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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Master of Predicaments
Image from Wizards.com

Master of Predicaments
- M15

Reviewed Aug. 27, 2014

Constructed: 2.75
Casual: 4.13
Limited: 4.25
Multiplayer: 3.50

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 - Horrible  3 - Average.  5 - Awesome

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Deck Garage

Master of Predicaments

It's been a few years since a 4/4 flyer for five mana could claim to be a solid offensive force to be reckoned with. Flying is flying, though, and the Master should get to trigger his mini-game often enough that you won't be disappointed... unless your opponent is good at guessing. My advice? Against your opponent's MP, always guess that it IS more than 4, that way they'll never get the best stuff for free. If you're the one playing MP, make sure you have plenty of draw so that you don't run out of cards in hand. Also, don't choose a card in your hand-- put your hand face-down on the table, play a little 3-card Monty with yourself, and then have your opponent guess if THAT card is <4 or >4. If you're gonna play min-games, have fun with them!

Constructed- 2
Casual- 5
Limited- 4
Multiplayer- 4.5

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Master of Predicaments

David Sirlin is a famous expert on the Street Fighter video game series, and worked on an updated version of Street Fighter II Turbo, as well as some board and deck-building games. He's also the writer of a widely quoted series of articles about competitive behavior that popularized the word "scrub" and introduced it to Magic, to all of our costs. As such, I'm not sure exactly what to think about seeing his name on a card.

Seeing as a lot of Sirlin's analysis of Street Fighter has to do with the art of predicting an opponent's next move, it's probably not surprising that this design does what it does. It's very original and occasionally potent, but hard for everyone to get behind: some people will probably be able to figure out what is likely to be a successful guess based on the state of the table, and others will see the guessing as a frustrating random element, especially in competitive play (irony!). It's also not necessarily apparent what the right way to build a deck around it is - if you include a lot of high-cost cards to try and cheat them onto the stack, your opponent will see the pattern after one or two hits. Still, anything that lets you reduce a card's mana cost to literally zero is worth considering.

Constructed: 2/5
Casual: 3/5
Limited: 4/5
Multiplayer: 2/5

Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's card of the day is Master of Predicaments which is a five mana Blue 4/4 with Flying that has you choose a card in your hand whenever it deals combat damage to a player then that player guesses if the converted mana cost is higher or lower than four and if wrong you may cast the card without paying the mana cost. The effect is fantastic both for the potential to play top end effects for free, but also for the serious psychological impact on an opponent. Evasion makes getting the trigger easier, though adding Aqueous Form or something to give Hexproof is well worth considering. This is one of the few cards that is dramatically improved by having a sidedeck prepared as it makes guessing even more difficult and stressful. This will see play across formats and overall is a fun to use and very dangerous to oppose middle to late game threat.

In Limited this is a clear first pick in Booster that will win games with evasive damage and the guessing effect's card advantage. Two Blue out of five is manageable for a two color deck, though is a bit more than a splash can reasonably maintain. In Sealed having additional evasive creatures in Blue as thematic support helps and barring the color being extremely weak this is a great foundation for half or more of your deck.

Constructed: 4.0
Casual: 4.5
Limited: 4.5
Multiplayer: 4.0


Deck Garage

Master of Predicaments

Sometimes it's easy to look at a card with a lot of rules text and focus completely on that. First, however, it's important to look at the basic abilities first. For 5 mana, you get a 4/4 flier. That in itself is not too bad - and is great in limited - but we haven't seen the likes of Air Elemental in constructed decks for some time, so it will need to do more to be a standout.

So, what does this big block of rules text break down to? First he has to deal combat damage. As a 4/4 flier, that is reasonably likely to happen, though there are a lot of big flying creatures out there to make it anything but a given. But if it does hit, not only are they down 4 life, you get a chance at casting a card for free. Here's where the mind games that sphinxes like to play come in.

You could pick a card with a cost 4 or lower. If they guess right, you probably have the mana to play that card anyway, so you're taking a 50/50 on saving mana on an effect you are going to get, regardless. Do you have something else useful to use the saved mana on? If so, you've gained a lot of value on this attack.

You could pick a card with a cost greater than 4. This has a potentially higher value to you, as you could be holding a card that costs more than you could be able to pay for, so if they guess wrong, you get to play a card you would not have been able to cast if it were not for the sphinx. This is the best possible outcome for you. But, if your opponent is anything like me, they are going to see this possibility and almost always guess "higher than 4" to prevent you from getting ahead with some crazy bomb.

This sphinx really does cause some mind games on both sides of the board. The bottom line, however, is that you can't reliably predict what's going to happen when he hits, so you can't count on getting to cast anything for free. If he's still good enough in your deck as a 4/4 flier than doesn't do anything else, play him. If not, leave him in the trade binder.

Constructed: 3
Casual: 4
Limited: 4.5
Multiplayer: 3.5

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