Editor’s Note: We’re off today in celebration of the holidays. In the meantime, enjoy this thematically appropriate Monday Magic article, which was originally published on 3/30/15.
I’m a bit of a nostalgic person in general, let alone a nostalgic Magic player. I, like many people, have a natural tendency to look back through the sands of history, either reminiscing on positive memories during good times, or longing for a less complicated point in my past during the down times. Whether it was experiences with the family or sitting down to watch early morning cartoons, it can be quite easy to turn back the hourglass in our minds and relive the moments of our choosing over and over again. I remember shows now lauded by pop culture and toys that have long since gone to other homes just as I remember family car trips and playing with my cousins endlessly outside on the weekends. Yes, nostalgia is a strong feeling when evoked, and in small doses a little retrospection can be quite illuminating in the here and now.
By its nature, however, nostalgia in most people focuses on positive memories, glossing over those that are painful or incongruous to the narrative shaped in your mind. Drink too much from that nostalgia well, and you inevitably develop a whitewashed, idealized sense of the past. The more heavily nostalgic thoughts you have, the more you continually strip out the subdued or nuanced parts of your experience, until the reality that you think back on is a more improved – but fictionalized – aspect of your past.
Hence, it’s why everything looks better through rose-colored glasses, the grass is always greener, and why kids these days just can’t live up their parents.
It’s key, then, to acknowledge and accept that being too nostalgic can be problematic for living in present. That goes for just about anything, including Magic.
For instance, Magic players almost always remember the first few sets they started playing with as some of their favorites. It’s understandable. Those are the sets we learned with, and without any basis of comparison, everything was awesome at first. Even a poorly designed new set to a novice is fascinating, simply because you aren’t aware of the larger options.
I first started playing in Antiquities and Revised, for instance, not knowing that Revised had been stripped of some insanely powerful (or wonky) cards. I didn’t care. I still don’t. Those sets have resonance with me, and I still get excited throwing down old Revised lands or an original Triskelion as a result.
Naturally, as we get more experience, we learn about new cards. We find a style and a format that we enjoy. We build new decks and then tinker with them over and over and over until at some point the deck no longer serves its purpose and is deconstructed.
Well, most players anyway.
In my more than 20 years of playing Magic, I have constructed dozens of decks. Yet for reasons that are equal parts stubbornness, nostalgia, and the luxury of having a sizable card pool, I can count on one hand the number of them that I’ve actually deconstructed. (A poorly formed attempt at a Goblin deck comes to mind, replete with its own Maze of Ith for reasons lost to time.) Oh sure, many have gone through serious changes via card upgrades, adding or dropping subthemes, and in a few cases, adding or removing colors. Older decks in need of updates are cycled in and out of rotation alongside new deck creations, but persist they do, like a fleet of cars just needing an occasional overhaul.
Of those was the third or fourth deck I built. It came about during the Tempest block, a Black/Blue affair that revolves around using pingers to bounce, steal, or destroy opponents’ creatures. It got a notable boost during the Urza block with stuff like Hermetic Study and Sigil of Sleep, as well as this week’s card. It later was removed during a period of trying to make the deck faster (as there was a time I mostly only got to play against a single opponent), but the advent of Commander certainly gives it new life to once again make an appearance.
Or not, technically.
Today we have: Disappear
Edition: Urza’s Destiny
Focus: Creature Bounce / Board Control
Highlights: Disappear is the type of unadorned, straightforward Aura that is often overlooked among both its contemporary and veteran counterparts. The card saw a moderate amount of use during its time but ultimately fell out of favor with many players for two main reasons.
The first is its casting cost. Disappear is not an aggressively-priced enchantment, and while just this side of manageable in casual multiplayer settings, it had a hard time justifying its cost. Disappear quickly had competition in Mercadian’s Cowardice, which in many ways at the time gave you more bang for your buck. Still, Disappear didn’t perform a vanishing act entirely until Ravnica’s Mark of Eviction finally put it out of commission. The Mark required it be out a full turn for its effect to go off, but it was substantially cheaper and faster to use than Disappear.
The second reason was that Disappear, by its nature, is supposed to be a deterrent card. Unfortunately, even in casual settings, many players didn’t want to spend four mana to stick it on an opponent’s creature only to have it do, well, nothing. You had to decide to either wait until an opportune time to bounce the creature, or do it immediately, effectively making it a slower, more restrictive Capsize. Disappear is a slower tempo card that had the misfortune of coming out as the game was ramping into a more up tempo era, and its effectiveness waned heavily.
Commander offers Disappear the chance to rematerialize on Magic tables. It is a prodigy of the politics rife in most EDH settings, letting you cast it on a creature without unduly harming it, and then sitting back. Whether used as a means to prevent the creature from attacking you or removing them from the board before a potent effect goes off, Disappear can take your biggest creature threat out of commission. Plus, the casting cost is far less of an issue here.
What’s more, in this format Disappear gains an entirely new purpose: as a bargaining chip. You could use this card to intentionally save someone else’s creature in the future event of a board wipe or targeted removal. It’s technically possible in normal multiplayer settings but is often seen by most as just a tad too cost prohibitive for such a purpose. Commander, not as much of a concern.
Yes, whether to have renewed success in the game, or to help gain a level of it that it never truly had the chance to engender in the first place, Disappear is certainly one card capable of reappearing on a new stage. And I’m not just saying that to be nostalgic.
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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