. You could also use Undiscovered Paradise or more recent cards like Oboro, Palace in the Clouds, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, or even Scrying Sheets if your deck was heavy on snow permanents.
Phyrexian Arena, meanwhile, will keep the cards flowing despite the missing draw step. Flashback spells that draw you cards like Deep Analysis or Think Twice, or anything else that can be played or used from the graveyard (like Genesis or Haakon, Stromgald Scourge), seem like nice fail-safes.
Whenever you play a card, draw a card.
Since Null Profusion triggers whenever you play a card, any card, it's like a Horn of Greed, a Verduran Enchantress, a Vedalken Archmage, a Primordial Sage, and two cards that haven't been printed yet, all rolled into one! It covers all the basic “food groups,” like a sort of burrito of Magic. Some might go so far as to call it one gigantic cornucopia of awesomeness.
Note that you have to “play” a card. What this means is that the copies generated by spells with Storm or Replicate won't allow you draw extra cards. Neither will cycling, channelling, or transmuting a card. You won't get a card when a creature comes into play via Zombify or Hypergenesis, although you will draw one when you play either of those spells.
Cards like Cloudstone Curio that allow you to keep returning permanents to your hand seem like they could form the basis of a fun Null Profusion deck. Another card that has a cute interaction with Null Profusion is Darkblast. If you have one in hand and another in the graveyard, you can play the first one, dredge the second one when the Null Profusion trigger resolves, then play the second one and dredge the first one. For each black mana you spend, you can give a creature -1/-1 and dump three cards into your graveyard. What can you do with an ever-fattening graveyard and the ability to wipe creatures off the board at will? Something cool, certainly. You can do even cooler things with a few Sensei's Divining Tops, like draw your deck lickety-split.
Your maximum hand size is two.
For decks with a combo kill, I expect this little clause to be largely irrelevant. If you prefer decks with a lot of reactive cards, like, say, control decks, the two-card maximum might cramp your style a wee bit, but it might be worth it if it means that your Damnations and your counter-magic turn into cantrips.
The Kill, or Lieutenant No-Brainer Drops by for Tea
When I started writing this column just over a year ago, I planned to introduce you to a cast of wholly original, completely non-imitative characters, such as the creatively-challenged Lieutenant No-Brainer, the diabolical M.E. Phistopheles, and the semi-deranged, anthropomorphic beaver who would occasionally write my column (he's much more industrious than I am). Unfortunately, these very real characters abandoned me from the get-go. Fortunately, I got to talking with the reclusive Lt. No-Brainer the other day, and when I showed him my preview card he said the first and only thing that came into his head:
When every card in your deck is a cantrip, even the freakin' lands (!), can there be more a suitable win condition?
Putting it all together
One interaction that I've liked is the one between Summer Bloom
and the Ravnica
“Karoos” like Golgari Rot Farm
. Normally, you need to be playing a ton of lands to make Summer Bloom
worthwhile, but the drawback to the Karoos (or “Bouncelands” because you have to return a land to your hand when they come into play) makes it seem like you have more lands than you actually do. Magus of the Candelabra
also works well with lands that produce more than one mana, and it's a cheap spell that can be used to power up your storm spells if need be. Lotus Bloom
allows you to get the turn-three Null Profusion, but it isn't that great once the Profusion is already on the table. Reclaim
will get back your used Summer Bloom
s early on, and it gets even better with Null Profusion (though you won't be able to draw the card you Reclaim
with the Null Profusion-trigger generated by Reclaim
). Rite of Flame
and Seething Song
have proven themselves and allow you to get a quick Null Profusion or just up your storm count.
Speaking of storm counts, Ignite Memories is the primary kill condition, with Demonfire as a backup. With all the mana-ramping, getting to lethal with a Demonfire shouldn't be too much trouble, although do note that it is next to impossible to get hellbent with Null Profusion kicking around. My first draft would be something along these lines:
Kabloom! – Standard with Planar Chaos
If Extended is your format of choice, you could easily make some substitutions. Burning Wish, Cabal Ritual, and Tendrils of Agony seem pretty obvious. Another card that might be good is Rude Awakening, which not only untaps all those Karoos but also serves as win condition. Legacy and Vintage players have even more broken tools at their disposal.
Until next time, have fun drawing your library!