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CardShark Content - Lorien Elleman (3/31/2005)

Since Type II has slowed down a little since the recent bannings, deck archetypes have changed a good deal. Control has become more prevalent and library manipulation is more important to force through that spell at the right moment, or get the permission needed to keep the game locked down. Sensei’s Divining Top is perfect for this use. It is cheap and relatively powerful, many times giving a player that needed edge to win that close match. The Top, however, is more useful than it first appears.

As the title of this article suggests, I’m going to show seven tricks a player can perform using the Champions of Kamigawa uncommon Sensei’s Divining Top. I call these actions “tricks” because they are more complicated than simply using one of the two abilities on the Top or combining the two together in the simplest way (look at the top three, find the one you want, draw the card). Almost all the tricks only work in combination with another game effect, such as shuffling your library, so you’ll have to wait for the perfect moment to use them, but if you do you should get a nice advantage from the Top and maximize your chances of getting what you need to draw. First, let’s take a look at Sensei’s Divining Top:

Sensei’s Divining Top [U]
1
Artifact
1: Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order.
Tap: Draw a card, then put Sensei’s Divining Top on top of its owner’s library.

To some of you, these tricks will seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people make simple mistakes like using the Top at the end of their opponent’s turn (thinking they’ll somehow draw an “extra card”) and be completely oblivious to the fact that when they draw the Top during their own turn they will have accomplished nothing besides wasting mana to recast the Top.

That being said, here are the seven tricks:

1. Look, Shuffle, Look
This trick is pretty basic. If you have some effect that’s going to shuffle your library (like Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sakura-Tribe ElderSet: Commander
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Snake Shaman
Rarity:
C
Number:
169
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Sacrifice Sakura-Tribe Elder: Search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
or Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn SimulacrumSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
245
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
When Solemn Simulacrum comes into play, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. If you do, shuffle your library. When Solemn Simulacrum is put into a graveyard from play, you may draw a card.
) use the Top to look at the top three cards. If you really need one of them (enough to lose the Top), grab it. If not, shuffle your library, and when you’re done shuffling, look again. Between the three cards before and the three cards after, there should be something useful, considering you just took a gander at more than 10% of your remaining deck (if you play a normal 60-card deck).

2. The Double Draw
This trick is useful when two of the three cards on the top of your library are needed to do something (such as a land and a six-cost creature when you only have five mana on the board and none in hand). During the end of your opponent’s turn, organize the three cards on top of your deck as needed; during your draw phase draw as normal and then after that use the Top to draw the other card you need. Blamo. Both cards.

3. The Draw and Hide (temporary)
If you want to get rid of the Top for a few turns, drawing an extra card now but not the Top next turn, put the “look” ability onto the stack and then respond to it by using the Top’s “draw” ability. The abilities resolve in the order of “last-first,” so you’ll draw your card and then after the Top is on top (heh) of your library you’ll get a chance to rearrange the cards, including the Top, so just put it on the bottom and you’re ready to go.

4. The Draw and Hide (more permanent)
If you want to get rid of your Top for as long as possible or want to draw an additional card without the “on top of library” drawback, wait until you’ve got some ability that shuffles your library (even from your opponent) and use the “draw” ability in response to it. You draw your card and the Top is shuffled back into your library, hopefully not back on top of it.

5. The Upkeep Peek
Peek
PeekSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
91
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Look at target player's hand. Draw a card.

If you’ve been using up all your mana for the past few turns and haven’t had a chance to see what’s on top of your library, you can wait until your Upkeep Phase (before your Draw Phase, but after your Untap Phase) and take a peek at the top three cards of your library to put the needed one in your hand with your draw from your Draw Phase.

6. The “In response…” Last Resort
If your opponent casts some brutally vicious spell or attacks with some brutally vicious creature that’s going to cause you to lose the game, in response, look at the top three cards and see if there’s a useful instant to be had. If so, put it on top and draw the mother, because the “look” and “draw” abilities are both at instant-speed and can be done in response to spells and abilities.

7. No Mana Burn Ever Again!
So, this trick is a little anticlimactic after the others, but still… you’ll never involuntarily take mana burn again if the Top is out. This is because the “look” ability doesn’t require the Top to tap, so you can spend as much mana as you want using the “look” ability over and over again. And why would somebody be worried about taking mana burn, you ask? Since Cloudpost
Cloudpost
CloudpostSet: Mirrodin
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Locus
Rarity:
C
Number:
280
Artist:
Martina Pilcerova
Power:
Land
Toughness:
Locus
Text:
Cloudpost comes into play tapped. T: Add 1 to your mana pool for each Locus in play.
and Urza
Urza
UrzaSet: Vanguard
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Character
Rarity:
X
Number:
7
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
-1
Toughness:
+10
Text:
3: Urza deals one damage to target creature or player.
tron are still legal, sometimes you’ll want to look at the top three cards but will not be able to only tap for one. With the Top out, over-tapping becomes irrelevant.

And there you have it, seven relatively easy tricks to maximize the efficiency of Sensei’s Divining Top. As always, thanks for reading, and I hope this has been helpful.


[Editor’s note: I liked the idea for this article so much that I asked if I could add to it. Here are some specific cards that interact nicely with the Divining Top]

Trinket Mage
Trinket Mage
Trinket MageSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
39
Artist:
Mark A Nelson
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Trinket Mage comes into play, you may search your library for an artifact card with converted mana cost 1 or less, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.
– You can play this guy, activate the Top in response, and get the top back without any hassle or missed draws. You then play the Top again. The Mage basically says pay 3U and draw a card when he comes into play. You could always try putting it in the same deck as…

Vedalken Archmage
Vedalken Archmage
Vedalken ArchmageSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Vedalken Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
55
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
0
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you play an artifact spell, draw a card.
– Chances are if you’re playing this guy, you already have ridiculous card-drawing going on, so why not have a little bit more? But the Archmage effectively negates the Top’s drawback. If you draw a card and put the Top on top (heh), you’ll draw the Top next turn. If you then play the Top again, you’ll get to draw the card below it that you would have drawn if the Top didn’t have the top of library jump. Yay!

Drooling Ogre
Drooling Ogre
Drooling OgreSet: Darksteel
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Ogre
Rarity:
C
Number:
58
Artist:
Snoddy
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Whenever a player plays an artifact that player gains control of Drooling Ogre.
– Yes he’s crap, but playing the Top over and over again will ensure that you have constant control of him.

Furnace Dragon
Furnace Dragon
Furnace DragonSet: Darksteel
Cost:
9
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
Matthew D Wilson
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Affinity for Artifacts, Flying. When Furnace Dragon comes into play if you played it from your hand remove all artifacts from the game.
– You can use the Top to reduce the cost due to affinity, then activate it in response to the comes-into-play ability. You’ll retain your Top and be able to dig through your library while all other artifacts go the way of the dodo.

Leonin Elder
Leonin Elder
Leonin ElderSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
10
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever an artifact comes into play, you may gain 1 life.
– Gain lots of life 1 at a time. Not as good as Auriok Champion
Auriok Champion
Auriok ChampionSet: Fifth Dawn
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Cleric
Rarity:
R
Number:
3
Artist:
Michael Sutfin
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Protection from black and from red. Whenever another creature comes into play, you gain 1 life.
, but every little bit helps.

Serum Tank
Serum Tank
Serum TankSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
240
Artist:
Corey D. Macourek
Text:
Whenever Serum Tank or another artifact comes into play, put a charge counter on Serum Tank. 3, T, Remove a charge counter from Serum Tank: Draw a card.
– Same idea as the Elder. Lots of charge counters means lots of cards drawn. Besides, chances are if you're playing this you've already got lots of charge counters flying around.

Vermiculos
Vermiculos
VermiculosSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Horror
Rarity:
R
Number:
80
Artist:
Daren Bader
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever an artifact comes into play, Vermiculos gets +4/+4 until end of turn.
– He’ll be at least a 5/5 every turn. Nothing to sneeze at. Unless you have a cold. Get some tissue, don't sneeze on the poor black artifact-loving overpriced card.

I know most of these aren’t exactly playable and you’re probably not going to bump into them at the next Friday Night Magic. But for you casual players out there, these are things to keep in mind. They could prove to be fun.


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