Fresh off the presses we have some Phyrexia: All Will Be One spoilers!
While they didn’t release too many cards on the first day, they’re all pretty interesting, so let’s take a quick look at them this week.
Let’s start with the meaty black four-drop. Phyrexian Obliterator is a bit of an iconic card, as it’s made its way into several decks, and it’s one of the most frustrating cards to play against. When it’s good, it’s quite good.
We’re living in a Standard environment where we’re already casting lots of Invoke Despair, so four black mana isn’t something to be scared of, however there’s a new busted four-drop black creature in town named Sheoldred that is probably occupying the space Obliterator would fill up. Both creatures are incredibly weak against cheap removal like Go for the Throat, but Obliterator is better against targeted damage-based removal, so it gets a point or two there. Obliterator is likely to be sidelined because it’s difficult to cast. If Mono B midrange becomes a thing again, and Invoke Despair is still a card of interest, then I could see a world where Obliterator is sideboarded against Mono Red or Green Red Aggro decks.
Those decks would have removal for Sheoldred that lines up better, and Obliterator could come in for Invokes. This is a very specific scenario, and it’s likely Obliterator just ends up being overshadowed by Sheoldred.
Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines:
This is a whole lot of body on a five-drop. 4/7 vigilance for five is not playable in its own right, but it shuts off a significant amount of cards your opponent may play. I was wrong about Sheoldred, so I’ll be more cautiously optimistic about Elesh. Elesh seems potentially strong in white mirrors since white removal mostly comes in the form of cards like Brutal Cathar or Leyline Binding. Elesh playing well with these effects gives it a chance to see some play, but I’m pessimistic about creatures that die to Doom Blade while providing no value and trading significantly down on mana. I’m absolutely sure this will find a home in some format outside of EDH but also in EDH as well.
I’m not looking for the challenge, but this may set off some kind of infinite combos with something that flickers creatures. I’m sure this will see some fringe play, but even with Leyline Binding in the format, I’m not super optimistic about this in Standard, and it may be better in a format with access to more enter-the-battlefield effects.
Koth, Fire of Resistance:
Koth is finally back. Koth is a unique planeswalker, as it’s a red card that finds lands. I think of Koth as a potential sideboard option in a Mono Red deck. It can deal with a Sheoldred while providing additional value as a primary function, but also it can act as a potentially fast clock if it’s left unchecked, as its ultimate ability will be available its third turn in play. This is a card that will go in one specific deck, and you’d have to choose to not play cards like Mishra’s Foundry to potentially facilitate it or at least maximize it.
I don’t love Koth, but I could see it if there’s more support for playing tons of mountains, such as Sardian Cliffstomper. This seems to be a direction they could be moving in, as we see a cycle of land-type-matters cards in Brother’s War and cards like Koth and Phyrexian Obliterator in this set. If there’s more support, Koth may be a card worth testing.
Jor Kadeen, First Goldwarden
Jor Kadeen is a cool card, but it’s unlikely to get the job done. Equipment in today’s age of Magic has just gone downhill so fast. Creatures’ power levels are strong enough that investing mana into making them better is often worse than just producing another creature.
However, Jor Kadeen only needs a single equipment attached to it that gives it a single power on its own, something like a Rabbit Battery, and then it can start generating value immediately. Again, an archetype like this needs a lot more support to make it viable, but if it is, Jor Kadeen would be a nice piece to add to a deck that can successfully utilize equipment.
Slobad, Iron Goblin:
Slobad may not be that bad, but it seems like more of a fun card than competitive. It’s too fragile and costs too much mana to be reliable enough in a format where opponents are interacting regularly. It has an effect where it’s bridging to high-end drops, but in many years of playing with creatures that are intended to produce mana, paying three mana for one is a big ask. I’m going to pass on this one, as I don’t have any ideas for how to make a good Slobad deck.
Blue Sun’s Twilight:
My first thought when seeing this card was, “Cool, I wonder what the rest of the cycle will look like.” As this is a callback to the Zenith cycle, we will now apparently have a Twilight cycle.
Blue Sun’s Twilight is Entrancing Melody with a little upside. I like it! Entrancing Melody was a somewhat playable card in eternal formats for stealing creatures like Death’s Shadow, but it was only fringe playable at best.
Blue Sun’s Twilight might play reasonably well as a top-end play if not for one little problem.
You get two copies of your opponent’s best creature for seven mana, right? Probably not. We live in a world where Legends are being produced like crazy and Blue Sun’s Twilight is missing a noticeable clause that a lot of cards are adding these days where the copy will remain Legendary.
Will you get two Sheoldreds? Nope. This is problematic for a card that could be a reasonable option if you always have to work towards it and end up with two busted creatures for one card. However, this is not the case.
This may see some fringe play, as it’s a reasonably nice mana sink for Fable treasures and steals Fable’s token for two mana, which is one reasonable way to attack part of that card.
We’ll hopefully have a lot more to see next week. As of right now, I predict we’ll see the Allied Fast Land cycle from Original Scars of Mirrodin return and maybe, just maybe, some Infect cards?
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