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  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

    Join Date

    Jul 2014


    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
    Site Contributor
    mistercakes's Avatar
    Join Date

    Nov 2009



    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.

  4. #4

    Join Date

    Jul 2013



    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.

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