See the Unwritten

Posted in Serious Fun on September 2, 2014

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

Commune with Nature is a nice card. For only one green mana, you show the top five cards of your library. You can pick a creature from among those five cards and put it in your hand, then put the rest of the cards on the bottom of your library. Admittedly, you take the chance that you won't find a creature in those five cards, but green decks tend to be creature heavy, so it really isn't much of a threat. There isn't even any fear of getting decked, since the cards you don't pick go to the bottom of your library. I'd prefer the cards go to the graveyard, since there are so many ways to benefit from cards in your graveyard, but if milling is a concern, there you go.

Commune with the Gods updates Commune with Nature. You pay an extra mana, but now you can look for a creature or an enchantment. And the cards go to the graveyard instead of the bottom of your library. This makes far more sense. I like the enchantment option, but honestly, if you're running green and looking for a card, it's probably a creature.

Animal Magnetism also lets you look at the top five cards of your library. This time, though, you're paying five mana and the creature enters the battlefield. That's more like it! Pay five mana to get an awesome creature from among the next five cards, and the rest go to the graveyard?! I'd be very excited about this card if it wasn't an opponent choosing which creature you get! That really takes the wind out of the sails for this card. Admittedly, if you choose your opponent wisely, you may get the best creature, but you're really taking your chances. If you think your opponent will give you a Primordial or Eldrazi, you're only kidding yourself (or you handed the opponent five cards with only one creature).

The big daddy of "reveal off the top" cards has to be Genesis Wave. No "picking a single card" here. No "opponent picks the card" there. None of this "put it in your hand" garbage. Pay plenty of mana, get a pile of permanents directly on the battlefield. You get every permanent you see, assuming you paid enough. Genesis Wave is a game-changing bomb of a card. If you've played with it or against it, you know that it can shift a game in a single turn.

The downside is the cost. Most decks won't want to play this card until they can make X at least six mana. That means you're going to need nine mana to cast it. You want to be sure that any Wurmcoil Engine in your deck ends up on the battlefield. If you opt for Primordials or Souls, Genesis Wave starts to drift into the outrageous range for mana cost. Commander players will often see that level of mana in their games, but even with ramp spells in your deck, this is going to take some work to cast. When things are getting dire, you may end up being forced to cast your Genesis Wave for less, perhaps getting only three cards and permanents that cost three or less. You could see the writing on the wall in the game, and less is better than nothing.

Perhaps it is time for See the Unwritten.

Obviously, there is more text on the card, but bear with me for a moment. See the Unwritten reveals not just five cards, but eight cards. That's more than the other cards we've looked at, and Genesis Wave would cost eleven mana to see the same eight cards. Getting to see eight cards means that the likelihood of seeing the creature or creatures you want goes up considerably over Animal Magnetism or Commune With the Gods. More often than not, digging eight cards deep is going to find you the card you want (assuming there are at least four to six creature cards you would like to find).

See the Unwritten | Art by Ryan Barger

See the Unwritten also lets you pick any creature you find. You aren't relying on your opponents to pick the correct card. You aren't being forced to wait until you have thirteen mana if you have Kozilek, Butcher of Truth in your deck and you want to be sure to cast him with your Genesis Wave. Six mana and Kozilek, Soul of Zendikar, Sun Titan, or whatever other massive creature you happen to discover among your eight cards is yours to choose.

I'm not going to tell you that See the Unwritten is going to make Genesis Wave obsolete. Genesis Wave is a powerhouse that gives you so many permanents! There is no choosing one card from many. Genesis Wave, particularly Waves for six or more, are how you win games. Cast it, overwhelm your enemies under a wave of cards- and permanents-advantage, and win in glorious savagery.

See the Unwritten is not that type of card. Genesis Wave is the baseball bat in a china shop. See the Unwritten is the scalpel. It is a more precise instrument designed to do a particular thing. You'll look at your deck and decide if a six-mana card fits your deck better than the more expensive Genesis Wave. Perhaps See the Unwritten helps to set up the Genesis Wave, or helps you to survive until you can really crush with Genesis Wave.

Something you also need to see is what is not written on the card: Seven of those cards are going to the graveyard. You are playing green. I don't suppose you have a way to use those seven cards that are now sitting in your graveyard, do you? I can see that grin forming on your face.

And if you are concerned about getting decked, remember that Kozilek you took for the low cost of only six mana? How about instead you pick that Acidic Slime? Now you are getting rid of an opponent's permanent, getting a nice 2/2 deathtouch creature, and Kozilek is scooping up your sizeable graveyard and loading it back into your library. Sure hope you find Kozilek again when your huge Genesis Wave comes up in a few turns!

Another benefit that See the Unwritten (and Genesis Wave, for that matter) offers is the ability to get multicolored cards onto the battlefield with only green mana. I'm not suggesting you build a mono-green deck and load it with multicolored fatties. I'm saying that we're about to enter the world of three-colored wedge creatures. At the time I'm writing this, I've only seen Zurgo Helmsmasher (And my preview card for next week. Be sure to tune in for that doozie!). Being able to cast it for four mana and two green would be a lot easier on your mana base. In our three-colored world, See the Unwritten is great!

So where does See the Unwritten work best? I want a deck that runs big creatures and plays for a longer game. I want a deck that uses its graveyard as a resource, since I'm going to be dumping seven cards whenever See the Unwritten is cast. I want a deck that runs creatures in a variety of colors, since See the Unwritten makes it easier to cast your three-colored wedge creatures.

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These decks both take advantage of the cards in the graveyard while offering up plenty of juicy options in the library for See the Unwritten to find. Deadbridge Chant; Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord; and Living Death are just three of the cards that take advantage of all the goodies in the graveyard. Artisan of Kozilek, Grave Titan, and Next Week's Preview Card are just some of the bigger creatures that you can find with See the Unwritten. My thanks to Adam Styborski for his Commander decklist.

Finally, what if See the Unwritten could be twice as good? See the Unwritten is a solid card that offers a lot, but what if it offered twice as much? If you are seeing eight cards, odds are decent there are going to be at least two creatures there. If at least 40% of your deck is made up of creatures, you should see about three creatures when you play See the Unwritten. Picking the best one is good, but picking the two best ones is only better right? Griselbrand by himself is a great pick, but getting Griselbrand and Shriekmaw (not Grave Titan, you're getting greedy here!) would be an awesome pick. Not game-changing Genesis Wave awesome, but we're definitely getting close.

But if See the Unwritten could be twice as good, it probably comes with a pretty steep cost? It would likely involve some massive restriction, so it really wasn't twice as good? Right?

...What if the cost was something you were doing anyway?

...What if the cost was something that you would naturally do if you were playing green and had six mana? Why, that extra cost would be almost nothing at all.

Bruce Richard


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