Tuesday, July 3, 2012

M13 impressions

So the full spoiler is out for M13 and it's...unusual.

In white, you have two interesting tensions happening: Exalted and mass attacking. Cards like Ajani, Attended Knight and Crusader of Odric want white to have a lot (a whole lot) of creatures, especially tiny ones with Odric himself being a keystone to a swarm strategy. But working against that are the exalted creatures, which, merely by the flashy presence of Sublime Archangel is meant to be a viable mechanic. Nevertheless,

This is a nice way to both highlight white's philosophies and strike a nice balance in the color, keeping it from overwhelming the others. I'm not sure about how successful that will be but it's neatly done. Odd moment: no board sweepers in that color.

Blue is...sigh.

OK, so first you have one of the better blue creatures I've seen; Arctic Aven can easily be a 3/2 flyer for 3, with an activated lifelink ability. This is just really good and the kind of thing that blue probably shouldn't have. Coupled with one of the most annoying blue creatures ever: Fog Bank.

Then it gets weird: there is little card draw and there is no hard counter. No Ponder, no scry effects; Divination is as close as you get and that's not awful but it's not great, either. And there's no Cancel. I can't think of a core set that ever went without a no-frills, straight up counterspell. I just don't know what to make of that.

Black gets exalted creatures which would be really out of place ordinarily but, coming off Avacyn Restored where Black 's theme of operating alone-having a single creature do your dirty work, if you will-I have a feeling that there may be some cool synergies between those two ideas.

The other subtheme is 'having more swamps'. This isn't entirely unheard of as the concept has been around since Nightmare but it's definitely unusual for black to search out lands and it's certainly one of the few times it's been a real focus for the color. Torment and Nemesis had some of those concepts (Mutilate is a Torment reprint) and I do like the 'swamps matter' idea, because I think basic lands need more love.

It's definitely scouting a different direction for the color, though.

Red. Oh red. First, Craterize is a shitty, shitty name and there's really no reason to print an even worse version of Stone Rain. Targeted land destruction has never, ever been a winning strategy. Let's just get that out of the way.

On the other hand, Smelt is a card a looooooooong time coming. I'd say it's at least ten years late but I am glad it's here. There's also a very quiet positioning against white, with cards like Magmaquake, Flames of the Firebrand and Chandra's Fury. From a philosophical angle, this makes sense.

After that, I can't say that there feels like a unifying theme or a cohesion in the color. It is doing everything red does: damage, big board resets, goblins, along with highlighting the new red method of drawing cards but I don't see anything that will help develop a new deck for red or assist the color in defeating current strategies. Of all the colors, it's the one that is being pushed the least in a different direction.

I think Cleaver Riot might be my favorite name in the set, though.

As the final color, Green seems to be running a bit of an 'all star' theme. As though WotC wants to demonstrate, 'Hey this color can be good!' Rancor has been reprinted and I swear I never thought that card would come back. Quirion Dryad, Farseek, Acidic Slime; these cards all form a really solid backbone.

Predatory Rampage is pretty meh though and WotC needs to just get over it and quit printing Bountiful Harvest. That card is bad and you should feel bad. Lifegain doesn't have to suck that much. And did we really need a worse version of Stampeding Serow in Roaring Primadox?

As with Red, I don't see Green really getting the kinds of tools to develop a new deck or wreck an existing strategy with the possible exception of Yeva, Nature's Herald. Flash is a pretty strong ability and Ravnica will probably bring many cool multicolored cards which might provide some flexibility outside of Green's normal color wheelhouse. Overall, it's solid, I'd say and with the splashy Elderscale Wurm, there's at least a marquee card to have fun with.

The Artifacts are...well, the Rings are all excellent and should find homes quickly. Trading Post has a great theme but after that, I don't know that there's too much to say about those cards.

Nicol Bolas is what he always was: Crazy good.

The lands don't make much of a splash but Hellion Crucible suggests a cool new cycle coming up and I hope that happens. Just don't make the blue one the best. Green, since it is tied into lands, really has to be the best one. 

Observation: There are some pretty wicked enchantments in this set and it has been a long, long time since there was an enchantment focus in Magic. I wouldn't be surprised if Return to Ravnica as a block gave the enchantments some attention.

Finally, I really like the way multiple universes are being represented in the core set; flavor from all over Magic's worlds are popping up and that makes for a richer experience I think.


  1. Removal will be the new counter.

    1. That's a bad idea for a few reasons; power creep being one of them.

      And there are counters, cool ones at that (I think) but what there isn't are ways to interact with the stack in meaningful, non-blue ways.