Well it’s that time of year, where Magic players from all around the world gather together to play in the prerelease for the latest set, in this case, Worldwake. This set brings with it some of the most powerful cards to hit standard in recent memory such as Jace, the Mindsculptor and Abyssal Persecutor. However, standard isn’t currently in season, and I’m still getting a feel for extended, so I decided to write about limited, and how to best succeed at your local prerelease.
Unlike Zendikar before it, Worldwake is a second expansion, which means that we’ll still be using three packs of Zendikar for our sealed pool. Thus, we cannot simply consider cards in the context of the Worldwake set, we must consider them in the context of the entire Zendikar block thus far.
For example, take the new one-drop ally, Hada Freeblade. In Worldwake, there are 11 allies, 4 of which are rare. We can discount the rare ones because they will seldom show up in a limited card pool. Of the other 6 non-rare allies, none of them share a colour with the Freeblade, and although we will often play multiple colours in a limited format, the benefit of any ally is greatly reduced when you have a low density of allies. Of course you could remedy this by increasing the number of colours you play, but then you run the risks associated with an unstable mana base. Thus, we can say that in a format that only includes worldwake, the Freeblade is most often going to be a white Norwood Ranger.
However, when your sealed pool is a 3-3 split of product, the power of freeblade goes up because of the number and quality of allies in the Zendikar expansion. Freeblade is best when you can follow it up with a turn 2 ally, ideally Kazandu Blademaster, but something like Oran-Reif Survivalist also works. Compare the survivalist to something like Bojuka Brigand, and you see the difference in card quality.
Another card I think has huge potential in Limited is Marsh Threader, the companion to Zendikar’s Cliff Threader. We saw in 6x Zendikar sealed that the most popular colour combination was without a doubt red/black. This card is a tool that will hopefully be good enough to see mainboard play because of the sheer number of players that choose to play black for cards like Hideous End, Urge to Feed and Disfigure. The allure of the removal spell is a strong one, and many players will choose these colours for that reason. Therefore, I think that this card is an extremely viable candidate for any deck playing white. In Zendikar limited, having efficient creatures is of the utmost importance, and so when we have a creature that will be unblockable against the majority of the field, we might wish to overvalue it a little bit more. In the same vein, Quag Vampires might be a bit more playable in this format than it normally would, but the colour commitment for that card is slightly higher and thus makes the vampires slightly less attractive.
Oftentimes in Zendikar limited, I would notice that some creatures were amazing in a vacuum, but never stayed alive long enough to be absurdly powerful. I’m talking about cards like Territorial Baloth, Merfolk Seastalkers and Baloth Woodcrasher. All these cards were powerful, but they were only a Hideous End or Inferno Trap away from being destroyed. Even some bombs out of Zendikar packs could be quickly invalidated by removal, making them a lot less spectacular. For this reason, I believe that Canopy Cover is a Worldwake spell that should not be overlooked. Of course it can be responded to, but it adds so much resiliency to your creatures that are otherwise so vulnerable that I would run the risk of the 2-for-1 that accompanies all aura to better enhance my long-term game plan.
These are the 3 cards that I believe should not be undervalued now that Worldwake has been added into the mix. While most players will be able to identify the likes of Bestial Menace and Apex Hawks as powerful in limited, the best players will look beyond those for the cards that are best suited to the environment.
If you have any ideas as to what cards might be great in limited out of Worldwake, sound off in the comments. Any questions/comments/suggestions can also be aired there, by emailing me at zak -AT- power9pro.com or via my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.
I wish you all luck in your prereleases, and may open many copies of Jace, the Mindsculptor.