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Thread: Alternative selection

  1. #1

    Alternative selection

    I wanted to open a debate on the viability of an alternative cantrip package that can co-exist, rather than be assimilated by, the blue cantrip cartel. This would especially be relevant for combo decks. Is this something that could see play? If so, where? What are the weaknesses compared to going for straight BS/Ponder/Preordain? What are the merits? And can something like this (or another alternative engine) co-exist in legacy?


    4x Serum Powder
    4x Sphinx of Foresight
    4x Faithless Looting


    To add to this, here are the probabilities taken from a python script on Bazaar / Serum Powder mulligans:

    Pr[Bazaar in opening hand] = 0.941681291934
    Pr[Bazaar by turn 1 on draw] = 0.946103359759
    Pr[Bazaar by turn 1 on draw with new mulligan rule] = 0.950266092187

    This assumes one would mulligan to oblivion to hit Bazaar, which you wouldn't do in let's say Sneak and Show, but it does give some insight into the ridiculous consistency you can achieve with Serum Powder. Also, if you do happen to mulligan and hit a Sphinx, you can dig 4 cards deep, 6 off a turn 1 looting.

  2. #2
    Is Cancer

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    Re: Alternative selection

    Serum powder is occasionally used by T1 combos like Oops, Cheerios, or similar. It's main issue is that it's a terrible card. You may get to redraw 7; but if you *ever* draw a powder; it's a terrible feeling.

    Sphinx is interested and one that I missed while on hiatus. I could easily see running that as a 1-2 of just to get nifty draw manipulation; just realize that it:
    * Dies to Push (among the plows and whatever)
    * is mediocre for its mana cost
    * offers no CA, which any other 4-drop that people use will probably do

    So weigh a 4/4 flyer with a free Scry3 against Jace and decide which you want ;)

    The last issue is that if you scry and then you use a fetch; you may screw yourself up too.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nestalim View Post
    Wrong. Gideon Emblem protect you from losing and you can even open your binder and slam some cards on the board, not even the HJ can DQ you now.

  3. #3
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    Re: Alternative selection

    I think you'd have to identify which decks could benefit from this configuration.

    Dredge in vintage could potentially get away with it bc getting a Bazaar is good enough as a one card combo.

    What other one card combos are there that could be okay.
    -rob

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    Re: Alternative selection

    Faithless Looting is an excellent card already. Its major issue is that there is no card that effectively mimics its effect besides Careful Study, and if you're using draw 2, discard 2 as selection rather than as a combo enabler, if you're dipping into blue, you may as well just play BS/Ponder/Preordain.

    There are two key reasons why the blue engine is so popular and ubiquitous. The first is redundancy. Had Light up the Stage been castable on turn 1 (outside bad things like pairing with Gut Shot), red would've had 8 fairly quality card selection spells which could've been enough for a new engine.

    The other is lack of deckbuilding cost. Why is Preordain one of the top 10 cards in the format now? Well, because so many effective win conditions not only pair well with cantrips (in the traditional Nimble Mongoose/Tarmogoyf way) but actively synergize with them (Mentor, YP, Delver). Even "passive" synergies like Mongoose have been souped up with delve and the "x less to cast with instants/sorceries in GY" mechanic. Phoenix wants you to chain spells, etc.

    The decks that don't play the blue cantrips usually depend on brute force redundancy (Chalice strategies, Burn, D&T) or niche selection engines that work in their particular deck to execute a generally combo-focused gameplan (BR Reanimator, Dark Depths, Lands, Elves). The exceptions that get played to any measurable extent are Maverick and 4c Loam, which lean particularly hard on the cards Green Sun's Zenith and Knight of the Reliquary. Those cards are powerful, but slow, which over the course of a long tournament makes for a tougher road.

  5. #5

    Re: Alternative selection

    Great points so far. I do wish that the effect of the Sphinx would have gone to red. Opening the game with a scry effect is very aggressive/impulsive and comes across very red to me.

  6. #6

    Re: Alternative selection

    Quote Originally Posted by bruizar View Post
    Great points so far. I do wish that the effect of the Sphinx would have gone to red. Opening the game with a scry effect is very aggressive/impulsive and comes across very red to me.
    Scry, especially with N > 1, isn't impulsive - the flavor is about a wizard performing divination and making preparations.

    Also, I think that Sphinx is not good - everyone looks at the Scry 3 half and thinks, "oh, this will save me some mulligans because I can set up my next draws," not acknowledging that "having a sphinx in my hand means I already virtually mulliganned, because I have a 4/4 for 4 in my hand, and I'm playing Legacy." If 2UU for a 4/4 flier were good enough, it would already see play, and the only place it does is Food Chain because you can triple tutor for them, give them pseudo vigilance and make them really, really hard to kill.

  7. #7

    Re: Alternative selection

    Magma Jet is certainly an iconic red Scry card. If Delver of Secrets can spill into blue, a scry flyer could certainly spill into red. This is all hypothetical, but I'll entertain you nonetheless! :)

    Roc of Foresight 2RR
    Creature Roc
    You may reveal this card from your opening hand. If you do, scry 3 at the beginning of your first upkeep.
    Flying
    At the beginning of your upkeep, scry 1.

    "The Rocs at the Kher Ridges were difficult to catch, they could sense thoughts before they ever manifested into actions."

  8. #8

    Re: Alternative selection

    Quote Originally Posted by bruizar View Post
    Magma Jet is certainly an iconic red Scry card. If Delver of Secrets can spill into blue, a scry flyer could certainly spill into red. This is all hypothetical, but I'll entertain you nonetheless! :)

    Roc of Foresight 2RR
    Creature Roc
    You may reveal this card from your opening hand. If you do, scry 3 at the beginning of your first upkeep.
    Flying
    At the beginning of your upkeep, scry 1.

    "The Rocs at the Kher Ridges were difficult to catch, they could sense thoughts before they ever manifested into actions."
    Delver of Secrets is absolutely a blue card. Whether it's balanced or good for the color pie is a reasonable question to ask, certainly.

    Magma Jet is a great example of what I'm saying - sure, red gets scry in sets that specifically lean on scry as a mechanic, but by and large it doesn't come from Red making sense as a scrying color. What does lava have to do with divination?

    I don't think that Roc makes much sense as a red card. It could be printed, sure, but either of these would be more red:

    Crimson-Crest Vultures 1RRR
    You may reveal this card from your opening hand. If you do, discard three cards at the beginning of your first upkeep. If you do, draw three cards.
    Flying
    4/4

    Opening Barrage Rocs 1RRR
    You may reveal this card from your opening hand. If you do, exile the top three cards of your library at the beginning of your first upkeep. You may play cards exiled by ~ until end of turn.
    Flying
    4/4

    Rummage and Elkin Bottle effects are much more red than multi-scry.

  9. #9

    Re: Alternative selection

    A lot of the power of cantrips is their ability to provide consistency throughout a match, an advantage that increases the longer a game goes on. Both sphinx and powder only work for t1 but are essentially useless at any other point where cantrips can shine. To be comparable they would need to be more like looting. Maybe some sort of card that if miracled off the top had a cantrip effect, or playing with the scry mechanic in some way. One shot, start of the game card selection for the sake of super fast combo decks isnt where I think people should be worried about consistency advantages of cantrips.

  10. #10
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    Re: Alternative selection

    Quote Originally Posted by phonics View Post
    A lot of the power of cantrips is their ability to provide consistency throughout a match, an advantage that increases the longer a game goes on. Both sphinx and powder only work for t1 but are essentially useless at any other point where cantrips can shine. To be comparable they would need to be more like looting. Maybe some sort of card that if miracled off the top had a cantrip effect, or playing with the scry mechanic in some way. One shot, start of the game card selection for the sake of super fast combo decks isnt where I think people should be worried about consistency advantages of cantrips.
    Honestly, if that Sphynx was 2U (3 mana) Cycling; when you cycle you may scry 3. That'd be enough it'd see play as a psuedo cantrip I think. Scry 3 Draw 1 instant isn't amazing; but being super hard to counter while also being a threat when you need it to be would potentially make that 4/4 for 4 a viable beater/dude. I think Krosan Tusker, for example, if it had an "in your opening hand" clause attached to it and was more like a 4/4 for 4 would be very reasonable. I still kinda want to use his cycling sometimes (though if I'm honest, it's in part because it's instant speed CA and I like to hold my mana open in blue..) Maybe tiny-tusker 3/2 for 3 and with that cycling ability would be downright usable; even with that "basic land" clause.

    For non-blue it's not just cantrips. After all, green has Mirri's Guile (1-drop that fixes your draws), Sylvan Library, and Oath of Nissa is also usable in decks like Maverick IMO. Black has Confidant and discard outlets; and similar. These are consistency engines that really do make your deck reliable in the mid game. If green had cantrips and blue didn't, but blue had consistency engines like Search for Azcanta and Library; we'd still be a blue metagame; because Blue has Force. 'Force checks' happen too often in Legacy to be relegated to non-stack interaction. Blue doesn't *need* cantrips to be dominate, because it's the only color (and requires ~18+ blue in the deck) that reliably interacts on the stack.

    The cantrip cartel can be outmoded with Green enchants/GSZ without any new printings (at least in many decks) but you aren't going to find Spell Pierce, FoW, and Flusterstorm (or anything remotely approaching their capability) in other colors; not on T1.

    EDIT: Note that Sensei's Top was also an amazing help to decks like DGA (which would actually play more of them now that they would have more room for 1-drop slots.) While that is gone, it's possible they'll print more consistency-cards for the other colors (like LUTS)
    Quote Originally Posted by Nestalim View Post
    Wrong. Gideon Emblem protect you from losing and you can even open your binder and slam some cards on the board, not even the HJ can DQ you now.

  11. #11

    Re: Alternative selection

    Quote Originally Posted by taconaut View Post
    Crimson-Crest Vultures 1RRR
    You may reveal this card from your opening hand. If you do, discard three cards at the beginning of your first upkeep. If you do, draw three cards.
    Flying
    4/4
    That would never see the light of day.
    The Night HE Came Home.

  12. #12

    Re: Alternative selection

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Keller View Post
    That would never see the light of day.
    I agree, and well that it shouldn't, but the effect is still more "Red" than scry is, from a flavor perspective.

  13. #13

    Re: Alternative selection

    When I think of impulse, chaos, and passion the first thing that comes to mind, naturally, is "the ability to see and plan the future."

  14. #14

    Re: Alternative selection

    Quote Originally Posted by tescrin View Post
    Honestly, if that Sphynx was 2U (3 mana) Cycling; when you cycle you may scry 3. That'd be enough it'd see play as a psuedo cantrip I think. Scry 3 Draw 1 instant isn't amazing; but being super hard to counter while also being a threat when you need it to be would potentially make that 4/4 for 4 a viable beater/dude. I think Krosan Tusker, for example, if it had an "in your opening hand" clause attached to it and was more like a 4/4 for 4 would be very reasonable. I still kinda want to use his cycling sometimes (though if I'm honest, it's in part because it's instant speed CA and I like to hold my mana open in blue..) Maybe tiny-tusker 3/2 for 3 and with that cycling ability would be downright usable; even with that "basic land" clause.

    For non-blue it's not just cantrips. After all, green has Mirri's Guile (1-drop that fixes your draws), Sylvan Library, and Oath of Nissa is also usable in decks like Maverick IMO. Black has Confidant and discard outlets; and similar. These are consistency engines that really do make your deck reliable in the mid game. If green had cantrips and blue didn't, but blue had consistency engines like Search for Azcanta and Library; we'd still be a blue metagame; because Blue has Force. 'Force checks' happen too often in Legacy to be relegated to non-stack interaction. Blue doesn't *need* cantrips to be dominate, because it's the only color (and requires ~18+ blue in the deck) that reliably interacts on the stack.

    The cantrip cartel can be outmoded with Green enchants/GSZ without any new printings (at least in many decks) but you aren't going to find Spell Pierce, FoW, and Flusterstorm (or anything remotely approaching their capability) in other colors; not on T1.

    EDIT: Note that Sensei's Top was also an amazing help to decks like DGA (which would actually play more of them now that they would have more room for 1-drop slots.) While that is gone, it's possible they'll print more consistency-cards for the other colors (like LUTS)
    Part of what makes cantrips good is how innocuous they seem, it is often incorrect to counter them relative to the options other colors have like Confidant and Library, both of which generally require a quick answer before they run away with the game, azcanta is probably the closest blue analogue. Looting and Stirrings are probably the closest to blue cantrips in this regard. Force/ counters and the monopoly blue has on the stack is a whole other can of worms, if you arent playing blue, your tools are much more limited in this regard, which often leads to these colors needing to rely on game breakers, since few decks can keep up otherwise, which in turn makes force and stack interaction even more important.

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