In Wizard’s own words, Conspiracy is the first ever multiplayer-orientated boosters set released in the 21 year history of Magic: the Gathering. I’ll admit, when I first heard about Conspiracy through the rumours and “accidental” release of some of the cards during the Born of the Gods pre-release events, I wasn’t particularly interested in a drafting-orientated set – my experiences drafting until that point had been less than fun, and I had already started down the path of exclusively playing EDH.
However, in the past few weeks, the new cards and reprints spoiled as part of the release of Conspiracy caught my attention in a big way – some of the most exciting multiplayer cards from the history of MtG have been included, many of which come with a hefty price-tag, especially here in the UK. Seeing cards like Swords to Plowshares, Exploration and Stifle return to booster packs made me sit up and take an interest, and with the five new legendary creatures being spoiled, I found myself signing up to as many Conspiracy drafts on release weekend as I could afford.
So what makes Conspiracy so special and so different from any other set?
In drafting Conspiracy, the game truly begins during the draft itself. A plethora of new cards introduce abilities which manipulate the draft and enable players to gain more information about the cards being chosen by the rest of the group, open someone else’s booster pack or even add in an extra booster from any set of MtG.
Along with these cards, a whole new card type has been introduced; conspiracy cards are played in the command zone (a fairly obscure zone of the battlefield familiar to EDH players) and have game-altering abilities, some which focus on specific spells chosen by the player or that player’s board as a whole. For instance, Worldknit makes all lands tap for any colour of mana, providing that player runs every single card he or she drafted in their deck, Backup Plan allows the player to start with 2 separate 7-card hands before mulligans are taken. Any conspiracy card which possesses the Hidden Agenda text refers to specific cards drafted by that player, that may do anything from grant certain creatures haste, reduce the mana-cost of the chosen spell or even copy it on casting!
All this before the game even starts! New mechanics, tailored to the multiplayer aspect of the game, add the depth to this set which really caught my attention and will undoubtedly become common inclusions in multiplayer formats from now on.
Parlay, Will of the Council and Dethrone all become far more effective with more than one opponent at the table, and attempt to force the political side of multiplayer Magic to become the most important aspect of the game. Among these, I can see Dethrone becoming one of the most heavily relied upon mechanics, granting permanent +1/+1 buffs to creatures attacking the opponent with the highest life total. Stellar cards such as Marchesa, the Black Rose and Scourge of the Throne will pull their weight many times over.
While voting mechanics have been seen in MtG before, this is the first time they will surface in a draft format – Will of the Council sees players voting for the lesser of two evils in a variety of cards which will have to be very cleverly played to achieve the desired effect. Magister of Worth, Coercive Portal, Plea for Power and others will all make a huge impact on the board.
Finally, Parlay is a “group-hug” style mechanic which nets the controlling player a bit of advantage over their opponents – revealing the top card of each library it gives a glimpse into the strategies of your opponents, and the various Parlay abilities don’t stop their – creature tokens, extra mana or +1/+1 creatures buffs are the rewards here!
New cards and mechanics aside, this set packs a huge number of sought after reprints and really delivers on value from commons all the way to mythics. Notable reprints include, but are not restricted to: Pristine Angel, Exploration, Hydra Omnivore, Rout, Reya Dawnbringer, Brainstorm, Swords to Plowshares, Fact or Fiction, Mirari’s Wake, Stifle, Phage the Untouchable, Squirrel Nest, Terastodon and Pernicious Deed. These cards are all powerhouses in multiplayer formats, and some haven’t been in print since the dark, over-powered days of Urza’s Saga.
This set has got to be one of the more highly anticipated MtG releases for a while, and I personally am more excited for this than I was for the release of any of the more recent block sets. Sitting down to the politics and unpredictable antics of multiplayer draft surely will be a highlight of 2014 so far!