Heed IntoTheAether

Posted in Feature on January 18, 2005

By Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar

Previewing Heed the Mists

It's always a bit of challenge to think about what to say in a preview article, especially when my column focuses on Magic Online. I asked Alan Comer and Rachel Reynolds, Magic Online's programmers, if there were any cool development stories to share about my preview card. Nope, they said, but there are apparently lots of interesting stories from Betrayers that will show up in future weeks. Until then, it's up to me and me alone to dive into the following card:

So dive I shall!

(JMS snaps his swim cap on...

...flaps his arms around dramatically...

...and jumps into the swirling mist)

Heed the Flavor

Heed the Mists

First off, I didn't name Heed the Mists. Which is a pity since it's a cool name. Folks who know the Kamigawa story know about the Minamo School, which sits atop a huge waterfall. The waterfall is a portal to the world of the kami, leading to the words “mists” and “veil” becoming proxies for the otherworldly. Reach Through Mists, for example, suggests that you are reaching through the waterfall for immortal knowledge, and Part the Veil connotes a time when the kami retreat through the falls to their own world. Check out the flavor text on Part the Veil, too. This explains why Reach Through Mists, Part the Veil and now Heed the Mists are Arcane, because they are connected to kami magic (as opposed to mortal magic).

Anyway, I like the suggestion of Heed the Mists--You as a planeswalker have decided to listen to the kami murmurs and are granted ancient knowledge as a result. Sometimes, if you're lucky, that gift of knowledge can be pretty dramatic (heeding a message from The Unspeakable apparently grants you a whopping nine cards).

"Once, I looked to the mists for wisdom. Now I wish only for understanding." -Sensei Hisoka

Sigh... I didn't write the flavor text for Heed the Mists either. Again, you see the reference to the veil beyond the waterfall, given by Minamo's headmaster, Sensei Hisoka.

We're all glad that Hisoka has calmed down a bit since Champions of Kamigawa, since he had a decidedly “Chicken Little” thing going in the flavor text of Unnatural Speed, Cut the Tethers, and Night of Souls' Betrayal. Also, maybe if he had lowered his expectations earlier and stared a little less at the waterfall he could have avoided the situation described in Sideswipe's flavor text.

Seriously, the part of the Kami War that is described in Betrayers' flavor text as a whole is pretty desperate. It's no wonder that's Hisoka's tone is also moving from anxious (in Champions) to more helpless here.

Here's Sensei Hisoka, listening to the kami voices beyond the veil. Christopher Rush has cleverly anthropomorphized the mists themselves, although usually kami are depicted as much weirder than those two disembodied heads. If I could say something intelligent about the composition or execution of the piece, I would. Suffice it to say, I think it looks cool, feels Blue, and is startlingly photo-real in Hisoka's face.

Oh. What? You wanted to talk about what the card actually does?

Heed the Mechanics

Put the top card of your library...

 

Aven Fateshaper
Heed the Mists cares about the top card of your library when it resolves, and that card is going to determine whether the message you receive from beyond the veil is game-winning or a dud. As a result, it helps if you have some predictability in what the first card of your library is actually going to be. Sensei's Divining Top is probably the most obvious answer here since it's even in Kamigawa Block. Sage Owl is another solution, although cards like Aven Fateshaper may be even better, since revealing the Fateshaper with Heed the Mists will also earn your seven cards. Scry in general is a superb compliment to Heed the Mists. There's also Future Sight, Index, Darksteel Pendant, Discombobulate, Sage Aven, Rummaging Wizard, Trickery Charm, Spy Network, and Long-Term Plans to name a few of the cards available to you online that help manipulate your library.

But don't stop there. What about Arcbound Reclaimer or plain old Reclaim? Have we finally found a use for Goblin Spy or Lantern of Insight? Get tricky when predicting what your top card will be.

Also, don't forget that once you have Heed the Mists in your deck and you're doing all of that library manipulation, it makes sense to include other cards that care about the top of you deck, cards like Goblin Machinist (Oo!), Predict, Gate to the Aether (Ooo!), Vexing Arcanix, Bloodline Shaman, Call of the Wild (Oooo!), the Champions' Deceivers, Mind's Desire (Boo!), Loafing Giant, Millikin, Psychic Battle, Timesifter (Ooooo!), and, of course, Erratic Explosion and Kab(OO!)m!

...into your graveyard...

 

Genesis
Note that the card you reveal doesn't go back on top of your library. Instead, it plops into your graveyard. This becomes important if your deck is trying to reach threshold, for example, or playing something like Genesis, Anger, Eternal Dragon, Blood Speaker, or Bladewing's Thrall. In almost every block of cards, there are numerous reasons to love a card that fills your graveyard.

Or maybe it's important because you're playing a reanimation deck. Reanimation, it seems to me, is a great place to abuse Heed the Mists, since it's likely that you are trying to dump uncastable fatties into your graveyard in order to reanimate them. Once you've dropped Tidal Kraken into your graveyard, for example, I'm sure you can find that Zombify within the eight cards you just drew.

Of course, you could just focus on making the top card of your library Darksteel Colossus, which draws you eleven cards and reloads your library to do it all over again later. Man that guy is unfair.

...Then draw cards equal to the converted mana cost of that card.

 

Scornful Egotist
Ah, finally. You aren't playing Heed the Mists, going through all of that calisthenics manipulating your library, to put a single card into your graveyard. You're playing Heed the Mists because you want to draw cards. Lots, and lots, and lots of cards. In fact, you want to draw cards so badly you'll even consider playing Scornful Egotist in your deck. The bigger the cards in your deck, the bigger the payoff from the Mists, so it behooves your deck to play cards of coverted costs of six, seven, and beyond.

A corollary here is that revealing a land with Heed the Mists really stinks. If your deck is light on library manipulation, you can always just focus on thinning the land from your deck via cards like Kodama's Reach, Explosive Vegetation, and Harrow, or you can lower the land-count and play lots of non-land mana sources like Heartbeat of Spring, Gilded Lotus, or Elvish Aberration. The nice side effect of either thinning land (presumably onto the table) and using non-land mana sources is that with access to all of that mana you can actually cast some of those high-cost spells rather than just draw cards from them.

The question is, what the heck are you going to do with all of those cards you drew off of your uber-expensive cards?

One answer is simply play them, which is a fine answer since those uber-expensive cards presumably cost so much because they do cool things. Smack down with fatties, blow up things with mighty Decrees, or aim Searing Winds at an opponent's dome. If you have the mana, do spectacular things and win spectacularly.

Usually, though, decks that look to draw so many cards are doing so because of combo-like tricks up their sleeves. Maybe you're milling your opponent with Tomoya the Revealer and/or Dampen Thought. Maybe you're trying to set up a Bringer of the White Dawn and Mindslaver lock. My mind doesn't think in terms of auto-win combos, but I am absolutely certain that Heed the Mists can set up... well... something nasty.

Speaking of nasty, try Heed the Mists as a way of refueling your hand in a control deck, especially a Monoblue one with lots of counterspells. If you haven't noticed, Blue's countermagic has gotten considerably more expensive recently and the card-drawing has become less efficient. I picture The Unspeakable in such a deck, but maybe that's just me.

Ideas abound. Beacon of Immortality, Gerrard's Wisdom, and Test of Endurance. Empyrial Plate, Arcanis the Omnipotent, and Graceful Adept. Words of Wind. Magnivore. Hondens. Draco. Maro. Keep looking, and you'll keep finding reasons why drawing six to ten cards in one explosive moment is fun.

Newsflash: Heed the Mists is Blue. Not only Blue, but it's pretty darned Blue thanks to the in its casting cost. This makes it less splashable than, say, Rush of Knowledge (more on this comparison later), and means that if you're making a Heed the Mists deck that you want it to either be pretty-Blue, very-Blue or mono-Blue. I like one- and two-color decks, so for me this doesn't seem like such a liability.

Heed the Mists also costs five mana. You may need some mana acceleration to use it quickly, or, if not, you definitely need some defense in order to survive long enough to use it. Thankfully, if you happen to reveal another Heed the Mists when you play one, you've just drawn five cards for five mana (that's two more cards than Concentrate for only one more mana... woo!).

Sorcery

Unless you're relying on freakiness like Vedalken Orrery, you have to play Heed the Mists on your turn. Unless you're abusing something like Timesifter, you're probably out of mana and then have to suffer through an opponent's turn before you can use all of those pretty cards you just drew. Thus is the curse of Sorceries.

I can't help but think there's a Heed the Mists deck with Anarchist, though. And Recoup. Doesn't Recoup just sound gleefully evil in a Mists deck?

Arcane

Just because I want to type The Unspeakable one more time, it's worth noting that Heed the Mists is indeed an Arcane spell. This means that Eerie Procession can search it out of your deck for you. Cards like Dampen Thought, Glacial Ray, Consuming Vortex, and Hideous Laughter can be Spliced onto Heed the Mists. Creatures like Sire of the Storm, Hikari, and Kodama of the South Tree trigger when you play Heed the Mists. As you can probably expect, there will be additional tricks and bonuses to playing with Arcane spells when Betrayers of Kamigawa hits your favorite format.

Incidentally, I think the two coolest Splice cards in conjunction with Heed the Mists are Reweave, which has nice synergy with a deck using lots of library manipulation, and Through the Breach, which has nice synergy with a deck drawing lots of fatties. Make a Reweave or Breach deck and you will make one columnist very, very happy.


Well, it's also an uncommon (I figured I had commented on pretty much every other detail about the card that I should say something about its rarity too), which means you won't be seeing any Heed the Mists PDC decks, but it also means that it's immune to Rare-B-Gone. Viva la middleman.

Heed Versus Rush

 

Rush of Knowledge
At a glance, many people may see Heed the Mists as functionally identical to Rush of Knowledge. After all, they're both five-mana Blue sorceries that allow you to draw cards based on converted mana costs. Some might even consider Rush a better card since it's more splashable. Some might also cling desperately to the known rather than embrace the unknown. Some might not heed the mists.

Truly, Heed the Mists and Rush of Knowledge have similar, but different, uses. Sure they both want access to high-cost cards, but with Rush of Knowledge you have to play those cards first, whereas Heed the Mists can trigger directly from cards in your library. This makes a card like Spire Golem fit more naturally in a Rush deck and Draco fit more naturally in a Mists deck. Also, Rush of Knowledge only cares about permanents (Confiscate, Rush), whereas Heed the Mists cares about all non-land cards (Temporal Cascade, Mists). Also, don't forget those graveyard and Arcane characteristics of Heed the Mists, both of which open up plenty of deck possibilities alien to your average Rush of Knowledge. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but I am saying that they're fraternal twins at best.

Online Play

Although Betrayers of Kamigawa won't be arriving online for quite a while (dang you, delayed gratification!), it's worth anticipating how Heed the Mists might fit into some of Magic Online's specific formats. Here are my thoughts, in brief:

Singleton: I worry about building any deck around a single card in Singleton, since decks tend to work best when built around themes, mechanics, or ideas. Having Rush of Knowledge gives you two functionally-similar cards, and along with Erratic Explosion, Kaboom!, Timesifter, etc. there are certainly enough cards to try a “cost matters” Singleton deck. Heed the Mists may also play a role in, as I said, a Singleton reanimation or control-based deck.

Decree of Pain

In a format already known for expensive cards, Heed the Mists could go a long way.

Prismatic: The nice thing about Prismatic is that it's generally a slower-to-develop format and the games take longer than other formats. As a result, more expensive cards are commonplace. A “cost matters” Prismatic deck sounds highly entertaining, able to put in many of the ideas I've listed today rather than focusing on a single one. Prismatic is also a format that thrives on library manipulation, so I see great opportunity to make a 250-plus size Mists deck.

Tribal Wars: Wizards of every walk of life should loooove Heed the Mists. Since Birds can manipulate a library as well as or better than Wizards, they may have also found a nice boon. After that, your guess is as good as mine.

Emperor and Two-Headed Giant: I need to play more multiplayer soon, since it feels like my non-duel brain is getting rusty. Heed the Mists isn't an obvious multiplayer card, though like any card-drawing it can set up your overall strategy. I'm guessing that an Emperor deck with Gates to the Aether and Heed the Mists would be quite sexy.

Classic: Um, I don't know... Serra Avatar? If you're playing Morphling, it seems to me you're probably already winning the game, but maybe that's just me.

{GASP!)

I'm up for air! What happened?

Update on Guest Columnist Gig & Notes From Last Week

Last weekI put out an open call for guest columnists. I received dozens, and dozens, and still more dozens of great e-mails from folks wanting to write about online clans. Thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm.

If you expressed interest and do not receive an e-mail back from me today, then I'm afraid you weren't selected as one of the five finalists. A lot of really great, passionate folks contacted me, and I'm sorry not to send out a response to everyone. Just so you know, one of the deals I made with my wife when taking this column was that I would read all e-mail but respond to only about one percent (as opposed to my tenure at House of Cards when I responded to everyone who wrote me). I know silence isn't a very satisfying response for something like this, but it's all an attempt to keep my workload sane. I only thought about sending a mass form-letter after I had already deleted several e-mails from my Inbox. Sigh.

The good news is that after today five talented folks will begin toiling away at their articles. I'm giving them a two-week deadline, so I would expect to see the guest column in about a month or so. The result should be an absolutely terrific look at Clans.

Finally, in my rush to get a bunch of decks made and tested, last week I completely overlooked Beacon of Creation in my Orochi Eggwatcher deck. As CypherAlmasy pointed out on the Message Boards, dropping two Honden of Life's Web and two Viridian Zealots is a fine choice for adding four Beacon of Creation to the deck. I should also note that in looking at the Nezumi Shortfang deck, many people suggested Uba Mask instead of the very-expensive Possessed Portal. I still like the Portal better, but it's worth passing on the idea for those interested in running with it.

Have fun and, of course, heed your mists,

-j

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