War of the Spark is the 81st Magic expansion, set to be released in paper on May 3, 2019, and available on MTG: Arena on April 25, days before the prerelease. The set touts a planeswalker in every pack and will continue the story arc involving the conflict between the Gatewatch and Nicol Bolas.
Spoilers start officially on March 31st, tied to PAX East and the Mythic Invitational event. We'll be updating this post with more information as we get closer to release, so be sure to check back with us frequently!
Just when I thought we were all done with Spoiler Season, Wizards decides to throw on this amazing adornment to the Japanese release of War of the Spark.
Each of the 36 planeswalkers featured in the set will have an alternate art version drawn by high-profile Japanese artists in addition to the regular versions of the card possible in each pack. Collectors around the world will surely be clamoring for Japanese boxes of the set in hopes of pulling one of these alternate arts to spice up their decks. I won't post all of them here, but the full set of walkers is available in this gallery for your viewing pleasure.
It's difficult to figure a starting price for these as foreign cards have a lot of associated variables, but I can assure you these will be highly sought after cards, and will likely be the most desirable versions of these planeswalkers. The highlight of the gallery has got to be the Liliana, Dreadhorde General by renowned Yoshitaka Amano, noted for his work on Speed Racer, Vampire Hunter D, and Final Fantasy. Also, is this a MF JoJo reference?
Spoiler season is officially over, with every card in the set revealed and the storyline complete. Gideon dies a hero's death, and gets to finally take a well-deserved rest back on Theros. With that cat finally out of the bag, Wizards took an opportunity to show off the latest in the Spellbook series with Signature Spellbook: Gideon.
As was the case with the last Spellbook, Gideon's offering will include some on-flavor art, and a unique border. Standouts to me here are the new arts for Path to Exile and Rest in Peace. Speaking of alternate arts, Wizards made another significant announcement today.
The War of the Spark: Mythic Edition was announced, and will contain eight more planeswalkers getting the full art treatment. 12,000 copies will be available on Hasbro's eBay store on May 1st, 3PM EST. They're charging $249.99 for the box which will contain 24 packs and a purchase limit of two. It may sound a bit steep, but the full cart copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon will more than recoup the cost of the box. As we've seen with the last two offerings, these will sell out pretty fast (some Insiders in Discord estimated within minutes) so you'll want to be ready to check out as soon as the product is listed.
Outside of these shiny new baubles, spoiler season wrapped up with a slough of commons and uncommons, but I think these two are pretty interesting.
Despark strikes me as a great piece of sideboard tech, and I think there's a chance it could see some Modern play. Everybody's always looking for the next Tron Killer card, and this cleanly answers most of Tron's threats with the added bonus of exiling the card. Another card that strikes me as particularly powerful is Heartwarming Redemption. Besides showing off the happily ever after for Gideon on Theros, having a Wheel of Fortune effect in the format could prove interesting.
Overall, it was a pretty incredible spoiler season, and I absolutely loved how they executed these previews. Although leaks are an unfortunate side effect, I'm glad that things were trickled out a bit every day, which I think will contribute to the overall success of this set. As for MTG Finance implications going ahead, I think this set has plenty of room to move the needle on plenty more cards, including the ones within the set itself. I'll be watching the first weeks of Standard very closely and eagerly awaiting the MCQ decklists to release.
Wednesday rolls around again to give us some new spoilers, drawing us pretty close to the end of the previews.
First we have the rest of the Finale cycle in Finale of Devastation and Finale of Glory. These two are very reminiscent of X spells we've seen before, like Green Sun's Zenith and Decree of Justice, but with the added benefits when you dump 10 mana into them. Many are speculating that Finale of Devastation will be an incredibly powerful spell in Standard, and will definitely be making waves in Commander.
The selection of planeswalkers from the day was quite interesting. We get to some clearer versions of Ugin, the Ineffable and Gideon Blackblade that were previously leaked, and the new Narset, Parter of Veils at uncommon. This is quite a strong card at uncommon. In certain matchups, having a similar ability to Leovold, Emissary of Trest that prevents your opponents from cantripping can shut them out of the game, and searching the top four cards of your library for a spell is pretty nice to pair with it.
This Tuesday's spoilers brought us some spicy new cards, although very few in comparison the comparative truckload we got yesterday.
Two more Finales were shown off today, Finale of Revelation and Finale of Eternity. These seem a little less powerful at the lower part of the range, but the flexibility they provide will probably make them fan favorites in Commander.
Speaking of fan favorites, Casualties of War looks to be exactly the type of card to get excited about. While the rate is a bit higher than something like Maelstrom Pulse or Abrupt Decay, Casualties of War will be able to take care of a lot of problems, albeit it one of each type at a time. Six mana is though, but at minimum you're going to target a creature and also Stone Rain your opponent. Bioessence Hydra strikes me as a very fun card as well. Getting rewarded for playing planeswalkers and using them seems great, and this hydra could get pretty large fairly quickly.
Oath of Kaya rounds out the day, showing us the story point where Kaya joins the Gatewatch. Aside from a nice flavorful enchantment, this represents what I think could be a key piece of removal in Standard. Lightning Helix that also buffers your life total and provides pseudo-protection for your planeswalkers isn't horrible, especially in a Superfriends list.
Happy Tax Day to those of you in the states! Today brought us a ton of new cards to take a look at, but I'll try to boil it down to what I think were the most important.
Of course, we have to talk about the planeswalkers of the day first. We get our official spoiling of Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God, and this will probably be the most significant mythic of the set. As well, we have two more uncommon walkers in Ashiok, Dream Render and Huatli, Heart of the Sun. Ashiok kills search spells while Huatli carries the static ability of Doran the Siege Tower, contributing yet another butt-fight card to Standard. Sarkhan the Masterless rounds out the roster and has a offbeat, but awesome ability to turn your planeswalkers into 4/4 flying dragons. We've seen this sort of effect tied to cards like Form of the Dragon and Day of the Dragons before, but this will likely offer a solid win condition in planeswalker themed decks.
These spotlight spells are absolute hype condensed into card form. Aside from having some fantastic art which will be highly desirable in foil, we get some very potent abilities to go with it. The Elderspell is probably going to be one of the most impactful planeswalker answers ever printed, though I believe it will be largely relegated to sideboards. Commence the Endgame could be a control finisher in Standard outside of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Deliver Unto Evil looks great as a card and will probably be an EDH staple, but seems a bit lackluster outside of that context.
God-Eternal Oketra completes the cycle of gods, and this one may have some early financial impact on other cards. Whenever you cast a creature spell, you'll be making a 4/4 Zombie Warrior with Vigilance. An infinite loop of tokens is possible with Gravecrawler and Phyrexian Altar, both of which I'll be monitoring very closely over the next few days.
April 13th and 14th
While it is unfortunate that these were leaked before they could be officially spoiled in story order, we get a sneak-sneak preview of some strong cards. Ugin the Ineffable confirms the dragon planeswalker's inevitable confrontation with Nicol Bolas. As for the power level of the card, this Ugin will likely be be a relevant player in Modern Tron lists, and possibly Big Eldrazi in Legacy. Reducing the cost of colors cards will likely enable some deadly combos in Commander as well. Blast Zone does a nice impression of Engineered Explosives or Ratchet Bomb, and will probably see some play as a utility land somewhere. It loses points on flexibility for not being able to kill tokens at zero CMC, but will likely be useful in decks that can pay its activation cost. Finally, we see a big green spell in Planar Celebration. Foils of this will be a slam dunk for the Commander crowd.
April 12th, 2019
After the massive bomb drop that was Thursday's spoilers, we take a small breather today.
Niv-Mizzet Reborn was the most significant card of the day, and he even came with a nice mana rock to help cast it in Firemind Vessel. Commander players will be ecstatic to have another five-color option as a general, or another strong piece to existing decks like Ramos, Dragon Engine or Scion of the Ur-Dragon. The unique ability of this dragon will probably have players considering the two-mana charms from Return to Ravnica block for their deck, which may put pressure on foil copies.
Next, we got an interesting cycle of uncommons in the Bond of X cards. None of these strike me as needle-movers, but the flavor of these screams casual gold. I expect foils of these to be highly desirable, with many players looking to complete sets for their collections. Note the awesome symbol combinations of the guilds for each shard (I especially love the one for Bond of Insight).
Last up is one of the most powerful cards in the spoiler cycle yet. Finale of Promise allows you to play spells for free, which I hear Magic players are big fans of. In tandem with cards like Faithless Looting, Disentomb, or even Thought Scour, you're going to be able to play several powerful spells for free, including game winning combos. Like Electrodominance before it, this card will likely put pressure on cards like the Pact cycle and the Suspend spells. Ancestral Vision and Living End will be cards to watch in Modern and Legacy leagues.
April 11th, 2019
Yesterday seems like a bit of a dud compared to what we got on this fine Thursday! More of the God cycle was spoiled, spurring on a lot of Commander chatter again. These will be putting pressure on a lot of cards. This spoiler season has really cranked up reactionary buying up to 11, maybe more so than any Standard set has before.
God-Eternal Bontu, God-Eternal Kefnet, and God-Eternal Rhonas return in their zombified forms to make a big splash on the Commander scene. These will definitely move the needle on a lot of different cards, and I imagine that there will be several spikes in the next few days that no one is directly predicting now. Many have pointed at Sensei's Divining Top as one to start moving due to Kefnet's top-of-deck ability.
We also received a new walker in Tamiyo, Collector of Tales and her signature spell Tamiyo's Epiphany. Even at rare, this Tamiyo stands out as strong, and could be a serious boon to decks that have trouble fighting Thought Erasure and Duress.
Finally, we have some awesome rares to round out the day. Enter the God-Eternals feels like a strong card that offers a ton of value for what you pay into it. Removal, life gain, mill, and a 4/4. Straight up value town! Spark Double is the clone we didn't know we wanted, and will be valuable in Super Friends decks. The stinker of the bunch is Silent Submarine. It's worse than Smuggler's Copter in nearly every single way, but could prove playable in Standard in the Mono Blue Tempo deck.
April 10th, 2019
It's Wednesday my dudes, and that means we've got another round of spoilers to go over!
We've finally got official images of Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Domri, Anarch of Bolas today, and green mages everywhere are very excited. Nissa doubles your green mana production, and will likely see play Standard as a finisher. Nissa's plus ability gets deadly very fast, and can definitely swing a game in your favor. This new Domri will likely be played in Standard Gruul decks, possibly replacing the slots that Domri, Chaos Bringer already may have occupied.
Outside of the confirmed walkers, we still got some solid rares that may be spurring movement very soon. Illharg, the Raze-Boar screams casual fun, and will likely become a fan favorite Commander. Some chatter indicates that its ability, similar to Sneak Attack or Through the Breach will put pressure on other large creatures that could be put into play in combat. One of the more interesting callouts was Medomai, the Ageless. Putting Medomai into play with the boar's effect and picking it up at end of turn will give you infinite turns to win the game. Foils of Medomai are already moving, but I expect this to be a flash in the pan once people realize that you can't play either of these as a general and have the other in your deck.
Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi shows off yet another card that could benefit from proliferate cards, and is fairly solid on its own. I expect this to largely be a draft bomb, but there's a small chance it could break into Standard as a win condition, given how powerful the effect is for the casting cost.
April 9th, 2019
This Tuesday was a huge day for spoilers! Five new planeswalkers join the fray, with the previously leaked Karn, the Great Creator confirmed.
Karn, the Great Creator previously moved the needle on Mycosynth Lattice, pushing the card up to new heights since its Battlebond printing. I expect this card to make a debut in Modern not too long after its release, possibly in Tron decks. Chandra, Fire Artisan is our other rare planeswalker from the day, doing her best impression of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. It very well could see play in Standard red decks as a way to stay relevant in the later parts of the game. As well, she could functionally trade with creatures on the battlefield, should your opponent decide to swing into her. This offers pseudo-protection and at least enables one-for-one trades, if not better.
Dovin, Jaya, and Saheeli make their return with their own uncommon cards. Dovin, Hand of Control will be a great way to tax your opponent and help fend off larger creatures in limited, but I'm not sure if this card has an easy home in constructed anywhere. The latter could be said about Jaya, Venerated Firemage and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer. Nothing stands out as too incredibly powerful but will be fine limited cards.
April 8th, 2019
Monday spoilers started off slow, and then a sudden explosion of new cards came along! Here are some of the relevant drops.
First off, we have a new planeswalker in Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor. Kasmina is a new planeswalker for the set, and has an awesome static ability similar to Frost Titan, but for all your creatures and planeswalkers. The tick down ability comes at a pretty decent rate of four mana, attached to a walker than somewhat protects itself. Roalesk, Apex Hybrid was previously leaked last weekend, albeit an incredibly blurry picture. Now we have access to a high-res image that reveals a strong Proliferate creature that will go well with the Simic suite of creatures we've seen already.
We also got some sweet cards representing the Boros Legion! The return of Feather, the Redeemed has got a lot of Angel players excited. It interacts well with pump spells and will probably spur on the development of a Boros aggro list in Standard. Solar Blaze looks to be a powerful, hopefully one-sided board wipe that plays well with the Boros creatures that have a higher toughness than power. Last up for the Boros is Parhelion II, another vehicle to add to the setlist. This will no doubt be a fan favorite that will be an easy pickup for any casual Commander deck featuring angels.
Last up we've got the official spoiling of Ral, Storm Conduit, along with some signature spells Ral's Outburst and Bolt Bend. Just like the murmurs in our Discord suggested, Ral's static ability can produce an infinite combo with another spell and the Expansion side of Expansion // Explosion. This could create a new Standard deck archetype shooting for the infinite combo, or give a shot in the arm to Jeskai decks that were set aside in favor of the Esper suite of cards. I expect some movement on Expansion // Explosion in response to this.
April 5th, 2019
Friday wrapped up with a fantastic round of new spoilers. Proliferate becomes more fleshed out, with some nice commons and uncommons in green. Look for these cards to boost your proliferate strategy in sealed or draft.
Perhaps the most important of these is Evolution Sage. With it on the table, you'll get to proliferate each time a land enters play under your control. This effect is incredibly powerful, and could work well in Standard with cards like Scapeshift, World Shaper, and Growth Spiral. In eternal formats, a strategy that wants to abuse the proliferate mechanics will benefit from having fetchlands like Misty Rainforest present. We also saw two sweet Simic cards with proliferate on them.
Merfolk Skydiver will be a solid draft uncommon and a good reason to go Simic. Neoform fits into this category as well, with potential to fuel a toolbox deck in Standard. These both could play nicely in a Prime Speaker Vannifar deck of some sort.
Other notable rares from the day include Tomik, Distinguished Advokist, Mizzium Tank, and Mobilized District. Mizzium Tank gives us a new vehicle that could very well see play in Mono Red as a way to make use of early drops that may get outclassed in the mid to late game. Mobilized District could be a strong piece in Super Friends if a control shell develops, with it being an extra way to win the game or protect your walkers. Tomik, Distinguished Advokist looks more like a Legacy card that Death and Taxes could sideboard in against various Dark Depths strategies. I expect foils of this to be hunted down very quickly.
April 4th, 2019
It's been the lightest day in this spoiler season so far, but there is one card I want to talk about that's got everyone on the QS Insider Discord buzzing!
Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves gives an update to our old friends Tolsimir Wolfblood and his loyal companion Voja. This will have obvious casual appeal, and will entice many Commander players to start picking up various green and white wolves for this upcoming general. Notable mentions include Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed, Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha, and Master of the Hunt. Some stated that the fact that this creature isn't red will potentially damage its viability as a Wolf-based general, barring it from using more relevant wolf cards such as Arlinn Kord // Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon and Ulrich of the Krallenhorde // Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha.
April 3rd, 2019
Another day of spoilers brought us an update on the Nahiri and Sorin storyline last developed in Shadows Over Innistrad. Both of these planeswalkers are quite good, especially considering their rarity. Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord's static ability to grant not only your creatures but also planeswalkers lifelink will probably make it a significant piece in Standard moving forward, possibly in an Abzan or Esper Midrange shell that would be interested in reanimating its creatures. Nahiri, Storm of Stone feels a little underwhelming, although probably pretty good for an uncommon. The equipment focused static ability also grants your creatures first strike, and being able to remove creatures in a pinch adds a lot to her utility. Single Combat ties their story together with a flavorful Cataclysm effect.
Next up, here are some fantastic Golgari uncommons in Leyline Prowler and Deathsprout. I can't help but shake the feeling that these could have been rares if their costs were both reduced by one-mana, but appear to be awesome value for the rate. Black looks like it is shaping up to be the most powerful color in limited play, judging from what we know so far.
An excited shriek from every Goblin fan around the globe was heard with the unveiling of this new Krenko, Boss of Tin Street! Whenever he attacks, you put a +1/+1 counter on Krenko, Boss of Tin Street, then create X 1/1 red goblin creature tokens, where X is equal to Krenko, Boss of Tin Street's power. Not exactly the standalone powerhouse we've seen before in Legion Warboss or Goblin Rabblemaster before it, but overall pretty good in a Goblin shell accompanied by the likes of Goblin Trashmaster and Goblin Chainwhirler.
April 2nd, 2019
Today's spoilers were far less intense compared to yesterday and last weekend, but we still got some exciting cards. The Dreadhorde get more fleshed out, this time with an aggressive red focus.
It was a big day for red cards. The new take on Neheb offers an interesting ability on hit, along with the other two cards here. Dreadhorde Butcher will likely be a solid Rakdos card to build around, pairing well with what we saw yesterday. The most exciting of these three for me is Dreadhorde Arcanist. Many have dubbed this new take on a flashback creature as Slapcaster Mage, as it allows you to cast a spell from your graveyard on hit less than or equal to its power. Recasting a Shock from the grave may be the difference between winning and losing, although I'm not sure if this card will make the cut in red decks just yet.
The return of Fblthp has come, and people are getting incredibly excited. I'm not exactly sure if there will be a deck that can abuse the ETB draw effect in a big way, but I expect foils of this little homunculus to be absurdly expensive due to casual appeal. Using Chord of Calling or Birthing Pod to play this card from the library will net you two cards for value, but maybe there's some hope for Prime Speaker Vannifar decks in Standard. UPDATE: Fblthp's interaction with Proteus Staff has prompted a buyout of the artifact. Activating the staff with Fblthp, the Lost as the only creature in your deck allows for powerful card draw and being able to stack your deck how you choose.
April 1st, 2019
Despite it being April Fool's Day, and having to take EVERYTHING with a grain of salt, we still managed to verify quite a few cards as real and what a day for spoilers it was! We got a huge slough of planeswalkers across the two rarities, and with some exciting effects to boot. It's a lot to unpack, with each walker having powerful and flavorful ability (click for translated text).
Standouts here are the new planeswalker The Wanderer, Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, and Teyo, the Shieldmage making their debut. They will without a doubt be significant to the storyline of War of the Spark and likely will be players moving forward past this set. Starting them out as uncommons builds hype to possibly see them later on. The two rares we received in this packet were Teferi, Time Raveler and Vivien, Vivien, Champion of the Wilds.
These seem a tad unexciting to me, as they will likely both be overshadowed by their five-mana counterparts in Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Vivien Reid in regards to Standard. However, I am quite interested to see what the future holds for this new three-drop Teferi. He doesn't impact the board in a big way immediately outside of bouncing a permanent, but his static ability that forces your opponent to play Hearthstone isn't entirely negligible. The plus ability isn't awful either. Imagine being able to cast Thoughtseize at the end of your opponent's draw step. Yikes!
Each walkers also brings a namesake card or two with them. Most of them seem like Standard draft fare, but I'd like to highlight these in particular. Vivien's Arkbow seems like a deadly threat that will allow green creature decks to claw their way back into the game after facing a board wipe. Angrath's Anger (unofficial translation) gives the sorcery-speed option of forcing an opponent to sacrifice an artifact, creature, or planeswalker. This likely will see some sort of play for its flexibility, and will probably give Grixis cheaper recourse against resolved walkers than Vraska's Contempt.
Last up for the day's highlights, we got the rest of our promised FNM promos in Augur of Bolass and Dovin's Veto, as well as the new Open House promo Liliana's Triumph. Augur will still put three cards on the bottom of your library if you're lucky like I am. Dovin's Veto strikes me as a very interesting card as a frequent UW Control player in several formats, and will likely impact all formats it's legal in. The same goes for Liliana's Triumph, which is just a strictly better version of Diabolic Edict that has an amazing upside if you also have a Liliana on the table.
I'll leave you all with this image that was seen floating around, which may or may not contain real cards in it. I'll be giving updates on this as more information comes out. Some of these were already confirmed, so I'll be adding my thoughts on these as clearer images become available.
March 31st, 2019
As promised, a large glut of spoilers were dropped on us today during the final day of the Mythic Invitational, with more to follow. Many player's suspicions about planeswalkers at lower rarity than Mythic were confirmed, with us seeing them as low as uncommon. We see that the walkers at less than rare will only have tick-down abilities. Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge shows up as the pre-spoiled Buy-A-Box promo mentioned in the leaked promotional materials invoice we saw a few days ago.
Nothing here stands out as far too busted, although we have to note the new planeswalker formatting that includes static abilities. We've seen these on several cards before, but attaching them to walkers that also have an activated ability will surely prove powerful. As funny as it is to say, I believe Tibalt, Rakish Instigator will be a significant player in the upcoming Standard format, given how powerful Mono Red is at the moment. Liliana and Tezzeret are the first mythic walkers spoiled, and I think they'll be decent cards as well. We also saw two of the set mechanics: the returning Proliferate first seen in Scars of Mirrodin, and the new Amass. Zombie relevant cards like Death Baron will likely be pickup targets moving forward.
Flux Channeler stands out to me as one of the more powerful cards, even at uncommon, and has me excited for what's to come. The obvious standout to me given the information we have so far is that some sort of Grixis deck is possible here. There likely will be movement on artifacts like Throne of Geth, Arcbound Ravager, and more.
These mechanics will play hand-in-hand and the effect of this spoiling has already put pressure on a few cards in the market, most notably Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. We're already seeing a ton of movement on TCG Player, and a lot of hype around the card. Discussion in our QS Discord is going wild with all the possibilities with the cards we've just seen, and there's no better time to join than now! Another notable card we're likely to see movement on given these mechanics is of course Doubling Season. This card is a fan favorite as is, but there I expect a sharp increase in price by the end of the spoiler season due to this EDH demand.
Moving on to other the other cards we received today, we got a slough of exciting and flavorful spells.
The invasion of Ravnica is in full effect here. No Escape and Ignite the Beacon are just a small preview of things to come regarding planeswalker interaction. Time Wipe will likely see some Standard play in decks like Azorius Aggro/Midrange. There are also major EDH implications for these cards as well. Bolas's Citadel was half spoiled a few days ago in name only, but seeing it in its final form reveals an insanely powerful artifact. Casting spells for free is never bad. Ravnica at War is also another interesting EDH card, especially considering the counterplay to Atraxa that it could provide. Interplanar Beacon will likely be a card to watch, especially foils. It will be about as necessary to run as Command Tower is in a walker themed EDH deck.
March 28th, 2019
The Mythic Invitational is in full swing, and we've got a new spoiler to report! Ajani's Pridemate will be the first card we've seen in a finished state, revealing the set symbol and an update on the rules text.
March 27th, 2019
While spoilers were set to officially start on March 29, an invoice being shared around Reddit and Twitter reveals a confirmed reprint of Augur of Bolas as an FNM promo.
Nothing too exciting, but Pauper players will surely be happy to have them, almost certainly with new art! Assuming this is a screenshot of a real invoice, we also get some new card names: Bola's Citadel (sic); Tezzeret, Master (likely not the full name), which appears to be the Buy-A-Box foil; Paradise Druid; and Dovin's Veto. It's hard to make any calls on what these cards will do, but a lot can be inferred from the names alone. In response to this, we'll likely see a bit more information come out over the weekend regarding these promos and how they actually read.
Heading into the weekend, an announcement by Wizards also indicates that all spoilers released during PAX East will be tied to the story of War of the Spark, in a storyboard format. We'll be sharing these as they come out over the course of the weekend.
If you have any thoughts on these pre-spoilers or would like to keep updated, you can follow me on Twitter @chroberry where I'll be sharing updates from the weekend every day, and more spoilers going forward.