Dragon’s Maze of midrange. That is the honorary title I bestow upon the new set. Have you noticed that all of the cards worth caring about cannot be discarded by Inquisition of Kozilek? That is a bit of an exaggeration, but not far from the truth. The average converted mana cost aside, my initial impression of the set is lukewarm. Like Gatecrash though, there are many hidden gems in this set that will make an impact on Standard. Today, I would like to talk about some cards at I have been thinking about from the spoiler. Hopefully, I can provide you with a different perspective than other writers.
Advent of the Wurm
My first thought about Advent of the Wurm is that it is crazy powerful. When I started playing, you had to accept a number of drawback to get more power than mana you put into your four-drop. Now 5/5s for four mana come with multiple abilities.
The first ability is trample. In a world filled with mana producing elves and Lingering Souls tokens, trample is more of a boon than normal. Most creatures in Standard right now are not sized to compete with this card. Of course we have Thragtusk still running rampant, but hopefully that ship will sail this summer and we won’t have to deal with it after M14.
Making a token is a bonus as well because it enables populate.
What else is important about this card? Oh right, you can play it whenever you feel like it because of flash. This innocent word is the most important aspect of the card. Restoration Angel is not just good because of her blink ability, she is so potent because she ambushes attackers. Right now in Standard, if your opponent passes the turn with four mana available and one of them is white, you should be giving serious thought to whether or not you should attack with your 3/3. Often you should hold back.
You may think that after all of that, I would advocate building a deck to abuse Advent of the Wurm's. That is unfortunately not the case. I think this card will be mostly neglected because of the existence of Azorius Charm. As the blue-white charm will be legal during the same time, Advent of the Wurm will probably never live up to its potential. Why bother spending your fourth turn to make a 5/5 when your opponent can spend fewer resources to remove it? Maybe I am wrong and we will be populating 5/5’s in Standard in the Fall, but I don’t think so. We can hope though.
Voice of Resurgence
This bear-sized plant deer thing has been the topic of discussion as of late. Players are rarely neutral with their opinion about this deertaur (like a centaur but a deer instead, obviously). Breaking down the text box can be confusing, so let’s figure out exactly what’s happening in there.
The first thing we know is that at some point we will get a creature token. This is another Selesnya card so that should not surprise anyone. The token you get is as big as the number of creatures you control. I’ve heard a number of players claim this card is bad because you will only get a 1/1 when it dies. This is not going to be the case the majority of the time. If you are playing a deck that wants a 2/2 for two mana, I’m sure you will have other creatures. Most likely, you even have one-mana creatures like Avacyn's Pilgrim or Dryad Militant. Even if you only have your one-mana creature and the Voice of Resurgence, you will get a 2/2 when it dies. What if you follow up your one-mana and two-mana plays with Lingering Souls? This is starting to sound more reasonable now.
Against an aggressive deck, it functions similar to a creature with undying. I think comparing it to Strangleroot Geist would be appropriate based on what we have discussed so far. But that’s not all the Voice does.
While he gives you another creature to fight against aggressive decks, he is even better against controlling decks. His ability to give you a token also triggers whenever your opponent interacts with you on your turn. That means if they try to counter your spell, play Restoration Angel, or cast a card drawing spell, you get your token. Forcing Esper Control or UWR Flash to only play spells on their own turn is a powerful way to change how they play their decks. Can either of those decks actually beat you if they are forced to cast their spells on their turn?
To sum up Voice of Resurgence, yes it is only a 2/2 but it comes equipped with some very good hate bear abilities. Not only is it good against aggro decks, but it is even better against control. I expect this creature to make an impact on Standard and maybe even the older formats as well.
Gaze of Granite
Many comparisons have been made between this card and Pernicious Deed. The similarities do exist, but Deed was so good because you could sacrifice it the turn you played it or wait until later so you had more mana available.
I think Gaze will prove too expensive for Standard, but it is a very powerful effect. Against aggro, you'll most likely have to wait until you have five mana before it's effective. It’s possible that its flexibility makes it better than Merciless Eviction, but those two cards seem very similar to me. Against control, where you would think it is better because you have more mana available, I don’t think it supersedes Rakdos's Return or the new Sire of Insanity.
I don’t think Gaze of Granite will even have as much impact as Putrefy. I’m glad it exists but it seems too mana intensive for Standard. If someone casts this against me I won't be too surprised, but they might be dead before they can cast it for enough.
Gruul War Chant
This might seem like a strange card to talk about today, but it has been on my mind a lot since I saw it on the spoiler. This Madcap Skills variant is going to be great in Limited. Considering how slow Dragon’s Maze seems and the slowness RTR gave us, DGR Limited looks to be a midrange format. If those things are true about Limited, I was thinking they might apply to Standard as well.
The worst case scenario for this enchantment is that is becomes just a bonus to your creature’s power. Four mana is double what we normally pay for this effect but the second part makes it worth the investment. Having to block two creatures on each attacker against a deck like Naya Blitz can be game ending. Stabilizing off of Lingering Souls or Thragtusk is commonplace right now. With Gruul War Chant, neither of those would be enough. This four-mana enchantment is not the best card ever, but it may turn out to impact Standard which is more than anyone is giving it credit for right now.
Return target permanent card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Target permanent. This wording has never existed on a card before. When situations like this come up, it’s best to pay attention.
This unique effect is powerful too. Junk Reanimator is already a deck, and the best one in the format at that. What happens when it gets more consistency? If that were all the aid we got from this card, I would be surprised it was a rare. But Obzedat's Aid can do crazy things like reanimate Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker or Omniscience. Think about having one of those permanents in play on turn three or four instead of a mere Angel of Serenity. It may turn out that this new card is just a more expensive Zombify, but it has a lot of potential.
That’s all for me today. Over the next couple weeks I will be sharing some sweet Standard decks, stories from PTQs, and my top ten for the set. My top ten article always causes some controversy, so don’t miss it!
Until next week,
Unleash the Maze!