Fantasy Card Game
Magic: The Gathering - New Set, Same Fun
Introducing Worldwake – Where Land is King
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Reviewed by Jon Minners
Land – it’s the life force that drives the game of Magic. For the uninformed, land produces mana and the more mana you possess, the more spells you can cast and the more creatures you can summon. A majority of games are won on the first draw. “I got mana screwed,” is a common term referring to a bad opening hand that sets a bad tone for the rest of the game.
Yet, land is always an afterthought when preparing for the game. Unless the land has some special characteristic, we couldn’t be bothered, and sometimes find ourselves asking our friends to lend us land because we forgot to include it at all when crafting our perfect deck. Land is a necessity, but if you told me I could win without land, I would load up my deck with extra spells and creatures. It’s time to embrace land with open arms…Worldwake is here.
Worldwake is the latest expansion set for Magic: The Gathering and makes land an integral part of every game. Forget making sure your deck is exactly 1/3 land…it’s time to throw in those extra forests, mountains, islands, plains and swamps and let them work their…wait for it…Magic.
What is Worldwake?
The back story for Worldwake takes players to the world of Zendikar where ancient forces begin to awaken causing the land to wreak havoc upon its inhabitants. This exotic and dangerous world is made even more perilous and yet more attractive to adventurers and Planeswalkers (a new Jace Planeswalker card is unveiled in this set and he is no joke) wishing to plunder its treasures.
As a result, Zendikar now writhes and thrashes like a living thing literally lashing out at those on its surface. Do you have the skills, wits and courage to survive, let alone thrive?
As its description implies, Worldwake is the direct follow-up to the incredibly popular Zendikar set, and builds on the themes and mechanics introduced there. Yes, land was becoming more important in Zendikar, but Worldwake takes it to a whole other level with 145 new cards that introduce a brand new mechanic called Multikicker, which is exactly what the name implies. If you liked kicking spells, you will love multikicking them. You can have your cake and eat it too…again and again.
Worldwake also expands on Landfall, which provided a boost to certain cards whenever a land was brought into play. Animated lands are also featured prominently in Worldwake. These aren’t your grandfather’s lands. Besides producing mana, they have other tricks up their protective Magic card sleeves, each specific to its corresponding color.
Full-disclosure: I received two pre-constructed decks and a number of booster packs to review. Each pre-constructed deck contains a different theme setting it apart from the others. I played with both pre-constructed decks in separate games, incorporating some of the cards from the booster packs to increase their strength.
As part of an experiment, I competed in several four-person multiplayer games. My opponents had specially designed decks they made from cards that date back to Ice Age. They’ve been collecting for years and we don’t play with limitations in deck building. Magic is about fun. Let the tournament players worry about restrictions. Playing against these decks would be a real test for this new set. I didn’t win one game, but let me tell you, these amazing decks kept me in every game, right until the very end. No slouches, my opponents took notice and commended the decks, having no idea that they were pre-constructed wonders brought to me by Wizards of the Coast. Here’s a quick rundown:
This deck allows its user to take control of Zendikar’s largest monsters. Wolfbriar Elemental, a 4/4 creature (offense/defense), costs four mana (two of which have to be green) and has a multikicker that is activated every time you tap an additional forest for mana. When Wolfbriar Elemental enters the battlefield, put a 2/2 green wolf creature token onto the battlefield for each time it was kicked. Imagine late in the game, having a large number of forests in play, and bringing this creature out and 7 additional wolves into play. If someone didn’t play a Wrath of God, I am sure this would have won me the game.
However, it did keep me in the game long enough to surprise a strong opponent who had no idea he was about to die at my hands, all courtesy of a combo involving the new w multikicker mechanic. One turn prior, I played Rumbling Aftershocks, which cost 5 mana (one of which had to be red) and is an enchantment with the following power: “Whenever you cast a kicked spell, you may have Rumbling Aftershocks deal damage to target creature or player equal to the number of times that spell was kicked.
On the next turn, I played Deathforge Shaman, which costs as much as Rumbling Aftershocks and offers a multikicker effect every time you pay an additional red mana. When Deathforge Shaman enters the battlefield, it deals damage to target player equal to twice the number of times it was kicked. I kicked it five times, and dealt 10 damage to my opponent, and an additional five damage from the Rumbling Aftershocks. The 15 damage was enough to eliminate him from the game. How’s that for fast action. The more land you have, the better your chances at pulling off a similar feat.
Gnarlid Pack is another creature with multikicker that allows you to increase its power and toughness by 1 each time it has been kicked. Suddenly, this 2/2 creature can become an 8/8 with enough mana.
Of course, some creatures are just big right from the start. By far the best creature in this deck is the Terastodon. For 8 mana (two of which have to be green), you get a 9/9 creature that destroys three non-creature permanents in play. You can choose to destroy your opponents’ permanents and it might be a good idea if there is a pesky enchantment or artifact in play that is costing you the game, but in addition to destroying the permanents, it also gives that permanent’s owner a 3/3 elephant for each permanent destroyed in this way. I could have divided it up amongst my three opponents, but with an abundance of land out, I chose to destroy a forest and two mountains of my own, allowing me to pop out a combined 18 power for a very low price. Papa was proud.
Cast one or two Giant Growths and even an Overrun into the mix on an attack and you’re talking about some serious devastation. Throw a Lightning Bolt into the mix just to kick your opponent while he’s down. Nothing like a little overkill to lighten your mood.
Of course, you can really upset your opponent by playing Act of Treason and steal their creature for one turn and attack with it, either causing its death or possibly killing its owner to add insult to injury.
I also added Bestial Menace, a fun sorcery card that when played gives the caster a 1/1 snake, a 2/2 wolf and a 3/3 elephant. Buy one creature, get two free. You can’t beat that bargain.
Another amazing card – Dragonmaster Outcast costs only 1 red mana to play. It’s only a 1/1 creature, but this card has another ability. At the beginning of your upkeep phase (check www.wizards.com for information on phases), if you control six or more lands, put a 5/5 red Dragon creature token with flying onto the battlefield. Just for having a large number of lands, you can get a huge monster every turn. If that’s not an argument for loading your deck with land, I don’t know what is.
Walking Atlas is a 1/1 creature that allows its owner to put a land card from their hand into the battlefield every time it is tapped. Explore now only allows you to play an additional land that turn, but allows its user to draw a card.
Having extra land come into play is helpful when you add a card like Cosi’s Ravager. The 2/2 land has a Landfall ability. Whenever a land comes into the battlefield under your control, you may have the creature deal 1 damage to target player. Get this creature out early and he will do a fair share of damage just for playing a land. Sweet.
And you can get to your good cards easily using Seer’s Sundial, an artifact with a Landfall ability that allows you to pay 2 mana for the privilege of drawing an additional card every time a land comes into play under your control. Seer’s Sundial is supposed to be rare, yet, I received three, two randomly from opening packs and one in the next pre-constructed deck.
I tweaked this deck a lot, using its creatures to help create combos that made the game a lot of fun.
The deck comes with two Halimar Depths lands. In addition to giving its owner one blue mana, whenever it comes into play, it allows the caster to look at the top three cards of his or her library and then put them back in any order. That’s great when you can use it twice, but what if you can use it every turn?
You can. The deck also comes with Living Tsunami, a 4/4 creature with flying that only costs 4 mana (two of which have to be blue). The card has another effect – At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Living Tsunami unless you return a land you control to its owner’s hand. Well, why not keep your rather powerful creature in play by returning your Halimar Depths to your hand and then bring it right back out, allowing you an opportunity to take advantage of its effect – therefore allowing you to control the order in which you draw your cards. Genius.
For that reason, I added two Khalni Gardens into the deck. These land cards produce one green mana and as another effect allows the caster to summon a 0/1 green plant creature token into play. Think about having a 0/1 creature come into play every turn to increase your defenses, allowing you to a little freedom to attack with other more powerful creatures.
To help facilitate this recycling of land, I also included the enchantment, Vapor Snare, which attaches to a creature and gives it the same effect as the Living Tsunami.
A Walking Atlas is included in this deck and the addition of Explore cards will help you produce an endless supply of land, which work well with several Landfall cards that are included in the deck. Mysteries of the Deep is an instant that allows you to draw two cards, but if you played a land that turn, allows the user to draw an additional card.
Baloth Woodcrasher is a 4/4 creature that gets an additional 4/4 and trample every time you play a land. With Walking Atlas and an Explore, you could conceivably add 12/12 to your creature, making him a 16/16 trampler (if your opponent blocks with a 4/4 creature, 12 of the damage that is left over is assigned to the player).
Tideforce Elemental is a 2/1 creature that allows you to tap or untap another target creature with a tap of a blue mana source. You can only do this once each turn, but with Landfall, if you played a land, you can use Tideforce Elemental’s effect twice. This is good if you would like to tap two of your opponent’s large creatures, leaving him open to an attack from your end. Attack with as many creatures as you want, as long as you have plenty of 0/1 plants ready to defend on the next turn.
Voyager Drake is a multikicker creature I added to the deck. For every one blue mana you paid on top of its casting cost, you can give flying to that many creatures. As long as your opponent doesn’t have fliers to block with, you might be able to surprise him with this card and cause massive damage.
Worrying about leaving yourself open to an attack is not an issue if you add a Quest for Renewal card, which allows you to untap all creatures you control on each player’s upkeep as long as the Quest for Renewal has four or more quest counters on it.
Keep in mind that Telepathy comes with this deck, which allows you to see your opponents hands each turn. So, you will know what they have, you will be able to control the order of the cards you receive, you will be able to attack freely and you will be able to defend at all times. This is one sick deck, but some decks are sicker. And while I made it to the final two, I met my match in the form of a deck made up of indestructible creatures. I had a plan for that, too.
Using Seer’s Sundial, I purposely decked myself in the end, dropping land and drawing cards until I had none left, essentially forfeiting the game without losing at my opponent’s hand.
All in all, Worldwake, like all Magic expansions before it, opens up a world of possibilities for new deck ideas. Multikicker is an amazing new concept that really opens the game up to possibilities. It’s certainly a game changer. The different land options create new strategies where you never thought they existed before. And the new creatures are a lot of fun, too. It’s always fun seeing these cards and wondering what the creators can possibly think of next.
In the meantime, there are five pre-constructed decks that cost up to $15.95 each depending on where you purchase the cards. They are well worth the money. These decks offer the best ways to learn the game. But once you see what they offer, shake the deck up by incorporating other new cards and old cards too. Take advantage of how new and old mechanics interact. With Magic, there are no limits. Just how do they do it?