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Conflux: First Impressions January 11, 2009

Posted by James in : all, random, fake cards, theory, reviews, previews, design , trackback

The next set of Alara block is Conflux and we already have a partial spoiler that is quickly growing. Prereleases will be held on January 31 - February 1, 2009., and it will be officially released on February 6, 2009. Although some people speculated that there would be “new” three color shards introduced in each set, this was already denied by Wizards of the Coast. So I thought every set of Shards block was going to be permanently about the same 3-color shards. However, there was a twist. The block is transforming into a 5-color theme. We still have the same shards, but we have a lot of “5 color deck” stuff as well.

5 Color Theme

I would have liked to have the same 3 color themes for a couple reasons:

  1. The three color decks are currently underpowered, and it would be nice to keep getting better cards for three color decks.
  2. It was already tempting to make a five color deck. Now all the best decks of Shards of Alara might end up being five color decks. Actually, it could be worse! There might end up being “one best” 5 color deck for Shards of Alara. Three sets of hundreds of cards and it might all end up being for a single best deck. How will it work? You will just put all the best cards into it of course.
  3. If the five color theme will have any effect on drafting, then it will be, “Let’s draft a 5 color deck!” In other words draft will be a simple-minded game of, “Just take the best card.” (And yes, uncommons and commons both will encourage us to draft 5 color decks!)

Consider that not only will some commons, like Gaea’s Might, encourage us to draft 5 color decks, but also consider some uncommons that will require (or highly encourage) 5 color decks:

The reason that Wizards made the decision to turn Shards of Alara into a 5-color set is the fact that it would be difficult to keep us from wanting to make 5 color decks anyway. Why not splash two more colors when you are already playing three? A 3 color deck will already require you to play some “off color” triple lands anyway. However, Wizards could have tried very hard to encourage us to play three colors:

Here are two cards from an alternate reality of Conflux, where the 3-color theme is embraced:

Controlled Insticts makes sure that Naya creatures are worth playing. Why splash for something like Broodmade Dragon, when you can make Wooly Thoctar invincible?

Hermitage Illusionist will provide a penalty if you are playing a 5 color deck, but can be used exclusively against the opponents in a Naya deck. Either way this card can be worth playing just because it is a 3-color hybrid creature. In other words, it will be effective with cards that give you shard-dependent bonuses, such as Controlled Instincts.

Good cards?

Yes, there are some powerful cards in this set. So far the most notably good cards include a new almost-Birds of Paradise and a new swords to plowshares:

Update: Wizards of the Coast has posted a visual spoiler here. Dragonsoul Knight was among the cards shown.

The image used for Controlled Instincts is by Jason Rainville. The image used for Hermitage Illusionist is by Somnivore under the Creative Commons license.

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