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Digging through Destiny

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This week brings us to the last part of Urza Block. We'll look at the set's theme of enchantments and their enablers while we go through a big history lesson in the process. You'll see the other “best creature ever printed” after Morphling (and Goblin Welder!) and see piles of beloved casual cards. Interestingly, Destiny lacks the power uncommons that you saw in Legacy and Saga, so the potential for cards like those $10 Crop Rotations doesn't exist here. However, there's still a lot of money to be mined from the set with the beaker for a symbol. Let's get started!

GMILF.

Academy Rector

The Sexy Rector has been a favorite from Day One. She would get out a Sneak Attack if you wanted to play halfway fair, and would do absurd things otherwise. Rector was superb in Sabre Bargain, a deck that used her to go get, you guessed it, Yawgmoth's Bargain. The trick with making Rector sing is combining her with effects that let you regulate when you sacrifice her. For example, you can use Phyrexian Tower or Renounce, both of which Sabre Bargain used.

The Rector is also sharp in multiplayer, since she represents a torrent of awful, dangerous things to throw out. In many ways, she acts like Moat, even if you aren't running Moat in your deck! Maybe when she dies, she gets Debtor's Knell, Meishin, the Mind Cage, Defense of the Heart or all manner of other nasty things to punish your attacker.

Interestingly, Rector was one of the first creatures that people wanted to restrict in Vintage. Before Goblin Welder, before Psychatog (which was a factor but not great at the time) and before Worldgorger Dragon, there was this lonely 3W creature. The supremely powerful thing about Rector is that she could combine well with Cabal Therapy to make Rector Trix, a deck that utilized the creature to fetch up Yawgmoth's Bargain. With the instant shot of cards, you would eventually find Illusions of Grandeur and hardcast it. Up twenty more life, you could then find that one Donate and give away your prize. In an era before Storm, Rector was a powerful creature for combination decks. Though she's relegated to casual play now, it is a powerful and recognized card.

$5.75

Apprentice Necromancer

This guy features some pretty rad art, but he's really slow in other aspects. It's a Shallow Grave on a creature, which is desirable in some circles. Mainly, it's above bulk because it has a cheap, potentially powerful effect that works well in EDH. There's about a dozen creatures that are just better for reanimation engines, but this one is fine.

$1.25

Attrition

I first came across Attrition when I was building an EDH deck recently. It's a very versatile card when you have a lot of targets to point it at, like in a multiplayer game. The enchantment is incredible when you can pair it with something like Ker Keep or Sengir Autocrat, making for a sick mess of creature removal. In a way, it's like a Grave Pact that's a little less obvious.

$1.00

Covetous Dragon

Remember a few columns ago when I mentioned that Wildfire is a perennially popular deck for nostalgic people to build? The dragon was the favored kill mechanism in the decks. It's a huge monster for what you pay for it and I'd be inclined to say that it would be Constructed playable today, especially since it's so simple to splash for. On top of that, it's part of a desirable tribe. It's not as expensive as Lightning Dragon, but it's a whole lot better.

$1.25

Donate

Michelle Bush came up with the idea of pairing Donate, Illusions of Grandeur and Necropotence together to make a mean machine. The Trix combo, as Illlusions/Donate was called, ruled Extended for a long time and I think it was the first iconic “two card kill” that people had seen beyond Channelball. What I love about it is how it took two crap rares to make the combo.

Donate's price comes mainly from its appeal in building Trix decks, but some Johnnys like it for wacky combos. Try giving someone Colfenor's Plans, for example!

$2.75

Elvish Piper

I remember when Elvis was a $10 card – its text will make a Timmy player's eyes go wide with glee. Before it was reprinted into oblivion, it was the iconic sleeper hit, the card to pull out of a junk binder or rare bin and make big cash. It still holds a bit of value because people like having the originals, but they have definitely plummeted in value.

$3.75

False Prophet

A.K.A. Enron.

I like the real multiplayer dynamic of this; you have it out and everyone else is telling that one guy not to attack you because they're assembling their elf armies or horde of dragons. Alternately, you can have a buddy crash into you and throw False Profits in front of it to wipe the board. This also has the very rare effect of being a white sweeper that exiles cards, not just kills them. They are attractive in a trade binder to the right crowd.

$1.25

Masticore

Ignoring what's coming out of his mouth, Masticore was a total dominator for the tournament scene. He could rambo away Rebels, eliminate elves and thrash... wumpuses. Masticore saw a great deal of attention in Standard and Extended because it could completely control a board; with a little mana left over, you could easily make up for the lost card advantage each turn. Greedy players combined him with Squee, Goblin Nabob, while cutthroat ones put him in Accelerated Blue decks alongside Grim Monolith. Cranking out a Masticore on the second turn was a rude move.However, as creatures have gotten better, Masticore has lost all of its shimmer. We don't play in Standard environments full of x/2s anymore, so having this giant wouldn't make a big impact. For example, could you imagine it against Frost Titan? Yuck! Masticore has a lot of nostalgia to it, though, and saw reverential reprints that have overshadowed it. Razormane Masticore does things the first one never could because it can be used to beat Null Rod decks in Vintage. Molten-Tail Masticore has also gotten some attention in Constructed, since it can close the distance pretty quickly against an opponent and kill most things that hit the board.That said, Masticore, like Morphling, enjoys a good price. I think this is partly due to players who, having dropped out around Masques, want to rebuy their decks now that they have real jobs and find that the cards are easy and inexpensive to acquire.$3.50 (shocking, right?)MetalworkerThe Robot brings all his friends to the party and sees play currently in both Eternal formats. I expect the price to go up a bit since the MUD performance in Indy, and it could jump a few more dollars if that deck sees more high-profile finishes. It also powers out some serious threats in Vintage, allowing for second-turn hand dumps. Metalworker hasn't ever been played fairly; I think the first time it saw play, it was in Tinker decks – you can draw your own conclusions there!$11.25OpalescenceThat word, by the way, means an object that radiates a certain internal light back at the viewer due to reflective planes in the object that act like an opal stone.Opalescence is also a combo card, and in this case, it fuels Replenish. The goal at the height of Replenish popularity was to bin Opalescence, some of the Parallax enchantments and random enablers like Attunement. You'd fire off that Replenish and then Parallax out the opposition's lands and creatures. Next turn, you'd have a horde of enchantments cruising in to kill. Outside of junky casual Enchantress decks, it sees no other attention.$1.75Opposition Did they never playtest this card? Opposition is painfully unfair, especially with Merfolk and Elves. Those two let you make all sorts of dumb little guys, letting you ice down the opponent every turn. As annoying as Stasis. When combined with Quirion Ranger, it was downright stupid, especially if you could later land a Deranged Hermit. It has seen a little bit of reprinting but most recently came out in the form of Glare of Subdual, which was, unsurprisingly, also dominant! Combine this enchantment with lots of little guys from other colors for the best effect. Believe it or not, Squirrel Nest/Opposition was a legitimate Standard deck for a long time. Players combined it with Static Orb to make it entirely one-sided. Vom. In. My. Mouth. Disgusting.$2.50Pattern of RebirthIn the dark ages before Storm made combo decks so linear, there were a variety of goofy Extended decks, and Pattern Husk was one of them. Here's how it works: you land Phyrexian Ghoul or Nantuko Husk. You get out, say, Academy Rector and eat her to get Pattern, putting it on a Birds of Paradise. Your Husk eats the birds (with wine on the side) and gets Symbiotic Wurm. It eats the Wurm and all the insects and is now huuuuuuge. It cruises in, unblocked, to win the game. Pattern probably has other legitimate uses, like cheating out a big Eldrazi or Blightsteel Colossus.$2.00Phyrexian NegatorIt took a little while for people to realize how good Negator was. The thing to remember was that the opponent probably wouldn't get a chance to even damage it, between Dark Ritual and Ancient Tomb powering it out. Negator was part of Finkel's Napster deck, acting like a quick clock to end the game. It has also gotten attention in Vintage deck combo sideboards; you'd bring them in during the second game when your opponent has loaded up on Stifles and such, then just monster them with a 5/5 on the first turn. Even Control Slaver decks would sometimes run it to surprise opponents. Negator has largely been replaced by Tarmogoyf for sideboard transformation, but it's a fan classic and people love to play with them. They embody Phryexia so well!$2.75Plow UnderThis innocuous green card has seen a lot of play in a lot of really annoying decks. Combined with Rofellos, it was part of Trinity Green. That deck aimed to use Plow Under and Tangle Wires to make an opponent concede from frustration. It was reprinted later and saw a lot of play after Affinity was permabanned and people figured out Tooth and Nail. You could ramp up the mana quickly in a green deck like Tooth, and hitting an opponent's Urza lands with it was absolutely devastating. Plow Under is definitely a card that most folks undervalue until they've been Plowed on the third turn and again on the fifth. It makes people feel like they aren't playing a game of Magic to face it down.$1.25Powder KegAlthough Ratchet Bomb has supplanted Powder Keg, it's a versatile card for many decks and saw plenty of play. Keg was a 4-of sideboard card for years and contributed to the decline of fast Sligh decks. If you led with Jackal Pup and followed with a Shock and Cursed Scroll, a Keg from the opponent would stop you in your tracks. It was such that some Sligh players took to running Viashino Heretics just to diversify their mana costs.Keg also works well in Vintage, where it will kill moxes off the bat and threaten cards like Goblin Welder or Sol Ring. It is a highly popular EDH card because you can hone it to do only what you need to. Because of this, Powder Keg maintains a value above most of the cards from Destiny.$3.75RepercussionThis is here mainly because of EDH. All of your creatures are Thorn Elementals! It's even better combined with Earthquake against a token army... Repercussion is easily discarded as a bulk rare, so really make an effort to remember that this card is valuable.$2.50ReplenishI sort of tipped my hand about how Replenish worked when I talked about Opalescence, but it's worth mentioning that the sorcery is played in Legacy Enchantress. You can use it to buy back all those cards you tossed into Counterbalance or those Sterling Groves that you popped to stay alive. People love Replenish because they love their goofy enchantment decks. It's come down a little in price, but it is still really valuable for being a fringe Legacy card.$8.25Rofellos, Llanowar EmissaryThe Elf of all Elves, the monster mana generator who was so powerful that he got rebanned in EDH as a general! Rofellos makes sick piles of mana, and now that there are actually good green spells like Tooth and Nail and Plow Under, you have things to spend it on. I picked up a copy years ago for my Survival of the Fittest decks and never regretted it. Rofellos trades highly for some people, simply because it's hard to find people with him in their binder. On top of that, it's a Legend that you definitely want four copies of in your deck if you can swing it.$8.75Thorn ElementalAnother responsible green fattie that didn't suck to cast – Thorn Elemental was probably the first in the line of Modern Design of creatures which said that hey, for seven mana, you shouldn't get a pile of suck. It has been heavily reprinted but people still like the original.$1.50Thran DynamoThis card was a strict upgrade over Sisay's Ring and is unbelievably powerful. Four mana in the current Standard environment gets you Jace or Koth, and while the Dynamo is no planeswalker, it's still stupidly powerful. I could easily see it played in most decks if it were in the current pool, which says a lot about its longevity. It saw a bit of play in Wildfire decks and casual players just love the card. For EDH, it's a staple. Foil copies are exorbitantly expensive.$2.75TreacheryWhat's better than getting your best man? Getting him for free! Treachery saw instant play in Standard, especially in Accelerated Blue. People still love the card because they like taking their friends' toys. It's one of the best cards in blue in EDH for a reason, and its untap ability means that traditionally monoblue counterspell decks could just take a win condition from the opponent and still keep countermagic online.$4.75Urza's IncubatorIt's a slow cooker. I'm making $5 bills.
I had to look up the price on this guy, since it's crazy. What are people incubating with this? Most tribal strategies have really inexpensive dorks. Maybe it's Dragons or Angels. Who knows. All I know is that this card is a lotto ticket when you find one in a bulk bin. Trade for them low and get them in the hands of people who need to make their Spirit decks work.

$5.50

Wake of Destruction

This is pretty close to a Red Armageddon against a lot of decks, letting you selectively ruin someone's day with the ultra Stone Rain. I had to look it up when I first saw it, which tells me that it's entirely a casual card. That said, it's a popular casual card.

$1.25

Yavimaya Hollow

In their quest to trim excess, EDH players look to make their lands do more work. The Hollow is a nice surprise to stop opponents trying to off your guys, and it's got a pretty low opportunity cost. The land is unglamorous, but people like Legendary Lands and they especially like green-themed ones. Good EDH utility lands are often very expensive.

$4.75

Yawgmoth's Bargain

And now, we come to an iconic card to wrap up a look through this block. I could think of no better emblem of the excesses of Urza Block than Yawgmoth's not-so-bad Deal. I imagine the scene in The Godfather; it's the end, the baptism, and the priest says “do you reject Satan and all his empty promises?” If Satan is Yawgmoth, then his deal is anything but empty. 4BB and nineteen life gets you a third of your deck in hand. Toss in Drain Life, Corrupt, Soul Feast, Tendrils of Agony, or all manner of other life-syphons and see just what happens.

Bargain is a Vintage staple. It's restricted there and banned in most sane formats (with Urza Block being an exception). It was the “fixed” Necropotence from Mark Rosewater, the card vainly designed in the belief that a block containing Dark Ritual, bearing Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors before it, could not get the Bargain out as fast as Necropotence. Boy, were they wrong.

$5.00

It's said in Italy that there is a fat pope and then a skinny pope – a colloquialism meaning that one will serve a long time and do great works, and the one after might reign for a short period or be insignificant. Magic follows the same cycle most of the time, and that cycle was kickstarted with Urza Block. You went from stupidity at every level to tameness and lameness from Masques block. It was driving an Escalade to school and then having to borrow your brother's Celica for the rest of the year. The over-corrections made a format so dilute that menial strategies like Rebels were dominant and a lack of testing cards like Rishadan Port meant that the game was just as dumb in Standard. But alas, I have already revealed too much of next week's rant!

Until then,

Doug Linn

www.twitter.com/legacysallure

2 thoughts on “Digging through Destiny

  1. I really enjoy these reviews. The first deck I bought was a precon that had Argothian Wurm in it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Urza's Block has so many good cards and anything that is playable (ie a shitload of cards) are jumping up in price, or already have.

    I REALLY hope people have picked up their Welders because that is the one card from the entire block with the most growth potential. Goblin Welder provides a unique, repeatable effect for an incredibly low mana cost. It has proven to be very powerful in many formats in the past and currently. Compared to Grim Monolith which has fewer applications but currently sells for 20 @ SCG… I think this is the "sleeper" of the set if such a thing can be said for a 13 year old card. I've been telling everyone I know to pick these guys up quick because they aren't going to be chilling around 5$ for long!

  2. Doug,

    Just wanted to share that these compilations are fantastic! As you know, the recent lot I have been digging through has been painstaking, but I did find a few extra cards worthy of being sold/traded. Another fine article and I thank you for that.

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