On today’s docket, we’ve got some dumb stuff from the Internet and some predictions about Innistrad sure to go wrong. Ãndale!
Tales from the Web
Every once in a while, I will stumble upon something that I think that all Magic players should see. Here are two examples.
First, we have this gem from Germany. You know the Germans make good stuff (Vince from Shamwow told me that), but in this video it appears they don’t make great ADD meds.
On the plus side, he gets to side those Sign in Bloods out for the next two games… if he fixes his keyboard first.
Well now that that’s out of the way, how about something that’s actually good? Here’s a video from someone who I think is named â€˜Clance’ doing a pretty good cover (and somewhat disturbing video) of B.o.B.’s song â€˜Magic.’ Enjoy!
Enough of that nonsense. On to some discussion!
(Yes, that heading shares a name with a Twilight movie. I apologize.)
Most people celebrate the New Year in January. They get together with friends, drink champagne, and wear silly hats. They do this because every New Year signifies a clean slate from which to start anew.
This time of year, the early fall, is Magic’s New Year. For me it’s also Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, because we follow the Lunar calendar, which fits the flavor of the new set well. Fortunately for Wizards, the beginning of each Jewish month is a new moon, so the first major tournaments with Innistrad-legal cards will occur on nights where real werewolves won’t be active.
So what does the New Year bring for already established cards? Let’s find out.
This is a list of five cards I expect to see more play in Standard in the coming months than they did in the past year. I’m not a trader or a dealer, so I can’t speak to the value of Innistrad (for that, you can read Ben Bleweiss’s article here or Jon Medina’s article here). What I can do is predict which cards I think will see a jump in popularity. And here they are:
I expect this guy to team up with Ghost Quarter to be the centerpiece of a new archetype in Standard (there’s a bad pun-related name on the way; I just haven’t thought of it yet). In addition, with the popularity of Birthing Pod decks on the rise and cards like Green Sun’s Zenith and Garruk, the Veil-Cursed allowing powerful search options (not to mention Rampant Growth effects), it’s not just a cute two-card combo but a significant speed bump for many decks to try to overcome.
Hey, you know what card gets both of the integral pieces to that deck back from your graveyard?
2) Sun Titan
I expect this will be the premier Titan in new Standard, mostly as a result of the printing of Liliana of the Veil and the reprinting of Ghost Quarter. The ability to flashback Unburial Rites on Sun Titan to return Liliana to play is a very powerful line, and it can be done by putting all three cards into your graveyard and having four mana available.
Now if there was only a good way to combat this type of reanimation strategy…
Not only does the Reaper gain a ton of value based on the new aggressive Zombies in Innistrad like Diregraf Ghoul and Unbreathing Horde, but it is also a great way to combat the graveyard tricks that people can now pull off with Unburial Rites, Sun Titan, Skaab Ruinator, and more. In addition, it has a friend that can supply an army if need be in the form of Grave Titan. If Sun Titan is the new Number One in Giants, Grave Titan isn’t close behind.
While it has never fallen out of favor by any means, Innistrad promises to keep the Thanksgiving Turkey Knife (nickname patent pending) at the top tables. Three cards from Innistrad have kept it alive and well: Invisible Stalker, Kessig Wolf Run, and Snapcaster Mage. The Invisible Man will likely be an early replacement for Squadron Hawk, and what it gives up in card advantage it more than makes up for in being un-Dismemberable and un-chumpblockable (both of those are real words, I’m applying them to Merriam-Webter later). Kessig Wolf Run is an interesting one to me, as it pretty much guarantees your Sword will hit… at which point you get to untap it again. This card with Mirran Crusader or Terror of Kruin Pass is certainly worth considering when brewing for new Standard. Snapcaster Mage is a fine stand-in to pick up a Sword also because it essentially has haste, and many decks will be running it already to get extra value out of Ponders, Dismembers, and what have you.
A third white card on the list? Well, I think it deserves a spot. I have a strong feeling that some iteration of a tokens deck will make an impact. Some combination of Mentor of the Meek, Intangible Virtue, Mikaeus, the Lunarch, Rally the Peasants, and Midnight Haunting should be enough to make the backbone of a token powerhouse. Whether the deck can handle both Elspeth and Geist-Honored Monk at the five-drop slot is unknown, but I would be surprised if they couldn’t work side by side in some capacity.
From every cloud a little rain must fall. Here are the five cards I expect to lose popularity post-Innistrad.
Seriously, what does this do in new Standard? With Tectonic Edge, manlands, Valakut and landfall now a thing of the past (as well as Cloudpost going the way of the Dodo in Modern), I’m hard pressed to think of a deck that would run Primevals. It’s not easy being green.
Now that there isn’t an instawin attached, far fewer Deceivers will see play… but that doesn’t mean it’ll be gone entirely. Bant and RUG Pod lists will likely run a singleton to be able to â€˜jump’ casting costs with Birthing Pods, and I’ve seen several Caw-Blade style lists running this as a four-of as a way to not only keep countermagic up with a Blade on the table (alongside Snapcaster), but also as a surprise way to deal with pesky blockers and as a way to deal with threatening Titans.
This one pains me to say it, as I was a big fan of the U/G Poison deck, but with Distortion Strike, Vines of the Vastwood, and Groundswell all leaving, it’s not looking good for little venomous men. I don’t think that Ranger’s Guile and Titanic Growth are going to cut it as replacements. But I do have good news: your Inkmoth Nexuses are still very good in Tempered Steel and Tezzeret, as they no longer have to deal with Celestial Colonnades or Squadron Hawks standing in their way. But if you had visions of multiple Mutagenic Growths targeting a Nexus on turn two dancing in your head, then I think you’re definitely still dreaming.
It’s possible I’m wrong with this one, as it always seems that during States season people bring aggressive red deck to the party. This time around, however, I don’t see it happening. Red Deck Wins was dying at the end of last season, steadily being replaced in the standings by Big Red variants with Kargan Dragonlord and Koth. Both decks relied heavily of Goblin Guide, Searing Blaze, and Lightning Bolt though, and all are leaving us. But some champions of fire are still around, namely Hero of Oxid Ridge and Incinerate. It’s a new environment, and when the metagame is in flux people turn to their Mountains for comfort. Can Reckless Waif and Stormkirk Noble replace Goblin Guide? Can anything replace Lightning Bolt? Time will tell.
5) Torpor Orb
With the exit of Squadron Hawk and the decreased importance of Deceiver Exarch I’m not sure Torpor Orb is a necessary evil anymore. However, with the Titans and Birthing Pod decks around every corner, the ability to shut off â€˜enter the battlefield’ triggers are good, but not nearly as good as when Zendikar and M11 were still around.
These last two cards I don’t know what to think about, as it crossed my mind to be on both lists. I’ll let you decide, citizens of the Internet.
On the one hand, you still have Wurmcoil Engine, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Myr Battlesphere, Mindslaver, and several more great artifacts that you can cast off of him. In addition, the Illusions deck lost very little with the rotation and could be poised for a trip to the top tier.
It would seem like there’s a lot of power still available for a Tezzeret deck, but for two very important things: the loss of Everflowing Chalice and the decreased importance of Torpor Orb. I’m torn on this one as well, as I would like to see it succeed as an archetype but I’m hesitant to say which direction it will go in as of yet.
Poll Question Roundup
A couple of weeks ago I asked you all to voice your opinions on a few questions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t retrieve the results from here on Star City, but I received enough feedback on Facebook and in person on the questions that I have a good idea of what people think. Here’s what I asked:
This one was pretty clear: People prefer Planeswalker Points. Whether they like the cheesy name or not (it was about a 50/50 split), almost everyone I talked to was in favor of the change. What’s not to like? Competitive players like that it allowed them to play in more events; casual players like that it rewards amount of games played as well as amount of games won; and tournament organizers and store owners like that it’s bringing more people in every week. The scarce dissenting opinions were from players with high DCI ratings who don’t have a chance to play as much Magic due to other commitments, but even they understood the need for the change. It appears that the initial reaction is very good. If you have an opinion one way or another, let it be heard! Comment below or write me a note.
Well if you voted for the first option you were pretty wrong because there was a whole lot of moving and shaking in the most recent Banned and Restricted announcement.
I’m sure by now everyone has seen the updated B&R list, so I’ll move straight to my opinion on the subject. In the end, I think I agree with all of the bannings. Misstep was killing Legacy; that’s an easy one. I think that Ponder and Preordain were also good choices. Those decks that ran them before will have to suffer through using Serum Visions, Sleight of Hand, or Telling Time. They’ll be much less powerful but not unplayable, which will bring balance to the format.
The other cards that got the ban hammer are all easily explained as attempting to keep the format from devolving into a one-deck metagame… yes, even Green Sun’s Zenith. It’s not a stretch to conclude that if GSZ wasn’t banned then Zoo would be not only the most powerful deck but also the most consistent. Preemptively getting rid of Zenith allows for much more deck design space and a healthier format, as opposed to a Zoo versus Decks That Hate On Zoo format.
It will be interesting to see what these changes mean for the various formats. My predictions for the December banned list are that 1) Lion’s Eye Diamond will get banned in Legacy, 2) Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Grove of the Burnwillows will get banned in Modern, 3) Ancestral Vision will get unbanned in Modern, and 4) Dismember will get banned in Standard. What are your thoughts?
This one got me more responses in my Facebook message box than the other two questions combined. People were very passionate about what they thought of the â€˜flip’ mechanic of Werewolves in Innistrad, both before and after they played with the cards. Before the Prerelease this past weekend, most people I talked to were of the opinion that it was stupid and bad for the game and were asking for the heads of various R&D members to be delivered to them on pikes.
However, after the Prerelease, people sang quite a different tune. They liked the symbolism of being of two sides, two different natures on one card. They liked the flavor of literally changing faces. They thought that â€˜no spells being cast’ equals â€˜it’s nighttime because it’s quiet’ was very clever. And from what I saw, people simply liked the physical act of turning their cards over to reveal even more powerful monsters.
I know drafting is going to be awful. You’re going to open Garruk or Instigator Gang, and everyone is going to know it. If you don’t have sleeves, our hand is going to be clogged with awkward checklists. Logistically speaking, it’s a nightmare. But the bottom line is it really works for most people, and it looks like it’s a big success.
But maybe you don’t think so. Leave your thoughts on the double-sided cards in the comments section below.
Questions of the Fortnight
After the banning of Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Caw-Blade still stayed a Tier 1 archetype. Will another variation of Caw-Blade end up winning the Star City Games Open in Nashville this weekend?
Until next time…