With two great deck experiences behind us, we sat down to begin the second half of playtest games for Planeshift. The set had already produced some pleasant measure of surprise- would the next two decks be of comparable quality? As expressed in the deck analysis of Scout, we had some misgivings with the deck which seemed to have a less-cohesive central theme.
Halfway through, Planeshift has asked for some very subtle and/or unusual things of its pilots. Comeback was a deck riddled with enters-the-battlefield and gating shenanigans, while Domain in some respects was not unlike the scene in Braveheart where the Scots deploy the long spears against the English heavy horse. “Hold! …. Hold! …. Holllld!!” as the enemy bears down upon you, before you hit your four or five different basic land types and can unleash to devastating effect.
It was a beautiful evening. While I couldn’t find where I’d misplaced my Johnny Cash Christmas album, we nevertheless went ahead and decorated the tree, saving the his-and-hers Corpse Bride ornaments for last as always. Once the house was still, Jimi poured herself a glass of Malbec, while I fished a Samuel Adams ‘Winter Lager’ out of the fridge. Completing this delightful holiday scene? Two playmats on the kitchen table, with Domain and Comeback set out before them. Here are our notes from this most delightful engagement.
One of the most common design tropes in Magic: the Gathering is what you might call “the fixed versus the variable.” In this dynamic, design space on a card is opened up by presenting multiple versions of the same effect. Generally, there will be one ‘fixed’ effect, then versions of it that are more scale-based, so that under the right circumstances it will be more effective than its ‘fixed’ version, but otherwise somewhat less so. Examples abound, but for ease of reference we’ll use relatively modern ones. Giant Growth is as simple as simple gets, and much like a coelocanth can be called a “living fossil.” It’s simple exhange- +3/+3 at instant speed to a single creature in return for a single Green mana and a card- has remained unchanged since the very dawn of the game some seventeen years ago. Nevertheless, variable versions appear with stalwart regularity. Some recent versions include:
Eager to play our first game of Planeshift, I have little problem calling Sam to the battlefield with the prospect of piloting the Red/Green Barrage. We’ve all been playing a ton of games with modern-era decks as late, working our way towards a winner for the 2009-10 Preconstructed Championships, so we’re excited at the opportunity to take some classic decks for a spin. I’m behind Comback, and here are our match notes.
Continuing the years-long epic story of the crew of the Weatherlight, 2001’s Planeshift was the second set in the Invasion Block. The Phyrexians had begun their invasion of Dominaria (the plane where much of early Magic’s worlds were set on), overlaying it with the plane of Rath to use as a staging ground. Gerrard and the surviving Weatherlight crew were in the thick of it, trying to battle back this most corrupting of evils, while Urza led a band of planeswalkers to confront Yawgmoth- leader of Phyrexia himself.