Obscura agents are all around the city, hiding and archiving every event. We acquired some sections of their catalog through… various means. So let’s get started before something might happen…
A Little Chat
First, we shall start with a little chat about pyromancer effects: they are great when you cast instants and sorceries, but I caution you from playing cards that require you to have a pyromancer to be good. When you do have a pyromancer effect on board, A Little Chat is close to Behold the Multiverse. However, I cannot praise this card solely based on that, because the base case of the card is worse than Opt. Even if you have Young Pyromancer, you need to have already cast a spell while Young Pyromancer was on board for A Little Chat to be good. A possible better use case for the card is in a Mono Blue Aggro deck, where it is similar in use to Village Rites in Mono Black Aggro except you pay one more Mana for card selection and the ability to get around a single counterspell.
Ultimately I advise against playing A Little Chat in pyromancer decks because the base case is bad and those decks don’t have many creatures they want to sacrifice. I would like to see experimentation with it in Mono Blue Aggro alongside a few more upcoming cards that buff that archetype.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
The card might offer you treasures and promise you winnings, but don’t get tempted: it’s an offer it cannot deliver on and should be quickly refused. Giving your opponent two treasure tokens will usually leave them with enough mana to interact, so the card fails as protection while your opponent has cards in hand. Using it to counter a threat is also not exciting because if you’re using it in the early game to counter a Saga or a planeswalker, another threat will likely immediately be thrown at you. In the late game, using it as a counterspell has less downside but at that point, you probably could have played any other two mana counterspell instead.
However, Combo decks built around Tainted Pact and Thassa’s Oracle could use this as protection. There are very few spells that can interact with the combo the turn it is played, so giving your opponent mana is slightly less frightening. Those Combo decks also play hand attack so they can make sure a single counterspell is enough – in that case, An Offer you Can’t Refuse is the second cheapest option.
One of the cards that buffs Mono Blue Aggro is this new bird that can grow quickly while also making your opponent’s turns more awkward. Although shredder’s ability can hypothetically trigger four times each turn cycle, you can realistically expect it to trigger once per turn cycle, since Mono Blue can easily double spell. Luckily for you, if your opponent separates their spells into two turns, they might end up walking into your counterspells because they let you untap.
A common play pattern I expect to see with this is playing it on turn three alongside a one drop or cantrip, giving you the ability to grow it into a 2/4 and loot. Being a 2/4 means it not only can dodge some of Red’s removal but also block well against other early creatures. That is useful for Mono Blue Aggro because its creatures are usually weaker than the creatures that you will see in other Aggro decks. Reanimator decks can especially use Ledger Shredder’s connive because their main plan is already to discard creatures and connive rewards that with +1/+1 counters.
I expect to see the card in Tempo decks as those decks will let the bird connive each turn. Reanimator decks will enjoy it as another looter that can also block. I also hope that Ledger Shredder will help Blue Aggro decks get to the top of the charts (or in our case the top of #deck-lists) .While you are building that winning deck, don’t forget Animal Sanctuary to grow this bird even faster.
Out of the Way
Yes, this is a color hoser, but that doesn’t mean you need to immediately write it off. Blink of an Eye is a card that sees play in some Control and Tempo lists. Tempo lists are unlikely to want this new bounce spell because it can’t target their own creatures, but Control decks are less hurt by that. A deck like UR control already plays Blink of an Eye and most of the time it casts without the additional kicker cost is against the type of early aggression most common seen in green decks. Outside of occasions like a tournament playoffs, expect to see it as a meta game call in a few Control decks and not much beyond.
Giant sea creature in blue, does it have a downside? Of course! But, at least the downside of this kraken has an upside attached. In blue and for the cost, kraken’s only competition in stats are Thassa, Deep-Dwelling and the colossal Phantasmal Dreadmaw. Ward 2 means protection spells like Snakeskin Veil or counterspells are more effective because your opponent will likely not have enough mana to cast two removal spells targeting this.
However, I cannot forget the second ability. Although you give your opponent control over, likely, the biggest creature on board, you will accumulate unblockable 1/1s. In case you need to block at the very least you will have one of those tokens and one fewer creature that is able to attack you. In green or white decks you can buff those 1/1s with counters or anthems to make them more relevant. A black or red deck with kraken can be built to reduce your opponent’s chance to tap reservoir kraken by playing conditional wraths, like Storm’s Wrath and Languish. Those will usually kill most creatures but your deck will intentionally have mostly high toughness creatures. Thus making the wraths one-sided while still having board presents.
I expect to see experimentation with the kraken in Midrange decks. When Aggro is more prevalent, meaning cheap conditional wraths are better, expect to see it in a deck filled with those wraths and similar high toughness creatures that dodge them.
Slip out the back
On the first read of this card I thought that as a protection spell, it could only target creatures you control and it already seemed good. But the words “you control” are not on the card making it much more flexible.
The base use case I see for the card is similar to Snakeskin Veil as a protection, except it trades being a combat trick for being able to protect from wraths and edicts. The other main use case of the card is as temporary removal by phasing out a creature your opponent controls either on their turn, removing it from two combats, or on yours, removing it from blocking. A rarer use case is using it to phase out cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger before their sacrifice trigger resolves, allowing you pay less mana while also keeping them on board.
I expect to see Slip Out the Back in Tempo and Midrange decks that will enjoy the flexibility it gives. I would also not be surprised to know someone has used it, alongside Stifle, to have Uro in play by turn three.
“Shoreline Scout, attack!” Shoreline Scout: “but there is a business person in the way, we will just both die.” Well at least that business person can’t make 3/3 beasts or draw cards anymore. Unfortunately for you, if you are playing versus a green or a white deck that 1/1 citizen wouldn’t stay so innocent for long after your opponent plays a Banishing Lights or Reclamation Sage.
Although the downsides of leaving your opponent with a creature and vulnerability to enchantment removal, witness protection has legitimate uses in gladiator. Compared to Bubble Snare and Bind the Monster, the creature doesn’t have to deal you damage to be neutralized. Witness protection even removes abilities so gods like Toski, Bearer of Secrets or creatures like Legion Warboss and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar become close to a not-threat. Control decks can use this to remove indestructible from creatures and shrink them, Which would cause the opponent to extend into the Control player’s eventual wrath.
I expect to see this card in Tempo decks, since those decks enjoy cheap removal and usually have a high amount of flying creatures to ignore the 1/1. Along with experimentation in Control decks, mainly UR, which doesn’t have many ways to remove indestructible creatures.
I hope this peek at the catalog will inform and improve your future deck building. Now, you might want to go over to another set review before that timer gets to 00:00.
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A Magic: The Gathering player since Guilds of Ravnica. Plays primarily the fan format Gladiator at a competitive level. Writer for the Gladiator blog