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Jeff Zandi is a five time pro tour veteran who has been playing Magic since 1994. Jeff is a level two DCI judge and has been judging everything from small local tournaments to pro tour events. Jeff is from Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where his upstairs game room has been the "Guildhall", the home of the Texas Guildmages, since the team formed in 1996. One of the original founders of the team, Jeff Zandi is the team's administrator, and is proud to continue the team's tradition of having players in every pro tour from the first event in 1996 to the present.

 

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This Space For Rent

The Southwestern Paladin
Mulling Over the Rumor Mill
Four Fantastic Bombshells in Ninth Edition
July 1st, 2005 by Jeff Zandi

The ninth printing of Magic’s “basic set” is coming to a store near you in one month. The set is called the Core Set but is better known as Ninth Edition. The set will be white bordered and will feature the Ninth Edition logo, which you can see on Wizards of the Coast’s web site. On their Magic web site you will also learn about several of the cards that appear among the approximately 350 cards in the set. What you will NOT see on Magic: the Gathering’s corporate site is a complete list for Ninth Edition. For a complete list, the Magic fan is limited to the speculation available on any number of different web pages. While there will be plenty of time to discuss Ninth Edition a month from now when we are actually ripping open packs and playing with it, there is something to be gained from talking about what is MOST LIKELY in the set. It’s fun.

For this article, I want to state up front that I understand that I’m dealing in speculation on some cards. Anything short of a list of cards directly from Wizards of the Coast is speculation. Some cards discussed in this article HAVE been verified by information found on magicthegathering.com.

Some people have trouble getting excited about the basic set. Revised Edition, way back in 1994, started the tradition of pulling cards previously printed in expansion sets into the basic set. Revised included cards from Arabian Nights and Antiquities, along with cards from the Alpha-Beta-Unlimited base sets. Some people see Ninth Edition and its predecessors as simply a collection of reprinted cards. I believe that the basic set is a touchstone, defining the constructed formats for several years to come.

Today, I want to talk about four fantastic bombshells to expect in Ninth Edition. You won’t need to be doused in cosmic rays to gain the power from these great cards!

WELFARE MANA

Fellwar Stone is back. For two colorless mana, you get an artifact that taps (even the turn you play it) for one mana of any type your opponent’s land can produce. This is solid acceleration for any deck. This card may not seem that exciting, but it was good enough to appear in most of the decks in the top eight from the first Pro Tour event. Fellwar Stone is called the “welfare stone” because it seems like your opponent is GIVING you access to his colors. Fellwar stone is good anytime, even if the mana it produces is not the color you want. Things are just THAT MUCH BETTER when your opponent is playing lands that produce a color that helps you. If your opponent plays cards like City of Brass, dual lands or even “pain lands”, Fellwar Stone can give you access to a wide variety of colored mana. This card has NOT been confirmed by Wizards of the Coast for inclusion in Ninth Edition, but reliable sources say that it is.

BIG AND RED

You like fat red creatures? Who doesn’t. It’s been kind of funny to play
with the cards from the Kamigawa block and see so few large red men. Well,
if you’ve been missing out on big red men, take a look at these solid gold
hits from the upcoming Ninth Edition:

Rathi Dragon is a 5/5 flyer for 2RR from Tempest is being reprinted for the
first time. This was the preferred win condition for many competitive mono
red decks back in the day. He should be popular again in Standard
Constructed right away.

Shard Phoenix is the THINKING MAN’S flying red creature. Shard Phoenix is a
2/2 flyer for 4R that you can sacrifice anytime to deal two damage to all
non-flyers. For three red mana, you can return Shard Phoenix to your hand
from the graveyard at the beginning of your upkeep step.

Shivan Dragon is the ORIGINAL big red dragon since Magic first began and is
back again in Ninth Edition. This isn’t really big news. Sixth Edition is
the only basic set NOT to include this classic monster. It’s just nice that
he’s going to be around for a few more years.

Thundermare is a 5/5 for 5R that has haste. This card was first printed in
Portal, but really became known when it appeared in Weatherlight. This
flaming horse deals a lot of damage in a hurry.

Wildfire may not be a creature, but it IS a big red card that is going to
make an immediate impact on Standard Constructed formats soon after Ninth
Edition is released.

Rathi Dragon was confirmed by Wizards of the Coast for Ninth Edition last
August in the Selecting Ninth Edition series of articles found on
magicthegathering.com in which Rathi Dragon won out over Barbarian Horde and
Goblin Goon. Shard Phoenix was also selected for Ninth Edition in the
player-polls of the Selecting Ninth Edition series. The rest of these red
cards are included based on good speculative information found on multiple
sites.

LANDS THAT KILL

Ninth Edition, according to at least two reputable sources, contains exactly
fourteen non basic lands. In previous editions of Magic’s basic set, this
would mean the inclusion of all kinds of strange lands with strange
abilities that, well, just don’t come in handy all the time. Fourth Edition
treated us to not-so-popular Oasis. Fifth Edition featured Ice Floe.

In Ninth Edition, according to sources, contains exactly fourteen non basic
lands, every one of them very useful. These include ALL TEN of the lands
known as “pain lands”, the dual lands that can be tapped for either of two
colors (dealing a point of damage to you) or tapped for colorless mana (with
no damage penalty). The five original pain lands were first printed in Ice
Age. Each of the original five pain lands were capable of producing colored
mana from either of two allied colors (colors that appear next to each other
on the back of a Magic card). The five non-allied color pain lands first
appeared in Apocalypse. Ninth Edition will be the first time the non-allied
color pain lands have been reprinted.

Along with ten pain lands, the Urza’s lands will again appear in Ninth
Edition. These lands are very popular for accelerating mana in several mono
colored deck designs including, but not limited to, the very powerful Tooth
and Nail deck.

The big news is Quicksand. Quicksand was originally printed in Visions and
is being reprinted for the first time. Quicksand taps for a colorless mana
but is MOST important because it can be sacrificed at any time to give a
non-flying attacker -1/-2 until end of turn. Land that can provide creature
removal to decks of any color. Quicksand will be very popular.

As far as I know, none of these land selections have been verified openly by
Wizards of the Coast for inclusion in Ninth Edition, but every unofficial
source seems to believe these fourteen cards are the only non basic lands
that will appear in Ninth Edition.

WATCH THE SKIES

Finally, the card I am most excited about in Ninth Edition.

Hypnotic Specter is returning to the basic set for the first time since
Fourth Edition was printed TEN YEARS AGO. While this card’s return is not
verified by Wizards, sources all over the Net say that this powerful
creature is returning.

Ten years ago, Type II (now called Standard Constructed) was dominated by
Hypnotic Specter. The skies over Dominaria were full of these 2/2 flyers
fearlessly attacking both the opponent and his hand. Several attempts have
been made to replace this Hall of Fame creature, Abyssal Specter comes
quickest to mind, but none have equaled the power and simple elegance of
Hypnotic Specter. To date, Hypnotic Specter has only been printed as an
uncommon, but there is every reason to believe that this card will be
reprinted as a rare. Wizards has done this with many other cards that they
have reprinted.

The real power of Hypnotic Specter had a lot to do with a card that very
often came with it, Dark Ritual. Swamp, Dark Ritual, Hypnotic Specter was
the standard opening play for many black decks over the years. Without the
availability of Dark Ritual, the value of Hypnotic Specter does go down
somewhat, but don’t count this great creature out. Black and green decks can
play the green/black pain land on turn one, play a Llanowar Elf and then
play Hypnotic Specter on turn two. When Ravnica appears in September, Birds
of Paradise will return to Standard (Birds of Paradise is in Eighth Edition
but has been confirmed to NOT appear in Ninth Edition).

The big deal about Hypnotic Specter is that it takes cards away from your
opponent, when it damages them, AT RANDOM. When someone plays a Ravenous
Rat, or hits you with Abyssal Specter, you can offset some of the pain of
discarding a card by choosing the card that means the least to your plans in
the current game. When Hypnotic Specter hits your opponent, he loses a card
at random, which is never good for him.

Of course, I would love to know what you think!

Jeff Zandi
Texas Guildmages
Level II DCI Judge
zanman@thoughtcastle.com
Zanman on Magic Online
 


 

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