Friday, 13 December 2013

Oracle Review - Chains of Mephistopheles and Gauntlets of Chaos

That's a lot of "of" for just to cards.  Well, I mean, it's more than you'd expect.  It certainly isn't as astonishing as if it were three.  Did you know that I know how to spell "Mephistopheles" off the top of my head?


Chains of Mephistopheles
I had the pleasure of seeing this card hit the table in real competitive magic recently.  At a Star City Games Open Legacy event someone dropped this one against an unsuspecting opponent.  Here, "unsuspecting" is a word to indicate that the opponent picked up the card to read it.  At this point, the owner said, "Don't read it, I'll tell you what it does."
If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step each turn, that player discards a card instead. If the player discards a card this way, he or she draws a card. If the player doesn't discard a card this way, he or she puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
If a thing would happen, instead a different thing happens, and if it does, that thing happens, but if it doesn't then a different thing happens.  It's actually pretty simple, and I always love a wording that replace an event with that same event.

So why not read the original card?  Well there isn't really any reason.  It makes for a funny story but the Oracle wording is pretty much the original wording with a bit of sprucing up and rearrangement, nothing too fancy.  I actually find the original wording quite readable, and understanding that "instead" must mean a replacement effect, it's pretty hard to misinterpret how it should be taken.

Chains of Mephistopheles is a super straightforward wording for a bizarre card has caused a fair bit of confusion in its day.  I easily give it...

I love replacement abilities
Gauntlets of Chaos
This one is not quite so straightforward.
5, Sacrifice Gauntlets of Chaos: Exchange control of target artifact, creature, or land you control and target permanent an opponent controls that shares one of those types with it. If those permanents are exchanged this way, destroy all Auras attached to them.
Okay, that doesn't look so weird, after all, exchange is a pretty sensible substitution for give and take.  And, after all, they did reprint the gauntlets and make that fix in 5th Edition.  There was also a Chronicles reprinting but that is between the two, and the Master's Edition reprinting never counts in terms of wording.

What are they doing to young Olle Råde?
So there you have it.  They just used the latest printing.

But wait!

This is not the same wording as on the 5th Edition printing at all. Look at those last sentences.

Sure, the wording on the 5th Edition card came straight out of nowhere, but regardless of how sensible the change to exchanging the permanents was, that basically came out of nowhere as well.  If a card changes from one thing to another thing, then it changed.  Why the take-backsies?

By all rights the Oracle wording should say "those enchantments cannot be regenerated" and should not say, "if those permanents are exchanged this way."  This is really going straight into arbitrary land.

I've said this before, but it's not so much that the wording on this card is bad, it's more than the fact that this card is worded this way makes you wonder why they stuck with latter-printing wordings of other card when they sucked.  It is vicariously, then, that Gauntlets of Chaos desernves...


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