Five Lessons From Worldwake

SCG Open Richmond!

Monday, February 15th – I just got off the Magic Cruise boat a few hours ago, and I feel I have a lot to talk about in regards to Worldwake, the upcoming PT, and how the new Standard environment is going to change forever. And considering the next few weeks will be filled with Magic Cruise and Pro Tour video content, how’s about a few thousand words to tide you over? Let’s go!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of I’m Stuck In The Airport With Not Much Else To Do. Seriously though, I just got off the Magic Cruise boat a few hours ago, and I feel I have a lot to talk about in regards to Worldwake, the upcoming PT, and how the new Standard environment is going to change forever. And considering the next few weeks will be filled with Magic Cruise and Pro Tour video content, how’s about a few thousand words to tide you over? Let’s go!

Five Lessons From Worldwake

The funny thing about Constructed Magic and me is that I don’t get to play a huge amount of it. In fact, beyond drafting in the wee hours on Magic Online, or drafting my cube, it’s rare that I get to play a significant amount of Constructed Magic. One of the great things about the Magic Cruise was the opportunity to hang out with other solid players, one Pro Tour all-star, and the lessons there-in. Let’s cover some.

First Lesson: Worldwake has some ridiculously useful commons.

The first biggie: Halimar Depths. Say hello to the best Island printed in years, if not ever. Yes, it’s nonbasic and there are issues with that (and we’ll get to that soon), but holy cow, getting a free mini-Sage Owl to start your game off on Turn 1 is fan-freaking-tastic. I can’t tell you how many times this land saved my butt, whether it was on Turn 1 making sure I’d hit my future land drops and/or finding that fetchland to help me shuffle away bad cards. It is good early, it’s good in the midgame, it’s good late. Now that’s the definition of an awesome card.

I feel I’m going to get into a pattern with this article discussing what a card does, a few applications, then restating it’s awesomeness. But I don’t care, because you need to read it, and hopefully reading it will help you pick up the card and try it yourself – after all, seeing (for yourself) is believing, and ladies and gents let me tell I’ve seen the goodness of Halimar Depths.

Second biggie: Treasure Hunt. I gotta admit, after the fool’s gold that was Mysteries of the Deep (bad card is bad), I didn’t think this guy could live up to the hype I was hearing from pros. Well, worry no more, because Treasure Hunt is the real deal. This spell blew me out in Limited, it rocked my face in Constructed, and has single-handidly exploded the value of Scroll Rack. Just an incredible tool in Blue decks for the next few years, Aaron Forsythe wasn’t kidding when he said they were going to print good Blue cards in the future, because even though there isn’t a decent “hard” counterspell (i.e. one that counters a spell outright instead of a Mana Leak-esque effects) outside of Cancel…the return of blue is coming, and it’s on the back of Halimar Depths and Treasure Hunt.

And we’re not even finished with Blue yet! Calcite Snapper is about 4,000 times better than I thought. The magical word is, of course, Shroud. Shroud makes up for so many limitations, the most obvious of which is the fact that making it one toughness doesn’t doom it to a removal spell. The same reason Sphinx of Jwar Isle is now the Blue player’s finisher of choice (instead of the ‘obvious’ choice of Baneslayer Angel) is because it is simply immune the myriad of amazing targeted removal in Standard. Every time I played Calcite Snapper this weekend I was relieved it could safely block Bloodbraid Elf, Sprouting Thrinax, Master of the Wild Hunt, and trade with cards like Woodbriar Elemental if I had a fetchland out there waiting. This card blanked more than one Bituminous Blast this weekend, and is definitely better off thanks to it.

But it’s not just Blue cards that got love in Worldwake. Arbor Elf gives Green decks another Llanowar Elves, and that’s about all a Green deck can ask for. I was honestly extremely surprised this guy was printed at all, because, um, well, it’s damn near a better Llanowar Elf thanks to land enchantments, allowing your Zendikons to block and attack, etc. This guy shoots Eldrazi Green into the stratosphere, but replacing the Noble Hierarch slot isn’t groundbreaking. The fact that this guy replaces a $12 card with a $.10 card is groundbreaking, and another reason Worldwake is awesome.

Lesson #2: The best Uncommon you’re not paying attention to…

Tectonic Edge. I hope you know what this card does, I hope you have your set, and I hope you’re ready to see it a lot in the upcoming Standard, Extended and probably Legacy environments. I’ll just go ahead and say it (in bold even): This card is Wasteland. There is no getting around it. If your deck is only one color, or even two colors, and you’re not playing four Tectonic Edge, I would wager a fair amount it is incorrectly built.

It’s no secret that Mike Turian loves him a Wasteland, and by God he went and printed another. Stop focusing on the requirement of four lands, because it doesn’t matter. Here is the key interaction: If your opponent has four lands, and you have two Tectonic Edges, you can activate both of them and destroy two of their lands! Remember, you only need to meet the requirement of four lands on activation, not resolution.

I got my first taste of playing against two Tectonic Edges against me this week, and let me tell you, it was a complete ass-whipping. You playing Vampires? Put in four Tectonic Edges. Like you care if your Mind Sludge is only four cards instead of five (because four will clear out their hand just as easily). You playing Eldrazi Green? Put in four Tectonic Edges. Don’t question it, just do it. It’s not even up for debate for me after seeing a full week of this card crushing other people’s hopes and dreams.

Here’s another funny thing I noticed: All of those shiny new manlands? By the time you can activate any of them, Tectonic Edge is turned on!

Seriously people, before this gets to be a $2-$5 uncommon, get your set and playtest the hell out of it. You’ll be glad you did.

Lesson #3: Jace, the Mind Sculptor can’t be overhyped

Now if anyone has been watching The Magic Show for awhile, you know I love me some hyperbole. Sometimes I really can’t help myself (Warren Instigator), and other times I dismiss the wrong cards (Spectral Procession). But this time… man, this time, I’ve met my friggin’ match.

Here’s the question: Have you played with this card? You know how people didn’t really ‘get’ Umezawa’s Jitte until they sat across from it or played with it themselves? Jace gives you the exact same feeling. Yes, I just made a comparison to Umezawa’s Jitte in regards to Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Yes, he is that good.

I have hyped and hyped him to my friends, my fellow players, and to you. I want you tell you something: he is even better than that. He is better than you think, unless of course you think he insanely wonderful and will warp the entire Standard format around him. I hope you got your playset, or if you don’t, you better get it and get it soon. Christ on a cracker he’s ridiculous.

This will soon be the most powerful play in Standard:

“Fateseal you with Jace.”
(You look at their top card)
“You’re good.”

That’s it. Suddenly you have a 5 loyalty Planeswalker, and they will be drawing nothing. There are few words to describe the feeling of complete domination you have when you untap with a Jace, the Mind Sculptor still on the board, but I assure you it is a good one.

You think $60 is the highest it’s going to reach? Pssshhh. My guess is $80 after the Pro Tour, and will hit $100+ after it rotates. I’m happy this article is here, because it will let me look back in a few months to confirm my thoughts or prove me incredibly wrong. I’ve got a hankering, however, that I’ll be proven right and then some.

It cracks me up how good he is. How you’re playing an entirely different game once he’s out. I mean, it may get to the point where people are playing with the ‘bad’ Jace Beleren to kill the good one! Why? Because only costs a fraction of the other! It’s like back in Kamigawa / Ravnica standard, when control decks were playing their own copies of Umezawa’s Jitte for the sole purpose of killing the aggressive decks’ copies.

Sure, other Planeswalkers cause you to ‘play a different game’ once they hit, and that’s definitely a positive thing, but Jace, the Mind Sculptor? He redefines these expectations.

It’s to the point where those who doubt his power simply haven’t played with him, either due to his cost or his rarity. Proxy him up, you’ll be a believer too.

Lesson #4: Anathemancer is the best technology right now.

I love the time after an incredibly impacting new set and before a Pro Tour. It’s the calm before the metagame storm, and that storm is about to hit like a pile of bricks. If I were playing in the Pro Tour I’d do one of two things: One, play 4x Jace, the Mind Sculptor (three is too few). Two, if I couldn’t get Jaces I’d sleeve up those Anathemancers with a quickness. Manlands are going to hit Standard like a brick craphouse, and this is the only guy that can even remotely keep them in check (note: Tectonic Edge isn’t a guy).

On the Magic Cruise I whipped up a beautiful and powerful Grixis control deck, complete with four Jace, the Mind Sculptor of course, and the only creature I was remotely afraid of was Anathemancer. He was good once, in the 5-Color Control metagame, and he will be good again. While Halimar Depths is the best Island printed since, well, Island, Anathemancer is the safety valve on the format keeping it in check. Jund players, take note, this is the guy you want to be cascading into. Even if his entire job is to kill Jace, the Mind Sculptor (and many times, it will be), that is certainly good enough, and having a man left over to bash with is great as well.

The issue, of course, is that he’s largely sideboard fodder due to the power of Vampires and Eldrazi Green. That said, he certainly has earned that slot and then some. To play this guy versus a control is to love him… and once manlands start showing up everywhere, you’ll love him once again too.

Lesson #5: The goodness is just beginning!

I haven’t even mentioned Everflowing Chalice, which is due to reshape what two color decks are capable of. The mana boosts this card provides is no joke, and it is another card I’m 100% positive will be showing up in San Diego and a card you need to be aware of.

Now the good thing about this card is that it can’t be Cascaded into, at least ‘with value’ as they say. However, it can be played on Turn 2 to boost you into “Turn 4 mana” on Turn 3, and on Turn 4 another can make your X spells completely ridiculous (I’ll let you fill in what X spells could be used and abused this way).

That said, I’m not as excited about Everflowing Chalice as I am Tectonic Edge, but this is definitely a card you need a playset of before the rest of the world wakes up to its power.

But what about other cards I’m diggin on? I think Dispel has some potential as a better Negate, Talus Paladin along with Hada Freeblade are just the type of creature(s) that can make White Weenie powerful again, and Sejiri Steppe makes Knight of the Reliquary into Mother of Runes, which is significant in and of itself.

I admit I was very skeptical of Worldwake and its impact when it was first spoiled. But after the release party and my time on the Magic Cruise getting a chance to actually see these cards in action, I believe I can safely say this is the most powerful Spike-licious set since Future Sight. There will be an incredible number of Worldwake cards showing up in Standard in the near future, and I for one am incredibly excited to see what the pros will be packing this week in San Diego.

As for the rest of this week, watch for my live interview with Patrick Chapin, Chapin’s own forum regarding his thoughts on Worldwake, and Ken Nagle’s seminar on designing Worldwake.

Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin. Stuck at the airport and tapping the cards on the Magic Cruise so you don’t have to!

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
Community Manager, StarCityGames.com