The first week of Dragon’s Maze spoilers is in the books, and the Legit MTG staff has plenty to share!
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Jonathan Medina: The night I decided to go to sleep at 11:20 p.m. (and not wait for the spoilers) was the night Varolz got spoiled. We sold out of Death’s Shadow overnight at $0.75. BLOWOUT! Varzolz’s interaction with Death’s Shadow, Tarmogoyf, and even Boneyard Wurm (in Standard) makes him very interesting. I set his presale price at $4.99 and we sold out quickly; now they’re sold out everywhere and they seem to be heading toward $10.
I can see Varolz finding a place in all formats (even if only in fringe capacity) including Commander. I can’t wait to see the crazy things people do with him. If Gerry Thompson can “break” Death’s Shadow in Legacy before Varolz, I can only imagine what the deck looks like with this guy added to the mix. Keep an eye on this card and cards that surround it like Lotleth Troll and Deathrite Shaman, both that already have a lot of upside from both a playability and financial perspective.
Turn // Burn
This card plays exceedingly well with Augur of Bolas and Snapcaster Mage, because a timely block into Turn lets you eat their guy for three mana. The power of this card is not derived from its pure strength so much as its versatility. There’s a reason Azorious Charm sees as much play as it does, and it’s not because of any one individual mode.
After saner heads prevailed, however, a few problems arose. For Thragtusk, you get a five-mana answer to a five-mana threat while your opponent gains five life. That’s assuming you have the right answer at the right time, so it’s not incredibly threatening. And sometimes you want certain triggers to resolve (e.g. Angel of Serenity), which can be bad if you don’t have a choice.
Master of Cruelties
Tyler Priemer: The Standard we have today is centered around lifegain. Thragtusk, Centaur Healer, and Restoration Angel are so popular that Wizards had to design Skullcrack to fight them, and even that wasn’t enough. So what’s a mage to do when the opponent’s pushing 40 life? Enter Master of Cruelties.
First strike and deathtouch is always a fun combination, despite Glissa, the Traitor doing the same thing but better. But the absolute selling point to this guy is dropping an opponent to one life if he isn’t blocked; it’s a unique effect that makes me want to brew around it, and it’s bound to catch people off guard.
Here’s a short list of Standard cards that directly mess with the opponent’s ability to block: Rogue’s Passage, Glaring Spotlight, Gruul Charm, Madcap Skills, and Nightbird’s Clutches. And this isn’t even counting all the ways to give it flying/intimidate or removal spells that kill off potential blockers!
Sire of Insanity
Symmetrical effects are supposed to be fair, and are usually more powerful and aggressively costed because of their inherent “fairness.” But from Armageddon to Time Spiral to Wildfire, players have spent Magic’s history breaking those symmetries. They won’t have to work very hard this time, because casting Sire of Insanity is usually good enough.
Sire’s obvious home is Jund, whose planeswalkers work very well when no one has a hand. It’s also a giant beating against the UWx Sphinx’s Revelation decks, especially with access to Cavern of Souls. It often will be a game-ender in those matchups. Preorders opened at $2-$3 and I expect the card to be $5-$7 while people are still scrambling for Dragon’s Maze cards.
Beck // Call
John Cuvelier: This card is a much-needed push for Modern Elves. An extra U to cast a Glimpse of Nature, Beck will grant a resurgence in combo Elves that otherwise wouldn’t exist. My only concern is it’s much harder to “chain” multiple Becks without adding cards that dilute the synergies of Elves with something like Manamorphose.
I’m excited to see how this shakes things up in the Modern metagame and if Elves can be a real contender. My gut tells me yes, and to pick yourself up a playset if you can!
Voice of Resurgence
Josh Milliken: This card will single-handedly push Selesnya into playability in Standard. It has so much going on that I keep having to reread it to make sure I’m not missing anything. Any deck trying to play spells on your turn is going to highly regret it with this guy out there. Even if you only get a couple tokens, that’s a lot of advantage off of just one card.
If he gets super popular, expect cards like Terminus and Pillar of Flame to see a lot more play. Remember giving them the token on your turn will allow it to attack you, which will be very important as long as cards like Rancor are around to give it trample. Also remember that if you kill it by casting something on their turn, they will get two token creatures — this will lead to a lot of bad combat math.
Josh Milliken: This card will see play in a ton of decks — it will fill the two-drop curve in Zombies decks, and it will get Red Deck Wins to splash black for added reach. While he’s not quite Dark Confidant, he’s a welcome addition in any deck that can dump its hand within a couple turns. Look for him to be drawing a lot of cards in the near future at the top tables of every Standard tournament.
John Cuvelier: This two-drop is what Standard Zombies truly has been missing for the past year. Unfortunately, it’s a couple of sets late to the party. With even more aggressive decks in the format like Naya Blitz, Zombies will continue to struggle. I’d avoid picking these guys up unless something more helps push Zombies back to the forefront of the metagame.
Melek, Izzet Paragon
Cassidy McAuliffe: Master of Cruelties and Sire of Insanity get the Commander thumbs-down. Nothing should attack for 39 as early as Master can, and it should draw Magister Sphinx hate times 10. Sire is right up there with Worldfire.
But Melek, Izzet Paragon? This is a card I can get into. I currently have a red/blue deck with Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius at the helm that plays to a “sorceries and instants matter” theme. It wants to find Arcane Melee, play a bunch of stuff at a discount, and try to run out Mind’s Desire “fairly.” (No combos here!) This is done preferably with Sphinx-Bone Wand in play…
Melek is a straight upgrade to Niv-Mizzet 2.0 for this deck. Lose the draw and incremental damage, but gain a functional Future Sight that auto-Forks? Sign me up. I need this in foil as soon as possible, Mr. Medina… [Editor’s Note: Your wish is my command[er] Cassidy – JM]
Joseph Scalise: I’ll be the first to admit it; I really don’t like planeswalkers. They are the most overhyped card type in Magic and almost never live up to their initial inflated prices. That said, Ral Zarek is a reasonably costed card that, as a result of three very solid abilities, will easily find a home in Standard.
His first ability is crazy good and quite reminiscent of Ajani Vengeant. Does is tap down their permanent next turn? No. But, it still allows blockers (Geist of Saint Traft??) to get in for damage unabated. While Ral has the ability to untap blockers while building up to his ultimate, he also can knock down creatures as another way to protect himself. Normally, I completely ignore ultimates when discussing planeswalkers, but his is actually attainable, and when achieved should win most games (unless you are playing with a two-tailed coin).
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