Justice, Guild-Style

Posted in Serious Fun on September 13, 2005

By Anthony Alongi

We'll start right up with the preview card:

A couple of quick rules notes – most players should already know this stuff, but it never hurts to review:

  • "Sacrifice" does not mean "destroy". So regeneration is not a solution to Twisted Justice.
  • You are targeting the player, not the creature. This is a good news/bad news thing. The good news is, you can finally get rid of that Iridescent Angel that's been pounding on you for the last few turns. The bad news is, if the player also controls a 1/1 spirit token, he'll probably choose to sacrifice that instead of the angel.
  • You draw cards equal to the power of the sacrificed creature when the spell resolves – which may be more or less than the power of the sacrificed creature when you cast this spell.
  • The creature leaves first. Then you draw the cards. There is no opportunity, between the sacrifice and the card-draw, for people to initiate spells or abilities.

For additional rules questions, refer to the FAQ file or contact the Saturday School rules column.

Sidebar: Tournament Analysis

This is going to be quick. Twisted Justice should be decent in limited formats, where should be able to keep the number of opposing creatures down and six-mana cards are okay to play if they're removal.

In constructed duels, I don't see the deck where this will be helpful. Six mana spells in constructed should be absolute towers – and a sorcery that lets your opponent choose the one creature that dies is not exactly a "tower". It's barely conceivable that this might play well in a combo deck where you target yourself (see elsewhere in this article); but I can't imagine such a deck having sufficient speed or force to win in a competitive environment.

This will be an interesting call in Two-Headed Giant formats – yes, THG is sanctioned now, so I can talk about the format in sidebars like this! With 40 life to start with, there might be slightly more tolerance for six-mana removal spells. And since you'll have your choice of opponents, you're more likely to hit a player with only one (big) creature. But the metagame's not nearly developed enough to be sure you won't face, say, two creatureless decks. Then you're targeting your teammate…hmmmm…

In short, this is an appropriate card to teach newer tournament enthusiasts the difference between a playable limited card and a playable constructed card.

Is This Card Worth It?

The best way to determine card value is to compare it to cards that do similar things – or in the case of a card with two effects, to break them down into their "subcards".

Since is the current sorcery-speed cost for forcing creature sacrifice, we can presume that is the going rate to draw cards equal to a creature's power. That's usually going to be a good deal at a casual multiplayer table, where many players tool around with stuff like Darksteel Colossus and Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Drawing two cards at sorcery speed costs nowadays. If you can nail a creature with 3 or 4 power using Twisted Justice, you've probably gotten a decent deal in that you've both removed a threat and drawn more cards in the process.

How can we increase the chances that you might do this?

  • Targeted pump. If you know the player you will target, and that player only controls one creature, it should be safe to pump that creature before (or in response to) casting Twisted Justice. My recommendation would be to use something cheap, like Narcissism's ability. A riskier ploy: put Rancor on an opponent's creature – the smaller one, if she's got two
  • Broad pump. Ladies and gentlemen, have we found a use for Magnify? Could be. Thran Weaponry and similar effects are also possible.
  • Weeding. Think Pyroclasm or Infest. Whatever's left is more likely to be bigger, right? And unlike the pump, you don't necessarily have to cast the mass creature kill the same turn you cast Twisted Justice. No guarantees you won't run into a player with tons of 1/7 creatures, but hey – life sometimes works that way. That's why I included the last option…
  • Trickery. Since I used Mannichi, the Fevered Dream last week, I'd like to do it again – and maybe I'll make a trifecta of it next week! Yes, this legendary fellow can do some interesting things to your card-drawing potential.
  • Radiate. Eh, why not. It's only 11 mana total, right? It won't get every creature – but every player (including you) will have to sack a creature, and you'll gain all the cards.

Taking Advantage Of The Draw

Let's assume you can find a good environment for Twisted Justice in your casual playgroup – the creatures are naturally big (and few) enough, or you can make them so without much trouble.

What is it you want to draw into?

I see at least five solid options:

  • More creature suppression. If you're playing , you're not showing much love for creatures to begin with, am I right? So you can use the card draw in a simple way, to bolster your hand so you'll have more answers against the many threats a multiplayer game presents.
  • More card draw. If your deck is built around a feature like Empyrial Plate, you probably have a bunch of other cards that help you draw cards. Saviors of Kamigawa has plenty of other cards that reward you for having lots of cards in your hand, so Twisted Justice can find a comfortable niche in a deck like that.
  • Complementing discard. Twisted Justice is a bit strange in that it's both spot removal and sufficient card advantage to keep you well-fueled in multiplayer. group discard decks may find it helps with board control, while helping get to more discard pieces with board presence, like Mindslicer. (Naturally, you'll have to time these pieces carefully! No sense filling your hand just to lose it again.)
  • Combo pieces. Let's deal with that in a new section.

Twister, Twist Thyself


Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
You don't have to target other players with Twisted Justice. For example, if you had a really cool creature in play, and you played Twisted Justice on yourself, and then…well, just take a look at these deck fragments and see if any of them get you started in any particular direction:

Casual Deck Fragment
4 Twisted Justice
4 Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
4 Exhume
4 Brawn

Casual Deck Fragment
4 Twisted Justice
4 Endless Whispers
4 Desolation Giant
4 Anarchist

Casual Deck Fragment
4 Twisted Justice
4 Grave Pact
4 Zombie Infestation
4 Corpse Harvester

No, not all of these will have easy mana requirements. And some of them would need some serious bolstering to pull off their crazy schemes with any sort of consistency. (For example, the HotPotato fragment doesn't yet guarantee your opponents will let you have Anarchist back.) But as I always say when I do the deck fragments: I don't put them out there to tell you "this is what you should do". I put them out there to get you thinking. So think!

And twist.

The Twist Ending

Twisted Justice might be an interesting card in the format we're creating:

POLL #1: What Should the Format's "Big Thing" Be? (Runoff)
[cost]: Change target spell an opponent controls to a card in your hand. 1602 43.7%
[cost]: Change target spell an opponent controls to the spell of your choice. The spell you choose must have the exact same mana cost, and must not be a spell another player has chosen so far this game. 724 19.7%
[cost]: Change target spell an opponent controls to a card in a special sideboard (We'd define that sideboard further, later.) 680 18.5%
[cost]: Change target spell an opponent controls to the spell of your choice. The spell you choose must have the same converted mana cost, and must not be a spell another player has chosen so far this game. 662 18.0%
Total 3668 100.0%

Let's take a look at where we stand now. Given the number of people answering the polls, I think we can also shorten the working title to answer its own question. (We'll still formally name it, later.)

Working Name: "2000+"

The format is a multiplayer, free-for-all format with tournament-legal cards and sets. Whenever a player casts a spell, any player may play the following ability:

"[cost]: Change target spell an opponent controls to a card of the same type in your hand. Control of the spell does not change, and the original caster chooses any targets beyond the original, if called for."

What I like about this approach is that it impacts deckbuilding. With the other three options, players could get away with naming, for example, One with Nothing – at almost no cost to themselves. But this way, if players want to use One with Nothing, they have to put it in their decks and draw it. Good times.

My inclination is to add to this ability, for clarification purposes: "Remove the original spell from the game." I do not want to risk over-favoring black recursion decks. I'm not going to put it to a poll for the sake of speed; but I will check out the message boards for reaction to this idea.

Now comes the hard part. Again, I'm depending on ideas I've been reading on the message board, plus and minus a few thoughts of my own.

POLL #1: What should this ability cost?One mana, remove a card in your hand of the correct type from the game. (The new spell is a copy of the removed card.)Two mana, remove a card in your hand from the game, reveal a second card in your hand of the correct type. (The removed card is gone, the revealed card is copied to create the new spell.)Sacrifice three non-token permanents, reveal a card in your hand of the correct type. (The revealed card is copied to create the new spell.)Remove your hand from the game. (Choose one card of the correct type from it to be the new spell.)Pay 5 life, remove a card at random from the game, and then reveal your hand. Choose a card of the correct type and put it on the stack. After resolution of the new spell, shuffle both spells into their owners' libraries.

There are elements in there which go beyond pure cost; but I think most of you will understand why I used them where I did. (Those who don't: we're preventing the worst sort of combos here.) Once we've chosen a cost, I may have to reword the whole ability from where it currently stand – but it won't fundamentally change.

No format is perfect on the first try, and any one of these ideas might prove to be problematic in practice. Just so you all know where this will go after this poll – I intend to ask groups out there (including my own) to test the format and tell me what they experience. As of that point, I will only be interested in hearing from people who actually try this format, not armchair theorists – so if you want to have additional impact down the road, prepare your groups now for the testing!

I'm having good fun doing this with you all. Please remember to comment on the message boards – emailed ideas will overwhelm me, and I will not take them into consideration.

More next week.

Anthony has been playing multiple Magic formats for several years, and has been writing for much longer than that. His young adult fantasy novel JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE, co-written with wife MaryJanice Davidson and published by Berkley Books, is available now.

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