The full visual spoiler for Magic Origins was recently revealed and with it comes a whole host of new cards for Magic fans to fawn over. With a final total of 287 cards in the set, there’s plenty to be excited about. I’ve been watching the spoilers as they’ve been revealed, but, now that we know the whole set, I want to run through the ten cards I’m most exciting for in Magic Origins.
10. Sigiled Starfish
Okay, don’t abandon ship just yet. I assure you, I’m not crazy for starting with an uncommon (and a reprint at that). When Sigiled Starfish first showed up in Journey into Nyx, it became in instant hit in the limited scene for being both adorable and for functioning almost like a better Omenspeaker. The fact that had no power was an easy trade off given that you’d never attack with it. If you haven’t had the chance to use this in draft or sealed yet, I encourage you to give it a try. Toughness 3 on turn 2 will fend of early aggro and the Scry will improve your draws; plus you can spend your games calling it Patrick.
9. Hangarback Walker
I love so much about this card. It hits me on multiple psychographics that I can’t wait to try it out in just as many different contexts. The Johnny in me wants to see how quickly I can make infinite Thopter tokens while the Timmy in me just wants to see how it gets along with Vorel of the Hull Clade and Doubling Season. The Spike in me is pleased in both its ability to upscale and the fact that it gives you innate value from your pile of Thopters. I want this card to be good.
8. Shaman of the Pack
Do you remember Gray Merchant of Asphodel? Well, now it comes in Elf flavour. Delicious. Cards like this do a great job of guiding new players towards certain archetypes, and Elf tribal has clearly been presented as the Green/Black archetype for Magic Origins limited. I currently run a Selvala, Explorer Returned commander deck, but I think I may have to make a Nath of the Gilt-Leaf commander deck just for this.
7. Citadel Castellan
I have a theory that this somewhat unassuming uncommon could get a lot of standard play. It all hinges on how easy it is go get that Renown 2 trigger. If you can get it off, this becomes a vigilant Leatherback Baloth. I wouldn’t expect it to have much impact outside of Standard and Limited, but I look forward to picking it many drafts to come.
6. Goblin Piledriver
Another reprint, but this one is well worth mentioning. I first started playing just before Onslaught block, so I got to see how much work this card did when it was first printed. It’s been quite a few years, but I’m confident that it will easily hold its own. The boost to its power is already enough to enable some massive hits, but the Protection from Blue puts it over the top to the point that it’s just rude. Remember, there’s even a short period where Standard contains both Goblin Piledriver and Goblin Rabblemaster.
5. Evolutionary Leap
This card could do great things, if only for providing a more accessible alternative to Survival of the Fittest. It makes winning the endurance game a hell of a lot easier, doubly so if you’re able to manufacture creature tokens. With this out, your opponents spot removal suddenly becomes a hell of a lot worse; you just tap a Forest and get to reload your creature. Expect Golgari Commander Decks to be trying this out as their latest sac outlet.
4. Liliana, Heretical Healer / Liliana, Defiant Necromance
I could very easily used the new planeswalkers as the entire top five. I regard Liliana as the easiest to transform; all you have to do is get one of your creatures killed (and she’ll even reimburse you with a 2/2 Zombie). My only complaint is that I don’t think her planeswalker side is all that interesting. She doesn’t self protect or offer any removal, so the long-game becomes a race to her emblem (although I do appreciate that the arrangement of numbers means you can get to 9 and then -8). Her -X is nice, but if you’re rushing to transform you’re not likely to have a significant target that you can resurrect with first needing to +2. It’s nice that the +2 also gets creatures into the graveyard, but those extra turns are likely to be where Liliana gets killed before doing anything more meaningful.
3. Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh / Chandra, Roaring Flame
I put Chandra above Liliana both because I think she’s more interesting to transform and she’s more useful once she does. Dealing 3 damage may seem awkward, but remember that it includes combat damage; cast a burn spell to clear the path after you declare Chandra as an attacker and you can transform on her first attack. The planeswaker side has smaller numbers than I’d like (or maybe I’ve been spoiled by the -X of Chandra Nalaar) but I can’t help but feel that the -7 emblem is delightfully flavorful.
2. Kytheon, Hero of Akros / Gideon, Battle-Forged
Hooray! We get to have a good Gideon again! I was worried that, after the comparatively awful Gideon, Champion of Justice, we’d never get a good Gideon card, but here we are. A 2/1 for one with extra abilities is already exactly what White Weenie decks want. The creature type is a fine detail that I expect will be very relevant; it gets to synergise with both Humans and Soldiers, so expect to see people trying to play Kytheon alongside with Champion of the Parish and Soldier of the Pantheon. It’s also a great choice for Tiny Leaders, and is a great margin more interesting than the other White Weenie Commander, Isamaru, Hound of Konda.
Gideon, Battle-Forged feels like a toned down version of the original Gideon Jura (no Vengeance here, #sadface). I find the +1 to be the most interesting ability here. You can keep making your chosen creature indestructible to survive both your and your opponents’ removal. Why not give your Day of Judgment an extra sting by ensuring your Champion of the Parish lives through and can spend the whole game attacking? Definitely my favourite planeswalker in the set (Commiserations to Nissa and Jace).
1. Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Yup, I just went and rated Chandra’s parents higher than Chandra herself. This is another example of a card hitting multiple notes at once. It’s a brilliantly build informing Commander, it gives you innate value by stretching the 4/4 power and toughness over three bodies – and who doesn’t like throwing Thopters for shocks? It’s reminiscent of Siege-Gang Commander. On top of that, it’s one of the few instances where we get to see a character’s parents. It helps diversify the portrayal of Red as a colour by highlighting both its creativity through artifice and playing on paternal love. My only complaint about this card is a minor one, which is that it has converted mana-cost 4 and can’t be used in Tiny Leaders, but given that all of the transform planeswalkers can, I’ll forgive that point.
There you have it, my ten most anticipated cards from Magic Origins. The set has shaped up to be a great ‘last huzzah’ as the final Core Set and I don’t doubt that it will be a success for both new and existing players alike.
What cards are you looking forward to casting? Let me know what you’re looking forward to and tell me what you think of Magic Origins by throwing words at me on Twitter.