Mana Fixing: Prophetic Prism

Casey Kolderup
Everyone loves Prophetic Prism! It's a reprint of a card from Rise of the Eldrazi, a set that seemingly everyone loved to draft. Unfortunately I came back to the game about 4 months too late to play it, but when people heard that Prophetic Prism was coming back in Gatecrash, the most recent set released, they got really excited.

Prophetic Prism costs 2 mana and you can pay 1 colorless mana and tap it to make one of mana of any color. It's a really clean implementation of the concept of a "Prism"— you use it to turn mana from one color (or no color, but usually the majority of mana you'll produce will start as a color) to another. Very slick, and fairly useful, although if that were all it did it might not be powerful enough to warrant an inclusion in most peoples' deck— it costs 2 mana, remember, and it only provides fixing, not acceleration. However, the first ability on the card is interesting. The card essentially replaces itself in your hand when you play it.

This means that, as long as you can cast the Prism (and you generally will be able to, since it only costs 2 mana of any color), you immediately get to see another card in your deck, and the only cost to you was the one-time payment of mana. People generally underestimate the cost of having a card in your deck— it's a card you could draw instead of any other card in your deck, so you want it to actually do something when you do draw it. With Prophetic Prism you generally don't have to worry about that! It gives you a way to access other colors of mana, letting you play fewer lands of an off-color that you want to "splash" (play only a couple cards of) while still letting you draw into cards that actually do something without any significant delay. Cards in Magic: the Gathering that cantrip, or allow you to draw a card in addition to some other effect, can be really great for that reason.

I've only had the chance to play with the new set Gatecrash a few times so far, and I'm not yet sure how to feel about Prophetic Prism as it relates to sealed deck and booster draft play in Gatecrash just yet. Like its mana-fixing cousin Transguild Promenade in the previous set Return to Ravnica, if the format is made up primarily of strictly two-color decks with less of an incentive to play cards of a third color (or more), the Prism may not end up being particularly valuable as a card. The cantrip effect does definitely help, but there is also a decent amount of playable artifact destruction in the set, making it more vulnerable than Promenade. Like with Promenade, I would expect this card to need another serious evaluation at the time of the release of Dragon's Maze, the third set in the Return to Ravnica block, since booster draft and sealed deck will incorporate cards from all three sets and may encourage the building and playing of decks made of three or more colors.
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