Following on from the excellent Conspiracy release is the newest set of Magic: the Gathering to hit the shelves – MTG15 is the most recent core set and seems set to be the most exciting to be released in many years. Gone are the days where core sets were seen as mere filler, supporting the more flavourful block sets; MTG15 plunges the player into the latest chapter in the life of Garruk Wildspeaker, the veil-cursed green mage and his thirst for revenge and his hunt for that most challenging game: other planeswalkers!
Alongside core set staples we all know and love, the release of MTG15 brings us a new series of cards with guest designers – big names in the gaming community have submitted card ideas and with a little input from R&D at Wizards have had those ideas turned into a variety of cards. Submissions from the creators of Minecraft, Borderlands, Plants vs. Zombies and many more iconic games have all been included, and have added a whole new layer of depth to the set.
We also see the return of an old mechanic; Convoke was originally the “Selesnya” mechanic from Ravnica: City of Guilds way back in 2005, and allows players to use their untapped creatures to reduce the mana-cost of otherwise prohibitively expensive cards. The most highly anticipated card showcasing this mechanic is Chord of Calling, allowing the player to tutor a creature card from their deck directly to the battlefield at instant speed. Other exciting cards with the mechanic include Triplicate Spirits (putting three 1/1 flying spirits into play), Stoke the Flames (4 damage to target creature or player), Obelisk of Urd (all creatures of a chosen type get +2/+2 – did someone say Slivers?) and Chief Engineer – this last example doesn’t have convoke itself, but grants the ability to all artefact cards cast by its controller. Combining this with some of the spells in the current format, and we could very well see the return of an affinity-like deck archetype to standard play!
Like all new sets, MTG15 prerelease events were held all over the world. Players chose from five colour specific prerelease packs containing 5 booster packs from M15 plus 1 seeded booster which contains cards specifically included to help the chosen colour and the promo rare in the colour chosen. Players then build a 40 card deck from the cards included in the box and play a swiss tournament. My own experiences at the local Waterstones prerelease events in Nottingham were incredibly polarised, losing all but 1 of 5 rounds in the solo but coming out on top in the Two Headed Giant event
For the solo event I stuck close to my heart and chose to Hunt with Strength, the green prerelease box. Given that the Green promo wasn’t the best, I was hoping to land some of the other green rares which are all playable in this format, and I wasn’t initially disappointed. Chord of Calling and Hornet Queen stood out as powerful, and the support from Red was too tempting to pass up. Also in the box was a Jace, the Living Guildpact, Resolute Archangel (the White promo rare) and a couple of less useful artefact rares. My initial matches were enough to make me swap to a Green/White combination, which also turned out badly enough that I resorted to my final two colours and played Blue and Black, which still didn’t work very well. Still, I learned a great deal about the format which can be summed up in a couple of words – don’t underestimate Frost Lynx! It rules!
The two-headed giant event was much more my thing to begin with, and the two decks we built to play used all 5 colours between them. I played a Green/White creature heavy build with a lot of threats and a few combat tricks, and my team-mate played an equally creature heavy build with a lean more towards a control element, utilising myriad flying creatures and kill spells to keep the board presence well in our favour. From these matches, I can safely say I grew to really appreciate the power of the new cycle of Soul of ___. These 6/6 avatars of their respective planes are all brilliantly powerful in a sealed environment and are very difficult to deal with if they’re allowed to hit the battlefield. That said, the leg work achieved by lesser evasive creatures cannot be understated.
Since the prerelease, I’ve managed to draft the set a couple of times and I have to say I really like the set for this format. It highlights the usefulness of a lot of cards I might normally overlook and is teaching me a lot about the game I wouldn’t otherwise find out. Find your LFGS and play a draft with the set – you won’t regret it! If you’re new to Magic, don’t be shy! There has never been a better time to learn to play limited than the release of a new Core set, and MTG15 is the best one yet!