To (only) my surprise, Emrakul is back and she’s trying to impose her domination on another plane in the multiverse. While she may not be bringing with her an army of colorless Eldrazi, she is transforming the Gothic horror of Innistrad into a Lovecraftian dreamworld.
Werewolves are sprouting tentacles and multiple heads, while angels are bonding together to form nightmares with celebrity supercouple nicknames. Brisela is the first all-angel power couple and they don’t disappoint. Emrakul has made her mark and it’s up to the Gatewatch to stop her from turning the whole plane into her Eldrazi minions.
So, let’s talk spoilers!
Liliana, the Last Hope
Speaking of the Gatewatch, Liliana has joined the team with her second three-mana planeswalker. As the only planeswalker with two three-mana versions, Lilly has to be feeling pretty good about herself. I was tempted to do a fake interview with her, but I think today we’ll stick to just talking about the cards.
Liliana is unleashing her zombie army on Innistrad but it’s okay, she’s helping. The first way she’s helping is by killing or shrinking your opponents’ creatures.
I’m not sure how many creatures -2/-1 will actually kill. It does kill the fast human creatures as well as Nissa plant tokens, but most creatures in this format have two or more toughness. This ability still has merit though. This shrinking ability has been proven relevant from Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. Lilly does the same thing except also lowers the toughness by one, making blocking better for you. We may wish her ability dealt out -2/-2 waves of destruction, but -2/-1 is still alright.
The second way Liliana, the Last Hope is saving the day is with her mad action Raise Dead skills. Whether your creatures have died already or you mill them with the first part of her ability, this avenue to card advantage is a great way to grind through your games.
These two abilities may seem minor but the fact that they’re tacked onto a three-mana planeswalker makes a huge difference in how good they will be. Initially, my primary concern with new Lilly was that her +1 and -2 didn’t seem to synergize well with each other. Weakness is great and Raise Dead is great, but one of those cards goes into a control deck and one goes into a creature-based deck.
After further consideration though, I think Weakness could help you set up good attacks with your aggressive deck. This +1 will make it much less appealing for your opponent to block and it stops them from being able to kill Lilly on the back swing too!
When evaluating a planeswalker, it’s helpful to focus on the abilities you will be using the most often, but the ultimate can vary in importance based on what it does and how long it takes to get there. Take Nahiri, the Harbinger for example; we all thought she was decent but when someone showed how quickly you could ultimate her, that was what pushed her over the top in multiple formats. This may be the exception rather than the rule with planeswalkers, but it reminds us not to forget about the ultimate.
Liliana, the Last Hope has an ultimate that costs seven loyalty counters and she only starts with three. That’s not a great setup. What you get when you finally wait all those turns is some zombie tokens!?
Depending on whether or not you have included a lot of zombies in your deck or not will determine if her ultimate is good or not. If you can’t really make zombies, you’ll only be getting a couple of zombie body guards. If you already have a zombie army though, you will double its size. This leads me to believe that most of the time alternating between the +1 and -2 abilities will be the best sequence.
At the end of the day I think Liliana, the Last Hope is comparable to Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. Most of the time these planeswalkers will be reasonably good. The days of Liliana of the Veil are long gone and now we have three-mana walkers with much milder abilities but ones that still impact the course of the game the longer they’re in play. For the record, these two cards have the same setup with +1, -2, and -7 as well.
Financial Implications: Starting between $23-$25 preorder price on TCG Player is no surprise to me, but don’t buy in right away unless you need her for an event in the first couple weeks of Standard. She should drop to $15 like her counterpart Nissa, so wait a bit and then get in at the lower price.
Oath of Liliana
Even if you aren’t playing Liliana, the Last Hope in a super aggressive black deck, cards like Oath of Liliana can help you execute the same game plan. Lilly’s Oath starts with a commitment to killing creatures, but most of the creatures in Standard are so good that making them sacrifice one is great. Then, once you start playing planeswalkers, you begin to generate your zombie army.
There are a couple of limiting factors with this new enchantment. First of all, if you are looking to have Lilly give her oath and then ask her to help out on the battlefield, you'll have to give up one mana, playing a three-drop on turn four.
In addition, although this removal spell might be playable in any deck with black mana, the planeswalker decks have been rocking the Naya colors. So, will this card shift their direction? If not, is it good enough to bring B/W Midrange back into the format? There are definitely a lot of questions about where the format is headed once Eldritch Moon releases. What I do know is that this card is quite good. If you have a bunch of planeswalkers, Oath of Lilly will start to feel like an extra Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. This is one card I’m extremely excited to tinker with.
Financial Implications: If the other Oaths are any indication, and despite being from a different block they should be, the presale price of basically $3 should be fairly accurate. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this rare drop a little, but I think it should trend more like Oath of Nissa than Oath of Chandra.
Deploy the Gatewatch
If we’re interested in triggering Oath of Liliana as well as other Oaths in the cycle, what better way is there than playing a ton of planeswalkers in your deck? Luckily, Wizards knew we would love playing a deck built around the concept of the Gatewatch. After all, the Gatewatch is the Avengers or the Justice League of Magic, so who wouldn’t love that idea?
I’m on board and Deploy the Gatewatch will help me fulfill this dream of guarding every tournament with a deck based on Magic’s super team. Six mana is a lot but getting eight to twelve mana worth of planeswalkers seems like winning the game to me. The fact that you can’t double up on the same planeswalker like you can with creatures from Collected Company is a drawback but you can always activate your current walkers before you Deploy and then you’ll get a double activation.
Financial Implications: When I’m writing about these financial implications of new cards, I think about each card before I check what price it’s preordering for. Typically I am in the right range with the price and that was the case for the first two cards in the article. Sometimes my price point is too low because preorder season can get out of control sometimes. It’s rare for me to be too high on a card though, and those are typically the situations where preordering becomes a time to make some money.
My first thought about Deploy the Gatewatch was at mythic this semi-tutor should be in the $10 to $15 range. Needless to say I was eye-poppingly surprised that it was sitting at only $5. As I’m writing this, I’m trying to determine whether or not to buy into this card.
In order to make this sorcery your deck’s goal, you will need a lot of planeswalkers. That fact makes it much less inclusive than just needing creatures like with Company. Maybe $5 is the right price point for this card, but no matter the future price trend, I’ll be working with it in Standard for sure.
There must be some sort of mistake. That was my first thought upon seeing Eldritch Evolution spoiled. Would Wizards really print a Natural Order/Birthing Pod hybrid? I still can’t believe this card exists. It’s going to be a multi-format all-star.
Due to the Allosaurus Rider spike, which is already trending down, I think it’s safe to say that Modern players are excited to cast this powerful green spell, and rightly so. Cheating Iona, Shield of Emeria, Griselbrand, or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite into play is some hard-to-beat sequencing. There are plenty of other combo opportunities as well. In addition to Allosaurus Rider, we also have delve creatures and Melira Combo pieces to consider. This card should see tons of play in Modern.
One thing I don’t see players talking about is what it will be like for Standard with this card. I think sacrificing your Matter Reshaper to get Archangel Avacyn sounds great. You could even use this card to set up Brisela, Voice of Nightmares but you will need a five-drop creature to sacrifice first. There are many possibilities with this green tutor. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Financial Implications: Starting out in double digits is exactly what I expected for a rare of this caliber. It’s hard for a rare to push a higher price point than where it’s at right now. If it sees major play in Standard, we will see the price go up, but without that push, I doubt the card will escalate quickly.
Tamiyo, Field Researcher
Tamiyo, Field Researcher has one huge thing going for her. The mana cost of this four-mana planeswalker is already in the best color combination. There is no delving deep for the secrets of her future because she is primed and ready to jump into the best archetype.
With there being multiple great Bant Company combinations to choose from, it’s easy to see right where Tamiyo will fit in. Although she probably won’t be a four-of, she will easily replace those Ojutai's Commands that the list has been sporting. Tamiyo takes care of both roles that Company decks are looking for.
First of all, her +1 will give you more card advantage to bury your opponent with. Drawing an extra card or two per turn will help you find the Collected Companys in your deck or just give you more resources to work with.
Her -2 will further frustrate every opponent as well. Now, not only will they be able to Reflector Mage your creatures, but they will be able to follow up that busted creature by tapping down whatever other blocker you manage to bring to the battlefield.
Following the same loyalty pattern as Lilly and Nissa, Tamiyo definitely has an ultimate worth building towards. It may be -7, but Ancestral Recall for free plus Omniscience is one heck of an ultimate. If that doesn’t win the game soon, then you didn’t draw any spells to cast for free. Don’t forget to include some creature lands in your list again so that you can use your mana once you ultimate.
Financial Implications: Tamiyo may be an obvious hit in Standard right now, but what’s not obvious is where her price will be heading. I would put my eggs in the downward trend basket. $25+ seems like a lot to ask of a card that most likely won’t see play as a four-of.
Because she is going to fit right in though, I think it’s likely that lots of players will need copies of her. So I could definitely see her heading toward $30 before she settles downward. If you need her I’d get in sooner rather than later because the initial supply should be relatively low. If you don’t need her immediately though, wait about a week and you should be able to sell Bant Tamiyo at her peak.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!
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