As if the MTG spoiler season didn’t already raise the hype to a fever pitch for M20, it’s now available on MTG Arena and I wanted to share my first impressions. After a few hours of playing, testing a new archetype I expect better players than I to refine, and then seeing how new cards slot into my pet deck, Izzet Pheonix, I’ve come away with a few thoughts. Three of them, in fact.
The Flying Theme Is Strong With This One
In Limited, Azorius fliers is already an archetype and a good one at that, but the support for it is strong enough that I could see something happening in Standard. Specifically within Jeskai. Sephara, Sky Blade is a massive body that could come down too fast with little creatures like Faerie Miscreant and Ptermander. Warden of Evos Isle and Empyrean Eagle play well together and separate, giving the deck both speed and stronger go-wide plans. And, on the spell side of things, Winged Words and Flame Sweep both act as big pay-offs for making almost if not all creatures in your deck flying. And, finally, my old pal Niv Mizzet, Parun, Murmuring Mystic, and God-Eternal Kefnet, along with their new friend Kykar, Wind’s Fury all give you the payoff for playing the usual suite of draw and burn and counter and bounce spells. It’s going to be an expensive deck, but boy do I want to give this thing a try.
Three Mana Planeswalkers Are Going To Take Over Standard
So, we all already knew Narset and little Teferi were some of the strongest cards any deck could be using (they printed and made Fry uncounterable for a reason) but now we have two new ones to make board states more complicated. A lot of fuss is made for the big Chandra, but the three mana one is just busted. It produces an endless supply of little Elementals, helps buff up other red Planeswalkers (Big Chandra, Flame Artisan, Big Ral, and Sarkhan are some of the most devastating ones), and her minus ability is another way to recur spells to revive Phoenix or just get even more utility out of Lava Coil or Tyrant’s Scorn or Thought Scour. And then there’s Mu Yanling, who’s devastating. Her opening ability neuters a lot of targets and opens attack plays with big fliers. Her bird friend is just as big as Sarkhan’s dragon token, but also is an elemental, and, finally, her ultimate is not an instant win, sure, but it may as well be if any cards left in the deck are relevant.
The Cavaliers Are Not A Joke
Sure, five mana, restrictive mana cost, and all that—all the usual issues with otherwise powerful MTG cards—but the blue one gives you a Brainstorm, and like the God-Eternals, is hard to get rid of for long. It even does something as it dies.
Cavalier of Flame just keeps having more text. On cast, while on the board, and when it leaves, it’s always causing problems for your opponent. At time of writing, it’s sold out on TCGplayer—that’s absurd.
Cavalier of Thorns is perhaps more suited to Commander or other formats, but it’s possibly going to find a home in Command the Dreadhorde decks, or any other green deck where getting stuff in the graveyard is necessary. The Black and White Cavaliers are by far the weakest—but Cavalier of Dawn does kill literally anything but a land and I could see it as a one-of in midrange strategies. Cavalier of Night is likely only going to see play in Orzhov plans or other Aristocrat lists, but it’s still strong there.
The Cavaliers aren’t going to warp Standard or anything, but they’re not to be underestimated and I recommend testing with them.
And that’s all I’ve got so far. M20 hasn’t even hit paper Magic yet, but it’s already making waves, and I’m excited to see where it goes. For the next few months, we’re going to see an extremely varied meta, so enjoy it and play some MTG cards.
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