Today, I’m going to talk some more about Conspiracy. It’s been out for a couple of weeks now, and I get the feeling that it’s not having a huge impact. I mean, I’d get it if it weren’t; this isn’t the best set to draft with strangers, and the intra-draft games turn off more serious limited players. And with Vintage Masters online, it’s not like there isn’t a better competitive draft format easily available.


But Conspiracy has its own benefits, and one of them seems to be the ability to have fun with a draft that’s fewer than eight people. I’ve done two Conspiracy drafts recently, a five-person and a six-person, and both times I’ve had a ton of fun.


Could this be the best of the landcycling cycle? Yes. Yes it could.

My first draft, the five-person one, took place at Ye Olde Cat of Fat. It was one of our Monday night groups, and we decided to redraft rares, which affects how one drafts. I ended up winning that draft with my sick GUb deck, the minor splash being for Deathreap Ritual and Extract From Darkness, and made possible off Twisted Abomination’s swampcycling, Secrets of Paradise on Minamo Scrollkeeper, and Mirrodin’s Core. I ended up in the long game against Alex’s BW deck splashing Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, and despite drawing three or so cards a turn cycle off Deathreap Ritual, my 48-card deck and Reito Lantern positioned me so that I was unlikely to lose to mill. This pushed Alex into doing some risky plays, and he ended up burning down to his last card with Grenzo, searching for the Glimmerpoint Stag he needed to reset his Custodi Soulbinders. It ended up being the last card in his library, and he couldn’t kill me that turn.


Look at this card and tell me you wouldn’t first pick it. You can’t!

I stuck with green in my second draft, because in my heart of hearts I am a green mage. I wanted to try out Gruul, since I first picked a Decimate, but I ended up GW after wheeling several key cards, including a Selvala, Explorer Returned. My greatest regret from this draft was not getting to play Selvala; Clayton, imp of chaos that he is, milled it off the top of my deck with Extract From Darkness, and then took it. So he got to play with it. He also got to play with my Terrastodon, which was beyond annoying. It turns out Extract From Darkness is a great card, particularly in multiples.


Anyway, here’s my guide to the format:


Reito Lantern, secret all-star.

Deck Size—It’s tempting to run more than 40 cards. In my experience, this is often a mistake. I’ve had success with the 35 card deck and I’ve had success with the Worldknit deck, and I even did well with a 48-card monstrosity. But 40 cards is the standard for a reason, and particularly if you can draft a Reito Lantern, tighter is usually better. I’ve won a game through decking my opponent, it is a real concern, but the solution is not always to throw in more cards.


But let’s face it, if your opponent has one of these they’re probably getting their way no matter what.

Game Size—Playing three-person Conspiracy is the worst. I actually think the most fun might have been the six-person game I had; parley cards were super powerful, there were enough people that it was easy to shed aggro, and the turns didn’t really take all that much longer. And I think I might prefer even numbers of participants, because in odd games there’s no chance of a tie for voting options. Or, should I say, less chance, since there’s always a Brago’s Representative or two in the pool. No matter what, though, don’t be afraid to fire a draft with fewer than eight people. It will almost certainly still be a blast.


I have a dream for this card that involves Secret Summoning and Secrets of Paradise. Best turn one ever!

Multikicker—It was good the first time around, and the common multikicker cards are some of the best out there. Apex Hawks is the best one defensively, but Quag Vampires and Enclave Elite are probably better beaters, since there’s almost certainly going to be other people at the table with swamps or islands in play. These cards work great with Secret Summoning, but they’re particularly strong with Secrets of Paradise, since they’ve all got fairly low casting costs initially, but these retain value in the late game.

Seriously, why would it have been so bad to let this one read “draw a card”?


The Counter Creatures—This cycle of rare, multiplayer-focused cards, vary in power immensely. The best, by far, is Custodi Soulbinders. It’s usually at least a 4/4 for four if you’re dropping it on curve, and it shines when you get up to seven mana and can drop it and immediately peel off a spirit or two. Realm Seekers is probably the next best one of the cycle, although it is absolutely terrible in the late game. In the early game, though, it’s a house; I managed to drop one as a 21/21 haste in one of my games (thank you Immediate Action), and I immediately knocked out a player who was shields down. He had cast Ignition Team during his turn, which tapped him out but gave him his own 21/21, but that one ate the removal spell that otherwise could have saved him from my own monster. Ignition Team is a strong card, usually huge, but the ability is less than spectacular. As for Drakestown Forgotten and Academy Elite, well, they’re less good. I suppose they’re much better in the late game, but they pale in comparison to Custodi Soulbinders, by far.

Dana lost to Grudgekeeper, because she was at two life with a Coercive Portal out when Leslie dropped it.


Will of the Council—I was impressed with the strength of the enabling cards. Brago’s Representative has a good body for multiplayer, and Grudge Keeper shines when you get to be the last vote. Plenty of people died to Grudge Keeper triggers! Some of the effects made me wish that a tie was “do both,” particularly Tyrant’s Choice and Bite of the Black Rose; since I was the player to the right of our council member, there were several times when voting got to me already decided. If I had the option to throw a spanner in there, and have us do all the things, it might be a bit more fun. I imagine Council’s Judgment is a lot of fun, but Council Guardian is underwhelming, and Custodi Squire might actually be better in a traditional two-player duel.


I will say, I have no complaints about the art or the quote.

Money Cards—The money cards largely feel odd in their inclusions in the set. Stifle, for example, is not a tremendously good card to play in multiplayer, and yet if you’re keeping what you draft there’s a lot of incentive to burn a good pick off on it. The same is true for Exploration and Misdirection, both of which seem great in theory, but are worse picks than Sakura-Tribe Elder or Split Decision, practically.

I named Sporecap Spider with Muzzio’s Preparations one draft, and let me tell you, a 2/6 reach on turn three makes people leave you well alone.


Call OutsRousing of Souls is a great card, and giving it Double Stroke was pretty amazing. Aether Tradewinds seems like a great card in this format, particularly if you can save it to respond to removal. Wind Dancer is surprisingly good, since giving a creature flying is a great political tool… let alone its ability to push through alpha. Magus of the Mirror is strong in the late game, even if the upkeep restriction is annoying and easy to forget. Reckless Spite reads “two target nonblack creatures,” and thus can’t kill Quag Vampires or Magister of Worth. Cinder Wall works really well with Wakestone Gargoyle. Grenzo’s Rebuttal is almost never worth casting in limited, even if the card looks great for Commander. Always kill Vent Sentinel. Echoing Courage is the set’s Overrun, but it affects opposing creatures too. Sporecap Spider has been my ultimate MVP every game I’ve had it, and I once reanimated one with Extract From Darkness. Every draft should have a Lorekeeper, but only one of my four drafts of Conspiracy actually has.


And that’s my take on Conspiracy at the moment. I plan to keep drafting it, because it is a ton of fun and I’ve still not gotten the chance to draft several of the archetypes. I hope the set does well enough to call for sequels, though; I think this has been a fairly daring decision on the part of Wizards of the Coast, and it’s certainly better than Archenemy was!


Jess Stirba looks like an ice cream cone these days.

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