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April 1, 2019

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Daily Dose of War of the Spark – Planeswalkers for all!

Welcome all to a brand-new season of the Daily Dose! For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be analyzing cards from the soon to be released War of the Spark! War of the Spark is a set that centers around Nicol Bolas’ battle against 36, that’s right, 36 planeswalkers (37 if you count the Buy-A-Box promo) on Ravnica. Planeswalkers will be a centerpiece of this set with each booster pack of the new set having a Planeswalker in it. To do this though, they are changing up the game by putting Planeswalker cards at different rarities. Up until this point, all Planeswalker cards have been Mythic rarity. In War of the Spark, you will see Planeswalker cards at uncommon, rare, and mythic! How will this be done in War of the Spark? I’ll show you today with some examples below. Another addition in War of the Spark is that every Planeswalker will also have a static ability on the card as well. This means that while they are on the battlefield you will get some loyalty abilities, but also a bonus ability if it can survive.

I’m going to start off by talking about an uncommon Planeswalker that we last saw in Shadows Over Innistrad. Here is Arlinn, Voice of the Pack.

One thing you will see over the coming weeks is that uncommon Planeswalkers will seem a bit underpowered compared to Mythic ones, but still can pack a lot of punch. Each uncommon Planeswalker looks like it will have one static ability and one minus loyalty ability. That’s right, it appears there are no plus loyalty abilities on uncommon planeswalkers.

Let’s break down the abilities of this card.

“Each creature you control that’s a Wolf or Werewolf enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.” – First thing I thought about is how many of these creature types are currently in Standard? The answer is two (Skalla Wolf and Thornhide Wolves). The dreams of making a Wolf deck in Standard just aren’t there unless War of the Spark brings them in bunches, which they probably won’t. It will though allow you to create 3/3 Wolf tokens instead of 2/2 Wolf tokens, which could make a big difference.

“[-2]: Create a 2/2 green Wolf creature token.” – Starting at 7 loyalty counters means that you could possibly make three Wolf tokens as long as it doesn’t take any damage and can survive. I’m not too high on spending 6 mana for a 3/3 creature, or two 3/3 creatures over two turns. If you can get to 3, you will get the best value out of it, but most times you will only get 2 activations of its loyalty ability.

Next, I want to show you a rare Planeswalker that is everyone’s favorite. Here is Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.

As you can see, Rare Planeswalker cards have one extra loyalty ability than the uncommon Planeswalker cards. This allows Jace, Wielder of Mysteries to have both a plus and minus loyalty ability on it as well as a static ability.

Let’s break down the abilities of this card.

“If you would draw a card while your library has no cards in it, you win the game instead.” – They decided to take Laboratory Maniac’s ability and put it on this planeswalker. How easy is it to self-mill in Standard? It isn’t the easiest now, you would have to combine a multitude of spells with Surveil to help you get to the bottom, along with a lot of card draw. Luckily Jace, Wielder of Mysteries has some abilities to help you with that.

“[+1]: Target player puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard. Draw a card.” – This is a strong plus ability on a planeswalker. It will help you fill your graveyard with value spells you could perhaps cast with Jump-Start. You could fill it with value to help you in an Izzet Drakes deck or to help you flip Search for Azcanta. On top of that you simply get to draw an extra card each turn. It doesn’t quite provide the same card drawing value as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, but you can get this out sooner and with the right deck, can better take advantage of the two cards being put into your graveyard.

“[-8]: Draw seven cards. Then if your library has no cards in it, you win the game.” – This is a great ultimate ability, with an odd second part to the ability considering you already win the game thanks to its static ability. It will help you get around losing the game if someone kills Jace, Wielder of Mysteries with this ability on the stack. This could be a game changer, but it will take 4-5 turns to be able to reach this ultimate ability.

Overall, I’m impressed with this Planeswaker and look forward to what decks I can build with it.

Finally, we are back to a tried and true Mythic planeswalker. Here is Liliana, Dreadhorde General.

There we have it, a Mythic Planeswalker with 3 loyalty abilities and a bonus static ability.

Let’s break down the abilities of this card.

“Whenever a creature you control dies, draw a card.” – This is a great static ability that applies even if you are playing a control deck with little to no creatures. Thanks to its first ability you will be drawing plenty of cards unless they want to be overtaken by a Zombie horde.

“[+1]: Create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.” – Anytime you can protect a planeswalker with a plus ability it is worthwhile. This gives her 7 loyalty to start with a creature protecting it. Even if you chump block each turn, you will gain card advantage thanks to its static ability. If left untouched, you can create an army of Zombies to win the game.

“[-4]: Each player sacrifices two creatures.” – Against certain decks this can win you the game. Red Green decks often have two threats out in the mid-game. Often decks like Mono White or Mono Red can have 2 creatures left on the battlefield after you’ve used some removal to clear out the rest. You are still left with a working planeswalker after using this ability as well, which means they will have to deal with it before it starts spitting out Zombie tokens.

“[-9]: Each opponent chooses a permanent they control of each permanent type and sacrifices the rest.” – You read that correctly, your opponent is left with 1 land, 1 creature, 1 enchantment…. Well you get the point. The key for this ultimate ability is leaving your opponent with only 1 land. This should put them significantly behind and unable to recover in the late game.

There you have it folks! The planeswalkers are coming in fast and furious with me talking about 3 of them today, which leaves 33 more to go! This is usually an entire sets worth of planeswalkers, but I’m just getting started. Thanks for joining me on the Daily Dose of War of the Spark. Join me again tomorrow as I continue looking into what this exciting new set has to offer.