With Grand Prix: Oakland being the next major Extended event in the post-Worldwake era (not counting any local PTQs you may have), we’ll have a new set to play with, and will not have the benefit of Magic Online to brute force the inefficiencies out of the format. It’s kind of an exciting time, because there’s a bit of room for innovation.
However, a closer look at Worldwake is coming up with very few cards that are likely going to affect the format dramatically. It looks pretty good as a Limited set, and I’ll leave the effects on Standard for people who have played the format since States, but I’ve gone through the spoiler and culled out the cards I think could change Extended.
The nice thing about Extended is that if there’s a problem, there are a lot of cards to serve as answers. Most of the Worldwake cards are more “answer” cards, and give you a bit of versatility when trying to solve a particular problem. As a result, a lot of the cards are marginal sideboard options. Let’s get to it.
Creature – Kor Soldier
Protection from red
Whenever a player casts a red spell, you may gain 1 life.
This is a pretty good sideboard option against the Burn decks, provided you can afford the WW casting cost. Dragon Claw stapled to an unkillable blocker is really a kick in the pants for a Burn player. If All-In Red is still a deck, he also can serve to block a Deus of Calamity, but you really just want this guy in your sideboard for the Burn matchup. Even decks like Zoo can play him by playing turn one Temple Garden into Sacred Foundry turn two. It does only give them three basic land types on turn two for Tribal Flames purposes, but this guy should buy them enough time that the land type drawback shouldn’t matter.
Creature – Cat
Loam Lion gets +1/+2 as long as you control a Forest.
The fact that Kird Ape may be on his way out of Zoo decks is just insane. I don’t think you want to play more one mana 2/3s, but Loam Lion is a little easier on the mana, since Temple Garden allows for any turn one play if your one drops are Wild Nacatl, Steppe Lynx, and Loam Lion. (Noble Hierarch as well, although Hierarch isn’t going in the same decks as Kird Ape anyway, so that point is moot.)
The fact that Loam Lion dies to Deathmark while Kird Ape doesn’t is largely irrelevant, since Deathmark is really not going to be used on a Kird Ape anyway; it’s often saved for a Tarmogoyf, Wild Nacatl, or Knight of the Reliquary.
I don’t think the difference between the two cards is big. You aren’t really worried about Meddling Mage or anything like that. It’s pretty marginal, and you could probably run one over the other. I’m hoping Kird Ape is fine, since I have a set of sweet-looking Arabian Nights Kird Apes, and I don’t want them to turn into dumb ol’ Loam Lions. Boo.
Creature – Human Soldier
Whenever a creature you control with defender blocks, you may gain 2 life.
This is another card to bring in against mono-red Burn, should you so desire. It’s an 0/4, so it blocks all of their creatures unless they’ve been pumped up with a Teetering Peaks, but even then, he still just buys time. Hold the ground, then have answers for the burn spells, and you’ve got yourself a nice, narrow sideboard card. Is it better than Burrenton Forge-Tender? No, probably not. But if you play this card with other defenders (like Wall of Roots), then I think this card might get just enough value that it outclasses the little Kithkin.
Rest for the Weary
You gain 4 life.
Landfall – If you had a land enter the battlefield under your control this turn, you gain 8 life instead.
This is the “sideboard cards against Burn” section, apparently. This one is certainly viable, since eight life for two mana is quite a bit, and it’s not like you need to do much of anything to trigger the landfall. Burn’s one of those decks that if you want to beat it, you can beat it; and this is a cheap, efficient answer that basically says “discard 2.5 cards” to anyone trying to win games through Lava Spike. I’d be happy to put this in my sideboard in Extended decks, and I won’t even be embarrassed about it. People played Nourish as a sideboard card last year against Burn, and didn’t want to kill themselves in the process.
Counter target instant spell.
Another sideboard card for combo decks who just want to protect their combo against countermagic. A one mana hard counter (even if it’s a narrow counter) is pretty insane, and it’s in a color that favors combo decks (since they tend to play deck manipulation spells like Ponder and Peer Through Depths), versus a card like Guttural Response, which isn’t necessarily as good.
And if you’ve already got them in your sideboard, you might as well bring them in against Burn, since it counters so many of their spells (Lightning Bolt, Shrapnel Blast, Flames of the Blood Hand, Incinerate).
Theda Adel, Acquisitor
Legendary Creature – Merfolk Rogue
Whenever Thada Adel, Acquisitor deals combat damage to a player, search that player’s library for an artifact card and exile it. Then that player shuffles his or her library. Until end of turn, you may play that card.
If Tezzeret decks remain popular, I have fantasies of bringing this guy in the mirror. I realize you have to pay the cost of the artifact you steal, but having evasion, being unable to be Spell Snared, and can grab Ancient Den and Seat of the Synod to make my land drops sounds mighty sexy. Oh, and there’s the whole stealing Thopter Foundry thing, too.
You can also bring this in against Burn
(Okay, not really. I just was on a roll there.)
Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a nonland card, then put all cards revealed this way into your hand.
Can this combo somewhere with Seismic Assault? I smell a tier three deck in the works, but right now is not its time, when decks are maindecking four Thoughtseize and boarding in more Duress. Those Seismic Assault decks don’t do well with hand disruption. Sam Black posted a deck on Facebook with nothing but lands, Treasure Hunt, and Lightning Storm. This, too, could not beat a Thoughtseize.
In general, with Ponder and fetchlands, the best use of this card is probably to be just for value. If it better than Ancestral Vision or Thirst for Knowledge as the card-drawing slot? I think it depends on the deck, as those other two cards have their own set of drawbacks. I’m much more excited about this card in Standard, but that might be because most of the playable blue cards in Standard currently resemble this one:
The Best Blue Spell in Standard
Punch yourself in the face.
Draw a card.
(Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little. It actually costs 2U.)
Creature – Demon
You can’t win the game and your opponents can’t lose the game.
I have to admit that I’m really excited about this card. I want to sleeve this guy up and smash noses with him. Yeah yeah, drawback, blah blah, etc. Who cares about the stupid drawback? It’s not like you have to play situational cards in the same deck as him. Oh no! I have to play removal in my black deck! Well, if I don’t draw the Persecutor, this ability to destroy my opponent’s Tarmogoyf seems pretty useless. It’s hardly a situational card at all!
I have millions of ideas for this guy, and I think he’s the real deal.
Creature – Rat
T: Exile the top card of target player’s library. If it’s a land card, you gain 1 life.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may untap Scrib Nibblers.
Okay, not really. I just want to have someone topdeck this card for the win (don’t ask me how this wins the game) and have Randy Buehler scream, “OH MY GOD IT’S SCRIB NIBBLERS!!!!” just once in my life. This is the best name since Squeaking Pie Grubfellows. I don’t see myself playing this guy in any format (unless I have a draft that went really badly), but if I do, I promise you that I will make some comment about nibbling all my opponent’s scribs. And they will hate me a little.
It’s back! It’s also likely to replace Doom Blade for decks that play it. What does Smother do that Doom Blade doesn’t? It kills:
The Dark Depths decks are the ones that are most likely to be playing Doom Blade/Smother, and the mirror is a big deal. Being able to kill both Dark Confidant and a 20/20 is a little more important than Baneslayer Angel, since the Baneslayer Angel decks already have a rough time against the Dark Depths decks.
Amulet of Vigor
Whenever a permanent enters the battlefield tapped and under your control, untap it.
This card excited me the second I saw it. Karoos, Cloudpost, and Time Vault were the first cards that came to mind. Okay, Time Vault’s not in Extended, but whatever. The fact that you can get this with Trinket Mage is pretty spicy, and because it’s a triggered ability, you can get good value out of if when you have multiples in play. Let’s say I have a Cloudpost in play and two of these Amulets in play. I play a second Cloudpost. Two Amulet triggers go on the stack. The first Amulet trigger resolves, so I untap the Cloudpost I just played. With the second Amulet trigger on the stack, I can tap the Cloudpost, putting 2 mana in my mana pool, then have untap from the second Amulet trigger. That gives me access to 6 mana off my Cloudposts altogether (4 from the one I just played, plus 2 from the other one in play).
Bojuka Bog enters the battlefield tapped.
T: Add B to your mana pool.
When Bojuka Bog enters the battlefield, exile all cards from target player’s graveyard.
A card that Tormod’s Crypts your opponent is pretty solid, especially when it doesn’t take a spell slot. This isn’t a four-of, but if I’m playing a deck that has a few black sources to spare, I’m fine with these entering the battlefield tapped if it means I can shrink a Tarmogoyf/Knight of the Reliquary or eat a Hellspark Elemental or chew on a Dredge player’s graveyard. This isn’t very sexy, but it’s a good utility card. And it doesn’t take up a spell slot!
Halimar Depths enters the battlefield tapped.
T: Add U to your mana pool.
When Halimar Depths enters the battlefield, look at top three cards of your library and put them back in any order.
This is a fine card in combo decks that are already playing cards like Telling Time and Ponder. Being able to look at what you need, get what you want, then shuffle the rest away with saclands is terrific, and usually in the early turns, the combo decks don’t utilize all their mana anyway, so the ETB tapped part is really not that much of a drawback.
One huge drawback to this card, however, is that it gets
this stupid song in my head. If I ever play this card against you at an event and I start dancing badly, or turn into a zombie Indian Michael Jackson, then you’ll know why. You’ve been warned.
Overall, I’m not terribly excited about the new set and how it affects Extended. That’s okay, since Extended is a pretty healthy, vibrant format, and it’s not like we were looking for answers to huge, unsolvable problems. (Worldwake is much more important to Standard, which really needed the boost to fix what I think was a pretty unhealthy format.)
I’ll be at the big Seattle prerelease on Saturday, so if you see me (wearing a Channelfireball.com t-shirt of course), feel free to stop me and say hello!
zaiemb at gmail dot com
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