In the Future

Posted in Feature on May 3, 2007

By Mike Flores

Michael Flores is the author of Deckade and The Official Miser's Guide; the designer of numerous State, Regional, Grand Prix, National, and Pro Tour–winning decks; and the onetime editor-in-chief of The Magic Dojo. He'd claim allegiance to Dimir (if such a Guild existed)… but instead will just shrug "Simic."

As analysts, it is not enough for us to see a thing and name that thing, to merely notice that it is there, a feature of the landscape of our physical—or even imaginary—universe. We look at a thing and seek to reconcile it with its context. We force meaning on our observations, whether or not it is there. So now what? is one of our favorite catchphrases. Scott McCloud says that it is not enough that we see a face in a cloud, a puddle, a grilled cheese sandwich; after noticing it, we can never look that way again without seeing the face.

In the same way, the brief glimpses into some possible tomorrows in Future Sight compels us to string together general statements. Are they true? In some wise, they are patterns built without third points for reference.

But they're fun.

In the future, White Weenie will beat up on combo decks.

Aven Mindcensor

Not since Matt Linde flashed the Long-crushing Abeyance heard 'round the world has White Weenie been able to make such a ludicrous statement. Aven Mindcensor isn't enough to beat combo outright, but it is certainly a disincentive for at least some players to choose to go with Standard standbys like World Champion Dragonstorm. Remember, though, that if Dragonstorm has a Bogardan Hellkite in the top cards, one point can go to the Mindcensor and Dragonstorm can continue searching and shuffling unimpeded.

That said, the splash damage on Onslaught sacrifice duals, Flagstones of Trokair, and even in-block Terramorphic Expanses is something that deck designers will have to take into consideration now that Aven Mindcensor is a resource. This is one of the most thought-provoking—and probably best—cards in the new set.

In the future, even more White creatures will die to Sulfur Elemental.

Blade of the Sixth Pride
Blade of the Sixth Pride

It isn't an entirely bad thing to have yet another weenie that bites it outright to the ubiquitous Sulfur Elemental... It is actually a testament to how strong Blade of the Sixth Pride might be that it will be eligible for Sulfur-cide in tournament Constructed.

One thing that I can't wait to see is the mulligan to four. Plains, Plains, Lions, Blade. Keep. Winner Winner! Nice. Deck.

In the future, Rebels will sow treaties rather than trouble.

Bound in Silence

This is actually one of the cooler cards in the new set. Pacifism is a card that has been hovering on the outskirts of Tier Two since its first appearance more than ten years ago, seeing play as everything from a Swords to Plowshares that didn't turn off Oath of Druids to a bullet in Ghost Dad, but it has never been clear that the card is exactly what a top flight deck wanted to play in any role.

I think that if a Time Spiral-centric Rebel deck has any shot, this card will be a central target for both black and white two mana searchers.

In the future, Two-Headed Giant will be the team format of choice... by necessity.

Imperial Mask

Really, can you imagine the number of times "Judge!" will get called if they let players run Imperial Mask in heretofore recognizable three-man Limited or Constructed PTQ-level events? Ivory Mask was perfectly awesome—and main deck—in three-man Standard Constructed last year. What a nightmare for the judging staff!

There is no Gifts Ungiven at the present time, nor Yosei, so the demand on Imperial Mask versus Ivory Mask is less, it seems, though Mask + Moat (Teferi's Moat) seems like it would be hell on Block beatdown decks of multiple flavors. With only a single in the mana cost, I can see this card being worth the mana investment.

In the future you will be able to kill creatures for ... I mean ... or lots of creatures for !

Lucent Liminid

In the future thriving on lingo and in-jokes will be replaced with being tongue-tied and confused.

Lymph Sliver

Remember when "Absorb" could only mean one thing? And it was awesome?

Thornweald Archer

My favorite part about this is that I couldn't remember what Thornweald Archer's name is, so I plugged "reach" into Gatherer and got everything from Aquastrand Spider to Harbor Guardian in the first query. You go, Gatherer!

Will Thornweald Archer be awesome in Constructed? At first I wasn't sure because 2/1 creatures that specialize in blocking can't be "good" really at any mana cost above one... but at the same time, the second ability means that lots of players with much better creatures than Thornweald Archer will have no interest in tussling with it. I give this card a strong, very strong, maybe. Probably in the sideboard. Prepare to find yourself on the wrong side of a terrible trade.

In the future, everything—not just computers—will be half the size and cost half as much.

Sporoloth Ancient
Sporoloth Ancient

The various Saproling-themed cards have me torn. On one hand I don't buy it, but on the other hand, the best of the Saproling-themed cards really seem to be pushing the linear. I really love a linear, especially one that I think that no one is gunning for. I am well known to play 4/4s in Constructed that cost and do nothing more than create a little card advantage, and Sporoloth Ancient might just create a lot. Add Sporesower Thallid and Thelon of Havenwood... It really seems like there might be a deck there.

In the future, judges will be called.

Seht's Tiger

Here is an excerpt of a conversation I had with Brian David-Marshall last week.

SwimmingWithSharks This card is awesome. It like counters hellbent Demonfire... Without, you know, countering it.

TheWeekThatWas Awesome! Does that mean it counters, like, Stupor?

SwimmingWithSharks Obviously. I mean, no.

TheWeekThatWas No?

SwimmingWithSharks No, it's not damage.

TheWeekThatWas Well, you can't prevent the damage of hellbent Demonfire, either.

SwimmingWithSharks Man! So this does nothing? I thought it was like Pouncing Gilded Light. Is it not awesome?

TheWeekThatWas Wait! Protection... Doesn't that mean you can't be targeted?

SwimmingWithSharks I, um... Well... So what you're saying is that it can counter Stupor?

TheWeekThatWas Man! Yes?

I was mildly reminded of USENET community construction of the White Knight / Pestilence deck in 1995 or so, where arguments included "This doesn't work, n00b. Pestilence will kill White Knight because Pestilence doesn't target, you know, how Wrath of God still kills Black Knight... It's only fair."


In the future, someone will have some terrible idea... And you will lose to it.

Arcanum Wings

I am having really vivid fantasies about Verdant Embrace right now. This card seems to me like a terrible, terrible, Tinker or Natural Order... But maybe not so terrible that it might not get played. There was a time that we didn't know Natural Order was good enough, mind you.

In the future, Walls will be very fast.

Bonded Fetch
Bonded Fetch

1) I am aware that we don't call them "Walls" any more, but I am from before the Defender civil rights trials. I'm a bit old school. I remember the Terror-reminiscent Necrite flavor text "Ever see a wall drop dead of fright, kid? It ain't pretty."

2) I know we have cards like Molten Sentry and Battle Rampart that have "haste," kind of, but Bonded Fetch seems really impressive to me anyway; it's the only legitimate hasty defender in the game, I think. Isn't the idea of a lightning quick Wall just cool?

3) Every sort of Merfolk Looter, Thought Courier, and Cephalid Looter has excelled in Constructed, including Pro Tour and Grand Prix Top 8 appearances. Bonded Fetch comes online faster and actually has a chance to block the smallest of the small, at least.

In the future, Dread Return will be free. Okay, it will still be free.


This card will be a great addition to a Dredge / Dread Return strategy. Big dredge cards like Golgari Grave-Troll will flip this little man over and the free babies will pave the way for better threats like Akroma, Angel of Wrath, or Sutured Ghoul, or Sundering Titan, depending on the format. Narcomoeba will also play nicely with Cephalid Illusionist decks. There is no reason to ever pay retail.

In the future, gaming halls will be filled with bitter laughter.


Rift Bolt, Greater Gargadon, even Frogmite... There are a lot of cards that Nix can handle. It should in fact be a key card in Limited. I am not sure I would even sideboard Nix in Constructed, just because most of the trouble caused by most present suspends (Aeon Chronicler, Detritivore) has nothing to do with actually countering them at the end of their suspend tenures. However, someone will play Nix, and it will really ruin the opponent's day, at least once that day. I'm looking at you, Riftwing Cloudskate.

In the future, artifacts will be blue.

Sarcomite Myr

Did you notice the "draw a card" line on Sarcomite Myr? This is just R&D making explicit something that has always been true since the days of Jayemdae Tome, Nevinyrral's Disk, &co.

In the future, Magic card art will be spectacular.

Shapeshifter's Marrow
Shapeshifter's Marrow

I have no idea when you would seriously want to play this in Constructed. Therefore it will have a nice permanent place in your rare binder. Where it will look, framed, like Art. Just look at it!

In the future, awesome cards will be hard to break.

Spellweaver Volute

I suppose this trend of cards like Wild Pair and Spellweaver Volute has to be better than the traditional mantra of awesome cards being extremely simple to break. Maybe with all the Careful Considerations and Compulsive Researches available in Standard, you can put lots of instants into your graveyard and fix your hand, filling it with sorceries that will draw you more sorceries and bury more instants.

Let's assume you have the right engine... What are you supposed to do with it?

I don't know!

That's because Spellweaver Volute is hard to break.

My guess is that you can swing some nice incremental card advantage, a la The Rock (but with more or better spells), as well as piggybacking somewhat on the opponent's graveyard. Maybe Spellweaver Volute is a key sideboard card in a spell- and removal-heavy mirror.

In the future, blue and black will play nicely together.

Vedalken Aethermage

I know! Surprise! Turn four should be sick for blue... Vedalken Aethermage into Venser, Shaper Savant? Aethermage as a setup card for Linessa, Zephyr Mage seems like the most powerful direction, though I'm not sure it is exactly broken given the cards necessary to make them click. Aethermage setting up Linessa with Oath of Ghouls or Oversold Cemetery as the engine could make for a really big "big turn." If you resolve one of the aforementioned enchantments and so much as draw Vedalken Aethermage, you pretty much always beat control. You can keep Wizardcycling for more Aethermages, then chain into Zephyr Mages, and your strategy is next to untouchable from an attrition standpoint. Add a little speed, and the team might just be a machine gun Decimate.

In the future, black will still be frightening, but R&D will be frightened.


As for frightening, just look at it. Fleshwrither has all mismatched limbs, two heads, etc. It seems to be juggling flames or something.

But frightened? Why does this card sacrifice only as a sorcery? There is no possibility for card advantage via damage on the stack combat tricks. What four mana creature is worth seven mana, slow-style? My guess is that transfigure was too good at some point... You know, like why Magus of the Bazaar is 0/1 for two.

In the future, black will like green... and nobody else.

Death Rattle
Death Rattle

This card costs +Stinkweed Imp. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. We are buddies with green! See! We don't target a green creature. We love a green creature! Delve you.


This card costs +Golgari Grave-Troll. Dredge + Delve! This isn't a hard play on turn two, if you really want to.

In the future, all our memories will trickle out of our brains and down our long, long arms.

Yixlid Jailer

I think Magic Online makes me in some ways stupider. Magic Online reminds me to gain life for Firemane Angel, Leonin Elder, etc. However I still have to remember to use my Withered Wretch at the end of the opponent's turn. Yixlid Jailer is like the Magic Online version 3.0 of Withered Wretches. I don't have to remember myself any more! Huzzah!

In the future, even more Johnnys will continue to win one game in ten.

Bloodshot Trainee

I've already tried, myself. I don't think this one is probably worth the effort in serious Constructed. Bloodshot Trainee costs one more than Spikeshot Goblin and has less creature-killing utility unenhanced; Spikeshot Goblin never saw 60-card consideration.

You can't help it though, can you Johnny? Bloodshot Trainee really is exciting. It does four (the irony is it will never do four... maybe one in ten).

In the future, combo players will start on 12.

Street Wraith

This will be a staple in a lot of decks. Unlike cards like Mishra's Bauble, Street Wraith is essentially a pure way to cut your deck by four cards from 60 to 56 (you don't need to wait the turn), which is very good for combo, even though they life loss is not inconsiderable. By the way, as a last ditch fallback, I don't think that a 3/4 Swampwalker for five mana is actually that bad.

In the future, jellyfish will come gold-plated.

Venser, Shaper Savant

It didn't appear in a press release or anything, but the expansion symbol on Venser, Shaper Savant is printed in actual gold leaf. That's why it costs an additional over Man-o'-War.

Venser might not be Man-o'-War, but he's the only Man-o'-War that Standard players are likely to have any time soon. The additional mana pushes the card to a less desirable curve point, but Venser can bounce land, essentially Remand spells, and create unprofitable combats thanks to flash. I am not sure where he will show up, but Venser seems to me a highly possible role player. He can steal tempo and set up Extirpate well in Block control-on-control. Plus, Venser beats.

In the future, basic Mountain will become a haven for compulsive gamblers.

Shah of Naar Isle

There used to be a card called Indentured Djinn, which was actually probably a worse deal for what you got than Shah of Naar Isle will be. Yet perfectly reasonable players with Pro Tour Top 8s and gaming resumes outside top level Magic played a deck dubbed "Lucky Djinn." If you got lucky, the opponent didn't draw anything with his three free cards, and you just got to bash him with your 4/4 flyer for three. Lucky.

Shah of Naar Isle is really a great deal. For only four mana, you get a 6/6, yes, but also a free trip to adrenaline-ville. When you lose thanks to the Shah, well, you could see that coming. The other guy got a free Ancestral Recall, after all. But when you win? Ooh, yeah. Trample is nearly as strong offensively as flying, and 6/6 for four is in rare company in terms of its body. Moreover, there are ways you can mitigate the downside of shipping three cards, via mana control, or just conceding that aspect of the game to a deck that already has more cards. There are some matchups where, if you get a fast 6/6, it doesn't matter how many cards the opponent draws (you stole about two mana). The biggest difference between the Shah and the somewhat defensible Indentured Djinn is that you get a 6/6 for a turn even if you don't want to pay the echo cost, far different from the blue predecessor, who was quite inflexible on this term. So if you need a giant blocker for a turn and don't want to pay the echo? It might not be optimal, but Shah of Naar Isle can at least play that role.

And victory? Winning with this card will be a rush, not just a dubya.

In the future, Fireblast will have legs.

Skizzik Surger

This card is a little pricey, but I can see it as a possible addition to multiple strategies. We think of six mana as expensive for Red Decks proper and, say, Gruul Deck Wins, but Time Spiral Block definitely has decks that can support this mana cost thanks to Search for Tomorrow, Wall of Roots, Prismatic Lens, and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss. Will Skizzik Surger be the post-DamnationGiant Solifuge that green-red needs to beat the best of the control strategies? Maybe it is just a "burn" spell. Either way, this is definitely one I will watch.

Incidentally, I really like how Skizzik Surger recalls Fireblast on both mana cost and the "sacrifice two lands" bit, even if it is not an alternate mana cost... Feels like an Easter Egg for us old timers.

In the future, ass will be kicked. Lots of it. All over the place. In every color. Even green.

Oriss, Samite Guardian
Oriss, Samite Guardian

Orim, Samite Healer (who made Top 8 of a Constructed Pro Tour, don't forget) meets Orim's Chant. Of all the legendary creatures in this cycle, Oriss seems the most breakable, if not fundamentally broken. The obvious combination—in-Block even—is Undertaker. It might be a bit of a problem setting them together, but once they are, the game is essentially over.

Linessa, Zephyr Mage

As above. Linessa might have the strongest non-grandeur ability of the bunch.

Korlash, Heir to Blackblade

Next to Pact of Negation, Korlash is likely the strongest standalone card in Future Sight. He has a great body, is very difficult to kill, and his grandeur is actually cheaper than Kodama's Reach for a much more effective in-context mix of ability and acceleration. Don't forget that the card never says basic Swamps! Korlash will retrieve Watery Graves and Overgrown Tombs very nicely for years to come.

Tarox Bladewing

Interested in a turn-four—maybe even turn-three—win in Standard?

Two words: Pat Chapin I mean Weird Harvest.

Baru, Fist of Krosa

With a name like "Fist of Krosa," you know Baru deserves at least a second look, and we've already talked in this article about the viability of a 4/4 for five. Baru combines the power of two of green's most successful specialties, land ramp and effective creatures great and small. Your Wurm creature tokens—contingent on having a particular large creature—threaten to really get out of hand, and the mini-Overruns encourage swarms... but also make the Wurms look that much bigger. Don't forget the trample line! If your opponent forgets—and often there won't be a good block—just kill him.

In the future, Swimming with Sharks will return to what it does best.

Or will it?

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