Magic Memories: Pursuit of Knowledge

Discussion in 'Single Card Strategies' started by Oversoul, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    This one might be a bit obscure. I don't remember seeing a lot of other people using Pursuit of Knowledge. Even Scalpelexis had its fans, and while Bubbling Muck might not be highly renowned as Magic cards go, it was played extensively in tournaments once upon a time. But Pursuit of Knowledge, to the best of my knowledge, never really caught on. If I had knowledge of it having made an impact somewhere, I'd acknowledge that. Anyway...

    In my hazy recollection, while I used the card myself, I never actually played against it. So I've seemingly been the sole advocate for Pursuit of Knowledge. Obviously, this is not true. The card features gorgeous Tony DiTerlizzi art, so somewhere out there are people who like it for that alone. And the Gatherer comments do show some distinct appreciation for the card, with a solid average rating (4 out of 5 stars) too. It's a niche rare from Stronghold that was never, ever reprinted, and is isn't so good at any one thing that it does for it to really capture the attention of the EDH crowd or anything. So my guess is that those of us who were playing casual Magic back then and thought it would be a useful inclusion in our decks have fond memories of Pursuit of Knowledge. To anyone else, it's just some old bulk rare.
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    As with Fluctuator, I actually wrote an article about Pursuit of Knowledge here at the CPA at one point. I almost forgot about it! This one was way back in 2004. Yikes.

    My articles back then were pretty bad. Also, all of the older articles are corrupted so that many of the punctuation marks show up as Unicode replacement characters, which makes trying to read the article archives a bit annoying. I mentioned it before at some point, but I have no idea how or when it happened. I am not a computer person. I do not understand these things. Other people around here somewhere know stuff about these things. I do not. Why, just recently, I read that one of the dubious-sounding fees Comcast charges on their internet service is a "speed increase fee." Their internet service operates through fiberoptic cables. So they have managed to invent some marvelous technology that somehow goes into those tiny glass wires, it squeezes its way in or whatever, and then it compels the photons traversing the wires to pick up the pace. They are able to take actual, literal light, which was already moving at the speed of light on account of the fact that it is light, and make it go faster than it would ordinarily be going. Einstein was wrong, and Comcast have proven it, revolutionizing physics completely. No wonder they have so much money! It's amazing. It's baffling. We live in wonderful, dangerous times. How did we get here? Pursuit of Knowledge!

    Well, that went pretty far afield. Anyway, the point is that I did already write an article about the card Pursuit of Knowledge and that you can, if you want, read that article or try to read it. The article was part of a "theme week" concept, a failed attempt to get more regularly published articles on the CPA front page. If memory serves correctly (it doesn't) the theme of the week was "white enchantments from Stronghold" and the week was dominated by Spiderman's 10,000-word treatise on the card Hidden Retreat. I say that my old articles are bad, and they are, but this one actually does cover most of the same ground I had in mind when I started this thread. So really, it's not that bad.
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    To rehash the major points of the article, but without corrupted punctuation...

    I can think of four major approaches to using Pursuit of Knowledge. There are some niche applications as well, including some that didn't exist in 2004 (when I wrote that article), which I might talk about later.
    1. Skip your draws and use them to charge up Pursuit of Knowledge, trading 3 card draws for 7. This option loses out on tempo and most decks most of the time cannot afford to skip so many draws for a payoff that may never arrive. So this option is generally bad and is almost exclusively for suckers.
    2. Use card-drawing spells to charge up Pursuit of Knowledge. This gets it to 3 counters pretty quickly for a timely payoff, but it uses both Pursuit of Knowledge and another spell (such as Concentrate) and also ties up more mana. This option is viable. Many good spells draw 2 cards, so then the regular draw phase is enough to get Pursuit of Knowledge to 3 counters.
    3. Technically, there is no requirement to stop at 3 study counters on Pursuit of Knowledge. Extra counters don't do anything, but until the activated ability is used, more counters can be added at any time with the replacement effect. This means that you can use Pursuit of Knowledge to skip as many draws as you like, for as long as you control the enchantment. Why would you want to skip your draws? Well, it's pretty unlikely, but it is an option. A long time ago, I used the card to prevent myself from losing the game by decking.
    4. Use cards the power of friendship! And as always, by friendship I mean combo. The two examples I named were Brainstorm and Sylvan Library, but there are others.
  4. Melkor Active Member

    I always loved Pursuit of Knowledge, it mainly found its way into my various W/G Enchantress types decks.
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Nice. I did have Pursuit of Knowledge and Verduran Enchantress in the same deck a long time ago. Eventually, my Enchantress deck was a more efficient build with Argothian Enchantress, Rancor, Auratog, etc. Pursuit of Knowledge, being a four-drop, wasn't included. But Enchantress-type effects are a powerful way to to charge up Pursuit of Knowledge.
  6. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    In my article, I mentioned Brainstorm, a card that would later become somewhat controversial for its overpowered utility, especially in Legacy. As Orgg appended in an editorial note in my article, if one is using Pursuit of Knowledge, Brainstorm is an excellent card to be using anyway and can not only to charge the enchantment up, but to find it in the first place. I also mentioned the possible drawback with Brainstorm: putting cards back on top of your library. With that in mind, here are the ways I could see Brainstorm being used to charge up Pursuit of Knowledge...
    1. Skip all three draws from Brainstorm, put two cards from your hand back on top of your library, then activate Pursuit of Knowledge, drawing first the two cards you already put back, then five more cards you haven't seen yet. This option is kinda bad.
    2. Have only one card left in hand while casting Brainstorm, skip all three draws, put your one remaining card on top of your library, then activate Pursuit of Knowledge, drawing first the one card that you already put back, then six more cards you haven't seen yet. This option isn't as bad as the previous one, but it does have the same sort of problem.
    3. Cast Brainstorm with an empty hand, skip all three draws, have nothing to put back on top, then activate Pursuit of Knowledge, drawing seven cards. This option is strong, but requires an empty hand to pull off, which is asking a bit much.
    4. Have a fetchland or other shuffle effect. Cast Brainstorm, skip all three draws, put back the two least relevant cards in your hand, use your shuffle effect, then activate Pursuit of Knowledge, drawing seven cards. This option is more flexible than needing an empty hand, but it depends on some of the contents of your hand being cards that you don't mind shuffling away. In some cases, that's an irrelevant matter, in others, you are giving up two known cards from your hand for seven unknown ones from your library, which is usually a pretty good deal.
    5. Skip fewer than three of the draws from Brainstorm, but get the remaining study counters in some other way, such as from your draw step. This doesn't solve the problem outright, but it does open up some other corner-case options.
    6. Skip fewer than three of the draws from Brainstorm, then hold onto Pursuit of Knowledge and just use the remaining portion of Brainstorm as you normally would. This makes for a weaker initial Brainstorm, but gives you a powerful card-drawing tool later on.
  7. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I think that the coolest synergy with Pursuit of Knowledge is probably Sylvan Library. Sylvan Library penalizes you for the cards that you had drawn the same turn that you used its ability. Because you skip drawing both cards from Sylvan Library and the card you would have drawn as normal in your draw step, the penalty from Sylvan Library has no cards to which it applies. Meanwhile Pursuit of Knowledge becomes fully charged and ready to draw seven cards, penalty-free. The catch: Sylvan Library is a low-cost incremental value enchantment that gives you increased access to cards, so if you're using it, you probably have better things to be spending four mana on than an enchantment that takes a turn to provide any payoff.
  8. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    While green cards like Sylvan Library or Verduran Enchantress work well with Pursuit of Knowledge, my most distinct memories of the card involved using it in my old W/U/B control Highlander deck. I totally can't remember if I've mentioned it before, although it seems like I must have. This was before the days of EDH. The Highlander format I played, which as far as I know was the first format called "Highlander", was a 150-card format popular in the Seattle area in the early 00's. And my deck was a slow, grindy control deck full of all sorts of nonsense. I loved that deck. I'm sure that it wasn't actually very good, but back then, it seemed awesome. Pursuit of Knowledge wasn't too hard to charge up in the slow-paced games that my deck induced, and I had numerous cards that I could use to add multiple counters to it, such as Rhystic Study, Frantic Search, Brainstorm, and Mystic Remora. I'd imagine that it would work reasonably well with Teferi's Puzzle Box too, but I don't think I actually had them in the same deck at the same time.

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