Thursday, 5 December 2013

Oracle Review - Knowledge Vault and Chain Lighting

A card that will never see play in any format and a card that will always be plausible when legal, and neither with good Oracle text.

That Amy Weber art is really sweet, they don't make them like that anymore.
2, Tap: Exile the top card of your library face down. 
0: Sacrifice Knowledge Vault. If you do, discard your hand, then put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's hand. 
When Knowledge Vault leaves the battlefield, put all cards exiled with Knowledge Vault into their owner's graveyard.
That second ability is something pretty odd.  Why does it cost 0 to activate and then sacrifice the vault as part of the resolution?  Wouldn't it make more sense to just sacrifice the vault as the cost of activating the ability?

It makes a difference, certainly, that the ability is worded this way.  But I don't see how the Oracle wording is more like the wording on the card than a more straightforward wording would be.

In fact, let's look at Life Chisel:

Sacrifice a creature: You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature's toughness. Activate this ability only during your upkeep.

Well, that's easy.  Quite obviously, Knowledge Vault scores...

Just not great

Chain Lighting
Any spell that allows multiple decisions to be made and abilities to be activated in the middle of its resolution is a little weird. So how did they word Chain Lighting?
Chain Lightning deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Then that player or that creature's controller may pay RR. If the player does, he or she may copy this spell and may choose a new target for that copy.
 Okay, let's take a quick look at the words on the card again:
Chain Lightning does 3 damage to one target. Each time Chain Lightning does damage, the target or target's controller may then pay RR to have Chain Lightning do 3 damage to any target of that player's choice.
I think a big, "What happened there?" is in order. I mean, how on earth did we go from when it does damage you can pay to make it do more damage to the target or target's controller can copy it? First of all, the original didn't let you pay to deal more damage if the damage was prevented and the new version doesn't have any clause regarding that. Second, copying a spell is very different than having the same spell deal damage more than once.

So did these changes get made? Chain Lightning has been reprinted twice. Once in Master's Edition, where they did not update the wordings on cards, and in fact printed them with their original text even if the rules had been updated, the second time was in a Premium Deck Series deck.

I guess a Premium Deck Series is a new printing, and so takes precedence over the old printing, but we're not talking about Revised edition here. This was 2010 when they decided to reprint a card with huge functional changes. That seems pretty unforgivable to me. Now, it's quite possible that I'm getting the chronology wrong here, and that they first decided to reword Chain Lightning and then printed the premium deck series, but there is something about the product page that makes me blame everything on this printing. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine what.


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