Gatecrash Guild Abilities Revealed!
Mike Eaton, Play Unplugged
Wizards of the Coast have been slowly revealing one spoiler from each guild as a holiday present to us, in an event that some (no one) are calling (no one is saying this) “Ravnichannukah!” (I regret nothing; viva le pun.)
On the first night, we met Fathom Mage, a Simic human with the ability, “Evolve”. When she’s out, and a bigger creature hits the field, she gets a +1/+1 counter. I love to see creatures that make themselves bigger. At 4 mana for a 1/1, she likely won’t live long enough to get truly huge and powerful, but the concept of this ability is exciting if we see it on anyone we can bring out a bit earlier. Excitement Level: 7 (Fathom Mage); 8 (Evolve).
Next, we caught sight of Rubblehulk, the Gruul preview. The red-green Dakkon Blackblade also has the new Gruul ability in him, called, “Bloodrush”. You can discard him and pay a cost to impart his ability onto an attacking creature. It probably won’t work this way in every case; I imagine Bloodrush will let us put similar abilities from the card we’re discarding onto another card. In this particular case, though, a Bloorushed Rubblehulk gives us an almost-uncounterable way to pump a creature for huge in red-green. Maybe I can finally build that modern Infect deck! Excitement Level: 8 (Rubblehulk); 7 (Bloodrush).
Our third gift from Wizards was Firemane Avenger.
You may already know from the name how I felt about Firemane Avenger.
At any rate, she’s a 3/3 Flying Angel for 4 mana, who has the new Boros ability, “Battalion”. When she attacks with two or more other creatures, an ability triggers, and she basically casts Lightning Helix. So, if there are three of her attacking at once (or, say, five, with Rite of Replication, each one will deal its damage, and you’ll gain the life. I actually already have a casual deck picked out, with this and a lady we all know as Miss America. Excitement Level: 6 (Battalion); 10 (Firemane Avenger).
Another ability that no one will probably allow on a cheap card is “Extort,” the new offering from Orzhov, which so far can be found on a six-mana creature called Treasury Thrull. While you have an Extorter on the table, you may pay one white or black mana every time you cast a spell to drain one life from each opponent and gain that much life. The Thrull is a 4/4 that can get artifacts, creatures, and enchantments back into your hand when it attacks. Now, I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this card right now; I’m not the type of player who can readily think up ways to abuse graveyard recursion in Standard. But I do know what I would do if I had multiple cards with Extort on the table — and that’s Win All The Games. Extort doesn’t target, and it only requires the permanent that has it to exist while you cast another spell. By the time you get to enough mana to cast this Thrull, you might be able to keep your stall up long enough to pull the game out, and that’s good news. I just won’t be running that deck, I assure you. Excitement Level: 9 (Extort); 4 (Treasury Thrull).
And, finally, Dimir brings us an ability that isn’t nearly as busted as I thought it was when I read it wrong: “Cipher”. Printed so far on Whispering Madness, it lets this new Windfall imprint itself onto a creature, who can cast it every time it deals combat damage. Windfall being restricted, and Invisible Stalker existing, Whispering Madness opens us up to mass card draw, mill strategies, and traditional Megrim-style death-by-discard. Any Cipher on this guy? A recipe for greatness. Excitement Level: 10 (Cipher); 8 (Whispering Madness).
Wow. So! How excited are you for Gatecrash, huh? A new deck type for each of these! Five more guilds, a hundred new possibilities. A new year for Magic: the Gathering!