7, Mar, 24

New MTG Crime Mechanic Leads to Amusing Flavor Fails

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Article at a Glance

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been absolutely bombarded with information about upcoming MTG sets. Thanks to a preview panel at MagicCon Chicago, we were given an initial glimpse into the worlds of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, Bloomburrow, and more. Now that MTG Fallout cards have been revealed in their entirety, it’s time to look ahead toward our next major set release.

On April 19th, Outlaws of Thunder Junction is going to be officially released. While this is a ways away, there are still plenty of things to discuss regarding information we already know. From a new Oko Planeswalker to an exclusive World Championship card, Outlaws of Thunder Junction has a lot to offer.

On top of all that, there’s also a new and rather intriguing mechanic in Outlaws of Thunder Junction. This mechanic revolves around committing a Crime, and no, that doesn’t require you to do anything illegal. There have already been multiple cards revealed that highlight this new mechanic and provide a pretty nice payoff for successfully executing it, but how does one go about committing Crimes in MTG?

What Does Committing a Crime Mean?

Oko, the Ringleader

Committing a Crime is a rather simple ability in nature. From the moment it was revealed, committing a Crime was explained as simply targeting your opponent’s “stuff.” While this seemed pretty straightforward, there were a few catches and caveats. Committing a Crime didn’t just care about targeting permanents on the battlefield, but also your opponent’s hand, library, graveyard, and spells on the stack.

Unfortunately, when the Crime mechanic was revealed by Wizards during MagicCon: Chicago, no rules text was given. This threw a lot of players through a loop, as there was no definitive definition of what a Crime even was. As time went on, this confusion only grew as MTG players questioned the game’s lead designer, Mark Rosewater, for insight.

Thankfully, after a week and a half, Rosewater has finally received special permission to reveal the sacred rules text. Thanks to this, we now know that committing a crime means without any uncertainty. In the words of Wizards themselves, “Targeting opponents, anything they control, and/or cards in their graveyards is a crime.”

While it may take some getting used to, the Crime mechanic is relatively self-explanatory. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that interaction only counts towards committing a Crime if it specifically targets something related to your opponent. As such, a card like Thermo-Alchemist that deals damage to EACH opponent won’t count.

Although tons of spoilers are still yet to be revealed, cards like Oko, the Ringleader showcase a massive payoff for utilizing the Crime mechanic. The difference between discarding one card and discarding two cards after drawing two cards is massive, and if you can reliably commit Crimes, Oko becomes a card advantage machine. Luckily, there are tons of powerful cards across various Constructed formats that enable this mechanic rather easily.

Committing a Crime is Trivial

Thoughtseize

For many interactive strategies, committing a Crime isn’t the hardest thing in the world to pull off. In Standard, decks like Esper midrange are filled with removal spells, counter magic, and hand disruption in the form of Deep-Cavern Bat. In Pioneer, two of the best cards in the format in Thoughtseize and Fatal Push provide powerful and efficient ways to commit a Crime.

If you’re building a deck focused on the Crime mechanic, though, there are even more synergistic options available at your disposal. For example, in Standard, Loran of the Third Path has a built-in ability that can target an opponent every turn cycle. Meanwhile, graveyard hate cards like Unlicensed Hearse can work double duty, enabling you to commit Crimes and mess with your opponent’s graveyard at the same time.

Relic of Progenitus is even better in this regard since your opponent doesn’t need to have cards in their graveyard to enable Crime commitment. You can simply tap Relic and target your opponent at will. From a gameplay standpoint, the Crime mechanic seems intriguing. From a flavor perspective though, some of Crimes may not feel very thematic.

Read More: Wizards of the Coast Implies Major Upcoming MTG Bans

Frustrating Flavor Fails

Wedding Ring

Obviously, the inclusion of the Crime mechanic in a Western set featuring outlaws seems like a perfect fit. That being said, many players have been quick to point out some amusing situations where committing a Crime mechanically doesn’t feel appropriate in context. For example, cards that help you and your opponent, such as Secret Rendezvous.

Further, resolving Wedding Ring technically counts as committing a Crime since you have to target an opponent for them to make a token copy of it. Given the symbolism of this card and its association with marriage, this feels like a huge flavor fail. If that weren’t enough, players even mentioned the absurdity of cards like Azorius Justiciar committing Crimes.

While the mildly problematic flavor of the Crime mechanic may be interesting, there’s ultimately a bigger problem with it. Due to its name being so intrinsically linked with Outlaws of Thunder Junction, we may not see it again. Previously, this has happened with Blood Tokens, which, while interesting, don’t work in every set due to flavor reasons.

Right now, it’s too early to say anything for sure, but there’s a real chance Crime could be yet another one-and-done mechanic. Not only will this frustrate players looking to build Commander decks around this theme, but it may also cause Crime to be more confusing. Unless Crime cards are multi-format staples, players could easily forget this mechanic’s intricacies over time.

Ultimately it’ll be interesting to see how the Crime mechanic meshes with the rest of the Outlaws of Thunder Junction cards when the set is officially released. Until then, keep your wits about you, and make sure to be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior. Before you know it, Crimes may be running rampant.

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