Exclusive Vintage Masters Previews – Channel, Kaervek’s Torch, Mana Crypt

Vintage Masters is coming out soon on Magic Online, and I’m really looking forward to it. Not only is Vintage the format going to be playable from the comfort of your own home, it’s introducing a new Limited format as well. I loved playing all the Masters Edition draft formats (3 was by far my favorite), and getting to see how a ton of old cards interact for the first time is awesome.

I also have a very fitting set of preview cards today (as well as an additional card afterwards). For some reason, and I can’t imagine why, ChannelFireball was selected to preview one of the oldest and best two-card combinations to grace the game of Magic:

14May-Channel_ChannelFireball NEW - KaerveksTorch

While the original combo was technically Channel + Fireball, a beautiful combination indeed, Channel + Kaervek’s Torch gets the job done, and costs the opponent some extra mana to counter it while doing so. Channel Fireball was the first combo I remember building my deck around, back in 1994, and I thought I was really clever. As it turns out, I still think I’m very clever (have you seen my great set reviews?), but looking back, combining Channel and Fireball was not a great intellectual leap.

Still, combos are one of the most fun aspects of Magic, and they are part of what drew me in and kept me playing. Having the combo potential of Channel available makes me look forward even more to Vintage Masters, and also indicates to me (not knowing the rest of the set), that this might end up being a Limited format that borders on being Constructed, exactly like Cube is. While you are definitely playing Limited, what with attacking and blocking and all that, your decks will likely be more than just a pile of cards, and more often will be built around particular synergies. The more that combos like this exist the more that will be true, with different archetypes all being very distinct from each other.

The last preview card I have (who doesn’t like 3-for-1s?) is busted all by itself:

14May-Mana Crypt_ChannelFireball

Mana Crypt is one of the best cards in the game by itself, no combos needed. When your curve starts at 3 and your opponent’s starts at 1, it is almost impossible to lose any sort of normal game. Of course, there is a “balancing” mechanic built in, which happens to involve another of my favorite things to do: flip coins.

Mana Crypt firing off Lightning Bolts at your face at random certainly adds a random element to the game, and I’ve been on both sides of out-of-control Mana Crypts, both losing and winning games where the only way for the Crypt player to lose was losing four straight coin flips. Don’t take this to mean that Mana Crypt is balanced, but it does lose its controller games every now and then, just for value.

I’m really looking forward to Vintage Masters, and will soon be drafting it and playing Vintage to my heart’s content.


All images credit Wizards of the Coast.


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