It's every Magic: the Gathering player's favorite time: spoiler season! This month, the Dragon's Maze expansion is being released as the third and final chunk of the Return to Ravnica block. As an ongoing part of the new-set release process, Wizards of the Coast gives us daily spoilers for any number of the cards from the set. This activity fuels hype, and helps rally players around a new set and the related release (and pre-release) events. For the first time in [37G] history, I'm going to attempt to give some basic summary of the cards in the new set, and give my honest opinions. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite cards spoiled thus far (I won't be going over ALL of them until later, likely in a full set video review): Obzedat's Aid
Immediately, I could tell this card was targeted at reanimator decks. With Unburial Rites rotating out of standard this fall, these decks needed another tool for bringing creatures back from the graveyard. This card in particular, however, may have some additional benefit: resurrecting cards like Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker or Omniscience. Given the appeal of combo decks like Fog Door or Omnidoor Thragfire, this card will definitely see play in constructed - we'll just have to wait to see how soon, and if junk reanimator decks keep winning tournaments.
As a turn-two drop, this card isn't so great. Ultimately, its only appeal is it's interesting interaction with card draw spells like Sign in Blood. I feel this card will be far more useful in limited (being a rare, you'll likely only have one in the deck anyways), although I'm sure people will find ways to utilize it in constructed. Although, we still haven't seen amazing utilization of a card like Duskmantle Seer (and I think that card is strictly better).
Beck // Call
With the introduction of a new line of "spilt" cards, Wizards decided to include a new mechanic: Fuse. This allows you to essentially cast both sides of the spell at the same time, assuming you have the combined mana to do so. Given that the "Beck" side of this card is *very* similar to the banned (in Modern) Glimpse of Nature, you can bet that rogue deck builders everywhere were happy when this was spoiled. Similar to how this video explains, players are crafting powerful interactions that will continue to surprise and amaze me.
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
In a constructed format without Hellrider, I feel like this card would be amazing. As it stands, it's still a pretty awesome card, and this may be one of the champions from Dragon's Maze that actually sees quite a bit of play. The only thing I'm a bit uncertain of is how relevant its "Each other creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it has haste." ability will be in constructed, but we shall see (the only two creatures in black/red that commonly have counters are Rakdos Cackler and Geralf's Messenger - and since Messenger comes into play tapped, haste would hardly be relevant). Maybe post-rotation this fall, she will even more powerful than a 4/4 first strike haste for 4.
Lavinia of the Tenth
While I don't see this getting played in constructed at all, I definitely like how much of a win-condition this could be in limited. Locking down most (if not all) of your opponent's board for a turn isn't irrelevant, and can set you up for a lethal alpha strike. If nothing else, it definitely helps you catch up. Her "Protection from red" clause also helps avoid that pesky red removal.
Planeswalkers are fun - especially when they're affordable AND powerful. Ral Zarek fits both criteria, and I think will see some standard play as a result (blue/white/red already being a powerful archetype). Most players seem a bit confused as to how his +1 ability will be used at the moment, but I don't think Wizards could afford to give him the same +1 as Tamiyo, the Moon Sage - he would then be far too powerful, it seems. Either way, his -2 to Lightning Bolt a target definitely counts as protecting himself, and he can even do it twice (assuming he takes no damage) without having to use his plus ability first. Finally, his ultimate ability, while random, will typically allow you to take 2 or 3 extra turns. EVERYONE loves extra turns. I've read that if you have 4 Ral Zareks in play (thanks to Mirror Gallery) along with 4 Krark's Thumbs, you can take up to 80 extra turns. How's that for annoying to play against?
The popularity of control decks will go on until the end of time, methinks, and cards like Render Silent help make this possible. Paired with Counterflux, this card can help shut down opponents in the control mirror, and completely stop aggro decks from comboing off in the early turns (*cough* Naya Blitz *cough*). This will definitely see some, if not a lot, of constructed play.
Sire of Insanity
Professional Magic: the Gathering player Luis Scott-Vargas spoiled this card on Channel Fireball, and it IS insane. Generally, creature-based decks want to be casting spells on their own turns, and this card seems to be aimed at shutting down control and combo decks. If undealt with, this card will drive your opponents insane. While I'm not sure how much, I expect this to see *some* constructed play.
Yet another card with an interesting enter-the-battlefield effect. Given that this is basically a 10/10 for 7 mana, just split across 4 bodies, there is definitely some potential here. This card seems like a great way to regain tempo if you're behind on creature count, and its synergy with cards like Restoration Angel and Unburial Rites is pretty appetizing. While I'm not 100% sure if this will see constructed play, I'll be more than happy to put one of these in my limited decks.
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
With cards like this, I feel green/black aggro could make a big resurgence. With the option of feeding off reanimator cards like Grisly Salvage, Varolz has the potential to get real big, real quick. I expect him to see quite a bit of play in both constructed and limited. Also, pairs really well with Lotleth Troll. Maybe junk aggro will be a thing?
Again, thanks for having a read at some of my spoiler picks (for most interesting cards thus far) - keep on the lookout as I update with new cards daily, and I'm going to be attempting my first full video set review once all of Dragon's Maze has been spoiled. Stay tuned!
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