Video of various well-known individuals from the Magic Communithy drafting the new Conspiracy set that will be released on June 6th. WOtC gathered Marshall Sutcliff, Chris Kluwe, Kenji Egashira, Brian David-Marshall, David Williams, Kathleen De Vere, Nathan Holt to try out the new set and show us some of the new rules and Cards.
I’ve fallen behind a little, but I love the new cards and can’t wait to see how the whole format plays out.
Basandra, Battle Seraph- Wow! A 5 mana (3 colourless, a white and a red) for a 4/4 flying Legendary Angel. Now THIS…THIS is a first pick bomb. 4/4 for 5 mana is fine, but her abilities are what are truly awesome. The fact that players can’t cast spells during combat just shuts off combat tricks. This is pretty amazing and stifles a large number of decks who want to make combat awkward. The second one, which I think people are going to overlook, is the ability to tap a red mana and force another creature to attack if it is able. The ability to impact combat and force a creature to attack is huge because it now means you can control the engagement. Lots of times players will hold back certain creatures because they don’t want to risk losing them in combat…well this ploy is now finished when she hits the table. I can see this being super powerful in Draft, but I also wonder about the implications she will have for EDH because she could do some scary work as a Commander. I don’t usually play EDH, but with her, I might just need to make an exception.
Brago’s Favour- Another Conspiracy card with Hidden agenda. This one reduces the casting cost of the card named by 1 colourless. This could be a conspiracy you draft around a bit in order to get some value, but I suspect that the ability will be a little limited. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not taking this too highly unless I see a trend where I’ve got a couple of the same card sitting in my pile already.
Dimir Doppleganger- A 3 mana (1 blue, 1 black, 1 colourless) 0/2 shapeshifter that is pretty cool. Her activated ability is tap a blue, a black, and a colourless and you exile target card from a graveyard and Dimir Doppleganger becomes a copy of the exiled creature. This one is risky business because there might be nothing in the graveyard to exploit, but that isn’t why this card is cool. It is cool for EDH because it gives you some graveyard hate to slow down graveyard strategies…and can then be a ridiculous good time to copy, oh I don’t know, ANYTHING you want. This one is sweet. I might grab this one early in a draft, just to see what she can do for me.
Immediate Action- A conspiracy with Hidden Agenda that gives cards of the chosen name Haste. THIS is a conspiracy to draft around because giving you stuff haste, for free, is a big deal. It always leaves your opponents on their back foot wondering just what is going to come pouring out on to the battlefield and punch them in the face. If they play around this, they will be more reserved in their attacks. If they don’t play around it, you can deliver extra damage. This isn’t first pickable, but if get a chance to grab this relatively early do it and then see what you can do to shape your deck to exploit this. Remember, at worst it is naming one card in your deck, so go for it…but it is even better if you can make use of it more than once.
Muzzio’s Preparation- Another Conspiracy card with Hidden agenda this time granting the named creature a +1/+1 counter when it enters the battlefield. This will be nice added value but I hardly think that this will break the game wide open for you. Run it by all means, but don’t take this too highly…particularly if there is another card in your colour you could take. A nice addition, but not something I’m going to lose sleep over.
Reito Lantern- An artifact for 2 colourless that says tap 3 colourless mana and return target card from a graveyard to the bottom of that owner’s deck. This is a great way to keep yourself from getting milled out, but it also robs your opponent of graveyard shenanigans by eliminating the target and putting it back in their library. You are hoping that by having back in the library that they won’t re-draw it…but you never know, but at the very least you have delayed seeing that particular card again. I like this, but I feel like this will have more impact in an EDH deck then it will in a draft game. That said, it is still a sweet ability and could be used for all sorts of fun tricks.
Rousing Souls- A 3 mana sorcery with Parley that says each player reveals the top card of their library. For each non-land card revealed you get a 1/1 white flying spirit token and then everyone draws the card that was revealed. For 3 mana this could be a real bargain. You could see yourself land 4 spirits for 3 mana…or conceivably 0. However, stats say that you are likely to get SOMETHING out of this and then a card. I like this card. It isn’t an early pick, but if I’m in white then I’ll take my chances with this Parley ability.
Secrets of paradise- Another Conspiracy card with Hidden agenda that gives the named creature the ability to tap to add 1 mana of any colour to your mana pool. Hold on. That makes any creature of mine a Birds of Paradise…for free. Yes please. Free mana ramp is golden! In any colour! Sold! I might just take this first pick…certainly among my first 3 picks if I can grab it …because that’s pretty amazing. I like this one and am on board.
Advantageous Proclamation- Ok, so here is where my expertise with this sort of draft set disappears and I am in full on guess mode. This is the first example of a Conspiracy card that starts in your command zone. This is all new to me, but I like the fact that this has no mana cost and can be used right from the beginning of the game without having to draw it. Advantageous Proclamation says that you may play with a deck reduced in size by 5 cards. This means your draft deck is now only 35 cards and allows you to access your more powerful more quickly and increases the statistics that you will rip what you want when you go to top deck mode. My concern is that you are going to deck yourself because a in a multiplayer game games go longer and tend to use up more resources meaning you could run out of gas. This will need to be something you watch closely and opt to play only if you have the right deck. What is the right deck…I have no idea, but I’d love to find out.
Cogwork Spy- A 3 mana artifact creature bird construct that is 2/1 and has flying. The stats on this ok…but the really interesting piece is the text on this card that says as you draft, reveal this card and you may look at the next card drafted from this booster pack. So, unless I miss my guess you get to see what your neighbour is picking. This could be very important information so that you aren’t having to read the signs around the table as to what colours are open, who’s playing what etc. Now, the dilemma is that your opponent could throw you off with a weird pick just take you down the rabbit hole a little further, but that is a whole psychological game we aren’t going to play now…we’ll save that for the actual game itself. So, in a draft, this is an interesting card, but I doubt it will be a high pick because the stats just aren’t good enough.
Council Guardian- A 6 mana (1 white and 5 colourless) for a 5/5 giant soldier with Will of the Council that basically makes your opponents vote which of the other 4 colours it will gain protection from. OK, the casting cost for a 5/5 is ok…but I really don’t like the Will of the Council piece on this. If all the other players aren’t playing a particular colour, you’re likely sunk. You might get lucky and the table decides you get to have free smashes on one opponent, but it will invariably be no more use against the other players. So, you are in reality just drafting a 5/5 for 6 mana. This is decent…but hardly anything crazy. You’ll take this as filler near the top of your curve but don’t waste a high pick on it.
Double stroke- Another Conspiracy card but this time it showcases Hidden Agenda, a mechanic that has you select something secretly and when you play the card you secretly name something beneficial happens. In this instance, you get to copy the instant or sorcery card you named. This seems very powerful provided you have the right instant or sorcery…and the fact that it is free is wild. So, it doesn’t cost you a card in your deck, can lead you to copy an instant (or perhaps MORE if you draft around it a bit) and just makes for some very wild options. I’m in on this one…I think it could be very good.
Extract from Darkness- This is a 5 mana (3 colourless, a blue and a black) sorcery that mills each player and then allows you to put a creature from any graveyard on to the battlefield under your control. The Mill feature on this simply there to try and ensure that a creature is in a graveyard, so don’t worry…it isn’t trying to ACTUALLY be a mill win condition. The ability to take ANY creature in a graveyard is…fascinating. It could be a huge reward, or it could be a bust. I love it! I don’t think the 5 mana is too much for this, considering it looks like the format will be a little slower than we are used to. So, if you can pick one up, go for it, and run a singleton copy just to see what mischief you can cause with it.
Heartless Hidetsugu- This is a 5 mana (3 colourless and 2 red) 4/3 Legendary creature Ogre Shaman that when it taps deals damage to each player equal to half their life total rounded down. First off, this is a super flavourful red card and red mages around the world will drool with this. This is exactly the sort of card red LOVES to play. So long as they hurt you, the damage done to themselves is incidental. Personally, this card is not something I’m down with and if I see it I will be killing it on sight. If that speaks to how much this card frightens me, then use that as a benchmark for your own selection. It is extremely powerful, but it’s not for me as I feel it sucks the fun out of the game to have massive symmetrical life loss…but then again, I usually avoid Red like the plague.
Lore Seeker- WHAT!? A 2/2 artifact for 2 colourless mana that allows you ADD a booster pack? WOW! I love it! Never have I seen something create such a mess of drafting as randomly introducing another pack. Who knows what you’ll find? Who cares? If I see this card I’m taking it every single time.
Lurking Automaton– I don’t even know what to think of this as I can’t decipher how many +1/+1 counters it should be getting. I guess that’s an issue isn’t it.
Plea for Power- A 4 mana (3 colourless and 1 blue) sorcery with Will of the Council that makes the table vote as to whether or not you take an extra turn after this one, or if you draw 3 cards. Again, this card puts the decision ultimately in to the hands of your opponents to determine which effect you are going to ge. However, with this particular one both effects are quite powerful and well worth the modest investment of 4 mana at sorcery speed. I like this one but still figure this is a mid round pick that has disgusting potential to be abused in EDH.
Sentinel Dispatch- a Conspiracy card that says during your first upkeep of the game, put a 1/1 colourless artifact construct on the battlefield under your control. This is pretty sweet because you get a free creature out of it to start your game. I like this Conspiracy and feel like it is useful, but not so overly broken that you are going to see the guy who grabs this win every time. It’s a nice card with a sweet ability. If it is available in the mid-late rounds grab it.
Split Decision- A 2 mana (1 blue, 1 colourless) instant with Will of the Council that allows the table to vote on whether the spell is countered or duplicated. Don’t rely on this for either half…just pass this one along and leave it until the end because it will likely still be there.
Terastodon- a 8 mana (2 green and 6 colourless ) for a 9/9 green elephant. Ok, here’s a big dumb green creature…so let’s hope it gets a good upside. As it enters the battlefield destroy 3 non land permanents and the controller of each permanent gets a 3/3 elephant token. So, this is a steep casting cost but you might actually be able to get there because the multiplayer format may be slow enough to open up that option just a crack…so this isn’t an unplayable card. The effect is devastating as you just wiped out the three biggest creatures on the board. OR you could use this to destroy some of your 1/1 dorks that you have been using to plug up the battlefield and replace them with 3/3 elephants. Putting 18 points of power on the board is nothing to sniff at. The reason this is just a tough sell though is really the lack of trample. If this had trample I would grab this guy early, but as he is he’ll be a mid to later round pick for sure.
Volcanic Fallout- a 3 mana (1 colourless and 2 red) instant that can’t be countered and deals 2 damage to each creature and player. Ok…this is Pyroclasm…but improved because it can’t be countered and hits players. You need to watch you own life total once you get down near the Mendoza line…but early one to wipe out a bunch of creatures this is good value. This is likely an early pick and will do good work for decks in Red.
Whispergear Sneak- A 1/1 artifact construct for 1 that also allows you to look at unopened booster packs during the draft. I think this guy will have his place, but he won’t be an early pick unless he’s in pack 3. However, the information you grab could help you to shape your draft and give you insight into what players have selected. I think this is kind of neat…and a 1/1 for 1 is always playable.
Reign of the Pit- A 6 mana (2 black, 4 colourless) sorcery that forces all players to sacrifice a creature and then you get to put and X/X demon on the battlefield where X is equal to the total power of creatures sacrificed this way. This is a very situational card and so it shouldn’t be a high pick, but I can see somebody dreaming that this will be able to cause some SERIOUS mayhem for everyone and windmill slam it 1st. To me, this is a mid round pick once I’ve decided I’m into Black, but to someone else this will be an awesome bomb.
Time to Go nuts! Squirrel tribal deck is back! (See full Card Gallery here)
Squirrel Nest– a 3 Mana (1 colourless and 2 green) for and enchant land aura that says Tap the enchanted land and put a 1/1 green squirrel token into play. This is a hilarious card and one that many people will love simply for the flavour. From a draft stand point, this could be a very strong strategy and something that people value highly, but I feel like this is really a mid round pick to complement your deck that opened up with Selvala as pick one. I could be wrong…but this card looks sweet…and I can hardly wait to crush my opponent under a swarm of squirrels.
So, we had a number of new Conspiracy cards get spoiled (Full card gallery here) and they showcase a number of interesting new mechanics. I’m not sure what to make of some of the stuff, but it would appear as if we are headed to very dynamic and chaotic multiplayer variant (if things shape out sort of how the new mechanics suggest) meaning this could be super fun and very refreshing. Let’s take a look at what we got spoiled!
Marchesa, The Black Rose– A 3/3 Legendary Creature- Human Wizard for 4 mana (1 colourless, 1 blue, 1 red, 1 black) that comes with the new Dethrone ability, grants all your other creatures Dethrone, and when a creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it dies return that creature to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step. This looks insanely powerful because it becomes a Lord to all creature types with the Dethrone ability…but what does that mean? Dethrone, from the description on the card, suggests that if you attack the player with the most life (or you are tied) then the creature gets a +1/+1 counter. This seems very interesting because the description implies you are playing MORE THAN ONE PLAYER AT A TIME! That’s…mind blowing! For a DRAFT format to envision playing more than a single opponent is bonkers and that is truly amazing. I’m already stoked. However, let’s get back to the card at hand. The ability to give your WHOLE team the ability to rack up +1/+1 counters is huge. Also, once they get the counters they become MUCH more resistant to any sort of removal because they return to the battlefield at the next end step. That’s big. I mean, really big.
As much as this seems super powerful I have 2 issues with this: First, triple colour casting cost. If this ends up being pick 1 in your draft then you automatically are running three colours…which can be extremely difficult in draft…usually. This format might take all that conventional wisdom and toss it out the window, but I’d be leery of the triple colour Grixis casting cost. The other concern is the Dethrone ability in principle. I’m going to draw an analogy to a race. Usually, to win a race you want to get out early and close it down. There is reason that in racing sports cars that the pole position and getting out to an early lead is so crucial in determining who will win. Well, the same is true in Magic. Usually, you want to get out early and try to close out the match. However, Dethrone is premised on the opposite, on falling behind and needing a big finish to steal the match. Now, in racing this strategy is very viable but it creates a more risky situation if you fall too far behind and this is no exception. If you get too far behind, you might now be able to close down the gap and you will be looking up at a loss beside your name.
This card looks super interesting and I have no doubt that EDH players will love this addition because her ability is very powerful. For draft, she could be very straining on your mana base, but without knowing what else is in the set it is hard to tell just how much of a strain it will be. Hopefully we’ll see some very neat mana fixing and fun options to make this cool new card come together as part of strategy.
Selvala, Explorer Returned– A 2/4 Legendary Creature- Elf Scout for 3 mana (1 white, 1 green, 1 colourless) that has Parley. Parley seems to be an ability that when tapped, forces all the players at the table to reveal their top card of their library and then something interesting happens. In the case of Selvala for each non-land card revealed you add 1 Green mana to your mana pool and gain a life then each player draws a card.
So, let’s break this down in a couple of ways, first off a 2/4 for 3 mana is actually good value. Don’t believe me, check out Courser of Kruphix as it does work in Standard right now. Next, she ramps you…and if you’re in green you are totally on board the ramp plan. Third, she gains you life. This is an incremental gain similar to that of Courser of Kruphix again and could be hugely valuable as a multiplayer game grinds on. Fourth (yes…we are at fourth) she enables card draw. My only issue with Selvala at all is that each player draws a card, but as it has been pointed out with other cards that may not be bad, particularly if you are in control of WHEN people draw cards. However, I think in her instance, I would be prepared to ignore the fact that my opponents draw cards in favour of me getting access to more cards (and hopefully more gas!) so I think this ability is pretty reasonable. So, Selvala is packed full of value. She would be totally first pickable, but would need to be backed up by some serious value and heavy hitters to exploit the advantages gained. I’m in on this one…bi g time.
Tyrants Choice– a 2 mana (1 black and 1 colourless) that exemplifies the new Will of the Council mechanic that effectively presents a voting situation for your opponents. The choices on this card are that if the majority votes for death, the opponents each sacrifice a creature or if Torture is the vote your opponents all lose 4 life. This is very nicely costed at 2 mana…and both options are good for a player playing black, but my issue is simply that you are no longer in control of either option, much like Tribute in Born of the Gods. If your opponents decide to put the screws down to you, you don’t get the effect you were looking for and ultimately leaving you no further ahead…and with a table full of opponents who are a little pissed at you and looking to bury you. This feels very much like a “win more card” where if you are in the lead, it is awesome. However, if you are behind and need one effect or the other…well…you are likely getting screwed by your opponents, leaving you exactly where you were and no better off. This looks like a fun new mechanic, which will make things very interesting at your game table, but it introduces a ton of unpredictable results that you can’t bank on, so be leery of this card and others like it unless the effects are extremely powerful. We’ll see what the remainder of the set provides.
Control Magic- Wow, I’ve missed this card. 4 mana…take your creature…and at uncommon? This classic reprint of one of one of the iconic spells in Magic makes this super valuable. This will rarely be a dead card in your hand as it is good in almost every situation and is very reasonably costed to cast. If you see this one in your pack it is good enough to picked very early in your draft and you will not regret it.
Brago, King Eternal
Well, we have started to see the cards from Conspiracy trickle in and this guy looks pretty sweet! A 4 mana (a white, a blue and 2 colourless) 2/4 flying spirit that whenever it deals combat damage to a player you may exile any number of nonland permaments you control and then return them under your control. This guy is pretty awesome because if he connects you can blink your team and get the benefit of the enter the battlefield triggers all over again. We’ve seen that ability to be extremely powerful…so let’s look more closely at him.
Conspiracy is intended to be a Draft format and will then allow the cards to be played in some of the older formats, casual, and EDH, but not Standard or Modern. So, if this guy is a draft card a 2/4 for 4 mana is pretty reasonable. You will want to be careful because his casting cost makes him tough to cast and you have to be in the right colours to make him work. If you are in W/U then he will likely be a pretty good pickup. As for his ability, in draft I can expect that he will have limited value blinking your stuff. You may have a couple of Enter the Battlefield triggers to exploit, but you need to work pretty hard to get there and hope Brago doesn’t get whacked by removal or blocked. So, you’re really looking at a 2/4 for 4 mana. He would be better with Hexproof, but that would be pretty busted and unfair. Maybe there will be a ton of Enter the Battlefield triggers to exploit. Who knows? But just looking at this guy and his stats, he will just be ok in Draft.
Now, in OTHER places he will be BONKERS. Let’s just state that there is no way that he will ever see play in a competitive eternal format like Legacy or Vintage, but in EDH this guy could make a real splash. If you have a deck built to exploit ETB triggers this guy will go crazy!!! Hello Thragtusk, Acidic Slime, Angel of Serenity…and on and on we go. With the right EDH deck this guy will be extremely powerful and your opponent will need to be wary. Heck, he’s Legendary so you could opt to use HIM as your general instead of as a support piece and have some fun interactions with him there. Also Casual players and Johnnies out there are probably DROOLING at the chance to break this guy in some sort of disgusting combo that I haven’t conceived of yet.
On the whole, Brago is pretty interesting as far as a card goes. I will hold off on a full pronouncement of his impact until we see more of the Conspiracy cards spoiled, but if this is the beginning then we might be in for a super fun and interesting new set.
So finally after all the stories and all the lore we get the elusive and illustrious Dack Fayden as a card to be printed in the upcoming Conspiracy set. Now while this is not a Standard legal set and he won’t be legal for either Modern or Standard, he will be available for play in Legacy but most especially for the multiplayer formats the set is geared towards in EDH/Commander and Cube.