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CardName: Prowess, Scry and Menace Cost: Type: Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Conversation None

Prowess, Scry and Menace
Updated on 09 Jun 2015 by Jack V

History: [-]

2015-06-08 15:59:35: Jack V created and commented on the card Prowess, Scry and Menace

Oh, cool. Mark Rosewater describes latest evergreen keyword changes, including some which we've wondered what wizards were going to do with for a while.

Wizards upgraded Prowess immediately to an evergreen U/r mechanic, which they've wanted for ages. I've barely played with it but I like it a lot. That makes sense: combat-relevant, but tied to spells somehow.

Intimidate and landwalk are retired, being too swingy, from unblockable against some decks to useless against others (which would make sense as a hoser, but doesn't fulfil the role they apparently wanted of "a bit of evasion for red")

Protection has been semi-retired to "sometimes but not every block".

And they've been replaced by keywording Menace as "Can't be blocked except by two or more creatures", now replacing intimidate in B and R.

Scry is evergreen, including in red. (Might not be every set, but can be. Maybe we'll see some basic-effect-plus-scry cards become one of the baseline staple cards?)

Overall, that seems like a very sensible set of changes, even though there's quite a few of them.

Very sensible set of changes indeed! Landwalk, intimidate and protection are very matchup-dependent, making the game much more about the metagame and less about choices you make when actually playing. Protection was also incredibly complicated and confusing. I'd still expect to see "Indestructible by red" and "Untargetable by red" turn up eventually (as on Gaea's Revenge), but I'm very happy with them taking protection out.

Scry is great; I'm fine with it becoming evergreen; but I'd really have expected cycling to become fully evergreen before scry did.

Prowess's elevation to evergreen surprises me a little bit, but it is a nice fun mechanic. It makes combat more tense, but it does have the drawback of encouraging lower-skilled players to put fewer creatures in their decks.

Eliminating protection concerns me primarily because the white protection spell has been (to my eyes) an important piece of flexible protection for limited (and sometimes constructed: heroic decks would have been impossible without Gods Willing) that nothing existing can replace quite as effectively.

The only thing here that really surprised me is Prowess.

It's interesting seeing things work in conjunction with one another. The Menace ability has been floated before as a keyworded ability but never as something necessary or common enough to warrant it. Likewise, the swingy landwalk and intimidate have been problematic for a while. It just took putting both of those ideas together to come up with this solution.

I think I like these, though I'm a little meh about scry.

Yes, I was surprised by Prowess and Scry too, but Mark's explanation was persuasive.

It's true, cycling feels more natural, but maybe they serve slightly different functions: cycling lets you have more niche cards, but scry makes your deck slightly more consistent overall. I also wonder, if they've been more willing to use "scry 1" as a rider. "Scry 1" doesn't really feel like scry, so it was never really used before Theros, but maybe it works better as a "slight bonus" especially outside blue, like clash but less intrusive, that wizards feel better about scattering across core sets.

And yes, I was surprised Prowess was chosen, so quickly, and that it seems more potentialy more complicated than most evergreen keywords (in terms of board complexity, not understanding the rules). But it seems like a good niche to find.

I think Prowess is the first evergreen triggered ability, which is unusual. I guess it makes sense as a go-to ability for blue and red, but it seems much more linear than other evergreen keywords. I like scry as evergreen. A spell mechanic that smooths gameplay is just fine by me. Menace is good, although I think Menacing would sound better. I won't miss intimidate. Protection was cool, but I understand why it has to go.

@Jack and Alex: On cycling Mark has noted before that it has absolutely no flavor resonance whatsoever. It's an entirely... er... mechanical mechanic. Scry may be somewhat harder to balance, but on top of his flavor ascendant over cycling, it also has the advantage of not acting like a cantrip, which is relevant for colors like red or white where too much card flow causes balance issues (Mentor of the Meek anyone?)

I'm happy overall, but I still think it's weird that menace is primary in black and secondary in red. Before Blood-Chin Rager, it's never been a black ability. Black and red still overlap at haste (if R&D hasn't forgot about that), and black already has secondary flying.

The other thing is that scry is a bit weird being evergreen. If you tack it at the end of many spells, they lose a little focus and make the game much more predictable and repetitive. I get it as a block mechanic, but I'm not sure how I feel about the core game being like that. I'll guess I'll wait to see how often they actually use it.

With regard to flavour, that's a really good point. But it seems scry itself has flavour, and the core set that used scry had a lot of it (crystal ball, entrail reader, etc, etc), but that a lot of the recent uses of scry are minor additional effects on spells that don't reference the flavour at all like Dissolve and Lightning Javelin, so it's just like cycling or "draw a card", a mechanical bonus only.

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