April Apocalypse results: The most fun card in casual play!
Last month, in this space, we invited you to contribute to a little informal vote — to choose the most fun, and therefore the best, card to play at your kitchen table.
. . . In the April Apocalypse!
And on this gala night, ladies and germs, we meet the winner!
Let’s look at some of the highlights that brought the finalists here, tonight:
Doubling Season vs. Balance: Unfortunately, Balance doesn’t stop planeswalkers, and Doubling Season . . . well. Readers, have you had a chance to blow an Ultimate on a walker’s first turn, yet? Though I like Balance a ton, it doesn’t let anyone but its player have too much fun. Doubling Season creates so many “wow” moments, and the readers picked it without question.
Gaea’s Cradle vs. Tolarian Academy: Here, again, it was a case of Advantage vs. Awe. You can get lots of early mana from Academy, but you have to play a lot of 0-mana artifacts to do it. There are very few decks that can take advantage of that, compared to the Cradle’s use in any deck with a handful of creatures. Any tribal build works with the Cradle, and when you add it to mana elves, it’s just so preposterous you have to laugh.
Crucible of Worlds vs. Academy Ruins: No question, here, either. Ruins costs mana, and puts your artifacts on top. Crucible brings back precious lands that have been hosed by your greedy opponent (probably me), and it puts them right into play. Sure, only one land per turn, but if someone is blowing yours up, it’s probably worth it. It also gives you the luxury of discarding land when you draw too many cards, without issue. Crucible of Worlds, all the way!
Praetor’s Counsel vs. Reliquary Tower: There’s something so rewarding about casting a big card. The Tower is harder to stop, sits in play as early as turn one, gives you mana, and goes with any colors — but the big, green mythic just feels better when it resolves. Pulling your graveyard back into a now-infinite hand, just as good as an emblem, is a joy to behold in the face of a kitchen spellcaster.
Warp World vs. Thieves’ Auction: The Auction is actually fun for one fewer player than Balance. Even I had to accept this when I talked to folks about it. It always seems like a great idea, especially when you don’t have much going on in a game — getting to draft what other people have in play — but the process is so mind-numbing that many would rather just scoop when they see it come out. Cleanup at the end of the game becomes an absolute mess if you don’t have sleeves, or if you use the same sleeves as someone else, and remembering whose graveyard can accept what is beyond a nightmare. If you want chaos, get it from your own deck — with Warp World.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath vs. Avatar of Woe: Building up is more popular than breaking down, again. Avatar of Woe can give you a rush when you cast her for two, but she still has to wait to drop her banhammer. Akroma is big, strong, stompy, stalwart, and fast, with protection from her most likely killers — and even her own memorial in a later set.
Verdant Force vs. Inkwell Leviathan: I called this one for the Force, but I’m afraid I didn’t count on the power of eleven toughness, shroud, and trample. People do so love swinging with impunity, even (it seems) over tokens each turn. (It has also been brought to my attention that Dragon Broodmother may have been a more worthy adversary.)
And finally, for the first round, Reiterate vs. Comet Storm: The story for these two goes like this: If you’re red, and you have tons of mana to work with, what’s more fun — to beat everyone outright with damage, or to turn every instant or sorcery anyone plays on its head? To that end, Reiterate is the handy winner.
Round Two starts off fiercely, with oft-mentioned Doubling Season vs. Gaea’s Cradle. Cradle’s mana output, the argument goes, is cool — but so many things can create mana. Doubling Season does something that so few cards can do — it gives you everything twice. Token generators, charge counters on artifacts, storage lands, +1/+1, and planeswalkers? Five mana does it all. Making the impossible probable, with Doubling Season.
For Crucible of Worlds vs. Praetor’s Counsel, there was no winner in the voting. Based on Counsel vs. Tower, though, I’ll call it for Counsel. Crucible of Worlds is an excellent insurance policy, and lets you pull off some crazy combos that are otherwise unthinkable (like Fastbond / Zuran Orb), but those are usually pretty brutal. If your lands aren’t toast, Crucible doesn’t do much, while Praetor’s Counsel saves you some cards in any game, and keeps your hand size infinite forever. A win for Phyrexia!
Warp World vs. Akroma went to Warp World. The argument goes that for eight mana, you can either play Akroma, or you can build up an army beforehand and turn a ton of little cards into Akroma and a ton of cards just like her. It’s hard to disagree with that, and the votes don’t lie — Warp World.
Inkwell vs. Reiterate? Inkwell happens once; Reiterate comes back. And using your opponents’ own weapons seems too tasty to pass up.
That brought us to the Final Four.
All had passionate arguments for them, folks — but here’s the rub. Not one of them had the most votes. At the award ceremony, a confident Doubling Season stepped forward to claim its prize — when suddenly, five more prizes appeared, and fell on its head.* Because the last card standing at the end of your April Apocalypse?
The sheer “wow” factor of what happens to the table when five more of some already-nutso creature hit the table at once was enough of a draw for voters to overrule the entire bracket!
In honor of our big, blue friend, I’d like to share my favorite Replication moment. While honorable mention goes to the time six Blightsteel Colossus stared down eleven Darksteel Colossus in EDH — ten of those cards the result of Replications and copies thereof — nothing beats the Primeval Frogs.
Dan: Primeval Titan. Rite of Replication, kicked, Primeval Titan . . .
[DAN begins to search his library for ten lands.]
Sarah: Ooh! Ooh! Wait! Can I . . .
Dan: Yes. You can respond.
Sarah: OK! Um. Turn to Frog–
Dan: [Immediately] Counter it–
Brian: Counter that. Whatever it is. [He holds out a NEGATE.]
[DAN blinks and shrugs.]
Dan: FINE . . .
Mike: You have six Primeval Frogs, now, though? I guess?
Sarah: Yay, frogs!
One Living Death later, the frogs met a sad end — but there never would have been such an unlikely moment if not for the replicating power of the Rite. I guarantee the rest of us had more fun with that card than its caster, that day — and that’s part of its charm. I’ll leave you with a few Wizards of the Coast articles from DailyMTG that celebrate how great the Rite is — props to Zac Hill here, and to Noel deCordova here.
Thanks, everyone, for voting — and congratulations, Rite of Replication!
(How did the trophy get replicated, when it’s not a creature? Well . . . keep this to yourself — but when I saw how the votes came in, I used Agent of Bolas minus one, while no one was looking.)