Hey, guys and gals. Today, we are going to focus on the two mini-blocks that make up the Lorwyn mega-block. These sets are Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, and Eventide. These sets all bring some Modern-playable cards to the party; let’s see if they bring some interesting mechanics to the party as well!
Yes, Lorwyn started it all with the Planeswalker craze. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that planeswalkers have made their presence known in every format in Magic. Some rules notes on planeswalkers are that planeswalkers enter the battlefield with the number of loyalty counters printed in the lower-right-hand corner of the card. You may activate a loyalty ability of each of your planeswalkers on the battlefield once per turn as a sorcery. When declaring attackers, you may declare each of your creatures individually as either attacking an opponent’s planeswalker or attacking an opponent. When you do this, your creatures attacking a planeswalker that were not blocked will deal their damage, plus any trample damage, to the planeswalker that was attacked. You may also redirect noncombat direct damage from an opponent to a planeswalker he controls. All damage dealt to a planeswalker results in that many loyalty counters being removed from that planeswalker. You may not redirect damage dealt to you to a planeswalker you control. If there are two planeswalkers on the battlefield with the same subtype, each is placed into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based action. When a planeswalker is reduced to 0 loyalty counters, it is placed into its owner’s graveyard as a state-based action. Some example planeswalkers are Jace Beleren and Ajani Vengeant.
Clash makes you play a little mini-game with your opponent for an extra effect on a card. The way Clash works is that you reveal the top card of your library and an opponent does the same. A player wins the clash if he reveals a card with a higher mana cost than his opponent. After you reveal your top card, you may put that card on the bottom of your library. You cannot tie a clash or lose a clash; you either win the clash or you don’t win the clash. Some rules notes: in the cost of a card revealed in this way counts as 0. Any card without a mana cost counts as 0. Split cards return both values, so it’s possible for both players to win a clash when split cards are involved. Some classic Clash cards are Lash Out and Broken Ambitions.
A card with the Changeling ability has all creature types in all zones. This is, technically, a characteristic-defining ability, which means that it will apply first if there are multiple effects in the type layer for a given permanent. Some classic Changeling cards are Chameleon Colossus and Crib Swap.
Champion is an ability that lets you hide away a certain type of card with a new, more powerful card. When the more powerful card is destroyed, the hidden-away card comes back onto the battlefield. “Champion an [object]” means, “When this permanent enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you exile another [object] you control,” and, “When this permanent leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to the battlefield under its owner’s control.” A neat rules interaction with Champion is that if you take control of something with its Champion trigger on the stack, it won’t be sacrificed, since the player you took the permanent from won’t be able to sacrifice something he doesn’t control anymore. The most popular Champion card is easily Mistbind Clique.
Evoke is a way to get a one-shot effect out of a creature. It lets you pay a cheaper cost to play the creature with an enters-the-battlefield trigger, but then you immediately sacrifice the creature. “Evoke [cost]” means, “You may pay the evoke cost instead of the normal mana cost to cast this creature. When this permanent enters the battlefield, if its evoke cost was paid, its controller sacrifices it.” So, when the creature with the trigger would enter the battlefield, its ETB trigger would go onto the stack, and then it would be sacrificed. Technically, you can stack the triggers either way, but it ends up resulting in a dead creature and an effect for you no matter which way you choose to stack it. Some popular Evoke cards are Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw.
Hideaway is an ability found on lands in the Lorwyn set. It lets you look at some cards on the top of your library and hide one of them under the land. When a certain condition is met, you can then play the card from under the Hideaway land. Some rules notes with Hideaway are that it lets you cast the card underneath it as long as its condition is met; this means you can cast things like creatures and sorceries when you might not normally be able to. One caveat to this is that you can’t use a Hideaway land to play a land on your opponent’s turn. It is a game rule that you cannot play a land on your opponent’s turn for any reason. Nor can you use it to play a second land on your turn, even with something like a Hideaway land telling you that you can. The card that you place under the Hideaway land is technically exiled face-down, but you can look at it; the rules for Hideaway say this is okay. Popular hideaway lands are Shelldock Isle, Windbrisk Heights, and Spinerock Knoll.
Prowl sometimes let you play a spell for much cheaper, or for slightly more, but with some added effects, provided that a source with the same creature type as the Prowl spell dealt damage to an opponent in the same turn. You could only elect to pay the Prowl cost if this was true. Prowl lets you play the spell for an alternate cost, but it doesn’t change when you can cast the spell—like the Hideaway lands do. You don’t have to use the Prowl cost, even if the condition to do so is true. You can still choose to pay the normal mana cost for the spell; you just won’t receive any effects for casting it for the Prowl cost.
Reinforce only functions while the card with Reinforce is in your hand. “Reinforce X – [cost]” means, “[cost], Discard this card: Put X +1/+1 counters on target creature.” That’s about all I got for this mechanic.
Conspire is an ability that exists on instants and sorceries. It allows you to create copies of spells by tapping some of your creatures. You can copy a spell with Conspire by choosing to tap two creatures that share a color with the Conspire spell as an additional cost. You may choose new targets for the Conspire copy. If a spell somehow has multiple instances of Conspire, you may choose to tap two creatures to copy it for each instance of Conspire the spell has. It’s important to note that Conspire is paid for in the pay all costs step: Step 7 of casting a spell. Therefore, if you wish to use something like Wild Cantor for mana and to Conspire, you’re out of luck, because you’ll have to sacrifice the Wild Cantor for mana in Step 6, and it won’t be around to tap for mana in Step 7.
Persist is a triggered ability that triggers when a permanent with Persist is put into a graveyard from the battlefield. It says, “Whenever this permanent is put into the graveyard from the battlefield, if it did not have any -1/-1 counters on it, return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control with a -1/-1 counter on it.” Persist triggers when the creature goes to the graveyard, so it will use last known information and look at the creature as it existed on the battlefield right before it went to the graveyard in order to find out if it had any relevant counters on it. Tokens with Persist will trigger the ability as well; however, tokens cease to exist before they would be able to return to the battlefield from the graveyard. If a creature has some +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters on it at the same time as having lethal damage or 0 toughness, Persist will not trigger, because all state-based actions are processed at the same time, so, when the creature looks back in time, it will still see the -1/-1 counter on itself, and it will not come back. A relevant combo with Persist is to use Melira, Sylvok Outcast with Persist creatures. Melira prevents the -1/-1 counter from being placed on the creatures after they come back onto the battlefield, so they can essentially persist indefinitely. Some classic Persist cards are Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap.
Wither is an ability that changes how damage functions. Normally, damage results in, well, damage being marked on a creature. Wither changes that model, and it makes damage result in -1/-1 counters being placed on the creature instead. Wither damage dealt to players still results in life loss, and Wither damage dealt to planeswalkers still results in loyalty counters being removed. Some great creatures with Wither are Boggart Ram Gang and Stigma Lasher.
Retrace is an ability that lets you play instants and sorceries from your graveyard by discarding a land as an additional cost to play the spells in question. This allows you to get a lot of mileage out of a single spell! When you play a card with Retrace from your graveyard, it follows all the same rules as when you play one from your hand. If the active player plays a Retrace spell, he can play it again by retaining priority, and his opponent will not have a chance to remove it from the graveyard between the two castings of the Retrace spell.
Those are the new abilities and mechanics presented by the Lorwyn mini-blocks! There was a lot of power in this set, and there are quite a few cards from this set that have made a splash in Modern. Pay attention especially to the Hideaway and Persist sections of this document if you are new to Modern; there are quite a few strategies that break these mechanics. Champion and Evoke are also fairly popular in Modern decks. Stay tuned next week, when we enter into the Shards of Alara block!