Planechase 2012 Preview: Etherium-Horn Sorcerer and Talon Gates!

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
5/23/2012 9:44:00 AM
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I'm pretty excited about the latest Planechase offering that is going to be released on June 1st of this year. Planechase 2012 is -

Wait...before I get ahead of myself, if you don't know what Planechase is or how it's played, make sure you go here and check out the rules and explanations straight from Wizards themselves!

Now that we've gotten that out of the way I was going to go on to mention that I've been excited for this release because last year's Planechase set was a blast! The reason it was so fun was that Planechase literally adds an entirely new dimension to the game play; it turns your games on their head and imparts a new rule - or set of rules - to the game that everyone must abide by - at least until you planeswalk to a new plane...then you start things all over again with a new set of rules!

While you can play Planechase 2012 right out of the box, with the pre-made 60 card decks, often Planechase was played with your favorite, custom-built, 100 card Commander deck, which was one of the most fun things you can do in a game of Magic. You can tell the developers and designers of the sets also felt this way because there have been both a ton of Legendary Creatures spoiled in the set that can be used as brand new Commanders, and because there are a ton of cards that interact favorably - well, at least favorably from your perspective - with multiple players.

Both of these facts are awesome, because our preview card today seems custom built for the, the Commander format that is!

Check out Etherium-Horn Sorcerer!

So unless you're familiar with either multiplayer games or Commander you might immediately look at this guy and think he was somewhat underwhelming.

“Okay, cool, a 3/6 for six mana with cascade. Is this really better than Enlisted Wurm?”

Well, yes, he is...but because of a very simple yet elegant line of text:

Yes, that simple little three mana ability is huge! Heck, even I wasn't sold at first, but once you realize what's actually happening things get a little clearer.

This guy means that no matter what happens, you will have something awesome to do at least every other turn. On one turn you bounce him, on the next your replay him and cascade for something that costs less than six. Yay, free cards! While the cascade mechanic was almost universally disliked during its time in Standard, it is actually right at home in Commander, where huge, swingy effects are commonplace!

This guy is amazing at avoiding huge land pockets, dodging removal, or even just blocking 5/5's. Once you hit six mana, you can simply bounce him every other turn, then cascade into the first card that costs less than six mana. Once you hit nine, you can do this every turn! What this guy is really good at, however, is just dodging all kinds of removal. Removal is the worst against this guy, since not only does he return to your hand, but you're getting the additional benefit of cascading when you replay him!

While I'm not sure if his entire body is made out of Etherium - a material which you can learn about here - his horns certainly are! And this means one thing: this gentleman is also an artifact creature! Now this might not matter all the time, but it is an awesome, subtle nuance that can benefit you in certain circumstances, say if you end up finding him in the top five cards with a Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas or want to grab him with a Fabricate! This also means he counts toward both affinity and metalcraft!

Similarly, it can also work against him by opening him up to a whole new suite of removal, such as Shatter or Disenchant effects. By and large, however, the more “features” you give a creature, the more versatile they become in regards to the interactions they have with other cards and permanents.

I envision this guy seeing a ton of play in a ton of Commander decks, not only of the blue/red variety, but also Grixis versions as well as blue/red/white versions.

...but that's not all we have today! As has been standard with the spoilers of Planechase, we were also given a brand new plane to show off for you, and this insane.

Just imagine for a minute that all of your permanents had a Dream Halls like ability that allowed you to cast them for free? Well, take a look at Talon Gates...

This is actually one of the deeper planes I've seen so far, and it has an insanely powerful ability. First off, it lets you cast whatever is in your hand...for free! That means anything; Planeswalkers, Eldrazi, Enchantments, Artifacts, you name it!

Ah, but of course there is a caveat: you have to wait, and that could mean the difference between playing it for free and just choosing to pay for it normally. This seems like an insane bargain if you open the game with this plane or get it early. In those situations you're simply removing a time counter the same way you would be playing a land for the turn, so the card would actually come down around the same time.

Another thing this plane has is the potential to create some very exciting game states. What happens when everyone in the game simply dumps their hands onto the board with suspend counters, eventually getting all their spells for free? There is also the possibility that you get to use this for any number of spells, then, when you roll the die, you planeswalk away immediately, allowing no one else to use Talon Gates.

Make no mistake, this ability is huge in Commander. It gets around things like Mana Screw, where you might not hit the necessary land to cast a particular spell in your hand, and it allows you to remain untapped in order to protect the suspended card with Counterspells or play something else on the turn it would come into play. But all of these are choices that must be made in any given game where Talon Gates shows up! The card has a lot of subtle depth to it, as each player must decide which spells, if any, they want to suspend, whether they might need them in the mean time, their odds of casting them, or if they want to cast something else on the turn the card would theoretically un-suspend. Cards - or, uh, planes? Abilities? - like this are great for the game, since they give you challenging options that seem simple at face value, but make a definite difference over the course of the game.

Did we even mention the “chaos” ability yet? Heck, it's possible - while not entirely likely - that you could suspend something on a turn, then free it the very same turn by removing all the suspend counters from it via rolling “chaos.” This is unlikely, but the potential to get free spells in the same turn is definitely there, and when it happens - especially when it's something large, like a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - it's going to make for a very memorable game! And that's pretty much what both Planechase and Commander are all about.

All in all, from what I've seen of Planechase 2012, it looks like an absolute blast! The set is going to be released in four separate packages, each containing ten (of the total forty) oversized Planechase cards along with a pre-made sixty card deck. Of course as I mentioned here - and what seems implied - your best bet is to simply take the sixty cards they give you and add them to your existing Commander decks. This set looks to give us a ton of new goodies and a bevy of new Commanders to use, and I for one can't wait.

Thanks for reading guys, and I'll see you later this week with your regularly scheduled deck tech!

Frank Lepore
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