Take it for what it’s worth, folks.)
First off, thanks to everyone who had their life changed by my set review from Monday. I know from our market research that everyone hates set reviews, but when you are as concise and insightful as my set review was yesterday, how can you not walk away satisfied?
I suppose I could write another set review of the EDH cards from M14, which would almost exclusively be focused on the mythics. This set is filled with EDH plants. However, I want to talk about one card in particular. I want to talk about Rise of the Dark Realms.
First off, a funny story about Rise of the Dark Realms:
So it’s 1994 and Cassidy and I have just started playing Magic, and we’re both terrible (this is right after Revised was released.) We start reading an article in The Duelist Supplement about the cards that were cut from Revised for being too good; the article is interesting because it has quotes from the designers talking about why the cards are broken, but doesn’t actually say what the cards do. Having never actually seen a copy of Ancestral Recall, Cassidy and I immediately try to infer what it does based on the name alone (I suppose we could have theoretically tried to take cues from the fact that it was a blue card, but the color pie was fairly flexible at that point, and again, we were terrible.) So anyways, it was called Ancestral Recall, and your ancestors are the people who lived before you, and to recall means to bring back or get back, so, um…Ancestral Recall must…um, be something that…um… brings all the guys back from the graveyard!
Basically, Cass and I designed Rise of the Dark Realms twenty years ago.
(Editor’s note – You’re welcome…)
(Part of why this story is funny for me is because when we found out what Ancestral Recall actually did, we were like, “That’s IT?” Why would you pay $20 for that when you could just pump fifty mana into Braingeyser and draw ALL the cards? Yeah…we had a ways to go at that point.)
So anyway, part of the inspiration for this article was from reading Chas Andres’s excellent article on StarCityGames Monday about the financial value of M14. In his write up of Rise of the Dark Realms (currently priced at $2.99!) he mentioned how he feels this card is bad for EDH. I don’t want to copy/paste what he said here, because it’s from the paid section of SCG and they would probably sue me, but his basic point was that every time Wizards prints an obvious EDH “I win” card, it makes the format a little bit less interesting and open, and a little bit more homogenous and linear.
I feel conflicted about this, because on one level I couldn’t agree more. I have written what feels like countless articles generally addressing the proliferation of “GoodStuff” decks, and specifically complaining about how the increase of cards that are obviously designed as “EDH cards” has led to more linear decks and games. In fact, here’s an article I wrote two sets ago when I said exactly that.
But here’s the other side: I’m glad that Wizards supports this format. I like the fact that they print big, dumb things that are constructed-unplayable. I think Colossal Whale is awesome, and I need several foil ones. I want to figure out ways to shove new bad rares into decks, and I feel this way to the point that I get annoyed when they print bad rares that are EDH-unplayable (Search the City and Sphinx of the Chimes say “hi!”)
And of course, if they’re going to print crap like Skarrg Goliath (which is EDH awesome but nowhere near an “auto-include”), they are going to also print things that are EDH bomb-tastic from time to time (and, I suppose, with increasing regularity.) This is the price that comes with Wizards supporting the format.
So what does this mean about Rise of the Dark Realms? It means that ultimately I feel deeply ambivalent about it. On one level, I feel like it is fairly likely to be the next eight-plus mana “Resolve this, win the game” card, joining the likes of Insurrection, Omniscience, Primal Surge, Time Stretch, and the like. I think cards like this are generally bad for the format, because it makes it easier to have “Oops, I Win!” games, and I think most people find those games unsatisfying.
I will also say, as someone who is guilty of playing a Savra deck that runs Living Death and a LOT of comes-into-play triggers, that watching someone take ten minutes to resolve this is going to be painful and boring (about as painful and boring, say, as watching someone flip their entire deck over one-by-one to a Primal Surge.)
On the other hand, this is exactly the sort of card that this stupid Esper deck Cass and I have been working on wants to be able to go aggro. I don’t know if there’s a “fair” way to use this card, but my awful mill deck really wants it. Also, the pragmatic part of me wants to point out that Relic of Progenitus blanks this card pretty hard, and we have been talking about how people need to run more graveyard hate for like four years now. Honor the Fallen and Crypt Incursion are both playable, instant speed answers to Rise, and Rest In Peace is a really strong card that also blanks Skullclamp and Kokusho. (Just sayin’.) While good, Rise of the Dark Realms is substantially easier for most decks to interact with than, say, Time Stretch.
Still, I have no doubt that Rise of the Dark Realms will immediately become an “EDH staple,” and will provide a quick, abrupt ending to games that had precursor seemed fun and interactive. Is this just the way of things now? Should I just get used to the fact the EDH is becoming more about who can cast their nine-mana bomb first? Should we re-open the land destruction debate? (It does cost nine, after all.) You tell me!
I would love to hear your thoughts on these and other questions in the comments. What are your feelings on Rise of the Dark Realms? How do you feel about the printing of “EDH cards”? What is the best song to play sarcastically on your phone when someone resolves this? Get at me, world!
When Mr. P resolves Rise of the Dark Realms, he plays “It’s Raining Men” EVERY SINGLE TIME. Hallelujah!
(Editor’s Post-Script: In contrast to Chas’ article, Sheldon Menery had this to say about Rise of the Dark Realms today on StarCityGames in his M14 Commander set review:
“Rise of the Dark Realms: YES! I will firmly kiss on the mouth (or not, at their request) Mark Globus and Dave Guskin (the lead designer and developer, respectively) for this card.”