Thursday, September 5, 2013

Scrying Theros

It's spoiler season once again for the newest upcoming set - Theros! So far, it seems like this is going to be a great set for Standard Pauper, with several playable cards already spoiled. But for today, I wanted to talk about the returning mechanic for the set and how it applies to what's been spoiled so far: Scry

What exactly is Scry? Here's how the rules define it:

So, let's break this down a bit. Let's take a simple example: Scry 1, as seen on the following:

When you Scry for a single card, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. The top card is desirable, so you place it back on top. In this case, Scry did nothing more than let you look at the top card of your library. Such an effect is lackluster at best, but does give you a little bit of valuable information about what your next draw will be.
  2. The top card is not desirable, so you place it on the bottom of your library. Now, regardless of the next card you draw, this should always be to your benefit. Either the next card you draw will be better than the one you placed on bottom, or at worst you will be one draw closer to a desirable card. 
Of course, Scry gets even better as the number of cards you look at increases. Look at the next example:

Once again, it could be the case that Scry does nothing for you. You look at the top two cards, decide both are advantageous, and then simply draw them. But since you get to see multiple cards and potentially bottom those that are useful, the odds of you drawing better cards in the future goes up significantly.

Perhaps the strongest use of Scry in recent sets in this excellent card from Magic 2011:

Foresee was the ultimate example of how powerful Scry could be. By getting to filter up to four cards, you could all but guarantee that the two cards you drew would be good.

So with that said, how good is Scry? Well, let's start with this baseline: Would you ever play a card that simply read, "Scry 1." I hope it's obvious that the answer would be no in any format. The ability isn't remotely strong enough to warrant including that card in your deck. So what about "Scry 2?" Is that powerful enough? While it's not as clear to me, I still think the answer must be no. Scry, by itself, still isn't good enough on its own. At some point, Scry potentially could create enough synergy that it might be playing all by itself. But while I'm not going to try to pin down a number, I imagine it would have to be pretty high.

However, as a "free" effect on another playable card, Scry is quite good, even if it's just a single card. The ability to filter through your cards quickly to improve the quality of your draws is neutral at the worst and excellent at best. In a letter rating system, I feel confident that in most cases, Scry as an additional effect is strong enough to boost the card a third of a letter grade in value, changing a B to a B+ or a C- to a C. Given what we've already seen at Common, I am hopeful that we will see several more strong Scry cards at Common in Theros block.

So what do you think of my analysis? Anything I missed? As always, your comments are read and appreciated. See you next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment