Future Sight was the most unique set Wizards ever made, and probably the most far-reaching. The designers took to the idea of limitedly exploring ideas and seeding future sets in a way no other set had done before. It was a hit, in terms of story structure, playability, and long term value (FYI, as of this writing Horizon Canopy, one of the lesser regarded lands in the cycle when printed, is worth roughly $70 dollars).
Looking at Magic: Origins, I see the same implications. The story is definitely foreshadowing an eventual block set in Jace’s world, Vryn, and most likely Chandra’s too (man, wouldn’t those Phyrexians love to get their oily mitts on a plane that seems to poop ornithopters from every orifice). I’m primarily a Johnny, but I can truly appreciate the Vorthos-ian details in the set. It’s a storytelling homerun.
Equal to the storytelling, Origins seems to have been loaded with interesting cards that can function in a myriad of decks a plethora of diverse ways (that sentence was brought to you by the good people that gave me my English degree). The set is oozing with potential. I can see cards from this set exploding in value in the next few years as metagames shift and they are rediscovered by those brewers that have minds like an elephant’s. While a card like Pyromancer’s Goggles may not be immediately playable now, there’s nothing to say that it won’t be part of an instant-win combo in the next few years. The power is there.
So, let’s take a look at Origins. This isn’t my list of the best cards in the set, and it won’t include any of the Planeswalkers (since I’ve already written about them). This is my list of the most exciting cards in Origins.
– Abbot of Keral Keep: I can see this being played in both Standard and Modern. It works on multiple levels. It provides possible card advantage, something red decks always need, and it can smash face if unanswered (especially if your opponent sees that you’re playing red and sides out their removal). He slides into the Atarka’s Command decks so well, that it will be right to play him on turn 2 in many situations even if it means you lose the pseudo-card draw ability. I overlooked this guy at first, but he has the power to be a real player in the upcoming year.
– Animist’s Awakening: If we see landfall return in Battle For Zendikar, it’s entirely possible that this card becomes format defining. Ramp has been a player in Standard for over a year, and with the Dragons of Tarkir dodging the nearest rotation, I can see it remaining one of the most popular archetypes. While this doesn’t guarantee that you will hit those land drops, I can see it as a 1-2 of for the mid and late game. And then, it’s entirely possible we’ll see some 30-40 land monstrosity rear its head before we lose Courser of Kruphix and Kiora.
– Evolutionary Leap: When this card was spoiled I saw it being dismissed because of what it wasn’t (however, this was on r/magictcg, so take that with a grain of salt). This card isn’t the second coming of Survival of the Fittest or Birthing Pod. It’s not going to be a combo card that I can see). What it is going to do, is ensure that your creature based deck grinds the ever-loving hell out of any deck packing 10-15 removal spells and trying to win the long game via trades. The fact that Wizards didn’t tack on some lame ass, “You may only use this ability when you can play a sorcery,” or “you may only use this ability once per turn” opens the door for abuse. If nothing else, it allows you to turn early game mana dorks into late game card advantage.
– Foundry of the Consuls: A beautifully simple card that will find its way into Modern decks that pack Knight of the Reliquary, many Standard decks that can afford to be lose with their colored mana requirements, and maybe even an affinity deck or two. Get those thopter tokens now.
– Goblin Piledriver: Last month I wrote that it was only a matter of time until Elves was a tier one deck and now it is. I see the same future for Goblins. I’ve been playing a Collected Company Goblins deck in Modern on MTGO for the past week and it has been performing well (you may yet get an article on this deck). When you add one of the decks defining cards, I can only imagine that it will be better.
– The Great Aurora: Okay, so this card is ridiculously expensive, probably too expensive to ever see competitive play. But… getting to nine mana in a green deck isn’t unreasonable. I’d imagine you’d already be playing something like Nissa, and Explosive Vegetation. Especially if you’re building the deck to take advantage of this reset button. Warp World was a thing for a bit, and I could totally see that being this deck’s floor. If we get Eldrazi Spawn in BFZ, we could be looking at something completely different though. If nothing else, it can be a fantastic kitchen table deck when you want to unwind.
Also, I have a daughter named Aurora and I’m getting this altered for her ASAP.
– Harbinger of Tides: “Hello darkness my old friend. The Merfolk have come for me again. Turn three Thassa came a creeping. Into my meta while I was sleeping.” This card will definitely see play in Standard and Modern, and not just in Merfolk deck. This card gives me hope that Ojutai’s Command is actually a playable card. Holding up four mana for your opponent’s turn may be as relevant in Standard as it is in Modern.
– Herald of the Pantheon: Not enough is being made of this card. Until Theros block rotates it will see Standard play, and GB Constellations may again be the best deck in the format (or will another card from Origins push us into Abzan constellations?). The life gain ability may seem secondary, but Courser has taught us that incidentally gaining life is nothing to be laughed at. It’s a must answer card, and I can see it making a splash in Modern.
– Molten Vortex: How many instances of this will you need to use to make it viable? I’ve long has a love affair with Life from the Loam decks, but Seismic Assault is always so stressful on the mana base, especially if you want to include Smallpox. This eases that burden, albeit at the price of an activation cost. Could we see some Life From the Loam/Molten Vortex/Smallpox/Blood Moon beast raising its head in Modern? Absolutely.
– Shaman of the Pack: The elven fireball. I foresee many people cursing this card, and I think it’s the main reason I would go with Elves over Goblins in the near future (though, Nissa doesn’t hurt either). In Modern, it’s just another elf that can push the deck even further towards cementing itself as one of the 2-3 definitive decks of the format.
– Starfield of Nyx: Of all the cards on this list, this is the one with the most immediate potential. Until Theros rotates this will be a tier 1 card and may be the most underrated card I the set. It seems like people keep looking at this like it’s an Opalescence and forgetting the Debtor’s Knell capabilities. This thing will provide unbelievable card advantage. In fact, it’s entirely possible that the “all your enchantments become dudes” ability ends up being a bit of a drawback at times, opening you up to board wipes. Regardless, this is the card that has my inner brewer the most excited and I’d advise you to get a playset soon.
– Sword of the Animist: I’m mainly mentioning this for two reasons. 1) In the fall we go to Zendikar, and any card that can trigger landfall immediately goes up in value (if the ability is reprinted and it absolutely should be) 2) it triggers on the attack instead of on damage, so you get the landfall triggers before combat resolves (pump those landfall creatures). Keep this on your radar.
– Thopter Spy Network: At the cost of running Darksteel Citadel you get a card that functions as a funky combination of Bitterblossom and Bident of Thassa. Another card that grows in value as the game goes on, I can see this in play for standard. The Blue/Red artifact deck could be a real force for a few months.
Overall, Magic: Origins feels like the most exciting set I’ve seen in a long time. There are so many different decks I can’t wait to slap together with these cards.
If you like my suggestions, you can follow me on Twitter: @travishall456. I throw around random observations and deck ideas every day. You can also hear me on the Horde of Notions podcast each week, discussing deck ideas for FNM level events and the PTQ grinders.