I`m going to try to provide the counterarguments I promised existed to Istanbul`s list of Planeshift Power Cards. I think in each case you could successfully argue that he has incorrectly assessed how the card will impact on T2 constructed play. I think he is making the crucial mistake of seeing the new set and sayig to himself: "How do I play with this card?" whereas I think the correct approach to tournament play is to ask "Why the hell would I play with this card?". If your tourney deck is good you don`t want to change it,a nd a card has to be VERY good to force a change in an existing decktype. Example: Tsabo`s Web, which was supposed to have put Rishadan Port into the trash rares section by now. As I stressed, I never say I am right. I believe my readers are capable of making up their own mind as to which of the many possible debating positions is more valid. WHITE: Aura Blast - 1W Instant Destroy target enchantment. Draw a card. - Hey, this card is going to be useless against all those decks that don't run enchantments! Like Fir...no, wait. Like U/W cont...no...hmm. The simple fact is that there are enough nasty enchantments out there (Burst, Fires, Moat, Wave, Circle, etc.) to warrant maindecking Aura Blast. Dismantling Blow is still good, but you can play this instead...you give up the ability to kill Idols and one card, in exchange for a CC drop of FOUR. That's significant. 4 Dismantling Blows? Not anymore. Two DBs, two ABs... But it isn`t just about what decks this card is good against, it`s about what decks this card is THE BEST OPTION IN. CounterWrath - won`t use it because Dismantling Blow is better. CounterWrath is scared of Idols, and cannot afford to swap to a card that only kills enchantments. G/W decks - won`t use it because it isn`t as good as Wax/Wane or Aura Mutation, as Wax/Wane is far more versatile in the metagame. So Aura Blast is good in a deck that: 1) Has white in 2) Isn`t scared of Idols 3) Doesn`t have Green in, or at least not monsters and green 4) Doesn`t have Blue in and a large amount of land, because then Dismantling Blow would probably be a better option. Aura Blast MIGHT be a good SB card, but again I think that in this case it is edged out by Aura Mutation in W/G decks and there aren`t so many enchantments that you need to play so much hate against them. Fires only really has Burst to target, Rebels will probably have Wave and Crusade (both good targets) but CounterRebels have neither, Skies has none, and U/W CounterWrath is not dependent on Moats or Circles and many builds don`t use them at all. Is Aura Blast bad? No. Is Aura Blast anywhere like the best choice in a range of effects like: Abolish, Seal of Cleansing, Disenchant, Dismantling Blow, Aura Fracture, Wax/Wane, and Aura Mutation? No. Lashknife Barrier - 2W Enchantment When Lashknife Barrier comes into play, draw a card. If a source would deal damage to a creature you control, it deals that much damage minus 1 instead. - You know, I hear that paying R for one damage (Shock) is bad. I hear that paying 2R for two damage (Urza's Rage) is bad too. I also hear that pumping up all your creatures is pretty nice. Just something to think about when considering this as opposed to +0/+1...if you have a 3/3 creature and Spidersilk Armor, two Shocks kills it. If you have a 3/3 creature and Lashknife Armor, two Shocks won't do the job. Makes for evil combat tricks...watch for Rebels to play this, especially because of the 'draw a card' part. Without 'draw a card', it's good...with it, it's amazing. I never EVER thought I`d hear somebody say a card like this was good for constructed, because it blatantly isn`t tournament worthy - it`s fine in Limited, but for Constructed it is very poor. Probably the most relavent card you could compare this to is Glorious Anthem, from Urza`s Saga. For the same mana cost your creatures become 1pt harder to kill, as they do with the Lashknife Barrier - this isn`t a precise swap as Lashknife is better if they intend on throwing multiple damage sources to knock down your guys. But what the real tradeoff between the two cards is: Barrier draws a card, Anthem makes your creatures deal more damage. Assuming that this is in a Rebels deck you would almost certainly want the card that will assist you in ending the game faster by dealing more damage. But Glorious Anthem isn`t legal. No, but Crusade is and that`s even cheaper. So let`s agree that Crusade is better than Lashknife Barrier - what are we going to take out of our deck then? Parallax Wave? - almost certianly not as it`s one of the key spells in the deck and wins you more matches than any other single spell. Armageddon? - assuming you have them, then no because they are a far more devastating spell than Lashknife Barrier when it comes to protecting your creatures from removal spells and ten times as versatile. Disenchant? - no, because utility removal is very strong right now and you have to be able to stop Bursts and Moats and your opponent`s Parallax Waves. So does Lashknife go in the SB? No, because Reverant Mantra is better, or if you are really feeling like hating red players the Crimson Acolyte. Let`s ignore for a second that the deck Istanbul uses in his example (cheap red burn removal) isn`t played in any great numbers by any current T2 decks, and the bad decks who ARE using it are about to switch over to Terminates. Orim's Chant - W Instant Kicker: W Target player can't play spells this turn. If you paid the kicker cost, creatures can't attack this turn. - Okay. Here's how your turn now looks: Untap, draw, play a land, activate anything already in play, and tell me to go. Okay? Good. This is not...I repeat...NOT a Time Walk. Rebels laugh out loud when you play this on them, and they DO still get to draw and play a land. Still, against Fires, a first-turn Chant during their upkeep is nasty tempo loss, giving you time to set up your defenses. (Birds of Paradise are a spell...) Also a nice must-counter versus U/W control...suck those counters out of your opponent's hand. "If you didn't like that, you're gonna HATE this..." Now this baby has had a LOT of writing dedicated to it because it`s 'the new Abeyance'. But Abeyance wasn`t a good card - too many people forget that important fact. Abeyance became famous because for about two months it was worded wrong and was effectively a cantrip TimeWalk . It was famous for the same reason Waylay was famous. Would you go ape over a Waylay reprint? No, or at least I hope not. Abeyance was also good because it protected explosive combo decks, but T2 is notably short on these guys just now. 12 months ago Chant would have gone straight into Bargain, but today its not got a natural home. So the Chant advocate now has two final arguments left. The aggro argument is that it slows your opponent down by a turn and lets you gain an advantage. Here are some other cards that can do the same thing: Solfatara, Exhaustion, Mana Short, Misstep, Boomerang etc etc. Somebody somewhere called it 'the white counterspell' which is just wrong - I see the Chant in your graveyard, but I don`t see a card in his graveyard. Yes, the Chant has an impact in this mode, but it is very narrow and probably the most obvious card you would play ahead of it is Tangle Wire, which usually can be relied upon to give you two turns in which your opponent is, at best, badly hindered in his development. Tangle Wire costs 3, Chant costs W, but a good aggro deck should be using it`s mana to play out threat in the first few turns anyway, and I would rather pursue a beatdown strategy then play a Wire than try to play monsters whilst Chanting on my opponent`s earlier turns. The final argument is that it is good vs blue decks as it stops them countering your other spells. Yes, it is. A lot of cards are good against blue decks but very few get played. Consider also that the most obvious deck for it to be played in in this role is Rebels, who are very strong against Countermagic anyway, and you see that Orim`s Chant will be unlikely to become a staple anti-blue SB card. Same for Gaea`s Herald, BTW (it not being a staple, not that bit about Rebel decks). Shifting Sky - 2U Enchantment When Shifting Sky comes into play, choose a color. All non-land permanents are the chosen color. - Kinda nasty when you're playing Story Circle, and Tsabo's Assassin becomes downright brutal with this in play. Still...main-deck material? Probably not. Sideboard vs. Rebels (your Crusades won't help you now), in a pinch. Hmm. Anti-Story Circle, anti-Crusade. Better than Disenchant in a deck with white? No, probably not. Better than Counterspell? No, probably not. So in fact it`s very weak. Sideboard vs Rebels - I`d hope my SB cards were far more powerful than to simply negate one of their supplementary cards for 3cc, cantrip or not. Would you SB in this, or Wash Out? Bog Down - 2B Sorcery Kicker: Sacrifice two lands. Target player discards two cards. If you paid the kicker cost, that player discards three cards instead. - (Yes, I'm paraphrasing.) Nothing really matters except the fact that this snatches two cards with one. Discard is coming back in force, mark my words, and Bog Down will be on the high-end of the mana curve for the hand-eaters. Watch for Avatar of Will the turn after you see this. Also nasty disruption, and another must-counter for U/W control. Immediately worse than Stupor without the Kicker, so you are only going to be playing this deck if you want another bank of discard spells after Stupor. That`s immediately unlikely. Consider also that many people are currently considering Coercion to be better than Stupor (depends on deckbuild, IMHO). Yes, it strengthens the Avatar Of Will deck, but nobody is currently suggesting that deck is in any way near good enough, or about to get better anytime soon. When Fires can still topdeck a Burst to wreck a black deck anytime it likes, and Rebels can still function without a hand you have to ask where Bog Down helps the black discard decks to win those matches. Is Bog Down effective? Yes. Is the metagame good for discard? No. Does Bog Down help the discard deck break into the metagame? No. (the same argument goes for why Terminate is a non-event. Burst and Derms are the reason why R/B decks are nonviable, and Planeshift gives them nothing to deal with that threat more effectively, so although R/B decks get a lot from Planeshift they don`t become any better in the T2 metagame) Diabolic Intent - 1B Sorcery As an additional cost to play Diabolic Intent, sacrifice a creature. Search your library for a card and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. - Demonic Tutor with a relatively miniscule drawback. And it's *not* restricted. Watch for this thing to turn up in pretty much any deck that can support it...Machinehead in particular should salivate quite nicely. I can see decks with black running ONE copy of Perish and a few of these, juuuust in case... So you need to have a deck with, what, 16 creatures minimum to want to use this. And you also want to not care about the creatures dying. And you also need to care about your lifetotal or you would happily use the Vampiric Tutor and pay 2 life. The Intent puts the card in your hand, but as a Sorcery - the same thing as casting the Vamp as an Instant then using your draw phase, except that with the Vampiric you get all your mana available. Next consider that black decks aren`t very strong currently for the reasons listed above for Bog Down. Does Diabolic Tutor help you break into the metagame? No. Therefore it is a non-event. More technically the card is just as much bad advantage as Vampiric Tutor, except possibly worse. Vampy is a 1-0 card swap in that you use a card without replacing it in your hand. Intent is a 2-1 card swap, which already limits the number of times you can play it, and beyond that you already have to have payed the mana cost for the card you want to sacrifice, and not had it immediately removed in some way (so it had to be a bad card that wasn`t considered a threat worth dealing with). I have to say I think that the Intent is just poor. Combos nicely with Academy Rector (my Bargain are showing again), but Diabolic Intent is to Demonic Tutor what the poor imitation in Invasion is to Demonic Consultation. ie: nothing. Sinister Strength - 1B Enchant Creature Enchanted creature gets +3/+1 and is black. - Let's review. Unholy Strength gave +2/+1 for B. So for 1, we get +1/+0 and immunity to most black removal. Whoah! This thing turns any creature into a pretty nasty threat. Imagine this on something...*anything*...that tramples. It's not Armadillo Cloak caliber, but it's bloody impressive, and only one color. Okay, it`s good. A +3/+1 for B1 is efficient, not as good as an Unholy Strength but still great. But there are still no good 1cc drops to put this on, and putting it on a 3cc drop is almost certainly too slow in this field. If black ever gets some good 1cc drops this card will become a 4-of must, but until then it will sleep. In fact I`m not sure I`d rather have a Twisted Experiment, as it could double as removal if you were desperate. Efficient? Yes. Any decks it works in? No. Strafe - R Sorcery Strafe deals 3 damage to target nonred creature. - That's three damage for one mana, folks. No, you won't kill your opponent with it. (Not directly, anyway.) And no, it won't kill a red creature. But that still leaves a lot of good targets for this spell. Birds? Thrashing Wumpuses (Wumpi?) Hey, what's Lin-Sivvi's toughness again? VERY narrow. Remember how everybody hated to use Terror because a black creature came along and ruined your day? Well now red players get to have the same experience. It`s a Sorcery, so that sucks for a start. It only does creatures, which is extra-bad. But more importantly there is SO much competition at 1cc for good burn in red - Shock, Seal of Fire, Assault/Battery - that Strafe has to bring something really new to make an impact. In return for all those weaknesses (Sorcery, non-red creatures) Strafe brings a measly 1pt of extra damage. Look at T2 - make a list of 3-toughness creatures that are getting widely played. Lin-Sivvi Chimeric Idol Abyssal Spectre Skizzik Now let`s see how Strafe does against them: Sivvi, kills her, but not if there is a Crusade (or Lashknife Barrier) in play, or they have a counterspell in hand. Also cannot kill Sivvi if she is chained out at the end of your turn, and so she will not have summoning sickness when you Strafe her, thus leading to plenty of 'Strafe Sivvi', 'In response pay 3 to get another Sivvi' plays. Chimeric Idol, can be immune to Sorcery removal Abyssal Spectre (most people are using Blazing Spectre anyway, they are wrong to do so, but it`s still true) Skizzik, has haste. Oh, and it`s red. Not such a good record. If Strafe was the only efficient cheap burn spell available you MIGHT use it, but what do you need to deal 3 damage to early in the game that you can`t wait until your Hammers or Rages come online? Not to mention you can`t use the Strafe 'to the head'. Strafe is just a really (really) bad Terror. Nemeta, Grove Guardian - 4GG Creature - Treefolk Legend 2G: Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play. Sacrifice a Saproling: All Saprolings get +1/+1 until end of turn. 4/5 - I'm just waiting for WotC to come out and say it: 'Hello. We would appreciate it very much if someone out there would make a good Saproling deck. Thank you.' Between this, Saproling Symbiosis, and Saproling Burst, I can see a definite theme emerging. Now, if we could just get some decent, low-mana Saproling creatures... 6cc? For 6cc I could have a REALLY nasty green creature. Not just a 4/5 with a poor trick. Compare to Saproling Burst. Compare to Deranged Hermit. For 6cc I could have a 6/6 Flying geezer with a kick-ass ability. For 5cc I could have two 4/4 monsters. For 4cc I could have a 5/5 Untargetable monster. He`s trash, from a constructed point of view. Cavern Harpy - UB Creature - Beast Flying When Cavern Harpy comes into play, return a blue or black creature you control to its owner's hand. Pay 1 life: Return Cavern Harpy to your hand. 2/1 - Here's a card whose true power isn't immediately obvious. Alone, it seems like a nice early flier, but one that slows down your tempo. Combine it with Ravenous Rats, though, and you'll find your opponent's hand emptying at the speed of light! An opponent with an empty hand is gonna have trouble dealing with a flyer that refuses to die... So for UBB1 you have a buyback 'choose and discard a card' which costs you one life. Okay, so how good was the Buyback discard from Stronghold? Trash. Did it rely on a two-card combo? No. Did it rely on your opponent not dealing a point to the Rats and stopping your little tricks? No. So the Rats/Harpy argument is in fact trying to put a case for playing a worse version of a bad card? Yes. Doomsday Specter - 2UB Creature - Specter Flying When Doomsday Specter comes into play, return a blue or black creature you control to its owner's hand. Whenever Doomsday Specter deals combat damage to a player, look at that player's hand and choose a card from it. The player discards that card. 2/3 - Every once in a while, a card will come along in Type II that's SO good that it ends up being used in Type I decks. Urza's Rage was one of those cards. Doomsday Specter is another. Let it be known that there has NEVER been this quality of discard attached to a creature before. Hypnotic who? Many discard decks splash blue, and this card rewards them for it in spades. If you see one of these hit the board, and you have an answer, use it *immediately*; if you don't, that answer will be the first card to go. Add the fact that it's playable on Turn 2 via Ritual, and it's no wonder that this is the most expensive card in the set. Did I mention that it's safely out of Shock range? I thought it didn`t have Gating. Without Gating I thought it was a perfectly reasonable card, good even. But with Gating it becomes REALLY bad. Coercion is a good effect, but not good enough to sacrifice the Rituability of an Abyssal Spectre. Being a 2/3 isn`t so strong as the removal being currently played in T2 the only card that cares about it`s toughness is the few smatterings of no-Ghitu Fure burn in Fires decks. Nobody else cares - Wrath, Wash Out, Terminate, PWave... And currently B/U is devoid of creatures worth using early you would want to gate up aside from Ravenous Rats, and the best discard decks are those who are trying to totally annihilate your opponent`s hand with Stupors, Rats, Abyssals, and Probes, not point-remove it with Coercion effects. And discard decks are spending turn 3 playing discard, so have a small window of opportunity to play a creature to gate back. Doomsday Spectre is a poor card, almost certainly the worst of the full range of Spectres. Fleetfoot Panther - 1GW Creature - Cat When Fleetfoot Panther comes into play, return a green or white creature you control to its owner's hand. 3/4 - Turn 1: Forest, Birds. Turn 2: Plains, Fleetfoot Panther, returning Birds. Turn 3: Land, Armadillo Cloak, serve for 5. That's a 5/6 trampling Spirit-Linked monstrosity on turn 3, folks. Oh, and if the spirit hits you, there's always an Armageddon next turn... I don`t think G/W Geddon is a very strong T2 deck right now. But Fleetfoot Panther is still a good card. It`s good because it kills Idols by dropping on them, and it can protect your creatures from point-removal. But you won`t play more than 1 or 2 of them at most. Building a deck around a 3/4 is pretty poor as G has so many similar creatures it could play that would be just about as effective in the above 'stick a cloak on it' situation - a 5/5 Trampling Armodon is pretty much as scary as a 5/6 Trampling Panther in the wider sheme of things, and doesn`t retard your creature development, and you can put it down after a Wrath etc etc etc.. If you treat the Panther as a footsoldier in your deck it competes directly with a whole range of powerful spells, from River Boa and Kavu Titan for 2cc, through Trained Armodon and Chimeric Idol at 3cc, to Blastoderm and Jade Leech at 4cc. And I think in each case the Panther comes off worse. You splash him as he is fantastic as an instant in a number of situation. But you don`t play many, and you certainly don`t build a deck around him as a core threat. Hull Breach - GR Sorcery Choose one - Destroy target artifact; or destroy target enchantment; or destroy target artifact and target enchantment. - This is a serious no-brainer, people. Fires is going to lap this up and come back for more. It's BETTER than Disenchant, in that it can eat two targets if they exist. Chimeric Idols, Story Circle, Diamonds, Teferi's Moat, Millstones, Parallax Waves, the list of targets just goes on and on and on...this will almost never be a useless spell. Well, pure G/R decks will like this as they`ve never had a Disenchant before, but many Fires decks were already splashing white for Wax/Wane and might well choose to stay out there. Hull Breach is good, but not great. Talking about 2-1 swaps is weak - they will happen, but the only tournament-worthy artifact is Idol so it`s not going to be an everyday occurence. Is Hull Breach good? Yes (because its Disenchant) It will be played in the pure G/R version of Fires, no doubt, but a lot are with Wax/Wane and the vaunted 2-1 card swap is not going to happen all that often so probably won`t tempt the G/W/R red decks to move back to pure G/R. Meddling Mage - UW Creature - Pikula (er, Wizard) When Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card. The named card can't be played. 2/2 - You know, when I first saw Invasion, I cringed at the sight of Urza's Rage and Obliterate. I'm a big fan of blue (once you say 'no', you'll never go back), and these uncounterable spells made me shudder. Still, I quickly realized that you could Misdirection Urza's Rage, and the laugh would be on your opponent. 'But what,' I mused, 'can you do about Obliterate? Mass-bounce? How?' This card is the answer to my prayers. No longer does U/W have to worry about an errant Obliterate ruining all its fun. Meddling Mage also neuters Fires (I'll name Saproling Burst) and gives Rebels a headache (I'll name Crusade/Lin-Sivvi/Parallax Wave/whatever). Expect to see the price of these skyrocketing. Agreed. He`s the only card in PS that coes close to standing out as a great spell. But he`s not going in CounterWrath, he`s very specifically designed to go in CounterRebel or U/W Fish. He`s really strong against decks reliant on a single mass-removal spell to defend themselves (CounterWrath 'Wrath', Skies 'Wash out'), but weak against decks with a ton of point removal as he`ll just draw the one you didn`t name, like a Nightwind Glider always drew the Shock and then they`d Vendetta the Thermal Glider. Yes, he`s good. Sawtooth Loon - 2UW Creature - Bird Flying When Sawtooth Loon comes into play, return a white or blue creature you control to its owner's hand. When Sawtooth Loon comes into play, draw two cards, then put two cards from your hand on the bottom of your library. - I'll make it nice and easy. This is how you abuse this card: "I'll play Sawtooth Loon." "I'll put the bounce ability on the stack." "I'll put the drawing ability on the stack." "Okay, I draw two...put two on the bottom...then bounce Sawtooth Loon." That's right. No longer do you have to tolerate useless land sitting in your hand...the Loon digs two cards deep into your library every time you cast it, so long as you stack it right! Me likey. So I tap out 4 mana. As a Sorcery. To swap two cards. Without the ability to abuse filling my graveyard. This was Attunement before Replenish got printed, more or less (less). Very poor. Shivan Wurm - 3GR Creature - Wurm Trample When Shivan Wurm comes into play, return a red or green creature you control to its owner's hand. 7/7 - When was the last time you saw a creature this fat in a price that tournament-quality decks could support? Argothian Wurm, back in Broken Block? Hunted Wumpus, with its potentially deadly drawback? Shivan Wurm leaves them both behind, as its drawback is probably taken care of by the very acceleration you used to get it into play! Expect to see Fires decks running two of these. He`s good. But at 5cc I could have a Burst and that`s better IMHO, and at 4cc I could have a Derm and that`s also better. When those go out he could make an impact. But the analogy to Argothian is a good one, as the 6/6 lump of meat rarely got played either. Shivan is far better than Argothian, but is currently sitting just SLIGHTLY too far back in the queue of fat monsters to make it into the good decks. Terminate - BR Instant Destroy target creature. It can't be regenerated. - I don't think this bears much discussion. If you can't figure out why this card is *insanely* good, sell your cards and take up stamp collecting. For T2, as of the now: B/R is terrible. Famously bad, because it cannot even begin to handle a Saproling Burst or Blastoderm. Those two cards are keeping B/R decks down in T2 right now and what the R/B player really needed was a card to handle the Bursts. While Terminate is very effective removal (best since StP, or maybe Edict) it`s not available to be played in any viable T2 decks right now. Like I said for Bog Down, unless a B, U, or R card helps those decks to handle Saproling Burst it is a non-event for T2 play at the moment.