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?

Commander Eesha
So, I came up with a fun list to explore. If I were to make an FTV: Abe, here are the cards that I would include!

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.

Avatar of Woe
3 – Avatar of Woe Clocking in at Number 68 from my Top 100 list is ye olde Avatar. I don’t want to duplicate a lot of stuff from there, so let me tell you why I lean on this so much. Many people forget that this 6/5 creature usually costs 2 mana when you have more than two graveyards in a game. Therefore, you have a large body for your cheap investment. Then, the creature has fear. Don’t ever forget that the Avatar of Woe is a brilliant beater. In addition to that, you rock a nasty tap ability: “Destroy target creature.” Unlike a lot of black removal, it does work on black and/or artifact creatures. Destroy target creature. Woe indeed.

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!

Hibernation's End
5 – Hibernation’s End When playing a Birthing Pod, a player has to make sure that he or she has creatures of all mana costs that are good search targets. That’s exactly what to do with Hibernation’s End. Just play this card, and turn after turn, you tutor out a creature onto the battlefield for free (card-wise, not mana-wise). I like to snag a mana-maker with my 1-drop, such as Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch. That will help me to pay the upkeep in future turns! Then, I snake out either defense or a beater for my 2-drop (often, I go for Wall of Blossoms or Wall of Omens). Then, the good stuff starts rolling and nasty creatures begin to arrive. You are playing the game of Magic, with one creature hitting the board every turn, but your hand keeps filling up with the cards you are not playing. When the End is killed, you have gained serious card advantage from it. It really endures through mass removal as well since creatures can come out. It’s often a game-winning card in a top-deck war. It’s good stuff!

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.

Vedalken Orrery
7 – Vedalken Orrery There are a few cards today that give your stuff flash as Leyline of Anticipation does. But this is an artifact of brilliant fun, so it can slide into many decks. It hit Number 16 on my list because so many things improve with flash. Think about all of those great sorceries for which you say, “If only this had flash . . . ” Well, it does! Instant-speed discard, Time Warps, land destruction, and more can all be yours! Then, add creatures, artifacts, and enchantments to the party. Your hand is powerful. Does someone attack into you if you have the potential to flash out a blocker and smash it? Flash out Ivory Mask to essentially counter a spell that targets you. Flash out Asceticism to essentially to the same with your own dorks. Flash out even something rarely played, such as Castle, to change combat math and keep a permanent bonus for your team. Flashing is good for the soul.

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.

Orim's Thunder
9 – Orim’s Thunder When this card (plus, in-Block spiritual brother Dismantling Blow) saw print, it instantly became the best Disenchant variant for multiplayer. The added flexibility to also draw cards (for the Blow) or shoot a creature was worth an increase in the base price by a mana. To this day, Orim’s Thunder remains the single best Naturalize for multiplayer because the ability to whack a creature and an enchantment or artifact at instant speed for just {2}{R}{W} is powerful. One of the ways you can answer difficult problems raised at the kitchen table is by packing diversity. This is a card that is quite diverse, and as such, it can really help your board state. This sort of card advantage is the foundation of victory.

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.

Rune-Scarred Demon
11 – Rune-Scarred Demon Ever since this bad boy saw print, I purchased a ton, and they go into every multiplayer deck I run, particularly Commander decks. The 5/5 flying body is nothing to sneer at, and it can win games or trade with other dragon-sized threats. The addition of a Demonic Tutor is nice because you can go acquire the right card for the situation. From removal to a powerful, game-ending creature, you can find the perfect card. Like the previous few cards, it gives a little card advantage at the right time and in the right way.

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.

Cauldron of Souls
13 – Cauldron of Souls I still remember when this card was clocking in at less than a buck at CoolStuffInc.com. I extolled its virtues in a variety of articles, and it has climbed a bit. (Not that I am taking credit for that, mind you—the fact that I point out that one event occurred before another does not mean I intend to create a causal link between them.) Mass removal happens a lot at the multiplayer table. You regularly see that Day of Judgment or Damnation dropping. How many tools do you have to keep your creatures alive through it? A lot of decks roll over to a sweeping removal spell. This is a colorless tool that fits into any deck that fears creature removal. Just tap it, and give your stuff persist. It will bring back the whole army just a bit smaller. However, it won’t work in two cases—no bringing back tokens, and creatures with 1 toughness will die when brought back. It’s a small price to pay to live on, and it produces a new set of triggers for your creatures that have enters-the-battlefield abilities (as with Number 11 above). Sure, your creatures may be a bit less scary, but then again, no one else will have creatures at all, so you’ll be in great shape.

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.

Equilibrium
15 – Equilibrium I thought about Fleetfoot Panther, but I decided to roll with this as my other blue card and as my enchantment entry. This card is included as an homage to my Equinaut decks. This is a deck built around this card and flash creatures that can bounce themselves. You play them, pay the mana to bounce another creature via the Equilibrium, and then return them to your hand to reload. In addition to this deck, Equilibrium is a powerful engine for a host of decks. You can use it to bounce your guys for another trigger, bounce opposing creatures for just 1 mana to soak up mana on their end, reset counters on something (such as Triskelion), fight against Aura-based removal, and just generally rule. One final card for the chest!

 


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,
Abe Sargent