Years of story and build-up have lead to Magic: The Gathering’s latest expansion, War of the Spark. Wizards of the Coast is going all out for this set with controversial decisions that will impact the game for years to come. Planeswalkers in every pack you open, the death of popular characters, and an all out war between good vs. evil against Nicol Bolas, Magic: The Gathering’s long-running antagonist are all stealing the headlines.
Nevermind that commons are supposedly overpowered to counteract so many Planeswalkers, the proliferate mechanic will be more broken than ever, and zombies are returning in the form of massive armies that get bigger with each spell you cast.
In terms of synergies, it doesn’t line up as nicely like the previous two sets did. None of War of the Spark’s mechanics are as cut and clean as mentor, surveil, afterlife, and adapt. The main color pairings are Blue/White/Green, which will be using the proliferate mechanic to pass around +1/+1 counters, Blue/Red/Black, which will be using the new amass mechanic to build zombie armies, and a few other branching synergies. Blue/Red “spells matter” decks are going to be a thing, White/Red benefits from a mechanic similar to heroic, and White/Black lifegain is always around.
Plenty of spells are dependent on whether or not you have a planeswalker in play, which makes sense because they appear in every pack, guaranteeing you access to at least six at pre-release.
It’s not a simple as a core set, but I wouldn’t suspect a super deep set like Dominaria either. As a little preview, I like some of the uncommon Planeswalkers, thing the Eternals look really stupid, and love Green… as usual.
Since we have no multicolored commons to talk about, thank goodness, we’ll go with five commons in each color. That leaves us with 25 cards today plus a few for artifacts and whatnot.
Easily the best White common of the bunch, this classic style of card will do nothing but enrage even the most relaxed opponents you play. One mana for a 1/2 is always great when there is additional text, and here, for a single mana, you can start tapping down their biggest threat every turn. It’s a fine early play on turn one, since it can block weenies well for a turn or two.
However, you’ll want to be sure to use your mana to cast spells. Don’t put this to full use until turn-4, when you have a mana to spare. And the reason the mana cost has to be 2 or greater? Because tapping your opponent’s Law-Rune Enforcer is just a miserable game strategy for everyone involved.
Bam! Nice, clean, but not entirely simple when used against blockers. Be sure to use this spell before damage is assigned if you’re looking to kill the creature and keep your’s alive.
Pegasus Courser has undergone a few changes ever since it was first introduced in Dominaria. At first, it was too powerful. Then, Wizards of the Coast simply stuck it in Core 2019 shortly afterwards. Following that, it was bumped to uncommon and called Roc Charger in Guilds of Ravnica. Now, after a break in Ravnica Allegiance, we get the card once again, and it is a Pegasus again.
However, it’s even more busted in that it trades a point of toughness for a point of power, changing into a 1/3 effective blocker that can give another creature flying into a 2/2 flying offensive threat that gives another creature flying.
In other words, it’s more dangerous on its own now and doesn’t need another brute to be a threat.
I’m game. This is a nice creature that gets stronger with the more weenies you have. Give it evasion with Trusted Pegasus, ensure that it lives and becomes a 4/3… proliferate it, it becomes a 5/4, and you have a great creature you paid a small price for.
Getting it there might be tough because by the time it attacks, it might be forced to trade down. However, with the right setup, this card can produce more value than you paid for it.
We’ll close out with a lot of tough choices. I also like Enforcer Griffin (3/4 flyers for five mana are solid), War Screecher (1/3 flyers for two mana are also solid, especially ones with upside), and Pouncing Lynx (2/1 first strike creatures rock in aggressive decks). However, we’re going to go with the removal spell. Exile is essential since we’re dealing with zombies in this set, and proliferate is important to make those White weenies more powerful and your Planeswalkers effective for another turn.
It’s expensive and slow, but Wanderer’s Strike is a solid removal spell that will give your own.
White is really strong at common. I had a hard time narrowing it down to six, but I got there! Pat on the back for me!
Way back (or maybe not way back compared to some of you) when I got into Magic, we had a lovely little common called Eldrazi Skyspawner. This little card rocked with 3/2 stats across two bodies, one of which was a flyer. This card was so powerful that it even ended up in championship standard decks.
True, it benefited from colorless synergies, but Aven Eternal is a pretty close bet. 3/3 across two bodies, one of which is flying, is awesome. That addition 1/1 can get tacked onto your amass army, making it stronger. On turn 3, you have an aggressive flyer and a nice chump blocker. On turn 6 or 7, if you play this, you get your 2/2 flyer and your amass army could be a 4/4 or a 5/5.
HEY YOU GUYS!!! Looting is always great in Limited Magic, but you’re going to have to pay for it here. This is no Merfolk Looter since it can’t get the engine running on turn-3. However, 3-toughness means it should stick around for a while and block aggressive decks. Should it survive long enough, you’ll have the spare mana to start the fun, digging through your deck to find the good stuff.
I’m always game for a recurring looter, and this is the best we have here.
Wow, scry 4 for four mana… then draw two? This helps you filter out your deck later in the game just when you need it most, and if you don’t find your win condition with this card, you’re just all the closer to it than your opponent is.
Aside from rocking badass art, Thunder Drake is an effective flyer that only gets stronger as the game goes on. You’ll likely want the thing in a Blue/Red “spells matter” deck since those spells are the cheapest, but even in a creature deck with cheap creatures, you can likely pump this up to 3/4 or 4/5 in a game.
And in that case, you’ve got nothing but value out of a creature you paid a reasonable price for anyway.
1/4 blocks very well on turn-3 and for many turns following that. Once your opponent plays something this Weird can’t stand up to, it blocks, sacrifices itself, and you can trade it in for your best spell. You’re going to want to play this in a “spells matter” deck, whether it’s Red/Blue or Blue/Black, and you’re obviously going to want some targets to hit in your graveyard.
Blue is fine, and there are a few more proliferate cards I didn’t mention like Kiora’s Dambreaker. Blue doesn’t capitalize too much on proliferate, but when you get a Planeswalker or the occasional counter, it can come into effect. Amass seems like a better path to take when you end up in this color.
If there is one stat/value I love in Magic more than any other, it is a 2/3 for two mana. Sylvan Advocate comes to mind, as does the more recent Boros Challenger. Lazotep Reaver might not be a straight up 2/3, but that is the value you are getting across two bodies as early as turn-2. That is a fabulous play, and once you follow up with more amass spells, you already have an army on the battlefield that doesn’t have to worry about summoning sickness.
Every counter you build up can attack the turn it comes into play with this already on the field. Not bad!
Wow, effectively exiles everything, even two of the zombie gods, for just three mana at instant speed? This is the prime common removal spell in the set, no question. It doesn’t hit Planeswalkers, sadly, but when you wipe out their best blocker and ram in with your attackers, that Planeswalker won’t stand much of a chance.
We loved Blade Juggler in Ravnica Allegiance, and we all love Phyrexian Rager. Now for the full price of a Blade Juggler + 1, you’re getting an adequate body in a 4/5 creature. Played late in the game, it attacks and blocks well, likely stabilizing any battlefield, and then you get to draw your card! The life loss is inconsequential for that kind of value.
Not quite as impressive as Ob Nixilis’ Cruelty, but there are still plenty of relevant 2-toughness creatures that you’ll want to hit with this. The lifegain is also a nice touch, balancing out the difficult casting cost.
Wizards of the Coast kindly reprinted Ajani’s Pridemate in this set, and I would love to blow out an opponent in combat combining these two cards. That’s a devastating combo.
Bone Splinters finally gets a card that is strictly better. One, this targets Planeswalkers in addition to creatures, which is a huge boost for both Limited in this set and Constructed Magic in general. Two, you get an escape pod route with the option of paying five mana (instead of sacrificing a creature) to kill their most dangerous card… always a bargain.
I’m not sure if this is better than Ob Nixilis’ Cruelty, but both are stunning Black removal spells, making it probably the most feared color of the set.
A 3/2 is strong enough to cause a lot of damage, even if it sometimes trades with a smaller creature. Attack with this for a few turns while the board is open, and then, ultimate, you’re opponent is going to have to deal with it. What makes the card good is that even though they’ve had to put a creature in front of it, you still get 2/2 of those statistics back, meaning you haven’t lost much in the exhange.
What’s even better is to play this card defensively, holding back powerful 3-toughness creatures that you opponent definitely won’t want to be on the losing side of. 4-mana is a lot for a 3/2, but not for a 5/4 that will 100 percent secure your value in a trade.
Breaking the rules. Need to talk about another one. Black is too strong at common to ignore everything! This is just stupidly good, especially with amass tokens and Planeswalkers all over the place just dying to be targeted by this thing. Always on the lookout for seemingly pointless attacks with open black mana. Chances are, you’re going to get a bad deal out of this is you lose something power.
And if you land a ping of damage on any Planeswalker, be it a burn spell or a tiny evasive creature, this will easily finish off the rest.
With four solid removal spells, one attached to a creature, two solid amass spells, and a Rager on roids… Black is looking very powerful. Maybe even more powerful than Green, if I’m being honest.
Boom! Nice damage, nice price, and you get to scry? It might not hit the player like a Lightning Strike, but we’re alright with that. Take as many of these as you can get and burn away the opposition. Red/Blue “spells matter” decks… White/Red aggressive decks… any deck.
3 damage for two mana? Signed, Sealed, Scryed, Delivered!
I mean, who needs creatures, right? Just keep burning away! Plenty of targets for this, even in the face of your opponent if need be. I like the idea of killing a 1-toughness creature or a Planeswalkers and aiming the other damage on your own Tenth District Legionnaire to give it a +1/+1 counter and a scry. Brilliant!
Not as great as Jaya’s Greeting, but solid.
Seriously? Three tw0-mana burn spells? This one comes at a higher cost, but it can mess up combat for an opponent and even win you the game on the spot when you get them to four life. Sacrifice a creature that was going to die anyway, and you’ve got yourself a profit.
Also, be careful not to get this stuck in your hand with no way to cast it. There is no worse way to sit with a dead card in your hand.
At last, a creature… that costs two mana. How fitting! Red wants to keep it low and fast to the ground, it seems. First, this card is a solid blocker, taking blows from most aggressive creatures. Opponents also might be wary to attack into this card as well when you have open mana up, signaling to them that you have a combat trick or even just a draw spell to give it a boost to finish off their 2, 3, or even 4-toughness creature.
Later in the game, this becomes a legitimate threat, filtering through your cards to find the good stuff and also just getting stronger with each instant or sorcery or even artifact you have. Best in Blue/Red spells, of course, but the White/Red aggressive deck could make use of this as well, see how it will survive most early combats and hit heavy with cards like Defiant Strike.
The lesson here? If you are playing Red… be sure to pair it with Blue! These “spells matter” payoffs are just huge, be it the chance to scry to oblivion with Burning Prophet and now make this creature bigger and bigger. In a dedicated spells deck, this can easily become a 5/5 or a 6/6, and it is just a nightmare to go into combat to. With instants in your hand, this can easily grow before damage is dealt, and it could just crush anything that gets in its way.
At the end of the game… it’s big!
Red also has some beef in Raging Kronch and Invading Manticore, both of which help out the 4-power Red/Green mechanic. However, if I’m playing Red… I’m going to prioritize Blue cards as a pairing. The spells deck looks sick in this set, and I want to draft it a million times. So much burn and two payoffs? No question!
I love me some Green mana sink shenanigans, and this fits the bill perfectly. One of my favorite cards since I got back into Magic has been Duskwatch Recruiter, and while this doesn’t even come close in terms of the power of its ability, they are pretty similar icards.
Four mana is nice price to pay when attached to a creature for what could be “Draw a card” or “Scry.” In a creature deck, this could find your bomb way earlier than you would have, and that’s exactly what you want. Not having to tap the grizzly also means you can doing this multiple times a turn.
2/3 for three mana is not the worst either, so the body holds up in the face of danger. If you can block creatures and find the droids you’re looking for with the Grizzly, you’ve made a sound investment.
Flip those stats around, and you have a nice creature that might go unblocked for a few turns before eating up a costly removal spell or trading up. That’s what makes this card special… it will never, EVER trade for a cheaper creature, meaning you’ll always end up on the top of that trade.
If you have the Arlinn Planeswalker, it’s a 4/3. Not bad, but that’s not until turn-7… so yeah. Best hope you can win the game at that point.
ROCK ON! Don’t care how it matches up in this set, I’m playing it! I haven’t used this card in nearly twenty years, so the time has come for me to dig into those Green roots and let it all out!
Art is sweet, too.
I like this card a lot, mostly because it fits my style of play. I really want to play this in a casual Hardened Scales deck.
In Limited, it can:
- Pump a creature and make it stronger, leaving behind a 1/1 blocker. Nice deal.
- Pump itself, making it a 2/2 for two bear. Nice deal.
- Pump every member of your team that already has a counter and recharge your Planeswalkers… leaving behind a 1/1 blocker. Nice deal.
This does a lot for just two mana, and I love it to pieces. Might not be the best, but it’s one of my favorite.
Four Four for Four! Excellent stats, nice creature, pumps your countered creatures and restores your Planeswalkers. Nice, solid creature all around. Love it!
Oasis Ritualist broke the format back in Hour of Devastation, single-handedly morphing the one-dimensional, aggressive Amonkhet block into a close, grindy, five-color nonsensical grind fest. I’m not sure if this will happen here, but three life, 2/4 stats, and the ability to splash a third color is a nice option.
From the way I see it, there are quite a few powerful off-color bombs you’ll want to play in every deck. If you are base green and aiming for nonsense, this card skyrockets in value.
Green gets a seventh card because it’s Green, and YOU MAGGOTS AND MORTALS WILL APPRECIATE IT! Here is a prime Green removal spell. Instant speed, use your big creatures, crush something, ruin their combat, make them weep under the weight of your monsters.
Three mana is quite a bit, and while this is no Ambuscade, it will get the job done. Best of all, you don’t have to have two creatures. Just casting this with one creature on the board can still get you what you need.
Green is awesome. Love it! Always have, always will. +1/+1 counters are awesome, proliferate is at its strongest here, and GIANT GROWTH! Who can resist?
Splash is important in this set, especially since Green/White/Blue Bant decks and Blue/Black/Red Grixis decks look to be the most prominent three-color decks. Scry attached to a mana rock that produces any color is fine.
The other two artifacts at common, Prismite and Guild Globe, help fix and produce various color mana, but Mana Geode is the only one that ramps.
I don’t think this card is stunning, but if you are in a proliferate deck and need +1/+1 counters, there are worse ways to get it. A 2/2 menace that’s easy to cast for three mana is fine, and the ability to put that counter on any creature also is pretty big.
Not an all-star card by any means, but you should pick this up before picking any of these other artifacts.
That’s all for today. Check us out again when we look at the uncommon cards and those sweet uncommon Planeswalkers.
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