March 07 2016 Monday at 04:32 PM

Telling Time - CGB writes about the future of Duels

Today I want to discuss some of the cards that have been “confirmed” in the Oath of the Gatewatch Duels expansion and what effect they could have on our relatively stale-at-the-moment Ramp meta.  In particular, do any of these cards solve the Moss problem and help us knock Gruul and Blue Ramp off their pedestal?

Confirmed has air-quotes because, as we learned in B4Z with Bring to Light, just because Wizards_Chris says it will be in the game doesn’t mean it will be.  Still, if we were only allowed to talk about certainties, life would get really boring.

You can check out the Reddit thread with Wizards_Chris confirming the presence of some cards HERE.

Holy crap.  If this card is in the game, it will immediately be the best four-drop we have, easily.  And you can slot it into almost any deck, you just have to make the color-less requirement work.  For those who don’t know, you can pay that diamond with any land that produces colorless (Rogue’s Passage, Foundry of the Consuls) or any Eldrazi Scion, or with the basic land Wastes (which you can fetch with Evolving Wilds and Natural Connection because it counts as a basic land).  So, what decks will this fit in?  Just about any.  It is a big help to aggro decks that want to go HAM, because it can snag Languish and Planar Outburst just before the opponent can cast them.  But does it beat Acid-Moss?  While discard is good against ramp, I fear that ramp will be just as prone to add this card to the deck to take the opponent’s removal and countermagic.  This card may actually be better in a Green/Colorless ramp deck than anywhere else.  This card both helps ramp and makes life worse for ramp.  Overall, I think it helps, because if you get to cast it you can either take their Acid-Moss or let them keep it and take something else, and if they want to Moss you now they have to do so while getting beat up by a 4/4.  This card is excellent and will not have trouble getting playing time.

Don’t get too excited, at the end of the day this is still just a 2/1 for one mana.  Whether or not Twin Bolt is actually good, the players believe in the card, and they keep playing it day in and day out.  Reaver is Twin Bolt and Elvish Visionary bait, and will struggle to do more.  Add to it the mana problems in Duels (lots of tapped lands, even in two-color decks) and you can bet that this card won’t be the force you really want it to be unless we get more great cards to play alongside it.  The best home is likely Rakdos Devoid Aggro, where I find this to be an upgrade on Sludge Crawler.

I am not sure if I can evaluate this card well.  On one hand, a 4/4 vigilance for 5 mana isn’t amazing, and we can do much better things in Duels with five mana (more of that coming up).  On the other hand, the landfall ability is impressive and Vigilance on land creatures is great because you can still use them for mana after attacking.  As an uncommon, it isn’t unreasonable to adapt your deck around the three copies we get.  In the end I see ramp decks having better options, and I doubt this card will make a huge dent, but I could be missing something.

We will have no trouble finding reasons to play with the colorless mana mechanic in this set, but this card specifically makes Wastes a relevant part of the game.  As a three-of, it isn’t crazy to build around it, imagine if you will -

Turn one - Evolving Wilds, Wastes

Turn two - Forest, Gatecreeper, Wastes fetched

Turn three  - Wastes, cast Natural Connection for Wastes

Turn four - Let’s just say we play a Forest, and we cast a 7/7 trample Walker.

Go ahead, Moss me.

This is another deck that both encourages ramp (because it is great with basic land fetch cards) and discourages it from playing Acid-Moss (because they will still take a big hit).  If this critter and this strategy get popular, I don’t expect many players to be able to spend turn four tapping out for Moss.  Of course, on the play Moss slows Walker down by a turn and removes some power from it, but if we curve into the monster the next turn it is still bigger than an Outland Colossus or Bellower.  Cards like this will continue to increase the value of large creature removal and will likely devalue cards that don’t have a big impact on the board.

It is four mana (ok) and it is a sorcery (I really wish it was an instant), and still it will easily be the best removal option we have had in Duels in a while.  Just when you thought the giant creatures would run wild, we get this card.  It is common, so you get four of them.  It only costs one black, so you can splash it in your removal-lite decks with ease.  I expect this to be among the most played cards in the game, unless either (a) Thopters keeps flying rampant, or (b) we get something better.  Dealing with Ulamog, Omnath, or just a would-be lethal Perilous Myr, it all gets handled.  This is the removal that Black has needed.  The biggest issue is how crowded the four-drop spot is getting, but I know there will be room for this.  Also, since it is not an instant, this continues the trend of discouraging draw-go control and encouraging tapout sorcery-speed control.  Instead of all-the-counters, you have to have all-the-answers.

It’s mythic, so don’t get too excited.  It is hard to build around a one-of, but it is hard to play around it too.  Sadly, a mechanic like Surge requires a certain amount of consideration in deck building.  The easy buttons for triggering Surge include Elvish Visionary and Alchemist’s Vial, but using those actually increases the card’s cost by one.  There just aren’t many one-cost cards in all of Duels I am willing to play.  My guess is that this card will be two-headed-giant specialists’ card unless we get more quality one drops and more great Surge cards.  If the latter happens, there may be a good Surge deck in the format somewhere, but it smells too combo’y to be a contender.  Oh, and this card does not make Acid-Moss a less likely part of the meta, if anything it makes Moss better as the player casting it is more likely to pay Surge and the player getting Mossed becomes less likely to pay Surge.

Woah.  This card is very interesting to me.  It is uncommon, but I am not sold that you want or need three in your deck.  Reach is an underused mechanic in Duels, and Crats is a deck-type on the edge of top tier consideration.  Having a way to block some Thopters would really help, and the ability also gives the Husk deck some resiliency to sweepers, removal, and another way to make a huge threat without going all-in on Husk.  The issue I see is the crowded four-drop spot.  If I cast this as my four-drop, and the opponent casts Pia-Kiran Nalaar, who is better off?  How about Thought-Knot Seer?  Woodland Wanderer?  How about Oblivion Strike, which lets the opponent exile my Guardian and take my whole turn, the opposite of what you want to happen if you are the beatdown?  However, if players continue to rely on the same-old removal, this card could shine.  Nice Languish buddy.

Probably too expensive to make a dent, especially will all the great four and five drops that we have and that we will receive.  I doubt it will make a big impact in a serious deck.

Blah.  I don’t see this one doing much, or anything really.  We have better cards in a similar vein already.

Not bad, not great.  It may get added to Rakdos Devoid, but don’t get caught thinking this is a huge upgrade on old Grizzly Bear, it still gets killed by almost any spell.

Now that’s more like it.  Kozilek’s Shrieker is among the better three drops we have access to, and the ability to gain menace and a tiny boost means this thing will hit for four more often than not.  The toughness is an issue for me, as Perilous Myr, Fiery Impulse and Twin Bolt all kill it, and Reave Soul and Complete Disregard can catch it.  Still, I like it better than any other black common three-drops, and I think it will also give some legs to Rakdos Devoid.  Black-Colorless Eldrazi Aggro is also looking better and better.  This card along with a good aggro shell could make a dent in the Acid Moss universe.

Those turns where your opponent plays land number five are about to get a lot more interesting.  I mean, woah.  While just beating the crap out of your opponent is great and all, one thing that came to my mind is that this card is the Planeswalker killer we have needed.  Now when the opponent slams turn four Gideon, Kiora or turn five Ob, you have a big-time retort if you are holding senior Smasher.  This card is another reason to make decks with some amount of Natural Connection and Wastes, as the opponent might make their big turn four play, and you might ramp and trump their play with Smasher.  In this scenario, Acid-Moss is a mild nuisance, while Smasher just wrecks the game.  Another point for ramp but against Moss.

This is the kind of card I declare as junk, Allies doesn’t need more four-drops that don’t do much for the team.

A sorcery-speed way to make your Twin Bolt blow-outs even worse!  No thanks.

Just when it looked like aggro would run away with these spoilers, we get this card.  And it is common, which means you can spam four of them.  On the bright side, this card can be part of a great Acid-Moss recovery plan.  Just get your land back at instant speed and gain six.  Don’t forget you can float the green mana in response to Moss on your Forest, although your opponent will have to give you back priority so you can cast the Pulse (unless they fix that).  I see this card becoming an annoying way to spam your best creatures and flip-walkers like Nissa in a durdly control deck, and the six-life gain that is common and easily splashable attached to decent effect will make a difference in this format.  For example, you could make a control deck with Foundry of the Consuls as the win con, and just run four of this card and keep getting Foundry back and gain a ton of life.  It becomes an endless loop with Greenwarden, and in a real funny way it is a great counterspell to a Necromantic Summons as it can target creatures in either graveyard.  Maybe I’ll use it to turn off my opponent’s Shadows of the Past, who knows!  There are a lot of uses.  This, along with good ole’ Evo Leap is the new backbone of Durdle Control.

That’s all for now readers, but if you like this entry please let me know and I will do another one that speculates on other unconfirmed cards.  Before I go, the future of ramp, too busy casting giant monsters to cast Acid-Moss…

3 x Jaddi Offshoot

4 x Gatecreeper Vine

4 x Snapping Gnarlid

2 x Evolutionary Leap

4 x Natural Connection

3 x Nissa's Pilgrimage

1 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer

2 x From Beyond

3 x Walker of the Wastes

2 x Reality Smasher

2 x Thought-Knot Seer

2 x Outland Colossus

2 x Oran-Rief Hydra

2 x Nissa's Renewal

1 x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

4 x Evolving Wilds

9 x Wastes

10 x Forest


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