With Modern Masters 2015 having come out just recently and there not being as long a waiting period as the Magic Community is accustomed to between set releases, it feels like Magic Origins is coming faster than expected. Another new set? It is that time already? It is true that traditionally there is a Core Set released in the summer, but while Magic Origins acts like a Core Set, it is not like any we have seen before. With actual Core Sets no longer existing after Magic Origins, it should be very interesting to see how Magic Origins will affect gameplay, and whether it will feel different than the more traditional Core Sets we are used to. Okay let's go ahead and dive into some of the newly spoiled cards that should have an impact on Constructed formats.
The printing of this card is going to very relevant in Standard. While it is true that black does already have access to Crux of Fate as a sweeper, there will be many decks that would rather have Languish than Crux of Fate. The fact is that against aggressive decks sometimes five mana is one too many for a board sweeper, and if that sweeper was one less mana it would make all the difference in a game. This may seem like a cross between Drown in Sorrow and Crux of Fate, and in many ways that is exactly what this is. This is more maindeck worthy than Drown in Sorrow because it kills more things versus more decks, as compared to just creatures with two or less toughness. There also happen to be some very good creatures in Standard right now which have five toughness.
Cards like Siege Rhino and Tasigur, the Golden Fang are begging to be played alongside Languish. This can be a one sided Wrath of God in a lot of situations if you build your deck with five toughness creatures in mind. Being able to commit creatures to the board is something you can't do when trying to set up a card like Crux of Fate (unless they are dragons), and it is hard for the opponent to Anticipate a sweeper when you are playing your own threats. Languish can certainly fit into midrange style decks, but what are its control applications?
There is a lot to be said right now for giving a creature -4/-4 in the current Standard environment. Think about what the main issues for control decks are. The first thing that comes to mind for me is a monstrous Fleecemane Lion, which can be taken care of by Languish. I would expect a deck like Abzan Aggro to be worried about the printing of Languish. There are also other decks like Jeskai variants that rely heavily on Valorous Stance to be able to save a creature, and Indestructibility doesn't cut it against this sweeper. In a true control deck almost every other archetype will have creatures that die to Languish, which makes this very maindeckable. Even Dragonlord Ojutai dies to Languish! This is a card that will have a significant impact on the way Standard decks are configured, come the release of Magic Origins.
Kytheon, Hero of Akros / Gideon, Battle-Forged
This is one of the first cards to be spoiled from Magic Origins, and don't sleep on this one. Flip cards are nothing new, but they are something new to Core Set play. However even in Innistrad and Champions of Kamigawa blocks, there were no transforming planeswalkers. Being able to transform from a creature which can be killed by a large variety of removal spells into a planeswalkers is extremely powerful. In fact, while I have yet to actually build any decks with Kytheon, Hero of Akros, this card could be completely broken. First of all a one mana 2/1 that can gain indestructible is already worthy of Constructed play. Now there is the added ability to transform, which is a major bonus. There has never been a one mana planeswalker printed. Perhaps Wizards was desperately looking to Revive White Weenie strategies, as they have been feeling very underpowered lately, and this card is definitely one way of doing that.
This is a card that does only fit into an aggressively oriented deck, but can also work with tokens, as long as two other creatures attack with Kytheon, Hero of Akros it will transform, there isn't any opportunity for the opponent to block it. On the other hand the turn that it does flip Kytheon, Hero of Akros won't be dealing damage to the opponent. The modes on Gideon, Battle-Forged may initially seem a little underpowered, but then think about this as a one mana planeswalker, and that is not the case at all. The turn Gideon, Battle-Forged is flipped it will immediately go up to four or five loyalty, and the next turn it will essentially be a 4/4 indestructible creature. In an aggressive deck that is most vulnerable to board sweepers this is exactly what you want because by the time the opponent has mana for a sweeper Kytheon, Hero of Akros should already by flipped, and that is one less creature that dies to the sweeper.
Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromancer
Moving on, it wouldn't be fair to talk about one flip planeswalker and not compare it to some of the others. Liliana, Heretical Healer as a creature is a bit unexciting to start off with, but is pretty easy to flip so that's okay. If there were better sacrifice outlets in Standard I would be a bit more impressed though, because your opponent would have less choice of when Liliana, Heretical Healer does flip. This card fits well in decks with smaller creatures that should die pretty easily, but is not a control card because you need to play Liliana, Heretical Healer alongside other guys. The first thing about Liliana, Heretical Healer transforming is that you immediately get a 2/2 creature. This is very important since there will be scenarios during your opponents turn when they kill one of your creatures before combat, which causes the transformation, and then all of a sudden you have a blocker in case the opponent wants to attack Liliana, Defiant Necromancer and try to take her off the table.
Liliana, Defiant Necromancer certainly is very reminiscent of the entire Liliana planeswalker cycle. One distinguishing aspect of Liliana, Defiant Necromancer is that the first ability is a plus two, rather than the plus one we are used to. Liliana of the Veil for instance has the same first ability but it provides one less point of loyalty. The middle ability of Liliana, Defiant Necromancer synergizes with Liliana, Heretical Healer, as the idea is your creatures can die to flip Liliana, Heretical Healer but then Liliana, Defiant Necromancer can bring them back. Overall there is a lot of hype around these new transformational planeswalkers, and they are difficult to evaluate as they haven't been put into action yet. With that said, I'm not sure that this flip card will live up to the hype unless more sacrifice outlets like Bloodthrone Vampire sort of cards get printed.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer / Nissa, Sage Animist
This card reminds me of cards like Wood Elves or Civic Wayfinder which are three mana creatures that also allow you access to searching a land out of your deck. In the case of Nissa, Vastwood Seer I do think that Wizards accurately has made sure not to make this card too busted. The land that is searched for must be a forest and must be put into your hand, if that forest could say be put into play the turn you search for it, this card would be way too good. As it is Nissa, Vastwood Seer needs either to be played alongside cards like Explosive Vegetation to help ramp lands into play, or it won't flip until turn seven. Of course a lot can happen during the first seven turns of a game of Magic, which is why this may be the most fair of the transformational planeswalkers. The abilities of Nissa, Sage Animist are pretty sweet, but the ultimate is going to be difficult to get to, though the effect is game winning. The plus one on Nissa, Sage Animist is as close to good recurring card advantage as green is going to find. It essentially allows you to draw an additional card each turn, and if that card is a land the bonus is that it goes straight into play.
This uncommon gem is definitely worth mentioning when it comes to its modern applicability in a certain well-known archetype: Splinter Twin. Is this card better than Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite? Well for starters it requires green mana which automatically means we are looking at Temur Twin. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as Temur Twin is already a popular archetype because of the power of Tarmogoyf. Bounding Krasis fits into what Temur Twin wants to be doing, as it is a much better attacker than Deceiver Exarch. From a pure combo standpoint Deceiver Exarch is better because it doesn't die to Lightning Bolt, but Twin decks win many games without comboing off at all, so I have a feeling Bounding Krasis might be the better card for Temur Twin. The one downside about Battering Krasis though is that it doesn't have the ability to target lands, just creatures. There will certainly be times when playing with Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite that you will want to tap an opposing land or untap one of your own, so this is certainly relevant. Overall I am a little bit surprised to see another "exarch" printed as Splinter Twin is already one of the most powerful decks in Modern.
Starfield of Nyx
Starfield of Nyx is one hell of a magic card for starters. This is one mythic that may just be too good! Initially five mana enchantments may not seem that impressive, but when you think about this card in the context of the current Standard format, complete with Constellation and all, it is pretty silly. Just being able to return an Eidolon of Blossoms or Courser of Kruphix every turn is pretty spectacular. There are already Whip of Erebos strategies, and this card can either return a Whip of Erebos itself or a milled enchantment. This card doesn't have an immediate impact on the board but once it starts triggering over the course of a few turns, it's hard to see losing a game. This card can also work well with enchantment removal spells like Banishing Light or Chained to the Rocks, as early in the game they Remove a threat to help buy time for Starfield of Nyx and later in the game they can become creatures. I expect to see more enchantment-based decks and Back to Natures seeing more play with the printing of Starfield of Nyx.
So these are a few cards that have jumped out immediately as cards worth looking into, as they will have an impact on Standard and in some cases Modern. Next week I plan to go through some more cards from Magic Origins as there are plenty of cards I didn't have a chance to talk about.
Thanks for reading,