Mission Briefing Might Unseat Snapcaster Mage in the Right Deck

We were all blown away by Assassin’s Trophy. Rightfully so. Funnily enough, if the card had been printed before the existence of Path to Exile, I don’t think it would have been viewed the same way. I remember when Path to Exile was printed—people were skeptical of how good it would be. It was not obvious that giving them a land in exchange was a good deal.

People actually had to play with the card to find out, and it took a few weeks to catch on. Thanks to Path to Exile, Assassin’s Trophy is a $35 card right out of the gate and nobody is questioning that.

Personally, I think it takes a bit of the fun out of Magic when we don’t have to figure out what is good or not, but patterns are destined to come back and as time passes and new cards are created, they inevitably have to use old designs as they run out of fresh ideas.

That brings me to Mission Briefing.

Call me dumb, but if we did not have Snapcaster Mage to compare to this card, I would not be as excited as I am right now. In fact, I would be sitting here wondering how good it is. That’s exactly what I did with Snapcaster Mage when it came out—most of us did. We knew that it was good, but “ruling-every-format good?” Nope. It was a new effect, and it took us a awhile to say “okay, this card is ridiculous.”

Similar to Assassin’s Trophy, because of Snapcaster Mage, I have no doubt that Mission Briefing is really, really good, and rather than tell you why it is, I will tell you why I think it might even be better than Magic’s best blue creature of all time.

It Works With Force of Will

“You may cast that card this turn.”

Snapcaster Mage does not work this way. The new wording means you can target Force of Will and actually pay the alternate cost.

That is huge. It essentially means that all blue decks now have four extra targets, making them less clunky on top of the redundancy of essentially having access to eight Force of Wills.

It Does Not Target

“Surveil 2, then choose an instant or sorcery card in your graveyard.”

Scavenging Ooze, Surgical Extraction, Silent Gravestone, and Deathrite Shaman (if it gets unbanned)—these cards don’t shut you off entirely anymore.

You can also decide the best target after you surveil, because your opponent needs to respond before the surveil 2 resolves.

It’s Less Clunky in Certain Decks

This one is debatable, because you could say that the 2/1 body can always do something in a spot where you have no turn-2 plays or no graveyard, but surveil 2 isn’t irrelevant, and my gut tells me that a deck like U/W Miracles in Legacy or Modern would much rather have the surveil 2 in the early game than the body. But any kind of blue tempo deck—Jeskai in Modern comes to mind—would rather have the body to apply pressure. In fact, that’s pretty much true for all Lightning Bolt decks as they use Snapcaster to turn the corner.

Sure, it costs double-blue, but most blue decks that play Snapcaster Mage are heavily in blue already, trying to cast Cryptic Command or Counterspell. In that regard, unless you only have blue sources in your deck, Mission Briefing is factually clunkier than the 1U card.

All in all, my gut tells me that if you’re a long-game blue-based control deck that does not have Lightning Bolts in it, Mission Briefing will be less clunky.

It Works in Multiples (Sort of)

If you have other Mission Briefings in the graveyard and extra mana, you get a bunch of surveils. That may seem innocuous, but in the mid-to-late-game, getting to scry for 4 or more is pretty insane.

U/W Miracles (Modern)

I think Mission Briefing will have a better home in U/W Miracles in Legacy, but because I haven’t played that deck in over five years, I will abstain from butchering any list and leave it to the experts. But I did play a bit of U/W in Modern, so here’s how I would build it.

It’s simple. You’re essentially cutting Snapcaster Mage for Mission Briefing. You can play a second Logic Knot since you have surveil feeding your graveyard. It’s possible the deck wants less Search for Azcanta and Detention Sphere type cards and more Hieroglyphic Illuminations to make the Briefings even better, but it’s really hard to say without playing any games.

Happy spoiler season!

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