It’s that time of year again! That’s right, it’s spoiler season! While the first batch of spoilers admittedly came out about a month ago with a curious Craigslist sale I wanted to wait a bit longer so that I had a little more to sink my teeth into and then along came Cipher and all of the sudden I had more than I could chew. Let me start with those first five mythics which were spoiled first and from there move onto the guild mechanics.
So it now is official. It cost 8UUUU to win the game. So for 12 mana you don’t only get to draw your whole library but you get an extra turn to untap and go nuts. If you cast this card and don’t win, you are doing something wrong. This card just wants to be played with Omniscience. Cast Omniscience, play Enter the Infinite for free and play the rest of your library for free. There is potential for this combo to become a threat in Standard and Modern but Enter the Infinite is clearly going to be abused the most in Legacy where cheating Omniscience into play is much easier with cards like Show and Tell and Academy Rector. Either way, Enter the Infinite is a ridiculous card that will definitely see play in constructed somewhere.
This card is interesting. A flying 6/5 trampler is pretty amazing in Limited but I doubt that it will be powerful enough to do anything in Constructed. With that being said, this is going to be an EDH and casual all-star. Like I have mentioned, his stats are nothing to scoff at and that ability could break games when put in the right deck.
We have seen ‘take an extra combat phase” effects in the past but we have never seen it on hasty, flying and vigilant body before. I think everyone knew that Boros was going to be an archetype to watch out for and Aurelia just gave the deck a win condition. Aurelia is going to let you go turn five Thundermaw Hellkite, bash you for 5 followed up by turn 6 Aurelia bash you for 16. By herself she is alright but the kind of decks that do play her are going to be fast and aggressive and when she hits the field games are going to end. Keep an eye out for this one.
So Seismic Assault grew some legs and is now throwing bigger rocks. This card makes me feel like RG Wolf Run ramp is still a very viable option in the format. Even though Borborygmos doesn’t do anything upon hitting the field, even if he gets hit immediately by some instant speed removal you can still respond by dropping your extra lands and blasting a couple of threats or even just your opponents face. This card is just perfect for ramp decks. Decks like that can now justify running 27-30 lands no problem because in the late game they aren’t going to be flooded with mana but with extra cards to bolt your opponent with. The Seismic Assault ability is sweet but the fact that this Cyclops gets you more land every time he attacks is awesome. I realize the ability only triggers when he deals damage but he is a 7/6 trampler and as of right now towers over most other threats in the game. This card will unlikely see play in eternal formats but is definitely a viable win condition in Standard and is going to an absolute blast in EDH and casual.
Domri Rade is so awesome. Three drop planeswalkers traditionally have a plus one which yields no card advantage. For example Liliana had each player discard a card, Jace Beleren each player draws a card. Domri breaks this format. In the right kind of deck his plus one might as well read ‘draw a card most of the time’. Not only does his plus one rock, but he also passes the planeswalker test because he is able to defend himself. Admittedly, he does need a creature in play to be able to do so but again in the right deck he will be amazing. Now for a planeswalker to be awesome enough to catch my attention it needs to have an ultimate that ends games. For example, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad has always felt a bit underwhelming simply because his ultimate could potentially do nothing. That is not the case for Mr. Rade here. As we have made clear at this point, Domri Rade wants to be played in a creature based deck and because of that his ultimate is definitely going to win games. Hell, even if the emblem only gave your creature’s double strike and hexproof it would be ridiculous, but the fact that it gives your guys trample and haste as well is just almost too good to be true. If you ultimate this guy and don’t win, then you are doing something wrong. This card is amazing and definitely will see play across the board. Definitely in Standard and Modern and I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up in Legacy somewhere too. Three drop planeswalkers are good and Domri Rade continues to prove this paradigm.
So now for some new mechanics.
So Boros has a very powerful history in Constructed so it is interesting to see Battalion, which at least in a constructed environment sucks balls. The fact that you have to have two other attacking creatures is pretty steep for an ability trigger so for this mechanic to see play it better do more than just a Lightning Helix. Maybe it will end up doing something big, but as of right now I am fairly underwhelmed.
Now Extort is a fun one. While one life and one damage doesn’t seem like a lot let’s not forget that we still have Flashback in Standard making cards like Lingering Souls and Think Twice that much more powerful when they can chip away at your opponent’s health while simultaneously increasing your own. Admittedly this Thrull feels like a completely inferior Sun Titan in almost every regard but still the Extort mechanic isn’t something to brush off just yet.
Bloodrush is cute. It kind of feels a bit unnecessary with Wolf Run still around but that doesn’t mean it won’t see play. Rubblehulk especially seems viable, by being either a really Giant Growth or being just a big body in the late game. In the end it really does just make your cards a bit more versatile which is always awesome despite the abilities slightly redundant effect. It really wants to grant Trample too though again demonstrating Wolf Run’s superiority here
Fathom Mage debuts the Simic ability, Evolve. I love how they have kept the same +1/+1 counter theme from the first Raniva block except Evolve is significantly better than Graft. Especially in creature based decks, your creatures getting bigger is going to incredibly powerful especially when they have ridiculous additional abilities like the Fathom Mage here. Oh my god this card is going to be fun. This card with Scavenge and Corpsejack Menace are going to be gross. Creatures that trigger the Mage’s ability as well as have an ability which can put even more counters on the Mage subsequently meaning you will draw even more cards. I have mentioned before that I am very much a Johnny, and this card appeals to my inner Johnny very much so. Not only do Scavenge creatures work well with the Mage but the Innistrad block gave us quite a few spells that placed a handful of counters on your dudes as well such as Blessings of Nature, Hunger of the Howlpack, and Increasing Savagery which all work incredibly well.
Now for the single most exciting part: Cipher.
This mechanic is scary. There is the single most potential here with the presence of Invisible Stalker also available in Standard for Type 2 to become broken. I mean this mechanic could just break the game. There were so many rumors about Dimir getting a mill based mechanic that I am incredibly excited for something a bit more diverse. With that being said, Invisible Stalker and Whispering Madness together make for a quite efficient milling strategy. So turn four you cast your Whispering Madness and each player discards their hand and draws five and at this point you encode the spell onto your Invisible Stalker. Your Stalker then attacks and triggers another Whispering Madness and each library gets another five cards smaller. Now that you have another copy of Whispering Madness going on, you then encode that copy onto the same Stalker. That’s right; you get to encode the encoded copy. That means that each turn you will be getting exponentially more triggers. Now admittedly while quickly milling your opponents face off you will be doing the same to yourself, but as long as you draw one or two of your Thought Scours while drawing your entire deck you should be good to go.
That is just the shenanigans you can get into with one card. Imagine what other Cipher spells we are going to get though! Cipher is a blue and black mechanic meaning perhaps we will be getting some sort of Cipher draw or discard spell subsequently turning our Stalkers and other fine gentlemen into super specters and super Ophidians. If Cipher only got a draw and discard spell it would be the single best mechanic in Standard but we are sure to get even more crazy spells in the other 210 unspoiled cards yet. Cipher being released when we have Invisible Stalker is absolutely terrifying and we are sure to only get more crazy unblockable and evasive creatures from Dimir. Just look at their Keyrune!
Cipher is one of the best and the scariest mechanics to hit the game for a while and I cannot wait to see what else comes out of this set. For all of your Gatecrash news stay tuned into… Uhh, the site?
Also Watery Grave looks amazing. I love you and your glorious sharp art Mr. Swanland.