Chris and I got together this weekend via Skype to record the podcast. We discussed many things current Magic the Gathering. Our two main topics were our thoughts about the Masters 25 set and a preview of Dominaria, the set coming out next month. I already talked about my thoughts on Masters 25 and the dilemma I was facing regarding the set. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t buy a box of Masters 25. I bought an XBox One instead.
Without stepping too much on our discussion, I did want to do a companion preview piece for Dominaria. One of the things that we didn’t touch on too much in the podcast is that the reason we can discuss the set is that there was a huge leak that came out of Wizards of the Coast. Initially, we thought that it was all of the cards from the set. Now, though, we realize that it is about 150.
If you’re thinking that we aren’t usually ones to speculate knowing only a bit more than half of the cards from the set, you are correct! So, what did we talk about for over half an hour? Guess you’ll just have to tune into the show to hear it all.
New Format! (Brawl)
One of the most popular formats in the game is Commander. If you don’t know what commander is, you choose a legendary creature that becomes your commander. You then must build a deck with 99 additional cards. The stipulations are that you can have only one copy of each card and all cards must be the same color identity as your commander.
The format is fan created and not officially sanctioned as a competitive format by Wizards. Additionally, at least one off shot called Tiny Leaders had grown out of the format. These two statements have come to a head with the recent announcement that Wizards is sanctioning a commander type format that was inspired by this set.
The format is called Brawl. Similar to commander, you may choose a legendary, your deck can only contain one copy of each card, and the cards must follow your planeswalker color identity. Unlike Commander, the cards must be standard legal. That adds an interesting new angle to the format that will hopefully bring new players into the game. One of the problems with eternal formats is that they are expensive and intimidating for new players. By limiting the cards, Wizards is giving players a chance to try something without having to make a huge time and money commitment.
So far, there haven’t been any new mechanics introduced in the set. As with most sets, there are recycled mechanics. Also, there have been modifications to other keywords and card types that may change the game in new and interesting ways. Let’s take a look at both of these in turn.
Kicker – This is an old keyword that allows for an extra effect for more mana. Some of my favorite cards in the cube drafts that I’ve done have had kicker and I really enjoy this keyword. It makes your opponent have to think more and plan around the additional possibility presented by the kicker. In some cases, it is almost like being able to cast two cards but only having to use one card slot in your deck.
Hexproof (from quality): Normally, hexproof just gives your creature protection from all spells or abilities controlled by your opponent. This new variation simply gives your creature hexproof from a something specific. The two cards that I first noticed with this on them had Hexproof from a color, which I found interesting because in the past, it has been protection from color, which also prevented you from casting those spells on your creature.
Legendary Sorceries: Legendary has been a keyword in the game since the beginning. Traditionally, it has been there to give creatures a special quality, namely that only one of them was allowed to be on the battlefield at one time. That birthed the EDH, or Commander, format in which players build decks that are made up of only one copy each card in their deck. Now, if you have a legendary creature on the board, you can cast a legendary sorcery, which could potentially have a profound effect.
Saga Enchantments: Another introduction to the Magic universe with this set is Saga enchantments. Like the old cards that leveled up with mana, the card becomes more powerful as the game progresses. Unlike those cards, these enchantments level up automatically during your turn. I’ve always liked the idea of being able to change a card during the game while it’s on the battlefield or in your hand.
Morph, flip cards, split cards, and kicker are always mechanics that get me excited about the possibilities. Leveling cards take all of this to a new, uh, level (sorry about that). It brings one of the things that I enjoy about playing role playing games and brings it into Magic the Gathering. It also gives me something to do in my cube drafts when I’m flooding out. Nothing but a Joraga Treespeaker and forests in my hand? Use that mana to make more mana!
As a result, I like the idea of Saga cards. Just like the legendary sorceries, I have no idea how many (if any) of them are going to be good. But, and this is more important to me personally, it looks like some of them will be fun. Being mythic, I doubt I’ll pull them from a pack. If I do, though, Chris better watch out because I’m going to try to build a deck around it.
Each new set also brings with it new planeswalkers. In keeping with the theme of history with this set, we are getting some names that are familiar but that we maybe haven’t thought about for a few years. One of them, in particular, is well known and loved.
It’s a red planeswalker that does red things. It’s almost as if Wizards wanted to do a Chandra card for this set, but didn’t want to do a Chandra card for this set. So, they made this card, named it Jaya instead of Chandra, and called it a day. Honestly, though, I’m not the best judge of red cards. I just can’t get into that mindset at all.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Now, this is more like it. As a blue mage through and through, this card speaks to me. It draws cards and untaps lands. It messes with the opponent’s tempo by removing things but not making it easy to recast them. I really like this card and I’d love to build a commander or Brawl deck based around him.
Karn, Scion of Urza
This is the name that I was talking about earlier that was well known and well loved. Karn is a modern staple in Tron. Personally, this is the first card after having gotten back into the game that I was truly impressed by seeing it played and the powerful effects that it can have on a game. Poor, poor Karn. As I said to Chris, they couldn’t just reprint the old card, but it feels like they nerfed this poor guy into the ground similar to how Blizzard deals with problematic cards. I mean, it’s not terrible. Compared with the old card, though, I’m starting to see now how old MtG mages feel when they see updates to older cards.
See You In April!
When Chris first sent me the link to the spoilers for the set, I was a bit underwhelmed. Similar to my reaction to M25, I had put big expectations into this set. We were going back to the beginning of Magic the Gathering. What could that possibly mean? Apparently, it means that we are going to be disappointed. At least at first glance. Then, when I looked at the set again and got to see it through Chris’s eyes, I started to see more potential from the set. I’m sufficiently excited. I want to draft this set. I want to build several Brawl decks. And, I want to buy and open some product. Come on April!