Return to Ravnica Exclusive Preview: Detention Sphere!

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
9/12/2012 10:35:00 AM
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Return to Ravnica looks to be one of the largest sets to ever be released, and I'm not talking the number of cards. As we return to Ravnica, where its ten guilds once pervaded Magic culture indefinitely, the set itself, Return to Ravnica, looks to be one of the best selling sets to ever be released. Ever. These are some large words, but the set itself has some insane rares that have been revealed thus far, and that's not even including a reprinting of five of the ten shocklands!

I feel as though the card I'm going to present to you today follows in the same vein as the card that have been spoiled so far. It is an amazing piece of removal that should be a format staple for the next, what, two years? I know you guys are probably chomping at the bit here (whatever that means...), so I'll get right to it!

I'm sorry, what?! Destroy target nonland permanent and all other per-

...wait, what? This card is from Alara Reborn? It isn't my Return to Ravnica preview card? I do this for every preview article?

Hrm...well this is awkward. To make matters worse, I already compared Dreadbore to Maelstrom Pulse in that they were both efficient black-based removal spells that were able to take out some of the most threatening permanents on the board. To a lesser extent, Abrupt Decay is also a Maelstrom Pulse! MAELSTROM PULSE ALL THE THINGS!!!

Okay, by now I'm sure you've heard enough of my descriptions and you're like, “hey, get with the preview card, jerk!” Nah, I'm jus' playin', I know you already skipped right to it. I could type anything here right now and you would never even know! Like the fact that I like turtles! Anyway, without further ado, here is my actual Return to Ravnica preview card!

Yes, Oblivion Ring! This card does it all! It gets rid of enchantments, Planeswalkers, artifacts, cre-

...hmm? This was just printed in M13, you say? Wow, I'm really batting a thousand today...

Okay, so if Maelstrom Pulse isn't my card, and Oblivion Ring isn't my card, what the heck is my preview card!? Lemme dig around a bit and see if I can find it...

Ah, got it!

Yes sir, that is one...spicy...what? You can still tell that I, uh, tacked on Oblivion Ring's casting cost? And that the text is from Maelstrom Pulse? And that, uh...I used MS Paint to scribble off some of the actual text? You noticed that, eh?

Boy, this is actually really awkward...I mean I know my Photoshop skills aren't the best, but I thought it would fool at least a few people. That's unfortunate, but I guess it does explain why I went into the line of work I did. O_O

What if I promised you that this clearly mocked up card I have just presented to you is every bit as good as the actual card I'm about to show you? Would that help you to forgive me for this veritable runaround?

What's that? Showing you the actual card would help you forgive me? Okay, okay, that's more than fair. And thank you for sti...alright, I'm going! In all seriousness, I finally reveal to you...Detention Sphere!

Eh? Eh?? Was I right or was I right? This card a word: amazing! As I alluded to earlier, it is basically a Maelstrom Pulse and an Oblivion Ring, rolled into one...and both of those cards are incredible. Both cards see play in multiple formats, both cards were heavily played in their Standard environments, and Maelstrom Pulse was a chase rare oft times fetching $20 in a world where mythics existed!

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Having the abilities of both an Oblivion Ring and a Maelstrom Pulse carries with it some pros and cons, however, so let's take a look at what we have to work with:


- The card is removed from the game, tucked safely under the Detention Sphere. In the case of things like Gravecrawlers and Geralf's Messengers and Unburial Rites, this is just great, ensuring that the creature won't bother you for as long as Detention Sphere is hanging around.

- It removes all instances of the targeted card which means if they happen to have two Loxodon Smiters in play, well, both are going the way of the buffalo...that is, if the buffalo were temporarily locked away in a sizable Detention Sphere...but you get the point.

Ironically, however, the cons are simply the flipsides of the pros...


- Well, the pro was that it locked the creatures away under the Sphere, keeping them away from the graveyard. Unfortunately for cards that have nothing to do with the graveyard, this can become something of a liability. You see, if we reversed the roles, and wanted to get rid of a creature like the aforementioned Loxodon Smiter, well, putting him in the graveyard is often safer than imprisoning him. The reason being that a timely Naturalize (et al.) would allow the opponent to orchestrate a potentially deadly jailbreak. In these situations, Detention Sphere could become a liability (not to mention the fact that it can be targeted by the noted Oblivion Ring...)

- Exiling all cards with the name of the targeted card could potentially become an issue when both you and an opponent control the same card. Both have Oblivion Rings? (What is it with this guy and Oblivion Rings?!) Well, in order to free your own permanent from their grasp, you're going to have to give up your own as well. Do you both have Restoration Angels? Well, now they're both gone! Truth be told, I don't see this coming up very often, as the number of overlapping permanents seems low, but it is an interaction worth noting.

What does it all mean?!

Well, a lot...and not very much at all. To be honest, Detention Sphere is nothing groundbreaking; it's just another insanely efficient removal spell to be revealed from Return to Ravnica. This means that it shouldn't shake up the format very much...but on the other hand, it will undoubtedly see a ton of play. And since we're getting our reprint of Hallowed Fountain in this set, that makes it easier than ever to play the Sphere in a lot of different archetypes. While I think “American” (WUR) and Bant lists are going to be the easiest (what, with two shocklands per archetype), I'm pretty sure there is enough fixing for the other UW archetype, Esper, as well.

It's hard to predict the incoming value on a card like this. We've already seen the other two notable removal cards in the set going for around $10 each, and to be honest, I expect this one will start at a similar rate. It's simply too versatile not to be a huge players. It takes care of everything - enchantments, artifacts, creatures, Planeswalkers - with very little in the way of downsides. I'm not sure why I'm even trying to sing its praises here; nine times out of ten it's simply an upgraded Oblivion Ring, and everyone knows how good Oblivion Ring is!

So that's it. Another Return to Ravnica preview and another seemingly chase rare. I don't know what to tell you, but if you aren't preordering these cards or your boosters boxes, you're doing something wrong. And I'm usually never one to just come our and tell you to preorder! I just get a feeling that this time, packs and boxes are going to be in high, high demand...

Thanks for reading guys, and be sure to check out the latest Return to Ravnica discussions and spoilers occurring on our Facebook page, MTGatTCGplayer! You could also win a booster box by entering our contest to here -!

I'll see you later this week and thanks for reading!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
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