In case you don’t remember, here’s how I left off my article last week…
I have quite literally never been more excited about a new Magic set, and I’ve been playing for nearly 7 years. To me at least, they’ve nailed the combination of new hotness and incredible nostalgia. If the Limited and Standard formats turn out to be an improvement on Ixalan, we could very well be in the midst of one of the best Magic sets of all time.”
And my hype hasn’t died down! Each new card that’s spoiled gets me more and more excited both for the limited format and for what Dominaria could do to improve on what is already a very solid Standard format. In this article, I’ll be going over one the many cycles found in Dominaria, the Legendary Sorcery cycle, and analyzing whether or not they have the power level to see play in constructed formats. Let’s dive in.
As a Whole
As a whole, these cards have some things in common. Firstly, and most obviously, they’re sorceries, which means they’ll need to be doing something quite powerful, as Standard has become somewhat more instant-focused in the past several years. Sorceries that have seen play are either, in general, under-costed or over-powered.
The other main feature that they all have in common is that they’re, obviously, Legendary Sorceries. This is is a significant drawback to the cards that, if they are playable, will undoubtedly lead to some very awkward situations where they can’t be cast. There are already a number of Legendary creatures that are seeing play in Standard, but it’s very likely that these cards will demand that a higher density of Legendary creatures be present in order for them to be playable. While it’s unlikely that a “tribal” Legendary deck would be playable, the payoff of these powerful cards is one of the main arguments for such a deck being viable.
Now let’s take a look at each individual card.
Urza’s Ruinous Blast
This card is a variant of the classic board wipe, whatever you want to call it. At 5 mana, this is a decent rate, as we’ve seen Fumigate be the wipe of choice for Control decks for a while now. This card differs from other board wipes is in two distinct ways. Firstly, it exiles the non-land permanents that it hits, which is very relevant in a format filled with Rekindling Phoenix, Scrapheap Scrounger, and the like. This is one of the main weaknesses of straight up board wipes like Fumigate, and is definitely one of the major pros of Urza’s Ruinous Blast.
Secondly, it will not hit Legendaries, for better or for worse. On the plus side, if you have Legendary permanents in play, this card’s ceiling could be a one-sided board wipe, an effect that is certainly up there for the most powerful thing you can do in Standard. On the flip side, especially if you’re a Control deck, which is where this card would logically fit in, not being able to hit Planeswalkers or some of the very relevant Gods in the format is a huge drawback that brings this card to the brink of unplayability. The interesting combination of this sort of effect that doesn’t hit Legendaries alongside being a Legendary sorcery at minimum guarantees that you’ll be left with at least 1 creature standing if you’re able to get Urza’s Ruinous Blast off.
All in all, I think we’ll have to see how the Standard format shapes up first before making a decision on this card’s playability. However, the ceiling is high enough that I would encourage everyone to keep their radars on this Legendary Sorcery.
Karn’s Temporal Sundering
Not to burst any bubbles, but Time Walk effects are generally not playable in Standard, as they don’t actively progress the board state, especially when cast so late. Karn’s Temporal Sundering recognizes that and gives you the added bonus of being able to bounce a creature. Unfortunately, I’m ready to write this one off as a worse version of Baral’s Expertise.
Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering
At 5 mana, reanimating a creature and destroying your opponent’s best creature is certainly better than your average 2-for-1. In this day and age of grindy midrange-fests, I’m very encouraged by what I see in this card. In the midrange board stall matchup that we’ve seen a lot in the recent past, with removal spells and haymakers flying back and forth, this card is undoubtedly king. Hitting planeswalkers both on its reanimation and on its destroy effect sets the caster of this card up beautifully for the next several turns of the game. In these grindy midrange matchups, stalling out the board with a few creatures in play on both sides is a very common occurrence, making me believe that this card would be a very consistent performer in that context. While I don’t think that this will be able to spawn any dedicated Reanimator decks in Standard, it is certainly a possibility if we’re given enough support in the rest of the Dominaria spoilers.
The one major thing that gives me pause about this card is the history of reanimation spells in Standard. It’s been a very long time since I can remember a reanimation spell that was found in the mainboard of Standard decks. Even one as potentially powerful as this one can struggle to find a target on turn 5, when aggressive decks tend to demand that you do something. However, I’m fairly bullish on this card, and would expect it to see play at one point or another, whether that be in mainboards or sideboards.
Jaya’s Immolating Inferno
Woah. Now, I know I’ve been excited about Fireball effects before, but this one’s powerful! I can’t possibly think of a similarly powerful-looking card that flopped in Standard.
All kidding aside, this card appears to be quite the powerful card. Being costed at XRR instead of XXR or XXRR is a huge deal, as you can get a direct mana-to-damage conversion that isn’t awkward in the slightest. Having the built-in power of dealing that much damage to each target is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent times. At 3 mana, this card is a not inconsequential AoE effect against aggressive decks. At 4-6 mana, you have yourself a 3-for-1 against midrange decks. Anything beyond that is gravy.
Cards like Pia Nalaar, Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, and Hazoret the Fervent are red cards that already see massive amounts of play in this format, so I find it very unlikely that the Legendary Sorcery stumbling block applies much at all here. Expect Jaya’s Immolating Inferno to be a powerful option in Standard.
Kamahl’s Druidic Vow
Unfortunately for Kamahl, I’m vowing to not play this card. These sorts of effects that demand that you pump a decent amount of mana into them have never been terribly exciting. This one in particular has several things going against it. Firstly, it requires that you already have a Legendary creature in play, which means that you need a high density of Legendary creatures in your deck, which then creates the possibility for awkward situations in which your Vow hits creatures but you can’t keep all of them. Secondly, you’ll need a lot of mana to make this card worth it, as we saw with Genesis Wave in Standard. Lastly, and most importantly, it only hits Legendary permanents! That greatly diminishes the power of this card and constricts deckbuilding. With all of these downsides combined, I highly doubt we’ll see this played.
This cycle of cards is one of the most intriguing in the set. But which of them, if any, will break through in Standard? We’ll just have to wait to find out.
Until next time,
Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/spellsnare_
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/spellsnare