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So, What's 7th Got To Offer?

            Welcome back. I hope you all had a good time at Regionals. Chances are that very few people reading this column will have made their Top 8, if only because the sort of people who make Top 8s probably aren't the sort of people who read this column religiously. Regardless, I hope it was an enjoyable experience for all who decided to participate. I know it was for me. If it wasn't, well, I hope it doesn't permanently turn you off of large tournaments.

            Because of the nature of this column, I've chosen to avoid going into extensive detail on my Regionals experiences here. I was going to be too lazy to write a tournament report at all, but then the leader of my team asked me to write a report for the team site, so I did. That piece can be found on the team site,, along with a number of pictures which should complement it nicely. Anyway, I've written that report already, and I don't really want to devote this space to talking about the aftermath of Regionals, even in a more general sense. Everybody else will be doing that for a few days to come, I'm quite sure. No, I want to talk about something I haven't covered in detail yet: Seventh Edition.

            I know most of us have bought lots and lots of 7th already. A lot of people have drafted with it, some more extensively than others, and some have already conceptualized or assembled their decks for the new format. I haven't-- I have an unfortunate habit of assembling decks at the last possible second due to my tendency to constantly revise and rebuild. But anyone who doesn't intend to quit Magic will probably have to make some modifications to their pile of cards after this weekend, and taking some of the new environmental factors into account might be a good idea if you don't like to lose a lot.

            Other reasons to play Seventh Edition-- The new artwork rules, in most cases. For some cards, the new artwork is simply better-looking than what was available before. For others, the coolness comes mainly from the novelty. I don't know about you, but for me there's just something about leafing through a stack of 7th and seeing all the familiar cards with brand-new looks. Most of the new flavor texts are pretty good, too, in the cases where they were changed (some actually weren't, a fact that I find just a little bit disappointing.)

            A short discourse on the classic fat that has seen its return in the new set: I predict that Mahamoti Djinn will be the only one to see widespread play in the sorts of decks that it would tend to go into. Serra Angel and Shivan Dragon seem to be good for nostalgia, but I have to believe they're suboptimal for Constructed play at this time. Shivan's main selling point is that it doesn't die when a Kavu breathes fire on it, but this is useful mainly for Fires decks that would use it to replace Two-Headed Dragon-- and the last time I checked, it didn't seem to me like Fires decks with flying fat were in the majority. Plus, a lot of these decks can afford to run either Darigaaz or Rith, which just seem to be a lot better. As for Serra... I'm sorry, prove me wrong by all means, but I just can't see where she fits in right now. Seems to me that the decks where she might fit in would rather have either Blinding Angel or Ramosian Sky Marshal to fill the bill. My verdict, at least until Masques Block leaves the arena, is to leave your Serras both old and new in the binder. But then again, I'm a bad player, so feel free to ignore my advice.

            Another short discourse, this time on the color of stench, disease and decay. I honestly think that Black has the most to crow about in this new set. Other colors mostly got back the same old things they've had in the past several rotations of the base set, with a few similar cards swapped out here and there and a few flashy gimmicks added to get people excited. Most seem to have lost more than they gained, to be honest. Black took some crippling hits, too (Vampiric Tutor, anyone?) but quite frankly the return of Duress makes it so I don't care much. I love Duress. Duress is, in my opinion, exactly the sort of card that we need right now. It can't stop the juggernauts that are Fires or Counter-Rebel all by itself, but it gives you an effective first-turn play that gives these decks one less tool to work with. Its cousin, Ostracize, also promises to be useful with the renewed emphasis on creatures, and I would even consider it to be a viable maindeck card if your environment isn't too thick with virtually or completely creatureless decks. Black also got a number of other strong cards to assist it, among them Persecute and Engineered Plague. Just about the only thing it didn't get is a solid fatty. Sengir Vampire would have been nice to see alongside the other classic creatures of yore, but considering that Black has an excellent selection of large creatures to choose from at this time, it probably isn't worth complaining about.

            Of the remaining colors, the one that stands out most in my mind is Blue. Blue didn't get that many new tricks, and it lost Power Sink, which I honestly think will be missed more than one might think at first. Fortunately, there are a couple of new ideas to be toyed with. Thieving Magpie is back, and is almost certainly no worse now than when it fueled the premier Draw-Go deck of the Urza Block. Arcane Lab also grabs me, primarily as an intriguing counterpart to Yawgmoth's Agenda. What better way to level the playing field and prevent the other player from possibly using the Agenda's drawback against you? Red, White, and Green all made rather lackluster showings, with the exception of Worship and Pariah in White. Those two cards have long been among White mages' most powerful tools in boring their opponents into submission, and enough Internet writers have already pointed out the obvious combos that I won't bother to reiterate them. Red probably has the most to complain about, losing the extremely useful and classic Hammer of Bogardan, along with Flashfires. Green... well, Green is Green. Let's put it that way. When you get past creatures that tap for mana, Green's base-set offerings have never been anything to write home about, and perhaps that is as it should be. Green has enough gas to keep it going at least until this fall and probably long after, so let's not go crying rivers just yet.

            At this time next week, I will probably have played in at least one tournament with the new card set. I will definitely have finalized my initial deck using 7th Edition cards. Either way, I'll show you my deck and talk a little bit about my predictions and/or observations regarding the new state of Magic.


            Peace out.