July 25, 2019

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Most Interesting Cards in M20 Part 2, Everything Else (Red, Green, Cycles, Multicolour, Artifacts, Lands, etc.)

Hey guys, welcome back. Today I’ll be talking about big red planeswalkers, big red dragons, triple Teferi emblems, the soon-to-be best midrange deck in standard, Scapeshift, a cycle of enchantments, a cycle of creatures, and a cycle of dual lands.

Without further ado, let’s start breaking down the cards:

Red

These cards are all somewhere between great and maybe playable.

Let’s start at the great end of the spectrum: Chandra, Awakened Inferno is busted. For starters, it can’t be countered, leaving your opponent to deal with it after you’ve activated it, very kindly donating them a Curse of the Pierced Heart emblem, and putting Chandra’s loyalty up to 8. Then, if they don’t kill her quickly, she keeps making those emblems, which will kill fairly quickly if they stack up, and there’s only one type of removal that gets rid of them: player removal. Her -3 keeps the board clear and maybe even lets your creatures live if you’re playing elementals. And if that isn’t enough, she can kill planeswalkers or bigger creatures with her -X. This will see play in elementals and other midrange decks, maybe even control.

The second-best Chandra is Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. Her first 0 can help keep her alive as well as your other Chandra’s. Her second 0 gives you some elementals to start the beat down. The two 1/1s aren’t very good on their own, but when paired with other elemental synergy, they can be pretty good. Her -2 lets you cast your burn spells again. While the 6 mana Chandra is a Control card, this Chandra is an Aggro card.

Chandra, Novice Pyromancer is the worst out of the bunch. Her +1 combos with Monk-Chandra since it pumps all the tokens she makes. The -1 helps you cast your bombs, such as Chandra Piercer of Hearts. Her -2 is just there to help keep her alive. She probably won’t see much play outside of being a 1-of in an elemental deck.

Last card: Chandra’s Regulator. The static ability is only good in a Chandra tribal deck. However, if you’re playing Chandra tribal, it’s great since you can pay 1 mana FOR EACH TIME YOU ACTIVATE SOMETHING. The activated ability is just nice to also have on the card. I don’t think it will see play in discard decks, just because Sarkhan, Fireblood and Dismissive Pyromancer exist and are better.

Wheeling every turn sounds fun, but for 7 mana this card is probably too slow. Besides, there’s a better 7 mana Dragon in the set…

Hello there. A 7/7 flying creature that kills every last creature your opponent controls when it attacks? Sure, why not. This is very slow (luckily for the health of the format), but if you can get it out quickly with Sarkhan, Fireblood, Dragon’s Hoard, Treasure Map, or a combination of them, it could very easily wreck your opponent.

Flame Sweep is just better than Fiery Cannonade (unless you’re playing some number of pirates). It wipes your opponent’s board, no matter what creature types their creatures are, and whether or not they have flying, and leaves your flyers alive. This could be one creature, or your entire board. Either way, it will replace Fiery Cannonade.

This is even more copying shenanigans for Thousand-Year Storm decks and Ral, Storm Conduit decks. It also copies planeswalker abilities which can give you some pretty decent value, (fourth turn even) or can copy planeswalker ultimates, if you’re the kind of demented person who finds multiple Teferi, Hero of Dominaria emblems amusing. This is way clunkier than something like Expansion // Explosion, just because of how expensive it is.

Green

I’ll be honest, when I first saw this card, I thought it was just another Shapers’ Sanctuary. Turns out, it’s the opposite. Season of Growth will probably make Feather, the Redeemed decks splash green since it’s such a good source of card advantage. Season of Growth could also help the GR Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin deck I was trying to make.

This card will probably only see sideboard play as lifegain. The first part will sometimes bring back a creature that has been killed. The 6 life should probably be good enough on its own to make the card playable. I say this mainly because I’ve seen nearly creatureless decks playing Bond of Flourishing, and in their deck all it does is gets them a land (most of the time) and gains them 3 life. But they still play it! The thing you should keep in mind when playing this card is that it has to target something; that means if you have no creatures or lands in your yard, you have to give your opponent back something.

The Cavalier Cycle

The Cavalier cards are big and flashy and do stuff, but they’re very inefficient. That is to say, they are less value for 5 mana than we have come to expect from our 5-drops in standard.

Cavalier of Dawn is a decent attacker and blocker. Vigilance is useful but, when attacking and blocking, it pales in comparison to Lyra Dawnbringer. The “enter the battlefield” trigger on it is of slightly more interest; the ability to destroy creatures, planeswalkers, you name it, is very useful. Unfortunately, it does replace the destroyed card with a golem. Something like Ixalan’s Binding is way better removal, but as more and more people start playing Despark, Binding has proved to be less reliable. The die trigger is probably not useful as it doesn’t even return it to the battlefield. Overall, this might see play as a 1-of or 2-of in Mono-White decks, but only because it gets rid of the card permanently, leaving you less vulnerable to Despark. The golem token is annoying, but the Cavalier can deal with it well, just by being bigger than it.

Cavalier of Gales Brainstorms when it enters the battlefield then shuffles away those cards when it dies and then lets you Scry. A little card draw and card selection, and a little bit more card selection when it dies. Nothing new, and definitely not worth 5 mana. The main part of the card is it being 5/5 flying for 5, bad compared to Lyra Dawnbringer, but pretty good for a blue creature. Maybe this will see play in the first ever Mono-Blue midrange deck.

Cavalier of Night is not that efficient when it comes to attacking and blocking. Something like Doom Whisperer is way bigger, but the lifelink on the Cavalier is nice. The main point of the black Cavalier is to get some value off sacrificing a creature and then returning it. Cavalier of Night will mainly see play in ETB and die trigger decks.

Cavalier of Flame has a lot going on. It’s a 6/5, which is big, but, like most of the cavaliers, not the biggest you could get in these colours. The first way this card is interesting is its activated ability. While most of the cavaliers have a keyword (reach, vigilance, flying, lifelink) the red one lets you buff your entire team. This could be good in go wide decks. The ETB (enter the battlefield) trigger is a nice scalable Faithless Looting which can either pitch unnecessary cards or fuel graveyard shenanigans. The death trigger is a nice little bit of direct damage and planeswalker removal if you pitched a land or two with the ETB trigger. Or, if you’re playing a graveyard deck or Scapeshift deck, it can just win the game outright.

Cavalier of Thorns is one of the Cavaliers that you are playing mainly for its attacking and blocking capability. The ETB trigger on this card does a reasonable Elvish Rejuvenator impression, but for 5 mana, it isn’t the best ramp, though it does fill your graveyard (GR Cavaliers, man). Its death trigger is also just an over-costed version of a card, this time it’s Noxious Revival. A 5/6 reach for 5, that blocks Lyra Dawnbringer, Skarrgan Hellkite and basically every other flyer (except for Drakes and Doom Whisperer) makes this worth it. The main way I see this card being played is as a very solid blocker and using the ETB and death triggers for a little bit of value.

The Leyline Cycle

All of the Leylines are mediocre if you draw them later, but if they’re in your opening hand, they can be great. The Esper Leylines also come with the curse of being TERRIBLE multiples.

Leyline of Sanctity is a sideboard card against any decks trying to target you, normally with burn spells. Cards this card hoses include the entirety of Mono-Red, Settle the Wreckage, Expansion // Explosion, Banefire, Vraska, Relic Seeker’s ultimate, Unmoored Ego, Ral, Storm Conduit, and any discard spell. Leyline of Sanctity will come in mainly against Mono-Red Aggro, Temur Reclamation, and, (if your deck is vulnerable to hand disruption) control.

Leyline of Anticipation is not a sideboard card. Either you want it, or you don’t. This card may see some play in the Bant Flash decks that are playing Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, or in Mono-Blue to allow them to cast creatures or counterspells. It won’t see very much play.

Leyline of the Void is some of the most thorough graveyard hate in standard. However, it won’t see the same type of play it sees in modern, because graveyard decks aren’t as oppressive in standard, and don’t need to be answered on turn 0, so you can wait a few turns for something that you can play at any point in the game. Leyline of the Void will only see play in the sideboard of black decks, but it will be a good sideboard card in them.

Leyline of Combustion is a solid anti-control sideboard card for any red aggro deck. It doesn’t let your opponent target your stuff without being punished, and the extra damage can really add up. This card seems solid.

Leyline of Abundance is NOT a sideboard card. It seems okay in a mana dork deck, but not that fast given that all the mana-dorks in standard, except for Llanowar Elves, are 2 mana or more. The deck also seems like it won’t do much if you don’t draw the Leyline. If you get it and a Llanowar Elves or two though, this could be brutal. The card is even a mana sink, turning all your dorks into big creatures. Leyline of Abundance is also good in multiples.

The Elementals

Soooooo, elementals are a thing in this set I see.

Creeping Trailblazer is the closest thing there is to a traditional lord among these cards. Although pumping elementals is good, I don’t think the Trailblazer will see play in your typical elemental deck, because I think Elementals will be a slow, grindy, value deck. It may see play in some of the more aggressive builds though.

Thunderkin Awakener may see some play if Aggro Elementals becomes a thing, but it doesn’t do much in regular Elementals.

Overgrowth Elemental could be a 1-of for a tiny bit of value, but it is a very meh card and I doubt it will see much play in Standard.

Omnath, Locus of the Roil though, this card is the real deal. We get a Ravenous Chupacabra impression on the ETB, and then after that it pumps elementals whenever a land enters the battlefield. That is, until you get 8 lands, when it starts drawing you cards. Chupacabra saw play, and this card does so much more. I may have to change my MTGArena name to ChompydaElemental.

If Omnath was good, then Risen Reef is busted. Growth Spiral every time you play an elemental, that’s fair right? Once the Explore package rotates and the format gets weaker this is going to just crush everyone.

Lightning Stormkin is fairly boring. It doesn’t do much, but it is efficient and could do well in various decks, including Aggro Elementals and Wizards.

Multicoloured

This probably won’t see a whole lot of play while Feather, the Redeemed is the main Boros Aggro deck in standard. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin also makes way more tokens, but I like how this can attack without having to worry about it dying. I could see this getting played in a Jeskai Tempo list, or a really removal-heavy Boros Aggro deck.

Colourless

Golos could see play in various Scapeshift decks, since they actually have powerful lands that you would want to go fetch. They are also probably the only decks that are going to have 5 colours of mana, allowing you to use the activated ability. The activated ability could be good if you have lots of expensive spells in your deck, but in a deck with a normal curve, it probably won’t be worth your mana since you are probably going to hit a land or two.

Lands

This cycle surprises me. First of all, I thought we had enough good dual lands in standard. My best guess is that this cycle means that the fall set will only have friendly duals. Second, WotC has historically supported friendly colour combinations (GR, GW, WU, UB, RB) more than enemy ones. Yet here we have more enemy coloured rare dual lands in Standard than friendly.

This may finally make Scapeshift a thing: if you can get two of these plus 6 other lands with different names off of Scapeshift, your opponent has one turn to blow up the board or they die. Even if they manage to blow up the board, you’re still making 2 zombies every time you play a land.

I don’t see any of these cards completely shaking up the format, but they may create another tier 1 deck or two (Elementals, Scapeshift). The rest of them may help or hurt existing decks or be solid sideboard cards (Leylines and Cavaliers).

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. If you think I missed any important cards or have any thoughts on the ones I mentioned, please leave them in the comments.