It's ironic that blue gets most of the actual,
literal card drawing, since fire often
represents knowledge and the spark of
creativity in Western mythology. Prometheus
didn't only bring literal fire to the earth - as
D'Aulaire puts it, "humans began to look up at
the sky, and were more than earth-bound clods."
And it's good to see cards in Magic that reflect
Having to play the extra card this turn can be a
problem if your deck isn't designed for it -
despite his tantalizing abilities, you have a
decent chance of seeing wasted hits in limited
formats where you might play seven-cost
creatures. But in a more focused setting and
deck, this is an absolutely terrifying card.
Even in a "worst-case" scenario where he hits
unopposed but reveals two lands, that just means
more creatures or a larger Fireball next turn.
And I've barely talked about those combat
abilities - I almost couldn't believe they were
real. Ophidian and Ohran Viper are kind of
jealous right now.
Today's card of the day is Prophetic
Flamespeaker which is a three mana Red 1/3 with
Double Strike, Trample, and whenever it deals
damage to a player you exile the top card of
your library and may play it that turn.
The combination of combat effects with any kind
of offensive boost is a very serious threat to
nearly any opposition. A card like Shiv's
Embrace can have this deal twenty damage in two
attacks with no other support or additional
sources of mana on turn four and five. The
one or two additional cards each turn that may
be playable from attacking is a major benefit to
Red as it often runs out of steam in the
midgame. Even though it requires support
to apply enough pressure, low Bestow cost
creatures or other choices in a dedicated deck
can be very effective in current formats and it
is likely this will see play in at least some
For Limited this is an absolute bomb that has no
shortage of support in a block built around
targeted enhancements. A clear first pick
in Booster that should not be passed and barring
a really lopsided pool should force Red as a
primary or secondary color in Sealed to
accommodate inclusion. The second color
should have a focus on increasing the power,
within reason to maintain deck integrity should
Flamespeaker not be available.
There are few cards that make both the
competitive and the casual player excited - this
is one of them. Often, competitive player and
casual players are looking for for two different
things - it just so happens that the
Flamespeaker has both elements on one card.
The competitive player looks at the Flamespeaker
and sees the "Whenever Prophetic Flamespeaker
deals combat damage" ability and think of all
the extra cards they are going to get. They see
the double strike and trample as simply helpers
to make it more likely that it will hit the
other player, so they can draw more cards. After
all, card advantage usually means game
advantage. Oh, and occasionally, I might be able
to pump him with a Ghor-Clan Rampager for a good
bit of damage.
The casual player sees the double strike and
trample and stops right there. They get visions
of playing Might of Oaks on this guy and hitting
for 16 points in one swing. They might even have
to be reminded to exile the two cards off the
top of their library.
Either way you look at it, the Flamespeaker is
an exciting card that is going to be a key card
in some big decks. The raw power is undeniable.
The only things that keep this from being a 5
star card across the board are the 3 toughness
making it easy to kill, and the double red that
makes it a little more restrictive on which
decks can cast it reliably.
Prophetic Flamespeaker is an... interesting
card. There's kind of a lot going on with it, so
let's dive right in.
Double strike is one of the most powerful combat
abilities a creature can have, however
traditionally it's been held back by two very
significant limitations, both of which are at
play here. The first is that anything with
double strike tends to cost a lot more mana
than it otherwise would, and the second is
that it's usually given to very weak creatures.
And I mean that makes sense, as what double
strike essentially does most of the time is
double the power of the creature. If a creature
with 4 or 5 power got double strike, it'd be
able to deal 8 or 10 damage to something. Scary.
But that brings us to the first problem,
although I'm going to use "problem" in quotation
marks. I've found double strike creatures with 1
power to be somewhat underwhelming. On paper
they can be potentially devastating. If you cast
this guy, or say something like Fencing Ace, on
turn 2-3, and then next turn attack and
(assuming they don't block it) follow it up with
3 Giant Growths, you've just won the game.
That's 20 damage. That's how cards like this
work. They rely on pump spells, auras,
equipment, or other buffs. Every point of power
they gain is basically doubled, so you get much
more bang for your buck.
The thing I don't like about that is you then
have to put a lot of said buff spells into your
deck. And there's always the risk that you'll
draw the Flamespeaker without any buffs in hand,
or have a hand full of buffs but no Flamespeaker.
If you're more of a high-risk high-reward
combo-style player, this is definitely more up
your alley, but I tend to like reliable
creatures that don't need anything else for help
to do what they need to do. Putting all your
eggs in one basket means that any kill
spell could get rid of 2-3 of your cards for
just 1 of theirs, although equipment and bestow
can help mitigate that risk a bit.
Let's move on. Our friend here doesn't just
flamespeak, he also does prophesies. When he
deals combat damage to a player - and if you're
playing him right, he will - you get to exile
the top card of your library and play it
that turn if you want. Keep in mind playing it
will still mean you have to pay its mana cost.
This could do all kinds of things. It could give
you an additional creature to play, it could
find you a land (though if you've already played
one that turn you can't play another). OR it
could reveal a 5 mana creature when you only
have 4 mana available, and now it's exiled
forever. Once again, a risky ability. But then
if you're playing red you sometimes have to take
the risky plays. You can try to reduce the risk
with the scry ability, but there will be
many times when it's a gamble to see what you
reveal. Also keep in mind that there's a chance
you'll get to trigger Prophetic Flamespeaker
exile ability twice per turn, since
double strike means he can hit the opponent
Actually, sometimes creatures with double strike
don't get to hit the opponent at all. They just
get chump blocked until they can be dealt with.
Well, that's much harder to do when the creature
in question has trample. The 3 toughness doesn't
hurt either, as if it was a 1/1 it could
be successfully killed by an opponent's 1/2.
So let's recap. Prophetic Flamespeaker is
capable of high burst damage, but only with
various power buffs. This would have to go in a
specialized deck. He can help do something that
red tends to lack, which is dig into the library
to get more cards. But in typical red fashion,
it's a wild and crazy unpredictable usage
instead of blue's more methodical and controlled
style. He can trample his way past weak
blockers, which is good if your deck is a race
to deal damage. Actually it's kind of
interesting how yesterday's card is a pretty
good counter to today's.
Prophetic Flamespeaker is the kind of card
where, when all the stars align, it can be
devastatingly powerful. On its own its okay, but
it really needs a lot of support and even a
deck built around it in order to shine. And you
could do that. You could run all sorts of cards
that strengthen it and reduce the risk of its
ability whiffing. But the problem with one-trick
pony decks is if you don't draw exactly what you
need, the deck does nothing and you lose. And
when you have a creature that ONLY goes to town
when he's sufficiently buffed, he's even more
vulnerable to removal than normal. That could be
a risk you're willing to take. But it won't be
for everyone. It'll be great for very planned
and thought out constructed decks, but casual
players usually like more straightforward cards
that don't need as much support in order to
work. In limited, you're at the mercy of whether
or not you get some good pump spells, so it's
also less good there.
Really though, when you play with a creature who
can speak to flames, is it any surprise when he
can single-handedly win you games?