This weekend is a big weekend in Magic. As is custom, a few weeks after the release of a new set, the Pro Tour for that set takes place. This time, our eyes will be focused on Vancouver, Canada, as a group of very skilled players will battle with the new set in a Standard format that promises to be very exciting. Emerging from what is highly regarded as one of the most healthy Standard environments in recent memory, I’d like to review some cards I think will have a major impact on the Pro Tour this weekend.
Now, we, the common folk of the Magic community, have had the cards from Magic Origins to play with for a few weeks. We’ve had two big two day events, and plenty of results to pour over. While obvious additions have been made to existing decks, like the new flip planeswalkers being added to almost anything that can support their colors (we have even seen Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh appear in a top 8!) and cards like Languish appear as a now standard addition to Abzan midrange and control decks, few people have been able to successfully innovate with new deck types, or even with cards outside of the hype spectrum.
I’d like to, in this article, point out a few cards, both new and old, that have yet to make the jump to Standard playability, and, I believe, will be showcased at the Pro Tour this weekend. Keep in mind that I have no insider information, or connections to the Pro Tour, so these are just my opinions.
Bounding Krasis – When this card was first spoiled, the thing I heard 80% of people ask was if he was good in Modern in the Splinter Twin decks. Obviously, he does combo with Splinter Twin, and fits into both the RUG Tarmotwin and UR Splinter Twin decks (given the UR Splinter Twin deck typically runs 1 green source for Ancient Grudge out of the sideboard), but I doubt he gives enough of a benefit to be added there.
Anyway, this isn’t the place for Modern discussion. I think that this guy will show up at the Pro Tour. He has a really cool synergy with Collected Company, as he adds a trick to your piles, but even more so with Harbinger of the Tides. If you reveal both of those cards off of a Collected Company, it bounces any creature at the end of your opponent’s turn, and you can attack for 5 on your turn.
The fish lizard is also a really cool play in a deck like Temur that wants to run aggressive threats like Goblin Rabblemaster and Savage Knuckleblade. You typically don’t want these cards being blocked because they’re such beatings on your opponent, and the Krassis is a great tempo play that also adds to your attack step.
He’s also a neat combat trick, almost in the same vein as Boon Satyr. If your opponent attacks with, say, a Soulfire Grandmaster or Den Protector, the Krassis can catch your opponent off guard, and either trade with or just straight up eat an attacker. I’m expecting this card to show up, and maybe not have a big impact, but I think some team out there is likely to solve the Standard tempo deck around this guy and Harbinger of the Tides.
Abbot of Keral Keep – Everyone talks about the new Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and comparing him to the obviously powerful Snapcaster Mage. Now, it is not fair to rank most Standard cards to an obviously busted Legacy playable Modern all-star, but I think the actual card that best imitates Snapcaster Mage is this guy. He’s an efficient creature to begin with. A 2/1 for 2 with Prowess is pretty sweet, especially in a color that is very likely to be able to both push him through for damage, and also throw cards at your opponent’s face.
After turn 3, this guy really turns on. When you’re able to affect your side of the board by adding a creature, and then flipping something like a Roast, Lightning Strike, Stoke the Flames, Wild Slash, and then whichever additions any splash color brings in your deck, is a pretty large swing. Now that late in the game, the body seems insignificant, and there’s the likely possibility of flipping a land, but I still think with the way something like, say, Jeskai plays, or even with the saturated early drops in the Mono Red Aggro and Atarka Red decks, playing this frisky dingo later in the game is not only okay, it’s desirable. I like to think of him more as a red Den Protector than a Snapcaster Mage, because let’s be honest, Snapcaster Mage can’t really be compared to anything.
Monastery Mentor – This guy had a decent amount of hype when Fate Reforged was spoiled. Unfortunately, the big dude never really found a home in Standard. Some cheeky chap by the name of Josh Utter-Leyton put together an Esper list that showcased him, but he never took off. However, I think he’s the best friend of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.
We’ve seen that the Jeskai Tokens deck has welcomed Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy with wide open arms. The thing with that deck, is that they try to force a creature in there. I get it, cards like Seeker of the Way, Soulfire Grandmaster, and Goblin Rabblemaster all have good synergies with the deck, but I think now we can start to add Monastery Mentor to this list.
The main thing that drove the deck was being able to draw and discard off of casting spells. Well, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is another card that is able to give the deck that effect, and essentially, fuel, for Monastery Mentor. Mentor also plays with Jace, Telepath Unbound’s flashback effect. I think that Monastery Mentor allows the deck to not rely so heavily on Jeskai Ascendancy in order to gain advantage, but now having some combination of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Monastery Mentor, and Jeskai Ascendancy will allow the deck to have a different angle of attack.
Erebos’s Titan – Never mind that the grammar on this card is incorrect, it’s one of my favorite in the set. He’s a better rate in terms of body than Siege Rhino, and if you’re playing black, you’re killing your opponent’s creatures anyway. Besides that, he is big enough to brawl with most playable creatures in the format and survive. He makes your opponents jump through hoops because of that stupid recursion clause as well.
I think a team out there has some sort of deck running this guy and Evolutionary Leap, alongside cards like Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, and the obvious black removal cards. Heck, even Dromoka’s Command would work with this guy if you’d like to go Abzan. The three black mana in the casting cost is the only downside I could see to this guy, but I’ve been in spots where the three colors of cards like Siege Rhino is just as difficult, so with manafixing in today’s Standard, I don’t see how this would be that unplayable in a tri-color list (we still get Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and your opponents run them, too!).
Rogue’s Passage – I’m actually very surprised that this isn’t showing up as at least a one of in more decks. Especially when a ton of the format is still Deathmist Raptors and Siege Rhinos and Elspeths. Especially if the Thopter Control decks start to take off (just like a Thopter! Heyo!), there will be more reason to make your creatures unblockable. Granted, three color decks don’t want this too too much, because drawing it early could be a pain, but drawing this late in the game makes cards like a late Goblin Rabblemaster a real threat to not only opposing players, but their planeswalkers as well.
Infinite Obliteration – Finally, I believe Infinite Obliteration is a card that will be showcased at the Pro Tour. The obvious things are exiling Siege Rhinos the turn before they can be played, and also Deathmist Raptor. However, with the Rally the Ancestors decks becoming more and more popular, and it also being a fine weapon against the devotion decks, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to start seeing this card in the maindeck of black decks.
This card is also actually very good against those new pesky planeswalkers. On the play, it comes down the turn before all of the flip planeswalkers except for Jace, which can nip those powerful cards right in the bud, and you can also take advantage of the creature-light decks people are playing, like naming Hangarback Walker against the artifact control decks.
I’m very excited for this weekend, as I’m sure most people are. Not only because it’s another Pro Tour, but I’m very excited for the cards in this set. I feel like this is the most hyped I’ve been for a set since Stifle, Mind’s Desire, and Tendrils of Agony were spoiled back when Scourge was going to be printed. Which cards do you think will see play this weekend? Which new archetypes are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments, and keep gaming!
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