Planeshift is, as middle sets go, on the lower end of the power curve. While there are some valuable cards that have held the test of time, it also contained some clunkers that have been obsoleted. It was the set that introduced the Lairs, like Dromar’s Cavern, our first real tri-lands. The Shards of Alara tri-lands put these lairs to shame, but they were staples in casual decks for a long time. The vast majority of cards worth anything in Planeshift hold their value for casual appeal, not tournament play. The set was also notable because it contained two alternate-art cards, Skyship Weatherlight and Tahngarth, Talruum Hero. Both of these cards in foil are very hard to find and sought out by collectors. We haven’t seen the alternate art concept revisited, except with Prerelease foils. I’d like to think that the humble Weatherlight in Planeshift spurred new-art promo cards. Let’s take a look at former Standard all-stars and Extended hits in our tour of Planeshift!
At the same cost as Demonic Tutor, you get the same effect with an unfortunate death accompanying the new card. Every casual circle I’ve played in has restricted Demonic Tutor, but nobody has a problem with you packing four Intents. They crop up occasionally in bad Legacy decks built around Kobolds, but they really shine for casual players. You can go get a Cabal Coffers or Decree of Pain with it, and you don’t feel so bad about burning the tutor – you are probably packing three more in your deck! This is also highly popular with the EDH crowd, since you can turn in an early creature for a wrecking ball later in the game.
There was formerly an Extended deck called Draco-plosion that combined this card with Erratic Explosion. You see, when a person looks at Draco, they aren’t looking at a metallic dragon or a cool finisher for a Domain deck. No, Draco simply prompts the question of “what do I do with something that costs sixteen mana?” Right now, it’s the most expensive spell in the game (shuddup, Gleemax!) and there’s no shortage of people who want to flip Draco with Erratic Explosion.
My favorite Draco use? It popped up occasionally in Extended before Invasion rotated out, often as a surprise. Tiago Chan used it in Enduring Ideal, since with Shock-lands and Fetchlands, opponents would often deal themselves four points of damage. In this way, if Enduring Ideal was too slow, you could sixteen the opponent, as early as the third turn. I have to believe that there are still some people who want to do this.
I like the Call, even though it has strong competitors. It jockeys with Worldly Tutor, Congregation at Dawn and Survival of the Fittest for utility monster-fetching, but it works at instant speed with no card loss. You need no creature in hand, nor do you need to push away a draw step. This pulls that Gaddock Teeg right into your hand, for immediate mischief. My favorite use of Eladamri’s Call was in a GW Haterator Extended deck, which used the Call to grab 1-of annoyances. My most-loved target for the card in a Tarmogoyf-choked metagame? Intrepid Hero.
If you want a look at format-warping cards, this is the banner card. For the longest time, you just could not play big monsters with a toughness of four or less. Serra Angel was brought back in this time, but it never saw play because everyone could splash four FTKs and fireball that angel right outta the sky. After it dispatched a monster, it presented a very fast clock; remember that creatures sucked in this time period – you actually had to pay five mana or more for a 5/5 in most cases. Since FTK had a high power, the opponent often had to trade another creature with it, making an uncomfortable 2-for-1. If they played a creature-light deck, they might not even be able to stop the FTK before it won the game. People played Evil Eye of Orms-By-Gore as tournament-worthy blocker, for heaven’s sake! R&D realized that you just can’t make a creature as good as FTK at its cost, with no practical drawbacks. It’s up in the air whether Bloodbraid Elf is better than FTK; the former has a lot of power, but requires you to build a deck around not whiffing on the Elf. The latter, though, fits into anything that can wedge some Mountains in.
If not for the reprints in Planechase and Jace vs. Chandra, FTK would still be worth more than a buck. It’s an incredible card.
$4.00 in foil
It delights me that I hear from newer Magic players who read the column and learn about cards they’ve never seen before. One of the joys of being relatively new to the game is that you probably never fought against a Stasis deck. A Stasis player would crank out their namesake card and then use a variety of ways to make you want to sell your cards and buy an Uno deck. They could land Kismet, for example, then use Chronatog to skip all their turns. They could drop a Serra Angel and fly on over for some hate. The only saving grace was that Stasis had a mounting cost each turn, one that guaranteed that you’d eventually be free of the lock piece.
Forsaken City lets Stasis players completely sidestep the upkeep requirement, since it has a special untap ability built in. Now, a Stasis player could drop a Yotian Soldier and then toss every card they subsequently draw to feed their Enchantment. It wasn’t pretty and I’m glad that most people have forgotten about Stasis. There are, however, enough fans of the silly strategy that this card is worth a buck.
Oh man, if there was ever a hidden tribe, it’s Zombies. The most unlikely people have a Zombie theme deck of some sort, and they all want the Lord of the Undead to fuel it. He’s been reprinted in 8th, 9th and 10th edition and still commands a great price! His ability is pretty slick and he finally gave a decent lord to people who had to rely on Zombie Master. These trade and sell to store buylists all day long, so I suggest trading for them if folks aren’t hip to their real value.
Meddling Mage was designed by Chris Pikula, winner of an event Wizards used to hold, called the Invitational. It was a gathering of the top players of the year and the prize was that you could have a card of your choice designed and printed. It is from this contest that we got Meddling Mage, Dark Confidant, Rootwater Thief, Shadowmage Infiltrator, Ranger of Eos, and several more. Meddling Mage saw a lot of play in Standard, since it could run interference for the rest of the deck against removal. Name Flametongue Kavu or Urza’s Rage and your opponent cannot utilize those spells to dismantle your team. In Legacy and Vintage, it has often been used to halt specific finishers like Tendrils of Agony.
Meddling Mage was reprinted in Alara Reborn. The problem was, they didn’t exactly paint Pikula on the card again… A byproduct was that the Mage entered into Standard, flooded collections, and was then prompty igonored until today. Since Mythics drive down the price of rares and Meddling Mage wasn’t played in Standard, the price plummeted. I remember getting mine at $10 apiece before the reprinting was announced, then cashing them out at $6 apiece several years later. I was kicking myself when the reprint was announced and they shot to $14, but I’m glad I got out when I did. The price is pretty sad these days for what was once a very powerful card.
Enough people like Saprolings such that most cards that make the tokens are in demand. Nemata can crank them out with just a little mana, so green players want the card. If someone is running a Verdeloth EDH deck, they probably have a copy of this in it somewhere.
This card is played in two ways. The first is to protect a combo that will kill an opponent from being disrupted. It, like Silence, will halt Force of Will or Krosan Grip from an opponent. The second use, incorporating the kicker, has been to place the spell on Isochron Scepter and start locking the opponent. Against a deck full of sorcery-speed cards, this combo all but ends the game immediately. Scepter-Chant saw a bit of play in Extended, especially when you could put a Lightning Helix on another Scepter and just peck away at the opponent. In an era before Krosan Grip, the Chant player often had a counterspell on hand to stop that one Disenchant from the opponent.
Silence dropped the price of Chant a little bit, because combo players could pick up the new spell at a fraction of what Chant costs. The people who pick it up now usually want it alongside the Scepter, and they are willing to pay a lot of money for it.
The people who like Suicide Black decks are fond of Juzam Djinn and his friends. The Scuta harkened back to the original Djinn, so people nabbed the critter. It still holds a little bit of value, probably due to nostalgia.
When you want to pound down an opponent with big monsters, then Shivan Wurm is your guy. The “gating” ability is easily paid with a mana elf, and you’re left with an undercosted pounder on the table. It’s not elegant, but it does let you get another use from your Flametongue Kavu. This sort of interaction is enough to make sure the Wurm is better than bulk.
Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
As I mentioned earlier, there were some versions of this card printed with new art in foil. There are also regular-art foils, which makes this rarer by comparison. They are infrequently sold, but they are pretty expensive. One recently went for $36 on Ebay, which is good for an unplayable card.
Although not chock full of hits, Planeshift can make a collector a pile of money if they know what to look for. Next week, we’ll look at enemy-color madness in Apocalypse and glimpse some of the biggest chase cards in modern history!
Until next week,