By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Welcome back to another Crack a Pack with Bruce. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve cracked a pack from each of the three sets of Theros block and had some interesting selections. However, M15 is still a week away before it becomes the draft format of choice leaving us with a weird one week window where we just aren’t sure what to open. Well, now is a perfect time to open up a pack of Conspiracy to check it out and see what I would pick. I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a chance to actually play Conspiracy yet but it seems super sweet and I want to have a look at some of the cards in the set. Let’s check out what we’ve got.
Having not cracked a lot of packs of Conspiracy but being relatively familiar with the set, this feels like a bit of an average pack…and that’s just fine. There are plenty of interesting choices to consider and some very solid and playable cards in this pack. The first thing that I notice is that this pack is LOADED with good removal. If this is the average pack then creatures don’t stand a snowflake’s chance in Hell of living for long…but perhaps in a multiplayer game you end up burning out your removal early and creatures stick around. Let’s look at what catches my eye.
The rare is Decimate and this is spicy. For 4 mana you get to destroy an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, and a land. That works out to 1 mana per target, which is pretty good bang for your buck. Also, the fact that it can target different thing means you could get something from each of your opponents. Here’s where the strategy sets in: if you hit each of the other 3 players with this I can assure you that you will have 3 players battering down your defences in short order and leaving you on the side of the road in bloody heap (proverbially speaking). No, this card is almost best used to set 1 opponent back as far as you can get them and then leave them to be picked over by the other players. This is a very solid selection and something that I like. I also usually like playing some sort of Green deck, so this would suit me just fine.
The next card that grabs my attention is Volcanic Fallout. 3 mana gets you an Instant that can’t be countered and deals 2 damage to each creature and player. This is a mini sweeper that can’t be countered. The ability to not be countered is actually pretty huge, but I expect that to actually be something for Legacy burn decks more than this format…but you never know. The 2 damage to all creatures is pretty vital and can clear the board of those pesky “bears” quickly. I really like this card as it feels powerful and very solid.
Next we have Tragic Slip. This was a premium removal spell in Innistrad and absolutely nothing has changed. 1 mana to give something -1/-1 is good, but that Morbid ability basically assures you that you’re killing something. This is cheap, efficient removal and very solid. Not flashy…but solid.
Next is another removal spell in Brimstone Volley, yet another piece of Instant removal that deals 3 damage to target creature or player for 3 mana. Trigger the Morbid ability at it deals 5 damage. Just like Tragic Slip you want to make the Morbid a thing when you go to cast it, but it is just straight up good removal. Umm…for those keeping score at home…the first 4 cards I’ve looked at have all been a form of removal…just…you know…keep that in mind.
The next 2 cards both grab my attention for entirely different reasons. Flamewright is 2 mana 1/1, which is a little on the weak side. However, the ability to make 1/1 defender tokens and then sacrifice them to deal 1 damage seems strong. The fact that this generates tokens means you could get some incremental advantage out of this guy. The creature type seems all wrong because Human Artificers should be Blue and not W/R, but I’m not one to quibble. Liliana’s Specter also grabs my attention for the ability to force EACH opponent to discard. That’s big and nets you a sizeable card advantage. You play 1 card and your opponents collectively lose 3. This likely means that you’re going to take the beats as they are all slightly upset with you, but the 2/1 creature is unlikely to truly scare any of them meaning they should quickly get over you.
Lurking Automaton is an interesting card, but he isn’t an early pick in this pack because of the ability. He’s a real bomb in the middle of the pack when 5 or 6 cards have already been picked, so if you see him early, be mindful that someone further down the line is going to grab him and put him to good use.
Galvanic Juggernaut seems like a pretty solid 5/5 for 4 mana, but I’m not a fan of the conditions imposed on him. Attacking each turn isn’t a big deal, but the staying tapped feels like it could be an issue. Maybe there will be lots of things dying and I get to untap him, but that feels a little risky which pushes him down the pick order.
Sakura-Tribe Elder is nice little piece to help with your ramp and will get some consideration in the mid-rounds.
Enclave Elite is interesting because of the Multi-kicker and the Islandwalk. 2/2 for 3 mana is solid and pump a little more into him and you may have a pretty solid creature to take out a player with the Islandwalk ability. It isn’t flashy and other players with Islands may not be too appreciative, but it feels like a solid card in the Mid-rounds as well.
Compulsive Research is the Divination of this set and is actually a little bit better. Divination simply draws you 2 cards. That’s nice. However, for the same price, Compulsive research allows you to dig 3 cards down and then evaluate what you need. Can you afford to pitch a land? If you so, late in the game, you might be able to grab all three 3 cards and really work to find that answer. It’s an intriguing card, but like Divination in most sets, it’s a mid round pick at best.
Guardian of Zendikon seems interesting in that it enchants a land and makes it 2/6 defender. When the land dies you get it back. I’m hardly excited, but in the late rounds this would an interesting choice.
Pillarfield Ox is a vanilla 2/4 for 4 mana. He’s a body I guess.
Plated Seastrider is 2 blue for 1/4 vanilla critter. I’d probably pick this ahead of the Ox because it is cheaper, but they are both pretty lacklustre.
Power of Fire is just bad and will almost assuredly be the last card picked out this pack.
I would seriously be considering just 2 cards in this pack. I’d be looking at Decimate or Volcanic Fallout. The Fallout is neat because I like the board sweeper effect and that it can’t be countered. However, the potential upside to just blow an opponent out with Decimate is just too appealing. I want…no…need to see the look on the face of the opponent (or opponents) when I cast this and blow up a bunch of their stuff. It would be awesome! Also effectively spending 1 mana for each of those 4 targets is very appealing and very economical for the amount of mana spent to cast it.
Both of these picks are a tad risky and the much safer play would be to take sure fire targeted removal like the Tragic Slip and Brimstone Volley. However, remember what this set is. It is a fun casual set that is full of shenanigans and I want to get right into the mix of things. As a result, I’m going to grab the Decimate and go down the rabbit hole to “Magical Christmas Land” trying to blow up a ton of stuff.
Well, there we have it…another week…another Crack a Pack. I really enjoyed this pack and it left for TONS of interesting things to consider. There would be very few cards in this pack that I wouldn’t be excited to pull and play. I can’t say that about every set. I can hardly wait for my chance to sit down and test this little set out and see what it is like to play. It seems super diverse and plenty of fun.
What would you guys have picked? Would you have gone with the Decimate too? Volcanic Fallout? Sure bets like the Slip and Volley? Something else all together? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Send me a tweet and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading. Next week we’ll have a pack of M15 for sure and bust it open to see what we can find. Until then, may you crack nothing of mythic bombs!
Bruce Gray @bgray8791
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.
Pick. Plot. Play. Experience a Magic format where the intrigues begin long before the first spells are cast! Revolutionary new abilities impact every part of the play experience, starting with the draft itself.
The first-ever multiplayer-focused booster set has new Magic cards with new mechanics that enhance multiplayer play. Returning favorites from throughout Magic’s history round out the set and cultivate an environment of deception and treachery. The Magic: The Gathering–Conspiracy set is designed to be drafted with six to eight players who then split into groups of three or four players for free-for-all multiplayer games.
Conspiracy Drafting Video
Conspiracy Booster Box
Conspiracy Booster Pack