When you read this, the prerelease will be — at most — a couple of days away. The spoilers are out. It is time to start thinking about what Worldwake will do to the Limited metagame. We will be playing sealed with half Worldwake, and drafting with less Zendikar, and a pack or two of the new set. That will change things.
I’ll start this article the way I always start looking at a sealed pool. What rares do I want, and what did I open? (A caveat — most of this info comes from the MTGSalvation spoiler. Some of it is not yet officially confirmed.)
The big chase cards are — no surprise here — those that got spoiled early on. The new Jace is mythic and playable. The UW land that becomes an angel is great. Several of the other dual lands are also big bucks, not to mention highly playable in Limited, if you are in, or close to, those colors. The only one that probably won’t be worth much in Constructed is the GW dual — with all apologies to Jon Becker, spiders are nothing special.
The set has a number of bombs I want to open. At the very start of the list is Admonition Angel, a 6/6 flier for 6 mana that can remove other permanents from the game when you landfall. True, making landfall after you have already hit six mana is not quite automatic, but even without the exile ability, a 6/6 flier for six is just fine. If you are heavy White in Zendikar / Worldwake, you should be able to gum up the ground long enough to find this guy.
Admonition Angel is not an auto-win, however. Blue has a bigger flier for just one more mana.
If you prefer Black bombs, then you want to open Butcher of Malakir. It is only a 5/4 flier for 5BB, but it comes with Grave Pact — whenever a creature you control is put in a graveyard, everyone else sacrifices one, too. It is very hard to overcome that effect — the card disadvantage is crushing.
In Red, I would be quite happy with Comet Storm, which is basically an overpriced Blaze that can do a full X to several creatures, for more mana. More specifically, it costs RR plus X, with multi-kicker (1). This means that for each additional you can choose another target, and that target also takes X. Note that this is not replicate or a copy effect — it is merely adding targets. You end up with a single spell, possibly with multiple targets, not several spells. One counterspell counters everything. This also means that you cannot target something with the spell twice — “another,” remember? All targets need to be different.
However, the Red rare I really want to open is Mordant Dragon. It is a better Shivan Dragon. It is not only a 5/5 flier with Firebreathing — albeit more expensive Firebreathing — but it also has “Whenever Mordant Dragon deals combat damage to a player, you may have it deal that much damage to a creature that player controls.” It should be a witch: “I’ll deal with you, my pretty, and your little dog, too.”
The Green rares and mythics are okay, but nothing I would cheer wildly about. The gold mythics, on the other hand, are pretty nuts. If you can survive long enough to cast them and start beating, they should win the game.
Okay, enough with the rares and mythics — let’s look at what you actually will have to play and face.
White Common Creatures:
White is losing a pack (or two, depending on what you are drafting) worth of Zendikar goodness — meaning fewer Steppe Lynx, Kor Skyfishers, and Kor Aeronauts. Here’s what White gets — in the common slot – to fill in for the lost creatures.
Apex Hawks — it starts as a Wind Drake, but paying additional mana to cast it gives it +1/+1 counters. It’s a 3/3 flier for five, a 4/4 for seven, and a 5/5 for nine, but it’s not as if you will never get that much mana.
Battle Hurda — a 3/3 with first strike for 4W. It’s just like Shepherd of the Lost — but without Flying or Vigilance or being all that good.
Fledgling Griffin — a Silvercoat Lion, but landfall gives it flying.
Kitesail Apprentice — a 1/1 for W that becomes a 2/2 when equipped. The question is whether this is more playable than Kor Duelist. Flying is evasion — and Worldwake does have one common piece of equipment. However, that piece of equipment grants +1/+0 and flying. Flying means that Green mages, and everyone else with fatties, will be picking it highly. Green also has a one mana instant speed Disenchant, so your flying Kitesail could suddenly fall out of the sky and run headfirst into a 2/2. In other words, this is no more playable than the Duelist.
Join the Ranks — sort of a creature, since it creates two 1/1s at instant speed. It is an ally card, and I’ll discuss allies later on.
Marsh Threader — Cliff Threader for Swamps.
The White Zendicon — an aura that turns a land into a creature — is a fat-butt Defender.
In Zendikar, White has a number of fast beaters — a 2/3 for W, another with flying for 1W, a 2/2 flier for WW, etc. In Worldwake, these are replaced by much slower creatures. If this holds, the new format will be slower. On the plus side, Worldwake White seems less color intensive — other than Admonition Angel, almost everything has a casting cost of XW.
I’ll talk about instants and sorceries later on.
Blue Common Creatures:
Let’s see what Blue is offering as replacements for Welkin Hawk, Windrider Eel and Umara Raptor.
Calcite Snapper — Horned Turtle with Shroud and swap power and toughness with landfall.
Enclave Elite: a Grey Ogre merfolk, but with built in Islandwalk and the ability to grow a +1/+1 counter for each time it was kicked.
Halimar Excavator: an ally with milling powers, but even if it’s text box was blank, this is a 1/3 for 1U. Remember how good a fast 1/3 or 0/4 can be for holding the ground in Zendikar? This is yet another argument for a potential slowdown.
Surrakar Banisher — a 3/3 for 4U with an ability. In this case, it bounces target tapped creature.
The Blue Zendikon costs U and turns a land into a 2/2 flier.
The first thing I notice is that Worldwake has just one common flier to replace the three that are being lost. Now with just 60 commons in Worldwake, those commons will appear more often per draft than in Zendikar, but that is still a change.
Black Common Creatures:
Black was nuts in Zendikar, to the point of being massively overdrafted. It has Surrakar Marauder, Crypt Ripper, Nimana Sellsword, Heartstabber Mosquito, the one-drop vampires, and Blood Seeker, just as common creatures. Worldwake changes things.
Bojuka Brigand — it’s Sellsword light: a 1/1 growing ally that cannot block for 1B.
Jagwasp Swarm — Black gets Snapping Drake!
Pulse Tracker — a 1/1 vampire for B with when ~this~ attacks, opponents lose one life.
Quag Vampires — another 1/1 vampire for B, but with a +1/+1 counter for each time it was kicked.
Ruthless Cullblade — a 2/1 vampire for 1B, that is a 4/2 when an opponent is “bloodied.”
The Black Zenidkon is a 3/3 Ooze with no special abilities.
Once again, the common creatures are slower and fatter. Speedy Black, and specifically the Marauder, has another problem: Worldwake includes several common artifact creatures, including a colorless, flying, 1/1 Borderland Ranger, and both a Red pinger and an equipment pinger. (They are uncommons, but with just 40 uncommons in the set, you can expect one per draft — two per draft if you are drafting ZWW at the prerelease.) The Marauder, Steppe Lynx, and Geopede may need to watch their backs.
Red Common Creatures:
Akoum Battlesinger — a 1/1 Red Ally for 1R that gets +1/+1 counters. It’s a Red Oran-Rief Survivalist.
Cosi’s Ravager — a 2/2 for 3R that pings and opponent for landfall. Meh.
Goblin Roughrider — Warpath Ghoul dyed Red.
Grotag Goblin Thrasher — red’s 3/3 for 4R has an enters-the-battlefield ability of “target creature can’t block this turn.”
Skitter of Lizards – a 1/1 for R with haste and +1/+1 counters for being kicked.
The Red Zendikon is a 4/2 with trample.
Green Common Creatures:
Arbor Elf — a Llanowar Elf with a slight upgrade. A solid upgrade if you have Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.
Gnarlid Pack — a Grizzly Bear with a +1/+1 counter per kick.
Grappler Spider — a 2/1 for 1G. Is printing Spiders with a small butt an innovation or a drawback?
Graypelt Hunter — another ally who gets counters, this time starting as a 2/2 for 3G, with trample.
Snapping Creeper — a 2/3 plant that gains Vigilance via landfall.
Summit Apes – a 5/2 Ape that must be multi-blocked if you control a Mountain. It costs 3G.
The Green Zendikon is a Craw Wurm for 5G.
Green is the reverse of the other colors. Common creatures in Green are smaller and faster than in Zendikar. On the flip side, we don’t get anything the size of Territorial Baloth or Vastwood Gorger. Green decks are going to be different.
The set is full of them. Each color gets one at common, and several get an uncommon ally, plus White gets a Join the Ranks. Most of the common allies get +1/+1 counters. The set has a few rare allies as well — and commons, uncommons and even rares show up a lot in smaller sets like Worldwake. In sealed, expect to face a couple players who have an insane collection of allies and the color-fixing to run them. In draft, if people fight for allies, their decks will be crap, but if the ally drafters are few or — gawd forbid — alone, their decks could be insane.
We will just have to test this out.
What to Watch Out for:
First of all, Worldwake has a bunch of funky lands. Common lands enter the battlefield tapped, but do things like removing graveyards, spawning 0/1s, or preventing target creature from blocking. Quicksand is also back — and this also lowers the value of Surrakar Marauder.
Worldwake is heavy with combat tricks and instant-speed removal. Here’s the important stuff.
Join the Ranks — 3W — 2 allies at instant speed.
Veteran’s Reflexes – W- target creature untaps and gets +1/+1. Surprise blocker at instant speed.
Aether Tradewinds — 2U — instant — bounce a permanent of yours and of theirs. It can bounce your most expensive attacker and their chump blocker, or a land.
Permafrost Trap — 2UU — Instant — Trap. Tap up to two creatures, they don’t untap next turn. Trap for U triggering on an opponent playing a Green creature.
Twitch is back. 2U — instant, tap or untap a permanent, cantrip.
Blue has counters. They are situational and limited, but they do exist.
Black has Nemesis Trap for 4BB — expensive, but it exiles a creature, then puts a copy of that creature into play long enough to block. Black gets Smother back. (Smother — 1B — destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less.) Tomb Hex gives target creature -2/-2 for 2B at instant speed; -4/-4 with landfall. Finally, Urge to Feed give target creature -3/-3 for BB, at instant speed, and can pump vampires as well.
Red has Bull Rush — a rather lame combat trick that gives a creature +2/+0 for R, but it could turn a chump into an unexpected trade, so it might see play as a 22nd card. More importantly, thought, Red has Searing Blaze, an instant costing RR, which does 1 damage to target creature and its controller; three damage following landfall. Be careful with double blocks after landfall.
Green has — surprise! — a Giant Growth clone. In this case, it pumps a creature +2/+2 for G at instant speed; +4/+4 after landfall.
Sorcery speed removal:
White can exile target creature or enchantment for 4W. The card is Iona’s Judgment, and it is a common.
Blue also gets a Mind Control for 4U. It is at sorcery speed and uncommon, but be aware of it. There are only 40 uncommons in the set, so it will show up.
Black has Dead Reckoning — which puts a creature card from the graveyard on top of your library, and deals damage to a creature equal to the converted mana cost. Black also has a discard spell, but not a great one.
Green has a new sorcery that creates a 1/1, a 2/2 and a 3/3.
The rest of the removal and combat tricks are rares, so don’t worry about them until you see them.
The Set and the Mechanics:
Overall, Worldwake is a very straightforward set. Landfall is back, but now it also affects spells. These do not trigger on landfall, but have different results depending on whether a land has hit the battlefield or not.
Multikicker is simple — just kicker that you can pay any number of times.
Allies are the same as they ever were.
I think I am going to enjoy judging the Worldwake prerelease. It looks pretty easy. I think I’ll enjoy playing Worldwake even more.
Prereleases are this weekend.
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