Even in the context of an article about Magic: the Gathering, it would be an insult to not mention the Black Lives Matter movement and to fail to recognize the thousands of people who are sacrificing their time, comfort, and safety in support of a social truth that has not, in the history of this country, been honored. Black lives matter, and the gratitude I feel for the people who are making that clear is immense.

Likewise, it would be insulting to try to weave such a foundational cause into my biweekly article about this game we play together. I use Magic as a lens through which to study the world, but it’s a kaleidoscope, not a microscope. That said, I don’t see the game as frivolous—it’s a way that people use to communicate, to share experiences. And as we saw last week, the game intersects with the way black voices and artists have been marginalized in the larger culture.

I will say that I’ve got a loud voice, both literally and metaphysically. When I roar, people pay attention. I’ve been roaring “Black Lives Matter” at rallies until my throat is sore, and I’ve seen a lesson in that, too. I’ve learned that you have to amplify the message as much as you can, but be careful not to drown out the voices of others. I want to specifically recognize Lawrence Harmon’s open letter and Zaeim Beg’s recounting of his experiences with Wizards. Vorthos Mike has also done a great job of tracking hugely talented artists who could be added to Magic’s portfolio. On the Hipsters side, I can’t recommend Katie Bates’ article, written with the input of Lawrence Harmon and Elizabeth Rice, enough, nor the practical advice it offers.

Recently, I’ve just been burned out a bit. The spiking COVID-19 cases we’re experiencing down here, the constant bad-faith attacks on the social movement we’re participating in, the pulse of inequality and precarity that defines our generation—it’s been wearing on me. Combined with the revelations about Wizards’ hiring practices and Harmon’s and Beg’s open letters, Magic has slipped down my personal hierarchy.

One thing that’s helped out is matching my Magic spending with equal contributions to local bail funds and BLM-affiliated organizations. It’s a small thing, but slinging $40 to help spring someone from jail is practical action that can be done from your phone. You can find a local bail fund near you, and I’d specifically recommend the LGBTQ Fund. Trans people are especially at risk in the justice system, and a contribution is a simple and effective way you can limit that risk.

I’ve never had hope for the future of this country, because I’ve never before seen the kind of solidarity across class and identity that I consider necessary to advance. I’m seeing it now. I’m seeing the energy of the streets, of the academic departments, of the prison cells, being brought to bear against social structures that are engineered to be predatory and unequal. It doesn’t stop with the brutality of the police and the justice system, but extends to media and the culture at large. I’m seeing it in the reconsideration of the symbols we casually display, in the way we talk about the makeup of mastheads and board rooms. I’m seeing it in the pushback to Wizards of the Coast’s business practices, in the advocacy of Magic content creators saying “this isn’t acceptable, and your response isn’t enough.” It’s enough to give anyone hope. It’s an uphill battle and a long road to walk; but there are so many of us, and so many to continue the fight even when we’re gone.

With all of this taking place, I’ve been limiting my Magic consumption. Not to zero, as I am still me; but with the Companion debacle warping Standard and Modern, and Pioneer inaccessible on Arena and in physical stores, there hasn’t been much to play anyway. I’ve been mostly working on a spicy new Yarok, the Desecrated Commander deck and a new Vampire deck in Pioneer. I thought that was going to be the bulk of my Magic participation for a bit, until Friday, when Saffron Olive previewed something truly special: Discontinuity.

Discontinuity is a real Mythic—an arresting card on first read that tantalizes you with a potentially broken interaction. It’s an especially rare effect, too, as there are only four other cards that end the turn: Time Stop, Day’s Undoing, Glorious End, and Sundial of the Infinite. I’d also include Angel’s Grace as an honorary “time stop” effect, since it mostly ends up as a single-turn combo protector.

Time Stop, at 4UU, is the first and the simplest iteration of the effect. Combined with Discontinuity’s cost, we can assume that six mana is still the going rate for a simple “end the turn” effect. Time Stop only ever saw very minor play—in most games, it’s either a six-mana Counterspell or a comically pricy Fog—but it’s a splashy effect with some potential. It’s a great panic button in slower control decks, and Discontinuity offers more utility in counter wars and against other instants.

From a more combo-oriented perspective, Discontinuity is a pretty good response to Glorious End’s game-loss trigger, along with cards like Final Fortune, Last Chance, and Chance for Glory. I don’t think combining two cards to get a bad Time Warp effect is a winning proposition, but combined with the other benefits a Time Stop offers, it could be worth pursuing.

Simic Flash and Dimir Flash both seem plausible in Standard—Shark Typhoon alone makes either a solid choice—and I think there’s space for a Discontinuity or two in the decklist. It does nothing well, but it does everything—it counters spells on their turn, counters Shark Typhoon cycling/token creation, and it gets you out of iffy combat situations/serves as a desperate Fog effect.

I don’t think the mana is there for full Sultai Flash, as you’re trying to stick Slitherwisp on turn three and Frilled Mystic on turn four, and doesn’t seem likely off a manabase of Temples and Triomes. Simic Flash has been thoroughly explored, but Dimir Flash is still nascent. Here’s where I’d start:

Standard Dimir Flash

Creatures (18)
Thieves' Guild Enforcer
Sea-Dasher Octopus
Brazen Borrower
Murderous Rider
Voracious Greatshark

Spells (18)
Disdainful Stroke
Drown in the Loch
Sinister Sabotage
Shark Typhoon
Thassa's Intervention
Lands (24)
Temple of Deceit
Watery Grave
Fabled Passage
Zagoth Triome

Draw-Go has been one of my favorite archetypes since I was first starting out, so the ability to bring it back in Standard has recharged my interest in the format. We’ll see how long that lasts in the age of cooked Cats and turn three Teferis, but Discontinuity has me more excited than I’ve been since quarantine kicked off. That’s the best that Magic has to offer; I hope in the near future, Magic will prove itself worthy of the best we have to offer.

A lifelong resident of the Carolinas and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Rob has played Magic since he picked a Darkling Stalker up off the soccer field at summer camp. He works for nonprofits as an educational strategies developer and, in his off-hours, enjoys writing fiction, playing games, and exploring new beers.

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