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Card Choices - Clay Schubert (10/18/2007)

Even though Wizards continually develops new mechanics, worlds, and creatures, the core of abilities and structure remains the same. A basic ability receives new flavor and twists as each new set comes out. With each new incarnation of a card, it forces the player to question if they should replace their older version with this newer version in their deck. This article will attempt to give some pointers on how to select which card is right for your deck.

So you’re building a blue deck and you want a way to bounce creatures. Which bounce card do you want? Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
? Boomerang
Boomerang
BoomerangSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Alan Rabinowitz
Text:
Return target permanent to owner's hand.
?

The basic “bounce a creature” ability has seen a multitude of incarnations in the past few sets alone (32!)

Mirrodin:
Echoing Truth
Echoing Truth
Echoing TruthSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
21
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Return target non-land permanent and all permanents that share a name with it to owner's hands.

Into Thin Air
Into Thin Air
Into Thin AirSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
33
Text:
Affinity for artifacts. Return target artifact to its owner's hand.

Regress
Regress
RegressSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Text:
Return target permanent to its owner's hand.

Retract
Retract
RetractSet: Darksteel
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
32
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Text:
Return all artifacts you control to owners' hands.

Vedalken Mastermind
Vedalken Mastermind
Vedalken MastermindSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Veldalken Wizard
Rarity:
U
Number:
40
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
U, Tap: Return target permanent you control to its owner's hand.


Kamigawa:
Consuming Vortex
Consuming Vortex
Consuming VortexSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Splice onto Arcane 3U (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)

Cut the Early Bond
Cut the Tethers
Cut the Tethers
Cut the TethersSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
56
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
For each Spirit, return it to its owner's hand unless that player pays 3.

Eye of Nowhere
Eye of Nowhere
Eye of NowhereSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
59
Artist:
Alan Pollack
Text:
Return target permanent to its owner's hand.

Kiri-Onna
Part the Veil
Part the Veil
Part the VeilSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
R
Number:
77
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Return all creatures you control to their owner's hand.

Phantom Wings
Phantom Wings
Phantom WingsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
Enchanted creature gains flying.Sacrifice Phantom Wings: Return enchanted creature to owner's hand.

Quillmane Baku
Quillmane Baku
Quillmane BakuSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
David Martin
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may put a ki counter on Quillmane Baku. 1, T, Remove X ki counters from Quillmane Baku Return target creature with converted mana cost X or less to its owner's hand.

Soratami Mirror Mage
Trusted Advisor
Trusted Advisor
Trusted AdvisorSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Advisor
Rarity:
U
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Your maximum hand size is increased by two. At the beginning of your upkeep, return a blue creature you control to its owner's hand.

Mistblade Shinobi
Mistblade Shinobi
Mistblade ShinobiSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Ninja
Rarity:
C
Number:
43
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Ninjutsu U (U, Return an unblocked attacker you control to hand Put this card into play from your hand tapped and attacking.) Whenever Mistblade Shinobi deals combat damage to a player, you may return target creature that player controls to its owner's hand.


Ravnica:
Mark of Eviction
Mark of Eviction
Mark of EvictionSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
U
Number:
58
Artist:
Tsutomu Kawade
Text:
Enchant creature At the beginning of your upkeep, return enchanted creature and all Auras attached to that creature to their owners’ hands.

Peel from Reality
Peel from Reality
Peel from RealitySet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
61
Artist:
Puddnhead
Text:
Return target creature you control and target creature you don’t control to their owners’ hands.

Repeal
Repeal
RepealSet: Guildpact
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
32
Text:
Return target nonland permanent with converted mana cost X to its owner’s hand. Draw a card.

Tidespout Tyrant
Tidespout Tyrant
Tidespout TyrantSet: Dissension
Color:
Blue
Rarity:
R
Number:
34
Artist:
Dany Orizio

Vacuumelt
Vacuumelt
VacuumeltSet: Guildpact
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
40
Text:
Replicate 2U (When you play this spell, copy it for each time you paid its replicate cost. You may choose new targets for the copies.) Return target creature to its owner’s hand.


Coldsnap:
Heidar, Rimewind Master
Heidar, Rimewind Master
Heidar, Rimewind MasterSet: Coldsnap
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
36
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
2, T Return target permanent to its owner's hand. Play this ability only if you control four or more snow permanents.

Surging Aether
Surging Aether
Surging AetherSet: Coldsnap
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
47
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Text:
Ripple 4 (When you play this spell, you may reveal the top four cards of your library. You may play any revealed cards with the same name as this spell without paying their mana costs. Put the rest on the bottom of your library.) Return target permanent to its owner's hand.


Time Spiral
Time Spiral
Time SpiralSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
103
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Text:
Remove Time Spiral from the game. Each player shuffles his or her graveyard and hand into his or her library, then draws seven cards. You untap up to six lands.
:
Aven Augur
Aven Augur
Aven AugurSet: Future Sight
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bird Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
32
Artist:
Dan Scott
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
Sacrifice Aven Augur Return up to two target creatures to their owners' hands. Play this ability only during your upkeep.

Linessa, Zephyr Mage
Linessa, Zephyr Mage
Linessa, Zephyr MageSet: Future Sight
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
51
Artist:
Jim Murray
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
xUU, T Return target creature with converted mana cost X to its owner's hand.
Grandeur - Discard another card named Linessa, Zephyr Mage. Target player returns a creature he or she controls to its owner's hand, then repeats this process for an artifact, an enchantment, and a land.

Reality Strobe
Reality Strobe
Reality StrobeSet: Future Sight
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
43
Artist:
Dan Scott
Text:
Return target permanent to its owner's hand. Remove Reality Strobe from the game with three time counters on it.
Suspend 3-2U(Rather than play this card from your hand, you may pay 2U and remove it from the game with three time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When the last is removed, play it without paying its mana cost.)

Riftwing Cloudskate
Riftwing Cloudskate
Riftwing CloudskateSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Illusion
Rarity:
U
Number:
73
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying When Riftwing Cloudskate comes into play, return target permanent to its owner's hand. Suspend 3-1U (Rather than play this card from your hand, you may pay 1U and remove it from the game with three time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When you remove the last, play it without paying its mana cost. It has haste.)

Snapback
Snapback
SnapbackSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
78
Artist:
Alan Pollack
Text:
You may remove a blue card in your hand from the game rather than pay Snapback's mana cost. Return target creature to its owner's hand.

Tolarian Sentinel
Tolarian Sentinel
Tolarian SentinelSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Spellshaper
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Power:
1
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying U, T, Discard a card: Return target permanent you control to its owner's hand.

Venser, Shaper Savant
Venser, Shaper Savant
Venser, Shaper SavantSet: Future Sight
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
46
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.)
When Venser, Shaper Savant comes into play, return target spell or permanent to its owner's hand.

Venser’s Diffusion
Wipe Away
Wipe Away
Wipe AwaySet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
94
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Text:
Split second (As long as this spell is on the stack, players can't play spells or activated abilities that aren't mana abilities.) Return target permanent to its owner's hand.


So, how do you pick the right one for your deck?


1. Limited versus open:
Let’s look at two cards:
Boomerang
Boomerang
BoomerangSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Alan Rabinowitz
Text:
Return target permanent to owner's hand.

Hoodwink
Hoodwink
HoodwinkSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
84
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Return target artifact, enchantment, or land to its owner's hand.


Both cards are instants, and both cost two mana. (We’ll talk about the double blue costing later.) Boomerang
Boomerang
BoomerangSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Alan Rabinowitz
Text:
Return target permanent to owner's hand.
bounces 5 of 5 types of permanents. Hoodwink
Hoodwink
HoodwinkSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
84
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Return target artifact, enchantment, or land to its owner's hand.
bounces 3 of 5. Given the average deck you’d face, which would you want to topdeck? If you’re facing a deck with only creatures and instants, the Hoodwink
Hoodwink
HoodwinkSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
84
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Return target artifact, enchantment, or land to its owner's hand.
will sit dead in your hand. Given that you won’t know the deck you’ll be facing, the cards with wider uses should almost always be utilized. There are exceptions, and those will be discussed later.

Here’s another example with creatures:
Limted: Takeno’s Calvary.
Open: Crossbow Infantry
Crossbow Infantry
Crossbow InfantrySet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
16
Artist:
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Crossbow Infantry deals 1 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
.

The Takeno’s Calvary was bad even in a block full of spirits. In a casual game, it is useless against goblins, elves, and squirrels. The Crossbow Infantry
Crossbow Infantry
Crossbow InfantrySet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
16
Artist:
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Crossbow Infantry deals 1 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
, on the hand, can ping all those creatures when they try to attack.


2. Speed
There are two types of speed that are important. The first is instant vs. sorcery speed. This is HUGE. Compare the following cards:
Boomerang
Boomerang
BoomerangSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Alan Rabinowitz
Text:
Return target permanent to owner's hand.

Eye of Nowhere
Eye of Nowhere
Eye of NowhereSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
59
Artist:
Alan Pollack
Text:
Return target permanent to its owner's hand.


Both cost double blue, and both bounce 5 of 5 permanent types. The ability between an instant and a sorcery speed is incredible. These are the advantages of instant speed:
- Can be played during combat
- Can be played in response to a spell or activated/ triggered ability.(like Zephid
Zephid
ZephidSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Illusion
Rarity:
R
Number:
113
Artist:
Daren Bader
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying Zephid cannot be the target of spells or abilities.
’s Embrace, Mythic Proportions
Mythic Proportions
Mythic ProportionsSet: Onslaught
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
274
Artist:
Jim Nelson
Text:
Enchanted creature gets +8/+8 and has trample.
, Might of Oaks
Might of Oaks
Might of OaksSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
106
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Target creature gets +7/+7 until end of turn.
, Aggressive Urge
Aggressive Urge
Aggressive UrgeSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
181
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.Draw a card.
, or Terror
Terror
TerrorSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Buries target creature. Cannot target black creatures or artifact creatures.
)
- Can be played at opponent’s end of turn step (use mana at last possible time).

Given most scenarios, you should always pick instant speed over sorcery. (Magnivore
Magnivore
MagnivoreSet: Odyssey
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lhurgoyf
Rarity:
R
Number:
204
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Haste Magnivore's power and toughness are each equal to the number of sorcery cards in all graveyards.
decks are the exception here). If you have an option, you should pick instant speed over sorcery speed.

The second type of speed is this: Mana cost.
Look at Leonin Sky Hunter vs. Wild Griffin
Wild Griffin
Wild GriffinSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Griffin
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
. Both are 2/2 flyers. You can drop the Sky Hunter on the 2nd turn, but the Wild Griffin
Wild Griffin
Wild GriffinSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Griffin
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
has to wait until turn three. The mana curve and type of deck (aggro, combo, control, etc) will be your major factors here. With the exception of Scour
Scour
ScourSet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
18
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Text:
Remove target enchantment from the game. Search its controller's graveyard, hand, and library for all copies of that card and remove them from the game. That player then shuffles his or her library.
ge-themed deck, there are very fews times I can imagine you’d pick a card that cost more resources to cast. (Again, we’ll talk about the WW vs. the 2W casting cost later).


3. Card Advantage
Look at Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
and Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
. If you play Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
on a Grizzly Bears
Grizzly Bears
Grizzly BearsSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bears
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
, then you’ve traded a one for one. Next turn, they’ll replay their Grizzly Bears
Grizzly Bears
Grizzly BearsSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bears
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
, and your Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
will sit useless in your graveyard. Now look at Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
. You cast it on their Grizzly Bears
Grizzly Bears
Grizzly BearsSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bears
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
, and you draw a card. That card you just drew is … a Hill Giant
Hill Giant
Hill GiantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Giant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
, huzzah! Now you can throw down your 3/3 beater as their puny bear sits there useless on the field. (You've gotta be laughing with the Hill Giant
Hill Giant
Hill GiantSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Giant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
inclusion here.) Both the cards Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
and Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
do the same thing at the same speed, but Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
replaces itself!

Note: Cards that are cantrips (draw a card as well) will cost more. A deck’s speed leaves you in kind of a catch 22. If you need to go as fast as possible, then most likely you’ll run out of steam. That makes you wish you had cantrips to replenish your hand. But if you add cantrips, it slows you down because of the higher mana cost.

Aether Burst
Aether Burst
Aether BurstSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
60
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Return up to X target creatures to their owners' hands, where X is one plus the number of Aether Burst cards in all graveyards as you play Aether Burst.
, Withdraw
Withdraw
WithdrawSet: Prophecy
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Then return another target creature to its owner's hand unless its controller pays 1.
, and Echoing Truth
Echoing Truth
Echoing TruthSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
21
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Return target non-land permanent and all permanents that share a name with it to owner's hands.
all can bounce multiple permanents, and they can often get you 2 for 1. Echoing Truth
Echoing Truth
Echoing TruthSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
21
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Return target non-land permanent and all permanents that share a name with it to owner's hands.
can get you like 100 to 1 (thank you enemy army of Saproling
Saproling
SaprolingSet: Phyrexia vs. The Coalition
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Saproling
Rarity:
C
Number:
3
Artist:
Warren Mahy
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
s). Ever since I learned of Aether Burst
Aether Burst
Aether BurstSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
60
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Return up to X target creatures to their owners' hands, where X is one plus the number of Aether Burst cards in all graveyards as you play Aether Burst.
, I ceased playing Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
. Sure, it cost one mana more, but when you cast your second Aether Burst
Aether Burst
Aether BurstSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
60
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Return up to X target creatures to their owners' hands, where X is one plus the number of Aether Burst cards in all graveyards as you play Aether Burst.
of the game, you’ll realize the benefits far outweigh the costs.


4. Card Synergy
This is the rule that usually breaks all the other ones. When Magic first came out, players would take all their best cards, put them in a stack, and start playing. Then came a deck called “Red Sligh.” It was made up of crappy cards like Goblin of the Flarg, yet it kicked the snot out of decks that ran Armageddon
Armageddon
ArmageddonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
All lands in play are destroyed.
and Serra Angel
Serra Angel
Serra AngelSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying Attacking does not cause Serra Angel to tap.
. Why? Because the cards worked well together (well, all except Goblins of the Flarg
Goblins of the Flarg
Goblins of the FlargSet: Chronicles
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Goblins
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Tom Wänerstrand
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
MountainwalkIf at any time you control any Dwarves, bury Goblins of the Flarg.
and Dwarven Trader
Dwarven Trader
Dwarven TraderSet: Homelands
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dwarf
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Margaret Organ-Kean
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
…) The best decks are not made by throwing the best cards together, but rather by finding the best synergy between all levels of cards. Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Samurai of the Pale CurtainSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Fox Samurai
Rarity:
U
Number:
43
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.) If a permanent would be put into a graveyard, remove it from the game instead.
is a solid, powerful card. That doesn’t mean you should put it in your Reanimator deck.

Going back to an earlier example: Boomerang
Boomerang
BoomerangSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Alan Rabinowitz
Text:
Return target permanent to owner's hand.
vs Eye From Nowhere. In 99.9% of decks, I’d run Boomerang
Boomerang
BoomerangSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Alan Rabinowitz
Text:
Return target permanent to owner's hand.
. But if I’m playing a Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
craft/ Arcane deck, then it’s all about the Eye. Why? Because even though I lose the tempo of instant speed, the Eye’s synergy with the rest of the cards in that deck will more than make up for it.

Most players would agree that Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
is better than Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
. In fact, its probably the best “bounce a creature” spell there is. Most blue decks that I play run Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
. There are a few that don’t. In my Ninja-Pirate deck, for instance, I run Withdraw
Withdraw
WithdrawSet: Prophecy
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand. Then return another target creature to its owner's hand unless its controller pays 1.
because it has so many uses in the deck. (Shameless plug for another article I wrote for Cardshark. Other people who have built this deck tell me it usually runs with 10-1 records.) [Editor's note: No shame in the shameless plug. That's why it's called a shameless plug.]


5. Mana Cost
There is a huge difference in a mana cost of UU compared to 1U. A mono-blue deck is the only time you won’t have to worry about it. But if you’re playing multi-colored, then you need to strongly consider double and triple colors in the casting cost of your card selection. The more colored mana symbols on a card, the more you get for your buck. Notice how 95% of all hard counters [cards that counter a spell without conditions: Rewind
Rewind
RewindSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
93
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Counter target spell. Untap up to four lands.
, Counterspell
Counterspell
CounterspellSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counters target spell as it is being cast.
, Cancel
Cancel
CancelSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counter target spell.
] require at least UU, whereas soft counters [cards that will counter a spell unless a condition is met or temporarily delay the spell: [Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
, Remand
Remand
RemandSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
63
Artist:
Mark A. Nelson
Text:
Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, put it into its owner’s hand instead of into that player's graveyard. Draw a card.
, Perplex
Perplex
PerplexSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
217
Artist:
Tsutomu Kawade
Text:
Counter target spell unless its controller discards his or her hand. Transmute 1UB (1UB, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as this card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.)
, Flashfreeze
Flashfreeze
FlashfreezeSet: Coldsnap
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
33
Artist:
Brian Despain
Text:
Counter target red or green spell.
, Flash Counter
Flash Counter
Flash CounterSet: Legends
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Harold McNeill
Text:
Counters target interrupt or instant spell.
] only require U.

Let’s look at the Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin SkyhunterSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Knight
Rarity:
U
Number:
11
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
and Wild Griffin
Wild Griffin
Wild GriffinSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Griffin
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
example again. This looks at different deck builds and explains which card I’d pick.
Mono-White: Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin SkyhunterSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Knight
Rarity:
U
Number:
11
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying

White with splash of another color - Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin SkyhunterSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Knight
Rarity:
U
Number:
11
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying

50-50 White with other color – Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin Skyhunter
Leonin SkyhunterSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Knight
Rarity:
U
Number:
11
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
(Some may disagree with me on this )
Another color with a splash of white – Wild Griffin
Wild Griffin
Wild GriffinSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Griffin
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying

3 or more color – Wild Griffin
Wild Griffin
Wild GriffinSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Griffin
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying
.


6. Gray Ogre
Gray Ogre
Gray OgreSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ogre
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
s
If there certain cards that obsolete cards because they’re strictly better in all regards . Unless you’re running an Ogre tribal deck, there is NO reason to ever play Gray Ogre
Gray Ogre
Gray OgreSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ogre
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
. [Editor's note: Muraganda Petroglyphs
Muraganda Petroglyphs
Muraganda PetroglyphsSet: Future Sight
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
146
Artist:
Scott Altmann
Text:
Creatures with no abilities get +2/+2.
! Soryr, I couldn't resist.] I’m just listing a FEW of the red cards that, in all regards, are better than Gray Ogre
Gray Ogre
Gray OgreSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ogre
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
(2R for a 2/2 creature):: Ronin Houndmaster
Ronin Houndmaster
Ronin HoundmasterSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Samurai
Rarity:
C
Number:
184
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Haste Bushido 1 (When this blocks or becomes blocked, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
, Blazing Blade Askari
Blazing Blade Askari
Blazing Blade AskariSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Knight
Rarity:
C
Number:
146
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.) 2: Blazing Blade Askari becomes colorless until end of turn.
, Searing Spear Askari
Searing Spear Askari
Searing Spear AskariSet: Mirage
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Knight
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Richard Kane Ferguson
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking is assigned to block this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.) 1R: Searing Spear Askari cannot be blocked by only one creature this turn.
, Akki Drill Master, Arc Mage
Arc Mage
Arc MageSet: Nemesis
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spellshaper
Rarity:
U
Number:
77
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
2R, T, Discard a card from your hand: Arc Mage deals 2 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players.
, Barbarian Bully
Barbarian Bully
Barbarian BullySet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Barbarian
Rarity:
C
Number:
79
Artist:
Mike Ploog

Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card at random from your hand: Barbarian Bully gets +2/+2 until end of turn unless a player has Barbarian Bully deal 4 damage to him or her. Play this ability only once each turn.
, Brutal Deceiver
Brutal Deceiver
Brutal DeceiverSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
161
Artist:
Jon Foster
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
1: Look at the top card of your library. 2: Reveal the top card of your library. If it's a land, Brutal Deceiver gets +1/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn.
, Blaster Mage
Blaster Mage
Blaster MageSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spellshaper
Rarity:
C
Number:
175
Artist:
George Pratt
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
R, tap, Discard a card from your hand: Destroy target Wall.
, Barbed Sliver
Barbed Sliver
Barbed SliverSet: Tempest
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Sliver
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Scott Kirschner
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Each Sliver gains 2: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
, Caldera Kavu
Caldera Kavu
Caldera KavuSet: Planeshift
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Kavu
Rarity:
C
Number:
58
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
1B: Caldera Kavu gets +1/+1 until end of turn. G: Caldera Kavu becomes the color of your choice until end of turn.
, Convulsing Licid
Convulsing Licid
Convulsing LicidSet: Stronghold
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Licid
Rarity:
U
Number:
77
Artist:
Scott Kirschner
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
R, T: Convulsing Licid loses this ability and becomes a creature enchantment that reads Enchanted creature cannot block instead of a creature. Move Convulsing Licid onto target creature. You may pay R to end this effect.
, Desert
Desert
DesertSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Tap to add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool or do 1 damage to an attacking creature after it deals its damage.
IE5vbWFkcw==, Dwarven Recruiter
Dwarven Recruiter
Dwarven RecruiterSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dwarf
Rarity:
U
Number:
186
Artist:
Ciruelo
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Dwarven Recruiter comes into play, search your library for any number of Dwarf cards and reveal those cards. Shuffle your library, then put them on top of it in any order.
. The list goes on.

Or Jump
Jump
JumpSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Target creature is a flying creature until end of turn.
vs Leap
Leap
LeapSet: Stronghold
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
35
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Target creature gains flying until end of turn.Draw a card.
.

Oh, and Grizzly Bears
Grizzly Bears
Grizzly BearsSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bears
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeff A. Menges
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
will never be obsolete, because bears are awesome. So there.


7. Bling-factor
Everyone wants the shocklands from Ravnica. For tournament level decks, they are a necessity. They also have beautiful art, and have an pretty high “awe” factor. They also cost about $10-15. Ouch. If you’re looking for the bling, then by all means, grab a playset. I’m a casual player. If I open a pack and find a Watery Grave
Watery Grave
Watery GraveSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Island Swamp
Rarity:
R
Number:
286
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
(T: Add U or B to your mana pool.) As Watery Grave comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Watery Grave comes into play tapped instead.
, I say “score.” I then trade or sell the card for a whole bunch of other cards. For the cost of one Watery Grave
Watery Grave
Watery GraveSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Island Swamp
Rarity:
R
Number:
286
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
(T: Add U or B to your mana pool.) As Watery Grave comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Watery Grave comes into play tapped instead.
, you could get a playset for each of the Invasion dual taplands AND the Coldsnap dual snow taplands. Sure, they’re nowhere near as flashy or cool as Watery Grave
Watery Grave
Watery GraveSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Island Swamp
Rarity:
R
Number:
286
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
(T: Add U or B to your mana pool.) As Watery Grave comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Watery Grave comes into play tapped instead.
s or Temple Garden
Temple Garden
Temple GardenSet: Ravnica City of Guilds
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Forest Plains
Rarity:
R
Number:
284
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
(T: Add G or W to your mana pool.) As Temple Garden comes into play, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, Temple Garden comes into play tapped instead.
s, but if you’re a casual player, they have pretty much the same effect in your deck.

_____
_____
_____Set: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
U
Number:
23
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1: This card’s name becomes the name of your choice. Play this ability anywhere, anytime.
_____
_____
_____Set: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
U
Number:
23
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1: This card’s name becomes the name of your choice. Play this ability anywhere, anytime.
_____
_____
_____Set: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
U
Number:
23
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1: This card’s name becomes the name of your choice. Play this ability anywhere, anytime.
_____
_____
_____Set: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
U
Number:
23
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1: This card’s name becomes the name of your choice. Play this ability anywhere, anytime.
_____
_____
_____Set: Unhinged
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shapeshifter
Rarity:
U
Number:
23
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1: This card’s name becomes the name of your choice. Play this ability anywhere, anytime.
_
Final thoughts
As you’re picking the right card for a deck, this is a summary of how I’d select it.
1. Synergy: A deck with good cards that have excellent cards will work better than a deck with the best cards with little synergy.
2. Mana cost: If you can’t reliably get UU, you may want to use Mana Leak
Mana Leak
Mana LeakSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
36
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Counter target spell unless its caster pays an additional 3.
over Counter Spell.
3. Card Advantage/ Speed: I’m lumping these together because they’re so closely linked.
4. Flavor: Cloud Pirates
Cloud Pirates
Cloud PiratesSet: Portal
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Phil Foglio
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying Cloud Pirates can intercept only creatures with flying.
vs Cloud Sprite
Cloud Sprite
Cloud SpriteSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Faerie
Rarity:
C
Number:
67
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying Cloud Sprite may block only creatures with flying.
depends on your personality. =)


As you play a deck, it’s always good to rework it. If you’re playing with Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
, try throwing in Repulse
Repulse
RepulseSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
70
Artist:
Aaron Boyd
Text:
Return target creature to its owner's hand.Draw a card.
. If it works better, then keep it in. If not, you can put Unsummon
Unsummon
UnsummonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Return target creature to owner's hand; enchantments on target creature are discarded.
back in or try Aether Burst
Aether Burst
Aether BurstSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
60
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Return up to X target creatures to their owners' hands, where X is one plus the number of Aether Burst cards in all graveyards as you play Aether Burst.
(or another bounce incarnation). Oh, and read my ninja-pirate article. Seriously, what can be better than a deck that uses ninjas and pirates? [Editor's note: See? No shame at all.]


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