Dig Through Time — Future Sight
Up until today's article Dig Through Time has only examined sets from Magic's past. Today I want to go to the future. That's right, I could no longer stop myself. It's finally time to talk about Future Sight! I remember cracking packs of this set back in 2007 when I was in college. I was super duper casual at the time, and I have no idea what my pulls were as my whole early collection was, shall we say, "misplaced" at some point while I was living in Europe for a year. I still have fond memories from this set, though. I think it features some of the best art in all of Magic's history, and I really dig the future-shifted frame on cards like Fomori Nomad. Mark Rosewater, the set's lead designer, refers to it as his "art house set" because of the 40 some odd old, new, and tweaked keywords, mechanics, and themes that Future Sight explores; many of which show up on just one or two cards. I am not going to list them all here, but do yourself a favor, after you're done reading this artilcle, pull it up on Gatherer and explore the full weirdness of Future Sight for yourself.
Back, to the Future!
Seeing play in 208 decks Scout's Warning helps you cycle through your library while springing a potentially nasty surprise on your opponents. Flashing in Sunblast Angel, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, or Gisela, Blade of Goldnight during combat was never so easy. No, that wasn't hypothetically-speaking, jank brewing, magical-christmasland talking. I've actually, personally, flashed in both Elesh Norn and Sunblast Angel (Gisela is on the to-do list) using this card, and it felt awesome. Most cards that let you flash things in, such as Alchemist's Refuge, Vedalken Orrery, Leyline of Anticipation, and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir are permanents, so your opponents know that you're up to shenanigans. This card sits innocently in your hand like any other card, until it's too late. There's a ton of other useful creatures with strong enters-the-battlefield (ETB) or on-cast triggers (1,853-ish of them, to be precise), stuff like Clone Shell, Combustible Gearhulk, Deathbringer Regent, and so much more! Not only that, Scout's Warning doesn't specify that you have to cast the creature from your hand. You can totally flash in your commander with this bad boy. And. AND! It draws you a card. If you're not in love with this card yet, I don't know what to tell you.
Bruna, Light of Alabaster plays this card the most at 41 decks, most likely for the surprise value in flashing her in as a blocker (getting back all of those sweet auras) and for the pseudo-haste. Scout's Warning also synergizes well with Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Darien, King of Kjeldor and Ephara, God of the Polis. Pseudo-haste is something I didn't really talk about yet, but flashing in a creature at your last opponent's end step means you can attack with, and activate the abilities of that creature on your next turn, without having to worry about summoning sickness. Mono-white can definitely use more of that. I run this card in Jazal Goldmane so he can swing out right away, without having to worry about Lightning Greaves.
Somewhere between a pillow and a fog effect, Chronomantic Escape sees play in 169 decks. Every three turns, you're safe from combat damage for an entire wheel of the table. And, if you happen to have something like Goblin Spymaster or Avatar of Slaughter out, your opponents will have no choice but to mow each other down, whether they like it or not. You'll want to run back-ups to this card, but it is a solid effect that deserves more play in pillow fort decks. This is actually part of a cycle, and probably the best of the five, though Reality Strobe is a close second.
Angus Mackenzie, the king of pillow forts, plays this card the most at 10 decks. I play this in a Zedruu, the Greathearted deck that capitalizes on the strategy I mentioned above, forcing all of my opponents' creatures to attack each turn. Vial Smasher the Fierce+Tymna, the Weaver, or another partner with white in their identity, wouldn't mind playing this card, as every three turns Vial Smasher will hit someone in the face for six damage for free.
Crytic Annelid digs deep and asks the tough questions, potentially six cards deep, to be precise. This mono-blue worm beast sees play in 212 decks that flicker, blink, and reanimate it, trying to find the next right answer. Outside of worm tribal featuring Simic Ragworm and Reef Worm (don't do it kids!), this guy is comparable to Mulldrifter. It's definitely not as flexible as far as cost is concerned, and the lack of flying is sometimes relevant, but if each instance of scry is worth drawing roughly half a card, this guy can get you approximately equivalent value to drawing three cards.
Since most decks that abuse Cryptic Annelid will do it with flicker and blink strategies, it should be no surprise that Brago, King Eternal plays this card the most at 50 decks. This card is also fine for The Mimeoplasm or Sedris, the Traitor King who can abuse him with sacrifice outlets and reanimation effects. Clone effects can also get value out of this card, so playing it in Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, or in conjunction with powerhouses like Progenitor Mimic can help you dig through the deck for your win conditions. The relatively high toughness on Annelid also makes it a fine candidate for a Phenax, God of Deception deck.
Bonded Fetch is a looting engine that sees play in 103 decks. His converted mana cost of three, haste, and draw-discard instead of discard-draw make him an almost-strictly-better Mad Prophet. Illusionist's Bracers will even let you double up on the loot. In EDH many people favor straight card draw over loot and rummage effects. If you're playing in a meta with lots of graveyard exile, that can be the correct choice, but there are a ton of strategies that like their cards in their graveyard as well as their hand. At worst you're going to draw something better or worse than what's in your hand, and just keep the better card.
Can I loot? Should I loot? Would you loot? Let's consult an expert.
I guess that settles that.
Everyone's favorite tap-dancing wizard, Ertai, the Corrupted, plays this card the most at 10 decks. Bonded Fetch is also nice in Dralnu, Lich Lord for the loot effect, but also as a blocker to help protect you from damage. Some other wizard commanders that like to turn sideways, like Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, abuse lots of tap/untap effects, so Bonded Fetch ends up having incidental synergy with the other cards in those decks.
One of the more underrated hatebears,Yixlid Jailer sees play in 47 decks. It's not as strong as Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void, but neither of those cards can block or attack for two, so...choices. This is kind of "nice" or "soft" graveyard hate. It shuts down commanders like Dralnu, Lich Lord, Sedris, the Traitor King, and Varolz, the Scar-Striped; and keeps cards like Anger, Genesis, Gravecrawler, and Necrotic Ooze from doing their thing. Like most hatebears, it's great in some situations, but runs the risk of being irrelevant if no one is playing a strategy you're trying to hose, so including it in a deck is definitely a meta call.
Phenax, God of Deception plays this card the most at nine decks, presumably as a way to shut down any good cards he mills out. Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa and your black partner of choice make this card more relevant by giving it conditional unblockability. There are some possible zombie tribal interactions, but zombies also like to have abilities in the graveyard, so be careful not to shut off your own Prized Amalgam or Risen Executioner if you stick this in Gisa and Geralf or Grimgrin, Corpse-Born.
Speaking of hatebears, Stronghold Rats is the most played card in this article at 321 decks. Whenever I build a deck with a Bottomless Pit package, I include this card before adding Necrogen Mists, Cunning Lethemancer, or even the Pit itself, really. Stronghold Rats gives you more control over when and if you discard, since you can choose not to attack with it; while shadow gives it evasion, allowing you to force the discard when you need it. Playing this with the newly printed Faith of the Devoted and Archfiend of Ifnir can get you some additional value out of these little rodents.
The original rat tribal commander, Marrow-Gnawer plays this the most at 121 decks. I suspect that Neheb, the Worthy players everywhere are frantically adding this to their Card Kingdom shopping cart as they read this. Meren of Clan Nel Toth is a great commander for this card, since she'll just recur whatever she discards, and can always reanimate the rats if an opponent manages to remove them. Full spoilers currently aren't available for Hour of Devastation, but I'm sure we'll have some juicy synergies contained in the set, so keep your eyes peeled.
Seeing play in 81 decks, Minions' Murmurs is a cheaper, blacker Shamanic Revelation that eats away at your life instead of increasing it. Considering that Shamanic Revelation is played in 6,192 decks, and Collective Unconscious is played in 1,414 decks, I don't understand why more people don't play Minions' Murmurs. You'll probably want Whip of Erebos or some other means of gaining back your life, but this card is great in any black tokens deck. Even if you aren't running tokens and you just have four or five creatures on the battlefield, four mana and four or five life is a crazy good deal for four or five cards. Cards like Ambition's Cost and Ancient Craving draw you three cards for three life at the same amount of mana, but they don't scale to your board presence at all.
Since tokens are the easiest way to capitalize on Minions' Murmurs, it's no wonder that Prossh, Skyraider of Kher plays this card the most at 11 decks. This is super good in Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet since he makes zombie tokens, and has native lifelink to help mitigate the life loss you'll incur from Murmurs. This is also fantastic in Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons or Nath of the Gilt-Leaf.
As a Shadowborn Apostle player, I'm very happy to see that Shimian Specter is played in only 129 decks, and I'm sure Patrick, with his Meren of Clan Nel Toth/Relentless Rats deck, is equally grateful. Essentially getting a Thoughtseize each time you connect is an underrated effect in EDH. Most people will tell you that, unless it hits all of your opponents, you're doing it wrong. Well, I disagree. Effects like this let you keep the control player off a Counterspell; keep the combo player off a Paradox Engine; and keep the beat down player off an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Sounds good to me, but, if you really feel like you have to hit each opponent, you could always run this with Blade of Selves.
Grenzo, Dungeon Warder, who can cheat specters onto the battlefield with ease, plays this card the most at 12 decks. I think I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Specter tribal, so this guy works well for that archetype in Crosis, the Purger or Nicol Bolas. Any kind of black control commander could use Shimian Specter to some effect. Try it in Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Zurgo Helmsmasher, or Lazav, Dimir Mastermind.
Seeing play in 67 decks, Shah of Naar Isle is our jankiest card of the day. A 6/6 trampler for four is fine for EDH. For the stats and ability, it's probably better than running Tarmogoyf (protip: Tarmogoyf is bad in EDH). The unique part of the card is the echo cost which allows your opponents to draw up to three cards each. Just for politics, your opponents (minus the one you decide to swing against), are probably going to be more inclined to look the other way while your target one guy, after you gift them a larger hand. If you run this in a red/green deck Multani, Maro-Sorcerer can get quite a bit bigger off of Shah's effect, and cards like Phyrexian Tyranny can punish your opponents for drawing extra.
Capitalizing on your opponent's large hand size, Adamaro, First to Desire plays this card the most at 20 decks. Group hug or group slug are probably the most obvious archetypes to run Shah of Naar Isle, so, commanders like Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, Zedruu the Greathearted, Nekusar, the Mindrazer. Some less obvious commanders that EDHREC recommends are Feldon of the Third Path, who doesn't care about sacrificing this card to its own echo cost; and Xenagos, God of Revels, who just wants to smash face with a 12/12 hasty Efreet on turn four.
Future Sight played around with spellshapers that made creature tokens, instead of producing a spell effect. Seeing play in 208 deck, Llanowar Mentor is among the best of them. Why not turn all of your extra lands and stuff you don't need into Llanowar Elves at instant speed? This card pair up with Mentor of the Meek, which will replace the card you discard to Mentor. If you're playing Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, and Elvish Mystic to ramp your deck, think about kicking in a Llanowar Mentor.
Making extra copies of tokens for days, Rhys the Redeemed plays this card the most at 25 decks. Trostani, Selesnya's Voice is another commander that can make extra copies of these mana dork tokens. Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury seems like an obvious choice, since she also makes Llanowar Elves each turn. And, as long as we're talking about Elfball strategies, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf could probably make decent use of the Mentor for both the discard, and the ramp.
Centaur Omenreader is an unconventional mana dork that sees play in 106 decks. I talked a little bit about tapping down your own creatures for value in my Shadowmoor block article, but to recap: Nullmage Shepherd, Holdout Settlement, Earthcraft, and Cryptolith Rite all get you value from tapping Centaur Omenreader, while simultaneously turning his ability on. Some additional cards that give you tapping value include Opposition, Diversionary Tactics, Glare of Subdual, and cards with conspire like Gleeful Sabotage. Though, with a 3/3 body, Omenreader can probably just attack into someone.
Speaking of cards that cards that give you value for tapping creatures, Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro plays Centaur Omenreader the most at 35 decks, and lets you tap it for two green mana. I run Centaur Omenreader in my Ruric Thar, the Unbowed deck, since I run a lot of big creatures with large converted mana costs. Wort, the Raidmother is another great option, since you don't have to worry about drawing into a spell with conspire, though you might have to skew the strategy towards creatures a little bit to make this card worth it.
Seeing play in 179 decks, Veilstone Amulet ensures that all of your spell-slinging token decks have hexproof whenever they need it. You have to build in some instants (or run Vedalken Orrery) for your opponents' turns, but the effect is worth it. The only other directly comparable effects are Archetype of Endurance, Asceticism, and Oak Street Innkeeper. Veilstone Amulet's effect is better than Inkeeper and cheaper than the other two; and it's colorless, so it can go into any deck that needs it. Conqueror's Flail, Grand Abolisher, and Dragonlord Dromoka will do a similar thing on your own turn, but can't save anything on your opponents' turns.
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest plays this card the most at 31 decks. Talrand, Sky Summoner and Zada, Hedron Grinder would make good use of this to protect their respective armies from meddling opponents. There are actually plenty of token decks that should look into adding in Veilstone Amulet, since the effect is so uncommon. You can keep your team safe on your turn with a Jazal Goldmane or Krenko, Mob Boss deck just by casting a mana rock. That's solid value.
For today's action segment, I'm going to bring you Ertai, the Corrupted jank enchantment goodstuff. I'm running some interactions with the recently spoiled Solemnity, as well as the leaked Taigam, Ojutai Master, so those links won't be working until the cards are up on Gatherer. Dovescape and Decree of Silence are both particularly nasty, and, if you can manage to land them, will pretty effectively lock your opponents out of the rest of the game. I hope you enjoyed today's Dig, please join me again in two weeks!