What 9th Should look like
By Stefan Preiml on May 26th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
With the release of 9th Edition on the horizon, the discussions of what it will look like and what cards could be in it grows more interesting each day. About four months ago I made up may own fantasy 9th Edition which spawned a nice little discussion here, although I screwed up some card distributions and several card choices.
Some weeks ago , when I read the Article series "Abeth Edition" by Abe Sergant on StarCityGames.com, the idea of revisiting my old list sprang to my mind. Now I want to share the results with you.
I'm sorry that this is going to be a rather lengthy article. I won't discuss each and every card individually, but it isn't possible to present an entire 330 Cards set within only a few paragraphs.
Distribution and Choices
This set consists of 350 cards, including 20 basic lands. This leaves 330 cards to fill in. The easiest distribution is 110 cards of each rarity. This set will include 22 common, 19 uncommon and 17 rare cards of each color. For the artifacts it was chosen to have 12 uncommons and 14 rares. To make things complete there will be 3 uncommon and 11 rare non-basic lands.
Most of my choices are based on simplicity and the needs of the game itself. The original list was based upon 8th Edition, which is why you will see many cards that are in 8th as well, especially at common. But this shouldn’t keep you from taking a look. I think I made some interesting choices of my own.
I mostly wanted to emulate the process R&D goes through when they gather the cards for a new base set. I tried to stick to most of their policies, but I had to made several changes to it.
Overall I designed the set to be successful, meaning that it should be a set with a useful impact on constructed as well as having several cards for casual players. It should also be playable in limited.
Keywords and Abilities
First of all, upkeep effects are not taboo in my edition. Upkeep is an essential part of the game, being the best time managment tool currently available for a designer. But for the sake of simplicity, upkeep cards are kept to a minimum and are mostly rares. If there was a better card to choose, with the minus being an upkeep effect, the upkeep card would be in there.
I also included trample in this set, since trample is one of the most common creature abilities, especially in Green. In my opinion, a set without a Green trampler feels rather incomplete. Trample reaches down to common.
Protection was left out of this set to keep it more "introductary." The Base set is meant to introduce new players to the game, and the relatively complex concept of Protection should be left to Expert sets.
Block-based keyword abilities were left out, since teaching keywords to new players just for one card is a horrible idea. The keywords I chose to include in this set are more "general" keywords: Landwalk, First Strike, Trample, Vigilance, Fear, Haste, Flying and Regeneration.
Power Level and Learning Curve
This set is meant to be a representative set for all of Magic, with a nice and adaptive learning curve for newer players. It is supposed to teach new players the basics of the game while providing a bridge to the advanced levels of play.
The power level should be high enough to see tournament play, with the set containing several cards that were already tournament staples.
You won't find cards like Yawgmoth's Will or the Power Nine here. This set is intended to be realistically printable.
Selecting 9th Edition
Despite the fact I didn't like all the outcomes from the peoples' votes, I've put in all the cards we have confirmed, to give the set a realistic touch. After all, this set is supposed to be printable and go on sale immediately.
So here we go:
The commons are the playground to teach new players the basics of each color: what it stands for, what it does. Common cards should reveal the basic qualities of each color. Most of the commons were taken from 8th Edition, since the commons have a fine assortment there. A little tweaking was made though.
I've split the commons into creatures and spells, which should enhance readability for Limited players.
White - Creatures
White has a wide range of creatures with combat abilities and abilities that help other creatures in combat. Here we see a fine arrangement of fliers and cheap weenies White is known for. Angelic Page is gone for the better Kabuto Moth. There were too many two-mana creatures anyway, and +1/+2 feels more white, too.
White - Spells
White's spells has everything White should stand for. Lock-down creature enchantments, damage prevention, life gain, a little bit of pump and enchantment removal. Should be good.
Giant Crab for another basic Blue ability.
Blue - Creatures
Blue has some cheap fliers and a nice defensive card in Horned Turtle. I've put in some untargetability to showcase this Blue ability a bit more. Also card drawing is represented in the common slot by Thought Courier.
Blue - Spells
Counsel of the Soratami
Mostly card drawing, counters and bounce: exactly what blue is known for. These cards should be good enough for Standard players as a fallback resource if upcoming Expert sets don't offer enough meat.
Black - Creatures
A common spell with X in its mana cost.
Black has some utility creatures for life loss, discard and card drawing. Disease Carriers is a two for one when he dies. Phyrexian Rager works as a card advantage tool the other way around, fetching you another card when he comes into play.
I've put in Dross Prowler as the Fear creature to correspond with our list of known cards, although I would have liked to include Severed Legion, which is IMHO the better and cooler card.
Black - Spells
Consume Spirit was added for the "X-factor" to teach new players. The Dark Banishing was kept as the staple kill spell in Black, since there still is Nekrataal in the uncommon slot. I also have chosen Distress over Coercion to have discard more Black-centered and get Black playing a bit faster.
Red - Creatures
Another push on reds fast mana.
Dwarven Demolition Team
Red's creatures are a bit faster now with the inclusion of Goblin Cohort and Skirk Prospector. This means Red now has 3 one-drops. Also Flame Spirit returned as a mini-Dragon for Limited play.
Red - Spells
I've included Seething Song in addition to Skirk Prospector for the new fast-mana theme Red has now. The rest consists of staples with some burn, power-pumping, land and artifact destruction.
Trampling common goodness.
Green - Creatures
Seeker of Skybreak
Pretty staple here again. The only major change was the return of Seeker of Skybreak for the possibility of an Elf theme Deck and putting in Giant Warthog as a common trampler. He has also proven to be a nice Limited player before.
Green - Spells
Stream of Life
Life gain, Regeneration, Naturalize, land search: just what green does. This is another "fallback" group for Standard players.
You may wonder why I still put in Rampant Growth over Sakura-Tribe Elder. First and foremost, I believe the Elder is seeing a bit too much play at the moment. Maybe I would include him in 10th Edition, but the Elder still stays till a year after 9th's release. Second, Green has the most creatures anyways, and I still think I overloaded it a bit.
I've included a cycle of tutors in the uncommon slot (with the exception of Red, that gets it tutor in the rare slot), because they would vanish from the Extended scene otherwise. Here is also a double cycle of colorhosers as in previous base sets. There is also a small cycle of creatures with comes-into-play abilities.
Making the shift perfect.
Wall of Swords
Circle of Protection: Black
Circle of Protection: Blue
Circle of Protection: Green
Circle of Protection: Red
Circle of Protection: White
Tempest of Light
CoPs are uncommon like in 8th, since they would spoil the common slot too much in limited play. Daraja Griffin is the Black-hoser here, since he is mostly a two-for-one against a Black player, and if not he's still a 2/2 flyer for 4. Sanctimony was kicked for Renewing Dawn, as I think it's the more interesting card. Leonin Skyhunter is also back again for some flying weenie madness, and Ghostly Prison would make its shift from Blue to White perfect with the inclusion in a base set.
I would have liked to bring back Thunder Spirit as a flying first striker, but unfortunately that guy is on the reserved list. Basically the same goes for Altar's Light, but the remove from game part was a bit prohibitive and I also didn't want to push too many Mirrodin cards. Instead Argivian Find was put int as a bit of a Johnny card.
The 187 is back in blue.
Aven Fateshaper is a nice big flyer and acts as a replacement for Index, but there still is Sage Owl in the common slots. Baleful Stare and Hibernation are in to hose Red and Green.
Fog Bank is a nice tournament-playable wall, that also acts as a countermeasure against Green beatdown decks. Man-o'-War, on the other hand, has made it back as a 187 for blue that is useful in beatdown decks as well.
Also there is Compulsion, a neat little card from Torment that should show some new players that digging is a fun and intelligent thing to do.
Would you like to see this rare?
Pretty standard here. Nekrataal is back as the 187 in Black and Will-o'-the-Wisp has become uncommon in hopes it would see more play. Cremate and Withered Wretch cover the graveyard removal that 7th and 8th Edition totally lacked, despite the fact that they remove cards from the game, but this is a very basic ability for black and should be introduced as early as possible.
With Infest, Black finally has a mass removal in the uncommon slot in the base set. Phyrexian Reclamation is the cemetery recursion engine, along with Woebearer... I wonder which of those would see more play. The Reclamation shows a bit of Black's self destructive side, as does Night's Whisper which replaces Ambitious Cost.
I also wanted to include a card that forces an opponent to sacrifice a resource in black. The choice fell on Diabolic Edict, but I needed to make it uncommon since I would have too much creature kill in the common slot otherwise.
There is a new Tim in the West
Wall of Stone
Threaten is back to showcase Red's ability to temporarily take control of an opponent's creatures, and Vulshok Sorcerer is back as the new Tim in town. Pyrostatic Pillar is here to keep combo decks in check, and the Minotaur Explorer shows a bit more of Red's shortsightened vision. The hosers for Red are Flashfires and Boil like in 8th Edition.
I also wanted to focus first strike a bit more in red, since 8th only had Reflexes and Sabretooth Tiger. The original design had Akki Coalflinger, but as a Kamigawa cad, it got cut. Renegade Warlord replaces him.
As talked earlier, the uncommons have a broken cycle of tutors. Since red never had a tutor at uncommon, I've put in Avarax as a replacement. This guy has seen tournament play before, and I think he will again.
Giving Johnny something to tinker with.
Wall of Blossoms
One with Nature
Gorilla Titan made the cut to show trample to the new players a bit more. He also works fine with the graveyard department green has with Elven Cache, Reap (which is also the black-hoser for green) and Rooting Kavu. The Kavu was chosen over Barishi for the better creature type, and over Elvish Soultiller since I didn't want to have mutants in the base set and the "choose a creature type" part was also a bit unattractive.
Utopia Tree has become uncommon since I don't want to see it as a rare again, and I don't think any other player wants that, since the card could be easily at uncommon. Choke is the other hoser in green.
Uncommonness as a nessesary evil.
Rod of Ruin
Lucky Charms are back in their updated form from Darksteel. Brass Secretary gives each color a bit of card draw, if they need to have it. Also Equipment is here to stay, but I had to make them uncommon since there are no common artifacts in the core set. At one point I even had Leonin Scimitar as an uncommon, but that was changed to Vulshok Battlegear a bit later.
I would have liked to put in Goblin Cannon as a learning curve feature (costs and effects), but we already have confirmed Chimeric Coils, which basically fulfills the same purpose.
Urza's Power Plant
The Urza Lands for the Timmy players. Nothing more to say here.
Everyone loves rares since they realy hold power (or at least Timmy thinks so). I've put in a cycle of 4 mana 4/4s to give each color a little bit beats. There is also finally a complete cycle of lords in each color, although not each of those has "Lord" as its creature type. More on that later.
The only Doublelord here.
Wrath of God
Ageless Sentinels starts the cycle of 4/4s. Glorious Anthem, Sacred Ground, Serra, Worship and Wrath are the staple rares. Aven Brigadier is the first Lord in the Cycle. He has the purpose of a double-Lord for both soldiers and birds. I had to choose between him, Catapult Master and Daru Warchief, and I think he's the right choice.
There was also the decision whether Ivory Mask or True Believer should be the card to make you untargetable. I settled on the Mask since it has a bit more tradition and it is harder to remove as an Enchantment.
Taking extra turns is easy.
Intruder Alarm is a nice combo enabler which is always good to have in a base set, since it gives the players something to tinker with. Patron Wizard and Extravagant Spirit, one of the few upkeep cards, are the cycle cards in blue. Also Time Warp is back. Without it even Extended wouldn't have a simple "take another turn" card after the rotation.
Some people asked me if I really wanted to include Stifle and Opposition in the set. The answer is yes. Stifle represents a relatively basic Blue ability, and its inclusion should make a little twist in standard. Opposition, on the other hand, is one of the few real Spike plants in the set that should see tournament play.
Black gets extra tutor madness.
Lord of the Undead
Beacon of Unrest
Death Pit Offering
Kezzerdrix, the original Killer Bunny, makes his return to replace his brother Vizzerdrix and conquer some hearts. Mortivore replaces Llhurgoyf and serves as another black regenerator. Head Games and Morality Shift are some tools for Johnny. Phyrexian Arena stays in the Core Set for being a nice, tournament-playable black card drawer. Persecute keeps its job as the discard extraordinaire, which is good since we left Mind Sludge out of this set. 8th felt a bit funny with two mass discarders in black.
Black also gets an additional tutor with Cruel Tutor to focus on Black's overall tutor ability and its "life-trade" system.
I've put in Yawgmoth Demon from the Selecting 9th Edition Ballots, although I would have preferred Havoc Demon in that slot.
Believe it or not, but this guy was in my originial list, even before the precon was known.
Furnace of Rath
I've chosen Mass Hysteria over Fervor for being the more "shortsighted"-card. Rathi Dragon makes Timmy smile, and Gamble is another lucky card for red, finishing the tutor cycle. Blood Oath also returns as an anti-control card. Lava Hounds and Goblin King extend their specific cycles. Obliterate is also back as the reset button of the set. The fact that it saw tournament play in the last two years was a bonus. The rest is pretty staple with Shivan Dragon and Furnace of Rath.
Also here we find Gamble, a very funny card and one of the few "luck" cards we have in this set. It finishes our broken tutor cycle in the uncommons.
Only many tokens are good tokens.
Heartbeat of Spring
Might of Oaks
Ambush Commander is another card for the kids. It was pretty chased after when it first came out. Heartbeat of Spring replaces Vernal Bloom. Ravenous Baloth makes his glorious return, and Silklash Spider takes some anti-air measures. Symbiotic Wurm is the only card dealing with tokens in the set, since I think tokens should stay in Expert sets.
There was also some discussion on Verduran Enchantress vs. Enchantress's Presence. I took the creature for more traditional feeling. Some might also notice the absence of Maro. IMHO it was time for him to go (not the real MaRo though). Nantuko Cultivator should be a fine replacement.
Being Defensive can be a bonus.
Coat of Arms
Ensnaring Bridge, Coat of Arms, Defense Grid and Millstone are back as staples. I wanted to include and alternative win condition card and a card that makes a good position on defense. Crumbling Sanctuary fulfills both of these needs one way or another. Grid Monitor is another tool for control decks.
I also replaced Vexing Arcanix with Goblin Charbelcher as the "complicated artifact rare". I've seen some very funny games for both players with a Charbelcher in play. A realy enjoyable card.
I know, this is going to stir up some discussion.
City of Brass
Caves of Koilos
I think with the inclusion of all ten pain lands the Standard metagame would become way more interesting again. For the needs of 4- and 5- color players there still is City of Brass as a fallback option. Also, all these cards act as chase rares as well.
So this is my list what 9th should look like. Sure, on some choices some people might disagree, but not everything can be agreed on all the time.
I got asked once, "Can this all really be in 9th?" I sure hope so. 9th Edition should make at least some tournament impact, and provide some useful tools for the soon-rotating Extended format.
The thing is, 8th Edition wasn't really a big success as a tournament set. The only notable cards that saw play beside the staples of CoP: Red and Pyroclasm or Karma were Plow Under and Phyrexian Arena. I hope I've done a better job on this.
Thanks for reading my article. I hope you've made up your own mind on what 9th could look like and you enjoyed the read.
By Stefan Preiml on May 26th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
About Stefan Preiml
I was born in a small town in southern Austria and went there to school till I was 14. Then I transfered into a technical school in carinthias capitol Klagenfurt making my "Matura" (A-Level Exam) at the age of 19. I'm currently studying Informatics at the University of Klagenfurt. I started playing Magic in the summer of 2003 after some friends from school played in the school and I played a small scale CCG about The Simpsons before.