War of the Spark may be Magic’s most hyped set release ever. While the set absolutely oozes with flavor, it also looks set to shake up Standard massively. Thirty-seven new planeswalkers will warp the landscape of not only Ravnica but Standard as well.

I have my reservations about introducing a lot of planeswalkers—known as typically problematic in constructed formats—to Standard while it is the healthiest it has been in a long time. Time will tell how that plays out. For now, let’s take a look at the non-planeswalkers in the set that could make an impact in Standard.

Dreadhorde Butcher

Black aggressive decks have fallen off the radar recently, but Dreadhorde Butcher is here to show you which guild is superior and why. Butcher’s ability to grow upon dealing damage to a player or planeswalker is reminiscent of Stromkirk Noble—why couldn’t they make him a Zombie Vampire Warrior to reflect this? Every single line of this card is designed to punish the opponent, which could lead to some explosive kills.

Pump spells plus a sacrifice outlet could easily lead to turn three or four kills with the Butcher—Collision // Colossus plus Thud anyone? But in reality that is not why the card is powerful. Aggressive decks need critical mass. Cards like Gutterbones and Spawn of Mayhem are clearly powerful but have not yet made an impact in Standard. Dreadhorde Butcher could be the piece that brings it all together.

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner

Now, I did say I would try to avoid planeswalkers in the planeswalker heavy set, but I couldn’t ignore Kiora. This may be the best Kiora we’ve ever seen, and this time she’s an uncommon! Her static ability (which is some new design space that looks amazing and has lots of potential to explore in the future) is not what appeals though; her ability to untap a permanent is what shines most. A free untap ability (if not killed on sight) can enable some powerful effects, which should put you far ahead of the opponent.

An extra activation of Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin? Think bigger. An extra activation of Prime Speaker Vannifar? Even Bigger. Untapping your Cabal Stronghold when you’re playing Chromatic Black? Now you’re talking.

Kiora looks like she has the ability to be on the same power level as Wilderness Reclamation in Ravnica Allegiance. There is a deck waiting for her and she’s ready to make some broken Magic happen.

Emergence Zone

When I first heard about Emergence Zone, I presumed that it must have too high an activation cost for Standard or that the card simply wasn’t real. The ability to play spells at instant speed is incredibly strong. Hence when I thought about it, my assumption was that it had an activation cost of roughly four mana. Costing one mana (plus losing this land) to give all of your spells (not just one spell!) flash until end of turn has a real place, not only in Standard but also in older formats.

The most obvious pairing for this card is with Wilderness Reclamation, giving players additional uses for the absurd amounts of mana that the card provides. While current Reclamation decks in Standard have relied on either Nexus of Fate or Expansion // Explosion to win the game, being able to bring sorcery spells into the mix brings new options to the table. Could we see Sultai Reclamation become a player in Standard as well as Modern with Torment of Hailfire?

Fblthp, the Lost

Let’s face it, Fblthp is one of the more popular characters in Magic and bound to be made into a card eventually. What sets this apart from most popular or meme characters is that Fblthp, the Lost is legitimately powerful. A blue Elvish Visionary with upside, the card combines especially well with any effect which can summon a creature from your library. Immediate thoughts go to Prime Speaker Vannifar as well as Vivien’s Arkbow and maybe even Experimental Frenzy. The sheer card advantage that Fblthp offers is worth building around.

Fblthp’s one drawback for Standard currently is that it has one toughness in a world where Goblin Chainwhirler and Fanatical Firebrand see play. If we look past Standard though, Fblthp looks like he could appear in Modern Collected Company decks or even Legacy as a card draw engine with Karakas. No longer content to be a part of crowds, it looks like Fblthp is getting the spotlight to himself!

With spoiler season still going strong, there could still be some goodies that remaining to be revealed. It looks clear that the likes of God-Eternal Kefnet and Liliana’s Triumph will make a splash, but there still could be that common or uncommon yet to be spoiled which may define Standard. All I can suggest is that we keep some planewalker removal with us, or hope that Bolas pulls off his grand scheme!

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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