Come tomorrow, the entirety of Dominaria will be at our fingertips, which means next week we can really get down and dirty with applications in Draft. For now, I think it would be useful to take a look at a new mechanic that is intrinsically difficult to evaluate for Limited: Legendary Sorceries. Let’s take a look at this cycle of powerful spells:
When evaluating a card, it’s important to consider both the best case and the worst case. However, the trick is discerning the likelihood of each, as well as those along the gradient from best to worst. Although the best and worst cases aren’t particularly interesting, as the floor is that you can’t cast the cards and the ceiling is that the game is over, understanding this so-called gradient is necessary. What follows will be a string of logic in attempt to provide some insight into these cards’ evaluation as well as my expected grade for each card.
Jaya’s Immortal Inferno is the best of the bunch. If this card ever resolves, as long as X is greater than or equal to two, you’re getting an extremely potent effect. It ranges from a solid effect like Furious Reprisal to an absolutely unbeatable mythic-level powerhouse like Comet Storm. This is an example of a card I don’t mind stuck in my hand, either, because of how good it is at bringing you back from behind. One important thing to note is that there’s a chance that the normal architecture of red decks won’t have many legendary creatures, and if this is the case, Jaya’s Immortal Inferno is likely worse than I’m expecting.
Grade: A- / A
I think Kamahl’s Druidic Vow is pretty bad. Without a true abundance of legendary creatures, this card isn’t likely to have a large impact on the battlefield until X is around six, and even then, you’re not necessarily getting a game-breaking effect for eight mana. I think the floor is low, and while the maximal outcome is absurd, I think the likelihood of that outcome is quite low. Without much mana, it’s like Collected Company, which wasn’t great in Limited, and to be good, it requires some serious ramping like Genesis Wave, which doesn’t tend to be a great strategy.
Now, Karn’s Temporal Sundering is a bit on the trickier side to evalute. Six mana for a Time Walk is only ever worth it when you’re ahead, and playing a card that isn’t always castable that is maximized when ahead isn’t a great recipe for success. However, the Temporal Sundering is not irrelevant. It reminds me Part the Waterveil, where the card wasn’t great by any means, yet it played in a manner where it won you games where other cards would struggle to do so. I’m not going to start high on this card, but I could see this grade fluctuating quite a bit.
Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering takes two effects that are both quite good — albeit not broken — in Limited and slaps them onto one card.
Now, a removal spell like Final Reward and a reanimation spell like Zombify together can be powerful enough to swing a losing game into your favor. However, this card has its problems. First and foremost, the legendary restriction is too much to ask if you’re not getting all that much out of the card. A common play pattern will likely be offering a trade with a creature to maximize the power of Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, but that can’t be the case if your creature is legendary.
Second, if you need to use this as a removal spell, the timing is concerning, given that you won’t always be able to cast this card on Turn 5, and even Turn 5 is a bit clunky for a sorcery-speed removal spell. I think it’s important to build with this card as an intended finisher in order to swing games, rather than a powerful removal spell. While it can double back as said removal spell, it can’t always fill that role. It’s still a super-solid card, but not a slam dunk in my eyes.
Well, this card ranges from a do-nothing…to Wrath of God…to Plague Wind. It’s interesting to me because, intuitively speaking, it’s a Wrath where you can minimize its impact on your own deck.
If that were the whole story, the card would be pretty close to an A. However, how often will your opponents have legendary creatures that you want to kill? And I think the answer to this question is “often enough to ding the rating.” There appears to be a W/B legendary sub-theme, so maybe white will have more to offer in this department in order to offset the downside, but given that legendary creatures are often of higher complexity and power, a lot of cards in Dominaria that you will want to kill may very well be legendary.
The value of this card is really going to swing depending on the expected number of legendary creatures per deck, but I’m going to start off thinking it’s pretty good!
Grade: B / B+
That covers the Legendary Sorceries in Dominaria. I’ll leave you with one semi-interesting note: your opponent may prioritize killing legendary creatures once they see a Legendary Sorcery, so if you play against a deck with a reasonable amount of removal, I would at least consider sideboarding them out unless your deck is chock-full of legendary creatures.