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By: Godot, Ryan Spain
Jan 29 2010 8:59pm
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Hey folks, welcome back! I was initially thinking of using this article to review as many single cards from Worldwake as I could manage, but I’ve changed my mind. You can hear my opinion of every common and uncommon in Worldwake by listening to Limited Resources imagenumbers 17, 18, and 19, so I’m going to use this column to get a view of Zendikar-Worldwake Limited from a bit higher up, but still purely from a common and uncommon perspective.

Last week, I wrote about the concept of small-set analogs: cards that serve a similar function as a card in the large set at the “same” rarity. (Last week’s article will also explain why that word needs quotes.) I also wrote that close analogs are the first thing I look for in a new small set. They are fairly easy to spot and process once you know to be looking for them and have a true understanding of card rarity. Accordingly, I’m going to leave those to you this week. After all, once you see Groundswell for the first time, you shouldn’t need a Magic writer to tell you to start factoring it in as a possibility where before your read would have been Primal Bellow or Vines of Vastwood.

This week, I’ll take a look at each color for the second thing I look for when assessing a new small set: its key gains, key losses, and game-changers. The key gains and losses are places where the availability or power level of cards in a given aspect of gameplay—e.g., removal, tricks, flyers, beaters, defenders, fatties, weenies, fixing—has shifted dramatically. Game-changers are individual cards that are so powerful, different, or both, that they have a dramatic impact on the environment all on their own.

Collectively, these are the areas that will require the biggest mental overhaul as we adjust to the impending pack-three curve ball. Let’s take it color by color.


Biggest Gains: Aggressive Allies

Biggest Losses: Aggressive non-allies and removal

Game-Changers: Ruin Ghost

image The addition of Hada Freeblade and Join the Ranks are going to change the ally game dramatically in post-Worldwake limited. The implications of instant-speed, double ally trigger are staggering, as is a one-drop “warrior” ally in the same color. You want a turn-four concession? How about turn-one Hada Freeblade, turn-two Kazandu Blademaster, imageturn-three Umara Raptor, turn-four Join the Ranks? That sequence—two commons and two uncommons—does 22 damage unopposed. I had to take my shoes and socks off to figure out that one!

As excited as I am about the prospect of base-white ally decks in ZZW, I have some concerns for white outside that archetype. There are no real analogs in the set for Steppe Lynx, Kor Hookmaster, and Windborne Charge, and while there are two serviceable common 2/2 flyers in Apex Hawks and Fledgling Griffin (ok, flyer-esque), neither approach the sensational Kor Skyfisher, whose 3 toughness and “drawback” of reusing enters-the-battlefield permanents will be sorely missed from the third pack.

On the removal front, the news is even worse. While Refraction Trap is a nice upgrade to Pitfall Trap, we are losing a pack of Journey to Nowhere and replacing it with a pack of Iona’s Judgment. Iona’s Judgment exiles a creature or enchantment for at sorcery speed, and while more flexible and irreversible than Journey to Nowhere, at three mana more, Iona simply charges too much for her judicial services. Also, Journey to Nowhere has the fantastic interaction with bounce spells where you return the journey with the “exile” effect on the stack, permanently exiling the target and effectively upgrading your bounce spell into a Journey to Nowhere.

imageMeanwhile, white’s big game-changer is Ruin Ghost. In Zendikar, only Living Tsunami and Frontier Guide said, “Yes, you get a landfall trigger each turn for the rest of the game as long as I’m around.” Living Tsunami asks for the high price of never being able to increase your land count again without some means beyond your Garfield-given right to play a land once per turn. Frontier Guide requires four mana for the trick, doesn’t do anything relevant on offense, and can’t pull off any fun shenanigans with “enters the battlefield” lands like the tsunami can. It does, however, enable fairly consistent double landfall and instant-speed landfall in a way that the tsunami does not.

Ruin Ghost, meanwhile, is like this amazing hybrid of the guide and the tsunami, taking some of the best features of each. It’s about as relevant on offense as the guide, but also like the guide, it doesn’t ask you to stop developing your mana in exchange for permanent landfall, and it enables double landfall and instant-speed landfall. Like the tsunami, Ruin Ghost can pull of recursive “landspell” shenanigans as it triggers landfall each turn, and also like the tsunami, it does its trick for free.

Wait, for free? Yes. While it costs to activate, if you tap a Plains for , then target that tapped Plains with the Ruin Ghost ability, the Plains will blink back into play untapped. Besides interacting with every landfall card in the block and every “enters the battlefield” land in the format, it also does subtle things like filtering mana for . Need to get out a spell with a Forest and a Plains? Tap both for mana, blink out the Forest, and tap it for the second green when it comes back. How about two life a turn from Kabira Crossroads? How about threatening to blink your Sejiri Steppe into play and grant a creature protection from the color of your choice in response to removal spells? Ruin Ghost is quite the card for this format.

While white has suffered a significant blow with downgraded or missing analogs for Journey to Nowhere, Kor Hookmaster, Steppe Lynx, Kor Skyfisher and Windborne Charge, the addition of some excellent ally cards and the Ruin Ghost still leave me with hope for the color, especially for a paired with blue, whose Windrider Eels and Umara Raptors will benefit nicely from Worldwake’s new white cards.


Biggest Gains: Card drawing

Biggest losses: Flyers

Game-Changers: Tideforce Elemental, Halimar Excavator, Vapor Snare

image Blue has finally picked up a couple of real card-drawing spells at common. Treasure Hunt has been one of the most talked-about cards in the set since it was spoiled, and for good reason. It has fascinating applications in Constructed, and Johnnies and Spikes around the world have been proposing ways to abuse it since it hit the official spoiler last week. In limited, it is mostly just a two-mana spell that replaces itself with, image on average, one spell and seven tenths of a land. Given that blue mages have been working with the terrible Ior Ruin Expedition, I’ll take it happily. Treasure Hunt also combos nicely with the new blue “landspell” Halimar Depths, which allows you to reorder the top three cards of your library when it enters the battlefield. “Spell, land, land” seems like a good order to put them back on top of your library with a Treasure Hunt in hand.

The other common card drawer is Mysteries of the Deep. Instant-speed, net-positive card drawing is a rare thing in Magic these days, but five mana for two cards is hardly an exciting deal, and to get a third card out of it right before you untap, you’ll need instant-speed landfall. In Constructed, fetchlands make this quite doable, but in Limited, your options are, well, you know. Personally, I’ll be happy to get three cards for five mana at sorcery speed, and if I have the Ruin Ghost to go instant on it, fantastic. I just want to never have to play Ior Ruin Expedition ever again. Just remember that there are many non-permanent landfall cards like this one in Worldwake, and if you have them in your deck, it is imperative that you hold a land in hand to take maximum advantage of them when you topdeck them.

Blue’s biggest loss comes in the lower density of good flyers. Zendikar has four common flyers I’m happy to play in Welkin Tern, Umara Raptor, imageWindrider Eel and Sky Ruin Drake, plus the excellent Living Tsunami at uncommon. Worldwake offers only the Wind Zendikon at common, and a couple of three-powered flyers in Horizon Drake and Voyager Drake at uncommon. While I like all three of these flyers, it’s a significant drop in quality flyer density, imagewhich has been the best reason to play blue in triple Zendikar.

The good news is, blue has several game-changers worth mentioning. The Halimar Excavator, discussed last week, makes a viable white-blue ally mill strategy, where before you only had Hedron Crab for an occasional lucky mill win that I never recommended running without multiples and maybe an Archive Trap. Vapor Snare is a Mind Control with the Living Tsunami clause, giving blue a two-for-one creature stealer and guaranteed landfall. I expect to be first-picking Vapor Snare in pack three a lot in the months to come.

Tideforce Elemental is a game-changer along the lines of Ruin Ghost (and in fact together they are quite the brainsplitting duo). If Tideforce Elemental were just a simple tapper, it would still have had a noticeable impact on Zendikar limited. The landfall ability combined with the power to untap creatures as well puts it into the game-changer category. The possible interactions are daunting even to consider. Board states involving Tideforce Elemental will be among the most challenging, skill-testing scenarios you will face in ZZW.

I’m concerned about the impact cuts to blue’s Air Force budget will have on its viability in WWZ, but I’m also excited to draw some cards in blue again, and to test drive Vapor Snare and Tideforce Elemental. Maybe I’ll even start drafting Hedron Crabs…


Biggest Gains: Artifact hate

Biggest losses: Cheap beaters, burn

Game-Changer: Cunning Sparkmage

image Wow, red has taken a big hit in Worldwake. I really had to stretch to find a true gain, but it effectively comes down to one card, the Tuktuk Scrapper.image It is nice that red has a good artifact hater in a set with so much quality equipment, but past the game-changer I’ll get to below, that’s about the only nice thing I can say about what has happened to red, easily my most drafted color in Zendikar.

Red’s strengths in Zendikar are a high density of cheap, aggressive creatures, and a high density of playable-to-great burn spells. Outside of the allies-only Akoum Battlesinger, however, Slavering Nulls is the only two-mana creature Worldwake has for red at common or uncommon, and it’s a creature that, without swamps, is a Goblin Piker. At uncommon. This is a devastating development for aggro red archetypes.

The only worse development is the sorry state of burn in Worldwake. Yes, Searing Blaze it teh new hotness (pun intended), but that’s where it ends. There is literally not another burn spell at common or uncommon in the set (the horrible Rumbling Aftershocks does not qualify). This is coming off Zendikar, which has Burst Lightning, Inferno Trap, Punishing Fire, Spire Barrage, Magma Rift, and even creatures like Torch Slinger and Murasa Pyromancer throwing burn around. Searing Blaze is great, but it cannot be an analog for seven Zendikar spells.

imageDo you know why Wizards made the quality of red commons and uncommons so poor in Worldwake? imageBecause they made its game-changer so good. I honestly think the Magic Development team felt it would be too imbalanced to give red both analogs to Zendikar’s burn and cheap beats and give it Cunning Sparkmage. This is the same principle by which black was so awful in Shadowmoor Limited: it had Incremental Blight. Cunning Sparkmage is Worldwake’s Incremental Blight: the uncommon with such blowout potential that the rest of the color had to be nerfed in order for it to exist. The list of common and uncommon creatures that die to Cunning Sparkmage in Zendikar is extremely long—see the pile to the right for just some of the commons from Zendikar that die to an active sparkmage. The full list of creatures at common and uncommon from both sets is much longer. So much so, I didn’t think we would see a pinger in Worldwake. Yet, here he is. With haste, no less, so that you can take out at least one creature with him before your opponent can kill him, or drop him after combat to finish off that blocker clinging to its last point of toughness.

One-toughness creatures of Zendikar block, you are all on notice! There is a new sheriff in town, and he’s carrying quite a load, because the rest of the red in Worldwake represents a dramatic downgrade from the powerful red of Zendikar.


Biggest Gains: Targeted removal

Biggest Losses: Vampire Nighthawk, Marsh Casualties

Game-Changer: Caustic Crawler (sort of)

Black is funny, it feels like it’s changing to stay the same. It’s losing quite a bit, starting first and foremost with a pack’s worth of the uncommon powerhouses Vampire Nighthawk and Marsh Casualties. It is also losing a pack’s worth of Crypt Rippers for heavy image black, and Giant Scorpions and Heartstabber Mosquitos for the more controlling black builds. It is gaining a very nice zendikon in Corrupted Zendikon, turning a land into a simple 3/3 for (see last week for a discussion of the inherent drawbacks of zendikons). It will do its best to fill the shoes of Crypt Ripper and Nimana Sell-Sword.

The common targeted removal is getting worse overall. While Tomb Hex is a fantastic, splashable Disfigure/imageHideous End hybrid analog, Brink of Disaster and Dead Reckoning are big steps down, leaving Tomb Hex to carry the common analog load. However, the new uncommon targeted removal is excellent, with Smother reprinted, Urge to Feed as a black-intensive Last Gasp with major vampire benefits, and Nemesis Trap as a great late-game removal spell against non-white (perhaps this is the analog to Heartstabber Mosquito in the end), and a sick blowout spell at any time against white.

Caustic Crawler is not going to be quite the format-warper that Cunning Sparkmage will be, but we will certainly feel its similar impact. It kills most of the same creatures as Cunning Sparkmage (it’s worse against allies because it will have a hard time pinging them with the initial +1/+1 on the stack), but the sparkmage costs three and has haste, while the crawler costs five and only has “haste” if you have a land to play that turn. In fact, he only pings if you have a land to play at all (and is disgusting with Harrow mid-combat). You will have the land often enough to make him a powerful card in the format, but not with enough reliability to be at Cunning Sparkmage levels. And thank goodness for that, black is plenty powerful as it is.

Basically, I see black shifting its strengths around a bit, but becoming slightly weaker and less flexible in the process. By starting with Vampire Nighthawk and Marsh Casualties at uncommon, it had nowhere to go but down, really, but I think black will remain the best color in the format because of the excellent new uncommon removal spells.


Biggest Gains: Allies and acceleration

Biggest Losses: Racing tools and landfall

Game-Changers: Bestial Menace

Oran-Rief Survivalist is a fantastic ally, but Joraga Bard and Tajuru Archer are a bit lacking. Green makes some significant gains in overall ally image quality in Worldwake, with the uncommon Vastwood Animist turning spare lands into practically free beef, and the common Graypelt Hunter stepping in as a “warrior” Wild Elephant ally that leaves Joraga Bard looking even worse than imagebefore for four mana. I’m very excited by the prospect of base white-green ally decks in ZZW because of the gains both colors have made in that department with Worldwake, and because of green’s ability to enable ally splashes from additional colors.

In the loss department, green has no landfall beyond the serviceable-but-boring Snapping Creeper. After abusing Grazing Gladehart, Baloth Woodcrasher, Turntimber Basilisk, and Territorial Baloth with Harrow, it will be a shock to have no such tricks in green Worldwake. This is particularly true of the gladehart, which along with Nissa's Chosen have been vital to green’s limited ability to compete with the aggressive decks of Zendikar. We’ll see if gaining a Llanowar Elves analog in Arbor Elf can accelerate green enough to make up for losing the gladehart and the chosen. I’m also concerned about the dent to monogreen strategies coming with the loss of Timbermaw Larva and Primal Bellow but Leatherback Baloth will make a nice addition to that archetype, so perhaps it will be a wash.

The biggest game-changer I see in green is the “cone of dudes,” Bestial Menace. Putting six power across three creatures for only five mana and a single card will be a blowout on turn five for a green deck that powered out men on turns one through four and has tricks for the attack on turn six.

Lands & Artifacts

Biggest Gains: Landspells

Biggest Losses: Equipment

Game-Changers: Quicksand (at common!)

image There is a new cycle of common “landspells” that enter the battlefield tapped in exchange for a cantrip-level effect, and they will be a solid addition to most decks on color. Khalni Garden puts an 0/1 plant token into play, which will frequently feel like a Kabira Crossroads lifegain effect when it chumps an attacker, although the plant can strap on some equipment and swing. The blue land, Halimar Depths, allows you to reorder your top three, which is a nice turn-one draw-smoother, and is great, as mentioned, with Treasure Hunt. Bojuka Bog is unplayable, Smoldering Spires feels like a playable downgrade from Teetering Peaks, while Sejiri Steppe is like a much more flexible version of Smoldering Spires, and can be abused with Ruin Ghost. I also like Pilgrim's Eye quite a bit as a colorless, flying Borderland Ranger: much better than Expedition Map (unless you are trying to search up Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle).

Equipment has fallen off a bit in Worldwake. Zendikar’s Trusty Machete is one of the cards you want to open imagein Zendikar draft, and while Hammer of Ruin tries to fill the void, the extra cost preventing it from being a turn-one play and the lack of a toughness boost make it a big step down. The equipment destruction is going to be randomly good sometimes, but not reliably enough to put it in the machete’s league.

The one-mana cost issue is the important point in all the equipment downgrades in Worldwake. The playable Zendikar equipment, Trusty Machete, Adventuring Gear, and Explorer's Scope (in that order) all cost to cast. In Limited, where worthwhile turn-one action can be hard to come by, this is part of what makes them playable. No common or uncommon equipment in Worldwake has that cost, and that is a major setback for all of them, as is the lack of a equip cost on any of them. And Razor Boomerang is just embarrassing.

The game-changer is the reprinting of Quicksand at common, something I thought had to be a mistake in the spoilers. The wide availability of land-based removal for two-toughness ground attackers in any color will dramatically change Zendikar Limited. Bladetusk Boar, Surrakar Marauder, Turntimber Basilisk, most vampires, and many other format-defining ground pounders are about to sink into the sand. Granted, you aren’t going to want to crack a quicksand on turn two, but with a couple of these in your deck, you won’t live in fear of death-by-intimidate like I do in triple Zendikar, staring at two Guul Draz Vampires or a Bladetusk Boar on 12 life running a non-red, non-black deck.

The impact of Quicksand at common will be so profound, I’m really not sure if it will feel like an R&D mistake, or exactly what I was asking for: a card to bring aggro red/black strategies down to earth (literally in this case).

Prerelease Ho!

I’m not sure if this article will reach you all before the prerelease. If it does, have a great time there, and if it doesn’t, I hope you had a great time. Oliver is raring to play! He has jumped onto the parental bed at 7:00 AM every day this past week and asked, “Are you ready for the big tournament on Saturday, Dad?” “You bet I am, Ollie!”

Best alarm clock ever!

Godot's Article Archive / Limited Resources Podcast / Follow Godot on Twitter


im honest here, i havent even by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 01/29/2010 - 21:27
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im honest here, i havent even read this article yet, but i know its going to be spot on and JUST what i wanted to read about WW right now.


Being someone who didn't by JustSin at Fri, 01/29/2010 - 23:11
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Being someone who didn't spend a lot of time drafting in Zen I have to say this article did a great job of previewing some of the WW cards in addition to giving almost a small recap on Zen

Great article Godot... by Rerepete at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 01:16
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Great article Godot...

I have a feeling vampires are by KCBRoyce (not verified) at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 03:08
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I have a feeling vampires are gonna be the deck to beat in ZZW drafts...

Thanks for the great article!

I think you use this analog by Anonymous (not verified) at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 03:09
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I think you use this analog talk too much as magic design is not based on keeping parity from big set to small. Regardless most stuff seems right on. White was great in trips zen but I think it's gained a lot of speed and a better curve. Black removal also got better IMHO. Honestly black is more rounded and stronger just a lil less agro now. Red took a huge hit and might only be 3 rd or 4th best now. White will end up second IMHO. Expecially with cunning sparkmage being splashably and effecting white less than black, red, or blue. Green still sucks but is less susceptible to quicksand than all but blue

"...magic design is not based by Godot at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 03:55
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"...magic design is not based on keeping parity from big set to small."

Where did I say that Magic design is based on keeping parity from big set to small set? Identifying the areas that lack parity was the thrust of this article!

Understanding the analog concept gives players a good tool to help assess an incoming small set. By seeing where there are analogs, you in turn see where there aren't, which in turn leads to better predictions of where specifically the environment is going to change.

If the responses I've received to last week's article and the Limited Resources podcast on the subject are any indication, it was a concept many players in my target audience didn't have at all or didn't have consciously, and are happy to have now. If my use of the concept in the last two articles felt heavy handed to you, it probably just means you are a very good drafter who, consciously or unconsciously, has already absorbed it.

Just before I read your by Kamisaki (not verified) at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 03:51
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Just before I read your article I did my own analysis of the new cards based on the Visual Spoiler that's now complete on the mothership, and it makes me feel pretty good that I came to mostly the same conclusions as you did. My method was pretty simple, I just counted up the number of commons and uncommons in each color that I would be happy about or OK with playing. Here's what I came up with (obviously someone else doing this could quite likely come up with different numbers):

Commons: White - 8, Blue - 7, Black - 9, Red - 6, Green - 8.
Uncommons: White - 7, Blue - 7, Black - 6, Red - 3, Green - 5.

The biggest thing that jumped out to me was that, just like you said, red really sucks in this set. The uncommons are almost all terrible except for the Sparkmage, and having just one burn spell kills. You're probably right that it was what this format needed, though. I was kind of surprised that they didn't nerf black more, though. It does look to be weaker than in Zendikar, but still plenty strong.

Blue and white have a lot of similarities in their card quality distribution. In the common slot, there is a decent enough number of good cards and playable but unexciting ones, but the uncommons for these colors are really powerful (blue moreso than white though). Tideforce Elemental, Vapor Snare, the two 3-power fliers, all great stuff. Additionally, there's Permafrost Trap, which I kind of dismissed at first but now I think will be really great. Originally I didn't catch that the creatures don't untap during their next untap step, which obviously makes a big difference. On the podcast you guys basically said it was like a worse Sleep, which on the surface is true, but there are a couple different things going on here. First off, this is an instant, which means you can play it before an opponent's attack phase to keep two of their creatures from attacking and blocking for 2 whole turns, as opposed to keeping all of their creatures tapped for two turns on defense and only one turn on offense as Sleep does. Secondly, the formats are quite different. M10 was all about breaking the ground stall, which Sleep did wonderfully, but Zendikar is often about winning the race, and for that purpose, tapping 2 of their creatures as opposed to all of them is going to be just fine. So yeah, I definitely want to see some of these if I'm playing blue.

Last up, green has me somewhat conflicted. Almost all of green's commons are solid, but none are spectacular, which is often the case with green. It definitely has a higher density of early drops compared to Zendikar, which should help the green decks keep up in the race a bit better. It does hurt to lose Gladeheart and not get a replacement landfall dude, but I'm actually not too worried about losing some of the fatties, since I almost always had enough of those by the end of pack 2 anyway. Green's uncommons are a bit worrying, though. There are only 2 really good uncommons (unless you're heavy allies), and those are Bestial Menace and Leatherback Baloth, and I'm not even sure how good Baloth really is if you're not mono-green. I can't wait to start making Jungle Book tokens, though.

Anyway, great article and good luck at the Prerelease!

Great read before the PR by Heikki (not verified) at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 04:12
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Thanks for a great article to read just before leaving for the PR. Not only I feel better prepared, but I have some hope that the aggro menace of ZZZ will be slightly subdued.

My biggest gain from this is the realization that green lost so much early anti-aggro power in the last pack. Looking at the green power uncommons in the spoiler, I had kinda missed this fact.

BTW, I also have an alarm clock by the name of Oliver that goes off at 7 every morning. He's not that into Magic, though, and he wakes me up to get some cat food.

Red took enough of a whomping by Joyd (not verified) at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 04:52
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Red took enough of a whomping in WWK that I'm now kind of leery of going mono-red, simply because it's possible to get very little for such a deck in pack three. As you note, both the number of playables and the overall quality are down quite a bit, though it does have the advantage of both of its best nonrares being hard to splash for. (Sparkmage and Searing Blaze will get randomly ripped out of packs by people otherwise not really in red much less often than Burst Lightning is.)

I think another subtlety of throwing a pack of WWK into the draft is weakening mono-X drafting strategies as a whole. Zen has multiple strong/decent cards in Black, Green and Red that reward players for monogamy or for at least staying heavy in those colors. (White and Blue have cards that reward that too, but they're generally worse, and there are fewer of them.) Worldwake not only has fewer (Bloodhusk Ritualist, Lightkeeper of Emeria, Voyager Drake and Deathforge Shaman are uncommon, Wolfbriar Elemental is rare), but they don't require the same level of dedication to be rewarding. Meanwhile, there's a good-to-excellent cycle of creatures at uncommon that reward branching out. While it's hard to say for sure, I feel that the loss of some Crypt Rippers, Timbermaw Larvae, Spire Barrages and friends and the addition of the "Kird Ape" creatures will result in a bit of a shift away from monocolor or monocolor with splash strategies that seem rather prevalent in Zendikar. (The only draft format that I remember where monocolor seemed maybe more common was 3xColdsnap, and my sample size on that is low.)

losing my pre-release cherry! by andyfisher at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 19:45
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Hi Godot - just wanted to say thanks so much for this article and also the 2 part 'Limited Resources' podcasts focusing on the Worldwake commons and uncommons. I attended the pre-release today as a MTG 'virgin' for Sealed and Draft formats and without doubt, the guidance you guys offered meant that I was able to hold my own and make the most of the day.

I ended up securing 11th place out of 30 in the Sealed event and 2nd overall in my draft group - and while the gameplay and good company would have been reason enough for my ear to ear grin, I was in for a great end to the day surprise. My modest success was rewarded wih two booster packs and I was lucky enough to crack a Jace! Keep up the good work and thanks for all of your efforts.

Nice story ending there :) by Paul Leicht at Sat, 01/30/2010 - 20:23
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Nice story ending there :) Cracking Jace is a capper indeed.

Your kid is awesome, good by Dalton Medd(DathiMunich) (not verified) at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 00:51
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Your kid is awesome, good article as usual, will be waiting for the ZZW draft walkthroughs later in the month.

Timely. by scrappykid at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 04:47
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Thanks to Godot and PureMTGO's editors for the timely article-- which obviously points to the paper Magic pre-releases this weekend. As ever, your insights were refreshing and helpful with my sealed pool. I finished 4-1, but chopped prizes with the top 4 for 8 packs. The heads-up about the lack of solid removal (and solid red cards in general) helped successfully steer me away from R and into a terrific UW deck; I only really had trouble with the decks loaded with black removal. Oh, and Admonition Angel. =(

I hope you and Ollie had a great time playing 2HG.

Good analysis by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 11:51
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Broadly agree with your comments. I finished 4th out of 30-odd at my prerelease playing black/white (1 loss to guy who eventually won). No bombs, but I did open Nighthawk, Trusty Machete, Disfigure, Smother, 2 Tomb Hex and Lodestone Golem (who rocks, by the way, in a deck that tops out at 4 mana).

Observations: multikicker is underwhelming. You're paying a premium for flexibility but the fact is, most times, you're getting poor value no matter what price you pay. (And in an aggro format like this - which it still is - holding things back in the hope of multikicking them can kick you in the nuts.) I'll make an exception for Apex Hawk - most times it'll be a 2/2 for 3 but you can often save him to be a 3/3.

White is suddenly really, really good (having been fine before). With Perimeter Captain, Lightkeeper, Iona's Judgment, Marsh Threader and the abovementioned Hawks, it's got evasive offence, defence, removal and tricks. (And that's *without* considering Allies.) Although it did get the worst Zendikon.

Black has lost a little but is still (just) the best colour. Pulse Tracker is much better than I thought (certainly if you open 2 Adventuring Gear and Trusty Machete), and Dead Reckoning is amazing - you suddenly *want* them to off your biggest guy. Oh noes, you're killing my Lodestone Golem? Darn, I'll just have to get him back next turn and kill your Hellkite Charger in the process...

As you say, red has dropped from 2nd best colour, possibly even to bottom. Thought Bladetusk Boar was going to get better because of the drop-off in quality of red (therefore fewer people playing it), but the extra artifact creatures - Hedron Rover's pretty nifty with common instant-speed-landfall tricks - say otherwise.

Green has improved slightly - the acceleration and pseudo-removal help - and it feels like a more rounded colour now.

Blue's not changed much. Still a fine draft choice, although I live for the day that I open enough good blue cards to make a sealed deck with it.

Marshal's Anthem: played it, regretted it, because never had the mana and opportunity to kick it, and a Glorious Anthem for 4 mana does not set worlds on fire. Maybe in WG or heavy white that can stall for long enough for it to be relevant.

Walking Atlas: fun but not worth it, as you won't often have that 4th land to drop in their turn and Lightning Burst their Blademaster as they Savage Silhouette it. Although one opponent did randomly Smother it because he feared a trick, which made my turn 3 Nighthawk very happy.

Allies still suck against anyone with removal or a brain.

All in all, WW has brought down the card quality, I think (and introduced far too many unplayable rares), although it has balanced the colours a little.

Nice article!

And by the way... by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 11:55
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... don't you play Scramble on Facebook?!

Thanks for the comments and by Godot at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 19:09
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Thanks for the comments and kind words, all, I love hearing everyone's opinion about the new Limited environment. Thanks especially to Joshua (JXClaytor), who responded to my desperate cries and posted this article remotely so it could be up before the prerelease!

Pre-Release. by BoogieElAceitoso at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 19:58
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Hey, we are expecting a report on how you did with your son at the 2HG Pre-Release event. I hope you guys had fun, 2HG is a little slow but it is tons of fun, I used to play at them with my brother and although we never did well (at Time Spiral for instance we managed to win the last match, due to no show of the opponents :), we really had a good time.

Maybe it's a sour taste from by Shaterri at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 22:22
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Maybe it's a sour taste from two drafts gone horribly wrong, maybe it's an artiface of ZWW instead of ZZW (do we know for sure that ZZW is the 'official' format?), but I think Blue is actually substantially downgraded in Worldwake drafting. The problem isn't that it has no support cards; that side of things is fine, from excavators and turtles to deep mysteries and treasure hunts. But blue in Zendikar had no less than three (well, maybe two and a half depending on your feelings about Windrider Eel) premium flyers at common, cards that you were actively looking forward to finding. It was enough to make it possible to occasionally draft near mono-blue with just a small removal splash; 3x Welkin Tern, 2x Umara Raptor, 3x Windrider Eel-type decks weren't unheard of (and I managed to score 5 Umara Raptor in one particularly egregious draft). Wind Zendikon isn't terrible, but it's not in the same league as any of the other three, and there isn't a blue common that I'm actively happy to see. The more I think about Surrakar Banisher the less interesting he's getting, because 'bounce a tapped creature' doesn't actually *do* anything to change a race. It's arguably actively worse than Paralyzing Grasp, and that falls into the 'I'm not thrilled to run this, but I guess it's serviceable removal' 20th plus-card slot. I can't say that blue can't work, but the days of nearly mono-U seem likely to be dead barring getting a suite of (admittedly) nutty uncommons.

I basically agree with by Paul Leicht at Sun, 01/31/2010 - 22:57
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I basically agree with everything you said except one thing: Regarding Surrakar Banisher...you can bounce a creature thats been beating on you to give yourself a two turn break. You can also bounce an Enters the Battlefield creature. Both are valid...also possible to bounce an enemy creature like Roil Elemental to remove (gain back) a creature you own that is standing as a blocker. Just my 2.5cents.

The problem is, you only get by Shaterri at Mon, 02/01/2010 - 13:13
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The problem is, you only get a one turn break -- they hit you on their turn 1, you bounce it on your turn one, they replay it on their turn 2 and swing again on their turn 3, so the only turn they miss is the one where they replay it. As far as the other applications... spending 5 at sorcery speed to bounce one of your guys may be viable, but unless you're up around 8 mana you're not going to replay whatever you bounce that turn, and allies aside the CIP effects aren't that exciting to reuse in draft. Granted, you get a 3/3 body left behind that will hopefully be able to block, but even so, the 'tapped' requirement turns out to be a much bigger deal than I would have expected at first, and I'd put this as actively worse than Paradox Haze at this point.

Rerepete's picture

I was playing the Saturday Pre-release and while I cracked a Kalastria Highborn, I did not find enough vamps to support her (I guess she's just high maintenance...) nor any black or red removal (not including Searing Blaze). I decided to go UW.

What I played:


2 Steppe Lynx
1 Perimeter Captain
1 Welkin Tern
1 Seriji Merfolk
2 Marsh Threader
1 Enclave Elite
1 Umara Raptor
1 Windrider Eel
1 Kor Cartographer
1 Sky Ruin Drake

Other Spells

2 Journey to Nowhere
1 Brave the Elements
1 Refraction Trap
1 Bold Defense
1 Treasure Hunt
1 Into the Roil
1 Spreading Seas
1 Mysteries of the Deep
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Seer's Sundial


1 Scalding Tarn
2 Quicksand
7 Plains
7 Islands

I was impressed with Seriji Merfolk while a plains is out. A 2/1 first striking, lifelinker makes a lot of the opponents creatures want to stay home. Perimeter Captain was amazing, as well.

Best topdeck of my day: Eel, and 2 Lynxes on the board....Draw: Scalding Tarn...

Wow moment #1: Drawing 6 cards with Treasure Hunt.

Wow moment #2: Playing Everflowing Chalice kicked 4 times, followed next turn by an Enclave Elite kicked 5 times (big enough to hold off opponent's Felidar Sovereign).

I was pleased with the Chalice. The other time I drew it, it allowed a Snapping Drake to come out a turn earlier, just in time to hold off my opponent.

Although my Deck performed well (barring the couple of misplays I made), I had to drop after Round 3 due to time constraints. Overall it was a lot of fun.

My sealed pool at the by StealthBadger at Mon, 02/01/2010 - 06:57
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My sealed pool at the pre-release was hilarious, featuring;

Kazuul, tyrant of the cliffs
anowon the ruin sage
rampaging baloths

and quite literally no mana-fixing. I ran black, as I had double gatekeeper (and double grim discovery [and quicksand!]), anowon, a couple of other vampires and some scorpions. I ran green as my initial second colour, but boarded into all three other colours at least once during the day (mostly for fun).

I can't remember the name, but I didn't notice you mention the new grizzly bears with multikicker 1G: +1/+1 counter. He seems very good for limited?

Edit: Hey! You also didn't mention the shroud turtle! That guy is absolutely nuts.

Red did get kicked in the by J (not verified) at Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:30
J's picture

Red did get kicked in the face but in my pre-release sealed I faced down a Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, and all I can say is wow. If you can't remove him he makes attacking effictivly with agro HARD! Cunning sparkmage is also amazing. Nothing else to be excited about in red, BUT that's why packs 1 and 2 are Zen ^_^;

Great article, did you and ollie stomp Marshal?