Recent news announcements have unveiled several upcoming Magic products that will highly excite the multiplayer contingent of this otherwise two-player-centric game. With Commander supplements now being an annual thing and a regular summer product that caters to the more casual factions, Wizards is finally reaping the rewards of their decision a few years ago to start catering more to cards that focus on more than a pair of people playing. They even have cards in the normal sets that blatantly cater to this group. (I’m looking at you Primordials.)
Mind you, they haven’t stopped with their bread and butter either: Standard and Modern continue to see vibrant growth in the community, and those formats are as popular as ever. What has happened, though, is that in order not every card that comes out now must fall into the categories of:
A) Tourney Card
B) Draft Card, or
C) Casual / Filler Card
We now have a certifiable “D” column that caters to multiplayer and Commander. By almost all metrics, this has been a very wise decision, as there is clearly a need and interest for this style. Not everyone has been happy with it, however, as by adding another column to focus on, there are less cards going into sets that each player personally will seek.
Just take the latest core set, Magic 2015. Depending on your outlook, M15 is an uniniteresting set that can easily be passed over but for a couple cards, or M15 is the best core set they’ve printed in years. This is because no other non-supplement set to date displays as much love for multiplayer casual and EDH as this core set does. By contrast, it doesn’t have a huge pool of cards that excite people in the tournament circuits.
Breathe easy tourney folk. It’ll be all right. Wizards is smart to shift set strengths around from time to time to keep sets interesting, even if this decision is now one more development ball to juggle. By their nature, core sets are designed to entice new players, and making cards very casual-friendly makes sense. Other sets have done the opposite: being chock full of amazing tournament and draft cards but leaving the casual players left unexcited.
It’s a balancing process, and they’re still finding their equilibrium. Of course, it’s not like they never made cards for multiplayer prior to 2011 either. Rather, they just weren’t as obvious or blatant about it. Often times these cards would go unnoticed, lurking in the shadows of more notable cards.
So let’s look at one such lurker.
Today we have: Mindleech Mass
Name: Mindleech Mass
Focus: Free Casting
Highlights: On the surface, Mindleech Mass doesn’t immediately make people jump out of their seats, which sort of visualizes how far the game has come even since the first Ravnica block. Now, many players – including EDH fans – may worry that spending eight mana for a 6/6 is too costly, especially in a color pairing that isn’t known for its mana ramping capabilities. What’s more, its trigger only works if it deals combat damage to a player, which isn’t always easy to do even with its built-in trample ability.
Yet it’s still worth the effort.
Never underestimate the usefulness of being able to cast another player’s card. Mindmeech Mass illustrates a classic lesson from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: it’s far more advantageous to use your opponent’s resources against them than your own. Cards that steal creatures via spells and enchantments generally exist at a 1-for-1 exchange. That is, using a Control Magic to steal someone else’s creature is useful and powerful, but you’re still simply trading your resources for theirs. By taking your opponent’s resources away at no cost and turning them against their owner, that exchange rate is much, much more valuable. Mindleech Mass does exactly that.
In fact, this free cast effect of Mindleech Mass is so prevalent that only two other creatures have it. One is Maelstrom Angel, which requires all five colors. The other is Silent-Blade Oni, a similarly sized Black / Blue creature that’s slightly cheaper to cast, but it’s 15 times more expensive to buy than this bargain bin gem because it was only printed in a Planechase 2012 supplemental deck.
Any time only three creatures have such a powerful effect in the game, there’s a reason. Mindleech Mass can be incredibly worth your while when used properly, and it will easily give you a return on your investment with the first free spell you get that’s moderately costed. It may be innoculous to players at first, but after connecting a few times with your opponents, you’ll see how quickly people come to respect this guy…moss…viney…thing.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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