War of the Spark Set Review – Blue

(Finale of Revelation | Art by Johann Bodin)

Welcome to the Nope Guild!

Welcome to the mono-blue segment of the War of the Spark Set Review. We’re going to look at some of the blue cards that have caught players’ attention, either by providing new, unique effects, or by giving us more redundancy for existing strategies. No time to waste, let’s get to it!


Planeswalkers


Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Laboratory Maniac is a popular combo finisher in the format – why bother with reducing your opponents life totals when you can just draw your entire library and win on the spot? These combo decks tend to have lots of redundancies that make this an easy combo to set up.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries is basically a second copy of LabMan, and, although it’s cost is both more expensive and color restrictive, I personally feel that it’s better than its creature counterpart. As a planeswalker, it can’t be reanimated like LabMan (a trick some combo decks pull off by dumping their entire library into their yard), so some of these decks may prefer the original. However, for decks that use combos to draw the entire library instead of mill it, I think the walker is just a little bit more difficult to interact with, and isn’t entirely useless if it arrives on the battlefield early.

Let’s take a quick look at the decks that are currently using Laboratory Maniac:

Let’s be honest – these decks will run both, and now that we have a second copy of the effect, we may see other decks join the roster above as well. LabMan shows up in over 16,000 decks, after all, so we can expect Jace to make just as many waves.


Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor

The taxation versions of protection effects are a tricky thing to balance at casual tables, as they get irrelevant pretty quickly. Usually board wipes present a greater threat than single-target removal to the aggressive shells that Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor would benefit. That being said, this could potentially help aggressive blue tempo decks, by helping reduce the number of spells that it needs to interact with. She also loots, which helps those decks find more action more quickly.

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV might make a good home for Kasmina, increasing his taxation while protecting his own plans. Alternatively, Adeliz, the Cinder Wind enjoys the tribal-relevant Wizards that Kasminas creates, and would be pleased to turn off some direct removal.

Brago, King Eternal might be a decent home, too; he does enjoy the extra protection, but that’s not the main appeal. I actually suggest him here because of the way he works with planeswalkers. Since permanents are counted as a new game object when they reenters the battlefield, Brago would get to activate Kasmina twice every turn, which is pretty good deal.


Narset, Parter of Veils

Narset, Parter of Veils is certainly a strong planeswalker. She’s cheap to play, she has both offensive uses (by playing Windfall effects to make your enemies draw only one card) and defensive uses (by stopping obnoxious enemy Consecrated Sphinx shenanigans) and this is just her static ability! Her -2 is decent, digging for noncreatures, and since she can perform that ability twice, the card selection is pretty handy. Narset’s kit makes her excellent at slower and midrange metas, especially if blue is over-represented, as she’ll hinder some of their plans.

Leovold is one obvious comparison that we can make with this new Narset, as they are both blue three-drops that restrict enemy card advantage. While very similar to the banned commander, as long as Narset stays out of the command zone, she won’t be in any real danger of being banned, as it’ll be harder to assemble any sort of lock, and she’s much easier to attack than the Elf Advisor ever was.


Mythics


God-Eternal Kefnet

This is a very strong commander – it’s hard to get rid of, it has a powerful ability, it has great stats, and it can come out very early (using any Mind Stone or other two-drop rock that commonly populate mono-blue decklists).

I cannot stress this enough, the ability to turn your spells into Miracle cards is amazing, especially when it doesn’t even use up the card you drew! This provides both mana and card advantage, one of the most powerful combinations in EDH. Watch out Aminatou, the Fateshifter, because this is probably one of the strongest (if not the strongest) “top of the deck matters” commanders.

Kefnet has potential both as combo and as control. Control comes easily, since he’ll keep your hand full of spells, but the combo potential isn’t too difficult to pull off either; put a Time Warp on top of your deck with Scroll Rack or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, then Kefnet will copy that spell, giving you another turn, a turn in which you put the spell back on top of your deck, and then cast it again… and again… and again…

Another very powerful part of Kefnet’s kit is the ability to pass through some of the self-exiling clauses many spells have nowadays, commonly seen on cards like Expropriate and Spelltwine. Big spells, extra turns, and recursive spells often exile themselves so they can’t be abused, but Kefnet will just make copies. Putting any of these back on top of your deck over and over is amazing, but even if you don’t, the ability to cast these spells twice when they were only meant to be cast once per game is frankly good enough.

All this and it’s a flying 4/5 for four mana. I don’t knwo about you, but I’m personally labeling this as a new kill-on-sight commander.


Finale of Revelation

Finale of Revelation is a great mana sink, but being sorcery speed means that it’ll be mostly played in combo decks; there are better ways to get cards in hand at instant speed (Stroke of Genius, Blue Sun’s Zenith, etc) which most blue decks will prefer in case they need to hold up countermagic. Plus, unless the game goes very very long, having 12 mana to get the full effect is very tough to achieve.

Even though it’s a raw card draw spell, it’s probably most similar in application to Time Spiral, specifically in decks built to abuse High Tide or other mana doublers. With one High Tide effect and 6 untapped lands, we’d draw 10 cards and get 10 mana back, which allows us to continue with a combo, cycling through the deck. Imagine the damage that could be done with two mana-doubling effects.

Outside of dedicated combo, the instant-speed options will probably stay the most popular, but Mizzix of the Izmagnus or Kruphix, God of Horizons will probably be plenty happy.


Rares


Fblthp, the Lost

The real end-game boss from the set! Bolas, beware! Don’t be fooled by his funny-looking, non-threatening Homunculus figure, because behind that facade there’s a powerful combo commander.

Fblthp, the Lost at the helm of a creatureless deck can activate Proteus Staff, targeting himself. This will throw him right back onto the battlefield, drawing two cards, but more importantly, Proteus Staff will allow him to stack the deck however he likes. (Read carefully – it doesn’t put the cards back in a random order!) If the two cards he puts on top of the deck and immediately draws are, for example, Isochron Scepter and Dramatic Reversal, he can instantly use that classic combo to untap his mana rocks, creating infinite mana, then Proteus-ing himself to draw infinite cards, and would you look at that, it’s our old friend Jace, Wielder of Mysteries!

Fblthp had always hated crowds, but apparently he hates your opponents even more.

Aside from this degenerate spot at the helm of a combo deck, some blue creature-based decks might want to add Fblthp, especially Prime Speaker Vannifar, since it’s basically a blue Elvish Visionary with potential upside.


Narset’s Reversal

Narset’s Reversal is versatile card that could be used in a wide array of deck types. For example, it could be a tempo tool to copy someone else’s spell, getting the benefit for ourselves while slowing down an opponent. There’s also the standard “Copy our own big spell, then cast it again later” mode, good fun for spellslinger decks. I like it most for control matchups – we can use this in Counterspell wars to target our own Counterspell that someone else tried to Counterspell, returning the Counterspell to our hand and copying it to Counterspell the other Counterspell, and how many more times can I use Counterspell in a sentence?


Spark Double

Four mana is pretty much the baseline for Clone effects, and adding the versatility of copying either a creature or a planeswalker is already great. Add in that the copy doesn’t care about the legend rule and things are looking up. It’s not done, though – the copy gets an extra counter, even when it becomes a planeswalker. The downside is that it can only copy your own cards, but weighed against the benefits, it’s still a fine card with a home in a number of different strategies.

There are plenty of blue commanders that would love the chance to having another one in play. Sakashima, the Imposter shows up in decks like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician, for example. I think Marchesa, the Black Rose players are excited to see a card that enters with a counter on it! Oh, and Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow, when cloned, would acquire two triggers for every Ninja that hits a player. Ouch.

Since we’ve acknowledged infinite combos with nearly every card we’ve reviewed so far, let’s also point out how good this planeswalker-clone is with planeswalker commanders. Aminatou, the Fateshifter can duplicate herself, then each copy can infinitely blink the other. Use Altar of the Brood for crazy shenanigans. Darn good stuff here, you guys.


Uncommons


Eternal Skylord

This one isn’t as exciting or powerful as the other cards reviewed thus far, but I think that it’s a good one to cover nonetheless. Eternal Skylord‘s static ability may seem a bit too restrictive – only the tokens get the benefit – but considering that it’s in a tribe that has several ways to produce an army of tokens, this effect isn’t as bad as it first seems.

Let’s take a quick look at some commanders that might want to consider this card:

Just looking at these commanders we can see how many different ways of producing Zombie tokens we have available, and that’s just coming from the command zone! There are plenty of token Zombie producers across all types of cards; creatures like Diregraf Colossus make tokens, enchantments like Endless Ranks of the Dead pump them out too, sorceries such as Army of the Damned are teeming with undead, and even planeswalkers like Liliana, Death’s Majesty help along too. I’m not saying that Eternal Skylord is a must-have in those decks, but I think it’s worth considering.


Flux Channeler

This is a a powerful uncommon. It’s very easy to abuse Proliferate on demand. Power up your Everflowing Chalice, increase your experience counters, add up even more loyalty on your walkers, lay on even more poison counters…. there are many decks that can use this, but none of them are going to just use it, they’re going to abuse it. It doesn’t take many spells to suddenly turn that seemingly nonthreatening low-loyalty planeswalker into an “Oops, I just ulted” scenario.

Of the Proliferate engines out there, Flux Channeler is most similar to Inexorable Tide, but it’s a creature, it’s cheaper, and it has a more restrictive trigger. What does that mean? It means it’s a more vulnerable option, because it’s easier for our opponents to remove and sometimes it’ll be destroyed by our own Wrath effects.

At the same time, because it’s cheaper, it also doesn’t telegraph your plays as obviously, and can make it easier to chain multiple spells on the same turn. Superfriends decks in particular probably even appreciate having the body as a potential blocker. All those other counter-adding engines are very expensive, too, which just shows the power of Flux Channeler. Prepare to see this card in lots of places.


Lazotep Plating

Giving ourselves and all of our permanents hexproof sounds like a powerful effect, potentially getting you out of a pickle, playing somewhat like a counterspell would. Sadly, this is where Lazotep Plating suffers: if you’re already playing a blue deck, why choose this over a regular counterspell?

Though the ability reads like a Heroic intervention, it’s considerably weaker. Green decks don’t have counterspells, for one thing, which makes Intervention more valuable in those decks, but the real kicker is the mass indestructibility. Amass 1 for a teeny Zombie token doesn’t even compare. There are tons of great options for protective magic, and counterspells have a much greater diversity of targets.


Commons


Kasmina’s Transformation

Kasmina’s Transmutation looks silly, but can actually be an efficient way to get rid of an annoying commander. This type of removal is usually one of the more salt-inducing things one can do to another’s commander; until they destroy either the Aura or the commander itself, they will be stuck with this random vanilla 1/1.

Compared to similar effects, Transmutation has a glaring downside: the enchanted creature can destroyed very easily. Song of the Dryads and Imprisoned in the Moon turn their target into a land (which is hard to destroy) and Darksteel Mutation gives enchanted creature indestructible. This major downside might hold this card down, but for the low cost of two mana, this is an upgrade over alternatives like Deep Freeze. If you’re playing something like Tuvasa the Sunlit and like your removal in the form of enchantments, I think this might appeal to you.


Finale of Revelation

The blue cards in this set look so darn good, but what do you think? The above was just my take. Do you agree? Leave a comment! Disagree? Leave a comment! Did I miss an interaction? Leave a comment! Is there a card I didn’t mention that I should have? You know the drill, leave a comment! Let’s show those other colors how to have an epic discussion! #BlueMage #TeamBlue #RedSux

Bernardo is a 25 years old library science student. He's been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.