Arena Review: Planechase 2 Chaos Reigns

Planechase 2 (2012) Reviews
Chaos Reigns | Night of the Ninja | Primordial Hunger | Savage Auras

With Planechase 2 finally released, it’s exciting to look at the new cards offered in deck deck – along with the new Planes and Phenomena! What I find most interesting about Planechase is I don’t know a single playgroup that actually plays it the way it was designed with individual 10 card planar decks. Every group I’ve played in has ended up using some variation of the Eternities Map. I guess you would call that the universal planar singularity.

The “Chaos Reigns” deck puts the power of cascade in your hands—cast a spell, then cast another spell for free! Wield all five colors of mana and watch your opponents scramble to deal with every flavor of aggression.

Chaos Reigns is the first deck in this series of reviews for one simple reason: it’s first alphabetically! A five color monstrosity, this deck makes the most of cascading spells. In the 60-card deck, there are only six brand new cards: one mythic, two rares, two uncommons and a common.

A quite note about the packaging, I really like how Wizards has amped up their packaging offers of late. The oddly shaped hexagonal box is great looking and the large window really shows off the plane well, but the inclusion of showing the legendary creature on a bend just makes me grimace. I know the card isn’t actually bent, but it just looks wrong! Inside the packaging is the planar deck, the actual deck, a planar die, a deck box, a strategy insert and learn to play guide.

Maelstorm Wanderer

The first card in Planechase 2 to ever be spoiled, Maelstorm Wanderer is a welcome addition to the Ceta alliance. Encompassing red, green and blue this elemental is the fourth legendary creature ever in this color combination and continues the trend of offering up some truly weird possibilities.

As a legendary, all Commander players have been interested in the possibilities this guy presents. Granting all your creatures haste is great, but knowing you get two additional free spells when casting him makes him even better. What I really like about Maelstrom Wanderer is you don’t have to build around him the same was as Riku or Animar, he can easily be tossed in as a commander of any RUG deck.

Etherium-Horn Sorcerer

From a flavor standpoint, I love the notion of shards bleeding out since Alara Reborn. Getting a red-blue minotaur harkens back to the days of Homelands, but the ability to bounce and cascade on the same creature means late game this effectively turns into “4UR: Cascade!” Returning at the end of your opponent’s turn then dropping him again is a lovely alternative to drawing cards.

The size means you could cascade into pretty much anything but this guy is blue, if you can’t control your cascading then there are bigger issues. Isn’t that right Soothsaying?

Illusory Angel

Holy crap this is amazing with cascade. A 4/4 flying three drop makes your Bloodbraid Elves very scary, but the rest of the time this is a decent card. The large body means this won’t be outclassed in the air for a few turns and the casting catch isn’t too bad. It reminds me a lot of Serra Avenger.

Shardless Agent

Wizards has said they will not ever make a two-drop Cascade card because it would be way too good of a tutor, but in Commander, searching for a 2 or less can be as good as a tutor! Blue and green both have a multitude of ways to stack their decks and Shardless Agent opens up a lot of possibilities. But even better is the fact that this is a 3-drop Cascade that isn’t awful!

Mass Mutiny

A smaller version of Insurrection, Mass Mutiny is impressive and much more manageable. While the odds are good your opponents will have some blockers still, the ability to steal 3 or 4 creatures for only 5 mana is too good to pass up. Combine with a sac engine and you’ve got a fantastic removal spell. These are exactly the kind of cards I want to see in these exclusively multiplayer sets.

Fractured Powerstone

This is very interesting to me because it shows Wizards learned something from the Command Tower fiasco of printing cards that only work in a single format. Adding one mana isn’t anything special, but it is a nice touch of acceleration for non-green players (though it isn’t Mind Stone). The second ability is very interesting since it allows this card to essential read “Add X to your mana pool, spend this mana only to roll the planar die.” But the fact that this card can be used with or without Planechase makes me very happy.

A few other notes on the cards in this deck: Bloodbraid Elf uses the FNM art. The rares included are Exotic Orchard, Enigma Sphinx, Whirlpool Warrior, Last Stand and Sunken Hope.

Now onto the Planes and Phenomena! These are just my quick impressions of the Planes since I plan on almost immediately shuffling them into my center planar deck without a second glance. So if you’re one of those people who like to expertly craft their planar decks (you exists?), you’ll probably disagree with me a lot. Then again, my favorite plane is Naar Isle

Grand Ossuary

What appears to be the Golgari plane on Ravnica, Grand Ossuary is an interesting way to give everyone some kind of graft/modular. But what I really love is the Chaos. It removes creatures, something I’m usually a fan of, and then forces you to Planeswalk away. Any card that endorses such aggressive strategies is okay by me!

Hedron Fields of Agadeem

The tension of this card is something I really enjoy. The first person to roll does so at zero risk, but then it becomes a game where you run the risk of utterly destroying everything while players fight it out between immobile eldrazi. Do you risk trying to get your own eldrazi token or do you stay put until you draw a solution?

Mount Keralia

It’s a dormant volcano (no, not that kind)! This is another one of those cards that will usually speed up the game. The pressure building mechanic works well (much better than Magma Mine) but I don’t like the idea that you can be protected from this volcano. I’m not going to lie, part of me also wishes this card added counters whenever you rolled a blank, but that would have been just mean.

Nephalia

Now this shows Wizards is thinking when it comes to Planes. Including Innistrad is a great move to keep people interested, even if this is clearly pre-Avacyn Restored. The self milling is a great mechanic since it makes the games go quicker, something multiplayer really demands. But the random return makes this card a little more interesting and helps take the sting out.

Orzhova

The second Ravnica plane is a weird reverse Sanctum of Serra. I do like the idea of there being a cost to bail, especially when combined with the Chaos roll. I think that’s why I like these planes so much, they’re interactive in ways that speed the game up, not slowing it down (I’m looking at you Goat Land).

Trail of the Mage-Rings

Hands down the coolest art in the set. I don’t know anything about Vryn, but I want to see more of these crazy Mage-Rings! Returning Rebound in a fun way allows everyone to get in on the fun. Toss in the fact that the Chaos allows you to tutor and you’ve got a Plane I never want to leave! Lightning Helices for everyone and by everyone I just mean me!

Truga Jungle

Well this isn’t nearly as exciting. Sure, never having mana fixing issues is awesome but mana fixing is important. If you don’t believe me, play a game of Magic where every land as any color. The Chaos is decent but when compared to rebounding Mage-Rings and dormant volcanoes, it just feels disappointing.

Windriddle Palaces

Yahbuhwha? It’s like Knowledge Pool and Shared Fate had a kid! Provided you have the mana sources available, this card can be a lot of fun. The chaos interacts beautifully with the card itself and I love how only the active player gets to use it. I just hope you’re running a playset of Birds of Paradise when this lands.

Mutual Epiphany

Tidings for everyone? Why not! As far as phenomena go, this one is straight forward and actually works. No one will be upset about this coming up which makes it fantastic for multiplayer. Now I just need to figure out how to make phenomena work on the map…

Time Distortion

This does what now? I see this card confusing a lot of people. My playgroup always plays clockwise around the table so switching that order will take some serious work. Plus this absolutely blows for the person next to you who effectively misses a turn.

As a set, I really like the overall vibe of Chaos Reigns. The cascading deck allows for some janky plays as your deck keeps going without any involvement from you, and when combined with the planes you end up in constant states of “roll or not roll” which I love. It’s just a shame you can’t planeswalk from Orzhova and cascade your entire graveyard.

Chaos Reigns (5-color cascade)

Lands
Exotic Orchard
Forest
Island
Mountain
Plains
Rupture Spire
Shimmering Grotto
Swamp
Terramorphic Expanse
Vivid Creek
Creatures
Bloodbraid Elf
Brutalizer Exarch
Enigma Sphinx
Enlisted Wurm
Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
Fusion Elemental
Guard Gomazoa
Illusory Angel
Kathari Remnant
Maelstrom Wanderer
Noggle Ransacker
Ondu Giant
Peregrine Drake
Primal Plasma
Shardless Agent
Whirlpool Warrior
Spells
Arc Trail
Armillary Sphere
Beast Within
Bituminous Blast
Cultivate
Deny Reality
Erratic Explosion
Fiery Fall
Fractured Powerstone
Last Stand
Mass Mutiny
Rivals’ Duel
See Beyond
Sunken Hope

Planar Deck

Ravnica – Grand Ossuary
Zendikar – Hedron Fields of Agadeem
Regatha – Mount Keralia
Innistrad – Nephalia
Ravnica – Orzhova
Vryn – Trail of the Mage-Rings
Ergamon – Truga Jungle
Belenon – Windriddle Palaces
PHENOMENON – Mutual Epiphany
PHENOMENON – Time Distortion