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.

The War Report: Gideon’s Signature Spellbook

Last year, Wizards of the Coast introduced a new product line called “Signature Spellbook.” Most of us assumed this was a replacement product for the “From the Vault” series, as the two products provide reprints of older cards. In the case of the vault products, they always had a theme such as “transform” or whatever, and this meant only reprinting cards that made sense for that particular theme. In the case of the Spellbooks, WotC was able to pick iconic characters from Magic’s lore, and reprint a nice set of cards that were already indicative of the character, but with all new art. Each spellbook also includes one additional card — a foil version of any of the cards in the pack. This means you’ll get a total of 9 cards, and if I remember correctly it was priced somewhere around $20, which I found fair. Last year the first spellbook released, and it was all about Jace. This meant the original Jace Planeswalker was packed in, along with 7 other cards that were his signature spells. I picked one up just because I wanted some alternate art counterspells and a nice Mystical Tutor. In the case of this new product, I have a similar desire and will definitely be grabbing this product, which is due out next month (supposed to be released alongside War of the Spark). Behold, Signature Spellbook: Gideon:

The obvious two best cards included here are Path to Exile and Rest in Peace, and I’ll gladly pimp out my Zur deck further by adding those in (he already has the Jace spellbook cards that I could use in the deck as well). Blackblade Reforged is a great sword that I have in my voltron deck so that one will get used as well. I too believe that I have True Conviction in a deck or two, so I’ll find a spot for it. Otherwise, there are some edge cases here. I don’t see myself using the Planeswalker. Worship, Martyr’s Bond and Shielded by Faith are fine, but not great. I still rather enjoy the artwork, and sometimes you sit on cards like these for a while and then end up finding a use for them. It also means that I’m getting extra copies of cards that I can use in future builds, so I definitely see the value in this product and can’t wait to see who they give the treatment to next. I assume for black we’ll get Liliana, Chandra for Red and Nissa for Green, but there are so many cool spells that we’ll get new artwork for I’m sure it will be worth it. Maybe not worth the wait though!

The War Report: Mail Day!

In the past couple of months I’ve mostly spent my M:TG budget on packs and the guild kits from the most recent set. This month I knew I didn’t want to buy more of the same set, instead I decided to pick up some cards for existing decks along with a couple of commanders that I’ve been wanting to build. I think in coming months I’ll get at least a couple of these finished off. “Mail Day!” is a common phrase used in M:TG circles — it’s usually accompanied by a picture of cards that were just delivered via mail. Sometimes people add to it by asking others to guess the commander or other things along those lines. So today, I’m sharing my most recent mail day with you.

My Zur deck is my pride and joy. I love having a deck that is so powerful and full of great (expensive) cards. I’ve seen the judge promo foil before, and I can’t get over how much better this version looks as opposed to the original. I decided I wanted to have a copy of my own to further “pimp out” my deck. I was also technically missing one card: the most expensive fetch land in his colors.  So the new version of Zur and Marsh Flats made it into my tier 1 deck, and I’m happy to say it’s complete. About the only other thing I want to do is get all of his basic lands changed into full art lands (I think I’m missing one or two) and I’d also like to add in a Mana Crypt, but those are fucking expensive so I’m waiting on a reprint. You can see my current list here.

The other two cards that I slotted into a deck right away was Kozilek and Ulamog. They were recently reprinted with Ultimate Masters, and the prices have leveled off lower than they were prior to that printing so I figured now was the time to grab them. I have the newer versions of them both, along with the newer (not banned) Emrakul already in the deck. Jodah now has all of the best Eldrazi in the deck. I also slotted in Captive Audience and Smothering Tithe from the new set, as they just felt appropriate for the deck. You can see the updated list here.

The last three cards I picked up were three new commanders that I want to build. Karador is another competitive build that I shared a while back. I don’t really have many cards for it though, so it will probably be a buy-it-in-pieces kind of deck. The other two however are a bit more budget friendly and since I no longer have a Dimir deck and have never completed a Gruul one, I’d like to get them done sooner than later. Nikya looks to be a fun way to smash face and not really worry about spells (check out my write up here), while Lazav is probably a lower tier deck but still looks like fun (write up).

Another couple of projects I want to work on are Judith and Estrid. I’ll have some more new builds soon enough, because I haven’t brewed anything in a while and another new set is right around the corner.

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.

TWR: Ravnica Allegiance Guild Kits

It was announced with Ravnica: Allegiance that shortly after the release of the set we’d see guild kits for the next five corresponding guilds. This happened with Guilds of Ravnica as well, where the other five guilds got their own guild kits. For whatever reason I wasn’t too keen on picking those up, but the new color pairings had more I was interested in. The guild kits are a neat little package. Each comes with a two color 60 card deck containing reprints of cards from the other two Ravnica blocks along with some inclusions from the current set. Also packed in are deck boxes, dice, pins and stickers featuring that guild’s logo and a foil alternate art version of a previously released Legendary creature.

I decided to pick up a bundle of all five that I got for a good deal on Amazon, and they arrived a couple of days ago. Pictured above, you can see the alternate art cards along with the pins. I really wanted to grab these because there are a ton of cool reprints that aren’t necessarily expensive to get singles of, but I like the alternate art cards, and the extra accessories are a nice added bonus. I’m not going to go into specifics about the full deck lists, but there are a few cards I wanted to highlight just because they are awesome additions to my collection and/or cards I had on my wishlist. You can however see the full decklists here.

The dice this time around aren’t as cool as they were for the last five guilds, with some having colors that don’t make sense. The pins and stickers are great though — the pins have already found their way onto my backpack that I use to transport Magic stuff when I go places to play, but I haven’t decided what to do with the stickers just yet. Next, I’ll highlight some of the cards that are going to be immediately useful:

First of all, the new basic lands with the guild themed artwork are amazing. These can be spread about multiple EDH decks as most don’t use that many basic lands. Next, there are the cycles of signets, charms, and keyrunes that are great additions to any collection as they will be used in multiple decks. The new alternate art generals are great too, plus foil so they can replace non-foil versions if you already have them, or can just get you an extra copy for another deck. The following are some cards that I felt deserved a few words, but that doesn’t mean these are the only useful cards in these decks. They just seem to be cards that I think I’ll find a use for in existing decks and projects.

Isperia, Supreme Judge. Isperia is an Azorius Sphinx, and there are plenty of these to be found throughout Magic’s history. I actually brewed an EDH deck around Sphinxes but next got around to building it. Perhaps with the additional ammo that has come from recent sets I may revisit the idea. Either way, this card is at home in control and pillowfort decks that want to discourage you from being attacked. I’m not sure I’d use this card as my general, probably opting for Azor, the Lawbringer instead, but Isperia would still hold a place in the 99.

Rakdos, Lord of Riots. I already have this version of Rakdos in my Kaalia deck, and just want this alternate art foil to replace the basic version. I do think that I can find a place for this extra copy though.

Ruric Thar, the Unbowed. I brewed a Gruul deck not that long ago and Ruric was part of the 99. He’s a beast of a creature and I think he’d even make a swell general, but I’m going to throw him into that deck for now.

Teysa, Orzhov Scion. The older version of Teysa is still pretty damn good, and seems to be a viable addition to the newer Teysa deck that I brewed recently. I think that I’ll try it out, if not I think she might slot into the Daxos token deck I am working on. Further testing needed.

Zegana, Utopian Speaker. This is the only alternate art foil that’s actually a new card and not a reprint. This card released with the new set, and given that my merfolk deck is simic, this card slots right in. The +1/+1 counter shenanigans were already a part of that deck but that part of the strategy keeps getting bolstered so I’m going to roll with it. Not sure what I’m going to cut at this point, but I’ll figure it out.

Ghost Council of Orzhova. I like this card for my Oloro lifegain deck. It could work with Aminatou’s blinking theme too, but I think it fits Oloro better. I’ve thought about buying this card for a while, so now I finally have it.

Dovescape. Another great control card in Azorius colors, but could also be something I throw into my Estrid stax deck just for additional control if needed — this sounds like it could work well particularly if I get her chain veil and plus ability combo going for big mana. I should be able to flood my board with tokens.

Pontiff of Blight. I love the extort ability, and this guy gives all of your creatures extort. Not sure where I’ll put him, but it’s going somewhere for sure.

Debtors’ Knell. A great reanimator card, I’ve included this in several brews without owning a copy. Now I do.

Master of Cruelties. I have a copy of this guy in my Kaalia deck, and he can put in some work, along with being able to cheat around his limitation of attacking alone. I think I’ll easily find another deck that can use him.

Birds of Paradise. Surprisingly enough, I don’t own a copy of this card, and it’s a staple mana dork. I’ll have this in a deck quickly.

Zhur-Taa Druid. Another mana dork that does some damage while giving you mana. It seems likely to find a place in a deck.

Borborygmos. This guy just looks like a solid beater that can give out counters. In a deck that cares about counters in these colors, it’s a great way to get ahead.

Protean Hulk. Too bad he’s banned in EDH. The things I could do with this guy.

Vorel of the Hull Clade. I’ve wanted a copy of Vorel for a long while now. He’s got an interesting ability that let’s you double up counters on a creature, artifact or land. This obviously works best with creatures, but there are edge cases to be made. Being a merfolk, I think I’ll be slotting him into my merfolk deck just to be able to do more with +1/+1 counters.

Momir Vig, Simic Visionary. He’s kind of like the older version of Prime Speaker Vannifar. They both let you do some tutoring but do so in different ways. I’m not sure what I’ll do with him, but he’s an interesting card. Perhaps a new deck is in order.

Simic Ascendancy. This is one of those alternate wincons that rarely work but are kind of like an achievement if you can get it to. I think I might put this in my merfolk deck, unless I find another deck better suited for it.

That’s all I wanted to highlight today. If you like any of these particular color combinations I’d recommend grabbing that guild kit, because the value you’ll get is worth more than the asking price. I love getting a good deal on ways to bolster my collection, because the brewing is endless in this household.