Last time I said I was making a conscious effort not to talk about only blue cards, but this one’s caught my eye after it worked its way into my new Bruna, Light of Alabaster deck. I also happen to think this format suffers from the use of too many tutors, and this card is a tutor, but it’s definitely a tutor with a twist. It’s a strange rare from Scourge called Long-Term Plans.
What does it do?
LTP fetches any card in your deck and puts it three from the top, and it does it for instant speed. Most blue tutors come with a caveat, usually based on card type, but this one has the caveat that you don’t get it right now.
What’s good about that?
First off, any tutor that can fetch any card in your deck is worth a look. As mentioned, most blue tutors are of the Mystical Tutor variety and only get spells, so if you’re looking for permanents there aren’t many options in blue. There’s Intuition, of course, but that’s generally used slightly differently. Past that, you’re limited to strange cards like Mangara’s Tome and Parallel Thoughts to get exactly what you want.
One of the biggest upsides of this card is its instant speed, especially in the color it’s in. You can pass the turn with Counterspell mana up, and if the need to use it doesn’t arise, tutor at the end step before your turn! (Blue’s best two tutors, Mystical Tutor and Intuition, are good partially for this reason, too.) Additionally, if you have Sensei’s Divining Top on the table, you can tutor at instant speed, pay 1 more to re-arrange the top 3 and draw your card with Top. Need a Capsize? You got it! Need a Mana Drain? You got it! Devastation Tide at instant speed? Hello miracle cost — provided, of course, that you haven’t already drawn a card at instant speed that turn, but that’s generally not going to happen.
As mentioned, if you have Top on the board, you can get the card right away. Similarly, Mirri’s Guile and Sylvan Library, among lots of other cards like Soothsaying or Aladdin’s Lamp (hah), can get whatever you tutor for next time you draw. Future Sight probably lets you get whatever you tutored for the turn after you cast LTP. Blue is also better than any other color at getting multiple cards per turn, so if you’d like your card now, why not just draw all of the next three with Compulsive Research, Tidings, Recurring Insight, Fact or Fiction, or any other of a lengthy list of cards that are probably already in your deck? If you’ve got a Consecrated Sphinx on the board, in addition to probably already winning, you’re guaranteed to have whatever you tutor for during your next main phase.
The card is relatively-well costed for a tutor that gets any kind of card. At the same cost, Fabricate is a sorcery, and only gets artifacts. It’s a good turn-3 play to set up some, ahem, long-term plans, and if you have the right cards, it can get you what you want almost right now. It’s also very splashable in U/x, U/x/x, or 5-color decks.
What’s bad about that?
The downside is pretty obvious and it’s printed right on the card. Without a little work, you don’t get the card right now. Assuming that you’ll cast it end step before your turn, you’ll have to wait two more turns to get it if you don’t do anything else. There’s a hidden problem with this, too — there are so many effects that shuffle your deck in Commander that if you’re not careful, you’ll shuffle away all your hard work. Don’t crack that fetchland!
If you need something right now, this card might not be able to get it for you. If you really need that Evacuation, you don’t have long-term plans, you have right-now needs. There aren’t many cards in blue, though, that solve this problem — even Mystical Tutor puts it on top, and to get exactly what you need from Intuition you need an effective 3-of or a package that includes some way to get what you want through recursion (e.g. the spell you want, Snapcaster Mage, and Call to Mind).
Lastly, like all tutors that don’t put the card in your hand, it’s card disadvantage. However, in slow multiplayer formats like Commander, card quality and consistency is more important than card advantage, and in the long-term, Long-Term Plans improves your card quality and consistency markedly.
Long-Term Plans is a bulk rare that shouldn’t cost you more than $1, with the foil being $2. It doesn’t get much more affordable than that. It just might be hard to find as it’s from a fairly unpopular middle set.
What kinds of decks run this card?
LTP is admittedly a niche card that not all decks need or want. It’s great in control/combo decks though — that is, blue decks — because of its capacity to be used EOT to set-up eventual big plays. Control decks tend to sit around and not do much anyway except try to maintain a static board state, so a 3-turn wait (at worst) is no big deal. It’s great to get a card like Devastation Tide or Oblivion Stone, sit around behind some control cards like bounce and countermagic, and slow-roll the table. It’s very good at getting combo pieces provided you don’t need to go-off RIGHT NOW.
It’s also not the worst in U/x aggro decks to go get a Triumph of the Hordes, or in other U/x decks to grab an Insurrection or other stupid bomb that you’ll probably want to wait a few turns to cast anyway. LTP for Kozilek, Butcher of Truth while you wait around and ramp sure ain’t bad.
And, of course, any deck that runs Sensei’s Divining Top or the green optimization spells can certainly slot this card in. Give it a whirl — you’ll probably be as pleasantly surprised as I was how good it can be.