by Mike Dewey
I wasn't thrilled with Mercadian Masques. It wasn't a bad set, by any means, but it lacked any new mechanics, it played slow, and overall I felt like WotC had just re-released Ice Age all over again.
The newest set, Nemesis, is in the same flavor as it's predecessor. While I have yet to actually play with the cards, it seems a bit slow for my tastes; however, it does bring in a new mechanic called Fading. While I don't have the exact text of what Fading is, I will paraphrase as best as possible: Fading X When ~this~ comes into play put X Fade Counters on. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a fade counter. If you cannot, then sacrifice ~this~. The mechanic seems to be a reverse Cumulative Upkeep, but you don't have to pay mana. I like it a heck of a lot better than the cumulative upkeep simply because you don't have to pay mana, and it stays around for a set period of time. While not the most powerful new mechanic (like buyback was), it isn't nearly as weak as Flanking, Phasing, or Bands with other.
On to the cards. I would like to go through the entire set, but I only have a copy on paper, and frankly I'd bore you after the first 50 cards. So, I'll just go though a few of the highlights. If you have a list, go get it because I'm not going to type out what the card does all over again. If I get less lazy I'll just cut and paste later, ok?
Parallax Wave - Sha, this card is THE card of the set. You probably already know all about it so I won't rave about it here. Well, except to say this, it's Ba-roaken.
Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero - I do like this card, but I don't think it's as great as people say it is. Someone on the net was ranting about the whole Rebel ability. Basically, he said that he didn't want to thin his deck of creatures. Um, what? You don't want to get creatures from your library into play? Ok, sure, whatever. Granted a Wrath of God after you've "thinned" your deck of creatures is bad. The solution? Lin Sivvi.
Accumulated Knowledge - People said this card could be broken. But really, pay 1U for a card then 2 then 3 then oh you're bolted dead. The maximum you can draw with this is 26 cards, but that's after you're opponent has used the 4 in his/her deck to draw 10. I've drawn more cards with browse and thrown out the useless junk (ok, maybe not 26 times, but enough to get the cards I need). Time will tell, I guess.
Air Bladder - A worse flight? Geez.
Dominate - This card has potential. Get control of a mana land for just 1UU and it's an instant? Gimme four. Ok, it costs 5UU to gain control of a Masticore, so Treachery will still see some play. Strong card for the blue mage.
Parallax Tide - See Parallax Wave.
Rootwater Thief (AKA Long's Merfolk) - 2U to go through your opponent's deck every turn and get a card? Combo decks might have to recenter themselves, maybe. I can just see this happening, player 1 "Ok, I'll go get another creature out of your deck" Next turn. Player 2, "So, you're, like, tapped out? Cool. 'geddon." Player 1 "D'oh!" It might see some use, but it doesn't wreck creature based decks.
Stronghold Biologist/Machinist Counter spells on a stick! Great with Arcane Lab.
Ascendant Evincar - This should really be called Crovax, Ascendant Evincar, but I assume because of rules problems, WotC didn't want to have two Crovax Legend cards. 4BB for a 3/3 flier that's also a Bad Moon, and a better Engineered Plague? Too bad he's a Legend.
Death Pit Offering - I don't know how or why yet, but this card will be strong. All you're creatures get +2/+2? That's gotta be strong. Maybe with Opalescence.
Diving Witch - Consultation on a stick? Wow, with Consultation being used (and abused) in Extended, I have to wonder how long it will take people to figure out that it's strong in Standard. Now, how many times can you use it in a game? 2, maybe 3? Still I think it will be a strong card (and possibly broken in combo engines).
Massacre - Control Black gets a huge boost with this card. It just wrecks most current creature decks AND deals with Pro. Black and Can't-target-me creatures.
Arc Mage - Think of it as a 2/2 Kris Mage that deals twice the damage. And they said SRB (Stupid Red Burn) was dead.
More Flowstone? I know we're back in Rath but, Flowstone (while a cool concept) was not that great of an idea game-wise. And if we're in Wrath where are all the Shadows, Licids and Slivers?
Mana Cache - This is another card that I think could be broken, but I don't know how just yet.
First, what a cool name. It's just cool. Second, damn that's strong. Granted you'll only get 3 attacks and it can't be Rancored, but it can't be Vendetted or Terrored or whatever. 5/5 for 4, strong.
Overlaid Terrain - See Death Pit Offering
Saproling Cluster - Yep, they brought back the all-play mechanic in the new set. Let's see, green produces mana, right? And it can draw cards equal to the number of creatures you control for a mere 6 mana. Hmmm... Sounds like a combo engine to me.
Eye of Yawgmoth - Read that as: Library Manipulation for green. You Want to find that Might of Oaks? Go look! You want to find that Cradle? Go look! Possibly good for White Weenie to find that 'geddon or Wrath as well.
Tangle Wire - This is just kind of a cool card, that would be great in a limited environment. As for standard... Well, I said I'd break Attunement (I have yet to do so). I'm gonna break this card too.
There's only one worth mentioning... Rath's Edge - Whoa, Blue now has a way to win other than Morphling. And every color now has some creature control (think Green). Very, very strong card, especially with cards that put land back into your hand or into play.
Nemesis is a nice addition to Standard even if it slows things down (even more). The Parallax cards will be broken until errated or banned. There are also several strong cards (unlike Mercadian Masques) which will see play in Standard. I'm also a fan of Fading as it's really a better version of Cumulative Upkeep, and they did some interesting things with it.
Mike "Steve-you're-DQed" Dewey
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