From time to time I’m not going to have much to talk about. So I’m going to talk about something that always interests me. That thing is Gatherer. So what I’m going to do is start picking 5 random cards from time to time and talking about them. I’ll cover cards based on a few different things. The art of the card, the balance of the card, and finally my own interest in the card. Without further adieu let’s get into this. In the future I might show my favorite art for the card. But today I’m picking the first art that Gatherer shows you, which is generally the newest art they’ve made.
Our first card is Desertion, a counterspell. Firstly the art is pretty awesome. It has an awesome painted look to it that is kind of missing in a lot of modern magic artwork. While I appreciate the fidelity of newer art I sometimes get sad how it all kinda feels generic. Now onto the card itself, a counterspell eh. At 5 mana it must obviously do something amazing. And holy shit, does it ever. 5 Mana to counter an artifact or creature spell and gain control of that permanent is amazing. I’ve never actually heard of this card before but it is now officially on my radar. This would not really be viable in competitive play. Most people aren’t dropping giant bombs and by the time you reach 5 mana you might already be boned.
But for casual play or for EDH? This is absolutely fantastic. You could potentially steal someone else’s commander. Man…this might be one of my new favorite counterspells. It’s well balanced, neither overcosted nor undercosted. This is rare, Wizards tends to have a problem actually balancing counter spells.
Horror cards tend to have pretty cool art. This is no exception, it does fall into the “somewhat samey” problem I have with a lot of ‘modern’ art, but still it is cool. If you saw something like this crawling down a wall you’d very likely crap your pants. A 1/1 for 2 is pretty terrible, but that weakness is something of a strength for this creature. It’s effectively a time delayed Fleshbag Marauder, and for one cheaper at that! This is a fantastic blocker, people in multiplayer are unlikely to attack you if doing so will cost them a creature. Sacrificing gets around protections, indestructibility, basically anything else.
Sure, you might lose another creature, but generally in black you don’t really care. This is a fantastic common and I suspect it made limited a lot of fun. Fleshbag is probably better, but either of these is fun. Good card, very fare.
This is one of those really weird artifacts that does a bunch of different things. I like the art, it looks exceptionally good in foil. It’s not something I’d go out of my way to collect but I’m also not going to groan when I play it. This card allows you to see what your next card will be, sure it’ll also reveal it to your opponents, but for a lot of people that can be a benefit. It’s a great way to take control of the scenario. People might not counter something you actually want to get through because they are waiting for you to cast that other scary creature you drew. Knowing more than you should is occasionally a crippling problem in magic.
Regardless of what you draw you’ll be getting some kind of value from this. The reason I like cards like this is that there are games where you go turn after turn without anything to do. This could potentially accelerate lands which is really crazy and the 1/1’s provide you with chump blockers as well. If you drop it on turn 5 you can immediately use it, but otherwise it’ll likely make a good filler. There are much better rare artifacts but there are also much, much worse. This is a good card, it couldn’t have been any cheaper without being a problem.
I’m not really fond of this artwork. It’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but it also feels like all the other fully polished cards of magic. Luckily where the art somewhat fails, this common does very well. 2 mana for +2/+0 isn’t terrible on a common, I’d be a little bummed but this could easily turn the tide of a limited match. Slap this on a first striker and you’ve got yourself a soup going. But what really makes this slick is that when your creature dies you get to draw a card. This means that this enchantment at least replaces itself. Card advantage is the most fundamental strategy in MTG. If you can negatively impact a number of cards your opponent owns using that number minus 1 of your own then you’ve earned card advantage. If you can continuously do this you will, on average, win your matches.
Since this card replaces itself it is something of a clean draw. Otherwise it would be somewhat nasty, largely because enchantments are just awfully good at dying. If I was in a draft I wouldn’t mind grabbing this, in a 40 card it would be a very welcome bonus.
This art is awesome on almost every level. It just so happens to be one of my favorite card arts. This is from an era when magic cards were very quirky. The old lands, creatures, etc, all had this crazy magical quality to them. They were difficult to parse, abstract, genuinely disorientating. So sure, love it, perfectly lovely art. It’s even funny which is a perk. Now, about the card itself? A 2/2 for 3 is terrible, and the double red makes this more difficult to splash in a multicolor deck. However in a straight goblin deck? Not bad at all! Lord cards, of which this is a member, give all other creatures of their type +1/+1 and occasionally another perk. In this case your goblins get mountainwalk too. There are plenty of ways to turn other lands into mountains, and even if you can’t get that perk you’ll be sending a slew of 2/2 or greater goblins running against your opponent.
It becomes more and more difficult for them to keep up, that’s the luxury of goblins. There are much better goblin creatures these days but the Goblin King is still royalty in my heart. He’s perfectly well costed, although I think he might have even been fair at (red)(red) rather than (colorless)(red)(red). We’ll never know though, I suppose.