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Pojo's Magic The Gathering
Card of the Day

Daily Since November 2001!

Oracle of Bones
Image from Wizards.com

Oracle of Bones
- Born of the Gods

Reviewed February 24, 2014

Constructed: 2.50
Casual: 3.75
Limited: 3.25
Multiplayer: 3.25

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale:
1 being the worst.  3 - average.  5 is the highest rating

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Card of the Day Reviews 


Oracle of Bones

Tribute really is a tricky mechanic to evaluate. You just don't know which version you'll get on any casting. Is this a 5/3 with haste for four? Or a 3/1 with haste and a free spell for four? The trouble with tribute is that your opponent gets to choose... and while he may make a wrong choice, he'll always choose what he believes to be the option he is mroe equipped to deal with. Nessian Wilds Ravager made this evident back at the prerelease-- all day I'd see people pay the tribute so as not to lose a creature, then bounce the 12/12 back to its owner's hand and swing for lethal. But the Oracle is special, because of all the tribute cards it deals most with hidden information. Your opponent knows how threatening a 5/3 with haste is to his current board position... but does he know what's in your hand? Do you have a Sea God's Revenge in hand? Maybe your only instant in hand is timing-sensetive, like Titan's Strength or Gods Willing, and you'd rather not have to cast it just yet? Maybe you're bluffing? More to the point, are you sure you'll have the spell you want to Oracle out in your hand when you're ready to cast the Oracle? Are you going to find the Oracle "stuck" in your hand because you haven't drawn a good spell yet? Do you have enough instants and sorceries in your deck to keep that from becoming an issue? Or will you cast it as soon as you hit four mana, confident that your opponent won't give you a free spell and you'll get to swing for five? If your opponent doesn't give you the free spell, can you cast the spell you were going to cheat out, or were you relying on the Oracle to get it for free? And when you figure out the answers to all of those questions, is Oracle of Bones a good card?

It's definitely a card that invites mistakes to be made-- on both sides of the table. It can trick you in adding expensive instants and sorceries to your deck that you can't reliably cast, or it can lure you into "wasting" a small burn spell that you'd have been better off saving. On the other side of the table, it can make an opponent seize up and brace himself for whatever you might have in your hand, make him wonder if you're bluffing when you weren't, or resign himself to taking five from an extra attacker he didn't leave a blocker up for. There's too much variance here for the tournament crowd to rely on it-- they're all about minimizing the randomness and stacking the odds as heavily in their favor as they can. But it's definitely a card that can create some fun moments, and I expect a lot of people to get a lot of enjoyment out of it... especially in multiplayer (since you could make one player choose not knowing if the burn spell you may or may not have will be aimed at HIM), and in any format where Cruel Ultimatum is legal (whether it's actually in your deck or not).

Constructed- 2
Casual- 4
Limited- 3.5
Multiplayer- 4.5

David Fanany

Player since 1995

Oracle of Bones
That last line. Seriously. If you read that last line and didn't have visions of multiple extra turns, destroying the entire universe, and other events associated with eight- and nine-mana sorceries, you might not be a Magic player. Of course, most people will have those same visions and will pay tribute when you cast the Oracle. Well, technically I guess they won't always - they might be on five life and have no creatures to block with. That doesn't happen quite as infrequently as it sounds, but it's enough to make that last line rather cosmetic. But when it does . . .
Constructed: 2/5
Casual: 3/5
Limited: 3/5
Multiplayer: 3/5

Michael "Maikeruu" Pierno

Today's card of the day is Oracle of Bones which is a four mana Red 3/1 with Haste and Tribute 2 with an opponent's choice of two +1/+1 counters or casting an instant or sorcery from hand without paying the mana cost.  This is a very effective four mana option for Red as barring an empty hand or hand revealing effects an opponent will almost always choose to make it a 5/3 with Haste instead of risking an unknown free spell.  It is a bit of psychological warfare and because of Haste almost guaranteed to deal damage or at worst a one for one trade.  Overall a solid addition to Red and will be a popular threat in current formats.
In Limited this is a solid enough rare to be a first pick in Booster, even if the double Red forces at least a two color or mono-Red build. 
While often a 5/3 with Haste that should always get the value for four mana, it is poor topdeck as a 3/1 in a pinch barring something unplayable in hand.  In Sealed it isn't enough to make Red a clear choice, but alongside even a moderately effective pool it makes for a strong midgame play.  Some kind of major instant or sorcery in the deck to give opponents a reason to Tribute is almost required and it is a situation where opponent knowledge of your deck can actually benefit you.  Without that, or if the known one is in the graveyard already, an opponent is more likely to gamble on the 3/1 which is best avoided by making it as difficult a decision as possible.  Even adding an out of color spell like Dawn to Dusk just to keep them guessing is a valid design choice, though including a color fixing card as another possible way to cast the spell is recommended.
Constructed: 3.5
Casual: 3.5
Limited: 3.5
Multiplayer: 3.5

Skid Rambo

Oracle of Bones can be a tricky creature for opponents and its controller. As the controller of Oracle of Bones, you have to keep a straight poker face. Maybe you don’t have any instants or sorceries in your hand but you have to sell it. I have yet to play with Oracle of Bones, but I have a feeling that most opponents are going to pay the tribute. I really like the idea of playing both sides of a split card for almost free. Getting a 3/1 for 4 mana kind of stinks if you don’t have any spells. Most players don’t like to give opponents options, but I think it livens the game up!

Constructed: 2.5
Casual: 4
Limited: 3
Multiplayer: 2

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