We’re on day 4 of the War of the Spark spoilers and kicking things off with a feud that goes back way further than my time playing Magic:
If you want the full history of the story then you can check out the card preview itself over at DailyMTG which gives a nice abridged recap. All I’m going to say is that damn Nahiri looks like a badass; I’m definitely on her side in this fight especially as she throws some shade in the flavour text of Sorin’s Thirst1.
In terms of the cards themselves, I really like that they both have a -X ability as they give you the all important element of choice that I rave about every time I evaluate a card. Being able to deal a specific amount of damage of your choosing with Nahiri, Storm of Stone or return a creature from the graveyard with a specific CMC with Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord is incredibly useful. I’m not crazy about Sorin’s +2 ability; it can be used as a spectacle trigger for precisely 4 cards if you don’t splash red2 and I guess it might be enough to kill a planeswalker that has been used but it’s really just a disposable loyalty increase to my mind.
Single Combat is an interesting sweeper effect that kills both creatures and planeswalkers making it far more useful than in the current meta Cleansing Nova for the same casting cost. It’s a shame that the player gets to keep one of the big creatures or powerful planeswalkers but you get to as well so it isn’t a terrible approach. Definitely useful in limited but I’m not sure how well it’ll do in standard.
Before I get to the lazotep creatures I want to pick out Leyline Prowler for a special mention. I really like this card as usually a deathtouch creature at a 3 CMC is a little bit weaker than this (see Noxious Groodion, Pitiless Gorgon, Daggerback Basilisk, etc). That it also gets lifelink as well makes it incredibly good. I’m not sure on the tap mana ability; it’s useful if you really need it but kind of spoils the point of having deathtouch and lifelink.
The other reason I wanted to mention it is the specific reference to leylines. I mentioned the old leyline cards from 2006 in my article about Sphinx of Foresight and this does make me wonder if they’ll be showing up later during this spoiler season…
OK, one more card before the lazotep creatures if only because it’s the statue that Fblthp is Totally Lost on.
Adding an additional cost to your opponent’s spells is always nice but this seems too expensive a card to my mind3; by the time you get around to casting this your opponent probably has enough mana that paying an extra isn’t going to have as big an effect as you might like although it will depend massively on the deck. That it targets all spells rather than just instants or sorceries makes it a good hindrance to big creature decks as well as control decks which I do like.
The second part about pinging your opponent for 1 damage is not as good as Ill-Gotten Inheritance which is 33% cheaper and gains you life. I like that the damage happens on your end step rather that during your upkeep as it means it effectively deals 1 damage when cast but that isn’t a big enough boon for me (and makes it far less useful as a spectacle trigger).
So it looks like the team that came up with some of the Simic creature cards in RNA have been having some fun in this set as well. A Zombie Hippo!?! I love it and if my time playing Assassin’s Creed Origins has taught me anything it’s that hippos definitely fit within the Egyptian theme of Amonkhet4. The card itself isn’t that impressive being a vanilla 5/4 creature but zombie is a very very relevant type in this meta so it could still have it’s uses5.
Lazotep Reaver is a good cheap way to start amassing a zombie army on the mana curve and the power / toughness isn’t too bad at this price. There isn’t really anything else to say about it but that’s as you would expect at common rarity.
Invading Manticore is another common creature that amasses when it enters the battlefield and has below average power / toughness for the price. Again, as with all three of these cards, it does have that relevant zombie type so in the right deck these could work and they’ll obviously play an important role in games of pauper or when drafting.
The final card I’ll talk about from the 14 spoiled today is Lazotep Plating. When I first looked at it I thought “well this isn’t a card I’d want to play on turn 2” and that’s true; however, it is a great combat trick for later in the game. In many ways I think that the ability text should be flipped as giving you and your creatures hexproof until end of turn is the key part of the card with the amass just being a nice extra. It’s a bit cheaper than most counter spells but works out better against board sweepers like the Single Combat I discussed earlier; your opponent will still lose all of their stuff whereas yours stays put (whereas a counter would keep everything as it was).
I really like the look of this and can definitely see it working well in a blue / black zombie deck; it may just end up in a sideboard to protect against certain styles of opponent but a hexproof shield can be insanely useful especially as there is no other card that does this at the moment6.
That’s everything I’m going to cover today. Whilst the creatures weren’t that impressive in terms of ability, it means we’ll hopefully see something bigger and better tomorrow. Huatli is a planeswalker that has yet to be revealed and I’m sure she is going to have a decent dinosaur buddy with her…
I see you’re out of the wall. ↩︎
There are some cards from Ixalan that’ll give hexproof to your creatures (Blinding Fog), your merfolk (Frenzied Raptor), or a specific creature (Dive Down) but nothing that protects all of your creatures and yourself which is super important against sweepers. ↩︎