TWR: The Value Proposition – War of the Spark

The newest Magic: The Gathering set, War of the Spark, released this past Friday, and for the third year in a row, I’ve purchased a box of booster packs around this time of year. This time around, I don’t really have an LGS without making a trip out of town, so I opted to utilize Amazon, which Wizards of the Coast recently partnered up with for people like me to have easier access. The main downfall to this is the fact that you do not get the Buy-A-Box promo card, and since I didn’t have an LGS to go to for the pre-release, I didn’t get any date-stamped promo cards this year either. Apparently the purchase price for the box was supposed to be lower on Amazon, but I don’t really think that’s the case, unless I missed somewhere that box prices went up? Whatever the case, I’ve written about the past two box openings with a break down on how I did, so I thought I’d keep with tradition and do it again.

I actually pre-ordered my box back in April, but the set didn’t release until last Friday, and initially it appeared that I wouldn’t get my order delivered for nearly a week past that date. Thankfully, once the box shipped on Friday, the delivery time was updated to Saturday, and it was awaiting me on the porch when I got home from work that morning. Above, I sort of “live-tweeted” my box opening experience with pictures of most of my best pulls. You can see visuals if you read that thread. Let’s get on with the goods, and the card breakdown in the box.

Multi-color:
10 Rare
42 Uncommon

Colorless:
1 Rare
4 Uncommon
19 Common

White:
1 Mythic Rare
3 Rare
12 Uncommon
67 Common (1 foil)

Blue:
1 Mythic Rare
5 Rare
13 Uncommon
70 Common (1 foil)

Black:
1 Mythic Rare
3 Rare
12 Uncommon
66 Common

Red:
1 Mythic Rare
4 Rare
12 Uncommon (1 foil)
66 Common (1 foil)

Green:
1 Mythic Rare
3 Rare
14 Uncommon
65 Common (1 foil)

Miscellaneous:
36 Tokens
6 Non-Basic Lands – Emergence Zone, Mobilized District, Interplanar Beacon, Gateway Plaza
37 Basic Lands – 1 foil Swamp

The breakdown for this box is a bit misleading, since a majority of the cards in the set are Planeswalkers and a bunch of them are uncommon and still pretty damn useful. So I think the value is skewed a little bit given that some of these cards are bulk, and yet they’ll still find homes in decks where you usually only see one or two uncommons/commons become staples. I did pretty well with my pulls, getting most of the chase cards, but I didn’t pull Feather, which I was really hoping to get my hands on to brew. However, with the large amount of Planeswalkers I have on hand I’m thinking of making Atraxa superfriends first. I’ve had her for some time and was going to do an infect build but I think instead I just might roll with the walkers instead. Whatever the case, I ended up with a bunch of great cards and I’m excited to tweak my existing decks and make new ones. Cards like Massacre Girl and the new Gods have me excited. Speaking of the Gods, let’s take a closer look at the Mythic Rares I pulled:

I managed to pull all but the new Bontu, but I wasn’t overly thrilled with him anyway. Ilharg is intriguing as a build around, but I think I’m going to slot him into Jodah instead, as cheating out big Eldrazi is the name of the game in that deck. It will also lose most of its Planeswalkers if I go that route with Atraxa, so I’m going to be looking for a few replacement cards that I just might find from the set. Oketra is slamming into my Zombie tribal deck, while I think I’m finally going to build a mono blue deck around the new Kefnet. Rhonas looks more like a finisher for a green beatdown deck, so I’ll probably put him somewhere that I already have a Craterhoof Behemoth for redundancy. Finally, the only non-God mythic I opened was the new Liliana, and she is a beauty. I really want to put her into my Zombie deck because I have two other Lilianas already in the 99, but I feel like this would be better for superfriends. As it stands, the possibility of building Atraxa means needing to re-evaluate where I have my other Planeswalkers, however I think I sold off most of the ones I had before now, outside of those in decks.

This set has reinvigorated my love for building decks and collecting these cards. It was definitely worth the money. I’m sure I’ll have some new brews to write about soon enough, so until then, I bid you farewell.

TWR: Light As A Feather

Now that War of the Spark spoilers are said and done, it’s time to take a closer look at the cards that we can use in our EDH decks, along with new legendary creatures we can brew around. I tend to build at least one new legendary creature per set, but there are times when that varies. Some sets in recent years had better cards for the 99 of other decks, and in the case of this Ravnica block, there have been plenty of new commanders I’d love to build in EDH. As such, here’s a new brew from the latest set, featuring quite possibly my favorite card being printed:

Feather, the Redeemed is apparently a character that appeared in an older Ravnica set, but didn’t have its own card until now. As with most characters in the MTG world, they typically end up being a legendary creature at some point or another. Feather is a character I hadn’t heard of before, but I really like this card. Boros as a color pair has always been a bit on the weak side, and typical Boros commanders usually rely on combat and combat tricks to do their thing. White and Red are also the worst at card draw and land ramp, so the pair has been at the bottom of the barrel for a while. Recent additions in the past couple of years have made a difference — cards like Smothering Tithe can really help out this color pair. Anyway, back to Feather. She’s a 3/4 flyer for three CMC which is a pretty decent start. I enjoy low costed commanders because they come down early and have the ability to be recast several times in a long game. What makes Feather really interesting though, is her paragraph of text that says anytime I target one of my creatures with an instant or sorcery, it then goes to exile instead of my graveyard, and I get it back to hand at the end of that turn. This does mean you can also cast instants on other people’s turns and get them back at their end step, so there is some flexibility here. The only problem I saw initially was that these colors tend to have good removal but not as much utility outside of combat tricks, however there are a ton of good cantrips (a card that does something but also says “draw a card” on it) in these colors, and that’s how we can get some card advantage, not to mention the baked in advantage this ability brings. Let’s take a look at some spells we can try to exploit:

This is a smaller sampling of what’s included in my build, but it covers the major tricks we want to cover. Cantrips include Crimson Wisps, Defiant Strike, Expedite and Gods Willing. These cards will all replace themselves by instantly drawing you a card, but then will also come back into your hand for later use. You should be able to cast these spells over and over and get major value, and no one is going to waste a counter spell on these because normally they’re garbage cards that no self-respecting EDH player would use. Speaking of, this deck ends up being pretty budget because of this fact, with plenty of cards floating around a quarter or less. We have some other tricks though, where we can use cards like Expose Evil or Spawning Breath, both of which spawn tokens we can use to ramp/draw cards, and these cards can too be cast every turn. There are some go-wide burn spells included as well, though you’ll want to make sure to throw a point of damage at one of your creatures if you want to get the spell back to hand. I’ve also included a few ways to blink our own creatures, mainly so that we can avoid our opponent’s removal. There’s a white counterspell that might come in handy some day, and Seize the Day can get us an extra combat every turn if we do end up wanting to go sideways more often. As I said this isn’t all of the cards, but it gives you an idea of where I’m going with this. Next up, what creatures do we want in this spell heavy deck?

The main focus of the creatures in this deck is to compliment the spell heavy build. This means cards like Guttersnipe and Firebrand Archer that do damage to our opponents when we cast spells. This also means token generation for casting spells, ala Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor. This also means including some cool Heroic keyword cards that I’ve never really found a use for, and most of them too create more tokens or other shenanigans. Lastly, we have Mirrorwing Dragon and Zada, both of which will copy spells if you target them, meaning you can cantrip off of zada and then draw multiple cards at once, for like a single mana. Good stuff man. I don’t have a really clear cut win con here, it’s just a value engine and hopefully you drain people down low enough to swing with a bunch of tokens for the win. I really don’t have a bunch of other tricks up my sleeve either. You can check out the full deck list here.

TWR: Looking Ahead to War of the Spark

Today marks the final spoilers for the upcoming Magic: The Gathering set, War of the Spark. I have been watching patiently the past few weeks waiting for this day to come so that I could show off some of the cards I find most interesting from this set, but also to gush about a few of them that I’m most excited for.

First off, here’s what we know. The set will feature 36 Planeswalkers, and there will be one in every pack. It releases May 3rd, and box pre-orders are already available. We also know that the following card is the Buy-A-Box promo for the set, and it’s a rather nice card:

Tezzeret is one of the better Planeswalkers in the set, and yet this version is only going to be available if you buy a box or buy a single which could end up being pricey. He’s got some nice abilities, and will slam right into most artifact focused decks in these colors. Also, we know that there is another Mythic Edition, and you can check out the details here. Since the focus of this set is on Planeswalkers, I figured I would take the time now to go over some of those I like the best.

Planeswalkers:

You’ll notice above that some of the Planeswalkers shown here are uncommons. This is the first time we’ve seen uncommon Planeswalkers, where they are usually given the Mythic or Rare slot in most sets. This is how you get away with cramming so many into a single block, with the Mythics or Rares being the best/most powerful walkers, and the uncommons being lesser known and less powerful versions. Another new feature is the static abilities given to all walkers in the set. Each one will do something once you get it on the board, and then in the case of the Mythics and Rares, you’ll have the standard + and – loyalty abilities. In the case of the uncommon walkers, you get the static effect and only a minus ability, but they are still somewhat useful even if you don’t have an ultimate to abuse. In particular I can see Sorin slotting into my vampire deck, Teyo wants to be in my wall deck, and I’m sure others will find their way into my decks as well.

God Cycle:

The four Amonkhet Gods have made their re-emergence, but this time they’re all Zombies in addition to being Gods. This actually feels pretty good for Zombie decks, particularly Oketra who creates Zombies every time you cast a creature spell — which you’ll do plenty of in most Zombie tribal decks. Kefnet feels like a solid mono-blue deck that I just might build, copying all of the spells! The others are fine additions too, but nothing too exciting for me personally. I will say this version of Bontu is much better than the original.

New Lands:

Some new lands make their appearance with War of the Spark, with some having niche appeal and others being more broad. Emergence Zone and Blast Zone could both find places in many decks. Interplanar Beacon wants to be in Superfriends decks, while Karn’s Bastion can too, but also wouldn’t mind infect or token decks either. We also get a new man-land in Mobilized District, and those seem to be popular in certain circles.

New Artifacts:

There are a couple of new vehicles coming with the set, and both of them are pretty good. I just might slam them into my Shu-Yun deck. God-Pharaoh’s Statue is some nice stax, but a bit costly… but artifact decks can abuse things to get it out earlier. Firemind’s Vessel is a decent mana rock, if not a bit slow. I really like Bolas’s Citadel, it’s janky but looks fun and easy to abuse.

New Legendary Creatures:

Hype alert! I’m stoked for Feather, the Redeemed and have already brewed a deck for her. It’s janky fun, but I think it might actually be pretty good, even with a low budget. I’m also looking forward to slamming the new Krenko into my OG Krenko deck, just to add some more flavor. The new Neheb looks decent, we get some lands-matter deck hate in Tomek, and the new Lich is a solid Golgari card. Massacre Girl could be decent but I’m not as hyped for it as some others I’ve seen.

Everything Else:

There’s a bunch more that excites me, but I can’t go over each and every card. Another new cycle, the “Finales” are all pretty decent, but I rather like the green one as a finisher and the blue could be good in decks that want to draw cards. There are some decent new removal options, other ways to Proliferate, new aristocrat cards, and other tricks that look awesome. I’m planning on getting a box of this set, it’s the best one I’ve seen since last year’s Dominaria (outside of supplemental products, in which Ultimate Masters was pretty damn good). I’ll try to do another value proposition post after I’ve opened said box. I do this about once a year, and it seems that I got a ton of value out of the box of Dominaria, but only did okay with Aether Revolt. Hopefully this set will bring good fortune along with it. I’ll be back soon with my Feather build. Until then.

TWR: Early Modern Horizons and War of the Spark Spoilers

A couple of interesting tidbits hit news feeds in the past couple of weeks. There hasn’t been the official “big product road map announcement” for this year just yet, but three sets have been confirmed. We already know about Core Set 2020 due out in the summer, and the next normal set to round out the Ravnica and Gatewatch story, War of the Spark. We can also assume there will be a Commander 2019 product, but otherwise the rest of the releases for 2019 are unknown. So when we heard what I’m about to talk about, there was some excitement to be had!

Modern Horizons:

Wizards of the Coast announced a new “modern focused” set that includes cards that will skip standard legality. We’re expecting a bunch of new cards specifically designed for the modern format, but we can rest assured there will be great cards for EDH/Commander as well. Reprints are rumored to be “nothing that’s currently modern-legal” so perhaps they will be legacy reprints? If so that is some potentially awesome news for Commander players along with those playing the other formats. So far we’ve only seen two spoilers, and they are interesting cards:

The Cabal Therapist is definitely a modern focused card. I don’t really see many EDH applications unless you’re doing a lot of “show me your hand” effects to really make use of this creature’s ability. Still a pretty decent card. The Serra Planeswalker is a pretty cool idea, taking a card we’ve known since the beginning and giving it a legendary treatment. It actually looks like a great fit in Kaalia or other Angel EDH decks, just because it’s pretty on theme and can keep you in the game if you get targeted. The set it supposed to release within the next couple of months, and it appears to be the Modern Masters replacement. I hope it brings some powerful cards.

War of the Spark:

The other big news was concerning the next expansion, War of the Spark. There was a teaser video that showed a bunch of Planeswalkers done up as stained glass windows not too long ago, and then WotC told us that every single one of those Planeswalkers will be present in the new set.

Unfortunately they will not look this cool — they specifically said that the stained glass art would not be on the cards in the set. However, there were a total of 36 given this treatment, and it turns out that all of them are cards we’ve seen before. It’s unclear if there will be reprints or new versions, but they did say that there will be a Planeswalker in every pack, much like there were legendaries in Dominaria. I’m torn on the idea. Planeswalkers were supposed to be something you only saw here and there, are are less likely to see play unless they fit a deck’s theme or you’re running superfriends. Some are very powerful — I’m sure most of you playing Arena are sick of seeing Teferi, Hero of Dominaria over and over. I think stuffing this many into a set could take away some of the magic that makes Planeswalkers special. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens there. This set is supposed to be out next month, so spoilers will be coming soon enough. I’ll be covering that as soon as it happens.

Until then.