Here Comes The Sun (again)

Posted in NEWS on October 24, 2003

I spent the last two weeks talking about decks that you aren't going to see at States tomorrow because we in R&D built them a year ago, decided they were unhealthy, and made some of the cards worse. This week I thought I would take a different approach - this week I'm going to look at a deck that we were initially worried about, but that we never could quite get to work perfectly. The key card is one that I haven't heard a lot of people talking about, but that might be because whoever has figured out a good way to use it is keeping their mouth shut. The card I'm talking about is Second Sunrise.

Second Sunrise

This card does two completely different things, which makes it a tricky card to evaluate. On the one hand, Second Sunrise is a great trick to have up your sleeve whenever your opponent plays a board sweeping effect (like Wrath of God or Obliterate). You're beating them down with creatures, they spend their turn dealing with your threats, and then BLAM! You bring everything back into play, untap, and bash them some more.

Second Sunrise is somewhat similar to Caller of the Claw when you use it this way. Second Sunrise has the advantage that you can use it against people who destroy your artifacts, but it has the disadvantage that it doesn't come attached to a 2/2 body. Both cards are vulnerable to the same problem, though - they require you to have your mana untapped when your opponent does his thing. Each card can be amazingly powerful if you time it correctly, but each card can be a bit frustrating if you're tapped out when your opponent kills all your other guys. Worse still, when you play a creature deck against a control deck you usually have to tap out in order to get your threats onto the table. If your opponent is smart enough to deal with your threats right away, you won't have time to untap and set up your answer to his answer.

My conclusion after messing around with Second Sunrise as an answer to Wrath of God (and similar effects) was that it's quite useful to have, but only in the right situations. Thus I would usually include a couple copies of it in my sideboard whenever I built a white creature deck. It's particularly nice in a white weenie/ equipment deck because you're a lot more worried about Akroma's Vengeance than Wrath of God (since your equipment survives the Wrath but not the Vengeance). While it may be hard to be untapped on turn 4 to negate a Wrath, it's actually fairly easy to be untapped once your opponent builds up to Vengeance mana.

So that's my take on the first, most obvious use of Second Sunrise - it's a nice answer to have around when the situation calls for it, but answers to answer to threats aren't the sorts of cards you build decks around. That brings us to the second, much more exciting way to use this card. If you build your entire deck around it, Second Sunrise can be quite a powerful threat all on its own. The idea is to fill your deck with lands, creatures, and artifacts that give you something when you sacrifice them, milk them for all the value you can get, and then bring them all back from the graveyard so you can use them over and over again. There's nothing on Second Sunrise that says your opponent has to be the one who destroyed all your permanents.

Here's one attempt we made to implement this strategy:

Second Sunrise Ver. 1

Download Arena Decklist

When we tried out this build, we found that it would occasionally have some incredibly powerful turns, but it wasn't powerful enough often enough to scare anybody. The problem is that the individual cards in this deck just aren't as good as the decks most other Standard constructed decks play with. Shock Troops, anyone?

Here's a second build that attempts to abuse Second Sunrise, this time combining white with green:

Second Sunrise Ver. 2

Download Arena Decklist

This one was a bit better, but that's mostly because the deck is less single-mindedly devoted to setting up a powerful Sunrise and instead has a nice Beast mini-theme built into it (which you can often use the Sunrise to defend). Again, I'm not saying we solved the puzzle here. This was not one of our best decks. Instead, I'm offering this deck up as a way to balance out the last few articles I've written (where I portrayed R&D as changing cards as soon as it found a way to abuse them).

At the end of Mirrodin development, we looked at Second Sunrise as a potentially powerful engine, but we decided it was not too powerful to print. Maybe we failed to find the right way to take advantage of the potential offered up by this card. Maybe you can. (Or maybe you already did and you'll be unleashing your tech on an unsuspecting world at your local State Championship this weekend). Or maybe you'll just file Second Sunrise away in the back of your mind as a hidden gem that could get a lot better if the right cards show up in a future set.

Last Week's Poll Results

Should we print more cards (like Arc-Slogger) where you remove part of your library from the game as a cost to gain some benefit?
Maybe - It's reasonably interesting, but nothing amazing. 4409 41.6%
Yes - I find that mechanic quite interesting to play with and think about. 3530 33.3%
No - It's kind of a dumb way to balance out a powerful ability. 2660 25.1%
Total 10599 100.0%

Randy may be reached at latestdevelopments@wizards.com.