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Induced Amnesia—Exclusive Rivals of Ixalan Preview


One of the easiest ways to evaluate new Magic cards is by comparing them to similar cards from the past. Lost Legacy is an descendant of Cranial Extraction, Time Reversal is a more expensive Timetwister, Fleecemane Lion is a souped-up Watchwolf, and so on. While this method is far from foolproof (Time Reversal is a great example, considering it was endlessly hyped during spoiler season thanks to its similarity to Timetwister only to fall very flat upon release), it usually works pretty well. The problem is that every once in a while, a card comes along that doesn't really have a good historical comparison. Take, for example, Induced Amnesia

Induced Amnesia

Probably the easiest comparison for Induced Amnesia is something like Tolarian Winds or another self-Windfall effect because the end result is similar: you trade in all the cards in your hand for new cards, although the fact that you can target a player opens up some interesting possibilities that aren't available with Tolarian Winds or Windfall. While these are the best comparisons for Induced Amnesia, they really aren't great. The problem with comparing Induced Amnesia to Tolarian Winds is that two key differences throw the comparison out of whack. 

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First, rather than making you (or your opponent) discard their hand, Induced Amnesia exiles all the cards in target player's hand, which mostly seems like a downside because it means you can't use Induced Amnesia to stock your graveyard for God-Pharaoh's Gift or reanimation shenanigans. Second, if you actually have a way to kill Induced Amnesia, the enchantment suddenly turns from a simple Windfall effect into a massive source of card advantage, allowing you to double the numbers of cards in your hand for just three mana (which makes it feel a little bit like Hatching Plans but without the downside of doing nothing until it dies, since Induced Amnesia will always be a psuedo-Windfall). When you consider that Divination sometimes shows up in constructed decks because it draws two cards for three mana and that Induced Amnesia can easily draw you three, four, five, or more cards for the same cost, the potential of the enchantment becomes clear. 

Before we get to the gameplay implications of Induced Amnesia, I should probably mention that it's one of the story spotlight cards from Rivals of Ixalan. I'm not Vorthos enough to tell you what the story implications are, but by the art, it seems that Jace is maybe giving Vraska amnesia. Does this mean Vraska won't remember that she's a pirate? A planeswalker? A gorgon? I have no idea, but feel free to leave your theory in the comments.

The fact that Induced Amnesia is so unique makes it really difficult to evaluate in terms of playability. Just how good is Induced Amnesia? To answer this, we need to delve into all the card's possibilities.

Standard

As far as Standard is concerned, on level one, Induced Amnesia is simply a way to trade in your bad hand for some new cards, which will hopefully be more powerful than the ones you exiled. The problem here is that Induced Amnesia is inherent card disadvantage, similar to Faithless Looting (Let's say you start with six cards in hand and cast Induced Amnesia. You end up with five new cards in hand and an Induced Amnesia on the battlefield, which is one less than you started with). This means it's pretty unlikely that people will play the card fairly as a way to cycle through their deck, especially considering that the cards get exiled rather than going into the graveyard, which makes it harder to abuse. Plus, as a card-draw spell, Induced Amnesia is already fighting with a lot of powerful options like Glimmer of Genius, Chart a Course, Pull from Tomorrow, and Hieroglyphic Illumination, all of which actually generate card advantage without any extra work. Since there isn't really a way to abuse getting cards into the exile zone in Standard, this means to really make Induced Amnesia good, we need a way to not only cast it but get it to the graveyard from the battlefield.

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While there are plenty of ways to get Induced Amnesia into the graveyard from the battlefield, a lot of them are so narrow that it would be difficult to run them in your main deck, and playing something like Fragmentize or Appetite for the Unnatural just to make Induced Amnesia work seems like a classic case of playing bad cards to make another bad card better. Things might be different if something like Dromoka's Command returned to Standard, where the ability to destroy Induced Amnesia was an upside of an already good card. This being said, the fact that Induced Amnesia lets you draw a new hand does help you dig for a way to kill it to get your cards back from exile, but even so, this doesn't sound like an especially competitive plan. The good news is there are a couple of truly playable ways to kill your own Induced Amnesia in Standard.

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While Vona, Butcher of Magan is probably a stretch, especially since Induced Amnesia would push the deck into a third color, it is at least worth mentioning as a playable card that just happens to have the upside of blowing up Induced Amnesia when we want it to. More exciting is Hour of Revelation, which is a very powerful card that tends to be held back by the fact that most white control decks are using Cast Out and Ixalan's Binding as removal, and blowing them up with Hour of Revelation is painful. Apart from giving us a good way of destroying our own Induced Amnesia (along with everything else on the battlefield), we get the additional upside of Induced Amnesia counting as a non-land permanent to help lower the cost of our Hour of Revelation. While most UWx control decks are on the Cast Out / Ixalan's Binding plan, we have seen some almost permanent-free builds of Approach of the Second Sun pop up in recent weeks, and these builds could easily slot in Hour of Devastation as a wrath and use Induced Amnesia as a great source of card advantage.

The other upside of using Induced Amnesia in an Approach of the Second Sun deck is the weird Windfall-esque ability, which is a good way to dig for a copy of Approach of the Second Sun you put back on the top of your library. If you have seven cards in hand when you cast Induced Amnesia you'll end up digging six deep, leaving Approach of the Second Sun on top of your deck, which, combined with your draw step for your turn, means you immediately find your second Approach of the Second Sun, and even with fewer cards in hand, you're still digging closer to your lethal sorcery. Whether Induced Amnesia is better than other options isn't clear, especially since Approach of the Second Sun decks already have Search for Azcanta. It's possible people try it as a one-of in a normal build of the deck or build a Hour of Revelation version looking to harness the power of the enchantment.

Modern

There are a lot more ways to kill your own Induced Amnesia in Modern, although it's also a lot harder for a random three-mana enchantment to break into the format. For example, a deck like Mono-Blue Tron could play Induced Amnesia and simply blow everything up with Oblivion Stone to draw a bunch of cards. Engineered Explosives has been picking up stream as a main-deck option, and it gets the job done with three counters as well. This doesn't include spicier options like Crack the Earth and Perilous Research, which could form the foundation for a fun deck. Imaging some sort of prowess-themed deck with Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor that uses Induced Amnesia not only to Windfall away a bunch of bad cards but as a massive source of card advantage, with the help of some careful deck building.

While I'm not sure Induced Prowess is good, it does look like a lot of fun and draws a ton of cards. The basic idea is to stick either Monastery Mentor or Young Pyromancer, which allows us to do all kinds of fun things, like cast Crack the Earth and sacrifice a random 1/1 token while our opponent is stuck losing a land or Tarmogoyf. Of course, if we happen to get an Induced Amnesia onto the battlefield, we can sacrifice that instead and likely end up with a draw five or six for just three mana, which seems really strong and should draw us into a ton of cantrips and burn spells to make a huge board full of tokens and hopefully close out the game in short order.

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Modern offers a couple more interesting possibilities for Induced Amnesia, but they are probably better suited for Against the Odds or the kitchen table than for a Grand Prix. For example, while we've mostly been talking about using Induced Amnesia to target ourselves, we can also use it on our opponent, and while Windfalling our opponent can be risky, it also puts a bunch of cards into exile, which means we can process them into the graveyard with cards like Wasteland Strangler and Blight Herder

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While processing cards is fine, by far the meanest thing you can do with Induced Amnesia in Modern (and also my favorite thing) is to use it with Spirit of the Labyrinth and Notion Thief to make your opponent discard their entire hand for just three mana. Spirit of the Labyrinth is especially scary, since it comes down on Turn 2 and curves perfectly into Induced Amnesia. Then, when we cast our Induced Amnesia with Spirit of the Labyrinth on the battlefield, we exile our opponent's entire hand, but Spirit of the Labyrinth keeps our opponent from drawing any cards, which should pretty much just win us the game on the spot. It's also worth pointing out that since Spirit of the Labyrinth is an enchantment creature, both parts of the combo are tutorable with Zur the Enchanter and Idyllic Tutor and can be protected by Greater Auramancy!

Commander

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Induced Amnesia is actually in a strange place for Commander. In theory, the Wheel of Fortune-like effect makes it seem like it could fit into a Leovold, Emissary of Trest deck, but if your goal is to make the table miserable by Mind Twisting everyone's hands, the fact that you only target one player is a pretty major downside compared to Windfall or Wheel of Fortune. On the other hand, the fact that you get to target a single player does have some interesting political implications, and you might be able to strike a deal in exchange for targeting (or not targeting) a specific player.

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Outside of combos, Induced Amnesia could be a pretty solid source of card advantage because Commander has a ton of playable ways to blow up an enchantment, ranging from Akroma's Vengeance and Austere Command, to Nevinyrral's Disk and Bane of Progress, to creatures like Reclamation Sage and Harmonic Sliver, so it's possible that Induced Amnesia will simply be good enough as a Tolarian Winds that eventually draws you a ton of cards later in the game when you manage to blow it up. If you're lucky, you might even be able to get an opponent to destroy Induced Amnesia if you can convince them it's the tables best chance of drawing into an answer for a problematic permanent or player.

Wrap-Up

So, where does all this leave us in terms of Induced Amnesia's playability? I don't really have any idea. Like we talked about in the intro, Induced Amnesia is a really unique card, which makes it really difficult to judge just how powerful or playable it really is without actually playing some games with the card. My guess would be that it will probably be fringe playable in Standard because there are a lot of strong card-draw options in the format and exiling rather than discarding means Induced Amnesia doesn't power up graveyard-based decks, although this could change quickly if we get some more maindeckable ways to kill Induced Amnesia to turn it into a card-advantage engine. Meanwhile, I'm very confident that we'll be playing the card in Modern for Budget Magic or Against the Odds, but whether or not it can find a home in a tournament deck remains to be seen. The best-case scenario for Induced Amnesia is really good, but it will take a lot of work to consistently make Induced Amnesia work optimally. Is the payoff worth the effort? We'll have to wait and see. Strange things happen in Modern all the time, and maybe there's some combo potential that I'm not seeing at the moment. 

Whether Induced Amnesia ends up tournament playable or not doesn't really matter. As far as I'm concerned, targeting your opponent with it a single time with a Spirit of the Labyrinth on the battlefield is worth more than winning a Grand Prix anyway!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! Big thanks to Wizards for hooking us up with a super-sweet spoiler card! What do you think of Induced Amnesia? Can it find a home in Standard or Modern? If so, where? What other combos or synergies did I miss? Let me know in the comments, and as always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 


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