Bouncin' Again, Bounce-Bouncin' again

Posted in Limited Information on August 30, 2011

By Steve Sadin

I love filling my decks with cheap spells, even if that means that I have to give up a bit of raw power in the late game. When your curve is low, you're far less likely to run into mana problems than you would be if you were playing a deck that needed to get to four or five mana before it could start making relevant plays.

If you're playing a fast deck and your opponent stumbles even a little bit, then you'll be able to lock up a victory before your opponent has time to draw all the pieces that he or she needs to get back into the game.

Even if your opponent has more powerful cards than you, you'll have a good shot at beating them thanks to the fact that your cheap spells give you a lot of consistency, more room to maneuver, and the ability to just plain stomp your opponent before his or her best cards come online.

The downside to playing aggressive decks is that if you get mana-flooded, or if your opponent is able to stop your initial onslaught, you'll be stuck with a deck full of cards that just don't do as much as your opponent's cards and will consequently have a difficult time winning games that go long.

The ability to get additional value out of my spells during the late game (even at a very high mana cost) can give me inevitability even against decks that are designed to thrive once they have a bunch of mana.

Want to know a great way to succeed in the late game (without even trying)? Flashback.

Ready to see the brand new flashback card that I get to preview this week?

No, Silent Departure isn't the kind of card that you cross your fingers hoping to open. And the fact that Silent Departure is a sorcery means that you won't be able to really surprise your opponents by casting it in response to combat tricks like Spidery Grasp, or to save one of your creatures from a removal spell.

But Silent Departure is set to play an invaluable role in tempo-oriented decks for months to come, as it offers players a way to close things out, a way to get ahead in close races, and an excellent answer to even the biggest bombs in the format.

The Value of Flashback

A sorcery-speed bounce spell that costs a single blue mana isn't that attractive. It might occasionally work its way into players' decks as one of the last few cards, or come in as a sideboard option against decks that have a ton of Auras, but that's about where its usefulness would end.

That's where Silent Departure's flashback comes into play. Even spells that have expensive flashback costs relative to the effect(s) that they offer are quite a bit more valuable than they would be if they didn't have the ability to be reused.

"Oh, I'm never going to pay five mana to bounce a single creature on my turn."

Yes, you will. And it's going to be a pretty big deal that you're able to do that.

The first time you cast Silent Departure, you'll only have to spend a leftover pip of blue mana to force your opponent to spend a ton of time recasting one of his or her creatures (oh, and if things are going even remotely well for you, you'll probably get a good attack in too, because your opponent will be missing one of his or her best blockers for a turn).

Then when you flashback your Silent Departure, you'll be exchanging all or most of your mana on one of your turns, for all or most of your opponent's mana on one of his or her turns.

If you're behind, this might not be that big of a deal, but if you're ahead, being able to keep the board at status quo for an extra turn or two will let you hack huge chunks out of your opponent's life total.

The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall

You're a little bit ahead on the board when your opponent taps out for a dragon (or some other gigantic and difficult-to-deal-with creature). Suddenly your once advantageous position has become very grim. If your opponent gets in even one attack with that dragon, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. If he or she attacks with it multiple times, then you're almost certainly going to lose.

With Silent Departure, you'll force your opponent to spend three full turns casting, and recasting, their biggest threat before it's finally able to stick on the board.

During that time you can:

  • Draw a permanent answer for your opponent's dragon.
  • Press a material advantage so your opponent needs to leave his or her dragon on defense.
  • Just flat-out kill your opponent because you've forced him or her to spend three whole turns casting the same card over and over again.

Three turns is a long time, especially if you have any reasonable form of pressure on the board. If you aren't able to do anything significant during this time, then you probably weren't going to win the game even if you had drawn a replacement level card instead of Silent Departure (and no, it isn't fair to compare Silent Departure to a card like a dragon of your own, or an all-purpose removal spell that anyone would jump through hoops to add to his or her deck).

Tempo Advantage, Auras, and Attrition

Bounce spells have always been quite good against Auras. You can free your own creature from a Pacifism-type effect, or force your opponent to pick up a creature that he or she enhanced into something huge with a card like Wreath of Geists.

If your opponent does have an Aura attached to a creature, then you'll break even on cards, and you will probably gain a bunch of time in the exchange. Bounce spells are also quite good against token creatures, as they vanish into nothingness the moment they leave the battlefield. But if your opponent doesn't have any Auras or token creatures, you'll always find yourself trading a card for a time advantage.

If your opponent is playing an attrition-based strategy, where he or she wants to kill off your threats one by one and eventually win with whatever threat he or she happens to have on hand, then your bounce spells probably won't do much for you. You need your threats to live for the tempo advantage that a bounce spell generates to actually mean something.

But if your opponent is playing a deck full of expensive creatures, then the ability to bounce two creatures (either at the same time or on two separate occasions) can be absolutely invaluable.

What would you do with two extra turns?

Buying Time

While Silent Departure is certainly at its best in aggressive decks, it can still do a lot of good work in slower decks that need to buy time to get to the final stages of the game.

The fact that Silent Departure can give your controlling deck some much-needed breathing room early on is the main reason you'll want to make room for it in decks that have some curve issues. But even if you're putting it in your deck to help slow down your opponents, it'll still give you a good way to break through during deadlocked games against other control decks.

One Big Turn

For six mana, you can bounce two blockers and set up a very good attack. If your opponent is fortunate enough to live through your turn, he or she will still have to spend a bunch of time recasting those creatures.

While it will often be correct to split up your uses of Silent Departure across two separate turns, the fact that you can set up one big double-bounce turn without your opponent knowing to play around it can be invaluable. With Silent Departure in your hand, you'll be able to craft an entire game plan, sneaking in a few extra points of damage whenever possible, in anticipation of that one big turn.

Heck, even if your opponent does leave back three or four blockers each turn in an effort to minimize the effectiveness of your Silent Departure, then you'll have already scored a major victory.

Looking ahead to Innistrad Limited

Looking for a comprehensive, up-to-date list of every Innistrad card that's been previewed? Then head on over to the Innistrad Card Image Gallery!

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