In the year 2010…

In case you haven’t heard, Magic is skipping 11th Edition and coming straight to year-by-year summer updates of 250 cards each. This starts out with Magic 2010, named for the following year in a trend inspired by professional sports games (and hopefully not a ploy to make Magic more of a “sport” than a game). Honestly, I’m kind of torn by this–while I love seeing old favorites rotate back in, especially with the black-border 10th Edition nonsense, most of the cards never get used. When was the last time you put into your maindeck any of the following: Samite Healer, Drudge Skeleton, Giant Growth. Yet without these cards, it just wouldn’t be Magic. Instead, with Magic 2010, we’re given a big chunk of new cards as well as some old favorites, including only 8 cards carried over from the “core set staple” group.

As for previews…we’re given Black Knight, Birds of Paradise, and an UNCOMMON Serra Angel! Think about it–the card that was so powerful it had to go missing between fifth and seventh editions, now back as an uncommon instead of a rare. Sweetness! Back to its old rarity! Manabirds makes me think (hope) for multicolor, and is never a bad thing to include, and Black Knight is a good ole black creature that I think could help strengthen up black (hopefully a sign that black will be competative again?). Plus, it’s got new art!

The three new cards are likewise hot:
Silence – W – Instant – Your opponents can’t play spells this turn. (Rare)
Wall of Frost – 1UU – Creature/Wall – 0/7 Whenever it blocks, that creature doesn’t untap next untap phase. (Uncommon)
Capricious Efreet – 4RR – Creature/Efreet – 6/4 At beginning of upkeep, choose nonland permanent you control and up to two nonland permanent’s you don’t control. Destroy one of these at random. (Rare)

Silence is required. Screw Savannah Lions, this will be the real rare one-mana bomb for white. Seriously, that is so powerful and utilitarian–block out Damnation or Wrath! Screw over lengthy combos! Protect yourself from counterspells! Heck, hose target player at the start of his turn! There’s no downside to these at all. Well, with the exception of price (I can see these becoming a $10 or $15 rare real quick, maybe more, especially if white’s getting a major boost…which it should be, considering the uncommon Serras.) Serious power.

Of the three, I like Wall of Frost best for its flavor–do I see blue creatures coming back? Moreover, do I see walls coming back? It’s arguably the best wall since the ones in Stronghold (Wall of Razors, etc.)… I can almost see it getting into maindecks (2x or 3x) as creature/combo delay. Nifty ability on top a real bargain (0/7 defender for three?!), but will it overtake Plumeveil as the three-mana defender? At the end of the day, though, it’s still just a damn wall… a wall with a nifty ability. It reminds me a lot of Ice Age with its name and flavor, so perhaps that’s why I’m a little biased for it.

I’m not really sold on Capracious Efreet. I can see it being pretty powerful–the odds are two against one, in your favor–but I’d like it a lot more if it had Flying or Trample or something to make it more effective as a creature. As it is, it feels like a bargain-bin crap rare that will get some casual play and become overlooked by everyone else. Still, that’s a rough ability if you can get it to work right, like if you use a lot of graveyard mechanics. Still, 6-power for six mana is great value, even if it’s still vulnerable to Char or Flame Javelin, and the chaotic destruction ability is damn powerful as long as you have chumps to select.

In terms of the new “non-lethal” duals, the rumor mill has a lot floating. Many people were hedging for the Ravnica shocklands, or the Onslaught fetchlands, as both are out of Standard and Extended respectively. One of the rumors I heard was something along the lines of the Invasion uncommon comes-into-play-tapped lands, or the Ice Age depletion/Kamigawa slow duals. My real hope is something along the lines of the Future Sight lands, like Nimbus Maze–they’re only a dual if you have both kinds of normal land, thus upping their utility and creating more of a deck unity theme. Time will tell, though I have to say the last style is the only one which will really start up any engines–the various slow duals just arn’t very good in the competative environment. Heck, I rarely see painlands getting decked in the casual environment these days. Again, if wishes were horses, they’d reprint shocklands so that Watery Graves would become a.) more common and b.) less expensive…

For the returning cards, there’s a lot of speculation. Wrath of God, Giant Growth, Drudge Skeletons, and Samite Healers are all suspected, but I’d rather see some renovations to the staples–shake it up for us old-timers as well as the noobs! Grizzly Bears are fine, but what about Grey Ogres or Regeneration? To be honest, I like the “back to basics” mentality–Ironroot Treefolk versus Kavu Climber, something everyone gets immediately versus a “Huh?” card included only because it’s *green card draw*–and can’t wait to see how that’s applied to the 250-card set.

Will black come back as a color? Will red burn remain as castrated as it’s been since the late ’90s? Will blue ever get some decent counterspells in a core set again? I’d sure as hell like to know. Find out… this summer!

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