Planeshift Preview: Confound

Gary Wise




Counter target spell that targets one or more creatures. Draw a card.

"Did I know Szat would betray us?" Urza asked quizzically. "I was counting on it."

You know that feeling. You've played this game well, and your deck has really performed. You've got your one solid creature beating down with a Demise back, knowing full well that your opponent is dead and the only thing left to do is reducing him to zero. It's a good feeling to have. You can lay back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor as they unfold. Unfortunately for you, you'll never know that feeling again.

One of the great things about Invasion block is how much the counters hurt one's opponent. Absorb gains you three life, you win the race. Undermine drains your opponent for three and wins the race Exclude gives you card advantage off of your opponent's Dragon and now... there's Confound.

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of cards that get used in Limited play: land, creatures and non-creature spells. Of the spells, 8 out of 10 target creatures. If your opponent casts one of them and you're holding Confound, it will usually turn into major card advantage for you. Not just ordinary 2 for 1 or 1 for 0 card advantage, but the Ancestral Recall variety. Observe:

Your opponent is playing an aggressive GW deck and is beating down with a bunch of 2/2s. You have back an Ardent Soldier. Attacking with the three 2/2's, one of your opponent's creatures appears to be the sacrificial lamb as your Soldier blocks, but they cast Aggressive Urge. Now, with Invasion only, this means your creature dies and your opponent draws a card. Not so fast.

In the above scenario, Confound is the difference between your opponent killing a creature and drawing a card, and you killing a creature and drawing a card. In other words, the swing goes four cards deep for a mere 2 mana. That isn't going to happen every time, but every deck has cards that target creatures. Confound will always do something.

Consider the following spells and how effective Confound will be when they are cast:

Armadillo Cloak - Your opponent's potential 4/4 trampler is a 2/2. You've traded their 1st pick for your 7th pick. Now, draw a card.

Agonizing Demise - That Vodalian Serpent is still in the way, you haven't taken 6 from the kicker, and your opponent's 6 mana 1st pick has traded for a 2 mana 7th pick. Now, draw a card

Repulse - Your opponent attacks with a 4/4, you block with a 3/3 and a 2/2. They stack the damage, their 4/4 has effectively been killed in exchange for a 3/3, their 2nd pick has traded for your 7th pick. Now, draw a card.

Scorching Lava - You cast Cloak on your 2/2 Flyer, they respond by trying to kill it. Your flyer sticks around, their direct damage has been countered, now attack for 4 and gain 4 life. Oh yeah, draw a card.

The list goes on and on. Explosive Growth, Tribal Flames, Recoil, Plague Spores... these are just the commons. Imaging how the game turns when your opponent has been playing with the understanding that their Barrin's Spite, Spinal Embrace or Distorting Wake is going to finish things off, only to rudely find out that those cards are card disadvantage waiting to happen. It isn't pretty.

Very simply, Confound's strength will be found in the fact it has uses against every deck while being drafted low. A strong drafter will know that while this card can have a devastating effect, it is a utility card, and as such can't be picked over a good creature or solid creature elimination. In other words, not only are you going to gain some serious card advantage, but also you'll be doing so while using a card that you drafted lower than the card it's countering far more often than not.

Is Confound going to make an impact in Constructed? Doesn't seem all that likely. A good way for a control deck to protect its creatures, the spell lacks the versatility required of a Constructed card, and with T2 and Invasion block including such powerhouses as Rout, Void and Pyre Zombie as creature elimination or Urza's Rage as uncounterable targeted creature kill, it appears this card may be relegated to the sideboard or worse, the sidelines.

That said, beware the opponent with 1U open. Starting Prerelease day, that mana availability is going to be key. Simply, while Confound is only a mid round pick, its casting, more often than not, will result in the game going to the caster. Here's hoping that happens to be you.

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