HOLY CRAP. Return to Ravnica looks ridiculous.
While spoilers for the upcoming set have been slowly leaking out for the past month or so it wasn’t until a few days ago when the first of the month as well as PAX rolled around the corner when the first big batch of cards showed up. Among them are a quite a few brand new and awesome cards but perhaps some of the most exciting cards revealed so far are reprints.
That’s right. The Shocklands are back and with new fancy art. Only the first 5 are showing up in Return to Ravnica while the other five will be paired with their respective guild in Gatecrash. At first it seems a little ridiculous including these powerful lands in a Standard environment but without Fetchlands they are a little less ridiculous. With that being said though I would still absolutely love for Fetchlands to get reprinted in the next block. Fingers are crossed.
The Shocklands aren’t the only exciting new lands in the set either.
Return to Ravnica is debuting a brand new type of land called Gates. Gates are more or less your normal dual color tapped land except it has an additional type. Now while these lands are a little underwhelming compared to the Shocklands they are still incredibly important for several reason, most importantly, because it is a common. By making dual colored common lands Wizards has made it so that in limited building multi-colored decks will be significantly easier due to the all the lands you will be easily picking up in each pack. Now continuing off that, it will also allow players who are building on a budget to still really get the most out of the set and still exploit the colorfulness of the set without having to fork out tons for top tier lands. Lastly, these lands are going to absolute all-stars in Pauper. I have been hoping for some sort of dual colored land in the format (other than bounce lands) ever since first trying the format out and now I finally have some.
Out of the Gates and Shock-lands as well as all of the other lands available in Standard multicolored deck building should come with relative ease.
So the percentage of the cards spoiled so far that I am excited about is significantly higher than usual so I am just going to start at the top of the spoiler and just start going down it.
Planeswalker – Jace+1 : Until your next turn, whenever a creature an opponent controls attacks, it gets -1/-0 until end of turn.
-2 : Reveal the top three cards of your library. An opponent separates them into two piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other on the bottom of your library in any order.
-8 : For each player, search that player’s library for a nonland card and exile it, then that player shuffles his or her library. You may cast those cards without paying their mana costs.Illus. Jaime Jones #44/2744
New Jace! As disappointed as I was seeing that the new Jace was in fact not multicolored, my excitement about every other facet of the card outweighed that disappointment. First off we have to look at whether it passes the planeswalker test of being able to defend itself and here Jace gets an A for effort. While he cannot directly deal with any threats on the board he is able to shrink the attacks of any offenders with his plus 1 making him an ideal threat against decks with lots of smaller creatures. Now Wizards apparently realized exactly how much they love giving Jace an ability that is more or less a powerful draw spell from an eternal format. The Mind Sculptor had Brainstorm and the Architect of Thought has a mini Fact or Fiction. A -2 ability that is getting you at the most two cards is pretty dang good. Worst case scenario for Jace is throwing him out there when he isn’t really going to do anything and simply drawing 4 out of him over the next two turns. For 4 mana that is pretty awesome. Now his ultimate is one of my favorites seen on a planeswalker in quite some time. Being able to search your opponents’ decks in addition to your own for any spell to throw in your opponents face is too fantastic. I really want to see this new Jace paired with an Emrakul and used as a way to cheat that monster into play. While the Architect of Thought definitely is no Mind Sculptor he definitely brings a lot to the table and even though he can’t defend himself as well as others he is still a 4 drop planeswalker starting at 4 loyalty. Keep your eye on this bad boy for sure.
The next card isn’t nearly as exciting as Jace but is definitely one that could be a blast to play with.
Pack Rats paired with other fantastic and fun rats such as Ink-Eyes, Swarmyard, and Relentless Rats could make some incredibly awesome casual decks. I don’t really think this could be anything competitive but it would be a blast to play with. Rats for days.
Mizzium Mortars is pretty damn rad. This card shows off Izzet’s new mechanic and it is pretty awesome. Mortars un-supersized is a decent kill spell for 2 but once it is Overloaded it has the potential to completely wipe an opponent’s board. The versatility behind Mizzium Mortars is probably going to be enough to see it appearing in some Standard RDW builds.
Hey check it out Overgrown Battlement is being reprinted except it isn’t as awesome. Sweet.
Axebane Guardian might not be as effective as Overgrown Battlement it looks like there might be a couple of other exciting green defenders getting released in the new set so there is definitely going to be the potential of a green defender ramp strategy.
Joining the Guardian is Gatecreeper Vine which is able to fetch you some of those fancy new dual lands. Last time we saw these kinds of cards making it into constructed players were ramping into 15/15s and Eldrazi and what not. What can we ramp into this time?
Well we might not have any Eldrazi this guy sure is a worthy target. I mean you cast this monster and unless your opponent has an O-Ring in hand you pretty much win the game. 15 power on board for 11 is good but even after death he leaves you with 15 on board and that 15 is always attached to a trampling body. So for that 11 mana you are essentially getting 30 power with trampling. That’s alright I guess.
I kind of skipped over white due to a lack of anything too impressive yet but at this point it is definitely worth mentioning Selesnya’s mechanic, Populate. Populate lets you put a copy of any token you have on the field. When the mechanic was first dropped I immediately saw 1/1 spirit tokens and tiny humans and the idea of getting just another little dude wasn’t all that appealing. But now we are seeing some big tokens. 5/5 tramplers and 8/8 vigilancers (it’s now a word) are definitely something I would be interested populating the field with. Populate is definitely going to be better than I originally predicted.
Now this card is definitely designed to fill the slot that Frost Titan had been holding onto for so long. Here is that control deck finisher that can single handedly shut down the field. Archon of the Triumvirate introduces us to the new Azorius mechanic, Detain and I am fan. While arguably less powerful than tapping down a permanent he is also able to shut down permanents with non-tapping activated abilities, *cough* guildmages and planeswalkers *cough*. This new Archon is able to shut down two at a time with double Detain and is attached to a flying body. This is a creature I can get excited about.
So we all know that charms are awesome. Instances with multiple abilities provide us with powerful and versatile spells. Sure some are less powerful than others but all are somewhat constructed worthy. Azorius Charm provides you with most importantly a removal spell that also can draw you a card or get you some life. If your field is set up well you could be looking at quite a bit of life gain for 2 mana. Not too shabby.
Carnival Hellsteed. Shows off the new Rakdos ability Unleash which is ok. It doesn’t blow us away but it could do some cool things. Regardless of whether or not you Unleash this bad boy you are still looking at a hasty first striking 5 or 6 power which is pretty good and pretty tough to deal with. Moving on.
Hey we got finally got the other half of Doubling Season after Innistrad’s Parallel Lives. Also it’s on a 4/4 body for 4 which is pretty neat. How neat is that?
Terminate is one of the best kill spells because for just two mana you can kill any creature. How do you top that? How about same mana cost except it also kills any planeswalker. While Dreadbore might not be at instant speed its versatility and power are going to make it an all-star in Modern, Standard and there is a very solid chance Legacy too. This card is probably not going to be less than 5 bucks at any point ever.
So a creature that makes all of your instances and sorceries cost one less is pretty damn good. That means that your Negates are one drops and your Searing Swords are Lightning Bolts. Now this ability on a 2/2 body for 2 is just too dang awesome to pass up. I love this card. Izzet is definitely shaping into one of the better guilds.
I doubt that Havoc Festival is going to be a hit in most competitive formats regardless of my love for it. With that being said I can see this card doing some work in an aggressive EDH or multiplayer build. Not a good card but a damn fun one.
Isperia shows off how much this set is apparently geared towards multiplayer. This sphinx is going to be so much fun to play with it. In multiplayer you are going to be more or less untouchable. In single player this card is going to more or less shut down aggro decks. Imagine having this dude on the field against Naya Aggro where you are looking at 2 or 3 attackers a turn or should I say 2 or 3 more cards per turn. This card feels like it is filling in the hole left by Consecrated Sphinx. Isperia is sweet.
Izzet Charm is awesome. It is definitely one of the more exciting cards in the set so far. It feels a lot like and functions very similarly to Fire//Ice. This one card is able to deal with small creatures, every other spell, and it can draw you cards in a pinch. Neither one of these cards is better than one another due to both being incredibly versatile and powerful but I will say that Izzet Charm is definitely at the same power level as the eternal staple. This card is going to do wonder’s in Standard, Modern, Legacy and perhaps even Vintage. It is an all around awesome card and just another reason to start worrying about UR Delver.
Lyev Skyknight is another example of the power of Detain. I can only imagine that this is going to help the outlook for UW Delver. This 3/1 flyer fits in way too well next to Delver and Restoration Angel. This card is powerful and works way too well in faster paced aggro/tempo decks. I like it a lot.
We were told Niv-Mizzet was going to be reprinted and we now we get to finally see the return of the brilliant dragon. So this new Mizzet is powerful and I love it but it really feels like Wizards took the original Niv and just kind of twisted things around just a little bit. The original read when you draw a card you deal damage and he had a draw ability but this new one reads when you damage someone you draw a card and he has a damage ability. Like I said it is an awesome card but it kind of feels like Wizards got lazy during the design process. With that being said this Niv is much more capable of machine gunning down an opponent’s army. Unfortunately though you won’t draw cards for it. While his ability might be more powerful than the original he honestly feels a little underwhelming in comparison. Cool card but probably won’t make the biggest splash.
Blaze + Mind Twist = Rakdos’s Return. Cool card and likely to lead to a BR control build floating around. I feel like this shouldn’t be a mythic but then again I have yet to see it in play. Perhaps it will Shock us. Please forgive the pun.
Selesnya Charm like all of the other ones so far is going to rock socks. This one gets rid of a big threat, gives you a threat or makes one of your other dudes a threat. Versatile and incredibly fitting for the color combo. Good chance it will be seeing constructed play.
So apparently WOTC felt that green and white needed some sort of trump card against Delver and blue in general. Wizards also felt it was necessary to put this devastating ability on a one drop creature. They also felt it was necessary to make this one hell of a one drop by making the one mana casting cost even more flexible and by making it a 2/1. Green and White now have a powerful ability on a powerful creature for a dirt cheap price. Thank god it isn’t a human.
Also Cursecatcher is getting reprinted and is even easier to cast now. Hybrid mana rocks.
Darksteel Ingot and Coalition Relic should scoot over because there is a new 3-drop-mana-producing-rock in the house. And not only does this bad boy act as ramp but it also fixes the entirety of your mana base. Chromatic Lantern is more or less a Manalith with a Prismatic Omen mashed on top. I love that card so this new artifact is definitely one of my new favorites spoiled so far.
Even though only the first 70 cards of the set have been revealed so far I am pretty much sold on buying a box or two. Or five. Return to Ravnica is shaping into one of the most flavorful, exciting and all around kick ass sets to date for formats from Standard to Legacy to EDH.
For all of your RTR news be sure to tune into Power Cords! For a look at the entire Return to Ravnica spoiler head over to MTGSalvation or simply click the link here!