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Jun 26 2015

Glaring Spotlight Volume 6 – Quest for Ancient Secrets

GLARING SPOTLIGHT is a Magic the Gathering™ column featuring a card that may have gone over-looked during the the building of your EDH Commander deck. Today we discuss Quest for Ancient Secrets.

Glaring Spotlight EDH Commander Column


Putting a “Glaring Spotlight” on Magic Cards for EDH/Commander

CARD: Quest for Ancient Secrets
TYPE: Enchantment
CASTING COST:
EXPANSION: Zendikar – Uncommon
Card Text:
Whenever a card is put into your graveyard from anywhere, you may put a quest counter on Quest for Ancient Secrets.
Remove five quest counters from Quest for Ancient Secrets and sacrifice it: Target player shuffles his or her graveyard into his or her library.

Quest for Ancient Secrets

Quest for Ancient Secrets for EDH Commander

My Intent

Quest for Ancient Secrets is a fairly straight-forward card. I was personally drawn to this card when I began looking for enchantments for my 5-color Enchantment control deck (which you can read about here if you’d like!) that would expand my long-term endurance in the long game, by allowing me to shuffle in precious enchantments that had already eaten removal, like the critical Sterling Grove and Privileged Position, so I could either cascade into or fetch them again. I also use this card extensively in my more instant/sorcery spell-oriented deck attempts (like the Damia brew I talked about in my last article!), as it can refuel a deck to play things like ramp and tutors a second time — without having to mess with flashback-enablers or anything of the sort.

Why It’s Good

Quest for Ancient Secrets is a very inconspicuous and nonthreatening enchantment, much unlike others from the “Quest” and “Ascension” cycles of enchantments from the Zendikar block. It costs essentially nothing to turn on for when it’s needed, as it will gain quest counters whenever something gets dropped off in your bin, whether it be a creature that was just killed by an opponent or a cantrip that you wouldn’t mind recasting if it happened to show up in your hand again. Granted, this card can definitely be a wasted slot in some decks that rely on sustaining a tempo advantages throughout the game, or decks which simply do not care for committing to more long-term recursion or graveyard disruption.

That’s right, this enchantment’s ability works both ways. Let’s say, for the sake of understanding, you are a Rubinia Soulsinger Bant control player at the table with two other opponents, one of which is a Chainer, Dementia Master reanimator player. When that fifth non-permanent spell is put into the graveyard or when your fifth utility enchantment eats an ill-timed Krosan Grip, or even when your Fact or Fiction and/or its family fill up your graveyard to at least 5 cards, you have a decision: will you shuffle your graveyard into your deck or shuffle the Chainer’s bin into his deck? And then, with that answered, when?

This card is great because it offers you these great options, at a hilariously low cost of to cast (and essentially free to “turn on”), at instant speed in the form of of an activated ability, and it even shuffles itself! Yes, in the event that a player shuffles his or her own graveyard into his or her own library, that player can come across Quest for Ancient Secrets again if another gold mine of valuable cards are unfairly thrown into the bin– ready to be shuffled back into the 100-card headquarters of your deck’s core strategy.

Summary

Quest for Ancient Secrets is a strong yet underrated EDH inclusion due to the fact that it is an enchantment in blue, and seemingly harmless. It can however act as a utility savior when a player’s deck needs to be refueled by cards that have already been cast, milled, or killed. Its ability can clutch-save you from a rogue mill deck or even just to get some cards you wanted back into your deck for toolbox/versatility purposes. On the other side of the coin, the card’s ability can put a stop to any deck that wishes to abuse its own graveyard by having that player shuffle in his/her graveyard into his/her library at instant speed. Everyone who plays blue enjoys playing the broken spells the color has to offer, but deck and time resilience can be a distant and fleeting commodity without other colors like green and white. Quest for Ancient Secrets likes being played for its several options while also being an inconspicuous and oddball enchantment in the blue color, making this spell a serious contender for a slot in most of my toolbox/control decks in EDH.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your impressions of this card in the comments section below! Until next time!

-cailtis

4 comments

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  1. Wally D.

    I have to admit, that i glossed over this card in the past. After reading this, I’m gonna give it a try in my Lazav mill deck. I’ll get the quest counters in no time and it’s much more mana efficient than Learn from the Past.

    Glad to see you reactivate the Glaring Spotlight. Nice write up!

    1. Kuchisama

      Can’t say that I agree here, Wally. The problem for me? It just coud take too long to charge up the Quest. If you need to react to a Bojuka Bog to save your stuff, Learn from the Past is vastly superior due to its surprise effect. Yes, you can also sacrifice the Quest at instant speed, but it definitely needs the counters. Otherwise, your graveyard is just gone. Then again, you don’t always have four mana available, so there’s that.
      So I guess it comes down to the art, eh? 😉 And I prefer Narset over some nameless scout anytime!

      1. cailtis

        That is a good point, Kuchisama. I honestly am a fan of reshuffle effects in a lot of my decks just due to the belief that I have a strong hold on the long-term game and being able to replay cards in this singleton format just feels so good. A personal choice.

        Learn From the Past definitely has the strengths you listed in addition to the draw clause. These effects usually sacrifice one strength for another, Gaea’s Blessing being a total powerhouse for decks that want to play it but only being sorcery speed/essentially only hates out a select target number of cards, Mnemonic Nexus being instant speed and “every” player versus targeted players but expensive and symmetrical, things like Thran Foundry and Feldon’s Cane being an instant-speed ability with no color restrictions but unrepeatable and limited in targeting…

        Quest for Ancient Secrets has consistently provided me the benefits I wanted from the card slot in addition to a reshuffle effect. I can do without the whole “surprise” factor if it means that I and I alone am the only one that manipulates the size of my graveyard. Because of how easily it turns on, it can basically act as a rattlesnake effect towards anyone touching your graveyard, in addition to it being available for you to use whenever (for example, it’s time for you to hate out the other reanimator player, or perhaps you’re ready to reshuffle some spells). The only reason I could see myself not wanting a permanent down with the effect as an ability tacked onto it is if the card is being used purely offensively, to hate other graveyard shenanigans out (they won’t commit to the yard if they see you can undo their work at any time), but I would argue that’s a fairly unwise use of a slot in most EDH decks as is. You have to use what versatility and options you are given (in this case, using the reshuffle effect both as protection for yourself and as offense against other graveyard strategies)!

        Thanks for reading, as always, gentlemen!

      2. Wally D.

        Great points Kuchisama! And, I have to agree with you… on the Narset art 🙂 Next to Liliana of the Veil, Narset Transcendent is my favorite planeswalker art… and I did not realize she was on Learn from the Past. Awesome!

        As far as Quest vs Learn. I’m gonna run both in Lazav for now. It’s time to hate on some graveyards!

        Great discussion all!

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