A look back at the Future (Sight) Part 3
Future Sight is probably my favorite magic set of all time, in big part thanks to this chunk of cards that were “pre-printed” from possible futures. And since the set just turned 10 years old, I decided it would be fun to take a look at all of them, and see what has come back, and what hasn’t, but might.
As I have a lot of cards to get through (I’ve done 19 of the 81 in previous two articles) I’m going to jump right back into looking at the cards:
Darksteel Garrison has not yet been reprinted. It is also still the only card in the game that features the artifact subtype Fortification. It functions a lot like equipment, only it attaches to a land, rather than a creature. This is a mechanic Wizards has on their radar, and in fact was one they looked at during Zendikar and Scars of Mirrodin design, though they ultimately decided it didn’t fit in those sets.
Mark Rosewater also talked about this on the subtypes episode of his podcast, Drive to Work. He said that it can be a little problematic, as wizards has made lands hard to destroy to help improve the overall fun of the game, it makes it harder to interact with something that works with lands, like Fortify. Despite that he still thinks it’s a question of when they find a place for the mechanic, rather than if they find a place for it.
Now that I’m looking at this, I think it’s a little odd I haven’t seen this card in commander. We have a number of super powerful lands, like Cabal Coffers, Gaea’s Cradle, and even some utility things like Arcane Lighthouse that would be worth protecting. Darksteel Plate is a card that sees a lot of play to protect valuable creatures, like commanders in particular, so I could see this having some place, though even the most powerful lands tend to be less integral to deck than commanders, and you always know you have access to the commander, while you won’t always have access to some specific land, so maybe not.
Still, it does also have the random upside of pumping a creature whenever you tap your land. At first I thought you had to tap it for that bonus, but now that I realize you can tap the land for mana, or to activate some ability on it, and you get this +1/+1 to throw around, it looks even more appealing in the format.
Daybreak Coronet was reprinted in Modern Masters 2015, so while it has come back, so it was in a reprint only set, but not a standard legal one. Multiple people asked Mark Rosewater if this was considered for Theros Block, and he told them this card is considered too powerful for standard, so that suggests we are unlikely to actually see this in a standard legal set again.
The first new thing here is the condition that it can only enchant a creature that already has another aura. It makes the card have a much higher set up cost, but it also pays that off with a huge power boost in the stats it grants, and adding three keywords. That condition had never been done, nor has it been done again, though you can go back all the way back to Alpha to find the first odd condition for an aura (though that was way before they were called Auras) with Animate Dead.
The other new thing here, which I almost missed, is Lifelink. This ability existed before, in a way, going back to El-Hajjaj in Arabian Nights. It ended up working a little differently, especially on things that granted the ability, like auras, such as Spirit Link, because those gave life to the owner of the aura, rather than giving the creature lifelink.
That difference didn’t matter if you put something like Spirit Link on your own creature, but you could put it on a creature an opponent controlled, and suddenly the creature couldn’t really do combat damage to you, because you would just gain that life back.
The short version is that they wanted a clean kill spell and a clean counter spell with delve, so Death Rattle was cut for Murderous Cut, and Logic Knot was cut for a card that must have been cut itself, as there is no delve counterspell in the block as it was printed (or maybe it just had delve cut from it). Tombstalker ended up being cut as there weren’t any demons in the block early on, though they did end up being added later.
At first I thought these just missing a printing in Khans of Tarkir Block would mean these had a decent chance of a reprint, I figured a visit to Tarkir again, or maybe even some other world with Delve, would give them a second chance, but it turns out Delve is an 8 on the stormscale (described as “It’s unlikely to return, but possible if the stars align”), meaning it’s unlikely to come back again, which gives these cards a pretty unlikely chance to come back in a Standard legal set.
When echo was first printed in Urza’s Saga block, where it was just printed as “Echo” and it meant you had to repay the card’s mana cost. Planar Chaos, the set right before Future Sight, was the first time we saw creatures with echo that was different than their casting cost, though we did see Thick-Skinned Goblin one set earlier than that, in Time Spiral, that let you pay 0, rather than a card’s normal echo cost.
The Planar Chaos Echo creatures had echo costs higher than their cost to cast. To offset that two of them have enter the battlefield effects, Hammerheim Deadeye (which was also a reference to the legendary land Hammerheim), and Stingscourger (who appears to be wielding a Man-o’-war), one of them has haste, Uktabi Drake (maybe a reference to Uktabi Faerie?), and Timbermare (which was close, but just a little off, from a color-shifted Thundermare) has both.
This let’s you get something out of all of them, even if you can’t, or don’t want to, pay their echo cost on your next turn.
There was also Volcano Hellion which not only had a variable Echo cost, but it also had an enters the battlefield effect that costs life, and thus could change it’s echo cost on your next turn.
All four of these future shifted cards change up how Echo costs work again, each going in another direction..
Deepcavern Imp has, to me at least, the most interesting alternate echo cost. Discarding a card can be turned to an advantage in a lot of ways, be it through discarding cards with madness (as I tried to do in a standard deck back when this card was in standard), or because you can take advantage of things in your graveyard like with things like flashback, or reanimator strategies. I think that interesting play helped get it into the first Modern Masters, well that and it being a rebel.
Henchfiend of Ukor is the only card in the game to feature an echo cost that’s a different color from itself. It’s also the only card that has an echo cost set lower than it’s cost to cast. The only possible exception is Shah of Naar Isle, which I’ll talk about below, but I’m not really counting that, as the draw trigger is the actual echo cost there.
To the best of my knowledge, Henchfiend of Ukor is also the first creature to be a single color, but feature a hybrid mana activation. That wasn’t done again until Fate Reforged had a cycle of legends, and a cycle of non-legendary creatures who were all mono-color to cast, but had a hybrid symbol of two other colors for their activated ability.
Shah of Naar Isle‘s echo cost is giving every opponent 3 cards. I think that’s an interesting line to play with, but probably is super hard to balance, and also probably doesn’t offer much design space, at least compared to simply having a mana price. The only other cards I can think that do something like this, give you an undercosted creature, and undercosted abilities, but make you give your opponent’s stuff to use them, is Phelddagrif, and it’s non-legendary cousin, Questing Phelddagrif. Both of these are older cards though, and it seems like this is something Wizard’s isn’t keen on bringing back.
Skizzik Surger‘s alternate echo cost is sacrificing two lands. I can’t find anything to corroborate this, but I believe sacrificing lands as a cost is unpopular, and has been reduced in frequency. Looking through cards that require a land to be sacrificed as a cost to keep it, or for some smaller effect, I see a number from before Future Sight, like Agent of Shauku, and Akki Avalanchers, but almost none from after Future Sight.
Magma Rift and Shard Volley is the only ones I can find that don’t give you some major payoff, like The Gitrog Monster does (and it mitigates the land sacrificing by giving you both a card, and second land drop), or that are just solid cards without having to sacrifice a land, like Hammer of Purphoros or World Breaker where the land sacrificing just gives you something extra.
As a quick aside, there is another Skizzik in magic, just called Skizzik in fact. It’s also an aggressive lightning elemental, from Invasion, well before Future Sight, so maybe this was a look back, or a look forward, to another Dominaria set.
It was fun to see these different glimpses into the possible futures of this mechanic, but it I doubt we’ll ever see them actually happen. Echo itself is an 8 on the Stormscale, a contributing factor of which is a lot of players don’t like mechanics that are seen as just a drawback. That already drops the likelihood of these coming back, but then when you add in the other twists on Echo that each of these has, and it becomes even less likely.
This one is starting to get long again, and the next card on my list is going to take a lot to discuss (it’s Dryad Arbor), so let’s call this one done, and I’ll be back next time with a discussion about one of the games…let’s just say most interesting cards from a rules perspective.
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I started playing Magic when I was 8, and Revised had just been released, and have been playing on and off since then.
I like to write, and I like magic, so writing about magic was a natural step.
I live in Minnesota, USA where it's pretty cold, then fairly hot, and then pretty cold again.But at least we don't get Earthquakes, hurricanes or *that many Tornadoes.