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Rare Earths: Rhystic Students
By Russell Sherman
Rhystic Students
One of the most unusual mechanics to come out recently is the rhystic abilities. That is, spells or permanents that do something UNLESS your opponent pays a given amount of mana. And there are many different types of rhystic spells. Rhystic drawing, rhystic searchers, rhystic pumps, and each of them fits into their own specific deck types. But the bottom line is that the top 3 rhystic spell are head and shoulders above anything else. And the top 3 are:

3. Rhystic Syphon
2. Rhystic Tutor
1. Wild Might

Honorable Mention:
Withdraw
Rhystic Lightning
Nakya Shade

Dishonorable mention:
Flay

Looking at these cards, itís obvious black has a huge advantage in the rhystic area of things, with two of the top three, as well as Nakya shade in the honorable mention. This is, in fact, true. However, the black rhystics, besides those three, are embarrassing. Nakya Shade, though it doesnít have ďRhysticĒ in itís name, has an ability that works unless a player pays 2. This makes it rhystic. Itís effective, because they are required to tap twice as much mana as you to stop your 1B creature from becoming a very major threat. Also, it is black, which means that a great deal of creature destruction in ineffective against it. It is not a fantastic card, but it is good enough to take a place in honorable mention in this list. On the other hand, for 3 of the top cards, black also has the 3 cards that I consider unworthy of playing: Death Charmer, Plague Fiend, and the ever-laughable Flay. All of which are at least moderately bad, and overpriced. Flay just is the worst of the bunch.
Rhystic Syphon is simply a cheap drain life. You wait until theyíre tapped out (or have spent their mana stopping your Nakya Shade) and then cast it. 5 mana, 5 damage, 5 life. Short and sweet and effective.
Meanwhile, Rhystic Tutor has one definite advantage. Besides being the only MBC black card that can search through your library, and besides the tactic of waiting until your opponent taps out, Rhystic Tutor is castable with a first turn Dark Rituals. Think of this card, ladies and gentlemen, as a fixed Demonic Tutor. Itís that good.
But the thing that draws the eye is the number one slot being filled with the only green card on there: a common, without Rhystic in its name! But, nonetheless, Wild Might is a rhystic card. It gives a creature +1/+1 until end of turn, and then gives it +4/+4 as well, unless your opponent pays 2, all for 1G. It is versatile, playable for a decent-sized pump even in midgame, and takes advantage of a couple of factors that green has to offer, like the fact that against green stompy, dropping you entire hand quickly is a prerequisite for winning. Or that green, with its lack of expensive instants, is often a deck you feel very safe tapping out against. Or that green has an abundance of creatures with trample, so even blocking doesnít assure you safety. All of these make Wild Might very dangerous indeed.
I myself did not believe in itís abilities until an unfortunate series of games against none other than Zadok himself, when he played a deck he called ďBetter lucky than good.Ē It was MBC red/green, and in three consecutive games he got three consecutive Wild Mights off to their full extent, crushing me in three different decks. The red counterpart to this, Rhystic Lightning, isnít near as effective. Had it cost one less, it would be equivalent, and would have amounted to a better card. That way, on turn 2, all the opponentís lands would need to be open for it not to deal 4. That would have revitalized red, right there. The same principle applies to Wild Might. 5 damage on turn 2, or any time, for that matter, is just too good an offer to pass up.
But it is, perhaps, blue, and not, in fact, black that has the most playable rhystics. Blue contains 3 rhystic cards, only one of which showed up on the list, that are simply better than other cards out there. Those three are Withdraw, Rhystic Study, and Rethink. Rethink is another counterspell, slightly less effective, but not by much, it just works well in decks. Withdraw is useful to bounce you creatures with fading, or that are going to die, and their creatures, targeting their creature first. This card is very effective and the rhystic ability doesnít actually harm it much. And rhystic study is a personal favorite of mine. Not only does it act as stall, discouraging unneccesary or overly fast spells, it also provides card advantage, a facet blue relies on heavily. And this card advantage can be put to use, because, you see, if you cast a spell, and I draw a card with the study, and itís a counterspell, I can counter the card you cast. You see? Itís annoying, effective, and common. You know any other cards that fit the description? I do. Counterspell.
Rhystic cards have one fatal flaw, though. Should any one rhystic card become too dominant, it will be very easy to stop. Wild Might is severely underused, thank god, and people still want to tap out on turn 2 to cast their spells, not worrying about the 5 damage that awaits them.
Tune in next week. Same bat-time, same bat-channel...

-Russell

Anachronism42@hotmail.com

Read More Articles by Russell Sherman!

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