By now, I hope you all have had the time to look over the full spoiler released earlier this week. Of course, other big announcements regarding organized play have overshadowed this a little, but I will give my thoughts on those next week. For now, with the prerelease just a day away, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite cards from Dragon’s Maze: [card]Plasm Capture[/card].
The first that analog jumps to mind, obviously, is [card]Mana Drain[/card]. We haven’t seen a viable counterspell in the same spirit as Mana Drain, well, ever. [card]Scattering Stroke[/card] was interesting, but it was inconsistent. Because of this, we really don’t have valuable comparisons. The style of card has been removed from modern Magic for so long that even if we think we know just how powerful (or not powerful) it is, we have to test it to see if our projections were correct.
So what exactly are these projections I speak of? I am probably higher on this card than most people are. You see, where the obvious parallel is Mana Drain, this also reminds me of [card]Cryptic Command[/card].
I know I just compared this to what was considered the best card in Standard for some large chunk of time. I don’t necessarily think [card]Plasm Capture[/card] will be better than [card]Cryptic Command[/card], but I think it could reach a similar level.
Comparing the two cards at surface level, we have two counterspells weighing in at four mana, and a difficult four mana at that. Beyond that though, the two cards are quite different. [card]Cryptic Command[/card] will undoubtedly go down as the more popular of the two cards due to its versatility.
You could play with Cryptic Command as a cantrip [card]Falter[/card] in your Merfolk deck that just happened to counter [card]Wrath of God[/card], or you could run it as [card]Dismiss[/card] in your 5cc deck that just happened to [card]Boomerang[/card] a land some amount of the time. Drawing a Cryptic Command was never bad—something that Plasm Capture can’t quite claim.
Plasm Capture, on the other hand, does only one thing, but it does it really well. While you might not always be happy to topdeck [card]Plasm Capture[/card] on turn 20 like you were with [card]Cryptic Command[/card], it is still not a BAD draw, trading 1-for-1 at worst.
But what about on turn 4? On turn 4 if you cast a [card]Cryptic Command[/card] and aren’t digging for a specific spell, it is a solid card, but not backbreaking. When you swap out Command for Capture, I can paint many scenarios where a turn 4 Plasm Capture will end the game.
Imagine you are on the play and an unsuspecting opponent tries to resolve a Jace against you. You counter it with Plasm Capture and then untap with access to 9 mana. 9 mana is absurd. You can [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] your opponent into oblivion, or cast a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] for a million, or just litter the board with the likes of [card]Thragtusk[/card] and [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card]. That big of a swing in momentum is undeniably powerful.
The opposing argument would be: how likely is that to even happen? Once Plasm Capture is a known quantity, who is walking into it like that? AHA! In that world, you might be right, that you will not always live the dream of some giant spike in mana, but in that world, Plasm Capture warps the metagame in a way that minimizes it. If Plasm Capture becomes a widely played card, decks will play differently around it. That is the sign of a powerful card.
Should it be “played around” so much that its effectiveness begins to sag, players will remove it from their decks, causing people to play looser during the pivotal turns where it was once so dominant, and allow a resurgence of the card to dominate once again. The card has such a high power level that it will change the format one way or the other.
It will not be as widespread as Cryptic Command was, but again, that was because Cryptic was actually a Swiss army knife. This is very much a targeted missile. It only does one thing, but it does it well.
If you are concerned with the casting cost, in many ways UUGG is easier to cast than UUU. To have 3 of 4 lands producing the same color was relatively difficult. 2 of 4 lands producing a certain color happening twice actually came up a lot though. Granted, filter lands were very much an aid to Command at the time, but I still think casting this in a Bant deck should not be difficult. At least the spell is blue and green so it makes sense to accompany this with some fixing and ramp.
*If you thought countering something on turn 4 was fun, try [card]Farseek[/card] into this followed by a turn 4 six- or seven-drop. You aren’t generating the same amount of mana, but you are applying pressure a turn earlier which is big.
And if you needed any more incentive to give this card a shot, remember that the current format is primed for this card. We have what seems like a dozen tier one X-spells. We have [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] which both asks for a lot of mana to play certain spells, and lets you rebuy this in the late game should you need it. And on top of all of that, we have great mana as we mentioned before.
The prerelease is this weekend so I am excited to get my hands on some of these. I am just happy to see some new viable counterspells because I have the feeling Standard needed a few. Thanks for reading!