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Thursday, June 26, 2014

M15 Previews! Including highlights of differences in card frames.

Hello all, and welcome back to CGLHixson.Blogspot.com! While the info about our group is out of date (2012 was the last post. Come on! Give a little understanding here. :p), the group itself is far from dead. :)

Today, I have M15 previews! Yes, yes, we're already gearing up for a new set not long after Conspiracy came crashing on our doorstop and said, "I Know What You Did Last Summer with Modern Masters! And I want to be part of it!"


Am I the only one who thought that? Oh, well.

Onto the previews!

We'll start with a preview of a couple reprints, one of which I'll use to show the differences in the card frames used from 8th Edition up through Conspiracy. RIP, first major card frame change in Magic.

July 28, 2003 - April 26, 2014 (Intro packs of Journey into Nyx started giving away M15 basic lands with the new card frame)

So what card did I use to show the difference in card frame? Well...it's a bit of a shock, really. No...2.5x worse than Shock (if you're on the receiving end), but it takes sacrificing an Artifact to do it.

Re-introducing....Shrapnel Blast! (using the Friday Night Magic/Modern Masters artwork)

Nice card frame, bro.
So you're looking at it without your other Magic cards around and you're going, "...and what's so special about the new card frame?"

Here's a side-by-side (or perhaps top-and-bottom, depending on how this publishes) comparison.

In green, you see we have the name line. Look carefully at the new (left) and old (right) fonts. Wizards of the Coast has decided to use its own proprietary font to give Magic a better fantasy feel, make it feel like you're in the world of Magic rather than reading a card that's based on the world of Magic...I think. :p

The font changes apply to the type line as well (where the card says "Instant", in this case). I didn't see a big enough change in the font to warrant showing it as a change, but especially when you see creature cards that are reprinted I think you'll notice the difference fairly quickly.

In blue, you see how they brought the colored border back into the text box. This makes for more black space at the bottom of the card and I believe actually let them expand the text box just a bit. While it's difficult to see in this picture, you may also notice (once you get your hands on these cards) that the text box still contains its sharp rectangular edges at the bottom. They're a lot more pronounced though because the colored border doesn't extend all the way to the bottom of the card now.

Not used to that? You should be. It's been done on every planeswalker since they were released. ;)

Finally, in purple, you see the miscellaneous information.
     * In the old frame (the Modern Masters Shrapnel Blast here), you see the artist and...that's about it. Good luck trying to read the collector number and copyright information from that.
     * In the new frame, we can more clearly see the artist and collector number (left) and copyright information (right). But wait...what is all that other information?
          --> You see a "U" next to the collector number. That's the card's rarity. "C" is Common, "U" is Uncommon, "R" is Rare, "M" is Mythic, and "P" I believe will be used for promotional cards. No more having to remember what color of set symbol goes with which rarity or figuring out if that foil you have is a promotional card or from the set itself.
          --> Below the collector number, you see "M15 * EN." Cards will now indicate what set they came from with a 3-alphanumeric code. If Conspiracy had used this format, the set would be "CNS," for example. The "EN" is the language abbreviation. This is obviously an English card. But how many times have you looked at a foreign card and not recognized the language or wondered if it was Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese (assuming you don't know the difference already, just that there are two Chinese writing styles)? This should alleviate a lot of that problem.

Okay, great, so how can we guarantee we have an artifact to sacrifice? Glad you asked! Apparently Artifact Lands aren't too difficult for a Core Set. Re-introducing, for the first printing since Duel Decks: Elspeth vs. Tezzeret (back in 2010!)...Darksteel Citadel! (and I'm putting a Duel Deck version next to it for comparison. What? If you're going to have to deal with new card frames, best to catch the differences now, amirite?)

So I think we see here they're trying to reprint as many often-used cards as possible that used to simply state "[Card Name] is indestructible" with the keyword version that just says "Indescructible." But in this case, it also helps the price of the card. Darksteel Citadels, which were only Commons before M15, were pushing closer to $1.50 per copy! Some Rares don't go for that much! Ha ha! But really, it's very useful if you don't mind the mana investment. In case your opponent loves to play "destroy target land" or "destroy all lands", this will at least leave you with the Citadel to re-start on artifacts or cheap colored spells if you can draw into/have a land ready to play.

For Standard...I don't know. It depends on how deep the "artifacts matter" sub-theme of M15 goes and what kinds of artifacts Khans of Tarkir gives us. But it'll help alleviate some of the Citadel needs in other formats, that's for sure. HINT: If you're drafting and you've already picked up a Shrapnel Blast, why you wouldn't take this is beyond me. ;)

Finally, I want to touch on a new Planeswalker that I find extremely fun...and it gets around some of the Doubling Season issues with Planeswalkers (aside from Proliferate, there's very little ability for Doubling Season to double counters on Planeswalkers past their initial entry to the battlefield).

Introducing...Ajani Steadfast!

Now I'll be honest...I do a "Doubling Season check" of every new Planeswalker I see. What's this "check"? If I take the starting loyalty and double it, do I get to use the Planeswalker's ultimate the turn it enters the battlefield? If that's a "yes", then I think about using it in a Doubling Season build.

And Ajani comes through on that check! In fact, it's extremely beneficial for the late game. So with Doubling Season, Ajani Steadfast comes in with 8 loyalty counters. Remove 7 of those and you get an Emblem. What does this do? "If a source would deal damage to you or a planeswalker you control, prevent all but 1 of that damage."

Read again...ALL BUT 1!

"How is that useful with Ajani? He'll be down to 1 Loyalty anyway!" First, a good Doubling Season casual build will use 4 Fogs...at least! But look at the longer game. You put a few Ajani Steadfast in and a few other planeswalkers that add 2 Loyalty at a time. If your opponent can only get in with one creature or damage spell at a time, they can only deal 1 damage at a time. You'll net a +1 Loyaly Counter per turn. Again, this assumes they don't use multiple sources to damage your planeswalkers. But I think we'll agree that having a 15/15 Eldrazi hit you for only 1 per turn is pretty sick!

The middle ability is what'll most likely help your planeswalkers out the most. Take 2 loyalty counters off of Ajani Steadfast and you get to put a +1/+1 counter on each of your creatures and a loyalty counter on each other planeswalker you control. Think about that...Elspeth, Sun's Champion can get her ultimate off in 2 turns rather than 4 or so. The same goes for Kiora giving you Krakens and Domri Rade making all your creatures Double Striking Hexproof beatdown sticks! Add in Doubling Season, though...Ajani would come in with 8 counters, and he'd give 2 additional counters to everyone else. Imagine a Jace, the Mind Sculptor coming in at 6 Loyalty counters, using its +2 ability to Scry yourself or Fateseal someone's top of the deck, then using Ajani's 2nd ability. That puts Jace at 10 Loyaly Counters on his first turn on the battlefield! Next turn, use Ajani's 2nd ability again to get Jace to 12, then use Jace's ultimate to exile your opponent's library and make their hand their library instead. Jace, the Mind Sculptor ultimate in his first couple of turns!? Yeesh! Find other Planeswalkers and experiment. I think at least a few of them could do their ultimate and get another couple of loyalty counters to help their ability to survive with this Doubling Season + Ajani Seteadfast combo. :)

His +1 is okay. It helps a ton that the creature gets Vigilance so it can block in the next turn. Lifelink is amazing on almost any creature, I feel, and First Strike is just what the doctor ordered on those Deathtouchers. Oh, and the extra +1/+1 is also nice. ;)

Overall, I love this Ajani. I'll rebuild a Doubling Season deck using him and Kiora at minimum. I do want to live that Jace, the Mind Sculptor dream, though, and ultimate him the 2nd turn he's on the battlefield. lol. And look closely at his artwork. In the Theros story, Ajani and Elspeth were very close. So when Elspeth died, Ajani took it hard. How hard? He's wearing Elspeth's cloak over his right shoulder. :-_(

That's all the time I have for now. Let me know if you like having preview posts done on here or on Facebook directly more. These take more time, but during the summer if it helps more I'll do a few more through the blog. :)

I'll definitely give details on the Garruk activity at Pre-Release tomorrow.

(NOTE: All M15 images come from dailymtg.com . All non-M15 images come from magiccards.info . )

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