M13 Arrives At Last!

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The prerelease is here! This is one of the most exciting times for Magic players because we receive the gift of new cards. With new cards come new possibilities and new hopes for success, at the kitchen table, FNM and large events alike.

Right before a new set release, I like to take a look at which cards will have the largest impact on competitive Magic, with a focus on Standard. Some cards won't do much until Scars Block rotates out of Standard, but others will have an immediate impact.

Let me say that narrowing this list down was especially hard, because while few new cards will have a dramatic impact, many will probably see play.

For example, it is vital to know that Essence Scatter and Rewind are the counterspells that will be available this upcoming year, but neither is likely to dominate right away with Mana Leak still running around.

Before getting to the main course, we have to cover the...

Honorable Mentions

Rewind -- Since I mentioned this one above, I thought it only fitting to start with it. Free spells should not be underestimated. This counter has not been in Standard since Ninth Edition, but it did see some play during that time. Four mana is a lot, which means two to three copies is all most decks can handle. Let's just hope that this is too mana intensive for Delver, because a free counter in that deck is scary to say the least.

Augur of Bolas -- Many authors have spoken about this card and its applications for Delver, but I doubt it will see play in Delver. I think this card's real home is a control deck like U/B or U/W Control, where it may well be amazing. It blocks early and since control is usually looking for an instant or sorcery anyway, it will usually draw a relevant card.

Augur is good, but designed for a specific deck type. Consider how many spells you have before you add this to your next deck.

Attended Knight –- This may seem like a poor man's Blade Splicer, but consider what creature you will blink with Restoration Angel once Splicer rotates from Standard. I’m not saying this guy is guaranteed to see play, just that it’s worth thinking about.

Planar Cleansing –- This is an interesting but awkward choice for the white sweeper of a core set. Costing six is even more problematic than usual because it will have to compete with Terminus. I think that is a battle Terminus will always win, but Planar Cleansing does rid you of every problematic permanent in play. For example, it is one of the only cards that can kill multiple planeswalkers.

Unfortunately, the deck that usually wants to play a card like Planar Cleansing also wants to play its own pile of planeswalkers. This Akromas Vengeance upgrade may be better suited to a non-traditional control deck like G/W Control that can ramp into a bunch of lands in the early game.

War Priest of Thune and Knight of Glory –- These Grizzly Bears are both solid and will probably see some amount of play. They are both Humans which could prove to be an important characteristic.

Both creatures measure up to the power level of competitive Magic, but Knight of Glory is more likely to see play. This White Knight variant adds consistency and power to the Humans deck. It gives you another way to make Champion of the Parish a 3/3 in addition to Gather the Townsfolk.

Liliana of the Dark Realms –- The new planeswalker is proving hard to evaluate. Four mana is a good cost for these abilities, but her loyalty is what concerns me. I would be quicker to jump on board if her starting loyalty was four. Three seems too low because you cannot use her as a removal spell the turn you cast her without letting her die. That being said, she does draw an extra land every turn, which is a powerful effect for controlling decks.

That’s all for the Honorable Mentions. Let’s dive into the cards that are most likely to have a big impact. Without Further ado I bring you...

Top 10 Constructed Cards from M13

10. Mwonvuli Beast Tracker –- The green cards from M13 are very exciting and this card does not disappoint. I identified it early on this spoiler season as a potential power player. Speaking of blinkable three-drops to fill the void soon to be left by Blade Splicer, this guy should do the trick! Take a look at the list of targets below.

Untitled Deck







That is the complete list of creature cards that will be legal to search for. Obviously cards like Greater Basilisk and Aven Fleetwing are not Constructed playable but I wanted to include every option available.

Some of the more promising ones are solid threats that we are used to seeing in Standard like Thrun the Last Troll, Acidic Slime, and Primeval Titan. That is a lot of flexibility for an innocent-looking card and I expect new Ravnica to have some cool targets as well.

9. Knight of Infamy -- The new Black Knight variant fills an important role by virtue of costing two mana. Aggressive Zombie decks have been waiting for this card. Both Gravecrawler and Diregraf Ghoul can attack for three on turn two with this guy. Protection from white is great as well. Players include Sword of War and Peace specifically for the protection it offers and Knight of Infamy will be good for the same reason.

8. Flames of the Firebrand –- I remember Arc Lightning being a powerful effect. I think this spell will provide versatility to red Standard decks. It's effective against a wide variety of threats and if they don't have creatures that let you two-for-one them, it is still a reasonable burn spell.

7. Disciple of Bolas –- This card seems totally sweet! Yes, four mana is a lot but it is the best follow up ever to Geralfs Messenger. Even if you only get to sacrifice a Gravecrawler, you still draw two cards and gain two life. This new draw spell on legs will be great with any recurrable threat and absolutely insane with Messenger.

6. Quirion Dryad –- As the centerpiece of the well-known Miracle Grow deck from times past, this creature has a proven track record. It was reprinted in Tenth Edition and did not see much play then because of the environment but I think Quirion Dryad is well positioned once more. Going into a multicolored block, this is exactly the type of creature I will be looking to abuse.

5. Vampire Nighthawk –- This is the perfect example of an efficient threat. It is so good that control decks used to play this in the main or board for certain matchups. It will be good in a variety of decks. We even got Vampire Nocturnus back to pair with it if we get enough vampires to support a tribal deck again. Even if the vampire tribe’s time in the limelight is past, Nighthawk will still see a considerable amount of play.

4. Thundermaw Hellkite –- The new dragon on the block has been called the next Baneslayer Angel and compared to the likes of Rorix Bladewing and Demigod of Revenge. This guy can break through a wall of 1/1 flying blockers and tap anything else in the way, an ability none of his competitors of yore could boast. The limiting factor is his mana cost, especially considering he would go in an aggressive deck. I think the most obvious home for him is a Birthing Pod deck, where you can cheat on his cost and produce an army capable of killing in one swing.

3. Rancor –- Oh my goodness, Rancor is back! Wow. I never in a million years thought that they would reprint this classic. It brings back so many memories of my days playing Nine Land Stompy. I still have my FNM foil playset from that deck sitting in a box ready to be used once again.

Rancor is the gold standard by which auras are measured. If you've never played with it, think of it like an Angelic Destiny that only costs one mana. This is the best gift green has gotten in a long while. Strangleroot Geist with a Rancor or two will become a common sight in the near future, and it may single-handedly propel Dungrove Green to tier one.

2. Ajani, Caller of the Pride –- New planeswalkers are usually hard to evaluate, but not this one. The similarities to Elspeth, Knight Errant help us gauge the power level. It may or may not be the central piece of a tier one deck, but it will see play.

I find myself wishing that his +1 ability granted vigilance to your creature as well because that is a very Ajani ability, but even so all the abilities are quite good. Unlike the new Liliana, if you use his minus ability the first turn he comes into play, he sticks around for more action. Personally I think it should be the other way around, but it does make this a very good card.

1. Thragtusk –- Let me be frank about my number one pick. The power level of this card alarms me somewhat and it may indeed spell the doom of aggro in Standard.

How is anyone going to play an aggressive deck? Can you kill them before their turn three or four? If you can't, what are you going to do when they gain five life? Even if you kill Thragtusk, it gets replaced with a 3/3.

Now consider we have options like Restoration Angel to blink it or even Beast Within to make two 3/3’s. Birthing Pod will certainly abuse this card as will any deck that feels like splashing it. Timely Reinforcements was bad enough, but this is even worse. It does require you to play green mana but that is not too much to ask. On the bright side, at least you cannot tutor for it with Mwonvuli Beast Tracker.

Good Night and Adieu

So those are my picks for best Constructed cards out of M13. Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think!

Until Next Time,

Unleash the M13 Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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