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New Phyrexia (nom nom nom)

May 6, 2011

With the whole leakage incident behind us (sort of?), we can start looking at the actual cards.

I got to say that New Phyrexia looks like a very interesting set both for constructed and limited. I know that it’s a common phrase (by myself included) but what can I say. It really is interesting! For constructed there are a number of cards that are poised to mix things up. Surely the dreaded mind sculptor will still be very much around but his firm grip over the format looks like it will loosen up a bit.

For limited I’m actually kinda torn. On one hand, there is a ton of exciting and powerful cards. Also that infect is now bleeded out into every colors definitely threatens to mix the draft format up in the air. But on the other hand I’m looking at these “free cards” with the Phyrexian mana symbol on them with fear. Thinking about how many times you will get Mutagenic Growth:ed out of nowhere… in a deck that don’t even play green! It’s zombie cutthroat a over again. Feels like we have another “Alara Reborn”-type of set on our hands. For good or worse.

I’m not going to say much about some of the clear hits of the sets (at this point), since I feel like I would just be repeating what other named players already has said. Batterskull, Sword of War and Peace, Mental Misstep, Deceiver Exarch, Gitaxian Probe and a couple more, I really like you guys but you ain’t getting much more love here… today.

My pick for sleeper hit of the set is Spellskite. This card slipped me by the first time I looked at the spoiler but since the first time I noticed this card it has grown on me steadily. Spellskite is no format warping player. It’s a quirky card that I think is going to be a monkey wrench for a lot of series of plays. And I’m still kinda baffled how broad the implication of this card can be. Against a red deck, you have a 0/4 blocker that is going to absorb a lot of damage. Both by blocking and redirecting Lightning Bolts. In a deck that plans to win with the new Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin-combo, not only will he buy you time to setup the combo he will also protect your combo. Since this guy is an artifact he can protect your combo against both a Dismember or a Nature’s Claim. Talk about flexible.

The list of implications goes long. See if your opponent can manage to pull of the Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin combo while Spellskite is in play under your control. Now suddenly using JtMS Unsummon-ability as a saver isn’t guaranteed. The same goes with Gideon Jura’s Vengeance-ability. And oh, did I mention he can block a Stoneforge Mystic carrying a sword of your choice?

As I said, not a card that is going to headline new archetype to format domination. Just all in all a very solid card. Bernhard approved.

Beast Within is the new brand of “Pongify” cards. It took the world a really long time before catching on Pongify but I doubt it will take as long this time. Note though is that Beast Within shouldn’t be played as value card, i.e. every green deck should have 4 Beast Within or whatever. It’s a great piece of technology that like the “free spells” of New Phyrexia challenges peoples assumptions and ideas how a game of Standard should play out.

Birthing Pod is certainly an interesting card but I a little sadden that the final wording of this card doesn’t match up with how it looked when it first got spoiled. The spoiler said “search your library for a card creature card with converted mana cost equal or less of the sacrificed creature…” That would have been much more interesting in my mind. Now it’s not as powerful (at least how I have computed things in my head) but still a pretty powerful “build-around-me”. Worth to notice.

Myr Superion is a card I have seen getting a lot of buzz latley, but I just don’t see it. To me, it’s a slighly upgraded(?) Talara’s Battalion. That card never did anything and I can’t really tell why it would this time around. I’d say stay away from this card.

A lot of people have asked themselves if Karn Liberated is going to hold on to the hype. I’m a little doubtful. 7 mana is alot. Particularly in a format where people threatens to combo you out on turn 4 or have hitten you several times with a Sword of Feast and Famine. Still, Karn has a lot of loyalty and thus really hard to remove using conventional methods. I’m thinking Karn might be a card in the future in Standard but right now I think 7 is a bit too steep. Then again, I have underestimated about every single Planeswalker since they first came out in Lorwyn. So at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Karn Liberated poping up here and there but I doubt he will be a format mainstay for now.

The “Chancellor”-cycle doesn’t look that impressive to me. Most of them just seems to be glorified leylines to me. And those know me or have followed this blog for a while knows what I think of leylines in general… There might be an exception though and that is Chancellor of the Tangle. In Standard currently there are some sick two-drops that are even more wicked to field to turn 1. Stoneforge Mystic and Lotus Cobra comes to mind. But perhaps most importantly, Fauna Shaman. Chancellor of the Tangle has like Vengevine some great mondo-combos going on with Fauna Shaman. A) You can play Fauna Shaman on turn one with revealing a Chancellor of the Tangle and B) you can then pitch it to Fauna Shaman and start your Vengevine-chain or whatever shenanigans your up to. Certainly a series of plays that are worth noticing in my book.

I have seen few people talking about Shrine of Loyal Legions and to some extent Shrine of Burning Rage. Most people seems to put these in the “Limited only”-section but I think both these will see constructed play. The white one is similar to Luminarch Ascension but is not reliant on your opponent. These bad boy is going to tick up nevertheless and you can even help it out by just playing your spells! It’s not hard to imagine with control mirrors ending with someone sacrificing a Shrine of Loyal Legions to put 10 1/1s into play. The red one can be compared to a suspended Fireball. Instead of a hefty mana investment you need time and/or playing spells to deal a lot of damage. Seems like a deal to me. That the damage is from a colorless source is also very important. Another way to kill Kor Firewalker and other guys with Protection from Red at worst which again seems like a deal to me.

Swing and a miss(?)

That Wizards made a card like Torpor Orb isn’t surprising given the current situation in Standard. On paper, it houses a lot of current strategies like playing Squadron Hawk games or the infamous Stoneforge Mystic. But I’m very skeptical for real life implementation. There is a lot of “iffy” sides of Torpor Orb that really stinks. Like if you are on the draw against CawBlade, it might to be late for Torpor Orb to get you any “value”. And CawBlade might very well just crush you with Planeswalkers instead. I do think that Torpor Orb is kinda quite with Phyrexian Dreadnought (in Legacy), since know you are playing Torpor Orb as a proactive card in part of a combo…that also happens to houses a lot of other card.

The series of “free spells” aren’t just going to make Limited wacky, I’m can definitely see assumptions getting turned upside-down with New Phyrexia. Just let ideas like a mono blue deck with access to 1-mana -5/-5 at instant speed. Or why not a White Weenie deck with a threaten-effect in form of Act of Aggression? And how about a 3/1 with First Strike for 2 mana in black or red? Scary thoughts, huh?

Also, have you noticed how Wizards have really pushed the color black in this set? In a vacuum, I’d say that the color black is clearly the “winner” in New Phyrexia. That said, given the current format I doubt that black will be a dominate force in Standard in the upcoming months. The current environment is just very hazardous against black in general. Sometime this fall things will be different though…

New Phyrexia will be out in shortly. The set looks great and looks like it will definitley stir things up in about every format. From Limited to Standard to Legacy. Should be awesome. Can’t wait to lay my hands on this bad boy of a set.

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