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New Gifts for Everyone!

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What’s your favorite holiday? Mine is Spoiler Season! The great thing is we get to celebrate four times a year too. Let’s dive right in!

Removal and Utility

Magma Jet

Maybe some of you have not been playing long enough to remember Magma Jet in Standard, but you may have seen it in Modern. For a while, the Burn deck played this Shock variant.

What makes Magma Jet so great is obviously the scry ability. When was the last time your removal spell killed a creature and then set up your next turn? Magma Jet does something that Magic cards just don’t do. If you are trying to burn your opponent out, it also will help filter your next couple cards to find another burn spell to kill them.

The reason why I used to own more Magma Jets than any other uncommon from Fifth Dawn is because I drafted every single copy I ever saw in a draft. It did not matter if I was not in red, because I would just splash red for any copies I got. Not only is it amazing in Limited, it ports to Constructed as well. Scry is one of my favorite mechanics of all time and pairing it with a removal spell is one of the best things you can do with it.

Chained to the Rocks

First came Swords to Plowshares.
Next was the underwhelming Condemn.
After that we had the oh-so-close Path to Exile.
Now, we are granted Chained to the Rocks.

To me, this card seems obviously powerful to the point that nearly everyone should be in agreement about it. This deceptively-multicolored card is everything Banisher Priest dreams about being.

The determining factor for its success in Standard will be the playability of Boros.

The other point to consider is how much enchantment hate is floating around. If Standard is so filled with enchantments that everyone has Demystify in their sideboard, or even worse maindeck, then obviously this becomes the opposite of amazing.

All in all though, our new Greek Swords to Plowshares could even impact Modern with its ability to deal with any creature at a slim mana cost. Chaining beasts to the rocks is the way of the future.

Thoughtseize

Obviously every Magic writer on the internet will be talking about this card, but you should definitely listen! When you have a card that already sees play in both Modern and Legacy because of its power level, it becoming legal in Standard is going to be a big deal. It will shape the format as long as it’s legal.

I am not alone in this belief either. If I did not have my playset, this is a card I would be preordering or trading for ASAP. Even if you decide not to play black in Standard, you might well want it for the older formats. There is no obvious deck for it to go into, but I assure you, there will be at least one or more decks running this amazing spell.

Don’t be afraid of losing two life to take your opponent's best card. I have beaten the Modern burn deck after doing five damage to myself during my first turn (fetch, shockland, Thoughtseize).

The information you gain is also a valuable resource. That alone is sometimes enough. Other times, you remove the one card their entire game plan revolved around and it’s all downhill from there. Thoughtseize is one of the only spells of its kind you can easily play four copies of in your maindeck because it is good against every deck. Do not underestimate this card.

Gods

When talking about the playability of any of the new legendary enchantment creatures, the first aspect you need to dissect is its playablity while it is not a creature. No matter how devoted you are to a particular color, there will be countless times when you have an indestructible enchantment and not a beasty creature.

Purphoros, God of the Forge

Step one, is this a playable enchantment? If you ever considered playing Ogre Battledriver or a similar card, then you are required to agree that this would make one heck of an enchantment. Even if this were not ever going to be a creature, this would still be the card I am most excited about in the set so far. The internet seems to agree because his starting price tag is around $25.

His always-on ability allows you to deal two damage to your opponent each time a creature enters the battlefield under your control. You can take advantage of this ability by…well, just playing the creatures you were planning to play anyway.

If you want to go more all-in than that, start by adding Young Pyromancer and Molten Birth. Sadly Siege-Gang Commander is not legal, but there are plenty of other token makers to build around this card. The hard part is with a heavy token theme you most likely won’t be attacking with Purphoros.

Either way, the second ability to pump all your creatures +1/0, will give you a mana sink and a way to get more damage out of each creature. No matter how you play him, this god will be breaking out of the forge to deal damage for you.

Nylea, God of the Hunt

Step one, is this a playable enchantment? No. To go more in depth, if Primal Rage was on the spoiler, I don’t think anyone would be rushing to jam it into decks. Doubling the mana cost on the card does not help at all.

Certainly the pump ability is decent, but four mana for an Elvish Fury is a heck of a lot of mana. You can use the ability each turn, but that is a large investment for a slim payoff.

Then if you are devoted enough, it becomes a 6/6. Oh wait, it doesn’t have evasion? Really? This card seems so underwhelming. Even though the new gods are hard to evaluate, perhaps almost as much as when planeswalkers were first introduced, this one seems like a sure dud.

Thassa, God of the Sea

Step one, is this a playable enchantment? Free scry 1? Where do I sign up? This is the new Mirri's Guile, the new Sylvan Library, the new Sensei's Divining Top!

For three mana, the cheapest god yet, you get quite the bargain. Being able to make your creatures unblockable for the affordable price of two mana is an ok ability as well. When it does become a creature, it is still a reasonable 5/5. The part that surprises me the most is the mana cost. Why does the blue one in the cycle get to be the most cost efficient? If you are a blue mage, I’m sure you’re drooling over Thassa right now, as you should be.

Heliod, God of the Sun

Step one, is this a playable enchantment? Although it is a little on the expensive side, I would say yes. This god reminds me of Mobilization from back in the day. Giving all your creatures vigilance is a nice static ability to have for all your tokens as well.

I’m not sure if this one will see play, but there is a definite possibility. Many of the cards in this set, plus the planeswalkers that already exist, make me think a deck like Blue-White Tap Out could make a comeback in the next Standard season.

Theros is shaping up to be the most flavorful set ever. I’m excited to look at spoilers for these new sweet cards every day. Next week, we’ll take a look at some more Theros cards, starting with the crazy new planeswalkers we are going to get to play with.

Tournament Tips

Back when I first started playing, I dove into competitive Magic right away. My friend Julian, who taught me, had been going to local events for a couple years and since I had played Star Wars CCG at some local events, I was excited about playing competitive Magic. I wish I would have pushed harder to qualify for the Pro Tour back then when PTQs were much smaller, but that is a story for another day.

I remember one specific event vividly. It was the biggest local event I had played in, I think about 40-50 players but maybe only 30, and I was doing really well. Going into the last round I was undefeated and excited to play to win my first “big” event.

Even back then I was a brewer. My deck for that day was Mono-black Clerics, which was good in Onslaught-Mirrodin Standard. The deck reminds me quite a bit of the Aristocrats deck I’ve been playing in Standard since the M14 release. Most of the deck I built myself, but Mike Flores wrote an article about it and I adjusted my build some with a few of his suggestions.

My opponent for the finals was playing Tooth and Nail. It was an early version and not quite as powerful as it became later on.

Here’s the situation. I have a couple creatures and a Blinkmoth Nexus. My opponent has a giant monster “that I had to block” and nothing else threatening. The game was really close and I remember thinking, “one misplay and I will lose.” My life total was not terribly low but low enough for whatever monster he had in play to be lethal.

He found some way to get rid of all my creatures, which was impressive since that deck featured Rotlung Reanimator, and all I had left was my manland. We were at a standoff for a couple turns with me in the “must not attack because I need to block” mentality and my opponent searching for a way to not lose.

Why was my opponent searching for a way to not lose? Turns out because he was at one life. That’s right, one life. I sat there for three or four turns not attacking because I was too focused on being able to block that I missed the on-board kill for multiple turns.

I’ve come a long way since then, and while everyone misses an on-board kill once in a while, I’ve never done anything that silly since. That's because I learned from that mistake. Luckily I won the game when I realized it but my friends still razzed me after the match.

The moral of the story: pay attention to the game state. Much of what happens in a game of Magic is right before your eyes. If you stop making mistakes from lack of attention to what’s happening in the game, you will start improving. This is a lesson that all of us need to hear sometimes. Think through your plays quickly but also thoroughly to make sure you are making the best one available.

Until Next Time,

Unleash the Theros Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

8 thoughts on “New Gifts for Everyone!

  1. Oh come on, don’t call Condemn “underwhelming”. It saw play all over the place. Even Oust was extremely impressive, it just had to live in the shadow of Path to Exile. I’d go ahead to call all three borderline broken. Journey to Nowhere is also very strong.

    Chained to the Rocks is like those, except it’s more solvable (Abrupt Decay, Destructive Revelry, Peak Eruption, Encroaching Wastes). I picked up a lot of it anyways, I like it that much. Solves Voice, solves Burning-Tree, solves fatties, what more do you want?

    1. You have to take into account the standard environments these cards were printed in. Think tank is not indestructible. Think tank didn’t have an additional activated ability. Think tank also didn’t have the upside of being a 5/5 indestructible. That being said, I’m not insinuating this is the next $50 chase mythic of theros, but this card cannot and should not just merely be compared to think tank.

  2. I in fact did not know think tank existed. It seems interesting though. Obviously Thassa is better but nice shout out to an old school card.

    On the note of chained to the rocks, abrupt decay in the format is a great thing to point out. I think the card is still strong, but the amount of play abrupt decay sees could change its playability.

  3. I will not be chaining creatures to the rocks in modern. I doubt the card will see much outside standard. And even then it is too limiting, vulnerable (enchanted mountain could die or change to Spreading Seas effect) & unabusable. If you could sac it or the land as you would with Journey to Nowhere, I could see mild usage. But like you said, boros must be good and there can’t be rampant enchantment hate. All these factors make it (and to a lesser extent the banisher) the worst attempt yet….

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