Limited Lessons – Morningtide First Impressions

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The Morningtide Prerelease has come and gone… I hope you all had fun! In today’s Limited Lessons, Nick shares his initial thoughts on the newest set. Kinship, Prowl, Reinforce… just how good are they for Limited play?

Before I start off today I want to give an idea of where I’m headed with my column in the next few weeks.

I plan on working on a full two-part review of the set with another writer in either two or three weeks. Until then I want to just touch on things I learned either at the prerelease or in drafts I’ll play between now and then. For now, I’m going to talk about the prerelease and some initial thoughts on the new draft format. My experience as of this writing is limited to one Sealed, two Drafts, and lots of conversations with other good players about the new cards. This is probably much more than most people have done so far, so hopefully I have some valuable insights to share.

This new mechanic is unique because of the different interactions it has with existing cards in the format. There is the obvious synergy with Clash, helping you by letting you take a look at the card first with Kinship and then decide to Clash it to the bottom. Harbingers can be used to set up a key turn by powering up Kinship. There is also one card in particular that may finally become good in draft because of the interaction with this new mechanic.

Runed Stalactite
When you equip this to any creature with Kinship, you get to fire off the ability on any card with a tribe since the creature is now a Changeling. In some decks this may increase your chances of hitting to 50%, which is pretty huge depending on which Kinship creature you have in play. In particular the Kithkin Zephyrnaut is a common that will become near unstoppable with a Stalactite attached in the right deck.

The only thing that may keep the Stalactite from becoming more than a niche option in draft is that it’s hard to get a lot of guys with Kinship to begin with, and even if you do, some of the abilities just aren’t good enough to be worth all of the extra effort. It’s certainly a nice interaction to know about, but don’t go attempting to force some weird strategy like this because more often than not it won’t pan out the way you hope.

I haven’t had a chance to draft a Prowl deck as of yet, but talking with a few people it seems that the deck can come together and have some sick openings. The best way to draft this strategy should be UB, and I guess we’ll know in a few weeks just how viable it actually is.

For now, you should keep in mind that some Lorwyn cards are especially good in this type of deck, and should move up on your pick orders accordingly. It sucks that you can’t know just how many Prowl cards you’ll get, but you can at least prepare in advance.

Nightshade Stinger
This guy is probably the top dog in Prowl archetype, as he comes down fast and has evasion. There is also Prickly Boggart in Morningtide, but Flying is certainly better than Fear, and you want to be taking all Prowl cards in Morningtide if possible. There are some other narrow options like Deeptread Merrow, but the Stinger is the card that will change most in value. Definitely start picking these higher and you can take advantage of this new mechanic.

Other Impressions
The first thing I’m going to say is that, after drafting twice, my initial view of the format has changed considerably. Just based on speculation I assumed that you could potentially force a Class type in Lorwyn and then pick up the counterparts in Morningtide and assemble a well-oiled Tribal/Class machine. This seems like it will almost never happen, and you pretty much just have to go with the flow of the draft and attempt to pick up as many synergistic cards as possible. My new view of how things will likely work is that some card values may change because something is an Elf Warrior instead of an Elf Shaman or vice versa. You can’t go attempting to force some kind of Class, but knowing what you already have will start to matter a lot in determining correct picks later in the draft.

As a side note on this, anyone planning on playing in Grand Prix or Pro Tour events in this format needs to really sit down and learn all of the cards by heart. It’s hard enough to remember what you’ve already drafted, and you’re going to be dead in the water if you don’t know the creature type of every single card in your pile and are forced to make picks blindly.

For the rest of this article I’m going to talk about specific cards and my initial thoughts on them.

Mind Shatter
I’m starting off with this because it seems to be the most overvalued of the cards I’ve direct experience with so far. I had this in my prerelease deck and found myself boarding it out a lot, and in general I wasn’t happy with its performance. I do believe it’s better in Draft than it is in Sealed because you want to be choosing to draw first in Sealed, and by the time you’re ready to fire this off for three or so your opponent’s hand will already be on the table. It’s definitely not unplayable in Sealed, and was fine for me in a few of the slower matchups I played, but it’s not a bomb or “the best card in the set” as a few people tried to tell me.

Burrenton Bombardier
I know I didn’t talk about Reinforce in a separate section earlier, but I planned on discussing it specifically with this card. I believe Reinforce is by far the best mechanic for Limited play in the new set, as it is very flexible. This guy is also probably the best Reinforce card, with the possible exception of Hunting Triad at uncommon.

This guy will either be a quick aggressive flier or a very strong permanent pump spell for only three mana, both of which are above the power curve for a common. The fact that you can Reinforce at Instant speed is what really puts it over the top and makes it difficult to beat in certain situations.

Brighthearth Banneret
I think this is probably the best Banneret because Elementals are the clunkiest of Tribes, and this guy isn’t weak in the late game like a lot of the others are. This is because Reinforce will almost always be relevant. Obviously I love this card since Elementals are one of my favorite tribes, and this makes up somewhat for losing a pack of Smokebraiders.

Weight of Conscience
This card is better than a lot of the Pacifism variants of the past because you will almost always be able to remove the creature from the game right away and prevent any potential bounce spells, Wispmares, or other answers the opponent may find given time.

Violet Pall
This card was amazing for me all throughout the prerelease. One of the main reasons it was so good was because I was base BG and had some trouble dealing with fliers, which can be a common problem. This card would usually kill a flier and then leave me a blocker for the Latchkey Faerie still in play. You can also start attacking with the Faerie if the ground is stalled out.

On top of all of this, the card is an Instant, and it’s splashable! An excellent removal spell to be sure.

While I obviously like this card because it enables my four color concoctions, it’s not as good as I initially thought it would be. It’s a little bit slow to get going and often interferes with the rest of your curve. It certainly has a place in the Fertile Ground archetype, but I’m not sure I’d want it in some of the other Green archetypes like Elves or Treefolk.

Stonybrook Schoolmaster
This is probably one of the best commons in the set just because it is an engine all in itself and makes the Merfolk tribe even more annoying to play against. There are plenty of ways to tap guys and it should be the theme you concentrate most on in your Merfolk decks in the future.

Mothdust Changeling
Speaking of cheap ways to tap Merfolk, this guy is an instant addition. While him getting flying isn’t really a big deal, the fact that he can tap multiple guys a turn is huge and he also counts as a Merfolk. Fallowsage and Veteran of the Depths both gain a ton of value with this guy now around, and Springleaf Drum should be considered a staple in the archetype if it wasn’t already.

Roar of the Crowd
This card was being played a lot at the prerelease and I think in general being overrated. It’s certainly playable in the right deck (Elves immediately comes to mind) but it can also be a pain to set up and suffers from someone killing or bouncing a guy in response to ruin your plans. Overall my advice is to be careful with this card and don’t automatically play it “because it’s a removal spell.” A lot of times it will have trouble dealing more than one damage, and a fragile 1-2 damage on average is certainly not worth a card and four mana.

Lys Alana Bowmaster
Green really got a boost in this set with this guy and Game-Trail Changeling both in the common slot. This guy is simply unreal, reminding me of the dominating Matsu-Tribe Sniper. This guy has the potential to be even better, as he can shoot down a bunch of guys and then keep going if you have Footbottom Feast. Expect the UB mage to automatically scoop to this card unless he can kill it instantly. This fills a huge hole in the Elf deck and could easily be enough to put the archetype over the top.

I’m looking forward to doing quite a bit of drafting and figuring out the new format in the coming weeks. There seem to be a lot of options and new things to try out, so I’ll keep you guys updated with my findings. Before I go I want to share one of my draft decks that ended up going 2-1 in a pod of strong players.

Soulbright Flamekin
Warren Weirding
Thornbite Staff
2 Stinkdrinker Daredevil
2 Moonglove Changeling
Inner-Flame Igniter
War-Spike Changeling
Caterwauling Boggart
2 Lowland Oaf
Violet Pall
Giant Harbinger
Thundercloud Shaman
Consuming Bonfire
2 Warren Pilferers
Axegrinder Giant
Lunk Errant
Boldwyr Intimidator
9 Mountain
8 Swamp

I planned on going WR in this draft, but the White never showed up so I had to improvise. Bitterblossom is absolutely insane in Limited, and this deck only confirmed that.

See you next week with some more drafting under my belt.

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
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