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Invasion Card Spotlight: Fact or Fiction

Zvi Mowshowitz

Fact or Fiction



Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.

Illus. Terese Nielsen

Is it fact or fiction?

If you'd told me about this card, I would have said fiction. It's way too good to be real, but it is. Previously, the best Instant card drawer for less than six mana was Inspiration. Even if you were willing to use a sorcery, the best you could do for four mana was Rhystic Scrying. Inspiration was a marginal card, good in the right situation. Fact or Fiction is insane, and is going to go into almost every deck that can afford it.

When you cast Fact or Fiction, your opponent has to separate the top five cards of your library into two piles. His best hope is to divide them evenly, so that you get exactly half the benefit you would get from all five cards. That will rarely be possible. Even if he knew what was in your hand it's rare that all five cards will divide into two equal piles. Without that information, he has no idea if those two lands are worthless or the most important cards of the five. Do you need that Rising Waters or do you already have one? The biggest problem is when there's only one card that matters. Even if you dare place it alone, there's no way to take it away from you. This should be especially important to combo. When considered together, I would rather have this effect than the ability to draw three cards in many decks, even if my opponent was dividing the piles correctly.

Dave DeLaney says (from the Invasion FAQ):
Choose the opponent, if there's a choice (multiplayer), after revealing the cards. The cards are still in the library while they're being put into the piles; either pile can be empty. (If your library's empty, -both- piles -must- be empty...) If you have fewer than five cards in your library, reveal your entire library and opponent separates it etc. You choose which pile goes where, once the piles are made. Cards in the pile that goes to your graveyard -do- go there directly from your library, so a Gaea's Blessing in that pile would trigger.

Then, there's the added bonus that the other cards go to your graveyard rather than being removed from the game. Recently, many cards have placed cards you pass up out of the game to prevent abuse of the graveyard, but this card does not guard against that. This means that cards that work from your graveyard present a double whammy. You get Squee or else you get Squee. You get Nether Spirit in your hand or you put it directly into your discard pile (which makes it come into play, usually). Accumulated Knowledge goes to your graveyard to pump up future ones. And if there's something like Yawgmoth's Will you can use, watch out. This also works with cards you intentionally put on the top of your library. The most direct way to do that is to use Brainstorm, letting your opponent divide three new cards while the two you put back serve their purpose either way. But all those tricks are just a nice plus. This card does more than enough without any help. Control decks need good ways to use their mana to draw cards on their opponent's end step. This is it. Hang back for to pay full price for a Foil or Thwart, and if you don't have to use them, do this instead. If you don't have the counter, use this to hunt for one of them. If it's in the top five, they can't stop you from getting it. The more they make you pay for it, the worse off they are if you turn out not to need it.

Once a card becomes so good that it goes into all decks of a certain type, that type will warp to take full advantage of the card. When the game winner for blue decks was Thieving Magpie or Ophidian, their entire game plan was preventing anything terrible from happening while one of those was forced down. Recent Magpie decks have learned to use Foil and Thwart and pay any price to get Magpie working, and let it win the game. Accelerated Blue decks used Morphling and Stroke of Genius, so they were based around Grim Monolith and played a ton of mana. With the key card being Fact or Fiction, the natural direction is toward more traditional Draw-Go ideas. You don't have continuous card advantage like Magpie gave you, so you can't wreck your position. You don't need more than four mana to cast your game winning spell, so mana acceleration is probably more trouble than it's worth. So the rest of the deck will be a lot of counters and other defense. Most of it will probably be at Instant speed so this deck can win without ever tapping out, very possibly killing with Nether Spirit.

The other area to consider would be the mind games surrounding the division into two piles. Don't give away any information you don't need to. If there's a land you don't need to play, don't play it; your opponent may overvalue lands in the division. If you need more land than it looks like you need, play all of it so your opponent will undervalue it. Hide your access to secondary colors, or make it obvious if you want more. If you're dividing your opponent's pile, don't try anything fancy. More often than not, if you divide the cards into the pile he's going to take and the pile he isn't in an attempt to trick your opponent, it won't work. If you're not very sure your opponent is valuing cards incorrectly, try to make yourself indifferent between the two piles and let it go at that. Sometimes that will be impossible, but there's nothing you can do about that. Other times there will be a pile you want him to take, but only because that means his hand is poor.

The other way to defend against Fact or Fiction is to try and prevent it from being cast. When Whispers of the Muse (which cost to draw a card and return Whispers to your hand) was the way that blue control decks won the game, an aggressive deck with a lot of threats would often wait until their opponent had six mana, then start casting a spell every turn. They would be countered, but that would stop Whispers from being cast and turn a free card into an exchange. Fact or Fiction is attackable in similar fashion since so many people will play four of them. Once your opponent gets to four mana don't give him a free turn to cast Fact or Fiction. Even if you're walking into his counters, giving him a free turn is much worse. And don't just watch for this card out of blue control decks. Any time anyone with available lets you take your turn, it's not paranoia if you half expect this card to come popping out.

To find out more about Invasion cards and Prerelease events, click here.

Tomorrow: Mike Flores fills a lonely place in his heart with Void.

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