MTG Arena Strixhaven Spoilers Discussion
Strixhaven: School of Mages spoilers have begun for MTG Arena! With today’s live stream from Wizards of the Coast, we officially have the beginnings of the spoiler season for my favorite card game. There are some very interesting aesthetics and mechanics coming as well. We have this Magical School setting, but instead of just a school in the United Kingdom, it’s a plane of existence devoted to the study of all things magical. There are five Colleges of Strixhaven, each is a pair of MTG Arena colors. We also have confirmation that several of the classic planeswalkers will be here as teachers (with different names, despite being read as “Legendary Planeswalker – Liliana” for example). This is coming in the same week as Magic Legends drop, so it’s a rich, full Magic week. I’ve also written about Magic Legends.
We’re going to get some classic card reprints too, called the Mystical Archive. Hovering between Kaladesh’s Masterpieces and Time Spiral’s Timeshifted cards, there will be 63 instants/sorceries from the depths of MTG, with brand-new artwork and gorgeous frames. These cards will only be legal in sets where they’re already legal. These should also appear in digital booster packs. For Drafting, these cards are all legal. Make sure to scoop Demonic Tutor.
I wouldn’t consider these to be “Hogwarts Houses” per se. They feel more like traditional schools of learning, each of the Colleges focusing on a style of education rather than a few shallow personality traits So before I go into the actual cards, here are the schools:
- Lorehold (White/Red): Lorehold is the college of diligent researchers and daring adventurers. The comparison has been made before, but I love it anyway: If Indiana Jones actually cared about the relics he seeks out.
- Prismari (Blue/Red): The college of creativity and artistic expression, and predictably, pyrotechnics. Steve Sunu of WOTC best described them as “Theater kids with an emphasis on visual arts.”
- Quandrix (Blue/Green): This is the college that my roommate/friend would go to. This is the college of “Ingenious math magicians who can recite every number of Pi backward.” If there’s not going to be a “Mathmagician” card, I might be cross.
- Silverquill (White/Black): On to my personal favorite Colleges. Silverquill is the college of words, the place I’d find myself in. From “inspiring battle poetry to biting arcane insults,” they’re clever, charismatic, and can lead others into doing whatever the wizard wants.
- Witherbloom (Green/Black): These are goth bio majors, basically. Eco terrorists, herbalists, and they have the apt motto of “Get your hands dirty.” This is probably where Poison Ivy from Batman might find herself.
The importance of this, lore-wise, is that the schools don’t feel identical to the Ravnica guilds that share these color pairings. They’ve sold me a ticket, and I’d love to delve more into this school. As far as spoilers go, we’ll be keeping up just as hard as we possibly can. We already have some today, as things kick-off. Since there is a Spell for each grouping, I’ll cover those separately.
Strixhaven College Command Card (Rare)
Each of these spells has you choose two effects.
The Colleges of Strixhaven
Lorehold Command is an awesome card, even at this cost. In my estimation, this could be a big game-winning bomb for your aggressive Red/White decks. Why is that?
- Create a 3/2 Red and White Spirit creature token.
- Creatures you control get +1/+0 and gain Indestructible/Haste until the end of turn.
- Lorehold Command deals 3 damage to any target. Target player gains 3 life.
- Sacrifice a permanent, then draw two cards.
All we need now is an AOE First Strike spell, and we can just mow people down easily. I’m a fan of the options this card has, but for my money, it’s going to be Indestructible/Haste, and probably the card draw (or 3 damage, if I need it to seal the deal).
Oh, utility, the hallmarks of Blue/Red. Destruction, card draw, discard, damage, creation, this spell pretty much does it all!
- Deal 2 damage to any target.
- Target player draws two cards, then discards two cards.
- Target player creates a Treasure token.
- Destroy target artifact.
I think my favorite thing to do with this so far is making a player with no cards draw two, then immediately discard those cards as well. We can give ourselves mana, pick off a weak creature and so much more.
If you expected this to not have a counterspell option on it, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s got so much possible power, especially at 3 mana. This might be the strongest to me.
- Return target creature or planeswalker to its owner’s hand.
- Counter target artifact or enchantment spell.
- Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature.
- Target player shuffles up to three card cards from their graveyard into their library.
Three cards back into your deck? Cards of any type?! Lands? Spells? Artifacts? Oh yes. I can counter something, and return your other counters back to your deck? On a 3-mana instant? Oh yes.
Silverquill and Witherbloom are both Sorceries, instead of Instants. Probably because these offer effects that are far too powerful to be able to drop anytime you want. What can we do as a part of Silverquill?
- Target creature gets +3/+3 and gains flying until end of turn.
- Return target creature card with mana value 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
- Target player draws a card and loses 1 life.
- Target opponent sacrifices a creature.
You’ll notice something different here, “Mana Value.” That’s “Converted Mana Cost,” but in a new name. Bringing back creatures, making sacrifices happen, there’s a lot to love about this card. You can also use this to make sure a creature is strong enough to win, and bring a creature back (hopefully with a enters the battlefield effect).
The Deans of Strixhaven
The Deans were revealed yesterday and they are keeping up the recent mechanic of being Modal Dual-Faced Cards. So we have a set of legendary creatures, each one is rare, and they match the colors of the house they’re aligned with. The Silverquill Dean has a Black Legendary on one side, and a White Legendary on the other. You have to pick which one you put into play, but they give you some pretty interesting options for a whole host of decks.
Plargg, Dean of Chaos / Augusta, Dean of Order (Red/White Legendary Creature – Orc Shaman/Human Cleric): A Discard engine/draw engine for Red! We can use this in quite a few decks. A 2/2 for 2, you can tap it to Discard a card. If you do, draw a card. But you can also pay 5 mana (1 red), to reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a nonlegendary, nonland card that costs 3 or less. Then you can cast that without paying its mana cost. The other cards go on the bottom of your deck. I like the possibilities of this for low-cost, high-efficiency spells.
Then we have the other side, we have Augusta, Dean of Order. A ⅓ for 3 (1 white), Other tapped creatures you control get +1/+0, and other untapped creatures you control get +0/+1. Whenever you attack, you untap each creature you control, then tap any number of creatures you control. So if you have creatures that have special abilities, pop them, declare attack and untap everyone. Pick the ones you want the +1/+0, and get into combat. You can also use this on creatures that normally can’t untap, and get around it.
Uvilda, Dean of Perfection / Nassari, Dean of Expression (Blue/Red Legendary Creature – Djinn Wizard / Efreet Shaman): A Blue Djinn and Red Efreet walk into a bar. . . then they give everyone an “F”. I really like this duo of Deans for Prismari. Uvilda is a 2/2 for 3 and allows you to exile an instant or sorcery from your hand by tapping it. That spell gets three “Hone” counters. What that does is, at the beginning of your upkeep, if this card is exiled, remove a Hone counter. When the last is removed, cast this spell. It costs 4 colorless less. Wow. A great way to play infinite turn cards if you set things up right. Not in Standard, but could be fun in Historic?
Nassari, Dean of Expression is the Red half of the card and is a 4/4 for 5. Each of your upkeeps, you exile the top card of each opponent’s library. Until the end of your turn, you can cast those exiled cards, and spend any mana to do so. Whenever you cast a spell from exile, Nassari gains a +1/+1 counter. Now that’s an obnoxious, fun card to put to use.
Kianne, Dean of Substance / Imbraham, Dean of Theory (Green/Blue Legendary Creature – Elf Druid/Bird Wizard): Both of these work with the concept of exiling top cards from your library. Kianne taps to Exile the top card of your library. If it’s a land, it goes to your hand. Otherwise, you put a study counter on it. This 2/2 can also tap 5 mana (1 green) to create a 0/0 green/blue Fractal creature token. It gains a +1/+1 counter for each different mana value among nonland cards you own in exile with Study Counters. This leads me to why Imbraham is so good.
Imbraham, Dean of Theory is a 3/3 Flyer for 4, and can pay 2 blue+X and tap it, to exile the top X cards of your library. Each gets a Study Counter. You can pick one of those cards with a Study Counter on it and put it into your hand. Getting both of these into play means you can make some potentially really big elementals.
Shaile, Dean of Radiance / Embrose, Dean of Shadow (White/Black Legendary Creature – Bird Cleric/Human Warlock): Like the other cards, they work very well together. If you can get both of these in play, people could wind up very frustrated. Shaile is a 1/1 for 2, with Flying and Vigilance. They can be tapped to put a +1/+1 counter on each creature that entered the battlefield for you this turn. For the older spells that let you flood creatures into play? Wild.
Embrose, Dean of Shadow is an interesting Dean as well. A 4/4 for 4, You can tap it to put a +1/+1 counter on another creature, then also Embrose, Dean of Shadow deals 2 damage to it. Whenever a creature you control with a +1/+1 counter dies, draw a card. I get that damaging your own creatures is definitely a Black spell thing to do, but I’m not so sure I like this.
Valentin, Dean of the Vein / Lisette, Dean of the Root (Black/Green Legendary Creature – Vampire Warlock / Human Druid): A 1-cost Vampire Warlock with Menace and Lifelink? Oh yeah. If a nontoken creature an opponent controls would die, exile it instead. If you do, you can pay 2 colorless mana. If you do this, you create a 1/1 black and green Pest creature token with “When this creature dies, you gain 1 life”. A really easy way to generate Pest tokens and life gain. Love to see it, especially for 1 black mana.
Then you can choose to flip it when casting, to summon Lisette, Dean of the Root instead. She’s a 4/4 for 4, and whenever you gain life, you can pay 1 colorless. If you do, each creature you control gains +1/+1 (counter), and they also gain Trample until the end of turn. If you can get both of these in play, we can without a doubt make some really big forces to attack with. Very excited to see the combos that you’ll be able to do with Lisette and her better half.
We have a new type of Sorcery/Instant (potentially Instant), in the form of Lessons. These will be shown as “Sorcery – Lesson,” and vary from Colorless to Colored. These are interesting because they essentially break the color pie. These are colorless spells with a variety of effects, and so far are all common. That could change. It allows players to pick up effects they normally might not. You will likely be putting these in your sideboards.
This is because of the Learn keyword. Spells with Learn let you reveal a Lesson card you own from outside the game and put it into your hand, or discard a card to draw a card. Either one.
Introduction to Annihilation (5-Cost Colorless Sorcery – Common): Exile target nonland permanent. Its controller draws a card. Love it.
Introduction to Prophecy (3-Cost Colorless Sorcery – Common): Scry 2, then draw a card. I’m so glad these are colorless, and it lets pretty much all decks have a shot at more card draw.
Expanded Anatomy (3-Cost Colorless Sorcery – Common): Another fun Lesson, you put two +1/+1 counters on a creature. It also gains vigilance until the end of turn.
Confront the Past (1+X Black Sorcery – Rare): Choose one: Return planeswalker with Mana Value X or less from the grave to the battlefield, or REmove twice X loyalty counters from target planeswalker an opponent controls.
Pest Summoning (3-Cost Black or Green Sorcery – Common): Create two 1/1 black and green Pest creature tokens with “When this creature dies, you gain 1 life.”
New Lands – Snarls
I’m not 100% certain if this style of dual land has been done before. I’d need to research. But we have a set of dual-colored lands, just listed in the typing as “Land.” Each of these “Snarls” taps for one of two colors, your pick. But they come in tapped unless you reveal one of the lands it’s typed around.
- Vineglimmer Snarl: Blue/Green
- Necroblossom Snarl: Black/Green
- Shineshadow Snarl: White/Black
- Furycalm Snarl: Red/White
- Frostboil Snarl: Blue/Red
Mystical Archives Cards
Instead of talking about each and every one of these cards, we’ll provide you a list you can look at. The ones that are in Standard can still be used there, and the same for Historic. I believe 7 of these cards will not be available to play in Arena, probably the older, more powerful cards (like Demonic Tutor, Swords to Plowshares).
Thrill of Possibility
Inquisition of Kozilek
Weather the Storm
Day of Judgment
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Sign in Blood
Professor Onyx (6-Cost Legendary Planeswalker – Liliana): Of course Liliana is here teaching! She doesn’t seem to have aged a day either. Love me some Liliana. She also shows off a new mechanic: Magecraft. Professor Onyx has a passive, Magecraft. Whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery spell, each opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life. I really like this ability. But what about her Loyalty? She comes with a Loyalty of 5, and has the following powers:
- +1: You lose 1 life. Look at the top three cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.
- -3: Each opponent sacrifices a creature with the greatest power among creatures that player controls.
- -8: Each opponent may discard a card. If they don’t, they lose 3 life. Repeat this process six more times.
SIX MORE TIMES?! Mono-Black Discard? Are you back? Professor Onyx, have you come to answer my prayers? Lord, I hope so. I adore this card, high-mana cost or not.
Sinister Dominance (4-Cost Spell – Instant): Here we have another trope for Strixhaven. You have a 4-cost spell, with an alternate, lower-cost. If you pay the lower-cost, your opponent may gain a benefit. It’s up to you, which is more valuable. If you cast this for 2 mana (1 black), your opponent may draw a card. However, when you cast it, you exile a target creature or planeswalker. If you have a discard spell on the ready, you can use it to get rid of that new card, so it ultimately winds up as a good thing for you – potentially.
Dramatic Finale (4-Cost Black or White Spell – Enchantment): Oh, this is a fun one. Especially with how many spells create creature tokens in Black/White – Umbral Juke, Inkling Summoning, et cetera. This gives creature tokens +1/+1. In addition, whenever one or more nontoken creatures you control die, create a 2/1 white and blink Inkling creature token with flying. This only triggers once a turn. So we would get a 3/2 with flying! Plenty of ways to take advantage of this, so I’m hoping to see White/Black aggro this expansion.
Pestilent Cauldron / Restorative Burst (3-Cost Black Artifact / 5-Cost Green Sorcery): Pestilent Cauldron is both a token generator and a possible win condition. You can tap it and discard a card to make a 1/1 black/green Pest creature token that gives you 1 life when it dies. Or you can tap 1, tap it, and make each opponent mill X cards, where X is the amount of life you gained this turn. Or you can tap 4 colorless, tap it, and exile four target cards from a graveyard to draw a card. So you can use it to hate your opponent’s grave, or you can run it in a Lifegain deck. That way you can make Black/White Angels, gain lots of life, and turn it into a mill deck.
The other half of this card is Restorative Burst for 5 mana. It returns up to two target creature, land, or planeswalker cards from your grave, and puts them back into your hand. Each player also gains 4 life, and you exile the spell. Suddenly, all those cards that give both players life feel very good, with Pestilent Cauldron.
Oriq Warlock (4-Cost Creature – Human Warlock): Do you need the perfect card for your revival/graveyard retrieval deck? Here’s Oriq Warlock! You can tap it to search your library for a card, and put it in your graveyard. If it’s an Instant or Sorcery, give Oriq Warlock a +1/+1 counter. You don’t have to pull those, but it does definitely aid your Warlock.
Sedgemoor Witch (3-Cost Creature – Human Warlock): A 3/2 with Menace, it also has Ward – Pay 3 Life. Whenever your opponent targets this creature with a spell or ability, counter it unless they also pay 3 life. The reason for this is clear to me. She also has Magecraft. Whenever you cast or copy an instant or spell, you create yet another one of those 1/1 Black/Green Pest creature tokens! Yet another way to keep your board full, and your life total high.
Poet’s Quill (2-Cost Artifact – Equipment): An artifact weapon that triggers Learn when it comes into play is pretty nice. It’s not a hugely powerful piece of equipment, but Lifelink is always sound. This gives the equipped creature +1/+1 and has Lifelink, and only takes two mana to equip.
Callous Bloodmage (3-Cost Creature – Vampire Warlock): Nothing like a creature with options. A 2/1 for 3, it lets you pick one of three abilities when it enters the battlefield. First, create a 1/1 Black/Green Pest creature token with “When this creature dies, you gain 1 life.”, the next is “You draw a card and you lose 1 life”. Finally, “Exile target player’s graveyard”. I adore the possibilities with this.
Go Blank (3-Cost Spell – Sorcery): I’m a sucker for discard, but this could be self-targeted too. I’m not sure how it would be useful to exile your whole grave though. For 3 mana, target player discards two cards, then exiles that whole player’s graveyard. This card will batter Lorehold sorcery/instant/creature retrieval, and is essentially Mind Rot, but better. I love Go Blank, and will definitely be using it in my discard decks going forward.
Tenured Inkcaster (5-Cost Creature – Vampire Warlock): Want to make your opponents lose life simply by attacking? When Tenured Inkcaster comes into play, put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature. Now, whenever a creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it attacks, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life. Each creature will make this trigger, so we need to make sure all creatures get buffed. We could very easily turn this into a One-Turn Kill with the right set up. Shame it’s a 5-mana drop. I love the concept of it, and want to see it get used.
Pop Quiz (3-Cost Spell – Instant): Pop Quiz, hotshot! Three mana sounds a little ridiculous to draw just one card. However, it also has Learn, so you can pull a Lesson from out of the game, and put it into your hand. I think with that in mind, the cost is more than reasonable.
Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios / Journey to the Oracle (8-Cost Blue Legendary Creature – Human Wizard / 4-Cost Green Spell – Sorcery): This is potentially incredible. You’ll want to pay the 4-cost spell first, provided you have a lot of lands in hand. You can put any number of lands from your hand into play. Then, if you have eight or more lands in play, you can choose to discard a card. If you do, return this spell back to its owner’s hand. Then, you want to play the 8-cost Legendary. Why what’s so great about them? Well for one, they have Buyback, technically.
You can Discard a card to return Jadzi to back its owner’s hand. They are a 5/5 with Magecraft. Whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery spell, reveal the top card of your deck. If it’s nonland, you can opt to cast it for 1 colorless, rather than the initial mana cost. If it’s land, just put it into play. Neither of these requires the land to come into play tapped. I’d 100% want to run this in Sultai Ultimatum to get the lands I need to pop off much faster. Even with these costs, I’m a very big fan of this card and what it can do.
Torrent Sculptor / Flamethrower Sonata (Blue Creature – Merfolk Wizard / Red Sorcery): A Modal Dual-Faced card, the first half is a Torrent Sculptor, a Merfolk Wizard. For 4 mana (2 blue), it’s a 2/2 with Ward 2. Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays 2 colorless. That’s how Ward works. When this card enters the battlefield, exile an instant or sorcery from your graveyard. Torrent Sculptor gains as many +1/+1 counters based on that card’s mana value rounded up. What a potentially powerful card! Oh yes.
Playing Flamethrow Sonata first could be pretty mean. Discard a card, then draw a card. When you discard an instant or sorcery this way, Flamethrow Sonata deals damage equal to that card’s mana value to target creature or planeswalker you don’t control. ZAP. This can put a huge card in the grave, to buff the Sculptor!
Archmage Emeritus (4-Cost Creature – Human Wizard): This creature is a 2/2 for 4 with Magecraft. Whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery spell, draw a card. That is a lot of potential card draw in blue, and I’m here for it.
Expressive Artist (4-Cost Blue or Red Creature – Orc Wizard): This creature has Magecraft, for whenever you cast or copy an Instant or Sorcery. When you do, target a creature you control. Until the end of turn, it has “If this creature would leave the battlefield, exile it instead.” It also has “Whenever you exile this creature, create a red/blue 4/4 Elemental creature token”. If we can just give them Haste, this would be very powerful, potentially.
Teachings of the Archaics (3-Cost Spell – Sorcery – Lesson): I’ve read a lot of comments about people crying about this card being garbage. That it’s a “bad card draw spell”. They’re missing something very important. This is a Lesson. It doesn’t go in the main board! This is a card you slot into the sideboard, just in case! Then, if things get bad, you can use a Learn card to pull it, then cast it. Otherwise, it sits in a sideboard. That’s what’s so great about it! It doesn’t take up a slot in the mainboard. For BO1 players like me? This is an amazing card. I love having utility, and this is it.
Multiple Choice (1+X Spell – Sorcery): This is an A+ card, that’s for sure. If it were an Instant, it would be banned, but it’s not! This card costs 1 blue +X. Depending on how much you pay, you receive a variety of benefits. If X is 1, you Scry 1, then draw a card. If X is 2, choose a player. They return a creature they control to their hand. If X is 3, create a 4/4 blue and red Elemental creature token. If X is 4 or more, do all of the above. You can use this to bounce a creature of yours back for another Enters-the Battlefield trigger, or simply to punish someone. This will see play. The reason it’s 4 or more though, is we have spells that benefit you for casting higher mana values, so it will still trigger some of those effects.
Dream Strix (3-Cost Creature – Bird Illusion): Oh, Bird Illusions. These are always fun. It’s a 3/2 for 3, and whenever it becomes the target of a spell, sacrifice it. When it dies, Learn. It’s a useful Learn trigger, but 3 mana feels steep.
Ingenious Mastery (3+X-Cost Spell – Sorcery): I’m not so sure I like this card. To get a better, more useful effect, you have to also give something to your opponent. This feels like a Commander card, which is fine. But for competitive play? It’s not so great, I think. You can pay 3 mana instead of paying 3 mana+X for this Sorcery. If you pay the 3 mana, you draw 3 cards, but then an opponent creates two Treasure Tokens, and Scry 2. Otherwise, you draw X cards. So to get the same benefit, you have to spend 6 mana. That is not worth it, I don’t think. I don’t want my opponent to get any kind of benefit from my spells.
Divide by Zero (3-Cost Spell – Instant): Okay, this is far and away the best Learn spell I’ve seen so far. Divide by Zero is a 3-cost Instant, sure. It returns a target spell or permanent with mana value 1 or greater to its owner’s hand, and then you Learn. Your opponent counters your spell, and in response, you cast Divide by Zero. You get the spell back, and you get another spell from your sideboard, thanks to Learn. So much value. If you have a counter-style/removal spell in your sideboard lessons, you could really make someone regret it.
Tempted by the Oriq (4-Cost Spell – Sorcery): This isn’t too bad, to be honest. For 4 mana, even at Sorcery speed, you can gain control of a creature or planeswalker an opponent controls, with a Mana Value or less. This triggers for each opponent. So, for MTG Arena, only once. But in tabletop Commander? It could be incredibly satisfying to cast. It’s a pretty great way to steal a creature, and even if it’s restrictive (3 or less creature/planeswalker), 4 mana isn’t too bad for that.
Mentor’s Guidance (3-Cost Spell – Sorcery): Now, if only this was an Instant. You can copy this spell if you control a planeswalker, Cleric, Druid, Shaman, Warlock, or Wizard. Easy enough, you Scry 1, then draw a card. If you control at least one of those, you Scry 1 and Draw 1 twice! That’s not so bad for 3 mana, I think. Sure it’s a Sorcery, but we always need a Card draw.
Environmental Sciences (2-Cost Colorless Spell – Sorcery): A two-cost sorcery that lets you fetch a land? At least it’s a basic land. The fact that it’s two colorless mana, and we don’t even have to put it in our mainboard, that just makes it better. So you cast another spell, fetch this from your deck, and then cast it if you have the mana (or do it next turn, that works as well). I’d love to see a version that lets you fetch any land, but that’s probably too strong. You can also use this for the new lands that require you to reveal a basic land. Cast this, find the right basic land, and safely play that new shiny Dual Land, putting it into play untapped. It’s just a thought though. I might be overthinking the uses of it. I would have put this with the other lessons, but it’s just too good.
Campus Guide (2-Cost Artifact Creature – Golem): Ehhhh. Sure, it gets you a basic land, but it goes on top of your deck. If you have a free/low-cost draw ability, then it’s amazing. But other than that? You just have to wait to get that basic land and put it into play. I guess if you already have the cards you need, and have already played a land for turn it’s not so bad? I feel like I’m overlooking something though.
Lorehold Campus (Common Land): Simple enough, it comes into play tapped and can tap for Red or White mana. However, you can tap 4 mana and this to Scry 1. So it’s at least an interesting common land.
Mascot Exhibition (7-Cost Spell – Sorcery – Lesson): Mascot Exhibition’s not a wildly powerful Lesson, but it could be a lot of fun in the right deck. It creates a 2/1 white/black Inkling creature token with flying, a 3/2 red/white Spirit creature token, and a 4/4 blue/red Elemental creature token. At first, I was kind of wondering why this is a Mythic Rare at all. But you do get 9 damage worth of tokens. If you’ve already set up a board state where these will swing free, it’s great. It’s a Lesson, so it won’t take up space in your main board, either. It’s a potential “just in case” bomb.
Codie, Vociferous Codex (3-Cost Legendary Artifact Creature – Construct): It’s got a name, okay, sure. It’s an animated book, so I guess that makes sense. But Codie?! I’m sort of torn about how I feel about this card. Sure, it’s probably great in Storm decks or Spell-filled decks. The drawback to this ¼ legendary is you can’t cast permanent spells. You can probably put them into play from your hand/graveyard, but you can’t cast them. It has a very useful power though. You can tap 4 colorless, and this to add 1 mana of each color. When you cast your next spell this turn, exile cards from your library until you get an instant or sorcery with a lesser mana cost. You can cast that without paying its mana cost until the end of turn. The other cards exiled go back onto the bottom of your deck. Now, you could always flicker this out, use the mana to cast permanents, and put him back into play. I like the idea of this, but it feels like it will go great in Commander in physical MTG. It’s a neat card, but not for me – not yet.
Wandering Archaic / Explore the Vastlands (5-Cost Creature – Avatar / 3-Cost Spell – Sorcery): The Wandering Archaic, from an aesthetic standpoint, reminds me of the Eldrazi and is also colorless as they are. However, this is an “Avatar”. A 4/4 for 5, whenever an opponent casts an Instant or Sorcery, they can choose to pay 2 colorless. If they don’t, you can copy that spell, and choose new targets. Easily one of my favorite cards so far, and it belongs in a variety of control decks. We can use this to counter people’s counters! Love it.
Then there’s the other side, Explore the Vastlands. It costs 3 mana and has each player look at the top five cards of their deck. You can reveal a land and/or instant/sorcery from among them, and put the cards revealed into that player’s hand. Each player gains 3 life. Both players have the potential to be rewarded here, so I’m torn. I like the concept, but I don’t want my opponent to get cards and life! I’ll likely just be using the Wandering Archaic form more.
Hall of Oracles (Land): Normally, this taps for 1 colorless. But if you tap another mana with it, it taps for 1 color of your choice. However, you can also tap this to give a +1/+1 counter to a creature. Activate this only as a Sorcery, and only if you’ve cast an instant or sorcery spell this turn. I want to see this in decks as a way to make combat far scarier.
Strixhaven Stadium (3-Cost Artifact): One of my favorite things is “Wacky Win Conditions”, and Strixhaven is just that. It’s built around dealing combat damage to our opponent – and not taking damage back. That’s the trick. We can tap this to put a Point Counter on Strixhaven Stadium. When an opponent deals combat damage to us, remove a Point Counter. When we deal combat damage to an opponent, put a Point Counter on. Then, if it has 10 or more Point Counters on it, remove them all, and that player loses the game. We can use this in a control deck and slowly put 10 counters on. Then we sneak one bit of damage through and win the game! EZPZ. I. Love. This. I will probably run it, for a laugh if nothing else. This counts every instance of combat damage separately, too. If we swarm someone down with a few cheap tokens, we could steal a win very quickly with this. It’s very powerful.
The Bibliplex (Land): This is a better version, in my opinion, of the classic card Library of Alexandria. It taps for one mana, and we can also tap 2 colorless, and look at the top card of our library. If it’s an instant or sorcery, we can reveal it and add it to our hand. If we don’t, we can also put this card in our graveyard. You can only activate this ability if you have zero or seven cards in hand, no more or less. That’s why it’s better I think. You can burn your hand down, and still get another spell. It’s going to be very useful in spell-only decks, that’s for sure.
Access Tunnel (Land): Remember all that talk about Strixhaven Stadium? This is your game-winning card. It taps for colorless mana, and you can tap 3, and tap this. If you do, a target creature with power 3 or less can’t be blocked this turn. Immediate victory.
Field Trip (3-Cost Spell – Sorcery): 3 mana for one land? Well, it comes into play so that probably explains that. We’ve had far too many powerful ramp cards anyway. Time for something that’s a little bit toned down. In addition to the Field Trip land, we can also Learn, so we fetch a Lesson from outside the game and put it into our hand, or discard a card to draw a card. You could use this, fetch Environmental Sciences, cast it, and get another land card. These cards could make the Zendikar Landfall spells/abilities entirely too annoying. It’s a solid mana ramp card at least.
Ecological Appreciation (3+X-Cost Spell – Sorcery): You can potentially batter someone with this pretty easily. It’s 3+X. We search our library and graveyard for up to four creature cards with different names, and each has a mana value of X or less. Our opponent picks two and they get shuffled into our deck. The rest go into play, and we exile this spell. This would be worth duplicating. I also like this because we can take creatures from the graveyard, and get another chance at casting them. Now, this is very expensive if you want value. With enough mana, you could get some very powerful game-winning creatures though.
Blex, Vexing Pest / Search for Blex (3-Cost Green Legendary Creature – Pest / 4-Cost Black Sorcery): Black/Green Pest decks are going to be a lot of fun I think. Other Pests, Bats, Insects, Snakes, and Spiders you control get +1/+1! A Pestlord! When Blex, Vexing Pest dies, you also gain 4 life. It should be utilized for this alone, but Search for Blex can really do a lot for getting powerful cards in your hand – at a cost. Search for Blex lets you look at the top five cards of your library. You can put any number of them into your hand, and the rest in your graveyard. For each that you pick to go into your hand, you lose 3 life. With all the lifegain you gain from pests, you can really draw some major power into your hand, and only for the low-low cost of four mana. I think it’s going to see a fair amount of play.
Dragonsguard Elite (2-Cost Creature – Human Druid): A Magecraft creature, this 2/2 can become very powerful with a few turns. Whenever you cast or copy an instant/sorcery spell, this creature gains a +1/+1 counter. Then, for 6 mana (2 green), you can double the counters on him. If you paired this creature with Vorinclex, and find a way to give him trample, this could be a way to just win the game easily. Mono-Green Stompy has a fun new tool.
Verdant Mastery (6-Cost Spell – Sorcery): You can pay 4 mana (1 green) rather than pay the normal cost of this spell. Why? Well, when you cast this, you search your library for up to four basic lands and reveal them. One goes into play tapped under an opponent’s control if you paid the 4 mana cost. Two of these go into play under your control and the rest into your hand. This makes me wish we still had more creatures that have Landwalk (Forestwalk, Islandwalk, et cetera). That way, I can give an opponent a land to let me be unblockable. That said, I like the idea of this card, and it’s still probably going to be worth it to cast this for 4 instead of 6.
Augmenter Pugilist // Echoing Equation (3-Cost Creature – Troll Druid / 5-Cost Blue Spell – Sorcery): Here’s a fun long-game style creature for Green. Quite a few cards in this expansion reward you for having 8+ lands, and this one’s no exception. If you have eight or more lands, this 3/3 Trample gains +5/+5. So now he suddenly swings way harder. There’s another half to this card though.
Echoing Formation is a 5-cost blue spell, and you choose a creature you control. Each other creature you control becomes a copy of it until the end of turn, except those creatures aren’t legendary if the chosen creature is legendary. You can use it as a game-winning bomb, or some kind of terrifying combo set-up. You could use this on the other side of the card if you have two copies. Then swing for like… 50-60 damage or something.
Basic Conjuration (3-Cost Spell – Sorcery – Lesson): Amazing because we don’t have to put it in our deck at all. Basic Conjuring, for 3 mana, lets you look at the top six of your deck, and reveal a creature card from among them. Put it into your hand, and the others on the bottom of your deck. You also gain 3 life. A simple, effective card, it’s a solid rare for 3 mana.
Exponential Growth (2-Cost+XX Spell – Sorcery): I fear this might be too costly for Standard, but I want to find a way to make it work. Why? Because it’s a two-cost Sorcery, with XX in the cost. That means, whatever mana amount you tap for, you tap it twice. Until the end of the turn, you double target creature’s power X times. If you’re going to use this for a Fling deck, it’s going to make things hilarious. In a Mono-Green, mana-heavy deck, this could also be a great way to win if you know your opponent can’t stop the hyped-up creature from attacking.
Potion of Empowerment (1-Cost Spell – Instant): The more life you gain before this, the better it’s going to be for your game-winning creature. Potion of Empowerment grants you 2 life. Then a target creature gets +X/+X until the end of turn, where X is the amount of life you gained this turn. So, you have to trigger this last, to make sure you get the most out of it. The +2 might be fine, but what if you can do more?
Owlin Shieldmage (5-Cost Creature – Bird Warlock): I wanted to highlight this 3/3 Flyer because it has a mechanic that’s new to me – Ward. Ward – Pay 3 life, to be specific. Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays 3 life. I love this for control decks. We can use cards like this to force opponents to lose life, just to (temporarily) stop our threats.
Eureka Moment (4-Cost Blue/Green Spell – Instant): It’s Growth Spiral, but a bit fairer. For 4 mana, you draw two cards and you can put a land from your hand into play. It doesn’t come into play tapped, either. I feel like this card is going to be complained about a lot too. It’s potentially very powerful, even at 4 mana. I think the mana cost is a bit more prohibitive and balanced though, unlike Growth Spiral.
Kasmina, Enigma Sage (3-Cost Green/Blue Legendary Planeswalker – Kasmina): Lord, does Kasmina have an amazing passive! “Each other planeswalker you control has the loyalty abilities of Kasmina, Enigma Sage. White/Green/Blue Superfriends just got a scary new tool, Historic and Standard alike. This means your Planeswalkers that have no upticks now have an uptick.
+2: Scry 1.
-X: Create a 0/0 green and blue Fractal creature token. Put X +1/+1 counters on it.
-8: Search your library for an instant or sorcery card that shares a color with this planeswalker, exile that card, then shuffle. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost.
You can use these on any planeswalker you control. I adore this card so much. You can now use your planeswalkers to ultimately fish for any card you care about! Kasmina really shakes up everything for me, as far as the Strixhaven spoilers go!
Shadrix Silverquill (5-Cost Black/White Legendary Creature – Elder Dragon): A new Elder Dragon has appeared in Shadrix Silverquill! This is a card better for multi-player games, Two-Headed Giant, etc. This is a ⅖ for 5 and has Flying/Double Strike. At the beginning of combat on your turn, you can choose two of the following. You either pick two or none. Each of these must target a different player.
Target player creates a 2/1 white and black Inkling creature token with Flying.
Target player draws a card and loses 1 life.
Target player puts a +1/+1 counter on each creature they control.
Of course, you want to use that +1/+1 counter on each of the creatures they control on your cards. You don’t want to buff your foes! I’d rather give them either of the other two. This will trigger as soon as combat begins, so you still get to pick even if Shadrix is eliminated.
Hofri Ghostforge (5-Cost Red/White Legendary Creature – Dwarf Cleric): Lorehold is really showing out with some interesting cards. It reads “Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, exile it. If you do, create a token that’s a copy of the creature, except it’s a Spirit in addition to its other types and has “When this creature leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to your graveyard.” Oh, and Spirits of yours get +1/+1, trample and haste. The reason it states “If”, is that there are spells/abilities that can prevent the exile. If it doesn’t get exiled, you don’t get the spirit that comes into play. It might sound awkward, but as many have said before me, wording is everything in MTG. That said, I really like this card, even if it is a 5-cost. I wish it were cheaper, to make it really valuable in aggro, but that might be too strong.
Velomachus Lorehold (7-Cost Legendary Creature – Elder Dragon): More Elder Dragons! A 5/5 with Vigilance, Flying, and Haste, whenever it attacks, you can look at the top seven cards of your library. You can then pick an instant or sorcery from among them with Mana Value less than or equal to Velomachus’ Power without paying the mana cost. If you buff this creature, we can potentially do some absolutely foul things with it. What a great way to play Semester’s End without paying its mana cost! Expensive to cast, I like the idea behind it. I want to see more of the new sorcery/instant spells to see what we can do with this. But I like it so far.
Magma Opus (8-Cost Blue/Red Spell – Instant): An eight-cost spell?! This would cast easier with Codie at least. Or we can turn 2 discard Magma Opus, and create a Treasure Token. Then we use Efreet Flamepainter to cast this from our graveyard for zero mana. What do we get for this spell? It deals 4 damage divided as we choose among any number of targets. Tap two targeted permanents. Create a 4/4 blue and red Elemental creature token. Draw two cards. You get a lot of value! It sounds like it’s not worth it for that mana value, but there are ways to cheat this out and get some great power out of it. It’s not a game-winner, but it can really set you up for success.
Extus, Oriq Overlord / Awaken the Blood Avatar (4-Cost White/Black Legendary Creature – Human Warlock / 8-Cost Spell – Sorcery): That’s a huge pair of names for a Modal Dual-Faced card. What’s interesting is that one side is White/Black, and the other is Black/Red. The creature half is a White/Black Human Warlock with Double Strike. It has Magecraft, so whenever you cast or copy an Instant or Sorcery, return a nonlegendary creature card from your graveyard to your hand. For 4 mana, that’s not too shabby. A consistent way to get stuff back you sacrifice/lose for one reason or another.
But what about the 8-cost Black/Red Awaken the Blood Avatar? Yes, it’s expensive, but it costs 2 less for each creature you sacrifice as an additional cost to it. When you cast this, each opponent sacrifices a creature. Then you create a 3/6 Black and Red Avatar creature token. It has Haste and “Whenever this creature attacks, it deals 3 damage to each opponent”. If you have 3 creatures to sacrifice, you can play this for 2 mana! Just some food for thought.
Tanazir Quandrix (5-Cost Blue/Green Legendary Creature – Elder Dragon): I had a feeling each of these schools would be represented by an Elder Dragon. This one is a 4/4 Flying/Trample for 5. Whenever it enters play, you double the number of +1/+1 counters on a target creature you control. Then, whenever it attacks, you can have the base power and toughness of other creatures you control be equal to Tanazir Quandrix’s until the end of turn. If you’re buffing Tanazir in decks with small creatures, you can really devastate other players…potentially. A fun Elder Dragon that’s for sure. Dunno how much play it will see, but I hope it’s lots.
Galazeth Prismari (4-Cost Blue/Red Legendary Creature – Elder Dragon): Oh. God. I didn’t get this one at first until I re-read it. A ¾ Flying for 4, it creates a Treasure token when it comes into play. We already have a lot of ways to make those in Blue/Red right now. However, Artifacts you control now have Tap: Add a mana of any color. Use this mana only to cast sorcery and instant spells.” So we no longer have to sacrifice Treasure Tokens! Any artifact you have can now be tapped to play spells. I really think this is going to be potent. It is admittedly strange that the school known for theatrics and pomp has such a boring card. A powerful card, a usable card, but it lacks the flair I was expecting.
Body of Research (6-Cost Green/Blue Spell – Sorcery): I adore this card. Do I think it will be easily stopped? Of course. Is it still a really fun card, and possibly busted in Commander? You bet. You could very easily get a 40/40 creature from this. When you cast this spell, create a 0/0 Blue and Green Fractal Creature Token. Then give it X +1/+1 counters, where X is the number of cards in your deck. You won’t want to cast this until you have enough spare mana to save it though. It will immediately be a target. All it needs is Trample, and there are enough ways to give it that. So I love this as a possible win condition. OR. OR OR OR. I just had a great idea! Temur Fling! Make this creature, and sacrifice it to deal its power in damage to the enemy. Oh yes. I love this.
Blot Out the Sky (2+X Cost Spell – Sorcery): Here’s another Mythic Rare I’m kind of torn on. For 2+X, you can really pump out a lot of tokens. This creates X 2/1 white/black Inkling creature tokens with flying. However, they come into play tapped. Probably so you can’t give them haste somehow and swing lethal immediately. If X is 6 or more, you destroy all noncreature, nonland permanents. Artifacts, planeswalkers, enchantments, those all vanish into dust. That is why I like this card, as a way to possibly stop superfriends decks/heavy control. I don’t like it so much because if you need a defensive wall of tokens, this won’t work. If there’s a way to untap them all, it might be fine, but I’m not crazy about that part of it, that’s for sure.
Beledros Witherbloom (7-Cost Black/Green Legendary Creature – Elder Dragon): I was expecting the Witherbloom Elder Dragon to do exactly this (the first half anyway). At the beginning of each upkeep, you create a 1/1 Black/Green Pest creature token, and when it dies, you gain 1 life, as is standard. However, you can pay 10 life to untap all lands you control. You can do this only once a turn. Use all these Pests to be as aggressive as you please, and make sure you’re constantly swarming the board and gaining life. This might be the non-control deck for me. He’s high-cost, but it is going to be value I think.
Harness Infinity (7-Cost Black/Green Spell – Instant): I stared at this card with my jaw agape for several long moments before coming up with thoughts on it. You exile this spell after you cast it, but it exchanges your hand and graveyard! You spend the whole game stacking a graveyard, and then you swap the two! With Historic Omnipotence as a possibility, you could do some downright horrifying things with this. It’s even better if you have no cards in hand, but only cards you want in the grave. It’s a hilariously fun card, and this is what a Mythic Rare probably ought to be. All you need is an infinite hand size…This is going to be used in a lot of Magic formats. You can play this on your opponent’s turn, swap the two things around, and have a full set of mana available for your turn! Harness Infinity is power personified.
Venerable Warsinger (3-Cost White/Red Creature – Spirit Cleric): Now, this could be a fun card for decks like Feather. It also will be furious with Embercleave. A 3/3 for 3, it has Vigilance/Trample. Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, you can return a creature card with Mana Value X or less from your graveyard into play. The X is the amount of damage Venerable Warsinger dealt to the player. With Double Strike, would that count as two separate counts of damage? This card is wildly powerful in my estimation. With a few pieces of gear or buffs, we can use this to constantly bring creatures back, making Boros a deck to be feared. I’d like to see this in Historic if it’s not considered too slow. But this card? I love this card.
Culmination of Studies (2+X Cost Blue/Red Spell – Sorcery): A fascinating card, Culmination of Studies can do a lot to generate mana, damage, and card draw. It costs 2 mana + X, and the X is key. You exile X cards from the top of your library. For each blue card exiled this way, draw a card. For each red card, Culmination of Studies deals 1 damage to each opponent, and for each land, create a Treasure Token. You can likely use this to set up a game-winning combo, but it can also backfire on you. I like the idea of it though.
Silverquill Silence (2-Cost White/Black Creature – Human Cleric): Huzzah, fun control cards! This card is predicated on you knowing what your opponent wants to play the most. When Silverquill Silencer enters play, choose a nonland card name. Whenever an opponent casts a spell with that name, they lose 3 life, and we draw a card. I’m a really big fan of this. It has serious Meddling Mage vibes, another card that I adore (when I play it).
Double Major (2-Cost Blue/Green Spell – Instant): This feels like a potentially very powerful card. There are surely going to be legendaries that will be a lot of fun to duplicate (and non-legendaries). Will it be wildly overpowered? No, probably not. Will it be powerful and useful in Simic/Quandrix decks? Oh yes. We can do this on your opponent’s turn, and even better if you’re running red also. You can steal a creature, copy it, and use their version as a sacrificial lamb for any number of spells (like Fling, for example). It doesn’t require we own the creature, only control it. For 2 mana, we copy a creature spell we don’t control, except it isn’t legendary if the spell in question is legendary. There’s a lot of the “not legendary if legendary” in this set though. A lot of the Legendary rule is being broken, but I don’t think it will ultimately be OP.
Vanishing Verse (2-Cost White/Black Spell – Instant): Vanishing Verse is going to be very powerful. It exiles a target monocolored permanent. There are enough single-color permanents being used right now. It won’t kill off everything, but many of the powerful planeswalkers, for example, are mono-colored. It’s powerful, it’s low-cost, it’s going in every control deck you can think of. Is your opponent going to win because of Embercleave? Not anymore!
Rushed Rebirth (2-Cost Black/Green Spell – Instant): This card is absolutely insane. The lack of the words “You control” takes it to beyond broken levels. This is essentially a double-value to Fiend Artisan. For 2 mana, you can choose a target creature – yours or your opponent, it doesn’t matter. When that creature dies this turn, search your library for a creature card, with lesser mana value, put it onto the battlefield tapped. You can kill your opponent’s huge creature, get a nearly-as-huge creature, and laugh as your opponent is out. So you pair this with Fiend Artisan. Choose a creature to die, (better if you steal it from your foe), sacrifice it, and trigger the “search for a creature” twice! It’s absolutely beautiful. This is a gorgeous card. Granted, a creature has to die for it, but there are so many easy ways to delete a target.
Culling Ritual (4-Cost Black/Green Spell – Sorcery): Destroy each nonland permanent with Mana Value 2 or less. Add 1 black or green mana for each permanent destroyed this way. It’s an interesting possible board wipe against aggro decks, and also grants you the mana to possibly do something amazing. In a meta where there are going to potentially be a lot of tokens (0-mana), this is going to be in quite a few sideboards, at the very least. You can also use this in a Pest deck as a trigger to destroy all your Pests, gain a ton of life, and trigger your life-loss combo for your opponent (and thus, win the game hopefully). I really like it in the right situation, that’s for sure.
Rip Apart (2-Cost White/Red Spell – Sorcery): Wow. This is going in a lot of sideboards in the near future. You can bet your bottom dollar on that. Is this a Money Uncommon? I doubt it, but it’s going to see serious play. For 2 mana (1 red, 1 white), you choose one: Deals 3 damage to target creature or planeswalker or Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Oh yeah, we can do a lot with this card. At least it’s a Sorcery, otherwise, it would be too powerful. At two mana and sorcery speed, it’s probably at just the right amount of value for what it does.
Reconstruct History (4-Cost Red/White Spell – Sorcery): Okay, now I found what we want to cast with Velomachus Lorehold. Reconstruct History is a 4-cost sorcery, but it lets you take up to one of each of the following from your graveyard and put it in your hand. You exile this spell afterward though. Take up to one of each: an artifact, an enchantment, an instant, sorcery, and a planeswalker. That is a lot of value. Sure, you exile the spell, but look at the value!
Quintorius, Field HIstorian (5-Cost Legendary Creature – Elephant Cleric): Red/White Spirits is going to be meta. Whether it’ll be Tier 1 or not, that remains to be seen. Spirits you control get +1/+0. Whenever one or more cards of yours leave the graveyard, you create a 3/2 red and white Spirit creature token. Yup, I can see Lorehold Spirits being in the meta. Makes me very happy to see Go Blank, as a non-Lorehold player. Speaking of which. . .
Lorehold Excavation (2-Cost Spell – Enchantment): At the beginning of your end step with this in play, mill a card. If you mill a land, you gain 1 life. Otherwise, you deal 1 damage to each opponent. You can also pay 5, exile a creature from your graveyard to create a 3/2 Red and White Spirit creature token. Constant damage, and constant Spirit creatures? It’s interesting at the very least.
Expression of Repetition (2-Cost Blue and Red Spell – Sorcery): A lot of value in two mana, provided you have some extra mana to go around. Look at the top three cards of your library. Put one in your hand, one on the bottom of your library, and exile the other. You can play that exiled card until end of turn. Since it says “play”, you can use it to drop a land or something! I really like this card, I won’t lie.
Golden Ratio (3-Cost Spell – Sorcery): If nothing else, I love the concept of this card. You draw a card for each different power number among the creatures you control. So if you have a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 power among your creatures, you get 5 cards for 3 mana. It requires you to have some varied values to get good card draw out of it, but even 2 cards for 3 mana wouldn’t be so bad. Good thing this isn’t an Instant though.
Rootha, Mercurial Artist (3-Cost Blue/Red Legendary Creature – Orc Shaman): We’ve seen a lot of cards that have Magecraft. It rewards you for casting or copying a spell. But we haven’t seen any “copy” – until now. Rootha, Mercurial Artist can be returned to its owner’s hand for 2 colorless. If you do, copy a target instant or sorcery spell you control. You can also choose new targets. I already love this, and can see it being used in any deck that has Blue and/or Red mana.
Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy (2-Cost Blue/Green Legendary Creature – Human Wizard): A ½ character I’m in love with. She’s so great. You can tap 1 colorless and her, to put a land in your hand onto the battlefield tapped. If you can untap her (there are plenty of ways), you can get a lot of mana in play. Or you can tap 4 and draw a card (and tap her). If you control eight or more lands, draw two instead. I can 100% see Zimone getting playtime.
Decisive Rejection (2-Cost Blue/Green Spell – Instant): Decisive Rejection is a really amazing uncommon, especially at two mana. When this is cast, you pick one of two choices. The first is “Target creature you control fights target creature you don’t control” and the other is “Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays 3”. You can use this card in so many ways based on that. If we got both effects, it would be far too strong. But just picking one? Nah, this card is just fine as it is.
Quandrix Cultivator (4-Cost Creature – Turtle Druid): This is certainly going to be a staple for Simic/Quandrix going forward I think. Sure, it costs 4 mana, but when it enters play, you can search your deck for a basic Forest or Island, and put it into play. Why is this so great? Because it doesn’t come into play tapped! If you have enough mana you can keep putting spells down, or simply have enough mana to counter on your opponent’s turn. I really have a good feeling about this card, 4 mana or not.
Aether Helix (5-Cost Spell – Sorcery): I kind of expected this to be an Instant, honestly. It returns a permanent to its owner’s hand and a permanent from your graveyard to your hand. So you can use both on yourself, or just slow down an opponent. You might want to re-trigger an ETB effect, after all. Or just throw a token out of the game. You can do a lot with it, but I’m a little leery of its 5 mana cost. It really has to be a useful move, or you’ve burned 5 mana.
Fracture (2-Cost Spell – Instant): For 2 mana, and I really like it, even if it doesn’t remove creatures like Mortify. It destroys a target artifact, enchantment, or planeswalker! It’s easy to use, low-cost, and efficient.
Killian, Ink Duelist (2-Cost White/Black Legendary Creature – Human Warlock): With Lifelink/Menace on a 2/2, he’s already pretty solid. However, spells that you cast that target a creature now cost 2 colorless less. Would that make Deadly Vanity cost 2 less since it does target a creature? Now that would be interesting. He’s certainly a playable creature, in control, midrange, you name it.
Dina, Soul Steeper (2-Cost Black/Green Legendary Creature – Dryad Druid): Here it is! This is the card that you can win with, with Pests. Whenever you gain life, each opponent loses 1 life. So for each instance of a pest dying and you gaining life, your opponent is harmed by it. You can also use her to sacrifice a creature for 1 mana. If you do, Dina, Soul Steeper gets +X/+0 until the end of turn, where X is the sacrificed creature’s power. This is the card I was waiting to see, to make sure Pest decks are going to be powerful and fun.
Tend the Pests (2-Cost Black/Green Spell – Instant): If you have a huge creature (or have stolen a huge creature), this can help your overall Pest combo. You also sacrifice a creature to cast this, you create X 1/1 black/green Pest creature tokens. As with all Pests, when it dies, you gain 1 life. The X is equal to the sacrificed creature’s power. So in theory you can get 11 or 12 Pests out of this, with the right set up.
Enthusiastic Study (3-Cost Spell – Instant): I was just saying “we need a trample option”, and here it is, lurking in red! Sounds like Gruul’s going to have a toy to play with. It’s a little on the costly side again, at 3 mana, but that’s because of Learn if nothing else. This spell, at Instant speed, gives a creature +3/+1 until the end of turn and trample. You also get to Learn, so it can be used as a Discard engine, or simply to fetch a Lesson. If only it were really this easy to get a lesson plan together.
Heated Debate (3-Cost Spell – Instant): Nice, simple, to the point. A 3-cost spell that can’t be countered, and deals 4 damage to a creature or planeswalker. It’s a hoot! A solid way to eliminate a threat on the board.
Rowan, Scholar of Sparks / Will, Scholar of Frost (Red/Blue Legendary Planeswalker – Rowan/Will): The Twin Scions now have a Modal Dual-Faced card! Both of them make Instant and Sorcery spells you cast cost 1 colorless less, so having both in play makes life easier. Rowan comes in with 2 Loyalty and Will comes in with 4 Loyalty.
Rowan’s Loyalty Abilities:
+1: This deals 1 damage to each opponent. If you’ve drawn 3 or more cards this turn, deal 3 damage instead.
-4: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, you may pay 2. If you do, copy that spell, you may choose new targets for the copy.”
Will’s Loyalty Abilities:
+1: Up to one target creature has base power and toughness 0/2 until your next turn.
-3: Draw 2 cards.
-7: Exile up to five target permanents, for each exiled this wya, its controller creates a 4/4 blue/red Elemental creature token.
Frankly, not crazy about Will’s ultimate yet. For my money, Rowan is better, for the ability to duplicate spells each time we cast them. I can see uses for Will, but Rowan’s the money side.
Crackle With Power (2+XXX-Cost Spell – Sorcery): I absolutely hate how this spell is written. It is my least favorite card in all of MTG, in terms of how it is explained and written. I still do not understand why it has three X’s in the cost. But here’s what it does. Crackle With Power deals five times X damage to each of up to X targets. Essentially, you spend 5 mana to deal 5 damage to a target, or 8 mana to deal 10 damage to 2 targets. It feels needlessly complicated. It can be used in a few ideas for Red/Blue decks I’ve thought of, but they won’t be Epic Game Winning Decks (™). But I think it would work. Each target has to be unique though, so you can’t zap the enemy player 5 times. I like the idea, but goodness does it make my brain hurt.
Flamescroll Celebrant // Revel in Silence (Red/White Creature/Instant): Another of Lorehold’s Modal Dual-Faced cards, the Flamescroll Celebrant, which can also be cast as a white Revel in Silence. The Celebrant is a 2/1 for 2, and whenever an opponent activates an ability that isn’t a mana ability, they take 1 damage from the Flamescroll Celebrant. It can also be inflated +2/+0 for the day, for 2 mana. That’s pretty fantastic as a rare, to be honest. Revel in Silence is also a 2-cost, but a White Instant. It makes your opponents unable to cast spells or activate planeswalkers’ loyalty abilities this turn – but you have to exile Revel in Silence. It’s a great way to stall an opponent out, when you know they can cast a board wipe, or activate an ultimate ability that could spell disaster. When you need one more turn? Revel in Silence.
Efreet Flamepainter (4-Cost Creature Efreet Shaman): A ¼ Double Strike? I’m already liking it. Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, you can cast an instant or sorcery from your graveyard without paying its mana cost. If it would go to the graveyard again, exile it instead. Big deal! It just means if we have to discard our Reconstruct History, we can now cast it for free! It’s a pretty awesome card, to be honest.
Intervention of the Dragon (4-Cost Spell – Sorcery): You may not always want to bring Magma Opus from the grave. Sometimes, your opponent just needs to have all their creatures take 8 damage. This is a 4-cost Sorcery that requires you to exile a Sorcery/Instant from your graveyard. However, the reward is clear. This card will deal X damage to each non-dragon creature, where X is the mana value of the exiled card. If a creature dealt damage this way would die, exile it instead. It hurts your creatures as well – unless you have Dragons, or simply aren’t running creatures. A great card for a spell-heavy Blue/Red deck.
Conspiracy Theorist (2-Cost Creature – Human Shaman): When you cast this creature, you can pay 1 mana and discard a card. When you discard one or more nonland cards, you can exile that card from your graveyard. If you do, you can cast it until the end of the turn. I love Conspiracy Theorist. You discard to trigger effects like dealing damage. Then you cast that spell anyway! Sure, that spell stays exiled, but you can double-dip and get some really get awesome combos going. It’s a two-cost, so it’s going to be pretty valuable in the early game (and late game, let’s be honest).
Retriever Phoenix (4-Cost Creature – Phoenix): Phoenixes aren’t going anywhere! A 2/2 with Flying/Haste, it triggers Learn if you cast it. However, as long as it’s in your graveyard, if you learn, you can instead return Retriever Phoenix to play. So you can’t just trigger the Learn again, as it wasn’t cast. It’s a really neat card, and an option if you don’t have anything worth pulling with Learn.
Academic Dispute (1-Cost Spell – Instant): This could see a lot of play for what it does. A 1-cost spell, it makes a creature have to block this turn if able. It also grants them reach if you want. You can make an opponent block (to make sure a creature dies), or you can give your creature Reach to block an incoming Flyer. Positive, on top of that? It also triggers Learn.
Mascot Interception (4-Cost Spell – Sorcery): This expansion is really focused around creature tokens, that’s for sure. This spell will cost 3 colorless less (making it a 1-drop) if this spell targets a creature token. You gain control of the target creature until the end of turn. Untap it, give it +2/+0 and Haste for the turn. Here’s what we can use Double Major with, in a three-color deck.
Beaming Defiance (2-Cost Spell – Instant): A fantastic spell for Boros Aggro, it gives a target creature +2/+2 and Hexproof for the turn. A solid way to prevent a creature of yours from being destroyed. Suddenly, that Hexproof hits, and no instant kill for you, my opponent!
Mila, Crafty Companion / Lukka Wayward Bonder (3-Cost White Legendary Creature – Fox / 6-Cost Red Legendary Planeswalker – Lukka): Both halves of this card are solid, but I think that each half belongs in different decks – in theory. Mila, Crafty Companion is a 3-cost white creature, with ⅔ for stats. Whenever an opponent attacks one or more planeswalkers you control, you put a loyalty counter on each planeswalker of yours. That’s amazing for control decks, to be honest. You can potentially keep them around, or make it easier to trigger abilities on planeswalkers not getting attacked. Whenever a permanent you control is the target of an opponent’s spell or ability, you may also draw a card. Card draw is always great. Your opponent has to choose what matters.
Lukka, Wayward Bonder is the other side of this card. A 6-cost planeswalker, it has 5 Loyalty. Its +1 lets you discard a card, and if you do, draw a card. If you discard a creature, draw two instead. His -2 returns a creature from your grave into play, gives it haste, and exiles it at the beginning of your next upkeep. So a solid way to be aggressive in a pinch. -7 however is the big money. You get an emblem that reads “Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, it deals damage equal to its power to any target”. Big creature three-color could be incoming (or just Green/Red), and we could do some filthy things. I’m a fan of this version of Lukka, that’s for sure.
Mavinda, Students’ Advocate (3-Cost Legendary Creature – Bird Advisor): This is such a strange, but fun card. If you have tons of mana in the late game, it could still be viable to board-wipe people. This is a ⅔ with Flying, and you can pay 0 mana to cast a target instant or sorcery card from your graveyard. I imagine you still pay full price. However, if you target a creature your opponent controls, that spell costs 8 colorless more. If this spell would be put into a graveyard, exile it. For Feather decks, this would be hilariously strong. In Modern? I’d like to see W/G Infect.
Elite Spellbinder (3-Cost Creature – Human Cleric): This is the card for the latest World Champion, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Some people have said this breaks the color pie, but I don’t agree. Bend? Sure. But break? Nah not really. This is a 3/1 for 3, and when it comes into play, you can look at your opponent’s hand. Pick a nonland, and exile it. Now, as long as the card is exiled, it can be cast by its owner – for 2 extra colorless mana. Make that counterspell much harder to play, or one of the creatures. Make it suddenly not worth it! I love this card idea so much for control decks.
Semester’s End (4-Cost Spell – Instant): Good God what a powerful spell. It’s Instant, it’s white, and it’s only four mana. It’s Yorion only you don’t have to pull it from your sideboard. It’s Elspeth Conquers Death but it’s just the useful part of the card – bringing things back with a +1/+1 and/or loyalty counter. Semester’s End exiles any number of creatures and/or planeswalkers you control. Then, during your End Step, bring them all back under their owner’s control. Each of these comes into play with an additional +1/+1 counter if it’s a creature, or another loyalty counter if it’s a planeswalker. Will this card get banned? Is it too powerful? There’s no telling. I’m not thinking “banned in six months”, but it’s very powerful.
Academic Probation (2-Cost Spell – Sorcery – Lesson): Academic Probation is a really interesting Lesson, that’s for sure. When you cast this spell, you get one of two effects. Either “Choose a nonland card name. Opponents can’t cast spells with the chosen name until your next turn.” or “Choose target nonland permanent. Until your next turn, it can’t attack or block, and its activated abilities can’t be activated.” If you have a clear idea of what your opponent’s strategy is going to be, or they have one powerful attacker/blocker, you can use this card to seal their doom. Academic Probation works better when you know what the other player’s going to do or you have an educated guess.
Sparring Regimen (3-Cost Enchantment): An enchantment that grants Learn when deployed means we can possibly flicker it out and back in to get that ability to proc again. But what it does is far more interesting. Whenever you attack, put a +1/+1 counter on target attacking creature and untap it. Now it can be used as a blocker next turn, and it’s stronger. Granted, it’s only one creature, but that would warrant having more than one of these in play. Or if you’re only using one attacker, you can make sure you’re safe and it inflates.
Strict Proctor (2-Cost Creature – Spirit Cleric): Oh boy, counter creatures in White! Whenever a permanent entering the battlefield causes a triggered ability to trigger, counter that ability unless its controller pays 2 colorless mana. It’s also a ⅓ Flyer. Now this could be fun in White/Blue control.
Blade Historian (4-Cost Red or White Creature – Human Cleric): What a powerful creature! It’s a 4 cost but requires either red or white mana. A ⅔, all attacking creatures you control have Double Strike. Aggro is going to have a field day with this. Since it’s Red or White, we can put it in a nice, wide variety of decks and use it as a sort of win condition. Drop it, then swing with your biggest creatures!
Devastating Mastery (6-Cost Spell – Sorcery): Honestly? I’m not crazy about this card at all. It’s a 6-cost board wipe, and it destroys all nonland permanents. That’s awesome, but it costs 6 mana. Or you can cast it for 4 mana (2 white). If you do, an opponent chooses up to two nonland permanents they control and returns them to their owner’s hand. Paying this base cost (6 mana, 4 white) is already pretty high. It’s not as great as Doomskar, personally. If you have discard/counters, it’s not a big deal on the retrieval though. So depending on what you have in hand, I could change my mind on this card. It could be incredible. It feels very niche though.
Leonin Lightscribe (2-Cost Creature – Cat Cleric): In a mono-white or Red/White deck, this could be your game-ender. A 2/2 for 2, it has Magecraft. Whenever you cast or copy an Instant/Sorcery spell, all creatures you control get +1/+1 until the end of turn. Use this with a bunch of annoying removal/buff spells, and then swing deep!
Selfless Glyphweaver / Deadly Vanity (3-Cost White Creature – Human Cleric / 8-Cost Black Sorcery): This is a very powerful card on both sides. Don’t let Deadly Vanity’s 8-cost fool you. It’s worth it in the right deck. Selfless Glyphweaver is a ⅔ human cleric that can be exiled to give your creatures indestructible until the end of turn. A fantastic way to make sure your creatures win a key fight. So there’s nothing wrong with that, especially for that 3-mana cost. Deadly Vanity, however, is an 8-cost sorcery, where you choose a creature or planeswalker. Then you destroy all other creatures and planeswalkers. So the one thing you pick is safe, and everything else gets obliterated. If you aren’t really running a lot of creatures/planeswalkers, this is going to be amazing, and for that mana cost, it’s 100% worth it. I love it so far. I want to see it get used, and I have a few ideas.
Professor of Symbology (2-Cost Creature – Kor Cleric): A card that gives you Learn when it enters the battlefield! Could be fun if we can bounce it back out and in again. This means we can get another card from out of the game, just for casting this creature! Love. It.
Thunderous Orator (2-Cost Creature – Kor Wizard): The more buffs you have, the better Thunderous Orator is. He is a 2/2 for 2 with Vigilance. However, whenever he attacks, he gains more abilities. If you control a creature with Flying, First Strike, Double Strike, Deathtouch, Indestructible, Lifelink, Menace, or Trample, he gains them as well for the turn. It’s not a “pick one” situation, he gets as many of them as you have in play! This will play well with Dueling Coach because it will make him stronger.
Dueling Coach (4-Cost Creature – Human Monk): A 2/2 for 4 sounds lame, at first glance. But when it enters the battlefield, it grants a +1/+1 to a target creature. You can also pay 5 and tap him to grant another +1/+1 to any creature you have with a +1/+1 counter on it already. Use this with Semesters End to help buff everyone at once!
Show of Confidence (2-Cost Spell – Instant): Oh boy, a Storm effect without it being Storm! When we cast Show of Confidence, you copy it for every other instant and sorcery spell you’ve cast this turn, and you can also choose different targets each time. You put a +1/+1 counter on target creature, and it gains vigilance for the turn. You can use it to make very potent, aggressive plays in the midgame in Boros/Lorehold decks, that’s for sure. So I think I really like this as a possible card in aggro decks. Feather decks are no doubt going to be very excited for this card.