With the spoilers pretty much finished up and 36 new planeswalker cards coming to Magic Arena next week, there’s a lot to look forward to! This article is just going to run down the cards I’m most excited for, in order of excitement. Without further delay, here’s the card I am by far most excited for in War of the Spark:
Ral, Storm Conduit
I love Blue/Red, so the Izzet League is far and away my favorite guild on Ravnica. That said, I feel that the guild is in a bit of a bad place in the current meta. All of the dual lands really promote 3-color play, and as long as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Mortify are both in the meta the strongest control deck will probably be Esper. Where Izzet shines right now is in the combo department, and that’s where this card comes in.
Ral, Storm Conduit is a huge combo enabler. His major utility lies in his triggered ability that pings your opponent every time you cast or copy a spell. I believe this is the first ability of its kind, and it opens up all sorts of possibilities.
First, as was discussed in most threads with the spoiler, this makes two copies of Expansion plus any other spell that costs 4 or less into an infinite combo. Basically, you cast a spell, then you cast Expansion copying that spell. Finally, you cast the second Expansion targeting the first Expansion, repeatedly copying the first Expansion. Every time one resolves and makes a copy of the initial Expansion Ral’s ability will trigger and deal 1 damage to target Opponent or Planeswalker. Worth noting is that this also works with Ral’s second loyalty ability and a single copy of Doublecast plus a single copy of Expansion. You simply let the first of your two Doublecasts resolve, then cast Expansion with the initial copy targeting your remaining Doublecast and the copy (created by the first Doublecast) targeting the other Expansion. This takes it from a 4-card combo to a 3-card combo and adds a lot of consistency.
Besides the ordinary copy combo deck described above, Ral also slots nicely into the Naru Meha combo. Rather than milling the opponent with Drowned Secrets, Ral can ping the opponent each time Release to the Wind is copied.
Finally, I think Ral is potentially good in a pure Izzet Counter-burn deck. Ral’s triggered ability functions very similarly to Electrostatic Field‘s, but is attached to a permanent that is harder to remove and generates other value. Besides just his triggered ability, his -2 can really generate a ton of damage when combined with Risk Factor, Lightning Strike or Banefire.
My next favorite card from the set is Narset’s Reversal. This card is the lovechild of Remand and Redirect and I couldn’t be happier about it. Narset’s Reversal steals your Temur Reclamation opponent’s Nexus of Fateor Explosion. It stops Thought Erasure (and gives you the option to take it away from them as well). It can take a Mono-Red opponent’s Wizard’s Lightning and use it to kill their own Goblin Chainwhirler. It grabs Chemister’s Insight from Esper, and if you use it when they cast it with Jump-Start it steals it and it still gets exiled (Due to this rule regarding Jump-Start: A spell cast using jump-start will always be exiled afterward, whether it resolves, it’s countered, or it leaves the stack in some other way.). All in all this is a very unique card with the potential to be an absolute tempo blowout and I anticipate that some number of them will end up in any of my sideboards that can support its mana cost.
Finale of Devastation
We’re going to take a (temporary) trip out of the world of Izzet for a moment to take a look at a green card. Though green is usually my least favorite color, this card is certainly an exception. With the mana available in the current standard environment this can certainly be put into any deck that wants it, and the effect is just absurd.
First I just want to get this out of the way: I won’t be talking much about what this card does when you cast it for X >= 10. In short: It wins the game. It almost doesn’t matter what you grab at that point. If this spell resolves at with an X value of 10 or greater you should really just win the game right there. The only thing I want to point out about the X >= 10 clause on this card is how much fun it will be with elves.
What I do want to talk about is how the card is incredible even with a relatively small X. With even a small amount of ramp this card can grab all sorts of utility creatures. Playing against burn? Grab Shalai or Lyra. Playing against Control? Grab Niv-Mizzet. In the same way that Mastermind’s Acquisition opened up the possibility for the Chromatic Black control deck, I think this card could open up the way for Chromatic Green Ramp, allowing it to use a rainbow of one-of creatures as a toolbox in an otherwise Mono-Green deck.
I love this card for one specific, important purpose: Fuck Mono-U Tempo. For a while I was happy that a Tier 1 deck with no mythics and just a couple of rares was in the meta. Then Ravnica Allegiance happened and it got even better. Now, every time I run into this deck on the ladder I cringe then sigh. It’s just a frustrating matchup for so many decks. I’m hoping that this card goes a long way toward changing that.
There are four major things that I think positions this card to really hurt Mono-U Tempo:
1) It’s colorless and can fit into any deck that can support a couple of colorless lands.
2) It’s a land with an activated ability, so Mono-U has no way to stop it.
3) It comes into play with 1 counter, which enables it to immediately sac to destroy: Mist-Cloaked Herald, Siren Stormtamer, Curious Obsession AND Pteramander.
4) It doesn’t care about Dive Down.
Hopefully this will do something to reduce Mono-U’s meta share a bit but I suppose even if it doesn’t that whole deck pretty much rotates out in the fall, so I have that to look forward to.
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
We’re dipping back into Izzet for the second to last card. Saheeli is cool because in an Izzet deck she might as well cost (3) and she can fit into a Mono-R or a Mono-U deck perfectly. Her triggered ability looks a lot like Murmuring Mystic but for one less mana and on a permanent that’s a little harder to remove. The tokens don’t fly, of course, but Saheeli comes with a little more utility. She can use her -2 ability to make those servos into something greater for a turn. Most notably, I think this could be a big creature like Crackling Drake. I’m not sure that Saheeli is going to be a powerhouse in the format, but she might have a place as an alternate win condition if Izzet Drakes remains in the meta after the set drops.
I think it’s also worth noting that she has some pretty good synergy with Karn, Scion of Urza. Her servos pump the Karnstructs and her -2 can make a servo into another Karnstruct, essentially making it huge for a turn. A deck could emerge that includes Saheeli, Karn and Tezzeret, Artifice Master.
Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi
Our last card takes us back to green, and wow does this card look pushed. It has a couple of drawbacks that I’ll get to in a minute, but any time you see 9 power for 5 mana it’s at least worth considering. First, the reasons I’m excited about this card:
1) A 9/9 for 5.
2) It’s Instant speed
3) You can target the same land twice (More on that later) to make an 18/18.
Now the cons:
1) It has no evasion or trample.
2) When it dies you lose a land.
3) It’s legendary
So why do I care? We already have a giant, 5-mana green legendary with no evasion, but it’s a 10/10! Well, first of all, Gigantosaurus costs GGGGG, which is REAL different than 3GG. Second, this has some fantastic synergy with the card I’m most excited about from this set. Lastly, this looks like an amazing sideboard card for Temur Reclamation decks.
The main point I want to make about this card is that it doesn’t ask you to target a non-creature land. This means that you can target the same land with the second copy of this spell that you did with the first. This also applies to copying the spell. If you use Expansion or Ral, Storm Conduit or Doublecast to make a second copy of the spell you can get an 18/18 straight away, and with Wilderness Reclamation in play this thing basically has Vigilance.
Also fun to note is that Ral’s -2 + This + Thud is a one-turn kill that works no matter which order you cast the spells in, dealing 20-21 damage between Thuds and Ral triggers. It seems remarkably easy to pull off on a turn where your opponent is tapped out and Ral curves right into it.
This set has a ton to offer. I’ll admit that I wasn’t too terribly excited about a set with 36 planeswalkers in it, even moreso when I saw the first uncommon walker, but I’m happy to say I was oh, so wrong. This set is jam-packed with goodies for Izzet players, and managed to get me excited about green! I suppose we’ll see how this pans out when the set releases, but all-in-all I’m extremely optimistic.