This Month in Magic: The Ides of March

WRITTEN BY

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another Month in Magic. I'm Joe Dyer and this month we're here to talk about whatever is going on in the Magic community. I'm also gonna talk a little bit about Modern Horizons because obviously, that's on everyone's mind.

WotC: I heard you like Planeswalkers

That's right, War of the Spark teasing is slowly coming to fruition, with the biggest reveal of the fact that the set will contain THIRTY-SIX Planeswalker cards (each a different Planeswalker character) and in addition, each pack will contain a Planeswalker card in it.

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this, but objectively speaking it sounds almost as if we are in for the situation where many of these are printed at a rarity lower than mythic and may only provide static effects or only tick down in loyalty and then possibly transform into creatures. We all know that Nicol Bolas is snuffing out the sparks of Planeswalkers on Ravnica in order to attain his own godhood back, so it makes a flavorful sense to have these Walkers not actually be able to tick up in loyalty.

Of course, we don't know much more than the fact that there are 36 walkers involved in the storyline. The upside of this? Characters such as Davriel Cane from Children of the Nameless will be involved, so, therefore, I am instantly sold.

Mechanically speaking, this could either be awful for Standard (36 Planeswalkers!) or it could just do nothing to the format if the bulk of the cards have weak effects with only a few good ones.

Either way, it should be a relatively interesting spoiler season and an even more interesting prerelease.

Modern Horizons

That's right, if you haven't been living under a rock you might know that this years Innovation set (like Conspiracy/Battlebond) is Modern Horizons, a set which seeks to do something that a lot of us have been hoping Wizards of the Coast would do: Print a set that puts cards directly into Modern without first being printed in Standard.

THIS IS A GOOD THING.

What's not to like? This set is going to be roughly 200 new cards (two of which we saw already in the form of Serra and Cabal Therapist) and 50ish reprints, but none of those reprints will be existing Modern legal cards. All of them are cards that were previously not legal in Modern but will be made Modern legal through this set. What does this mean for existing Modern cards? Well, yeah, you know: Prices soaring on things like fetch lands, etc. Scalding Tarn is already pretty ridiculous in price.

However, the idea of having cards from older sets become Modern legal is actually pretty cool and intriguing. Of course, it's created a lot of discussion on what should be reprinted and for the most part people have been discussing cards that just genuinely should have no place in Modern whatsoever.

So folks, if you're one of those few people who fervently believe that Wizards will print cards like Force of Will, Wasteland, or god forbid Brainstorm into Modern legality, keep waiting. It's not going to happen this time, and possibly not ever. I have even had people attempt to convince me that cards like Sylvan Library (a color pie break now in Green) and even Hymn to Tourach (have you ever cast this card?) would be safe to print (they're wrong, by the way).

Realistically there are a good number of cards that are plenty safe to print and would boost some existing archetypes in the format. The most common of these that people want to see is Counterspell, which I think would be just fine for a format like Modern. Other cards that would be fantastic would be cards like Flusterstorm and Containment Priest. These cards give fair decks answers to existing strategies and provide small buffs to certain fair strategies. I can already hear the Humans brigade on Containment Priest, but if you realistically think about it, the card is a sheer non-bo with their plan of Aether Vial and removes their ability to play their deck at instant speed which can be punishing if the opposing player's backup strategy is just better than Priest. I think if anything, Priest boosts midrange fair decks like Abzan, giving them an additional tool.

Some other cards that would be interesting to see would be things like Fact or Fiction, Diabolic Edict, and Flametongue Kavu. My biggest honest hope is for some tribal synergy assistance with cards like Goblin Matron, Gempalm Incinerator, and Goblin Ringleader. That being said, speaking of cards with cycling, I can think of only one major card that I would adore seeing:

Astral Slide. That's right. Astral Slide.

I don't even care if the Slide deck would be good (if they printed the Onslaught cycling lands I'd be happy with it), but it would be interesting nonetheless. In addition, this could also be a good place to reprint some of the cooler Madness creatures/enablers like Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, or Aquamoeba. These are all definitely things we could see.

The bigger focus on this set, however, is going to be the new cards. With roughly 80 percent of the set being new, it's going to be interesting to see how these cards will affect Modern overall. I do expect, based on the look at Cabal Therapist, that we will see more of these older spell effects stapled to a creature like this to make the effect a little more fair. Regardless, it's going to be super interesting to see what kind of effects and new things we will see out of this set.

WPN Changes

More recently announced, Wizards of the Coast is pushing to make some changes within the WPN program (which works with stores to present events, provide promotional cards/material, etc). The idea behind this is that the old levels system has been outgrown, and being able to develop a system that directly ties not just the quantity but the quality of LGS events, in addition to providing a WPN Premium membership, gives LGS's greater control over their Magic business.

I think these changes are long overdue myself. WPN has long been somewhat antiquated, and this is going to be a very good thing for LGS's. That being said, there are some criticisms in that WPN only considers engaged players to be those people who join six events (Standard, Sealed, Draft) per year. I find this interesting and maybe this metric isn't actually hard to hit, but within our area, Modern is much more popular overall, so maybe it's warranted to add certain formats like Modern to this metric on a case-by-case basis? A nod to the fact that certain areas promote formats like Modern over Standard better would maybe be nice.

In addition, of course, this has some leveled shots at formats like Legacy and Vintage, but my feelings on that are less upset because I know from a high-level standpoint that Wizards cares about these formats but doesn't care about them from a WPN standpoint. And honestly? I think that's fine. The Vintage community overall has taken the ball of maintaining the format from an organized play standpoint, and Legacy is headed the same direction it seems, especially considering that these formats are super cheap on Magic Online.

Cardhoarder Loan Program

So this is a pretty cool thing. Speaking of Magic Online, the folks at Cardhoarder just recently opened up their Loan Program this past month and it is fantastic. Their service works a little bit like ManaTraders does, except it's easily scalable to what works for you, and also there are no time limits on returning cards. I've been using it and I absolutely love it, mostly because I love Cardhoarder's integrity and commitment to the overall Magic community.

Definitely check it out if you like playing on Magic Online!

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this month folks! Pretty lowkey and not so super controversial month it seems! Join us next time as we talk about the MYTHIC INVITATIONAL!

Until next time, keep frosty and keep loving Magic!

Joseph Dyer (@volrathxp) is an avid Legacy enthusiast. He's admin of the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit, as well as a regular participant on the Source and MTGLegacy subreddits. His knowledge of the Legacy format is deeply rooted in constant analysis, playtesting, and lots of discussion of the format. Joseph's primary accomplishments include a 10–5 finish at GP Columbus 2016 with Rhino Fit, and a 32nd place finish at SCG Columbus Legacy Classic with Sneak Fit. 

MTG strategy, finance, & trading. Delivered weekly.

Join the other Magic traders who get our content first.