First of all, I’d like to correct a mistake I made last week; When I talked about Faeries and the chance to have an Island in your opening hand, what I calculated really was the chance to have Island in your opening hand, but that is not the most relevant information ever, since what you actually want to know is the chance you can cast an Ancestral Vision if you have one. Since you are basically working with 6 cards instead of 7, the chance is a little bit smaller, so sorry for that!
In this article, I will talk a bit about some of the cards that have been spoiled thus far, and what I think they change in the current format. It is hard to have a big format overview, since there are many cards not spoiled yet, but I will try to insert them in the current format anyway.
At first I didn’t pay much attention to this card, because I thought it was a reprint, but then I read it again and realized it was not – it is a cross between some cards that already existed, but a little bit different, and it is actually interesting.
As I see it, there are two applications for this card, none of which has a home in any current formats. The first is the Ancestral Recall potential of this – you do get three cards for one (four for one, if you will), even if they are all 1/1s for 2. As for what to do with those extra cards, I have no idea – there are many ways to turn extra cards into profit, but none of them, at the moment, look like they make it worth for this card to be ran.
The second application is with the intention of actually playing the Hawks once you get them, and this is in my opinion more viable than the first one. There are a ton of cards that benefit from having multiple creatures (Eldrazi Monument, Crusade effects, etc), and this adds another critical mass of dudes that you can spare. Ever drawing this card means you will also probably never worry about running out of guys to equip, and he is actually fine as an equipment target because he flies.
I see two problems with this approach: the first is that you are playing 1/1s for two in your deck. Sure enough, it is four of them in one card, but it is still 1/1s for two, and if you ever draw two of them in your opening hand, you’ll want to kill yourself. This gets worse by the fact that he will probably be the worst guy in your deck, so he will generally be the last one you play – you will give preference to any other creature, all the turns, and each turn that passes is another turn that you can draw a card that effectively doesn’t do anything. The second problem is that you’re playing white creatures and crusade effects, and I am really not a fan of this strategy. In any case, if this card sees play, it will probably be in one of those 32 guys / 4 pump effects kind of deck.
As a side note, this card is pretty decent against Blightning, but I assume it will get “splash hated” by the new Baloth, meaning that [card]Blightning[/card] will be hated by the Baloth, so people will play it less, which makes this card worse even if it has nothing to do with it.
MYTHIC RARE, OBVIOUSLY, AS IF STANDARD DECKS DIDN’T COST ENOUGH ALREADY, THANKS WIZARDS (kidding, kidding)
When I first saw this card, I thought it was very interesting. Now I’ve seen the other four, and I’m not sure which one I like the most (though I am sure which one I like the least). This card is unique, and hard to evaluate; it seems that, if it finds a home, it will either be in a control deck or in a GWish deck, like Naya. Possible things to return in control decks are fetchlands (not super awesome when you are on 6 mana already), [card]Jace Beleren[/card], [card]Wall of Omens[/card], [card]Tectonic Edge[/card], [card]Sea Gate Oracle[/card], [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]/[card]Journey to Nowhere[/card] and, uh”¦ that’s about it. Most of those cards would make the Titan worth the cost if they were added to him – for example, 4WW 6/6 Vigilance and 1/3 + impulse for two is a good deal, in a vacuum. He is a bit more versatile than that, since you might have more options, but he also requires one of your cards to be in the graveyard first, which might be problematic in a control mirror for example.
He might be more interesting in a GW deck, since [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], for example, combos perfectly with him, by being a way to accelerate him into play and an excellent card to return. I think, though, that if you are willing to pay six, there is a very good chance [card]Sovereigns of Lost Alara[/card] is just a better investment. As a side note, he is also good against [card]Blightning[/card].
This card does not impress me at all, and yes, I was around when [card man-o-war]Man-o’-War[/card] was good. The main problem is that, nowadays, creatures are so much better that the body might as well not exist. At one time, a 2/2 would be a threat, trading with most other creatures. Nowadays, a 2/2 doesn’t do anything other than chump blocking for the most part. I ran into a similar problem with, say, [card]Elvish Visionary[/card] – my friend kept advocating it in Jund, since it was a “2 for 1″, but the 1/1 body was so irrelevant that it just felt like cycling; This card’s body is just as irrelevant.
For this card to be good, I think you need way a deck to be way more tempo-based than you have now. Nowadays, you are going to bounce their guy and they are just going to replay it, and it will outclass the 2/2 body completely. We don’t play [card]Regress[/card] in our decks, and this is honestly what it feels like to me. The exception is the Bant deck, since you have Vengevine shenanigans, but I see people talking about playing this card in Faeries, for example, and this is just absurd. It is also not irrelevant that the trigger is mandatory. As a side note, this card is good against Blightning, since it being in your hand protects your good cards.
I have to say this card also does not impress me as much as it impresses other people. Sure enough, the body is respectable – 4/4 flyer for 4 is something I don’t think we’ve ever seen without a drawback. The ability is not irrelevant either – with Halimar Depths and Jace, it is not hard to abuse, though if you untap with this and Jace I don’t really think you need to be drawing an extra card. The main obstacle this card faces is that it costs four, just like every single good card in Standard. I think not once a format has been defined this much by your four drops – in previous days, people would play Birds of Paradise to accelerate from turn one to turn three, but nowadays people just don’t care and play Lotus Cobra instead, since there isn’t anything relevant to accelerate into other than Knight of the Reliquary in the three spot.
As it stands, I don’t really find a home for this card. He is a cross between offensive and defensive – I feel like his body is not good enough for defense, and his cost is not aggressive enough for offense (at least in a blue deck), but he is just a little bit short in both accounts. I can see this being played in the sideboard of some decks, to go for the aggro plan, much like some people played Coralhelm Commander in their UW sideboards in San Juan, but I think that, for the most part, people will stick with the Lost Truths and Jwar Isle sort of sphinxes in their maindecks.
Eh, I guess blue can’t just get all the goodies”¦ they didn’t even have the decency to give it shroud. This is the worst of the bunch by far.
I’m sure someone, somewhere, is thrilled about this card being printed. I am not one of those people. I know you want to play this card. Resist the temptation!
I don’t think I can convey in words my happiness for not having to play Broken Ambitions in Extended, I didn’t even need Mana Leak; I would be happy with the likes of Power Sink. The main problem I had with Ambitions is the clash – and what happens if you win. In Standard, whenever I milled a Demigod of Revenge or a Hellspark Elemental, I felt like ripping the card into pieces. In Extended you now have the opportunity to mill Vengevine, as well as putting yourself into a lot of not as drastic but still terrible positions – I was playing a match against a friend the other day (with Faeries, obv.) and played Broken Ambitions on his turn two Tarmogoyf, milling three lands, and then he promptly played a 7/7 Knight of the Reliquary, and that is not even mentioning what happens when you play against something like Living End
Anyway, never again, Broken Ambitions. I think Mana Leak is the most important card spoiled so far for Extended – which is pretty ironic since it was in Extended a week ago, and no one really cared much for it. It is truly one of those cards that you have to be left without to appreciate the real value; it is certainly not going to break the format open, but it will make certain decks (like Faeries, or Mystical Teachings, which just cannot survive without a two casting cost counter) MUCH better than they were without it.
As far as Standard goes, it is also very important – finally there is a counterspell that will counter a turn a two Putrid Leech or a turn four Jace, and this is something the format was really lacking in my opinion. I don’t think all the decks will suddenly turn into draw-go because of this and Jace’s Ingenuity, though – I expect a small shift, but not much – you will still not see blue control decks without Jace, for example, since it’ll still trump anything else opposing control decks can do if it resolves. Most likely, those decks will just add four Mana Leaks and be done with it.
The fact that Mana Leak exists also means you have to play a bit differently, even if you aren’t the one playing Mana Leak. Certain cards (Sovereigns of Lost Alara, Mind Spring, Avenger of Zendikar, Cruel Ultimatum) get worse because it exists, and it also impacts a bit the order you play your spells, etc. Overall I am very happy that Mana Leak is back.
This card is basically just worse than Ponder, so the only relevant discussion is for the brief time span where they will both be legal, though I think that doesn’t really change anything. If you want to build a Polymorph deck, you now have more tools, but I believe Polymorph has many problems and this only helps with one of them. Anther possibility is the Pyromancer’s Ascension combo, but that is probably not good enough either.
Sad days when the strictly better Ophidian doesn’t see any play, but this card does not appeal to me in any way, even if he is now a Merfolk. The aggro decks will simply ignore him, and the control decks will either play Wall of Omens, or use one of the spare removal spells they will have, or play a planeswalker that does more than drawing a card per turn when you tap out for him. In my opinion, all the decks will just prefer Sea-Gate Oracle. It does have some nostalgic factor, though, since now we have both Ophidian and Man-o’-War – it wouldn’t surprise me if we got Nekrataal spoiled next.
I will admit my total inability to properly evaluate this card; the effect is certainly powerful, and hasn’t been seen in Standard or Extended in quite some time, so I have no idea what this card is capable of doing. My initial impression, though, is that it is not very good, since there is a complete lack of rituals of any kind (or there was a lack of rituals, by the time I wrote this – now they have a new one, which, despite being the worst ritual in the history of the game, is still a ritual. Still, probably not good enough for this card).
I see people who want to use this card as merely a draw spell, in Turboland for example, and I think that is not going to work out – if you use this card, make sure you are killing them that turn. If all you want is to refuel your hand to continue playing a fair game, then there are probably better alternatives. Sure, the prospect of chaining multiple Time Warps into multiple of this with Oracles and Lotus Cobras and Jaces in play is appealing, but there are probably cards that will win you the game the same way in those situations while not being terrible when you are not super ahead.
The only reason Vampire Nocturnus was played, and the only reason Vampires could even pretend to be a deck, is because he gave them all flying and plus TWO damage, shortening their clock by a bunch. This card does neither, so that means the vampires deck is probably dead as soon as Nocturnus rotates.
While that is not true, I accept that you want to test Vampires with him, though I personally wouldn’t and can’t see myself playing that deck – I don’t even think he does what you want your Vampires to do for the most part.
Even though deathtouch in a 6/6 is almost as irrelevant as trample in a 1/1, this is what I think is the best of the Titans; He offers 10 power for 6 mana, and even if he dies what you get is not irrelevant. If you untap with him, it is very hard for you to lose, since even if he is dealt with you will still have four 2/2s. The obvious comparison to me is Broodmate Dragon, and I think he loses in some decks but wins in others.
In today’s format, flying is not an irrelevant ability – some decks just clog the board like Next Level Bant and having a big flyer is a good way to break through. In the Jund deck, which is where you have to make the choice, I don’t think he is better than the Dragon, because Jund has many sources of damage, and sometimes all you need is some air damage to finish them, so I don’t think he will see much play in there, if not even the Dragon does anymore. In a defensive deck, though, I think the Titan is better (not to mention he is only one color). As soon as he comes into play, he gets you three blockers, one of which is a 6/6, meaning he can block Vengevine. If you attack with him, you are still left with four blockers (as opposed to only one if you attack with a Dragon). And, in a control deck, he will kill one turn faster than the Dragon would, which is not super needed but not completely irrelevant either. I expect this card to see play in any sort of control deck with black – Esper, Grixis, Mono-Black, etc, and it might be a good step in making those decks beat a Vengevine.
This card is interesting, though I see no real applications for it now. The biggest problem is that all the removal either exiles (Path), or puts on the bottom (Condemn, Bant Charm), or also gets artifacts (Oblivion Ring, Maelstrom Pulse), so indestructibility is not really what it used to be, and not worth risking yourself to potential blowouts. There are not many artifacts you’d currently want to use for this, but a couple come to mind – in Standard you have Prophetic Prism, Everflowing Chalice and the Borderposts. This seems to be yet another card on the “wait for Scars of Mirrodin“ list.
The reason I mention this, though, is that the flavor of this card is soooo awesome. I mean, I am a competitive player, and I would play the card the same if it was called Liliana’s Demon or something, but I think anyone who has ever read anything about D&D can recognize where this card comes from, and that’s just great and effort that I can appreciate, so kudos for that, WotC.
I don’t know where I stand regarding this card; When I played red, I liked the Flame Slashes, and this is basically a Flame Slash that kills Baneslayer Angel in some decks, but my red deck was different than those of today – it wanted to attack with creatures. This card is better against UW, dealing with Baneslayer, Wall of Omens and Celestial Colonnade by itself, but against a deck like Mythic or Naya I think the ability to kill the early mana producers is important enough that I would rather have a split of this and Slash than four of this (and you really want to kill the 4/4 Baloth, so Flame Slash gets the nod here too). In any case, you can probably fit this in any Mono-Red sideboard, since the color just doesn’t have good sideboard cards.
This card is sweet, but not really broken in any way. I have seen people who think this is the best red two-drop since Slith Firewalker, but I think Plated Geopede is better – though that might be because I don’t like the “all-in” red decks with Ball Lightning and such, that don’t even play Geopede but would most likely play this card. Overall a nice design, and plays the function of being a body that is not outclassed by all the other bodies later in the game, thus letting the burn deck play an early, constant source of damage without having to sacrifice late game burn potential.
This card also seems good to me, even if I have no idea where to play it. It is probably not for an aggressive deck – if that is what you are looking for, Hellkite Charger is probably your man – but in a control deck, this cross between Bogardan Hellkite and Flametongue Kavu could have some applications. He does deal 18 damage by himself with 8 Mountains if unchecked, and he does clear the way for himself to hit for a billion with firebreathing, so I would not count him out.
I keep hearing OMG Kodama’s Reach is back as if Kodama’s Reach had broken any formats when it was legal, and I don’t really understand the enthusiasm. Sure the card is decent, and might see play in some decks, but the only reason it saw play in that Standard was because of the Gifts Ungiven deck, which had a billion colors and was very mana hungry. In Standard right now, I don’t think there is such a deck. It could be argued that Turboland might want this, but, as has been said multiple time by many people, four is the magical number in Standard right now, so this loses the fight to every single two-mana accelerant in my opinion since it doesn’t really accelerate into, well, anything.
I’m glad this card is not mythic, because there is nothing mythic about it. It also saddens me that I have to be happy every time a good card that doesn’t feel mythic is actually not mythic.
Anyway, this guy is probably the most influential Standard card, battling with Mana Leak. The card is obviously very decent, having a very reasonable body for the cost when it comes to battling Red and Jund (I know I said the Sphinx doesn’t have a good enough body and they are just as big, but they are different decks and different colors), but his applications are way bigger than one might think at first glance, and he will certainly impact way more decks than those he is actually played into.
First of all, the fact that this card exists, and will be played, probably means that Jund decks do not maindeck Blightning anymore, which is a move that we’ve started to see already because of Vengevine (both yours and theirs, since you also want to maximize the number of cascades that bring it back). This does not mean this card is not good after they remove Blightnings – it is still decent, and some people might still be playing Blightning. The other consequence is that Red decks now have a much harder time killing anyone, and even your good matchup, Jund, is suddenly not so good. I think this card, alone, is enough of a reason for me to not want to play Mono-Red.
Once you establish those two things as true (fewer Blightnings and less Red), then you can start thinking of what decks become more attractive because of this. Turboland, for example, used to lose to Red – now not only it has this sweet sideboard card against it, but, simply because the card exists, there will be less Red in any given tournament. Another card that gets better on both accounts is Jace – even if there is no Baloth to be seen in your 75, the opposition will build their decks with the card in mind, and your Jaces will live more often. A deck like Mono-Green Eldrazi (of the ramp sort) is also starting to look more appealing, since that deck had issues with Blightnings and with Red.
Overall a very good card that I am happy was printed, and will see a lot of play in Standard. As far as Extended goes, I don’t see a big future for him.
The interesting part of this guy is that he says any land, and not only basic land. He is probably the most redundant on the attack, but the effect he leaves you with if he is killed is pretty good. Imagine the UGR deck, you can play this and get Halimar Depths and Raging Ravine, for example, and that deck is certainly mana hungry. The only question is whether he is better than Rampaging Baloths or not.
Right now, I think the answer is no. The only deck I can see him in is something similar to the UGR deck I played, and in that deck I think the Baloth is better (and not even played). Sure enough, if this dies, you get two lands and if Baloth dies you get nothing, but you could just have stalled him for one turn, and then with a Fetchland you get two four/fours, which is miles better than two lands against the decks you want this type of card. Sure enough, against Control the Titan is better, but why are you playing this kind of card against control? Against aggro, where the Baloth shines, it truly shines, and its upside is much bigger than Titan’s.
I don’t know if this card is going to be played or not, but I definitely like it a lot; It is an upgrade over Elvish Visionary, and Visionary is a card that is almost good enough to me. It does have the problem of the body not being very relevant, but there are some decks that will not care much about this – Next Level Bant, for example, probably likes this card a lot (Vengevine, etc.) and, considering what he does, the 1G cost is a huuuuuuge upgrade to the 2G of Borderland Ranger. I remember when I was building Mono-Green Elf Monument decks sometime ago, my biggest problem was dealing with a creature like Baneslayer Angel – if you play this guy, splashing a color to solve those problems becomes much easier. Overall, not a Sakura-Tribe Elder, but still a solid card in my opinion, and an Elf.
This has upsides over Howling Mine, since you get to use the card on the spot (and before they do), and even if they Disenchant it you can still activate and avoid the 2×1, as well as simply not activating when you don’t feel like. Is that worth the extra mana? In my opinion, no. Howling Mine decks really wanted to play them on turn two, and once you start drawing a lot of cards a turn, every mana makes a difference because you have a lot to play. It is relevant, though, because they will both be legal for some time, and then you have a critical mass of Howling Mines that might even make decks like Time Sieve playable (as a side note, this is much better than Howling Mine as you are comboing, because you can activate them and then sacrifice them for Time Sieve). I still don’t like the deck, but if there is ever a moment where it is good, it is probably the time period in which this is legal alongside Font of Mythos and Howling Mine. Oh, it also combos with Tezzeret.
Anyway, I’m done! Obviously there are still cards to be spoiled, and that might change some evaluations, but this is what I think thus far. If I have to pick cards that will impact the format, I say for Standard they are Mana Leak, the Baloth and the black Titan. For Extended, I don’t see anything other than Mana Leak being very important, but I might be wrong since that format is also new and no one really knows anything about it yet.
Thanks for reading,
Editor’s note: The following two cards were referenced but not given their own section in this article: