Sixteen new cards, plus Despise which we already talked about, were spoiled last night. I’ll be covering the first eight.
Retribution of the Ancients is a perfect example of what Abzan will be able to do with the +1/+1 counters it generates. The effect is reminiscent of Cruel Sadist from Magic 2015, except that said creature can generate its own counters. That being said, a 1-drop Black Enchantment that can serve as cheap removal at anytime – removal that gets around indestructibility as well – is quite welcome in a deck that is based around the Outlast mechanic and other ways of distributing +1/+1 counters. The Sadist dealt damage, this deals damage in the form of -X/-X and at a lower cost. It’s basically a more utility version of that effect. It should definitely see some Standard play if Abzan decks truly can compete, and at the very least some Commander decks will find a home for it.
Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale have complimentary effects. However, Chief of the Edge is a Mardu card that offers power for its fellow Warrior creatures and Chief of the Scale offers toughness for its Abzan Warrior companions. While it seems a bit strange from a flavor stand-point to put these two together, it does make sense. A 3/2 for WB and a 2/3 for WB is solid enough. The Chiefs make sense in their respective Clans, but it’s likely you could end up seeing them played together.
Embodiment of Spring is a 0/3 Elemental for a single Blue mana that belongs to the Temur clan. For 1G and a tap, you can sacrifice it to search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. A Rampant Growth effect on a one-drop 0/3 seems fairly decent, especially in Limited. However, if its activation cost on its ability had been only G, it’s likely this could have seen Standard play. It may still, but right now it looks more like a Limited only card.
Rakshasa’s Secret, while not specifically designated for the Sultai clan, feels like a Sultai card. It’s basically Mind Rot, in that a target opponent discards two cards for 2B. However, it also makes you put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard. It obviously has good synergy with Delve and if you play it alongside Sultai Ascendancy, it’s likely you’ll already know what the two cards you’ll be ditching are.
Ride Down feels like a Mardu card, despite not being watermarked. It’s essentially an upgraded version of an older card, Vanquish, which destroyed a target blocking creature for 2W. In this case, not only is that blocking creature destroyed for RW, but any creatures blocked by that creature during that combat gain trample until end of turn. This means that all damage would be dealt to the opponent as if the creature were not actually blocked. Soem have already pointed out that this card combos very well with Zurgo Helmsmasher, as if he becomes blocked, his 7 power (if not higher by that point) will still go through, and because he dealt damage to that creature, he’ll still get the +1/+1 counter at end of combat. This feels like a very powerful combat trick.
While not watermarked, Kin-Tree Invocation definitely feels like an Abzan card. For only BG, you put a X/X black and green Spirit Warrior creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the greatest toughness among creatures you control. Considering that Abzan creatures seem to tend towards the defensive side, you could easily get a 3/3, 4/4 or something even larger for only 2 mana. It does seem to fit into Abzan quite perfectly – a clan that looks to be quite formidable. In Limited, this could have some great interactions with cards like Meandering Towershell (which has 9 toughness) and Ivorytusk Fortress (which has 7). To be fair, the Fortress is probably Standard playable, especially if the +1/+1 counters flow freely, so I can see the Invocation being a Standard-playable, as well. It’s going to do stupid things in Commander, where you have Treefolk with massive toughness. Hello, Doran, the Siege Tower decks?
High Sentinels of Arashin is a flying 3/4 Bird Soldier for 3W. It also gains +1/+1 for each other creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it. It also has the ability to put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature for 3W. Being a flyer that could easily be a 4/5 or even 5/6 when it drops because of Abzan Ascendancy is very strong. Abzan’s creatures just continue to impress. Not only does this combo well with the Outlast mechanic and Abzan Ascendancy, but Ajani, Mentor of Heroes ability to distribute +1/+1 counters just became a lot more relevant. Also, Preeminent Captain is going to have fun throwing these guys into play – although Abzan is mostly Warriors, but there will still be a fair amount of Soldiers in Standard. This is a very Standard playable card.
Solemnparty will have the next eight cards coming soon…
– Elspeth for the Win