For those magic players following the release of new information on the upcoming sets for Magic the Gathering, we were in for a surprise earlier last week. I had been expecting to get new information on Magic Origins, among other spoilers, during the Magic Panel at PAX East. The floodgates were opened closer to the start of March, however, and the spoilers have been steadily flowing in since.
The first spoilers to hit the internet were for Dragons of Tarkir, set to be released on March 27th, and revealed that the clans from Khans of Tarkir have changed due to the effects of Sarkhan’s meddling in Tarkir’s past. The clans now have Elder Dragons at the head as Dragonlords, rather than human, and their three colour wedge identities have been reduced to two colours. Returning mechanics include Dash for the new Kolaghan clan, replacing The Mardu Horde and Bolster for the Dromoka clan, replacing The Abzan Houses.
Ojutai, replacing The Jeskai Way, will be using the Rebound mechanic from Rise of the Eldrazi. Rebound allows a player to recast an instant or sorcery spell, once cast it is put into exile until that player’s next upkeep and can be cast again without paying its mana cost.
The Sultai Brood, now called Silumgar, has a new mechanic called Exploit. When a creature with Exploit enters the battlefield its controller may sacrifice a creature. If they do the creature gives them some other benefit.
Lastly The Atarka, once the Temur Frontier, also has a new mechanic, Formidable. Similar to Ferocious, Formidable checks the power level of creatures you control. Formidable checks if creatures you control have a total power of eight, if you do you get some other benefit to playing the card.
Like Fate Reforged, Dragons of Tarkir has a morph mechanic running though it that shakes up the mechanic from Onslaught. This ability is called Megamorph (pronounced MEGAMOPH!) and it reads “Turn it face up any time for its megamorph cost and put a +1/+1 counter on it”. This further incentivizes players to play spells with morph face down to gain the benefit of turning them face up. However it is important, when evaluating these kinds of creatures, that the benefit of Megamorph is extra on top of the creature already on the card. Do not fall into the trap of thinking of the best case scenario for these creatures. Being able to play them face down and turning them face up when it is most beneficial is great. But there will be times when you can’t, for whatever reason, cast that creature face down and turn it face up when you would like. So it is important to separate the Megamoph ability and evaluate it separately from the creature card it is attached to, then attempt to determine what that card is worth with all the abilities printed on it.
Along with the newly reinvented Clans, there are new “Charms” for each. Clans now have Instant spells with 4 options, of which the player chooses 2. These spells, like the charms, have a mana cost that reflects their Clan’s colour identities and very versatile effects. Other changes to Tarkir include new Planeswalkers.
As many have theorized Narset gained her Planeswalker spark and, like lots of spells in the block, due to being on Tarkir close to the Dragon Storms, she has very powerful abilities for her cost of 2 colourless mana plus a white and a blue, the Ojutai colours. For that low cost Narset enters the battlefield with 6 loyalty counters, has a plus one ability that allows the player to look at the top card of their library and draw it if it’s a non-creature, non-land card. Narset’s negative 2 ability gives the players next instant or sorcery spell Rebound, which is in line with her character and new Clan identity. Narset’s Ultimate is a negative 9 and gives the player an emblem that stops its controller’s opponents casting noncreature spells. While Narset doesn’t protect herself, her abilities allow the player to protect her, by drawing into the spells they need.
Sarkhan returns as a Planeswalker in Dragons of Tarkir, this time with Temur colour identities. For 5 mana Sarkhan enters the battlefield with four loyalty counters. Sarkhan’s first ability draws his controller a card and adds one mana to their mana pool. His negative 2 ability puts a 4/4 dragon creature token with flying on the battlefield, allowing the player to protect the Planeswalker on the first turn he is played. Sarkhan Unbroken’s ultimate ability, for the cost of eight loyalty counters, allows the player to search their library for any number of dragon creature cards and put them onto the battlefield. At the time of writing this piece 58 cards have been spoiled for Dragons of Tarkir and 21 of those are dragon creatures. Players are advised to stack their decks full of dragons to fully exploit this Planeswalkers ability.
Speaking of Planeswalkers, Liliana has been spoiled for Magic Origins and, as many had suspected, transform cards will return in the set. Liliana, Heretical Healer is cast as a legendary creature and when a condition is met she is transformed into Liliana, Defiant Necromancer the Planeswalker. Liliana’s abilities fall in line with her previous iterations, allowing the controller to force all players to discard cards from their hands, revive creatures from the graveyard and even more graveyard recursion. However it will take players a long time to get to the required loyalty to activate Liliana’s ultimate ability.
This week also saw two spoilers for Modern Masters 2015, the set that will reprint the staples of the Modern format. We now know that alongside Erakul, the Aeons Torn will be Karn Liberated and Tarmogoyf, which was printed in the first Modern Masters set. Modern Masters 2015 will be released on the 22nd of May, in between Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins.
Now that the floodgates have opened spoilers for all three sets will be coming out nearly constantly until the Magic Origins Prerelease on July 11, at which point more information for the October set Battle for Zendikar will start to come out.