Stirxhaven preview season is here and with it comes the unveiling of the set’s mechanics. We’re going to the new plane of Arcavios and it is packed with new mechanics and a twist on a returning one. Let’s start with the new stuff!
Magecraft was previewed on Monday with the unveiling of Professor Onyx, but today we learned that each Magecraft ability is different. Magecraft is an ability word that highlights triggered abilities that reward you for playing or copying instants and sorceries. Dragonsguard Elite, the Strixhaven Buy-A-Box promo, showcases how Magecraft can help creatures grow permanently.
Archmage Emeritus shows that Magecraft abilities can scale on power and rarity, as this Human Wizard makes you draw a card upon triggering it. Archmage Emeritus has a promo version that comes with the Strixhaven bundle.
While Dragonsguard Elite gave permanent buffs for Magecraft, Eager First-Year highlights what the ability can do at common and especially for Limited play.
Learn and Lesson
Learn and Lesson highlight the school feel of Strixhaven, encouraging deeper learning and research. The Learn mechanic offers a player three options: reveal a Lesson card you own from outside the game and put it into your hand; discard a card and draw a card; or do nothing. Similar to Investigate, different kinds of cards can allow you to Learn like Professor Symbology or Pop Quiz.
Lesson is a new spell type that can be found on instants and sorceries. In casual formats, the Lessons you select can be any card in your collection, but in competitive play, Lessons have to be in your sideboard.
Lessons will work well with Magecraft as a way to keep churning through more spells. Of course, a card like First Day of Class triggers Magecraft and then helps you find another one for later.
Ward is a new evergreen keyword (meaning you will see it from set to set) and triggered ability that counters an opponent’s spell or ability that targets a permanent with Ward unless the opponent pays a cost. Though the cards we have seen so far with Ward all make your opponent pay two more to target them, the additional cost can range from mana to life to anything else.
Ward shows up on Torrent Sculptor, a modal double-faced card, which is the returning mechanic in Strixhaven. Read more about them below.
Modal Double-Faced Cards
Much like Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim, Modal Double-Faced Cards are returning again with a twist. Zendikar Rising featured land/spell modal DFCs while Kaldheim had creature/permanent modal DFCs. Strixhaven is introducing creature/spell and planeswalker/planeswalker modal DFCs along with the returning creature/creature modal DFCs, from what we have seen so far.
While Kaldheim featured Valki, God of Lies/Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor, Strixhaven gives us Rowan, Scholar of Sparks/Will, Scholar of Frost. One card, two different planeswalkers in two different colors and mana values. Both sides make your instants and sorceries one mana cheaper to play, but each side has different strengths benefiting from the flexibility to play one side earlier than the other.
We also see our first creature/spell modal DFC in Torrent Sculptor/Flamethrower Sonata. Torrent Sculptor also has Ward and works as a creature that can be buffed based off the exiling of an instant or sorcery from your hand. The back side happens to be a sorcery that plays well with the front side if you need a bigger creature or it can help you find other options from your deck while dealing with a problematic creature or planeswalker.
Kaldheim featured Alrund, God of the Cosmos/Hakka, Whispering Raven as a modal DFC with both sides being creatures, but Strixhaven has a cycle of Deans from each college. You can see an example of them below with Plargg, Dean of Chaos/Augusta, Dean of Order from Lorehold.
Read more about the mechanics from Strixhaven from the article on Daily MTG.