I think it’s probably traditional to do some sort of retrospective with your one hundredth column [Congrats on the 100, Dave! — Craig], but with Worldwake merely days away now, I really think that my time is better dedicated to focusing on the hot new stuff, and not the old columns of two years ago. Maybe at the two-year mark we can do something. But one thing that definitely needs to change is the title of this column. We’re well past Lorwyn’s tribality that fostered this initial title, so I’m contemplating starting over with a fresh #1. A hundred issues of TT is pretty good, if you ask me. So any suggestions? Please feel free to put them in the forums. I’m still thinking “The Miser’s Page” but I’m afraid that too many people will take it for the Magic-related definition and not the ACTUAL definition.
But never mind that… Worldwake is almost here, and that means new cards! I thought I’d showcase a few commons that interested me. They might not be necessarily GOOD per se, but they interested me, which means that they might come up in future TT columns. For whatever that’s worth.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS. If you’re afraid of that type of thing.
Vastwood Zendikon – 4G
Enchantment – Aura (C)
Enchanted land is a 6/4 green Elemental creature. It’s still a land.
When enchanted land is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner’s hand.
The Genjus from Betrayers of Kamigawa were pretty good, I thought, mostly because they were fairly inexpensive to cast, dodged sorcery removal, and you could keep turning extraneous lands into dudes if the first one fell in combat. Granted, you had to pay mana each time, but anyone who’s bought a car or a house knows that it’s easier to pay for some things over time rather than all at once. Still, that being said, you only had a finite number of lands; even in draft, you could easily exhaust your potential recipients of a Genju, and even if you didn’t, you could start getting to the point where the Genju was the ONLY thing you could do. Worldwake’s Zendikons pretty much flip every decision that Wizards made for the Genjus: full payment up front rather than over time; permanent creaturehood over temporary creaturehood; any land rather than the specific basic land; and you get the land back if it dies rather than the enchantment. Sure, this means that they’re one-shot “creatures” that can be destroyed by land-destruction and Naturalize, but they’re still creatures that seem to be above the curve a bit. (I say “above the curve” and mean the normal curve, and not the “let’s make a 4/5 for GGG” curve.) A 6/4 for five mana is pretty decent. The red one is a 4/2 trampler for 2R; I like that. The blue one is a 2/2 flyer for U and the black one is a 3/3 for 1B. Both of those are definitely playable. They all have haste, essentially, if you play them on a land you already had. Only white, who again gets stuck with a wall, seems to get the short end, although that wall is a 2/6 for 2W. They seem pretty good for limited, at least.
Join The Ranks – 3W
Put two 1/1 white Soldier Ally creature tokens onto the battlefield.
Twice the cost of Raise the Alarm, but this really is the card that Ally decks needed to give them a shot at going somewhere. Instant-speed Ally triggers mean that you can grow all your generic Allies like Oran-Rief Survivalist and Kazandu Blademaster in the middle of combat, and there’s finally an actual use for Kabira Evangel short of ducking your guys through blockers. I’m sure the thought of instant-speed discard with Bala Ged Thief has Bennie Smith dreaming of the good old days with Greel, Mind Raker. Good times. Once we have the full set and can see the breadth of the Allies in Worldwake, I’m sure I’ll put together an Ally deck and give it a spin.
Dispel – U
Counter target instant spell.
Let’s just say I’m curious if shaving a mana off Negate to only allow it to counter instants will be relevant in Standard. It seems like the applications where it would fit best (in a tempo deck where it’s countering removal) might be better served to be able to counter sorceries as well, but I can also see it as more of a “secondary” counter in that type of deck to Negate. Eight ways to counter Path to Exile, Terminate, or Lightning Bolt in a tempo aggro deck might be enough to keep punching damage in. The problem will be finding the deck that runs enough blue to warrant the counterspells, but still has enough aggressive creatures to keep on a curve — I don’t see Blue itself having the creature base to put this deck together. I’m thinking blue-black Vampires. It probably drops Tendrils of Corruption because you won’t have that many basic Swamps as you fit in the blue, but I can see that being OK since you now have access to Smother again for smaller creatures. Speaking of Vampires…
Ruthless Cullblade – 1B
Creature – Vampire Warrior (C)
Ruthless Cullblade gets +2/+1 as long as an opponent has 10 or less life.
Vampires has a lot of competition for creature slots now. As Worldwake continues to develop, they keep pushing out more and more possibilities for the creature base. I like Ruthless Cullblade for a bunch of reasons — he’s not black-mana-intensive, which means you can run him more easily in Vampires-Splash-X (like red for Blightning or, as mentioned above, blue for counters); he keeps up the 10-life theme that Vampires had in Zendikar; and he becomes a beefy 4/2 once you get him “active,” meaning that you are going to finish the job that much quicker. It’s going to be very hard for someone to deal with a 6-power flying attacker mid-game thanks to Vampire Nocturnus.
Searing Blaze – RR
Searing Blaze deals 1 damage to target player and 1 damage to target creature that player controls.
Landfall – If you had a land enter the battlefield under your control this turn, Searing Blaze deals 3 damage to that player and 3 damage to that creature instead.
Lightning Bolt. So versatile, so useful. Not overly format-warping, as pretty much predicted by Wizards’ R&D when they decided to reprint it. Evidently this has given them free reign to print more burn where one red mana equates to three damage. No red player is going to feel bad about playing this at sorcery speed, since it’s pretty much two Lightning Bolts on one card after your land drop. And with the fetch lands enabling Landfall on your opponents’ turn, it seems pretty easy (especially in decks like Boros Bushwhacker that are already running as many fetch lands as they possibly can) to be able to get this up to six total damage whenever you want. I don’t anticipate there will be many times when this isn’t cast for six damage, unlike Mysteries of the Deep (the Landfall instant card-draw spell), which will probably be fifty-fifty to be cast for just two cards. The real question is, beyond Mono-Red, is there a deck that wants two Lightning Bolts stapled together? Would Jund play this? If so, what does it replace? Terminate?
Explore – 1G
You may play an additional land this turn.
Draw a card.
Having just played the Valakut Ramp deck in Friday Night Magic last week, and expounding about how much I hate hate hate Khalni Heart Expedition, to see this in the spoiler list made my day. This is a preferable kind of ramp for this deck, if you ask me. Due to the land content of the deck, you will almost always be able to cast this with an extra land in hand in the early game — and the “draw a card” aspect means that you can cast it later, without a land, and draw into something that will be more beneficial. I’m pretty much replacing Khalni Heart Expedition with these as soon as I get my hands on them this weekend.
Kor Firewalker – WW
Creature – Kor Soldier (U)
Protection from red
Whenever a player casts a red spell, you may gain 1 life.
I will be very interested to see if this guy just ends up in sideboards, or if he works well enough against Jund that he becomes maindeck material. My guess is that, between Maelstrom Pulse and Smother (and, heck, Master of the Wild Hunt) he might not be as good against Jund as he is against Mono-Red or Boros Bushwhacker, but he seems like a very good creature to continue white’s hate against red.
Bestial Menace – 3GG
Put a 1/1 green Snake creature token, a 2/2 green Wolf creature token, and a 3/3 green Elephant creature token onto the battlefield.
I’m really okay with anything that makes Elephant tokens. I blame it on my unnatural fascination with Elephant Ambush. I just love that artwork. It’s an elephant… hiding behind a tree. Ready to ambush you. Only he’s too big to hide behind the tree. Come on, it’s hilarious. Cone of Dudes here doesn’t have the same hilarious artwork, and doesn’t work at instant speed, but still gives us six power worth of creatures for five mana. It’s like Conqueror’s Pledge, only not rare, and without the ability to kick it. I like it.
Well, I personally am all set for next weekend’s Pre-Release. Should be an amazing time. We’re lucky to have Worldwake designer Ken Nagle as a gunslinger up in Denver, which could prove for some interesting conversations about Worldwake, the block, and how he sees design going forward. I’ll return next week with tales of my (hopefully successful) exploits from the Pre-Release!
Until next week…
dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive at facebook and twitter