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Hidden Gems: Planeshift

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The assault begins. Darkness sweeps across the pristine landscape as a mechanical army marches on the living, bent on utter compleation. A former resident of the plane returns, twisted in image and mind. The oil spreads, and the defenders are beleaguered, bloodied and seemingly outmatched.

Sound familiar? It is not that long ago that Mirrodin Besieged was released, allowing Magic players to side with the Mirran or Phyrexian factions at prerelease events and Game Days. But at around this time maybe 10 or so years ago, the Phyrexians were slamming the plane of Rath on top of Dominaria, triggering a full-scale war that featured Dominaria’s finest heroes scrambling to save their people against the forces of Yawgmoth. I’m talking about the Invasion block, and its second set, Planeshift.

It was an exciting time to be playing Magic when Planeshift was released. Having just been introduced to a bevy of new options for playing multicolored decks by Invasion, Planeshift upped the ante by further bleeding the colors of cards into one another, while introducing the "gating mechanic" - when this creature comes into play, return a creature you control that shares a color with it to its owner's hand - which is one that I think is a little underrated in Commander.

So, speaking of Commander, and of Planeshift, I’m going to mash the two together and provide my flavorful commentary on a number of cards in the set that I think would make some interesting and viable options in Commander. As in my Invasion segment, I’m likely to gloss over cards that are played more frequently in the format (like Eladamri's Call, the Charms or the Lairs) in favor of the quirky, unique and borderline playable. Let’s go!

Cavern Harpy

The last time I believe this card was played in Constructed was...Legacy, actually, with the Aluren deck, which isn’t that long ago. Regardless, you can replicate some of that deck’s shenanigans with a cheap, repeatable bounce effect. Crypt Angel? Fleshbag Marauder? Mulldrifter? Venser, Shaper Savant? For two mana and a life, Cavern Harpy is a sweet little card advantage engine.

Cloud Cover

Cloud Cover embodies everything that Faeries used to be: happy, pretty and only borderline playable. Then Wizards printed Bitterblossom and everyone's perceptions of the tribe quickly changed. Cloud Cover offers a nice shield for preserving your permanents, and opponents can't force you to bounce them, either, since it's an optional ability.

Deadapult

Ah, the good old Magic artwork returns. If this were printed today, a gritty, realistic-styled artist like Dave Kendall would work the heck out of a card like this. But, Deadapult was printed 10 years ago, so we have this flaming zombie - who is apparently ambivalent about being on fire - jumping at your face. With a knife! He’s gonna cut ya, then eat ya!

But I digress. Playing a Zombie deck? Infinite Shocks for everyone! Seems pretty hilarious with Tombstone Stairwell.

Destructive Flow

It’s like The Abyss, except for nonbasics, which pretty much everyone plays. Considering it’s a tri-colored card, you’re probably playing nonbasics too, so it’s kind of a “At least I’m griefing myself while I’m griefing you, too.” card. You can combo it with It That Betrays, which will probably earn you a (deserved) punch in the stomach.

Diabolic Intent

Such an underrated tutor. If you’re playing a token deck, stole someone else’s creature and/or have Grave Pact on the table, you can get a lot more value out of this card. The artwork is also mildly unsettling, with Crovax grinning deviously while Tsabo Tavoc sinks in some pile of mush.

Dominaria's Judgment

Now here is an interesting protection card. Essentially, whatever land types you control will grant your creatures protection of the color for one turn. Obviously this is awesome in 5-color decks (and/or decks running Prismatic Omen), but I think it has potential for other applications as well. It also shows that even 10 years ago, John Avon’s artwork was kicking ass.

Doomsday Specter

Doomsday Specter was one of the chase cards of the time, and for good reason: look how epic that card is. Has there been a more powerful discard effect printed on a creature? For the relatively minor drawback of bouncing a blue or black creature (which often isn’t even really a drawback), you can super-Thoughtseize someone when you hit them. Again, an underrated card in my opinion.

Ertai, the Corrupted

In case you didn’t know, Planeshift featured three alternate-art foils that you could only get from boosters: Tahngarth, Talruum Hero, Skyship Weatherlight and Ertai, the Corrupted. I believe these fetch a fair sum of money now, but Ertai mostly because he is the most playable of them.

I think corrupted Ertai would be a cool Commander choice: you get a repeatable counterspell for one mana (albeit only once per turn), and black and white can offer the tokens to feed Ertai, while blue can help steal opponents’ creatures that you can sacrifice. Politics galore! Sacrificing an enchantment is also an odd but potentially useful option. Enchanted Evening, perhaps?

Forsaken City

I think it is a sign of great progress for Wizards that multicolor players now have much better rainbow land options than Forsaken City. I mean, it is technically playable, as long as you never resort to exiling a card from your hand to untap it. Garruk Wildspeaker is pretty good for that. Otherwise, losing a card just for an untap is less than optimal, to put it lightly.

March of Souls

While not the best option for taking care of token decks, March of Souls is a nice sweeper option that certainly takes care of the various fatties in the format. In rare political scenarios, you can use it to hate out the fatties players while keeping the tokens players happy.

Meteor Crater

Probably more playable than Forsaken City, although I don’t think it’s by very much. A lot of times it won’t even provide all five colors of mana unless you play with a lot of multicolored permanents and they all manage to stay on the board. It’s like a dollar, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try out. Not a good replacement for Reflecting Pool, though.

Natural Emergence

Now this card has some finisher potential. The first strike is a little uncommon but certainly welcome, and making lands 2/2s is such an awesome deal. Like with many other manland/token generating effects, a combination with an Overrun effect usually ends the game. As with other lands-become-dudes cards, make sure you get the job done in one turn, or you may find yourself landless thanks to Wrath of God.

Questing Phelddagrif

Best. Card. Ever. If you disagree, I will fight you!

Seriously, look at its political potential. If one player is dominating the table, or is about to combo off, you can help other players dig through cards to put him or her back in check. You can mess up combat math if one player is trying to kill another by offering increments of 2 life. You can give people blockers, or power up your Defense of the Heart. All of this, while pumping your versatile beatstick of a hippo.

And now you know why Questing Phelddagrif accompanies each of my articles.

My collection count is also at a meager 54 copies. If you have any you’d like to part with, get at me on Twitter! @derfington.

Radiant Kavu

This is my candidate for “Most Unintentionally Funny Card of the Set”. First off, you think something called “Radiant Kavu” would be a serene, sublime-looking creature. Nope: standard angry Kavu tearing a Phyrexian’s face off! Second, look at its eyes. It’s clinically off its frigging rocker. Third, the flavor text reminds me of Dr. Zoidberg’s ink splash defense, except with flash-bangs of light. “Woop-woop-woop-woop!”

The real reason I put Radiant Kavu on the list was because a fog effect for black and blue creatures is pretty darn nice, not the least because those two colors usually have some bad intentions. Plus, politics! For a straight-up Naya deck, Radiant Kavu is a neat utility option.

Root Greevil

Whoever wrote the flavor text, I hate you. Geordie Tait probably hates you, too.

Sawtooth Loon

Craziest. Loon. Ever. And I should know about loons, being Canadian and all.

That aside, I think the filtering power of Sawtooth Loon is a little underrated. For four mana, you can dig two cards deeper into your deck, and shift the worst two cards in your hand to the bottom of your library. Yes, four mana is a little expensive, and you can only do it at sorcery speed (barring some shenanigans), but being able to do it repeatedly is something worth exploring.

Skyship Weatherlight

A card that lets me exile a bunch of cards from my deck with the promise that I might be able to put one in my hand every turn? That might be okay...

...Wait, it’s at random? And you just cast Return to Dust on my Skyship Weatherlight? FML.

Skyship Weatherlight, I wish you were playable. Predator, Flagship you are not.

Well, that wraps up my review of Planeshift. Check back in next week, when I finish off the block in...apocalyptic fashion.

David Lee
@derfington on Twitter

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