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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Sep 11 2015 12:00am
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We have a preview card! 

Here it is: (Sure, I could have made you wait or scroll, but I’m in a good mood today.)
 
 
Let’s talk about Standard as it is now, before Battle for Zendikar.  Abzan is huge, and I have played Abzan decks in a couple PPTQs, an SCG IQ and several other events. I have cast Thoughtseize a lot. If our preview card had been legal, would I have been casting Transgress instead of this?  
 
Thoughtseize
 
Of course not.  Thoughtseize is either the best or second best discard spell ever printed – up there neck and neck with Mind Twist.
 
However, when Battle for Zendikar arrives, Theros block will rotate out and Thoughtseize will be gone.  Abzan will still be a viable archetype and will probably need a replacement  for Thoughtseize.  We will still have Duress, but Duress is seriously limited in a format as creature-heavy as modern Standard.  So, is Transgress the Mind a viable replacement for Thoughtseize?  Let's break it down.
 
Let’s start with the mana cost – Transgress costs 1B, compared to Thoughtseize's B and two life. That extra mana is huge. Thoughtseize was a perfect turn one play, or turn two when your lands came into play tapped. Transgress the Mind costs two – meaning you will be casting in on turn two when you could be casting a two drop or holding up mana for Silumgar’s Scorn. That’s a downside, but 1B is not terrible. Back in the day, we played Coercion, and that cost 2B – but back then we had to walk six miles through deep snow for our discard, and it was uphill both ways...  
 
Another downside to Transgress the Mind is that you cannot cast it to take your opponent’s copy. I have often taken Thoughtseize with a Thoughtseize, but Transgress cannot hit a card as cheap as Transgress.  Hitting only takes cards of CMC 3 or greater is a drawback, but most of what you care about costs at least three mana, and in future Standard, Fleecemane Lion, Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid will have rotated out.  Transgress hits most removal, most counterspells, most of the Planeswalkers and most creatures worth getting.  It gets Deathmist Raptor. It really gets Deathmist Raptor. Transgress the Mind does not just let you choose a card and get it out of the opponent’s hand – it exiles that card. That’s huge. In a world rife with Den Protector, Haven of the Spirit Dragon and Delve cards, exiling is a massive bonus.  It may even be enough of a bonus to offset that extra mana in the casting cost.   
 
So is Transgress the Mind as good as Thoughtseize?  Certainly not, but in the new Standard, Transgress will be what we will have to work with, and it may well be good enough.   I don’t know – as I write this, I have seen less than a dozen non-land cards from Battle for Zendikar. I don’t know what else black-based mid-range or UB control decks might be casting on turn two.  If we have a seriously good two mana counter or signets, or if ramp decks are dropping great three drops on turn two, then Transgress might be relegated to the sideboard material.  If not, Transgress may be the new Thoughtseize, and will played in all the archetypes that played Thoughtseize. 
 
Time will tell.
 
In limited, Transgress looks pretty good. Cast early, it is almost never going to whiff (and if it does, you are still pretty happy because you will know exactly what garbage your opponent is holding.)  Later on, of course, all discard gets worse. Your opponent may empty their hand, and discard does not protect you from topdecks.  But as for the greater than or equal to three mana restriction – Zendikar is a world full of Eldrazi. Last time we saw Eldrazi, two drops like Glory Seekers were totally irrelevant, and I doubt that will change. Everything that matters in BFZ limited is likely to be expensive, and Transgress will nail it just fine.
 
Battle for Zendikar also includes a mechanic – Processors – that requires your opponent to have cards in the exile zone. Processors have extra bonuses that happen only if some of your opponent’s cards have been exiled.  Well, Transgress the Mind exiles cards.  I have not seen enough of the BFZ set to know how important Processors are, or whether exiling a single card is useful for Processing, but it seems likely.  And if Processors are at all important, that makes one more reason to play Transgress the Mind.
 
Also, that art is - well, just take another look
 
 
PRJ