This past week kicked off the start of Avacyn Restored previews (you know, that pesky expansion that comes out before Return to Ravnica. :p )
Today's articles were focused on showing off the new and returning mechanics of Avacyn Restored, and this weekend's PAX East convention showed off even more previews, mostly of Legendary Creatures.
Here are some of the general themes of the set, with previews to follow in order:
1) New Keyword Miracle, that gives an alternate casting condition when you draw it as the first card of the turn.
2) New Keyword Soulbond, which gives Humans a modern day version of Banding but for effects rather than combat.
3) Legendary Creatures galore exist in this set, most at Mythic Rare, and Angels are a heavy theme.
4) Wolves are back, as are a certain keyword from Dark Ascension.
Let the Previews begin!
1) As with almost all sets, we have at least one new keyword to contend with knowing. This set, one of them is Miracle. Miracle means "You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it's the first card you drew this turn."
So you'd want to set this up with either Brainstorm or Preordain or Sensei's Divining Top to ensure that if it's in your next 3 cards you'll get a good effect very cheaply.
Oh...you want an example of a card that has Miracle? Well, geez. What else do you want from me, a Mythic Rare that gives an extra turn for 2 mana?
Well...why not have both?
Okay, okay. "It's a Sorcery, so how can you cast it in your draw step?" Remember, rules text overrides general gameplay rules. Yes, normally you can't cast a Sorcery outside of your Main Phase when you don't have priority. Miracle, though, changes your allowed timing. It specifically says you're allowed so long as it's the first card you draw this turn and you cast it when you draw it.
Here's another question I'm sure will come up. "But how will we know when a person has drawn a Miracle card and wants to cast it for its Miracle cost? Could they not draw and claim they drew the card as their first card?"
That's where part of Miracle's effect text comes into play (no pun intended. :p).
Here's the proper way of casting a Miracle spell:
A) Draw your first card of the turn and look at it before putting it into your hand.
B) If it's a Miracle card (did you tell the border is slightly different? That's to help you realize you drew a Miracle card.) and you intend to cast it for its Miracle cost, you reveal it and then cast it.
C) If you're in the middle of an effect [like a Brainstorm cast on your Upkeep], then you'll still reveal the Miracle card if you intend to cast it and it's the first card you draw of the turn [which in Brainstorm's case would be the first of your 3 card draws], but you'll wait until after the effect that drew it resolves before casting your revealed Miracle card [in this case, you'll have to wait until Brainstorm puts 2 cards on top of your library before you cast your Miracle card].
If you choose not to cast it when it's drawn as your first card of the game, the Miracle effect will basically mean nothing. In Temporal Mastery's case, if you don't pay 1U when it's the first card you drew of a turn, it might as well just say "5UU, Sorcery. Take an extra turn after this one. Exile Temporal Mastery."
Is this a good card? let's put it this way...Personal Tutor has sold out of most online retailers in expectation that Temporal Mastery will effectively be a 3-mana Time Walk (1 mana for Personal Tutor, then 2 mana for Temporal Mastery). It's expected to be that good. At any other time? Well, it's the only extra turn card in Standard at the moment. Without Preordain or a Brainstorm-like effect to help nearly guarantee your Miracle card is the first one drawn of the turn, I'd almost have to evaluate the card based on its regular mana cost. And at 7 mana, I think blue can find other things to do (like cast Geist of Saint Traft and leave mana open for a counterspell).
Still, it'll be popular just because it's another blue "take an extra turn" card. I'd expect around $5 for this once excitement dies down. If you can pick it up for $2-$3, I'd take it in a heartbeat and use it at least in Commander.
2) Another new keyword has popped up in Avacyn Restored. You know about Banding and that you can't give all creatures Flying when you band a Flying creature or not all creatures get Double Strike just because 1 in the Band has it.
Well, we don't get a fixed form of Banding as far as combat stuff is concerned. We do, however, get one that allows abilities to be shared.
Introducing...Soulbond and its preview card from PAX East, Silverblade Paladin!
So here's a new term as well as a new keyword: "Paired" and "unpaired". This is meant to tell you that a Soulbond'ed creature can only Soulbond with one other creature, no more and no less. The Soulbond only works on a pair of creatures. Once 2 creatures are Soulbonded, a new Soulbond creature will need another creature to make a pair.
So Soulbond works when either the creature with Soulbond or another unpaired creature (meaning one that hasn't already been decided to pair with another Soulbond creature) enters the battlefield, and both get a bonus as long as they're Soulbond'ed (I don't like the term "paired" as it doesn't specifically answer "paired with what?"). Here, both the Knight and whatever it pairs with will have Double Strike.
There will be cards that reference paired creatures. For example, there's one that gives a target creature +2/+2 and gives the paired creature +2/+2 if there's a paired/Soulbond'ed creature with the original target.
3) Legendary creatures will be a theme of the Mythic Rares (and possibly some Rares) in this set. Since most know of Avacyn's preview as a creature herself, let's go with an Angel you don't possibly already know about ((unless you lurk the internet alot).
Introducing...Sigarda, Host of Herons!!
This shows us a couple of things about the set: 1) Angels will be a heavy theme (Avacyn was previewed last week, and there's already a Rare Angel previewed over the weekend), and 2) All Angels will be White but not necessarily all White. Oh, and 3) They can be pretty insane...on the good side.
If you had given this to me at 2GWW with Flying and Hexproof and 5/5 on its own, I'd have taken it. The fact that you can't make me sacrifice permanents? Put on a Darksteel Plate and say "Oh hi Eldrazi titans!" :)
I guess this is what we're getting instead of Titans...efficient and good Angels. I don't know if she'll show up in every deck, but I wouldn't be surprised to see her at least as a 1-of in White decks that can at least splash Green. (Honestly, as good as Hexproof is, I think I'd want 3 or 4 so that should one die I'd have another ready to go).
I said we had more than Angels as Legendary Creatures, right? Right...well, how about one that can draw you 7 cards...on a regular basis!
Meet our new lord and master of the underworld...Griselbrand!
Whew dang! 8- mana for a 7/7 flying lifelink creature is good enough as-is, I think. But then you tack on its activated ability? And it's Legendary, meaning it could make a good Commander in mono-black. *facepalm* Wizards, Wizards, Wizards...don't give black card draw with a payment if we can just recoup it back! Plus put a sword on this guy and you'll be making life and drawing cards on each battle.
*facepalm* Just...just get you at least 1 of these, maybe 2-3 if you're a reanimator deck. This card will be sick. Downright...sick. I'd be surprised if it goes the way of Abyssal Persecutor: eventually $5 or under. This card, to me, is by far superior.
Oh, and as to why it's not "7 for a 7/7 that gains 7 life and draws 7 cards for that 7 life"? Playtesting showed 7 mana to be too strong. Can you believe that?
4) And last but not least, some things do stay the same from Innistrad and Dark Ascension. While we won't be getting any new Transform cards, we are seeing some returning themes and at least one returning keyword.
For example, check out Howlgeist!
It's not a bad card to start off. A 4-power creature that can't be blocked by 3's or less. Then, if it dies, it can no longer be blocked by 4's or less.
It dies to a lot of stuff, of course. And it's 6 mana to get out. But that 6 mana gets you a 4/2 and a 5/3. Disregarding exile effects, it's going to take your opponent 2 blocks or 2 cards (or 1 of each) to deal with it. It can help complete out an Undying deck.
Will it be a tournament Uncommon? I doubt it, at least not in multiples. Will it see Block Constructed play? I think there are enough semi-evasives to warrant looking at it, but I don't know all the cards in the format by heart so its use there may be limited as well. But overall I think it's a decent card with artwork that should be amazing as a foil. :)
I have more I can share later in the week, but for now that's all I have time to do. We hope to see you for the charity tournament a week from Saturday! I'll update with prize support updates in the middle of the week.
Until then, take care and enjoy Avacyn Restored previews!