Welcome back to week thirty-one of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It has been a whopping 254 days since my last summoning, and, frankly, I’m running out of ways to express the unique combination of sorrow and frustration that such a statement engenders. For while it’s undeniable – like most people – that I miss doing certain activities with others with any sense of regularity or normalcy, my lament is far from the triviality of not being able to play games with friends I’ve known for years. There is real trouble out in the world these days, not just medicinally but also economically, civically, and psychologically. Although factors at play currently demand we collectively prioritize taking preventative health measures and alleviating the immediate hardships around those who have gotten sick (or worse), when the dust settles there will be an immense amount of cleanup to do. And one of those very real tasks will be to address a nation-wide mental health crisis that sits awaiting us at the finish line.
This will go beyond just the frontline workers and medical staff, many of whom have – and continue to – endure textbook trauma because of this vociferous, unrelenting virus and its inundation of our health care system. Not unlike soldiers on the battlefield, many of those who have been dealing with the fallout for months on end will have to address issues as serious as if not equal to PTSD. Millions of others will have to work out issues of rampant anxiety, depression, and paranoia, to name a few. This spans across all age groups, all demographics, all geographic locations. A pandemic by definition is a worldwide event, and there is no escaping having been affected by it in some way at this point, no matter how much to the contrary you may profess. Indeed, as we proceed through it in real time and each individual triages their life accordingly – perseverance is still paramount – for much of the population, even once things start to return to ‘normal’ in 2021 and beyond there are a room full of other shoes just waiting to drop.
Contrary to the Boomer-fueled derision that all of this chalks up to another example of society being led by a bunch of ‘soft and weak-willed Millennial snowflakes’, it doesn’t efface the hard truth that mental health issues are very real and collectively awaiting us on the horizon. Even if we don’t feel it in the moment.
And so, I lament. Not just for what was and what is, but also for what is to come.
We will get through it then as we’re getting through it now. But it will take time, effort, and compassion all the same.
Plus like, truckloads of patience.
Therefore, keeping all that in mind (and to help pass the time), this series’ COVID-based focus continues, where rather than dive into something revolving around Magic directly or exploring a specific topic with a Commander card at the center, instead I carry on by sharing specific Magic cards that I’ve personally wanted to put into an EDH deck for quite some time but haven’t for one reason or another.
This week’s card, on the other hand, does have a specific reason. And a rather miserly one at that.
Today we have: Fevered Visions
Name: Fevered Visions
Edition: Shadows over Innistrad
Focus: Card Draw / Damage Dealing
Highlights: Everyone who has played more than a few games of Commander knows that the format has an immense amount of breadth and depth in terms of strategy, tactics, creativity, unique deck builds, and completely unexpected outcomes. The other undeniable factor to the format is that it takes time. Normal games can take hours, both with peaks and valleys of activity. There are high tempo moments when a lot happens all at once and other moments, such as after a board wipe, when the entire table takes several rounds rebuilding their board. To this end, some players seek to alleviate this aspect by turning to a very specific card: Howling Mine.
Howling Mine (and similar cards) all seek to accelerate the game by letting players draw 1 or more additional cards every turn – whether you want to or not. For some this has specific deck-related advantages, but for many rank-and-file EDH players, this is mostly done to reduce the length of a game by turns at at time and keep things flowing. Aside from a handful of people who don’t like such cards simply because it may force them to discard frequently, most players don’t mind actually having such a card sit around for a while on the battlefield since everyone is benefiting.
Well, almost everyone.
With two exceptions, the great cruelty to nearly every iteration of Howling Mine type cards is that last person to benefit from its effect is the person who cast it, as they have to wait all the way until their following turn for it to trigger again. And even though many of them are quite affordably costed, call it selfish, but the idea putting something onto the the battlefield where I’m the last to be rewarded has never sat particularly well with me. I certainly get the appeal of such cards, but they’re usually not a style of play I reach for when constructing my decks.
The two exceptions of course are Well of Ideas (where you get to draw a couple cards upon it entering the battlefield), and Fevered Visions.
For three mana, Fevered Visions is an Enchantment quite similar to the rest of its line – albeit with two key distinctions. The first is that unlike most of its kin, Fevered Visions has you draw during your end step rather than your draw step. On the one hand, this means that unless it’s an Instant, the extra card you draw can’t be cast until your next turn, meaning that you won’t be able to theoretically cast them the turn they’re drawn – which doesn’t quite give that same sensory rush and can slightly grate against the idea of topdecking multiple cards a turn. On the other hand, having it trigger at the end of your turn ensures that you are the first person to be rewarded for casting such a card in the first place.
Fevered Visions also comes with linked second effect that more than makes up for its delayed draw, stating that after an opponent draws their extra card, if they have 4 or more cards in hand they take 2 damage. Which means that if an opponent has at least 3 cards in hand by the end of their turn (a common occurrence in Commander), the vast majority of the time they’ll be pegged for 2 damage each round. In turn this will force one of two eventual outcomes: either someone will ultimately destroy the Enchantment as multiple instances of 2 damage eventually add up even in EDH, or it will force players to be more proactive in their spellcasting. The latter increases the tempo of the game just like all its brethren, whereas the former ensures that such a card has a finite shelf life on the battlefield and keeps one person from gaining a lopsided advantage from all the extra draws. It’s win-win, really.
Although I appreciate Howling Mine and its family, they’re rarely something I myself slot in a deck. Because of its modified timing trigger and added ability to dish out damage, however, Fevered Dreams is one I’ve wanted to experiment with for some time. Unfortunately, at present I only have one deck that matches its colors – a deck that is ironically all about manipulating the top of the deck and where extra card draws actually work against its purpose.
Eventually though I’d love to give this card a try, as it seems more up my alley than pure “group hug” type cards.
Though I will admit that togetherness does have a higher than average particular appeal to me these days…
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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