Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Pursuit of “Casual” and the Discovery of a Dead End

I have a very love/hate relationship with constructed magic. I have twice bought-in to standard thinking it would be fun (kamigawa/ravnica and zendikar/scars), and twice been soundly disappointed at the return on my investment. My main beef with constructed is how the vast majority of the cardpool is simply unplayable. A handful of decks emerge as the competitive options, and you play those or you lose. This is anathema to someone who gets most of their joy in magic from building decks and looking for creative ways to use marginal cards.

I’ve largely resolved this issue by playing limited formats, including developing a limited variant called “league” which is like constructed with a very limited cardpool. While I’ve turned my back on constructed for the most part, I’ve kept trying to make EDH work since its the “casual” constructed format. This blog has largely been about articulating what my idea of casual is, but as time goes on I think its becoming clear that there is no such thing as casual magic.

Casual means some variant of “fun” and “not competitive”, but any way you slice it the definition is in the eye of the beholder. In my earliest EDH days I wanted to ban loxodon warhammer, then maze of ith, and even pulse of the fields. As time went on my distastes changed, but the principal stayed the same - there are a lot of things I don’t like seeing in a “casual” game that your average player probably has no issue with. As of this moment, I can think of at least 13 things I don’t want to see in my “casual” EDH games:

1. No mass land destruction
2. No mana screw (winter orb, targeting signets, vorinclex)
3. No tuck spells on generals
4. No infinite / game-ending combos
5. No nuisance “counting” cards (lord of extinction, chaos moon, multani, etc)
6. No repeatable graveyard abuse (mimeoplasm, karador, genesis)
7. No mass tokens
8. No (or maybe minimal) tutors
9. No eldrazi (annihilator is basically mass LD)
10. No stupid-in-multiplayer cards (mind’s eye)
11. No nuisance “random” cards (grip of chaos, confusion in the ranks)
12. No 1-shot generals
13. No abusive/chronic triggers (rhystic study, genesis)

And that’s not counting individual cards I loathe like mindslaver or merieke ri berit.

With no less than 13 extra rules required, its clear that turning EDH into a format that I could truly enjoy is just not possible. Even if I could define everything I’d take out of the game, who in their right mind would want to make decks for such a stripped down, arbitrary format? Which doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with EDH, it just means “casual” doesn’t really mean anything and it certainly doesn’t address my issues with constructed formats. So I’ll probably hang up my EDH decks for a while and focus on limited/league play, at least until I feel the masochistic call of standard or the familiar itch of EDH again.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Charmed

Versatility is an excellent quality of a card in any format, but especially in multiplayer EDH. Cards like beast within and profane command are great in EDH because they’re almost always the right card for the situation. Magic has a long list of cards that let you do one of several things, dating back to shapeshifter - but its probably best represented by the various charms in the game.

I believe charms were first printed in visions, but have seen several iterations throughought magic. They range from relatively weak monocolour options like funeral charm to more powerful three-colour options like bant charm. An aside - I once played a cromat deck with every 3 coloured charm in the game and every split card from dissension, made for some very complicated sunforger decisions!

The recent pack of 3-colour charms from alara block all have some EDH application, but there are obviously a very limited number of decks you can put them in. If you happen to be playing a certain shard, you probably already look at the cards specific to that shard as part of your deck-building. It’s more interesting to look at the generally less-powerful mono-colour charms, as they can find homes in a huge number of EDH decks.

For this post I’d like to focus on an underrated charm that probably should see more play in EDH:






Dawn charm gives you three reactive options, all of which are quite strong in multiplayer EDH.

I’ve found myself slipping more and more fog effects into my decks, snapping up a copy of darkness and developing quite the friendship with constant mists. Preventing all damage is an underrated ability in general but especially in EDH where its one of the few options to survive an insurrection or entwined savage beating.

Regenerate is less exciting as most EDH removal either sacrifices, exiles, or explicitly says “cannot be regenerated” (wrath of god, decree of pain). It can function as a kill spell when creatures would otherwise trade, and once in a while turn a wrath into a fail if regenerating is an option (inferno).

Counter a spell that targets you ranges from meh to awesome. Blocking a cruel ultimatum is certainly nice, but mainly this works because holding 2 mana up means you can fog, regenerate, or counter - where holding up mana for a negate has a much more limited application.

Macaroni or Cheese

I certainly wouldn’t put dawn charm in every deck, but it is a nice complement to sunforger and better than holy day if you’re looking for a fog effect outside of green. It is fantastic if it fogs an insurrection, good if it saves your dude from a kill spell, and once in a while clutch when it blocks a cruel ultimatum


















Monday, December 5, 2011

New Kids on the Block

When Wizards of the Coast decided to officially endorse EDH as the “Commander format” it understandably released new product to generate some profits from the endorsement. The five commander precons gave new players a very solid starting block for the format, including some old staples like sol ring, while introducing a whack of new cards designed specifically for multiplayer EDH.

Personally, I dislike the join forces cards and the other pure multiplayer cards like death by dragons. I like my cards to have subtler multiplayer applications (liliana’s spectre, syphon soul). Regardless, the introduction of 15 new legendary creatures was far more important to the format than the other commander-specific creations. This was a huge bump in playable generals for the various enemy colour pairs and especially enemy colour shards, but was it all good for the format?

By my estimation of the 15 new generals Wizards introduced, half were good and half were bad, with 3 being very well designed and 4 being terrible for EDH games everywhere. 


The Very Good

1. Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
While too much random is incredibly annoying (grip of chaos, confusion in the ranks), a little bit can be a lot of fun. Capricious efreet is a card I often want to play, but just ends up cut because there are better removal options available. I find Tariel is in the sweet spot of a “little bit” of random. He’s a fun card because the randomness isn’t a nuisance, in fact it keeps the usual nuisance of monitoring graveyards (teneb, mimeoplasm) under control since you usually can’t guarantee what you’ll get with his ability. He also leaves the deck up to the builder, as there is nothing he needs to work. Just run a little removal you should be playing anyways, and voila - business.

2. Skullbriar, the Walking Grave
I like cheap generals and I’ve always liked whirling dervish. The drawback for dervish (and slith for that matter) is that it takes too long for the +1+1 counters to matter in a 40 life format. By the time your little horseman gets to 5/5 it ends up getting outclassed or swept off the battlefield. Skullbriar solves this problem by retaining his counters, which also means he scales well when re-cast from the command zone. Haste is also a fantastic general ability, and actually pretty rare for both black and green creatures. I really like this guy as a black/green general.



3. Ruhan of the Fomorii
Another example of the “little bit of random” being fun. A 7/7 stays relevant through an EDH game, and is actually in the sweet spot of 3-shotting someone with general damage like the original elder dragons. Obviously that’s offset by not picking your target, so all around a pretty fair general - also a lot of fun to say “its not my fault!” whenever you whack someone for 7. 





The Okay

1. Basandra, Battle Seraph
Basandra is neat because her two abilities work reasonably well on their own, but can also be built around in your deck. On the downside the no-casting-during-combat abilitiy is probably more annoying than it is fun, while on the upside who doesn’t love nettling imp? She suffers because I’ve found red/white as a colour combination is quite boring no matter what you do, but I have no problem with the card per-se.






2. Damia, Sage of Stone
I feel like there are probably degenerate combos possible with Damia, but I like to instead think of her as an incentive to play lots of cheap crap spells and dump your hand over and over again. At 7 mana he’s a rough cast and will rarely survive the round to net you cards but if she does you’ve got the business. To the extent she’s used to play large quantities of cheap cards, I like it. To the extent she’s used to fuel degenerate combos, I hate it.






3. Nin, the Pain Artist
This is some interesting design space if nothing else. I don’t see anything degenerate or overpowered, just a strange combination of damage and card draw that always makes you question if the payoff is worth the drawback. Definitely more interesting than Tibor and Lumia as a r/u general, and less degenerate than #1 Niv-Mizzet. 







4. Zedruu, the Greathearted
Again, interesting design space for players. He’s an alternative to pheldagriff for group-hug players, and an interesting political card for those wanting to dabble more heavily in that area of multiplayer. I think most would agree he’s an overcosted card with an overcosted/marginal ability, but still has a niche in EDH. 








The Bad

1. Karador, Ghost Chieftan
We’re lucky this guy isn’t blue, because with any decent self-mill he’d be unbearably annoying. Even in his colours he offers a tremendous amount of synergy and the potential for degenerate recursion cycles. He’s not in the awful category because his graveyard shenanigans are restricted to the owners graveyard, but he’s not good either because free cards from the yard just enables too many stupid possibilities (hi eternal witness).





2. Kaalia of the Vast
Kaalia’s problem is that she is just too damn boring. Your deck design options go down the toilet as you just end up playing the usual cast of EDH-proven dragons, demons, and angels, with an uninspired mix of mana artifacts, removal spells, and maybe some evasion equipment. What makes EDH tribal decks neat is that they usually have to be creative to be viable in multiplayer; Kaalia’s tribe is basically the best EDH creatures there are, so there’s no creativity or further synergy required. 






3. Animar, Soul of Elements
Like Kaalia, Animar suffers from my-deck-built-itself syndrome. Add lots of creatures including fatties that benefit from cost reduction and stir. Like Kaalia, Animar asks you to overextend; unlike Kaalia, Animar becomes exponentially worse each time you have to re-cast him. Since his power lies in you having played a lot of spells, he is pretty weak on the 2nd and 3rd re-casts as he hits the table as a 1/1. Animar is the double whammy of being a boring and bad general (although to give him his due he can take a massive dump on black/white decks if they don’t resolve a wrath).




4. Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Edric looks interesting, but falls into a group-hug trap of mass card draw. The problem with everyone drawing oodles of cards is that means everyone has virtually unlimited threats and answers, so none of them end up mattering. People running out of threats or answers is generally what defines a game of magic - all players having limitless resources means someone needs to combo out or have a truly un-answerable win condition to bring the game to a close. I don’t like 3 hour marathon games so I don’t like this sort of environment. I even play an edric deck (extreme aggro to offset the stalemate possibility) and I’d rather the card was never printed.




The Absolutely Terrible


1. The Mimeoplasm
The ultimate nuisance general. I do not like this card at all, and hate playing against it. Where Tariel is on the good side of graveyard shenanigans, mimeoplasm is miles away on the bad. Blue gives it access to cheap mill/looter effects like windfall so that when it comes out its almost always a 10/10 or bigger with some ETB effect or a combination of haste/shroud/flying/trample that make it a nightmare to deal with. Its nice that it exiles fatties from graveyards so others can’t do shenanigans, but that doesn’t come close to offsetting this card’s “answer-me-or-die” impact on the game. 



2. Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Vish Kal is a card that just has way too much going for it. Both abilities costing no mana is absurd, as is having both flying and lifelink paired with a massive self-pump ability. He basically gives all of your creatures “fling for free” while making it very unlikely you will lose to normal combat damage due to massive lifegain. You can easily 2-shot someone with general damage by saccing a creature or two to pump him. But the ultimate coup-de-grace is that he is immune to tuck spells and theft, a power previously reserved for atogatog. His only drawbacks are being in a fairly lousy colour pair and costing 7 mana to get started, which are nothing compared to his benefits. Compare this guy to ghost council of orzhova and you can see how easy it is for wizards to go too far with their new legendary commander creatures.


3. Riku of the Two Reflections
I really wanted to like Riku. He was a big reason I bought the mirror mastery precon, but he’s just not fun. You either get away with your doubling and run away with the game, or riku gets wiped away immediately everytime and you struggle to do anything meaningful. The doubling creature effect is also a nuisance as you end up with all kinds of tokens on the board and having to remember what they are. He’s close to the answer-me-or-die general type, although it is somewhat reliant on what’s in your hand. Definitely unfun to play against, and a bit too powerful to really enjoy piloting.




4. Ghave, Guru of Spores
Ghave himself isn’t really that bad, it’s more the deck he needs you to make. To be at all effective he needs you to play cards that make tokens, and token decks are almost as annoying as graveyard-abuse decks. A field full of dice and face down cards that are bears, saprolings, soldiers, myrs, and god-knows-what-else is just plain annoying to look at. At least he doesn’t include red, which would enable threaten+sac combos, and his skills cost mana unlike vish kal’s. Ultimately it doesn’t matter because mass tokens alone is enough of a nuisance to give him 2 thumbs down.






Macaroni or Cheese?
Wizards split these guys 50/50 between mac and cheese, which isn’t bad considering how it could have gone. Sadly it looks like this might be the best they could do, as their next gogo gadget commander looks to leave mimeoplasm and vish kal in the dust for retardedness:




Double cascade, 7/5 haste giving all creatures (that you’ll likely cascade into) haste? hurr durr... this will be the #1 legitimizer of people playing and tutoring for their spell crumples. Also note there is nothing legendary about this card except that by being legendary it will fetch a far higher price. The bar just went a lot lower for wizards.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zedruu Theory

My most recent EDH efforts have been around a Zedruu deck. While she will never be a powerful general, and might never even be a good general, there are some interesting strategies possible around her. The deck remains untested - but these are my musings so far on Zedruu for EDH:




1. Howling mine and pals are a non-bo.

One of the first things people jump to with Zedruu is donating a howling mine. That’s certainly where I started, eyeballing viseling and sudden impact mechanics for the deck. The problem with this is Zedru’s only real advantage is giving you cards. If you’re giving everybody extra cards anyways, what’s the point in playing zedruu to draw even more cards? Unless you lean on crap like library of leng or spellbook you'll be limited by the 7 card hand size limit anyway - especially if you want mana available to donate.

2. Zedruu will die.

The biggest problem with most zedru strategies is the player tries to give away heaps of cards only to have their general wrathed away before they truly start to benefit from those donations. In the same vein she goes quite nicely with a retribution of the meek.

3. Donations will die.

You don't want to be starting over from scratch with the donations each time you play Zedruu. If you give away creatures, those get wrathed away at the same time zedruu does. Artifacts and enchantments are a safer investment, but lands are the safest donation by far. Ultimately though I would just avoid donating creatures.

4. Donating takes a lot of mana.

The cost of donating cards via zedruu is a known annoyance. Having to pay RWU specifically makes it very mana intensive, especially if you try to donate 2 things in a single turn and even more if you’re giving away lands/signets. Goblin Cadets, Rogue Skycaptain, Loxodon Peacekeeper and Vedalken Plotter are all huge cards to have down before you bring zedruu out as its a free swap. Puca’s mischief gets an outside nod as it costs the same as zed, and requires other cards to work.

A lot of 2-drop artifacts can help curve you into zedruu a turn faster and ensure you get all 3 colours to get her out in the first place. My favourites are pentad prism, sphere of the suns, and talisman of progress as they make for nice donate fodder once zedruu is out.

5. You need to do something when your plan works.

So you’ve donated 4 cards and kept zedruu on the table, way to go! Now what... my angle of choice are the various maro’s (kiyomaro, sturmgeist, etc) but those alone won’t get there. A certain number of slots probably have to be reserved for huge “gg” cards like akroma or magmatic force.

6. Donating doesn’t have to help anyone.

While lands are safest, the best donations are things like spellshock and tsabo’s web that are of no benefit whatsoever to the person receiving them. The nice thing about “damage” permanents like ankh of mishra and psychogenic probe are that zedruu’s minimal life gain ability actually helps take the edge off of these for you.

7. The white-ramp combo

Land tax, tithe, and gift of estates are all solid ways to make up for donating lands with zedruu and in most cases fill your hand (e.g. buff your maros). On the red side of things donating lands weakly combos with price of progress and acidic soil.


So that basically outlines where my current build is at. I’ve yet to play it though so cannot comment on its effectiveness, but at a minimum its a zedruu approach that isnt the tired pheldagriff-style “group hug” nuisance deck.

Macaroni or Cheese

Even on her worst day zedru cannot be considered cheesey, and it allows you to be as generous or sinister as you feel from game to game. You can also teach other players a lesson by giving them your “fun cards” so they can see what its like to play without a perma-fog combo or stasis lock (if such a player is permitted in your playgroup!)





Sunday, November 27, 2011

There can be only one (or none)

A few weeks ago I was curious to read the “official” EDH rules, wondering if anything had changed with Commander launching as wizards-approved format. In addition to the official sites, I found an archived page somewhere referring to a rule I’d never heard of before: Generals in EDH are immune to the “legendary rule”. That meant they’d trigger it, killing off any pretenders in an enemy’s deck, but legendary commanders would survive any attempts at duplication.

For a few fleeting moments my clone effects suddenly looked bad, and uril the miststalker looked better (cheesier) than ever. However, asking around it was revealed that this was definitely not an official rule of the format - nor was it even a commonly practiced house rule. The format stayed as I’d always known it, and I could rest assured that this would still be a fantastic card for the few decks that could make use of it:


Clone effects are great because they all act as extremely potent, reliable removal in Commander. Spitting image is a cut above the usual options because of retrace - which means every land you draw reads “kill target general” once its in your graveyard. Beyond that amazing utility, the effects are great because they usually mean you get something worth a lot more than what you just paid - or the right answer at the right time. For every spearbreaker behemoth or inkwell leviathan you copy for 6, there’s another time when the right pick is copying a bone shredder or stomphowler. Spitting image gives you options and virtual card advantage (turns lands into power) which is about all you can ask of a solid EDH card.

The biggest knock I have for this card is that its green/blue and thus only fits in a handful of possible EDH decks. Beyond that its very fairly costed at 6 mana, and probably the best retrace spell there is. You should have lots of easy ways to fill your hand up with more lands between cards like journeyer’s kite, land tax, armillary sphere, and even sprouting vines so it sits there as a rattlesnake to anyone who wants to crush you with general damage, while simultaneously letting you get your own version of the best guy on the board whenever you’ve got a land to pitch.

Macaroni or Cheese

The effect is awesome, it has re-usability, and its just expensive enough at 6CMC to not be broken or excessively annoying. Two thumbs up!






Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One format's trash...


There’s a funny story about this card. My old playgroup did a shards of alara “league” (mix of sealed and block constructed), and when we saw this card each of us had to take a turn reading it to fully appreciate how bad it was (seemed). For seven mana you might deal damage if a creature dies... even in that format it was unlikely for someone to have more than a card or two in hand if there was 7 mana on the board so you were looking at trying to kill four creatures just to make the damage comparable to a lava axe. This was of course, before any of us had heard of EDH/Commander.


What the card needed was extra players around the table, longer games, and more prolific card drawing or card advantage... sound familiar? EDH provided the environment this card really needed, propelling it from absolute trash to borderline overpowered. It is not uncommon to be able to 1-shot a player with vicious shadows the turn after playing it. A 5 player game will usually have at least 5 creatures around the table - sometimes a lot more. Firing off a wrath after laying down shadows is usually good for 5-10 triggers, and most players maintain hands of 4-6 cards throughout a game of EDH. That’s 20-60 damage to distribute as you please in a single turn.

The upside of the card is it creates an incentive for people to dump their hands so that they aren’t vulnerable to it. The downside is sometimes its just not possible to do before you get dinged for massive amounts of life. A hand full of situational answers, or 7CMC bombs, just cannot be dumped at will.

Another upside is that it can be a straightforward equalizer if you go for the players with the highest life totals rather than the ones with the most cards in hand. Its only as much of a bastard card as you make it - although sometimes its too hard to resist hitting the guy with a 7 card grip, whatever his life total may be.

Macaroni or Cheese?
I’m on the fence with how brutal this card is. Its really a question of how much you can do about it before you succumb to the shots-to-the-face. Often you’ll have just one turn to respond, and if you don’t have a disenchant in hand too bad for you. So yeah, its an EDH bomb - on the line between tolerably and intolerably cheesey.




Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Removal Required


Long time no blog...
It’s been a while since my last post, but we got in an EDH session last weekend and I’m feeling interested in the format again. A quick update on some of my experiments:

1. The Hidetsugu deck was a flop, as monored EDH is every bit as boring as advertised. You’re a fool not to play gauntlet of power, extraplanar lens, caged sun and a bunch of firebreathing/x spell/mountain-based cards, but playing those makes the deck criminally dull. I don’t blame hidetsugu for the failure, I blame monored in general.

2. Rafiq is too strong to be fun. I played a single game with him, and of course 1-shot an opponent on turn 5 with might of oaks, then followed up by playing finest hour and going after my other opponent for 24 general damage per turn (star format). My hand at game end a turn later included loxodon warhammer and mass calcify, so things looked pretty much sewn up no matter what he did. I could have re-cast rafiq two more times without breaking a sweat even if he had died.

3. My replacements for these two generals are kaervek and zedruu. I think group hug decks are retarded, so I’m trying to make a viable (and not terribly obvious) zedruu deck - will do a post on it if it turns out decent. Kaervek is just a coolstuff.dec so far but has been pretty fun to play.

Public Service Announcement: Removal is good
During our weekend session there were several games that got extremely out of hand when not a single opponent around the table could muster a single removal spell for an easy target. In the first instance I played a turn 3 Edric that went uncontested until a turn 7-8 spitting image. In the other a turn 5-6 Kalia of the vast went uncontested for the entire game (along with her dragon army).

Its a fairly sad state of affairs when you get obliterated by a 2/2 flier or a 2/3 ground creature with no survival properties whatsoever. In both cases the generals win by amassing ridiculous armies, which means they are also hugely vulnerable to sweepers. The problem is removal spells are almost universally less exciting than big flashy sorceries or permanents, and end up getting chopped from decks in favour of those more exciting alternatives.

I’d advocate a 10-removal-card-minimum for any deck worth its salt. Most of these should be high potency, surefire kill spells and sweepers like final judgement, doom blade, beast within, spine of ish sah - anything that can take down your average creature and ideally a couple that can wipe out your average army. They usually won’t synergize with your deck or help its theme, but they will be crucial to not folding to the first threat that turns your way.

On top of that you can usually throw in a few niche removal spells like hull breach, snapback, or arcane denial. These spells are usually great, but their inability to permanently deal with a creature thats pounding away at you means you can’t rely on them too heavily.

Two other ways to improve your removal count is to play creatures that act as removal (dread, michiko konda, hateflayer) and to dig through your deck (flux, diabolic tutor), but again there’s often no replacement for a good old fashioned wrath of god or terror, so you should find room in your 60 playables for some iteration of those cards. Thinking you can race your opponent instead of removing the problems is usually a recipe for failure, as they’ll just start buying back a constant mists or lob down an island sanctuary. Heed my words of wisdom: at least 10 pieces of removal per deck!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Constant vigilance!

Vigilance is one of the strongest and probably most underrated abilities in EDH. Being able to attack and defend with the same creatures gets better and better with each additional opponent - making it good in star games and fantastic in free-for-all. I’d consider it generally underrated because the most playable vigilance creatures tend to have other, more noticeable abilities (stonehewer giant, twilight shepherd). If a creature just says “vigilance” its probably not great for EDH - although it’d be a nice 4th edition throwback to run yotian soldier in some kind of equipment or artifact deck.

In my early EDH days I actually ran a “vigilance” deck using Johan as my commander, capitalizing on cards like mossbridge troll and glare of subdual. As you can imagine a 6 mana serra’s blessing is not exactly the hotness and the deck was good for a laugh but not much else. I think Johan would be interesting if he was like a 1/7 defender with hexproof. As printed though he might as well have defender, dies to everything, and at 5/4 is a pretty lousy blocker.

Lately I’ve been musing over a true vigilance deck with something like Ith or Konda as a general. The problem is there are only about 20 EDH-worthy creatures that have vigilance, and while most are monowhite some of the best ones require red and green (godsire, megalanoth, bull ceradon). For the theme to be noticeable you’d have to expand the creature base to include crap like abbey griffin, and while it would be unexpected, it would also be crap, and a true macaroni card should be both unexpected and relevant.

While the vigilance deck isn’t quite there yet, I’m still thinking cards that grant vigilance are probably better than I give them credit for. The obvious one would be serra’s blessing, but there’s a much better option at half the cost and twice the power level that I’ve played in a few decks over the years:

I am pretty sure the printing of reconnaissance was a mistake. The reminder text on the card suggests wizards wanted you to have to choose between dealing damage and untapping your creature - not do both. But magic is a tricky, technical game with more phases and sub-phases than most players realize. “Combat” breaks down (roughly) like this:

1. Declare combat (no more sorceries until after combat, last chance to tap down possible attackers)
2. Declare attackers (“when X attacks” triggers go off)
3. Declare blockers (“when X blocks” triggers go off)
4. Damage resolves (does not use the stack, no responses allowed)
5. End of combat

You can cast spells and use abilities anywhere along the chain except step 4, but it’s the 5th step that matters for reconnaisance. At this point your creatures are still considered to be “attacking creatures” and thus still eligible to be untapped with reconnaisance. This will of course have no effect on damage dealt/received as that step already happened - effectively giving all of your creatures vigilance.

Although this step rarely matters, it was actually useful in scars of mirrodin limited with the card dispense justice. A player could block to kill off any small attackers, taking damage from a larger one, and then after damage (and death) cast dispense justice forcing the attacker to sac his big creature assuming it was the only “attacking creature” remaining. Not a frequent use of the card, but often a relevant one.

The end-step vigilance trick is of course an unintentional side-effect of reconnaisance. It still preforms its originally intended purpose of making you immune to combat tricks and able to swing with reckless abandon, removing anything in danger of dying from combat for the low, low cost of zero mana. On an enchantment that costs one mana, this is already a huge ability - the unintentional addition of serra’s blessing onto the card makes it bonkers.


Macaroni or Cheese

I like this card for how it enables a player to turn guys sideways with impunity, but I do not believe wizards ever intended the card to be able to do what it does. While it wasn’t banned or errata’d, its in the same club with jitte, mindsculptor, and rancor - even if it is by far the least offensive of the group.