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Friday, January 25, 2013

Gatecrashing The Party

Gatecrash pre-release is tomorrow! If you're looking for a detailed view of how the guilds stack up in Limited, then this post is not for you. Go read Starcity or something.

Having transitioned from the competitive scene into the more casual/EDH scene, I decided to rank the guilds based on their new mechanic, guild leader, and iconic creature (the pre-release card).  Let's get to it!

New set mechanics are always fun and these are quite flavorful and represent each guild well. Nicely done, Wizards!

Dimir- Cipher: You may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost
When will Wizards learn? Free spells are always powerful. The "untap lands" cycle from Urza's Saga was broken, Storm is absurd in every format it is legal in, and Cascade was a dominate force in Standard and is still played in Modern.
Cipher is a little less powerful but still easily the most powerful mechanic in the set in my mind. It's also like a "fixed" enchant creature. You get an immediate effect and then get to tag it to a dude. No card advantage loss if your opponent takes out the creature. There are a surprising number of cheap creatures with evasion to slap Cipher on too. Stolen Identity and Undercity Plague should find homes in EDH decks. Cipher also nails Dimir's "Secrets and Information" guild theme very well.

Boros- Battalion: Whenever ~this creature~ attacks with at least 2 other creatures, an effect happens.
The opposite of Exalted, in a way. Battalion encourages you to play a creature rush strategy, which can be both good and bad. Aggressive W/R EDH decks are going to want to pick up a few Battalion cards. Cards like Legion Loyalist  have a chance to impact any format the turn you draw them, which is quite impressive for a 1 drop. Frontline Medic could see EDH play with its powerful abilities.

Orzhov- Extort: Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {WB}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life
Flavor-wise, I'd give this a slight nod above Battalion, but in practice I think Battalion is going to prove the more useful mechanic. This is a perfect way to encapsulate Orzhov's "Devotion or Pay the Price" mentality. The mechanic seems slow but in a good defensive deck it can easily gain enough life to stay afloat before your win condition shows up, or eventually pick up the game itself! No real heavy hitters stand out for the EDH crowd except Treasury Thrull, which I'll get to later.

Simic- Evolve: Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature
A good evolution (ha!) of the Simic's earlier Graft mechanic. It's great flavorful but I just don't think competitive decks have enough time to set up and get value. Also, it sucks to draw a smaller evolve creature, like Experiment One that won't help out your already evolved critters. The most fun that evolve players can have is making Pokemon references.
I choose you! Photo from http://ainopuff.deviantart.com/art/Pikachu-Evolution-255693974 

Gruul- Bloodrush: Pay a cost and discard this card: Target attacking creature gets a bonus
I think this mechanic is absolutely absurd in limited and makes blocking impossible. The option of being able to pitch a guy to force in extra damage or playing it normally is very powerful. I don't think the cards that have Bloodrush are powerful enough to make a splash with the casual crowd though. Still, be alert tomorrow if you're up against Gruul. Combat is going to be very tricky, especially with this guy crashing the party. Bloodrush epitomizes Gruul's "Balls to the Wall" mentality.

Now let's take a look at who runs the place. Here's where it gets really interesting for the EDH crowd.

Dimir: Lazav
Easily my favorite and a most include into Mimeoplasm. He will always be something different, which is very refreshing. If Green didn't offer some fun EDH goodies (and a few of them in this set) I would strongly consider converting Mimeoplasm to straight U/B with Lazav at the helm.

Orzhov: Obzedat
Another very powerful general. The Council dodges all sorcery speed removal and places nicely with comes into play triggers. Obzedat will also probably see Constructed play as a finisher for U/B/W control decks.

Gruul: Borborygmos
Ah Borborygmos! I blogged about him when he was first spoiled and still think he is a fine General. He is so expensive that other players may leave you alone at the start of the game as they gang up on the Aurelia player. The politics of multiplayer can't be denied in EDH, and it is important to have a General that doesn't seem terrifying out of the gates. Borby fits that description perfectly.

Boros: Aurelia 
This general will pain a huge bullseye on your forehead. Nobody likes to suffer through multiple attack phases. Still, an incredibly powerful effect that will quickly end the game if unchecked.

Simic: Zegana
Card draw, card draw, card draw! A careful opponent could thwart your massive card drawing plans with well timed removal. I don't think I would let Zegana command my armies, but she may find a place with Lazav in Mimeoplasm.

Guild Grunts:

Orzhov: Treasury Thrull
A perfect card advantage machine. And it showcases the new Extort mechanic. I think this card is just excellent, and while I wouldn't necessary play Orzhov in the prerelease, I might select them as my guild just to get my hands on this goodie. That is, of course, if I had an EDH deck he could fit in.
Boros: Foundry Champion 
Removal! Anytime a Flametongue Kavu comes along I take notice. This set is pretty light on hard removal and this can also go directly to the face! A strong consideration to pick up the Boros mantle.
Simic: Fathom Mage
These last three fall a little flat for me.At first I really liked this chick. But I would rather play Mind Unbound to guarantee ridiculous card draw. With just Evolve, Fathom Mage wouldn't make the cut in any deck I played unless it was a silly dedicated "move counters around deck". In which case I would still probably use that slot for Mind Unbound.
Dimir: Consuming Aberration 
This guy will be gigantic in EDH and gives you a good mill plan in Limited. The trouble is, lots of EDH decks utilize their graveyards, so filling it for them could be bad. It seems like a nice fit for Mimeoplasm, but my build is not very mill heavy. Without evasion this doesn't good enough for EDH.
Gruul: Rubblehulk
This card remind me of Hatred in that in can come out of nowhere for a large amount of damage. The flexibility of being able to play a giant dude or use him as a giant pump spell is nice, but without having Trample or granting Trample it falls short.

So, with 5 points for being first, 4 for second, and so on, we find that.......

Dimir and Orzhov lead the way with 12
Boros sits comfortably with 9
Simic comes up flat with 6
Gruul pulls up the rear with 5.

There you have it! Disagree? Leave a comment and we'll address it on the podcast.

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