@chubbyrain1 Heaven forbid we compare new cards to old cards! A completely useless form of analysis, to be sure. Every card exists in a complete vacuum and the 20 years of history and experience playing with similar cards is surely useless for drawing any inferences about a new printing.
How about we draw on our 20 years of history and experience actually playing Magic: the Gathering rather than making comparisons at the level of any literate person with an introductory knowledge of the game?
In the case of Sea Gate Stormcaller cards with similar functionality have seen play in Narset Transcendent and Chandra, something something fire, flames, or burning. They have different pros and cons which only serve to detract from the point of a comparison which is to highlight a specific point and in this case that is "yeah, we've played cards that copy the next spell in Vintage."
Why did we do that?
Well, in the decks that ran Narset Transcendent, such as John Grudzina's Top 8 list from Champs the year Brian Kelly won on Oath, it was because of the ability to double Dig through Time and other broken spells, which were not yet restricted. If you look at Chandra, which saw more fringe play in Potucek and my 4-5 color planeswalker brews, it was essentially there to force through game ending spells like Tinker, Yawg Will, Gifts Ungiven (was still restricted I think), etc. The point is that this type of effect requires significant upside to make the setup that you put into it worth it (Lance went into that part of the card quite well). And Vintage is still a format where doubling up on an Ancestral Recall will win you the vast majority of your games.
So the real cost of these effects is delaying casting your powerful cards to get a more powerful effect later. You can minimize the setup cost by running a bunch of powerful spells to copy so that you'll almost always have one (which is why Narset became less playable following the Dig restriction) but Stormcaller minimizes this with its restriction (Snapcastering back Preordain never feels like a good use of Snapcaster Mage so you are limited to Ancestral and situationally Time Walk, Merchant Scroll, Brainstorm, Demonic Tutor). Or you can play the maximum number of Stormcallers to try and always have a Stormcaller when you find your Ancestral. The issue with the later approach is that a 2/1 just really isn't cutting it in Vintage right now. Snapcaster still sees a lot of play according to Goldfish but only as a 1-of in almost every deck running it. It just matches up poorly against Ballista, Hollow One, and Dreadhorde, while providing a slow clock against the combo decks. And Wrenn is a headache and a half.
If you are running a card as a one-of, it makes more sense to run an effect like Snapcaster since you can play your powerful cards on curve, not knowing when you will see your one copy. I don't think you can reliably hold onto one of your 5-6 payoff cards while hoping to draw a 1-of, and I don't think a 2/1 body at this rate is great. While reasonably costed, I think this card falls outside the realm of most players' definition of playable.
Of course, I play jank and have a loose interpretation of playability. One interaction that is interesting to me is using Teferi, Destroyer of Other Formats with this card to have much more control over the trigger and get value out of the body. I did the same thing with Snapcaster Mage but a limitation was that it complicated sideboarding by preventing the inclusion of Grafdigger's Cage and Rest in Peace. The additional upside is actually realized because the games go long, you can play out SGS on curve early, bounce with Teferi and then kick it later. Pretty hilarious with Mystic Sanctuary as a way to buy back a Time Walk which you can then copy twice. But that is seeking a specific interaction in a specific shell for a particular style of play (My win condition is the opponent's desire to do something else with their time). Again, I don't believe it is generalizable.
@vaughnbros True, but fork also doesn't leave a body behind, which isn't nothing. And it's possible more forks are warranted and people just have ignored the effect because it's bad vs creature aggro (which this card, coincidentally, is not).
I think people haven’t used Fork because it’s RR to cast. Twincast has seen fringe play. But still UU is not great. Sea Gate has a very reasonable mana cost.
Agreed on this evaluation.
The 1 toughness is probably the biggest limiter. Goblin Pikers just aren't very good in the format due to all the highly efficient ping effects. Snapcaster gets around some of those effects due to its Flash effect, and seems more of an option that you are using to Rebuy 1 critical spell rather than double up on an effect.
I actually forgot about the days of Chandra and the worse Narset. Those were fun times when those less powerful Planeswalkers were more playable, but I haven't seen them in quite some time.
If someone wants to try and build around something like doubling Time Walks though, I think that could be a pretty cool deck. Not sure if its playable, but it would be cool nonetheless.
@revengeanceful I think it just becomes a spell that gets countered whether you are bluffing or not, and it is really bad if you are bluffing.
If you cast this and they do or don't counter and you follow up with nothing, you basically lost your ability to get a free copy of anything and at best just have a 2/1.
If you cast this and they counter it, you can follow up with a good spell, but you won't get your copy - so they essentially counter one of the 2 copies that would have been.
If you cast this and they don't counter, you follow up with your spell and automatically get a copy. They can use that counter they held to counter ONE of those copies, but you still resolve one copy and get a 2/1 to boot.
Given those three scenarios, I don't know how much bluffing there is. The right call is to ALWAYS counter stormcaller if you are able to, I think, when you have just 3 mana open. If you have 2 mana only and cast this, I'll take my chances that you have no lotus/sapphire follow up and you just wasted your opportunity cost on a vanilla 2/1.
The tricky situation is more when you have 4-5 mana up and cast this. My decision then is "do you have ancestral or walk or something solid that one copy will resolve no matter what I do - or are you baiting my counter with this so you can follow with Tinker, that would not have been copied, and I'd much rather counter?" I think given a 4-5 mana open scenario, I let this resolve (it's just a 2/1) and counter one of the copies of the following spell (the best I could hope to do regardless of stormaller resolving), guarding against that spell being a 3+ cmc bomb.
doesn't this recommend against countering it?
- if you counter it they just cast their thing and get 1 copy.
- If you don't counter it AND they have a thing you counter their mox/lotus and blow up their play. They get one copy next turn, or you counter a copy and they get 1 copy.
- If you don't counter it and they don't have a thing then they get a vanilla 2/1 which typically isn't a game breaking play.
@purple-hat Yeah, I think in a lot of situations where they have 3-4 mana, SGS gets countered because then you get one copy of your next spell (which you would have gotten through a single counterspell anyway) but lose the 2/1 body. I imagine your opp's next spell will be solid value at least (preordain) and busted at worst (ancestral/walk) and they are likely stuffing their deck with max value 1-2 cmc spells if they are running this guy anyway. There may be times when holding the counter is better, but I think that's more when they have 5+ mana and the follow up could be yawg win or tinker that won't be copied.
I think when you have only 2 mana and cast this on turn 1 they DON'T counter, because the odds of you following up with a lotus or sapphire are like 1:20, so math just says you are bluffing and you just cast a 2/1 for no value (and if you have the lotus, then they can just counter the lotus anyway). If for some reason they don't counter the lotus and let you cast ancestral, they counter one copy and you basically negated that counter by getting your single copy and netted a 2/1.
I like the card overall, but using it as turn 1 bait when you have only 2 mana showing seems like the absolute worst use to me.
@thewhitedragon69 It says copy "the next instant or sorcery spell...when you cast it" not "copy the next spell if it is an instant or sorcery". Following with a Mox or Lotus doesn't matter and can be a good play for hiding information from the opponent on what you might be casting. The reason to not counter it is it's really not an effective bluff. The opponent gets to resolve a 2/1? Again, a 2/1 body is very slow and very easily dealt with in today's metagame.
A major point in favor for this card is the interaction with Mystic Sanctuary and Dreadhorde Arcanist, which have largely replaced Snapcaster Mage as a way of recurring instants and sorceries from the graveyard. The ability to double the spells you are casting after you have cast them previously is quite powerful. This way, you can cast Ancestral on turn 1, play a Dreadhorde on turn 2, play this on turn 3 and attack with Dreadhorde to recast Ancestral and copy it (doing so for 1U that turn).
@chubbyrain1 I know what the card says. I was saying that if an opponent played this on turn 1, they presumably played land + mox already, so if they follow with sapphire or lotus, you counter that and they won't have mana to play an instant or sorcery to get duplicated. So it's a terrible turn 1 play, imo.
This card is functionally different than snapcaster in many ways, but it is a good value card in its own right, I think. the fact that you can copy things off arcanist or even snapcastered later game for free is really nice. My favorite part over snapcaster though is that it dodges the grave hate. If I see a deck playing dig, cruise, snapcasters, Uro, sanctuary, and arcanist, I am probably bringing in some kind of grave hate like RiP (I hate playing blue decks, so I find myself in white a lot) or leyline to shut off several spells at the cost of one. This guy gets around that.