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Peasant Magic - 01.28.04

Peasant Blacksmiths Discover Darksteel

Well, every time a new set comes out it is time for all writers to start their reviews. In the past I always went through the cards one by one or at least highlighted the cards I thought would make a splash in the format. I was well on my way through a rough draft when I just looked at the thing and said, "Whoa, this is dull!" Darksteel offers a fair number of cards playable in PEZ, which is great for this format, especially because an increased number of playable Artifacts may well spice up the metagame and diversify the field. It is a set that players should be excited about so it would really suck if I wrote a really dull article.

Instead, I have decided to take a new approach to reviewing the set. Over the next few articles, I plan on talking a little about the set as a whole. I think it will be more fun to analyze a particular card or a cycle of cards and then use decks to illustrate some of the things about other cards in the set. If there is a card or deck idea you want to hear about sooner, please e-mail me and let me know.

*Note: The links all assume that WOTC will post the cards soon. As of today, that hasn't happened so you will have to use the spoiler on MTGNEWS.COM for now*

The Echo of Darksteel

As with so many sets, Darksteel gives us a new cycle of cards that share similar names and abilities. The really nice thing is that this card cycle, Echoing Blank, are all very strong cards that are cheap to play in PEZ and highlight core abilities for each color. Each of these cards affects all targets that share a name generating additional card advantage. Because of the influence of probability on game play, deck designers often will include as many copies as possible of all cards critical to the deck. This means that decks tweaked for tournament play should actually increase the value of each of the echo cards - in theory any way.

For PEZ, I think Blue gets the best of this cycle in the form of Echoing Truth . Efficient bounce is critical to the competitiveness of almost any Blue deck from Fish and Skies to Control and Draw-Go. Even those Blue decks that don't require Bounce often get a lift from including a few slots. At 1U, even if it can't hit multiple targets, Echoing Truth is on par with the other bounce options available in PEZ. The best 2 cost bounce, of course, is Boomerang but 2 color decks will want to shy away from that card and this might be the answer. In PEZ, the second best bounce is Aether Burst a spell which compares favorably to Echoing Truth. Both spells cost the same and get stronger as the game progresses. Aether Burst clearly has a slight edge when dealing with creatures but Echoing Truth can deal with other permanents and can potential be more effective in the early game. PEZ is a creature based format so Aether Burst will probably be preferred for a while but decks that can't afford 4 full slots for bounce will quickly find that Echoing Truth is superior.

Black's Echoing Decay is, I think, a strong second. Also, unlike Echoing Truth, Echoing Decay doesn't have many comparable Black spells. Most Black commons give -1/-1 and it is strange how often an extra point would be the difference between being effective and not being anything. At the point at which Echoing Decay can potential remove multiple targets, an under filled necessity in Black, it becomes a very desirable card competing for a place in the second or third string after Diabolic Edict .

Echoing Courage is Green's card and it doesn't approach Blue or Black for power. Insta-pump is critical to so many Green decks especially in the match-up with Red. It is critical, however, not because of its offensive utility but because of its defensive utility. Because most burn spells are targeted, targeted pump works just fine. Thus, the most critical role for pump to fill fails to take full advantage of Echoing Courage. This wouldn't be so bad if Echoing Courage was comparable to other Green pump but it is more expensive than better options. When filling the offensive role, however, it becomes a more attractive card.

Red edges out White with Echoing Ruin over Echoing Calm - not just because "Ruin" sounds so much cooler than "Calm", which probably can't echo anyway. Both suffer from a similar complication so they can be looked at together. First, PEZ decks have traditionally not had a great reliance on Artifacts or Enchantments. This limits their utility immediately. The Artifact cycle that we are now in may change this so obviously Echoing Ruin is more likely to see play and Disenchant offers greater flexibility for White anyway. In both cases, however, decks that rely on either Artifacts or Enchantments tend not to need multiple copies of the same card. In fact, the strategy with most of these cards, like Empyrial Armor , is to hold extra copies back in case the original is destroyed. This immediately removes some of the card advantage potential of both these cards. Still, Shatter costs the same as Echoing Ruin so the new card fills the slot better.

Overall, the Echoing cards look good and I expect all of them, except Echoing Calm, to see play in PEZ.

Darksteel's Synth-Sligh

As promised, here is one of the decks that I am currently messing around with and it is made possible by Darksteel. It is more of a fun deck than a competitive one but a shift in the metagame could potentially change that. It operates like a very weak Sligh deck until it gets the cards to morph into a very flexible control deck.



Obviously, the creature selection is much weaker with no 2+ power critters until you hit 3 mana. What most of these creatures have in common, however, is the ability to destroy Artifacts. This becomes the deck's method of control when Myr Landshaper, Ashnod's Transmogrant, Thran Forge, and Mycosynth Lattice allow you to convert the opponent's cards into Artifacts - or Fodder as this deck likes to say. In addition, Thran Forge, and to a lesser extent Ashnod's Transmogrant, can assist in pumping your own creatures up to an acceptable size once the mana becomes available.

The Lightning Bolt and Electostatic Bolt assist in survival until the cards and mana can help the deck transition to control. the Thran Forge and Myr Landshaper both help slow the opponent down, when combined with removal cards, until Mycosynth Lattice hits the table. If the deck can manage to get to that point in the game it is almost an automatic win. Gorilla Shaman's card text suddenly changes to "1: destroy target land" and it can double as expensive universal removal. Even better is Echoing Ruin. All of a sudden, this spell functions as a 2 cost player specific Armageddon. Of course if you are facing another Red deck it will kill your lands as well but that is why Great Furnace and Sandstone Needle are in the deck.

Dropping both 1 of's in the deck to add Mountains would help the deck in playing the Mycosynth Lattice on time, which is also the main reason to include Sandstone Needle, but this much land unfortunately weakens the rest of the deck. Also, while the Aftershock can help the deck survive until control, and is useful afterwards, an additional Ashnod's Transmogrant wouldn't be bad and Builder's Bane would be very good as well.


Well, that is all for this week folks. I hope that all the links are already up, if they aren't they should be soon and in the meantime you can head over to the spoiler on mtgnews.com which is where I got my info from. Next week we will look at some other stuff from Darksteel, possibly either Equipment based White Weenie or a Skull Clamp deck (Which I thought would just be for casual play but is testing way better than I expected). Until then, have fun and feel free to shoot me off an e-mail.

Jason Chapman - chaps_man@hotmail.com




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