Why Thoughtseize Will Stay Rare (If it’s Reprinted)
There is a slowly seeping idea that Thoughtseize is printable as an uncommon when/if it gets reprinted in upcoming sets. The prevailing idea was it’s Modern Masters reprinting could possibly be uncommon. As M14 gets closer, the suggestion that Thoughtseize will be reprinted has caused this idea to reappear.
If history shows us anything, this will never happen.
“But, what about <Random good one mana discard spell>? That was uncommon! That means Thoughtseize is totally safe as uncommon!”
No, that means you’re a victim of confirmation bias. Thoughtseize will stay rare, because the effect is too good to not be rare. Let’s break down ALL the qualities that are a part of Thoughtseize, and we will compare it to historic norms.
“This is a discard spell that can be cast on the first turn”
This seems to be the deepest hangup. Because Thoughtseize costs one mana, people are comparing it to Despise and Inquisition of Kozilek as their measuring sticks for making it uncommon. This brings me to the second important quality.
“This discard spell, at worst, is restricted to choosing nonland cards, if there is a restriction.”
Getting to pick any nonland card is as broad of a discard spell as we can get at this early of a game state. This prevents catching the opponent’s off color land and shutting them out of the game. There’s a few ways we can get “any” card, but they run afoul of the next quality.
“This discard spell does not let the opponent influence the discarded card.”
There are a few cards that let you choose any card this early, but the opponent is involved in the choice somehow. Either they choose the card to discard, or they otherwise get to restrict your choice of discard. This reduces the effectiveness of the discard spell, that it’s ok if they allow you to hit any card with it.
Lets take a look at similar cards to what Thoughtseize does. Stripped down from any other baggage :
“Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card.”
The one card with that text is Distress, at two black. This card is common. Some have claimed this is just “Phyrexian Distress” so it’s cool. This argument holds very little water. In fact, it almost proves the point to me. Phyrexian mana was a mistake at 2 life. Cards were either over the top powerful or mediocre. “Phyrexian Distress” has already proven to be anything but mediocre. This kind of power does not need to be put at uncommon. It actually shows how big of a power rift the ability has between turns 1 and 2. Turn 2 is ok at common, while it’s not turn 1 except at rare.
Take a good look at all the similar non-rare discard, and you’ll see that it falls flat somewhere.
Inquisition of Kozilek – Restrictive (convenient restriction, but restrictive)
Distress – 2 mana
Coercion – 3 mana
Raven’s Crime – Opponent chooses
Blackmail – Opponent chooses
Duress – Restrictive
There is one card that cements my belief that Thoughtseize will always be rare. It’s the only other time Wizards has printed this effect before
Unmask has every single quality that Thoughtseize has, and is the only other card with the same effect in the game, at rare. It can play on the first turn, can get any nonland card, and with no influence from the opponent on the choice. No other discard spell that can be played on the first turn hits as broadly as these two. Some come close, like Inquisition of Kozilek, but none are going to be as all encompassing as Thoughtseize or Unmask without being rare.