There are some avenues of discussion Magic players never tire of. Whether it’s the multitude of ways a game could have played out differently, the debate over the best cards in any given format, or speculation over what the next set may contain, this veteran game continues to be relevant because it routinely finds ways to keep players excited and invested.
That also includes complaining about what the game’s colors can and can’t do.
It’s not a new thing: barking about color differences and the inherent difficulties therein has been a mainstay for nearly as long as the game itself. Yet there are always a number of prickly areas that never seem to go away.
Some of this discourse is due to the matter of living history. It’s no secret that in the early days of Magic, the colors weren’t nearly as fair as they are today (we’re looking at you, Blue). Rather than correct those early mistakes by overpowering other colors in response – as some have weirdly argued – the designers accepted their prior missteps and moved on. However, because eternal formats like Legacy and casual play allow you to use nearly any card printed, there exists a small but constant reminder that, on the collective whole, the power base of the game still tilts slightly because of those past errors. It reality, though, the faults of a handful of card designs from the 90s don’t sway games in 2017 nearly as much as some like to think.
Similarly, another reason discussion about color pie attributes never seems to die down is in no small part because of popularity rise of structured multiplayer formats like EDH. With longer games, larger decks, and a construction style that prevents splashing other colors merely to offset the inherent weaknesses of the color(s) being used, many players have become aware of – sometimes painfully – the limitations of what each color offers.
While Black and Red have never been able to deal with enchantments, for example, that problem becomes amplified in games when you have more than one opponent and bouts lasting well in excess of an hour. In faster duel-style games, it’s possible to overcome such limitations by leveraging the advantages of their colors to offset that through spot removal, direct damage, life loss, discard effects, and so on. Yet in places like Commander, speed isn’t an option.
Thus the only feasible solutions appear to be some combination of a) use artifacts, b) seek out any card that breaks the color pie, and c) complain about how other colors seemingly have it easier against that obstacle in the hopes somehow that R&D will change more than 15 years of precedence just so you can ensure your color choices can answer any problem you want to deal with.
The truth is that Magic never claims the colors are equal. Balanced, yes, but not equal.
Take tutoring. Although every color has been granted at least one card that permits it to search for something, Black is the undisputed master of searching for whatever you desire. There are no restrictions, no hoops to jump through. If Black wants to delve deep into the deck for a card, it’s fully within its right to do so.
And yes, people complain about that too, especially since many older tutors in other colors aren’t likely to be reprinted again anytime soon.
However, it turns out tutoring is a good example of a mechanic that may not be terribly forthcoming in a single outside of Black but has much better luck when using two or more. As is the case with this week’s pick.
Today we have: Wargate
Edition: Alara Reborn
Focus: Card Tutoring
Highlights: Black may have the ability to search for any card, but the Bant-colored Wargate is arguably the next best thing, especially in a color scheme that’s about as opposite of Black as possible. What’s more, like a good tutor it’s often far more powerful in practice than it is just on paper.
Wargate may not have the complete unhindered searching that the dark arts provide, but your options are extensive, letting you search for anything except for Instants and Sorceries, which is still the lion’s share of options in an EDH deck. From utility artifacts to dangerous creatures to the possible well-timed planeswalker, Wargate can summon from your deck more than a few potent options whilst being one of the least restrictive nonblack tutors in the game. That alone should pique curiosity.
Of potential downsides to Wargate, the most notable aside from its tricolor nature is the card’s cost.
At least, in theory.
While this tutor’s reach is widespread, it can admittedly be costly trying to call forth more expensive cards due to its qualifier for its X portion. Unless you use it for something like a land or a cheap mana rock, most of the time Wargate makes an appearance in the later stages of the game when you have access to more mana and therefore more options. Early game uses are possible in a pinch though, even if it’s not always the most ideal.
However, its cost isn’t that terrible if you break it down, as the card does something a standard tutor doesn’t: it puts that permanent directly onto the battlefield. No need to tutor for one cost and then cast the card for another; Wargate’s higher cost effectively combines both acts into one singular cost. In that sense, Wargate is only a 3 CMC tutor – making it also one of the most efficient tutors going. Of any color.
And all that bears out in use. It’s not an aggressive-style tutor, true, but in practice Wargate is an excellent addition to any deck with little to actually complain about.
Not that it’ll stop us from doing so anyway.
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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Do you have a particular Commander card to suggest for us to shine a future Spotlight on? You can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org