With the set almost completely (if not necessarily reliably at all times – where’d that Lotus land go, eh?) spoiled, I’m definitely thinking about what I like in M2010. As a player who started in Beta, I think they’ve done a good job of cleaving more toward iconic, generic-and-cool fantasy elements for this new core set. The theming is stronger, there are fewer cards with random, hard-to-place names, and in general the set has more playables than we’ve come to expect from a core set.
I’ll take a look at individual cards in the spoiler-rrific extended entry, specifically addressing rares that interest me, since, as always, I’ll be buying a full common/uncommon 4x playset, and then picking out individual rares to purchase.
As I’m working off of the MTG Salvation spoiler, I’ll address cards in the order they list them.
Baneslayer Angel – This is a bit of a house, and potentially an awesome finisher in control builds, whether of the draw-go variety or the Solar Flare “tempo and big dudes” type. My experience with Battlegraces in the last year has been that lifelink on a 5/5 is a tremendous beating against aggro decks. Baneslayer wins over Grace by dint of being a default 5/5, meaning it’s immune to Javelins and Bituminous Blasts (which is, incidentally, pronounced bit – too – min – us). It’s a mythic, and an angel, and a good card, so this one promises to be pricey, sadly. Still, I may want some.
Captain of the Watch – Is this Soldier-Gang Commander? It lacks the “toss guys at your face” aspect of Siege-Gang, but it’s in some ways a better Cloudgoat Ranger. That said, I’m not personally excited about picking it up, so I may pass.
Guardian Seraph – I am tempted. That said, I’m mostly tempted due to the geeky joy of imagining being immune to an infinite storm count of Grapeshots. In other words, I should pass on this one.
Open the Vaults – I’m going to pick these up, in hope that there will be a great combo based on this sucker.
Planer Cleansing – I’m super excited to see Wrath out of the core set, as this opens up the possibility for alternative wraths – as people say, ‘block wraths’ – to actually be good. Planar Cleansing is pricey, but pretty thorough. I like the ability to just null out the board of a tokens player (goodbye tokens, goodbye Ranger, goodbye Ajani, goodbye Bitterblossom). Is it worth playing Cleansing over Burial? We’ll see.
In white, I already own playsets of Ajani Goldmane and Mesa Enchantress.
Time Warp – This is a maybe. The value of an extra turn is not always amazing, especially if you had to blow five mana on it. That said, there could be a U/G/x ramp deck that drops Garruk and accelerates into extra turns. Maybe.
In blue, I already own playsets of Clone, Jace Beleren, Mind Spring, and Traumatize.
Haunting Echoes – Woohoo. I don’t know if there will be a context in which this is awesome, although it’s kind of cool late-game in five-color control mirrors. It’ll be fun, potentially, to have it in Extended in the next Extended season.
In black, I already own playsets of Hypnotic Specter, Liliana Vess, and Mind Shatter.
Magma Phoenix – There’s some potential here, as a recursive, board-clearing (sort of) threat.
Siege-Gang Commander – …is still good. Seriously. You’re losing some incremental value from not being able to do damage on, but it’s still four bodies for five mana, and eight damage to the face when you can no longer attack. This defines creature reach, and losing ‘the trick’ (to quote Chapin) is not as big a deal as you may think.
In red, I have playsets of Ball Lightning, Bogardan Hellkite, Chandra Nalaar, Earthquake, and Shivan Dragon. I am thrilled to see Hellkites back in, and I’m seriously looking forward to playing Hellkites in my last PTQ of the season, if the appropriate deck presents itself.
Thought for the day: Hellkite trumps Broodmate.
Ant Queen – This might be a good choice in a G/x aggro deck, as it’s a 5/5 for 5 (hello Arashi) that can crank out more threats. Good with Garruk, good with Overrun.
Master of the Wild Hunt – The Master could be a solid threat in green. A 3/3 that automagically pumps out a 2/2 per turn is a good complement to a planeswalker who also pumps out creatures each turn.
Protean Hydra – This is a hydra done right, and is a huge flavor win. If you don’t kill it, it sprouts more heads and kills you. I don’t think this will generally be constructed playable, but I’m imagining having one as a one-of to tutor up with Ranger of Eos.
In green, I already have playsets of Birds of Paradise and Garruk Wildspeaker.
Darksteel Colossus – Woo, Timmy! I don’t think this is even vaguely realistic in Standard constructed, and paying full price for a Colossus only to have it Pathed is kind of sad. Still, glad to see such a player favorite back in the game.
Pithing Needle – Is it good? Is it bad? It’s hard to say. But it’s kind of an iconic card now, and it’s nice to see it still in (and maybe there’ll be new art; not that the current art is bad, but it’d be neat to see a new take on it).
I already own a playset of Platinum Angels, but it’s an excellent choice for the second mythic artifact, as it’s such an amazing thing to see on a card when you’re a new player. Practically speaking, it operates in much the same space as the Colossus. You need a way to cheat it out, or it’s just not worth it.
I’m planning on picking up playsets of all the new duals, and I’m quite excited about those as well, since they come so much closer to my vision of color fixing. Also, they will be awesome in Extended.
Those are my thoughts for now. I’ll be attending the prerelease this time around, and look forward to seeing these cards in action.