Magic players were gifted an unexpected surprise a few weeks back: a sudden First Look at the new MTG Fallout Universes Beyond crossover scheduled for release in March. This is much earlier than First Looks tend to occur and, because of the close proximity to a recent Doctor Who release and an upcoming Ixalan spoiler season kickoff, players were understandably confused.
Regardless, the First Look for the new Fallout crossover was excellent. Many of the new cards shown off look exciting, powerful, and create brilliant flavorful connections between Magic and the world of Fallout.
Two new mechanics were introduced during the First Look, and one of them may be my favorite MTG mechanic ever spoiled. It is very difficult to create a mechanic that can be beneficial in light doses, but detrimental when you gain too much of it. Lets look at the incredibly unique new mechanic concerning MTG Rad Counters.
MTG Rad Counters
Rad Counters are meant to represent a level of Radiation. Radiation in Fallout functions similarly at a surface level to the intended effect of Rad Counters. A little Radiation can be a boon, but too much of it will kill you.
Similar to Experience Counters, Rad Counters are a player-based counter that each player acquires. These are kept on the reminder card seen above, which explains how Rad Counters function.
At the beginning of each player’s main phase, that player mills cards and loses life equal to the number of Rad Counters they have. This is obviously detrimental in heavy doses since Rad Counters can both deplete your life and deck count to zero. In minimal doses, the milling can become a powerful value engine.
MTG Rad Counters as an Engine
The face Commander of the MTG Fallout Sultai Mutant Menace deck showcases how to use your own Rad Counters as an engine. The Wise Mothman gives each player a Rad Counter whenever it enters the battlefield or attacks. Past that point, The Wise Mothman triggers whenever one or more nonland cards are milled from anywhere at all. This not only benefits from the Rad Counters given to opponents, but also the Rad counters on yourself. Otherwise, Rad Counters in small doses can help line up synergies with reanimation and Flashback.
Rad Counters as a Win Condition
While The Wise Mothman’s utilization of Rad Counters is a lot more nuanced, Feral Ghoul is trying to overwhelm your opponents with Rad Counters. Instead of providing a steady stream of value, Feral Ghoul wants to grow into a threat your opponents cannot ignore, and dump a bunch of Rad Counters on them as a parting gift.
Collecting Rad Counters quickly can add up faster than one could expect. Getting up to ten Rad counters, for example, will kill most opponents in four turns. That’s not a lot of time to resolve the Rad Counter issue since getting rid of them is very challenging.
Rad Counter Synergies
If you want to synergize further with Rad Counters using cards outside of the MTG Fallout set, Proliferate is your best option. It is a bit tough to accumulate these counters outside of specific support otherwise, but Proliferate effects like Atraxa Praetors’ Voice can do a lot of work. Proliferate also gives you a way to control the amount of Rad Counters you acquire. If you want more, Proliferate can do that. If not, you can simply choose not to give yourself a counter.
This allows the newly spoiled Rad Storm card to play a similar double-duty role that the Rad Counter mechanic was intended for. Rad Storm, thanks to having Storm, can absolutely deluge your opponents in Rad Counters as long as they have one to start with. You can also gain some Radiation if you want, but only as much as you need.
It has proven rather difficult to create a mechanic as unique as this one in the world of MTG. Creating a mechanic that is positive in doses, but negative in abundances is not an easy task. Hopefully the Rad Counter mechanic will be successful and inspire similar unique mechanics in the future.
If you want to read about the other new MTG Fallout mechanic, you can do so here.