Cards n’Flux: Magic the Gathering Planechase Review
By otakuman5000 On 1 Jun, 2011 At 06:35 PM | Categorized As Reviews, TableTop Gaming | With 0 Comments


Welcome readers new and old to Cards n’Flux, an article series based around the Magic the Gathering card game, its updates and evolutions, the strategies, and the general flavor that drips off every card.  I am Corlando, your guide through this multitude of cards and ideas.  This month marks the release of MTG Commander, a corporate adaption of the once casual format known as Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH).  Now since MTG Commander is not going to be out for a few weeks, I felt that this would be the best time as any to discuss a few of the other game types duelist can play with Magic the Gathering.  This week is Planechase, the game type that gives you the ability to literally jump from plane to plane as you try to kill off your opponent.  Why don’t we take a look?


Now, for those who are unfamiliar, such as myself, the rules to Planechase are pretty much the same as a normal game of Magic.  The only real difference from the traditional rules is simply the addition of a deck of world cards.  These world cards each have two unique abilities that affect everyone on the board in someway or another.  The abilities of these world cards come in two forms, the static and the chaos effects.  The static effect is what happens when the card is on the field just doing its thing.  This can be anything from doubling everyone’s mana, to allowing people to draw an extra card, or giving all creatures some sort of ability.  The chaos effect is only activated when a player rolls a chaos symbol on the Planechase die.  Now these effects tend to be more… chaotic, but add a real factor of chance and danger to the game.


So how do you start a game of Planechase?  Well, according to the actual rules, it is recommended that games be three or more players, but it can also be played by just two people.  The starting player places the top card of their world deck onto the field face up.  The game then goes on as any normal Magic game would except for an extra step added to every turn.  During a player’s during, he or she is given the opportunity to roll the chaos die.  This die has one of three out comes.  Rolling a blank side means nothing happens, a chaos side means you activate the current world’s chaos ability, or the Planechase symbol which allows the roller to reveal the top card of his world deck and replace the current world with the new one.  This is how duelists planes-walk in Planechase and I have to say it is rather fun to see players head right to the land they need right when they need it.


Normally this is where I would start talking about a few of the cards I like, which is exactly what I plan to do.  The first world card we will look at is Bant from Alara.  While in Bant, the land of peace and honor, all creatures that every player controls has Exalted, an ability that if a creature attacks alone it gets +1/+1 for each instance of Exalted.  Bant’s chaos effect allows the player who threw the chaos symbol to put a divinity counter on target Blue, White, or Green creature which makes the creature indestructible for the rest of the game.  These are both rather cool abilities, but let us now turn to Bant’s evil cousin, Grixis the land of eternal death.  While players are in Grixis, creatures in players graveyards that are Blue, Red, or Black have Unearth; an ability that brings back creatures from the graveyard for a turn.  Now, if you roll a chaos symbol while in Grixis, the player who rolled the chaos symbol can resurrect any creature from any graveyard and put it into play under their control.  See how these different abilities could interact in so many ways with the same deck?  Think of all the possibilities.

Looking at these two planes, some readers might get the feeling the world cards are their to help players make the game more interesting.  That, unfortunately, is not true.  Some world cards seem to exist to do nothing more than hurt everyone.  A great example of this is Lethe Lake on the Plane of Arkhos.  While players battle in this mountainous lake, at the beginning of a player’s turn, the current player must put the top ten cards of his library into his graveyard.  The same thing happens when you roll a chaos symbol, goodbye to another portion of your library.  I wonder how many games have been won by this card just because a player had some card that bounces back to the library if it hits the graveyard?

Jumping back to the more fun lands, how about we vacation in the beautiful Isle of Vesuva on the Plane of Dominaria?  While there, players who summon a non-token creature to the field are able to put a token onto the field that is a copy of the summoned creature.  This is all well and good, but avoid the chaos symbol that allows the roller to destroy target creature and all other creatures with the same name as the target creature.  Talk about a wipe out… or could it be a major win? I definitely would not mind landing at the Isle of Vesuva, but I think I would much rather be in the Great Forest of Lorwyn and not just because it is one of my favorite sets. You see while in The Great Forest, creatures deal combat damage equal to their toughness not their power.  How fun and whacky can that get?  “I block your Ball Lightning with my Wall of Omens and kill it.”  The fun thing is that if a player rolls a chaos symbol, the creatures they control get +0/+2 and gain trample until the end of the turn.  Yes my 9/13 Inkwell Leviathan will help you to your grave now.   Such a fun, little world and so easy to abuse.

Unfortunately, not all world cards are fun or at least all inclusive in their pain dealing.  Some world cards can put players in such a bad position that it is impossible for them to put up a fight.  A perfect example of this is Eloren Wilds.  While there players who tap a permanent for mana are able to double the amount of mana that the permanent produces.  However, should a player roll a chaos symbol, target player will not be able to cast spells until a player planes-walks.  Tell me, how is that fair. You are doing fine in your Planechase game.  Not really winning, but you are not losing.  Suddenly, one of your opponents planes-walks to the Eloren Wilds and your other opponent rolls a chaos symbol forcing you to never be able to cast spells until someone planes-walks.  Now you can do nothing but watch your defenses and hope you manage to roll your way out of your troubles.  Eloren Wilds is just not a fair card and the thing is, there are other world cards out there that do even worse things than this.  These seriously broken and unfair cards really prevent me from truly getting behind Planechase.  Wizards should have checked to see if these kind of abilities were equal and would not just cause players to lose right and left just because someone rolled well on a die.  Granted it is all chance, but with such good lands like Bant, Grixis, and several others, shouldn’t Wizards have put a little more thought into a few of these worlds?  Of course that is just my opinion.

Overall I find the idea of Planechase pretty cool.  Just the concept of bouncing from world to world, sling spells, throwing monsters at one another, each player searching for the world that best plays to their strengths.  I totally recommend you give it a try if you have the opportunity, however do check through your world deck and your opponents and see which worlds you will play with and which you would like to ask be removed.  This will help to insure everyone has a good time allowing for good fights without sudden blowouts.


Since we are coming to the end of the article, it is time for everyone’s favorite section, the Closing Questions:


1. What is your personal opinion of Planechase?  Have you played a lot of games and how do they usually play?


2. What is your favorite Planechase World card?


3.  Are there any planes or places you wish Wizards had put into Planechase?


Well everyone, thanks again for stopping on by.  Next week we will continue with specials month with Archenemy.  See you all very soon.  And always remember, “Etherium is Limited.  Innovation is not.”


About - I am a 44 year old Gamer/Geek/Otaku who has been gaming and watching anime since the late 1970's. I am a passionate otaku who loves all types of games, anime and comics. I have been writing about games since I was a young man. I am an entertainment retail expert and an avid game collector. You can always find me playing or watching something geek related.

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