The Mana Pool
Join Brian, Mike, Dirk and Chewie as they discuss all things Magic: The Gathering. Since there are plenty of tournament and strategy podcasts out there, we've decided to focus on the fun of the game in all its many forms, from Prereleases to multiplayer free-for-alls to whatever else we can come up with. Give us a listen!
Mana Leak by Mike

You’re going to read and hear comments running the entire length of the spectrum from “best idea ever” to “kill me now” when it comes to this card. I’ll go ahead and let you know now that I’m one of the ones happy to see it.

I like counter-magic, but not in the usual “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women” kind of way. I like it because it’s a very versatile class of removal, balanced by the need to apply careful thought in order to use it properly. When a spell worth countering comes around, first of all you have to be ready for it. You have to have the mana up. That means you need to carefully consider how you spend the turn before it, thinking about what benefit any threats you could play would add to your position and how safe you already are against the opponent’s threats currently on the table. Then you have to decide how dangerous the spell is for you. Will it only be a temporary inconvenience or will it set up a long-term problem? What could be following it based on the mana the opponent still has open? I have more fun during a game when I have more interesting choices to make that will really test my skills as a player.

Anyway: about the card. Lots of decks tap out nowadays. In my personal opinion, a play environment is at its worst when there are too many decks that just go on autopilot. Having Mana Leak around forces players to stop and think when there’s 1U up on the other side of the table. Is it there? Is it a bluff? Is it a coincidence? How sad would I be in the long run if this play or series of plays got nullified? Can I trick the opponent into using it now so I can do what I really want later?

Besides the interesting strategic choices it brings to the metagame, Mana Leak is also just a good card. 3 is a lot to leave open at any given time in the early and mid game, so most of the time it’s just a classic Counterspell. Even if the opponent has 3 or more extra mana open, you can use the leverage to screw up a multi-spell play that the current spell is trying to open. But, of course, one of the best and most powerful features of Mana Leak is the minimal colored mana requirement. You can get the ease of play of something like a Negate or Essence Scatter without the targeting restriction that might randomly leave a dead card in your hand. With that versatility, you can also just staple it into an existing deck that wouldn’t mind having it around (I’m envisioning a situation where a removal attempt on your Kiln Fiend turns into something hilarious).

There’s tons more that can be said, but I’ll let you all have a go at it. Please do comment, because we really appreciate all the feedback we get from our audience.

Category:Previews -- posted at: 8:02pm EST