Spoiler time is in full swing, so it’s time to talk about Worldwake! There’s a good amount of information out there already, although thanks to WotC’s much improved control over the release of that information, it’s coming out in a steady trickle rather than in “Oops!”-induced spurts. This gives the community a better chance to digest it in proper time, which I think much improves the situation from the full spoiler leaks of the past.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what WotC has chosen to show us. I’m going to jump around and look mostly at the more recently spoiled cards, since a lot has already been said about Jace and some of the others.
Creature – Angel
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may exile target nonland permanent other than Admonition Angel.
When Admonition Angel leaves the battlefield, return all cards exiled with it to the battlefield under their owners’ control.
If there’s anyone who should like this card, it’s me, but it’s hard for me to get excited about this card when there’s already options like Baneslayer Angel out there. One of the things about Baneslayer that makes it so much more effective than other dragon-esque creatures is the fact that unless it is removed immediately it has such a dramatic impact on the game. Your opponent loses a turn of attacking, since sending your team into a lifelink creature is rarely going to be profitable, and then falls appreciably behind every turn as your life total goes up and theirs goes down. Even if the Baneslayer dies, the damage done can often be enough to effectively win the game already.
That said, Admonition Angel can break open a game if it gets to stick around. This is the sort of card that can be dramatically powerful in matchups between two big creature decks, since they often invest a significant amount of resources into getting their monsters into play and generally assume they can go toe-to-toe with opposing creatures once they do. In that sort of scenario, Admonition Angel can be a huge breaker — until it dies, of course. I could see this card seeing play in small numbers in Lotus Cobra/Knight of the Reliquary style decks, but I don’t see it doing much more than that.
Join the Ranks
Put two 1/1 white Soldier Ally creature tokens onto the battlefield.
I don’t expect ally based decks to become competitive in Standard, but if they do, this card is likely to play a role. Before this card, ally triggers were by and large all constrained by the mana cost of activating them and their effectively sorcery speed. Join the Ranks gives you the ability to multi-trigger all of your allies for reasonably cheap, and to do it whenever you want. I don’t expect to see Bala Ged Thief trying to compete with Bloodbraid Elf, but this card will make me pay more attention to ally cards in consideration for Constructed play.
Creature – Kor Soldier
Protection from red
Whenever a player casts a red spell, you may gain 1 life.
I actually did a double take when I saw this card was really 2/2. When I’d seen the text posted on Twitter, I just assumed it was a 1/1, which would make it a solid card already. At 2/2, this may be simply the best anti-red creature ever printed. At the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in LA, I played maindeck Vedalkan Outlanders, and between those and Wall of Denial, it was generally enough to put the nail in the coffin of any Red opponent very quickly. Sometimes I’d need some lifegain backup from Ajani Vengeant, but this fellow brings his own lifegain with him!
One of the amusing things about Vedalkan Outlander in the UWR deck to me was how well he combo’d with Earthquake. I could sweep the board clear of all non-fliers, but my pro-Red Outlanders would stick around and keep attacking away. Kor Firewalker does one better in that he gives you life back from the Earthquake too, since his ability triggers off of your own spells as well. I’m tempted to try building a more aggressive UWR deck with both pro-Red creatures, Earthquake, and a certain new Red board sweeper that I’ll talk about in a little bit. It seems like one of those mondo combo decks out of Inquest, but I think it may even have some real potential, and it’s all because of this guy.
This card is for real. It will have significant impact on Standard, perhaps as even more than a sideboard card, and I could see it making its way into Extended as well. He’s clearly positioned differently than Burreton Forge-Tender, since he’s at his best against a Red creature deck with burn to keep you from dying, while Forge-Tender’s best use was usually protecting your creatures against damage-based sweeper effects. This makes the Firewalker that much better suited for creature-light decks, but I’m sure we’ll see him anywhere people who are sick of being burned out can be found.
Counter target instant spell.
I’m not sure if this card is for real, so I won’t spend too much space on it. This is a card that seems like if it were for real it might be attractive in Legacy but not terribly exciting in Standard. While there are a few cards you can hit in most Standard decks, like Lightning Bolt, Terminate, and Path to Exile, I can’t really see costing one fewer mana than Negate being worth missing out on countering Planeswalkers, Maelstrom Pulse, Earthquake, etc. In Legacy, though, just having a one mana counter for opposing Force of Wills seems like it might be worth it — although there’s already Spell Pierce out there at one mana, which is often going to have a similar impact with more versatility. I’m not sold on this one.
Counter target spell unless its controller plays 2. Draw a card for each time it was kicked.
Now this is an interesting application of multikicker. I think the first rumored version of this that we saw was 1U to Force Spike and the same cost to Spike again with multikicker. This version is less reliable as a counter, but can turn into a card drawing spell as the game progresses. Unfortunately, as the game progresses and you have that much mana to multikick it, it’s less and less likely that your opponent won’t have the two mana to pay. Mostly you’re getting a Miscalculation for 2U, which isn’t a terrible deal given the state of counters these days, and then Miscalculation/draw a card for 3UU, which is certainly very attractive against big spell decks but pretty weak against aggressive decks.
This reminds me somewhat of the countermagic suite that U/W Control played way back in Onslaught block, which was made up of Complicate, Discombobulate, and Decree of Silence. This card is sort of in the middle between Complicate and Decree of Silence, since it plays either as a relatively cheap Power Sink effect or a big late game counter with card advantage. I think the state of countermagic right now and during Onslaught block is actually somewhat similar. Back then, people were saying that the countermagic was just too bad to play, and yet U/W Control turned out to be one of the best decks in the format by the end of the season. I suspect that this card will turn out to be better than it appears, and that the death of control decks will have been greatly exaggerated once again.
Creature — Demon
You can’t win the game and your opponents can’t lose the game.
This is a card that I’ve seen getting a lot of hype, but I personally just don’t see it. Yes, it’s a huge creature for a cheap cost. Yes, there’s a lot of ways to get rid of it so your opponent dies when this leaves play. But is it actually better than existing options? If we look at the current metagame, is there a compelling argument to play this creature over, say, Malakir Bloodwitch? Sure, the Persecutor obviously wins in a straight up fight with its extra two power and toughness, and it costs one mana less — both of those are big nods in its favor. I don’t think Trample is terribly relevant unless Kathari Remnant becomes popular, so I don’t think that’s worth considering too much — but just to be fair, let’s ignore the Bloodwitch drain life ability as well.
What we’re really comparing, then, is +2/+2 and one mana less (along with a drawback) against protection from White and being a Vampire. Not only being a vampire, actually, but not being a Demon. I think one of the biggest negatives to Abyssal Persecutor — especially compared heads up against Malakir Bloodwitch and its protection from White — is despite being 6/6, it just can’t tangle with Baneslayer Angel because it’s a demon. It also can’t fly past Wall of Denial, which the Bloodwitch can, and it doesn’t have any synergy alongside the rest of the Vampire tribe, which is non-trivial with how much Vampires look to be pushed in Zendikar.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on Twitter and the like about how insane this guy looks, and how easy he is to get rid of when you need to, but the existence of cards like Bone Splinters or Fleshbag Marauder to kill your own creature doesn’t really do enough to excite me about this guy. He’s definitely a cool card, but I think on balance I’d rather have a deck that doesn’t have to play those cards and just run Malakir Bloodwitch instead.
Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Legendary Creature – Vampire Shaman
At the beginning of your upkeep, each player sacrifices a non-Vampire creature.
This guy would have me a lot more excited if the world weren’t full of both Lightning Bolts and Sprouting Thrinaxes, or if he triggered at the beginning of each upkeep and affected that player. He is a fine solution to Sphinx of Jwar Isle and Wall of Denial, but Gatekeeper of Malakir already fills those roles nicely. I don’t really see this card seeing regular high level competitive play.
Creature – Vampire Shaman
Whenever Kalastria Highborn or another Vampire you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay B. If you do, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.
This card, on the other hand, seems pretty awesome. I’m not sure there’s really a place for it in the current more controlling Vampire decks, however. It could replace Vampire Hexmage, though I think the Hexmage’s ability to take out Planeswalkers may only become more important with the introduction of the new Jace. This card plus Smother to kill Putrid Leeches may give a more aggressive Vampire deck some steam, and might even give Vampire Aristocrat a place at the party to pull off a quick Drain Life style kill.
Creature — Goblin
Tap: Target player gains control of target artifact, creature or land that you control.
All I have to say here is that it amuses me greatly that this guy cannot Donate an Illusions of Grandeur.
Chain Reaction deals X damage to each creature, where X is the number of creatures on the battlefield.
And here is the Red sweeper I mentioned earlier when talking about Kor Firewalker. I think this card has the potential to be good in the right deck. For most purposes it’s going to be worse than Earthquake, because it’s less controllable and can’t kill Planeswalkers, but in a deck that can keep creatures around that live through it, it could help kill those pesky flying Vampires and Dragons too. Maybe I’m getting too combo-riffic here, but I’m not writing this one off yet.
Instant — Trap
If an opponent cast a blue spell this turn, you may pay R rather than pay Ricochet Trap’s mana cost.
Change the target of target spell with a single target.
This card seems pretty awesome to me, or it would if there were actually more targeted Blue spells in Standard. Since you can’t actually Ricochet Trap a Flashfreeze to the trap itself (it will no longer be on the stack to target since it is resolving at the time), it’s not a good answer to the most played countermagic in the format. It is, however, a pretty sick response to a Cruel Ultimatum, and can catch a Blightning now and then at full price. [Not sure the Flashfreeze and Cruel plays are correct… – Craig, confused by new cards.]
This card seems much more potent in Eternal formats where it can catch Force of Will and even Ancestral Recall at the trap cost, but I don’t expect it to be a big player in Extended or Standard unless some more Blue spells worth deflecting show up.
You may play an additional land this turn.
Draw a card.
Now this is a card I can get behind. One of the problems with mana ramping style decks is that they often have to commit so many card slots to mana sources and acceleration that they have difficulty with threat density. Explore is a card that helps tighten up your deck while still providing acceleration when you need it in the early turns. It’s important to note that Explore doesn’t have the same impact as a card like Rampant Growth at ensuring you actually hit your colors, or even your land drops. If a deck just drops Rampant Growth and plays Explore instead, it will need a higher number of lands to function properly. The really exciting thing to me, however, is the idea of being able to play both. Non-creature mana accelerators are key to many of my favorite big creature/big spell strategies, and this is a card that’s right up my alley. This is to say nothing of how powerful this card might be if there are Landfall cards that make it worth investing in extra land drops. Now that would be a deck just begging for both this and Rampant Growth!
Omnath, Locus of Mana
Legendary Creature – Elemental
Green mana doesn’t empty from your mana pool as phases and steps end.
Omnath, Locus of Mana gets +1/+1 for each green mana in your mana pool.
This is a hard card to evaluate. This card can both become absolutely enormous and ramp you up to big spells incredibly quickly, but if he dies and you have no way to spend all that mana, you fall more than a little bit behind in tempo. I can see some kind of U/G deck possibly making good use of him, though the more you keep non-Green mana around the less you’re going to ramp with him. It will be interesting to see how weird the timing gets with this guy around. Your opponent passes priority to you during their end step, and you choose to dump a bunch of Green mana in your pool, including tapping a Seaside Citadel to do it. Your opponent can’t actually respond because there’s no priority pass created by adding mana, so you end up just getting to untap without giving your opponent any window to kill Omnath when you can’t protect him. At least — that’s how I think it works… I could be completely wrong. But that doesn’t exactly come up much…
Creature — Wurm
Whenever Novablast Wurm attacks, destroy all other creatures.
This is an interesting potential sideboard card for an otherwise creatureless or creature light deck, since it has the potential to dominate the game if your opponent is low on removal, but it costs seven mana and you have to wait a turn before it has any real impact. It certainly looks cool, though. I think this one will be a dud, but it could end up in one of those Explore/Rampant Growth decks I mentioned before. I’d certainly love to attack with it…
That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll go over any more exciting spoilers that come to light, and then it’s prerelease weekend, and then PT testing crunch time. There’s never a dull moment when a set comes out right before the Pro Tour…
Until next time…