Academy: She who controls the spice controls the Multiverse: Planechase returns!
Mike Eaton, Play Unplugged
Guys, I’m big into honesty. Pretty huge into leveling with you. If I drove a car and smacked someone, I’d be leaving notes in places that people didn’t even know they had places. So I have to say —
I was not that into Planechase.
Yes, friends, when that little product launched in 2009, I was far more interested in the reprints than the planes. I recall thinking something like, “Hai planez, y u so bigz?” But I did take the time to learn the rules, in case it caught on, because I like to be Actually Knows the Rules Guy.
Now, to be fair: I bought it. I bought Elemental Thunder, anyway. Mostly, I guess I needed another Forgotten Ancient (can you have too many?), a Mage Slayer and a Verdant Force. The roleplaying element of planeswalking kind of enthralled me, I didn’t think much of the rules. “Planar die? Chaos roll? My deck won’t even do what I built it to do!”
But as any fan of Planechase could have told me, then — that was the point.
We tested it out in the playgroup, and I’ll tell you this: It was cool! I loved plane-hopping for the unpredictable element it gave our games, especially when playing against very strong decks. As any casual playgroup knows, the guy who brings out the tournament-caliber deck is sometimes just a nuisance. A Planechase deck, carefully constructed, can toss enough chaos into your game that even the guy with Limited Resources in Party Magic won’t have ultimate run of the table. This is the appeal of Planechase, for me: Leveling the table with chaos, and seeing which ‘Walker is equipped well enough to survive.
Now, we have a new product on the rise: Planechase 2012 launches June 1. All-new planes, and inspired by the success of the Commander decks, several new cards! None of them seem tournament-broken like Scavenging Ooze (AKA Goyf Lite) so far, but they’re going to be a blast for us, and the legends launched so far are begging to be build-around commanders.
Me? You know I love enchantments. I’m absolutely going to purchase Savage Auras — maybe two copies. But more remarkable to me than guys like Krond, the Dawn-Clad are the Phenomenon cards in the planar deck.
Let’s talk about Morphic Tide, for one. It’s a Warp World that includes Planeswalkers, and can only be countered with something like Voidslime. You could build a token-heavy masterpiece with a card like that, and Warp repeatedly into anything you ever wanted. Sounds like a plan.
Overall, the beauty of Planechase is that it makes 60-card multiplayer games as ridiculous and (hopefully) fun as EDH (“Commander”) games are. It adds a level of complexity that catapults your game interaction to another level.
But all you folks playing Planechase EDH? I’m glad you’re having fun, but that much chaos in one game is not for me. When you combine Planechase with anything but run-of-the-mill Magic, you’re dealing with more complexity than a game likes to handle. And this talk about mixing the whole thing up with Archenemy just sounds like something you’d only do if you lost a bet, to me. How do you keep track of so many different sets of game-altering rules? Because in my experience, once you’ve changed too much of the table, you ruin your relationship with the players, and there’s so much time spent keeping track of new rules that it becomes the new point of the game. That’s just a massive turn-off, most of the time.
I guess what I’m saying is, use these rules variants like salt, and don’t give yourself heart disease with them. Planechase in this case is made of pink sea salt — unique enough for a simple meal of 60-card decks, and wholly unnecessary for a more complex one. I eventually changed my original tune about it, and I see its function, now — and I’m pretty psyched to check out the new product and fix up my planar deck. Hopefully, when the four new decks launch, you’ll find the right combination of spice to enliven your games.
Finally, though, I’m setting a challenge for myself: I want to expand that roleplaying aspect and build the kind of deck that I would play. Me, Mike — the creatures I would summon, the spells I would cast, and the planeswalkers I would like to have as my party members on this journey through the multiverse. And on top of that, the most bodacious locales that my party and I need to traverse. Jund? Minamo? The Pools of Becoming? They’re all there, waiting to be traipsed about, and it is I who will do the traipsing.
Stay tuned for a deck review, for my experience in the planes, and for talk of the brand-new singles, as the next few weeks walk by here at Play Unplugged!