by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos
We now have a third planeswalker in the set! You heard right: three planeswalkers so far in Theros.
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Weird in every way imaginable
As usual, I’ll do the ability play by play:
One of the rarer +2 loyalty planeswalkers, Ashiok’s + ability is rather unimpressive. Clearly it builds up to something. If you take it at face value, you’re basically activating a Nephalia Drownyard each turn. Meh! I supposed with enough protection he can be a win condition just based on that. You save 4 mana a turn when compared to Nephalia Drownyard. Mana that can be used to do cool stuff like play cards such as Far/Away.
The random part where Nephalia Drownyard wins out is that
A) it’s uncounterable
B) You can mill yourself to dig for flashback cards or some cards to use when you cast Snapcaster Mage
Yeah, sorry I couldn’t get a larger picture of Ashiok
Yay! Free Ornithopters and Dryad Arbors! Or you can just grab a 4 cost creature after you’ve +2 ‘ed your opponent once. In a sense he can probably ‘protect’ himself. It’s a funny way of looking at it, but it is more or less luck-based and limited to what you have exile with Ashiok. Better practice your milling skills boys!
In order to prevent any kind of abuse, Ashiok’s + ability is limited to your opponent’s library. I haven’t really fathomed all the stupid stuff you can do if you were allowed to target your deck, but there are quite a few.
You also probably won’t be using the second ability on Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver often if your opponent is playing a control deck that runs little to no creatures. No idea how many of those are going to be floating around, but there sure are a heck of a lot of ‘Superfriends’ aka. planeswalker options.
Um, not quite a Jace, the Mindsculptor ultimate eh?
So how do you win with this again? Exactly. It’s somewhat cryptic. Does it fit in a ‘Turbo Fog’ style deck? Not quite sure. Still, you get to do a Wit’s End, which can’t be all too bad.
I imagine that against control decks you can get him to 11 loyalty, use his ultimate and then continue grinding his library away. So on the fourth activation gets you one ultimate, then every 6th activation gets to be an ultimate (if you wish). You get to blank his has of counters, dead cards and whatever other nasty comeback cards he may be holding. Also, these cards are gone for good off to join their other exiled friends in From the Vault: Exiled. Yes, it’s a bad removed from game joke.
Speaking of Remove from Game, I want to take this moment to promote one of the coolest product I have seen as far as card protection goes.
They don’t split when you shuffle them, nor do the corners break (because they’re rounded). The cards are a little tight to fit at first, but it gets easier after. I highly suggest you go purchase some and get back with your feedback so that people don’t think I’m shamelessly promoting weird card protectors. I’m not sure if they still sell them on their site, but I’m sure you can purchase them if you search hard enough.
Fear the Spear !
The somewhat unexpected ‘Searing Spear‘ reprint. It was looking like Magma Jet was taking over as the 2-cost burn spell and red decks were going to go for a more ‘Devotion’-based approach (with Boros Reckoners, Ash Zealot ,etc) to get Purphoros online as soon as possible.
What is left to say about this card except that you will be seeing a lot for the next 2 years of Standard. If you want to pack it in Modern, knock yourself out. Between this, Incinerate, Searing Spear and Lightning Bolt – you can mix and match as you wish.
The Same-Color Hate Cycle
Glare of Heresy
I was wrong about this card’s name
I was wrong about this one as well
… I’m soooo out!
Yep! every single one wrong. Still, the cycle of same-color hate was fairly evident and a really interesting twist on sideboarding. I am fairly certain they will all see a great deal of play with all the multicolored cards that the Return to Ravnica block brings to the table.
Gainsay is going to be big versus Sphinx’s Revelation decks (of course) and winning counterspell wars. Other than that, It counters a few planeswalkers (even Ashiok) , Aetherling and some draw (Opportunity).
Dark Betrayal is going to hit quite a few scary creatures for really cheap, so black creatures are ‘somewhat’ riskier. Doom Blade for non-black and Dark Betrayal for the rest (like Underworld Cerberus).
Glare of Heresy is just wow! Any white permanent? Detention Sphere, Elspeth, Archangel of Thune? Nice sideboard card versus all the really annoying bomby white cards. Problem is how many can you fit in the sideboard? Also, how many is your opponent going to be siding in versus your white deck? Let’s not forget it also exiles Heliod.
Finally, Peak Erruption is a little different from its other sideboard buddies. It can effectively Stone Rain your opponent’s land and potentitally set him back a color (lets not forget Ravnica block duals already). The 3 damage is very appealing, especially at times you can two-for-one their land and planeswalker. It can become increasingly good versus decks running Chained to the Rocks if you’re into getting full value.
Part Watchwolf, part WTF?
The Watchwolf comparison is rather unfair, because that’s what this card is in the worst case scenario. Once Monstrous, good luck doing anything to it. There are not many ‘edict’ (sacrifice a creature) effects left in Standard, save Devour flesh. Why is it that Cats are always better than Hounds in Magic: the Gathering ?
Before you start thinking that it’s a shoe-in for some kind of Hexproof deck – don’t forget that most of that deck is rotating ( Geist of Saint Traft, Spectral Flight, Invisible Stalker). It might make it in some kind of Bant midrange deck since you can have it survive your own Supreme Verdicts. Either way, the way this set is looking Supreme Verdict is not going to be much of an answer to anything anymore.
You have less than a month to enjoy these cards in Standard
At the very least you have a rather hard to remove planeswalker protector. You can also make an opposing removal spell whiff since you can activate Monstrous at instant speed. Keep in mind that it can always be responded to, so try to activate it when your opponent is low on cards in hand or tapped out at the end of his turn.
Angry Angry Minotaurs
Black is not a color that comes to mind when thinking of minotaurs, we have been more accustomed to seeing them in Red and sometimes White. I guess those terrible Black Minotaurs in M14 were there to prepare us for the horrors to come. This Rakdos minotaur is very much superior to his M14 counterparts (not that it’s hard to beat). Essentially, he’s a 4/3 haster himself the turn he comes down. It’s too early to say if he makes the cute in a Standard Minotaur tribal deck, but I’m betting on ‘No’.
Pretty much confirmation enough that the M12 titans are not returning
If you ever wanted to try out the big creature Green deck or Green/White deck now is probably as good a time as any. This guy is very good for his mana cost. We know that being in the color of mana ramp you will have no problem casting him 1-2 turns ahead of time. Monstrous means beating your opponent down for 9 and potentially taking down some annoying flyer like Archangel of Thune or the Stormbreath Dragon.
Having Reach even without being Mosntrous means you won’t see many opposing creatures swinging back at you with this guy in play. It’s a great piece of cardboard, one that will surely make more than a few people ‘green with envy’.
Prophet of Kruphix
Seedborn Muse just ‘Evolved’
In the beginning, there was this card:
Seems fair … unexciting
It didn’t quite catch on because there was not much of an upside to it, so they created this:
Then there were some variants :
Also a Commander favorite
then they decided to bring it back to Standard in an updated form:
Prepare to have some multiplayer fun
I’m not entirely sure as to how effective this card will be in Standard what with it not having Flash itself. Still, there are some nice possibilities here. If you land it on your turn 5 with a tapped out opponent, you can simply Flash in a Prime Speaker Zegana (probably not the most efficient play) whenever to draw up some cards before it’s your turn again. You can also try for a Progenitor Mimic and copy a Prophet of Kruphix so that you can double up on the untap effect each time it’s your opponent’s untap step.
Again, you can probably do a few nice tricks here and there but it’s all a matter of our dear Prophet staying alive long enough. Your patience and proper timing may very well be rewarded in the proper deck. Everyone and anyone playing some Simic or Bant Commander/EDH deck will be hunting down the foils, try to keep that in mind if you happen to open a shiny copy of this card.
It’s a nice twist on last Standard format’s ‘enter the battlefield’ gimmick. Now you have to try to keep creatures and other permanents in play before you get to reap the rewards. I think it will make for a somewhat slower format and a much more enjoyable one at that.
Still more to come ..
Keep checking back here to catch a glimpse of more Theros Preview cards. See you tomorrow!