This past weekend has more stories to come out of it than could possibly fit in one article, or even several. Fan favorite Paul Rietzl
swept a Constructed Pro Tour’s Top 8, going 9-0 for the first time in the game’s history, armed with a Gabriel Nassif-designed White Weenie deck
(an archetype Paul is famous for advocating). This wasn’t just any old Top 8, either. In fact, many with a long memory of the Pro Tour rate this in
the top 5 all-time.
1. Paul Rietzl
2. Brad Nelson
3. Michael Jacob
4. Marijn Lybaert
5. Guillaume Wafo-tapa
6. Brian Kibler
7. Thomas Ma
8. Kai Budde
Yeah, let that one sink in.
History Lesson Incoming…
Top 8 Pro Tour Top 8’s of All-Time:
#8 Worlds (Nashville) 2008
1 Antti Malin
2 Jamie Parke
3 Tsuyoshi Ikeda
4 Hannes Kerem
5 Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
6 Kenji Tsumura
7 Frank Karsten
8 Akira Asahara
#7 Pro Tour Los Angeles 1999
1 Steven O’Mahoney-Schwartz
2 Jon Finkel
3 Worth Wollpert
4 Terry Lau
5 Lucien Bui
6 Patrick Chapin
7 Svend Geertsen
8 Mike Long
#6 Worlds (Seattle) 1996
1 Tom Chanpheng
2 Mark Justice
3 Henry Stern
4 Olle Rade
5 Matt Place
6 Scott Johns
7 Eric Tam
8 Tommi Hovi
#5 Worlds (Seattle) 1998
1 Brian Selden
2 Ben Rubin
3 Jon Finkel
4 Raphael Levy
5 Scott Johns
6 Chris Pikula
7 Brian Hacker
8 Alan Comer
#4 Pro Tour San Diego 2004
1 Nicolai Herzog
2 Antoine Ruel
3 Mike Turian
4 Anton Jonsson
5 Mark Herberholz
6 Ben Stark
7 Angel Perez del Pozo
8 Masashi Oiso
#3 Pro Tour Yokohama 2007
1 Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
2 Kazuya Mitamura
3 Mark Herberholz
4 Tomoharu Saitou
5 Paulo Carvalho
6 Raphael Levy
7 Masashi Oiso
8 Sebastian Thaler
#2 Pro Tour Amsterdam 2010
1. Paul Rietzl
2. Brad Nelson
3. Michael Jacob
4. Marijn Lybaert
5. Guillaume Wafo-tapa
6. Brian Kibler
7. Thomas Ma
8. Kai Budde
#1 Pro Tour Chicago 2000
1 Kai Budde
2 Kamiel Cornelissen
3 Brian Kibler
4 Rob Dougherty
5 Jon Finkel
6 Michael Pustilnik
7 Zvi Mowshowitz
8 Jay Elarar
Homework assignment: If you don’t recognize at least six names in each of these top 8’s, Google names until you do!
End History Lesson… …Unless You Think I Missed One!
This article isn’t about those eight Top 8s, however. It isn’t even about the Top 8 of Pro Tour Amsterdam, as insane as it was. As a
matter of fact, it isn’t even about that Pro Tour at all. The day will come where I post a tournament report for Amsterdam, detailing adventures in the
city (some of which are not legal in the United States), the building of Grixis (as well as Kibler’s Doran and Nassif’s White Weenie), and the Pro Tour
itself. That day is not today, my friends.
I bring the Pro Tour up as more than just an example of what I am not talking about, however. Saturday night, just days ago, the Pro
Tour venue was transformed into a dance club the likes of which I had never
seen before. Lasers, lights, fog, bass, dancing, drinking, awesome music, and wild times, this was definitely a face of the Pro Tour I had not seen.Many were skeptical early on, noting the massive shortage of women compared to most dance parties. How good of a party could Wizards actually
throw? This isn’t their forte, right?
Turns out, Wizards does in fact know how to throw an awesome party. The energy was super positive, music good, and just the right
balance between structure and chaos to lead to times that will be remembered for years to come. Often, dance parties involve a lot of men trying to
figure women out and women trying to figure men out. This party had much fewer women than many parties its size, so it was certainly fortunate that
Wizards was able to help fill out the “figuring out” aspect of the party with the unveiling of many Scars of Mirrodin cards, displaying many of the mechanics
that will be found in the set.
The assault of Mirrodin Party did not stop with Amsterdam, though. Hours later, on the other side of the Earth, part 2 of the Assault on
Mirrodin took place at PAX, unveiling even more cards and building the excitement and momentum this set is starting to generate.
This article isn’t about those parties either, however. It is about the Scars of Mirrodin cards that were previewed during
them. Wizards is handling previews a little differently this time around, and it is not yet clear what all this will entail. One thing we do know is that
Scars is just three weeks away and previews are just starting now â€” but they are certainly off to the races. All of the set’s major themes have been
brought out immediately, which has only served to further entice players, as the mechanics look so fun and interesting. Next, a number of key
mythics have been dropped on us, but with a surprising twist.
These cards are very new conceptually, and don’t fit an easy cookie-cutter mold to evaluate them. Everyone I talked to about the cards
agrees that they don’t know what to make of them yet. First of all, some of them require knowing more about what other cards are in Scars in order
to evaluate. How much Infect is there? How easy will it be to trigger Metalcraft in Standard? Will the format slow down or speed up?
Next, there is the process of evaluating just how strong these new and unusual cards are. Many of them ask questions that we have never
had asked before, and it can be a bit tricky figuring out just how good (or bad) they’ll prove to be once we have played with them.
Are we supposed to sit around and wait for the set to come out to start formulating opinions? Certainly not! Looking at the secondary
market, it is pretty clear a lot of people are already speculating on the relative power levels of the previewed cards. I am not so sure I agree with
all of the snap judgments, however…
Let’s start with the much anticipated new Elspeth!
Planeswalker — Elspeth
+2: Gain 1 life for each creature you control.
-2: Put three 1/1 white Soldier tokens onto the battlefield.
-5: Destroy all other permanents except lands and tokens.
Okay, we’re certainly wasting no time getting down to business. History has shown the original Elspeth as the second (maybe third) most
powerful Planeswalker ever. The new Elspeth Tirel certainly has a lot of promise â€” but will she be worth the five-mana investment?
Looking at the best Planeswalkers ever:
1. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2. Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3. Ajani Vengeant
4. Jace Beleren
5. Garruk Wildspeaker
6. Gideon Jura
7. Sarkan the Mad
8. Tezzeret the Seeker
9. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
10. Ajani Goldmane
It’s not hard to see the pattern; cheaper Planeswalkers tend to turn out a little better in Constructed than slightly more expensive (but
objectively “more” powerful) planeswalkers. It is not just that you are saving a mana on Jace, the Mind Sculptor vs. Tezzeret or Elspeth or Gideon â€”
it’s also that you’re getting to use your “Tome With Haste” a turn earlier.
“Tomes” give you a spell-like ability every turn. “Tomes with Haste” (like M11’s Titans) are cards that give you a spell-like effect the
turn you play them and each additional turn. Coming down a turn earlier means not only getting an added activation out of your Planeswalker, but also
there being one fewer turn’s worth of creatures on the battlefield to threaten it.
This is why a Planeswalker like Jace Beleren is actually mentioned in the same conversations as Jace the Mind Sculptor. Big Jace is
leagues stronger than little Jace in terms of the power of the spell-like effects it generates… but saving a mana on a Planeswalker is such a big
deal that Little Jace can actually justify itself in many settings on that savings alone (in addition to just hosing other people’s Big Jaces).
Elspeth at four was a bit much. She is just so hard to kill and often acts like a 4/4 flying indestructible creature that often seems to
have haste. So how does the five-mana version compare?
Well, first of all, I think to compare the two too closely would be a monumental mistake. They may not be as different as Ajani Goldmane
and Ajani Vengeant, but they are certainly nowhere near as comparable as Jace Beleren and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I think there are a variety of
cards to compare her to; at times, she will be somewhat like “little” Elspeth, but we must be careful not to pigeonhole this card too quickly.
My snap reaction is that she is much more defensive, whereas “little” Elspeth was at her best when attacking.
How do we rate these abilities? Well, let’s start by looking at the second ability, which “if nothing else” you can at least use to cash
her in for six guys. Six guys for five mana? That sounds all right. Three of them are a little slow and you can’t kick it like Conqueror’s Pledge
â€” but that’s just one ability.
It does seem very interesting that two of her makes an elegant natural combo. On turn 5 you play her and make three tokens, maybe you
even block with one or two on the opponent’s turn to protect her. Then on your turn, you make three more tokens and take her to zero loyalty, giving you
a pretty solid defense against an opponent who’s overextending to try to force their way through… And once the old Elspeth’s gone, you drop
another copy of her.
Now, have the second copy do her +2 loyalty ability â€” which gains you a bunch of life, undoes a bit of the initial assault, and sets up a
potentially game-winning next turn. At this point you could easily have four or more creatures on the battlefield. If you can protect Tirel for
just one turn, she will literally destroy everything else besides her, all tokens (including the ones you just made), and lands.
We’re not talking about Day of Judgment. This is Planar Cleansing… except your tokens live and so does she!
First of all, this means Elspeth is a fantastic brawler against other planeswalkers. If a planeswalker doesn’t have a fast way to attack
immediately, they’re not going to win a heads-up battle with her. Jace may get another Brainstorm to look for help, but he can’t stop her. Gideon’s
stopped by a single chump blocker. All of Nissa’s hard work is for naught. Even Garruk will often find himself too slow. She just comes down and
puts a huge amount of pressure of your opponent immediately. This is one planeswalker where I think people will find that her ultimate is most
Aside from just fighting other planeswalkers, she obviously sweeps creatures and â€” relevant with the addition of Scars â€” artifacts. Who
knows if there will be any hot new enchantments? But whatever the problem, Elspeth Tirel will solve them.
What’s better than sweeping the board of every non-land card? Leaving you with an army to dominate the now-vacant board! Obviously, her
own soldiers (which are compatible with her old ones, I suppose) are safe â€” but so are your Garruk Tokens, Spectral Procession tokens, Conqueror’s
Pledge tokens, Bestial Menace tokens, Eldrazi Spawn, Plant tokens, and more. Her ability to generate three tokens a turn will compliment token decks
quite nicely, and her ability to sweep non-tokens will make every other card in your deck that much stronger.
An often useful way to analyze new planeswalkers is to imagine how much value you get out of the card if you play it, use it once, then
it gets destroyed. Tirel passes this test with flying colors, as you can play her and make three soldiers immediately â€” like a sort of Cloudgoat
Ranger, where instead of a 3/3 Giant, you get a Tirel with 2 loyalty. Even if your opponent Lightning Bolts her, you are still in the same situation
as if your opponent had Bolted your Cloudgoat Ranger.
Her “gain life” ability may not be that great, but the fact that she starts with so much loyalty, and that it goes up so fast
while gaining you life, will often make it be like she is gaining you ten life. Her soldier-making ability is excellent and can create a huge board
presence quickly. In fact, her ability to swarm the ground may help define Standard for the next two years, making flying even better.
Her ultimate is one of the best, as it may not win the game for you immediately â€” but it is an effect worth more than her casting cost
that comes online just one turn after you play her, plus it leaves her alive to start generating an advantage afterwards.
My analysis is that she definitely seems Constructed-worthy to me, probably great and very worthy of the name Elspeth. She is an early
pick from me for a top card in the set, maybe top 5.
What holds her back? Well, the biggest factor, of course, is that she is the same casting cost as both Gideon Jura and
Baneslayer Angel. That’s pretty steep competition. Fortunately, she is radically different than either, so I don’t think there will actually be too much
obsoleting. Still, at the end of the day, you can only play so many five-mana spells in your deck.
Elspeth Tirel is no Jace, but I think it is probably going to prove to be format staple in Standard and Block, and probably even fringe
play in Extended. The fact that it plays so well with itself makes me think there is a better than average chance that decks will emerge with
four copies of Tirel, which is obviously somewhat uncommon among fives. Still, I fully expect decks with anywhere between one and four copies of
Elspeth to be common.
I see that people are wasting no time assuming that the planeswalkers will be the most expensive cards in the set. I guess I would be
cautious, though. I think the card is awesome, but we have hardly seen any of the set. It always seems that cards spoiled first have a tendency
to balloon out of control on price as hype builds. This one is sought so heavily already, I’m kind of surprised. I guess I am just saying that my
prediction is that it is good for tournament play. As far as where it should be price-wise, I defer to Jonathan Medina.
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Legendary Creature – Dragon Skeleton
B: Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon gains haste until end of turn.
BB: Regenerate Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon.
Okay, I suppose the name Skithiryx can be forgiven, as it may be difficult to type â€” but at least it is intuitive to pronounce, and “The
Blight Dragon” is pretty badass as far as titles go. (Though I, the managing editor, will never ever forgive Wizards for this name — T.F.) Just how
good is Skithiryx?
Well, there is a lot going on with this guy, as he is effectively a 4/4 for 3BB with four (or five) abilities and two drawbacks (both of
which are sneakily hidden where players don’t usually think of drawbacks).
Let’s start with him as a 4/4 flier for 3BB. The comparison to Malakir Bloodwitch comes to mind â€” but remember how many other Sengirs
there are. Bloodwitch only sees play because of protection from White. Skithiryx is going to need a fair bit more to be worth considering
Now we come to his infect ability. How good is infect? Well, infect is really wither (which was almost always a good thing) and a
strange new poisonous where the creature only deals poison, but deals it in a sort of double strike way.
For instance, how good is a 1/1 with Infect? Well, small creatures with Wither fight much better than ones without, since they can trade
up. Additionally, creatures with infect effectively deal double damage to players, with the catch being that the damage isn’t cumulative
with other creatures that don’t have infect. Thus, I count it as both two pluses (wither and double damage) and a drawback (not being cumulative
with non-Infect creatures).
I am going to have to see more cards to know for sure, but it seems that Infect is such a complicated ability to evaluate that each card
will have to be measured on a card-by-card basis. For instance, a small creature cares more about wither, whereas a big creature cares more about the
double strike aspect. In Limited, wither will generally matter more. In Constructed, the double strike ability will be highlighted, since you can
build your deck around infect. Remember, it works exceptionally well with pump effects (hence my thinking of it as a sort of double strike).
So Skithiryx hits for four poison counters and has wither? That makes him sort of like an 8/4 flier for 3BB â€” though he doesn’t
outright kill giant creatures, nor is his damage cumulative. On the flip side, if you pump him, he pumps twice as fast and your opponent can’t heal
from this damage, as I Mark Rosewater has said there are no ways to remove poison counters in this set. None. (Though you casual players might
want to stock up on Leeches â€” T.F.)
The Blight Dragon’s next ability is one of my favorite keywords in all of Magic: haste. Some people complain about having to pay a mana
to give him haste, but I see it as a huge bonus. See, if he didn’t cost a Black to gain haste, he would normally cost 4BB. This might make him look
flashier, but it’s actually basically one less option â€” the option to play him a turn early, without haste. The way he’s set up, you can just slam him
on turn 5 when you have the mana, but if you draw him late and you are heavy black, you can get paid extra.
At just 3BBB, you can send him in immediately, making him an especially scary threat â€” especially to an opponent that just tapped out to
Day of Judgment all your infected creatures. When are you supposed to Day; when you have five poison counters, since six would mean death by
Blight Dragon? Personally, I think being able to buy Haste for a B is worth about half a mana. But that’s half a mana well spent on a creature with a
high power or evasion. Blight Dragon has both.
Finally, we come to the Skeleton aspect of the Blight Dragon. Paying BB to regenerate is very fair, though it is unclear how often this
will actually come up in Constructed. It is very potent on a creature with Wither, however, since it means he can actually fight larger creatures,
infect them, and live to tell the tale. Given Blight Dragon’s somewhat expensive cost and reasonable starting body, I suspect this may be the least
important of his abilities â€” though it is a huge strike against Day of Judgment and it makes Swords to Plowshares effects like Celestial Purge and Condemn
that much more important (and yes, I suppose Baneslayer Angel as well).
What was the other drawback of poison damage instead of life loss? It’s legendary… Which every tournament player’s favorite drawback,
since how many of these do you need in play at a time anyway?
At the end of the day, I think Skithiryx has the potential to be a role player in the new Standard, though he does suffer from no-card
advantage syndrome. Is it possible for a fatty to be good that doesn’t generate card advantage? Yeah. Just look at Baneslayer.
Skithiryx is very much from the same school of magic as Abyssal Persecutor. Playable? Sure. Powerful? Enough. Format-defining? No,
sir! However, as long as you only ask of him what he can deliver, like Abyssal Persecutor, he has things to bring to the table. As long as he doesn’t
get over-hyped, he will probably be a reasonable finisher in:
1) Poison Decks
2) Mono-Black (he is a sweet victory condition, since he essentially kills in three hits and if there is a convenient way to give your
opponent two poison counters he can kill in two).
Where he doesn’t belong: Random Decks. If should be really obvious why you are using Skithiryx. Don’t just jam him in there.
Name a nonland card. Search target player’s graveyard, hand, and library for any number of copies of that card and exile them. That
player shuffles his or her library.
The fixed Cranial Extraction hasn’t drawn much interest â€” which is interesting, considering how popular the original one was (this one
isn’t Arcane, obviously). Thought Hemorrhage is a decent card, and no one really cares about the damage dealing of that card. Often, in fact, it is
just a bad Cranial Extraction, since it is harder to cast and is red (making it vulnerable to spells like Flashfreeze).
Thought Hemorrhage never saw that much Standard play and is much more of an Extended card â€” but Memoricide will probably all but take
over its work for it, other than in strategies that care about the “gold-ness” of Thought Hemorrhage (say, for cards like Glittering Wish).
When will you want a card like this? Well, it’s a powerful sideboard option to help hose narrow strategies, since if there’s even a
single weak point in your opponent’s strategy, Memoricide can pick it apart entirely. If your opponent needs Runeflare Trap to win, you can steal it out
from under them entirely.
Additionally, Memoricide is useful for attacking graveyard based strategies, such as Vengevine â€” a card that’s often been a problem for
Mono-Black strategies. Haunting Echoes is a little slow and doesn’t do much on its own. Duress, Kozilek’s Inquisition, and Mire’s Toll do a
reasonable job of showing you what your opponent has in their hand to help ensure that you can at least trade Memoricide one-for-one if you are in a
matchup where it doesn’t shine.
Where Memoricide Shines:
1) Sideboards against narrow combo decks and recursive graveyard strategies.
2) Maindecks in some big-mana formats â€” for instance, if you really don’t think your opponent can win without Primeval Titan, spend just
four mana and a card, and that’s exactly what they’ll have to try to do.
Where to NOT use Memoricide:
1) Random decks
This is another card that countless amateurs will just jam in their decks, not realizing just how much a card and four mana is worth.Remember, you are down a card out the gate by just having this in your hand. If you actually plan on casting it because it is “just good,” you better
be looking to get 3B worth out of it. I wouldn’t pay 3B to make my opponent discard two cardsâ€” so right out the gate, it has to be better
than a two-for-one.
You don’t need two cards worth â€” but the difference in quality from your opponent not having his key card ought to be worth more than two
cards to you. If you would trade more than two cards to stop your opponent’s ability to Runeflare Trap or Primeval Titan or Vengevine, well, this is
the tool for you. However, if you are thinking that you’re going to just name Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Baneslayer Angel, I’m not so sure I’ll be
That said, Memoricide is another card that puts pressure on people to play a variety of victory conditions and more well-rounded
strategies. It may never be worth much money, but will be a useful card to have available to you as a sideboard option.
Artifact Creature – Construct
What is a Memnite? Well, aside from a reminder of Memnarch’s reign, it is a very exciting new type of zero-mana creature.Ornithopter has had plenty of descendants â€” but never have any been printed with a power greater than 0 and absolutely no mana cost. What are the
implications of a 1/1 for 0?
First of all, for Limited, I suspect that many players will make the classic Ornithopter mistake and play him because he costs “nothing.”What they are missing is that he costs a card. Does this make him bad in Limited? Far from it. In fact, I would not be surprised at all if he
turns out great, on account of his ability to trigger Metalcraft very quickly. Just think of how fast you come out of the gate if you drop two Memnites
and a Mox Opal, then cast a turn 1 Carapace Forge.
Speaking of Mox Opal….
Metalcraft – Tap: Add 1 mana of any color to your mana pool. Activate this ability only if you control 3 or more artifacts.
Creature – Elf Artificer
Metalcraft – Carapace Forger gets +2/+2 as long as you control three or more artifacts.
That’s six power worth of creatures on turn 1!
Now, obviously you are not always going to get the nut draw, but the potential is obvious for explosive starts. When I see Metalcraft,
it feels most similar to me as a sort of threshold-like ability. Carapace Forger is a 2/2 for two â€” but when you have Metal Threshold, you get a 4/4.Memnite is often going to be at his best enabling a quick Metalcraft strategy.
When it comes to Constructed, there are going to be a wide variety of applications of such an outrageous card. First of all, let’s give
a moment of thanks that Affinity isn’t still legal in Extended. Just imagine how obnoxious Affinity would be with any of these cards! For instance,
just looking at what has already been previewed, we see the makings of a pretty fierce Legacy deck. Here is a rough draft of one possibility, though
it may likely just be better to build a more traditional Affinity that is turbo-charged with Memnite and Mox Opal.
(Yes, Mox Opal is Legendary, so maybe you should cut one â€” but I would start with four and see if it is too many, since it is so
good when it works.)
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 4 Frogmite
- 4 Disciple of the Vault
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
- 3 Master of Etherium
- 4 Memnite
In addition to fueling Metalcraft and Affinity strategies, Memnite is potentially abusable in the same way Ornithopter, Shield Sphere,
Phyrexian Walker, and others have been â€” in that whenever a creature costs no mana, there is a potential for combo usage. Zero-mana Kobolds are
sometimes used in Vintage combo decks with Skullclamp or Glimpse of Nature to fuel a fast and deadly combination of card drawing. Memnite is a huge
improvement, as he is also an artifact for your Tolarian Academy, plus he opens up the door to having sixteen Kobolds if you want them.
Will Memnite be used wrong a lot? No question. Is it one of the five most abusable cards in the set? Also no question. The
possibility for unbeatably fast openings will mean that a lot of attention must be paid to strategies that can possibly use this card, as it is the sort
of card that problems are made of.
That said, I am betting (assuming we have done the proper checks first…) that R&D spent a lot of time on this card and are
confident that it won’t ruin Magic. There is just no way in the world they would have printed this card if they weren’t damn sure they knew what they were
doing. That doesn’t mean the card isn’t good, though, or even possibly the best â€” it just means that it’s probably not going to be degenerate in
What about Mox Opal? This is a pretty powerful card if you can reliably Metalcraft by turn 2, maybe even turn 3. How realistic is that?I am going to have to see more of Scars, though already you can tell the card has powerful applications in Eternal formats. People might try to put
it in Mishra’s Workshop decks, since they have so many artifacts, but by the time Workshop decks have three artifacts, they usually don’t need
one more mana. That said, it does an excellent job of opening up Balance, Tinker, Ancestral Recall, and so on.
The more exciting option would seem to be a turbo-Time Vault deck that looks to Transmute Time Vault ASAP. Here is a rough draft (By the
way, Time Spiral is unrestricted, but you might not have room for many):
- 1 Stroke of Genius
- 1 Brainstorm
- 2 Grim Monolith
- 1 Yawgmoth's Will
- 4 Force of Will
- 1 Mana Vault
- 1 Wheel of Fortune
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Regrowth
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 1 Hurkyl's Recall
- 3 Transmute Artifact
- 1 Time Walk
- 1 Ancestral Recall
- 1 Mana Crypt
- 1 Windfall
- 1 Timetwister
- 1 Time Vault
- 1 Mind's Desire
- 1 Memory Jar
- 4 Thoughtcast
- 1 Candelabra of Tawnos
- 1 Tinker
- 2 Crop Rotation
- 3 Voltaic Key
- 1 Time Spiral
- 1 Black Lotus
- 1 Lotus Petal
- 1 Lion's Eye Diamond
- 1 Mox Emerald
- 1 Mox Jet
- 1 Mox Pearl
- 1 Mox Ruby
- 1 Mox Sapphire
- 4 Chrome Mox
- 4 Mox Opal
This list is very raw, but has the potential to be a VERY fast deck.
What other applications does Mox Opal have, besides a variety of fast unfair decks? Well, there is very likely going to be a Metalcraft
deck in Standard (or several), and Mox Opal will surely play a starring role in these sorts of decks. It is not just fast and powerful, it is a
fixer which will be helpful for pulling together two-, three-, or even five-color Metalcraft strategies.
The real question is going to be, “What cheap Metalcraft enablers will there be?” Metalcraft is the type of ability where, if there are
a critical mass of good zero- and one-mana artifacts, it goes from mediocre to insanely busted really fast. Stay on the look-out for cheap
artifacts â€” and when evaluating Metalcraft cards for Constructed, keep in mind that the fast ones will generally have an advantage. That’s why the 4/4 for
two looks more enticing than the 8/8 with trample for four.
Up next, we have a very potent fatty that is going to require some thought has to how best to apply him:
Artifact Creature — Wurm
When Wurmcoil Engine is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, put a 3/3 colorless Wurm artifact creature token with deathtouch, and
a 3/3 colorless Wurm artifact creature token with lifelink onto the battlefield.
Wurmcoil Engine is a surprisingly tricky card to evaluate because it bucks the precedent so much that it calls for its own scale.Clearly it’s light-years more powerful than prior six-drop artifact creatures â€” but so what? How much competition was there? Nowadays, he has to
compare to Titans!
That said, a 6/6 lifelink creature (sure, yes, and deathtouch) is a really powerful tool. That’s more life gain than Baneslayer
Angel! And to make things even more appealing, if it gets killed (as Baneslayers are wont to do), you get two more guys! A 3/3 lifelink and a 3/3
deathtouch are very potent bodies themselves, and generally this card will combine the best of both worlds: a Baneslayer-type threat you must kill, and
card advantage (kill it and you still have two more creatures to deal with).
Depending on the texture of the rest of the set, I think Wurmcoil Engine is a sleeper hit. This card just seems so remarkably powerful
that I think it has to see a lot of play. Lifelink is one of the best abilities ever, and creatures that don’t get wrecked by removal are awesome.
I think this guy is costed on the Titan curve! I think he’ll see play in older formats as well, as he is one of the best life
gain artifacts of all time and an amazing victory condition for players who value artifacts and don’t normally have access to life gain.
How do you race this thing? It seems better than Grave Titan in Grixis or Esper and possibly better than Baneslayer in U/W… Which is areally high standard to be passing. Grave Titan can take over a board with his token-making, but Wurmcoil Engine’s lifelink does a
pretty good job of that as well. Baneslayer wins some games on the back of flying (which is a big deal), but the ability to protect itself with
two smaller guys makes Wurmcoil a very attractive option.
It’s possible that there will be enough ways to hose artifacts (like exiling them) â€” and if so, this guy isn’t as good. But if he were
thrust into today’s Standard, I gotta think he’d just be a total superstar. Does your Mono-U deck have trouble with Mono-R? Now you get your own
This card may be a cross between Grave Titan and Baneslayer Angel… but it actually feels a lot like Masticore, in that it’s a card that
will just see play everywhere. It is so weird to have such a powerful colorless creature (and with life gain), but I’m just calling it like I see it.
I know he is not super sexy on first glance â€” but remember people were a little slow on Grave Titan, Baneslayer, and Masticore as well.This guy is a Grave Titan/Baneslayer/Masticore-type card. It’s very possible that the context won’t be right for him to shine immediately, but I have
a pretty strong feeling that this guy is going to be bonkers when people actually shuffle him up.
Remember this article in two months! Today, Wurmcoil Engine is $7.49. This is me telling you now…
Man, I would have loved to have this as my preview card!
Venser, the Sojourner
Planeswalker — Venser
+2: Exile target permanent you own. Return it to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step.
-1: Creatures you control are unblockable this turn.
-8: You get an emblem with, “Whenever you cast a spell, exile target permanent.”
Finally, we get to the other planeswalker who’s being hyped through the roof. At first glance many aren’t charmed by Venser, since his
abilities aren’t as straightforward as “draw a card” or “make some guys.” That said, he’s quite powerful. His loyalty effectively starts at five,
since his middle ability is probably going to be mostly for Limited or fighting other planeswalkers. It only takes three turns to build up enough
loyalty to fire off his ultimate (on the fourth turn), which is going to be extremely difficult to beat. Once you have a Venser emblem, it
is going to be next to impossible for your opponent to make forward progress, as you can easily just exile whatever they do without so much as a
And it’s not like he does nothing before his ultimate, as he combines very well with Wall of Omens, Sea Gate Oracle, and so on. Even if
you have nothing worth phasing out, he can still exile a tapped land, so that it will come back untapped. This can be particularly useful if you
have six mana; drop Venser, then untap a land and hold open Negate or Mana Leak or Deprive.
Most of the time, however, you are probably going to be extracting maximum value with your 187 creatures â€” a trick that players have
loved for years. Obviously, the big trick here is finding permanents worth phasing out, which will usually be creatures (or permanents) with “enters the
battlefield” triggers â€” though “leaves the battlefield” triggers like Reveillark work, too.
Another excellent use that many have missed is the ability to reset the loyalty of your Planeswalkers. For instance, the colors may be
awkward, but Venser does an excellent job of restoring Sarkan the Mad to full loyalty.
Additionally, Venser can effectively untap your creatures, which is at least as good as vigilance â€” and possibly better if we are talking
about creatures like Titans.
Another trick that I find amusing is to use Venser to exile itself. Then you can cast All is Dust or trigger the ultimate of your
Elspeth Tirel. Venser will neatly wait until the end of the turn, when the coast is clear, to teleport back to the game.
One last trick: Venser can reset cumulative upkeeps and cards that are negatively affected by enchantments (like Spreading Seas or Mind
Control) or by -1/-1 counters (from Infect or Persist).
Is this card versatile? Absolutely! I have just listed a bunch of uses, and I’ve hardly scratched the surface. He is going to define
the format? I’m not so sure.
He’s definitely good â€” but he might be a little overrated at the moment. His second ability is just not going to be very useful. And
while his first ability may be super-clever and have a million applications, doesn’t actually protect him that well. That leaves us with a five-mana
Planeswalker that doesn’t meaningfully affect the board in particular until you use his ultimate â€” although his ultimate is super-sweet.
The only reason for my reservation is that the set is not even 20% of the non-basic land cards have been spoiled, and already people are
placing this guy and Elspeth Tirel at epic status. And they may well be! But I would use a little caution, since there are so many other sweet cards
in the set still to come (not to mention Mox Opal and Wurmcoil Engine!).
We have only seen 41 of the 229 non-basic land cards and already this set is shaping up to be a monster!
Infect just seems like it is going to be SO much fun, the limited format is looking particularly skill-testing already, and some of these
chase cards are just mind-blowing! I am super-excited for the Scars Prerelease â€” which is just two weeks away, where I will be flying down to Game
Zone Alpha in Arkansas. Can you believe we are just two weeks away? They have had the spoilers locked down hardcore!
Regardless, this set looks totally sick, as it is a chance to revisit the super cool world of Mirrodin and an artifact theme… But this
time, they can do it right. No artifact lands, no Affinity, no Skullclamp. Instead, we get to explore a world where all of the cool things artifacts
can do are explored, but without Affinity ruining it for everyone by not only beating down fast, but also making everyone play so much maindeck
artifact removal that the cool artifacts never get a chance to shine.
I’m looking forward to getting a chance to talk about my Extended deck:
I want to talk about the deck building process used to build this deck (Michael Jacob was the primary contributor and played the same
75), not to mention sharing the stories from one of the wildest cities in the world to hold a Pro Tour in…
But seriously. We’re pushing 7,000 words already, and Extended is not quite as time-sensitive as Scars previews. I also have a feeling
that next week will bring a lot of crazy new Scars cards. Then again, I kind suspect next week is going to be a total blowout anyway, so I
strongly suggest checking in each and every day… It’s going to be so sick!
Wait â€” Trinket Mage and Mindslaver are in this set, too…!?!