The Ultimate Think Tank

Posted in From the Lab on January 20, 2011

By Noel deCordova

Hello and welcome back to the Lab! As always, I'm here to provide the latest crazy, wacky, insane, or just plain ridiculous Magic related combos, straight from my mind. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not really in control. This stuff just pops in my head and demands to be written about, and I willingly oblige. It's sorta like a flashing pop-up that I actually want to click on.

As you all know (or at least you should by now), Mirrodin Besieged is being meticulously unveiled, one card at a time. Or something. I guess technically there's a steady flow of five to six cards being added to the Visual Spoiler each day. And boy, are they exciting! I was a definite fan of Scars of Mirrodin, and its first expansion seems to be living up to the hype. Living weapon! Battle cry! Belligerently stupid cards like Blightsteel Colossus, the mere sight of which will cause an approximately 117-second coma! And what seems to be a cycle of Zeniths, which is a cool cycle concept, if I've ever seen one.

I love this time of the Magical year. Reading previews is fun for everyone, because they inject your mind with a small, concentrated dose of knowledge. So a full Visual Spoiler of a set (bound to be released in a couple of weeks, in Mirrodin Besieged's case) is an effective knowledge pool to mentally dive into.

The reason I'm especially going off about knowledge during this introduction is to set up a preview card of my own. I believe last week I referred to it as "actually the craziest thing I've ever seen" and (slightly paraphrased here) "if Mirrodin Besieged is Bonkersville, my card's the mayor." Now, I've previewed some pretty broken stuff in this column over the years (Hive Mind, Master Transmuter, Time Sieve, etc.)

Describing Knowledge Pool any longer without revealing it is probably pointless. Click here to be amazed.

And in keeping with the spirit of my preview cards, here's the novel-length FAQ entry for this beast:

  • You may cast any other card exiled by Knowledge Pool, including one owned by an opponent. Any card exiled by Knowledge Pool's enters-the-battlefield ability or its other triggered ability may be cast.
  • The spell a player casts from his or her hand won't resolve if it's exiled, even if that spell can't be countered by spells or abilities.
  • If the original spell isn't exiled (perhaps because it's countered by another spell or ability before Knowledge Pool's second triggered ability resolves), the rest of the ability does nothing. The player doesn't get to cast an exiled card.
  • If there are no nonland cards exiled by Knowledge Pool, the original spell is still exiled.
  • You may pay additional costs, such as kicker costs, of the exiled card.
  • If the card has any mandatory additional costs, as Kuldotha Rebirth does, you must pay them in order to cast the spell.
  • Timing restrictions based on the card's type are ignored. For example, you can cast an exiled creature card this way. Other restrictions, such as Spinal Embrace's "Cast Spinal Embrace only during combat" are not ignored.
  • If the card you cast without paying its mana cost has an X in its mana cost, you must choose 0 as its value.
  • Any other abilities that trigger when you cast the original spell (for example, if you cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn) will still trigger and go on the stack.
  • If multiple Knowledge Pools are on the battlefield, keep track of which cards are exiled by each of them. Whenever a player casts a spell from his or her hand:
    • If all Knowledge Pools are controlled by the same player, that player chooses the order in which the triggered abilities are put onto the stack. The last one put onto the stack will be the first to resolve.
    • If multiple players each control one or more Knowledge Pools, the active player put his or her triggered abilities on the stack in any order, then each other player in turn order does the same. The last ability put onto the stack this way will be the first to resolve.
    • The first triggered ability to resolve will exile the original spell, then the player who cast that spell may cast one of the nonland cards exiled by the Knowledge Pool that generated that triggered ability. The abilities of other Knowledge Pools will do nothing when they resolve, as the original spell will already have been exiled.

Let's take a swim, shall we? A swim ... of knowledge. Trippy.

    Ancestors of Insanity

There was a day where I thought Eye of the Storm was the pinnacle of insanity held in one card. Sure, crazy combinations of cards can make weird board situations; Eye of the Storm did this all by itself. (Naturally, seeing as weird board situations appeal to me, I promptly built a dedicated Eye of the Storm deck in real life (and was probably one of the very few who did so), but I digress.)

Then, about a year and a half ago, I was assigned to preview Hive Mind for Magic 2010. Again my mind furiously boggled. Here was another card that, all by itself, created a window for weird situations to occur. Just add an instant or sorcery, and poof: Craziness.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Knowledge Pool is basically the closest thing to the offspring of Eye of the Storm and Hive Mind I can imagine. Forget its slightly high cost and unpredictability for a second: This card will do things potentially never done before.

Let's just walk through this card, nice and slow. Wading through the shallow end of the Pool, for now.

    The Shallow End

First of all, Knowledge Pool costs . Not exactly cheap, but plausible. With a single Palladium Myr on turn three, you could potentially plop the Pool down on turn four.

Now, these cards, while exiled, are bound to be played at some point, due to the very next ability ...

So to clarify, Knowledge Pool doesn't work solely for you. Whenever any player casts a spell, he or she gets to pick the juiciest card from the Pool and cast that instead. Meanwhile, the originally cast spell gets thrown into the Pool for potential future use.

In a two-player game, a Knowledge Pool will yield six total cards to be selected from. Diverse, no? Now imagine a five-player game. Holy smokes. Fifteen!

A hidden aspect of Knowledge Pool, looking beyond its most prominent use (casting exotic stuff for free) is that it totally takes over the game. Normally, players build decks and want to cast their spells unimpeded, right? Just ignore the second sentence of the second ability for a second.

That alone is jaw-dropping. Every spell cast from a hand for the rest of the game is null and void ... at first. You'll have to wait to cast another spell to pick it from the Pool.

Once the dust is settled, Knowledge Pool basically morphs any spell you cast into one of the exiled cards. If anyone's still perplexed (it's a complicated card!) I'd suggest reading the FAQ. Really.

    Treading Water ... er, Knowledge

How in Karn's name does one build around Knowledge Pool? Half of me wants to give the same advice I gave for Hive Mind: Slap it in a deck and watch all hell break loose. If you judge your Magic victories not by life total but by sanity total, you should win pretty handily.

Here are some blind probings on unlocking the mysteries of this card.

Any type of top of the library manipulation. Insidious Dreams can stack your deck quite efficiently. Dimir Machinations can do the opposite, stacking the immediate top of your opponent's library. If you wanted to be really sneaky, go with Scouting Trek. Since Knowledge Pool specifies "nonland," you'll get all the bonus of your opponent's Pooled cards without the other way around. In fact, you could make a nifty deck in the style of the classic Shared Fate deck. Fill it with four Pools and a ton of random library stackers. Another trick would be to Excommunicate a threat pre-Pool. Since it's on top, you could wind up with it later on.

Other variations on this include creature-based versions like Congregation at Dawn, or Goblin Recruiter (or Dwarven Recruiter). I'd search up some creatures that you'd love to have, but your opponent would hate to. For example, in the case of Goblin Recruiter, I'd go with Reckless One. In fact, tribal strategies in general are nice here, as letting your opponent have a lone Captivating Vampire is harmless, whereas having a mass of Vampires on your side lets you gain control of anything crazy the Pool might give them.

Speaking of Captivating Vampire, anything that lets you gain control of something is pretty nice, since there's a risk that your opponent will wind up with something crazy. I like the little-known Callous Oppressor here.

Here's a Goblin Pool deck. It wants to get the Pool out as fast as possible, and then just cast cheap Goblins over and over until something explodes.

Goblin Pool

Download Arena Decklist

    The Deep End

Now, that was just an attempt at exploring deck-building possibilities with Knowledge Pool, and frankly, it might not have been worth it. I'm more and more convinced that Knowledge Pool is an ultimate "mess with the whole world" card, and that's what this next deck wants to do.

When I initially read this card's FAQ in a haze of delirium, barely picking up words, I vaguely noticed that the last item on it had a whopping three sub-items. I scanned it and promptly fainted, as I only picked up the following words: "multiple Knowledge Pools."

THREE SUB-ITEMS! Clearly, I MUST build a deck that makes as many Knowledge Pools as possible! How do I win? NO IDEA!

Mindguard Off Duty

Download Arena Decklist

I'd suggest searching up all four Knowledge Pools with Insidious Dreams. And then copy them with Sculpting Steel. And then watch what happens. I shoehorned both the old and new Tezzerets as win conditions slash fancy things.

Either way, I officially sound the Johnny conch shell: Email me any possible Knowledge Pool combos! The card is so unhinged and open-ended, it'll make my brains leak out my ears by Sunday. Until next week!

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