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.