Day 178 – more Battle for Zendikar Spoilers

Another day, another really close call, but fortunately, spoiler season seems to be very early this fall, so we’ve got plenty of new cards to speak about.

First of all, to give my own thoughts to the idea that Rolling Thunder isn’t going to be super busted, “because it doesn’t kill giant Eldrazi” in the most public way available to me:

a) against a ramp deck it might kill either your initial ramp creatures/framework, or, rather more pressingly, you

and, much more importantly b) that absolutely isn’t the point.

Yeah, Rolling Thunder probably isn’t at its best AGAINST the ramp strategy. It is, however, very good IN that strategy, and the deck it hoses (any kind of aggro) it hoses so completely that winning against a single resolved Rolling Thunder is very close to impossible for those decks. Making a format with hard to kill titanic creatures, and then giving the deck that wants to play them the tool to completely destroy the one deck that is traditionally really good against them seems like a supremely terrible idea. I get that they want these big Eldrazi to actually get played, but the price seems way too high. Real aggro decks are such an essential part of any limited environment, that you cannot just remove them and hope the format will sort itself. Sure, it’s still just an uncommon – and aggro decks will be played – but it is going to be absolutely miserable to play against, and neatly removes a ramp decks biggest weakness in a way that is simply much too powerful. And it’s not like Rolling Thunder is bad against any deck – in its absolute worst matchup it is still one of the best cards in your deck.

Anyway, we’ve got 15 minutes and should at least get through a couple of cards 🙂

This card is very slow, but it’s the sort of grindy card I could get behind playing in a deck with a lot of land and drawspells, though I suspect you should have at least some synergy with allies before you expect Retreat to Emeria to pull its weight. In an aggressive Ally deck again it seems like it would be a bit too slow. I cannot imagine you want to build a deck that takes advantage of the second ability, because that does seem a little too expensive for what it does, though occasionally there will of course be situations where it comes in handy, which makes it a neat little upside.

I like it, and I think it will be good in some deck or another. It might even be just good period, depending on the speed of the format.

4 mana divinations usually don’t cut it, though this does have a cool kicker ability. I think I’d rather just pay one less mana, which doesn’t mean that I’m declining to run Coastal Discovery. Depending on the speed of the format, I expect this to range between “fringiest of fringe” to “very good”, and it’s a card that I could easily see getting undervalued in the beginning. Playing Divinations helps you hit land drops, and as schizophrenic as it is to print a mana sink ability on a card draw spell (as they are pure mana sinks in themselves), making a 4/4 is relevant enough that I still respect this upside.

I really like this guy. I’m not a player who enjoys ramping very much, but this card is very elegant, and I actually wouldn’t mind playing it in a control deck either. I enjoy running 4/4s for 5 just fine, and making 2 mana is pretty huge for both of those archetypes. Whether you plan to play an 8drop, or chain a bunch of divinations, it is important to do something constructive (as in: actually affecting the board) in the midgame, and Kozilek’s Channeler does that nicely while offering just the kind of upside we’re looking for. I would never be embarrassed to run it, and would actively try to get one or two if it becomes apparent that I might be interested in playing a few 6+ drops or multiple other mana sinks.

Day 177 – Battle for Zendikar spoilers

What’s better than opening a Tarmogoyf in Modern Masters? Correct, getting passed a foil Hooded Hydra. Not only do Kahns drafts cost less than half of what MMA15 drafts cost, bizarrely a foil Hooded Hydra is actually worth quite a significant amount more than a Tarmogoyf. The only thing that would have made my Magic day even better is getting to actually play that draft, without the server locking me (and a lot of other people) out. Oh well, you can’t have everything I suppose, and having MtGO work two days in a row would have been quite lucky.

Fortunately we got a lot of new spoilers yesterday, so we can just take a handful of cards and discuss their merits or lack thereof. Yay!

First up these pretties: and no, of course we’re not getting fetches and shocks in the same standard format, these and 23 other lands in similar design will be the Zendikar treasures 2.0. Much like the original treasure cycle and the fabled “God-boosters” from Journey, I’m guessing most of us will never open one, but they’re sure to push sales nonetheless, which is one reason for me to definitely stock up on some Return to Zendikar boxes to ensure we will still be able to use them in chaos drafts 5 years from now.

Since the 25 lands included are supposed to be some of the most iconic the game has to offer, I suppose there should be a few fairly exciting ones. Wasteland maybe? Or Karakas? Dark Depths sounds like an interesting option too.

Mostly though, I have one question: what’s up with that border? It’s so… random and inelegant. These cards could well end up being obscenely expensive because of their rarity – but if that border doesn’t look less intrusive in paper, I’d rather not be found dead with these in my Highlander.

Oh, and while we’re at it: there are full art basics too! That’s the best possible reason to stock up on displays, which I will definitely do. So will everyone else alive, and hopefully they’ll stay affordable for a while yet because of this.

Well, he’s certainly big. I’ve never played with Ulamog in constructed, so I don’t know how relevant the annihilator is, but exiling 2 permanents instead of destroying one sounds pretty insane. So does costing less mana, and it’s not like your opponent can just keep chumping this guy either, since he will kill eventually. Eventually usually being at the second attack. This looks like an insane casual staple if nothing else, and unless this set gets oversold insanely I would be very surprised for it to be below 20-25 Euro 3-4 years from now.

Seriously, what’s up with that border? It bothered me the first time I saw it, but now that I know how ugly it looks if the whole border is made up of that random pattern, it bothers me a lot more.

This card on the other hand is really sweet though. Here I thought Eldrazi were splitting up into an aggro and a ramp deck, but apparently they’re more flexible than that. Incubator Drone is an awesome control, good midrange and decent aggro card, which makes it a pretty good card allround. It’s possible that 2/3s aren’t great in this format, and then maybe it isn’t as great as I think it is (remember Coral Barrier? That didn’t pan out like I wanted it to either), but I cannot imagine you would cut it from a blue deck.

When I first heard about this card being reprinted, I assumed it was a tactless joke and nothing could convince me of the opposite. I still hope it is one, though at this point it’s a really bad one! Yeah, I’ll admit it isn’t going to be quite as sick as it was back in Tempest, but then again, back in Tempest it wasn’t “a bit too good” – it single-handedly destroyed the format. In a format full of ramp printing Rolling Thunder on uncommon is a bad joke, unless its one goal is to make aggro unplayable. If that’s what Wizards wants to achieve – ok, good call. But that sounds like an idiotic plan of epic proportions.

This recent obsession to print unbeatable uncommons is not something I approve of. Nobody needs or wants more Elite Scaleguards, Sentinel of the Eternal Watch or Temur Sabertooth. Or Pyrotechnics. Or cards that are similar to Pyrotechnics, but much better.