The Lonely Island

Posted in Serious Fun on June 19, 2012

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Every time we get around to previewing new cards I get a little intense. It isn't that the cards are just that awesome (They are.) or that there's a dozen "Cool New Things to Do®" (There are.), but that the masterful gating of previewing cards puts me on the edge of my seat.

I'll share a little secret that shouldn't get me in too much trouble: they—those puppeteers of previews here at DailyMTG—don't give me access to everything. In fact, the only two cards I saw from Magic 2013 going into the previews last week were precisely the two from last week's article. I enter into evidence two facts, the first is that wacky blue-red token deck featuring Talrand, Sky Summoner:

Talrand's Troubles

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Talrand, Sky Summoner Talrand's Invocation

The second is the first of Mark Rosewater's previews last week:

Krenko's Command

The latter was revealed Monday, the former published Tuesday. The latter is also exactly what the former wants a whole lot more of. (Wink, wink.)

I rest my case.

The upside to all this is that my excitement flows naturally since I'm, clearly, absorbing all this at the same rate you out there are. The downside is that I have limited, imperfect knowledge to work on. This isn't a complaint inasmuch as a clarification, a pretense if you will, that frames this week's article.

As mentioned before, I've wanted more ways to share Magic with the non-Magicians I know. They're curious and trusting, as humans are wont to be, and Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 on the iPad is exactly the kind of way of playing I've been hoping to have. (And will have come June 20—tomorrow as this is published in my time.) Naturally, I wanted to cover a few tips on just how I planned to do that.

To quote the ending of the aforementioned Mark Rosewater article:

"Join me next week when I'll talk about how to use Duels and other products to help teach beginners to play."

Adam: Objection!
Trick Jarrett, Editor-in-Chief: What is it?
Adam: Mark gets the scoop on the entire set well in advance and gets to talk about sharing Magic using Duels 2013 and other stuff?
Trick: Yes. Overruled.
Adam: Wait. That's it? That's just how it's going to be?
Trick: Yes. Proceed.
Adam: *Indignant snort.*

While I'd love to share how Duels 2013 is the appropriate kind of tool for the proliferation of Magic, I hear Mark Rosewater's article yesterday does a great job covering that. So there's that.

What did I come to for today? Dots. Specifically, in connecting them. Put on your planeswalking boots because we're going for a ride.


Remember Planechase (2012 Edition)? Wasn't it just yesterday when we were talking up a storm over this awesome way to play?

Reality Shaping | Art by Dan Scott

Yes, it was. Not all my questions are rhetorical.

One of the features of Duels 2013 is the introduction of Planechase as a variant and multiplayer mode. I've had the chance to physically chase the new planes, and while I don't know exactly which cards will all appear in decks—planar or otherwise—in Duels 2013, I do know that each of the legendary creatures shown last week plays well with some locations in the Multiverse.

Whether it's through the digital distribution channels or the paper playing sure to follow, getting Planechase in your Duels 2013 or Magic 2013 is going to be awesome. And before going further I'd like to point out that having the official Magic 2013 Card Image Gallery open today will help you keep up with all the goodness being unleashed.

Yes, please try this at home. You can even begin with someone who knows a thing or two about battling: Odric, Master Tactician.

Odric, Master Tactician

If you've seen Windbrisk Heights before, you get how his ability works. In this case it makes attacking almost a surefire thing. Choosing what blocks who, if at all, definitely puts him near the top in terms of abilities I want to have access to.

Of course, it's that pesky "three" rider that holds him back from total dominance. But his partner in crime, Crusader of Odric, implies there will be solid token support to handle that.


Captain of the Watch Crusader of Odric
Captain's Call

Captain of the Watch is back from her one-time showing in Magic 2010, and she's the obvious lineage for the very new Captain's Call. A white deck that makes Soldier tokens with a way to crush the opposition on an attack? There's a deck I've never seen before.

Of course, I haven't actually seen any such deck from Duels 2013 yet, so that's strictly a factual statement.

If you're planning an planeswalking, these are the locations you should seek out.

The two easiest to point at are Selesnya Loft Gardens and Kharasha Foothills. The former is the magnificent Doubling Season in a much more difficult-to-remove form, and the latter lets you swing your tokens at one opponent but get copies for everyone else too. (Just don't send in Odric when you're at Kharasha Foothills!) These are pretty good at making a token army unruly.

Kharasha Foothills

Less obvious places to go wild include Edge of Malacol and Orochi Colony. Edge of Malacol is very strange, but with a few tapped tokens resting a turn or two it becomes clear that untapping might be something your opponents don't want to let happen. Since token makers tend to let you have spare blockers handy you'll easily buy the time needed for trading untapping into aggressive action.

Orochi Colony is just a straight combo with Odric. Get to attack and ensure some creatures get through? Go find some basic lands. Is this a fair deal? Nobody said it would be, and I bet you're looking forward to running that now.

I am.

Speaking of tokens, it seems to be a strong theme for other new characters. Talrand, Sky Summoner makes 2/2 blue Drake tokens with flying, exemplified with his namesake Talrand's Invocation. And just like the wacky decks from last week, there are plenty of wacky planes to break out for him this week.

Plane Ability
Talon Gates Suspend spells for X, where X is the converted mana cost
Gavony All creatures have haste
Trail of the Mage-Rings Instants and sorceries have rebound
Quicksilver Sea On upkeep you get to scry 4
The Zephyr Maze Flying creatures get +2/+0
Creatures without flying get -2/-0

All of these do wonders for our Merfolk-turned-Lord-of-the-Skies. Talon Gates buys us time for spells to play Talrand on a later turn while Trail of the Mage-Rings lets us get double the Drakes for a single spell. Gavony lets us store up cheap spells and unleash a world of aerial pain all at once, with The Zephyr Maze making our flying creatures into devastating powerhouses.

Easy, right? What about when we get mobbed?


Krenko, Mob Boss Krenko's Command

More tokens? Surely there aren't more planes to be used?

Plane Ability
Jund Black, red, and green creature spells gain devour 5
Bloodhill Bastion Whenever a creature enters play it gets haste and double strike until end of turn
Glen Elendra Postcombat you can swap a creature that dealt combat damage to an opponent with a creature that defending player controls

When on Jund, join in! Krenko can crank out the tokens, and casting a follow up like Dragon Hatchling can let you make a massive firebreathing Dragon for just two mana. Deal! Other options include making every Goblin that enters play, say through tapping Krenko, into fast-striking, double-hitting animals of combat. And for a laugh, we can try swapping a puny Goblin for an opponent's whatever-is-better-than-a-Goblin.

Who said having some favors to call in was ever a bad thing?

Turtleneck & Chain

Okay. Hold on. Not all of Duels 2013/Magic 2013 is about tokens. Maybe it's just what I see because I adore an assortment of creatures covering my side of the battlefield. But there is one special girl who will make all sorts of awesome things happen soon.

I'm talking about Yeva, Nature's Herald.

Yeva, Nature's Herald

Green has great creatures. She makes green creatures move like instants. Through the wonder of logic, it's clear she makes great stuff move fast. Here's a short list of awesome stuff she does:

  • Yeva's Forcemage is now a sweet combat trick (as Gavin Verhey pointed out last week)
  • Thragtusk, with all of its enters and leaves the battlefield triggers, gets absurd
  • Roaring Primadox does nothing
Roaring Primadox

Roaring Primadox is just the kind of clever addition that makes sense here. I'm sure there're more green creatures with "when [CARDNAME] enters the battlefield" text, but what the Primadox does is reset something green, like Yeva's Forcemage or Thragtusk. May you have mercy on your opponent.

What else is awesome with a Primadox?


Drawing a card with Takenuma is sweet. But what about getting even more enters-the-battlefield triggers?

Grove of the Dreampods

Grove of the Dreampods puts it into play, which you can choose to do before or after the Primadox trigger resolves. Spicy!

Grand Ossuary

Dead or alive, your creatures will be bigger, stronger, and better than everyone else's. And all of these planes are awesome with an innocuous little 4/4 Beast.

And these are only the plane/card combos that might pop up in Duels 2013 (and do pop up with Magic 2013).


The power of Rancor at the speed of Giant Growth, thanks to Akoum. Really?


Sands of Delirium

Thanks to Nephalia, everyone's having their library whittled away in short order? Well it's a good thing a card like Sands of Delirium isn't around to take advantage of that!

Threw It on the Ground

When I boot up and see that Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 is ready for me, I'm going to check out from the real world for a while, and I hope you'll join me on a similar journey.

Last week featured two polls since, sometimes, plans go awry.

Did you hear about Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 before this week?
Yes 4777 87.6%
No 676 12.4%
Total 5453 100.0%

Hooray! It looks like those in the know are making it known what is to be known. I know, and so can you!

The other poll was a little more legendary.

Will you be building a deck around Talrand, Sky Summoner?
Yes 2221 40.6%
No 3251 59.4%
Total 5472 100.0%

Building a deck around Talrand isn't an easy idea, but it's certainly tantalizing, as some of you agree. He isn't for everyone, but that's okay. I'll quite merrily make my Drakes on my own, thank you.

This week I'd like to follow up with one final Duels 2013 poll, and it's quite simple.


Will you be purchasing Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 for any of its releases: Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, PlayStation Network, or iOS for iPad? Yes, on one platform.Yes, for multiple platforms.No.

If Planechase, new cards, more cards, tougher challenges, improved interface, advanced options, and a whole new platform to play on isn't enough to get you to consider giving it a go (at a retail price below of just one of the Planechase (2012 Edition) decks!), I'm not sure what will tip the scale.

Join me next week when we go where Duels 2013 dared not go. See you then!

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