Gatecrash Type 4 Set Review

Gatecrash Type 4 Set Review

With the newly released Gatecrash hitting retailer’s shelves this week, it’s time to take a look at what impact this will have on the greatest casual format of all time: Type 4. While not quite as exciting as Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash still offers a number of flavorful additions you’ll want to track down to add to your stack.

If you have never had the privilege, Type 4 is a format with a shared stack/deck of cards, infinite mana, and the ability for each player to cast up to only one spell a turn (one on your turn, one on player 2’s turn, one on player 3’s turn, etc.). The full rules and an introduction can be found here, courtesy of our very own Stephen Menendian.

Each builder’s Type 4 stack will be different, with a balance of creatures, tutors, removal, counterspells, and everything else shaped by the owner’s hand. They will dictate the power level by what spells are deemed acceptable or too powerful, and what flavor they want. In my personal stack, which I consider relatively balanced stack, I don’t consider X spells like Fireball (deal X damage, or unlimited) very entertaining, so we’ll ignore those or things with Firebreathing (ie. infinite pump abilities), as I want more interactive games, and generally only the most efficient or powerful spells are going to make it in the stack when facing so much stiff competition from nearly 20 years of Magic sets.

Devour Flesh
Target player sacrifices a creature, then gains life equal to that creature’s toughness.

A Diabolic Edict substitute, this has the drawback of giving a player life (an additional resource). Due to the limited nature of this with so much other high quality creature removal available, this probably won’t see play in anything but peasant/pauper Type 4 stacks composed of commons and uncommons.

Killing Glare
Destroy target creature with power X or less.

A new piece of removal with little drawback, Killing Glare is sure to find a home in most Type 4 stacks. While it doesn’t exile the creature or bury it, destroying is good enough in most cases, and this does have any selective drawbacks, like Terror or something similar.

Lord of the VoidLord of the Void
Creature – Demon
Whenever Lord of the Void deals combat damage to a player, exile the top seven cards of that player’s library, then put a creature card from among them onto the battlefield under your control.

Black has been getting some very interesting creatures for Type 4 in the past few sets (Griselbrand, for example), and Lord of the Void is the latest that is looking to slither its way into tight stacks. A good sized body, coupled with evasion of some sort is a good starting point, and the ability to not only exile cards from an opponent’s library (denying them of potentially game-breaking bombs along the way) but then put a creature from among them into play under your control has the potential to be very strong. It has to connect and deal combat damage, but that doesn’t prevent people from playing Nicol Bolas, nor do I suspect it will prevent people from playing this gem.

Sepulchral Primordial
Creature – Avatar
When Sepulchral Primordial enters the battlefield, for each opponent, you may put up to one target creature card from that player’s graveyard onto the battlefield under your control.

Another playable Black goody, Sepulchral Primordial is basically a free 5/4 body coupled with multiple Resurrections all at once, or kind of like a one-sided Living Death, reanimating a bunch of stuff just for you, because you’re special. I would be surprised to not see any mature Type 4 stack not include this.

Diluvian PrimordialDiluvian Primordial
Creature – Avatar
When Diluvian Primordial enters the battlefield, for each opponent, you may cast up to one target instant or sorcery card from that player’s graveyard without paying its mana cost. If a card cast this way would be put into a graveyard this turn, exile it instead.

A 5/5 flying body with a disgusting comes into play ability to cast broken spells from all of your opponent’s graveyards? Yes, please.

Rapid Hybridization
Destroy target creature. It can’t be regenerated. That creature’s controller puts a 3/3 green Frog Lizard creature token onto the battlefield.

A functional reprint of Pongify from Planar Chaos, this isn’t good enough for any well developed Type 4 stack, but does have great merit for a peasant or budget stack.

Stolen Identity
Put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of target artifact or creature.
Cipher (Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.)

A Clone-type effect that can also copy artifacts is interesting, and while the Cipher mechanic is unlikely to be used very often, it does present players with more strategic options. I can see this replacing Clone or other copying effect and nudging its way in to most stacks.

Giant Adephage
Creature – Insect
Whenever Giant Adephage deals combat damage to a player, put a token onto the battlefield that is a copy of Giant Adephage.

While this passes the big dumb creature with pseudo-evasion test for Type 4, this creature doesn’t really do anything other than multiply. I suspect some of you will like this, but can see many bypassing this creature in favor of other creatures that have a more game-breaking effect than just slowly making more dudes.

Skarrg GoliathSkarrg Goliath
Creature – Beast
Bloodrush — 5{G}{G}, Discard Skarrg Goliath: Target attacking creature gets +9/+9 and gains trample until end of turn.

At its worst, Skarrg Goliath is a big 9/9 trampler, but at its best it serves as an uncounterable +9/+9 pump spell that doesn’t count as your spell for the turn (allowing you to protect your attacker with a counterspell). This is probably good enough for nearly every Type 4 stack, but your own testing will bear this out.

Sylvan Primordial
Creature – Avatar
When Sylvan Primordial enters the battlefield, for each opponent, destroy target noncreature permanent that player controls. For each permanent destroyed this way, search your library for a Forest card and put that card onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.

Another Primordial, another Type 4 playable, it seems. This one comes into play and can blow up multiple non-creature permanents (planeswalkers, lands, artifacts, enchantments), and is definitely an upgrade over most existing 187 creatures blowing up similar permanents (Terastodon and Uktabi Kong are on similar footing in this regard).

MoltenPrimordialSmallMolten Primordial
Creature – Avatar
When Molten Primordial enters the battlefield, for each opponent, take control of up to one target creature that player controls until end of turn. Untap those creatures. They have haste until end of turn.

Similar to the other Primordials in this cycle, Molten Primordial couples a decent size creature with an ability (in this case a 6 power creature with haste, ala Ball Lightning) with a nice comes into play effect (in this case an Insurrection-like ability to jack a number of creatures from opponents until end of turn). This card has the potential to knock out one or more players every time it successfully resolves, and should not be overlooked, especially in multiplayer ring games. This should be an auto-include.

Luminate Primordial
Creature – Avatar
When Luminate Primordial enters the battlefield, for each opponent, exile up to one target creature that player controls and that player gains life equal to its power.

Luminate Primordial doubles as a pseudo-Wrath of God effect, similar to Reiver Demon and Desolation Giant, which are played in many Type 4 stacks currently (value!). Each of these creatures has drawbacks. For example, Reiver Demon cannot artifacts or Black creatures, and Desolation Giant does not kill any of the opponent’s creatures unless cast with Kicker, which makes it less useful if coming into play other than just being cast with Kicker during your turn. Luminate Primordial can 187 up to one target creature each player controls (not more than that if someone has multiples) and the players gain life respectively, but Luminate has the advantage of exiling the creatures from the game, rather than just destroying them, shutting off potential recurring abuse as the game goes on (which is very common in Type 4). I suspect this will not make in some stacks, but for most stacks this is eminently playable.

Gold and Multicolored
Aurelia, the Warleader
Legendary Creature – Angel
Flying, vigilance, haste
Whenever Aurelia, the Warleader attacks for the first time each turn, untap all creatures you control. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase.

At a minimum Aurelia serves as a Ball Lightning creature representing 6 damage by herself, but when combined with the other generally large creatures in Type 4 this has the potential to allow you to do a lot of damage really quickly, to multiple opponents.

Lazav, Dimir MastermindLazav, Dimir Mastermind
Legendary Creature – Shapeshifter
Whenever a creature card is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, you may have Lazav, Dimir Mastermind become a copy of that card except it’s name is still Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, it’s legendary in addition to its other types, and it gains hexproof and this ability.

A relatively small body with hexproof, Lazav has the ability to transform into any other creature that hits the graveyard, coming from any zone (hand, in play, library, etc.). This provides an interesting tactical threat that everyone has to account for when on the table.

Merciless Eviction
Choose one – Exile all artifacts; or exile all creatures; or exile all enchantments; or exile all planeswalkers.

Not much needs to be said about Merciless Eviction. A modal spell that can exile all permanents of your choice is as much of an auto-include in Type 4 as exists.

Mystic Genesis
Counter target spell. Put an X/X green Ooze creature token onto the battlefield, where X is that spell’s converted mana cost.

Like Mystic Snake and Draining Whelk before it, Mystic Genesis is the latest counterspell that gives you a free creature. Auto-include.

Prime Speaker ZeganaPrime Speaker Zegana
Legendary Creature – Merfolk Wizard
Prime Speaker Zegana enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it, where X is the greatest power among other creatures you control.
When Prime Speaker Zegana enters the battlefield, draw cards equal to its power.

Zegana is a flavorful card that will at a minimum draw you 1 card (replacing itself), and potentially can draw a much larger number of cards if you just control 1 other creature in play when this resolves (as most creatures in Type 4 have some heft behind them, this will often draw 6+ cards if everything goes according to plan). This is certainly suitable for most Type 4 stacks, and I will be testing it out for sure to see how many cards on average I am drawing.

Psychic Strike
Counter target spell. Its controller puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

An upgrade over generic Counterspells because of it’s ability to mill a couple of cards (potentially denying the opponent the chance to draw 2 broken cards), Psychic Strike is fit for every stack, including pauper and budget stacks.

Treasury Thrull
Creature – Thrull
Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {WB}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)
Whenever Treasury Thrull attacks, you may return target artifact, creature, or enchantment card from your graveyard to your hand.

Treasury Thrull has value-town written all over it with its recursive nature, but the power level isn’t super high and the body is a relatively small 4/4. While this is an auto-include in beginner or budget stacks and provides a unique effect, I think it will struggle to worm its way into very developed stacks. It’s the kind of creature that you’d want to kill immediately when on the board, but probably not the kind of card that most people would be excited about drafting in Type 4, especially early.

Urban Evolution
Draw three cards. You may play an additional land this turn.

If you currently play with Concentrate or similar sorcery speed draw this is an attractive option, especially if your Type 4 stack has specialty lands in it.

Immorta lServitudeImmortal Servitude
Return each creature with converted mana cost X from your graveyard to the battlefield.

An upgrade over some other existing Resurrection-type reanimate spells, this has the possibility of recurring more than one creature. Not stunning, but if you’re looking for a decent sorcery speed reanimation effect this certainly fits the bill.

Artifact and Lands
Unfortunately there are no interesting artifacts or lands in this set.

Gatecrash isn’t as much of an all-star when compared against recent sets like Avacyn Restored and Return to Ravnica, which both provided a veritable bounty of Type 4 options and staples. But it does have some very potent cards that should be auto-includes and are strict upgrades over existing cards though.

These are the cards that are the narrow list of playable and semi-playables for Type 4, and here’s what I will definitely be including in my main stack:
Killing Glare
Lord of the Void
Sepulchral Primordial
Diluvian Primordial
Stolen Identity
Sylvan Primordial
Molten Primordial
Luminate Primordial
Merciless Eviction
Mystic Genesis

Here are the cards I will be testing in the stack for further evaluation:
Giant Adephage
Skarrg Goliath
Prime Speaker Zegana
Aurelia, the Warleader
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

One thing to note about this set (like many) is that many cards will be very overpriced upon initial release, so you’ll want to wait for them to prove they aren’t Standard/constructed playable and ultimately drop in price before picking them up. Shining examples of cards like this in Gatecrash include Prime Speaker Zegana, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, and Aurelia, the Warleader, all of which are going for $8-20 each right now on eBay and online retailers, and all of which will ultimately be worth much much less down the road. Most of the other cards on this list are $2 or less currently, so you might as well pick them up now from your favorite retailer online or your local gaming store.

When analyzing cards from a new set that can go into your stack, the two main questions I ask are “what would this replace in my current stack,” and “in what order would this card be picked in?” In the evolution of any Type 4 stack you generally weed out cards that are too strong, too weak, or just unfun. Cards that are too weak or unexciting will generally be last picks, and any new cards that you add should never consistently be a “last pick,” or it shouldn’t be included in the stack.

Both the quantity and quality of these cards that will make the cut really speak to the impact this set will have on Type 4. There are very good counterspells, creatures, and some decent removal as well, and even more options for pauper (commons and uncommon only) and beginner or budget stacks. Test these cards out and see what you like.

Until next time, may you mana be infinite and may your spells be uber!

Appendix and Reference
* Chaos Stack – a Chaos Stack is a separate stack of cards in addition to the normal Type 4 stack, and is used in conjunction with the Chaos Rule, which is essentially if X or more spells have been cast in a single turn (where X is an amount agreed to by the players beforehand), all spells on the stack are paused and the top card from the Chaos Stack is immediately flipped up and resolved, and then the stack and rest of the game is unpaused and continues as normal. Spells in the Chaos Stack will usually affect everybody (such as Eureka, Timetwister, Sway of the Stars, Time Stop, Howling Mine, etc.).
Type 4/Limited Infinity Introduction
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 1
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 2
Type 4: A Way to Enjoy Magic Again Part 3
The Fourth Type