Taking Dictation; or, A Flare for Dictation

Posted in The Week That Was on April 11, 2014

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

My Journey into Nyx preview card is a fresh new take on a type of card that has been around since the earliest days of Magic. Mana Flare goes all the way back to Alpha but has not seen a ton of tournament play over the years—it turns out that not all symmetry is created equal. The trouble with Mana Flare is tapping your mana—at a rate of one mana per mana-producing land—on your turn and letting your opponent untap to have access to a rate of two mana per mana-producing land on his or her next turn.

Allow me to present to you a flipped script:

That's right. You now get to flash in Dictate of Karametra at the end of your opponent's turn and untap with access to double digit mana on your next turn before your opponent can do anything with the bounty. If you look back at the history of these "Flare" decks you can get an idea of what we can do to exploit this card and maybe find some other cards that have been previewed from this new set, that might play well with it.

PalinFlare was a deck that took advantage of the "free spells"—specifically Palinchron—to generate nigh-infinite mana to power up a Stroke of Genius to force your opponent to overdraw his or her deck and lose the game.

Blake Quelle's PalinFlare

Download Arena Decklist
Other (60)
14   Island 5   Mountain 4   Thawing Glaciers 3   Palinchron 4   Brainstorm 1   Capsize 4   Counterspell 3   Energy Field 4   Force of Will 1   Frantic Search 4   Impulse 3   Intuition 4   Mana Flare 3   Stroke of Genius 3   Turnabout
60 Cards
Sideboard (15)
1   Energy Field 3   Annul 4   Hydroblast 3   Powder Keg 4   Pyroblast

I immediately start thinking about building a green-blue deck when I see something like this, and while I have wracked my mind for anything that can replicate the effect of Palinchron, I am pretty content to play with Prophet of Kruphix and be able to double up on my double mana by untapping all my lands on my opponent's turn. Without the Palinchron, I have to look for something else to do with all that mana. I am reminded of Max Bracht's Heartbeat of Spring deck that would ramp up into a lethal Maga, Traitor to Mortals from the Top 8 of the first Pro Tour Honolulu.

Max Bracht's Heartbeat

Download Arena Decklist
Other (60)
10   Forest 10   Island 1   Mountain 1   Swamp 4   Drift of Phantasms 1   Maga, Traitor to Mortals 4   Sakura-Tribe Elder 1   Boomerang 1   Compulsive Research 4   Early Harvest 4   Heartbeat of Spring 1   Invoke the Firemind 4   Kodama's Reach 4   Muddle the Mixture 1   Recollect 4   Remand 4   Sensei's Divining Top 1   Weird Harvest
60 Cards
Sideboard (15)
3   Iwamori of the Open Fist 1   Keiga, the Tide Star 2   Meloku the Clouded Mirror 1   Pyroclasm 3   Savage Twister 1   Umezawa's Jitte 4   Vinelasher Kudzu

I picture a turn-four Prophet of Kruphix—cast off of a Sylvan Caryatid—that lets you untap on your opponent's turn and flash in an end-step Dictate of Karametra. You can untap and play... hmmm, let's see... something big and hard to deal with... how about Colossus of Akros? By the time the turn swings back around to you the Colossus will be monstrous and swinging in for 20 points of trampling, indestructible damage. That is a turn-six 20/20 in case you lost track. With all the other cards involved being good on their own, I might just try to make this work.

It is entirely possible that your opponent's deck will bump its head into a ceiling of how much mana it can spend while your deck will be built to take full advantage, and you don't need to make a 20/20 for it to be worthwhile. You can untap after playing Dictate of Karametra and do any number of monstrous things. With six lands in play, you can cast and activate an Arbor Colossus. You can also do some real damage with a Polukranos or Polis Crusher. You will want to be wary of casting it against someone who is likely to have Sphinx's Revelation in his or her deck. Sphinx's Revelation is a pretty good reason for you to think about playing this card in three-colored decks.

(Speaking of X spells, can I interest you in a 10/10 Vastwood Hydra on turn 6?)

I am also starting to sketch out a Bant enchantments deck that also uses Dictate of Kruphix and Eidolon of Blossoms. Throw in a Prophet of Kruphix and you can start chaining enchantment creatures together—Eidolon of Countless Battles, Celestial Archon, and Flitterstep Eidolon all leap to mind—spending your mana on each player's turn. You can even throw in Karametra, God of the Harvests, as you cycle through your deck, drawing cards for each enchantment creature you play. With the God's ability, you get to thin your deck and put obscene amounts of mana into play.

Do you think the cycle of Dictates will see play in Commander? I might not play this in my Simic deck but not because it isn't good. Dictate of Karametra is the type of card that just gets me into trouble in Commander. I mean... I want to play with it very badly, but nothing good can come of this in my Momir Vig deck. Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome for me. My deck makes so much mana very quickly and could use the boost from Dictate of Karametra to do any number of punitive things—making Spitting Images of Tidespout Tyrants, locking the board down with the Brine Elemental/Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo, or just casting some obscenely large Genesis Wave. None of which will engender any good will within my Commander playgroup.


March Player of the Month: Nam Sung-Wook (#MTGPoM)

I am sorry South America, but Korea's Nam Sung-Wook is the March Player of the Month. The Latin American Magic community tried very hard to stuff the ballot box for Brazil's Philippe Monlevade, but when every tweet read exactly the same, it diminished the impact of all those people saying what it would mean for them to have Monlevade be awarded the title. In the end, it came down to Monlevade—and everyone else—having only one Grand Prix (or Invitational/MOCS) win vying with Sung-Wook's win and Top 8. I certainly appreciate the burst of support for Monlevade, but just cutting and pasting the same tweet over and over is not going to be enough to sway me.

Nam Sung-Wook becomes the first Korean player to earn this title—to go with two different PT invites he earned during the month of March—and will be someone worth paying close attention to as the season winds down its second half. We will want to see how he fares at the Pro Tour, (most likely) leads his National team at the World Magic Cup, and whether or not he can rack up some Pro Tour finishes that can put him into contention for an APAC seat at the World Championship.

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