Thursday, June 28, 2018

M19 Thoughts

The full set revealed here!

What seems unusual about this set is that I'm not seeing a returning mechanic, as I did in the past few core sets. No Bloodthirst or Exalted here, just looks like a lot of evergreen stuff with a little flash for Nicol Bolas. I don't mind that, I'd just thought Wizards had said that they wanted to bring back one mechanic per core set. Things seem to have shifted.

So...what do we got?

Boy, Ajani's Welcome seems like a card they should've made 15 years ago, doesn't it? Although given Ajani's Last Stand, I suppose nobody is welcomed for very long. Hieromancer's Cage also feels like something they should've done before now.

Cleansing Nova is going to be a Very Big Deal in the casual/commander rounds. Five mana for a card that is useful no matter when you draw it is good.

Isolate is the answer to Deathrite Shaman. You heard it here first (or you didn't). And it won't get banned like Mental Misstep because you can't play it for free. Leonin Warleader is bonkers if you can untap with it. Remorseful Cleric is interesting; a card you can play out and if it's useful, great, if you just attack for 2, that works too.

Rustwing Falcon is the first 1/2 with flying for 1 that I know of and that's not small. Deathrite has similar stats and is equally annoying. Not that the two are on the same level in terms of power but I've had the swarm of 1/1s that get blocked by 1/2s and it's annoying.

Suncleanser makes me wonder if Infect is in our future sometime. It certainly has the potential to shake up the format by disrupting an Infect deck's plans in a pretty big way.

I can get behind the cheaper version of Assassinate (Take Vengeance), too.

We have Spirit Pirates now, so that's a thing! Ghost Ship shall have a crew. Also, Gearsmith Prodigy makes an argument for an...aggro blue/artifact/x deck? 2/2s for one mana are efficient but whether that's enough to push an aggro blue deck is up in the air.

I like the copy effects that blue is getting in this set: Metamophic Altercation and Mirror Image are aggressively costed but since they require you to have a creature on the table already, I am comfortable with that.

Omniscience is a welcome reprint and I know that there's a deck for Psychic Corrosion, especially since you can get some redundancy with Sphinx's Tutelage. I already know which of my friends will try to abuse this.

The artifact synergy theme appears to be played up a lot more in this set, perhaps because of the cohesion with Kaladesh and because Kaladesh will rotate soon, so we won't have to endure those power levels for too long? Wizards has been willing to ramp up strategies that they know will only last for a few months.

Death Baron reprint! Long needed and much welcome, I'm glad to see it come back while it can still make a mess with Amonkhet cards. Speaking of reprints, Murder returning is a good thing, too.

Infernal Reckoning is an unusual effect in Black. I don't know that I've seen that kind of removal spell, narrow as it is, in this color before. It's all upside, too, which means it's a decent sideboard card, maybe even a card for Commander, since it can hit artifact creatures too.

Lilana's Contract is a super cool alternate win condition and I hope Wizards gives us more cards like it. Plague Mare is probably the best of the hose horses, but after that I'm not seeing much else that's interesting.

My opinion is that Alpine Moon is probably overhyped, Apex of Power underhyped. I like Goblin Trashmaster but I wonder if there are really uses for that second ability. It's a pretty expensive lord effect and destroying artifacts, useful as it is, may not provide enough value to supplant the other lords.

Shock returning is good news; a solid reprint with value, I don't think people should be bummed about that. Sarkhan's Unsealing, on the other hand, is a weird card for red that probably won't produce nearly enough value but I'll want to try and play anyway. Commander players will probably try to see if it has any mojo.

SMELT. IS. BACK. (I am a fan).

Thud is a win-win of execution, for me. The name/image/mechanic/flavor all come together perfectly. Bummer that it's a sorcery.

I really, really want to like Colossal Majesty but I know it's just not as awesome as I wish it was.

Pelakka Wurm as a rare seems...lame. It didn't break anything as an uncommon across multiple sets. It's not crazy to see PW as a rare but I'm disappointed they didn't try for something cooler. Similarly, upshifting Scapeshift to mythic is also disappointing as the card is really important to bring to market. Still, it is a needed reprint.

I like the recursion on Talons of Wildwood, although it may come in handier in Limited events. The Aura subtheme is supported in GW so we know what one of the draft archetypes will be.

Favorite dinosaur: Runic Armasaur.

The most interesting card for me is Heroic Reinforcements, since it is the kind of card that might help turn losing games into winning ones. Everything else is just...there. It's not terrible, it just is either obviously good or slots into a specific deck, which doesn't interest me as much.

I did not expect to see Spine of Ish Sah attached to a body but...what the heck. I'll run Meteor Golem. And while I wish it didn't have defender-or was even a creature-Suspicious Bookcase is rad, from a naming/image view. The ability is meh. It fits, but I would've rather seen something like "take the second to last card in your deck and put it into your hand". Weirder and cooler.

The Bad
Stop printing cards for the set in things that aren't booster packs! There's a host of cards listed here at the bottom, that should be something people can crack open in packs but Wizards decided not to do that. Nexus of Fate is the spotlight offender, of course, since that comes only if you buy a box, but I don't see cards like Sarkhan's Dragonfire or Skalla Wolf as being something people will sit on for long. They're useful and having them only appear in Welcome or Planeswalker decks is a recipe for bad times.

All in all, it feels like a mixed bag; mostly decent stuff but the bad is really popping out. And with Commander announcements starting next month, M19 isn't going to have a huge window to impress the players. Not quite the triumphant return to core sets that we might've hoped for.

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