Worldwake Playtest Cards!

For those of you that don’t know, the Magic Cruise (aka the MC2) was this past week, and while I was there I did my best to document the experience.

To kick things off, I thought I’d share a behind-the-scenes look at Worldwake, courtesy of lead designer Ken Nagle. Ken was kind enough to bring along a binder full of Worldwake playtest cards. Have a look!

NOTE: If any of the images appear too small for you to read, you can right-click on the image to view it in a new window at a larger size.

You can see the progression of the cards from earlier designs, and in some cases, cards seem to have been entirely scrapped and replaced (Quicksand, Rumbling Aftershocks). I thought it was interesting that Searing Blaze originally had the name Lavalanche; apparently they decided to use the name for the Shards of Alara rare instead.

Keep checking Affinity For Islands and Yo! MTG Taps! over the next week or so for continued coverage of the events!

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It Gets By With A Little Help From Its Friends

A pre-Worldwake look back at post-Zendikar blue.

Blue was never bad. Just not as good as we’re accustomed to.
A 450-lb man who loses 150 lbs—a full 33% of his body weight—would certainly not be considered “skinny” by any means.

This, I feel, sums up the current state of blue in Standard. While blue may have been worse between October and January than it ever has been, in hindsight I think it was a mistake to say it was “bad.” Counterspells were narrow and card-drawing was much less effective, true, but the color still had its strengths.

To wit: There was a time when many considered Morphling to be the best creature ever printed. With a wealth of abilities previously unheard of, Morphling could pump itself to 5/1, stack damage, and then become a 1/5; it could gain Flying; it could gain Shroud. It could untap itself, doing a passable impression of Vigilance.

Now compare Morphling to Sphinx of Jwar Isle:

     

For 1 additional mana, the Sphinx enters the battlefield with Flying. It enters the battlefield with Shroud. It enters the battlefield as a 5/5, and for all of these Morphling-esque characteristics it requires no more mana than the inital investment. It trades faux-Vigilance for an ability that—in a format with fetchlands, cascades, and soon Treasure Hunts—may be even more relevant. (Not to mention “Knowledge is Power” is the unofficial mantra of the blue mage, right?)

Could the Sphinx actually be better than Morphling?! Well, yes and no. It’s all about context, and when Morphling ruled the skies, blue spells were at their best. (And as much as I would’ve loved to see it, if Morphling were to have been reprinted it would likely occupy the slot in your trade binder right next to Meddling Mage.)

Still, the Sphinx exemplifies the quintessential blue finisher quite nicely: difficult to block, and easy to protect.

No, blue was not bad. Rather, it simply could not stand on its own. Yet, with another color or two along for support, blue found a way to stay strong. With a bit of persistence, blue-based control strategies started showing up as early as six weeks into the post-Zendikar format! At Worlds (late November), a Standard RWU Control deck was in the Team Finals, and Gerry Thompson unveiled his “Spread ‘Em” deck. As Conley Woods put it:

Typically, control decks are only able to emerge as “good” decks once a metagame as been firmly established. This is because the deck needs to know exactly what problems exist in order to determine which answers it must run. (Blue Uprising)

The difference between pre-Zendikar blue decks and those we’ve seen of late, as Conley goes on to point out, is that usually the counterspells are more versatile. This allows them to appear a bit earlier, as their answers don’t have to be so specifically tailored for the metagame. It is this loss of versatility, coupled with the loss of Instant-speed library manipulation, that fueled the perception of blue’s demise.

So, now we have Worldwake. Now we have the Mind Sculptor himself to help sculpt our hands into the ideal mix of answers and threats. We can dig for Treasure in the Halimar Depths, and accelerate our mana by drinking from the motherlovin’ cup. BLUE IS BACK!!!1!!

     

Not so fast. Let’s take a step back.

Blue mages—like starving children in a frenzy over a hunk of stale bread—have managed to drive the price of Jace, the Mind Sculptor to near-Baneslayer levels. I’m not exactly saying the price is unwarranted, because the card is certainly a piece of beauty, and I hope it’s every bit as good as people are expecting. But it has yet to prove itself. Had JtMS been released while Lorwyn was Standard-legal, I’d have been surprised to see it reach a pre-sale price half as high as it’s seeing now.

But, but…we’re SO HUNGRY!!

Worldwake is certainly giving blue a nice shot in the arm, don’t get me wrong. But I think we’re putting the cart before the horse, here. Blue mages are feeling so under-nourished from Zendikar that what may turn out to be a Happy Meal is looking like Thanksgiving Dinner.

So yes, go test your blue-based control decks. Play your Jaces, and your Treasure Hunts (I know I will be). But don’t set your expectations so highly that anything less than “bah-ro-ken” is a disappointment. I don’t think Mono Blue Control will be a reality, but pair it with a pal and I think blue control decks will be just fine.

BONUS:

A Yo! MTG Taps! Video Supplement – Coverage of the Worldwake Prerelease!

Recorded at Dream Wizards Games in Rockville, MD.

Apologies for low audio. We recorded with an iPhone, and I did my best to try to clean it up, but it’s still a bit iffy.

No footage of actual games, but hosts BigHeadJoe and Joey talk a bit about their experiences at the Magic: The Gathering – Worldwake prerelease.

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 10 – Now Available!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 10 – My Lime Pink Shirt is now available for download!


Check it out over on MTGCast!

In this episode, we each go over our 10 favorite cards from Worldwake, and talk about all of the dirty ways to pronounce “Eye of Ugin.”

Click here for a price guide list to take with you to your pre-release.

Sick of cascade ruining your tournament experience? Sign the petition to ban Bloodbraid Elf here!

CONTEST: Submit a rap verse for our theme song (about 28 minutes in). The winner gets their verse used in our theme song! (and something else if we can come up with something cool). Submit entries to yomtgtaps [at] gmail [dot] com Please don’t send recordings.

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Bigheadjoe’s Blog: http://otherworldlyjourney.blogspot.com
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Thanks for listening!

Conley Did It!

Since Conley Woods essentially wrote the article that I’ve been mulling around in my head, instead of posting a rehash here I’m just going to go ahead and point you to his article over on Channel Fireball:

Blue Uprising!

Chins up, blue mages! Have confidence! While we may not have gotten the versatile counterspell that we wanted in Worldwake, as Conley points out, we did get a plethora of options for library manipulation and card draw. This should help to bolster blue-based control strategies a good deal. For those of us who bravely weathered the storm, it’s an exciting time to be playing blue!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 9 – Now Available!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 9 – Ramping Up to Bestial Menace is now available for download!


Check it out over on MTGCast!

A seven-parter! In this episode, we go over lots of different topics, most of which are in Section A. The other sections are each broken down by color as we discuss everything that had been spoiled at the time of the recording. (Monday, January 18th). Our friend Tim joins us on a rare weekday off for him. This one is a little epic.

The Worldwake Product section is now available, including the Orb of Insight.

For Mike Flores’ Grand Unifying Theory of Magic, check out VICTORY BACON!

Terry Soh’s Solar Flare in Standard (SCG Premium)

Patrick Chapin’s Theory of Everything (SCG Premium)

Gathering Magic – A Call to End the Reserved List

WrongWayGoBack – Full Art, Whenever Possible

Contact Us:
Email: yomtgtaps [at] gmail [dot] com
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Joey Pasco on Twitter: http://twitter.com/affinityforblue
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Yo! MTG Taps! on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/yomtgtaps

CURRENTLY READING: Peter & Max: A Fables Novel. (yes, I’m still not finished it; gimme a break, I just moved!)

Five New Worldwake Spoilers!

Firstly, don’t be surprised if you see these same spoilers on other sites this morning. A group of MTG writers/bloggers were all given the same cards to spoil, so it’s likely the internet will get a barrage of posts at 12:01am EST on Friday 1/15 (which happens to be exactly the time this post will be going up).

Without further delay, have a look:

Dread Statuary

Dread Statuary – not terribly exciting for Constructed play (I think most decks would play Gargoyle Castle instead), but in Limited it can be a pretty solid way to break a stalemate after you’re both done running your creatures into each other.

Join the Ranks

Join the Ranks – anyone else remember Raise the Alarm? This costs twice as much, but in return you get two Allies, which can be relevant in an Ally-themed deck. Again, this will likely have more of an effect in Limited, unless Worldwake pushes a Constructed-worthy Ally deck into the fray.

Quest for the Nihil Stone

Quest for the Nihil StoneBloodchief Ascension‘s fraternal twin, this looks like a Johnny card if there ever was one. Obviously, this really only works with a discard strategy, but there seems to be plenty of options for anyone interested in pursing that route. Then again, it only takes one Blightning to get it online, so it might work well against aggro decks that tend to empty their hand quickly.

Wind Zendikon

Wind Zendikon – There’s a whole cycle of these, but I’m going to go ahead and put it out there that this will be the most playable (of course, barring something in WWK that contradicts me). It’s essentially a 2/2 flyer for U—already a good deal, but if you play it on a fetchland, you can use the creature as a chump blocker, crack the fetch, and get the fetch back to reuse. Alongside landfall, there’s a good deal of synergy to exploit there. Perhaps not as exciting, these Zendikons will also allow you to reuse Gargoyle Castle.

Canopy Cover

Canopy Cover – This one’s quite a bit more exciting than I realized at first glance, as it has built-in protection from the Achilles’ Heel of auras, the dreaded two-for-one. By giving your creature Shroud (or Troll-Shroud, as some refer to it), you no longer have to worry about losing two cards to a spot removal spell. In fact, unless they’ve got an eligible blocker that can take down your threat, nothing short of mass removal or enchantment-hate will be able to get rid of it. Can you imagine this on a Baneslayer Angel? (Win more, please!) Still, I don’t see it showing up much in Constructed, despite its strengths. It’s a good one for Limited, though.

I’ve got to be honest, here. So far, with the exception of Jace, the Mind Sculptor (which I’m extremely excited about), Celestial Colonnade (YES!) and Comet Storm (which is a solid utility spell/finisher), what we’ve seen so far from Worldwake has been a bit underwhelming in my opinion. However, if you feel the same way, keep in mind that most of what we’ve seen (aside from the aforementioned cards) have been commons and uncommons. These tend to be the least exciting cards of a set, in most cases, so I fully expect to be pleasantly surprised with some of the spoilers we’ll be seeing in the next two weeks. In addition, word from Evan Erwin (The Magic Show) and Trick Jarrett (ManaNation)—both of whom received exclusive spoilers, so yes, they know something that we don’t—is that Worldwake is definitely worth pre-ordering. If supplies are anywhere near as limited as M10 and Zendikar were, I recommend getting those pre-orders in as early as possible if you want to avoid being left out in the cold.

Be sure to keep an eye on Wizards’ official Worldwake Visual Spoiler for updates!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 8 – Now Available!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 8 – Comment Storm is now available for download!


Check it out over on MTGCast!

We discuss the spoiled Worldwake prerelease foil Comet Storm! Should it be mythic? Also, we recommend a few non-storyline related MTG books to spend your Christmas money on!

[Anyone interested in hearing a bit of chatter on the NFL (mainly the Baltimore Ravens), stay tuned after the song at the end.]

**Be sure to check out Bigheadjoe’s addendum to this episode on his blog.

Get My Files by Zvi Mowshowitz and Deckade by Michael Flores over at Top8Games!

Download Next Level Magic by Patrick Chapin over at StarCityGames!

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See what we gave our friend Tim for Christmas. More videos to come.

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CURRENTLY READING: Peter & Max: A Fables Novel.