Thaumatic Compass // Spires of Orazca – Ixalan
Date Reviewed: November 24, 2017
Constructed: 3.13 Casual: 3.67 Limited: 3.67
Multiplayer: 2.83 Commander [EDH]: 3.33
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Like a good Member Berry, I could tell you stories of Journeyer’s Kite and how many times it’s provided incremental advantage to decks in far-off formats like Kamigawa Block Pauper Tiny Leaders. I did not expect it to get a functional upgrade, especially not one referencing Maze of Ith. That card is still restricted in other far-off formats, and while you’ll never be able to stop Savannah Lions on the second turn, you will be guaranteed to have a lot of lands to cast defensive spells by the time it does come online.
Speaking of Pilgrim’s Eye, here is another artifact that lets you search your deck for land. At 2 colorless mana this card can be splashed into pretty much every deck. This card isn’t meant for ramping, quite the opposite. Three mana and a tap is pretty expensive for the land not to enter the battlefield. Since the Compass doesn’t put the card into play, you’re going to have to wait to transform it. Fortunately, if you are mana screwed, as we all have been, Thaumatic Compass is a good contingency plan to get you back in the game.
To review Spires of Orazca is to review Maze of Ith. I’ve always been iffy on lands that don’t produce mana, something Spires fixes. Despite putting you behind a turn, Maze of Ith still sees a lot of play. Although not as oppressive in multiplayer, being able to shut down a creature is powerful. I think the Compass’ biggest flaw is that it isn’t as good as Treasure Map, another 2 drop mana fixing double faced artifact.
Not sure if this is the most appropriate Black Friday card, but at least it makes sense if you stretch a bit, right? You have a shiny spire, the ability to amass a lot of something (here, mana), and the means to keep people away from it.
Spires of Orazaca has the distinction of being eerily like the infamous Maze of Ith, a card that has made lives miserable and ruined evenings since The Dark. It even taps for mana, which is a welcome upgrade to the original. It’s maybe not exactly like Maze; you can’t remove your own creature from combat if your opponent surprises you with a flash blocker. Still, “almost Maze” is pretty good.
With that out of the way, the question is if you can get to “almost Maze”. Thaumatic Compass does its best: its activated ability is like Pilgrim’s Eye from yesterday, giving you a way to sink unused mana. Seven lands is a fair amount, and it’s an amount we saw with the Origins Nissa planeswalker. It worked then, and while it’s still not going to flip on turn 3 or 4, it’s apt to flip eventually and will help you get there and make sure you have no mana issues.
I don’t think Thaumatic Compass will be a staple, but Spires of Orazaca is powerful enough that it might pop up as people try to harness its powerful effect in Constructed formats. It may be worth trying as well, and it could be a bit of engine grease in a permission-style deck that fires it if the opponent ends their turn without letting one of their spells get countered.
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