June 18, 2018

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Daily Dose of Core 2019 – Return of the Planeswalkers

Welcome back to week two of preview season here on the Daily Dose of Core 2019. This weekend provided us with some more cards to talk about including two Planeswalkers... Well more like one and a half, but we'll get to that in a bit.

I can’t wait for spoiler season proper to start and for even more Planeswalkers to make their appearance. I’ll be talking about two cards today, one of them is a returning Planeswalker and one of them is a returning creature. That’s right, I said creature- because it can transform into a Planeswalker! Much like Nissa, Vastwood Seer // Nissa, Sage Animist and her fellow Gatewatch from Magic Origins, this card starts as a creature and transforms into a Planeswalker. I loved the designs of these cards when they first came out so I’m glad to see another one.

But before I get to that card, I want to talk about the return of another Planeswalker that we haven’t seen mono-coloured since Magic 2015. Let's look at Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants:


Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants is a four-casting cost Planeswalker that starts with four loyalty counters. That's a solid start. Now, let's have a look at this Planeswalker's abilities:

[+1]: Put a +1/+1 counter on each of up to two target creatures. – This is a great +1 ability that will make sure you're winning battles in an aggressive deck. A great use for this ability is to pump up your two and three drops to be larger than any blockers on the field. It will also put you in a better position when it comes to combat for the rest of the game. That way, even if you do trade creatures, you're most likely trading up thanks to those extra counters.

[-2]: Return target creature card with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield. – Being able to put a creature directly on the battlefield is a great Planeswalker ability. Here are just a few examples of valid targets for this ability currently in Standard:





And that’s just a list of the best green and white creatures you can bring back. This ability will make sure you have plenty of creatures to put those +1/+1 counters on the following turn.

[-7]: You get an emblem with "At the beginning of your end step, create three 1/1 white Cat creature tokens with lifelink." – Unlike some Planeswalker ultimates that can win you the game within a couple of turns, this is more of a long, slow kill. At the start you’ll have some blockers that will gain you some life, but if left unchecked you'll take over the battlefield with a swarm of lifelink Cat tokens that will dish out some major damage.

Next up we have the return of one of the most iconic characters in Magic, Nicol Bolas. Back from the Hour of Devastation, he's making his return in creature form for the first time since his original incarnation as Nicol Bolas. Here's the front half of the transforming card Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen:


Before I talk about the Planeswalker side of this card, let me review Bolas solely as a creature. To start off, you get a 4/4 Flying creature for four mana. That's a solid start. On top of that your opponent is forced to discard a card, a good two-for-one value without even having to flip this card over.

When it comes to transforming Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, it costs mana to do at sorcery speed. Since exiling it is not part of its transformation cost, your opponent will have an opportunity to kill it with the ability on the stack. This would leave you with seven mana lost and down one creature. The tricky part about this card will be figuring out if it is worthwhile to transform it, or if you are better off in some scenarios having a 4/4 Flying creature on the battlefield. But, if you do successfully transform it, you get this beautiful Planeswalker:


Nicol Bolas starts off at a whopping seven loyalty counters, and has four different abilities. Let's break them down.

[+2]: Draw two cards. – Did I read that correctly? A plus Planeswalker ability that tells you to draw two cards! This crazy card advantage also has the extra effect of making it harder to kill by bringing it to nine loyalty counters. No planeswalker has even had this as a plus ability before without the need to discard other cards at the same time! This ability will take over the game, as you'll draw three cards a turn, and your opponent will need to focus resources on killing this Elder Dragon before you can activate it's ultimate and win.

[-3]: Nicol Bolas, the Arisen deals 10 damage to target creature or Planeswalker. – This ability should just read, “Kill target creature or planeswalker”, but it doesn’t. Here’s hoping that my only creature on the battlefield when my opponent casts this is Ghalta, Primal Hunger!

[-4]: Put target creature or Planeswalker card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. – This first use that I thought of for this ability was just bringing back another copy of Nicol Bolas, the Ravager // Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, as you can have both sides on the battlefield at the same time. A key part of this ability is “from a graveyard”, meaning that you can target either player’s graveyard to get the best choice available to put onto the battlefield.

[-12]: Exile all but the bottom card of target player’s library. – Remember when I was talking about the ultimate ability for Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants and how it was a slow grind? Well, this is the exact opposite. This is a two turn kill, unless your opponent has some way of adding cards to their library. It will take some time to get twelve loyalty counters, but I can’t wait to see someone use this ability.

Now those are a couple of exciting preview cards! With such a strong start to the week, I can't wait to see what comes next. Thanks again for reading the Daily Dose, and I hope you’re enjoying what you’ve read so far. Join me again tomorrow to find out what else Core 2019 has in store for us!