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Gatecrash-Symbol
Gatecrash is approaching, and this week WotC graced us with a set of spoilers from the new set. The official WotC Product Page for GTC is still quite bare, but in the meanwhile, let’s take a look at the cards we’ve seen.

Quick Jump: The Basics, The Lands, The Mechanics, The Mythic 5, In Conclusion.

The Basics:

Some basic info on the Gatecrash Set:

Name: Gatecrash
Code: GTC
Development Codename: Line
Symbol: A pointed arch.
Pre-release: Jan. 26-27, 2013
Release: Feb. 1, 2013
Block: Return to Ravnica (set 2/3).
Size: 249 (101C, 80U, 53R, 15M).
Design Team: Leads: Mark Rosewater, Mark Gottlieb.
Team: Joe Huber, Dave Humpherys, Ethan Fleischer.
Development Team: Leads:Dave Humphreys.
Team: Zac Hill, Mark Globus, Mark Purvis, Adam Lee, Max McCall, Gavin Verhey.

MTG Salvation Wiki is a good source for these info, although most have been gathered from various other sources.

Also, we know that this set continues the theme from RTR, which is to say we get to play more with the Ravnica Guilds. We know there are 10 guilds, and we’ve seen 5 of them in RTR, so this second large set will explore the remaining 5 guilds (Hint: although the guilds don’t follow the classic color wheel in their color pairing, just like in RTR, you can list them in a circular order as you can see below):

Boros Legion Guild InsignaGruul Clans Guild InsignaSimic Combine Guild Insigna
House Dimir Guild InsignaOrzhov Syndicate Guild Insigna
Colors Guild
WR Boros Legion
RG Gruul Clans
GU Simic Combine
UB House Dimir
BW Orzhov Syndicate

The Lands:

The easiest spoilers to get for Gatecrash were the (nonbasic) lands. Just by looking at the lands in RTR, we can expect a Common Guildgate (which enters the battlefield tapped, but taps for either of the guild’s colors), and a Rare optional pain dual land (that is to say lands with: {T}: Add {color 1} or {color 2} to your mana pool. As ~ enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don’t, ~ enters the battlefield tapped.) for each guild. While the Guildgate names should be easy to guess, the dual land names might be less intuitive. Here’s the full list:

Guild Clrs. Guildgate (Common) Dual Land (Rare)
Boros WR Boros Guildgate Sacred Foundry
Gruul RG Gruul Guildgate Stomping Grounds
Simic GU Simic Guildgate Breeding Pool
Dimir UB Dimir Guildgate Watery Grave
Orzhov BW Orzhov Guildgate Godless Shrine

The Mechanics:

As WotC released a spoiler each day this past (working) week, we now have 5 sanctioned spoilers that showcase each a different ability, one for each guild, as expected:

Guild (Clrs.) WotC Spoiler Ability
Boros (WR) Firemane Avenger Battalion
Gruul (RG) Rubblehulk Bloodrush
Simic (GU) Fathom Mage Evolve
Dimir (UB) Whispering Madness Cipher
Orzhov (BW) Trasury Thrull Extort

While WotC has shown these on their official site’s frontpage, the set is not yet available on Gatherer. Hence, the links all lead to Magic Spoiler, whom I’d like to thank for collecting and organizing these early spoilers while I was distracted.

Let’s take a second look at each of the guild abilities:

Battalion

Firemane Avenger

Firemane Avenger


Whenever ~ and at least two other creatures attack, ~ deals 3 damage to target creature or player and you gain 3 life.

Flavor-wise, I think this ability fits the WR spectrum better than the older Radiance ability. It feeds off from attacking with multiple creatures (see: White Wheenies), and deals direct damage (see: Red). I actually think the extra life-gaining bit may be excessive, but we like excessive things because they represent one way we can win the game.

Questions: is the 3 (3 damage, and 3 life gained) a constant? Is it tied to the number of creatures attacking (the Firemane Avenger + 2 other creatures)? Is it always 1 less than the casting cost of the card carrying the ability (Firemane Avenger costs 4)? We don’t know yet, and I feel this will push the ability either in broken territory or not.
Initial Impression: has potential, but relies on creature-based roads-to-victory.

Bloodrush:

Rubblehulk

Rubblehulk


{1}{R}{G}, Discard ~: Target attacking creature gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of lands you control.

The ability effect feels quite nice for RG, as it boasts creatures. On the other hand, the discard ~ portion of the cost leaves me unconfortable. Sure, we’ve seen Red discarding cards before, but it feels like a Rakdos/Golgari prerogative at this point. Anyways, I like Bloodrush better than the old Bloodthirst ability, so I won’t complain too much. it feels like Bloodrush means [Alternate Casting Cost]: cast this as a Sorcery-speed +X/+X Giant Growth.

Questions: Is Bloodrush always tied to the land count? Will it always require you to discard the card carrying the ability to trigger?
Initial Impression: RAAAWRRRRR ! (Once again, assuming you’re ok with your game being creature based). Also, hoping this hints at ways to introduce more than 1 land in play per turn (something, I think, Green needs more of lately).

Evolve:

Fathom Mage

Fathom Mage


Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.

A nifty inverse of the older Simic ability (Graft), somehow feels quite right for GU. Certainly, I was salivating for a more counter-oriented effect, but it makes sense that the G-facing side of Blue will be more concerned with creatures than aethereal magic.

Questions: None really (especially because we have 2 examples of this ability, as explained in the Trivia section below).
Initial Impression: Neat creature-oriented ability. Abusable with the Blue bouncers (eg: with an Evolve creature in play, cast Hover Barrier. Then return the Barrier to your hand via Voidwalker, or some cheaper spell/effect, and recast it). This tend to be mana intensive so I don’t think it will turn into a run-away broken effect (unless GTC will enable infinite mana combos, but in that case I think direct damage is a better outlet for infinite mana).

Trivia: Fathom Mage was the first of the spoilers that WotC published on their official site, but a few days earlier, the Evolve ability was found in the wild on a Simic Fluxmage in an RTR Booster Pack. Not the first time we hear of future cards appearing in the wrong booster (and certainly not the first type of misprint or mismatch in the long history of MTG), but I found it surprising that this happened so close to the similar situation we saw barely one set ago (with an RTR card appearing before release in a different set’s booster). I’m thinking WotC should just do this on purpose for each set, establishing a nice policy (eg: if you return it to us, we’ll send you a full set of the card the set will be printed in).

Cipher:

Whispering Madness

Whispering Madness


Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of this card without paying its mana cost.

Well, well, well… all right, I’ll say it right away: I love this ability. Does it fit the UB spectrum? I don’t know, I don’t care. Maybe. Heck, there’s Blue involved: it can do whatever it wants. How does it compare with the old Transmute? I’m thinking Cipher is better. Except it’s creature-based!

Questions: Can you encode only onto creatures? Seems so, but I’d love to see an “encode on a permanent you control” alternative.
Initial Impression: Tormented Soul, Soulsworn Spirit, Crosstown Courier, just to name a few. Fine, so you want me to play creatures (I knew that already), and you’re really trying to give me no alternatives, uh? I’m annoyed by this, and I will keep trying to work around this puzzle you place in front of me.

Extort:

Treasury Thrull

Treasury Thrull


Whenever you cast a spell you may pay {B/W}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.

Extort reminds me of good old Pestilence. Sure, it doesn’t target creatures, but as far as players’ life points, it’s much better. A lovely mix of Black’s mana-for-damage, and White’s Lifelink, of course. I think the old Orzhov ability (Haunt) was more thematic, but Extort may just be stronger.

Questions: Can I trigger the Extort ability multiple times, or just once per spell I cast? I’m hoping the former, of course, or Extort will be much more limited in its effectiveness.
Initial Impression: Well, look at that: one ability that does not absolutely rely upon creatures. Yes (assuming the Extort trigger can be activated multiple times for each spell cast), this is my pick!

The Mythic 5:

There were, of course, spoilers before the official spoilers. We already mentioned the Simic Fluxmage above, when talking about the Evolve ability. The remaining 5 spoilers you can find online at this time are 5 Mythic Rare cards:

  • Enter the Infinite: for those that were wondering what to do with Omniscience (right?), and those with a Righteous Authority in play.
  • Borborygmos Enraged: a perfect (if costly) compliment to the Rubblehulk we discussed above.
  • Hellkite Tyrant: gives us a new road to victory (everyone: start looking for ways to create cheap artifact creatures, sort of like the goats from Trading post, but they need to be artifacts), so it’s already awesome for that.
  • Aurelia, the Warleader: gets you an extra combat phase (which for a creature with Vigilance it’s just wrong)
  • Domri Rade: a cheap RG Planeswalker with a Prey Upon and an ultimate ability that gives all your creatures Double Strike, Trample, Hexproof, and Haste (not kidding, and I wonder how they ended up with that combination of abilities.. as if giving flying or unblockable would make it overpowered..)

Once again, links lead to Magic Spoiler, although the images and information were reported on a variety of websites.

In Conclusion:

In conclusion, it’s clearly too early to draw serious conclusions. Enjoy the spoiling period, dream up of what other cards might have these abilities, try and figure out the stance of each guild, and.. well, which guild will you pick when the pre-release comes?

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