Once upon a time, we had a cookout at my house, tried out the new (at the time) Archenemy multiplayer format, grilled food and generally had a good time. So we decided to do it again! This time, Planechase 2 was being tested.
The last Magic cookout was kind of grey and rainy, so we ended up playing in the garage. This time it was sunny and exceptionally warm (high of 90, which is nutty for May in Buffalo). It was also breezy, which kept us cool but blew the cards off the table. So we ended up in the garage again.
We started out playing a game of Planechase with the decks from the original Planechase release, one of the old Archenemy decks, and the one new Planechase deck I was sent for review. I took all the new Plane cards and mixed in a few of the old ones, then used that as a communal Plane deck. Each new Planechase deck comes with ten all-new Plane cards. Eight of them are actual Planes, the other two are a new kind of card called a Phenomenon. If a Plane card acts like an enchantment that affects all the players, a Phenomenon is like a Sorcery that affects everyone. The best was Planewide Disaster, a basic Day of Judgment effect that’s very welcome in multiplayer games. Things can get complicated, and you need a reset button every now and then.
This photo probably sums up the delights of a Magic cookout better than any other. That’s Gavin playing the equivalent of a turn one Sol Ring in the cookout format.
The one deck I received was “Savage Auras,” a green/white deck built around playing lots of enchantments. You either love this kind of deck or you don’t. I think they’re pretty cool, and the preconstructed one here is not too shabby. Kor Spiritdancer, Pollenbright Wings, and Auratouched Mage are standard issue, but the awesome thing about this new Planechase set is that they’ve designed brand new, never before printed cards for it. Like the new cards created for last summer’s Commander release, these are tournament legal in “eternal” formats like Legacy, but they’ll never be legal in Standard. This has a huge advantage, in that they can print really powerful cards or cards designed for multiplayer without screwing up Standard.
In this case, they’ve done one better by giving each deck a brand new rare legendary creature that not only works splendidly in Planechase, it can also be poached to create a new Commander deck as well. I got Krond the Dawn-Clad, which visually appears to be a knight riding a griffon. But for you Wiccans out there, doesn’t “dawn-clad” mean “naked”? Seems like a missed opportunity.
Robot Viking spokesdog Ruby got to spend the entire day baking herself in the hot sun, one of her all-time favorite activities. Her brother Winston was a little more camera shy — he spent the whole day hiding under a giant forsythia bush.
After playing with the Planechase decks, we tried a 5-person game of Commander/Planechase. I was rolling with my Rhys the Redeemed deck, my wife used her Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer deck, my brother ran with Animar, Soul of Elements, our friend Amy was rocking an Olivia Voldaren vampire deck, and Gavin piloted Kaalia of the Vast.
It was truly epic, with huge momentum shifts and multiple board wipes as the game progressed. The Plane interactions were crazy, with people swapping life totals, discarding tons of cards, drawing tons more, getting extra attack phases…very chaotic. I will say this: the game took a long, long time. It was a marathon. Commander politics came into play (in a fun way, for the most part). And if you’re not totally focused on the game — as we were not, what with all the grilled food and beer and whatnot — it can be easy to miss triggers and other rules details. I’m pretty sure my brother should have won, but we forgot that one of his Eldrazi was indestructible, so I actually ended up taking the victory on the back of a flashbacked Crush of Wurms. That card’s pretty good…you know, when you have 12 mana available.
These new Planechase decks are great for casual Magic players, as they’ve always been. Wizards has really added interest with the new card designs, though — now you can grab a few of these to get a sweet legend for that new Commander deck you want to build, or even to grab a few overpowered cards for your Cube.
I also want to thank my friends for coming out and playing Magic with me, and for laughing at my Christopher Planeswalken joke.