Guest Post! – Magic: The Secrets Are Increasing

I have loved the Magic: The Gathering Series since I started playing it almost 6 years ago. It just so happens that the sets that were available at the time were from the “Innistrad” series. For those that have never played the series, its the perfect one for the “Twilight”, “Walking Dead”, “Supernatural”, or any of the similar themed TV or movies. It’s everything that’s angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, and the humans that are trying to survive between them all. Believe me when I say that these vampires don’t glitter in the sun, and salt is not an (almost) perfect defense against the paranormal.

But we aren’t talking about the old set, we are talking about the newest set, one that was just released in North America April 8th. This I’ve been calling “Return to Innistrad,” but this time the biggest surprise is the amount of secrets that surround what has now happened to the entire world that this is made in.

As for the story that’s in this, the box sets that you can purchase explain what has happened; I will give the shortened version here. Jace Beleren, the mind mage that hails from Ravnica, has been looking for answers to why some of the most powerful creatures in the entire multiverse have been killed and what has happened to a few of the other planes walkers that have been traveling throughout the multiverse. After arriving on Innistrad, Jace dives immediately into the mystery which is larger and more confusing than he has seen in many of years of life. The vampire planeswalker Sorin Markov who calls Innistrad home created its most powerful protector and must now figure out how to stop and – if necessary – destroy her to protect all of the inhabitants from her maddening wrath.

Believe me when I say this is a small portion of the story that this book gives us, and on top of that, this is only one third of the story of this new Innistrad series. But I did not want to simply go over the story, though I would love to do that. Today, I wanted to go over for you what this new set of cards actually would mean for you, the game player and what would be the best thing for you to keep your deck in the know and how to plan accordingly.

For this series, there are basically 4 main abilities that are on display: delirium, madness, skulk, and investigate. If your card has delirium, its ability is based upon having multiple card types in your graveyard, and it almost always requires four of the five types (creatures, instants, sorceries, enchantments, or planeswalkers). But if you have enough card types and you have the delirium effect, you can use abilities from exiling target creature your opponents control to similar effects you may have already been familiar with. These include transforming your card (and there are a ton of cards that transform in this set) or even just getting +1/+1 till end of turn. Obviously the more powerful the card, the more powerful the ability.

Madness at its most basic form plays in this way: If there are cards in your deck that would send cards in your hand to the graveyard, you send it to the exile pile and instead play it for its “madness cost” which is usually less than the normal mana cost. Saving mana for a few more spells in the end game can always be a nice bonus. Being able to cast spells with little mana is always helpful because let’s be honest, you never know whats gonna happen in a shuffle.

Skulk is similar to a few of the other effects that cause a creature to become unblockable, but the thing that makes this one unique is that only creatures of lower or equal power block skulk creatures, not one of greater power. This is a nice game changer, especially if you play decks that have many high-powered creatures, or enchantments that give your opponent lots of power for defense. If you simply wanted to keep the creatures flying past your opponent’s defense, I would keep them coming quickly, but if you wanted to make sure that they would be able to stick around and whittle the toughness of your opponent’s creatures down, you can always use spells and abilities to make the toughness of your creatures go up and keep your power down lower.

For the last ability this is one that I simply enjoyed looking at when I was opening the card packs. The ability allows your creature, instant, sorcery, or whatever activates this ability to summon one or multiple colorless clue artifact tokens onto the battlefield that has the ability “(Tap two mana of any color), Sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card.” Now the reason that I like this has a few different dimensions to it. First, my friends that I played with know that I used to run an artifact based deck that had its power increase based on having more and more artifacts on the field, and this would definitely would fit into a deck where you can add abilities to artifacts or you can use any sort of tokens for sacrificing or increasing powers of some sort. This card also fits into that sort of deck that where you need to draw cards constantly, getting to lands that you need to play your powerful spells, or maybe you have abilities that activate when you draw cards. This ability goes to many a deck style, and is not just for one specific type of deck. As a final side note, these “clue” artifacts tie into the larger story of Jace Beleren trying to understand the possibly new curses that have befallen this land.

So as for gameplay this set kinda falls right in the middle of two spectrums: a good starting set, and a good addition to older decks. This particular set is extremely great for updating your old werewolf deck if wanted to spruce it up with some new creatures and a new planeswalker: the red and green transforming card Arlinn Kord/ Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon. I will admit this set doesn’t seem particularly heavy in difficult new rules that wouldn’t be hard to grasp, even by brand new players. At the most it would be remembering to actually use your abilities like delirium and madness when you can, which even veteran players can forget to use when they are in the heat of a close game. I would suggest if you were going to start playing Magic with this set, start with a werewolf deck. This will be a red and green combo deck which run well in tandem. If you didn’t want to do that, I would go with a strictly human based deck. This will be a white mana based deck with a lot of restricting your opponent’s monsters or buffing your own to defeat your opponent. The humans work well in tandem with angels but the angels seem few and far between at the moment, so if you luck up and get a couple in your card packs, don’t hesitate to add them to your deck.

The future two sets that are still in the theme of Innistrad will probably include zombies, vampires, and more angels which you can add to cards from this deck. Yes you’ll have to wait till this summer for that to happen for the first of the set, but if that is theme you want to go with, you can try collecting cards from older sets or wait for the summer.

Overall, I have to say I can’t be any more excited for this series. I own over half of the cards (59.6% counting lands and token creatures), and I can already see where I can fit a lot of cards from this set into many of my other decks. And on top of that, there’s still another two more sets that are going to expand on the story as well as, hopefully, expand on the powers that this deck are giving us. I can’t wait to see what the Wizards at Magic give us next.

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Hey, adventurers, this is Ian Shepard, the guy who usually writes for Adventure Rules (in case you didn’t know my name). I want to say a big “thank you” to my buddy Kaleb for contributing this article on the newest Magic: The Gathering set. I’m a bit out-of-touch with this fun card game, and he was kind enough to volunteer his knowledge on the subject for the blog. If you enjoyed this article and would like to see more from Kaleb, you can check out his Tumblr by clicking this link. Who knows, maybe if you folks are nice he’ll come back! 😉 In all seriousness though, I appreciate you all reading and showing support for our guest here on the site. Have a wonderful day!

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