Gatecrash, the latest expansion for magic: The Gathering, was released on the first of February. It follows on from the successful Return to Ravnica set released in October last year (see our multiplayer set review here).
Gatecrash focuses on five colour pairs -two-colour combinations- each represented by a guild. These are:
Ozrzhov – Black and White
Boros – White and Red
Gruul – Red and Green
Simic – Green and Blue
Dimir – Blue and Black
New Mechanics: Each guild has its own mechanic to help give it an identity separate form the others. These appear both on multicoloured and mono-coloured cards. For example the Gruul ability will appear of red/green cards, mono-red cards, and mono-green cards. Each ability has its use on the multiplayer table. The abilities all involve creatures in some way, making them vulnerable to spells that affect or destroy creatures.
Extort: This is the Orzhov ability and it appears on creatures. Each creature with extort allows you to pay an additional black or white mana for a spell you cast. Each time you do this, an opponent loses one life and you gain one life. Over the course of a long game this adds up to quite an advantage.
Battalion: Appearing only on creatures, the Boros ability rewards you for attacking with three or more creatures. Battalion abilities trigger when you do this, giving a bonus either to the individual creature or to every attacking creature. Battalion takes a while to build into but can be potent if you time it right.
Bloodrush: This Gruul ability allows you to get extra value from creature cards in your hand. You can pay the Bloodrush cost and discard the creature card with Bloodrush from your hand to give a bonus to an attacking creature. As with Battalion, this is an ability that rewards aggressive play. Bloodrush is an activated ability, not a spell, and so there are few ways to counter it.
Evolve: The Simic ability exists only on creatures (there’s a pattern here), and it lets them react in a positive way to the next creature you cast. If a creature with Evolve s on the battlefield and a creature with higher power OR toughness enters the battlefield under your control, you can put a +1/+1 counter on that creature. This allows your early smaller creatures to keep growing as you play larger ones later on.
Cipher: The Dimir ability is a little different from the others. This ability exists only on instants and sorceries, but requires that you have at least one creature in play to function. When you cast a spell with Cipher, as part of the resolution of that spell, you may Encode the Cipher spell onto a creature you control. A creature may have any number of spells Encoded on it in this way. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, you may cast all spells Encoded on that creature for free. This works a bit like a creature enchantment with the added bonus that the encoded spell cannot be targeted (the creature can though, so be careful where you Encode those Cipher spells!). Cipher spells are priced higher than you would generally expect for their effect so you need to cast them two or more times to get the real value from them.
Every set adds cards to the multiplayer pool, and Gatecrash is now excpetion. Several cards have clearly been designed with multiplayer in mind, so there are plenty of interesting cards to check out.
Gatecrash – 10 useful cards for multiplayer
1. Assemble the Legion – this Enchantment gives you an increasing number of 1/1 soldier tokens each turn, getting out of control quickly
2. Gideon, Champion of Justice – quite possible the best multiplayer Planeswalker yet printed, this will be the subject of its own article when our series on Planeswalkers in Grand Melee resumes.
3. Cloudfin Raptor – starting off an an inoffensive 0/1 flyer, this creature can grow into a real threat thanks to its Evolve ability
4. Sepulchral Primordial – a 5/4 with Intimidate for seven mana is okay, but this creature also lets you take a creature card from each opponent’s graveyard and put it onto the battlefield under your control. Nice.
5. Legion Loyalist – a swift creature with Battalion that can give all your creatures a powerful bonus
6. Wasteland Viper – for a single green mana, the Bloodrush ability grant a small stat bonus and more importantly Deathtouch to one of your attacking creatures.
7. Consuming Aberration – in conjunction with Cipher spells this creature can get out of hand fast.
8. Borborygmos Enraged – this legendary creature turns you spare lands into Lightning Bolts
9. Vizkopa Guildmage – this card will doubtless become the kaystone of many passive decks that drain the table of life.
10. Biovisionary – an alternative win condition that some way wish to try out
See also: [Return to Ravnica] [Dragon's Maze]