7/01/10 TD: "Survival"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Top Decks Article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Fun card. I can see a lot of cool decks being made for this. If Spike is actually able to use it as well, all the better.
Getting a creature you want is great, but putting a creature in the graveyard can also be a good thing.
I'm hoping this card isn't as strong as it seems to me, because I want to be able to grab a playset on the cheap. However, as Mike has shown, it is incredibly versatile and so I'm sure it will find a place in the metagame.
I'm hoping this card isn't as strong as it seems to me, because I want to be able to grab a playset on the cheap.



Same, would love to have a survival of the fittest deck in standard/new extended.
My favorite card in the set so far. Unfortunately this is going to make a chase mythic (vengevine) all the more chase because pretty much every deck that uses fauna shaman will want vengevine. I am not sure how "chase" this rare is going to be but if it is cheap enough I may just get one or two. Maybe it will come out in a theme deck to help keep the price lowerish.

edit: shaman is my favorite creature type even though I don't like any of the "shaman lords". I hope they come out with a good shaman lord down the road sometime.
Don't be too smart to have fun
Very nice, and glad it is not Mythic Rare.  Can go in almost every green deck I use, but I am especially excited to use it in my Skill Borrower deck.
Strange... I like the picture in large size, but not so much on the card. Its the kind of picture that wants to draw your eye to different parts because of the detail and cool stuff, but when its shrunk you naturally want to look at the whole thing in one go. To avoid unnecessary eye-bleeding, I think I'll skip this one.

Thank you for not making this Mythic!  (Although, as an engine card, it would have been a slightly more legitimate Mythic than Lotus Cobra - but that's really because Lotus Cobra is a poor Mythic.)


What about running it with the new Titans?  They all have spell-like abilities, which is the sort of thing you may want to tutor for.  Sun Titan, in particular, can revive your Fauna Shaman!

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
Could be a nice card in a BG deck with vengevines and bloodghasts..

Discard a bloodghast to get a vengevine, drop a land.. fun times.
Now I really really want to draft M11.  Darnit.
I think I would prefer the "do nothing" enchantment to a creature since there are not as many ways to kill enchantments as there are for creatures.  Sticking a Canopy Cover on it would do a nice job though.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
Very interesting, Survival decks are my alltime favorite in Magic (still play them in Legacy), I hope there's a decent Standard/Extended deck to be build with it.

I think I would prefer the "do nothing" enchantment to a creature since there are not as many ways to kill enchantments as there are for creatures.  Sticking a Canopy Cover on it would do a nice job though.



That's like saying you prefer Black Lotus over Lotus Bloom, the original just won't come back for being too powerful Tongue out


Wow. I never thought they'd bring back Survival of the Fittest, even on a creature. This is great! It's beneficial that this is a creature for some purposes, like mono-green EDH; it's a Survival that those decks can actually tutor up.

Even more surprising than the return of SotF is that it isn't printed at mythic rarity. 
Very interesting, Survival decks are my alltime favorite in Magic (still  play them in Legacy), I hope there's a decent Standard/Extended deck to be build with it.

I think I would prefer the "do nothing" enchantment to a creature since there are not as many ways to kill enchantments as there are for creatures.  Sticking a Canopy Cover on it would do a nice job though.




That's like saying you prefer Black Lotus over Lotus Bloom, the original just won't come back for being too powerful Tongue out





That's not what I was saying.  I wasn't in the game when Survival of the Fittest was out and I don't have any copies of the card.  I was mostly commenting on Mike Flores calling Survival of the Fittest a "do nothing" enchantment and implying that Fauna Shaman is better because it is a creature.  I think that being a creature is really bad in this case.  It will suffer the same problems as Master Transmuter except that it gets out a little quicker than the Transmuter.

Also, Black Lotus and Lotus Bloom are both artifacts and share the same strengths and weaknesses of being artifacts.  Fauna Shaman is a creature while Survival of the Fittest is an enchantment.  Being a creature allows you to damage your opponent (which is probably what Flores was getting at with his "do nothing" enchantment comment) but makes you FAR more susceptible to removal than being an enchantment.  I suppose that the extra weaknesses were necessary for the card to return, but you cant call Fauna Shaman "better" than Survival of the Fittest.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
That's not what I was saying.  I wasn't in the game when Survival of the Fittest was out and I don't have any copies of the card.  I was mostly commenting on Mike Flores calling Survival of the Fittest a "do nothing" enchantment and implying that Fauna Shaman is better because it is a creature.  I think that being a creature is really bad in this case.  It will suffer the same problems as Master Transmuter except that it gets out a little quicker than the Transmuter.

Also, Black Lotus and Lotus Bloom are both artifacts and share the same strengths and weaknesses of being artifacts.  Fauna Shaman is a creature while Survival of the Fittest is an enchantment.  Being a creature allows you to damage your opponent (which is probably what Flores was getting at with his "do nothing" enchantment comment) but makes you FAR more susceptible to removal than being an enchantment.  I suppose that the extra weaknesses were necessary for the card to return, but you cant call Fauna Shaman "better" than Survival of the Fittest.



Ah I see, sorry.

Yeah I guess this is where the business part of a preview card sneaks in. Instead of admitting honestly that being a creature makes it a worse card, he has to bend the truth a little by calling it a "do-something" just to get us exited to buy the new set Laughing
Survival of the Fittest was a clearly overpowered card.
But as usual, this problem occurs, when WotC doesn't have a calculation rule for casting cost.

Let's start:
   1. one-time effects (nomal instants & sorceries)

   2. spellshaper permanents (as with normal spells, you lose a card for creating an effect)

   3. permanents with activated abilities & [manacost]t[/manacost] symbol or "use once" restriction

   4. permanents with activated abilities without usage restricton

However one thing is missing in the list (2.5): permanents that are like spellshapers without usage restriction.

WotC (or R&D) should create a calculation base for these types. How much worth is a lost card? How much do you pay for an repeatable effect? And how much does an additional casting cost for the permanent decrease the activation cost for the ability?

Many years ago, there was something like a 1:3 relation between colorless mana and colored mana. This changed alot, so by now, there is no real different left. Mostly for Limited Tournaments, WotC reduced the casting cost of many cards from to without any additional drawback.

Likewise, there were the typical cmc 1 spells, that produce an effect around "3". Giant Growth, Dark Ritual, Lightning Bolt, Healing Salve and even Ancestral Recall were the most common ones. Now guess, which one is the most expensive... this will be important soon. By now, mainly the Dark Ritual and the Ancestral Recall are usually called 'overpowered'. Lightning Bolt might be, but the name was a reason for the reprint.

In addition, you can take creatures with a one time effect and compare the converted mana cost (cmc). And you should find instants with and without an additional draw effect and compare the cmc too.

With this in mind, you can start finding a calculation base.

1.) Drawing a card is worth .
This means that any spell with an additional draw effect should cost 2 more than normal.

2.) Losing a card be worth
This is relevant for all kind of spells & abilities. It worth less than drawing a card, because this is a cost, not a discard effect for your opponent. If you combine draw & losing a card). Of course the order of the abilities are important. If you have to discard first, this creates a weaker effect.

3.) Colored mana is worth
This means that cmc 1 spells should produce an effect worth 2 colorless mana (in addition to other cost reduction)

The result:
Any instant produces an effect worth 3 colorless mana (2 for the cost, 1 for the lost card). Therefore - in my eyes - it would be quite ok, if there would be a new version of a Dark Ritual producing nstead. However, this doesn't mean that I'm a fan of the Lightning Bolt. For me, it's a card with an additional option... a 'choose one' card. And this means a Shock is quite fine (and of course an instant 3 damage to a creature or an instant with 3 damage to a player). A Giant Growth has a hidden 'cast this spell only if you control a creature'... but the spell increases power and toughness, so it's questionable. The Healing Salve is too weak, because one part has an additional 'only useful, if target creature would be dealt damage' and is an overall anwer-to-an-answer card, so the timing is an additional drawback.


So you can produce any sort of spells with a one-time effect. Keep in mind, that cards with a higher casting cost should include 'free extra mana', since there is a one-land-per-turn restriction.

What about cards?

4.) Repeatable effects should cost more than one-time effect. The cost should at least include the cost for drawing a card

Well since they are repeatable, they should include the standard 'draw a card' cost. If you look at cards with buyback, the additional cost is the cost for drawing a card (and includes cost for drawing the right card).

Worldly Tutor is a card that allows you to search for a creature card, so an additional draw effect would increase the cost to or . A creature with this effect would cost a bit more, since it's also often a 1/1. A creature for cmc 1 is either a 1/2 or a 2/1. A 1/1 creature generates a free mana for additional effects. This could be haste, vigilance and so on (although these effects aren't evenly powered).

5.) an ability should create one mana for each mana used/wasted for the ability.

A cmc1 creature with a tap effect, shouldn't be able to generate more than with the tap effect. This means, Llanowar Elves are overpowered as well as the Birds of Paradise or the Noble Hierarch. A 1/1 creature with mana cost, would need an additional , for the 'worldy tutor' ability.

However, the effect only put the card on top of the library. If you would like to produce a real search effect, you have to add the cost for drawing a card. This increases the cost up to ,.

To decrease the cost, you can either increase the casting cost, or add additional drawbacks.
In general: +1 casting cost = -1 ability cost... without a P/T increase.

So a Fauna Shaman with would reduce the cost by 1, resulting in a total of ,. The addition 'discard a creature card' should be worth at least for the 'discard a card' cost. But the additional restriction might reduce the cost for an extra . Therefore, the Fauna Shaman is clearly overpowered as a 2/2. Compare it with Merfolk Looter.

The Survival of the Fittest however was eve more overpowered. Because it includes an additional 'untap' effect as well as an internal 'haste', the cost should be definitely higher (2 mana). And since this is a deck-defining enchantment, the total casting cost shouldn't be lower than cmc3. So my version of s Survival of the fittest would have been an enchantment for with an activation cost of , .
So my version of s Survival of the fittest would have been an enchantment for with an activation cost of , .



They tend not to like enchantments that tap.  Sorry.

So a Fauna Shaman with would reduce the cost by 1, resulting in a total of ,. The addition 'discard a creature card' should be worth at least for the 'discard a card' cost. But the additional restriction might reduce the cost for an extra . Therefore, the Fauna Shaman is clearly overpowered as a 2/2. Compare it with Merfolk Looter.

Are you remembering that size and tap abilities don't stack very well?  That's why they stopped making creatures like Crimson Hellkite, and started making Ancient Hellkite.  Obviously 2/2 is much smaller than that, but you still have to make a choice.  The less often you think the 2/2 body is relevant (instead of using the ability), then the less additional mana it should cost.  Also, remember that Fauna Shaman requires to cast and to use, while Merfolk Looter requires to cast, and no mana at all to use.  Green is supposed to get larger creatures than Blue.

On top of that, aren't there lots of arbitrary assumptions in your costing?  For example, you assume that Worldly Tutor is appropriately costed, however, it's a card that never saw much play.  And why do you think that a creature activated ability should cost more to use than an equivalent spell?  If all you want is the tutor effect, you have to pay both the casting cost and the activation cost, so it's already more expensive.  Add in summoning sickness, and you have to wait for the effect, and might never get it at all, if the creature dies!  I appreciate the attempt to make mana costs formal, but I don't agree with a lot of your decisions.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
I think this was supposed to be "Magus of the Fittest". Therefore the mana cost and activation cost were pre-determined by the original famous card. R&D surely tested it and found it to be reasonable, since being a creature is a liability. Same as all the other magi based on non-land permanents.

if it had been a 0/1 I would still have loved this card. If it had been a 1/3 or 0/4 I might have even liked it more than this version.

Don't be too smart to have fun
I think this was supposed to be "Magus of the Fittest". Therefore the mana cost and activation cost were pre-determined by the original famous card. R&D surely tested it and found it to be reasonable, since being a creature is a liability. Same as all the other magi based on non-land permanents.



Except that this one requires a tap! I'm sure they originally tested a 1G Magus of the fittest with an activation of just G, discard a creature card: but found that one to be still too powerful. With a functional change (the tap addition) it wouldn't be a real Magus anymore but it would be printable, so we're seeing it now! Smile

Why would Magus of the Fittest not be a magus due to his tap effect? i dont understand. Lots of the original magi from the time spiral block had tap effects.

On the topic of Treasure Mage: Hello planeswalkers. Look at your hand, now back to me, now back to your hand, now back to me. Sadly, your hand doesn't have a big game-winning bomb in it, but if you searched through your library for an artifact with converted mana cost of 6 or greater, you could get one. Look down, now back up, shuffle your library. Where are you? You're in a Magic game, and you're losing. What's that in your hand? It's a Wurmcoil Engine. Look again, the Wurmcoil Engine is now a ticket to Nagoya. Anything is possible when you cast Treasure Mage. I'm on a dragon. Currently Playing: U/R Burning Vengeance Control 10-2 http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/ur-burning-vengeance-2/
Why would Magus of the Fittest not be a magus due to his tap effect? i dont understand. Lots of the original magi from the time spiral block had tap effects.

Because Survival of the Fittest doesn't require tapping in order to activate its ability. All of the original magi didn't have any sort of additional costs for activating their abilities that their referents didn't have; Fauna Shaman does.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.


Why would Magus of the Fittest not be a magus due to his tap effect? i dont understand. Lots of the original magi from the time spiral block had tap effects.





Yeah, as said above me. Here are some examples:

Candelabra of Tawnos --> Magus of the Candelabra (heh, the original is a mono artifact which means tapping)
Library of Alexandria -->  Magus of the Library

The text box is exactly the same, only tap effects if the original had tap effects
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