Tuesday, 14 July 2015

MTG: 10 Intriguing Casual Cards from Magic Origins

The Core Set has long been the cornerstone of the Magic: The Gathering universe over its 20+ year history, dating back to Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, and then Revised. One could always count on the core set to be the all-encompassing general set that was a little less advanced and complicated than the Expect expansions.

Magic Origins represents the 'final' core set to be released for Magic, as the game shifts to two-set blocks twice a year from the usual three-set block plus core set scheme we've been used to for well over a decade. Cards that don't fit into certain worlds could find a home in the more neutral setting of the core set.

While core sets have long been rather stale (although Magic 2010 was a nice change from the previous ways of doing things), and most won't be too sad to see them go, Magic Origins proves that core sets can be fresh and exciting.

Dripping with flavor, story, and many intriguing cards, Magic Origins *almost* makes me sad that we will no longer see core sets. Almost.

I wasn't expecting there to be so much to look forward to, but I see many cards that I want to try in my casual decks.

Here is what is stoking my creative flames.

1. Tainted Remedy

If you play against people who love their life gain, this is a pretty decent way to stop them.

Of course, why just annoy them when you can kill them outright with Beacon of Immortality *cackle*. A pretty cheesy, but easy to do, 2-card combo kill.

 Your opponent's reaction when you pull this off

2. Dark Petition

Most modern tutor cards cost at least 4 mana, so you end up using your entire turn just digging for an answer.

With Dark Petition, if you meet the spell mastery condition, which can be quite easy for certain decks, you can basically end up paying Demonic Tutor mana for whatever you had to search for. Voila! You now have mana floating to cast whatever bomb or removal spell you got your greedy hands on.

Sure, combo decks will love this, but any general black deck could probably find a home for one of these.

3. Managorger Hydra

Anybody who has played against Taurean Mauler (one of my wife's favourites) knows just how easily that bull can get out of hand.

While the hydra doesn't have the all-creature-types thing going for it, it does have trample, AND it gets bigger from your own spells, too. If left unchecked, the Managorger Hydra can easily win some multiplayer games on its own, or at least take out an obnoxious opponent or two.

4. Flameshadow Conjuring

Why have one when you can have two for twice the price ONE red mana?

No contracts to sign, no shipping fees, and only one low payment!

With all of the awesome creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers on them, this enchantment is going to find itself in many of my red-based casual decks.

Sure, the token disappears quickly, but it can attack right away and you'll be sure to conjure up some immediate value.

This guy knows what I'm talking about!

5. Languish

Let's face it, Wizards of the Coast will never print a 4-mana black wrath as strong as Damnation ever again. EVER!

Mutilate, and now Languish, are as close as we can expect.

What makes Languish great is that you can build around it. If you have a bunch of high-toughness creatures (Tasigur and Siege Rhino in standard), this can be quite one-sided.

The art, flavor text, and the name are all flavor knockouts.

6. Chandra's Ignition

It's fitting that red gets such a Boom-or-Bust spell like Chandra's Ignition.

If you play your cards right *groan*, this is easily a one-sided wrath that smacks your opponent upside the head.

Yes, you are prone to get blown out like Carrot Top's hair, and this spell depends on having a good creature in play, but I'm willing to roll the dice.

How to abuse this?

1. Find a Hexproof creature with a decent amount of power.

2. Find a deathtouch creature with any amount of power. Yes, those 1 points of deathtouchy goodness will kill every one of your opponents meatbags

3. Find a lifelink creature, letting you gain life off of the misfortune of others.

7. Deadbridge Shaman

This is just a common girl with a gluteus minimus, but this is the kind of rattlesnake card that I love to play.

Your opponents will be loathe to attack into her, as the 3 power will take out quite a few of their creatures.

Your opponents will be loathe to block her, as they'll have to pay the price one way or another.

The only way to win is to not play.

8. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

The new hitch to the Planeswalkers is that we see them in their pre-spark form, back when they were normal mortals. They have to reach some condition to trigger their spark, meaning you need to work to get them to where you want to.

This version of Jace is hardly as powerful as previous iterations, but the ability to flashback big instants and sorceries, or simply play a little defense, is still valuable in control strategies.

At the bare minimum, the prodigy side will replace my looters in any deck that uses them. The only downside is that you *might* not want your looter to flip.

9. Liliana, Heretical Healer

Liliana tried to cure her brother with some forbidden concoction, turning him into a zombie (hence, the token). Strangely enough, I'm a zombie until I've had my morning coffee.

A 2/3 lifelinker for three mana is solid, but the value you get from the token, as well as her reanimation ability, makes her a powerhouse all around. Of all of the 'walkers in the set, she seems to be the easiest to flip.


Yeah, I'm kind of cheating by putting four cards here, but they all fit into a single Red-Blue Thopters archetype. If you are going to build that deck, you want all of these.

What I like about these four, in particular, is that they are all pretty good in their own right, and don't necessarily have to go into just one specific deck.

Hangarback Walker - Play this on turn two, and keep ticking it up. When it explodes, it's raining thopters! It makes a good late-game play, as you can sink in all of your extra mana into it.

Pia and Kiran Nalaar - Chandra's parents do a good impression of Siege-Gang Commander, and turn all of your drones into suicide bombers.

Thopter Spy Network - A little more narrow, but you get a card that basically combines Bitterblossom and Coastal Piracy. In any artifact deck, and even with artifact lands, you are going to get some serious incremental advantage every turn.

Whirler Rogue is just plain nuts for an uncommon, as you get the same little army that you do with Chandra's parents. What I really appreciate is that you can use the rogue's ability right away, and make another creature of yours unblockable, and with no mana cost.

Of course, if you put these all together in a single deck, you have a drone army that would make Barack Obama jealous.

Those are the 10+ cards that have me the most excited to brew with. What strikes your fancy?

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