For some unknown reason, Wizards decided to test the capacity of their servers in the middle of the week by dropping the entire visual spoiler some time Tuesday night. This resulted in probably hundreds of thousands of people all racing into the virtual server, looking for the remaining cards to be spoiled, hoping to check out new artwork, bristling with curiosity or trying to get a leg up on the competition for this weekend’s Pre-Releases. Oay, ‘hundreds of thousands’ is probably hyperbole, but there had to be metrics tons of people hitting that server because …
Needless to say, the server failed this test.
I love this idea. Historically, the time when the most “leaks” happen in terms of a new set is when some entrepeneur gets his hands on product for the Pre-Release, and just can’t help but open some up. With the increased number of Pre-Releases thanks to the decision to let stores run their own, it likely increased the chances that some curious soul would be unable to resist cracking a few packs, looking for that last Mythic. You put the spoiler up on Wednesday, you help those people resist the urge to crack open packs for their own sake, and you give everyone pretty pictures to look at. This probably closes up the last loophole, the last uncontrolled element for Wizards in terms of maintaining control over what cards are spoiled, and when. While I was resistant at first, I dig it now. Clearly they know what they’re doing.
I think is is a great time to focus on the commons and uncommons from the set. You’ll have one chance to pick up cards before the set goes on sale this Friday, so why not have some idea about what common playsets you should be looking to trade for at the Release event?
Top 10 Commons
10. See Beyond
I’m excited to try this out in Dragonstorm next Extended season – I think drawing two cards for two mana is pretty decent, and it gives you the capacity to shuffle back in a Bogardan Hellkite that you’ve drawn. Probably less applications in Standard, but it’s another card-drawing option if you aren’t capable of getting value out of Treasure Hunt (you don’t have a way to stack your deck, say) or you’re okay with tucking away win conditions for later.
“It’s a sorcery,” they’ll say. “What about the additional cost?” they’ll say. It’s still a draw-three for one mana, no matter how conditional it is. White-based decks that run a lot of defense (and possibly Fog effects like Angelsong) won’t mind tapping their walls out (or their Eldrazi spawn?) to draw three cards, content that they’ll have the mana available to cast whatever they draw.
Vendetta was a great early removal spell back in Masques Block, where it was one of the removal options in the Snuff-o-Derm deck popularized by Joel Priest and Brian Kowal (and played by yours truly at a Masques Block PTQ to, ahem, average results). In today’s Standard, however, it has some stiff competition to get included in a Black-based deck; Doom Blade is one mana more, but doesn’t cost you any life, and Smother hits just as many targets (although different ones) but can’t dance with Baneslayer Angel. It’s definitely better than Bone Splinters or Wretched Banquet, and if anything relevant starts regenerating, Vendetta might pick up – but we’re suffering from an abundance of choice in Standard these days. Not that that’s a bad thing.
There is definitely a Red-Green Eldrazi ramp deck out there, and Brood Birthing will be one of the cornerstones. Never mind ramping up by fetching out lands, just go straight for the little 0/1 guys, I say. Even on an average draw, you can play turn 2 Nest Invader or Spawning Breath, turn 3 Brood Birthing directly into Hand of Emrakul … TA DA! Sure, he’s the weakest of the Eldrazi with only (only! ha) Annihilator 1, but it seems like attacking with him on turn 4 puts your opponent in a pretty bad spot.
I’m glad they printed a “ready for M10 rules” Mogg Fanatic finally. I guess it doesn’t have exactly the same functionality (as you can’t arbitrarily sacrifice it for its damage) but it’s still a nice treat.
Obviously this was created to be a search card for the Eldrazi, but I actually think it will see more use as a mana-smoother, in the way that Land Grant did, possibly. It does fetch lands, as well as artifacts like Basilisk Collar. I like Mono-Green in Standard as an FNM-level deck, and being able to drop down to 18 land or lower will allow us to pack the deck full of creatures.
I am very curious to see what becomes of Deprive. On one hand, it’s a UU straight-up hard counterspell. It isn’t situational like Negate or Essence Scatter. I’m sure that the idea of always having “the right counter” in hand is something that Blue-White Control really likes. But is the tempo of bouncing a land too much for a deck that always wants to hit its land drops? UW Control is very unlikely to leave up countermagic on turn 2, instead looking to cast Wall of Omens – or, at least, Everflowing Chalice – so this is more likely a midgame counter. Can you look at “getting another use out of your Halimar Depths” as a bonus? Or is it just better to stick with Negate or the three-mana Cancel where applicable?
Making Eldrazi spawn seem a little… messy? Thinking that you might prefer to set up behind some of these four-toughness walls, give yourself a good early game against Jund and all these other aggro decks, and then build a monstrous Eldrazi beast somewhere around turn 5 or 6? Overgrown Battlement, Wall of Omens, and Perimeter Captain seem like a strong first set of plays for this strategy. Overgrown Battlement has the requisite four toughness to survive against most of Jund’s early creatures, as well as against non-flying Vampire and most of the White Weenie deck – although the best match for him will be figuring out a good way to both block AND use the mana production.
Color-fixing for budget players has two faces in Standard: Terramorphic Expanse, and the Panoramas. Panorami? In any event, Evolving Wilds gives us access to Terramorphic Expanses numbers five through eight, and I could definitely see playing six of the guys in budget decks. I really do love that Wizards is giving us good mana fixing in common – even if it ends up just being the SAME mana fixing.
Staggershock has all the components that are missing from the other burn spells in Rise of the Eldrazi: instant speed (Forked Bolt and Flame Slash are sorceries), hits creatures and players (Flame Slash and Heat Ray only hit creatures), plus a great damage-to-mana-cost ratio (four damage for three mana) comparable to Flame Javelin or Char, which were great burn spells in their heyday. Sure, it’s not going to kill anything with a four toughness, but you have the option of splitting up over two targets, which can be great in a format with all sorts of one- and two-toughness creatures. I’m considering it as a third burn spell for the Red-White Planeswalkers deck that I listed last week; Magma Spray as a replacement choice for Searing Blaze didn’t fulfill the “hits creatures and players” role that I’d like it to, so I’m definitely looking for another option. Sure, I won’t get the Rebound out of the graveyard with Chandra Ablaze’s ultimate ability, but by that time it will have done six damage. I’m not greedy.
A Quick Word on The Hot Uncommon
Wall of Omens seems to be all the rage right now, and the Magic pundits are lighting up every corner of the Internet with thoughts on how the White Wall of Blossoms (which needs a funny nickname – Dogwood?) will alter the playing field of Standard. Everybody and their grandmother will be looking out for these, so if you expect to play a White deck that could use a card-drawing defensive measure, be sure to keep an eye out and start picking them up early. I do believe that Wall of Omens will be pretty popular, and will probably move away from its current two-dollar asking price here at StarCityGames.com up into Path to Exile’s five-dollar range. Holy crackers, I just looked and Path is up to eight bucks! Yeah, get those Walls now.
I hope you all had fun at your Pre-Release, whether it was a big one run by a Premier TO, or a smaller one down at your local store. Pre-Releases are one of my favorite events, a great and relaxing day of playing Magic and getting your hands on those new cards. This weekend, of course, we have the Release events, which are also great fun. Get out there and have a blast with those giant Eldrazi monsters!
Until next week…
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