At the Gathering- In the Near Future
I thought about naming this article “In the Year 2000” after the great Conan O’Brien skit that he’s still doing in 2009 but I decided it wasn’t the best obscure reference I could come up with and decided on the easy to understand title you see above.
So what are we going to be talking about again? New releases scheduled for this year of course. We have a lot of good stuff coming down the pipe as they say and I’m going to give you an overview of it all so you know how to budget your money.
First up on our list is From the Vault: Exiled. If you can get your hands on this product I highly recommend doing so if only for economic purposes. First of all the cards in there are pretty sweet. Here's the list of all the cards contained within each in foil. Cards with an Asterisk are new artwork.
First of all a lot of those cards are nutso-good. How many Menendian articles have you read with the words “Tinker out a [insert awesome artifact here] and win the game.” Whether it's Darksteel Colossus (so good) or Inkwell Leviathan Tinker is very good. Sadly most EDH groups follow the recommended list of banned cards and Tinker is on it. As is Gifts Ungiven sadly enough as well as Balance. But Mystical Tutor isn't (First time in a foil sweet!) and Sensei's Divining Top isn't either. Both of those are in my Sygg Deck and I will be adding Strip Mine on Friday as well. Combined with this month's FNM Lightning Greaves I think it's a good month to be an EDH Player.
Assuming you can get one of the Boxed sets that is. Because they will be hard to get. Distribution was loosened a little bit this time but not a lot and the cards in this set are generally better than the Dragons from the first release. I heard more than one person wanting to pimp out an EDH or Vintage deck with more foils. This very site here is offering $100 for them and you can bet the demand will drive the selling price even higher. If you can get them on the cheap I highly recommend you do so. I snagged one at GenCon and promptly sold it as I have mine reserved at the store. Even if you don't want the cards this is one of those good financial opportunities in Magic like buying Tarmogoyfs at release for $3 or finding that guy who just gives you his cards after he gets married and never plans to play again.
Next on my list is the debut of the Premium Deck series. This is similar in a manner to the From the Vault sets only with filler and playable right upon opening. If you haven't heard of this product the gist of it is that Wizards of the Coast made a full 60 card deck made it entirely foil and then are selling it as one singular product. The initial release is a deck that is sure to elicit reactions one way or another: Slivers. Yes the creature type everyone loves to hate and hates to love is coming at you in full 60-card foil bad-ass-ness. The only thing I can think is: Will there be an abnormal rise in EDH Sliver decks? I mean think about it for a second. The deck is unlikely to be optimized as a bunch of 4-of's. There are 6 rares and doubtful they'll be duplicates so they're one-ofs. There will likely be at least one Legendary Sliver in the bunch to serve as a general. They're already foil and you can probably use at least 30 cards right out of the packaging as a good start towards your 100 maybe more depending on the land base.
I really don't know how this product will be as far as popularity. Yes Slivers are powerful and fun but the deck runs 34.99 and its popularity will depend on its Uncommons its land base and its format legality (which will probably be Legacy if I had to guess. I doubt the whole thing is Extended legal although parts probably are for sure). If the Uncommons and lands are good powerful cards then it should move pretty well. If the deck is not as strong it may languish. Still it's probably worth picking up if you play EDH again depending on the list. Keep an eye out on Wizards.com and the MTGSalvation.com rumor mills for more information.
Between those two products there should be plenty of foils for all the players wanting shiny happy decks. Heck one of them is a full shiny happy deck by itself. And I really want to see the sliver land base. It should be a five-color deck so I would imagine that for the play experience it will have a fairly solid manabase. Vivid lands perhaps? I can't even begin to speculate as to what mana fixers might be in there or what new artwork if any. But I'm hopeful. Heck I may even have to deviate from my Sygg deck which is currently 50% pimped out and try for a Sliver deck on the side. It looks delicious.
By the way the Slivers are set to invade on November 20 2009.
Next up is another deck set the new Duel Decks for the fall Garruk versus Liliana. I asked the Magic Brand Team if they are intentionally doing flavor battles in the spring and Planeswalkers in the fall. “It’s not set in stone that way but it does seem to be working out well. I can’t say it will always be that way but it’s worked so far.” Garruk versus Liliana is a set I am very strongly looking forward to. I really like the original five Planeswalkers so much so that I have signed art prints from Aleksi Briclot of each one. Heck some of you may remember I named my own daughter Liliana although we actually decided on the name Lily and Liliana seemed like a fine formal root for the nickname. This set like the ones before it will feature 8 rares and 6 cards with new art 2 of which are the namesakes of the set Garruk Wildspeaker and Liliana Vess. The new artist is Terese Nielsen who has done some pretty fantastic work on Magic in the past and has done a solid job here as well. While I’m not enamored of the new Liliana revamp (no pun intended) the Garruk artwork looks pretty cool.
I don’t have much in the way of deck contents for you but if past Duel Decks are any hint there will probably be a few choice cards that make the whole thing worth picking up like the Ancestral Visions from Jace versus Chandra or the Demonic Tutor from Divine versus Demonic. Again keep an eye out on rumor mills here and at MTGSalvation.com for more tidbits as they become available.
One last thing to add is that the Duel Decks for the spring are supposed to be amazing. Mark Purvis one of the Magic Brand managers gave me the following quote on it: “It’s one of the ultimate battles from Magic’s history.” Now short of a Finkel-Budde Duel Deck the first thing that popped into my mind was the Phyrexian Invasion. Of course they could also release something to do with the Weatherlight storyline as well. Personally I would like to see two of the five Elder Dragons going at it. Imagine a new Foil alternate Art Elder Dragon for you to build an EDH deck around.
And yes I am an EDH addict now. Can’t you tell?
Regardless I’d love to see what ideas you guys have in the forums about this “Ultimate battle from Magic’s history.”
Finally no Magic Fall planning would be complete without talking about the new big set in the new Block Zendikar. I wish I could tell you I had some cards to show you but alas I do not. I had taken pictures of the Zendikar cards in Planechase but Signor Rosewater beat me to the punch with his article. I will tell you some of the information I managed to pry out of the Wizards of the Coast staff at GenCon.
Mark Purvis gave me a guided tour through the “Brag Book” of Zendikar art complete with director’s commentary. Here are a few pieces of information which I’ll try to expand on.
“In Zendikar the land is dangerous and unpredictable.” The first thing I thought was some sort of damaging land. Perhaps the return of the Ravnica Shocklands if not the actual Painlands themselves? We’ve seen the Landfall ability to some degree but I would be surprised if there wasn’t some sort of land that could potentially hurt the owner.
“The people of Zendikar are all well-equipped. Not just the adventurers even the everyday folk.” I’m hoping this means there will be some nice new equipment cards in Zendikar. However it could also mean we’ll see creatures that get extra bonuses from being equipped similar to the way that Uril the Miststalker gets bonuses from Enchantments. Think about it if it’s a world of people used to carrying equipment it would make sense that they get more out of it than the average person. Also since it’s been at least 4 paragraphs since I mentioned EDH Uril the Miststalker makes a fun general and you get to call your deck “My Name is Uril.”
Back to Zendikar now. “Zendikar is a completely new world for Magic. This is the home world of the Kor. All previous appearances by them they were abducted against their will.” Very cool. What this tells me is that we may see a Kor Lord. (Which is fun to just say. Kor Lord heh.) And there will be a lot of flying. Expect that in Limited Flying won’t be quite the evasion it is in other formats like say M10. Flying will be more abundant and therefore less valuable overall.
“This artwork here is of hedrons which are the remnants of an ancient civilization. Their purpose is unknown to the current inhabitants of Zendikar.” The artwork he was referring to is the large floating polyhedron-shaped objects you may have seen in some of the preview artwork on the Zendikar lands. I imagine that we’ll find out what purpose these do have over the course of the block. It would be cool if they evolved into some kind of new land type for us to use. I don’t mean new as in “sixth color” but something cool to use as fixing.
“Vampires are also native to Zendikar. They have a feel very reminiscent of Native Americans with war paints and a very tribal feel.” Now this isn’t the tribal of Lorwyn so don’t worry about being overwhelmed with linear building. This is the tribal in that they gather in groups. Not quite the rigidity of a typical Eastern European vampire clan which is why I hesitate to use that term either. I also verified that the Vampire placement in M10 was intentional as a sort of partial start to help support the tribe beyond just Zendikar.
Speaking of vampires the Planeswalker that is being slowly revealed Sorin? Yeah Vampire. Vampire Planeswalker? Very cool. Here’s some back story on him. He’s not native to Zendikar. You’ll notice he does have the stereotypical look to him of a Slavic Vampire. He’s a solitary type not like the pack-vampires of Zendikar. And his Ultimate ability? Here’s the exact wording: “It’s an awesome Ultimate ability. Incredibly flavorful for a Vampire Planeswalker.” Color me excited.
The other Planeswalkers we’re seeing is the new Chandra and the long awaited Nissa Revane. I don’t have much info on the new Chandra but they’re putting some stuff up on the Magic: the Gathering Facebook page so keep your eyes posted there.
“Elves and Goblins are native to Zendikar but they have an altered behavior. It’s a fresh twist.” Look like we will get more new minions for the Elf and Goblin lords in M10. I’m excited to see what the new twist is especially in light of losing Lorwyn. Will we still have a viable Elf or Goblin deck to play in Standard? Perhaps new color combinations? I personally would love to see Goblins in Blue with counterspells and whatnot and Elves in Red. Well Bloodbraid Elf is already an R/G Elf so maybe there’s hope. Either way very excited.
My last little bit of notes here mention the following: “Rocktraps: they appear to be rocks but are actually creatures.” Hmm some kind of ambush ability? Perhaps Lands that flip into creatures? Very interesting.
“Lands are definitely atypical.” I don’t know if this is a reference to the full-art lands or something more sinister. Either way I love me some lands so I’m intrigued.
“Gravity is a bit off” Mark made reference to gliders and other flying options floating etc. As mentioned before expect more flying in the set but it may also be interesting to see if there is more anti-flying measures as well.
Finally a word on M-2011. I’m told there will continue to be new content in the core sets including M-2011. The idea behind the new core sets is actually a return to roots. The M10 designer actually spent a lot of time just looking at two framed sheets of uncut Beta cards in the Wizards offices and trying to recapture that basic fantasy feel of the game. Each card should tell a story and be very evocative of the game. R&D wants to keep the game balanced and fun and the swing towards powerful creatures was intentional. The goal is to bring the game back towards a place where you could play creatures and not lose.
Also the Magic team wants you to know this: they love the fans and they are looking for ways to surprise the fans in a good way. Expect good things in the future.
Until next time this is Jeff Phillips reminding you: Don’t make the Loser Choice.