Well, spoiler season has finally arrived. Last week we caught a glimpse of the art that will be used on some of the new cards including all the remaining minor Gods and a few other sweet treats. The problem with spoiling just the art is that we want to know what the cards do! So, to finally see some of the new cards finally gives us a picture of what we are looking at. Today I’m going to go through the cards that have been spoiled and their new mechanics and see where they might fit.
Ajani’s Presence – This is a pretty neat combat trick and it highlights the new mechanic- Strive- so that we can see an example. First off, Strive looks like it is going to be a mechanic that would allow you to target more than one creature or target with your spell, for a cost. In the example of Ajani’s Presence you can cast the spell for +1/+1 and indestructibility on a creature, but can then target other creatures for an additional 1 white and 2 colourless. That could be a really useful ability, particularly in Heroic decks where the more you target, the more benefits your team can rack up. Ajani’s Presence is going to another really key combat trick in the limited environment because any time you can give a creature +1/+1 and indestructibility it is no laughing matter. You won’t want to take it super high in your draft pack, but if you are a base white deck it’ll be a useful trick. I doubt it’ll see much in the way of constructed play as this sort of ability is rarely sought after, but perhaps a Heroic deck is going to emerge as a powerhouse deck and make good use of this card. It gets a B as a playable limited card, but hardly an all-star.
Cyclops of Eternal Fury – This 5/3 Enchantment Creature Cyclops for 6 mana is going to see play in drafts where base red decks are looking to really put their opponent on the back foot by being very aggressive. By granting all other creatures you control haste you make it very difficult for opponents to attack with the whole team because the chance of having something come back on crack back with Haste is very real. A 5/3 body for 6 mana is hardly efficient, and there are better ways to generate the same effect for you team if you are playing Red, but the card is perfectly reasonable and will see draft play for sure. I give this guy a B- because he’s somewhat overcosted for the body you get and the ability that is granted can be achieved through more inexpensive means.
Dakra Mystic – a 1/1 Merfolk for 1 Blue mana . I think that this is going to be one of those cute cards that everyone reads and then promptly opts not to play in any environment. If her ability was a milling attribute or something of that nature, or conversely drawing cards, she would be far more acceptable, but instead she’s a symmetrical mill OR a symmetrical card draw. In very few situations do I want to mill myself AND my opponent…if my deck is graveyard based I want to put my things in my yard and not contend with what my opponent is doing. And I definitely do not want my opponent to draw cards…that’s helping them. Sure, I can draw a card too, but I’m not overly interested in the symmetry of the exchange and would thus keep her out of my deck. Oh, and I wasn’t even considering this for a constructed deck. So, Dakra Mystic is getting a C- because I’m not impressed despite how cute the ability is.
Eidolon of Blossoms – A 2/2 green creature for 4 mana (2 green, 2 colourless) is a little underwhelming, particularly as a Rare, but she highlights the new Constellation ability. Constellation appears to be a mechanic that rewards you for playing enchantments and each time that you do you will trigger some sort of benefit. This is an ability reminiscent of Landfall from the Zendikar, where each time you do something, whether play a land or cast an enchantment, you trigger a bonus. I like the concept, and Landfall was a very strong ability in Zendikar, but I’m not as convinced that this will prove to be as good. The reason Landfall was so potent was that you HAVE to play lands, meaning you can trigger the effect all the time. Enchantments are not always the best choice and you may only run a handful. Now, at limited, with a host of Enchantment creatures available, it may have more applications, but I doubt that players in the Standard environment will be interested. As for Eidolon of Blossoms, her Constellation ability of drawing you a card is useful, and pretty sought after in Green who doesn’t usually get as many ways to draw cards as Black or Blue, but it is still underpowered and pretty limited in its application. B- as an underpowered body with an interesting ability.
Extinguish all Hope – 6 mana for black sweeper…hmmm…seems pretty solid to me. This is a pretty pricey sweeper at 6 mana, and the added feature of only hitting non-enchantment creatures is not ideal either, but the fact that Black gets access to yet another significant removal card is frightening. There is almost no chance that this will see any play in Standard because the price tag is too high, but in a limited deck this will be an excellent pick and will go very highly in your packs. B+ for being solid mass removal, even if a little limited in scope because of the restrictions.
Gnarled Scarhide – a 2/1 for 1 black and a Bestow cost of 4. I had such hopes that Black was going to get a really relevant 2/1 for 1 mana (similar to Soldier of the Pantheon aka improved Savannah Lions), but the drawback of not being able to block ended that dream. However, this guy will be useful in order to put early pressure on your opponent and really set an early and aggressive tone. I could see this guy pop up in a B/R or Rakdos aggro deck in constructed formats (if those become a thing again soon) because he fits in with that game plan very nicely. The Bestow ability is also relevant to add a little extra reach to something in the late game. The other interesting piece with this guy is that because he’s a minotaur, you could see him emerge in a Tribal Man-Bull deck where Ragemonger reduces his casting cost to the point that he’s free to cast. So, despite the drawback of being unable to block I would still give this guy a solid B+ and hope to see if he can find a spot in a very aggressive deck somewhere.
Hall of Triumph – So, as if Spear of Heliod wasn’t enough, now we get the Hall of Triumph to further beef up creatures…got to love the Glorious Anthem effects. This will see extensive limited play and will be a first pick because it doesn’t commit you to a colour, but is still suitably aggressive and powerful that your team (regardless of colour) will get a nice boost. I can’t imagine that this will see play in Standard, but I can dream up many scenarios where EDH players or casual players will gobble this up for their tribal decks. I will give this an A- as a very good limited card and useful addition to the arsenal of casual players across the board.
Iroas, God of Victory – I am pleased to see that the devotion mechanic for the Gods in Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx are the same and we didn’t see it rise any higher than the 7 it is. Iroas is pretty sweet because a 7/4 indestructible enchantment creature for 4 makes him very aggressively costed and scary to face down. His added abilities of making your attacking creatures extra difficult to block and making your attacking creatures indestructible is perfect for the W/R decks out there. I don’t know if Standard is in his future because most of the base Red decks aren’t running creatures, but rather are trying to go to the face with burn, but if there is going to be a R/W creature heavy deck this guy would be perfect. Could a R/W/U Heroic deck be with Iroas, a bunch of aggressive, inexpensive Heroic creatures, backed by Supreme Verdicts and Detention Spheres be far off? We’ll see, however, in a draft this guy is a bomb and an easy first pick. If you are the R/W deck you will windmill slam this guy all day long. He gets an A for being a limited All-Star with potential Standard implications as well.
Ravenous Lucrocota – This is going to be a draft staple for Green base decks. A 2/4 for 4 mana with vigilance is solid value and a decent body and the ability to play offence and defence as needed is key. Adding in the Monstrosity ability makes this guy a solid beat stick in the late game when you have nowhere else to sink your mana. Think of him as the Nessian Asp of the set…just not quite as good. He’s still very serviceable, but make no mistake, the Asp is a better card on the whole. For being a solid body in a limited environment and having some upside I’ll give this guy a B, but he has essentially no aspirations of getting mixed up in constructed formats of any kind.
Satyr Hoplite – a 1/1 for 1 in red is hardly news. Nor is the Heroic ability he packs as well, although I feel like the heroic ability should be on White card not Red. No, what is interesting with this guy is actually the flavour text. Up until this point the Satyrs had been minions of Xenagos, however, the flavor text gives you the distinct impression that the Satyrs have rebelled against Xenagos. Is that overly relevant to the card? No…but interesting. As far as playability, he will be a perfectly playable red creature in your R/W Heroic deck anchored by Iroas, but you will hardly be awed or impressed by him. He’s a B- for being a serviceable limited card that may or may not make your deck, depending on what else you running.
Sigiled Starfish – This 2 mana (1 blue, 1 colourless) 0/3 is actually a very solid card. Much like how Sylvan Caryatid in an excellent creature, this one is also very good. The 3 toughness puts him out of reach of a number of obvious burn spells and allows it to block bears and 2 power creatures all day. The real treat will be the activated ability to Scry 1 by tapping it. We’ve seen over and over again that improved card selection afforded by the Scry ability is hugely powerful and to have a repeatable Scry ability on a creature that is very reasonably costed will be a boon. I don’t think many Standard decks are going to be looking for this card, but as a piece in a Draft deck I can see this being an early to mid round pick for the player in Blue. I’ll give this guy a B for the solid defensive body for a cheap 2 mana and a very relevant ability.
Whitewater Naiads – a 5 mana (2 blue, 3 colourless) 4/4 with Constellation is once again reasonable, but hardly anything to write home about. The Constellation ability is relatively relevant in enchantment heavy Heroic draft decks because it allows you to push through damage by making target creature unblockable. While I would prefer that this would be an Air Elemental, the Constellation ability does give this card some quasi evasion in order lay down some damage, and a 4/4 body is nothing to sniff at. He’ll get a B from me for draft, but once again won’t be seen on the battlefields of the Constructed world.
Well, there are the first batch of cards released…stay tuned because I’m sure that there is more to come before the whole picture comes into view. Am I way of base? Have I forgotten something? Is there a deck out there screaming from one of these cards? Let me know what you think!
Until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.