It looks like we’re on the penultimate day of War of the Spark spoilers and we’ve got lots to look at including a few planeswalkers, the last two cards of the finale cycle, and some interesting sorceries around Liliana’s story:
To start with, let’s look at Narset, Parter of Veils, a planeswalker that is guaranteed to screw up my milling decks based around Psychic Corrosion. Her static ability prevents opponents from drawing more than one card a turn instantly stopping basic spells like Opt and Revitalize but also tricksy enchantments like The Immortal Sun. This probably makes her a good card but the -2 ability is also useful in the right deck allowing you to basically scry for enchantments, equipments, sorceries, instants, and artifacts. If your deck is heavy on those, then this could be a decent play.
Narset’s counterpart, Narset’s Reversal, is far more interesting to me. The wording is a little odd but it appears to be a counterspell that puts the card back in the opponent’s hand rather than in their graveyard. Furthermore, you get to cast it and choose a new target for the copy. It’s the first time we’ve seen a spell like this in Magic history with even the individual parts being relatively rare. It seems a little odd thematically to me as the spell is both being cast and being given back to the opponent for them to cast again1 but it still has it’s uses. Whilst I don’t think it’s as good as a straight up counter, it could feasibly let you finish a game if you manage to redirect a killing blow from an instant back to the opponent before they get a chance to cast it again. Realistically this is only going to be good for limited play.
Our next planeswalker is going to be a boon for dragon lovers as Sarkhan the Masterless lets each of your dragons deal 1 damage to any creature that is attacking you or a planeswalker you control. His +1 ability allows all planeswalkers you control to become 4/4 dragon tokens until end of turn and his -3 lets you create a permanent 4/4 dragon token. If you’re running a dragon deck then this seems like a no-brainer to me. I like that he can protect himself by dealing damage directly to anyone that attacks him and the ability to turn boring old planeswalkers on the field into flying 4/4’s for your attack step is also useful and potentially game ending in a super friends deck.
Sarkhan’s Catharsis isn’t terrible but there is better removal out there for a cheaper price. This is going to be useful in limited and I like that it doesn’t need Sarkhan the Masterless to boost it but I can’t imagine this is ever going to see standard play.
Ugin’s back and he has a fairly decent static ability in the right deck; all colourless spells cost less. That is going to pair nicely with Meteor Golem and Gate Colossus whilst also making cards like Field Creeper and Diamond Mare totally free! His +1 ability is a form of card advantage in that you create a 2/2 spirit creature and exile the top card of your library; when the token dies, the card goes into your hand. I love abilities like this and the fact you get a 2/2 flyer for free is nice as well. Finally, the -3 ability allows you to destroy any permanent that is one or more colours. That is incredibly good as most permanents are at least one colour and that will obviously deal with all the planeswalkers but this one. That’s actually better than Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God’s ability of the same cost as this lets you destroy enchantments, equipments, vehicles, lands, and artifacts!
Ugin, the Ineffable also pairs really nicely with his counterpart card, Ugin’s Conjurant. It’s a spirit creature that enters the battlefield with +1/+1 counters equal to the mana spent on it but when it takes damage it removes that number of counters; you are effectively dealing permanent damage to the creature rather than having it restored to full health at the start of upkeep. I really like that mechanic and can’t remember seeing it in Magic before. Whilst I’m not usually a colourless fan, these two cards are giving me some interesting deck ideas that I’m keen to explore. My only wish is that Ugin, the Ineffable was maybe just 1 or 2 mana cheaper.
We’ve got another Gideon planeswalker and his static ability is basically the same as the +2 ability on Gideon, the Oathsworn apart from you get a 4/4 instead of a 5/5 and it is automatic whenever it is your turn. This effectively prevents your opponents from using things like Shock on him during your turn but I don’t love the ability. His +1 is more useful giving a target creature either vigilance, lifelink, or indestructible until end of turn whilst his -6 lets you exile a nonland permanent. I’m not crazy about this card2 but it has obvious synergies with Gideon’s Triumph and Gideon’s Company. I do like the artwork and the low casting cost though…
Now we’re getting to the more exciting cards. Liliana gets two story-focussed cards today starting with Price of Betrayal, a sorcery that lets you remove 5 counters from a thing be they planeswalker loyalty, +1/+1 counters, or any other type of counter that can be used. It’s effectively a reverse proliferate 5 on a single target. The obvious usage is to kill a planeswalker3 but it could also prevent you losing the game to Simic Ascendancy and stop decks reliant on spawning copies of Galloping Lizrog. I love the artwork, I love the flavour text, I love the ability, and I really love the pricing. This is a must have card if you’re using black mana.
Command the Dreadhorde is another Liliana card that is thematically on point. You can choose any number of creatures or planeswalkers from all graveyards and put them onto the battlefield; they deal damage to you equal to their CMC. It’s an expensive card but it’s a big bomb, especially in the limited environment. Being able to resurrect your opponent’s planeswalkers and creatures to the battlefield is an incredibly useful ability and the life cost is both a fair mechanic and a nice piece of storytelling showing you giving your life to bring them back. Again, I love everything about this card and will definitely be using it in some decks.
The finale for today4 is the last two cards of the finale cycle. Finale of Glory lets you create X 2/2 soldier tokens with vigilance which is pretty good; if X is 10 or more, you also get X 4/4 angels with flying and vigilance. That is utterly crazy and will definitely end a game if you have the mana to pull it off. I think that even paying 7 total mana makes this good enough as you’d be spawn 5 vigilant creatures but if you can get up to 12 mana you’ve won. Similarly, Finale of Devastation is a crazy powerful card letting you search your library or graveyard for a creature with CMC X or less and put it onto the battlefield; if X is 10 or more, then all of your creatures get +X/+X and gain haste until end of turn. Another game finisher5 and one that is definitely going into my dinosaur deck if only for the awesome artwork and possibly my favourite flavour text of the set. These two finales definitely seem the strongest of the cycle and can definitely be useful even at relatively low mana costs whilst entering into batshit crazy mode once you hit 12 mana.
That’s all for today but join me tomorrow for the final spoilers of the set! If you want to talk about any of the cards spoiled thus far, join my Discord community or pop a comment down below.
Possibly straight away. If they have mana available then they can cast it again immediately as it is back in their hand. Would maybe be better putting it onto top of library as otherwise they can respond to your countering their spell with their spell which is… weird. ↩︎
Partially because I dislike Gideon as a character. Luckily this is the last time I’ll see him 🤭 ↩︎
Which is crazy cheap for ! ↩︎
Well the clue is in the name but still… ↩︎