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Precious Commons
By Alex Makhovykh
People often brag about how much certain popular rares cost and how hard it is to get a hold of them. Examples include Rishadan Port, Undermine, Urzaís Rage, Shivan Wurm, Phyrexian Scuta, etc. While these cards can be nice additions to decks and collections, many people donít realize that for playing, commons can be just as important. Commons have a large impact on a casual player - we can use them for years to come. Lately there has been some talk about how hard it is to find Yavimaya Elder, Incinerate, Rancor or other commons from older sets. The purpose of this article is to help you identify some of the important commons from Invasion and Planeshift so that you can get ahold of plenty.

White

White is probably the color that got the least with its commons in the Invasion Cycle. Other colors received more; nevertheless, white did get some good stuff.

Invasion has Crimson and Obsidian Acolytes, which are great in a multiplayer environment, protecting your creatures from removal and knocking off annoying Creature Enchantments.

Shackles is an old "removal" spell from Exodus and was reprinted in Invasion. It is indestructible most of the time, and can help you nullify an opposing threat such as Force of Nature.

Invasion also contains a nice take on Disenchant - Dismantling Blow. Most people seemed to disregard this card when compared to Disenchant. After all - six mana for a Disenchant-like spell? Well, you donít have to play Dismantling Blow for 6 mana early on, you can play it for three, and later in the game the 2 extra cards you get off the kicker can prove very useful.

Finally, Invasion contains Glimmering Angel - a relatively cheap 2/2 flyer, considering she can gain untargetability in a pinch.

Planeshift also brought a few cards worth mentioning in its common slots. The most important one is, without doubt, Aura Blast. This cheap enchantment removal is an instant and doesnít even cost you a card. While there could be times where itís useless, more often than not youíll be glad you had it.

Hobble is not too horrible, either. It is a good play on Pacifism, and while kind of situational, it draws you a card when it comes into play.

Pollen Remedy can be very good in multiplayer games, protecting your creatures from annoyances like Earthquake and Cave-In.

Finally, white got Sunscape Familiar, which may not be the best of the five Familiars, but is certainly useful at times - there are just so many cards to list that become easier to cast with it in play. Your Rith suddenly costs five mana, Charging Troll three, Dirtcowl Wurm four, and so on. Also, at 0/3 Sunscape Familiar can block River Boa, Saber Ants, and other multiplayer favorites.

Blue

Blue was the color that benefited most from Invasion (the whole block, for that matter). First off, Blue got Exclude, which a cheap cantrip counterspell - kind of like Dismiss from Tempest - except that it only works on creatures. However, Exclude is also cheaper and easier to splash into decks that donít use blue as the main color.

Blue/Black decks get the awesome Probe, a sorcery which is both library manipulation and discard in one.

Opt is a Brainstorm-like spell and my favorite common in the set, as it almost always finds you what you need. Ok, thatís a lie, but Opt is still an awesome card that almost always gets you out of mana screw.

Prohibit is not exactly better than Counterspell, but is more splashable and is usable depending on what type of decks youíre planning to face. For example, you might want to use it in your blue/green deck instead of Counterspell, as often you wonít have the right mana for a Counterspell, but can cast Prohibit easily. See what works better for you.

Repulse solves the problem that I always had with Unsummon - the threat comes back next turn - since Repulse also draws you a card, getting closer to a real way to deal with opposing threat. Repulse also deals with any Creature Enchantments that your opponent may have, and can be used to unsummon your creatures to be recast with Kicker. All this without losing a card.

Stormscape Apprentice is great at keeping your opponents at bay in multiplayer games. It is able to hold off anything from a Brown Ouphe to a Dragon, except for creatures with protection from blue or untargetability. Or you can use him to "ping" your opponent. Either way, itís not likely that your opponents will want to attack you with this little dude in play.

Speaking of little dudes, blue also got another little gem - Tidal Visionary. This 1/1 for U can tap to change the color of a creature until end of turn, which means that not only did your opponentís black removal just got worse, but your own removal just got a whole lot better. Tidal Visionary can also play many tricks when combined with Invasionís Djinns, Story Circle, Lightning Dart, and plenty of other cards.

Blue also received Worldly Counsel, a.k.a. "Impulse Wannabe" which should prove quite useful should you be running a deck with many colors, a cheap flyer in Tower Drake, and an improved version of Cloak of Mists - Travelerís Cloak.

Planeshift also brought a few cool commons to blueís already wide pool. First, thereís what's probably my favorite common from Planeshift, the ever-awesome Rushing River, which is never useless and helps you slow down your opponent in many ways. (I am not a huge fan of blue, but I do like good and flexible cards.) Rushing River is also easy to use in a deck with many colors, which is yet another reason why its a great card.

Planeshift also brings blue a cheap and efficient counterspell in Confound. Confound makes any targeted removal that your opponent has into card advantage for you. Also, it can be used to counter something like an Armadillo Cloak that your opponent planned to play on her creature, and net you a card.

Finally, Planeshift brings blue Stormscape Familiar, which could be used to reduce the cost of your white and black spells. A 1/1 flyer for two mana isnít the best deal, but Stormscape Familiar does make your Terrors cost one mana and your big dragon legend five.

Black

Black didnít get any amazing commons in Invasion, but scored the best of all colors in Planeshift.

It got Duskwalker, a relatively cheap creature - 3/3 with "fear" for 5 mana, or a simple 1/1 for 1.

Agonizing Demise is something you might want to consider for your Black/Red deck, but with all the other removal running around you might want to use something else.

An Ice Age reprint, Soul Burn, grants you a relatively expensive source of damage, but can get you some life in the process.

Ravenous Rats are a great reprint from Urzaís Destiny as they replace themselves right after you play them by forcing your opponent to discard a card, and can later trade with an opponentís weenie or score some cheap damage.

Urborg Skeleton is an okay card if you are facing many Blastoderms in your area.

Recover, an improved Raise Dead, gets you card advantage and can be useful in the late game, bringing back your lost treasures. As you can see, all these cards are decent, but none too great.

With Planeshift, however, things changed for black. First off, we got Bog Down, which is much less useful if you own enough Stupors, but if you donít then this is the card for you.

Maggot Carrier can make an appearance in some black weenie beatdown decks, along with Sinister Strength, the best black creature enhancer ever.

Finally, Planeshift brought black Nightscape Familiar, a creature which can help you cast land destruction and various other spells at a cheaper price. Also, Nightscape Familiar regenerates, which means that you can keep him back to block large opposing critters.

Red

Never mind white, red got screwed the most in Invasion Block. While there are some decent commons, thereís nothing outstanding or extremely useful. Ancient Kavu is not horrible, but at 4 mana youíd rather have something else.

Maniacal Rage is a good creature-pumping spell reprinted from Exodus, but even that is not too great.

Scorching Lava and Tribal Flames are the only good red commons from Invasion, each fitting into a different deck type.

Planeshift helped, but not by an awful lot. Magma Burst can be a great finisher or creature removal, but to be really good, a sacrifice of two lands is required.

Thunderscape Familiar is nothing spectacular, at 1/1 for two mana, though he does make it easier to cast Blastoderms and other green and black fatties.

Finally, Mire Kavu is nothing more than an efficient if not simply a decent creature.

Green

Green has some awesome commons in Invasion Block.
Explosive Growth gives you somewhat of an option between a weak Giant Growth and a weak Might of Oaks. However, considering you have that choice, Explosive Growth is a pretty good card.

Fertile Ground could be used in 4 or 5 color green decks to increase the mana production and to get certain color mana that you need. The same stands for Harrow, except that unlike Fertile Ground, itís actually good against land destruction.

Kavu Climber is not a bad card, and while itís expensive, it replaces itself right away.

Nomadic Elf, in my opinion, is an awesome card. Not only does it swing for 2 a turn like Grizzly Bears, it helps multi-colored decks with mana consistency.

Pincer Spider can block flyers, and while its kicker is not the best, the card itself is playable.

Quirion Elves are an old favorite of mine, and I was trying to get a few from Mirage when they reprinted them in Invasion. They are definitely a card worth considering for your deck if youíre splashing another color.

Tranquility is a card thatís been reprinted several times, but if you donít own any, getting a few now wouldnít hurt.

Quirion Sentinel may see some play in green beatdown decks, as it allows you to cast two threats on turn 2.

Thornscape Apprentice I am very happy with. In multiplayer, it keeps opponents from attacking you, in duels... well, essentially it does the same thing.

Planeshift gave green commons a few more goodies, such as the Giant Growth-like Gaeaís Might, Quirion Explorer (which is awesome in multiplayer) and Thornscape Familiar - the best one of all five Familiars due to its high power.

Gold

This is where the commons from Invasion Cycle shine.
Invasion brought us five 2/2 critters, nicknamed "pro-bears" (Vodalian Zombie, Shivan Zombie, Llanowar Knight, Galina's Knight, and Yavimaya Barbarian). They are very playable and efficient at their cost, and can be a real pain for a deck that is a color that their protection covers.

Armadillo Cloak is an awesome Creature Enchantment, whether it is put on a Dragon or a weenie.

If you play red/black land destruction you could probably use Plague Spores, a spell which gives you a 2-for-1 advantage.

Finally, Invasion brought blue/black a fearsome weapon - Recoil. Recoil allows blue/black to deal with enchantments and artifacts - something that this color combination has not been able to do in the past. If your opponentís hand is empty, Recoil is a Desert Twister at instant speed for 1UB.

Planeshift brought even more awesome commons in gold. First of thereís a set of "gating" creatures -- Cavern Harpy, Lava Zombie, Horned Kavu and Silver Drake, all of which should see play, especially in your beatdown decks.

Silver-Leaf Paladin is not bad, but for six mana youíd rather have something else.

White/green gets Gerrardís Command, which will probably be used as a removal spell, something that white/green usually lacks, while red/green gets one of its best spells ever - Hull Breach. This sorcery will be amazing in multiplayer, and very good in your red/green duel decks, being very flexible.

Finally, black/red gets the best removal spell since Swords to Plowshares - Terminate. It works on non-black creatures, and the targeted creature doesnít even have the possibility to regenerate.

I hope I helped some of you to see the commons you should be looking forward to getting in your booster packs or from your friends. Naturally, I could have overlooked a few, so if you find something else that catches your eye, by all means get it.

Any comments, suggestion, or responses can be posted here or sent to me. I appreciate any input you can give me. Until next time, good luck, and donít forget that rares arenít everything!

Alex Makhovykh
superguy on message boards
e-mail: superguy98@hotmail.com

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