Before I begin, let me just say that Khans of Tarkir spoiler season is officially here, and so far I like what I”m seeing!
Mardu Skullhunter is a 2/1 Human Warrior for 1B that enters the battlefield tapped. 2/1 is pretty solid but not quite a good as Diregraf Ghoul, but he also has a raid ability. If he enters the battlefield after you attacked this turn, target opponent discards a card.
Personally, I really like the Raid mechanic. It encourages people to make the correct play and play their creatures after combat rather than before combat. Plus, if your opponent used removal on your attacking creature, they’ll be down another card due to this guy.
Herald of Anafenza introduces us to the Abzan mechanic – but let’s talk about the card first. For W, you get a 1/2 Human Soldier. I already see this going into Darien, King of Kjeldor in the near future. It introduces the new Outlast mechanic.
2W, tap: Put a +1/+1 counter on this creature. Outlast only as a sorcery.
While being only at sorcery is a little slow, this is a really solid ability. For things that care about +1/+1 counters like the Ivorytusk Fortress that was spoiled yesterday, this is fantastic. And not only that, Herald of Anafenza also makes a 1/1 white Warrior creature token whenever the Outlast ability is used. Sadly it isn’t a Soldier token, but I can’t complain too much.
Crackling Doom is a new card for the Mardu clan. For RWB, it deals 2 damage to each opponent. Then, each opponent sacrifices their highest power creature. At instant speed, this is pretty powerful. A Shock to the face that kills your biggest creature? Standard creatures like Genesis Hydra and Terra Stomper in mono-green are going to need to worry about this card if the wedges become popular in standard.
We now get to see what a lot of people were speculating – the Sultai clan is getting access to the Delve mechanic.
As a reminder, Delve was introduced in Future Sight as a future mechanic that was printed on 3 cards, and reads as follows:
Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for 1.
It’s pretty significant to note that this 7BB 4/5 flying demon can be cast at BB.
It’s ability is also decent – by paying X and removing X cards from your graveyard, you give target creature -X/-X until end of turn. One problem that Mark Rosewater mentioned with Delve while testing it for Innistrad block was that delve doesn’t play well with other graveyard based mechanics. Exiling eveything out of the graveyard uses up the stuff that would be used in other effects. This is a solid place to put it, though – if Sultai is the only clan with delve, it’s likely they’ll be heavy in cards that don’t mind dying to serve delve’s necessities.
Now for a real treat- we finally have a 4th URW colored legendary creature! Before this, we only had Zedruu, Ruhan, and Numot.
Narset, Enlightened Master is a 3/2 for 3URW. A little small for 6 mana, but it has some very interesting effects.
First of all, she has First Strike and Hexproof – already giving some great availability for Commander! Combat advantage attached to protection is very good.
The biggest part is the ability, however. Whenever she attacks, you exile the top 4 cards of your library. Until end of turn, you can cast noncreature cards exiled with this ability without pay their mana costs.
The only real downside to this ability is that is specifies cast, so you can’t play lands off of the ability. However, I can definitely see a strong aura-based enchantment deck being fantastic with this in Commander. She may be viable in standard, but it depends on what else we see, and if we have much for non-targeting removal.
Sultai Charm introduces our new cycle of charms to complete the cycle of the ones introduced in Alara block. It also showcases the new formatting that they are using for modal spells. They recently changed it on The Gatherer, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see it here.
For BGU, you can do one of the following:
- Destroy target mono-colored creature.
- Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
- Draw two cards, then discard a card.
This is honestly fantastic. Creature removal, artifact/enchantment removal, and draw power all on one card? And it’s at uncommon, which is all the better.
Temur Ascendancy looks as if it is the first of a cycle of clan-centric enchantments. At GUR, it gives all of your creatures haste. This is pretty solid, and has been seen on other RUG cards like Maelstrom Wanderer. In addition, you can draw a card every time you play a creature with power 4 or greater. It’s essentially Kavu Lair stapled to a Fervor. Solid card, at the very least for Commander.
Duneblast is a very, very high costed board wipe for Abzan. 4WBG for a Day of Judgment – that lets you save up to one creature. 7 mana is a little too much for a standard board wipe, but it’s likely to see Commander play.
Dragon-Style Twins is a 3/3 Double Strike for 3RR with Prowess. At rare, it looks a little weak, but having Prowess can easily turn this into a tank-destroying monster. Not a huge card, but we’ll see with time.
For the majority of these, I have to hold off on judgment until we see more for standard. I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything here for Commander, and I think Mardu Skullhunter could see some standard play depending on what the format looks like. He could be a solid mono-black card in combination with Thoughtseize to wear people’s hands out. Some of the delve cards could also see a decent amount of play depending on what their playability in the format looks like.
Until next time,