Dominaria Leaks

So, some information about the upcoming Dominaria set got leaked about 2 weeks early. As it turns out, the set is very Legendary focused, and that’s a good sign for Commander players. Here are some cards that jumped out to me:

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
Legendary Creature — Human Artificer
Whenever you cast a historic spell, draw a card. (Artifacts, legendaries, and Sagas are historic.)

So, finally we get a blue/red commander that cares about artifacts. She also cares about some other things, which is great because she also triggers off, say, Pia Nalaar, Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer and some other legendary artificers you might want to include.

Her ability is a bit boring, but very practical. Do a thing, draw a card is a fine way to enable all sorts of combo’s. I have a Pia and Kiran Nalaar artifact deck and while the thopters are nice to have, having access to an extra colour and a lot of extra card draw seems what the decks could really use. The deck is really stuffed, though, so wish me luck with cutting stuff to make place for blue cards. Maybe I don’t have to change much besides adding to the manabase, and finding a place for Storm the Vault. Which reminds me: I should go find a Golden Guardian for that deck.

Mox Amber
Legendary Artifact
: Add one mana of any color among legendary creatures and planeswalkers you control.

The thing with the traditional Moxes is that they don’t count as a landdrop, which means it’s mostly useful when you plan to use a landdrop. The other thing is that you can tap them from mana, then play the next one, but this isn’t an issue in Commander. Given that Mox Amber needs a commander to work (and sadly one other than Hope of Ghirapur, since that one is colourless.)

Still, I can see this one being a roleplayer in my Shu Yun deck, because it can help trigger prowess. So, I hope it doesn’t become too popular, so I can get a foil for cheap, even though chances are it only makes most of the time.

Slimefoot, the Stowaway
Legendary Creature — Fungus
Whenever a Saproling you control dies, Slimefoot, the Stowaway deals 1 damage to each opponent and you gain 1 life.
: Create a 1/1 green Saproling creature token.

One of the things Wizards mentioned of the set is that every pack will contain one of something Legendary. So, we’re also getting uncommon Legendary creatures, and appearantly Slimefoot is one of them. Since I started playing the game, I’ve always been intrigued by Saprolings. I even have some cards at the ready for a Thelon of Havenwood but the deck didn’t really ever come of the ground, for some reason. Maybe because there aren’t enough interesting Thallids to use.

Slimefoot makes it worth a shot, though. It’s the perfect commander to use Tendershoot Dryad with. And I have always been a fan of Saproling Burst too, even though it’s a lot less effective without haste enablers like Fires of Yavimaya. Concordant Crossroads is an option. Akroma’s Memorial also gives haste.

And saprolings get an extra lord with:

Sporecrown Thallid
Creature — Fungus
Each other creature you control that’s a Fungus or Saproling gets +1/+1.

That puts the “Fun” in Fungal. Why not?

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar – 4GG
Legendary Creature — Elemental Avatar

Reach, trample
Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar gets +1/+1 for each land you control and each land card in your graveyard.
, Return two lands you control to their owner’s hand: Return Multani from your graveyard to your hand.

What’s there to say? Multani fits Omnath, the Enraged like a glove. It shares the land matters theme, he is an elemental that can die over and overand also helps triggering landfall. Add “big” and “trample” into the mix – and reach, which matters because Omnath can’t deal very well with flyers – and we have a creature that will probably replace something in the deck.

Valduk, Keeper of the Flame
Legendary Creature — Human Shaman

At the beginning of combat on your turn, for each Aura and Equipment attached to Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, create a 3/1 red Elemental creature token with trample and haste. Exile those tokens at the beginning of the next end step.

Speaking of elementals, even though Omnath doesn’t do aura’s or equipments much, it doesn’t mean that Valduk can’t have his own deck, launching one elemental token after another. The deck may be a little one-note, but he seems very aggressive.

Moving on to dragons, there are two (or three, when kicked) that seem cool:

Verix Bladewing
Legendary Creature — Dragon
Kicker 3 (You may pay an additional as you cast this spell.)
When Verix Bladewing enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, create Karox Bladewing, a legendary 4/4 red Dragon creature token with flying.

Dragon tribal is alsways looking for some relatively cheap inclusions. isn’t bad, and getting a hasty Broodmate Dragon later in the game is a good deal. This is definately an option for my Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund deck. Speaking of which:

Darigaaz Reincarnated
Legendary Creature — Dragon
Flying, trample, haste
If Darigaaz Reincarnated would die, instead exile it with three egg counters on it.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if Darigaaz is exiled with an egg counter on it, remove an egg counter from it. Then if Darigaaz has no egg counters on it, return it to the battlefield.

Dragon tribal also needs big, top-end dragons. This reborn version of the Elder Dragon Darigaaz is often the biggest thing in the skies, and even though he doesn’t have the ability of the original Darigaaz, the Igniter he’s bigger,has haste (so you don’t have to wait a whole turn) and trample, making blocker irrelevant. Also, sometimes he comes back from the dead.

Dominaria looks pretty cool so far, and there are lots more cards leaked, but these strike me as the most interesting so far.

Posted under Commander / EDH,Spoilers

Profane Procession // Tomb of the Dusk Rose

One card from Rivals of Ixalan I’m maybe a bit too excited about is Profane Procession. Especially since the backside is thematically relevant to Queen Marchesa the Black Rose.

en_OHc4Ejf6mn en_GKt9cuCWil

Unflipped, it’s great in Commander as it can keep removing commanders without flipping, as these usually go to the Command Zone anyway. And having repeatable, instant removal that exiles available is a good political tool, especially when you can keep open.  Most enchantments that exile bring stuff back if it gets destroyed, but in this case the cards stay safely tucked away. Nice.

The Tomb of the Dusk Rose side is ok as well – having an extra multicolour land is fine, even though at that point you probably won’t need any more mana. But you’ll get a couple of creatures for the trouble. And I can’t get enough of the treasure map cardframe. It’s a thing of beauty!


Is this card amazing? Well, you’re initially are paying to remove a creature, so as a removal spell it’s not great. It’s a slow Mind Control if you look at it that way. But one with ample of opportunity to use gunpoint diplomacy on a Commander table, and that’s why I have the Marchesa deck.

Posted under Commander / EDH,Spoilers

Fate Reforged: Manifest

I was making a commander deck around Morph. It’s a fun mechanic, adding a lot of mystery and mindgames to the table. There are some outright powerful effects, being able to mess with the best laid plans at the least opportune moment. It can counter, it can bounce and sometimes even turn opponents cards against them. And they never see it coming. I was hoping for some new Morph cards in the second Tarkir set, Fate Reforged, but instead it seems to bring something even better: Manifest.

en_pu8esg2v7s en_ibt6mxwxfd

With Morph, it’s reasonably clear what’s going on; There is almost always a creature underneath, and the only real question is which creature? Manifest takes it a bit further. The Manifested card could be anything. Maybe it’s just a land, or some other card or maybe even one of those powerful morph creatures. It’s enough to provoke some extra paranoia in your opponents.


Appearantly, Manifested cards mostly come from the top of your deck. There are some handy cards that make them. One of them is Whisperwood Elemental. I can see running this in my Morph deck. The commander I’m going to use is Animar, so there is a flavour connection there. And Animar will often make Whisperwood Elemental cheaper, too.

en_bjph4xy49v en_sngrjqi8kp

Even though ‘once per turn’ is a bit limiting in a multiplayer format like commander, where most of the time it’s someone elses’ turn, at least you’ll get to manifest early, at the end of your turn. And as a bonus, Manifest will also trigger Trail of Mystery. There is an engine right there, getting everything you’ll need while keeping your mana open to actually morph things.

Whistperwood’s second ability can sometimes help when you unmorphed a lot of cards, and a mass destruction spell rears it’s ugly head. It only counts face-up cards, but it can cause some nasty surprises with cards with cheap, or even morph costs, like those on Temur Charger. Because even though Manifest allows you to pay the mana cost to turn creatures face-up, cards with Morph still get to use their Morph cost, whichever is cheaper. Handy.

en_rlz42ff7hv en_riypfjt7ww

Ethereal Ambush is another Manifest card I’m excited about. seems like a lot to spend, but it’s an instant, so you can just wait until your turn is about to start. It’s a good deal get two new mystery guests on the table. And it’s within Animar colours, too, with two of the best colours for Morph. Soul Summons is less fortunate that way, but at least it’s cheap.


Appearantly, there will be three Enchantments in Fate Reforged that create a Manifestation, and then enchant it. I have my doubts about those cards, as they seem rather hit-or-miss.

en_kclm3zeeje en_im852p39ux

A 2/2 double strike for seems okay, even with the potential to be so much more. You could just luck out and get a surprise double-striking Akroma, Angel of Fury, or a Sagu Mauler. Or it could be a Forest, and only ever be a little impressive when holding a Ghostfire Blade. I guess that’s part of the fun.


Anyway, there are a lot of tricks opening up. Skirk Alarmist gives some temporary benefits even with non-creature permanents, especially when you include Secret Plans, but it’s not the best use you’ll get out of a manifested non-creature. Bounce is where it’s at. Echo Tracer, Icefeather Aven and Thousand Winds gets you anything back. Crystal Shard and Erratic Portal supplements this well and keeps opponents guessing.

All in all,  I’m pleasantly surprised by the new mechanic. It’s still te be seen just how much of it will be in Fate Reforged, but even if Whisperwood Elemental and Ethereal Ambush is the best on offer, these are fantastic supplements to a Morph-centered deck.

Edit: And there is another card known now that in fact Manifests from other places; It allows to Manifest itself, with another card in the mix to confuse opponents.


That’s somewhat interesting. I can’t say it’s actually good, but it’s potentially repeated Manifestation that isn’t overly expensive, even though you need to ‘unmorph’ it to reuse the ability. Since it exiles/manifests itself on a hit, it does work well with the Skirk Alarmist as long as your opponent guesses wrong and doesn’t block it (and since you’re not allowed to shuffle your Morphs/Manifests on the table, because that’s cheating they probably know it’s one of the two new cards on the table.)

All in all it’s not a great card, but it might allow for a small amount of card advantage in the right situation, and a potential reusable way to trigger Secret Plans.

Posted under Spoilers

Spoiler: Narset, Enlightened Master

With Khans of Tarkir around the corner, it’s time to look at what it could mean for Commander. Fortunately, the eponymous khans will be present and  ready to represent their clans. One of them is Narset, Enlightened Master, belonging to the clan The Jeskai Way, a group of fighting monks. She’s not huge for a 6 mana card, but she has some very interesting abilities.


First of all, she has hexproof. This is always worth a look when you go for a voltron-style commander. There is also first strike, which is not that useful, but still helps her to get in there and live to tell the tale. The main attraction is her ability though. She exiles the top four cards of your deck, and then allow you to cast non-creature spells she just exiled. This opens up the possibility to use a lot of combat tricks.

cardart_gmtnm402rnBut that’s not all. It also helps you find aura’s and equipment. Yes, you only get to play those after combat, but it makes her very prepared for her next attack. She’ll quickly be even harder to remove when she has some Totem Armor, or some outright Indestructibility. Her offensive capabilities can be pushed through some Battle Mastery or even the awesome power of Eldrazi Conscription.

eldrazicon drake

Just like Anax and Cymede, she’s also a good commander to work with Sunforger. Power 3 and first strike make sure of that. The Jeskai have the “Prowess” ability which triggers off non-creature spells being played. Similarly to Anax and Cymede’s heroic trigger, this helps your monks to grow larger temporarilly when you enchant them or use combat tricks.


Since Narset helps prowess mostly by using instants, the Sunforger will be a natural fit. The magic hammer recently got another upgrade with Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient, so it won’t be hard to create a flurry of blows while your oversized warrior monk. The Jeskai have many tricks at their disposal, but timing the various abilities efficiently will take some skill.

 en_dikn5gv5fu en_i05hmbftt9

All in all, Narset is an interesting commander. There aren’t a lot of alternatives for her colours; Only Numot, Ruhan and Zedruu qualify so far and Narset has a distinct play style compared to these other commanders. Six mana is still a lot for a combination that can’t rely on efficient ramp, though. But once you get the ball roling, she’ll soon be an unstoppable force.

Posted under Commander / EDH,Spoilers

Khans of Tarkir: Zurgo Helmsmasher

During San Diego Comiccon the first of the Khans was shown. It’s Zurgo Helmsmsaher, Khan of the Mardu clan. Mardu is the clan, with a focus on , and represents the Wings of the Dragon, which doesn’t grant flying, weirdly enough but haste and other speed-focused abilities. As a named card, Zurgo is ofcourse legendary, so he might lead a commander deck in the future. So, what does he do? Let’s take a look:

zurgohelmsmasher1For we get a 7/2 haste creature. That’s allright. As a commander, you probably will see him coming, but the threat of one-third of lethal commander damage makes him dangerous. Especially since it’s in the colours of Boros Charm, Double Cleave and Psychotic Fury.

Zurgo doesn’t trample. But that hardly matters in these colours, because Zurgo is indestructible during your turn while being aligned with the colours that do mass destruction best. It’ll be common for a Wrath effect taking care of armies of chump-blockers, while leaving Zurgo the last man standing.

jokul wrath damnation

There are plenty of removal options, so why not just run all of them and keep wiping the board over and over while poking for damage? Boom! It’s not like you’re holding back blockers anyway.

The +1/+1 counter theme doesn’t seem that important, as Zurgo is rather big already and can kill in two or three hits regardless. It does fit the Voltron-style decks he seems to gravitate towards. Despite him not having much in the way of unique abilities, Zurgo does fill his own niche. So far there haven’t been that much legendary creatures, and they’re all very different from Zurgo. In fact, 2 of these originate from the same Commander deck.

kaalia oros tariel

Kaalia of the Vast is a popular commander, but plays vastly different from Zurgo, favouring an army of big creatures (Angels, Demons, Dragons) instead of going at it alone. Oros, the Avenger is an oldy, and so not very efficient. The damage clause could help Zurgo for some extra wrathing, even though the timing of it is off. Tariel, Reckoner of Souls is a three-colour Adarkar Valkyrie, although in many ways a little worse.

This is what makes Zurgo a good commander: There simply isn’t much that’s like him available. He’s good enough to go at it alone and make some quick kills with double strike or multiple combat phases, while dodging his own mass removal. Who knows what the Mardu clan has available to complement him? He’s not the most splashy commander, when even indestructibility has become a more mainstream ability, but different enough to warrant a look.

Posted under Commander / EDH,Spoilers

M15: The Uncommon Slivers

With seven new cards in M15, Slivers aren’t back in a big way, but at least there is some way to expand the hive a little, while the new Uncommon Slivers are also reasonable on their own. Despite what is shown on the Sliver Hive card, these are all ‘predator’ style slivers, from Shandalaar, which is a shame. But maybe Wizards still had some art around from the last Core Set. So, what are the new toys we’re going to get? Let’s take a look at the new adaptations of the hive.


First up is the white one, Constricting Sliver. On it’s own, it’s a twice as expensive, but slightly bigger Banisher Priest. But he makes other Slivers priests as well, and if you have multiples, they will start exiling multiple times as well. is a lot to spend on one Sliver though, and het doesn’t directly beat an opponent. You might just as well use Megantic Sliver or Bonescythe Sliver and bring the beatdown at this point. There are some situations you’d need to remove something, so this helps. The cost just hurts the ‘strength by numbers’ philosophy the Slivers thrive on. At least the rest of them are quicker to play:


The blue entry is a lot more affordable, and does it’s best to channel Crystalline Sliver, which made counter-sliver a deck at some point. Not quite Shroud, not quite Hexproof, but experience with Frost Titan learns that sometimes opponents forget about it and get the math wrong and see their spells countered. With spells that can target multiple Slivers, like Frost Breath, it’s even easier to fall into this trap. And if they are paying attention, even then it simply makes removing your Slivers slightly more difficult, which is a good thing as Slivers tend to work best when you have a lot of them on the battlefield.

Also affordable, with an ability that grows exponentially is Leeching Sliver, which has assimilated the Pulse Tracker ability into the hive. Having two attack already drains 4 life before they’re even blocked and it helps Slivers to get around Fog effects. So, it’s another Predatory Sliver/Muscle Sliver with some upsides, while being worse in creature combat. That’s okay, because there is also:


It’s the Sliver version of Goblin War Drums. While it’s not completely foolproof, it’s extra evasion. This and the ability of the green Sliver won’t stack like the other effects. It’s a tribal-relevant Grey Ogre that may force some difficult blocks and it keeps some of your Slivers alive in combat. It also combines quite well with the new green Sliver:


While it seems just a small thing, deathtouch is an amazing thing for Slivers. It makes attacking very lethal with Thorncaster Sliver, when you can ping potential blockers and kill them on the spot. Striking Sliver‘s First Strike combines with deathtouch both offensively and defensively, and the mighty Groundshaker Sliver combines deathtouch with trample, making blocking Slivers costly and futile. Venom Sliver’s ability doesn’t stack in any meaningful way, but redundancy is not a bad thing.

I can’t see how Hastric, Thunian Scout ran into some problems here. Only the Constricting Sliver seems to suffer from it’s cost, the rest is spot-on. Especially the Slivers from the Jund () colours, which have a lot of synergy in dominating combat.

hivelord EN_0a9csysita

It would have been cool if, like the cycle of ‘Soul’ creatures, there was a 6th one in artifact, but at least there is a Sliver land and a new Hive Lord, and these 7 cards are far more than expected from this set. Now there’s hoping eventually Wizards comes up with a card for poor Hastric.

Posted under Spoilers

M15: Sliver Hivelord

The Sliver hive always have been the ultimate expression of the Tribal mechanic. This is what makes them so popular: It’s easy to build a thematic deck around them, and they will result into something powerful. More than a sum of their parts. You don’t just get the creatures on the cards, you can build your own monsters, picking and choosing abilities and meld them together into something fearsome. A whole army of that, even. And every once in a while, the hive pops up and there is much rejoicing. It can be argued that tribal themes like this makes it too easy to build a functioning deck. But it’s nice to have an option to quickly and easilly assemble something that doesn’t surprise, but just works.


The last time was actually last year; M2014 had a Sliver subtheme, but somehow something was wrong. It’s not that they where that bad; Bonescythe Sliver had something to offer to the hive. Galerider Sliver was in multiple ways better than Winged Sliver before it. Manaweft Sliver is better than Gemhide Sliver, and having both for redundancy is better still.

But the problem was there wheren’t enough Slivers to make it work in Standard. The previous waves of came in normal blocks, so there was plenty of space for the hive. Just one Core set isn’t large enough for them. And there where a couple of changes to the hive that caused a disconnect. First of all, they now only influence your own Sliver. Okay, this is actually a good change, even though it doesn’t make a lot of thematic sense, being a hivemind and all. And why would Sliver fight Sliver?


The worst change was the art. Wizards explained that somehow, insectoid creatures with one arm in the middle where too hard to draw for artists, and to make expressive enough to show their abilities. Every sliver just looks like a sliver. And here I was believing the whole “restrictions breed creativity” mantra. Which somehow doesn’t translate to art direction.

The excuse whas that these are ‘evolved’ Slivers. This evolution made them more humanoid. This is not how evolution works, Wizards! Not even magical evolution. Probably. It can be argued that Slivers already always where at the peak of evolution, with their efficient communication and the ability to instantly grant evolutionary advantages to the rest of the hive, magically changing their phenotype as they go along.

All in all these new “predator” type Slivers wheren’t as succesful and glorious a return as the hype around Slivers wanted them to be, even though they pretty good.

As a sort of an apology for the lack of impact last year, Wizards decided to put six new Sliver cards in M2015. There are 5 uncommon Slivers, one of which turns all Slivers into Banisher Priests. Then there is a Sliver land at rare and a new Sliver as a Mythic.

EN_0a9csysita hivelord

The land is a very welcome addition to any Sliver deck, as your hive will probably be multicoloured. Cavern of Souls is great utility, and getting that minus the anti-counter clause is still good. In a Sliver deck those are already City of Brass / Mana Confluence without the lifeloss.

The ability to tap and pay to put a Sliver token into play is a nice bonus. Tapping 6 land for a 1/1 doesn’t seem so spectacular, but since it’s already part of your mana-base makes means it’s good to have the option. In a Sliver deck that token rarely will be a vanilla 1/1 anyway. The old style Slivers pictured in the art almost makes it the perfect apology for last year’s fiasco.


Then there is the Hivelord, who is halfway between the classic and the predator-type slivers. He makes all Slivers Indestructible. It’s hard to say if that’s exciting enough or not. It protects Slivers very well, especially with Crystalline Sliver on the table, but with all the exile effects and Mutilate effects, Indestructable means less and less. Also worthy of note is that he’s only 5/5, while previous Slivers where all 7/7. So how does he compare to the others?

queen overlord legion

Sliver Queen is the classic Sliver boss card. She makes lot of tokens, for cheap. When I started playing Magic, I was very impressed with her ability to go infinite with Ashnod’s Altar and Heartstone. She does a good job in representing the ‘strength by numbers’ aspect of the Hive. All those tokens gladly join the hive and gain all sorts of interesting abilities.

Sliver Overlord is the second supersliver to come out. His design is excellent, because he can direct the evolution of your Slivers, by picking and choosing possible traits from your deck. He really is the end of evolution, where mutation and selection flows into intelligent design. As a bonus, he can also find the queen from your deck, as well as the other lords. He’s even more insane when honorary Sliver Amoeboid Changeling is on the table, as he’ll start to assimilate everything into the hive.

Finally, there is Sliver Legion. He’s a Sliver-specific Coat of Arms and while that’s not that interesting an ability, at least it tends to end games quickly. As dead opponents can’t remove the hive, I’d say it’s still a cut above an Avacyn, Angel of Hope style effect. But does that matter?

Sliver Hivelord will still make the cut in any Sliver deck, even if Indestructable isn’t the most exciting design. The real Sliver lord of the set is Sliver Hive, though, which is in many ways a reverse from previous entries. Instead of topping off the evolution, it starts it. Instead of costing it provides it. It still is the best take on a Sliver boss that went unexplored, even though there is enough land to provide the colours. It makes me excited enough to try to make a deck around the most tribal of tribes.

Posted under Spoilers

M15: Chief Engineer

Blue, and especially the Vedalken are good at building artifacts. Just look at Grand Architect, being able to generate lots of mana so you can make artificats. Now, with Convoke in the new Core set, there is a somewhat slimmer variant. It ramps a little less in some situations, but it’s more reliable in a way; It doesn’t need blue creatures or a lot of Islands to work.

1asldfuy9_0047_MTGM15_PRM_Game_Day_EN_P copy

The way Chief Engineer works has a lot of moving parts, but it boils down to the fact that you can tap a creature to make an artifact cheaper. Ornithopter as a free way to help cast your Pentavus or Myr Battlesphere? That sounds pretty good. Then, having the tokens to tap for even bigger stuff? Great!

pentavus myrbattlesphere

He is heralded as the new Affinity by some, even if he’s more balanced. The problem with Chief Engineer may be that it doesn’t work that well in multiples. A second Engineer doesn’t do much more, except than tap for Convoke. For a Chief Engineer, he surely doesn’t make Vedalken Engineer">Vedalken Engineer much more efficient, although the pseudo-haste does help a little.

It’s an interesting card in several formats though. It’s cool for Commander, along Artifact-centric commanders like Sydri, Galvanic Genius, Muzzio, Visionary Architect, Memnarch or Sharuum the Hegemon. Not everything in Commander can be a Master Transmuter, so having some redundancy is nice.


The Chief Engineer can even be an interesting addition to a Cube, for an Artifact subtheme. It certainly makes picking up a Sentinal Dispatch more interesting, turning the little defenders into additional ramp. And in M15 drafts it makes it easier to play artifacts like Soul of Phyrexia, if you’re really lucky to somehow pull both.

The return of Affinity it’s probably not. A more splashable, more easy to curve Grand Architect, well yeah. It’s only as good as the artifacts it can help bring out, but at least it’s ramp in a color that doesn’t get much of it.

Posted under Spoilers

M15: Nissa, Worldwaker

Even though she is regarded as a rather weak planeswalker, I always liked Nissa Revane. It may be because I really like tribal decks, and Nissa is a tribal-centric planeswalker. Sure, her starting loyalty of 2 is very low for a cost, and it takes her a long time to ultimate, but she is a fun addition to an elf deck.

nissarevane nissaschoosen

And even if she had an important role in the Elrazi storyline, she wasn’t heard from in quite a while. In M2015 she makes a return, and appearantly she left the Elves behind, and choose to go with Elementals instead. And somehow she has become very reminiscent of another Planeswalker, who since has taken the role of being the Big Bad of the set.


Yes, she is a lot more like the original  green Planeswalker from the ‘Lorwyn Five,’ Garruk Wildspeaker. She does cost a little more to play, but in return one of her +1 abilities untaps twice the lands that Garruk did. Well, she only does it to Forests, so there is no Gaea’s Cradle madness (or at least, it’s more difficult to pull off) but in mono-green she effectively costs 1.

Unlike Garruk, the ability to make creatures is a +1 ability, further strengthening her. It does make your land more easy to remove though, but at least you get a 4/4 trampler out of the deal, that can often attack immediatly (and sometimes gets pseudo-vigilance with Arbor Elf.) It’s not the best ability, but I guess it’s nice to have the option when you’re not using the untap ability to ramp into, say, Avenger of Zendikar.


Because, just look at that ultimate! Not only does it make an entire army of 4/4 tramplers, it does trigger a massive amount of Landfall abilities. It’s not always an immediate ‘I win’ effect, but even if your army get removed by a mass removal card like Wrath of God, you still are less likely to draw lands for the rest of the game, and use the existing mana base to draw spell after spell.

All in all, it’s nice to see Nissa return, even though she isn’t as tribal-centric as she used to be. Getting all Elves was awesome as well, but since she takes Garruk’s spot in the set as the green Walker, it’s understandable that she is a little more open-ended, while still mainting some of that Elf identity.

Posted under Spoilers

M15: Aggressive Mining

I haven’t ever played Minecraft, even though I appreciate that it’s basically a digital, infinite Lego set with exploding zombies. I just didn’t get around to delve into it, I guess. What is fun, is that Wizards decided to contact a few third parties to make some cards, and most of those cards reference the designer in some way. And so, Markus Perssons card references Minecraft. Heavilly. It has mining in the name, and the art is a riff off the block-based graphics in that game. But what does it do?


First of all, it stops you from playing lands. It’s interesting to see that most of these “Designed by” cards feature drawbacks. There is a tendency for designers to choose drawbacks, to create “tension” and make cards feel more interesting. Wizards learned to step away from using drawbacks that much, going more towards a “feelgood” type of cards, that mostly do things you want without jumping through too many hoops, but in M15 they allowed some cards to get a little crazy and sometimes do bad things. It creates a more ‘gamey’ feel for some of these cards, but then again they’re made explicitly by video game designers, so it makes sense somehow. How these design choices hold up in the larger game? Time will tell.

It’s still possible to get lands on the table; Terrain Generator still works, as do a myriad of other land-searching spells. But working around the drawback isn’t the point of Aggressive Mining.

The second part allows you to sacrifice land to draw cards. In a duel game, that means you almost get an entire new hand of 7 cards (Including your standard draw) at the cost of some lands. That’s pretty good draw, even though it’ll have lasting repercussions for your mana base going forward in the game. So, ideally, you’ll only want this on the table once there isn’t much game ahead of you.


Red is known for it’s ‘in your face, ‘ aggressive style. It has lots of burn spells, which are often very flexible sources of damage, but that strategy does have a downside: It tends to run out of steam. Trying to take the shortest route to victory also means you’re running out of cards quickly. This is especially sad when you’re just a few points of damage short of a victory. That’s when you decide you could use some Minecraft!

it seems to me that Aggressive Mining works best with cheap, preferably instant spells. The kind red is known for. Instant? Yes, that means you can tap a land on an opponents turn, before you sacrifice it, then draw and play that Lightning Bolt with that mana.

seismic lightningstorm

So, what do you do when you get extra lands in hands in all the extra cards you draw? It’s not like you can trigger Valakut with those, now can you? Fortunately there are a couple of ways to get some extra mileage out of these now-unplayable lands. There is always the infamous Seismic Assault, but a Lightning Storm is a more surprising use of extra lands.

In Commander it might be a worthy inclusion for Borborygmos Enraged.  It’s a shame Primeval Titan and Sylvan Primordial are deemed too powerful for Commander, but what can you do? There should be enough options. Anything that draw you cards for free has the potential to be broken, no matter how many drawbacks are tacked on.

Posted under Spoilers
1 2