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Insider: Pondering Planar Chaos

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This week, we are looking at Planar Chaos, the second set in the nostalgia-heavy Time Spiral block. PC was based on the concept of a shifted color pie; that is, what if different colors had access to the same spells from regular Magic? What if White had direct damage and blue could shrink guys? Funeral Charm became Piracy Charm, for example. It was an interesting concept, but it was a popular failure. The reason is that fans, especially newer ones, couldn't put together the MaRo puzzles of card design. They didn't see why Sunlance was a big deal or why Red should get a Giant Growth. They just shrugged, confused, and opened some packs.

With that said, Planar Chaos is full of treasure for us. I think you'll be surprised at some of the cards on this list; I know I was!

Akroma, Angel of Fury - $3.50

Anything with "Akroma" in it is typically worth money. People like the T-1000 of Magic. She's an Angel, a babe, she's got crazy abilities... and now she's a redhead. Red Akroma saw a decent amount of Standard play because there were a lot of decks that just couldn't get past her protections. People liked being tricky, flipping her on the fourth turn with Seething Song and the like. She sees continued play in Commander, where her power and abilities shine as well. People like dragons and the like, and this is an angelic dragon if there ever was one.

Damnation - $15.50

The big deal in Planar Chaos was this, the colorshifted Wrath of God. It's still a huge deal and it'll probably never get reprinted - Black isn't meant to have this kind of power. Tom Lapille, both a Magic R&D member and a good personal friend, laid out what was wrong with Time Spiral Block and summed it up with just this card. Damnation let Mystical Teachings decks support Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Tendrils of Corruption, which let them fight aggro decks a little too well. You see, Tendrils and Urborg wouldn't do the job alone; you had to assemble them, which took searching. However, Damnation just let you play out a Coalition Relic into the sweeping Sorcery, buying you a lot of time against aggressive decks. After that, you'd have Tendrils around and blast away a weenie. You'd gain half a dozen life and be beyond burn spells and more attacks; lots of time to tighten the screws and kill the opponent.

Black has removal, sure, but it's always been qualified - to this day, there's no black spell that just says "destroy target creature." (though watch someone prove me wrong). Damnation got a little attention because of Modern, but I think mostly the platinum-level casual circuit drives the value of this card.

Extirpate - $5.50

"Extirpate" means to rip something out by its roots, and it is an apt word to describe this spell. Extirpate is a solid sideboard card in most formats where you can play it; sometimes it will just wreck someone's day. However, it's never been a reliable strategy on its own. I know how it goes - "I could Wasteland their Tropical Island and Extirpate all the other copies and then they won't be able to play guys!" That combo doesn't come up in play or the opponent can fight through it. It's best used on things like gutting a Life from the Loam deck. Even though we have Surgical Extraction now, I think Extirpate has some superior uses in sideboards.

Harmonize - $1.25

I sometimes see this Concentrate in junk bins. Pick 'em up! They're worth over a dollar and the Commander players create a consistent market for the card.

Kavu Predator - $1.00

The Sexual Predator is worth a little bit because it's good in Modern Zoo lists. You can combine it with Grove of the Burnwillows, Oust and more to create a super-aggressive Zoo deck with a lot of in-loaded value. Fiery Justice is the biggest blowout ever, for example. People also use it to disarm their friend's lifegain decks, which is useful.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth - $9.00

Phase One: power up crazy Tendrils of Corruptions against White Weenie in Standard. Gain seven or more life in a single shot. Do this whenever you want, thanks to Mystical Teachings.

Phase Two: Combine with Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage to make an infernal Extended combination, letting your deck "go off" on the second turn with a Marit Lage token.

Phase Three: Worm its way into all of your Commander decks with Black, making all those Mountains into Not-So-Badlands.

Urborg has gotten a lot of love over the years and it shows no signs of slowing. It's a decent manabase fixer and the Tendrils combo is still pretty fresh. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw it show up in Modern, for example. People value these at crazy numbers, so be sure people are realistically trading them to or away from you.

I wish I could bring you some more power uncommons from this set, but that's it. Next week, we'll tear into Future Sight, one of the most valuable sets to open packs of. It's incredible and I can't wait to share stories, combos and especially, prices next week!

Until then,

Doug Linn

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