MTG design team focusing on powering up commons in War of the Spark

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In Magic: The Gathering, cards come in four rarities: common, uncommon, rare, and mythic. Each tier is more sparse than the last as far as printing goes, but also more powerful. Mythics are unique, special cards that depict important characters or events in the MTG story. Generally speaking, commons are the least powerful. They’re printed more than any other rarity and generally have less power than every other rarity simply because of how, well, common they are. In fact, there’s a whole format called Pauper where only common cards are allowed. But the weakest class of cards may be getting a bit of a boost in War of the Spark.

During recent years, we haven’t had many common cards that were super impactful in Standard (much less Modern or Legacy). In fact, the last pre-2019 common card to make huge ripples in Modern, Legacy, and Pauper was possibly Gurmag Angler – and that was five years ago.

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However, we’re seeing a change in recent months. Growth Spiral, printed in Ravnica Allegiance, has become part of the Sultai Reclamation deck in Modern. Skewer the Critics also joins the club, being played in variants of Modern Burn decks. So what changed?

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Wizards employee comments on powering up commons

We got an answer to this question through a War of the Spark spoiler tweet posted by Andrew Brown, a member of the Play Design team at Wizards of the Coast.

In this tweet, Brown is spoiling a new War of the Spark card: Ob Nixilus’s Cruelty. Many things stand out here, namely, the sheer power of this card. It’s at instant speed which means it can be cast on your opponent’s turn so they don’t see it coming. It only costs one black mana and two colorless, meaning it’s super easy to play in multicolor decks. And, most importantly of all, it gives any creature -5/-5. This is a common that can kill Lyra Dawnbringer (a mythic) at instant speed that can be easily run in multicolor decks due to how easy it is to cast.

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This is huge War of the Spark news for the Pauper community, who rarely get new toys to play with from new Magic: The Gathering sets. Pauper is a format where every card is common, so now that War of the Spark commons are getting juiced up, Pauper may have a chance to change and grow as a format.

This change also means that War of the Spark limited is going to be less about trying to open mythic bombs and more about building decks with good synergy. Having a more powerful base of commons that can answer rares or mythics should keep the format very interesting, and I for one am looking forward to it!


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