Finally, a substantial portion of the set has been spoiled, and the nature of the Avacyn Restored Limited format and Standard with AR can be speculated on with a reasonable degree of certainty. Also, the ability to get a bead on current and future pricing of these cards is open to us because we have enough context. As you’ll see though, it probably isn’t time to go on a buying spree now.
Despite all these shiny new cards, I am unconvinced that this is a ‘great’ set for Constructed. The combination of the miracle and soulbond mechanics, both of which one could argue were designed more with Limited in mind than Constructed, takes up alot of the rare/mythic slots where those Constructed gems tend to dwell. Also, I see little to change the whooping Delver decks are dealing out on a weekly basis because this appears to be quite a slow set in terms of CMC, but a few weapons are available to those of us who want to fight the power.
Cavern of Souls
ETB choose a creature type
Tap: Add 1
Tap: Add 1 mana of any color. Use this mana only to play creature spells. If this mana is used for a spell, that spell can’t be countered by spells or abilities.
It might not be quite as narrow as it seems. A pretty obvious inclusion in Humans or maybe Zombies(though Zombies is one of the few decks that doesn’t mind playing Delver all day), the ability to ignore the few relevant counterspells in the format is pretty nice. It can also go in less tribally oriented decks, ensuring you can resolve a Hero of Bladehold or some other threat. However, the real power lies in letting Ramp decks play their Titans against control with impunity. Often, ramp has to make the choice to try to get to nine mana to be able to ignore Mana Leak. This land, at least in non-greedy two color ramp, will have a home.
Instant – B
Destroy target Human.
Not pictured is the awesome art of someone’s boot stepping on a skull. I’d want to play this card just so I have something nice to look at while it’s in my hand. Most I’ve talked about this card with don’t think this removal that happens to cost as much as Delver(a true rarity in this world) is any good because ‘you can’t play one for one with decks that this is good against.’ First off, that isn’t true. Yes, Delver gets tons of extra cards via Ponder, Probe, Snapcaster, and Moorland Haunt, but without the actual Delver to provide cheap evasive pressure, the deck can have trouble assembling a concrete plan to deal twenty damage. Against more traditional Human decks, killing Champion of the Parish before you take three on turn two nullifies all their nut draws. In both cases, the CMC of the threat being killed is equal to the cost of the removal, and this can’t be valued highly enough these days, especially against such dangerous turn one threats. Also, when considering the whole ‘one for one’ thing, recall that Snapcaster Mage is a card, and flashing back Human Frailty is almost as fun as Snapcaster + Tragic Slip, if not more so in many situations.
Other cards that tickle my Standard fancy, but are more ‘hunch’ cards than anything I could articulate, or cards other people have talked about at length, include Barter in Blood, Rite of Ruin, Restoration Angel, Peel From Reality, Bonfire of the Damned, Ulvenwald Tracker, Devastating Tide(!), and the as yet unreleased name of the UG land that lets you cast stuff with Flash until EOT. Overall, not much is changing it seems from the first 150 cards spoiled for Standard unless there are a few new decks that happen to shift the meta to where, say, Zombies is really good, which will knock Delver down a peg. There are still another 100 to see though, so don’t lose hope yet.
For Limited, well, the partial information we have tells us both nothing and everything. I can extrapolate upon what we already have to envision how the entire set looks, but it might be way off, so read this with that in mind. Overall, the set looks slow, a welcome change. I like seeing more cards in Limited, so I can play bombs more often, give opponents opportunities to make mistakes, and generally play more Magic(this is probably why I LOVED self mill decks in ISD and DII). This assumption is based on the expensive nature of the Angels/Demons, and how generally crappy soulbond creatures are on their own. There are also almost a dozen Auras that go on your own dudes that give them a conditional bonus, a weaker all the time bonus, or a spellshaper type effect such as ‘target can’t block,’ or ‘target deals 1 damage to target.’ If the remaining 100 cards shape up like these, you can expect slower games because playing some of these will be inevitable(or even desirable), and tapping your creatures to gain an effect means you probably aren’t bashing with them.
The flavor of the set is White vs. Black, with the scales tipped in Whites favor, as they appear to have more of the ‘good’ mechanics. I don’t think this means that decks will usually be W/x or B/x, as the mechanics don’t dictate that the sides clash unfavorably. Undying, an ‘evil’ mechanic, is still awesome in any deck, and soulbond plays well with anything that doesn’t have a problem with other dudes in play, and for now I’ve only seen a few actual creatures like that, and both are uncommon.
Miracles are, as endlessly talked about by everyone else, going to be awesome for Limited. It makes especially good sense when the spell in question is a removal spell like Thunderous Wrath(six mana five damage, miracle for one). We will be leaving a format where we played Wrack With Madness all the time, along with endlessly conditional removal spells like Bonds of Faith, Victim of Night, and Slayer of the Wicked. It’s a breath of fresh air to just overpay and ensure dead guy is dead, or flip it off the top like it’s nothing when you needed to peel. Luckily, Avacyn Restored won’t be a miracle bonanza, as no Miracle cards have been spoiled in the common slot, and I don’t expect to see any. Besides, ‘Common Miracle’ doesn’t make much sense, does it? I just hope the Green Mythic slot Miracle has nothing to do with gaining life, or putting lands into play, unless it’s like, ALL OF THEM. That might actually be sweet.
Well, this didn’t quite turn out as planned, but it wasn’t terrible, and hopefully a worth a quick scanning. There are still many questions to be answered about AR, and the future Standard and Limited formats. Once the rest of the set is spoiled, I’ll talk about the Last 100. Until then, may you pay 7 to draw 7 with Necrotic Ooze!