We’re on day 91 of the War of the Spark spoilers and the war against Bolas is getting a little Gruuling…
Our first look at Domri “Sounds Like Adam Ant On MTG Arena” Rade is a little disappointing compared to his card in Ravnica Allegiance. This is sitting at the exact same cost as Rhythm of the Wild which automatically makes your creatures uncounterable and gives you the choice of buffing new creatures to +1/+1 or giving them haste.I do like the extra mana (especially as you can use it straight away) and the -2 to get creatures to fight is always useful in my enrage deck but it doesn’t do quite as much as I’d like to see from a Domri planeswalker card. His companion card, Domri’s Ambush, is slightly better in that it’s an amped Rabid Bite. For the same CMC, you get a +1/+1 counter and you can choose to deal damage to a planeswalker or a creature. I generally prefer the fight versions of these cards (due to enrage) but this is definitely an easy swap for Gruul decks using Rabid Bite.
We also got to see a Kronch, a new creature which appears to be a cross between a giant boar and a pug2. For you get a 4/3 creature without trample that can’t attack alone. Interestingly, there is also Kronch Wrangler for which is a 2/1 creature with trample that gets a +1/+1 counter whenever a creature with power 4 or more enters the battlefield (creating synergy with the Raging Kronch). I really don’t understand why the small rider gets trample but the big beast doesn’t. If you can pull both in a draft then they obviously are going to work well together but the lack of trample on the Kronch means I couldn’t recommend it in standard, especially when it is again occupying the mana slot for Rhythm of the Wild.
If Domri was a bit of a disappointment, Nissa more than makes up for it. First of all, in a mono-green deck she is going to just double your mana pool straight off the bat which is incredibly good in a deck that you likely want to fill with big scary green creatures. Her +1 ability doesn’t excite me too much as I’m just not a fan of lands that turn into creatures although at least in this case you aren’t really wasting mana thanks to her passive ability. However, her ultimate is phenomenal; “Search your library for any number of Forest cards, put them onto the battlefield tapped”. It’s easy to think that this is so great because you now have all the mana in the world3 but I think the bigger advantage is that you now know you are going to draw actual cards rather than top-decking land; that is a ridiculously good trick to have up your sleeve. I want this card and I want it now.
Nissa’s Triumph is also pretty good if you’re mana screwed or if you have Wayward Swordtooth allowing you to find 2 or 3 forests and put them in your hand. It’s a simple spell but one that could be incredibly useful in the right situation. The artwork is also great on this card as it shows us the Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi, the Selsnya guildhall turned beastie. I really want to like this card but it makes it so difficult. First off, it’s literally a giant stomping land yet it doesn’t have trample. That is bullshit. Secondly, if you play it on turn 5 you likely can’t do anything with it even though it has haste as you’ll have tapped all your lands. A 9/9 creature is good and you can spare land for it if you are using Nissa, Who Shakes the World, but I hate the fact that A LITERAL WORLD-TREE can be blocked by a thopter token. Come on.
The next MTG expansion (coming in April or May) is titled “War of the Spark” and revolves around the battle between the Gatewatch and Nicol Bolas. Perhaps we’ll see Ilharg heralding the apocalypse then?
Score one for me! First of all, thank goodness this has trample; I would have lost the will to live if it hadn’t. Secondly a 6/6 for 5 mana is nice, especially when it also lets you put any creature from your hand onto the battlefield attacking (even if you do have to return it). That is a great ability especially as it allows for all kinds of mana shenanigans. For example, I can presumably use this to bring in a Polyraptor? If I do, then there are numerous ways I can trigger it’s clone ability and those tokens won’t disappear on my end step. Also, consider having multiples of this card; you only need one on the battlefield and the rest in your hand in order to spiral upwards very quickly5. That last piece of text that allows this to survive death or exile is also really nice; I think the only way to stop that would be if you had to either discard the card into your graveyard or if it was milled in as then it is in the graveyard but it hasn’t technically died. Might need a judge ruling on that one…
This has been one of the most exciting spoiler days in my opinion and I can’t wait to get Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Ilharg, the Raze-Boar into my decks. Feel free to join my Discord community if you want to discuss these cards in more depth or if you feel I’ve missed something.
And I see what you did WotC giving Day9 his spoiler cards on Day 9. Nothing escapes these peepers. 👀 ↩︎
You probably think that’s a misspelling of pig but it isn’t. My pug, Niles, snorts and drools and never attacks alone. ↩︎
If you are running mono-green then that is likely going to give you around 24 forests on the battlefield that can be tapped FOR 48 MANA! ↩︎
Quick hot takes on other cards. Topple the Statue: nice story card and maybe useful in limited. Thundering Ceratok: this would be good with that non-trampling Kronch. Dreadhorde Twins: the cycle of “give every keyword to zombie tokens” continues (I approve). Living Twister: this must be some commander thing I don’t understand. Chainwhip Cyclops and Martyr for the Cause: meh. ↩︎
For example, if I attack with Ilharg, that could let me pull an Ilharg from my hand which is then attacking so can pull something else from my hand. If I had both on the battlefield prior to combat and attack, then I can pull in two creatures from my hand (or more if I have another Ilharg in hand). The mind boggles. ↩︎