This week on Limited Resources Marshall and Luis cover every single Rare and Mythic Rare from Fate Reforged! This set has some incredible bombs, but also some trap cards that look like bombs but aren’t. Discover it all in this episode!
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Your Hosts: Marshall Sutcliffe and Luis Scott-Vargas
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Just a thought on citadel siege something that came up for me at the prerelease was that it actually does a good job at protecting your creature from removal only because a lot of the removal is damaged or negative state based versus hard removal and siege almost always seemed to take most creatures out or range with the first pump.
Even though folks may be getting a little too excited, Mastery of the Unseen really is quite good. You guys seemed to be evaluating the card less than fairly, although that probably was partly a result of folks visceral reaction to LSV’s 2.5 rating over at CFB. The reason it seems this way, is that compared to how much time you spend pooping on it, you guys don’t spend much time talking about what the card does well. For example, Marshall talked about how he basically always has something to do with his mana, specifically unmorphing, so the manifest ability is less relevant, but when you unmorph for no value beyond the bigger creature (i.e. at the end of opponents turns, the traditional manasink spot), you open yourself up to a lot of unnecessary risk. If you unmorph your snowhorn rider EOT then swing on your turn and opponent killshots, they’ve effectively 1-for-1’ed you and gained 5 mana of tempo. If you manifest instead, opponent has it choice of killshoting a 2/2 morph or a 2/2 manifest, much less enticing, and if they still make the same play, you’re up a card, two damage, and a mana compared to the other scenario. Even better, they don’t killshot either because a 2/2 isn’t “worth it” and now they’ve wasted a turns worth of mana.
Second, one of the biggest benefits of Mastery is the synergy it has with other powerful instants that other decks may not be able to draft many of or any at all (looking at you Throttle, 4+ instants in general, and maybe even cancels). You are punished much less for leaving up mana for Throttle when you have a Mastery in play. Yes, you could say the same thing about morphs, but you can only unmorph a creature once, so you can’t leave up your Throttle or enhanced awareness every. single. turn. forever. You might say “just play another morph and be in the same position”, but once you pay the three for the morph, you need an additional 5 mana, which is a tall order. Further, 3+5=8 which is the spot where Mastery shines. Admittedly, this is getting into the build around me aspect of the card (e.g. play this with lots of controlling instants and cheap unmorphs), and your evaluations are traditionally meant to be in a semi-vacuum.
Last, you gave mastery little credit in the behind quadrant. You didn’t say much here, merely said it didn’t do anything, declared it too clunky and left it at that. It really would have been a great benefit to the listeners if you had explained how it actually operates in this quadrant and been a little less conclusory. For example, if the opponent is threatening to attack, a single activation of Mastery all but stops X/2’s (morphs?), and chumps bigger creatures for 2 mana up front and 4 mana (not 4 mana and a card) per turn. So you are now essentially either tapping down a nonevasive creature or you get a 2/2 and opponents can’t attack with nonevasive creatures, for 4 mana each turn. Yes, its your opponents choice, but in the land of morph and hidden creature information that’s a lot less potent of a drawback. This is close to the floor in the behind situation. Once you get to 8 mana this gets you out of many losing situations few other cards can, which of course is where the late game and the “behind” quadrant overlap. Granted, if you don’t have this in play and 4 mana, or 6 mana when you top deck it, it takes a hit when you are behind. But, how many cards that are actually good in this quadrant don’t? If your opponent has enough of a board presence to say you’re behind and you have 0-2 mana, that game is over, you lose. If you only have 3 mana, the only sorts of cards that help are conditional removal like killshot and sandstorm. Once you get to 4 mana Mastery is turned on. Again, the card advantage 2/2 may not kill or stop everything that killshot does, but its close and Mastery has the benefit of helping you win the game where sandstorm or dead drop just stare at you from the graveyard. Ultimately, going from behind to not-losing is still not-winning.
Still, I see where you guys were coming from as a response to people on twitter giving this an A+++ or something. I would have went a full letter grade up from where you guys started, though. B+/A-.
You’re really reaching to try and find situations to make the card good but I have to agree with Marshall and LSV in saying that it’s not what you want to have most of the time.
Partially, you’re really overestimating the value of a 2/2 vanilla creature for 4 in this format. Sandblast, Whisk Away, Debilitating Injury, Douse in the Gloom, Bathe in Dragonfire, Hunt the Weak are all cards at common that remove your manifest, often for less mana and/or an upside. Additionally, anything that you’d be able to trade with your 2/2 will be out of range or irrelevant by the time you get mastery online and the thing you trade for will have cost them at least one less mana. In the losing quadrant, these 2/2 are particularly bad as they’ll be eaten by bigger things and doesn’t stop evasive threats and you’ll essentially be paying 4 mana a turn to chump block.
While you may eek out a card or two of advantage off of it, you’re doing so at the expensive of a tempo loss and without meaningfully effecting the board. I couldn’t imagine a situation where the cards in your deck are so bad that every turn you’d rather cast a 4 mana 2/2 instead of playing a card in your hand.
You correctly identify 8 as an important number for the mana investment in morphs but you ignore that the investment occurs over multiple turns which greatly increases it’s affordability. As they said in the Ugin part of the review, in most games you’re never getting to the point where you have 8 lands in play where you might double manifest with Mastery.
It’s a niche card for decks that want to go super-late game but at rare, it’s not a card that you’re going to be able to reliably build around.
These weren’t really the arguments for why/where the card is good. Marshall and LSV covered that in the show. These are the arguments why the situations in which the card is bad are not as bad as Marshall and LSV make it out to be.
These points are directed at principally two areas: (1) the behind quadrant where the guys called it simply bad with no exposition; (2) the synergies the card has with several risky and therefore less highly drafted cards.
To point one, I illustrate how the card actually works in the behind quandrant to show that it is not actively bad or a blank in this quadrant as the guys seem to indicate, but that it is no worse than ok, and often good. Given its power in the other quadrants, it should average out to a better grade than what was given.
The second point basically boils down to the fact that being in a situation where you can leave up mana for big instants is very powerful, and while morphs allow you to do this, they are nowhere near as efficient, consistent, +cardadv, and riskless as Mastery is in this scenario. Again, this is where the build around grade adjustment comes into play most.
To your point about eking out a card or two. Every time the opponent uses a removal spell on one of these manifest creatures, even if it cost less than 4 mana, you’ve netted a card. Actually, as soon as you activate Mastery’s ability you’ve generated a card. A corollary to this is, each time you draw a card that is better than manifesting you can still play it, otherwise for the rest of the game you essentially can’t do worse than draw 2 cards each draw step one of which is a 2/2 for 4 with some 40% chance of flipping up into something better.
Ultimately, my gripe is not so much with Marshall and LSV’s grade, since I think LSV may have gotten up to a B at the end, and the two together went with a B-, but with the relatively little amount of time spent actually explaining how the card works in the behind quadrant to support their stated conclusion as compared to the amount of time they spent talking about the homers on twitter who think the card is the second coming of Jitte.
With the commons and uncommons set review, I agree that more cursory analysis and conclusory judgements are perfectly acceptable since players will get a chance to thoroughly play with them, but the rares and mythics deserve more careful analysis and stepping through the cards mechanics more purposefully is appropriate since not all players will even see all rares, much less get a chance to play them. This is by no means an accusation that as a general matter I think LR does this with every, most, or even a fair percentage of the rares. In this case, I think they were more excited about making a point about the pitfalls of overrating cards than actually analyzing this one particular card because of the hype surrounding it. A lesson worth teaching, but not on a rare that is clearly playable and at the expense of analysis.
If it turns out that this card is really more inline with Marshall and LSV’s grade, I’d admit that my initial grade was wrong, and I’d admit that the grade that LR gave it happened to be correct, but as a nuts and bolts spike I would not admit that based on the explanation given in the podcast, that LR’s grade was justified, and that’s all that matters.
A related point: If you overrate a card and miss out on an extra 5% of wins or you underrate a card and miss out on an extra 5% of wins, you still miss out on 5% of wins. In that sense, misgrading because you are conservative in your ratings is thus not better than misgrading because you are a gullible, overly optimistic fool.
Also, I wasn’t arguing that Mastery needs 8 mana to be good. Just the opposite. I was arguing that because of the timing of mastery (instant speed) it allowed you to leave open mana for instants in hand, and when your opponent invariably passes because of the telegraphed Throttle, you still have the chance to manifest a 2/2. With morphs, you need 8 mana (3 for morph, 5 for Throttle) since you can’t play the morph at the end of opponents turn and because anything less and you can’t play the morph while leaving mana up. With Mastery you only need 5. Moreover, I simply stated that once you do get to 8 mana and have access to the same sorts of decisions with a morph and throttle in hand you otherwise would with mastery and 5 mana, Mastery is still better since you can manifest twice.
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