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The Dragon's Den
What does 9th mean for you?

By DeQuan Watson -07.07.05

It's great being a gamer.  We live an operate in an ever changing environment.  We thrive on change.  But at the same time, many gamers don't enjoy the change.  That's the humorous side.  Things changing and being interesting is what attracts us to these games.  Look how many of us have hung around through the years with the changes to the game.  And honestly, in my opinion, most of those changes were for the better.
 
We are about three weeks away from another big change.  The latest edition of the core set will be rolling into stores in the near future.  That's 9th Edition for those that haven't been paying attention.  Yes, it's right around the corner.  So be ready. 
 
But, then you have the next question.  What should we be ready for?  That's hard to say.  There's no way to know for sure what will be played.  Honestly, we don't even know what is in Ravnica (that's the next MTG set to be released).  So, we have no REAL idea as to what will be played.  But we like to speculate.  There are a lot of ideas and there are a ton of possibilities.  We can also review history and see what decks of the past are a possibility.  We can look for cards to build decks around.  We can see what decks are no longer possible by what we know is not in 9th at this point.
 
Let's look at some of the things that are available that we can work with.
 
We know for sure that Circle of Protection: Red and Circle of Protection: Black are in.  And both have some GREAT artwork.  You owe it to yourself to hop over to magicthegathering.com and take a look at the pictures.  Get used to having these around.  Of the various color hosers, it's very likely that you will be seeing these more than anything.  Red will still have trouble breaking through this.  Black will still be without an efficient way to remove enchantments.  This makes each of these cards more than acceptable for sideboard options.  And if that wasn't enough hate on the Red and Black players, Paladin En-Vec is likely to be returning.
 
But White is capable of doing more than just hatin' on Black and Red.  It still have some solid creature power.  Savannah Lions and Suntail Hawk are still around to get the early damage in for White Weenie decks.  And the venerable Serra Angel will still be around to bat clean-up.  Cards like Wrath of God and Worship will keep White a favorite among slow control players. 
 
Now, as happy as I am with White, I am equally as sad about Blue from what we have seen thus far.  I'm not really sure what to think of it.  We haven't seen much in the way of good Blue cards.  I'd imagine anything that got brought back in 8th Edition won't be going away any time soon.  By this thought, we still get cards such as Rewind and Mana Leak.  We'll even be seeing the likes of Clone.
 
Unfortunately, I'm not sure that anything super has been revealed to have been added into 9th Edition in the way of Blue.  I'm sure we'll have traditional mainstays such as Boomerang and Wind Drake, but those don't really excite me.  And I wouldn't be surprised if they don't excite you.  I think the rough part about the nature of Blue cards is that they are usually REALLY weak or they are REALLY powerful tournament quality cards.  This puts Wizards of the Coasts' R&D department in a tough spot.  How strong are they wanting to go in the core set?  Putting Bribery in 8th Edition was a perfect example of a rough choice.  Fortunately, it worked out. 
 
When it comes to Black cards, I want to express I disappointment with the MTG community.  We got to choose many of the cards that were and were not going to make it into 9th Edition.  When faced with the decision of Blackmail or Addle, the community voted for Blackmail.  I know the logic is that you are practically guaranteed to get a cards from their hand.  However, when you are aware of what's in the opponent's deck or know what the format looks like, Addle rewards you.  But unfortunately, we will have Blackmail in the set.  It's definitely the inferior of the cards.  Granted, I think the set overall is superior to 8th Edition from the looks of it, but this choice is definitely inferior.  But, it IS what the people wanted.
 
We already know we are getting Will-o'-the-wisp back which will be popular among the casual players.  Tournament players won't give this a second look except in specific decks.  It's also known that Nekrataal is making a return as well.  By our earlier theory, it's safe to assume that Diabolic Tutor and Persecute are in as well.  These cards will continue to see a steady amount of tournament play.  However, the idea of Hypnotic Specter and Sengir Vampire coming back around is a great thought.
 
I think of all colors, Red is going to see the biggest boost in the core set.  And I'm very happy about this.  Most of the cards that made up Red decks were from expansion sets.  The current decks use Slith Firewalker, Arc Slogger, and Kumano.  The last good version of the Goblin deck used mostly Onslaught block cards.  So Red deserves to have some stronger cards in the core sets and be better represented overall. 
 
We get Rathi Dragon back.  I'm so hoping that this guys sees some play.  This was such a great card to make the list of 9th Edition cards.  It has many players excited.  And I hope it delivers.  I think there will be a possibility of Red being part of a control deck again as well.  It's been known for its fast beatdown lately, but cards such as Shard Phoenix could seriously change the way we look at Red cards for a while.  Between it and Pyroclasm, creatures are going to have a rough life over the next year or two.
 
So far, Green doesn't have too much going for or against it.  It is the color getting the biggest set of changes I believe.  Plow Under has become such a strong card of the last 12 to 14 months.  It has upset many a player.  That doesn't surprise me.  R&D got rid of it.  Llanowar Elves will be taking the place of Birds of Paradise.  These are some important changes.
 
This isn't to say that Green lacks power.  Cards like Might of Oaks are definitely going to make their return.  This card has probably upset more solid players than anything.  It appeared in so many casual decks and it makes even the smallest of creatures deadly.  Naturalize will be in as well.  This is the universal power killer and for it's utility, you simply can't beat it.  And Green players like fatties right?  Well how fat is Verdant Force?  In a word...VERY!
 
As far as lands and artifacts go, there isn't a ton of observe.  It is likely that there are more playable artifacts in the core set this time around than there has been for a long while.  Howling Mine should still be popular.  Expect to see a decent bit of Defense Grid and Icy Manipulator as well.  Funny as it is, one can help while the other can end up hurting control decks that are Blue heavy.  So depending on where the swing in the format falls, these could see a lot of play. 
 
I'm not going to go too deep into the lands.  By now, I'm sure you've heard that all the pain lands are available again.  Quicksand will be interesting to have around.  It's a good creature removal card for small guys.  But the pain lands are the hot topic.  I'm sure they will be the center of discussion until 9th Edition officially hits the shelves. 
 
But, there you have it.  We are on the brink of a major change.  And the neat part is, we will have just a little while to get acclimated before Ravnica hits.  So don't waste any time.
 
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com
 
 

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