Prerelease weekend is here! I love the opportunity to discover the new cards together with my local community. The events are a ton of fun and good practice for upcoming release PPTQs. Wizards has really hit a sweet spot for prereleases. I like the random promo everyone gets to play, which is basically just giving everyone an extra foil rare. You get a good feel for the set and seeing some extra rares in action helps you learn the format.

I’ve got my eye on a few sweet cards that I hope to play with. These are commons and uncommons I expect to be a lot of fun.

ice

This guy will really clear out the Dead Weight. The format has a few good auras that die, and while white-black will be the most common pairing for Ironclad Slayer, he can work in a variety of decks. At worst he’s a 3/2 for three, which is already an average card. If you end up in some weird self-mill equipment deck, he can slot in there too. That seems unlikely, but cards like Grapple with the Past could easily fit in a green-white humans deck with equipment. Expect Ironclad Slayer to be fairly ubiquitous, even if it isn’t always amazing.

archgeist

Yes please! Remember Sigiled Starfish? This might be worse, but I’m not so sure. It really depends whether three or four is the sweet spot for blocking, and how many good two drops you’d rather be playing. Like Thassa, God of the Sea, Geist of the Archives is a free scry each turn with some upside. I prefer the automatic upkeep scry over the starfish’s tap ability, simply because I don’t have to think about it so much. On Magic Online, I can F6 on my opponent’s turn without worry.

Most of the time, upkeep is the best time to scry anyway, and with geist you can still block. I expect this card to be quite good in slow blue decks. I hope those decks are better than they were in triple Shadows. If nothing else, this lets slow blue decks branch out from green. Clues won’t be so plentiful anymore, so this is a good thing for the draft metagame.

gavh

A four-mana 2/4 is a reasonable defensive body. You want one in a deck looking to go long. Gavony Unhallowed can get a whole lot better as you trade off creatures and grind value. Usually these sorts of creatures start as 1/1s. Lumberknot and friends have protection, and count opposing creature deaths too, but this one gets +1/+3 instead. It also happens to be a zombie. I expect that archetype to have a lot of your creatures dying and returning for value. The unhallowed will love being part of that.

thermo

Red has a lot of cool new cards, but I cannot ignore the second coming of Lobber Crew. Spell-heavy blue-red decks can’t play a lot of creatures, which makes them vulnerable to aggro decks. The alchemist is both a damage engine and an early blocker! I’m sure this thing will get killed often, but if you have two of these in your all-spells deck, you will wreak serious havoc on opposing life totals.

If you feel really adventurous, you could also slam Prophetic Ravings on this guy and go deep. If you madness out Fiery Temper or Just the Wind with it, good things will happen. The first rule of Thermo-Alchemist: the conservation of activated abilities is madness.

backs

Simple but powerful. Broodhunter Wurm was at its weakest in Battle for Zendikar, but is perfectly reasonable in a normal set. I wrote about how anti-synergy cards can be good because they are efficient. Well this four-mana 4/3 also happens to have a synergistic ability. Turning into a 5/4 trampler is great, and exactly what delirium decks want to finish games. I expect this to be quite good. If nothing else, it attacks through Geist of the Archives, so you can board it in against me.

eldcrab

You know I want to draw an instant or sorcery out of my graveyard. I’ll take a 4/5 to go with it. Let’s say you sacrifice Exultant Cultist to emerge Crabby McBoatface. Is that good? The art’s a little weird. I don’t really understand how a giant crab melded with a ship. But I guess if a town can come alive, anything’s possible. I look forward to building draft decks to use this, and I am sure it will be a total houseboat in sealed.

terrarion

I’m a sucker for mana fixing that cycles. Cheap spells to keep werewolves from flipping are going to be much less important now that we only draft one pack of Shadows, but having something cheap to cast will still be a thing. If you have an extra mana lying around, this is close to free. You might also be interested in having an artifact in your graveyard, on the off chance you want to get delirious.

So there you go. Head out to your prerelease, make some new friends, and jam out with the cool new cards. I hope you get a chance to try some of these sweet gems!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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