There’s always this pinch of excitement whenever it comes to opening up something. Even more so when that something is booster packs of a trading card game. I don’t know about anyone else, but just the sheer surprise of finding a rare, or sought after card is enough to put me in the mindset of a nine year old on Christmas morning. So you could imagine the look on my face when some Magic the Gathering packs were sent my way. Wizards of the Coast were kind enough to allow me a sample of their latest expansions that were released this year. A couple of the packs were for the last update to the official Magic set for the year known as M12. It contains the refresh and bounce of some new and old cards, as well as new artwork.
My interest however was for two packs, and a starter deck of the newest expansion in the series, Innistrad. Right out of the pack I noticed a handful of new things, new mechanics, amazing artwork, and a varying struggle between various races in the series. The Innistrad expansion seems to revolve around spirits, werewolves, vampires, and humans. A lot of cards pay tribute to these races, and rely on each other when it comes to buffing each race. I’d like to point out some of the new mechanics to this latest block, starting with one of the more obvious ones right off the back.
One of the new mechanics is called Transform and it’s exactly how it sounds. With characters like vampires and werewolves, it would make sense to have some sort of transformation aspect to them. So some of the new cards do just that, with the right conditions being met, creature cards have the ability to be flipped and transformed into stronger, more powerful creatures. This allows a quick turnaround for a player in the match, and can easily overcome an opponent with a stronger creature.
Another one of the new mechanics is an ability called Morbid. With death, comes the ability to bounce back with a stronger attack. Morbid is generally a buff to a card when a player’s creature has been killed in the last turn. This can change up the flow of combat, and make the destruction of a player’s creature a beneficial turning point for the player.
Flashback is another new mechanic that can turn the tide of a match. It’s almost exactly how it sounds, and some previous cards before have had this mechanic. What Flashback allows you to do, is pay a mana cost for a spell that’s in your graveyard, cast it again, and then exile it once finished with it. This can be extremely helpful in certain situations, double casted spells, could easily wipe a field of creatures, or setup for a heavy attack during your phase.
This next mechanic is the one that really caught my eye. As nice and attractive as the others may be, this one had me curious as how effectively it could be used during matches. I’m a huge fan of Aura’s to begin with, so there’s a reason I took a fancy to it, it’s called Curse. Curse is an aura enchantment that’s put on the player rather than a card. Most of them have “At the Beginning of Upkeep” effects, and can be very annoying for a player if they don’t have the right cards to remove enchantments. It’s one thing to easily destroy off a monster with an enchantment on it, but a whole different story when it’s cursed on a player.
The final mechanic in this new block is called Fight. It was a bit strange at first while I was reading about it, but it’s a great way for a player to wipe a field of creatures over the course of the match. What Fight does, is force another creature card to fight with the one using the mechanic. Abilities on cards such as Deathtouch, Lifelink, and other various abilities still are in effect. This is a great way of getting rid of those nasty giant creatures by forcing a fight with your smaller creature that has Deathtouch on it. It’s also a nice way to slowly pick off the field of numerous creatures, without you having to worry about the chance of a double block and your card getting destroyed after one attack.
This is my first time seeing these cards; I have not yet made a deck and tested them in action. I hope to go out to a FNM one of these weeks, or invite some friends over for a friendly match to see these cards in real play. For now, I’m just going on my first impressions after initially opening these packs and seeing them for the first time. It seems to me though that Innistrad has a lot of new cards and mechanics that are to keep a player in the game to the very end. Punishing players for having overwhelming numbers, as well as killing off creatures easily. Those down on their luck in a match could find themselves easily pushing back their opponent with the right combination. Keep an eye out for another posting from me after I get to try these cards out first hand. I look forward to explaining more of what I learn.