The Lanky and Morgan Standard Review
By Sean DeCoursey on October 11th, 2007 · Filed in Standard (Type 2) · Comments not available just now
Ok, we're going to start off this review with a look at the new cards in standard from Xth Edition, Cold Snap, and Time Spiral. Huh? What? Why are you looking at me like that? Wait, what's that you say? Isn't this the Lorwyn review? Well, of course it is, but since Ravnica is rotating out, and Lorwyn is coming in, it stands to reason that a lot (ok some) cards from the sets that are sticking around got better, and some got worse. We're going to cover those before we get to the Lorwyn section of the review. See, its like this: the number of Constructed playable cards in any set/expansion is far, far smaller than the total number of cards included in it. We're really just reviewing the new cards from the set/expansion that impact this limited selection of playable cards. We folks here at MTGSalvation, always looking to make this a better experience for you, the reader, figured if we were just reviewing the new playable cards, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the new ones from sets that were already out. You're welcome.
First up, some cards that aren't quite as great as you remember them being.
Bad Wrath . . .Wrath of God/Damnation. There are several of the new Lorwyn weenie/tribal decks that laugh in the face of these two spells and keep beating down like nothing happened. And Champion is a royal pain as well. And there is also Mr. Teeg, whom you may have heard some hype about.
Nimbus Maze. Without all the extra Islands and Plains being in play from the Ravnica duals, this guy is significantly worse. Realize that no other dual lands make him produce colored mana anymore, and its quickly obvious that this is now worse than Boreal Shelf, Adarkar Wastes, and Wanderwine Hub.
Cancel. Wizards really wants to push the whole creature combat theme with this set. That means that they had to nerf the best ways to deal with decks featuring lots of creatures. Namely U/x control. Any U/x control deck you play outside of Faeries (which are really aggro-control anyways) isn't going to be nearly as good now as it was before the rotation. Cancel is just as good/bad as it always was, however, decks that want to run Cancel are now worse, and decks that beat Cancel-based decks are now more common. You dig? Also, Coalition Relic and Prismatic Lens do not come close to replacing the Signets, which will most likely be controls most missed card.
Tarmogoyf. Haha. Just Kidding. Kind of. Goyf is a big giant undercosted dude and all, but he has no evasion whatsoever. This means he lacks the ability to break through a stalled ground game, and given all the token generators in Lorwyn, well, expect his new name to be Chumpgoyf some of the time. Of course, he's still the best critter in Magic. Just not by as much in this environment.
Mystical Teachings. See Cancel. The decks this was good in just got worse with the combined losses of the Signets, Mana Leak, Spell Snare, Remand, and Repeal being a bit tough to make up.
Tormod's Crypt, Withered Wretch, Etc. Dredge is gone, and the only decks using the graveyard at all are Goblins, Elementals, and Haakon, and it’s not even clear how much they'll be utilizing it yet. Creature removal deals with these better than emptying the yard does and is more versatile besides.
Flagstones of Trokair. No longer colorfixes.
Of course, that doesn't mean that all the old cards are bad. Some have actually gotten better.
Magus of the Tabernacle. Wow, you mean, people will play lots and lots of little dudes, like even more than they have mana for? Cool. I'm totally there.
Teferi's Moat. So, like, I started getting a little more recognition in Block, but now we've got whole tribes that are largely one color and largely don't fly? I'm so there, man.
Razormane Masticore. An environment with a lot more creatures, Madness, and Squee is an environment where this guy can really stand out.
Good Wrath . . . Wrath of God/Damnation. How did this make both lists you ask? Simple, mass removal will be more useful more often, but less effective every time you use it.
Pyroclasm. Slides under Teeg and wipes out the majority of Kithkin and Goblins. Remember, if there's a lord out and you Pyroclasm, killing him, then everything else dies after he does when they lose their +1/+1 bonus.
Austure Command: It kind of reminds you of Akroma's Vengeance, except that it’s worse in nearly every situation you can think of.
Crib Swap: A Mercadian Masques (and Mirage) pseudo-reprint, except with changeling and therefore tutorable. Gets rid of every troublesome creature in the format, but costs three times as much as Swords to Plowshares and leaves a blocker behind. Still playable.
Galepowder Mage: A couple copies of this will fit into Blink decks, though I'm not sure that it'll be the bee's knees there.
Hoofprints of the Stag: This is a really interesting take on long-term resource advantage. However, I don't understand at all why there is an activation cost of 3 to get the token when you already have to wait and accumulate draw counters on it. Especially since 3 mana for a 4/4 isn't even really much above the curve anymore.
Mirror Entity: Deceptively powerful, this card needs to be a tutor target in some kind of Harbinger deck, I am thinking dual harbingers here, like both the goblin one and the kithkin one or something (although the Kithkin one is quite bad). Add a removal suite that can be tutored up by the Harbingers too, like Nameless Inversion and Shriekmaw. Play some weenies, remove blockers, win.
Purity: He turns off non-combat damage and is a 6/6 flyer to boot, another in a long line of board-altering White finishers.
Oblivion Ring: Probably the best White card of the set, it’s probably most comparable to Faith's Fetters. Fetters was a very good card in Standard, and we all know the difference between 3 mana and 4 mana is a huge one. If you're playing White, you've got to have a reason not to include this in your deck.
Broken Ambitions: Euch, where did my counterspells go? May find a place in a dedicated mill deck, and, for the record, I hate clash.
Cryptic Command: The best command in my opinion, but really rough to cast outside of mono Blue, and really not enough to tip a dedicated control deck over the edge.
Morgan: This is good in the late game when you've drawn enough lands already and need some gas.
Lanky: I'd play Careful Consideration over this any day, thanks.
Forced Fruition: Oooh, a big expensive Mill card. Shiny, pretty, useful in casual and combo.
Guile: I don't understand why people are hyping this card. So its a 6/6 that only provides me any benefit besides being a 6/6 if I'm countering spells? Wouldn't ANY random big creature + countering my opponents' spells win the game for me too? Isn't that why U/G Tarmogoyf decks are good? So I'm supposed to spend 6 mana on this Timmy win more card . . . why?
Ponder: A great little spell and one I am happy to see printed since there was a real dearth of good one mana library manipulation recently, and I was stuck with only Sleight of Hand.
Masked Admirers: Probably a card advantage engine over several turns. There's interaction with Lys Alana Scarblade, and Galepowder Mage. Still, a 4-mana cantriping 3/2 is ho-hum on its own. This needs a home.
Primal Command: Five mana, doesn't win the game, and isn't Plow Under. I'd play this at 3, and think about it at 4, but the simple truth is most of these effects aren't worth two and a half mana, and none of them are synergistic enough to make up for it.
Sylvan Echoes: Limited fodder. Seriously, none of the Clash cards are particularly good without the boost, or even that spectacular with it, so I'm rather confused as to why you'd want to include enough Clash cards in your deck to make this relevant in the first place. Did I mention I hate Clash?
Treefolk Harbinger: If Ravnica were around, killer card that also colorfixes. Without Ravnica, he still does a nice job of finding Doran for you. The 0/3 body is just large enough to matter sometimes.
Vigor: I'm big and expensive, have no evasion, and can get bigger. Oh wait, that’s Hamletback Giant, the worthless Timmy card. I'm big and expensive, have semi-evasion, and require you to have other creatures out and require those creatures to take damage. Then I do something marginal.
Colfenor's Plans: I started reading this card and really liked it, thinking, “Hey, here's a really nice combo enabler that might find use in some other decks, too.” Then I read the last line: You can't play more than one spell per turn.
Makeshift Mannequin: It's instant speed, which is cool, but the creature comes back with a "dies to Mogg Fanatic" tag on it.
Nameless Inversion: The best creature removal we get from Lorwyn, and totally tutorable with every Harbinger. Expect this to see a ton of play, and especially so when we consider that Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is still playable, a combo I stumbled upon in a thread here on the MTGSalvation forums. Personally I believe that kind of synergy always sees play and will continue to do so. Some of you may remember Solar Pox, and Court Hussar? I certainly do.
Morgan: If you're playing slow control, this is a vicious card that will rapidly eat away at your opponents' resources over time. Will be in sideboards for control mirrors.
Lanky:Oh my god, one of my favorite cards returned! Tacklemaggot! Just kidding, this is better, but still crap in this format.
Oona's Prowler: Three power + flying for two mana with a drawback that's really a bonus? Sign me up. Yet another great Black aggro two drop. Now if only they could get good one drops, Black Weenie would be a real threat. Sarcomancy, you are missed. Could also do some work in R/B Madness considering Squee, Wurm, Razormane and Fiery Temper are also in the format.
Profane Command: More expensive than I'd like, this can generate card advantage or provide reach to a deck otherwise lacking it, both of which make it worthy of consideration in certain decks that don't have the space for multiple copies of more efficient cards to do those jobs better.
Thoughseize: The best Black card in the set, bar none. Life loss is not a relevant drawback on this spell. Duress, it was nice knowing you.
Ashling the Pilgrim: Great card. One of the few solid mass removal effects in the entire block, doubles as a beatstick and finisher.
Heatshimmer: Does randomly kill Legends, but I'd play this over Threaten why?
Incendiary Command: I wouldn't pay five for this card if it did all FOUR of its options, much less for two of them.
Wild Ricochet: Fork and Shunt in one? Cute, but also unnecessary. Bigger isn't better in this case.
Brion Stoutarm: Any Boros-style decks that show up will almost definitely include him as a high end finisher over Calciderm.
Doran, the Seige Tower: Huge guy for the cost, will probably see significant play on turn two following a Birds of Paradise.
Gaddock Teeg: Amazing card. Decimates the options of any control deck and demands spot removal.
Nath of the Gilt-leaf: Five mana is a lot for a 4/4 that doesn't do anything until the next turn. Looks better than he plays. May theoretically work in TarmoRack.
Sygg, River Guide: Aggressively costed, which is good. Pricey protection in the early game, which is bad. Merfolk are a mana-hungry tribe.
Wort, Boggart Auntie: Effect is game-breaking if she lives. This set’s Arc-Slogger. "I untapped with Wort in play, so I won."
Dolmen Gate: A sideboard card, but a good one. In any aggro/aggro matchup, this turns it into an immediate race where you get to go first. Switches the advantage from the defender to the attacker.
Rings of Brighthearth: Most obvious use is with Planeswalkers. Will probably have about as much impact as Mirari did (i.e., devastating when it works, pretty bleh when it doesn't).
Springleaf Drum: Similar to Paradise Mantle, except the creature essentially gains Haste and equips at Mana Source speed. Great with Merfolk.
Thousand-Year Elixir: Have a lot of guys with tap sympols on them? Here's your boy. Great with Merfolk.
The Tribal Duals: In an environment without fetches, these are generally superior to the Ravnica duals IF you're playing the relevant tribe. Changeling spells really make that IF doable though. Hello, Nameless Inversion
The Hideaway Series:
Lanky: Every single one is borderline useless. The White one is the easiest to fulfill, and is STILL crap since you are playing a weenie deck.
Morgan: I'm a bit more optimistic about the White and Green ones. Free card draw and spells that only cost you a tapped land drop seem like a good deal.
Okay, let’s look at this objectively and from a pure Constructed viewpoint. Are any Planeswalkers playable in Type 2? And if so, why? The short answer is yes, they are, and the exposition is actually simple: Planeswalkers are a powerful but slow card advantage engine all on their own. The removal which specifically deals with Planeswalkers is, for the most part, far too specific or overcosted to really be of use, consider Rootgrapple in this context. The main spell which will deal with them utterly is Oblivion Ring, which is reviewed above and quite honestly a no-brainer Constructed-playable card. Aside from that, Planewalkers are vulnerable to possible attack or targeted burn, but both situations set you (the presumed owner of said 'walker) up to gain considerable tempo or card advantage. If you can't block with creatures to defend your own life points, and your opponent chooses to go after the Planewalker, I must say that feels like a fair trade to me. If they are playing burn and opt to go to the Planeswalker's dome instead of yours, well, once again I'd argue that is a good thing for you, quite simply because your only resource lost is a single card, and Planeswalkers are generally good at getting out of single-card burn range before you even pass priority.
All that said, some Planeswalkers are decidedly better than others, and below I have a 'walker walkthrough . . . sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Lanky: Okay, let’s look at the best first. "Whaaaaat? Jace Beleren is the Best Planeswalker,” you said? That’s right my friends, Jace typifies everything I said about Planeswalkers above, is actually a respectable win condition for a dedicated control deck, and he is undercosted to boot. Jace draws you three cards and your opponent one card for every three turns he is in play, at parity. Or he swells to an immense loyalty size and provides a Howling Mine for several turns. Jace then proceeds to absolutely crush the opponent's library with a Mill effect reminiscent of Traumatize. Absolutely worthy of decks built around him.
Morgan's Take: I don't think Jace is the best 'Walker. His place of highest potential is probably in a turbo-Fog style mill deck where he acts as a strictly superior Howling Mine. In control mirrors, he can work well as a source of long-term card advantage. Otherwise, I'm just not that impressed with him.
Lanky: Ah, the obligatory Jedit cat walker reference dude, since for some reason Wizards thinks large and intelligent cat men are super cool. Is he playable in Constructed? Hells yes! Once again, Ajani provides enough effects over several turns that I consider him card advantage and most importantly, if you are playing a Kithkin aggro deck, Ajani permanently pumps your aggressive army and provides a versatile combat step effect: Vigilance. His first and last abilities are also highly synergistic.
Morgan's Take: I think Ajani is honestly the worst of the Planeswalkers. If you look at his abilities, you've essentially got either Honden of Cleansing Fire or Glorious Anthem. Neither card is what I'd necessarily call good enough to play outside of very specialized decks. As for the third ability, let's see, what card made you wait awhile then gave you a big giant token as an activated ability? Oh right, Dark Depths, and I think we all remember how awesome that was.
Lanky: Pray to what ever gods you worship, but I am warning you, it won't matter much when Liliana gets going. At 5 mana to cast, she is one of the most expensive Planeswalkers in our set, but she makes up for the additional in her cost with impressive loyalty and a rock solid set of abilities. Korlash control is going to absolutely love this card, although that deck is expensive enough as it is. She is another 'walker that really typifies long-term card advantage, since every turn she methodically strips a card from your opponent, or she provides a Vampiric tutor for a much-needed answer or win condition. To top that off, if she ever reaches 8 loyalty, she rips every creature out of your opponent's yard, and seriously, how can that be a bad thing in a deck packed with removal and discard?
Morgan's Take: I can't describe how underwhelmed I am by this card. Probably because the last time Wizards printed a five mana black card that let you Vampiric Tutor every turn I played with it. And you, Miss Vess, are no Bringer of the Black Dawn. I know her final ability looks splashy, but you are NEVER going to resolve that unless you are so in control of the game that you could have won with Mountain Goat.
Lanky: Many people argue that Chandra is the worst of the walkers, and I tend to agree, aside from one serious advantage that Chandra has over her universe-traveling brethren. Chandra can directly attack other Planeswalkers with her plus loyalty ability, dealing a simple one damage to them. But wait! One damage is enough to actively prevent the growth of every other Planeswalker except Jace! With Chandra out, you will always be able to lock down opposing Planesalkers and prevent the use of their final ability. Chandra also comes into play with a total of 7 loyalty before you need to pass priority, and is thus a single turn away from having enough loyalty to use her final (and disgusting) board sweeping ability. You will have to wait a total of 2 turns though to finally wipe out that annoying Kithkin deck.
Morgan's Take: Chandra's main selling points are that she has a whopping eight loyalty and can remove creatures from the board. Like Liliana, her final ability takes a bit too long to charge and is so devastating that your opponent will always choose to deal with it means that it's not ever really going to be much of a factor. Will probably be a sideboard card in Relic control against other walkers.
Lanky: Ah, Garruk. Really typical for green I have to say. Garruk can be easily powered out on the third turn, and then he grows to loyalty 4 and provides and additional 2 mana from your lands. Crazy! Garruk is also a one card win-condition, providing creatures to attack your opponent with and to pump eventually with his own ability.
Morgan's Take: The best of the bunch, in my opinion. Mana acceleration is an extremely useful ability. So is making 3/3's. And since you can use the third ability the turn after he comes into play, it's fast enough to count as an occasionally useful Overrun substitute.
The Eight Tribes
The way in which I want to discuss playable cards for these Tribes in Standard is in relation to each other, since Tribal decks are a more synergistic and coherent whole than decks not designed around the mechanic, and we saw this in Onslaught. Cards you thought were bad on their own actually shone in a specific context. So instead of isolating these cards, I will instead discuss the tribe as a whole, and then point you to Constructed-worthy plays and synergies found within the Tribe. That said, I am not going to eliminate any tribe from Standard playability in a dedicated deck except for Giants, who as far as I can tell were placed in the set by R&D to entice nine-year-olds to play.
Merrow: Alright, first up we have the merfolk, who specialize in chain-tapping themselves for insane effects. Notable cards for the merfolk tribe are: Summon the School, Fallowsage, Merrow Commerce, Drowner of Secrets, Silvergill Adept, Surgespanner, Wanderwine Prophets. Their hero is Sygg, River Guide, and their combo card is Springleaf Drum. In Standard they also have access to Lord of Atlantis. In my testing, Merfolk are one of the weaker tribes, especially in the early game, since their combat abilities are actually quite bad, aside from forcing Islandwalk as a combat mechanic. That said, they can quickly set up a chain of tempo effects which lock the opponent out of the game, most notably by using Surgespanner and Springleaf Drum to produce a Boomerang every turn. Sygg is also excellent for protecting the Merrow from all kinds of targeted removal, and is nicely costed at . The merfolk do lack speed, and they are highly vulnerable to Wrath effects in Standard, especially since their champion creature costs 6 and is essentially a combo finisher. Combine Merfolk with Jace Beleren to try for a dedicated tempo and Mill deck.
Kithkin: Kthkin are strong and fast, no doubts about it. They are so powerful in White alone that a mono-color deck would almost be possible, except for a certain 2-mana legend. Their signature card in standard will be Goldmeadow Stalwart on turn one, and may the Magic Gods help you if the Kithkin player follows that up with another one or a Gaddock Teeg. The aspiring Kithkin player has a host of aggressive and efficiently costed creatures to consider when building his decks, including: Cenn`s Heir (the fixed Goblin Piledriver), Goldmeadow Harrier, Knight of Meadowgrain, and Wizened Cenn. Green only gives the Kithkin player Gaddock Teeg in terms of playable kithkin creatures, but at the same time you could also try Garruk Wildspeaker or place him in the board if Teeg is not really necessary against a given matchup. The typical Kithkin strategy is to always drop a creature for the first three turns, and to apply as much pressure as possible in the combat step. To that end, a card like Militia`s Pride is fantastic for the fourth turn and onwards, since it interacts so well with cards like Wizened Cenn and Cenn`s Heir to create truly terrifying sums of damage early on. Also, never forget cantrip effects like the underappreciated Surge of Thoughtweft, since Kithkin are about sheer numbers this card often plays like Fortify, except it is also cheaper and draws you a card. Moreover, white gives Kithkin access to the best removal in the format, namely Oblivion Ring, which removes every permanent that a Kithkin player could worry about. The lack of a Tribal dual land for the Kithkin player does hurt though, and there simply is not enough mana fixing to splash red for burn of any kind, which may impact the reach of this archetype.
Faeries: Here is another tribe that is so strong in Blue that I almost wonder why they are printed in Black at all. Oona`s Prowler is nice as a madness enabler and efficient flier, but it is certainly not enough to consider splashing for in a constructed deck, especially since Faeries are an agro-control Tribe in most respects. Moreover, Wyndwyn, The Biting Gale is actually not all that powerful, given that I could cast Mistblind Clique at the same cost in Mono-Blue. However, cards like Nameless Inversion and Thoughtseize do round out a nice Blue and Black faerie deck, and they do have a Blue and Black tribal dual land, so perhaps the potential is there to go dual colors. Faeries have a veritable host of playable cards begging to be placed in a constructed deck, namely: Faerie Harbinger (the second best Harbinger printed), Faerie Trickery (tutorable with the Harbinger), Spellstutter Sprite (combos nicely with Familiar`s Ruse), Mistblind Clique (the most powerful faerie printed in the set, and an absolute house of a card), Scion of Oona (the second most powerful faerie card in the set, and also an absolute nightmare for an opponent), and Sower of Temptation (the most powerful Control Magic Variant ever printed). Now, all that said, Faeries suffer from a dearth of playable one-drops, and we are looking at basically having to play a card like Cloud Sprite simply because it is in Tribe, color, and is a one-drop. Mono-Blue Faeries would also suffer from a dearth of removal, and would likely have to rely on Sower of Temptation and Cryptic Command to keep threats off of the board. I think that Faeries are strong in general against control-style decks but they have a really distinct weakness to aggressive tribes like the Kithkin, and. . . .
...I'm the Gob with the Gun. Now we’re talking. The Boggart Tribe may not be as fast as Kithkin, as tricky as Merrow, or as downright annoying as Faeries, but damn do they do one thing right: Goblins just keep coming back for more. The real strength of the goblin tribe is not actually its creatures at all, but instead we find it in the tribal instants and enchantments that Goblins get access to: Fodder Launch, Tarfire, Boggart Shenanigans, and Boggart Brith Rite. Those cards (possibly barring Shenanigans) deserve four-of slots in every Tribal Goblin deck, and here are the playable critters to back them up in Lorwyn: Boggart Harbinger (Tutor for fodder launch, and then sacrifice the Harbinger . . . ouch!), Boggart Mob (Wrath protection and an excellent source of additional Goblins to fuel your effects), Knucklebone Witch (fantastic with Fodder Launch and Mogg Fanatic), Mad Auntie (a solid Goblin Lord card, though a tad overcosted for the minimal effects), Squeaking Pie Sneak (excellent beats which fit the pace of this tribe well), and Wort, Boggart Auntie, who single-handedly fuels a never-ending stream of damage and recursion. Now I am hearing a lot of complaints about Boggarts both from fellow players in Ottawa and from Extended junkies I know from elsewhere. They claim that Standard Boggarts will be far too slow to keep up with the kithkin rush. I don't agree at all, look at this curve:
And an essentially perfect curve might I add, and Siege-Gang Commander is available if you want to go a little higher. Trust me, Goblins will be very powerful in Standard play.
Giants: Ah dear God, what have ye done Wizards? There are eight Tribes in Lorwyn, sure, and three of those are supposed to be "minor" tribes compared to the main five. It bodes extremely ill for the giant tribe that I cannot find enough playables to match a seemingly minor tribe like the Treefolk, whose creatures (might I add) are costed just underneath giants, and generally beat them in combat. Yes, yes giants are also considered a "minor" tribe, right? Simply based on the pure number of cards, sure, but look who got a Tribal dual land huh? Yeesh, what a joke. That said, consider the following cards if you simply must try out a giant deck: Cloudgoat Ranger (mainly due to the additional bodies he brings along), Blind-spot Giant (undercosted fat, probably the best Giant in the set), Giant Harbinger (Euch, the worst of all the harbingers), Stinkdrinker Daredevil (Hey look! It's Dragonspeaker Shaman, except . . .uh, Giants don't fly, and they suck a hell of a lot more than Dragons do!), Sunrise Sovereign (IF you ever control another giant before you lose, this could do something for you), and Thundercloud Shaman (likely tied for the spot of best Giant in the set; ah, removal and fat together . . . too bad you actually need Giants on the board to make it useful). Obviously Brion Stoutarm deserves a mention, except I don't really care that he is a Giant, and neither does the R/W Kithkin agro deck that will likely use him.
Treefolk: Turn one Forest into Treefolk Harbinger, *thinking* "Hmmm, I will reveal Doran, the Seige Tower!". Turn two: Swamp, mood: pensive. Block a Kithkin. Turn three! Play Doran! Swing with the mighty Harbinger for three!
That scenario was pasted all over these forums for a while, and many people seem to believe that a strong opening like that will make a Treefolk deck playable in Standard. But I am here to tell you that Doran, while awesome, is NOT what will make a Treefolk deck strong at all. He helps, sure, but let’s be honest here: you would have to play 12 painlands and a playset of birds to reliably cast Doran on turn three, and Doran in no way whatsoever stops a Kithkin deck from just turning stuff sideways some more, since their toughness is identical to their power. What really helps Treefolk along are cards like Dauntless Dourbark and Timber Protector. The Treefolk are best equipped to be played with Garruk Wildspeaker, too, since they benefit most as a tribe from the massive acceleration that Garruk provides. Green as a color also has everything that Treefolk really need to get going; it has Harmonize to draw cards, and Birds of Paradise and company for acceleration. That said, I don't think I would build a dedicated Treefolk deck at all. I would probably go Green/Black, and splash White for Doran and Oblivion Ring, if possible. I would play at least two different Planewalkers, probably Garruk as a 3-of and 2 or 3 Liliana Vess. I would use a playset of Thoughtseize. The Treefolk, of which there would be around 11 (4 Harbinger, 1 Dauntless Dourbark, 3 Timber Protector, 2 Doran, 1 Cloudcrown Oak) would likely serve to block and control the ground as much as possible in a kind of toolbox variant. There may be some kind of Hybrid three-color deck involving the Harbinger into Doran combo, but I seriously do not think the mana will be stable enough to rely on that play.
Elves: Elves officially now sit around and make babies. Usually large ones, and generally at an incredible pace totally at odds with nature. If any tribe can go Mono-Green in Standard now, it would be Elves. Not that I would recommend that at all, since between Thoughtseize, Liliana Vess, and Nath of the Gilt-leaf, we have a powerful discard sub-theme that we can easily add to an essentially aggressive deck. Certainly those three cards are highly synergistic, but lets also look at the primarily Green base of Elves we get to use alongside our discard: Wren's Run Vanquisher (a 3/3 for two that comes down in time to block Goldmeadow Stalwart on the play), Wren's Run Packmaster (the Pre-release card, and a total house, considering you will never need to play another creature while it on the table), Jagged Scar Archers (Perhaps as a tutor target, fliers like faeries can be trouble), Imperious Perfect (the elf lord, alongside Elvish Champion in Tenth, creates Elves of immense size and generate tokens on its own), Elvish Harbinger (a mediocre harbinger, but playable as a tutor effect for cards like the Packmaster), or Lys Alana Scarblade, who operates as powerful removal once she gets active. Elves thankfully do not have any trouble with one-drops either, since in the core set they have access to Llanowar Elves and Elvish Berserker.
Elementals: Now we come to the combo tribe. Not really combo in terms of "Yawg’s Win, replay Mox, Tendrils you some" combo, but more in terms of the explosive interactions that Elementals generate. Personally, I see a mono-Red, or R/G combo deck coming, with a lot of acceleration and draw to back up a host of Elemental enablers. Here are some of the cards I see as being useful for Standard Elementals: Flamekin Harbinger (basically as good as the Treefolk harbinger for tutoring, since it costs the same amount), Ashling the Pilgrim (tutor target, semi-Wrath effect, can end some games if you have too much mana), Incandescent Soulstoke (Sneak Attack for Elementals, and likely the main combo card of any Elemental deck), Nova Chaser (again, screams combo to me, since it can champion a card put into play with the Soulstroke to keep it alive, thus really abusing both its cost and the Soulstoke's ability), Smokebraider (a clear winner for mana acceleration alongside a Birds of Paradise perhaps), Purity (an evasive white monstrosity that can protect your life totals, although a tough sell in a dedicated Elemental deck), Cloudthresher (singlehandedly destroys a Faerie deck, and I do see his evoke ability being useful). Quite frankly, I believe any Elemental deck needs to revolve around Smokebraider and Incandescent Soulstoke, since you can throw down Elementals at the end step with the Soulstoke, and swing with them on the next turn too, and then champion them out of the game with a Nova Chaser. I am sure there are some combos with Pandemonium too, although I despise the symmetry it provides, especially in a format that will be decidedly creature-heavy. And upon review, and actually a bit of unofficial testing, I have an interesting approach to Elemental decks that you may want to try, and tweak out on your own:
Most of the tricks are obvious. My favorite by far is to pop in a Mulldrifter at the end of turn step using the Soulstoke, and then to use the Soulstroke to throw down a Nova Chaser on my turn, swing for 11 with Trample and Haste, and then draw two more cards. People don't like me much when I do that, and you could certainly take the deck in that direction more fully.
Conclusions About the Tribes:
I don't really want to provide a firm ranking for the eight tribes, but I'll do my best to provide a shaky one until the dust settles and we can get down to some real testing of these new cards in Standard. First and foremost, the tribes that really got the shaft in dedicated Standard play (i.e. a tribal Standard deck) are Giants and Merfolk, the first mostly due to the fact that they suck and cost way too much, and the second due to the fact that they die fast to Wraths and other removal spells and have far too many 4 mana spells that are relevant.
Other than that, here is a ranking for Constructed playable Tribal decks:
2. Faeries and Kithkin (Tied for power in my opinion, a kind of rock paper scissors situation.)
All the tools are in place to create an amazing Goblin standard deck, one that comes out swinging and recovers astoundingly well from mass or pinpoint removal. Boggart Birth Rite is a one-mana, instant-speed Regrowth in the new Goblin decks, and that is kind of scary. I think that another powerful Standard deck will revolve around white Kithkin and red burn, ending with the bombarific Brion Stoutarm, perhaps something like this:
Please also remember that you can reveal Blades of Vellis Vel to an opponent to have the Giant dual land come into play untapped. Many people are underestimating the usefulness of these changeling instants.
Morgan’s Obligatory Top Ten List:
3. Oblivion Ring
4. Wort, Boggart Auntie
5. Oona's Prowler
6. Imperious Perfect
7. Doran, the Siege Tower
8. Garruk Wildspeaker
9. Boggart Shenanigans
10. Gaddok Teeg
All in all, Lorwyn promises to provide a fantastic new twist on Standard play, and to bring the aggressive deck into its own for a time. I look forward to the results of this new batch of enjoyable cards.
By Sean DeCoursey on October 11th, 2007 · Filed in Standard (Type 2) · Comments not available just now
About Sean DeCoursey
Sean Decoursey is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served with the 2/124th Infantry from 12/02 through 03/04. He attended Truman State University where he was a member of the rugby team which ranked in the top ten nationally three times. Sean graduated with a degree in Justice Systems and now lives in Kansas City, where he works as a Financial Advisor.