Theros Previews: Wave 6

previews wave 6

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

ashiok

Weird in every way imaginable

As usual, I’ll do the ability play by play:

ashiok 1

A mini-mill

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.

nephalia drownyardNot sure how many people will actually miss this card once it rotates

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

Next ability:

ashiok 2

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.

And ultimately:

ashiok 3

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.

wits endClearly, Nicol Bolas can’t be wrong

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.

www.removefromgame.com

stacks_image_663

These sleeves are awesome!

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.

Lightning Strike

 

lightining strike

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

 

glare of heresy

I was wrong about this card’s name

Gainsay

 

gainsay

I was wrong about this one as well

Dark Betrayal

 

dark betrayal

Strike Three!

Peak Erruption

 

peak erruptio

… 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.

Fleecemane Lion

 

fleecemane lion

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.

geist of saint traft invisible stalker

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.

Kragma Warcaller

 

kragma warcaller

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’.

Arbor Colossus

 

arborcolossus

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

 

prophet of kruphix

Seedborn Muse just ‘Evolved’

In the beginning, there was this card:

awakening

Seems fair … unexciting

It didn’t quite catch on because there was not much of an upside to it, so they created this:

seedborn muse

It became everyone’s favorite Commander card (after Sol Ring and Sensei’s Divining Top)

Then there were some variants :

murkfiend liege

Also a Commander favorite

then they decided to bring it back to Standard in an updated form:

prophet of kruphix

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!

 

 

theros preorder

 

 

Theros Previews: Wave 5

previews wave 5

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

Back so soon? I figured you would be. After all, new Theros spoilers are being revealed daily and who doesn’t like some good news every day of the week? It’s like opening a little Christmas gift each day.

We have some pretty heavy duty cards to preview:

Stormbreath Dragon

stormbreath dragon

Thundermaw Hellkite v. 2.0?

This thing is pretty huge as far as new mythics go. It’s almost everything we had in Thundermaw Hellkite and then some. We get one less power but a very awesome protection ability. This is one dragon that will NOT be getting Chained to the Rocks. Protection from white means you will be dodging things like Detention Sphere, Azorius Charm and the odd Pacifism.

It also mean attacking past things like Archangel of Thune. The Monstrous ability is not insane, but it does punish some more control decks that tend to keep a few cards in hand and grows this bad buy to a 7/7 as well. Not impressed? Then I don’t know what else to tell you. Oh wait! It’s also immune to Selesnya Charm, so you don’t have to fear making it Monstrous. What else … ? The card art is super sweet. You can also deal decent damage with it in a multiplayer Commander game. He’s a really great follow up to Purhphoros as he is bound to trigger the Devotion requirement and make him a creature. That’s a lot of damage in a small amount of time. Potentially 12 damage if it all goes unanswered. Or just a tame 6 if we deal the 2 damage from the Purphoros trigger ans only get to attack with our Stormbreath Dragon here.

I’ll spare you any makeshift decklist this dragon will appear in as I’m sure it won’t be tough to pretty much auto-include him in a Red/Green or on the high end of a monored list.

Master of Waves

 

master of waves

I’m now officially scared of Merfolk

If Modern Merfolk ever topped their curve at 4, I’m sure this guy here is a shoe-in. With just a Lord of Atlantis in play you can have 3 2/1’s. Not impressed? Well, with a Grand Architect things can get rather disgusting (even without the Lord of Atlantis). You can just tap all your newly made elementals to cast a Wurmcoil Engine for starters. Not to mention that the tokens would now be 3/2’s. This is without having even cast anything on the 2 first turns of the game.

Oh yeah, he’s also pro red. just in case a burn spell might have ruined your day. Of course if your opponent removes him with another color spell you’ll lose your elementals too. Truly tragic, I know. You can always just have some kind of team pump enchantment in play or something of the sort. It’s not too hard to get creative on that front plus the rest of the set might have a goody or two.

At the very least he will be doing his fair share to fend off the hordes of red decks popping up on Theros‘ release. Don’t say you weren’t warned…

Observant Alseid

 

observant alseid

Nymph.dec in Pauper format?

Not the greatest of creatures or not the greatest aura? Which to choose? Beats me, but I’ll probably always sleeve this if my draft or sealed deck is packing some Plains. Not the game winning card you are looking for, but a solid team player.

Nimbus Naiad

 

nimbus naiad

So many Nymphs, what is the Magic world coming to?

With all these Nymphs flying around, I was going to make the apropos Nymph enthusiast or one who is crazy about Nymphs joke. You might even say they are maniacal. Nimbus Naiad gives us another bestow creaturs with which to complete our potentially 3-5 color Nymph deck in Pauper. Someone’s going to break it, I just know it!

Spearpoint Oread

 

spearpoint oread

They’re all so adorable!

For some odd reason the Bestow on this one is higher. Whatever, we’ll be too busy beating down our opponents with our Nymph army to even care. If only they had like a queen of Nymphs and it made all their abilities apply to all Nymphs if they were in enchantment form (kind of like a weird Sliver effect). Also, anyone else think this is Wizards of the Coast‘s other ‘revamped’ mechanic that failed the first time (aka. Licids).

Cavern Lamphad

 

cavern lamphad

But wait, there’s more

We get the fourth Power Ranger here and she’s as expected. Nothing too great, but what did you really expect? You can’t have one outshining the others, can you? The cycle is almost complete.

Leafcrown Dryad

 

leafcrown dryad

Best one yet? Perhaps

What? A Grizzly Bear that I can Naturalize? That’s terrible!

Actually, on top of having the Nymph AND Dryad creature types, costing the least to Bestow and the least to cast – she can block flyers to boot. Yes, she is pretty much the best of the bunch. Now all they need to do is to actually make some kind of lord for them so we can all cry as we open what might have been a more enjoyable rare.

Unless they make the Nymph Lord and Uncommon, then I’d be down for that.

Xenagos, the Reveler

 

xenagos the reveler

Domri’s planeswalker sidekick

I don’t think anyone really expected another Red/Green planeswalker so soon. Let’s see: we had Sarkahn Vol first, then Domri Rade and now Xenagos. Wizards of the Coast realizes that there are 2 color combinations/guilds that have yet to even see one planeswalker, right?

A: What are Selesnya and Simic

Even if he seems to ¬†mostly fit in a more mana ramp/creature swarm deck, I believe he’s basically just going to be sided into Red/Green decks for when they need more gas versus the most Control decks (probably Blue/White as usual). Xanagos allows those decks to recover very nicely from a Supreme Verdict. Pump out a 2/2 hasted Satyr and continue to apply pressure.

Let’s take a more detailed look at those three abilities:

xanagos 1

More manas!

So we get a nice little mana dorkish planeswalker ability. It can be pretty awesome or rather useless. Hopefully the next ability helps us in making it slightly better.

xanagos 2

Oh! that’s spicy!

Here we get the Red/Greem Haste-related ability. Very much appreciated. It gives us so much game against our opponents, it’s not even funny. However, it does not boost Xanagos’ loyalty. You can even take down opposing planeswalkers with your little Satyr army. He works pretty well with Return to Ravnica block’s battalion ability as well. That might still end up being a ‘thing’.

Finally,

xanagos 3

Nice, not broken, but it’ll do.

So in Commander you get to put some big nasty creatures (Eldrazi) in play and do wrong things. Yes, yes. A lot of other cards will allow us to do that anyhow.

What’s great is that since technically the Gods count as creatures everywhere but the battlefield even when you don’t have devotion. Essentially you can still put all revealed God cards in play. Five color God tokens deck for the win! In a creature-based deck it’s hard for this ability to fail/whiff. As with Chandra, Pyromaster‘s ultimate, I don’t really see this being something the Red/Green decks will stive to do but as something that is a nice option if anything.

The card is also drawn by Jason Chan (who also illustrated Jace, the Mind Sculptor). That probably means Wizards of the Coast is expecting really big things from this guy. Just putting it out there.

One thing is for sure: with quite a few planeswalkers starting out at 3 loyalty and jumping to 4, it might be nice t have this card in your deck:

warleaders helix

Probably going to see more play in Standard than Lightning Helix ever did

That’s going to have to be it for today. Until tomorrow, may we see what other goodies will appear in what is looking to be a very epic Magic: the Gathering expansion.

theros preorder

Gatecrash Preview: Duskmantle Guildmage

duskmantle guildmageI guess this is the reason Jace, Memory Adept is selling out

So here we are with a nice little guildmage. As soon as it was spoiled, people saw the combo with Jace, Memory Adept and Mindcrank. He is also a nice little card in limited but obviously less combo-licious. ‘Grizzly Bears’ almost always make the cut in most limited decks when possible.

The first ability can be used with removal that can kill multiple targets or discard more than one card like Rakdos’ Return. That’s probably not going to be the goal with this card however. It’s pretty cool to see people so excited for a guildmage preview card as I don’t believe that ever happened in the Return to Ravnica previews.

Will the combo make Rest in Peace a must have sideboard card? or maybe Witchbane Orb? Perhaps…