As of this writing there are currently 91 cards spoiled on Salvation. Glancing over the set there’s no confirmation on Mana Leak yet. I have a feeling if Mana Leak is reprinted it’s going to be a well kept secret until the end of the spoilers. After the article by Zac Hill there’s been a lot of discussion on if Mana Leak is too good for standard. If you would like to read about my opinions on the matter, you can do so here. (http://jupitergames.info/2012/7000/cavern-of-souls) Another thing I noticed is Wizards is keeping with the aggressive core-set theme that was put into action during M12.
The last core-set brought back the Blood Thirst mechanic over Scry. While Preordain was nice, decks became very controlling and matches went longer. This core set is Exalted, I was in college during Shards and didn’t really get to fully experience the block except for a visit here or there. One thing I do know about the block though is creatures with Exalted were very powerful. This probably won’t be as true without Noble Hierarch or Qasali Pridemage, although, there are still about a hundred and fifty cards to be spoiled! It would be an exciting change to see Hierarch printed over Birds of Paradise. The biggest shock to me so far is Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. The first gold card ever printed in a core-set! Meaning that it’s a realistic possibility to see a reprinting of Pridemage too!
Let’s jump into it, shall we?
(Editor’s Note: All card information listed here comes from mtgsalvation.com and can be found at http://mtgsalvation.com/magic-2013-m13-spoiler.html)
|Creature – Human Knight|
When Attended Knight enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token onto the battlefield.
Attended Knight – Well this card isn’t exactly exciting, but it extremely playable in limited. Knight being two threats is great on it’s own, but then it’s reasonably costed and has first strike. It’s good creature.
Serra Avatar – I’m actually kind of disappointed by this printing. Not because Serra Avatar is bad or too good, it’s all nostalgia value in my eyes. Avatar has been printed twice, once in Urza’s Saga, then the JJS foil. From my point of view, that might as well be once with just one of both a non-foil and foil version out there. But to reprint it only decreases the coolness factor that is Serra Avatar. Much like Reya Dawnbringer’s reprint in 10th edition. I’m unsure of the playability of Serra Avatar in standard. If the Titans are not reprinted and the eventual rotation of Scars block takes away Elesh Norn, I could see Avatar seeing play as a two of in some slow control decks. Otherwise it’s reprinting an old cool card for the sake of reprinting an old cool card just to flood the market on them.
|Creature – Illusion|
Jace’s Phantasm gets +4/+4 as long as an opponent has ten or more cards in his or her graveyard.
Jace’s Phantasm – This is a Bryant card. I can’t wait to play this illusion, I don’t even know if it’s a good card yet. I’ve always liked undercosted powerful creatures with some sort of requirement or draw-back. This enjoyment of these types of creatures goes all the way back to Grinning Demon, those that have known me for a while already know this. Hopefully Phantasm won’t be another Grinning Demon though. I think Phantasm could actually bring back Illusions depending on a few things happening. The first being Snapcaster Mage’s banning, it’s been discussed everywhere. I could easily see it happening due to the win percentages of UW Delver. If Snapcaster Mage is banned, Illusions may come back to be the popular blue deck of the format. While there’s been no confirmation of Lord of the Unreal or Phantasmal Image, there would be that two-month cross over where these cards would exist together.
In order to make Phantasm not a 1/1 flyer, I’d recommend playing a full complement of Thoughtscour along with some number (probably two to three) Sword of Body and Mind. Yes, Body and Mind, the forgotten sword of Standard. Since Scars doesn’t rotate until the fall equipping a Body and Mind could create a very fast clock.
|Legendary Creature – Merfolk Wizard|
|Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, put a 2/2 blue Drake creature token with flying onto the battlefield.|
Talrand, Sky Summoner – I don’t like it, I don’t like it at all. A four mana creature, that’s only a 2/2 that will spit out a 2/2 maybe every couple of turns. I’m just not impressed, definitely not a Commander general either. It’s too underwhelming in commander, generals need to have a splashier effect. I supposed this legend would be decent in limited if built properly. Ultimately I am disappointed.
|Destroy target creature.|
Murder – I don’t even have a good reason to dislike this card, yet I kind of do. The real reason is on occasion I like to say, “Murder this” or “Murder you”. Now that has a card related meaning, which I’m not too happy about. When compared to the black spot removal spell from the core set of when I started (7th edition), it’s a real improvement over Dark Banishing. The downsides are it’s double black mana and the creature can be regenerated. It’s a fine card, I’d just prefer if it had a different name.
|Legendary Creature – Demon|
Whenever Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis attacks alone, defending player sacrifices a creature.
Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis – It’s not even Grixis colored! Although, what it is, is a black creature with Exalted. Something we didn’t have during Shards block! It’s going to be a real limited bomb with some standard playability in a big Mono-Black type deck. New players have never been fans of Abyss type effects, but I have a feeling that Nefarox will be more widely accepted being a big, ridiculous, creature. Nefarox is a possible replacement for a black finisher for when the days of Grave Titan are over (in Standard), just something to keep in mind!
|Search your library for X basic land cards, where X is the number of lands you control, and put them onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.|
“Epic Ramp Spell” – I don’t think it’s playable outside of commander. But boy it’s going to be awesome there! I don’t really consider this card a “Ramp” spell the way I consider Rampant Growth a ramp spell. This spell is more of a deck thinner while increasing mana. At seven mana casting this spell isn’t really accelerating into anything other than a gigantic Genesis Wave. While Rampant growth allows a player to play a six mana spell on turn five for example. The best part about this card is it doesn’t say “basic lands you control” Meaning, it’s possible to get seven basics if there’s a lot of non-basics on play. Commander decks are known for their terrible mana bases.
|Search your library for a Plains, Island, Swamp, or Mountain card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.|
Farseek – I don’t have much to say other than “thank you” for the reprint. I kind of wanted a foil one!
|Mwonvuli Beast Tracker|
|Creature – Human Scout|
|When Mwonvuli Beast Tracker enters the battlefield, search your library for a creature card with deathtouch, hexproof, reach or trample and reveal it. Shuffle your library, then put that card on top of it.|
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker –It searches for Primeval Titan! This card is just ridiculous. I plan on finding a foil one for my Kresh deck immediately after the set is released. I just wish Flying was in there somewhere to grab Griselbrand… Maybe I’m being too greedy. After second thought, it’s not better than Fierce Empath. It’s going to be good in standard during the time period in which the core sets lap at finding Primeval Titan.
|Search your library for two Forest cards and put them onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.|
Ranger’s Path – Another Skyshroud Claim but slightly worse. I don’t think this card will see much standard or Legacy play but will be added to some commander decks.
|Planeswalker – Bolas|
|+3: Destroy target noncreature permanent.
-2: Gain control of target creature.
-9: Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker deals 7 damage to target player. That player discards seven cards, then sacrifices seven permanents.
|Illus. D. Alexander Gregory#199/249|
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker – Well I guess the menace is back. I missed the dragon ‘walker the first time through, but I guess it’s only fitting that Nicol Bolas would be the first gold card printed in a core set. This printing will certainly cause a lot of Grixis decks to arise from nowhere, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Grixis is actually my favorite color combination if you couldn’t tell from T.E.S. I could see myself possibly playing a Grixis deck if Snapcaster is banned after all. But who knows?
Notice a lack of red in this spoiler discussion? Red is one of my favorite colors to play and yet, I was extremely unimpressed by every card spoiled so far. In order to get the Bryant stamp of approval they better step their game up! Seriously, a worse Arc Trail (Flames of the Firebrand) is the best thing we’ve seen so far. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some playable cards but they’re all average Searing Spear is a worse Incinerate and Smelt is a better Shatter. I’m just unimpressed in general with the color so far.
In general, from what we’ve seen so far, this core set looks about the same as the rest. There’s nothing I’m too excited for yet besides Jace’s Phantasm, but that may change. Part of me hopes that Hierarch isn’t reprinted. If it’s anything like it is in Legacy it’s just unfair, providing better threats while making mana. This effect is good enough to help make Maverick a dominant Legacy deck what would it do to standard? Especially after the reign of Delver? There would be creature decks everywhere. Especially after Gutshot rotates out. That and I already have a set of foil ones… I’m greedy, alright? I know my review is a bit critical but I expect some better things from the R&D department.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource