Thursday, 4 July 2013

Oracle Review - Animate Dead and Friends

While I have some intention of going through these in chronological order, Animate Dead - the first spell chronologically and alphabetically that has oracle text of note - has two latter day compatriots that want to be reviewed with it. So here they are, some of the oddest spells in magic:

If that looks like a lot of text, just wait for the Oracle.

So what do these three cards say on Oracle?

Animate Dead is an Enchantment - Aura with:
Enchant creature card in a graveyard 
When Animate Dead enters the battlefield, if it's on the battlefield, it loses "enchant creature card in a graveyard" and gains "enchant creature put onto the battlefield with Animate Dead." Return enchanted creature card to the battlefield under your control and attach Animate Dead to it. When Animate Dead leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it. 
Enchanted creature gets -1/-0.
Dance of the Dead is almost identical:
Enchant creature card in a graveyard 
When Dance of the Dead enters the battlefield, if it's on the battlefield, it loses "enchant creature card in a graveyard" and gains "enchant creature put onto the battlefield with Dance of the Dead." Return enchanted creature card to the battlefield tapped under your control and attach Dance of the Dead to it. When Dance of the Dead leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it.
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, that player may pay {1}{B}. If he or she does, untap that creature.
And finally, Necromancy, which is not an Aura, and which puts a twist on things:
You may cast Necromancy as though it had flash. If you cast it any time a sorcery couldn't have been cast, the controller of the permanent it becomes sacrifices it at the beginning of the next cleanup step.
When Necromancy enters the battlefield, if it's on the battlefield, it becomes an Aura with "enchant creature put onto the battlefield with Necromancy." Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control and attach Necromancy to it. When Necromancy leaves the battlefield, that creature's controller sacrifices it.
All three of these have an awesome triggered ability upon entering the battlefield. First of all, each one starts with "When ~this~ enters the battlefield, if it's on the battlefield..." which is a wonderful piece of text. It actually does mean something - the intervening if means that the trigger won't go off unless the enchantment is still on the battlefield when the trigger resolves - but it appears to make about as much sense as "When you cast this, if you actually did cast it..."

Next, there is the fact that these cards all add text to themselves when they enter the battlefield. But more than that, two also remove text from themselves while the other assigns itself a subtype. These are some pretty bizarre things for a card to do when it enters the battlefield. This is the equivalent of a human creature with the following:
First Strike 
When ~this~ enters the battlefield, it loses "First Strike" and gains "Flying" and it becomes a Bird instead of a Human.
Why the hell wasn't it just a Bird with flying? Because, in this case, then you would never be able to cast it at all. This is what weird cards are all about.

What is best about this wording, though, is that it stays true to the original wording of the cards. Animate Dead, as you see above, was printed as an "Enchant Dead Creature" card. Maintaining it as an Aura with "Enchant creature card in a graveyard" is a great continuance of the awkwardness of the original card.

With the printing of Strionic Resonator in M14 Necromancy will have a special weird thing you can do. By copying the enter-the-battlefield trigger you'll be able to return two creatures to the battlefield, only one of which will be enchanted with Necromancy, but both of which will be sacrificed if it leaves play.

And I shouldn't go without making a special comment about Necromancy: "You may cast Necromancy as though it had flash." In what way is this different than actually having flash? From rule 702.8a: "Flash" means "You may play this card any time you could cast an instant." So the first line of Necromancy is "You may cast Necromancy as though it had 'You may play this card any time you could cast an instant.'" Why don't creatures have "This creature deals damage as if it had lifelink." What this bizarre wording does is makes it so you can't search up Necromancy with Mystical Teachings. That is actually the sum total of it's effect.

These cards are great exemplars of how the magic rules can do almost anything, including codifying the games earlier, less formal rules. Unfortunately for Necromancy, it also contains what I regard as a clear-cut error. As a result, I am forced to give Necromancy:

Awwww!

As they don't share that defect, I am happy to give both Animate Dead and Dance of the Dead a whopping:

Hooray!

1 comment: