A while back, we were told of the news that we would not see our beloved Birds of Paradise in 9th Edition. Instead, Llanowar Elves would be printed. Recently, we have been given slight hints that Wrath of God, the other chase rare in the Core Set, may be leaving as well. With the two highest priced rares potentially leaving us, that leaves room for one or two new rares.
Join us as we explore what we predict to be the new face of the Core Set, and what Rares you'll be chasing after when Ninth hits the market.
Part One: Axing Wrath of God?
Wrath of God. It's been in the metagame for as long as there has been a game named Magic. It's the classic board-sweeper, used in decks from U/W Control to White Weenie. However, as of late, Wizards has been hinting that God's hand will no longer be sweeping down from the heavens and wiping the field free of all who stand there. It's the best card in it's category, and it limits what R&D can print- why play Solar Tide when you can play Wrath of God for less cost and a greater effect? This, we believe, is the logic R&D would use to justify it's removal- it has become boring. But Wizards is a company, after all, and they need a card to make people buy their sets. What, then, would replace it as the new chase rare for White?
Part Two: Candidates for Replacement
The new face of White?
The new face of white?
Here we come to Final Judgment. It came out only a few months ago, in the Betrayers of Kamigawa expansion, and some have been commenting that it seems almost tailor-made to be in the Core Set. It's not as powerful as Wrath of God, and doesn't have any of the block mechanics one usually finds on the Block's standard board-sweeper, such as Akroma's Vengeance in Onslaught, which displayed the Cycling mechanic.
Yet there are problems with Final Judgment. Firstly, it was printed in Betrayers of Kamigawa, an set still on the market when Ninth is released. This is no Elvish Champion situation here. Wizards, a company, doesn't like flooding the market with a card- and it limits the effectiveness of having it be the chase rare. Why buy Ninth packs when you can buy Betrayers packs and get black-bordered versions? From this standpoint, it simply doesn't make sense to put in Final Judgment.
Secondly, Final Judgment, although decent, just isn't a card you'd really buy packs for. At a hefty six mana, it just isn't fast enough to replace Wrath as White's board sweeper. Beyond that, it removes cards from the game, which tends to be shyed away from by Wizards in the Core Set.
If it is ever printed in a Core Set, it'll be Tenth, at least. Final Judgment just doesn't cut it for Ninth.
Whenever a Core Set rolls around, Armageddon is floated as an inclusion. Another classic of the ABU days, Armageddon has been wanted by many a player and collector over the years, and would certainly increase sales of Ninth boosters. However, the last time it was printed was Sixth Edition, back in the days of new rules and Mercadia. Indeed, it's questionable whether including Armageddon would help the white decks of today. The main problem, however, is the fact that Armageddon could completely warp the format, creating a game environment that R&D may not desire.
However, it is clear R&D wants White back. It has printed such cards as Samurai of the Pale Curtain in recent sets, and Armageddon could go a long way to improving white as a playable color in Standard. On the other hand, it could prove completely useless to the average White deck of today, simply not fitting with the strategies of the post-Ravager environment. It's questionable whether Wizards would print Armageddon at all, much the less whether it would be worth it.
Another contender for the replacement is the Exodus classic, Cataclysm. Cataclysm is a game winner. Certainly both players are left with a creature, but in a Cataclysm deck that single creature will be much better then the opponents creature, and against slow decks it might be the only creature on the board. Also note that Cataclysm clears the lands so that your opponent has completely no chance that get back in the game. In creature decks like WW Cataclysm is a much better card then Wrath of God because it is an asymmetric Wrath of God, Armageddon and Purify for the same mana as a single Wrath of God.
However, it could certainly serve as a replacement to Wrath of God were it removed. Although it's not necessarily as good as Wrath, it would serve as an adequate replacement, potentially helping White Weenie decks in Standard. You might recall the days of Empyrial Armor and Shadow. If R&D wants to axe Wrath, this is the card they'd choose to replace it.
Part Three: What Else Have Y'Got?
This and other sunny images may be found
in a booster pack in the near future.
Back in the days of Psychatog and Wild Mongrel, Mutilate was printed. For a relatively small amount of mana, you would have a Black Wrath of God effect. Plus, the art was really cool. So it recieved a modest amount of play, becoming mildly valuable until it rotated out, along with the rest of the Odyssey Block, when the Winter of Mirrodin began.
Some have speculated that this card, a solid, good black Rare, will return in Ninth, possibly as a replacement to Wrath as the mass-destroying chase rare. But the question is, why would they print it? Although a good, balanced card, it would likely not become a chase rare; it's simply not that good. Beyond that, Black is good in Standard as-is. We've speculated in this article that R&D is trying to bring White back; and reenforcing Black while hurting white would not aid them in that persuit.
If Mutilate is printed in Ninth, R&D will almost certainly reenforce White with something else.
Dust Bowl and Wasteland
Next we come across two cannibals; lands that destroy lands. Dust Bowl and Wasteland are important cards to some decks in Extended, which rotates this year. Many cards from these rotating sets have had functional reprints, or at least partial reprints in the last few sets. These, however, have not. There is the issue that Wizards has to consider of whether people would buy the Core Set for these cards, however, given the high price tag of Wasteland and Dust Bowl, reprinting them as Rares is not unfeasible. It is unlikely, however, that these would be playable in Standard, which currently has few playable nonbasics beyond the Urza's lands. Given their demand in other formats, and their applications against Tooth and Nail, they would likely be sought-after, especially given the fact that they are relatively hard to come across.
Few cards would fit the current metagame as well as Tradewind Rider. Older base set always adapted to the current Standard formats. Merfolk Looter, for instance, was in 7th at the same time as the Odyssey discard mechanic Madness. It could be that R&D prints a few cards in 9th that have similar themes as the Kamigawa block.
For instance, they could include a few powerful Spirits of the past like Blinking Spirit or Tradewind Rider. While Blinking Spirit doesn’t fit the White color pie anymore and is nowadays outranked by far superior finishers cards like Pristine Angel and Eternal Angel, Tradewind Rider is still more then relevant. It has shown up in the occasional Extended deck like (Kiki-)Opposition and is the core of the Legacy ATS archetype. I think I’m not exaggerating if I say that Type 2 players would more then applaud the return of the ‘Rider to the Standard format. It’s a cool card which is enjoyed by casual and competitive players alike. Most importantly, it could get players to buy the set.
We hope that we have added a little insight to the mystery of what we will be seeing in our next base set. Until release, we can only cross our fingers and hope!
-Jake Sticka (SorryGuy)
Images by iloveatogs