I have quite a few previews today. Most of them are lands (but I think you'll enjoy them. ;) ), and toward the end I'll detail the Garruk activity that'll be part of the Pre-Release (set for July 12-13, 2014).
First up, with the Shocklands going out of Standard in October of this year, and the "Scrylands" being the only duals (which only help more control-like strategies since they must come onto the battlefield tapped), what would the Core Set give decks to help them in the new Standard?
Well...according to Sam Stoddard, they decided to bring back the Apocalypse painlands!
|from Sam Stoddard's article linked above|
"Hey, what's the foil sticker thingy near the bottom of those M15 lands? Not all of your previews yesterday had that."
Ahhh...that's an authenticity sticker basically. Any Rares or Mythic Rares printed from this point on will have that foil sticker-looking thing that cuts into the text box a little bit. High-end fakes of popular Rares and Mythic Rares are starting to proliferate through the MTG trading community. Since those are the most likely to get faked, this little sticker will help ensure what you're getting is an authentic WotC-printed Magic card.
It doesn't matter if the card is a foil card or a regular card. Only the Rares and Mythic Rares, foil or not, will have the authenticity sticker. No Commons or Uncommons, foil or not, will have that.
So why did they bring back the Painlands? Although they prefer the "Pay 1 life" clause as opposed to the "deals 1 damage" clause for the current design philosophy, these were already available and didn't create duplicates that'd have to be reprinted as a full set of 10.
"But what happened to them saying 'the Core Set isn't the place for Painlands or any land that requires a life payment'?" I guess they've decided that players have grown up; if they're playing with Shocklands, "noob" and veteran alike, then Painlands are fair game again.
Will some players still prefer "enters the battlefield tapped" as opposed to the Shocklands or Painlands? Yes! That's not bad. But this opens up options to those who don't mind that life payment. (And if you're playing a Lifelink-based deck, do you really care? lol!)
Speaking of Rare lands, I've been in love with a certain Swamp-transforming land since it was first released in Planar Chaos. I was even happy it got a foil reprint in From the Vault: Realms. For a year (starting July 18th and ending October 2015), we'll have a land that helps multi-colored decks that use Black as a key color...as long as your opponent isn't also running Black.
Re-introducing (and now in new frame)...Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth!
|From "Magic Espana" Twitter feed|
It's been a while, so here's the English text for Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth:
"Each land is a Swamp in addition to its other land types." (text from Magiccards.info, which gets its text from Oracle)
Nice! So all your lands are Swamps, meaning Urborg and any other land you have (even if it's a Hallowed Fountain) can make a single Black mana each.
...Oh, but it makes each land a Swamp. This can benefit your opponent too. If they're running anything with Black in it, you just helped out their manabase. Even their basic Forests, where once they'd be mana screwed if that's all they have, now enables them to cast the cards in their hand. Yikes! Use this wisely.
One big thing to remember with Urborg, especially if you're playing in Modern-format tournaments: The phrase "in addition to its other land types" doesn't remove any abilities of any other land on the battlefield. It's like it tacks on, "Oh, btw, all lands can also tap to add a single Black mana to your mana pool."
How is this different than, say, Blood Moon? Simple. Blood Moon doesn't say "in addition to its other land types." Blood Moon completely overwrites all non-Basic lands and says, "Oh, hey Hallowed Fountain [for example]! You now are a basic Mountain and can only provide a single Red mana. That's it. I burned up your fountain! MWA-HA-HA-HA-H*COUGHCOUGHGAAAAG*"
"Okay, enough chatter about reprints. What's the Garruk activity!?" Fine, fine. Let's get to it. :)
Well...you know how flavor-wise we are the Planeswalker? Yeah...well, this gives you the chance to finally use Planeswalker abilities as the Planeswalker!
May I introduce, the oversized (so not legal anywhere else) Garruk the Slayer!
Now, does this mean it's Garruk PLUS your deck? I don't believe so. It makes it sound like the player that plays as Garruk only does that...plays as Garruk. No library, no draw phases, just Garruk having 4 abilities, 3 of which he could do on the first turn if needed. We'll need further clarification just to be sure.
Personally...I'd like to be Garruk once, but if I can't use my deck alongside him that's about all I'd like to do it. I don't feel comfortable being that vulnerable with only action per turn (aside from attack and block choices). At least his +4 feels more like life gain, so after you get your first 2/2 Wolf you could start gaining life as long as that Wolf exists. I also like the -10's ability to put Loyalty Counters back on Garruk, so you're not ever losing the full 10 Loyalty: If you use the -10 to kill a 5-toughness creature, you really only effectively lose 5 Loyalty. But watch out for Red! IF they can burn you out after you activate the -10 (remember, the ability goes on the stack; it doesn't automatically resolve.), you still lose. [I'd love to see someone use the -10 on an 11+-toughness creature, though. Adding Loyalty FTW! ha ha.]
So how would I play Garruk? I'd probably make 1-2 Wolves, then give one +1/+0 and Deathtouch a few times. I'd use the -10 only if it was necessary, and I wouldn't use the -25 unless I was absolutely desperate and wasn't up against a Red deck. (If I could get to upwards of 50 Loyalty, though, I wouldn't be afraid to use it. lol! But at that point you're probably not a threat anyway.)
I think it's interesting to note this is the only other 4-ability Planeswalker to be printed in any way. The only other 4-ability Planeswalker? The ever-broken Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
I hope you enjoyed these previews! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or on Facebook and I'll get back to it ASAP. Until then, take care! I'll try to post some preview(s) over the weekend.