Magic: The Gathering: Archenemy, Pt.3: Psychopomp & Circumstance
Welcome, all players, collectors, and other fans of Magic: The Gathering, the premier collectible trading card game, designed and produced by Wizards of the Coast! Before we get into the third installment of our series about the various oversized Archenemy supplemental cards that grace this game, we'd like to introduce you to a helluva cool word: psychopomp.
Psychopomp (noun)psy·cho·pomp | \ ˈsīkōˌpämp \
Definition: a conductor of souls to the afterworld
As you can see, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary's definition of this word, a psychopomp is a guide of the dead to their place in whatever afterlife is relevant to them, be it based on their own interpretation, the grand scheme of the cosmos as a whole, or nothing at all. One can say that someone who has evil intent to the ends of fatal crimes is a psychopomp of sorts, no? Anyhow, let's get back into the action.
As stated in articles past, the way we categorize Archenemy scheme cards is as such:
Disruption: The Schemes take something from your opponents (and only them) that doesn't exist on the battlefield. This could be cards in hand, life, or choices like the ability to attack or cast spells.
Global: These Schemes impact each player with less disparity than the other Schemes in the game. Usually there will be an even effect for each player including the archenemy and/or their opponents, for a certain duration or instantaneously.
Removal: These Schemes remove opponents' permanents from the battlefield. These are rather self-explanatory, but could include the need for an opponent to make a tough decision.
Tempo: These Schemes give you as the archenemy (and only you) some sort of expedited value, such as ramp, cards drawn, or even an extra turn, to name a few examples.
Value: These Schemes give you as the archenemy (and only you) something such as tokens or cards put onto the battlefield, to name a few resources potentially granted this way. This does not include resources such as sources of mana or drawn cards, however.
Next, the Schemes will be grouped further on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how well they do their job in the role provided, with 1 being rather underpowered and 10 being broken.
(For example, All In Good Time is a 9/10 for a Tempo Scheme, while Approach My Molten Realm is a 3/10 for a Global Scheme.)
With that, let's see what today brings us – be it diabolical or deadly!
#7. The Dead Shall Serve
The Dead Shall Serve (Value, 6/10) is, for the most part, a pretty good reanimation effect, considering the Archenemy gets it effectively for free, if randomly. It's definitely a great feeling to reanimate the opposing team's three (or-so) greatest creatures. The only really troubling part of this scheme for that player is that the creatures have to attack your opponents, meaning that the team has the opportunity to block and kill those creatures. This leads to this scheme only being at its best with combat-oriented targets.
#8. A Display of My Dark Power
A Display of My Dark Power (Global, 4/10) is another example, like Approach My Molten Realm, of a Global-oriented card in this release. It provides a fantastic effect, but one that will inevitably assist your opponents if you can't finish them off by the time they untap. The main trouble is that if the team has any mana-based resources available on your turn, they can also use them then. That's… not great. However, as a mana doubler, it can be great if you're in the late game and need the push in a pinch.
#9. Embrace My Diabolical Vision
Embrace My Diabolical Vision (Tempo, 10/10) is a fantastic Tempo effect that also acts as a pseudo-Disruption effect at the same time. Timetwister is an amazing card – there's clearly a reason it's in the Power Nine – and not only does this scheme achieve the same effect for free, but it provides your opponents with even fewer options in the aftermath. Don't leave your super-secret lair without a pair!
What do you think about the Archenemy format for Magic: The Gathering? Does it make you feel like a psychopomp to provide the necessary dread to your opponents? And perhaps more importantly, does this set of supplemental cards deserve to be reprinted by Wizards of the Coast, perhaps in some sort of auxiliary set with other oversized cards? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!