Exclusive AVR Spoiler – Spoil Your Appetite!
Probably the most famous Magic mind game of all time occurred in the finals of Pro Tour Paris 1997. Mike Long convinced his opponent, Mark Justice, that he had more than one copy of Drain Life in his deck by discarding it in a game he had already lost. In game 5 of the match, Mark Justice cast Coercion and saw Long’s sole copy of Drain Life, but believed he had additional copies, which allowed Long to win the game and the match.
While choosing the correct card with Coercion could have won Justice the match, targeted discard has come a long way since 1997. Nowadays, people sneer at Coercion. While choosing any card is a potent effect, 3 is a lot of mana to pay. In Urza’s Saga, Wizards printed Duress, and that soon became the benchmark to which other discard spells were measured. Unlike Coercion, Duress continues to see play in formats as powerful as Legacy, where it is used either to stymie combo decks from going off, or to allow those very same decks to fight through Force of Will and other counters.
Judgement rolled around, and perhaps the most skill-intensive discard spell, Cabal Therapy, was unleashed upon the world. Unlike Duress and Coercion, you didn’t see the hand and choose the card from it, you chose the card and if it was in their hand, they discarded it. Cabal Therapy was used mainly in decks with creatures, because the flashback would often be devastating because you would know the exact contents of their hand. Many decks in Legacy still play it, such as Nic Fit and Hulk Rebirth, mainly because the sacrifice effect was a bonus along with the disruption that it provides.
In Lorwyn, Thoughtseize was printed. My first thoughts were that it was Coercion with the 2 colourless replaced by 2 life, but it can only hit non-land cards, (similarly to Duress and Cabal Therapy). For decks not caring about life total, this was almost universally adopted, but many decks could not afford to maindeck too many of them because the life loss was too much of a downside against aggressive decks, especially in multiples.
When Rise of the Eldrazi rolled out, and Inquisition of Kozilek arrived, many decks would play a 3/1 split of Inquisition and Thoughtseize in Legacy. Since there are so many cards to choose from in Legacy, only the most efficient (and therefore cheapest on mana) ones are generally played, so Inquisition of Kozilek could grab the most relevant cards besides Force of Will and Jace, the Mind Sculptor (among others… but seriously, what else is there?)
All these cards saw significant play during their time in Standard, but in formats where they are all legal, people continue to be unsure which of them is the right fit for their deck (besides Coercion, pretty sure that one is no longer in the equation)
Here is another one for the debate:
Now, how does this card face up? Well, my first thought was that it would perhaps have made more sense for this to be printed in Rise, and for Inquisition to be printed in Avacyn Restored, but then I wondered about its uses. The main points to notice for evaluating the card are a) the mana cost b) the restriction(s) c) the fact that it exiles a card.
a) Mana Cost
There is a reason that Coercion is no longer played despite being able to take ANY card, and that is because it costs so much. Discard spells try to interrupt your opponent’s plan, while still continuing with your own. Discard is weak against topdecks(duh!) so you are really only buying time before your opponent draws something. Only costing a single mana allows you to continue to develop your plan while slipping in disruption when your curve allows it (or turn 1). Costing 1 is a definite plus.
Ok, here is where the card fails. One easy way to see why is to imagine all the situations where Inquisition of Kozilek is good (there are A LOT of them), and realize that this card is NOT good in those situations. This will never take a Tarmogoyf, or a Snapcaster Mage, or a Sword of (whichever one). You cannot use this to nab a Ponder to mana-screw a Delver player, or a Brainstorm to screw a flooded player. However, there are plenty of linchpin spells in decks that cost 4 or more:
Jace, (not Beleren)
Primeval Titan (or his less famous brothers)
Huntmaster of the Fells
Garruk, (any of them)
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (or his littler brethren)
Day of Judgment
Wrath of God
Hero of Bladehold
Thrun, the Last Troll
However, the restriction stops it from hitting many important cards, so it is definitely a BIG minus.
Removing a card from the game Exiling a card is much better than simply discarding it. Eldrazi are obvious examples, because if you exile it, then they are actually gone instead of still there. Against a deck like Frites or Solar Flare, exiling their Fattie is much better than putting it into the graveyard, ready to be reanimated. And of course, exiling a card with flashback is much preferable to letting it go the the yard. So this is a definite plus.
Well, while I don’t yet know what the rest of Avacyn Restored will bring (if it is lots of good flashback cards that cost 4 or more, this card will be sweet), ultimately I think this card will not see much competitive play because of the restriction. Mana efficiency is probably the most important characteristic for a tournament-level card, and so most cards tend to be cheap. The older the format, the cheaper the spells.
In standard, if you look at the cards that Appetite for Brains hits, most of them are hit by Despise. However, against a reanimation deck or a ramp deck, I could definitely see Appetite for Brains begin to see some sideboard play, since it is a way for black to deal with many threats (like Primeval Titan, Unburial Rites or Birthing Pod) that it otherwise would struggle with. If you were playing Despise, I think this card is probably an upgrade, despite not hitting Snapcaster Mage. I also think, if any discard spell is EDH playable, it is this one. Pretty much all the relevant spells cost a ton of mana, and exiling a key combo piece from that guy (everyone knows which guy I mean) serves him right for trying to play some dirty combo that hinges on that one card (generally with lots of recursion).
I don’t know about you, but I am excited to see what else Avacyn Restored has in store for us. Some of the other cards spoiled are really exciting. Many of them seem to get exiled by Appetite for Brains…