First, the return of the shocklands has officially been confirmed! Speculation has run rampant about their return, so it was nice to get some affirmation from WotC. The ten shocklands will return with beautiful, new artwork. When Modern was introduced as a competitive format, WotC talked about reprinting key cards to allow ease of access into the format. High on the list of desired reprints were the shocklands. Hopefully, the inevitable price drop will usher in some new faces into the Modern scene. For those unfamiliar with these powerful lands, they’re notable for two reasons. Shocklands enter the battlefield tapped unless you pay 2 life, in which case they enter the battlefield regularly. Having turn one value on a two-colored land is absolutely critical. The other important feature of shocks is that they are dual lands. Unlike the taplands from the Core and Innistrad, shocklands count as corresponding land types. E.g., Hallowed Fountain, which generates either one blue or one white mana, counts as both an Island and a Plains. This means that shocklands are searchable by cards like Farseek and Liliana of the Dark Realms. More importantly, shocklands are valid targets for the Onslaught and Zendikar fetchlands.
Also spoiled last night was the set’s first Planeswalker: Jace, Architect of Thought. We’ve known, from various teaser arts, that Jace would be back in Ravnica. It’s not realistic to talk about the card’s Standard viability, but it looks like it could be a ton of fun in multiplayer formats, namely EDH. I’m not a fan of the -2 ability, and I’m not entirely convinced that the +1 is strong enough to help you charge up for the ultimate, which is what makes this card a good consideration for multiplayer formats. There’s still one more Planeswalker in RTR that hasn’t been spoiled. The second set, Gatecrash, will see the arrival of two more Planeswalkers, one of whom should be Gideon Jura.
Finally, Wizards also released all of the keywords for RTR’s guilds. They released a full article detailing how the mechanics will work, but I’ll list them below:
- Detain – Azorius (U/W) – Many Azorius-affiliated cards allow you to detain an opponents’ nonland permanent until your next turn, which prohibits that permanent from attacking, blocking, or having its activated abilities used. Static abilities, such as Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite’s stat changes, are unaffected.
- Overload – Izzet (U/R) – Izzet-affiliated cards may sometimes contain an Overload cost, which is higher than the original casting cost. By paying an Overload cost, you change the language on the card from “target” to “each.”
- Populate – Selsneya (G/W) – In a format with no Ratchet Bomb, Populate could really go to town. This ability allows you to create a token that’s a copy of a token. Take a look through some of the Selesnya-aligned cards in the spoiler, and you’ll get a glimpse at how powerful this mechanic could be.
- Unleash – Rakdos (B/R) – Unleashed cards enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on them; however, they cannot block. This mechanic should bring some interesting versatility to aggro decks. In a pinch, you can Unleash a card for more power, or have it hang back as a blocker if you’re outnumbered.
- Scavenge – Golgari (B/G) – This mechanic is interesting. If a creature card is in the graveyard, you can pay its Scavenge cost to dump +1/+1 counters onto a creature equal to the power of the Scavenged creatures. Scavenge can only be activated as a sorcery. Scavenge costs are high, but it’s a powerful mechanic.
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