Last week I said that I would continue going over some of the newest cards spoiled from Magic Origins, and I still plan to do that. What I didn't know was that Wizards was going to unleash a new mulligan rule unlike anything Magic has ever seen before, so look for more on that later. For now let's jump into what is shaping up to be one hell of a set: Magic Origins.
Woodland Bellower reminds me a bit of a titan, back when that cycle was a part of the Core Sets. A six mana 6/5 creature is already a very impressive body, and this guy also has a great trigger when coming into play. This isn't returning a creature from your graveyard with converted mana cost three or less; you actually get to go ahead and search for a creature from your library. Sure that creature has to be green but you are already playing green when putting Woodland Bellower in your deck, and there always seem to be green decks that want tutor effects. This is a tutor effect which can make it a bit of a combo card, though it is naturally going to be a value creature as it is an automatic two-for-one. It's tough to say if Woodland Bellower is as good as titan, but it should see play; it's just hard to say exactly where right now.
Without having played a ton with renowned yet it is hard to fully evaluate the mechanic. However this is one of the most powerful renowned creatures in the set, and may be looking to be an Elvish Mystic replacement of sort once M15 rotates out. Since this is a one mana creature it means by turn two it can get in and become renowned. Having a one mana renowned creature is much more impressive than some of the more expensive renowned guys, because it is much more likely when playing a turn one creature that you will get in at least one hit with it. Say your opponent is on the draw, they would need a turn one play, likely a removal spell to stop Honored Hierarch from becoming renowned, which isn't that likely. With that said you will draw him later in the game as well where he isn't that impressive, so weighing the amount of times he will become renowned versus being just a one mana 1/1 is important.
With that said when Honored Hierarch does become renowned it is insanely powerful for a one mana creature accelerator. A one mana 2/2 with vigilance is already good, but it also taps for any color, and works well with other renowned synergies. This is a card that I wouldn't just throw in your deck every time like Elvish Mystic, but if Honored Hierarch is built around it could be amazing.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy / Jace, Telepath Unbound
This transformational planeswalker is one of the most controversial cards in the set. I have heard players call it both insane and unplayable. Obviously this means that it isn't the easiest card to evaluate, but personally this seems like another card that could be great if built around. Looting is a powerful effect, and is made more powerful when played alongside graveyard synergies. When you are playing a deck that actually wants creatures in the graveyard discarding a card may not be a drawback at all. Still, traditionally looters are cards that are extremely good if cast on time, which is turn two, but if drawn later in the game oftentimes don't make a significant impact. Jace, Telepath Unbound may seem like the weakest of the planeswalkers themselves. This may partially be because it is very easy to transform into him, but it seems like the middle ability is the best one. Immediately being able to give an instant or sorcery in the graveyard flashback is great, but requires having good instants and sorceries in your deck as well.
Harbinger of the Tides
I'm sure many players can quite vividly remember the power of Tidebinder Mage, and this card might be a better version of that card. Harbinger of the Tides isn't a card that wants to be played in a super aggressive deck, because the creature it bounces does need to be tapped. Still, the fact that it can have flash makes it fit perfectly into a more controlling deck, as you don't need to take any damage from the attacking creature you want to bounce. The fact that this has two blue mana symbols and can cost two mana does mean it only fits into a deck with lots of blue mana sources, but this could be a good thing. Monoblue Devotion was a big deck once upon a time, and if that deck makes a comeback I would certainly expect Harbinger of the Tides to be in it.
This has to be one of the most talked about cards to come out of Magic Origins. It is clear that Wizards put a lot of work into this card in order to make it unique and exciting, while also being very playable. The first part about this card is you want to be playing it in a deck that can Remove it from play, or you will automatically lose the game when it comes time for the fourth mode. What cards in Standard are maindeckable that can Remove a Demonic Pact? The list is not very long. Demonic Pact does not actually tutor for anything which means that it is not enough to just have a single card that deals with Demonic Pact. As far as the other three modes go, each is very powerful. The deal four damage and forcing the opponent to discard two cards are the modes that you want to use immediately when they will be effective, whereas drawing two cards is always great and there isn't as much need to set that one up. It will be tough to play around one of the modes for three turns though, which helps make this card so great.
What a card! First of all remember that this is a dragon so it works with all the dragon synergies from Dragon of Tarkir. A four mana 4/4 dragon is good, and you can build around him so that this is the top of your mana curve. That way when you cast this card there won't be valuable cards left in your hand that need to be discarded to him. Being able to draw an additional card each and every turn is a huge deal. I could see this creature going into a monored shell that tops out with him, or just straight Red/Green Dragons. Drawing two cards a turn can be broken, so watch out for this guy.
Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh / Chandra, Roaring Flame
This is a card that clearly works well in a deck with a number of cheap red spells. Unfortunately there is no legal Lightning Bolt but there are plenty of options as far as cheap red spells go, and you only need to cast two in a single turn to turn into Chandra, Roaring Flame. This planeswalker can close out the game quite quickly as dealing two damage to your opponent can add up fast. It will be interesting to see if there is an archetype this card will fit in. I'm not sure that there are decks that actively want pingers, but maybe I'm wrong.
It has been quite a while since we have seen this one. There are some tribal synergies in Magic Origins and goblins is one of the primary tribes featured. It's not like there weren't already good goblin cards in the format, as not only are there the regular goblin creatures but there are also token generators like Dragon Fodder and Hordeling Outburst. Just this past weekend a goblin deck was seen in the Top 8 of SCG Baltimore, and this is before the existence of Goblin Piledriver in the format. Expect Goblin Piledriver to be one of the primary reasons for the resurgence of goblins in both Standard and Modern
Archangel of Tithes
Here we have a big white flyer with an upside. This card automatically will halt token and small creature decks in their tracks. I can't imagine being a monored player trying to attack through Archangel of Tithes. It seems like more of a defensive controlling card than aggressive card, but is also a solid finisher. There are a lot of white mana symbols here which is another point that is important to be aware of. This could be the next white finisher of choice.
Knight of the White Orchid
Here we have another reprint of a card that has seen play in previous Standard formats. However at that time there were Borderposts to help return one of your lands to hand, to ensure the opponent had more lands than you. This is a card that is better on the draw and is also a turn three play because of the trigger. I expect to see Knight of the White Orchid played in the more controlling decks, though it is unclear what impact this type of card with have on the current format. This is another cheap card that also has two white mana symbols, so watch out for the various devotion enablers being printed!
The New Mulligan Rule
Just recently a major change was announced to mulligans which will be in effect at Pro Tour Magic Origins and then evaluated more thoroughly after the Pro Tour. The complete announcement can be found here.
Initially my thoughts were that the rule is bad, but this is coming from a player that doesn't like to mulligan at all. I have however changed my stance a bit and would like to see the rule in action before giving a verdict. There are pros and cons to the rule. The reason it was created was to have games of magic last longer, and be decided less by getting manascrewed and not being able to play a full game, though this is inevitably part of the Magic. Being able to scry one after mulliganing helps Negate the loss of taking a mulligan, and means that players should mulligan more aggressively with the implementation of the new rule, than they were previously.
The rule also helps some decks more than others. For example the decks that are more consistent and mulligan less of the time are not as likely to care about being able scry one when taking a mulligan. On the other hand a combo deck for instance that can be very hurt by mulliganing as it needs to find specific cards in order to win, will be more advantaged when scrying one after mulliganing. The scry one will also make certain cards slightly better or worse. For example, fetchlands are slightly worse because if you mulligan you will scry, but then if you fetch and shuffle on turn one the scry will have been useless. The rule will certainly take some getting used but hopefully the Pro Tour will help indicate if it is a good one. Having less games decided by variance is what ultimately may make this a successful change.