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The Hammer and the Master

September 13, 2010

The prerelease of Scars of Mirrodin in only roughly a week away now, which means we are in the middle of the spoiler season! Today I want to talk about 2 card that has really caught my attention. The first one is the new red Planeswalker, Koth of the Hammer.

At the first glance I didn’t think that this guy was that special, as he looks a little… flat initially. But after reading a couple of forum post around the interwebz, talking to some friends and spent a little time in the tank, I’m now officially a fan. I think it’s hammer time as soon as Scars of Mirrodin hits the shelves.

The +1 ability is both strong a versatile, since you can use it in so many different roles, depending on the actual gamestate and what kind of deck you are playing. If you playing a RDW-style of deck or you are just the aggressor in the matchup, the nearly endless stream of 4/4s with haste. That is not surprisingly a quite strong recurring effect which is also “Wrath-proof”. It’s also pivotal that Koth is a quite effective “Jace-killer”.

Planeswalkers were very strong and format warping in the Standard we just left and I’m a little worried that they will become even stronger when Shard of Alara rotates out for Scars of Mirrodin. Many of the good cards that kept Planeswalkers in check (Bloodbraid Elf, Blightning, Maelstrom Pule, Oblivion Ring) is leaving which led us to think that Planeswalker (in general) will be even better in Standard. So, if for no other reason, Koth of the Hammer handles Jace, the Mind Sculptor very well and is decent against most of the other ones.

The second ability (the -2 one) is interesting and I like how balanced it is (I’m coming to that, just hang on). For a deck like RDW, the second ability won’t be particular relevant for the most part. I guess you can set up massive Goblin Bushwacker turn (imagine turn 4 Koth of the Hammer, use the -2 ability, play Devestating Summon then Goblin Bushwacker, crack for 12 and you still have the option of attacking with a 4/4 with haste every turn.) or pump up that Fireball-effect you got to lethal.

The ability is more interesting in strategies involving Destructive Force or just casting an Eldrazi. Some people (including the flower man) has called this part of Koth truly busted, but I’m not there. At least yet. I think the ability is nicley balanced out by the fact that you are forced to be as good as mono red to make the second ability really nasty. And if you are mono red the amount of really unfair things you can do isn’t that high. I mean, you aren’t chaining Time Warp-effects while also doing other shenanigans.

The ultimate ability is off course gravy. Like every decent Planeswalkers the ultimate should have a reminder text saying: “Yeah, you just won buddy” and that is true with Koth. At least in the smaller formats.

While most people agree that Koth is quite good, there is a lot of people complaining that Koth doesn’t protect itself as most of the other successful Planeswalkers we have seen. In a vacuu mI guess I have to agree but I don’t think that is going to matter all that much. For once, Koth protects himself like Garruk Wildspeaker does with his +1 ability. You are not forced to attack with that mountain. You could just say go and have a red up for, I don’t know… Lightning Bolt? There is also the case when your playing a deck like RDW where if your opponent has to spend resources and guys in dealing with Koth you are probably already in a winning position.

I reckon that Koth will be a major force for red in Standard, likely in Block Constructed and Extended to. If I will see a Koth of the Hammer in Legacy during the upcoming month I wouldn’t be all that surprised either. As I said, Koth is powerful. Moving on to the other card I want to talk about today, it’s no other card than the new version of the fabled Masticore.



Seriously thought, my jaw dropped the first time I saw this card. I heard rumors (fueled by the Orb of Insight) a day or so before Molten-Tail Masticore was spoiled that there multiple hits for “Masticore” but zero hits for “Razormane”, which meant a new Masticore-esque creature had to be printed since the original one is one the reserved list. But boy was I surprised that Molten-Tail Masticore is as similar as the original one.

And this bad boy is no slouch either. It’s even better than Masticore in some aspects. Masticore I guess is a little better against other creature decks since the “machine-gun”-ability of that cards moves down birds, elfs and other small stuff like crazy. But Molten-Tail Masticore is more soild overall since it’s ability although a bit more expensive to use, can go to the nugget and move down the Worldswake manlands in one shot. There is also a restrain on “the version” since you are basically required to run some amount of creature in your deck in order to fuel the ability. Therefore decks like blue-white control that we saw a lot of in the past Standard and decks like that can’t just pick up Molten-Tail Masticore. So in that aspect I really like Molten-Tail Masticore since it’s more of a “build-around-me” card then just a good card straight up that goes literary in every deck.

While it’s hard for me to imagine Molten-Tail Masticore not to be a well-played card in many creature decks in the upcoming Standard, I don’t think it’s going to work too well with Vengvine which a lot of people seems to be thinking. While sure, discarding Vengevine to the new Masticore seems good but repeating discarding cards to Molten-Tail Masticore is going to make it difficult to ensure recursion for the Vengevine. You also want the creature in the ‘yard to be fodder for the first ability aswell.

One more thing about Molten-Tail Masticore. I think this card is going to be really good and a big part of it is because of this:

Because Wizards has since M10 pushed regenerate to be more relevant and powerful in Magic, the regenerate part of the new Masticore is a quite big deal. While is off course super strong in fighting creature wars it’s also now a huge problem for decks like UW control and what nod. You can’t use Day of Judgement to get rid of it (at least you can’t assume it), All is Dust has no text and Condemn and Mystifying Maze doesn’t really do anything unless the controller of the Molten-Tail Masticore is complete donkey. There is pretty much only have Journey to Nowhere (and various Mind Control-effects) to deal with this guy permanently (from what we know of the upcoming Standard as I’m writing this). Out of this aspect I have a lot of respect for Molten-Tail Masticore and what this card is going to mean for Standard.

Every day now is a step closer to the release of Scars of Mirrodin and the spoilers keep on coming. Koth of the Hammer and Molten-Tail Masticore are some really exciting cards and there is more to come I’m sure. Can’t wait!

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 13, 2010 15:29

    Island. Go
    Mountain. Mana leak.
    Island. Chalice for 1. Mana leak.
    Mountain. Koth. Untap. Mana leak.

    Now all we need is more Mana leaks 😀

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