With Avacyn Restored pre-release events starting next week we are on the final stretch spoiler-wise. At this point we are only have about 40 out of the 244 left unspoiled so most of the exciting twists of the set have been revealed at this point but I am sure there are still a couple surprises still in store.
Let me start out with one of the more controversial cards announced so far.
So there are a couple of reasons contributing to the controversy surrounding this card. The first and most obvious reason is the fact that he is able to return from exile. The Magic R & D department has always done their best to stay away from return from exile type effects in the attempt to prevent exile from simply becoming graveyard number 2 but here they have broken their own rule. A lot of people don’t like that they are doing this including Mark Rosewater, Magic’s Head Designer. So ability aside, the second reason people aren’t completely behind this bad boy is because all in all he really is just 3/3 flyer for 4. The only real reason he is a mythic rare is his ability and the reason behind the controversy is that most people feel that this ability doesn’t constitute mythic rarity. They would be completely behind Misthollow Griffin getting printed as a normal rare but they feel he is way underpowered for a mythic. It is commonly believed that his gimmicky ability is what ultimately determined the cards rarity.
So what do you guys think? Does he deserve being a mythic? Is he a powerful enough?
Personally I love him. As I have mentioned I definitely consider myself a Johnny, and perhaps it is because of this that allows me to fully appreciate this card. While he may only be a 3/3 flyer his unique ability is incredibly powerful and gimmicks aside the ability is strong enough to for it to be mythic. First off a 3/3 flyer is pretty good, especially in a Lightning Boltless Standard environment. He also holds a sword incredibly well and fits perfectly into any UW Blade deck. The fact of the matter is if you are running Moorland Haunt this card is going to be constant and non-stop source of value for you. If he gets discarded, Doombladed, sacrificed, countered or whatever simply exile him with Moorland Haunt and he becomes playable again. He can’t be O-Ringed, Pathed, Dissipated Castigated, or Sword to Plowshared without him simply being replayed. Essentially every kind of removal gets converted into a bounce spell. While he clearly goes perfectly with Moorland Haunt this block has released several other cards that really allow you to get the most out of this card such as any of the Skaab cards or Descent into Madness (this griffin fits all too well into my esper build abusing DiM). In the right deck this card is constant value and will undoubtedly be a big player in Type 2 and will very likely ended up seeing play in Modern and perhaps even Legacy.
While I am on blue there have been quite a few new exciting cards that have been spoiled so far, particularly counters.
|Counter target spell that targets a player.|
A one drop counter that hard counters something? Sold! While it might not find a place in every control mainboard it absolutely will in the sideboard. In the right match up this card is one of the best counterspells you could have, and that’s not just in Standard. I am positive this will card will leak down into Modern, Legacy and very likely even Vintage. RDW or any decks with discard spells get absolutely trounced by Outwit. While not nearly as exciting as Temporal Mastery this is definitely one of the better cards from the set.
|Counter target spell if it was the second spell cast this turn.|
A hard counter for 1U? Sold! While not clearly as powerful at first glance as Outwit, if played correctly, this card definitely is if not more so. Right off the bat, this card allows you to safely cast any card you really want to stick as long as it’s the first card you play during your turn when playing against contol. No matter what your opponent casts in response you will be able to hard counter it. One of the dominating archetypes I foresee arising after the release of AVR is UR Control and that is exactly the kind of deck that will really be able to abuse Second guess. For example, your opponents turn starts and since you Gitaxian Probed them earlier you know what they are hoping to play this turn so during their upkeep or the beginning of their turn you burn them a Galvanic Blast or Gut Shot turning on Second Guess in preparation for whatever they were hoping to play. Ultimately it isn’t nearly as powerful as Mana Leak but in the right situation it does work wonders. With the rumors flying around that Mana Leak won’t be getting reprinted in M13 these new counter spells will probably be seeing a decent amount of play after rotation.
Moving on to a couple of the more exciting and interactive blue cards recently spoiled.
|Creature – Human Wizard|
|Whenever you cast an instant spell, you may pay . If you do, draw a card.|
This is another one of the bigger blue cards that will undoubtedly see play and is just aching to be played with some of the phyrexian mana one drops such as Gut Shot, Gitaxian Probe, and Surgical Extraction. This card provides another blue card draw engine for blue. While it won’t necessarily get played compared to others in the right build it will be great.
|Return all nonland permanents to their owners’ hands.
As I have mentioned before, all Miracle cards are blatantly powerful when played for their Miracle cost but to determine how powerful they truly are you really need to look at their normal casting cost. So blue being able to defend itself from all nonland permanents for 2 is clearly awesome and the fact that it is able to do so normally for 5 is pretty damned good too. Blue is normally kind of screwed ounce their opponent gets a field full of threats simply because prior to now it hasn’t had a lot of board wipes. In addition to being able to deal with multiple threats blue now has an effective way to deal with enchantments, artifacts and planeswalkers once they are on the field. Sure blue has always had bounce spells but this feels so much better and effective. Lastly, imagine how sweet it is going be casting this when your opponent has a field full of tokens.
Moving onto the other colors.
Riders of Gavony
|Creature – Human Knight|
As Riders of Gavony enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Human creatures you control have protection from creatures of the chosen type.
Nothing too exciting has shown up in white recently other than this new human all-star. So incase you hadn’t noticed yet humans are a little ridiculous. So a 3/3 with vigilance for 4 is pretty good, but the fact that it is attached to a way of protecting all of your creatures makes him pretty impressive. He is definitely going to be awesome in human decks and will definitely fit into a the new Boros Humans build.
Speaking of red…
|Enchantment – Aura|
Enchanted creature has “, : Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You may choose new targets for the copy.”
|Illus. Johannes Voss|
Since the announcement of Bruna I have been keeping my eyes peeled for powerful Auras to play with her and so far this is one of the only ones that have really caught my attention. While its not a great pairing its hard to deny that this card isn’t sweet. I have always been a fan of Twincast type spells. While it is significantly slower than Twincast you are going to be able to utilize it several more times. This card is just aching to get slapped on an Invisble Stalker.
While not very many powerful Auras have been spoiled so far there are quite a few cool Enchantments.
|Whenever a creature you control becomes the target of an instant or sorcery spell, it gets +3/+3 until end of turn.|
This is another one of those awesome sideboard cards that in the right match up does work. While it could be sweet in green decks that run lots of instant pump spells I doubt that’s going to be where it really shines. This is going to be a sweet sideboard card in any green creature based deck (so all of them) because this card essentially makes all of your beaters immune to burn spells. Think about it this way; with Wild Defiance on the field the only way RDW is going to be able to deal with your Huntmaster is going to be with a Brimstone Volley with morbid turned on or they are going to have to waste a Shrine on it. Any creatures you have with more than 3 toughness are going to be damn near unkillable. This card is going to be incredible against RDW or really any decks that rely on burn spells to deal with creatures.
Another green three drop enchantment which is going to be pretty sweet is another one that works best in creature based decks. Triumph of Ferocity is an awesome way for green creature based decks to get some card drawing going on. I love how it provides green with blue styled effect but making it fit perfectly into the green side of the color pie. This card is actually part of a 2 card cycle with the other fitting not nearly as well color wise.
Before completely moving away from green it is worth noting that Borderland Ranger is getting reprinted!
While it is a tad harder to turn on than it’s green counterpart it could be an awesome addition to black aggro decks such as Zombies or the sure to become prominent Demon midrange/aggro. While I am not positive exactly how much of an impact it is going to make on the competitive scene I am sure it’s going to be a hoot to play with and when in the right build (sorry if I have said this a trillion times in this article already but its very true for a lot of them) it could do work.
Another black enchantment I am looking forward to abusing is Exquisite Blood.
|Whenever an opponent loses life, you gain that much life.|
|Even as humans regained the upper hand, some still willingly traded their lives for a chance at immortality.|
|Illus. Cynthia Sheppard#102/244|
While it might be descent by itself that’s not really where its going to shine. I know I am not the only one who took a quick glance and immediately saw the infinite combo with Sanguine Bond. Get both of those 5 drop enchantments onto the board and all you need to do is either gain some life or deal some damage and you trigger an infinite life gain and infinite damage loop. It should lead to some fun Modern decks showing up!
So I had mentioned that the enemy colored utility lands cycle was getting completed in this set and the last land has officially been spoiled!
So I don’t want to brag or anything but I totally guessed that flash was probably going to be involved. I am kind of a big deal =]
All boasting aside Alchemist’s Refuge is one of the better lands from the entire cycle including the Innistrad cycle as well. UG and tapping to be able to play one spell at instant speed is awesome but the fact that you are able to cast as many as you would like is incredible. Not only is its ability totally awesome but it’s activation cost is also the cheapest it could be. I think this land is powerful enough that some decks will consider splashing one of the colors simply for the ability to utilize this land. In Type 2 I can foresee a RUG ramp deck showing up with I think would be sweet and we could possibly be looking at a UG aggro deck. Honestly the potential this card has in Standard is incredible and will lead to several awesome builds showing up. This card is going to be showing up outside of Standard as well in several decks, the first coming to mind is Affinity decks where the colorless mana produced from the land isn’t even a hindrance but I am sure its going to pop up elsewhere too.
|As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
: Add to your mana pool.
: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast creature spells of the chosen creature type. If this mana is spent on a spell, that spell can’t be countered.
|Awesome land is awesome.|
|Illus. Cliff Childs #226/244|
Another non-cycle land which is going to be powerful is Cavern of Souls. The first thing that comes to mind with this card are multi colored tribal decks, particularly humans. With this kind of mana fixing and the ability to shutdown control decks I think we are going to be looking at some sweet new tri-color human builds showing up particularly Bant Humans, Naya Humans, and even UWR Humans. While this card is clearly powerful in tribal decks it is also going to contribute to ramp decks rising in popularity and power again. Being able to cast your titans care free of counter spells is incredibly powerful as well as being able tofetch it with your Primeval Titans make this card a necessity in all ramp decks.
I am incredibly excited for Avacyn Restored. With Dark Ascension we didn’t see too many new deck archetypes show up but really just saw the development and enhancement of several of the current ones. This isn’t the case with AVR. This new set is going to lead to several new and exciting builds being designed as well as enhancing the current popular archetypes but in a way that spices them up and is going to really give them a new blast of flavor. This is probably going to be last spoiler review I write before the entire set gets spoiled (unless something incredibly exciting shows up) but you can expect an article from me about some of the most exciting cards from the set as well as my predictions on some of the new archetypes and popular deck builds that will end up getting played.
Until then, may you never have a Mircale card in your opening hand!