Time Spiral Block is a great block for the casual Magic player, especially if you are one of those casual magic players like me that has been playing for a long time. Planar Chaos continues the tradition of bringing back old ideas, old abilities, and old mechanics - but this time with the twist of shifting certain abilities, mechanics and cards into different colors. You have a red Giant Growth, a black Recycle, a white Blastoderm, and a green Ball Lightning, among other cool cards that have been shifted into different colors. To the casual player, this means two things in terms of deck building: A) Now you have two copies of essentially the same card, just different colors and B) You now have a copy of that card in perhaps a more manageable color in terms of deckbuilding.
Planar Chaos Shoutouts
Before we get into serious business, I feel like I need to honor some of the cool cards/mechanics in Planar Chaos that I couldn’t fit into other sections. It doesn’t mean they aren’t as good as the cards that get their own section. For the most part, it’s either because the deck ideas that come from some of these cards/mechanics are way to obvious to mention or the card doesn’t really go with any other card in Planar Chaos, making it too unique to have its own section.
Synchronous Sliver - Nothing spectacular about a 3/3 Sliver for 5 that just gives other slivers Vigilance right? WRONG! I got my fair share of Sliver deckbuilding a couple of months ago when I did my Sliver Wars article. And Vigilance was the one ability that we wished existed on a sliver at the time. And the funny thing is, Blue gains the most from this sliver. It has Psionic, Screeching and Telekinetic Sliver, all with useful tap abilities that you would want to use but not necessarily instead of attacking. It also has Winged, Shifting, and Shadow Sliver, all evasion slivers, making your Slivers able to attack one turn virtually unblocked and then either use another sliver’s ability next turn or block if possible. You can bleed into White, too, and that allows you to play Essence Sliver, allowing life gain potential from all of your slivers when they attack and when they block. Also lets you have Quilled Sliver, and the toughness-boosting slivers that will let you use Psionic Sliver every turn (and gain life with Essence Sliver) without your creature dying to the 3 damage from the drawback.
Gaea’s Anthem - Glorious Anthem was fun, but recently all of the good weenies have been in Green. Gaea’s Anthem lets you play these cool weenies without having to splash for another color if you don’t want to. Ravnica did great justice for Green Weenie creatures. Planar Chose perhaps did even more justice by throwing us this weapon. Now tokens will become a bigger factor in Green decks, and we still haven’t mentioned elves for all of you old school casual players out there. Imagine Gaea’s Anthem played along side Elvish Champion, giving your elves that extra boost.
Braids, Conjurer Adept - The "new Braids", if you will. Personally, I liked the old Braids better. There is much more you can do with "each upkeep that player sacs a non-enchantment permanent". Stuff that triggers when it dies, or things that benefit with a full graveyard, or just the classic recursion deck where you can continuously play stuff from your graveyard. But with this new Braids, other than being able to play expensive stuff from your hand, it doesn’t seem like there is much else. I won’t give up hope. Eventually someone will find a cool, unique interaction other than just pairing it with Paradox Haze or just playing big creatures.
Null Profusion - The new black Recycle. Tournament players have loved this, but I think casual players will enjoy it, too. Casual players like drawing cards when they aren’t supposed to and they like being encouraged to play spells, and this gives you the best of both worlds. And I’m sure someone is going to find an infinite combo with this card where you draw your deck out and play it.
One Last Shoutout
Before I present the first deck, I have one last shoutout for probably my favorite card in Time Spiral Block. Anyone that read one of my casual articles during Ravnica Block probably knows my favorite card in that block was Dark Confidant. Well, two sets into the block it’s official. My favorite Time Spiral Block card is Momentary Blink. Now you might be saying, "Wait a second, Blink isn’t in Planar Chaos, WTF?". And to that question, there isn’t clever reason for why I decided to bring this up now other than the fact that I never did a Time Spiral casual review.
Still, Momentary Blink is amazing. It’s one of those casual cards that’s just fun to build decks around. And it has a lot of uses, the most interesting being to abuse comes into play effects. If you have Mystic Snake on the table, Momentary Blink says "for 1W, counter target spell". Need a combat trick? Momentary Blink to the rescue! Use it to instantly untap a creature in order to block an oncoming attack. Or on an already untapped, blocking creature if you want to erase damage that’s been dealt to it. Or use it to escape a Putrefy or some other targeted removal. And that’s not even the half of it! Once it’s in the graveyard, you get to pull shenanigans with it again because it has flashback. "So why are you talking to us about Blink? I want to hear about Planar Chaos, not Time Spiral!". I’m getting there. Momentary Blink has a cool interaction with two cool mechanics that are prevalent among the white Planar Chaos cards:
Vanishing and Rescue (a.k.a. the ‘‘return a creature you control to it’s owners hand’’ ability).
|Rescue/Blink BeatsMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
Rescue + Blink|
4 Momentary Blink
4 Whitemane Lion
Vanishing Beaters + CIP Creatures
4 Aven Riftwatcher
4 Bogardan Hellkite
4 Avalanche Riders
4 Telling Time
4 Faith’s Fetters
2 Boros Garrison
2 Azorius Chancery
2 Izzet Boilerworks
2 City of Brass
This deck wins with Calciderm and Bogardan Hellkite. One drawback to this deck you might want to know: Calciderm can’t be targeted by Momentary Blink. But you can still "target" it with the rescue creatures because they don’t actually target anything. It’s a nifty rules loophole that makes this deck work better. And if you want, you can Blink a rescue creature and use its ability to return a vanishing Calciderm that’s about to die. But that’s not why Blink works in this deck, it works because of the other cool tricks you can pull with the card. Instantly gain 4 life and renew the vanishing counters on your Aven Riftwatcher, or you can have fun with Avalanche Riders. Blink it during your upkeep to get around its echo cost for a turn and destroy another land. My favorite trick by far is Bogardan Hellkite. It's a Time Spiral combo, but it's still fun. For those of you who don’t know how it works, you play the Hellkite at the end of your turn. Then you swing with it during your turn, then you Blink it twice (play it and flash it back). If you were counting damage, that’s a possible 20 points you could deal with just 2 cards virtually over the course of 1 turn, assuming they don’t have flyers and you target them with all 3 comes-into-play triggers. Now that’s a beating.
Double the Fun!
This next deck falls into the category of essentially having two sets of the same card in the same deck. In this case, I’m talking about Mesa Enchantress, the new white Verduran Enchantress. The ability to play more than 4 enchantresses is pretty neat. That means you go off faster because you have more enchantresses to mess with, an extra couple of creatures to throw your Auras on, a higher probability of drawing an enchantress, and it also means that your opponent will have a harder time dealing with them. It used to play out that you just kill the enchantresses and this deck pretty much becomes random enchantments and creatures, but that’s not the case anymore. Anyways, let's look at the decklist.
|GW Enchantress Featuring RetetherMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
4 Mesa Enchantress
4 Verduran Enchantress
4 Gatherer of Graces
3 Auratouched Mage
4 Birds of Paradise
|Retether + Enchantments|
3 Sterling Grove
4 Moldervine Cloak
2 Flickering Ward
1 Mythic Proportions
1 Words of Wilding
1 Ancestral Mask
A couple of cool combos to talk about. Flickerform + Auratouched Mage pretty much turns into "2WW, search your deck for target enchantment at end of turn". And the cool thing about this is that as long as you have the mana open, they can’t do anything about it without using split second spells or something like Stifle, so generally I like to throw most of my enchantments on the mage and swing for the win since they can’t Wrath it away. Another cool combo is Gatherer of Graces, Retether, and one or more of your enchantresses. GoG is a neat beater in the early game if you can throw something like Rancor on it and make it huge quick, but late game it's vulnerable to removal that gets by regenerate (like Putrefy), and will take all your enchantments down that happen to be on it, netting your opponent card advantage. But you can play Retether late game and choose where your Auras go (perhaps on an Auratouched Mage you recently played?), and swing for a surprising amount of damage. The last "combo" is Flickering Ward + an Enchantress. This one is painfully obvious – it's " : Draw a card".
Now, in my deck, I kept it GW, but I’m sure if you experimented with different cards, you could throw in more colors so that you have access to more enchantments. The obvious choice is blue for Words of Wind and Zur’s Wielding. Words is a virtual lock if you choose a cheap enchantment and if your opponent doesn’t have anything that he can somehow replay instantly. Say you choose Rancor, that basically means for (G to play Rancor and 1 to activate the Words), you can repeatedly force your opponent to return something to his hand, assuming you have an enchantress out. Zur’s Wierding works in this deck simply because you will end up potentially drawing more cards than he will, so him paying 2 life doesn’t really mean anything. If you want to complete the combo, throw in Words of Worship and gain back some of that life that you are losing.
You can’t expect me to talk about Planar Chaos and not mention the new dragons, right? These new dragons are reminders of the old Invasion dragons, 6/6 flyers for 6 that require 3 different colors to play and have a triggered ability when they deal damage. I’m not going to get into the argument of which versions are better, but I can tell you which dragon is easily the best fit for casual: Teneb, the Harvester a.k.a. "The Black Dragon". When you talk about casual (or competitive) you could make a good case for the "Red" dragon that kills two lands when it deals damage, but the black one is just a bit more interesting. What can be so interesting about Zombify on a stick you ask? Well, I made a deck featuring the card that actually plays quite well.
|Black DragonMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
3 Teneb, the Harvester
3 Yore-Tiller Nephilim
3 Kokusho, the Evening Star
4 Quirion Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Sakura Tribe-Elder
4 Kodama’s Reach
4 Looter il-Kor
4 Dread Return
2 City of Brass
Yes... you saw it. Yore-Tiller Nephilim is in this deck. I pulled it off. Sure, Nephilim have been used in casual decks before, but never so effectively. Yore-Tiller Nephilim happens to combo perfectly with the Black Dragon. They each can fetch each other from the graveyard. So you can kill one or the other in combat, or with a spell, but it’s just going to come back next turn when you attack. When you have both in play and active, things get fun. The coolest combat trick is Timbermare. Apparently the drawback to Timbermare is that when it comes into play, it’s the only thing that is going to attack that turn because everything else gets tapped. But what if all the other creatures are already attacking when he comes into play? Then Timbermare pretty much says "put a 5/5 into play, your creatures won’t be blocked this turn, and forget about the echo cost because you are just going to bring him into play via the Nephilim every turn". And the cool thing is that if you happen to have The Black Dragon in play and its ability goes off in the same turn, the creature that you bring into play is untapped. Of course, that means you just dealt 14 damage to your opponent, so I don’t think it even matters at that point, but it’s still a fun thought.
And That’s a Wrap!
So that’s all I’ll for now about the fun things you can do with Planar Chaos cards. I’m sure I missed a couple of neat combos that will wreck the casual world, so make sure you tell everyone about it in the discussion thread for this article. Until then, see you next time!