Welcome back to week six of Monday Magic: COVID Edition, with a brief pause for the US holiday. It has been 86 days since my last summoning. That makes it nearly 3 months since I’ve played a single game of Magic, thereby now marking the time of the pandemic as one of the longest breaks I’ve taken with a game that I’ve managed to play at least monthly for most of the last quarter century.
The longest, for the record, is around 9 months back during the time of Kamigawa, though that had less to do with that block and more with the fact that the makeup of my then local game group had fallen away and it took time to rebuild a new coalition.
Still, 3 months is not nothing. In Magic parlance, that’s an entire product release timeline. One whole set – pffft! – completely missed me by. Ikoria? Saw some cards, haven’t even picked any up yet – and MTG is one of the few items in tabletop gaming I generally do preorder.
But all of that is so damn trivial in this moment. All of it. I can’t bring myself to wantonly complain that I didn’t fork over nearly a c-note in what little disposable income we have right now as quickly as I normally do for a game I had to schedule sessions of even before the world broke three months ago. It’s the epitome of a first-world problem at a time when so much around us has quickly devolved into feeling like anything but. From a global pandemic that has claimed 100,000 American lives, to an historic 40 million people out of work, to civil unrest in cities across the continent the likes of which we haven’t seen in a generation, there is a lot going on outside our own walls this very moment. It’s hard to process frivolity when you’re still trying to eek by on some semblance of normal daily activity. It’s hard to focus on the entitled leisurely pursuits of a game that encourages FOMO if you aren’t spending money to stay relevant. It’s just hard, period. People are tired, stressed, angry, and anxious. Entire swaths of the population are undergoing some combination of despair, grief, and trauma. Right now, as you’re reading this. And I’m supposed to shut that all out so everyone else can gain 5 minutes of escapist content consumption?
Yeah…there are limits to that logic.
So I won’t regale you with extensive filler content. Instead, as has been the case with our interlude COVID edition pieces, I’m going to keep this week’s card pick short and simple. As has been the case, until I’m able to resume normal Magic-related antics once again, I’ve been selecting cards to feature that have some kind of personal connection to me, and I’m sharing them in a concise, low-key manner. These are cards that I’ve wanted to put into an EDH deck, but at least to this point I have been unable to do so for one reason or another.
And in this week’s case, I fear it’s coincidentally also gotten rather meta.
Today we have: Meteor Crater
Name: Meteor Crater
Focus: Mana Generation
Highlights: One thing nearly every Magic deck has in common, regardless of its format or era, is that it never wants to function poorly. Be it bad choices, bad decks, or mere bad luck, decks can (and do) fail with regularity. The most common reason – by far – is because of mana issues. Whether it’s the case of too much mana (‘mana flood’) or too little (‘mana screw’), the inability to keep the right tempo with your deck and cast what you need to is something every single player has experienced at some point. It’s baked into the entire design of the game. And yes, that variance was deliberate, much as we all cringe to hear that.
Meteor Crater is one of many ways you have to redress that problem, and one that has landed on the cutting room floor several times when making my last couple tri-colored EDH decks.
Being able to generate the correct colors for your deck is just as important as being able to generate enough mana to fuel your intentions. This becomes increasingly important in any multicolor deck the more colors that you add. In two-color decks, lands that generate more than one color are a tactical advantage; in 3-5 color decks they are essential to functioning. Luckily, the game has had no shortage of multicolored land options, with the most famous amongst them, the eponymous Dual Lands, present since the very beginning. Nonbasic lands are advantageous in almost every form.
It’s no surprise then that when scaled up to being able to produce any colored mana, such nonbasic lands almost always come with a caveat of some kind. This could mean that such lands come into play tapped, require you pay life to use it, or only have a set number of times you can use it. Some even require you pay generic mana just to activate them, ensuring that it actually costs you more mana to use it than not – a means of balancing the inherent advantages such filtering and mana smoothing it provides.
As caveats go, Meteor Crater is relatively mild, tying into the color-wonky Invasion block. Meteor Crater enters the battlefield untapped and ready to be used, letting you potentially tap for any color mana. The catch, however, is that Meteor Crater can only generate mana of permanents you already have on the battlefield. While this does mean that it’s not particularly helpful in the first few turns of a game, after a massive board wipe, or if you had a lot of colorless permanents lying around, it can be quite helpful boosting your deck’s efficiency the more built up you get. That is, although it doesn’t help you generate colors you are missing, it does provide a nice way to accelerate once you get things going.
Essentially, it’s Reflecting Pool if it cared about permanents rather than other land – and at a fraction of the cost to obtain. Because there are certain situations when you may only be able to produce a single mana (or none at all), it was never a competitive staple like its cousin. But given Commander players’ adoration for nonbasic lands and the extra time the format provides to unlock more of its potential, in this setting it can pretty advantageous in its own right.
Plus, it’s kind of nice to think that while things may be cratering elsewhere, in your tiny sliver of the multiverse you can put that imagery to somewhat more positive use.
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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