Early Forecast: What Rises and Falls with the Early WAR Spoilers
Even with the very little we've gotten so far, War of the Spark looks to change the landscape of Standard in a big way. The biggest impact will be the injection of 36 planeswalkers, some which look to be format-defining, but that's not the only cards that have caught my eye. In this early forecast, I want to take a look at which cards might come out as winners and losers of the new format!
With a set introducing 36 new planeswalkers, it doesn't take much to figure out that a card that shuts down planeswalkers' activated abilities is quite good. For that reason alone, I expect The Immortal Sun to be everywhere as the curve topper of many midrange and control decks that don't rely heavily on planeswalkers. Another reason why The Immortal Sun will likely be seen everywhere is due to the current lack of maindeckable answers to artifacts in the top-performing decks. Outside of Assassin's Trophy, Vraska, Relic Seeker, and Knight of Autumn, decks are running very few ways to permanently deal with an artifact once it has resolved. That could all change depending on cards that have yet to be spoiled, but the future looks bright for the mythic from Rivals of Ixalan.
Speaking of activated abilities, Sorcerous Spyglass is another card that will most likely see an uptick in play. As of today (April 1st), there are a handful of lands and planeswalkers spoiled that will assuredly slot into the format's best decks, such as Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Emergence Zone. This doesn't even consider the existence of already-existing cards such as Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Sorcerous Spyglass gives players a catch-all answer to a wide array of problematic permanents across the board that their opponents might play, and I would be shocked if we didn't see more from this two-mana artifact.
Wilderness Reclamation in RNA Standard already enables some of the format's most off-the-wall powerful plays in conjunction with cards such as Nexus of Fate and Expansion // Explosion. A large part of the synergy between the cards is the latter's card types as instants – they can immediately get value off of the mana that Reclamation provides. With the coming of Emergence Zone and Teferi, Time Raveler, however, a whole host of spells will now be able to be cast at instant speed. This in turn will increase the card pool that Reclamation decks can take advantage of, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if one of these interactions ends up resulting in the banning of Reclamation. In any case, expect to see a lot more decks running Wilderness Reclamation after War of the Spark releases.
Whether it's Emergence Zone, Karn's Bastion, or Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, the upcoming Standard format will have plenty of lands that need answering. Field of Ruin, already a maindeckable card depending on the metagame and the greedy mana base of many Standard decks, will possibly make a comeback in mono-color and two-colored decks that can run the card without hurting their mana base. On the other side of things, we might see more decks running basics to counter the increase in Field of Ruin.
It might be too early to announce the downfall of Standard's most beloved death lizard, but a few cards coming out of the pipeline seem to forecast a grim future for the bane of midrange and control decks. Liliana's Triumph is an eternal-playable edict effect that can cleanly answer Carnage Tyrant. On top of that, decks that will be running Liliana's Triumph will most likely also be running the new Liliana, Dreadhorde General. With decks armed to the teeth with sacrifice-effects, it's going to be very difficult to rely on Carnage Tyrant to carry players to the finish line. The trend has already been tipping in Hydroid Krasis' favor for a while now, and WAR may be the nail in the coffin for the Tyrant. “No king rules forever, my son.”
Nexus of Fate, quite possibly the most proxied card of 2018 and 2019, might finally be on the downswing at tournaments, and judges can finally breathe a sigh of relief with what's to come in WAR. Dovin's Veto is a souped-up Negate that will find its home in decks ranging from White-Blue Weenies to Esper Control, and the ability of Veto to win counterspells means that Nexus decks can't rely on the oodles of mana to win counter wars anymore.
Control Builds Outside of W/U/x Control
Dovin's Veto also presents an interesting (albeit possibly problematic) deck-building conundrum. Veto, as mentioned before, can win counter wars on its own, which puts certain flavors of control decks high above others. For example, Esper will now be able to fight over a spell much better than Grixis can, and sideboard copies of Negate that the Grixis Control may have brought in will fare far worse due to the presence of Veto.
Of course, this could mean that the non-W/U Control decks lean towards becoming midrange decks, or they may lean even heavier on discard spells to tear apart the opponent's hand. However, I see control decks that have access to blue and white coming out on top as the go-to choice for the archetype as long as Veto is in Standard.
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