The day I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived as a dinosaur makes it’s way to Ravnica!
Whilst she was shown in in Ixalan, Huatli was presented in in Rivals of Ixalan. That same colour treatment is used again here but with hybrid mana making her nice and easy to use in my preferred Gruul deck. When I first saw her static ability I was a bit disappointed as I had thought that dinosaurs were generally big powerful cards that this would then weaken. It turns out I was wrong; of the 72 dinosaurs in Standard, there are only 12 that would be reduced by this card with 21 getting a boost1. Of course, this does mean your Carnage Tyrant is now weaker which I don’t love. If the text let you choose the highest between toughness and power I still wouldn’t like this ability, but the fact it can weaken your creatures makes me uneasy. It might find a home in a defender type deck but I’m not seeing it. Her -3 ability is better and that she starts with such a high loyalty is really good2 but I’m not convinced that some life gain is enough to make this a playable card.
Huatli’s Raptor is a bit better. A 2 mana 2/3 dinosaur with vigilance that proliferates when it enters the battlefield. I feel like this needed to be a 1/4 to make it play better with Huatli, the Sun’s Heart but it’s a fine card. I’m more of a fan of dinosaurs but there is certainly a home for this.
I mentioned a few days ago that we were probably due to see the Jace Planeswalker deck and it finally arrived today. As usual, the cards are a little weak to account for the fact they are part of a $15 deck but Jace, Arcane Strategist isn’t too bad. Whenever you use the +1 ability you’re going to get to put a +1/+1 counter on another creature and if you have something like The Immortal Sun in play you’ll get this even if you choose to use his -7 ability to prevent your creatures being blocked. It also plays with Jace’s Triumph to give you extra cards.
That ultimate is a bit easier to get to with Jace’s Projection which has a mana sink for adding loyalty counters to a Jace planeswalker whilst also getting +1/+1 counters every time you draw a card. The “wizard” type also makes this play nicely with a whole host of other cards so this one is good if you are planning on using a Jace; I’d recommend Jace, Cunning Castaway or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Guildpact Informant is great if you can make it unblockable with Aether Tunnel but Jace’s Ruse is going to be useless outside of specific play with this planeswalker deck3.
And now we get to the real meat of the set; Nicol Bolas has become a God and is using The Elderspell to steal sparks from planeswalkers. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God fits well with this theme in that he can use the loyalty abilities of any planeswalker currently on the battlefield which is particularly nice; if you are able to increase his loyalty quickly with some proliferate tricks then you are feasibly going to have a wide range of ultimate options open to you. That said, his own abilities aren’t too shabby either. +1 to draw a card and your opponent has to exile a card or permanent; a lot of the time they’ll choose to get rid of land they don’t need, especially in the end game, but it’s a nice bit of icing on top of card draw. Similarly, a -3 to destroy a creature or planeswalker is pretty good; Vraska planeswalkers nearly always have a destroy creature ability at this loyalty price so to be able to destroy planeswalkers as well is good. The best part of the card is undoubtedly the ultimate, an alternate win condition so long as you remove all of their legendary creatures and planeswalkers; there are four legendary creatures with flash so that should be watched out for but this undoubtedly going to be a fun card to play with. If I had a criticism, I think that such a powerful card would have been better done as a double-sider like Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, maybe using the counters or the amass ability to get him to transform. It’s a small quibble though and I’m looking forward to trying this out. Another idea would be that this should have had the same “you may put it into its owner’s library third from the top” text that other gods have but that really would be very powerful; it’s odd to have Dragon-God in the name but not be a God creature type.
The Elderspell was mentioned during the WAR reveal panel and is very, very good. We were promised effective planeswalker removal for a set with 37 planeswalkers and this does not disappoint. lets you destroy any number of planeswalkers and then give one of your planeswalkers double that number of loyalty tokens. That is utterly sick with Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. If you had 7 mana to spare, you could cast Bolas, then cast the Elderspell to kill all enemy planeswalkers, give Bolas the tokens, then trigger the ultimate. You only need to kill two planeswalkers to get that to work and crucially you can kill your own. If I could choose one card from the set that I thought was broken, this would be it; bear in mind it is the planeswalker equivalent of Cleansing Nova but it costs 3 mana less and it gives you a ridiculous buff and you get to choose what dies. Crazy!
The final card I’m going to look at today is Commence the Endgame. This would have been a great candidate for flipping into Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God as it depicts his ascension to godhood but I won’t quibble about that. For 6 mana, you can an uncounterable instant that lets you draw two cards and then amass with the number of cards in your hand. At the minimum, this will be draw 2 and amass 2 which isn’t a great rate but it can be horrendously busted if you are doing some shenanigans with Nezahal, Primal Tide or Reliquary Tower. I don’t think it’s a card I’ll be using but I could see it getting some play. I had to mention it though if only for the hilarious name.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more spoilers but as usual you can check out everything spoiled so far on my cards page. You can also drop a note in the comments or join my Discord community if you want me to talk about some of the cards I didn’t cover today including Ashiok, Dream Render, Deliver Unto Evil, and Soul Diviner.
That means there are 39 dinosaurs this card does nothing to whatsoever which is a shame as it feels a waste especially with staples like Burning Sun’s Avatar, Etali, Primal Storm, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Raging Swordtooth, etc. ↩︎
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: these planeswalker decks are a great way of having “fair” matchups with friends and as a way to get somebody interested in playing Magic. The sets come with a deck that is ready to go along with 2 boosters so you can start deck building by augmenting the one you have. They are in no way competitive at your local game store or on MTG Arena though. ↩︎