M15 is awesome!
Last weekend I got to go battle in a 2HG prerelease event, and I had an absolute blast.
Nothing is better than getting to play Magic with good friends. Topdecking a Stormbreath Dragon for the win is pretty sweet too, but that's a different kind of feel good.
Much like previous core sets, M15 seems like it's all about pressing advantages, getting every little bit out of each card, and not exposing yourself to too many tricks that can blow you out.
2HG is obviously a bit different from regular sealed, but just from the little bit that I saw and learned from building and playing M15, I really enjoyed the sealed format. I noticed some things, and I wanted to go over them with everyone!
1.) Spectra Ward is absurd.
We had Spectra Ward in our sealed pool, and it literally won us every single game that we played. One game we just put it on a Generator Servant and attacked for four every turn. Another game we put it on a Constricting Sliver, allowing us to attack for five every turn, and it kept us safe from letting them get their creature back. In the last game, we were both pretty choked on mana, so we just put it on my Child of Night and raced.
The card was much better than I thought it was going to be. A creature that can't be killed in this format is unbelievable, but it seems like auras in general have the potential to be very good. There are only four non-rares that can answer a Spectra Ward, or any aura in general.
Reclamation Sage is definitely maindeckable, but Naturalize isn't something that people are normally happy to be playing in their starting 40, but after playing in the prerelease, I think that it's going to be the mainstream thing to do.
Heliod's Pilgrim is a common and Boneweaver Giant is an uncommon, so if they have a bomb enchantment like Spectra Ward, you can expect them to see it. Spectra Ward isn't the only one that's actually good. There are quite a few awesome offensive and defensive auras that are going to be seeing a lot of play during the life of M15 limited.
Oppressive Rays is probably even better in this format than it was in Theros Block limited. The "looter" costs four mana to use, and the creatures quickly go from being mediocre to large. Choking them on mana is going to be an advantage that can be pressed, and with it only having a cost of one, it will allow us to continue to put pressure on our opponents while also furthering our board development.
Hammerhand is an awesome way of pushing damage through. It's particularly awesome with Boneweaver Giant since it gives the creature haste. Even putting this on something as small as Sungrace Pegasus will be pretty boss.
Inferno Fist is a another great way to continue to pressure the opponent, and it can make combat pretty miserable since you always have an additional two damage that's just sitting in play. I particularly enjoyed putting this on two or three mana flyers, or any random 2/3 for three.
Stab Wound is just as good as we all remember. Thankfully, it's uncommon now so we don't have to worry about crazy numbers of them, but being able to find them with Heliod's Pilgrim is pretty sweet. In the game last weekend that we had a Spectra Ward on a Child of Night, we also put a Stab Wound on our opponent's Wall of Frost. We had a plan and we were sticking to it.
They eventually had to Void Snare their own creature. That felt pretty sweet.
Caustic Tar is the last aura that I wanted to touch on. Having a way to find this card gives you a pretty sweet way to present inevitability in a stalled game.
2.) The set is pretty tricky
There are a lot of combat tricks in M15, be it pump spells, hard removal, soft removal, or direct damage, so there is a lot to play around. This is only exacerbated by the fact that convoke is a returning mechanic and is available on a handful of them.
Those are four common removal/pump spells that you're going to see coming, but with convoke there are some that you might not see coming at all:
The ability to play these spells with convoke is very powerful and allows you to out-tempo your opponent by continuing to develop your board and pressure them while still being able to hold up for a removal spell. One card that plays well with Devouring Light is Triplicate Spirits. I figured out very quickly last weekend that Triplicate Spirits was likely the best common in the set, and there were a lot of games where we had out three creatures and were able to tap six for Triplicate Spirits, then convoke a second one, and then use those three spirits to use Devouring Light when they tried to pressure us since we had so many tapped creatures.
It felt like cheating.
There are also a couple bounce spells. We have moved away from the old fashioned Unsummon, and Disperse is now gone, but Peel from Reality is back so watch yourself. Don't get buried by this value-monger. Void Snare is a new spell that allows them to bounce any nonland permanent at sorcery speed for only one blue mana. Be aware they can bounce your Spectra Ward and counter it on the replay!
Giving your opponent the least number of possible ways to crush you with these kinds of tricks is going to go a long way towards giving you chances to win your M15 limited games.
3.) Evasion feels like it's more important here than ever.
In the games I played last weekend, and even sitting here and thinking about the majority of the commons and how games are going to be playing out, much like core sets of the past the ground is be stalled. There is an overabundance of 2/3s which isn't going to be leading to a lot of trading in combat. This puts evasion at a premium.
There are quite a few creatures with flying that are obviously going to see plenty of play.
These are all cards that we're going to be seeing a lot of. Giant Spider is usually there to help us, but this time we get something a little different with Netcaster Spider. It's a bit worse on defense against ground creatures than Giant Spider was, but now we have the ability to trade with X/4 flyers. This is something that the Giant Spider decks have always struggled with.
Because evasion is important, there are two creatures that I think are going to stand out as we play this limited format a bit more.
The only real strike against them is they reprinted Bronze Sable and Gargoyle Sentinel, and Will-forged Golem is very good, but I still feel like we're going to end up cursing our opponents for playing those two creatures.
4.) Bombs are bombtastic!
These rares and mythics in this set really feel like they are of a much higher quality than previous core sets. Obviously rares and mythics are going to be powerful, but it just feels like they are much more dense in M15.
There are fifteen mythics in this set, and besides The Chain Veil and Sliver Overlord, they are all absurd. You have six planeswalkers, the six Souls, and Perilous Vault. If you happen to open a mythic, congratulations, build around it.
Normally there are more than two stinkers at this rarity, but with two six card cycles at mythic, you don't have a whole lot of room after that.
A lot of the rares are creatures and have flying, some with powerful effects like resetting your life total or giving you four 1/1 deathtouch flying tokens. With the sheer number of powerful rares, opening them is going to be very important, because the odds that your opponents have one is usually going to be quite high.
This leads me to my next point that I think that the counterspells are even more playable in M15 limited than they were in M14. Dissipate and Statute of Denial will probably end up seeing a fair amount of play and become more and more popular as we continue to play M15 limited to see just how frequently our opponents are casting five, six, and seven-mana bomb rares.
Every core set I end up playing a lot of sealed and draft, and whenever anyone asks me what they should do to break into limited Magic, or even just get better at Magic in general, I always recommend core set limited. The format is all about good fundamental Magic. Combat is extremely important, as is card/threat evaluation. Limited Magic in general helps teach you the importance of racing, threat assessment, and using every resource, but I always feel like in core set limited all of those things are even more important.
This weekend is the first Open weekend with M15 legal, and I'm ready to battle. I haven't played in an Open since I locked up my Season Two Qualification for the Players' Championship, but I'm ready to sleeve up and play again. There is a pretty good chance that I'm just on Jund Monsters again, but I've been working on a couple other decks that I think have the potential to be very good especially in the first weekend of the new set.
Make sure you stop by and say "hi" if you happen to see us in Balitmore.
Lastly, I want to talk about my Kickstarter campaign that is currently running. I launched it last week on Tuesday evening to go along with my article for the week, and by Friday my initial goal was met. I am still blown away with all of the support that everyone is giving the project, and the interest in the Beard Power shirts is exceeding my initial expectations.
All that being said, we're not going to stop here. I have updated the project with stretch goals, and the big daddy of them all has been generating quite a bit of interest.
You all read it correct. If we are able to reach $5,000.00 then anyone who backed at least $25.00 (which is the level to at least get your very own Beard Power shirt) will receive a special BBD/CVM playmat that we are working on. We've wanted to create a playmat for a while now, and this would be a great opportunity to get one made..
Thank you for all of your support, and hopefully in the next three weeks we can hit some of those stretch goals!
See you in Baltimore!