In the run-up to Gatecrash I thought I’d blog my thoughts on the three cards I’m most excited about. I’ve approached the set entirely from the perspective of a full-time Commander/EDH player and some-time limited player, so my anticipation is steeped heavily in my enjoyment of playing Kaalia of the Vast in 1v1 EDH. While the whole spoiler has yet to be released in its entirety, these three are definitely going to be on my hitlist when the set gets released at the end of this month.
Aurelia, the Warleader
Aurelia is a card I’m super excited about for a number of reasons. She has a reasonable CMC of 6 which means I can realistically hard-cast her early with just a single mana rock. The main attraction of course is being able to untap and get a second combat – this works very well in Kaalia since it means you not only get a second Kaalia trigger but also enable blow-out wins given that the deck routinely swings for eight to fifteen damage a turn, making the deck even better in 1v1 and more viable at multiplayer tables.
As with all cards, Aurelia has her downsides; one of these is her P/T. At 3/4, opposing fliers may give her some problems and she doesn’t help you race unless you’re going to get value out of a second combat and the associated Kaalia trigger. All in all, I will certainly be playing her in my ninety-nine over an existing combat-doubler as she’s more versatile than other options I currently run.
Where Aurelia admittedly has her negatives, the Tyrant is an absolute auto-include in my Kaalia build going forward. Much like Aurelia, his six mana pricetag means he’s hardcastable when it counts and is mono-coloured to boot. The two differ however in two key ways – Tyrant triggers on the turn he swings thanks to the combat damage clause instead of the “attacks” trigger which can be the downfall of many Kaalia-fatty candidates. His 6/5 frame makes him tanky enough to trump blockers and his trample helps for the same reason.
Most importantly, he steals artifacts. This is a huge bonus given the nature of EDH decks – most decks feature some dependence on mana rocks such as Sol Rings, Signets and Gilded Lotuses and a great deal of them also pack powerful equipment ranging from Greaves to Swords. While the upkeep trigger is too cute to care about in most cases, this guy is a massive boon for Kaalia players. If any deck can put “free” protective equipment and mana-ramp to work, it’s Kaalia. Crucially, this card helps put ramp and Voltron strategies way behind when it comes down early.
Lord of the Void
Lord is another card I really can’t wait to insta-jam into my ninety-nine. My Kaalia deck is all about fatties that either do something big the turn they come in or are worth a turn’s wait – this guy is above average in all regards as a 7/7 who will in the vast majority of cases net you a dude. Inevitably, my inner Spike dreams of crushing people in 1v1 with their own Eldrazi but realistically I can imagine being perfectly happy with a Somberwald Sage or some similar card that helps me draw cards or ramp into my existing ones.
The potential for milling is in the same league as Hellkite Tyrant’s get-to-20 trigger in a vacuum, but knowing drawn-out EDH match-ups I can imagine it being helpful as well and it aids in messing with people’s Sensei’s Divining Tops and other topdeck manipulation engines.
Overall I am really excited to get a hold of these guys at pre-release weekend, which I’ll be spending at Warpcon in Cork. If you’d like to find out more about the event, check out the website here. I’ve attended the con the past two years and it is by far the best convention for Magic players that I’ve been to and there tends to be a lot of EDH to boot. Hopefully I’ll have some more top threes from other local players soon.