01/10/2011 LI: "Back at the Altar"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.

There aren't that many objects that punish you when you cast them by etb'ing tapped, but also restrict how you may spend that mana. As far as I can tell, only Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper has that restriction. Other lands with restriction on how you can spend mana all etb untapped: Mishra's Workshop is the most famous, of course, and there's Pillar of the Paruns, Primal Beyond, Ancient Ziggurat, and Eldrazi Temple. Smokebraider, Soldevi Machinist and Vedalken Engineer do not etb-tapped, and cost cmc=2. Adarkar Unicorn and Palladium Myr have a restriction, at cmc=3, but don't etb-tapped, while Myr Reservoir does etb-tapped. Other artifacts at three mana (or less) that tap for multiple mana are restricted generally to Worn Powerstone with a drawback: everything else etbs-untapped.

So where does this card if in this "use only for X" restriction, while also providing a large bonus, while also providing a "etb-tapped" restriction? I understand cards like Sol Ring are pretty powerful, while cards like Sisay's Ring less so, so that Khalni Gem may be attempting (in a block where reusing lands was a bonus) to explore the "correct" restrictions for such mana development (except it, too, doesn't etb-tapped!). Where is the qualified bonus that one should play a mana accellerator that has two large restrictions on it?
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I want to like Alter of the Lost but I don't. It feels too much like a niche block card (which is probably what it was designed to be).  If only "flashback' weren't used in the limiting text.  [Card]Horde of Notions[/card], [Card]Haakon, Stromgald Scourge[/card] and [Card]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/card] are wearing their sad face right now.  The double drawback (ETB Tapped and Mana Restriction) would be so much more bearable if it were more versitile.  Sure, [Card]Dralnu, Lich Lord[/card] is happy, but this could have been so much better, if it were a little broader in scope.  If it was activations and casting, you could even make [Card]Sedris, the Traitor King[/card] happy with a better way to use Unearth (which is just flashback for creatures, when you really look at it). 

Instead of "Spend this mana only to cast spells with flashback from a graveyard" it could have been "Spend this mana only to cast spells or activate abilities from a graveyard" and it's effect in the block would be nearly unchanged, but it's place in the Multiverse would be much more versitile.



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