I think there are two kinds of landfall cards, linear ones and modular ones. Bloodghast is modular; you don't really get much benefit by running a lot of landfall enablers in your deck because the ability only matters once per turn. Cards like Surrakar Marauder are the same way. Conversely, cards which give you the bonus many times per turn are linear. Confusing the two is bad.
Grazing Gladeheart - An actually okay if not wonderful card, its biggest flaw is that removal can change its life granting from 4 to 0. Spike Feeder always gives you life; this doesn't. However, this can sometimes give you more life.
This Insect is very "Wild Mongrel-ish." You see it now, don't you?
Frankly, Plated Geopede is not as good as you think it is. It is actually massively worse than Wild Mongrel for a variety of reasons. Beyond the fact that it doesn't enable all sorts of shenanigans, it cannot pump in response to removal nearly as easily, it cannot pump on your opponent's turn nearly as easily (making it much worse on the defensive end) and, worst of all, it is not a 2/2. Wild Mogrel at its worst was a Grizzly Bears; Plated Geopede doesn't even manage that. And that is the real problem with it.
Plated Geopede can be really explosive, but it can also be incredibly useless, unlike Mongrel. A mongrel is always annoying, but a geopede is not.
I've messed around with it a bit, and it suffers from the "I don't have lands" problem. You will have this problem, and it will be a problem. Worse, an aggressive deck (something it really wants to be in) conflicts with its desire for cards like harrow and high land density. It has very negative synergy. The other issue is that you set up for it, and then boom, your geopede gets killed. Not only do you lose your attacker, but you lose your setup cards as well - instead of dealing 7 damage, you deal zero, and basically lose a card to boot. Sure, you're still left with land, but it makes all your remaining creatures that much worse, and the geopede you draw on turn 6 is not a happy geopede. You're often put in a situation where a "real" creature could go the distance, but your 1/1 cannot.
Over the course of writing my preview article, I started to like Baloth Woodcrasher more and more; initially I felt like it was just a Limited card, but Baloth Woodcrasher is a killer. Especailly if you can afford to "save up" lands on Khalni Heart Expedition, you should be able to thread together a kill, a la Nantuko Husk. Then again, this card costs six mana.
This card is worse than Rampaging Baloths, which costs the same amount of mana and is much more resistant to removal. Rampaging Baloths + fetchland requires your opponent to have either great board position or Day of Judgement; this card only requires spot removal, and can even be burned out via a common burn spell on your opponent's turn (or even during your turn, if you tap out to play it).
I hope lots of people take your advice and play this card, because it is bad.
Soul Stair Expedition - The real problem with this card is that it is a terrible topdeck. It is a wonderful turn 1 play, it gives Day of Judgement insurance, it can cause all sorts of problems... but when you draw it on turn 8, it won't do anything relevant for several turns. And that is a problem.
Emeria Angel - An old favorite of whom? Belfry Spirit was never that great of a card. Emeria Angel is better, but dies to pretty much every piece of removal in the format. The best time to play her is on turn 5, and you could instead play a Baneslayer Angel, and I know which one I'd prefer on my team. While she can be nuts if you manage to "combo out" with her (Khalni Heart Expedition + Fetchland the turn you play her, for instance), you are thinking only of the good, not of the bad. A lot of times, she's going to be a 3/3 that puts a 1/1 bird token into play, that effectively costs 5 to cast. That's not a bad card, by any stretch of the imagination. Its not the bee's knees, either, and there needs to be a deck that wants to run her instead of (insert other good creature here), be it Rafiq, Baneslayer, Rhox War Monk, and even everyone's favorite anti-aggro angel. There are quite a number of relatively cheap, good creatures that white has access to, and as such, she has some pretty stiff competition. Maybe some sort of midrange deck will want to run her as an additional, annoying to deal with threat, and she'll be quite good in block.
But seriously, calling Belfry Spirit an "old favorite" is just silly. It was husk food, and it was not even all that great of husk food at that.
I think Roil Elemental will be relegated to sideboard space for the same reasons that I was initially apprehensive about Emeria Angel. Its ability is absolutely bananas, but 3/2 is even smaller than 3/3.
The problem with using him against GW decks is that turn 6, the turn his ability becomes relevant, also happens to be about the turn at which a GW deck has you dead. And an aggro deck will kill you even faster. Sure, elves might suffer horribly at its hands, but if you are worried about Elves, you're probably doing something wrong, and if you are surviving until turn 6 vs elves, chances are, you're running the cards which will actually beat elves.
He'd be brutal against some sort of midrange GW deck, but that deck is currently A) very theoretical and therefore B) not really something to sideboard against. Yeah, maybe it will matter at some point, but putting it that high?
These days the move from a Shock standard to a Lightning Bolt standard has shifted a card like Sunspring Expedition from being worth four cards to being worth not quite three. That said, three cards for one mana smacks of Ancestral Recall, which should tell you how powerful this card can be (albeit not as a main-deck card).
Sunspring Expedition is worse than Grazing Gladeheart, which will absorb a creature or a removal spell in addition to giving you life. Sunspring Expedition won't.
Woot, I survived three burn spells! Oh wait, I'm dead next turn anyway because the card does nothing to affect the board.
This card is not good unless you have some ability to actually exploit lifegain, and I don't think that mythic is exactly playable. And that's the only deck that would be interested.
Anyone else would rather play Fog, which costs the same amount, will save you almost as much life vs aggro, is a surprise, and, perhaps best of all, isn't utterly useless if you draw it on turn 5.
This card is similar to Soul Stair Expedition, but has fewer restrictions attached to it. For the price of one additional mana, you get a down payment on a Council of the Soratami some time in the future. The deal is a good one. You get a card out of your hand. You get to pick when you fire off the Expedition (assuming you've hit your requisite counters). You can therefore play around with managing your hand (there is nothing more annoying than having to discard after you've drawn "too many" cards. Just a good card... Probably just better than sometimes-played Courier's Capsule.
Lest we forget, Time Spiral block gave us Ancestral Vision. And that card was not amazing. It wasn't bad, by any means, but it was better than Ior Ruin Expedition and much more difficult to get rid of, and it was about as bad of a topdeck later on in the game. Possibly worse!
Ior Ruin Expedition is a fine turn 2 play, but it is a horrid turn 5 one, the fate of all such landfall cards and what pushes them towards unplayability. This card is not something you'd want to play... ever. Divination costs 1 more and is better, and Divination is not awe-inspiring.
Lest we forget, Ancestral Visions was something of a niche card, and this is worse. And Ancestral Visions, at least, raised your storm count!
But gravy it is, that you can expect to ladle all over your battlefield given enough land drops. Rampaging Baloths is a classic example of a card that is fine—maybe not "good enough" but fine—with no rules text, but gets better with just a single activation, then better and better as time goes by. Compare it to Broodmate Dragon. With one land drop, Rampaging Baloths trades flying for +2/+2 and trample, but if that land drop is a Verdant Catacombs or some similar, the Baloths starts looking wildly better than the Broodmate. The expense is clearly greater on Rampaging Baloths despite both creatures sharing the same converted mana cost, but that is probably counterbalanced by the fact that it is more likely to be played in a deck full of Rampant Growths, Harrows, and so on.
Thing is, its worth remembering that Broodmate Dragon doesn't require those cards to be good, and is a better topdeck. Moreover, given that you already have out six mana by the time you play Baloths, you are running low on lands in hand, most likely. Yeah, you may well get some extra cards out of it effectively, but it isn't amazing. It is good enough to see marginal play, and it will probably be an annoyance to be reckoned with in block as if you DO pull it out followed by a fetch on turn 7, they need Day of Judgement or great board position, and even as a topdeck it isn't horrible, still actually being a reasonably priced creature.
Eternity Vessel - This card suffers from being a win more card vs aggro. If your life total is so high that this is useful, there are better options. And, perhaps more annoyingly, exalted aggro can kill you from 20 to 0 in one turn anyway, and that's the one you're likeliest to have the highest life total against in the first place. You're better off with a sweeper spell against aggro, as if you're at a high life total you can maintain it and devastate their board and if you are at a low life total Eternity Vessel is useless and sweeper spell #5-8 is not. And GRB aggro runs MD removal for it.
Its a much more interesting card vs control, but control decks are more likely to be able to deal with it. It might be a good sideboard card in some matchups, though.
Josh Ravitz pointed out to me this week how good Bloodghast is in an attrition fight. If your goal is to, say, make the opponent discard cards, Bloodghast undoes a fair chunk of your good work with every landfall. Is one card—one creature—all that significant? Maybe not. It is, after all, just one card. But the fact that the same card (which presumably had been trading with cards) keeps coming back over and over ... Well, it can force someone to re-think how to operate against that one card. Very solid, especially against decks planning to win an attrition fight.
Or really, just any deck at all. Vampires is a strong deck and doesn't have to exploit landfall really at all to use this card.
Khalni Heart Expedition is going to be "just" a great card, like an Explosive Vegetation, but saving up its synergies for landfall triggers will win a large proportion of games, too. It is kind of obvious why this card is good (card advantage), even better than cards like Ior Ruin Expedition (I just wanted to draw lands anyway), and why it should be good for producing fatties, whether they are Rampaging Baloths or something more economical.
Explosive Vegetation was better than this is, and Khalni Heart Expedition suffers largely from an absence of good landfall creatures to combo with. It is also a bit slow and its fetching ability becomes redundant if you DO manage to combo it most of the time, as when you do so you typically have tons of mana already. Not to say it isn't going to be played (a deck trying to ramp up for really nasty stuff will like this card, as it will let them jump rapidly to 7+ mana, what they need to win), but it is nothing more than an interesting Kodama's Reach variant.
The only question is whether this five-drop eventually overtakes the number one spot. Ob Nixilis is almost too good. One well-respected member of the Hall of Fame recently asked if it wasn't already better than Baneslayer Angel in Standard! One way you can tell how much most of us writers like Ob Nixilis, the Fallen is that when any of us run down examples of how exciting a turn we can take, it usually involves destroying someone with a super-sized one of these.
Thing is, Burning Shoal allowed you to win on turn 1, but it usually sucked. Just because a card CAN enable exciting plays doesn't mean it will be any good.
That said, this card is eminently playable, mostly because it is a 6 drop 6/6 which deals 3 to the dome when it comes into play, and sometimes better.
The tragedy of Ob Nixilis is that if you DON"T have a land in your hand for some reason, he is terrible. As a topdeck with an empty hand or post Blightning, he is simply not very good. And that is a real problem, seeing as he likes being in control decks and Blightning is a very good card.
Lotus Cobra - A great card, but not something you can rely on to acellerate you into the stratosphere. If you rely on him to produce mana for you, you will lose very often. If you use him as an efficient creature which sometimes allows you to cast the top of your curve early, or cast two spells in a turn, or kick a burn spell in the early game, then you will be happy with him.
All in all, you have failed to understand what is BAD about landfall. You have stars in your eyes, and don't realize they are lying in the gutter.
What's wrong with landfall? If you try to make the landfall creatures good, you end up putting all your eggs in one basket. If you don't, many of them are pretty bad. I think the best landfall cards are those which don't require you to build around them. Rampaging Baloths, Ob Nixilis, Lotus Cobra, Emeria Angel, and the odd Grazing Gladeheart are what are worthwhile; for most ofthem, its because you don't rely on them, they're decent anyway, and they provide some really nice benefits. In the case of Ob Nixilis, its because he's simply so strong that its worth the occaisional game where he's a 3/3... possibly (Malakir Bloodwitch's ability to beat Baneslayer Angel and immunity to white removal and cards like Rafiq and Rhox War Monk makes her pretty attractive, she costs the same amount of mana, and she is much better if you get Blightninged or topdeck her late). Consistancy matters a lot, and while cards like Plated Geopede seem awesome on the surface, once you play with them a bit you come to realize that they require real sacrifices to make consistant and even then they can still be temperamental and remain bad topdecks.
Enjoyable article Mike. Didn't agree with everything, but enjoyed reading it. A few random thoughts...
First of all, I bloody well suggested on these boards that Lotus Cobra's flavour text should be All your mana base are belong to us about a month ago. So Mike, I'm claiming plagiarism here, and an inferior version at that. :oP
Disappointed that you mentioned Lotus Cobra again but not even a sentence to spare about the hate of its rarity. I suppose at least you didn't slap us in the face with an out-of-context drop-in like last week. I don't want to hi-jack the thread for another cobra-hate so I'll just say this: you have made your position clear - the card is ridiculously good, but when it comes to its rarity its a "no comment". I know its not your normal angle, but given the heat in the forums on this, I'm disappointed you let this pass. Would love it if a columnist would man-up on this.
The problem I have with these cards, is that they are too balanced. These cards do exciting things when you have a land, and are pretty meh when you don't. My experience is that these type of cards are typically not played much in constructed.
Why is Baneslayer Angel that good? Because she's good on her own.
Why is Arcbound Ravager that good? Because it's great with all the rest of your deck.
How I look at cards and judge them to be constructed worthwile or not, is as follows:
1. Are they good on their own?
2. Are they good in their respective kind of deck?
With 2 I mean that it has to work no matter when you draw it or what the game state is. Much of these landfall cards I can compare to Megrim. Great if you can lay it down and can discard a full hand of your opponent. But it does nothing when you can't discard cards out of the opponent's hand. A lot of landfall cards are just the same. When the conditions are there, great, else the cards are just not doing enough to win you the game.
It's like a poster above mentioned, there is no consistency. To be good constructed cards, they have to be good all of the time. And that's what's missing in Zendikar. Landfall, quests and allies are no real constructed abilities. OK, cards like Lotus Cobra are good. But why is he good? Because he's still a 2/1 for 2 mana, which is still playable. Grazing Gladeheart is a Gray Ogre. Yes, he's gaining you some life, but in the meantime I will play creatures who will outclass the Gray Ogre quickly, so the lifegain is negligible. A good creature could win you more life, just by combatting my creatures. Plated Geopede can be good in a fast aggressive red deck. Outside of the first 4-5 turns this card is terrible, whereas cards like Hellspark Elemental are always as good in this type of deck. Baloth Woodcrasher is a 4/4 for 6 mana when you have no land. I know better cards. An 8/8 trampler for 6 when you have a land? Oh look, there we have Terra Stomper. Roil Elemental is a 3/2 flyer for 6 mana. He dies to every piece of removal that gets played nowadays. To have an effect out of this card, you need 7 land. When I have 7 land, I play Cruel Ultimatum. Rampaging Baloths can be good, but I think that at 6 mana, we can do better things. Like playing Broodmate Dragon, or Terra Stomper. OK, he's good with cards like Harrow, but probably you have already played those cards to ramp up to the Baloths.
Etc... The only landfall cards I see being played, are Bloodghast, Ob Nixilis, Geopede and Lotus Cobra. Maybe, just maybe. Because I have seen a lot of decks already, but not many that used these cards. Baneslayer Angel or Bloodbraid Elf at the contrary...
Funny story: InQuest Magazine (I think it was InQuest) had an oversized Chaos Orb which I totally rooked someone into allowing into a (non-sanctioned) game. I had a proxy card that was a Mountain with "Chaos Orb" written on it. When I played it, my opponent cried foul:
Him: "WTF? a Proxy? no-one said anything about Proxies. Do you even own an actual Chaos Orb?" Me: "Yes, but I thought it would be better to use a Proxy." Him: "No way. If you're going to put a Chaos Orb in your deck you have to use your actual Chaos Orb." Me: "*Sigh*. Okay."
I pulled out this huge Chaos Orb and placed it on the table. He tried to cry foul again but everyone else said he insisted I use my actual Chaos Orb and that was my actual Chaos Orb. I used it, flipped it and wiped most of his board.
Unsurprisingly, that only worked once and only because everyone present thought it was hilarious.
My DM on Battleminds:
no, see i can kill defenders, but 8 consecutive crits on a battlemind, eh walk it off.
Hi guys! So, I'm a sort of returning player to Magic. I say sort of because as a child I had two main TCG's I liked. Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon. Some of my friends branched off in to Magic, and I bought two pre-made decks just to kind of fit in. Like I said, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon were what I really knew how to play. I have a extensive knowledge of deck building in those two TCG's. However, as far as Magic is concerned, I only ever used those two pre made decks. I know how the game is played, and I know general things, but now I want to get in the game for real. I want to begin playing it as a regular. My question is, are all cards ever released from the time of the inception of this game until present day fair game in a deck? Or are there special rules? Are some cards forbidden or restricted? Thanks guys, and I will gladly accept ANY help lol.
I have the same problem with women.
Is this my new ego sig? Yes it is, other BarryShow
See, this is why RPJesus should be in charge of the storyline. The novel line would never have been cancelled if he had been running the show. Specifically the Slobad and Geth's Head talkshow he just described.
It was wonderful. Us Johnnies had a field day. That Timmy with the Grizzly bears would actually have to think about swinging into your Mogg Fanatic , giving you time to set up your silly combo . Nowadays it's all DERPSWING! with thier blue jeans and their MP3 players and their EM EM OH AR PEE JEES and their "Dewmocracy" and their children's card games and their Jersey Shores and their Tattooed Tenaged Vampire Hunters from Beverly Hills
Seriously, that was amazing. I laughed my *ss off. Made my day, and I just woke up.
ArtVenn You're still one of my favorite people... just sayin'.
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...Am I the only one that thinks this is reaching the point of downright Kafkaesque insanity?
I condone the use of the word Kafkaesque. However, I'm presentely ambivalent. I mean, that can't be serious, right? We're April 1st, right? They didn't mod RPJesus for off-topic discussion when the WHOLE THREAD IS OFF-TOPIC, right?
HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BEAR PRODUCING WORDS OF WILDING?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
That's what RPJesus tends to do. That's why I don't think he's a real person, but some Magic Card Archive Server sort of machine, that is programmed to react to other posters' comments with obscure cards that do in fact exist, but somehow missed by even the most experienced Magic players.
And then come up with strange combos with said cards. All of that is impossible for a normal human to do given the amount of time he does it and how often he does it.
He/It got me with Light of Sanction , which prompted me to go to RQ&A to try and find if it was even possible to do combat damage to a creature I control (in light that Mark of Asylum exists).
Blue players get all the overpowerered cards like JTMS. I think it's time that wizards gave something to people who remember what magic is really about: creatures.
Initially yes, Wizards was married to blue. However, about a decade ago they had a nasty divorce, and a few years after that they began courting the attention of Green. Then in Worldwake they had a nasty affair with their ex, but as of Innistrad , things seem to have gotten back on track, and Wizards has even proposed .
You are my favorite. Yes you. And moments like this make it so. Thank you RPJesus for just being you.