Monday, March 5, 2018

Island Sanctuary: the budget Moat

Yeah, I ran 4th ones, you want to fight over it?

Yes, Moat is fucking expensive. It's also arguable not just one of the most powerful enchantments in old school, but one of the most powerful enchantments in Magic.

It's importance to the game can't be understated, but we aren't here to talk about Moat, but it's beta older brother Island Sanctuary.

 According to legend, this is one of the 5 alpha cards that were designed at the last minute with no playtesting. The others being Birds of Paradise, Sedge Troll, Word of Command, and Stasis (it's best friend).

It's my understanding like Birds, the art was originally commissioned as an Island, but like the bird, too much distraction took place on the art (if someone knows if this information is incorrect, please tell me).

While it's draw back is a bit on the heavy side, it was still a very commonly played card in it's day, which makes me wonder why isn't it still getting the same fan fare in the format in this day and age.

While it could be argued that the decks are simply better tuned in this day and age, I disagree, it's obvious this card functions just as well now as it did two decades ago, especially in this format.

I would like to argue, however, that Island Sanctuary is actually better now, then it ever was.


The art is really, like it's always been amazing. Less suited for a Magic card, and more for the album art of Deep Purple, Rainbow, or Led Zeppelin, the art is functional in it's memorability, but isn't bound by the simplicity of most of Alpha's artwork. Instead, it's complex in both it's appearance, and it's effects, yet not over complicated like many modern pieces in MtG. There is a fine level of complexity to the art that isn't overbearing. If legend is true, it's easy to see why it wouldn't just be relegated to 'Island' because it deserves so much then the art of a basic land.

More important, it has the infamous 'Poole Island' in the art, which is much loved by everyone.

 I give it a simple 5/5. In fact, I'm surprised this piece wasn't used more prominently in promotions of the time, but I guess when you have the minotaur, what else do you need?

The only piece I can find of the art. Tell me this wouldn't look good with 'Deep Purple' on it sitting at a record shop.

Playability: The bulk of the conversation, I will say right now, with maybe the exception against Merfolk, Island Sanctuary is better then Moat. Now, some of you will disconnect, say 'Jeez, no wonder he didn't win the Winter Derby, what a faggot', for those of you who didn't, let me explain my reasons.

--Moat costs twice as much as Island Sanctuary in mana, and 100X it in dollar price (assuming cheapest price for each, rough guestimate).
--Island Sanctuary only effects opponents, and for those like me who enjoy the politics of chaos games, doesn't stop the other players from being attacked. Where as Moat effects all players (including you) equally.
--Island Sanctuary's drawbacks are optional. After a Balance or WoG, don't skip that draw, since you won't need to anyway. Plus, with the copious amounts of ways to draw cards, its draw back isn't that severe anyway.

Now for Moat
--Moat possesses no drawback once in play, and it's effects can be felt immediately, unlike Sanctuary which requires another turn before becoming active.
--Moat gets flavor bonuses for both being a Moat to compliment your castle, and for having Flavor Text, something Island Sanctuary never possessed.
--Moat can stop Islandwalk (minor, but relevant), especially in the fish matchup.(For postering, the full list of natural Islandwalkers are: Devouring Deep, Goblin Flotilla, Segovian Leviathan. Lord of Atlants, Fishliver Oil, War Barge and Sandals give Islandwalk.). Given only two of these see any major play, arguable three in the states, it's easy to see why I don't view that as much of an issue.

Looking at this points, Moat is still a fantastic card, that short of running fliers, needs no strategies to build around, where as IS is more powerful when designed around, and is that more lethal because of it. You can build around IS in more effective ways, to maximize it's potential.

However, admittedly, skipping a draw during the draw step is a huge draw back, and isn't for everyone.

Still I give the card a 5/5, due to it's importance as a legitimate budget option for prison, it's ability to turn on and off as needed, and the fact it's a one sided effect.

Flavor: While I never understood the concept fully of not drawing a card (I guess hiding on an island keeps you away from your library), the rest of the card works well. Since the Island is isolated, only those who knows where it is (Islandwalkers) and those that can fly, can even hope to get to you. Hell, Pirate Ship can fire at you from the coast, but even they can't board you. In this regard, I give the flavor a 4/5.


In white/blue you can run Merfolk Assassin to kill off any would be Island Walkers.
You can also use Magical Hack (both to change the effect of Islandwalk, as well as turn an Islandwalkers into a forestwalker).
Remember this effect is one sided, allowing you to attack with non-fliers without to worry about retaliation, even if it removed, since it's a floating effect.
If going a white/red tactic, you can use it with Earthbind and Gravity Sphere to stop pesky fliers all together, making sure war is conducted where it belongs, on the ground (and if played right, destroying that pesky abyss in the process).
 Remember, the draw back says skip a draw, allowing you to still draw on your draw step with howling mine (or utilizing an opponents Howling Mine).
You can use the ability defensively against the Underworld Dreams match up.
The card in some ways combo's well with Knowledge Vault as well.

I hope this article allows this fantastic gem to truly get it's just desserts from the community.

Next time! My opinion on City in a Bottle, and once and for all, should it be banned?

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