Friday 30 July 2021

Bone Shards


Apparently I missed this one on the MH2 reviews. Perhaps I thought it was a reprint somehow? This card is great. A really useful little removal spell that can help enable some other synergies. The flexibility on this latest iteration of Bone Splinters is just enough to finally make this kind of card playable. This comes as a little bit of a surprise as it is a sorcery but being able to take out the main two types of threat for one mana with the additional cost of your choice is not only a burden we can stomach but often a perk. 

The card is somewhere around the Baleful Mastery and Bloodchief's Thirst mark. All three kill walkers and dorks and all three have potential cost incursions. Compared to Thirst Bone Shards scales rather better and can offer big midgame tempo swings. Early on the Shards are generally worse but that hasn't stopped Path to Exile being a premium answer for many a year! Thirst is a card that covers you but rarely pulls you ahead, it is a buoyancy aid at best. A necessary evil from time to time. Bone Shards however can be game winning thanks to the low cost throughout its range. 

Compared to Baleful Mastery Bone Shards simply has a much better downside. Giving away a card is far more dangerous than discarding one of your own. Conceding a good thing rather than taking control of a bad thing might not inherently have that feel bad emotion going on but it is absolutely worse. In theory the thing you lose will be your least important thing where as the thing you give them will be an average thing. This is also assuming that the additional cost is a cost and not a boon such as pitching a Bloodghast or sacrificing an Eye Twitch etc. Bone Shards is just a nice cheap removal spell that is reliable and often providing supporting synergy. Sure, it doesn't exile, it doesn't have an alternate play mode that skips past the potential drawback, and it isn't instant. Good frankly, the card is well placed as it is. I like my choices in removal to be interesting and with a little bit more this would be rather better than the alternatives and take away from those interesting choices. 

Presently I give it a 7/10 rating which sounds low given the praise just laden on it. I would still play clunkier fairer removal spells in more control decks as they don't need the spot removal to be part of what pulls them ahead as much. Also black is just doing really well for good removal these days and so there is less competition on those kinds of card. That lowers their pick rate and so has the appearance of reducing playability. Remove a couple of other cube worthy black removal spells from the pool and this could easily be an 8/10 card. It is likely a lock in for all budget cubes as well as any supporting sac or discard synergies, which is most cubes. In powered cubes the low cost carries it a long way, in unpowered cube the tempo swing is big (yes, these are similar things but specifically having a card you can play for 1 or 2 mana is important in powered cubes, the tempo element is more to do with low cost with high effect at all stages of the game. Force Spike has the former but not the latter for example). As it currently stands I struggle to think of a cube where Bone Shards shouldn't be. That all being said a meta swing or a continuation of the rapid printing of high quality cards and I can easily imagine this not remaining the case in perpetuity.  


  1. Nice article on nice cheap removal. Can I make a commission ? It would be great to have a review of the non basic making colored manas, the likes of Karakas, Mystic Sanctuary and Castle Embereth, to name a few. I see you have a very limited number of these in your cube. So it could be interesting to know why.

    1. Thanks and yes you can! Make a donation to a charity of your choosing and let me know which. Are you looking for a comprehensive review or just the good ones?

      I can give you the short answer on why there are so few in the cube now. Sadly it is down to relatively low impact combined with limited space. Normally you can just add a card to the cube if it is sufficiently playable but when it comes to utility lands you also need it to have an impact upon most games. Competing for slots with basic lands that don't need picking is a rough place to be in cube!

    2. Thanks & Done! Here is the charity: They do thing for visually impaired people in France, and they sound like nice people. If you want to send the proof of gift, let me know.
      As for the article, what I would appreciate is that you develop a bit more on your approach, but do what you feel like, really. I was really surprised not to see at least Karakas in your list.

    3. Good man. Thanks. I'll check them out and no need to prove your good deeds. Already started on the commission :)

      Karakas not in as I banned it for being too good. It stifles what you can play as so many of the good creatures are legendary. I would have it back in like a shot with an errata to only bounce your own creatures and it would still be really strong at that, it just wouldn't ruin fun cards other people want to play with. You literally couldn't play legends over 2 mana unless they had nutty EtB effects with Karakas in the format. It was a first pick card and was always played even off colour hence the ban.

  2. A lot of people (myself included) probably read it as Bone *Splinters* which would be a reprint. This card, while clearly related to the original, is better both in targets and casting requirements. Slam-dunk inclusion in both of my cubes quite happy with it so far (both cubes).