ThoughtSeizing the Opportunity: Worldwake

Worldwake is upon us and you know what that means, right? It means there are plenty of boosters of crack, drafts to be had and deck ideas to be developed. As in every set, there are some cards that have received a fair amount of (un)warranted attention and some that have gone relatively unnoticed. My goal is to work my way through the 145 cards and find the ones worthy of consideration for Legacy and Vintage. I'm sure there'll be hundreds of articles on their playability in T2 and Extended, so I'll leave that to those writers.

White
Kor Firewalker - Bearclaw, as known affectionately for being both a bear and a claw is very good at what he does - hose mono-red burn. I'm confident to say that if you play this guy on turn two against mono-red and do just about anything else, you should probably win that game. That said, there's not many decks that could reliably cast him except for Death & Taxes, which probably prefers Burrenton Forge-Tender due to it being a one-drop. There also aren't that many burn decks running rampant in Legacy, so I doubt it'll find a place to shine in.

Loam Lion - it's a kird ape. What more can be said? Zoo probably prefers a red one-drop to a white one (you really want to fetch Taiga on turn one) and doesn't really want more than 4 (since it's the weakest one-drop and having even more exposes you to Engineered Explosives more than you already are), so it remains to be seen if it can find a place, but it's definitely on that thin border that cards often linger on. Maybe he'll see play just because he gives you a little more protection from Maelstrom Pulse. And who knows, the time could be right for a WG aggro deck and if it is, this guy will be invaluable.

Refraction Trap - same as Bearclaw, but is actually splashable, if your deck really wanted that effect. Not good enough.

Stoneforge Mystic - now here's a shiny little gem! A Squire that brings his own Umezawa's Jitte to the party might not be the most powerful combo to be printed, but it can still pack quite a punch. I'm eager to see if this card takes off and I'll try to trade for a few just in case it does.

Blue
Dispel - it's too limited even for Eternal formats, but still a very interesting design in that it pushes the power level of a card while reducing its width. It might be playable as a means to protecting your combo while going off, but in that case, Pact of Negation is probably preferable.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor - I spoke about this guy in my last article and I'll just repeat this here: I think he's very strong and could be a viable addition to controlish (as opposed to Merfolk) Standstill decks. He protects himself, casts a free Brainstorm every turn and wins the game if his ultimate ever goes off.
Thada Adel, Acquisitor - this card interests me very much in its possibilities in Vintage. Cold-Eyed Selkie has seen some play and he serves a similar function. He doesn't get quite as awesome with Exalted, but is twice as big by itself. He doesn't draw cards, but actually does something better the majority of the time, finding Time Vault, Black Lotus and what have you. He can also remove an opponent's tinkerable win condition. I think it remains to be seen which of them provides a more valuable effect but seeing a card (and a creature, nonetheless!) that can be considered for Vintage makes me very happy indeed.

Treasure Hunt - I really want this card to be good in something like 43-land.dec, where it can draw five or more cards, but its inherent randomness in such a deck probably means it just won't get there.

Black
Death's Shadow - isn't there something cute about a 13/13 creature for one black mana? I'm pretty sure it's not good enough, but I'm also sure someone will try and create a wacky combo with it in some suicide strategy.

Bloodhusk Ritualist - I wonder if there's a reliable way of casting this guy on turn 1-2 with 3-4 multikicker. Even if there was, Mind Shatter would probably be preferable.

Mire's Toll - in the land of Duress, Thoughtseize and even Blackmail if you want it, this kind of effect has to be very good to make the cut.

Red
Bazaar Trader - this guy begs for Illusions of Grandeur shenanigans and doesn't get them, so he's probably way too slow and easily disrupted to be effective.

Dragonmaster Outcast - powerful effects for a little mana with a significant drawback are always up for consideration in Legacy, where such drawbacks can be worked around. Unfortunately, this guy is very similar to Scute Mob but starts to work even later. He does provide a threat at 1 mana, however, so I'm sure someone will try and squeeze him into some mono-blue control.

Ricochet Trap - as long as there are both Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast in the format, I doubt this card will find a place.

Searing Blaze - although burn is jam-packed with a long queue of hopefuls trailing just outside the proverbial door, this card brings something new to the table. Flamebreak is probably preferable, but I wouldn't dismiss this one without some playtesting.

Green
Arbor Elf - it's easy to look at this card and see it as an easy replacement for Llanowar Elves, since it can provide another of the splash color when you're untapping that Bayou or something, but you also have to look at the other side of the argument: Elves are often able to keep a hand with a single Forest and lots of mana dorks since the opponent blowing up their only land doesn't hurt them nearly as much as other decks. With this guy, it isn't as simple! Since he's only better than Llanowar Elves when he's untapping a dual land, it's important to know that in those situations, an opponent playing a Wasteland will mean this guy is going to be near useless (they just blow up your dual land in response to the Elf ability). You also won't usually need more than one of your splash color anyway. Maybe Elves want the 9th Llanowar (with Fyndhorn Elves being 5th through 8th, obviously, but I doubt he'll be replacing either of those two.

Explore - an incredibly simple and elegant design, could this card see play in 42-land.dec? I doubt it, since the other non-land options are better and you definitely don't want to cut down on the land count.

Nature's Claim - this card is very good and should probably find a few slots in Ichorid sideboards in all formats. The ability to Oxidize their Tormod's Crypt, Relic of Progenitus or Pithing Needle, as well as Reverent Silence the annoying Leyline of the Void means this card could soon be a sideboard staple.

Artifact

Amulet of Vigor - there has been quite some talked about how broken this card is in the eternal formats, but I don't see very many applications for it. Root Maze + this is cute and all, but far from powerful enough. It gives you a free turn with Time Vault, but Voltaic Key just does so much more.

Lodestone Golem - okay, I really wanted this guy to be last, but since I'm doing this alphabetically, I guess it's alright to say it here: this guy is huge. Juggernaut has seen a lot of play (it's amazing there hasn't been a decent replacement for him yet, considering how bad he actually is!) and Lodestone Golem is just a mile above Juggs. They have the same basic stats (5/3 for 4) and where Juggernaut has a drawback - having to attack every turn - this guy has a little Sphere strapped to his back. He's a big beater and a disruptive element all in one card, the definition of a good Vintage threat. He might also be what Metalworker needs to see serious play in Legacy.

Land
Bojuka Bog - it's another graveyard-hating measure (WotC really wants to get rid of the Ichorid monstrosity they've created!) and could actually be quite useful. Sure, it's not as powerful as Leyline or as resilient and safe as Crypt, but it provides a delayed land drop all the same.

Creeping Tar Pits - unlike Celesital Colonnade, this land could see some play in a revived version of Landstill. Its activation cost is low enough, the body big enough and the evasion as definitive as they get.

Khalni Garden - Staxx builds probably prefer Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai if they want this effect, but Khalni Garden might be worthy of consideration in a hypothetical green build of the deck.

Tectonic Edge - this is a fair version of Wasteland and unfortunately, that just isn't good enough for Legacy, let alone Vintage.

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There you have it, the whole of Worldwake ready at your disposal! There seems to be quite a few promising cards for Vintage in this set and some for the more obscure Legacy decks as well. The simple fact that this is a set focused on land, something which has never been done before, promises new and unexpected effects and the set didn't fail to deliver! There doesn't appear to be a Tarmogoyf in this set, but then again, we all missed it the first time 'round, didn't we?

So for all of you that want a short, efficient list of cards to look out for in future trades, here goes:

Yeah, I'll take 16 of those, thanks.


As seems to be my tradition, I scrubbed out at the Worldwake Prerelease. Even before I had to leave for family business, I was sitting at a measly 2-2 against mediocre opponents with mediocre decks. I was trying to make a cute deck (UW Ally tempo-aggro) instead of a powerful one and during the matches, staring down something as simple as a Timbermaw Larva with my happy band of 1/1's, I realised my mistake. I can usually hold my own in Limited a while after the set comes out, but I never seem to do well at the first Sealed tournaments. It remains to be seen whether I work to improve in this matter or I just keep building fun but weak decks and scrubbing out.

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Since I have quite a bit of space left to annoy you all, I thought I might write a bit about an idea I had for my local Eternal scene: the Deck Swap Challenge. One of the problems I’ve noticed in my local Vintage league is that people keep bringing the same decks to the tournaments over and over again, resulting in a stagnant metagame and them becoming gradually bored with playing the same deck. This is negated somewhat by the fact that we only get to play Vintage competitively once every two months, but the fact remains. This is where my idea sprung from.

If a Vintage Deck Swap Challenge (DSC for short) tournament were to take place, most of the stuff would go on as usual, but after everyone turned their decklists in, a random method (fancy word for a die roll) would be used to determine whether special DSC rules would apply for this tournament. For example, if the die roll were a 5 or a 6, the special rules would apply. If not, the tournament would proceed as normal.

What are the special DSC rules, then? Well, as the name suggests, the trick is that you don’t play your own deck, but decks are distributed randomly among players. Maybe an additional rule could be used so that no one would be allowed to play their own deck and would have to swap again if the random placement gave them their own back. Then, once you had your new deck, the tournament would go on as planned. Obviously, you wouldn’t "own" the new deck – this isn’t ante we’re talking about – and you would have to give it back after the tournament.

So, let me explain the system and why I think it would be a good idea. First, the die roll at the beginning: this is to ensure that people still bring a good deck to the tournament. If the special DSC rules would go no matter what, there’s nothing preventing you from bringing a 60-forest stack and screwing someone over. Since you can’t get your own deck (even without the additional rule, it’s very unlikely), there’s no real incentive not to do so. But if there’s a 2/3 chance that you’ll have to play whatever pile you bring, you’ll definitely want to bring something as competitive as you can.

I think such a system would provide everyone a chance to play – every once in a while – a deck they wouldn’t normally get to play with. Maybe you always bring your Tezzeret to clean house with and would have to pilot your usual archenemy, the Staxx deck. Or maybe you like to experiment with wacky decks and now you’ll have to give in and try to make the most of the Oath of Druids staring at you from your hand. Perhaps you don’t own many of the cards needed for a combo deck, so you usually shy away from the archetype – no longer!

These are all just examples, of course, but I think they represent the positive effects of the system well. There are also negative effects, of course, so let’s review those as well. First is the concern that people won’t take care of others’ cards. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but I know that I’m extra careful with cards that others lend me and this would really be no different. Also, someone else has your deck so by treating the deck you’ve been given nicely, you ensure that others will do the same for you. Another problem could arise from the players’ altitudes towards the "pile" they’ve been forced to pilot. Hopefully, everyone could forsake the discouraging comments in favor of having a good time. Another difficulty could be that people simply don't want to play other decks. This could be remedied by the fact that it only occurs once every 6 months (on average), so it's not like it's something that will haunt you forever. Maybe the opposite could be true and the special rules wouldn't come into effect often enough, falling out of favor before they had had a chance to be tried out.

This is all just theory, of course, and the DSC needs to be tested in practice to show its true colors. It could be terrible, or it could be the new EDH of semi-casual fun. Only time will tell, I suppose.

What are your thoughts on Worldwake? Do you like the idea of DSC? I'd love to hear from you in the comment section or via PM. Oh, and by the way - Thoughtseized any opportunities lately?

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