Well, Magic 2014 is upon us, with prerelease events this weekend. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make an event this year, making M14 the first core set where I’ve skipped on playing Sealed when the set is new and shiny and exciting.
As with all Core Sets, Magic 2014 contains a large number of reprints from earlier sets, some of which I’m pleasantly surprised about, and others which just confuse me. But I’ll get to those; let’s look at some of the new stuff that’s grabbed my attention.
Obviously this thing is utterly nuts, even if you don’t build it around lifegain. Throw it into an Orzhov deck with extort and things will quickly get out of control. It should be noted that white in M14 has a very heavy lifegain strategy with stuff like Angelic Accord, Path of Bravery, and a lot of lifelink creatures.
I really like this; a “fixed” Fiend Hunter. As pro-players may know, you can abuse Fiend Hunter with flicker effects, responding to its “leaves-the-battlefield” trigger before putting its “enters-the-battlefield” trigger on the stack, effectively meaning you get to exile something forever. Now, I’m sorry, but to me, that’s bullshit. Banisher Priest puts an end to that exploitative nonsense, and I hope that it’s a sign that Oblivion Ring effects will be reworded.
He’s like Isochron Sceptre on legs! Unfortunately that makes him a lot more vulnerable. Do I care? Not particularly, he’ll still find a home in my Talrand Commander deck. Even a humble Unsummon makes him a pain. The nice thing about his ability? It doesn’t need to be coloured mana to cast the spell he’s “learnt.”
I absolutely love the flavour of this card. It’s nice and cheap, though unfortunately your opponent still gets at least one turn’s use out of the Equipment before the creature dies. A decent sideboard card (though a few years to late to stop all reign of terror of the Swords of X and Y), and a surprisingly nice bit of indirect artefact hate in black.
I admit, I was one of those people that tried to build a deck around the Empire artifacts from Magic 2012, and yes, it wasn’t great. Even with that experience, I had to fight hard to resist the lure of building a Bogbrew Witch deck, because the flavour is so great. Some elitist players moan about cards like this, saying that it’s handholding, it’s treating players like idiots, it’s like Yu-Gi-Oh!, etc, but you know what? Fuck those guys, because I have a friend who’s wanted to build a witch deck for ages, and this trinity of cards has made her happy. End of discussion.
Man, Liliana gets all the cool stuff. I just wish she’d pick an iconic creature type to call her own; she’s had Spectres and Shades, now she’s got a massive Zombie fatty who makes more Zombies! 4 mana for a 4/3 with deathtouch is decent in black. Throw in discard and Zombie-spawning, and you’ve got casual deck gold.
Hey you, Magic the Gathering player! Are you bitter and envious of players who have enough money to run full playsets of dual lands? Do you want to choke your opponent with his Cavern of Souls? Do you wish there was a Price of Progress effect in Standard ? Then we have just the card for you!
This guy’s pretty great; he’s essentially a baby Talrand, in red. I’m loving that there are more and more red creatures like Kiln Fien and Guttersnipe who are a nice bit of variety to what would otherwise be a fairly dull and straightforward burn strategy. I personally like the idea of this guy on turn 2, and then turn 3 Seething Song, poop out an Elemental, then BAM! Nova Chaser. Seems like it would be fun for a casual deck.
This seems like a pretty fun enchantment for Commander, or a casual green deck. It reminds me of Druidic Satchel in a lot of ways, in that no matter what you play, you’re going to get some sort of benefit. I think it’s going to be that middle ability that gives +1/+1 counters that’s going to be the real killer here.
There’s a whole cycle of rare “colour-hater” creatures, and this one is probably the best, just because of the hexproof and the enormous middle finger to control (that said, Fiendslayer Paladin is a very, very close second). But holy shit, that art is goddamn hideous. Can we get a FNM promo version of this guy ASAP please? With, you know, good art?
*looks at his Venser flicker deck*
*reads card again*
I’ll be in my bunk.
Okay, let’s quickly talk about the elephant in the room; the new Slivers. Naturally, there’s been fan outrage and cries of betrayal, because, gasp! Your Slivers only share abilities with your own Slivers now, not your opponents! And, gadzooks! The Slivers now look different! As a veteran Magic player, how do I feel about this? Do I agree with my miserable grognard brethren? Well… no.
I like that Slivers now only share abilities with your Slivers, and I actually quite like the redesign. Sure, the Slivers look like generic monstrous humanoids now, but I’m not that fussed. I’m not going to throw a massive hissyfit and quit the game like some neckbeards declare that they’re going to do every time Wizards have the audacity to mix things up a little. Slivers evolve; that’s their whole gimmick, hence the mechanical and aesthetic changes.
The only real quibble I have with the new Slivers is that they’re only in red, green and white, instead of all colours (one blue Sliver and one black Sliver, both at rare, does not count as “being in all colours” in my eyes). If anything, I would’ve preferred to see them in blue, green, and white; that would’ve fit their hive-mind background a bit more.
While there are quite a lot of cards that are great to see again (Congregate and Sanguine Bond, fuck yeah!), there’s a lot of cards that are starting to wear out their welcome. Divine Favour, Dark Favour, Giant Growth, Lava Axe, Pacifism (especially with that goddamn unfunny flavour text and Robert Bliss art), Mind Rot, Act of Treason, Giant Spider, and Rod of Ruin all need to go away for a while, or just be outright replaced. Oh, and Shivan Dragon still being a rare is a joke given the power level of creatures these days; ol’ Shivvy is woefully underpowered even when compared to some of the lacklustre rare creatures in M14, like Seraph of the Sword or Colossal Whale.
There’s an undeniable enchantment subtheme in M14. Cards like Ajani’s Chosen, Blightcaster, and Oath of the Ancient Wood all reward you for playing enchantments; perhaps Theros’s block gimmick will be enchantments. We’ll have to wait and see… until then, enjoy Magic 2014!