January 11, 2016
Warping Wail(mer), I choose you!
Hi everybody! By now all the cards in Oath have been revealed, and while there are definitely a few that intrigue me, this time I’m going to be talking about Warping Wail and the impact I think it could make in Modern.
Warping the format
Let me lead off by saying this: I think Warping Wail is a stronger card than it’s given credit for. Let’s look at the card and I’ll go over its three modes one at a time. Warping Wail is an instant that costs 1 and a colorless mana (if you don’t know what that means exactly, there are plenty of articles out there explaining the new distinction) and says choose one:
- Exile target creature with power or toughness 1 or less.
- Counter target sorcery spell.
- Put a 1/1 colorless Eldrazi Scion creature token onto the battlefield. It has “Sacrifice this creature: Add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool.”
Let’s address each mode’s strengths and weakness individually:
“Exile target creature with power or toughness 1 or less”
Initially, I thought this would be a great card against Affinity. This mode hits all but 2 of their creatures at their basic stats, including Ink and Blinkmoth Nexus. After a bit of thought though, this mode has a wide range of decks it has use against. What gives it such utility is the all-important “or” between power and toughness. This mode hits every creature in U/R Twin, barring the Pia and Kiran Nalar in the sideboard, as well as every pre-pump creature in U/G Infect. I’ll let that sink in for a minute….back now? Good. You read correct. This card can exile virtually every creature in 2 of the boogeyman decks of the format. Seems to me that may come in handy.
On the flip side, it also misses a good amount of creatues as well. It doesn’t hit many of the creatures in Abzan, Burn, Tron, or Amulet Bloom, to name a few. Not a minor knock against it, however when metagamed properly this mode will be backbreaking.
“Counter target sorcery spell”
For decks that either don’t want to run blue or can’t due to color requirements any spell that has the words “counter target” should be taken into consideration. The first spell that came to my mind when I saw this was Scapeshift. Giving a nonblue deck a way to counter it definitely opens up some options. Granted, Scapeshift as a deck has seen a decrease in play lately, but decks in Modern go through cycles, and I have no doubt it will make a resurgence again.
The biggest drawback to this mode is, of course, that it doesn’t hit anything other than sorceries. Instants, Enchantments, Creatures, Planeswalkers, etc... There are easily more flexible counterspells available; most of them would require you to play some amount of blue to have access to them. Not having to splash/play blue while having access to a counter of sorts should at least be considered.
“Put a 1/1 colorless Eldrazi Scion creature token onto the battlefield. It has “Sacrifice this creature: Add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool.”
While I think this will be the least used mode of the 3, it still has a lot of utility. The ability to create a surprise blocker that gets around “protection from x color” requirements at instant speed and/or give a quick jolt of mana ramp definitely has application in a variety of decks. At the very least, you can cast it at the end of your opponent’s turn to apply some form of pressure to their life total on an empty board.
That being said, ultimately you’re still just getting a 1/1. If your deck wants to make a 1/1 of some type, they are either going to be Goblins so you can go wide or Spirit tokens with flying so you can have chump blockers (or just apply evasive pressure). A single 1/1 with no evasion doesn’t seem like an ideal return on mana. A surprise blocker is still a surprise blocker though, and the fact it’s colorless will be relevant more times than you’d initially think.
Wailing, Wailing, over the bounding main (phase)
Ultimately, what I feel is probably what makes this card even remotely playable in Modern is that word to the left under the artwork. That word is “Instant”. Modern can be a very fast-paced format. Try as Wizards might, turn 2 kills, while not consistent or rampant, do exist. Even if we go with what Wizards wants Modern to be, a turn 4 format, that’s still a measly 4 turns. Compare that to Standard, where games on average go much longer. Now, I’m not saying every game of Modern is over in 4 turns or less. There are some that easily go to time, turns, and beyond. The ability to do “something” on your opponent’s turn cannot be emphasized enough in Modern. Unless you are a very proactive deck such as Abzan or the Rock you will be trying to accomplish part of your deck’s plan during your opponent’s turn.
All’s Wail that ends Wail
I think it’s safe to say that many decks try to win during their main phase, but only after they have achieved some form of ideal condition by playing spells on their opponent’s turn. It could be getting a key counter out of the opponent’s hand, or finding the last piece of their combo. Or, in the case of a couple lesser played decks, winning outright. The fact remains that the more you can do on your opponent’s turn to tie up either mana or resources so yours are free on your turn the greater chance you’ll have to accomplish what your deck is trying to do.
Warping Wail won’t be a format defining card. There isn’t any one thing in particular that it does that other similar cards can do just as well. What Warping Wail can do is provide some new options for decks that wouldn’t normally have access to these type of effects, or in some cases provide key additional copies of these effects. I certainly think it would benefit any deck that can reasonably have access to some colorless mana to put in some testing with this card.
That's all for this one! Hope you enjoyed, and as always, questions, comments, etc....are always appreciated!