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The Heretic's Sermon

Looking into the Mechanics of Odyssey
By John Hornberg

Well, we are a mere three or so weeks from the release of Odyssey, and quite frankly I’m not sure I’m going to be happy.  Why?  The set is new, with all new stuff to get and trade, play, etc, etc.


What bugs me it the fact that I’ve got to find all new replacements for all the Masques in all my Type II decks, and replace them with either 7th, Invasion Block stuff, or find a spoiler and replace them with proxies.

Or I can just not do any of that and wait and see what’s in Odyssey.

I do know this much, the two new abilities look promising, but will suffer from stupid holdbacks that will make them almost unplayable.


The fist ability is Flashback, which looks like the better of the two, and technically it is.  It allows you to play a card from your hand, then pay a Flashback cost to put a copy of the spell on the stack at any time.  Then the card is removed from the game.

Sounds good, but the key thing is the price.  Yes, the price.  It’s merely not worth it!  Flashback tends to cost way too much.  Here’s an  example:

Fireboltis cost R for two damage.


To flash it back will cost 4R.  Do the math people, will it be worth it? 

For two damage, probably not.  To get rid of that pesky bear, maybe, we’ll just have to see how it pans out.

Firebolt is not the only one like that - all the flashback costs seem to be unreasonable and otherwise pointless.

Due to this, an alternate mana source, like Birds, Llanowars, and Tree, will become premium, as will ways to get those little buggers out of play all at once, like Wrath and Rout.

Another thing that will become good will be some of the dumbest cards - namely Cremate.  Cremate, and I guarantee this whole heartedly, will become a main stay in every deck that runs black.

The next ability was poorly timed - Threshold.

Of all the damn times for Spellshapers to be gone!!!!!!!   These stupid little 1/1 and 2/2’s were tailor-made for a special ability like this one.

Threshold gives certain spells and creatures a specific perc when you have seven or more cards in your graveyard, which again will atribbute to to the rise of Cremate.

This abiltiy will pan out more than Flashback, because the number of cards in the graveyard is constant - 7.  The interesting thing that could happen in type II is how people play their cards.  Players might opt to take a pile with one or two cards over the pile with the majority, just to reach the seven cards.

Still, both abilities will have a profound effect on limited, Flashback surprisingly more than Threshold.  Why?  That’s a simple question.

Because, and this is going by the way they’ve done things in Invasion, Masques, and Saga, will have Flashback creature removal.  With your deck typically being half land or so, Flashback will be easy to pay, and easy to do.  Stupid cards that would otherwise be over looked like Fireshot will become gold, as will what ever their “destroy target non black creature, it can’t be regenerated” card.

Removal will be even more powerful in Odyssey.  No creature will be safe.

WotC also brought back the Atogs in Odyssey:  Psychatog (Black/Blue), Phantatog (White/Blue), Lithatog (Red/Green), Sarcatog (Red/Black), and Thraumatog (White/Green).

Each one has two certain, yet stupid, ability that allow it to get bigger. 

Fine, but the problem is the catch.

Each one of the abilities is color coordinated, and I’ll show you how it works:

White = Sacrifice an Enchantment

Green = Sacrifice a Land

Red = Sacrifice an Artifact

Black = Remove two cards from the game

Blue = Discard a card from your hand

Now, and I must be seriously honest with you because I wouldn’t lie to you, and I hope likewise:  All these cards suck major butt.

This is where the “Why bother?” factor plays in. So you can get the Atog bigger, and kill your opponent?

Well, first of all, you wouldn’t have enough artifacts around to make a difference, discarding cards for blue goes against everything that blue goes for, shooting cards in your graveyard goes against the two major abilities, Land sac’ing in constructed isn’t all that bright, and you probably wouldn’t want to loose an enchantment that you play main deck, because it’s usually very good.

Now, on the beauty contest.  No, I don’t mean the art, but how good these things are.

As I said, all of these little devils suck, because their abilities are lack luster for constructed, and they aren’t even good three drops!!

Still, the verdict is in on my behalf - The best Atog from Odyssey is Phantatog.  Why?  While he has no place in the respective decks of his colors, he still impresses me.  Cards are expendable, which makes one of his abilities semi-useful at best.  The enchantment sac will probably not be used, so I didn’t judge that very high.

The worst one is clearly Sacratog.  Again, he has no place in any of the respective Red/Black decks, and his two abilities are the two worst.

Now, here’s my reasoning behind this - Think Flashback and Threshold.  Say you have six flashback spells in your graveyard, and seven cards in total (This is on an incredibly rare occasion).  You have threshold, and you have a Sacratog or a Psychatog in play.  Why would you shoot two of those cards and get rid of your Threshold and one spell that you could otherwise flashback?

So the black ability is the worst.  Even in draft it’ll be really bad.  Same in sealed deck.

In draft, though, the strength of abilities switches to green.  With your multitudes of land, sacking them to kill an opponent is okay, because you should have the land to do that.

<By the way, If you happen to read this Darren, the Atogs are not good (Darren is one of my friends who don’t know.)>

Well, I guess that gives you a basic overvue of what exactly will be in Odyssey, and what to expect.  Over all, it looks to be a.... well, mediocre set at best, because so many of the cards are sorceries.  Flashback is literally going to force you to play half your deck land to be remotely effective in Odyssey Block when it finnally comes, and most of the Flashback spells are too expenive to make it outside of limited.

Well, that’s all I have to say.  Remember that it’s just a game, and to have fun with it.


John “The Happy Heretic” Hornberg

You can reach me at promiseland85@hotmail.com if you want to talk with me. 

If I don’t respond right away, I’m not singling you out, I’m just running behind.  You’ll be hearing more of me in the coming weeks because my schools paper, La Bandera, just went to press today (Wed.  9/19/01), and we won’t be starting one for at least two more weeks.  I’m going to try and cram as much writing as possible in those two weeks as humanly possible, so I’ll see you in a couple of days with something else!




Copyright 2001 Pojo.com


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