I don't need an introduction, but I heard there are a lot of new players in the game thanks to Arena. Ha, you merely adopted the Arena. I was born in it, molded by it. You kill for fun while I do it to survive. Magic isn't just a game to me, it's a way of life. You have a hobby, I have a home.
My name's Bard Narson, and I'm Jund Guy.
You probably don't think we've met, but I assure you we have. I'm that little voice in the back of your head that tells you the only way to play Modern is with Thoughtseize. I'm that jolt of frustration whenever your opponent casts Turn 4 Vivien Reid. I'm that sinking feeling when your opponent plays their sixth land and you know Finality is your fate. I'm the regret you feel when you get knocked out of yet another tournament by midrange and deep down know you should have just listened to Brad Nelson and played the deck yourself.
I only know one thing, and that thing is the destruction of my opponent's will to continue playing Magic. It's honestly an easy gig, because no matter how much my brother-in-arms Brad tells you to play midrange, you keep playing stupid aggro and control decks. Why he keeps trying to convince you, I'll never know. I want you to keep playing your stupid decks, so I can keep beating them.
You cast a creature and I will destroy it. You try to control me and you will feel my wrath.
You keep casting your permanents and I promise I'll keep destroying them. I've gotten so good at it that there was no better person on the face of the planet to write about this War of the Spark preview card. Seriously, if you can think of a single person who would be better equipped to write this article, I beg you to tell me in the comments.
Oh, that's right, you can't, because I destroyed the comment section of every article on this website just like I'm about to destroy every single permanent on the battlefield!
They just keep making it easier and easier. Back in my day, you didn't just get to kill everything your opponent had on the battlefield. No, you had to destroy things one at a time over the course of multiple turns. Two-for-ones were a luxury we could only dream about. Hell, at my last Grand Prix, Bloodbraid Elf was banned and I still almost made Top 8!
Kids these days just have it so easy…
This card does it all. It can kill anything an opponent tries to throw at you. When you're behind – not that that ever happens – you can easily catch back up. You can even ramp into Casualties of War using Llanowar Elves to kill a creature and a land to set them back a turn. The possibilities are as endless as the text on this card and the best home for it has to be Commander!
I'm more of a Thunderdome type of fighter myself, but this card seems perfect for the commanders of Magic. Multiple players means multiple permanents, and who doesn't like being diplomatic in their destruction? Everyone will know your true power when you cast Casualties of War on everyone's most precious permanents. That's all I know about Commander, though, because I don't have any friends that invite me to their games. I think it's all the "death and destruction" talk. Maybe everyone's just too intimidated of my obvious power.
Whatever. It's their loss. Let's go back to Standard…
You don't even need to get that much value out of this card to be worth it. Kill their best creature, a land, and then whatever else is on the battlefield. Sometimes you'll blow up their entire world and other times just a couple of things. While you're at it, you could also spoil their favorite TV show, tell them why Domri dying on Ravnica makes literally zero sense, or even show them pictures of your sweet ride. I mean, really, when you resolve Casualties of War, you have to flex on them to make it count. Winning isn't important if your opponent isn't reevaluating whatever in their life caused them to be in their currently bad situation.
Usually it's because they didn't play midrange.
How can anyone even look at Casualties of War and think that midrange mages haven't completely taken over Wizards of the Coast? Really think about it – midrange keeps destroying everything in Standard and they keep printing cards like this. Someone at the top knows what's up. They might actually be making it a little too obvious, as there are way too many good cards to pick from right now. Just look at all these cards that sit on top of Casualties of War.
A wizard once told me the only time you should look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them. What this means is we shouldn't get excited about all our new toys when all the other decks are struggling for playables. We should instead hope they get enough tools to compete with us in fair games, or whatever.
I kind of got bored, stopped paying attention to his insistent rambling, beat the pulp out of that puny wizard, and took his staff as my prize. I didn't even know how to use it. I just took it because I could. Of course I want as many good midrange cards as I can, and hope all the other decks keep trying to fight me with their inadequate spells.
Every once in a while it's not easy for a midrange deck to win. You can sometimes get horribly unlucky and miss land drops or flood out uncontrollably. Sometimes the Magic gods smite us midrange players, as they know we're the only ones out here that could potentially challenge them thanks to all the power we wield. But sometimes a spell like Casualties of War is exactly what we need to get back into games that are seemingly lost due to our opponents going wide against us.
Casualties of War isn't maindeck material, but something you need to know is that sideboard cards are just as important as their 60-card counterparts. In fact, I know someone who would argue they're more important. That's because you'll play at least half of your games with access to your sideboard cards and that's when this card's going to shine. Think about it – how do most decks sideboard against midrange? I know Brad's tried to teach this to you 100 times, but I guess y'all might need a refresher.
Midrange is the best deck and all the other decks try to become midrange after sideboard just to compete with it. Red decks use cards like Experimental Frenzy and Treasure Map to try to regain all that lost card advantage due to playing an inferior deck. Selesnya Tokens uses planeswalkers and enchantment removal in a weak attempt to stabilize against your onslaught. Esper Control brings in tricky creatures designed to cast your cards against you because they know deep down that's the only way they could possibly win. I don't know why, but all the other decks constantly try to do what we do best. When that happens, you can just destroy everything, including their chances of having a good finish in the tournament.
So, if this isn't in our maindeck, what is? As midrange players, all we really need to do is figure out what six-drops we want to build our maindecks around. At this point we can't really answer that, as we need more information about what our opponents will bring to battle. Until then, we can only daydream about the death and destruction that we will bring upon them.
If I had to guess – and trust me, I'm very good at arrogantly assuming I know everything – I would have to say that the most likely six-drop will be Liliana, Dreadhorde General. Sadly, I believe our midrange members at Wizards of the Coast made this card too good for midrange. In fact, I believe it will cannibalize us, as this planeswalker seems perfectly designed to fight against midrange decks like Sultai or Golgari.
Let me explain.
Liliana, Dreadhorde General is just great, but it's not the perfect card against hyper-aggressive decks and very controlling ones. It's going to be at its best against other midrange decks, which means cards like Carnage Tyrant won't be as effective in the mirrors as it has been in recent memory. This means we will most likely not want to play as many mighty Dinos as we have been, and we will lose equity against control.
Liliana could birth a new form of midrange, though that doesn't involve green. I get it, that sounds like blasphemy, but it might be the reality we live in. I know green's been very good to us over the years, but we may have to go back to just playing Dimir to survive. I know it's not ideal, but we midrange mages always do whatever it takes to win. That's what sets us apart from the rest of the pack.
I'll be sure to cover this aspect of midrange in detail soon, as it's pretty safe to say Cedric will be so impressed with my breakdown of this powerful Golgari rare that he will make me a mainstay on Star City Games®. Who knows – maybe he'll let me do commentary on the SCG Tour®. Once I get in there, I'll become SCG Tour® commissioner and then decree that only midrange mirrors get on camera.
That will be the day.