Endless Whispers 7 – Planechase!
By Russell Tassicker
So the latest magic release besides Zendikar is the casually targeted Planechase. For those of you that haven’t heard, planechase is a new way to play magic, preferably multiplayer magic. Each player has a planar deck along with their standard magic deck, made up of the new plane cards. These oversized cards are kind of like world enchantments from magic’s early days, and each one has a constant effect and a “chaos effect”. What is a chaos effect, you ask? We’ll get to that. At the beginning of the game, the player taking the first turn puts their top plane card face up where everyone can see it, and this is the plane the game starts on. While it’s in play, its constant effect is happening. To change planes, players can roll the “planar die”. This is another special planechase accessory which is basically a 6-sided dice, with 4 blank faces, a face with the planeswalk symbol, and a chaos symbol.
When a player rolls the planeswalk symbol, the current plane’s owner puts it on the bottom of their deck and the player who rolled planeswalk puts their top plane face up. If a player rolls chaos, however, the current plane stays where it is and its chaos effect happens. Players can only roll on their turn. They get one free roll each turn, and can spend mana to take extra rolls – they don’t have to roll at all if they are happy with the plane they are on. The game ends in all the usual ways, planechase just adds some extra wackiness to your normal multiplayer games. Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, on to an example game my buddies and I played a couple of weeks ago. I intended to make notes for two games, but the first game went on so long we only had time for one after all the 2-headed giant and duels we’d already played that evening. Fortunately, the game was rather epic.
Russell – Yours truly, playing Goldenglow Moth/Cradle of Vitality. This deck is good at staying around for the whole game, but not very good at winning. Punching dudes with a 8/9 Goldenglow Moth is an experience not to be missed however.
Mike – playing something new, featuring artifact lands and cranial plating but no affinity. Make a note to stay on Mike’s good side, his decks usually look messy but end up kicking ass.
Jason – The Fog King, playing a janky Karma/Urborg combo deck with loads of fogs. Jason never goes anywhere without fogs, the cause of much colourful language around the table.
Rhys – Playing a Naya concoction – Rhys became fascinated with the interaction of Protean Hydra and pump effects just before this game, and his deck was focused around getting Hydra into play and whacking a Behemoth Sledge on it.
Lionel – Playing Sharuum the Hegemon/Glassdust Hulk combo. Assures us that despite it being able to deal infinite unblockable damage, it can only do it to one player a turn so “it’s fair”. It’s probably fine, since I know how the combo works and it can be disrupted relatively easily.
If anyone wants decklists for any of these, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. These are just our regular kitchen table decks, they aren’t designed with Planechase in mind.
Turn 1-4: We start on Eon Fog. Prophetic, really, as the game starts and ends with fog. This plane is essentially Stasis, one of the most unfun cards ever, but I’m not too worried as I’m happy to get my plains out for now. I go first, followed by Mike, Jason, Rhys and Lionel. I play plains and Goldenglow Moth, nothing exciting happening elsewhere except for Mike dropping Cranial plating on turn 3 and Rhys dropping Behemoth Sledge. Chaos lets me drop a Knight of Meadowgrain, and gain some life beating down. Everyone is rolling, trying to escape the fog. Jason plays out 2 Soul Wardens and an Essence Warden in this early stage, drawing everyone’s attacks – you might think Essence Warden is an inoffensive card, but the other players won’t want to let you get out of hand and you’re an easy target, as Warden beatdown is not a very threatening counter-attack. I roll chaos and drop Divinity of Pride on turn 5, then Mike planeswalks away finally! Everyone cheers as we enter the Dark Barony.
Turn 5: The Dark Barony is a depressing place, especially for the non-black players as every card that goes to their graveyards costs them a life. The chaos ability is hardly cheery either – everyone except for the roller discards a card. Rhys capitalises on untapping to cast Ranger of Eos, fetching Protean Hydra and Noble Heirarch.
Turn 6: I swing at Jason with my lifelink duo, not quite pumping up my Divinity and not quite putting Jason back below 20. Mike casts Damnation, resetting the board. Jason has yet another Essence Warden, while Rhys has the more imposing Protean Hydra and Noble Heirarch that he fetched the previous turn, hoping to untap and equip the Hydra to make it immune to damage. Lionel has Sphinx Summoner to find Sharuum, and I start grumbling about infinite damage in the hope that someone else will kill him as a precaution.
Turn 7: I draw Hallowed Burial and hold it in hand, as I don’t think anyone is gunning for me yet. I drop a Knight, and roll to try and leave the Dark Barony without luck, and Mike drops the Wrath-proof Chimeric Staff. Jason manages to planeswalk away, this time to Glimmervoid Basin, eliciting some “Oh, crap!”s. Rhys equips his Hydra and attacks Jason, who is still the highest life on the table. Lionel plays Sharuum getting Glassdust Hulk out of his graveyard where it had been dumped via cycling. Combo alarms start going off.
Turn 8: I decide to Hallowed Burial and make Lionel find two more Sharuums, which takes up my whole turn. Mike activates his staff and equips plating, swinging at Jason for 10. Jason “Fog King” suspends Chronomantic Escape. Rhys rolls chaos, still on Glimmervoid Basin, but my Hallowed Burial has left him no targets! Lionel plays another Sphinx Summoner, this time going for the alternate plan of Sphinx of the Steel Wind.
Turn 9: I roll planeswalk which is something of a relief, despite noone triggering Glimmervoid Basin. We end up on Sokenzan, which is not a good place to be when someone has just tutored for Sphinx of the Steel Wind. Mike has no plays, but Jason manages to planeswalk to the much more peaceful Fields of Summer, where everyone gains 2 life for every spell they cast. We don’t stay for long though, as Rhys immediately walks to the Izzet Steam Maze. Mike immediately takes advantage with a doubled up Mystical Teachings, finding a Tendrils of Corruption and a Draining Whelk. Scary! Lionel unearths his Corpse Connoisseur and puts another Glassdust Hulk in the bin before planeswalking to Grixis.
Turn 10: I roll chaos, getting my Divinity of Pride back and then play Kitchen Finks. Mike immediately Sower of Temptations Divinity, which is very inducing. Rhys rolls chaos as well, resurrecting his Ranger of Eos.
Turn 11: Still on Grixis, I hit chaos again and grab Jason’s soul warden. Mike attacks into Jason’s fog, before Jason rolls chaos and gets one of Rhys’ Rangers of Eos. His Chronomantic Escape cooks this turn, rendering him immune to attacks for a turn. Lionel planeswalks away, and we end up at Skybreen.
Turn 12: I try to escape this grim setting where I can’t cast half my spells, but roll chaos and decide Rhys should eat 7 damage, since he has a full grip. This puts him to 10. Mike damnations before activating his staff and swinging at Lionel for 8, knocking him to 9. Jason planeswalks away thankfully, and we land on Goldmeadow, aka goatplane! Lionel casts Sharuum and Protomatter Powder, and is ready to go off.
Turn 13: I play Cradle of Vitality and planeswalk to Krosa, before Mike plays Sensei’s Divining Top. Jason walks to Undercity Reaches and immediately hits chaos. He is underwhelmed. Rhys puts Behemoth Sledge on a goat token, and attacks Jason with it. Lionel plays a second Sharuum – setting off his combo – and kills Mike with a 1000/1000 unblockable Glassdust Hulk.
Turn 14: I put Recumbent Bliss on Glassdust Hulk, then Jason casts New Frontiers, finally revealing his combo. We all get a bunch of lands anyway, and Jason puts Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth down. All he needs now is Karma to try and kill everyone, but it is very difficult to attack him normally through all his recurring fogs. He planeswalks to Bant and Rhys plops down a 6/6 Hydra and attacks me with a goat, which I Condemn. Lionel plays a second Hulk, ready to explode in someones face again next turn.
Turn 15: I roll chaos twice, making my Finks and Rhys’ Hydra indestructible, mollfying him somewhat from the 7 Skybreen damage a few turns ago. Jason rolls chaos, making his Essence Warden indestructible. Rhys drops a Rhox War Monk, an Noble Hierarch, and with a million exalted triggers swings at Lionel for his life total, leaving only 3 players in the game with essentially infinite mana thanks to New Frontiers.
Turn 16: I walk to the Fourth Sphere and then roll chaos twice in a row, giving me two zombies. I drop Cradle of Vitality 2 & 3, and hope to gain some life soon. Jason plays nothing, and Rhys drops two Behemoth Sledges, suits up his Hydra and swings at Jason for a butt-load of damage – which meets Constant Mists. Obviously. Rhys planeswalks to the Sea of Sand.
Turn 17: I roll chaos and bounce Rhys’ Hydra which is just one part of a now freaking huge army. Jason has Escape again next turn, so Rhys will definitely attack me. Jason planeswalks to Sanctum of Serra, and I start yelling at him to planeswalk away. He tries unsuccessfully, and Rhys attacks with everything on his turn. I chump with zombie tokens and get knocked down to 10 life.
Turn 18: With my 20 plains out I roll and roll, hitting chaos 3 times. I need to wipe Rhys’ board to not die, but I play a Reveillark after I can’t roll any more. Jason manages it though! He destroys every creature on the way to Aygrem. He plays Angry Mob, his alternate win condition, then rolls chaos, meaning we can’t attack him as long as we’re on this plane. Of course. End of turn, Rhys gets back his Ranger of Eos and double Rhox War Monk, while I get back Reveillark. Rhys roll chaos and plays some more dudes, but doesn’t attack into my lark and Knights of Meadowgrain.
Turn 19: I get chaos as well, meaning noone can attack anyone now. Rhys manages to planeswalk to Pools of Becoming, and drops a Hydra for good measure.
Turn 20: I attack with my Reveillark and Condemn it, a rather techy play if I do say so myself. I get back two dudes and get 12 counters on a Knight of Meadowgrain, which I hope to win with. Jason’s Escape cooks again and he drops Karma, and a few quick sums show Rhys and I that we’re in dire trouble. Jason walks to Minamo, and Rhys drops to 4 on his upkeep, before playing spell after spell looking for some enchantment removal.
Turn 21: I drop to single digits, swing at Jason with a 12/12 Knight which gets lost in the Constant Mists surrounding him. I planeswalk to Stronghold Furnace! Yessss, Karma is now enough to kill Jason on his upkeep! Rhys and I ready for the showdown.
Jason, on his upkeep, casts Constant Mists with buyback 6 times, surviving a double shot of Karma. Rhys and I die horribly on the following turns. Fogking Jason, indeed.
I hope this report was fun to read and gave you an idea of the craziness that Planechase adds to multiplayer games. It’s definitely a fun addition, and thats without specifically designing decks to go with planes. I am working on getting my computer set up for podcasting at the moment due to popular demand, and I’ve got a number of articles in the works. Would you like to read about Zendikar, new casual decks or a theory article? Let me know in the comments, or you can twitter me @rtassicker.