Jimi and I are excited to tear into the Magic 2012 decks and run our first playtest. From the looks of them, there are a few that jump out as looking like they’re a lot of fun to play, and Blood and Fire is one of them. Taking the role of opposition, Jimi selects the Blue/White skies-n-stuff deck Mystic Might.
The question I was most looking to answer is this: how reliable is bloodthirst? With the deck virtually built around it, Blood and Fire would live or die by its ability to deliver steady, consistent damage. As there’s only one way to find out, here’s how we did.
By all accounts, Magic 2010 was a resounding success. In one stroke, Wizards completely retooled the concept of a Core Set. No longer would it be a rehashed mishmash of reprints- M10 would contain all-new cards never seen before (even if many of them were functional reprints). A new set every two years? Stale. The Core Set would now be an annual event, giving Wizards greater ability to keep the Standard environment fresh while offering new cards to keep the rest of the playerbase intrigued.
Moving from strength to strength, Magic 2011 kept all the strengths of its predecessor and even added a new innovation- each set would bring back a classic mechanical keyword in addition to the usual crop of ‘evergreen’ ones (flying, first strike, and so on). For M11, that was scry, a mechanic first introduced in 2004′s Fifth Dawn. This time around, we’re going back in time to 2006′s Guildpact, to the Gruul guild’s defining mechanic of bloodthirst.
Bloodthirst has been hailed as a canny choice for a core set because of how it compels novice players to develop the habit of casting creatures during their second main phase. Since creatures with bloodthirst optimise only when your opponent has already been damaged in the turn, that typically (though not necessarily) means waiting until after you’ve swung in with your creatures to start adding reinforcements. Unless your creatures have enters-the-battlefield effects that you need prior to attacking (like an Æther Adept to bounce their best defender), this is generally accepted as correct play- but it’s not always evident to the new player. Bloodthirst gives elegant guidance rather than a stern lecture. Unlike the Gruul, whose colours were Green and Red, this time around bloodthirst is primarily the province of Red and Black, though Green isn’t left entirely out of the party (Black and Red each get four bloodthirst creatures in M12, Green gets two).