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Understanding 7th

     After all the rumor, all the speculation, all the guesses and lies, Seventh Edition is now legal for tournament play.  Take it or leave it, if you want to continue to play sanctioned constructed Magic, you have to deal with it and be prepared for it.  Everyone is going to feel the pinch and plenty coming with this set.  You end up losing important cards like the Tutors, Hammer of Bogardan, and River Boa, to name a few of the important maindeck cards that will be passing out of standard.  Perish is also a departing hero for black, as is Cursed Totem.  Armageddon is very surprisingly leaving as well, which will directly effect the viability of several decks.

     Of these, the most significant departure is Armageddon.  It leaves a hole in aggressive decks as a way of fighting the control deck over a longer game.  An example would be anything in the G/W genre, as it almost absolutely needs Armageddon to compete beyond the first rush of creatures.  This will probably affect play fairly dramatically over the short term, but players will find ways around this over time.

     Personally, I think that Wizards of the Coast has done a fantastic job constructing this set.  They've given players a lot of tools they are comfortable with, but put them into new situations.  Let's take a quick look at this on a color by color viewpoint:

GREEN:  probably the big loser out of the group.  They got Might of Oaks and Thorn Elemental, both fine cards as far as big hitters go.  Wood Elves and Elvish Lyrist are also strong choices, and may have homes in some decks.  Reclaim is a dark horse that may pop up again.  Green has the honor of holding the strangest card to be reprinted: Elvish Champion.  Still a new card, it was dropped into the new set for no apparent reason that I can discern.  There aren't any significant gains here, only significant losses.

WHITE:  I don't think anything can overcome the loss of Armageddon.  However, they do make some significant gains with Glorious Anthem and Gerrard's Wisdom.  Wisdom is an older favorite, and will probably find a home in a deck or two.  Pariah and Worship are also back, an interesting tandem from Urza's Saga. And, of course, the mighty Serra finds a home here.  You may find some a sleeper favorite in Sunweb:  six toughness stops the Blastderm, but the five on the front end kills it.  Even with the huge loss of the mighty 'Geddon, there's hope yet.

BLUE:  this is an interesting situation.  While they didn't lose anything too significant, they didn't make really huge gains, either.  Mahamoti Djinn, Thieving Magpie, and Force Spike are the three most playable cards that come to mind, though Hibernation out of the sideboard is a powerhouse returned.  I am working on fitting the Magpie into a deck presently, though it doesn't seem to have an apparent home.  Opportunity is another plausible card, providing some well-needed card drawing.  The mystery cards here are Opposition and Temporal Adept; will these cards find decks to make themselves homes in?

RED:  while Hammer made it's way to the Senior tour (a.k.a. extended), the new Hammer made it's way in....well, okay, just Volcanic Hammer, and it's not that fantastic, but it does provide red with another fairly efficient burn spell to supplement Shock and Rage.  Shivan Dragon and Wildfire will probably make the cut ahead of the Hammer, though, providing very powerful questions for control decks to find answers for.  Wildfire jumps in to substitute for Jokulhaups, redefining yet another genre of recently-discovered decks.  Seismic Assault is a possible surprise here, though it will take work to fit a triple-red spell into any deck.  With Storm Cauldron around, it may find a home.

BLACK:  the real champ out of the change to 7E.  Duress, Corrupt, Engineered Plague, and Persecute all can help to rebuild an archetype which has been dormant for some time.  Mono-black really has powerful enough cards to make a serious push into the echelon of dominant archetypes, in my opinion.  There are several other cards in black that I feel could make their presence felt in standard, including Necrologia and Befoul, though they have lost the Vampiric Tutor, and the strong hosers Dread of Night and Perish.

ARTIFACTS/LANDS:  a few notable mentions.  There are people who are already very serious about working Static Orb into decks, no matter how many times it has failed in the past.  Both Coat of Arms and Ensnaring Bridge could sneak into certain deck and hold their own, though there's no mechanism to really make the Bridge as powerful as it had been in the past.  Caltrops and Phyrexian Colossus could be the surprises here, though my doubts are high for both of them.  The loss of the sacrifice lands makes it almost unbearably difficult for Turbo-Haups to survive the transition into 7th.

     First impressions, and some ideas for what I will be doing, as well as the other players around the country and world.  Take some time and play with  the cards; Nationals and the grinders are lurking just around the corner, as well as the block-constructed qualifiers.  Take care, folks!


-Jonathan Pechon