From the Vault: Abe
Hello, folks, and welcome to an article idea that struck me as I read about From the Vault: Twenty. In Gavin Verhey’s wonderful article, he spends a lot of quality time going over why each card was included and what the purpose was behind it. This was an amazingly-high-quality piece of Magic writing, and it got me thinking. If I were to make a From the Vault: Abe (or an FTV: Multiplayer, so to speak), what fifteen cards would I include? What are the cards that are my pet favorites that I love to lean on time and time again? Maybe many aren’t in my Top 100 Multiplayer Cards of all Time, but what are those key fifteen cards?
1 – Commander Eesha – Every list would have to start with the obvious card. I have spent years discussing the amazing gifts of her majesty. She can block any creature that attacks you (barring something with horsemanship or intimidate or the like). When she does, save for trampley things, you are stopping that damage from coming through. In a format rife with creature-based removal, she is immune to things like Shriekmaw and Number 3 below. Then, she is unblockable—anything that would go to block her is a creature. That makes her an amazing way to deal a few extra points of damage here and there. She is downright amazing. Any FTV: Abe must have her in it.
2 – Silklash Spider – This is the other non-negotiable card. Silklash Spider is my warm bedtime card. For 5 mana, you produce a 2/7 with reach, which is good enough to keep anything from Akroma, Angel of Wrath on down from smashing your face. Then, you can clean out the skies anytime they become a little too crowded just by spending a bit of mana (which I hear green is good at). I love the power of this card so much that I once wrote an article called “Finding Silklash Spiders,” wherein I assessed other cards on how much they could duplicate Silklash Spider’s awesomeness.
While these two cards are absolute essentials for any FTV: Abe collection due to their rockingness in multiplayer, what else would make the cut? (I tried to make the list work as a real printable list, and I added things like two cards of each color). These are the cards I add to multiplayer deck after multiplayer deck, from Commander to Five-Color.
4 – Mages’ Contest – What is this card doing here? Mages’ Contest is awesome. I used to play Sligh in Extended tournaments a lot, and this was always a nasty surprise coming out of the board—if you haven’t played against it, you tend to misplay. Before you play this card, you need to answer two questions. Are you intending to play it as a Counterspell or as an instant Lava Axe? Do you want the counter or the life? Before you play it, figure out what your opponent will pay to play it. Then, play the card, and start at 1 life (as written on the card). After reading the card, your opponent will probably go to 2 life. Then, jump to your high number. If you want to deal damage, you want your opponent to pay the maximum amount of life, and if you want to counter, go 1 higher. If you think he or she would pay 6 life to resolve that Akroma, Angel of Beatingness, go to 6 to counter and 5 to lose life. It’s a scalpel of awesome fun!
6 – Volrath’s Stronghold – I was thinking about saving this card until near the end to keep up suspense, but that is not going to happen. I named it the best card in multiplayer, and I’ve talked about it extensively in many other articles. I won’t repeat myself here, but I want to point out that this is card quality of a powerful dimension, which fights graveyard removal, gives you great options, and costs you little to use. It’s the best multiplayer card of all time.
8 – Draining Whelk – I love to add a little countermagic to most of my blue decks just so I can have a few answers in case an emergency arrives. Draining Whelk is my single favorite counterspell for multiplayer because it’s a counter and a dragon. You make a 4/4, 5/5, or 6/6 flyer plus a countered card. It’s both card advantage and a strong threat in one card. My countermagic suites almost always begin with this card because it is that strong.
10 – Krosan Tusker – This is another card I have long heralded in my articles for GatheringMagic. Its 3-mana cycling ability retrieves both a land and a card, so you can add a bit of card advantage. It’s like an instant-speed, green Divination. Except one card is a basic land of your choice, and it usually can’t be countered. Late game, if you don’t need the mana and the card, just play it as a creature. Because it cycles, it leaves a creature in the graveyard for all sorts of shenanigans, from reanimation to playing Avatar of Woe early to pumping Lhurgoyf and company. It’s a highly synergetic card that usually makes the cut in my green decks right after Cultivate and Kodama’s Reach.
12 – Reforge the Soul – Clocking it at Number 43 on the Top 100 Multiplayer Cards on the back of Wheel of Fortune, this powerful sorcery does everything a Wheel of Fortune can, but it’s cheap to purchase, and you can run four in your deck. Forget miracle. It’s a 5-mana Wheel of Fortune. That is still a great card. Because I own somewhere around twenty copies, they are tossed into virtually every red multiplayer deck I roll. Wheel of Fortune is always a brilliant card, and this is just a little less so because of the mana. And it’s better than Wheel in a top-deck war because the miracle for 2 mana leaves you an extra mana to play the stuff you drew that turn.
14 – Kor Haven – Number 8 on my list and Number 2 in my heart, this land is playable in virtually every single white multiplayer deck ever conceived by man. For a cheap tap cost, you simply prevent the damage that one creature would deal. It’s a serious threat. It plays well with white’s other defensive cards (such as Number 1) and with white’s mass removal. People have to play another creature to slip past your defense, which opens them up to a Wrath of God, and now they need another two creatures to poke you. Defense wins in multiplayer.
I’m not sure if any of these cards are on the Reserved List or not (my guess is Stronghold would be). But these are my choices for FTV: Abe. (If I were to make this a real set, I would sub in Hunting Cheetah for the Tusker to give the set some spice. That Cheetah is awesome! Plus, there’d be something powerful for the probably-reserved Stronghold card—perhaps Pernicious Deed or Academy Ruins.)
My one wish is that I could have managed to fit Vhati il-Dal on the FTV: Abe. Sigh. Maybe he goes in if you massage it a bit.
I hope you enjoyed a fun look at the fifteen cards I play with and that are iconic where I play multiplayer, including Commander. What would be in your From the Vault?
See you next week,