Magic the Gathering: Arena – WAR Ranked Season One Thoughts
What cards make you grit your teeth, pull your hair and consider hitting the surrender button? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
So, Magic the Gathering: Arena’s WAR (War of the Spark) Season One has come to a close, and Season 2 is well underway. War of the Spark is the first season I hit Mythic, and I felt this might be a good season to talk about what worked for me in the climb to Mythic. I did not quite make the top 1,000, but I was close. I’m going to try again this season to see if I can’t make it. It feels like each bracket had a different key to success for me, a different deck I needed to exclusively play. But no matter what part of the ladder I was on, there were some cards that frustrated players (not just me), especially in the early game. Sure, you can come back pretty hard with the right card in Magic, which I’ll go over in a future piece. There are some incredibly powerful cards in this current standard meta, and I’m going to list some cards that frankly, made my teeth ache every single time I saw them. This doesn’t go for everyone, but I am curious what cards people, that once they saw them, wanted to pull their hair out.
1. Thought Erasure – Sorcery – “Target Opponent reveals their hand. Pick a Non-Land card and that player discards it. Surveil 1” Do I run Thought Erasure in every deck that has Blue/Black in it? You bet your ass I do. But in no way does it change how angry it makes me. I hate this card even more than I hate the card you pair it with, Thief of Sanity. It felt like every single game that I played versus Dimir/Esper (Blue/Black or Blue Black White), they dropped turn two Thought Erasure, and I had no answer to it, 100% of the time. Hell, there was a game in Platinum, where someone dropped three Thought Erasures in a row. A few turns later, he cycled his Graveyard back into his deck and did it again! It makes my blood pressure rise just damn thinking about it. I don’t see as many Dimir Surveil decks, but the cards that made it fierce are still alive.
2. Runaway Steam-Kin – Creature Elemental 1/1 – “Whenever you cast a Red spell, and it has fewer than 3 +1/+1 counters on it, put a +1/+1 counter on it. Remove three +1/+1 counters: Add 3R Mana”. I absolutely had to pick a red card, because Red Deck Wins has been the bane of my whole existence. I might get vexed at Skewer the Critics or Light Up the Stage, but Runaway Steam-Kin is what can make those cards go from “mildly annoying” to “somehow this RDW played six or seven cards in a row and now I’m dead”. Another pick for this slot was Risk Factor, but I wanted to focus mostly on the early game. When combined with cards like Experimental Frenzy, you can just keep casting spells and playing cards off of the top of your deck. It’s not a serious threat in the first two turns when you cast him, but the longer he’s on the board, the more of a threat Steam-Kin is. With a little bit of set up and three mana, you can do anywhere from 6-9 damage with no special difficulty. This is made worse with cards like Guttersnipe on the board. I. hate. Steam-Kin.
3. Rhythm of the Wild – Enchantment – “Creature spells you cast cannot be countered. Non-Token creatures enter the battlefield with Riot.” I recently found this card in a deck that wasn’t Gruul (Red Green) and it honestly blew my mind. It blew my mind because I was frustrated I didn’t think of it first. It was in a Gates deck, so they could play their 8/8 Colossus for 0, give it haste, and swing with it immediately. Same with their Gatebreaker Rams. For a deck that only runs a handful of creatures, it was deadly. Rhythm of the Wild lets you give creatures haste or +1/+1 tokens, and it stacks with other instances of Riot they could get from elsewhere. Gruul is one of the decks I climbed the farthest with, and it’s no big secret why. Phoenix? Give it haste. Gruul Spellbreaker? Give it either (if you need a stronger creature and can wait, go with the power/defense). As a player who runs primarily control, suddenly a quarter of my deck is useless if I can’t get rid of this enchantment.
4. Feather, the Redeemed – Legendary Angel 3/4 Flying – “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery that targets a creature you control, exile that card instead of putting it in your graveyard when it resolves. If you do, return it to your hand at the beginning of the next end step.” You can infinitely cast buffs on your creatures! You can scry/card draw/buff every single turn for pennies on the dollar. This is even better if those cards cause you to gain life (just play Gideon’s Company and watch him grow!). But what makes this shine is you can drop those +1/+1 area buffs (Unbreakable Formation) or cards that give First Strike/deal damage to your/their creature, and just laugh as they helplessly try to build a defense that never comes. I don’t see Feather as often as I see Red Deck Wins, but with just a little prep time, this deck can make you want to tear your hair out. My solution? Board wipe, or Mass Manipulation.
5. Zombie-Gods (Pick one, they’re all maddening): Personally, the hardest ones for me to deal with are Ilharg, the Raze Boar, and God-Eternal Kefnet. The others appear far less frequently (but they are still lurking in decks, you can be sure of that). What makes these hard to deal with, is you cannot exile them forever. If they get on the board at all, they are a plague that never truly goes away. If you kill or exile it, you can place it third from the top of your deck. Sure, this means you get another chance to counterspell it, but now the person who owns it is going to try and trap you and get it right back in play. Ilharg is frustrating because when he attacks, the user can play a creature from his hand, tapped and attacking, no matter what (and then put it back in his hand). Ghalta? Haha, get ready for 12 damage! Kefnet lets you reveal the first card you draw each turn. When you reveal an instant or sorcery, you can copy it and cast the copy for 2 colorless mana less. This can make instants/sorceries some kind of hellscape nightmare to deal with, and I see him being very popular in Izzet (Red Blue) Instants, as well as a variety of other decks.
Always remember, there’s a way out. For me, the strategy is to switch decks, or just take a step back and have a deep breath.
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