FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S TALK M15, PART 1

Greetings, readers! I’ve postponed my month of Let’s Build articles in favor of discussing the 2015 Core Set this month. Usually, Core Sets are uneventful, mostly being reprints and basic things that Standard requires, but this year, the Core Set brings EDH a lot of new toys for once, which is equal parts surprising and refreshing. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the spoilers:

The first batch of spoilers I’ll discuss here will be the Soul cycle, which are all nigh-unbeatable in Limited and do a pretty damn good job of pulling their weight as top-end finishers in EDH. Sinks are always welcome for G/X, and Soul of Theros fits right into token shells as a top-end bomb. Having vigilance as a 6/6 makes it very difficult to attack into, and his activated ability makes him impossibly hard to race.

This brings up his worth in Limited. If you don’t have a Doom Blade or a way to stop him from activating his ability, you are well and truly screwed. On its own, trading with 8 first strike damage is damn near impossible, but on top of that, the lifelink makes it stupidly difficult to race if you’re in a cluttered board state.

Removing it doesn’t even solve the problem, though; its controller can just remove it from the graveyard and get the effect when it benefits them the most, making the whole cycle just stupidly powerful in Limited in general. Soul of Theros is the hardest to race overall, which is good for Limited G/W strategies that tend to have at least one game playing the mirror where both players have 12+ creatures on board and neither are making progress on each other’s life totals.

Soul of Ravnica, while not the Standard powerhouse it was predicted to be with 3UU costs on its activated abilities, is still a very powerful engine to draw cards with in the right shell, and is a 6/6 flier for 6, making it have rather ridiculous threat density on its own. Its activated ability arguably is the weakest of the cycle as far as Limited goes, but in EDH, it has a home in any deck with three or more colors, in my opinion, as drawing 3 cards at instant speed even for a cost as heinous as 7 is still worthwhile. That being said, there really isn’t much to discuss when it comes to this one, as its abilities are bland, unexciting, and don’t mesh well with much. I suppose it wears Illusionist’s Bracers well?

Grave Titan he isn’t, but with Gravedigger getting a reprint, this thing might as well be impossible to remove in Limited. Add to that that his ability costs a paltry 5, and we have the makings of a winner. He even goes a long way in removing bombs, and in EDH, plays well with both Buried Alive and Body Double in addition to self-mill, letting you dredge yourself silly until you’ve found the creature you want to recur; even in your graveyard, he can activate his ability, and Innistrad is the soul who arguably makes the best use out of this. Mind you, deathtouch is by far the least exciting ability to slap onto this thing, as it’s not going to interact with much outside of trample, and there are few things this doesn’t already kill.

It’s no surprise that red’s gotten a lot of love lately, in the wake of an outcry for more powerful red EDH cards, and this one’s got a pretty impressive resume. First strike isn’t something you can outright ignore, as it means Kessig Wolf Runed creatures can’t trade with it, and multiple blockers have to be pretty hefty to end it. When you take into account that it can also fry the things being thrown in front of it, it doesn’t get any better for your opponent. As a huge fan of Xenagos, the Reveler, I’m strongly considering adding him to Maelstrom Wanderer, as he’s quite an impressive sink, giving an already-aggressive deck some much-needed reach, as well as spot removal. Arguably, he is the least relevant Soul in the graveyard, but a Searing Blaze is a Searing Blaze.

It perplexes me that something called “Soul of Zendikar” doesn’t have anything to do with lands, but then it likely occurred to me that just as it was about to be designed with “3GG: Search your library for a land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped.” as its activated ability instead, Sheldon Menery himself descended upon R&D and decreed he’d immediately ban it in EDH because he can’t help himself but take a giant gulp of that haterade when it comes to ramp. It’s fine, though; Iona, Shield of Emeria is a perfectly acceptable card. In Limited, any sort of pressure without resource cost is always going to be bonkers, as your opponent answers this or gets buried in tilt pigs. In EDH, strategies that want this want Craterhoof Behemoth, and are better off with Ant Queen.

What I wasn’t expecting from this cycle was a sixth variant. Soul of New Phyrexia definitely brings an ability that’s impossible to ignore to the table, as indestructibility breaks open stalls in Limited like no other. That being said, the thing with its ability that makes it somewhat underwhelming for Limited’s sake is the fact that it doesn’t add to your pressure; aside from a 6/6 trampling beater, you’re not getting much when you stack it up against the other souls. However, in EDH, the effect is arguably at its best, as mass indestructibility makes it extremely difficult to stop any offense you mount, so long as you can maintain tempo by keeping 5 mana up. The fact that it’s colorless adds to its viability, letting any deck run it, and the fact that it can make your board indestructible while in your graveyard is also quite powerful, making it an all-star.

Ajani Steadfast is something I very much enjoy from a flavor perspective; wearing the robes of his fallen friend Elspeth Tirel, protecting others and bolstering the strength of your army. He has a number of strengths that make him powerful in both Limited and EDH; you can make the largest creature on your board attack with first strike and lifelink and then block as well due to vigilance, and using it with a deathtouch creature is just nasty. (Soul of Innistrad, anyone?)

Of course, his other abilities are for the most part squarely EDH fodder. He’s more splashable than his original incarnation of Ajani Goldmane, but he’s right at home in a Doubling Season shell, where he can immediately get his emblem off and then start being a battery that bolsters your other Planeswalkers. Granted, his -2 is not to be ignored in Limited, where you’re getting a free Anthem, but for the most part, the vigilance Ajani Goldmane provides makes it superior overall. I have to admit, however, getting a Serra Avatar token and then playing Steadfast as a follow-up to give it lifelink is nothing short of hilarious. Add Xenagos, God of Revels as a haste enabler for maximum hilarity!

I think too many people have dismissed Jace. Let me put what he does in context for you. In Limited, you can sit on flying blocks and big-butt walls and draw out answers faster than your opponent. When your opponent attempts to play something, you can bounce it to your heart’s content (by swain). When you’re about to mill yourself out, use his ultimate and screw your opponent. Sure, that hinges on a good board state, but it’s the furthest thing from impossible to achieve.

EDH is where I think he’ll be at his best. He doesn’t have any threat density whatsoever, so if people are attacking him, you’re honestly gaining life at that point. He also helps deal with silly locks such as Avacyn, Angel of Hope that prevent other players from sweeping the table. And using his ultimate following an overloaded Cyclonic Rift is just disgusting.

Let me remind people; he might not be terribly impressive with the +1, but he essentially starts at 6 loyalty for 4 mana, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Nissa, on the other hand, disappoints on a number of fronts. As an upgrade to Garruk Wildspeaker in mono-green, she’s fine (unless you’re lucky enough to own a Gaea’s Cradle), and she’s quite useful with silly things like Riftstone Portal and Flagstones of Trokair, but aside from that, I’m not seeing what she does aside from makes a lot of mana. If you’re untapping four Forests, just play Vernal Bloom instead; it might help certain opponents in some situations, but your opponents can’t attack a Vernal Bloom. What bothers me most about her, I think, is her inability to interact with Doubling Season effectively. She’ll be fine in Limited, but I don’t see her having that much impact anywhere else.

As the person who spoiled Garruk to the Windsor community, I’ll reiterate for the most part what I’ve mentioned already; I feel that for 7 mana, the fact that he does a lot of things doesn’t gloss over the fact that other ‘Walkers just do what he does better. Destroying another planeswalker and another creature just seem inferior to what Vraska the Unseen does, in all honesty. While Vraska is the inferior rattlesnake, the comparisons between the two are stark on all fronts. You trade 2 mana for going up on hitting Planeswalkers, but Garruk has a very swingy ultimate if you aren’t prepared to take advantage of it yourself. I will admit, though, it has potential to impress, and the fact that it interacts quite well with Doubling Season is also commendable. The flavor of this new Garruk is also quite nice, as well, but I just like Vraska better overall. Perhaps I’ll slot him into Damia, Sage of Stone and see if he pulls his weight. He certainly has potential, especially when I can Mindslaver the guy with the most cluttered board to attack the biggest threat.

Okay, I’ll admit, I underestimated the power of Sliver Avacyn, Angel of Hope. The fact that you can reliably run it as your general just makes it worth talking about on its own; indestructibility is an ability Slivers have been desperately wanting since their inception, and while there are plenty of variants that get around sweepers, few do it better than this one. With no shortage of good Slivers being printed lately, as well, the thought of a Sliver deck of my own becomes something…very tempting, not gonna lie.

It’s “and” that puts this thorn in my side over the top. This card is so anti-me it literally hurts. There’s nothing I love doing in Magic more than tutoring, and this guy just says “hahaha; how about no“. If you play this against me, I will kill you first, I will warn you now. Don’t dare question why, either. This creature, while undeniably powerful–insanely so, in my opinion–is just a huge pain to see on the board, and will draw ire from literally everyone, moreso than Stranglehold, which was already a pretty douchey card…………………..

This, however, is so me it literally hurts. It was even spoiled on my birthday, if that wasn’t enough. Solid Snake Bard, as I will henceforth refer to it as, has a number of ridiculous interactions in a number of my EDH decks (and you had best believe I’ve been testing him already), both as a second Birthing Pod and as a creature. He functions well with a number of EDH powerhouses; in Marath, Will of the Wild, I enjoy using him with Seedborn Muse and Doubling Season to tutor Stoneforge Mystic into Purphoros, God of the Forge into Aurelia, the Warleader. In Maelstrom Wanderer, I use him with Prophet of Kruphix and Kiora’s Follower to great effect. Overall, he’s an insanely good creature in EDH, and seeing him preorder at $1.50 makes my heart skip. I’ll honestly take a foil playset, please.

Seeing this get the nod for the reprint is equal parts predictable and fantastic. With a great piece by Kopinski, I’m just glad to see it at $12 and not $36. It’s honestly a great card overall, along the lines of Green Sun’s Zenith, and while I’m not sure what deck other than Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper would want it, if I happen to open one, I doubt I’d part with it. I think Standard will enjoy having this around, for sure, but as an EDH player, any expensive card getting a reprint makes me quite happy.

I like this card as much as I hate it; there are lists far and wide that hate Torpor Orb, and one that wins you the game is fantastic. On top of that, the thing has Flash, for God’s sake, and flashing it into something like Craterhoof Behemoth is just disgusting. I’ll love seeing this card in all sorts of formats, but I’ll definitely want one for the Gaddock Teeg list I’ve planned for the future.

Don’t get me wrong, this card is rather terrible overall, but can we just take a moment to really appreciate the various video game developers who’ve lent their creative talents to their own cards for M15? For those who aren’t aware, Markus Persson is the owner of Mojang, the guys behind Minecraft. The man behind Minecraft made a card called “Aggressive Mining.” The art for it is just so reminiscent of the game, as well. I want a foil just on principle, because while the card’s nothing to write home about, the flavor and brilliance behind it just make it effortless to appreciate.

And last, but certainly not least, a reprint that will warm the hearts of Swamp-loving EDH fanatics everywhere, Urborg. If Cabal Coffers could get the nod as well, that would be beautiful, but any step in the right direction is a good one, and I for one was absolutely floored to see that Wizards had decided to print Urborg in M15. I have my foil copy already, but I certainly wouldn’t object to another.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There you have it, my initial thoughts on the M15 spoiler season! Next week will likely be continuing the spoilers discussion. Until then!
~L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586

M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Journey into Nyx - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3101

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Part 14 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2933
Part 15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3086
Part 16 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3134
Part 17 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3153

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Esper - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2957
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
Jund - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3124
Naya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3146
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

One thought on “FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S TALK M15, PART 1

  1. Well Liam, I do agree with you on most of the statements you made, I cannot agree more on what you had to say about Ob Nixilis, Unshackled… But unfortunately, It is something I don’t think I will be able to resist running it in my Shattergang Bros. build… So I will enjoy getting my a** whooped next time I play you after the release. Haha. Great article man, and have a good one.

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