TWR: Throne of Eldraine Spoilers & The Next Year of MTG

We’ve known about the next Magic: The Gathering expansion, Throne of Eldraine for a little while now, but as is customary in the month leading up to a set’s release, we’re entering into spoiler season for it. I saw a few whispers about a Twitch stream that certain community members were given access to, and shortly thereafter we were learning that Wizards of the Coast would be attempting again to push the Brawl format. Most people, myself included, had already written it off as dead, but with the additions to Arena, they have been pushing the format again between paper and digital. I’m not sure if there will be Planeswalker decks, or if these are going to be more comparable to the Guild Kits from the Ravnica block, but whatever the case, a new product is launching with Throne of Eldraine and we’ll see Brawl preconstructed decks for the first time. Here are the face commanders for these sets:

Brawl Commanders:

If you are unfamiliar, Brawl is a Commander variant in that it follows the same color identity and singleton rules, but instead of being 100 card decks they are only 60 cards. They also have a rotation that matches standard, meaning you can only play with standard legal cards. So no putting your Commander deck cards into your Brawl decks. I think it’s a silly limitation and part of the reason I stopped playing standard is because rotation can be expensive. In EDH, you can wait for a set to rotate out and get a good deal on singles you want. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same game. And when it comes down to it, I’m not overly impressed with any of these commanders enough to warrant building a new EDH deck around it. I think the Bant and Esper creatures are more interesting than the others, but I’m sure people playing knights are excited to access to a new color with a new general. Friends of mine seem to be most interested in Korvold, and I’ve seen what sorts of shenanigans you can pull with him but I find it uninteresting. Deck lists were already released for these, though I don’t believe all of the cards have been spoiled just yet. They don’t really seem worth the time, but I’ve heard they are going for $20 a piece so not a lot to invest if you want to build around one.

New Mechanics:

Throne of Eldraine is adding a couple of new mechanics, and though they are kind of interesting and their take on fairy tales aren’t bad, I just haven’t really seen much yet that I’m excited for in the set. I don’t think I’m burnt out on the game because I’m still always brewing, building, writing and thinking about the game. One problem is that I don’t really play much, but even with all of that on my plate I still don’t find much to be excited for. So the new mechanics are Adventure, Adamant and Food Tokens. Various cards from the set reference food and creating food tokens. Some, like the Goose above, will allow you to create food but also to sac food to the goose itself to get a different effect. Otherwise, Food tokens are much like Clues or Treasures before them, but instead of drawing you cards or giving you mana, instead you gain life. I guess Oloro players rejoice, but it just seems like a tacky limited-only thing. The same really goes for Adamant. It’s great for mono colored decks I suppose, because it typically requires you to cast the spell with only one color of mana in order to get a bonus effect. That’s pretty meh, and I haven’t seen one that seems worth it yet. Of course, spoilers have only just begun. Lastly, with Adventures you get the new card frame at top right above. There is a spell side and a creature side to these cards. You can cast the creature normally for its CMC and be done with it, or you can cast the adventure spell (which can be either instant or sorcery) which is then exiled rather than going to your graveyard. You may then cast the creature half of the card from exile for it’s normal cost. I can see ways this could be really good, but the creatures spoiled that have adventures on them haven’t been great.

New Planeswalkers:

A couple of Planeswalkers have been spoiled so far, including the return of Garruk. Apparently Will and Rowan from the Battlebond set are supposed to be around as well, but we haven’t seen them just yet. Garruk looks ok, but I’m not sold; older versions are better. A brand new walker in Oko has appeared as well, and he references those damn food tokens too. I’m not into this guy either. As a matter of fact, I think I still have a hangover from War of the Spark.

In other news, we were treated with the schedule of releases for the next year of Magic: The Gathering. I first saw this information over on Hipsters of the Coast.

 

So, we know that beginning in quarter one of 2020, we’ll be returning to an older plane with Theros: Beyond Death. I’m pretty excited for this one as I wasn’t playing when the original Theros set released but I have purchased many cards from the block. I’m curious to see what sorts of new Gods them might come up with. In quarter two, we’ll be heading to another brand new plane, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Apparently there’s something about building monsters in this set, but I’m not sure if that will be like the fusing of creatures in Unstable, or if it will be more like the meld cards. Whatever the case, the new planes tend to be more exciting than the old. Core Set 2021 will likely have some gems, but overall core sets are dull. Finally, in quarter four we’ll see another old favorite in Zendikar Rising. I didn’t play during either of the Zendikar blocks, though the latter was still standard legal when I came back to the game in 2016. As such, I own a ton of cards from these sets, but I’m disappointed that we won’t get more Eldrazi.

Whatever the case, 2020 looks like a good year for MTG. I’m looking forward to new things to come!

TWR: C19 Spoilers – The Morph Deck

As promised, the Command Zone released a video talking about one of the four new Commander 2019 decks, and Wizards of the Coast revealed the full deck list simultaneously on the Mothership. Follow that link to see the list, you can also watch the YouTube video of the Command Zone directly on that page. Feel free to do that and then you can come back for my commentary. Monday’s deck reveal was of “Faceless Menace,” the Sultai-colored Morph-themed deck. The only thing I’ve noticed is that there are a couple of cards that I can’t seem to find spoilers for although they are present in the deck list, so I cannot comment on those just yet. As themes go, this one heavily leans on the Morph mechanic, which looks to be very powerful and synergistic. However, the mechanic simply isn’t interesting to me as a playstyle, so I don’t think I’m going to pick this one up. Still, let’s take a look at the cards, you might find some of this more appealing than I do.

Alternate Commanders:

The alternate commander suite is very much on theme, but the only one that I think is remotely intriguing is Volrath. His ability to place counters on creatures to make them weaker and then simultaneously be able to copy that creature while remaining a 7/5 is pretty decent. I can see him being his own general and probably being pretty decent due to these colors. Rayami is probably a voltron commander at best. Someone in one of my MTG groups pointed out that Grismold goes very well with Night of Souls’ Betrayal – which is an enchantment that gives all creatures -1/-1 so that he’s getting +4/+4 at the end of each of your turns, but then he’s probably still going voltron and it’s not as if he doesn’t die to removal. So all around I think Kadena herself should remain the obvious choice for commander of this deck.

New Cards:

Each of these preconstructed decks contain a ton of reprints, so there are only a few brand-new-to-the-format cards. Those are pictured above, outside of the couple that I mentioned are not online yet for some reason (Mire in Misery and Voice of Many are the missing cards). I also did not include already spoiled cards, you can check those out in older The War Report posts. There are some things here, but the only card I’d really like to own is the Apex Altisaur, as it would slot into Gishath quite nicely. Road of Return is pretty good, particularly for expensive commanders. I don’t like Sudden Substitution, but I’m sure there’s some trickery to be had with it. The Gift of Doom aura is blah. Thieving Amalgam and Scroll of Fate are great for the morph theme but otherwise fairly useless. Lastly, the Pendant of Prosperity is great for group hug themes but probably not used much otherwise. So overall I’m not really into the new cards made for this deck, and I can safely say there aren’t even reprints I’m dying to have that are included, though some are good cards if you don’t already own them.

Notable Reprints:

I’m not going to go over all of the reprints because they are old news, but I will say that the above are good cards for your collection. Seedborn Muse if fantastic in basically any green deck, but better in those that will abuse it. Deathmist Raptor was one of the beast creature cards that was changed to a dinosaur once the tribe became recognized during the Ixalan block. This is the first reprinting of the card with the new creature subtype. Strionic Resonator is a great card for commanders with triggered abilities, while Thespian’s Stage is a land that combos with several other lands to do fun things. Lastly, Vraska the Unseen is one of my favorite versions of the Planeswalker, though it wasn’t exactly expensive prior to this. Still, these are a nice pick up and if you really enjoy the mechanics in this deck I think it’s going to perform pretty well against the other decks and we haven’t even seen those yet.

The Flashback-themed deck is being revealed in a few minutes. I’ll be back tomorrow with thoughts on that.

TWR: Commander 2019 Spoilers: Round Two

While Gen Con has been finishing up, there were two more panels featuring spoilers from the upcoming Commander 2019 decks. The initial spoilers from a couple of days ago were just the commanders and their accompanying signature cards, and we got even fewer spoilers from there on. However, we are supposed to see a complete deck list for one of the four decks each day from Monday through Thursday next week, so then we’ll really be able to judge the value coming down the pipeline. On Friday, one new legendary creature, a spell and a land were revealed:

This new legendary is pretty nuts. He’s expensive, but only if you pay the full 7 CMC. He has phyrexian mana in his CMC, which we haven’t seen for a while, and is also quite powerful. This means that one can pay either three black mana or six life plust the four generic mana to cast this creature, and that opens up a bunch of options. Not only that, but he also effectively turns all black mana symbols in phyrexian mana which can really help to break black. It doesn’t stop there though, K’rrik also gets +1/+1 for each black spell you cast, and he has lifelink to heal you back up after spending life as a resource. There are some aristocrats, some extort creatures and other lifelinkers to make this into a viable way to cheat a bunch of cards out. I’m looking forward to brewing around this one. Next up, a spell and a land that sort of do the same thing in different ways. The spell is a little more flexible, as it can remove an opponent’s commander and also replaces itself with a card. The land would be more focused on returning your own commander to your hand, but it can only be done during your turn, so it’s likely just an extra blink effect for those commanders who want that. I don’t really find either of these cards very appealing. On Saturday there was another new legendary and one new creature spoiled:

Gerrard is fine I guess. A 4 CMC 3/3 with first strike is very Boros. He plays well with board wipes, particularly those that target both creatures and artifacts, as he will return all of those permanents back to the battlefield afterwards. Seems pretty niche, and not something worth building around. Probably pretty good in a deck that’s wiping often. As for the new creature, the Scaretiller is decent but a little expensive. It will ramp you each time it’s tapped, so this is probably baller in affinity decks that are always tapping and untapping artifacts. Probably good in Windgrace as well, to constantly return lands from the yard to feed your Gitrog Monster.

Overall, I have not been overly thrilled with any of the spoilers so far. I like K’rrik, but I’m not in love. We’ll check back in later this week with more on this set.

TWR: Commander 2019 Spoilers: The Face Cards

As of August 1st, spoiler season for the new Commander 2019 preconstructed decks has begun. Gen Con is going on, and Wizards is there — information was promised at a panel yesterday, and supposedly there will be more information given today as well. Next week we’ll get the full deck lists one at a time for four days. My plan as I laid out in yesterday’s post, is to report on the new information each day we get it, so today’s post focuses on what we learned yesterday, and I’ll have more to report after the panel later this afternoon (probably tomorrow’s post). That also means next week I’ll have four posts about the individual deck lists as well. With that said, let’s dig into yesterday’s reveals:

So far, we’ve been shown the box art, names of each deck and the face cards. Each of these new commanders has its own signature spell or companion creature similar to the cycle from last year’s product (you’ll know by the name of the card). So we have the Sultai Faceless Menace deck led by Kadena, Jeskai Mystic Intellect featuring Sevinne, Naya Primal Genesis with Ghired at the helm, and finally the Rakdos Merciless Rage deck sporting Anje. Firstly, I’m surprised by the fact that there are three 3-color decks and one that is only two, but I guess it makes sense given these keywords’ prevalence in those colors. Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the new generals:

Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer is a four CMC 3/3, which isn’t too impressive on its own. This is the commander of the morph keyword deck, so of course its other text has to do with the morph mechanic. The first creature you cast face down (via morph) each turn costs 3 less to cast, meaning you can cast that one for free, as the morph rules texts reads that you can cast this creature face down for 3. One free creature per turn isn’t terrible, and then those cards can be flipped in order to abuse other mechanics or surprise with an attacker or blocker. It’s an interesting enough mechanic, but it’s also one that I’ve never really cared much about. It is nice to get that free cast though, and as a bonus you get to draw a card for any morph creatures you play. I can see this being a pretty reliable card draw engine, but I don’t seem morph being a mechanic that will win you games.

The flashback keyword commander, Sevinne, the Chronoclasm is a five CMC 2/2… and that’s just bad. It is essentially indestructible which is nice, and it’s other rules text is only so-so. Basically anytime you cast one of your flashback spells from the graveyard you get to copy it. So there are a ton of copy spell effects in these colors, so I’m sure this can be a pretty decent storm deck given a good amount of mana, but it’s still pretty boring. I’m hoping there are some good cards in the deck otherwise, because this was the deck I was banking on being the one that I would buy first.

Ghired, Conclave Exile is our populate keyword commander. A five CMC 2/5, his stats are okay for the cost, but he does have an ETB effect that gives you a 4/4 with trample so you are actually getting 6/9 on the board for five, so that’s not terrible. As a bonus, if you can give him haste,  you can immediately attack and populate (make a copy of a creature token you control) giving you another 4/4 that’s tapped and attacking. Haste will make this a more aggressive deck, and you actually have access to green so ramping into him isn’t terrible. I have too many decks brewed already that utilize token strategies, but this one is probably the most interesting commander so far. If you’re making other big tokens, you can continue to make more of them each combat, but it’s pretty slow at going wide. I’m curious to see what else is in the box.

So Rakdos is kind of bad in my mind. I didn’t really like the madness mechanic back when it was in standard (and I was still playing standard back then). The thought of always discarding cards doesn’t feel like card advantage to me, but I guess that’s the point of madness, because madness cards typically cost less when they are discarded than if you cast them from hand, so in that way this commander fits the them well. Anje Falkenrath is a 1/3 for three CMC that comes with Haste. You can tap her to loot (discard and draw), but when you discard a card,  you can untap her. This can be broken. If they make the appropriate amount of good madness cards (as I remember it, there weren’t too many good ones in the past) this might be one of the best commanders of the bunch.

Overall I’m not really that interested in any of these face cards, and I remember sort of feeling that way last year as well. However, I do remember last year having some awesome alternate commanders though, so I’m banking on some awesome cards still appearing in these decks. Let’s take a look at the other spoilers we’ve had so far (by the way, Seedborn Muse was reprinted as well):

Nothing too exciting here either, though each plays well with its commander, so they make sense to be named after them. Here’s hoping for some new cycles, some good reprints and some alternate commanders that are better than these face cards! We’ll touch base as more information becomes available.

TWR: Core Set 2020 Spoilers

We just finished up with one spoiler season with Modern Horizons which released just a couple of weeks ago, and basically as that released, Core Set 2020 spoiler season began. You can see the full set here.

Core Sets have been a thing since the game began, but for whatever reason they were discontinued for a couple of years before returning last year. They’re sort of a tradition for the game, and I’m glad they came back — but they tend to be sort of ho-hum sets. They’re a great starting point for new players. Some cards are reprints, and many of them are designed for Standard/Limited, so EDH players like myself don’t have too much to look forward to. However, there are usually some EDH playables and there are always new legendaries included. Last year we got new versions of the Elder Dragons and you’ll probably recall my brew around Arcades the Strategist (wall tribal). This year there are a few cards I’m excited about, and then there are some others I’ll highlight as well.

Leyline Cycle:

I thought we might get some new Leylines this time around, but it turns out that these are all reprints. Honestly the only two that are very good are Leyline of Anticipation which is basically an enchantment version of Veldaken Orrey, and Leyline of the Void, which is Rest In Peace in Black. Both should be a bit cheaper to buy as singles due to the reprint, so if you need these cards I’d slam down the cash now before they climb in price again.

Temple Cycle:

Beyond the Temple lands being reprinted in Core 2020, the lifegain taplands are also included. I only included these because I feel that they are pretty good for taplands, particularly if you have extra uses for scry.

New Legendaries:

There are several new legendary creatures and from discussions with friends, the ones we’re all the most interested in are Kykar, Omnath, Kethis and Yarok. I’ve already brewed a deck around Kykar which I’ll be sharing soon enough, while one of my friends was into Omnath and the other into Yarok. I think they’re all good in their own ways but I’m not building more than one. As far as the others go, I like the new Kaalia to add into the 99 of old Kaalia, I think the mono legendaries have uses too but nothing too exciting for me.

EDH Playables:

There are some interesting cards here. A new vampire lord. A zombie dinosaur that also fills your graveyard. A new counterspell, a couple of planeswalkres that look neat. The Ceratops looks baller for dinosaur tribal. I like the Colossus Hammer, it’s easy to cheat equip costs, and my Shu-Yun voltron build will definitely use it. He can give himself double strike for two mana, so with this hammer equipped you can literally eliminate an opponent in one swing, for very little cost. The symmetrical tutor for one mana is pretty good too — it’s a great political tool (I’ll let you tutor a card if you do this) or you can easily force that card you let them tutor into a graveyard or exile with many other cards in the game. All in all, there’s some good stuff here, it’s just not overly exciting. Perhaps I’m just burnt on spoilers for the moment because we just got done with Modern Horizons. Whatever the case I’m liking the design choices coming down the pipe over the past couple of years and I’m excited to see what comes next. An announcement about the fall set is expected within the month of July, so we’ll know what we’re looking forward to soon enough.