Well it’s one of those times of year again, a new Magic set is upon us and this is one is interesting to say the least. This week I’ll be looking at things in broad strokes while next week will have some more precise thoughts in it. Let’s get started
The Guilds and Their Keywords
Boros: The Boros Legion have the Battalion mechanic this time around, which is when the creature that has it and two other creatures attack , it gives you a special effect. Some of the cards that have are freaking nuts, like Legion Loyalist while others aren’t as flashy. The context of the board means everything and judging it its hard. When it works, it works and when it doesn’t it really doesn’t.
Dimir: House Dimir have Cipher, after you cast a spell you can put the ciphered spell on a creature and when they do damage to a player the spell effect triggers again. So its basically a way to make Auras better and in order to compensate for that all the spells are really expensive. Are you going to pay 4 to cantrip and then turn a creature into a Scroll Thief/Stealer of Secrets? Hexproof( and shroud actually since it doesn’t target) will want this the most. Even then its not all that great since it doesn’t make Ethereal Armor better. Everyone else can make use of this in limited if its a big enough dude.
Gruul: The Gruul Clans have Bloodrush, which basically means you have a creature that can also be played as a pump spell for less. I really like this ability, it smooths out your mana(well the best ones that you can reasonably expect to cast both ways) in that it still lets you use your cards even when you have mana problems, it helps with top decking them late game, and the abilities they grant are pretty good in the world of pump spells. It also can’t be countered.
Orhoz: the Orhoz Syndicate have Extort, which is when you cast a spell you can pay either a black or white to do 1 damage to your opponent and gain that much life. It’s a kicker variant, where its all about incremental advantage and using up your mana. This is also a reasonable mechanic that comes on good cards to support it.
Simic: Last but not least, the Simic Combine have Evolve, whenever a creature with greater power or toughness enters the battlefield under your control put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. Keeps your creatures relevant throughout the game and Simic has counter shenanigans to go along with it. This is probably the mechanic I’m looking forward to the most in terms of actually playing with it. Its powerful, it does what green/blue likes to do and it keeps my early game creatures relevant. Its also a terrible top deck late game for that same reason.
the Guilds as Archetypes
I’m defining best card based upon the watermark and ability, they’re not necessarily multicolored
Boros: At first glance they’re the other half of the token theme from Return to Ravnica and also have not inconsiderable part when it comes to auras. MoreQuantity is its own quality and haste is fairly important to turn on battalion. Skyknight Legionnarie is probably the best Boros Common.
Dimir: Their thing is actually mill, like mill that might actually be viable in the sense of there’s more cards that support milling and they’re not terrible like say Chronic Flooding is. On the other hand, that gets said about every format before it sees play, so who knows? Horror of the Dim or Deathcult Rogue stand out to me as best commons for their synergy with cipher.
Gruul: As much as I like G/R aggro it still boils down to kill your opponent before they kill you by smashing in their face. Best common: pit fight: instant speed Prey Upon is nothing to scoff at.
Orhoz: Stabilize and use Extort to push through the win. Any of the common extort creatures seem good and somewhat interchangeable.
Simic: Grab all the lands and make all your creatures bigger. Best common seems to be Cloudfin Raptor.
More Generic Thoughts
This is a multicolor block and the fixing is still bad. On one hand there is prophetic prism, on the other hand gates, keyrunes and shocklands are kinda poor for limited as it turns out.
Speaking of gates, they matter a lot more in terms of other cards caring about them.
Looking it over 4 is still the magic number when it comes to toughness.
The Gruul are the new Rakdos in the sense of they’re the ones who want to beat in your face early while everyone else wants to hang around. Everyone else wants to hang around for a while and build themselves up. Boros are kinda midrange in that they wan to be attacking but their attacks are more surgical in nature in that you want to se up battalion triggers.
Combat tricks are also important in this set like they were in RTR due to removal being tricky to work with.
Contaminated Ground seems to be really freaking annoying to play against, like close to Stab Wound level annoying, only not as not good.
There’s a rogue subtheme in the set, which is just really freaking odd.
Its hard to say much about the set at this point but I’m honestly skeptical about how good it will be as a limited format for no other reason than gut instinct. Also I really just want to see how dragon’s Maze ties all of this together.
Next week, I read other people’s thoughts on the internet and mix them with my own to get a better idea of this set actually works.
*This is also the reason that I’ve soured on RTR, it doesn’t do what I feel a gold block should do I and I can still play m13 anyway.