Planar Chaos: Rituals of Rebirth Review (Part 2 of 2)
Graveborn might be the proverbial 800-pound reanimating gorilla, but Planar Chaos had its own recursion deck, Rituals of Rebirth. Today we test it against Jimi’s Endless March, which relies upon abuse of the gating mechanic.
I’m on the play for our first clash, and have a solid start- an opening-turn Greenseeker. My joy is short-lived, however, as Jimi plunks down an answering Icatian Javelineers, ready to strike a blow for the tarnished glory of Fallen Empires. Next turn I drop a Terramorphic Expanse, cracking it to go get a Swamp and passing, while Jimi immediately moves to kill off my Greenseeker as expected. With my open Forest I trigger her on the way out, pitching Teneb, the Harvester to go get a Plains.
Now turn 3, my turn is a blank, but Jimi takes advantage of the lull to flash in a Whitemane Lion, returning the Javelineers to hand. Once it’s her turn, she recasts them after attacking in for the game’s first blood with the Lion. She then plays a Jhoira’s Timebug and ends turn, but not before I nab a Swamp off of an Evolution Charm at the end of it. Playing the Swamp next turn, I’m able to Dread Return Teneb. A surprised Jimi manages only to fetch a Mountain off of a Terramorphic Expanse of her own.
Teneb swings in for 6 on turn 5. I have the option to rescue the Greenskeeper from the graveyard, but decline- I’ve got better uses for the mana at the moment. I grab a couple more land through an Evolution Charm and a Search for Tomorrow instead. Back to Jimi, she plays a Children of Korlis before attacking in for 4 of her own. She follows up with an Errant Doomsayers. Next turn I attack again with Teneb, though Jimi claws back the damage by sacrificing the Children. I then add Jedit’s Dragoons, going up to 18 life before passing. Jimi sends the Lion back in, and although I sense a trick I go ahead and block with the Dragoons. Indeed she’s got one, as she pings the Dragoons with the Javelineer and tosses off a Fatal Frenzy to force the trade.
Jimi again thwarts Teneb’s attentions on turn 7 as she uses a Dawn Charm to prevent the damage. I follow up with an Icatian Crier which has been sitting in my hand waiting for the Javelineer to disarm, then end with a Search for Tomorrow for another land. Back to Jimi, she taps down the Cryer with the Doomsayers, opening my defenses to attack for 2. Next turn I fire back for 7 with the Dragon and Cryer, then return the Dragoons to play courtesy of Teneb. This gains me another 4 life, restoring me to 20. Jimi adds a Mogg War Marshal and passes. Next turn my attack leaves Jimi at 1 (gaining me a Greenseeker from the graveyard), and she scoops after her next draw.
Jimi kicks off this game with a Plains, and I follow with a Forest. The Jhoira’s Timebug emerges on turn 2 after a Mountain, while I gain a Fa’adiyah Seer off of a Swamp. Next turn Jimi opens the fighting with a 1-point attack from the Timebug, and we’re off and running. For my part, I tap the Seer to send a Dread Return to the graveyard, then play a Wall of Roots. Mana from the Wall lets me then play a second Fa’adiyah Seer at the cost of a -0/-1 counter- a fair price to start priming the pump of my deck’s recursion engine. At the end of my turn, Jimi flashes in a Whitemane Lion and returns the Bug to hand.
Now turn 4, Jimi plays an Aven Riftwatcher after a 2-point attack from the Lion, which gets blocked by my 0/4 Wall. Still, the Aven gains her +2 life to go up to 22. Back to me, I tap both of my Seers to reveal a Swamp (which gets played) and a Rebuff the Wicked (which… doesn’t). I then play an Essence Warden and end my turn. Over to Jimi, her Aven loses a time counter to start the turn off, then she recasts the Jhoira’s Timebug (+1 life to me from the Warden). She swings for 4 with the Lion and Aven, with the Lion running into the Wall again. I go down to 18. When my turn rolls around I begin with the Seers, this time revealing a Terramorphic Expanse and a Phantasmagorian, both good reveals. The Expanse gets cracked for a Plains while the Phantasmagorian gets a second chance with a Dread Return (+1 life).
Jimi’s turn 6 is a blank, though the Aven loses another counter. Over to me, I swing in with the Phantasmagorian. Jimi flashes in a Dust Elemental, which scoops up her trio of creatures back to her hand and happily trades with my Horror. The Aven’s escape back to her hand triggers its lifegain ability, putting Jimi to 24. Next I trigger my Seers, showing a Swamp and a Search for Tomorrow, then play Jedit’s Dragoons. With all the lifegain, I end the turn at a robust 25, eclipsing Jimi by 1. Next turn Jimi brings in the heavy artillery- a Calciderm (+1 life), then she passes. I trip both Seers to reveal a Forest and a Harmonize, the latter I would have liked to have drawn. I mollify myself by trotting out a Sengir Autocrat, who brings a trio of 0/1 Serf tokens with him (+4 life). I then flashback the Dread Return in my graveyard by sacrificing the hapless Serfs to return the Phantasmagorian to play. When the dust settles, that’s me at 31 life.
Now turn 8, Jimi’s Calciderm loses a time counter, then swings in for 5. I happily take the damage, then Jimi buys herself a little extra time by casting Gone on my Phantasmagorian. Back to me, I swing in for 4 with the Autocrat and Dragoons to put Jimi down to 20. I then use the Seers to reveal a Search for Tomorrow and Teneb, the Harvester, both of which head right for the graveyard. I’d love to get Teneb out and I have the ability to do so, but I still want to try and pry a few cards free from Jimi’s hand first with the Phantasmagorian before doing so, so instead I recast him from my hand. Again Jimi lets it resolve, not taking the bait. Up 1 life, I end at 27.
Jimi lets the Calciderm season another turn for turn 9, the brings Jhoira’s Timebug back out (+1 life). Back to me, I attack for 6 with the Phantasmagorian. Jimi blocks with the Calciderm, then plays a Whitemane Lion to rescue the Calciderm back to her hand. It’s an annoying stall, but it does give me another life from the Essence Warden. Then I move to press my advantage- a second Phantasmagorian. Unable to face down two, Jimi bites on the bait and pitches three cards from hand to counter it- a Stormfront Riders she was having difficulty playing, and a pair of Aven Riftwatchers. Perfect!
She replays the Calciderm on turn 10, , then follows up with Children of Korlis to see me up to 31 life. At the end of her turn I trigger both Seers, throwing an Essence Warden and another Phantasmagorian onto the scrapheap. Back to me, I swing with my one good Phantasmagorian for 6, which Jimi lets through to end up at 14. I then spring the trap, returning Teneb to play through Resurrection. Oh, and +1 life.
In desperation mode, Jimi plays a Mogg War Marshal, which adds a 1/1 Goblin token when it comes into play and further padding my life total. Back to me, I swing for 12 with Teneb and the Phantasmagorian. Although Jimi sacrifices the Children of Korlis to restore the damage, the damage is still dealt. This lets me return a second Phantasmagorian to play thanks to Teneb’s combat ability. Next turn Jimi pays the echo on the Marshal, and takes a time counter off of the Calciderm. She swings for 5 with the latter, and I chump a now-redundant Fa’adiyah Seer to block it. Having had enough, Jimi finally kills off the Essence Warden with a Sunlance. At the end of her turn, I go ahead and flash in a Harvest Wurm to add to her woes. Back to me, I swing with everything. Jimi chumps my pair of Phantasmagorians with the Mogg War Marshal and his 1/1 Goblin buddy, pairs up her Whitemane Lion with my Jedit’s Dragoons, and shoves the Timebug in front of the Sengir Autocrat. She then casts Brute Force on her Lion, letting it kill my Dragoons and live to roar about it. Still, she takes a crushing 12 damage from the leftovers, and the sorry 1/1 Goblin she gets from the death of the Marshal is clearly no consolation. I almost feel sorry for her when I activate Teneb to return the third Phantasmagorian to the battlefield.
Next turn she folds.
Looking to prevent a sweep, Jimi plays a turn-2 Keldon Marauders, pinging me down to 19. Having already managed a Greenseeker as my opening play, I use it to toss a Harvest Wurm into the graveyard to tutor up a Forest, which I then play. I use it to summon an Essence Warden and pass.
Now turn 3, Jimi swings for 3 to take me to 16, then adds a Plains off of a Terramorphic Expanse. Back to me, I attack for 2 with both creatures, looking to get in the damage where I can. Alas, Jimi has the Whitemane Lion and flashes it in, returning her Warlords to hand (pinging me for another 1 in the process) and killing the hated Warden. Next turn she attacks for 2 more with the Lion, then re-casts the Marauders- pinging me again. Down to 13 life, I groan as she brings out a Soltari Priest. Once it’s my turn, I swampcycle a Twisted Abomination, then cast an Evolution Charm to go get a Plains.
Still, without defenses I’m at Jimi’s mercy as she cuts in for 7 on turn 5. At 6 life, I try to stabilise by bringing out the Abomination with a Resurrection, having a Swamp open to regenerate it if need be. With Jimi’s forces tapped, I go in for a point of damage with the Greenseeker, and make another tactical blunder. Jimi flashes in a Stonecloaker, blocking my Greenseeker, returning the Marauders to her hand (yes, pinging me for 1), and exiling the Wurm from my graveyard. Quite a nice bit of business, that. I pass turn. Jimi then Sunlances the Twisted Abomination and swings for lethal.
Thoughts & Analysis
Although it’s hard to compete with the sheer firepower of Graveborn with its finely-tuned engine, I have to say that playing Rituals of Rebirth was a blast! Although I tend to like Green the least of all the colours myself, there’s an undeniable feeling of power that comes from getting a lot of land onto the battlefield. In that regard, the mana ramping and fixing package of the deck gets perfect marks. Indeed, by managing to marry the deployment of land with the filling of the graveyard with the Fa’adiyah Seers and Greenseekers, Rituals hits a pitch-perfect note, attaining a level of synergy not often seen at this level of preconstructed deck.
This combinea especially well with a solid gaggle of fatties which also do their part to support the theme. Teneb is the perfect rare for this deck, and the Phantasmagorians are top performers- right down to their ability to help you stock your graveyard for reanimation. Overall, the creature selection- while carrying a few less-sexy entrants like Jedit’s Dragoons, the Bog Serpent, or the Spike Feeder– gets high marks.
If there’s a weakness to the deck, it’s that it can take a little bit of time to get the engine running. That was obvious in Game Three, even though I did help things along with a couple of ill-advised attacks (aggro habits are hard to break). Cards like the Wall of Roots and Essence Warden help mitigate early attacks, but they can only do so much. Still, the deck hasn’t been brewed yet which didn’t have at least some vulnerability, so what can you do.
Hits: Exceptional synergy between cards- your rampers fill your graveyard, your token-makers fuel your flashback Dread Returns, and you can hardcast your closers just as easily as recur them; superb rare selection with Teneb, and even Jedit fits into the theme by making tokens; very little wasted space amonsgt this deck’s 60
Misses: Still, some cards are fairly poor, particularly the Bog Serpent; vulnerable to early game blowouts as it can take some time to set the deck up
OVERALL SCORE: 4.65/5.00