These Planes Were Made for Walkin'

Posted in Serious Fun on May 29, 2012

Where do you like to go on vacation?

Taking a holiday or time off to journey someplace desirable is usually awesome. I've gone into the wilderness, across packed beaches, on a drive in search of good eats, and even flown across the country for a weekend—such as in my fantastic adventure out to Grand Prix Anaheim last weekend. (And thank you again to everyone who said hello, dropped a high five, or otherwise helped make it great!)

Felidar Umbra | Art by Christopher Moeller

It's nice to seek out and find new experiences, especially if you know a little bit about what you'll find before you get there. Discovery is important, but you probably won't just up and travel somewhere on a whim.

That's part of what makes Planechase awesome: creating a menu of locales you wouldn't mind visiting, then getting to go skipping across the Multiverse. The order you'll visit them, if at all, is random, of course. If that dissuades you I'm afraid that's unfortunate.

Playing hopscotch with planeswalking power is as hilarious and fun as it sounds. Here's where some of us can't wait to go with it.

    The Good

Before jet-setting through the Multiverse I wanted to share that there are a few new cards featured in Planechase I'm extremely excited to see.

Felidar Umbra isn't what you think it is. At least I don't think it is what you think it is. It's subtle, and it will catch a lot of opponents off-guard.

"Ah, you swap it to a creature about to be destroyed!"

Not quite.

Yes, Felidar Umbra can be swapped among your creatures at will and having totem armor means the Umbra dies instead of something. What I'm looking forward to is using it to gain a ton of life and, eventually, discourage attacks. Playing it on an aggressive creature, attacking, then moving it to a defender means one protective Aura does double the work in keeping us alive.

I'm not suggesting gaining life is always something you want to do, but I generally find an extra cushion of points to be a handy thing to have. I'm sure Griselbrand—in the context of an at-least-black-and-white Commander deck—would agree.

I'm a little jealous of Noel deCordova. While I loved getting to share a freaking sweet Demon Ninja with the world, Noel pulled some ninjutsu of his own with the Ninja-Clone Sakashima's Student. That guy... yeah. Good ol' Clone as a normal mode, with an upgraded version of Phantasmal Image upon a little combat trickery.

I didn't believe it was real when I saw it. Two mana for a non-illusory Clone? Is this real life?


How cool is that? More importantly, how fast can I shove it into a Commander deck with blue in it?

Speaking of Commander decks, Etherium-Horn Sorcerer is the kind of card I've been hoping to see someday. It's an expensive spell with cascade, which some of you might see as a downside. However, since we can return the Minotaur Wizard to our hand over and over, it becomes a nifty feature to find something that costs five or less every turn.

With some creative choices and a little patience, the idea of bringing a red and blue chaos-themed deck to bear becomes more than possible. Someone such as Zedruu the Greathearted would a fine leader in that regard.

    The Great

You can see all the awesome new cards in the Card Image Gallery, so stop in there if you're still catching up on everything. While I don't have anything else to say about the regularMagic cards, I'm quite pleased to report my prediction for planes and phenomena came to pass: there are many more available that help shape a multiplayer game as desired.

What I mean is that while we won't always see eye-to-eye on how games should be steered, Planechase provides a ton of options to take control if that's what you're looking for. And there are two general ways you'd want to steer a game:

  1. Acceleration: By having cards drawn, permanents placed, and other active events occurring, the game moves faster.
  2. Deceleration: By reducing benefits, destroying creatures or other permanents, and ensuring disruptive events occur, the game slows down.

One path isn't always better or worse. What you and your decks wants will vary from me and my own. What's important is that your planar deck reflects your wishes. I prefer to accelerate games, so these are the planes and phenomena I'll be shuffling up the most:

Interplanar TunnelPhenomenonGet me where I want to go!
Mutual EpiphanyPhenomenonCard draws!
Reality ShapingPhenomenonEverybody does something!
Bloodhill BastionPlane – EquilorEveryone, play a creature on your turn!
Grand OssuaryPlane – RavnicaModular meets Kresh the Bloodbraided, mostly.
Grove of the DreampodsPlane – FabacinEverybody does something anyway!
Kharasha FoothillsPlane – MongsengAn attacking copy for everyone else!
OrzhovaPlane – RavnicaEveryone comes back to play!
Selesnya Loft GardensPlane – RavnicaDoubling Season!
Stairs to InfinityPlane – XerexKeep all the goodies and draw a few more!
Talon GatesPlane – DominariaSuspend some spells!
Truga JunglePlane – ErgamonEvery land taps for any color!

Don't set this as the only list of "accelerating" planes out there, but it's a good start for the latest release of Planechase. Interplanar Tunnel and Mutual Epiphany are the two phenomena I believe I'll be adding to my own planar deck. Finding the right kind of plane for what you want to do is an awesome utility, but Mutual Epiphany is just the type of multiplayer effect I love most.

Grove of Dreampods | Art by Erica Yang

How many boring games have you played where only one person got to draw all the extra cards? That's why I want everyone in on the action.

Picking out the beneficial planes is usually easy. Truga Jungle and Talon Gates help make our spells easier to cast. Stairs to Infinity is a deceptive way to draw cards. Grove of the Dreampods and Bloodhill Bastion shout encouragements that something powerful pops out on each turn. Selesnya Loft Gardens and Grand Ossuary provide plenty of token and counter power for everyone playing those types of effects. (Spatial Merging would like to see both of those planes together!)

I'll always extol the virtues of keeping the game moving.

But that isn't what some of you want. Slowing the game down, ostensibly to control it, is your M.O. No problem, there are plenty of ways to decelerate:

Morphic TidePhenomenonWarp World
Planewide DisasterPhenomenonDay of Judgment
Time DistortionPhenomenonReverse the order of player turns!
Astral ArenaPlane – KolbahanSilent Arbiter
GavonyPlane – InnistradEverybody do the turtle!
Hedron Fields of AgadeemPlane – ZendikarStop all the fatties.
KessigPlane – InnistradFog
Mount KeraliaPlane – RegathaSimilar to a Day of Judgment
Norn's DominionPlane – New PhyrexiaOblivion Stone
Onakke CatacombPlane – ShandalarEverything gets deathtouch!
Trail of the Mage-RingsPlane – VrynRecurs all sorts of spells.
Windriddle PalacesPlane – BelenonOthers get to play your cool stuff.

Why would anyone want to slow the game? There's one deck that should look pretty familiar:

Grand Arbiter of the Helvault

Download Arena Decklist

Our flickering deck stocked with goodies we get when we iterate creatures is just the kind of deck that likes a slightly slower game. Phenomena like Planewide Disaster and planes like Norn's Dominion provide creature suppression. As the game goes on, the flickering deck becomes stronger against Day of Judgment and friends, locking away creatures for a better day or saving them from peril through bounce spells.

The advantages of a slower deck are lost with everyone can keep their hands full. Using a planar deck set to make the game slower yields less card draw and more things like Astral Arena and Kessig. Cleverly, both of these can be taken advantage through deck choices. And while I'll admit that the first few times Time Distortion or Morphic Tide come off a planar deck I'll find it amusing, both will become very tiresome effects if they appear constantly.

At least that's how I remember feeling about similar effects.

This is all in full disclosure too. Just like you, I have preferences when it comes to activities while traversing the Multiverse. You've heard what I like and what I don't like, and why, so the rest of the Planechase experience is up to you to decide for yourself. (Pro Tip: Find a Planechase Release Event near you to find a few new friends and give things a whirl!)

    The Best

As much as I'd love to tell you I know how these decks, planes, and phenomena will play together I'm in the same boat as you: waiting for the first chance to get my grubby paws to shuffle them up—though I've been repeatedly assured they are all a hoot!

Throughout the preview season for Planechase I've shared that Grand Prix, like the planes of the Multiverse, are an excellent place to explore some Magic. And since I didn't ask a question in last week's article I'd like to ask you two this week!

Have you ever attended a Grand Prix?YesNo

Do you want to attend a Grand Prix?YesNoPerhaps

I'd like to understand just how many of you have tried the biggest public Magic events offered and if they're something you're interested in trying—again or for the first time. Please join in the forums to share your thoughts, ideas, and stories. I can assure you great feedback won't go unnoticed by the powers that be.

Join us next week when we get down, dirty, and deep. See you then!

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