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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jul 24 2015 12:00pm
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I love this game. I love writing about it. Compiling lists about it. Evaluating it. Sometimes, I even play it. I'm an Accidental Player.

> summary <

 Magic Origins is bound to go down in history as one of the most remembered core sets ever released, for a number of reasons. The first is that Magic Origins will be the last core set. The final bow, the end of the line. This is causing some side effects, since this is the last chance R&D's got to print stuff from a wide range of planes all at once, rather than waiting for the appropriate set. This translates into a greater amount of original cards. For comparison, M13 featured 107 new cards; in M14, that number grew to 112; last year, for M15, that was also the larger core set since Tenth Edition (20 cards larger than any previous core set not entirely made of reprints), they were a record 141. Now Magic Origins is just 3 cards larger than M15, and yet the featured new cards are 181, more than 66% of the entire set. Consider that a small set like Fate Reforged only had 161 new cards.

 But the reprints are actually a key factor here. The more problematic issue caused by the disappearance of the core sets is losing a place where they can reprint whatever the Standard or Modern metas need (or even the game at large, if economic reasons are factored, barring the dreadful Reserved List). Arguably, the most influential, most explosive card included in Magic Origins is a reprint: Goblin Piledriver, from Onslaught. And another hot one is Sylvan Messenger, from Apocalypse. Both have a chance to be serious players in the next Standard meta, and are now being introduced in the Modern format for the first time.

 

The tier of Goblin and Elf archetypes raised: just what Modern needed!

 But they could reprint these cards in a core set, because a core set has not one specific setting. They couldn't reprint them in an Innistrad- or Theros-based set. Other examples: Fleshbag Marauder and Gaea's Revenge (the latter now demoted to rare) are probably going to see play in Standard, an environment they had been a part of only once before (in Alara and M11 times, respectively). And what about the pain lands? Unlike other land cycles, like the fetch lands last appeared in Khans of Tarkir, they don't have generic names, they directly reference places in Dominaria, like Koilos, Yavimaya or Llanowar. As such, they can't be included in just any set, they need a set where the presence of cards with those names is justified by the narrative.

   

Will the end of the core sets influence future names of cards?

 It works from a tribal point of view, too. Magic Origins adds at least one new member to 56 different creature types (for M14, that figure was 44; for M15, 52). Most of the greater tribes (those with 50 members or more) are featured, except for Avatar, Kithkin, Minotaur, Ogre, Shapeshifter, Sliver, Snake, the probably abandoned Spellshaper, Treefolk, and Wurm.

 And then, there's the thing that gives Magic Origins its very name: those five guys and gals at the top of the page, newly nicknamed the Origins Five (as opposed to the Lorwyn Five, two of which have been replaced as standard bearers of their respective colors). Behold the awkward, teenager versions of our beloved planeswalkers! Fresh-faced Liliana! Tomboy Chandra! Annoying Kid Jace! Boy Band Gideon! And, whoa, I never fully realized how damn long Nissa's ears actually are! Those are some legitimate donkey's ears, Pinocchio style! She's still pretty, though. Plus, what's the elf equivalent of teenager? Fifty-year-old?

 Anyway, this is something the game had never done before in a main product: a flashback, exploring the past of current characters (there was a hint of it in Commander 2014, that would feature, for instance, Nahiri how she presumably was when before the whole Eldrazi problem kicked in, Ob Nixilis prior to becoming a demon, and Teferi and Freyalise before the events of Time Spiral). Paired with another big first, this time mechanical: the return of the controversial transformer mechanic, which means it's now an evergreen element, not just an Innistrad-only oddity. I, for one, am glad, and the use on planeswalker cards – or better, on cards that transform into planeswalkers – open new, interesting design space. (For other changes in mechanical evergreen status, see Mark Rosewater's article. In short, goodbye intimidate and landwalk; welcome prowess and scry).

 All this said, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes in this milestone of a set. As always, the focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are listed alphabetically, but you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 257 (+15 duplicated basic lands)
  • New cards: 181
  • New creatures: 105
  • Reprinted cards: 76 (+16 from sample decks)
  • Reprinted creatures: 33 (+10 from sample decks)
  • Creature types affected: 56
  • Tribes with 5 additions or more: Human (+38), Soldier (+14), Warrior (+10), Elf (+9), Artificer (+6), Cleric (+6), Wizard (+6), Elemental (+5)

Angel: +2

  

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 New Tribal Total: 115 (online: 114)

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A 4-mana flyer is always something that calls attention to itself. As a mythic, Archangel of Tithes does that, and more. Pros: high toughness, that puts her out of reach of most damage-dealing spells (if not Combust); a mini Ghostly Prison when untapped; makes your team harder to block during your attacks. Cons: very slow clock on her own; those 3 white mana required, which mean she's meant for prevalently white decks only – you won't see her in Abzan very easily. This said, you definitely want to mess with your opponent's mana allocation, both as a defensive measure if you're control, and offensively if she's the curvetopper in an aggro deck, possibly even as the bigger sister in a WW. And maybe you'll also find a way to give her vigilance. She's not immediately impactful as, say, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, but she's useful in more situations, and definitely holds a good amount of sheer power.

 As for Patron of the Valiant, she does a good job for being an uncommon, mostly interacting with Archangel of Thune's ability, albeit in a way that essentially feels as a bit of a win-more. The 5-mana slots, in an Angel tribal deck or elsewhere, have much better options.


Archer: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 63 (online: 59)

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Low to Medium

 Highlights: Does the Archer tribe rejoice for having their own Pulse Tracker now? Well, it's a 1-drop with 2 toughness, after all. It'll sure suck to open a game with it and then find out you're facing Elves, though.


Artificer: +6

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 50 (online: 46)

 Related Tribes: Human, Rogue, Thopter

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: An unprecedented batch of new Artificers (well, for a core set; it happened last in New Phyrexia), that makes the tribe jump over the 50-member threshold. It's also one of the few tribal themes of the set (possibly the only one besides Elf), actually involving a second tribe that however doesn't get any new member: Thopter. Indeed, five of these new Artificers, who all come from the still little-known steampunk plane of Kaladesh, are able to create Thopter tokens, which is a good support for a tribe that otherwise only has population: 9. And you know what, most of these Thopter-based Artificers are even good! Of course, the common ones have unfriendly CCs, but hey, they do provide flyers: 3 mana for a 2/1 and a 1/1 with flying is not that bad of a deal.

 The uncommon ones are better, of course. For 4 mana, Whirler Rogue (the only 3-type creature in the set; is she a thief that builds flying contraptions to help in her heists? That's cool) gives you 2 Thopters and the ability to make your Wurmcoil Engine or Blightsteel Colossus unblockable; one mana less, and at the other side of the Izzet spectrum, Thopter Engineer only brings one little dude along, but then your big mechanical Wurms and Colossi attack immediately. Or, you know, at the very least, your Thopters do.

 And then there's Chandra's parents, one in the cycle of creatures linked to the Origins Five. Isn't it cute that Chandra is the one who comes accompanied by Mom and Dad? Look how cool their family car was.

Apparently, the soon-to-be Chandra's signature goggles are actually just headgear.

 Of course, chances are they're going to die horribly, right? Yup.

Something tells me that big fire wasn't "man"-made.

 Anyway, Pia and Kiran Nalaar (ladies first!) are a new take on Siege-Gang Commander, with artifacts in place of Goblins, one fewer token and a higher activation cost to balance out the lower casting cost. It's not a bad card by any means, if a bit mana-intensive.

 Same goes for the last Artificer of the lot, which also replicates a card from a different color and tribe, bringing it to Izzet and artifact: I'm talking about Reclusive Artificer doing part of Gray Merchant of Asphodel's job. At first sight, you might think the number of artifacts on your board is, in average, a smaller amount than your devotion to black can be. That's probably true, and you don't even get the life boost (which wouldn't be very Izzet), or, more importantly, you can't hit the opponent, in exchange for a probably irrelevant haste. Still, it's a welcome removal on a stick for artifact decks in Izzet colors, and most of the times in those decks it's going to hit for as much as you need it to.


Assassin: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 42 (online: 39)

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Killing one 1-toughness guy at best is awfully small potatoes for an Assassin. Go back to assassin school, gal. Being strictly better than Scathe Zombies is not gonna do it in 2015.


Beast: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 324 (online: 319)

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: It looks like the Beast tribe got itself a mythic. This one is hard to evaluate. On one hand, it's Titan-mana, and the stats of the main guy are subpar. On the other hand, damn, tutoring and cheating stuff directly onto the battlefield? That's as huge as it gets. It's only for a nonlegendary green creature with CMC 3 or less, sure. This already means no Melira and no Nissa. But it's a big crowd anyway, and who knows what combo the next sets will entail? Still, the 6/5 dork has to be relevant somehow to justify going as high as 6 mana for the fetch, at least from Modern upward, rather than using, say, Summoner's Pact. Birthing Pod is not even Modern-legal anymore (alas), and Pod decks would rarely tramp through such expensive territories. Is it good enough to hit 6 mana and, in place of your Primeval Titan or Wurmcoil Engine, getting a 6/5 vanilla and, say, a Kitchen Finks? I'm gonna say no, but again, what makes it so hard to conclusively decide is that fetching this way is a seriously big deal, and next thing you know, there will be a win-con in Standard or Modern that just asks for the support of this loud, weird elk-bear.


Berserker: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 57 (online: 54)

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Another element that makes Magic Origins unique among core sets is the introduction of entirely new mechanics, the first of which is renown, that asks for a creature to deal combat damage to the opponent in order to gain an established number of +1/+1 counters and possibly trigger other good things. In the case of this rare Berserker lady, you'll end up getting a 3/3 that deals 2 damage for each noncreature spells the opponent casts from that moment on. Considering she starts as a perfectly serviceable 2/2 hasty for 3, I predict this savage girl is going to be seen around in red decks that love punch, which is any red deck ever.


Bird: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 195 (online: 187)

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Birds are used in Magic Origins as filler flyers for Limited purposes. Actually, some of these feel kinda bad and ridiculously overcosted in Limited, too. Poor little birds.


Boar: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 28 (online: 26)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I get it: this Boar is made for walking, and that's just what it'll do; one of these days this Boar is gonna walk all over you. But make no mistake, it'll all happen in a Limited environment.


Cat: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 132 (online: 127)

 Related Tribes: Monk

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Meh, I don't get it. It's a Monk Realist functional reprint. But hadn't Monk Realist been made obsolete by War Priest of Thune? And Cat is the tribe with Qasali Pridemage, you know.


Centaur: +2

  

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 New Tribal Total: 49

 Related Tribes: Shaman, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Magic Origins Centaurs clearly come from Theros. And the rare one, Herald of the Pantheon, is particularly intriguing: an enabler and all-around support for Enchantress decks, or enchantment builds in general. In-tribe, it also reduces the cost and enhance the lifegaining of Centaur star Courser of Kruphix. Talk about a strictly better Grizzly Bears. This one is a must-have in the right deck.


Cleric: +6

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 288 (online: 266)

 Related Tribes: Bird, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: There's quite a bunch of new Clerics in Magic Origins, mostly useless, except for the combo-prone and decent all-around Cleric of the Forward Order, and for Priest of the Blood Rite, who's actually a 5/5 flyer plus a 2/2 dude for 5 mana, and then you'll have a great sacrifice fodder with the added value of getting rid of that annoying 2-life upkeep cost.

 But of course, this is saying nothing about the true clerical centerpiece, the one and only Liliana, here at her fourth and most bizarre incarnation. See, Liliana didn't start as a power-seeking necromancer; no, she was a healer, although, how selfless actually could she be as a mono-black creature still remains to be seen (it's probably just a nod to that one time when she tried to cure her brother's sickness, which in my book is not enough to deserve a "healer" moniker, but okay). Anyway, then her brother died and became a zombie or something, and Lily did a pact with four different demons (see below), and the rest is history (or not, since her back story is still mightily confusing to me). What all this means, game-wise, is that we get another 3-mana Liliana, starting as a 2/3 lifelinker, which is good enough, then requiring a creature sacrifice to turn her total value into a 2/2 vanilla body plus a 3-loyalty planeswalker particularly apt at the reanimating game. It all seems to spell "good, not great", but it may all happen very fast in the right deck, and the synergies are many. Say you played something like Viscera Seer turn-1, then maybe Gravecrawler turn-2, then Liliana, Heretical Healer. You can wait for the right moment and sac the crawler to make Liliana transform (dribbling removal in the process), and if it's your turn, Liliana can directly go to 5 loyalty, you discard, say, a 4-mana beater to reanimate next turn, and there's also a couple of 2/2 Zombies in front of Liliana to protect her once you'll have Gravecrawler back from the graveyard, all while your opponent was forced to discard a card. Long story short: Liliana, Heretical Healer is a good package, but needs some deckbuilding attention to properly function; you don't put her in just any deck.


Construct: +4

    

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 New Tribal Total: 81 (online: 80)

 Related Tribes: Thopter

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: New Constructs to unpack. Let's see, Guardian Automaton is the functional opposite of Peace Strider; Chief of the Foundry is a sort of dull artifact lord. Hangarback Walker, the rare, is more interesting, and another case of a Thopter card that's not actually a Thopter card. It's expensive and clunky, though: you'll need to dump 6 mana into this thing to begin with, in order for it to be a 3/3 that generates 3 tokens when it dies; and you'll have to spend more mana and forfeit attacking to make it bigger. You're probably better off considering it a 1/1 for 2 that starts growing every turn, but I don't see it doing much outside of Limited, even in decks with Hardened Scales or Doubling Season.


Demon: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 82 (online: 80)

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Kothophed is one of the four Demons Liliana made a deal with (another one was Griselbrand, whom Lily then freed from his prison in Innistrad so she could better chase down and murder him; which, if you're a demon, maybe you shouldn't strike deals with people who can back out of them by just killing you. Just saying, it doesn't seem very smart.) As a card, Kothophed is a Titan-mana flyer with the classic "draw one card, lose one life" demon deal, only this time is linked to enemy permanent going to the graveyard, which can produce some explosive situations out of a mass removal of sorts. Add to this an impressive 6/6 body, and you got yourself a pretty good finisher, possibly better than Grave Titan himself, although unable to achieve the same kind of inevitability on the battlefield. He might become the new go-to for CMC 6 in Demon decks.


Djinn: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 42 (online: 41)

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Universal prowess? That's not something to sneeze at. Even a boltable toughness is not an issue anymore once you have a number of tokens waiting for the burn spell that makes them into lethal damage. Granted, we're talking of a kind of deck that usually doesn't bother reaching up to CMC 5. But all in all, this is a strong creature, both on its own and as a team leader, and a great Djinn for sure.


Dragon: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 155

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Another Dragon right after a freaking block full of Dragons?! And yet, it's a very powerful one. Interestingly, it's faster than most of the Dragon cards from Tarkir, and that's where its strength lies. Avarice Dragon wouldn't be as good if it were a CMC-5 creature, even with an enhanced body. It works because it comes at a point in the curve where the kind of deck it wants to be in has very likely almost finished the fuel, so getting a decent flyer that doubles your card allowance is key. On top of that, I'm sure there will also be decks that exploit the "discard your hand" clause, because the way it's worded makes it sound very tempting.


Drake: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 71 (online: 70)

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Drake will probably never be a very sexy tribe (I'd basically use that adjective only to describe Gilded Drake). This guy tries to be at least minimally relevant, through flash and a lord-like attitude. As a 4-mana, dual-colored, 2-powered flyer, that's not enough to be anything more than passable.


Druid: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 130 (online: 126)

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Gnarlroot Trapper is kinda weird. It's a reverse Elves of Deep Shadow, but with a clause where you can cast only Elves with the produced mana. And then it gets a deathtouch-providing ability, but with a clause where you can only use it on attacking Elves. All right, defensive deathtouch would probably be more the dominion of a rare, but still, I'm not sure I understand what this guy wants to be.

 That's clearer for Honored Hierarch: he wants to be Noble Hierarch's weird uncle. He actually turns into a Steward of Valeron who's able to generate any color of mana, which is nice. But he's a 1-drop, and even his name directly references the more famous Hierarch. He doesn't actually accelerate your mana come round 2, though. In fact, he's not sure to accelerate in round 3 either, if the opponent dropped something to block him, thus preventing him from triggering renown, something that in fact might never happen. I appreciate this use of the renown ability, but in practical terms, it seems too unreliable. And he's a terrible late draw, whereas Noble Hierarch, or even Birds of Paradise, have better uses in late game.


Dryad: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 29 (online: 27)

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So now the Dryads have their own (slightly better) Indrik Stomphowler. Unfortunately, I don't see any use for this card in any non-tribal build whatsoever, because it would directly compete with Reclamation Sage and/or Acidic Slime.


Elemental: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 347 (online: 343)

 Related Tribes: Hound

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: As the mystical embodiment of natural forces, Elementals are often used as cards that represent simple, flashy stuff like earthquakes and volcanos in red, or storms and tornadoes in blue. Here, they're mostly in red, and mostly forgettable. It feels particularly sad to use a great name like Zendikar Incarnate for such a nondescript uncommon. It DOES get big in Timmy environments, but c'mon, the incarnation of an entire plane is not even able to trample?


Elf: +9

    

   

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 285 (online: 274)

 Related Tribes: Archer, Assassin, Druid, Scout, Shaman, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Just as Artificer for Chandra (unpredictably) and Cleric for Liliana (also unpredictably), Elf gets a boost because of Nissa (predictably, this time). And since Zendikar-born Nissa's first stop after igniting her spark was Lorwyn, most of these Elves are from there, too. And look, there's Nissa's mentor, Dwynen! Who's a new Elf lord! Just what the Elf tribe needed! All right, she's not exactly a tier-1 lord, what with her costing 4 mana, and needing an alpha strike that also includes her to activate her lifegaining ability, which doesn't even help the Elf player to win, only not to lose. It's a fair lord, for sure, but it's still one lord more for a tribe that didn't really need any more support. End of my anti-Elf rant.

 But there's in fact Elf support more relevant than Dwynen in Magic Origins. For one, the deceptively trivial Dwynen's Elite is two Elves for two mana, which might be crucial in most Elf propagation strategies. The most egregious case, though, is Shaman of the Pack, a neat way for Elf decks to seal the deal without being required to attack at all. It even bypasses circle of protections, because it's not damage. I believe that's a card that we'll see a few of, as it only requires a black splash, and Elves everywhere already have ways to generate any color of mana. It's certainly stronger than Gilt-Leaf Winnower, but I want to mention it, too, because its design is amusingly bizarre. Like, that killing clause is just so wonderfully specific. So, she hates on creatures that are not Elves and not symmetrical? And she isn't symmetrical herself, but can't self-destroy because she's an Elf! On top of that, she randomly showcases menace, the new keyword for the old Goblin War Drums ability, that has replaced intimidate, now officially retired, as an evergreen mechanic that influences combat.

 And then, of course, there's quasi-walker Nissa, but gladly she's more of a Scout than an Elf. In fact, she's essentially a Borderland Ranger. At first, it's easy not to see how good this third Nissa is, though (far are the times of the terrible Nissa Revane). I'd like to point you to Mike Flores and Patrick Chapin's podcast, where they argue that Nissa, Vastwood Seer is actually the strongest card in the set. I sort of agree, and not just because I'm a fan (of Nissa, not so much of Chapin). For starters, it's an opinion based on the evident strength of her planeswalker side, that features one of the best plus abilities ever printed (the Coiling Oracle deal), paired with a solid token that's always important for defense. But that's not enough, as transforming Nissa feels so hard: how often do you even hit 7 lands in eternal formats? The criterion of evaluation, then, becomes good old card advantage. And Nissa is a veritable card advantage machine. For comparison, take Origins Liliana. After all is said and done, she's bound to leave you with two cards: her walker side and a 2/2 Zombie. But you used two cards in the process, her creature side you cast, and another creature you sent to the graveyard somehow (there's possible added value in this, but it's not a given). On paper, it's a 2-for-2 deal. With Nissa you start with a 2-for-1 deal – her and a free forest – and then progress toward a 3-for-1, after she transforms and you get either the Elemental or a card (and that card might even be a land directly on the battlefield, which is more than simply drawing it). And the more she survives, the more card advantage you get, which is something even Origins Jace isn't able to do, at least this fast. Sure, seven lands are not seen every day on every battlefield, but we're in deep green here, as we have basic forests, so we probably have some sort of ramp going (again, most of these walkers are a bit of build-around-me cards by design). More importantly, we don't need to transform the first Nissa we draw for her to have value: she's already provided a 2-for-1, ramping us to help her following iterations. What's also great is how good of a late game draw she is: you play her with 6 lands on the battlefield, you immediately get the 7th land that transforms her – and with Nissa in your deck, it's advisable to keep an unused fetch land around, so if they try to kill her while her transformation trigger is still on the stack, you can break the fetch and trigger her again before the removal hits.

 All in all, the best walker in the set, and one of the best in current Standard.


Faerie: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 72 (online: 69)

 Related Tribes: Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: Low to Medium

 Highlights: Magic Origins has a cycle of creatures that reward you from playing multiples. This one is pretty decent because it's a Flying Men, and you can do worse than 1-mana flyer, even if the first one you cast is nothing more than that. In a Faerie deck, she'll also support Spellstutter Sprite, I guess.


Fish: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 25 (online: 21)

 Related Tribes: Lizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Lately, somebody in R&D really likes the name "krasis" and the concept of Lizard Fish. But hey, this one is a good Pestermite variant. It doesn't tap lands, and requires a green splash, but has a larger body, and suddenly puts Fish (and, okay, Lizard) among the tribes that can exploit Splinter Twin strategies.


Giant: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 126 (online: 120)

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: We don't usually get so many Giants at once, or at all, but Theros was kinda generous on them, and these likely come from there. At least, that's certainly the case for Erebos's Titan, that in addition to reminding us how the Saxon genitive actually works, is a genuinely impressive dude. He shares some of the same issues that caused Phyrexian Obliterator to never achieve tier-1 status, in that so much black mana exclusively calls for a mono-black deck. And he's even less devastating on the battlefield than the Phyrexian monstrosity is, but he also comes with a built-in strategy guide, because he's essentially the Emperor of Mass Removal. You follow him with a sweeper of any sort (well, except one that exiles), you know he'll come back as an indestructible finisher, even if his particular brand of indestructible is a bit weird, because it only works against spells; basically, he'll never get to be indestructible in combat. MBC already loves him, anyway.

 The other Giants are unremarkable, except perhaps for the other rare, Outland Colossus, although he mainly works in conjunction with a trample-provider (say, Nylea), or he'd have a very hard time executing his plan at all. At CMC 6 he would have been entirely forgettable; at CMC 5, well, maybe in a devoted build? It's still mostly just a Limited bomb, though. But it's nice to have more green Giants, or non-red Giants for that matter, considering these four are of four different colors.


Goblin: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 286 (online: 275)

 Related Tribes: Scout, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Goblins get just enough new members to stay on top of the Elves, members-wise (286 to 285). Nothing useful here. Maybe Goblin Glory Chase, but he would be a totally different card, earning a totally different evaluation, had they given him haste.


Golem: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 94

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is not a bad Golem. It's not exactly good, either, asking to be cast again and again (for Tron mana) almost every single turn. But it basically reads as "wherever it attacks, it kills a creature", which is nothing short of aggressive, especially considering his other plan of dealing 7 damage to the opponent's dome (and needing a clear board for that, lacking any evasion). Plus, finding alternative ways to untap artifacts is not exactly unheard-of.


Hellion: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 10

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Hellion is the smallest tribe Magic Origins supports (just ahead of Pegasus). And their new tribesmember is honest; it doesn't do the sweeper act the better-known Hellions do, but is instead a strictly better Earth Elemental, with trample and a little red-damage-boosting ability.


Horror: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 142

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Recursion is a crucial feature on creatures; this new Horror's take on it is maybe a little bit too much on the demanding side, especially due to the mana requirement. I guess they didn't want to give dredge more fuel (in those formats where it's playable, that is) by creating a brand new Ichorid.


Hound: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 65 (online: 60)

 Related Tribes: Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I wonder who established that Elementals really like to take dog (or cat) form. Even more hilarious is when, in Tribal Wars, you field together real hounds and these fiery monsters. Do they all get along?


Human: +38

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 1718 (online: 1550)

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Berserker, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Monk, Rogue, Shaman, Soldier, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: I don't really need to explain again why I won't examine the impact of the new Human cards on the Human "tribe", right?


Hydra: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 30

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: The 30th Hydra ever printed... and I like it! It's been called a green Taurean Mauler, but actually the blueprints for this come from Forgotten Ancient. This is a cheaper, less resilient Forgotten Ancient with trample. It's a solid creature in general, with the correct cost to see actual play, but it's particularly explosive in Hydra decks, that always struggle finding relevant early plays.


Illusion: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 77 (online: 74)

 Related Tribes: Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: None


Imp: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 33 (online: 31)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: None


Insect: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 136 (online: 132)

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: It's probably not going to become super-popular elsewhere, even if 1-drops with removal abilities need not be underestimated, but this little dude is crucial in my beloved Insect tribe, providing early presence coupled with high strategical value. It can even chump-block and kill stuff at the same time! I love it.


Juggernaut: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 16 (online: 14)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I just realized that the idea behind Juggernauts being forced to attack each turn is that they can't stop moving once they started. I'm not sure this flavor entirely works, though. Isn't every attack a combination of coming back home and launching an entirely new assault? If the Juggernauts keep moving forward, don't they reach a point where they're past the place they were meant to target?


Knight: +3

   

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 New Tribal Total: 179 (online: 168)

 Related Tribes: Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I'm afraid the most relevant Knight in the set is, by far, the Knight of the White Orchid reprint. (Although, just like Mike Flores said in the podcast mentioned above, I also have often troubles consistently getting the extra land from him.)


Lizard: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 46 (online: 44)

 Related Tribes: Fish

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Fish is the country cousin here, but Lizards don't live in a large enough city to pretend this guy is not exciting to them, too.


Merfolk: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 152 (online: 149)

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I can't tell if the flash alternate cost is fair here. Still, anything that can be played in the opponent's end step is welcome in blue,the same goes, in Merfolk decks, for getting a dual mode where you can just use this as a 2-drop to be lord-pumped later. Not sure it'll see play, but it might. Taking away a problematic creature/gaining tempo while you assemble your alpha strike sounds like something the Merfolks would like to do.


Monk: +4

    

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 New Tribal Total: 81 (online: 78)

 Related Tribes: Cat, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Some new Monks, not all of them from Tarkir. The one that definitely is (prowess is the clue here) is the rare one, and the really powerful one: Abbot of Keral Keep, a red 2-drop with the right power and abilities that gives extra gas to the kind of deck where it matters the most. I know, it might be impossible to play the extra card right at turn 2, but that just means this guy will be great every single time you draw into it, so expect to see lots of him. Among the others, Valeron Wardens is sort of a "renown lord", but building a deck around renown doesn't seem especially attractive, or smart.


Pegasus: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 11

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: The second smallest tribe in the set (after Hellion) adds what's definitely its best member to date, a strictly better Glowrider, and a proper Thalia companion. Get ready, we're going to see some Pegasi in the lists this cycle, and possibly further.


Rhino: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 26

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: None


Rogue: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 185 (online: 175)

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Faerie, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Nothing too exciting to report in Rogueland, since one of the new ones is more Faerie-related, and another one is mainly an Artificer. Jhessian Thief is Thieving Magpie without flying, which seems like it was the key ability there, because you should care more about it dealing any amount damage rather than a lot of it.

 Semi-related: I just found out that all instances of the word "opponent" have been replaced in card texts with "player". I don't think there's a way to have a creature deal combat damage to yourself, is there?


Scout: +2

  

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 New Tribal Total: 94 (online: 88)

 Related Tribes: Elf, Goblin

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: No offense to Subterranean Scout, but I've the feeling he wouldn't be the Scout Magic Origins will be remembered for. Still, Nissa opens up unexplored terrain (pun intended) for the Scout tribe, because on one hand it's a card that you really want to include in a Scout tribal deck, but on the other hand, she doesn't help the popular Valakut plan very much, if at all.


Serpent: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 27 (online: 26)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Well, at least Sea Serpents have stopped with that old islandhome annoyance. What's the flavor here, though? Is it a marine scavenger?


Shaman: +4

   

 

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 New Tribal Total: 311 (online: 307)

 Related Tribes: Centaur, Elf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Shamans get two important members that they share with the Centaur and Elf tribes, respectively (albeit the former is not particularly Centaur-related; unfortunately, the Enchantresses are Druids, not Shamans). And then there's Chandra. Kid Chandra is, appropriately, a pinger, which would be easier to work into a deck if it could also target creatures. And the double red mana doesn't help, either. She assists burn strategies for sure, but I'm not certain that element alone is enough for a 3-mana spell to make the cut in burn and RDW decks. So, unlike all other walkers in the set, this is a card you'll only play to get the transformation going. And how do you do that? Well, in two ways: either by casting one red spell after Chandra successfully connects; or by casting two red spells, so that Chandra can activate her ping two extra times. At which point you'll get... a double pinger? That can also hit creatures, this time, if by withdrawing loyalty? Oh my, are you telling me Chandra is the worst planeswalker card of the lot? Why am I not surprised? (Poor Chandra).


Soldier: +14

   

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 526 (online: 470)

 Related Tribes: Bird, Giant, Human, Rhino

 Impact of the New Additions: 

 Highlights: Lots of Human Soldiers, for the most part exploiting the renown mechanic, because Soldiers like to rise in ranks and stuff. Of these, Consul's Lieutenant and Relic Seeker are the most playable, providing respectively a mini-battle cry and a Stoneforge Mystic impression. They both cost 2 mana, which is reasonable (renown creatures can't drop too late or they'll risk to become useless), and the Lieutenant even comes with first strike to help convince the opponent to let him connect; but here's the deal, if renown is going to cause too much of an advantage, the opponent is probably going to block the prospective renowned with anything they get. They shall not pass. It seems a pretty big limit of the mechanic, but you can still bank on clearing the path somehow.

 Renown is also featured on two Gideon-related cards. One is Kytheon's Irregulars, a very midrange yet solid creature, with repeatable tapping as a way to attain renowned status (which, however, doesn't provide any further function if not putting them away from bolt's reach). The other is Hixus, Prison Warden, listed as Gideon's mentor, a flash creature with a temporary exile effect. All nice and good, but the 5-mana cost makes him a bit too cumbersome, as much as flashing and exiling are sweet things to do.

 And with this, we come to talk about Gideon, formerly known as Kytheon, back when he was a young vigilante in the streets of Akros, Theros. His creature form is arguably the strongest of the five, being a Savannah Lions clone that can make himself indestructible (I guess not dying is something Gideon was always good at). The design makes it so that he can't activate his indestructibility in turn 2, which is fair, and means he has value even when not drawn in first hand. Then you attack with him and two other creatures, and voilà, bratty Kytheon turns into the more mature Gideon we all know and love. Specifically, he turns into a Gideon Jura working at a reduced capacity: he forces the attack of only one creature, and transforms into a 4/4 rather than a 6/6. And he doesn't kill creatures at all, but rather makes a creature indestructible for a full turn, which is an interesting and unique ability for a walker, leading to intriguing interactions. None of his abilities costs loyalty, which is opportune considering he has to withstand attacks and his loyalty total starts at a lower level compared to his Gideon Jura self; it also contributes to make Kytheon, Hero of Akros one of the best of the five Origins walkers, and possibly the easiest to play.


Sphinx: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 33

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This Sphinx apparently was Jace's mentor at some point. It's a variation on Meddling Mage's card name hosing, here making sure the affected spell is actually in the opponent's hand. At 7 mana it's a bit too expensive, though, and the flying body is decent and all, but not something you couldn't get for less. Considering the cost, and the fact that its wording affects all opponents, it might be a better fit for Commander.


Spider: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 42 (online: 41)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: None


Spirit: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 394 (online: 390)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: These cute ghost children (but hey, they're still dead, eh) makes for the only new Spirit in Magic Origins. Kind of a low count for such a big tribe. They also follow an "enchantments matter" template that's been pushed strongly in late sets. They're serviceable at that, an honestly-costed flyer that grows at each new enchantment (wait, does that mean your enchantments are killing more and more children?!). But I'm not sure any serious "enchantments matter" build would really care. The flavor text is great, though.


Troll: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 26 (online: 25)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Grizzly Bears Troll with renown is not bad, but that regeneration cost is insulting. I wish this card were rare so it could be allowed to lower that to one green mana, as it should.


Vampire: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 107 (online: 105)

 Related Tribes: Knight, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing exactly memorable about these new vamps, but I suppose a deck that's sure to have enchantments around (even just Honor of the Pure or Intangible Virtue) might be interested in Blood-Cursed Knight, that'll become a 4/3 lifelinker for 3 (5/4 if Honor the Pure is really the enchantment!)


Vedalken: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 38

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A flashing, single-use Spellskite. Interesting for sure, even if 3 mana are a bit steep for the intended applications: it's the Cancel of the safety creatures! Probably more related to the Wizard tribe than the Vedalkens, considering the latter are, ironically, more interested in having the actual Spellskite around.


Wall: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 111 (online: 90)

 Related Tribes: Illusion

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: None


Warrior: +10

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 497 (online: 482)

 Related Tribes: Centaur, Elf, Goblin, Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Human Warriors are not a particularly smart bunch in Origins. Enthralling Victor is a bad Zealous Conscripts. The rare, Graveblade Marauder, has a clunky way to cause (hopefully) massive losses of life. He might even succeed, eh. But lots of things have to go right in that plan.


Wizard: +6

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 558 (online: 546)

 Related Tribes: Merfolk, Human, Vedalken

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: To accompany Jace, now at his 6th incarnation (that makes him the most featured walker so far, one version ahead of Ajani and Garruk), we have several other rare or mythic Wizards. One is Harbinger of Tides, that is mostly meant for Merfolk decks, even if it works regardless of deck's affiliation. Another is Mizzium Meddler, the Vedalken Spellskite, essentially a counterspell on a stick for removal and Splinter Twin-like shenanigans. In fact, it might even be better than Spellskite as a sideboard option against Splinter Twin, because they won't already know it's there. Then again, that's true of just any 3-mana counterspell, but Mizzium Meddler only requires one colored mana.

 Willbreaker is the kind of overcosted creature that desperately asks for a devoted deck, but realistically it'll never get it, outside of the casual realm. Sort of like Beguiler of Wills (of which this seems to be a new variant), but with even more demanding requirements and a comeback clause.

 Something similar is going on with the other mythic other than Jace, Disciple of the Ring (yeah, the Wizards got both blue mythics!) It's the Wizard to Morphling's Warrior (I won't say Aetherling because Aetherling comes later in the curve), in that Morphling only affects itself, whereas the Disciple tries and affects the opponent's stuff, except for the occasional pumping. But the requirement sort of kills the buzz: you'll need to have a pretty serious amount of instants and sorceries in your graveyard to be able to consider the Disciple a reliable tapper. And I mean the "you dumped half your deck into the graveyard" amount. Also, something can be said about an obvious Spell Pierce being much easier to handle than an occult one.

 This bring us to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, aka young Jace back when he still wandered his native plane, the weird-looking Vryn. It turns out young Jace was a looter, i.e. a creature that makes you draw and then discard a card, a la Merfolk Looter. Jace fulfills this job consistently, dropping early on and not having any other function if not perhaps the occasional blocking of a 1-powered dude, if you dare. He doesn't provide real card advantage, but looting is a flexible tool: you might get rid of useless cards like surplus lands, or you might be putting resources into the graveyard that need to be there. So, in short, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is a card that'll go smoothly into many decks, and the defensive body makes him even better than his original Merfolk colleague. And after a short while he'll turn into planeswalking Jace. Now, I'm less warm on Jace, Telepath Unbound, to be honest. He starts with a large amount of loyalty, but his plus ability essentially just prevents 2 combat damage, which means under certain board statuses, it'll do nothing. Granted, his minus ability is a powerful Snapcaster Mage activation (recycling some of the stuff he may have looted, even), but it's costed at -3: how many times can you expect to use it? Well, I guess you can go for 2 times in 3 turns, killing Jace in the process, yet gaining double what Snapcaster gives for the same mana cost (minus a creature, plus some looted cards and 2 combat damage prevented). I don't know, though, maybe it's just that I don't like Jace as a character that much. I'm positive this will be a costly card, though. After all, it combines "draw cards" and "do whatever Snapcaster Mage does", and that's more than enough for a mythic's price to bloom in the secondary market.


Wolf: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 30 (online: 27)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This Wolf's text would feel a lot better if it were on a 2-mana creature. As it is, it's too slow to be anything but casual and Limited fodder.


Zombie: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 329 (online: 323)

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: In addition to significant reprints like Fleshbag Marauder and Nantuko Husk, we get these three new Zombies. Possessed Skab is the tribal take on Mnemonic Wall. For some reasons, I like the Wall better, being more defensive, less color-demanding, and able to recur, even with the Zombie covering one card type more (creature, that is). Undead Servant is part of the cycle of creatures that get better the more copies of them you see. The problem here is that the first one starts at "terrible", and the second one might be just as bad if the first one got exiled.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here. The new quantities will be added only after the set will be released online.


BEST IN SHOW
(alphabetical, walkers excluded; click on them to go to their main tribe)

  

  

  

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THE WALKERS AS YOUNG PEOPLE
(click on them to go to their main tribe)

   

 

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THE SPARKS TRIGGER
(click on them to go to their main tribe)

   

 

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THE MENTORS
(click on them to go to their main tribe)

   

 

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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS

 

8 Comments

"I just found out that all by Bazaar of Baghdad at Fri, 07/24/2015 - 14:53
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture
4

"I just found out that all instances of the word "opponent" have been replaced in card texts with "player". I don't think there's a way to have a creature deal combat damage to yourself, is there?" Does Harm's Way do that?; I'm not sure.

Anyways, you provide a solid review of the potential here except that I disagree with many of the conclusions regarding "impact" and feel this set is going to have an overall low impact. For example, Soulblade Djinn doesn't seem to be a build-around-me card at 5-mana, and probably needs protection before landing, else it will get Bolted. In Djinn tribal, it's ability will be win-more as the Djinn bodies usually already outclass the opposition. Similarly, Avaricious Dragon is probably not a 4-drop in a Dragon tribal deck as you'll be discarding a lot of your own Dragons (potentially a strategy with reanimation admittedly), and while he might shine at the top of the curve in other tribal decks, he'll have some stiff competition (as well as being illegal in Pure); hard to call its impact "severe". I could go on and on. It could be you realize all this and are just either more optimistic or less blunt than I.

Harm's way does, and there by AJ_Impy at Fri, 07/24/2015 - 16:16
AJ_Impy's picture

Harm's way does, and there are a few other redirection effects that do as well.

I think there's a by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 07/25/2015 - 04:43
Kumagoro42's picture

I think there's a misunderstanding here: this article series is not about Tribal Wars (if not tangentially, but we all know Tribal Wars is a fringe format, most people don't even know it exists). Tribal in the title refers to the broader concept – new creatures sorted by type rather than any other criterion proposed by Gatherer – it's not a reference to a specific format. Many of the judgments given are about the tribe getting one or more new cards that will see play in Standard and/or Modern. It's said in the introduction I generically talk about Constructed eternal formats rather than Limited applications.

Maybe I should just eliminate that judgment, though. It's been there since two installments only, I mostly thought it was just cute.

Stomphowler by Sensei at Sat, 07/25/2015 - 00:02
Sensei's picture

I think Undercity is a huge addition as Lotleth is the only troll now that's playable at 1 or 2 CMC.

I've won 13 trophies with Stomphowler so Naturalists will also be added as soon as Gatherling accepts it

http://gatherling.com/profile.php?player=The_Sensei

Bad news, folks: The Origins by AJ_Impy at Fri, 07/24/2015 - 22:30
AJ_Impy's picture

Bad news, folks: The Origins cards are not presently legal in Tribal Wars Legacy. If anyone has a working Login, please file a bug report. I'm going to go yell at Wizards via other media

What does it mean? If you try by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 07/25/2015 - 04:44
Kumagoro42's picture

What does it mean? If you try and start a Tribal Wars game with them in the decks, it says the deck is illegal?

Try it yourself. Go to the by AJ_Impy at Sat, 07/25/2015 - 08:59
AJ_Impy's picture

Try it yourself. Go to the deck editor, create a new tribal deck, set set to Origins and quantity to zero, add any of the new cards to the deck and right click on them. 'This card is not legal in this deck's format' right below the 'this card is not in your collection' both in red text. If you try to start a tribal wars game with a deck with origins cards, the deck is greyed out.

There is a potential workaround in that they are legal in Legacy.

Edit: Curiouser and curiouser. The five 'Mentor' cards are legal, the rest of the nonreprints aren't. Not only did someone muck up, they did so intermittently.

I just realized I misread by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 08/20/2015 - 06:51
Kumagoro42's picture

I just realized I misread Erebos's Titan: he waits for a creature to leave the opponent's GRAVEYARD, not battlefield as I thought; that could easily never happen, or else it demands the inclusion of specialized cards in your deck. Consider his presence in the Best in Show revised and dropped.