Shu Yun, the silent tempest wallpaper

More Random MTG musings

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Hi again…

In my New Year’s Resolution to keep my column up to date and a little more current I wanted to take a little time to write about some of thoughts I had during the course of the week about some MTG stuff.  No deck list tonight…but some things that have caught my interest recently.


Uncharted Realms

I’ve been back and playing Magic now for 2 1/2 years, but I’m finally NOW getting to the point where I am not just about the cards, but the broader community piece as a whole.  By that I mean I am starting to appreciate that there is far more to playing Magic than just playing the game, but there are other areas where people can explore and enjoy this hobby as well.

One of the big ones I have overlooked until now has been Uncharted Realms, the fiction that is essentially the telling of the story of what is happening in Multi-verse and helping to explain how and why certain things are happening in the game.  You can check it out for yourself here:

Now, the most recent short story was really intriguing because it showed how Sarkhan Vol essentially saved Ugin and prevented the demise of the Dragons on Tarkir by sheltering him from Nicol Bolas after their battle.  It was a pretty neat read and I suggest you take a peak.  However, as someone new to the tales of here are some of my impressions:

Sarkhan– Up until this point I largely thought this guy was a “Heel” (pardon to WWE reference) that is essentially a pawn of evil.  The truth is the guy has had it pretty tough.  If you have had MULTIPLE Dragon Planeswalkers in your head, you would be pretty messed up to.  I have some interest in this character and will be sure to keep tabs on him.  Hopefully they don’t kill him the way they did Elspeth at the end of Theros block.  (Prediction:  They are totally going to bring her back as a B/W iteration of her down the road when Erebos lets her go.)

Nicol Bolas– This Dude is a jerk of Epic proportions.  I know every story needs a villain, and he’s about as good as they come. I like the classic Villain feel to him, although I still prefer his artwork from the original Legends set where he saw print as an Elder Dragon.

Yasova Dragonclaw– I’m not sure what I think of her…I feel like she’s part of the Villain cycle and I would NOT have thought that would be the alignment of the Temur.  I really thought if there were going to be a Villain in this set it would be the Sultai…although I suppose that is too easy…but I didn’t think the Temur would be in cahoots with Bolas.  Guess that shows how much I know.

Hedron- The cocoon that preserves Ugin…it came from Zendikar…and sure it saves Ugin and allows him to recover and preserve the Dragons.  Sure, I get that…but does ANYONE else want to see Eldrazi show up because they can sense something from their plane is being used elsewhere?  C’mon…who DOESN’T want to see Emrakul show up?

All in all, I’m a fan and will check back on the story line to see how it develops.


Enhanced Awareness and Card Evaluation

“over rated”

I initially took one look at Enhanced Awareness when I opened my pool at my pre-release and was initially really disappointed.  There was some uneasy tension around playing the card and if you read my post about my pre-release you will get the vibe that I wasn’t a fan.  I have spent some time thinking about and have clearly determined WHY I don’t much care for the card and unlikely to prioritize it highly as we move forward.

“you wish you had me in your draft pool”

From the outset, Enhanced Awareness looks like a pretty sweet card.  5 mana, instant speed, Draw 3 cards and discard 1.  Right off the hop, we know it isn’t better that Jace’s Ingenuity, but it is a little easier to cast because Jace’s Ingenuity is 5 mana, but double Blue while Enhanced Awareness is only a single Blue.  However what sets Enhanced Awareness far behind Jace’s Ingenuity is the actual real card advantage netted by casting this spell.

Ingenuity draws you three cards, but you spend 1 card in casting the spell meaning that you have netted +2 cards.  5 mana for 2 cards is pretty sizable and nice amount of card advantage to generate at Instant speed at  your opponent’s end step.

Enhanced Awareness draws you three cards, and you spend 1 card in actually casting the spell…so at most you are getting +2 cards out of this spell.  However, the added drawback of having to discard 1 more card means that the actual card advantage gained is only +1 card.  5 mana for only 1 card in terms of actual advantage is actual a very poor rate of return.  You do just as well with Weave Fate, a much poorer card draw spell in the eyes of many players, and it costs a full mana cheaper.

Not as bad as everyone thought…huh?”

The only advantage I can discern from this spell is that it actually enables Delve reasonably well, so Delve decks enjoy this.  Meanwhile the rest of us aren’t going to play this because the rate of return is quite poor.

There are people that will argue that you do get to dig three cards deeper into your deck and filter for the cards you actually want, meaning that you get to sculpt your hand somewhat.  These are true statements, but the fact remains that you are essentially spending your mana on “looting” and netting yourself only a single card for a pretty sizable investment. Players looking to win focus on the efficiency of their mana and the spells they need to cast because that is a prime factor in determining if the spell is going to help you, particularly in a Limited type deck.  Think about it, the cost of playing Enhanced Awareness as your card draw is that you need to have a) 5 mana untapped and nothing better to do with it and b) cards in hand that are no good to you to discard in order to improve the card quality in your hand and accept that I am only netting 1 card.  Weave Fate, the card that is in direct competition with Enhanced Awareness can be cast a whole turn earlier for 4 mana and doesn’t care one stitch about what you have in hand…and you STILL net 1 card.

I’m not saying that Enhanced Awareness is a bad card, but there are costs associated with it that you need to balance in your Limited deck and so it might not be something you are quick to slam in your draft and run.


Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest

This guy has caught my attention and I am clearly going to have to brew with this guy.  You take one look at him and he SCREAMS “Jeskai Prowess Deck”.  However, I am of the opinion that this guy doesn’t want a Jeskai Deck at all.  He really wants a Temur or Bant build to make use of a couple of really disgusting interactions.

Flash is a ridiculous keyword and it is even GROSSER on Auras.  You know who really wants Flash Auras?   Shu Yun…that’s who.  Green has a pair of good ones and Red has a third that is kind of interesting as well.

What could be more fun than attacking with Shu-Yun?  Your opponent IMMEDIATELY knows you have something in hand because he’s a Prowess creature.  Your opponent, not being a dummy, isn’t interested in creating an unprofitable block and walking into your trick declares no blocks.  So, Flash in your Boon Satyr as an Aura, trigger his Prowess, trigger Shu Yun’s Double Strike ability…and end the game on the spot for 16 points of damage.

Ok, that is a best case and your opponent can still respond by removing Shu-Yun, but the exchange is appealing.  yes it takes 7 mana to get the whole thing going and that’s steep, but not unimaginable.  So, you want some cheaper options? ok.

Feral Invocation Remember this little gem?  This is much cheaper to cast and still means Shu-Yun hits for 12.  That’s still a massive chunk of damage in a turn.  Dragon Grip was behave in a similar way but is also somewhat more situational in order to meet the Ferocious trigger on the card, but it is an interesting choice as well.

So this is starting to come together.  When I have something more final I will be sure to post it here for you guys.

That’s all for tonight guys…thanks for reading.

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter