Another large handful of new spoilers has been released and they are all pretty dang exciting. I know I say this at the beginning of every spoiler review but the cards announced over the past couple days are particularly awesome and will all lead to defining the new archetypes that are bound to rise with the release of the core-set.
Now this is a mythic. This is a card I don’t need to explain the awesomeness behind it. Every creature based aggro deck running white will find a place for Sublime Archangel in their list. Mana dorks such as Avacyn’s Pilgrim and Birds of Paradise (at least until rotation this fall) now don’t only speed up your game plan but now they are all potential threats. Imagine having two dorks on the field and playing a Sublime Archangel turn three and swinging for three in the air with a BOP. Exalted is an incredibly powerful ability and a 4/3 flying body that gives all of your creatures exalted is absolutely amazing. Even worst case scenario when you play the Archangel without any other creatures on the field you are still going to be swinging in for five in the sky for only four mana, and that is worst case scenario. Realistically though this guy is going to be bashing your opponent for six or seven as early as turn four. Sublime Archangel is an all around fantastic card.
Speaking of four mana white creatures…
Here we see the continuation of the four drop legendary creature cycle. Perhaps not as powerful as Yeva or Talrand but he is definitely worth noting. He is a human which allows for synergy with all of the human builds out there and the fact that he is out of Incinerate Searing Spear range gives him a little bit of an edge. The problem is though that his ability is only active when you have three other guys on the field who you are also attacking with. Sure his ability is pretty great but the conditions in which it is active might not be worth it. If you are looking for that white four drop for your white something aggro deck I think you are probably just better off going with Sublime Archangel who is also safe from the legendary rule.
Krenko is red’s legendary creature in the cycle and he is pretty neat. Again not nearly as powerful as Yeva and Talrand but in the right build he could be pretty fun. I am not sure how much goblin support we are going to get from the rest of M13 but there are some pretty sweet goblins in SOM block and we are sure to see some awesome ones show up in RTR so I am confident this guy will be getting some action. With Goblin Chieftain still in Standard until RTR comes out I guarantee us seeing some goblin builds with this guy on the top of the curve and I think it is a pretty safe bet to say he might be showing up in a couple builds after Ravnica is released.
Now this is card I know Kyle is going to be excited about. Worldfire is a card that is very unlikely to see play in either Limited or Constructed outside of casual decks and of course EDH but damn is it going to be fun. As I have mentioned several times before, Kyle plays a Kaalia EDH deck and he loves his Obliterate and Decree of Annihilation. Whenever things start going poorly for him in the late game he drops the Obliterate and the game essentially starts over and enters into top-deck mode. It is always a pain in the butt once it happens but there is something that is also incredibly fun about it. Getting absolutely everything wiped more often than not leaves me smiling and laughing. Worldfire is the same way. It is going to be irritating when it is played but it is going to be a fun match. The only time this card is not going to simply be a fun irritating card is in Jhoira EDH decks. If suspending a Decree of Annihilation followed by a Kozilek was rough imagine suspending a Worldfire followed by honestly any creature whatsoever? Any 1/1 is terrifying once a Worldfire goes off so this new mythic is going to be absolutely ridiculous in Jhoira builds.
Speaking of Obliterate and other incredibly fun older cards brings me to a reprint I am quite excited about.
Rancor is arguably the best aura of all time. Auras are naturally weak cards due to the fact that they are tied to a permanent. Putting an aura on a creature makes that creature essentially worth two cards so if that creature were than to get Doom Bladed it is going to be a one for two trade in your opponents favor, a situation you want to avoid at all costs. Equipment is significantly better in this regard in the fact that it only gets dropped and stays on the field. Rancor overcomes this natural predisposition of auras being the worse card type due to the fact that it comes back to your hand. A one drop aura that gives your creatures +2/+0 and trample is pretty dang decent but one that also bounces back to your hand once it leaves play is amazing. So even if the enchanted creature bites the dust you don’t lose excessive value because the enchantment comes right back to your hand, ready to enchant a couple more. In addition to being the best value among auras the fact that it is great among dang near all creatures is awesome too. Some auras really are designed to be paired with a big or small creature but Rancor is great among all. It turns your little dudes into a threat your opponent needs to deal with and it turns your non-trampling finisher into a monster that your opponent either needs an answer to or loses the game. Rancor is great card in the way that it is powerful but not too over powered. I am incredibly psyched to see this card in a Type 2 environment once again.
Core-sets have kind of gotten into the habit of printing a big Timmy mythic when it comes to green. They print cards that are big and impressive but not too tournament worthy. While Elderscale Wurm might not be making into all Mono Green main boards you can bet some serious money he will be showing up in the sideboard. Elderscale Wurm is great because for seven mana he fits the requirements for a worthy seven drop. For a seven drop to be worth putting into a deck it needs to be stronger than the popular six drops (no one wants to pay seven mana for a creature that gets toppled by a six drop). This wurm is a 7/7, plenty enough strong enough to deal with a Titan and he has trample which is incredibly relevant. You can produce a 100/100 but if your opponent has creatures to chump block your beast it could be an infinity/infinity and it wouldn’t matter. Trample means that your opponent is going to be on a clock once he comes into play. But the 7/7 trampler is not the great thing about this card. His second ability more or less completely shuts down RDW. RDW relies on its burn spells as finishers and with the wurm on the field it completely negates that. Elderscale Wurm gurantee’s that you are safely out of burn range and it also is big enough that it is going to be tricky for your opponent to burn him out which is RDW’s primary means of removal. The wurm is also a card that is completely worth mentioning because once rotation comes around we are going to be losing most of the six drop creatures we have come to rely on for our finishers. Not only are we seeing the loss of the titans but also Wurmcoil Engine, leaving us with a little gap as far as six drops goes or atleast until RTR comes out. In no way would this gap be a bad thing though. It would be really cool to see players using the powerful four and five drops which are available as well as turning to some of the bad ass seven drops which haven’t seen any play due to titans. Anyway, Elderscale Wurm is great sideboard tech and will definitely be seeing atleast a bit of tournament play.
Thragtusk is pretty freaking sweet card. He kind of takes the place of Obstinate Baloth or Loxodon Hierarch as the life gaining beast of the format. The one negative to the card is that it costs one more than what we are accustomed to this creature archetype costing but it is significantly more powerful than the others. First off Thragtusk is a 5/3; a creature which can go toe to toe with dragons and angels. That five power makes him a card that gains you life and provides a big enough threat to your opponent that he or she is going to need to deal with it and even if they do they are left with something else to deal with it. This is what seals the deal on the awesomeness of the card. Once your opponent deals with it he or she is then facing another big beast staring them down. Thragtusk is amazing because it is a total of eight power for five mana in addition to five life all in one card. I know value when I see it and Thragtusk is full of it. Not only a great card for your side board against any and all faster paced decks but it is also powerful enough to find a place in most decks running green. Definitely keep your eye out for this bad boy.
I saved the most exciting cards for last and boy are they exciting. Most of the cards I have talked about so far are all pretty exciting for casual formats and Type 2 but nothing powerful enough to make it into Modern or the Eternal formats other than the following. Let’s start with the least exciting one first.
Liliana of the Veil is an incredibly strong planeswalker and arguably the best one since the Mind Sculptor. As powerful as Jace was, we were also given baby Jace who wasn’t nearly as powerful as the Mind Sculptor but served an incredibly important position of balancing him out by providing another answer to the ridiculous card. I feel Liliana of the Dark Realms fills a similar role in regards to Liliana of the Veil. While the new Lily is definitely less powerful than Innistrads version it is something that will still definitely be seeing some play in Type 2 and could potentially see some play in the Modern scene. Lily is a pretty powerful planeswalker in a couple of senses. First she provides you an answer to other Lilianas. Second she can kill most creatures opposing you once she hits the field. Now this is the one real downside to the card, she doesn’t pass the planeswalker test meaning it can’t protect itself the turn it hits the field. The reasons Jace and Lily are so powerful is that they hit the field and then are able to deal with any threat on the field and still be alive. This new Lily is able to deal with any threats on the field but dies in the effort.
Something worth noting about this new black planeswalker though is that both her ultimate and her +1 both just say Swamp, not just basic Swamp. This means that you can fetch shocklands and that your shocklands are going to be able to produce you a crap ton of mana once you ultimate her. That’s another problem with the card; her ultimate just isn’t up to par. Ultimating with the Mind Sculptor or Ajani Vengeant more or less means victory for you. It’s hard to come back from losing your deck or hand or lands but simply having an abundance of mana doesn’t necessarily mean defeat. Sure you will be able to play dang near anything in your deck but you are going to need other cards to win. None the less, Liliana of the Dark Realms is still a great card and will definitely be an all star in most UB control builds in both Type 2 and Modern, allowing you to build your mana base over time while also fighting off opposing threats. Her ultimate will really shine when you are running finishers such as Eldrazi or Blightsteel Colossus. Honestly I hope she is going to make Griselbrand a viable finisher in Type 2 outside of Frites and Solar Flare.
The next card is probably the least exciting out of these last three but it is probably going to see the most play in Eternal Formats and Modern.
M13 marks the return of exalted and it is back in new and exciting ways. We have seen it on new creatures and tied in with new abilities but Cathedral of War marks the most exciting addition to the mechanic by making its debut on a land. Teetering Peaks is a card that feels relatively comparable to the Cathedral and it sees quite a bit of play in all Red decks because it is a great card. Whenever a land is able to give you some sort of value in addition to being a land is absolutely great. Teetering peaks was great because you get that +2 boost regardless of how many people are attacking but it was unfortunately only for that turn. Cathedral is going to be a problem because it’s going to turn every creature you play into something a little more lethal and they will be until your opponent has an answer for it. It is a good thing the Titans are rotating out because fetching a couple of these bad boys with a Primeval Titan would be absolutely degenerate. These are going to be finding spots in almost every creature based deck from Maverick to Delver. Here is just one more reason to run Ghost Quarter in the main board.
So there has been quite a bit of speculation around who the white planeswalker was going to be and it has finally been announced and it is something brand spankin’ new.
While not the most powerful planeswalker ever printed (or most powerful Ajani printed for that matter) Ajani, Caller of the Pride is pretty dang fantastic. Three mana for a planeswalker is always an incredible deal so even out the cheapness of the card wizards has to always make sure it isn’t overly powerful. So right off the bat it is worth mentioning that this new Ajani doesn’t pass the planeswalker test; it can’t defend itself. The thing that is pretty cool about this new Ajani though is that even though he is unable to protect himself once he hits play, he does have a starting loyalty of four so realistically 5 loyalty once it comes to your opponents turn, making him tough enough to survive most assaults that will be coming at him turn three or four. While it doesn’t serve as a direct answer to your opponents threats it does do a few exciting things that are new for three drop planeswalkers. Baby Jace and Liliana of the Veil were both designed with a +1 that yielded an equal amount of card gain or advantage among all players, for example both players drawing or discarding a card. This was important for this class of planeswalkers because three mana for a permanent that also gains loyalty by yielding you card advantage would be absolutely and completely broken. Ajani breaks the trend of equal card gain in his +1 but substitutes it with an ability that is only effective when you have creatures on the field, making him more or less useless when he hits the field alone. Now his +1 ability is clearly best for beefing up your creatures but he is also great in a format where +1/+1 counters act as an important part of a mechanic. In addition to boosting your creatures, he can also effectively shut down undying creatures on your opponent’s side.
Another really awesome thing about this new Ajani is that he is great in both early and late game. Imagine finally sticking a Sun Titan (oh yeah, Sun Titan brings this guy back) turn eight but you are staring down a field of titans on your opponents side. And then your next turn starts and you drop an Ajani and give your Sun Titan flying and double strike. That might be a little tough for your opponent to come back from. Liliana of the Dark Realms was a little under powered due to her ultimate not being necessarily game ending but that is in no way the case for Ajani, Caller of the Pride. Say you are able to ultimate Ajani when you are still at twenty life. Your opponent is going to be staring down forty power on the board dispersed among twenty bodies. The only way they are going to survive the next turn is if they have a Day of Judgment or a Severe the Bloodline otherwise they are screwed. The fact that his ultimate produces 2/2s bodies instead of 1/1s is ridiculous. Being able to produce a lethal army late game when your life is at less than half is just so awesome. This new Ajani feels very similar to the original but significantly more powerful. Sure Ajani Goldmane can +1 with an empty field but Ajani, Caller of the Pride has a significantly more powerful ultimate and – ability and it is cheaper and starts with more loyalty.
So despite not passing the Planeswalker test he is definitely going to be seeing some play. He is going to fit in perfectly with any white aggro decks and unfortunately Humans. This new Ajani has found the perfect balance between power and cost and feels powerful but not in any way overpowered. He will most definitely be seeing play in Type 2 and it is very likely he will be showing up in Modern and possibly even Legacy.
So that is it for now. While we have been shown a majority of the exciting and most anticipated cards from the set we still have only seen one mythic out of blue so far and there is still one more mythic to be revealed in the other colors as well excluding green.
So what are your guys’ opinion on the set so far? What are your feelings on the new planeswalkers? Are they totally rad or just kind of stupid? What do you think of the legendary cycle? Are you going to miss the titans? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, found this picture and it made me laugh. Thought you guys might appreciate it.