Champions Versus Betrayers
Tongue-in-Cheek Fun With Magic’s Newest Set
by Jeff Zandi
Betrayers of Kamigawa is brand-new, not even
available for retail sale yet, and already
Magic players are cussing and discussing the
value of the new cards. Last weekend,
thousands of players competed in sealed deck
pre-release tournaments all across the
country. The sealed deck format for the
pre-release events is a bit skewed from
normal sealed deck formats.
Normally, you would get one starter deck
(they call them tournament packs
nowadays) and two booster packs. Last
Saturday, in the Betrayers premiere events,
players received one Champions tournament
pack and THREE Betrayers booster packs. The
addition of a third booster pack raises the
average sealed deck to almost booster draft
deck power levels. Booster drafts at the
pre-release were mostly strange, consisting
of three Betrayers of Kamigawa booster
packs, a format that won’t be seen any other
time. Official Champions of Kamigawa block
drafts will now include two Champions
boosters and one Betrayers boosters. I have
played in three such CCB booster drafts, and
I’m not quite ready to discuss the effect of
Betrayers on the draft format.
The big question is whether or not Betrayers
is any good or not, particularly in
comparison to Champions of Kamigawa. In my
confused brain, there is only one way to
conduct this comparison…DC-10 packs of
Champions against packs of Betrayers!
DC-10, PLANE OF THE PAST, MAGIC GAME OF THE
MORE RECENT PAST
If you haven’t ever played the mini-game of
Magic referred to as DC-10, here’s how it
works. Each player opens a booster draft and
shuffles the cards as much as possible
without looking at any of them. After using
some random method to determine who plays
first, that person takes their first turn by
drawing the top card of his fifteen card
library. Each player begins with an infinite
number of each of the five basic land types
in play on their side. In DC-10, infinity
trumps infinity, meaning that if one player
uses an effect that gains him infinite life,
an effect later in the game that deals
infinite damage to that same player WILL
lower his life points to zero. Look, without
getting out my books on quantum mechanics,
all I can offer is that DC-10 is an
imperfect system, but a fun way to play a
little limited format Magic without taking
the time to build decks.
CAN DC-10 REALLY DETERMINE WHICH SET IS
The big question is simple. Can a game as
tricked up as DC-10 honestly be expected to
shed enough light on either set as to be
considered an appropriate test? ABSOLUTELY.
YES. Well, actually, I doubt it. Probably
Definitely no. STILL, I’ve been doing this
since Saturday, and I think the results will
be entertaining and surprising.
Some interesting quirks can be quickly
identified when pitting these two sets of
cards against each other in this format. It
would be predicted by some that the average
booster pack of Champions of Kamigawa should
produce a better average number of types of
basic cards you need to win in the DC-10
format. Namely, creatures and creature
removal cards. This observation is
debatable. However, if Champions did have
the advantage of being a larger, more
balanced set than Betrayers, Champions also
has the problem of containing mana smoothing
cards, including lands, that are basically
dead cards in this game. On the other hand,
DC-10 doesn’t really promote the best
possible use of Ninjutsu. Tough but fair.
OTHER EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF BETRAYERS
Below you will find five actual DC-10 games
pitting one unopened pack of Champions
against one unopened pack of Betrayers. No,
I don’t really think that DC-10 is a
particularly good method of learning what
cards are good in the new set for limited
games, much less for constructed games.
Mainly, I’m just having fun with the set
On the more serious analytical side, I
believe Betrayers has plenty of quality
commons, uncommons and rares that will make
limited play better and more exciting in the
weeks and months ahead. Even though it’s
very early to say something like this, I
would like to jump way out there and say
that the average power of a card from a
Betrayers booster is AT LEAST as high as the
average power of a card from a Champions
booster. This is good news for sealed deck
and draft players. Over the past several
years, one of the biggest adjustments made
by booster draft players when the first
small expansion came out for a new block in
January was the LOSS of the third pack from
the large expansion set. A year ago, in
other words, Darksteel seemed to weaken
Mirrodin booster drafts. After a few sealed
decks and three booster drafts using
Betrayers of Kamigawa, I think the new set
feels at least as good for limited play as
Champions. Of course, not matter how good
Betrayers is, there is no getting around the
fact that two packs of Champions in a
booster draft instead of three means less
copies of Glacial Ray and other important
common cards. Deal with it. This is an issue
every year. People may have gotten too
comfortable with their multiple Glacial Ray
and Devouring Greed decks.
I understand that it will take some time to
learn the new cards. To this end, I have
listed the names and descriptions of all the
uncommon or rare cards from Betrayers of
Kamigawa seen in these DC-10 games. These
individual card descriptions are listed at
the end of this story, in alphabetical
FIVE GAMES OF DC-10 PITTING CHAMPIONS
Champions won the coin flip and will play
first in games one and three.
Betrayers will play first in games two and
four. A separate coin flip was used to
determine who would play first in game five,
and Champions won that flip as well. Without
disclosing what fallible once-talented Magic
players I used to play these games, let’s go
straight to the play-by-play.
T1 Champions draws and plays Jukai
T1 Betrayers draws and plays Mistblade
T2 Champions draws Unearthly Blizzard.
T2 Betrayers draws Uproot. Attacks and uses
Shinobi’s ability to return Jukai Messenger
to Champions’ hand. (19-19)
T3 Champions draws and plays Frostwielder.
Plays Jukai Messenger.
T3 Betrayers draws Silverstorm Samurai.
T4 Champions draws and plays Soratami Seer.
Activates Frostwielder targeting Mistblade
Shinobi. Attacks with Messenger. (19-18)
Activate Soratami Seer, returning two
Islands to his hand, then discarding Island,
Island, Unearthly Blizzard drawing Iname
Life Aspect, Lantern Kami and Honor-Worn
Shaku. Plays Iname, Lantern Kami. Activates
Soratami Seer returning two Mountains to his
hand, discarding Mountain, Mountain,
Honor-Worn Shaku drawing Kami fo the Waning
Moon, Field of Reality and Kodama’s Reach.
Plays Kami of the Waning Moon. Activates
Soratami Seer returning two Swamps to his
hand, discarding Swamp, Swamp, Field of
Reality and Kodama’s Reach drawing Teller of
Tales, Ghostly Prison, Midnight Covenant and
Callous Deceiver. Plays Teller of Tales. At
end of Champion’s turn, Betrayer plays
Silverstorm Samurai as an instant.
T4 Betrayers draws Minamo’s Meddling.
T5 Champions draws Commune with Nature (last
card in his library). Champions plays
Midnight Covenant targeting Teller of Tales,
Betrayers responds by playing Minamo’s
Meddling targeting Midnight Covenant.
BETRAYERS WINS GAME ONE IN 5 TURNS
T1 Betrayers draws and plays Takeno’s
T1 Champions draws and plays Gibbering Kami.
T2 Betrayers draws and plays Shuko. Equips
Shuko on Takeno’s Cavalry.
T2 Champions draws Eye of Nowhere. Attacks
with Gibbering Kami (18-18)
T3 Betrayers draws First Volley.
T3 Champions draws Devoted Retainer. Attacks
with Gibbering Kami, Betrayers plays First
Volley targeting Gibbering Kami and
Champions, then targets Gibbering Kami with
Takeno’s Cavalry. (17-18) Plays Devoted
T4 Betrayers draws Blessing of Leaches.
T4 Champions draws and plays Thousand-legged
T5 Betrayers draws Minamo’s Meddling.
T5 Champions draws Otherworldly’s Journey.
Attack with Thousand-legged Kami, blocked by
Takeno’s Cavalry. Betrayers plays Blessing
of Leeches targeting Takeno’s Cavalry, then
activating Blessing of Leeches to regenerate
T6 Betrayers loses one life to Blessing of
Leeches (17-17) draws and plays
Skullsnatcher. Equips Skullsnatcher with
T6 Champions draws and plays Order of the
Sacred Bell. Plays Eye of Nowhere targeting
Takeno’s Cavalry, Betrayers responds by
playing Minamo’s Meddling targeting Eye of
Nowhere. Champions plays Otherworldly
Journey targeting Takeno’s Cavalry, removing
Cavalry from play (and causing Blessing of
Leeches to drop off into the graveyard).
Champions attacks with Retainer and
Thousand-legged Kami, Kami is blocked by
T7 Betrayers draws and plays Traproot Kami.
Equips Cavalry with Shuko.
T7 Champions draws Ragged Veins. Attacks
with Order, Retainer and Thousand-legged
Kami. Kami is blocked by Traproot Kami,
Order is blocked by Cavalry. (17-15)
T8 Betrayers draws and plays Ninja of the
Deep Hours. Equips Ninja with Shuko.
T8 Champions draws Tranquil Garden. Attacks
with Thousand-legged Kami blocked by
T9 Betrayers draws Torrent of Stone. Plays
Torrent of Stone targeting Devoted Retainer.
Attacks with Ninja (14-15) drawing Kami of
Plays Tattered Shoji.
T9 Champions draws Consuming Vortex.
T10 Betrayers draws Lifegift.
T10 Champions draws Yamabushi’s Storm.
T11 Betrayers draws and plays Psychic Spear
forcing Champions to discard Consuming
T11 Champions draws and plays Venerable Kumo.
T12 Betrayers draws and plays Takenuma
T12 Champions draws and plays Kumano, Master
Yamabushi. Champions activates Kumano
repeatedly until Betrayers life total is
CHAMPIONS WINS GAME TWO IN 12 TURNS
T1 Champions draws Cloudcrest Lake.
T1 Betrayers draws and plays Kami of
T2 Champions draws and plays Kitsune
T2 Betrayers draws and plays Yomiji Who Bars
the Way. Attacks with Kami of Tattered
T3 Champions draws and plays Matsu-Tribe
T3 Betrayers draws Mistblade Shinobi.
T4 Champions draws Lifted by Clouds.
T4 Betrayers draws and plays Harbinger of
Spring. Attacks with Tattered Shoji. (16-20)
T5 Champions draws and plays Devoted
T5 Betrayers draws and plays Psychic Spear
requiring Champions to discard Lifted by
T6 Champions draws Waking Nightmare.
T6 Betrayers draws and plays Frost Ogre.
T7 Champions draws and plays Floating-Dream
T7 Betrayers draws and plays Genju of the
T8 Champions draws and plays Vine Kami.
T8 Betrayers draws Hired Muscle.
T9 Champions draws Desperate Ritual.
T9 Betrayers draws and plays Budoka Pupil.
T10 Champions draws and plays Ronin
T10 Betrayers draws and plays Matsu-Tribe
T11 Champions draws Strength of Cedars.
Plays Waking Nightmare causing Betrayers to
discard Mistblade Shinobi. Activates Matsu-Tribe
Decoy targeting each creature on Betrayers
board except for Harbinger of Spring.
Attacks with everyone, Matsu-Tribe Decoy is
blocked by everyone except the Harbinger.
Harbinger blocks Kitsune Blademaster.
Champions plays Strength of Cedars targeting
Ronin Houndmaster (16-well under zero)
CHAMPIONS WINS GAME THREE IN 11 TURNS
T1 Betrayers draws and plays Skullmane Baku.
T1 Champions draws and plays Kitsune
T2 Betrayers draws and plays Shinka
Gatekeeper. Attacks with Skullmane Baku
T2 Champions draws Distress.
T3 Betrayers draws Ninja of the Deep Hours.
Declares attack, Diviner taps Skullmane
Baku. Attacks with Shinka Gatekeeper. After
blocks are declared, Betrayers activates
Ninja of the Deep Hours, replacing the
Gatekeeper in play as an unblocked attacker
(16-20) drawing Moonlight Strider. Plays
Shinka Gatekeeper and Moonlit Strider.
T3 Champions draws and plays Akki Lavarunner.
T4 Betrayers draws and plays In the Web of
War. Declares an attack, Diviner taps
Skullmane Baku, attacks with Ninja and
Shinka Gatekeeper. (11-20) Draws Aura Barbs.
T4 Champions draws Sakura-Tribe Elder. Play
Distress, requiring Betrayers to discard
Aura Barbs. Plays Sakura-Tribe Elder.
T5 Betrayers draws and plays Indebted
Samurai. Attacks, Diviner taps Skullmane
Baku, with everyone else. Ninja blocked by
Akki Lavarunner and Sakura-Tribe Elder.
T5 Champions draws and plays Sachi Daughter
of Seshiro. Concedes.
BETRAYERS WINS GAME FOUR IN 5 TURNS
T1 Champions draws Terashi’s Cry.
T1 Betrayers draws Hundred-Talon Strike.
T2 Champions draws Ragged Veins.
T2 Betrayers draws and plays Ninja of the
T3 Champions draws and plays Orochi
T3 Betrayers draws and plays Empty-Shrine
Kannushi. Attacks with Ninja
(18-20) drawing Toshiro Umezawa. Plays
T4 Champions draws and plays Gibbering Kami.
T4 Betrayers draws and plays Akki
Blizzard-Herder. Attacks with Ninja,
Kannushi and Toshiro. Gibbering Kami blocks
T5 Champions draws and plays Reito Lantern.
T5 Betrayers draws and plays Floodbringer.
Attacks with Toshiro, Kannushi
and Blizzard-Herder, Kannushi blocked by
T6 Champions draws and plays Kitsune
T6 Betrayers draws Mark of the Oni. Attacks
with Toshiro, Akki and
T7 Champions draws and plays Eye of Nowhere
targeting Toshiro. Attack with
T7 Betrayers draws and plays Shinka
Gatekeeper, plays Toshiro Umezawa.
Attacks with Akki and Floodbringer. (6-18).
T8 Champions draws and plays Venerable Kumo
T8 Betrayers draws and plays Moonlit
Strider. Attacks with Toshiro, Akki,
Shinka and Floodbringer. Kumo blocks
Floodbringer and Riftwalker blocks
Gatekeeper. Betrayers plays Hundred-Talon
Strike targeting Shinka. (3-18).
T9 Champions draws Yamabushi’s Storm.
BETRAYERS WINS GAME FIVE IN 9 TURNS
UNCOMMON AND RARE BETRAYERS CARDS USED IN
Aura Barbs is an Arcane instant for 2R that
causes each enchantment to deal
two points to its controller and then causes
each creature enchantment to
deal two points of damage to the creature it
Budoka Pupil is a 2/2 Human Monk for 1GG.
Whenever you play a Spirit or
Arcane card, you may put a ki counter on
Budoka pupil. At end of turn, if
there are two or more ki counters on Budoka
Pupil, you may flip the card.
Flipped, this card becomes Ichiga, Who
Topples Oaks, a 4/3 Legendary Spirit
with Trample. You can remove a counter from
Ichiga to give a target creature
+2/+2 until end of turn.
Genju of the Fields is an Enchant Plains for
one white mana. For two
colorless mana, the enchanted Plains becomes
a 2/5 white Spirit creature
that gains its controller life equal to the
amount of damage this card deals
(until end of turn). When enchanted Plains
is put into a graveyard from
play, you may return Genju of the Fields
from the graveyard to your hand.
Empty-Shrine Kannushi is a 1/1 Human Cleric
for one white mana that has
protection from the colors of permanents you
Hired Muscle is a 2/2 Human Warrior for 1BB.
Whenever you play a Spirit or
Arcane card, you may put a ki counter on
Hired Muscle. At the end of turn,
if there are two or more ki counters on
Hired Muscle, you may flip it,
turning it into Scarmaker, a 4/4 Legendary
Spirit. You may remove a counter
from Scarmaker to give a target creature
Fear until end of turn.
Indebted Samurai is a 2/3 Human Samurai for
3W with Bushido 1. Whenever a
Samurai you control is put into a graveyard
from play, you may put a +1/+1
counter on Indebted Samurai.
In the Web of War is an Enchantment for 3RR
that gives creatures that come
into play under your control Haste and +2/+0
until end of turn.
Lifegift is an Enchantment for 2G that
allows you to gain one point of life
every time a land comes into play.
Mark of the Oni is a creature enchantment
for 2B that gives you control of
enchanted creature. At end of turn, if you
control no Demons, you must
sacrifice Mark of the Oni.
Shuko is an artifact equipment card costing
one colorless mana with an Equip
cost of zero. Shuko gives an equipped
Toshiro Umezawa is a 2/2 Legendary Human
Samurai for 1BB with Bushido 1.
Whenever a creature an opponent controls is
put into a graveyard from play,
you may play target instant card in your
graveyard. If that card would be
put into a graveyard this turn, remove it
from the game instead.
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way is a 4/4 Legendary
Spirit for 5WW. Whenever a
legendary permanent other than this one is
put into a graveyard from play,
return that card to its owner’s hand.
As always, I’m interested in what YOU think!
Level II DCI Judge
Zanman on Magic Online