01/19/2012 TD: "Everything but the... Well, the Opposite of That (kind of)"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Top Decks article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
They even have the same artist, Kev Walker.
Card costs BBB
Article brings up Necropotence and Doomsday.
No mention whatsoever of Dark Ritual.




huh.
This article does such a good job of bringing things in perspective.

While the card must have been playtested to death, how can any 3-drop that's reasonable for its cost be balanced with a free Lava Axe attached to it, much less one that has built in card advantage? It must be balanced only because there aren't other free Lava Spike or free Lava Axe creatures that have good bodies for their cost at other points of the curve in the same environment. (Or are there?)

I shudder to think of decks that keep bringing this back with some kind of Zombie synergy.
Goblin Artisans - A Magic Design Blog by GDS2 Contestants and Collaborators
While the card must have been playtested to death, how can any 3-drop that's reasonable for its cost be balanced with a free Lava Axe attached to it, much less one that has built in card advantage?

Because rarer = better nowadays, that's why.

The BBB cost seems masterful. While I don't know much about constructed, it looks prohibitive enough not to get put together with RDW-style cards in Standard. Older formats like Modern are probably less affected by the color commitment, but maybe being a 3-drop makes it just slow enough to not be broken for those fast formats? I wonder if its meant to hurt Zoo a lot, since they say Zoo decks start with a lower life total.
Goblin Artisans - A Magic Design Blog by GDS2 Contestants and Collaborators
Something about this card is upsetting my stomach (Or mabye it was the BUUURRRRRIIITTTOOOSSSSS!!) 

I want to love it, and I want to hate it at the same time. I think that's becase it has great potential, but at the same time I don't think it'll work. I have absolutely not clue until I can see it in action with the rest of Dark Ascension. Sad that there is no flavor text on a Garalf card. 
So Geralf and his sister are a real thing. I think Geralf will be a Blue/Black and Gisa a mono Black Legendary creature.

And this card is really good. Mono Black is the most loved mono-coloured deck strategy by R&D cards it seems, they keep making stuff that is exclusively good for it, and how GOOD they are. I think we might finally see monoblack as a top tier deck after DA.

IMAGE(http://i1.minus.com/jbcBXM4z66fMtK.jpg)

192884403 wrote:
surely one can't say complex conditional passive language is bad grammar ?
Honestly; this card is worse than Kitchen Finks. I doubt it will ever see tournament play for the following reasons:
- Cost is too black
- Enters battlefield tapped.
- It has no protection or evasion
  
Only real garantee; it wil take two life. Maybe 4.

Nice try but bulk rare by design.
Geralf's Messenger +Altar's Reap + Ghoulcaller's Chant to do it over and over again. I could see a mono-black, slightly zombie-themed deck built around:

Gravecrawler
Geralf's Messenger
Smallpox
Mikeaus, the Unhallowed
Black Sun's Zenith
Altar's Reap

Also this thing has 3CMC, so you control decks can get it into the graveyard, then bring it back over and over with Sun Titan.  
I like the way the ETBT hits it twice. If it dies while attacking, it'll persist back (erm. un-die back?) tapped and not be able to block that turn. It is indeed the opposite of a Kitchen Finks.

I'm a little surprised they didn't just go with "can't block", which is a comparable but stronger and more direct version of "ETBT".  Something tells me they would have if they could, which implies that they decided the card would be too weak that way.


What I'm also wondering is: will this give enough strength to Mono Black to get Phyrexian Obliterator some play?  Or does Obliterator demonstrate that it doesn't matter how impressive the ability is when the color requirement is too strict?

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DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
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Life loss is even better than dealing damage!


Unless you need to ding an opposing planeswalker, something black still has problems doing.
I really like this card - it's strong, but it's so black that it's well balanced.

I'm not sure there's a deck for it (Mono Black hasn't been good in a while), but purely as a standalone card design it's good.

I don't think there's much point in discussing this along with Dark Ritual, though.  People haven't really played Dark Ritual in the same deck with black aggressive creatures in what, a decade at least?

The more interesting thought is - does BBB mean that this card is really even better than it looks?
Life loss is even better than dealing damage!


Unless you need to ding an opposing planeswalker, something black still has problems doing.



Vampire Hexmage can take out a planeswalker regardless of how many counters it has and Hex Parasite can do the same if you have the mana.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
Life loss is even better than dealing damage!


Unless you need to ding an opposing planeswalker, something black still has problems doing.



That was one thing that stood out to me in the article. Life gain and direct damage are not equal opposites (and not just because of the ambiguous reasoning in the article). Direct damage can kill creatures, planeswalkers, or finish off an opponent. That's versatility, which means a huge amount in Magic. Sure, I could Shock my opponent for two points, but how often in a match do you see Shock used for just that? Certainly not 100% of the time.

If a card had the same mana cost and could be used to either gain life or increase the toughness of a creature then it would at least come closer to being on the same footing as direct damage. Admittedly though, it still probably wouldn't be quite as good.

Although this probably isn't relevant any more, many years ago I had a deck that I played in casual games. It was centered around life gain and counter magic. Ivory Tower, Library of Leng, Reverse Damage, lots of counterspells, board clearers, and card draw. My opponents never went below 20 life. It wasn't super competitive, but it sure was fun to play. Having 200+ life when your opponent is down to the last 5 cards in their library and you've got multiple counterspells in your hand... good times. Smile
With the various ghoul raising cards in Innistrad you might be able to get as much as 12 points of life loss from this guy, even if he never hit your opponent. Unfortunately, it's probably too slow. Bringing him out on turn three it would be another 5 or 6 turns minimum in most cases to be able to do that and you'd need a perfect set of cards. It's screaming to be broken though...
This article seems engineered to get people excited for a card that doesn't seem all that exciting to me.  Don't get me wrong, I think this is a neat card, but I don't see it setting the world on fire.  First of all, the whole article is trying to compare this guy to Kitchen Finks, and that seems kind of ironic to me.  Flores is trying to say, "opposite but equal," but all I hear is "opposite."

 Kitchen Finks is a nice little card that goes into alot of decks for a variety of reasons.  It has broad applications, and that is a hallmark of a good card. Cards that are narrow, but powerful, can also be good. At BBB, the applications for Geralf's Messenger are pretty narrow.  I think the alusions to Necro and the like are cute, but this guy has more in common with Phylactery Lich as far as BBB cards go. That is to say, a card that looks exciting for a minute, and then sits in trade binders for the rest of eternity.  There is so much difference between the mana costs that a comparison is practically pointless.  You might as well compare every card with a CMC of 3 at that point.

Secondly, there is the comes into play tapped problem.  If you are building this guy into a combo engine then it doesn't matter that much, but if you are planning to play him as part of any other strategy then good luck.  Take a look at top 8 decks in the history of magic.  This is the kind thing Mr. Flores does all the time.  Now tell me how many of those decks relied on a creature that came into play tapped for much of anything. I read the "Top Decks" column every week and I don't remember seeing many. This guy is not aggro in the slightest.

I think the Undying mechanic is good, but when Mr. Flores mentioned Oran-Reif he brought up an interesting point.  There are more ways to easily put a +1/+1 counter on a guy than there are to put a -1/-1 counter on a guy, making the Persist mechanic more easily abused from a combo perspective.  Now, from a creature combat perspective the Undying mechnic is certainly stronger, but then again the Messenger is CIPT so he's nerfed in the combat department. 

Then, there is all the removal that circumvents the Undying mechanic.  We've already seen the Grafdigger's Cage which is the "off switch" for the undying mechanic, but that's not all.  In limited we can expect to see this guy get hit with Bonds of Faith, or tapped down repeatedly with Avacynian Priest.  If we go into the wider world of magic then the ways to deal with him are greatly multiplied. If anyone bothers to play him in broader formats he will be taking alot of journies to nowhere and will know the path to exile by heart.

Of all the previews we've seen thus far, this guy is the least interesting for me. 
I'm a little surprised they didn't just go with "can't block", which is a comparable but stronger and more direct version of "ETBT".  Something tells me they would have if they could, which implies that they decided the card would be too weak that way.


CIPT is a thing on zombies in Innistrad though. See Diregraf Ghoul etc. I guess Gravecrawler breaks that pattern though.

Anyway, much as Kitchen Finks is the obvious inspiration here, I think Keldon Marauders is a more apt comparison.
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I feel tobormax is the only one who really sees this for what it is- Flores hyping up another overall lackluster card. I remember when Chandra 3 was previewed by him people were frothing at the mouth, and even worse was his hyping of Everflowing Chalice. Now, I understand this is his job, but its important to keep things in context.

 The few times you will get and be able to play this guy in limited he might be nice, but the triple black is extremely prohibitive, so even if you do play Gerald's Messenger, good luck getting it down on turn three. Which means he is more of a 4-5 drop creature, which makes it less appealing. But he would make for quite the beater if you could drop him turn 3, and black is one of the most powerful colors in Innistrad (Though it might shift with DA's release)
That said, this card is leagues away from being comparable to Kitchen Finks. The Finks is good because of the decks it went into. For control decks, gaining life IS more important than taking it away (early on, at least) and Finks was a good combater against Fae. Being able to block IS a big deal, and would be wonderfully good on this guy, because it would essentially be a 4/3 that sent a Flame Javelin to your opponents head, FOR THE COST OF FLAME JAVELIN. You -want- to block with this guy the turn he comes into play!
The card is solid, of that there is no doubt. But having a triple-color cost on a 3-drop makes it harder to play, and black is probably the weakest of the five colors currently in standard, barring a small number of cards (Grave Titan)

On another page, this block has kind of made me wonder why Amulet of Vigor was printed when it was- if this "enters the battlefield tapped" trend continues, that would have been an interesting little card in black decks. 

(at)MrEnglish22

I'm a little surprised they didn't just go with "can't block", which is a comparable but stronger and more direct version of "ETBT".

Is "can't block" actuallystronger?

  • ETBT on a creature is really little more than un-haste (or super summoning sickness) in most cases.  Pretty much all it does is say "this dude can't block on your opponent's next turn, and giving it haste is not a very good idea."

  • In contrast, "can't block" may as well be Juggernaut's drawback, more or less.  If you're not attacking with it, it's essentially a dead card, with the only real advantage over Juggy being the ability to not attack into an obvious suicide situation.

I'm a little surprised they didn't just go with "can't block", which is a comparable but stronger and more direct version of "ETBT".

Is "can't block" actuallystronger?



"Stronger effect", not "stronger card". 


CIPT is a thing on zombies in Innistrad though. See Diregraf Ghoul etc. I guess Gravecrawler breaks that pattern though.


Didn't care enough to check the type line, but that's a fair point.  I don't think it entirely negates my reasoning, but it makes sense.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

This article seems engineered to get people excited for a card that doesn't seem all that exciting to me.


Welcome to merchandising.

As for the card, yea, it really isn't opposite and equal to Kitchen Finks. The Finks is a great defensive creature, but the Messenger isn't that offensive. CIPT really hurts this guy in my opinion, (as said, it happens again when he undies). 
 
As they say Offense is the best defense, and sometimes you're really gonna wanna block with this guy. 

Or was it defense is the best offense?... Now I'm confused....

I feel tobormax is the only one who really sees this for what it is- Flores hyping up another overall lackluster card. I remember when Chandra 3 was previewed by him people were frothing at the mouth, and even worse was his hyping of Everflowing Chalice. Now, I understand this is his job, but its important to keep things in context.


Chalice is a baller, how dare you.
Incidentally, Conley Woods is calling this "better than Negator ever was" (ie. the best black three-drop ever, basically). Just in case anyone was thinking only scrubs are interesting in the card.
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