Mechanically Minded - Mystery Booster Playtest Cards Set Review
(Look at Me, I'm the DCI | Art by Mark Rosewater)
Mystery Playtest Theater
Two of the most liberating words in EDH: house rules.
No, the Playtest Cards from the Convention Edition Mystery Boosters are not legal in EDH. Technically. But there's no rule against house rules. In fact, one could argue that Rule 0 encourages house rules! So if everyone in your playgroup is down with Playtest Cards, play them. Who knows? Maybe this article will convince people to try them out!
Just like any regular ol' set review, in this one we'll explore some of the most interesting cards for EDH players from the Mystery Boosters. Let's get started!
We begin with a cruel joke from R&D. This one's at its best when it's the end of a long night of Magic. You haven't won a single game and you're just angry at everyone. You pull out your Sliver deck and slap this thing on the table. Then you scream, "I don't know what it does! You figure it out!"
Five Kids in a Trenchcoat
This is the best top-down design in the history of Magic, full stop. And it's actually pretty solid, too.
My mind immediately goes to the Tokens theme. These five youths (or yoots, if you're Joe Pesci) aren't tokens, but they work well with cards in this theme that count creatures. Some examples:
Five is a lot, especially when you only pay three mana to get them. That means you get a minimum 5/5 token off your Phyrexian Rebirth, a minimum of five cards off your Shamanic Revelation, and at least that many cards and life off your Camaraderie. Just imagine cloning it for even more value....
A word of warning: Deadly Tempest deals five per Five Kids in a Trenchcoat you control. Won't someone please think of the children!?
I hope they print a "real" version of this card in the future, because it actually seems pretty good to me. It's not good ramp, but getting the option to fetch a Plains every turn seems desirable, especially in mono-white and Boros. What's more, this cat is eating grass, which reminds me of my cat Luna, who also eats grass. Yum.
Form of the Mulldrifter
Let's be honest—we've all wanted to be Mulldrifter at one time or another in our lives. Now we can be!
This card seems like it would pair best with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and/or Laboratory Maniac. It's also nasty with Omnath, Locus of Rage. Every time you Evoke a Mulldrifter, with Omnath on the battlefield, you get a free Lightning Bolt in addition to your Divination.
Oh, and now every creature you cast triggers your Risen Reef. Is there such a thing as too much value? No, no, totally not. Can't believe I even asked that question.
Khod, Etlan Shiis Envoy
I don't know where Etlan Shiis is, but it sounds more like an exotic dog breed than a place. Anyway, I'll visit.
The first line of text synergizes nicely with any creatures with Islandwalk (might I recommend Inkwell Leviathan?). It also sends your High Tide into overdrive. It also makes your Kukemssa Serpent playable, which is a real bonus for Mirage fans.
The second line is best for Merfolk, but there are 15 Cephalids in Magic, too. Cephalids only exist as tokens and only come from two cards. Nautilids, meanwhile, don't exist—at least, not yet. Still, this is the color with Arcane Adaptation. You can make your own Nautilids!
One with Death
Aside from straight up killing you, this card is legit.
One with Death can do some stuff. Hive Mind is the best combo, so long as you control a Platinum Angel or Gideon of the Trials when you cast it.
Alternately, if a game is taking forever and you're really not into it, go ahead and cast this baby. Thank you, next!
Yawgmoth's Testament has a high setup cost, but the payoff is solid. This plays nicely in a Tasigur, the Golden Fang deck, since you can exile tons of cards with the Delve ability and then cast them later. If you want to get really tricksy, cast Yawgmoth's Will, cast some cards, then cast Yawgmoth's Testament and cast those cards again. Expensive? I guess. Awesome? Totally.
Bombardment lives its best life in Spellslinger archetypes. Think Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Adeliz, the Cinder Wind. Turning all your excess lands into Shocks seems sweet, and stacking a bunch of extra triggers in the late game could be huge.
Plus, in a mono-red deck (Torbran, Thane of Red Fell comes to mind), this card could get downright nasty. With Torbran, for example, that's four damage per card to any target. Supposing you have as few as five cards in your hand, that's 20 damage straight to the dome. A bombardment indeed.
The tradeoff for Impatient Iguana is interesting. Your odds of going first increase by a non-zero amount, which seems good considering we get to both draw and play before everyone else. The downside is that we have to run a two-mana 2/1. At least it's a Wizard, which has some upside in some decks (the aforementioned Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, for example).
I'm borderline on this card. I think it's cool and could be a decent slot-filler, but the 2/1 body might be too lousy to warrant inclusion. I'll have to test it out. Also, Lizard Wizard.
Tibalt the Chaotic
I love the design on Tibalt. Here's a visual reference of the cards he can potentially cast...
And the ultimate:
With nine possible effects in one planeswalker, it's certainly tough to evaluate. However, this is a three-mana planeswalker we're talking about. It generates tons of value for the cost.
Any way you look at him, he's at least still better than his original printing. Although I suppose that's not saying much....
Transcantation is about as close to a Counterspell as red is ever going to get. Yes, you are either losing a creature or taking three damage in return, but that seems like a fine tradeoff to counter a board wipe or key removal spell. I see it working best in a red-green deck, since these are often heavily creature-based and hate seeing board wipes.
P.S. Is that Shakespeare in a wig?
This card is fantastic. You invest four mana upfront, but you get free ramp for the rest of the game. Furthermore, you get free Landfall triggers.
Landfall is great, but I actually like this card best in token decks. Parallel Lives and Second Harvest can get really nutty. If you have a Temur deck that can feed a Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, you can probably have some great fun there too.
Vazal, the Compleat
I have no idea what’s going on in the artwork, but I like it. I also like what’s going on in the text box.
All nonland cards in EDH alreadyhave Megalegendary, so we’ll ignore that part. (Yes, Shadowborn Apostles and other such friends are an exception, but come on.) Vigilance and trample on a 7/7 is sweet but not game-busting. It’s that last line of text I like. Since we’re in green and dealing with activated abilities, I looked for an analogous card. Let's check Experiment Kraj's commander page!
Thornling is a must-include. Incubation Druid offers an Adapt trigger and the possibility of mega ramp.
That's fine. But Vazal's best trait...it can copy and use planeswalker abilities!
Reddit confirmed it, okay? You still need the requisite loyalty counters to activate abilities, but plus abilities and zero abilities are usable immediately (still just one per turn, though). Some juicy combos:
The list goes on. These are just a handful of walkers that slot well into a deck with Vazal as commander. Nice!
This card actually seems immensely annoying for your opponent, and not just because of all the quacking. It essentially doubles your life total, then acts as a buffer between you and your opponents’ attackers. This buffer can also draw you cards. I’m less enthused about the lifegain, but that’s an option, too. Should slot into Atraxa, Praetors' Voice and Superfriends builds nicely. (Also works in Duck tribal with Morophon the Boundless as your commander.)
Somebody get me a chair. I need to sit down for a minute.
This card is unbelievable. It’s also got to be the most prohibitively costed creature of all time, but whatever. The cost is well worth the payoff. To properly gauge how how nasty Slivdrazi Monstrosity is, let's start by looking at EDHREC's Sliver tribal page.
Slivers tend to be small, so our Annihilator Slivers will likely die when they attack. That's why we want Shifting Sliver to give them evasion. If Brood Sliver's around, then we really get the annihilating snowball rolling. Heart Sliver lets us do this all a turn sooner.
Now let's look at the Eldrazi tribal page.
Since all our Eldrazi are Slivers and all our Slivers are now Devoid, our creatures are pretty much all colorless. Therefore Herald of Kozilek will make them all cost one less to cast. By the same rules, All Is Dust should wipe out most of our opponents' creatures and none of ours. Finally, It That Betrays lets us steal whatever our opponents sacrifice. And hey, when all else fails, you can pay three mana to poop out more troops.
This card is absurd. If your playgroup agrees to let you play it for some reason, Sliv it up.
Now this I like. With Rift, you guarantee yourself a land in every hand. Which means, I think, that you can actually skimp on the overall number of lands in your deck.
Don't go nuts, but I think you can cut somewhere between one and two lands from your deck. Remember, it is colorless, so I wouldn't go and play it in a 3+ color deck. It should work well in mono-colored decks and best in colorless. It's also legendary, so that's some extra utility if your deck cares about it.
What's the best kind of drawback? A minimal one. That's what we have with Noxious Bayou.
There are very few scenarios in which you'll actually care about the poison counters. If you're not playing against Infect and/or Proliferate, you'd need to play this land on turn one, then tap it every turn of the game for 10 turns before it matters. Plus, if you somehow get to nine counters, just stop tapping it. At that point in the game, you probably don't need the mana, anyway.
The biggest problem: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. She's the #2 most popular commander of all time and she'll Proliferate all over you. You've been warned.
That's it for our Playtest Cards. What did you think of the review? Any cool cards I missed? Which cards would you play in your EDH decks? Let me know, readers!