Rant of Valakut: Mystic Speculation – Reviewing War of the Spark Predictions Ben Iverach-Brereton April 15, 2019 Rants of Valakut Back in January I posted my Mystic Speculation, where I made predictions about War of the Spark. At the time all we had to go on was the name of the set, and even that was brand new information at the time. Now that War of the Spark spoilers are in full swing I wanted to look back and see how much I got right. So, will my predictions be a Mystic Decree (if I was right) or a Mystic Denial (if I was wrong)? Let’s take a look! 1. “War of the Spark might be the first ever “Planeswalkers Matter” set.” MYSTIC DECREE I certainly wasn’t the only person to suggest that War of the Spark would focus heavily on planeswalkers. Even before we heard a name we knew this set would take place on Ravnica, but wouldn’t focus on the Guilds. What else was there, then, but to see the climax of the conflict between Bolas and the Gatewatch? Pretty much everyone keeping tabs on the lore came to the same conclusion: this set would have more planeswalkers in it than usual, and they would play a central role. 2. “A set that focuses on planeswalkers might not go so far as to include a planeswalker in every pack.” MYSTIC DENIAL While I certainly thought that “a planeswalker in every pack” was possible, I thought it highly unlikely. Clearly I was wrong; the number of planeswalkers we are going to see in Limited is going to be jarring, and wrapping my head around how to play against them is going to be challenging. It has even been confirmed that pre-release packs will include both a date-stamped rare and an extra date-stamped planeswalker, as if the guaranteed six from the booster packs wasn’t enough! 3. “We could see [planeswalkers at rarities] as low as Uncommon.” MYSTIC DECREE If Dominaria taught us anything, it’s that a set’s theme needs to show up at low rarities. The cycle of Uncommon legendary creatures was a perfect example of that philosophy in action, and it was extremely well received. Not only were they powerful, interesting cards for Limited play, but they have even found homes in other formats like Commander. If War of the Spark was ever going to care about planeswalkers, it was pretty apparent that we would see them at lower rarities. This prediction feels a bit like a gimmie, but it does lead pretty directly into the next prediction, so I’ll take it. 4. “We may see Planeswalkers with fewer loyalty abilities, but with a static ability to compensate.” MYSTIC DECREE I’m pretty pleased to have nailed this one. Uncommon planeswalkers with less than 3 loyalty abilities made so much sense to me, though I will admit that I didn’t expect that the rare planeswalkers would also have fewer than 3. I especially didn’t expect all the planeswalkers in the set to have static abilities either, but I’m still going to call this one a win. Regardless, I have high hopes for how this will play out in Limited, considering how niche several of these planeswalkers are. Some look like good utility cards, while most of them have a build-around feel, just like the Dominaria legendary creatures. 5. “These planeswalkers could fill the role of enchantments in the set.” MYSTIC DECREE It may be a bit premature to declare this as correct, but as the spoilers stand now I’m confident in saying that the planeswalkers are effectively the enchantments of War of the Spark. Most of the design space that would normally be reserved for enchantments in a typical set has clearly been relegated to the static abilities of the various planeswalkers. While we have seen a few enchantments here and there, they are clearly few and far between. 6. “Fewer abilities could also mean there would be room on the cards for reminder text.” MYSTIC DENIAL I clearly missed the mark here, and thinking about it more, I should have known better. When your introductory product doesn’t include reminder text for how a card type works, it stands to reason that a non-core set wouldn’t include it either. What I hadn’t counted on was the amount of space the static abilities of the Uncommon planeswalkers would take up on the card. Also, it’s hard to imagine a concise way of explaining the planeswalker card type without making each card look cluttered and complicated. 7. “That many planeswalkers in one set might not be viable.” MYSTIC DENIAL While it remains to be seen just how well the thirty-six planeswalkers of War of the Spark hold up, obviously Wizards R&D believed that it worked. As predicted, most of the cards are narrow designs that support specific deck archetypes. This was clearly the key to making this massive quantity of planeswalkers work, but I underestimated just how many of these cards a set could handle. I expected maybe fifteen to twenty at most, with a single cycle of gold Uncommon planeswalkers to flesh out their numbers. The hybrid mana costs were especially surprising to me. 8. “They wanted [Afflict] to show up again […] in War of the Spark.” MYSTIC DENIAL Of all my predictions, this one was clearly my biggest mistake. The way I saw it, Afflict was the core mechanic pertaining to Bolas’s Immortals, much like how Infect has become synonymous with Phyrexians. While it’s not unreasonable for a creature type or faction to get a new mechanic in a given set, I never imagined a mechanic like Amass to show up. What I should have realized was that Afflict might not be as important to a Limited format if the majority of planeswalkers in the set didn’t have a way to gain loyalty. The need to constantly attack planeswalkers has historically been because of the looming threat of their “ultimate” loyalty abilities, or to shut off a never-ending stream of card advantage turn after turn. With limited-use planeswalkers it’s less vital that a player take them out quickly, making creatures with Afflict unnecessary. I’m a little disappointed, to be honest; I wanted to see how the mechanic would fare in a radically different limited environment. I guess we get Proliferate instead, so I shouldn’t complain. So how accurate was my Mystic Speculation overall? Mystic Decree: 4 Mystic Denial: 4 Final Score: 4/8 Hm. only four out of eight, eh? It looks like my powers of prediction need some work. What about you? Did you have any predicitons of your own, and if so, how accurate were they? If you got your predictions right, give yourself a cookie (or some tamales, if yours haven’t turned to dust). If you guessed wrong, how did you imagine the mechanics of War of the Spark unfolding? Let me know what you thought the comments! Before you go, I do have one last Mystic Speculation for you: I predict you’ll join me next time as I try brewing a deck for Pauper! 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