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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Apr 25 2019 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  When War of the Spark was officially completely spoiled it ended up happening just as my dad's birthday and Easter happened, so that gave me less time to look at the set as a whole than I would have liked.  It also meant I had less time to record as I spent 3 of the 5 possible days with family instead of pacing myself on these videos.  All this means is the extra time I gave myself wasn't fully utilized and that's a bummer.  That said, I still took a good look at War of the Spark and made conclusions about the set that alleviated previous concerns over the Limited environment.  Of course, let's not waste any more time and dig into War of the Spark.

  • 5/2 - War of the Spark Limited
  • 5/9 - War of the Spark Limited
  • 5/16 - War of the Spark Limited
  • 5/23 - War of the Spark Limited

War of the Spark Planeswalkers

Having a Planeswalker in every pack and having them show up in the uncommon slot is definitely new and makes you realize how powerful Planeswalkers are in general.  A lot of the removal and creatures in this set have been designed to account for Planeswalkers being in play (see Spark Harvest and so the fear of games being taken over by Planeswalkers has mostly been subdued.  In fact, I believe more often than not a Planeswalker is going to die quickly, which makes sense flavor wise as a lot Planeswalkers are going to die during the conflict.

As far as the uncommon Planeswalkers go I do believe they function more like Sagas than they do traditional Planeswalkers since instead of winning the game via ultimate, they follow a very specific path and specialize in doing a certain thing.  With a Saga you know in advance what's going to happen and once it hits the third lore counter, it's done doing whatever it was doing.  These uncommon Planeswalkers generally have 2 activations and then they sit with a passive ability, so once the activations are done you don't have to worry as much.

For example, I see Teyo as a Planeswalker you can avoid attacking since he doesn't do much in play and you can certainly overcome 0/3 Wall tokens.  The play pattern for Teyo is to make 2 0/3 Wall tokens and then have him sit in play doing nothing else.  It still feels cool to have a Planeswalker and being able to activate loyalty abilities, but since the power is capped it can only do so much to an opponent.  Once you up the rarity you can worry more about them and certainly the mythic Planeswalkers are much more powerful and deserve to be killed on sight.

War of the Spark Mechanics

Amass

Amass X - Put X +1/+1 counters on an Army you control.  If you don't control one, create a 0/0 black Zombie Army creature token first.

A lot of cards in blue, red, and black have the keyword mechanic Amass.  This allows you to take control of a Dreadhorde army by first creating a token, then over time adding more and more +1/+1 counters on it to make an ever growing offensive force.  If you don't have an Army token when you Amass, first you create the token then add those +1/+1 counters on it.  However, if you already have an Army what you do is instead put more +1/+1 counters on the creature you already have.  You can't go wide with this mechanic, instead you go tall.

Proliferate

Proliferate - Choose any number of permanents and/or players, then give each another counter of each kind already there.

Proliferate is a returning keyword with a slight tweak made, for each permanent and/or player you choose you give them another counter of each type there.  This won't matter much in War of the Spark Limited but has some minor implications in other formats (mostly Commander).  You can choose any permanent and/or player to get counters if they already have counters, and note this does not target anything so you could give a Hexproof creatures an opponent controls more counters if you wanted to.   You'll generally want to proliferate each time you can, but make sure you have counters already i in play before you do so.

War of the Spark Card Rankings

I'm going to be using an A-F scale for the set review. I do explain the ratings in the videos but I'd like to expand on that more in this section. The scale is meant to give a card a letter grade based upon what you would expect an A/B/C/D/F card to look and play like. A's are cards that win the game for you on the spot, they produce an immediate impact and must be dealt with unless your opponent is unable to do so. Cards such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Chromium, the Mutable are examples of A's. B's are cards that are quite strong but do not win the game outright. They progress the game either by advancing your board position or being powerful pieces of removal. Murder and Slimefoot, the Stowaway are examples of B's. C's are filler cards that go in most Limited decks, or higher rarity cards with a lesser impact on the game. Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is an example of a C. D's are either bad cards that aren't unplayable, or sideboard cards with narrow but strong effects in the right situation. They're less reliable and not always the best answer for any random threat, but the right answer for a very specific problem. Naturalize and Plummet are classic D's. Lastly, F's are unplayable cards and/or cards meant solely for Constructed play. Fog is a classic F.

One thing to note is a lot of cards are going to fall in the C rating and that's okay.  I always surprise myself at how many cards I give a C rating to and it reflects not only the nature of the review (Sealed Deck) and how high the floor is for any given card.  A good amount of C level cards are dependent on what you have in your pool, such as an uncommon creature lord that is still technically playable if you have no other members of its tribe.  Merfolk Mistbinder is a C level card if it's your only Merfolk, but can be a B if you are in a heavy Merfolk deck.  When it comes to cards that either depend on other cards in play or in your deck, I like to take the average scenario into account when I give a grade.  I ask myself, how good is this card in the best, worst, and average case scenario and from that point assign either a set grade or give a range as to what it could be.

The purpose of this scale is to see how good a card is on its own, not how good it is with or against other cards in the set. You won't know what cards you're opening, and while context does matter for some cards, being able to analyze them independently of one another is important. Having said that, I must admit my bias while doing sealed set reviews. I like cards with staying power and the ability to do well in the later stages of the game and disliking cards that have more of an aggressive slant. This isn't to say I don't like/won't play cheap/aggressive cards or they are bad, I'm just more inclined to take a controlling stance in sealed deck and grind my opponent out.

War of the Spark Sealed Set Review

Conclusion

Some of my key takeaways after looking at the set as a whole:

  • Removal is pretty good, likely to account for the fact you need to attack certain Planeswalkers on the spot and/or more Planeswalkers in decks makes the average deck more powerful.
  • Uncommon Planeswalkers function more like Sagas than normal Planeswalkers.  Most uncommon PWs aren't worth killing/investing resources to go after.
  • Fixing is very scarce in this set, splashing will be more difficult but 5c green is an option.
  • It's easier to deal with a Planeswalker without having to attack it (counters, Spark Harvest, burn spells, etc)
  • Rare/mythic Planeswalkers should be dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • The Gods are powerful but can be dealt with via mill, exiling them from the graveyard when the trigger is on the stack, or countering them.  Note if you use Prison Realm on one the owner can put it back into their library.
  • Splashing black for Spark Harvest might be a thing if you really need a card to deal with a Planeswalker.
  • Gut feeling is this format will rely a lot on combat.  It is a plane at war after all.

What do you think about the set as a whole?  I'm pretty excited about it and can't wait to play with the cards as soon as possible.  Next week I'll be back with my first taste of War of the Spark Limited.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns please leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading/watching!