Eldrazi Exploring

Posted in From the Lab on April 15, 2010

By Noel deCordova

Hello and welcome back to the Lab! Today, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is I don't have a preview for Rise of the Eldrazi today. The good news, however, is that I don't need one; the entire set is up for your viewing pleasure in the Rise of the Eldrazi product section! I'm going to be talking about some of these newly revealed cards today, so head over to the full list if you want to keep up. If not, that's fine; I can definitely respect the feeling of opening a pack to discover the new goodies.

Now, I usually try to refrain from injecting my personal opinions on sets as a whole, or Magical issues of various types, but Rise of the Eldrazi has finally caused my Splurging Meter to bubble over. I am personally more excited about Rise of the Eldrazi than I have been for a set in quite a while. As someone who values creativity in all aspects, I am frankly tickled pink by levelers, rebounders, totem armor Auras, defenders, Eldrazi Spawn tokens, and of course, the big bad devourers of the multiverse themselves, the Eldrazi.

I won't be able to fully confirm this until I actually play around with the set this weekend, but I foresee a ton of interesting and fun game situations with this set. From rebounding Nomad's Assembly and watching Soulsurge Elemental double in power, to having Broodwarden turn a stalemate into an easier victory, to simply activating Kazandu Tuskcaller, the cards seem satisfyingly slingable.

So out of all the cards from Rise of the Eldrazi, which ones am I going to discuss? Well, I certainly don't want to dig myself into a hole when it comes to theme weeks. That probably rules out most of the major themes.

Instead, I'm going to discuss two cards that are certainly Johnnytastic, and don't hinge on a certain theme. In other words, they're flexible. Kind of like Near-Death Experience, my first preview card.

Today's first card will be Lightmine Field.

    Minesweeper, Lite

Lightmine Field is a very cool defensive enchantment that does something usually out of white's comfort zone: directly deal damage to opposing creatures (Sunlance aside). However, the damage is worded in an interesting way. It's not "X damage to each creature" (a la numerous red sweepers such as Pyroclasm) but "X damage to X attacking creatures." So, the more your opponent swarms you, the more damage Lightmine Field dishes out.

Even if your opponent's strategy only involves attacking with one big creature, like a Baneslayer Angel or Goliath Sphinx, you can still bring the Lightmine pain. When the Goliath Sphinx attacks by itself, it'll be assigned 1 damage. Then, surprise your opponent with a Snakeform! Already a great combat trick, Snakeform combines with Lightmine Field to instantly kill any attacking creature. Ovinize works as well. And if your opponent has a deck with a healthy amount of attacking creatures, Lightmine Field should trip up that plan enough all by itself. If you wanted to tattoo the word "Rattlesnake" on your forehead in a group game, you could pair Lightmine Field with Death Pits of Rath and watch the groans. Or you could just wait for a giant attack and cast Shriveling Rot, which would be akin to getting that tattoo at instant speed. Ouch (for both parties).

Of course, Lightmine Field can cause equal discomfort to your attacking forces. It's easiest to play a spell-heavy deck when building with Lightmine Field, as a creature-heavy build will probably self-destruct. The only exception to this would be to also use Light of Sanction. Since Lightmine Field is a source you control, you can throw those two enchantments in a white token deck if you wanted.

I wonder, though, if there's any way I can proactively take advantage of Lightmine Field damage to my own forces. My first idea is to use creatures such as Zealous Inquisitor. Swing once with the Inquisitor and pay , and I get to ping something. Unfortunately, there aren't that many creatures like Zealous Inquisitor. I initially thought I had struck gold with the Kor (of Stronghold, not Zendikar), but Nomads en-Kor, for example, will only redirect damage to other creatures you control.

I decided to go in a different direction with cards such as Rite of Passage and Fungus Sliver. As long as the toughness of your attacking creatures is high enough, after they survive the Lightmine Field, they'll get a power boost! Even though I was going Slivers, I didn't want to be super aggressive, as if I put too many creatures out at once, I'd either kill them all with Lightmine Field (no-no) or win without even playing Lightmine Field (bigger no-no.) So I tried to find the right balance.

Lights and Sounds

Download Arena Decklist

Lymph Sliver was the perfect Sliver for this deck, allowing my Slivers to safely absorb some Lightmine Field damage while still getting bonus boosts from Fungus Sliver and Rite of Passage. Quilled Sliver allows my army to deal even more damage to any attacking creatures. Poultice Sliver lets me have control over which Slivers die in combat, and Watcher Sliver raises toughness. Novablast Wurm is my late game finisher if your opponent wises up and stops attacking. It'll wipe out all other creatures and is scarcely touched by Lightmine Field.

    A Shiny New Stone

Training Grounds is a gleaming update of that crucially Johnny card, Heartstone, and it excites me to no end. Item One: Heartstone costs 300% as much as Training Grounds. Item Two: Training Grounds reduces activation costs 200% as much as Heartstone. In fact, the only item Heartstone retains is blissful colorlessness, but these days it's quite easy to splash for . Basically, Training Grounds is the new Heartstone.

What you should note when dealing with either card is that whatever activated ability you choose to lower the cost of, you can't lower it to "less than one," or zero. I guess technically that could mean .5, but fractions don't exist in Magic outside of Un-land. (Here's what I want to see in Un-3: Four-and-a-Quarter-Tails, which would have "{.5}: Target creature or permanent becomes half-white until end of turn.")

Back to Training Grounds. So to build around this enchantment, your activated abilities must be at least three mana. Just to put this insanity in perspective, let's check out some candidates-in-Training.

Ambassador Laquatus: Wow. One mana to mill three cards? Seems nuts.

Feral Hydra: One mana to put a +1/+1 counter on it. Certainly worthy of being abused.

Sliver Overlord: I know we just talked Slivers. But one mana to find any Sliver is pretty crazy.

Filigree Sages: My pet broken card can now untap any artifact for just . That's a giant canvas to work with.

Izzet Guildmage: For , you can deal 15 damage with one Lightning Bolt.

Rummaging Wizard: Hyper-rummaging!

Dimir Guildmage: to draw a card over and over.

Johnny, Combo Player: How fitting. Just remember that if you have two Training Grounds in play, they won't let you activate Johnny for .

Memnarch: Stealing anything once cost seven mana, but now it costs four.

Metathran Aerostat: This one's extra cool. Let's say you announce X as 2. Even though you only wind up paying , you can still pop any two-drop onto the battlefield. Now let's say you have two Training Grounds on the battlefield, and another Metathran Aerostat in your hand. Announce X as 4 and pay only , and you can have the two Ships trade places. If you have some positive effect out there as well (such as Pandemonium) you can turn that into a win condition.


Download Arena Decklist

I packed most of the above into that deck list. You could go for the Metathran kill, or have fun with Izzet Guildmage and the eight instants in the deck. Flamekin Spitfire is a clever two-drop that can go Kunamo all over your opponent's board.

Have fun at this weekend's Prerelease, and we'll see each other next week!

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