Celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, the game of Magic: the Gathering has certainly been around for a long time. Not only is it one of the most successful games ever created, it continues to be relevant by constantly improving upon itself. Consider this – when Magic came out, the following didn’t exist:
- Smart Phones
- Fuel Cells
- The Country of South Sudan
- Anything by Joss Whedon
- The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration
- Auto-Tuned music
- Harry Potter
- The Map of the Human Genome
- Anything Under the Banner of Blizzard Entertainment
Moreover, the Internet as we know it was, quite literally, in its infancy, as were many of the game’s current players.
So, yeah, it’s been around for awhile. It’s a respectable feat for a game – a card game no less – to survive that long. Only the Legends of the Five Rings CCG can make a similar boast. Part of what made Magic so successful early on was the novelty, since it was something new and different. Part of it was also worthwhile marketing and savvy-but-cutthroat business maneuvers. However, the primary reason it continues to have staying power is that the developers routinely take the game to new places, be it exciting new worlds to explore or creative new mechanics to test out. And they’ve certainly done a lot of both.
Not all of these attempts can be winners of course, especially in the mechanics department. For every beloved mechanic like Flashback, Cycling or Kicker, there are those that fell far short of impressive, such as Ripple, Epic, or Rampage without Trample. Others showed sparks of great promise but landed shy of their potential. These would be mechanics like Splice, Radiance, or Phasing.
That said, even if a mechanic overall isn’t the most desirable, it turns out they can still be quite resourceful.
Today we have: Sapphire Charm
Name: Sapphire Charm
Focus: Card Draw / Creature Buffing / Creature Control
Highlights: Phasing had its shares of ups and downs when it was relevant. The concept was certainly unique at the time: a permanent that was temporarily removed from your battlefield and treated as though it didn’t exist. If that sounds similar to more modern card effects, it’s because it is. Indeed, Phasing was the inspiration behind the idea of Flickering.
But overall, it wasn’t terribly beloved. Most people didn’t like their creatures (or land in one case) not existing half the time – especially in Blue. Blue already had enough issue with creature disadvantage to have them going and popping off constantly. So the Phasing creatures sort of gave the entire mechanic a bad reputation.
Non-creature cards revolving around Phasing are another story. These dozen or so cards had more staying power, and Sapphire Charm is no exception. Charms in Commander are almost always a worthy consideration since they allow a variety of options depending on the circumstances, and most people will not see Sapphire Charm coming.
At its worst, the card simply replaces itself if you truly have no use for it, avoiding the chances an undesirable draw. Secondly, you have a Jump effect. This can be used to send your Flying behemoth over the defenses for a final blow, used on the defensive if an opponent is trying to do the same to you, or to help another player do the same with one of their creatures (for whatever politically-motivated reason).
And then there’s the Phasing aspect. Granted, it’s different than merely using Turn to Mist: when the creature returns it won’t have summoning sickness, and it’ll retain any Auras, Equipment, counters, etc. it had on it. That said, it also doesn’t trigger any potentially devastating Enter the Battlefield triggers. Moreover, instead of a single turn takes their most valuable asset out of the equation for upwards of an entire round.
In Commander, brute force and overwhelming numbers can often be the motif, but there is room for finesse moves as well. Some cards are like broadswords; this one is a rapier. Sapphire Charm is a surgical card, and when used at the right time it can be incredibly decisive. It isn’t a game-changer per se, but if you wield it correctly, it certainly can change games.
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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