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Pojo's Book Reviews



Judging Judgment, Part 2 - Constructed Flops

By John Hornberg

5.16.02  I’m going to take this opportunity to take a stab at someone who deserves it… repay a little favor of mine, and release some of the anger that’s been building up in me for the last three months.

(Before you read this little rant, I suggest that you read this so that you know what has sent me into an uproar: http://www.teamacademy.com/article050902kurt.html)

Look, Fat Man Hahn, I am no fraud. I am a well-read person when it comes to the net, and I can say that your writing is sheer and utter crap. I find it wrong how you talk so low of everyone and everything relating to Magic, yet write so poorly for a site that appears to have never contributed one bit to the Magic Community in any positive sense.

If you have such a problem with the writers for M:tG on the net, then by all means, I welcome you to do something about it instead of criticize it… not that you really could, being a writer of such a low repute.

Okay, my public service announcement is finished, anyways ...

*Puts on Hard Hat, and steps behind a wall of sandbags*

I’m wearing this hard hat, and hiding behind the sandbags for two reasons. The first one is because of the response I got on Part 1.

It was overwhelming, and it amazed me how many people not only read it, but provided me with comments for me to read. That’s what I spent almost an hour and a half doing on Thursday – reading, every non-junk e-mail I got, and responding to what I could.

One general thing I want to state – I am now aware of the combo with Wormfang Crab, and the Invasion CIPT lands (CIPT = Comes into play tapped.) I like Upheaval more, because it’s so much fun… It’s always good to stun an opponent with a stupid as hell combo.

I even got the last article posted on Brainburst, which is a big step for me, especially since I’m using their spoiler in the first place to formulate my analysis. Props to Chedy for linking my article, even if it was only for two days.

The second reason for the equipment is for some of the cards I flop in this article. Some of them have been receiving a lot of hype as really great cards, or cards that have an effect from something in the past (Mist of Stagnation), or cards that people just think are really good.

One of the major problems Judgment has is broken cards, with outrageous casting costs. Many really good cards would be amazing if they did not cost five mana and up. That is the tragic part about this set,

The greatest display of this callousness for decency is with Mirari’s Wake (3GW – Enchantment – All creatures get +1/+1. Whenever you tap a land for mana, add one mana to your mana pool of any type that land produced.)

Mirari’s Wake is a very good card, but at five mana there is no place for it in any format. By the time you would be able to effectively drop this card in Type II, you either be mobbed by green and red weenies, or be controlled to death by counters and bounce spells.

Mirari’s Wake, to be truly good, needed to reach a compromise of sorts. It needed to loose one of its two abilities in order to lessen its casting cost to 1GW. As it stands, the card cannot be any cheaper, because it provides two great perks for five mana, and to lessen the casting cost, and keep the card the same casting cost would be nuts.

On top of being an overcosted card, it is also very situational. It would only be needed in a select few decks, and those select few decks right now, have better options.

There is no need for Green and White to have a Mana Flare type card anyways, let alone one that costs too much. It would only be good at making something like Crush of Wurms come out a little bit faster, and that is something that Vernal Bloom will do quite nicely. Vernal Bloom drops a turn earlier, at the drawback of effecting all forests, and only effecting forests.


Another major disappointment in Judgment is a very unlikely card. Mist of Stagnation is a card that has seen a lot of hype as “the New Stasis.” (3UU – Enchantment – Skip your untap step. During each players upkeep, that player untaps X permanents, where X is the number of cards in each that players graveyard.)

The way this card reads, it doesn’t seem bad. It has certain flaws in its construction that make the card a relative flop, and an extraneous card.

The first major problem with this card is its casting cost. One of the key reasons why Stasis was so good was that it was cheap, and it stopped speed. Stasis also could be dropped late in the game to be able to lock down an opponent, and be able to pay its upkeep for a little while, because it was so cheap.

Mist of Stagnation is neither. It doesn’t stop early speed, and certainly isn’t as cost effective as Stasis was.

Another key problem to Mist of Stagnation is its drawback. I understand that Judgment is bringing us Rat’s Feast (XB – Sorcery – Remove X cards in a single graveyard from the game) and Grip of Amnesia (1U – Instant – Counter target spell unless its controller removes his or her graveyard from the game. Draw a card.), which are some great cards to supplement Mist of Stagnation.

The major problem to drawback is that it is only good for combos. You need to pull some rabbit out of your hat to make the card worth it. Like all combos, it will be inconsistent, and marginally unreliable.

This cards hype will continue until Judgment’s release, and will fade as more people take the opportunity to play with it.


Judgment brings to the table a wide array of counterspells. New ones that do weird things are starting to see a lot of hype, and some of them deservedly so.

One of these really hyped cards is Spelljack. (3UUU – Instant – Counter target spell. Remove it from the game instead of putting it into its owner’s graveyard. As long as it remains removed from the game, you may play it as though it were in your hand without paying its mana cost. If it ha X in its mana cost, X is 0.)

It has been talked of as a really great card, and on paper it is. Still, there is a major difference between paper and play, and this card is the perfect example of that difference.

Contrary to my co-worker Andrew Chapman’s beliefs, I do not believe Spelljack is even worth a second look in this set, and will be ignored in block, type II, and limited. It is not amazing, it is not broken, and is perhaps one of the worst rares in the set.

Now, I understand what this card is capable of. It can burn, and throw it back at an opponent. There’s a catch to that: is 6 mana worth that extra 2, 3, or 4 damage to an opponent?

It really isn’t unless it kills a creature, or kills an opponent. Otherwise, it’s another card that says “Counter target spell,” and is otherwise forgettable.

Realistically, this card could be used, but not in any competitive deck that is pro-tour, or even local tournament caliber. It won’t win you games, that’s for sure.


Red seemed to be the color to get the most from Judgment, getting three of the most god-aweful-most-broken cards in the set in Browbeat, Anger, and Breaking Point.

Unfortunately, red did get its share of crap in this set. In complete contrast to Torment, the five main burn spells in Judgment all cost too much, are too slow, and/or are just pathetic when put up against their counterparts in Odyssey and Torment.

Ember shot (6R – Instant – Deal 3 damage to target creature or player. Draw a card.) is even more pathetic than Kamahl’s Sledge. For 7cc, you deal 3 damage, draw a card, and have no benefit at Threshold, and no flashback.

Is there something wrong with that? Are they trying to take us as players for fools, or did R&D actually think it would be broken for limited to make this card cost 4R? Even 5R seems more reasonable. Nope, it had to be 6R…

I can drop Spiritmonger two turns ahead of this.

I can deal 12+ damage with 4 Fiery Tempers and a Wild Mongrel before I can play just one Ember Shot.

Flametongue shoots the same creature for 4 damage a full 3 turns before this, and will most likely do 12 more damage attacking if there is nothing else in play.

This just fails to compare in constructed, and isn’t even worth a second look in limited. We finally have a card for block that is worse than Cephalid Snitch, folks.

That one card is not worth seven mana, and don’t you forget it.

Swirling Sandstorm (3R – Sorcery – Threshold: Swirling Sandstorm deals 5 damage to each creature without flying.) is also a flop.

To put it mildly, anything you need to get threshold before it will do anything is crap. No matter what it does when you get threshold. It makes the card slow, and the chances of it doing any real good is next to nothing in this very fast type II environment.

Lava Dart (R – Instant – Lava Dart deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Flashback: Sacrifice a Mountain) isn’t necessarily a bad card so much as it is trumped by 5 or 6 other cards in Type II right now.

Firebolt, Shock, Fiery Temper, Urza’s Rage, Volcanic Eruption, and Engulfing Flames are all better than Lava Dart, and would all see play in decks with red over Lava Dart.

It’s R for 1 damage counterpart, Engulfing Flames, is clearly better because of the “no regenerate” part of the card. Of course, 5 mana is a little intensive for 2 damage (R for the casting cost, 3R for the Flashback).

Then we have Lightning Surge (3RR – Sorcery – Lightning Surge deals 4 damage to target creature or player. Threshold: Instead Lightning Surge deals 6 damage that can’t be prevented. Flashback – 5RR.), our resident Rage-wannabe.

To be a truly good card, it needs to cost 1 less or be an instant, and needs to not be countered as well. As it stands, it does too little for five mana, and for red, which is going to be impossibly fast after Judgment, will cost too much. Red will be unable to utilize it’s Threshold effectively, because it will be fast.

It’s Flashback is like Chainer’s Edict, almost a null factor, until the mana appears, and until absolutely needed. Its flashback is a contradictory statement to it’s threshold, and should never have been there in the first place.

This card is the best of the five burn spells in Judgment, and even then it’s not that good. It is only good for late game, which is a cardinal sin for any burn spell.

Last but not least, we have Swelter (3R – Sorcery – Swelter deals 2 damage to two target creatures.)

Swelter is a good concept, and a good burn spell for the limited environment, potentially taking out two creatures on the board. For constructed, though, it’s slow, and it’s a sorcery. There are better things to be done on 4th turn, or at any time in a fast deck.

Swelter just has no place in constructed.


Another card that a lot of people have looked and hyped is Hunting Grounds (GW – Enchantment – Threshold: Whenever an opponent plays a spell, you may put a creature into play from your hand.)

Now, a killer effect for a low casting cost card, but there’s a catch – you need threshold. Now, Wild Mongrel sounds like the solution, but not necessarily. When this hits threshold, what are the odds that you’ll be able to drop a great creature every turn? What are the odds this will stay in play to see threshold?

There are too many questions for this card to answer, not to mention the creatures green has and creatures white has don’t exactly go together. Thus, the deck is kind of crappy, with nothing going together.

Hunting Grounds is also a dead card unless you reach threshold, a major drawback to this card.

This card also becomes like Standstill in a way when you hit Threshold. If you hit it late enough in the game, your opponent won’t have to play anything… they can afford to sit around and not play spells.


Many of these cards have one under lying theme – they all cost too much. I really think R&D could have done a better job with Judgment. Instead, we are forced to ignore their blunders, and swallow the multitudes of crap they give us.

There are other bad cards in this set - Filth, Golden Wish, Treacherous Vampire… none of which are up to par with the ground breakers in the set. The quality in this set is really drastic – it is not consistently good like Apocalypse, nor is it consistently bad like Prophecy. It has its amazing peaks and amazing cards, and its valleys of poor, high casting cost, and above all useless cards.

Oh well….

-John “The Happy Heretic” Hornberg

I can be reached at HappyHeretic01@netscape.net for any comments, suggestions, etc. Feel free to send comments.



Copyright 2001 Pojo.com


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