Adventures in Magic the Gathering: Oath of the Gatewatch Spoilers Week 2

Last week I talked about a whole bunch of spoilers from the first week of the official spoiler season. There were lots of cards that were spoiled during that time, and they definitely set off a frenzy among the playerbase, since a lot of the rares seem to be really powerful, especially the Eldrazi cards. Ulamog’s brood is rather absent this time around while Kozilek’s brood is taking center-stage, but the Zendikari are also getting stuck right in, and it is definitely a great time to be playing with these sets.

Moving on from cards such as Linvala, the Preserver or the Oath cycle of legendary enchantments or the new manlands or goblins and what not, we have some more really exciting cards in the week 2 roundup. A lot of the best seemed to have been saved for the last, and I certainly don’t mind that. And now that we have the full round of spoilers from Oath of the Gatewatch out, it is also looking like the rares from this set are much more powerful than the rares from Battle For Zendikar, which is quite an interesting difference. So let’s get on with them!

Oath of the Gatewatch

As I mentioned last week, this is a pretty stunning image. The four members of the Gatewatch facing off against the two Eldrazi Titans in the distance. That this is the art for Call The Gatewatch is pretty neat, and the defiant and ready stances of the four Planeswalkers are definitely portentous for the future of Zendikar, as we’ll see in some of the cards that were spoiled over the course of the second week of official spoilers.

overwhelmingdenialThis one is a rather interesting counterspell. In control mirrors, there inevitably is a counterspell war when one player wants to put a big threat on the board, or protect that threat, and in those games, the value of Overwhelming Denial is undeniable. It will win you the counterspell war outright without wasting too many resources. And though the non-Surge cost is a bit high for such a spell, the fact that it is uncounterable surely speaks in its favour.

embodimentofinsightWhen Embodiment of Fury was spoiled, and then this, I’d thought that there would be a full cycle of these cards in all the five colours. However, it turns out that I was wrong on that account. The design and development teams have concentrated these powerful cards in the RG colours since they have pushed those colours for the Landfall mechanic. Still, I’m a bit bummed that this creature provides just Vigilance. Trample would have been more suitable I think, but then perhaps these land creatures would have been a bit too overpowered against token strategies. Regardless, I like this card anyway. This card is also obviously good in multiples and combined with Embodiment of Fury, you can create an army of land creatures in short order.

sylvanadvocateAnd that’s where Sylvan Advocate comes into play. What would an army of creatures with vigilance and first strike need further? A stat boost of course. Just having one of each of these cards in play means that with every seventh land you put down, you get two 5/5 land creatures with vigilance, haste and first strike. That is kind of just ridiculous. I suspect that this entire combo will be one of the things that players test out significantly in the days to come, especially since it looks to be a pretty sweet casual play combo. And again, these cards get better in multiples, and should you happen to have Omnath, Locus of Rage in play as well, then you get some more cool synergies with Landfall and Elementals.

RGUBDualsThese two are part of the new cycle of dual lands that we will be getting in Oath of the Gatewatch. Now that the full spoilers are out, my hopes of seeing the design and development teams complete the Battle Lands cycle have been rather dashed as we have ended up with these in lieu of those. However, all is not lost since these dual lands, with no upside other than being duals unfortunately, are at uncommon and will go a long way in providing some much-needed mana-fixing for Limited play. That was definitely something that was missing from Battle For Zendikar Limited since the lack of mana-fixing meant playing 3 or even 4 colour decks was a really, really risky move. Not so much anymore.

OathGideonChandraThese two cards round out the 4-part Oath cycle of legendary enchantments for this set. Here again we have a really good enchantment and a so-so enchantment. While the cycle really pushes you to play with a Planeswalker-heavy deck, even in decks without multiple Planeswalkers, Oath of Gideon in particular is really good. Take a tokens or Ally deck for example. The enchantment will provide you with two decent bodies that can be pumped up with anthem/crusade effects, and then any Planeswalkers you control come with an additional loyalty counter. And that last thing can translate into: a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar who can come into play, minus for the anthem, and still stick around; a Chandra, Flamecaller who can ultimate immediately to wrath any x/5s on the board, which is important in a field of Siege Rhinos and Tasigurs. It also means that for some other Planeswalkers, their ultimates are even faster, such as for Ob Nixilis Reignited and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Sorin, Solemn Visitor among others. And the fact of the matter is that any additional loyalty counter is additional protection for your Planeswalker, on a basic level.

Oath of Chandra is a bit weird. If the enchantment hit players with the ETB effect, then we would be talking, but it depends on your opponent having a board, and that reduces the utility in comparison with the other Oaths. And then, the second ability demands that you continually put down Planeswalkers for a rather mediocre opponent, and I just shake my head at the missed opportunities. Now, if it was that “At the beginning of each end step, if a Planeswalker entered the battlefield this turn, Oath of Chandra deals 2 damage to each opponent”, where the difference is that the Planeswalkers doesn’t have to be under your control, then we’d be talking.

eldrazidisplacerThis is one of the sweetest cards for constructed in this set. Simply put, by activating the ability, you can double up on your Siege Rhino triggers, which is a pretty big thing. You can also save creatures in combat who are about to die by simply removing them from combat. This is a repeatable flicker that allows you to abuse your ETB/LTB effects on creatures. Greenwarden of Murasa, Siege Rhino, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and more are so much stronger now. Also, the card can act as pseudo-removal, such as reducing a massive Warden of the First Tree to a paltry 1/1 that the opponent must spend resources on buffing up. There is so much that the ability can do and it is stuck on a pretty decently costed creature as well.

OGWEquipment

For any aggressive equipment-based deck, Bone Saw is great, especially in combination with some of the creatures in Oath of the Gatewatch that work with equipment, such as Stone Haven Outfitter and Kazuul’s Toll Collector and Weapons Trainer. Of course, if you look at the casting cost for this card, it works really good in aggressive Surge decks, perhaps those that use creatures such as Reckless Bushwhacker and Goblin Freerunner. Strider Harness in comparison is less good. It is, in fact, rather mediocre and meant more to be a limited card, best I can tell. The stat boost is nice and all, but the secondary effect of providing haste is asking for a lot, especially if you didn’t already have it on the battlefield, and wasting three mana for that is just asking for trouble.

Captain’s Claws is also another potentially-great equipment card for Standard. The best home for it is in an ally deck, and it just so happens that both Stone Haven Outfitter and Weapons Trainer are allies, which ups the value for both this card and for them. Put it all together into a package with cheap aggressive allies, and Stoneforge Masterwork, and you have a great beatdown deck that works well in the sort of go-wide strategies that ally decks are meant for. Whether it has any competitive legs is a separate matter, but for casual play, I’d definitely jump on board. The continuous source of Rally triggers for allies is pretty valuable, as far as I’m concerned.

pyromancersassaultI really like this card. Obviously it works very well with Surge decks, but even just otherwise it has a lot of value. Curving from Jori En, Ruin Diver into Pyromancer’s Assault sets you up for some devastating turns where you get both card advantage and also start to burn down your opponent. A deck with this card will obviously need to rely a lot on cheap spells to carry the day, but that’s not too hard in the current Standard. There could even be some sort of a ramp deck that wants to make use of this, in that it fully commits to the board with mana dorks and ramp spells in their main phase rather than holding back a few things on the opponent’s turn. I think this card definitely has Constructed potential, and at uncommon, it will also be a sort-of cheap build-around-me-card.

OGWBurnThese are some of the burn spells that can be found in the new set. They are all pretty different, and yet none of them are true burn spells. At least, none of them have the amazing utility that spells like Lightning Strike did in the previous Standard season. I really miss Lightning Strike right now. Sparkmage’s Gambit is purely a Limited card, intended to be an early speed bump against x/1 creatures in the format, of which there are plenty. Tears of Valakut is the reverse of Dragons of Tarkir‘s Roast which only targeted creatures without flying. And now we have this. Being uncounterable certainly counts for a lot, but I think that this will be a singleton sideboard card at best in Constructed because there aren’t enough relevant big flying creatures in competitive Standard right now for this to see any decent level of play.

Devour In Flames is an interesting card in that it has the additional cost to you of bouncing one of your lands while also being able to take x/5s and Planeswalkers. The ability is a bit expensive for a burn spell of this sort, but being able to pretty much take out Planeswalkers without committing creatures on the attack is relevant. However, I think that this too is a sideboard card at best. In Limited it will have some value because of the spell lands from Battle For Zendikar like Sandstone Bridge and Looming Spires etc, but in Constructed I doubt it will see much play. And finally, Boulder Salvo is a card that only really has Limited applications because of the cost involved. If you can reliably trigger Surge in your deck for Standard, then this is kind of good, but most of the time in most red decks I think it would just rot in the hand. Roast or Fiery Impulse with Spell Mastery active are just better at what they do.

OGWStoryMomentThese are the two big story-moment cards of Oath of the Gatewatch as Allied Hedron Network was for Battle For Zendikar. First of all, the art composition really bothers me here. If you put the two cards together, then you don’t really get a neat composite image of the art, and even then, the computer-generated nature of the art just seems really off. Looking past the art however, one of these is definitely way better than the other. For instance, Bonds of Mortality has some niche interactions with difficult to remove creatures such as Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre; Sphinx of the Final Word; Sigarda, Host of Herons; any of the creatures in the Bogles deck, any creature(s) in the Infect decks being pumped up by a Vines of Vastwood and so on. That Bonds of Mortality replaces itself is a point in its favour. The secondary interaction however is very specific and I don’t think it will prove to be that good in Standard. Modern, there’s an outside chance this sees play.

Fall of the Titans on the other hand is, I think, really good. Assuming for a second that you are able to trigger the Surge cost on it, that essentially cuts down your mana investment by almost half, and in exchange for something as paltry as a Wild Slash or Fiery Impulse or Jaddi Offshoot or even a Bone Saw of all things. You get to straight out burn your opponent. The fact that Fall of the Titans is also a kinda-sorta nice wrath is just an added bonus. This one is sure to find itself a place in the various Eldrazi ramp decks in Standard, which can use it as a neat finisher. This is obviously bad if you have to pay the full retail, and so that limits some of the functionality on the card, but I think it is still good. And yeah, given the sort of environment that Modern is, this could even see some play in various red decks, such as Twin variants or RG Tron or something like that. I wouldn’t rule out that possibility.

OGWUncommons2These five cards round out the gold uncommons cycle for Oath of the Gatewatch. Previously, we saw some decent cards that varied from being Constructed playable to Limited stars, and the same holds true here as well. In a BW lifegain/allies deck, Cliffhaven Vampire is a great beater. It blocks well, has decent aggressive stats alongwith evasion, and it also doubles the clock on your opponent should you have something like Drana’s Emissary out, or even Kalastria Healer and Zulaport Cutthroat. I don’t see this making the jump to Standard however, because it is a touch too slow for what it does. Baloth Null on the other hand looks to be a both Limited and Constructed all-star. Yes, it is an expensive creature, but it has some terrific abilities and stats to go with that that make it a contender in the aforementioned formats on a competitive level. For one, it can return anything from Siege Rhino to Tarmogoyf back to your hand from the graveyard, and it returns two of them even. It replaces itself twice over! And then, for decks that care about Zombies or what have you, especially on the Casual level, it looks to be a decent addition.

The Void Grafter on the other hand is in a weird place. It looks to be good in Limited, but its Standard-playability is up in the air because it kind of happens to be in an odd color-pairing. Perhaps the UG ramp decks in the metagame might find a use for it, but I have doubts about that, namely because the trigger is ETB and not on-cast. An on-cast trigger for that ability would be amazing. Stormchaser Mage, which brings back the freshly-evergreen ability Prowess, is definitely going to see a lot of play in both Limited and Standard, perhaps even Modern. And the main reason for any of that is because this is one of the most aggressively costed cards in the entire set for what it does: a 2-drop 1/3 flier with haste that also has Prowess? Totally nuts. Put this in a Surge deck and just blowout your opponent with all that evasion. You won’t regret it. And for Modern, it happens to be in the most-played color-pairing, giving it the option of yet another aggressive early creature. Weapons Trainer on the other hand looks to be primarily for Limited, with some possible fringe play in Standard, albeit in a dedicated equipment/allies deck. It is your reward, so to speak, for drafting the WR color combination, especially if you are able to pick up lots of equipment. And yeah, if you have this in multiples somehow, you can have a frighteningly large army in short order. This might actually be worse off in Sealed than Draft, but we shall see.

inverteroftruthThis one is quite possibly one of the most weird cards in the set. The way that the bottom text is worded, your existing library is exiled face-down and then whatever is in your graveyard becomes the new library. The “old” library is effectively lost to you. So in that situation, while a 6/6 flier for 4 is an amazing rate, the main ability means that you can’t really put this out as a 4-drop. It is simply a late-game card that might help you to stabilize. If you play this too early, when you don’t have a sufficiently stocked graveyard, and the opponent has some kind of a removal spell for Inverter of Truth, it is game over because you pulled the plug too early and your opponent will just have better draws.

hedronalignmentThis takes the prize for the weirdest card in the entire set. It is an alternate win condition, other than reducing your opponent’s life-total to zero that is, and it is a mind-melter. Let’s start with the fact that Hedron Alignment is hexproof, which means that it cannot be destroyed by any spell your opponent controls, which certainly helps it stick on the battlefield. And then, if you have a copy of the card in four different zones, then you just outright win. Oh and it also lets you scry, which combined with the hexproof means that you can really get some mileage out of this card, should you choose to brew up and play a Hedron Alignment deck. However, the biggest enemy of this deck will be any GWx deck since those decks have access to Dromoka’s Command. Unless you have any other enchantments on the battlefield, your opponents will be able to dispose of this at a rather cheap cost. Some sort of a WU control shell would be ideal for this deck I am assuming. Last time we got a wacky enchantment like this was in Origins with Demonic Pact, however that deck has fallen to the wayside since rotation. It was a fad for a time and then it just mellowed off. I suspect the same is in store for this as well.

BlackEldraziRarBoth these cards are rather interesting. On their own, they don’t really do much and require some support, but regardless I think they’ll have a niche role in both Limited and Standard. A 2/1 flier for 2 is a decent rate and not being able to block means that it is intended for an aggressive deck. But at the same time, it also brings along some nice removal and against an opponent who is beating down, it can be rather relevant. Though, it is more valuable in Limited rather than Standard, since in the mid-late game, it is not so good and there are generally better things to be done. Sifter of Skulls however is really good and in the right deck its ability can really be abused. In a Rally deck, Sifter of Skulls can be a powerhouse when you are sacrificing nontoken creatures, such as when you cast Rally and protect your creatures from going to the exile zone by just sacrificing them to a Nantuko Husk for instance. At 4 mana, it can’t be brought in off a Collected Company and that might limit its usability in that particular deck, but I think it can still fulfill an important role, since it has some rather beefy stats.

These are all excellent cards. Matter Reshaper is the kind of card that a Rally deck would love to abuse. It acts as a pseudo-Collected Company except that it can also put down any Enchantments or Artifacts or Planeswalkers or the like down on the board, in addition to creatures. It has a good body for just 3 mana, goes in any deck that can play it without any colorlessness-fuss, and is generally all-around great. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rally players brew with this card, to see if it gives them any kind of mileage. Thought-Knot Seer is actually good enough to see some Modern play even because it brings alongwith its 4/4 body a Thoughtseize-like effect. Sure, the opponent will get a card when it leaves the battlefield, but that can also be one of their worst draws, so the random nature is definitely something to your advantage. It is on-curve for a lot of decks and being as big as it is, it can stonewall a ton of creatures in the current Standard format, and even Modern where most fair decks don’t really run anything bigger, except in a few corner cases. Reality Smasher on the other hand, is excellent because it has both trample and haste that come on a massive 5/5 body. Against Siege Rhino decks, this creature is going to be bringing the big beatdowns, forcing them to block or take a big punch to the face. And it has some natural evasion as well that protects it from targeted removal and abilities. So a Siege Rhino deck can’t even use a Dromoka’s Command to win against this card. Only cards that you make you sacrifice creatures will be good against Reality Smasher. I’m excited to play with this card as soon as I can!

 CohortnSupportAnd we come back to the two other new mechanics in Oath of the Gatewatch, Support and Cohort. As you can see here again, both mechanics are overcosted for what they do and simply don’t do enough. Both these cards are so-so for Limited, and are definitely not Constructed material. If the Relief Captain could add a counter to itself, that would have been amazing because then at least you’d get some value from the ability if you didn’t have any other creatures on the field. The fact that the card can add up to 7 power on the board for the cost of 4 mana is simply negated by how much you need to be dumping your hand on the board for it to work properly. And the same kind of goes for Drana’s Chosen because tapping down two creatures to get a bear on the field is just so meh. I’d initially had high hopes for Cohort, but as the spoilers unraveled, it became apparent that the design and development teams had simply chosen to once again limit the power of allies in Standard. Even in Limited, tapping down two creatures and missing an attack with either of them is a big tempo loss.

 SurgeCreatureCommonsSome more Surge creatures this time. Of the two, Goblin Freerunner is a better card on its own than Jwar Isle Avenger, looking at the stats and at the casting costs. Menace is a good ability to have in Limited, in my experience because it gives some natural evasion from big creatures or even smaller creatures which can take down the creature in combat. Of course, if you happen to play against an opponent with lots of Scions and cheap creatures on the board, then Menace loses a lot of value. In most cases, the value of Goblin Freerunner is entirely in getting it out early. Turn 2 is not possible unless you are running Bone Saw, so looking at it as a 3-drop is more appropriate. Fine for Limited, entirely meh for Standard. Jwar Isle Avenger on the other hand, gets really good if you pay the discount. A 3/3 flier for 3 is pretty damn amazing, especially in Limited; it is a good beater with natural evasion. I’d pick the Avenger over the Freerunner in Booster Draft every time unless I was heavily committed to red, blue was a splash at best AND I had enough ways to trigger the Surge.

OGWManaRocksMana rocks! Mana rocks can be fun. They don’t always have any Constructed applications, at least not of the last few sets, but in Limited at least they can be key components of certain decks. Not to mention that Hedron Crawler is an early blocker that can also ramp, while Seer’s Lantern has an important scry ability, which can get you out of some jams in the late game when you are both in the top-decking mode. Not much to talk about here, except that these are cool niche cards.

voidshatterBattle for Zendikar gave us a hard counter in the way of Scatter The Winds which came with an attached Awaken ability that was relevant in the late game. Oath of the Gatewatch has given us this, Void Shatter, which is relevant at all times and sets you up to use some of your processor Eldrazi such as Wasteland Strangler or Ruin Processor or what have you. This card might perhaps also find its way into Modern if the Devoid ability becomes relevant in any way. It is a hard counter and counts as colorless!

giftoftusksThis is a card that I think could definitely find a way to be relevant in Standard in some niche decks. Turning a Monastery Swiftspear into a 3/3 creature while you pile on some spells to trigger the Prowess. Of course, it is important that you stack all your triggers properly so that you don’t end up with just a random vanilla 3/3, but still, this can be a powerful card in some builds. In Limited, this can be a blowout because it is cheap and you can ambush your opponent out of nowhere, whether on the attack or on defense. Worth splashing for even if you depend on lots of cheap creatures in other colors. Some pumps and this can be a huge swing.

warpingwailI find this card to be extremely meh. It is only really good in the early stages of a game. In Standard it is only relevant if creatures such as Warden of the First Tree, Monastery Swiftspear and Abbot of Keral Keep among others are not pumped up and the opponent is tapped out, because it is pretty easy to get around Warping Wail with them. In Limited, when you have cards such as Blisterpod or Dimensional Infiltrator or any other number of x/1s or 1/Xs, then this gets slightly better, but I’d still pick it very low for a deck. The second mode is somewhat more relevant, but being able to counter only a sorcery holds it back. The third mode is perhaps the most meh mode because it basically involves wasting a mana, whereas with the other two modes you get to do something more constructive. Limited fodder at best.

zendikarresurgentPotentially a very powerful card, but held back by the high cost, which is fair given the abilities on it, and in ramp decks, it jockeys for slot availability against other drops in the 6-8 range. This is not a Limited card by any means because the decks that might want to run this already have their hands full with stuff like Bane of Bala Ged, Plated Crusher, Omnath, Locus of Rage, etc from Battle For Zendikar or Deceiver of Form, Dread Defiler, World Breaker etc from Oath of the Gatewatch. And in Standard this competes against stuff like Sphinx of the Final Word, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Dragonlord Atarka etc, or even something like Nissa’s Renewal. Worth looking into, but by no means a certainty.

ruinintheirwakeI like this one. From all we’ve seen of the set, Wastes is just a weak card because there are so many options for better colorless-producing lands in Oath of the Gatewatch alone. The payoff for playing lots of Wastes is simply cards like Walker of the Wastes and Ruin In Their Wake here. This card will reward you for playing a Wastes early, because it is essentially ramp and is more valuable early than late, mostly because this is a sorcery and the basic will enter tapped. Limited fodder sadly.

birthinghulkThis is a bomb card. A 5/4 for seven mana isn’t that great really, especially since it doesn’t have an ability like First Strike or Trample or what have you. But… this bad boy brings along two devoted followers who coincidentally provide enough mana to regenerate it. So in that way, Birthing Hulk will always dodge the first removal targeted at it, though it cannot be protected from exile effects or bounce effects. This is a good enough card to pick early in Draft, is good in Sealed IMO, and depending on how the meta might shape up in the next few days once the set is released, it might find itself a home in the Eldrazi ramp decks as a big beater. It will catch you up from behind by giving you three blockers and can also protect itself at least once.

RedCohortCommonsThese two cards are among the many in the set that highlight how bad Cohort as a mechanic really is. Assume you have both these on the field, combined total of 5 power. Do you tap them both to activate either Cohort ability? Just so damn weak. I’d rather attack with them than ping the opponent for one damage or to rummage for a single card. Extremely disappointing.

kazuulstollcollectorThe idea of an Ogre acting as a Toll Collector is rather hilarious. And the fact that instead of a proper flail, this brute is using a small hedron as the pointy-end is even more hilarious. A 3 mana 3/2 is so-so for Limited, but what really excites me about this card is its ability where I can freely attach any equipment to this creature, no need to pay any mana. For a card like Bone Saw, I pay no mana to either bring it on the battlefield or to equip it. If you pick up one or two copies of this card and then some decent equipment, then you are well on the way to having a decent aggressive deck here. RW are the colours for an equipment-based deck in Limited, and I can’t wait to start playing in Limited with this archetype. For Standard, this is rather mediocre actually but perhaps something might come of it if we can get some decent decklists going.

realityhemorrhageThis could have been the second coming of Lightning Strike in Standard. Ever since that card rotated in October last year, x/3 creatures have gotten a lot better. Creatures such as Mantis Rider and Warden of the First Tree in particular are much stronger because of the lack of early interaction (Wild Slash and Fiery Impulse deal with them, yes, but they have other limitations attached). Instead, we got a slightly-worse Lightning Shock. For Standard, I don’t see this card being played at all, and even for Limited, its usage is not that great. It will easily fall to the wayside in the coming weeks.

consumingsinkholeThis is an interesting niche card. While the Standard playability is highly negated by its high casting cost, in Limited this looks to be rather good actually because it can take care of any Awakened lands, or Landfalled lands off the Embodiment elementals or even the manlands. That’s pretty powerful in a way. And then the second mode allows you to burn face, which is not all that bad really. Even Stoke The Flames costed 4, though you discounted it by casting it off some goblin tokens or what have you. This will be a semi-late pick in Draft, and so-so for Sealed, primarily for the sideboard, but I think this will see some good play regardless.

 corpsechurnCorpse Churn is an interesting effect. Usually, from my limited experience playing the game, milling effects can be pretty powerful dependent on what your goal is. Decks such as Rally the Ancestors and Whip of Erebos have shown that if you are able to get cards back from your graveyard, then you can do some really busted things with them. In that context, Corpse Churn can be somewhat powerful, and it is also a card that will inevitably have some synergy with cards in the upcoming Shadows Over Innistrad set, which returns us to Innistrad, a plane with a historically graveyard-matters theme. From a Limited point of view, or even Standard for that matter, returning your best creature from your graveyard to your hand, or even the battlefield is pretty relevant, especially in the late game. That’s when your graveyard is going to be stocked with used spells and dead creatures and you are in top deck mode, hunting for answers. Corpse Churn can put you ahead. Which is what you want in a card like this. Being able to cast the creature you return in the same turn is also a significant advantage, should you be in that position.

graspofdarknessThis is probably one of the best removal cards in the entire set. It is kind of a mini-Languish in a way, and I like it. In fact, given that many of the x/5s in the current Standard format will be rotating soon enough, this might even see some play post-rotation especially in various Standard decks. The casting cost is slightly prohibitive, and we don’t yet know how the mana base will look like post-rotation, but I expect this card to be a staple. In the current format, it still has a lot of use, given that manabases today can easily accommodate the double black thanks to the combination of fetchlands and battle lands. For limited, definitely premium removal, since it hits most anything, except for some of the big Eldrazi creatures.

witnesstheendThis is yet another interesting card, and it just so happens that design and development made all the Devoid/Eldrazi cards better by far when compared to the normal cards. Sure, it is sorcery speed and it costs a whopping 4 mana, but it also has two neat effects that are sure to see some play in Standard brews and in Limited as well. Discard spells usually put the cards discarded as part of the resolution of the given spell in the graveyard. Hitting the opponent’s hand is a pretty big deal because you get to look at their hand, see what kind of stuff they have, and then take the best card from that hand and put it in the graveyard. For Rally decks, that usually involves taking their spells because hitting creatures just gives them more fodder for their combo engine. For most other decks, you can take whatever you desire, though if they have Den Protector, then they can possibly return that card. But Witness The End exiles the cards, and that’s much more relevant. And the opponent has to choose up to two cards, which can be really backbreaking, in either Limited or Constructed. And on top of that, they also lose 2 life. That’s just disgusting. I expect this to be a powerhouse card in Limited more than Standard, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some control decks started experimenting with this in Standard.

oblivionstrikeSimple and clean. No conditions. Just straight up removal spell that exiles the creature and gives you more food for your Eldrazi Processors. Following this up with any of the Processors will set you up pretty well to really get ahead on the board.

unityofpurposeAnother weird card from the set. Perhaps even reflective of how Jace has been working with the other notable Planeswalkers to save Zendikar from the Eldrazi and his role in the Gatewatch as an entity. I mean, a blue card giving +1/+1 counters and providing a defensive combat trick? That’s certainly new (blue Awaken spells in Battle For Zendikar are a separate thing)! And thankfully this is a spell so I can choose to put the counters on any creatures I control. Honestly, even the creatures with Support should have been like this, instead of putting counters on other creatures, which would have allowed you to get some value out of them, as I said above.

umaraentanglerI love this card. I’ve recently developed a fascination with Merfolk in Modern, and while this card doesn’t quite make the cut in Modern for the deck since it doesn’t run many non-creature spells, this should be a good inclusion in the Jeskai decks for Standard. It is also an Ally, which should be relevant in some casual Ally builds (let’s face it, Wizards dropped the ball with Allies in the return to Zendikar and as an archetype they aren’t competitive in Standard). And it has Prowess as well, which adds in a different dimension. Abbot of the Keral Keep is still a better Prowess 2-drop, but you rarely play it as a 2-drop anyway. I’d definitely not feed bad in playing with this in a deck. For Limited, if you can load up on enough combat tricks and the like, this should be a solid pick.

ancientcrabScrew everything. I just want some peace.

cyclonesireDecently costed for Limited purposes, Cyclone Sire has a neat death trigger and it is important because you are basically even on card advantage in that scenario. Sure, this can be exiled with Oblivion Strike or Complete Disregard, and that is something you should be cognizant of when playing Cyclone Sire, but I don’t think that that’s too big of a deal. This has some natural evasion and is a big threat for your opponent by turn 5. It demands some really specific answers. It could be compared to Wingmate Roc, the premier 5-drop flier in Standard, but it loses in that comparison because Wingmate Roc brings an extra body with it, which stays around regardless of how the bird is dealt with. This is not the case here, so I doubt that this will ever see play in Standard, outside of perhaps some kind of a sacrifice-graveyard deck post-rotation in April.

wallofresurgenceThis is absolutely amazing. Turn 3 is usually not when you want to be casting any Walls or what have you, that’s reserved more for turns 1 and 2, but the great thing about this one is that it is a good topdeck late game as well. It gives you two bodies, one defensive and one aggressive, and you can use them as you wish. And three mana isn’t that much to pay either so it should find a home in most decks. For Draft, I wouldn’t pick it early necessarily, because at that point I want to really go deep in my colours, but this is a good pick anyway. For Standard, not much to stay here. Not worth it.

stoneforgeacolyteThey tease us with Stone Haven Outfitter. They tease us with Stoneforge Masterwork. They tease us with all the equipment in this set. They tease us with Stoneforge Acolyte. They teases us with a Stoneforge Mystic GP Promo. And we still don’t get a Stoneforge Mystic reprint. Instead we get this. As a 1-drop, this is mediocre. As a Cohort creature, it is mediocre. Although I don’t mind tapping this creature for the ability. Still, eh.

 OGWWhiteTricksThese are some of the more interesting combat tricks from the set. The thing about Dazzling Reflection is that it can totally ruin the RG Landfall combo. That’s a deck that uses the combo of combat tricks to pump up creatures to the point where they can all of a sudden do 14-18 damage in a single fell swoop, thanks to the combination of Titan’s Strength, Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense. You cast this card, and all of a sudden you gain that much life instead, making your opponent’s job that much harder, and then you completely fog out that creature. Huge tempo swing. You can even use this on something like Dragonlord Atarka or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Dragonlord Ojutai, and all of a sudden, you prevent some busted things. This could definitely see some Standard play I think. Make A Stand on the other hand seems more oriented for Limited, and there I think it can be really good, especially if you are playing a deck with cheap creatures that can just swarm-out on the board. The power-boost is pretty relevant, and so is the “gain indestructible” part, which can in Standard prevent blowouts from something like Languish or what have you. Fun times.

alliedreinforcementsEither for Standard or Limited, this is a great card. For tokens deck, this provides two solid blockers and attackers. If you are playing an Ally deck, then the tokens are even more relevant because they can trigger the Rally abilities for your creatures, where Chasm Guide and Tajuru Warcaller can give huge stat boosts, and if you have some combination going with Resolute Blademaster, then it is just GG. In Limited, this is a great pick because it directly impacts the board in the same way that it does in Standard/Casual. I love this one. For any casual Ally deck, this is a great addition. And the tokens synergize well with the tokens produced by Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

*****

That’s all I have for this time. The list of cards I’ve covered here are mostly cards that I find interesting, or cards that I think should be mentioned regardless. There are tons of cards in the new set, 184 in all, so there’s lots of things left off. But still, I’ll be back soon with a brew or two for the new Standard format that begins this Friday. Look out for that!

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Posted on January 17, 2016, in Gaming, Gaming News, Magic the Gathering, News, TCG News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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