Last week was the prerelease, and I have to say it went pretty well. I played in 3 flights, and ended up with a rewarding 11-1 record. In the first flight, I played a reasonable U/R deck with evasive creatures and tempo cards. In the second, my friend Justin and I played 2HG, with him playing the R/G deck with 10 uncommons and 4 rares and me playing the U/B control deck. In the final flight I put a Bant deck together. This felt like my weakest pool, forcing me into 3 colors, but I did have some strong cards like Nissa, Steward of Elements, Pride Sovereign, and Angel of Condemnation.

One of the best parts of the prerelease is the chance to get a feel for the new cards—to see what does and doesn’t work as well as you thought it would. It’s one thing to judge a card on paper, but another to see if it actually holds up in practice. Today I’m going to discuss some of the cards that really stood out for me during my prereleases.

Dauntless Aven

I didn’t actually open any copies of this card, but I was impressed by it every time it was on the opposite side of the table. If you don’t have any other creatures, it gives itself pseudo-vigilance. Meanwhile, if you happen to have some exert creatures, you’re going to be able to exert them every turn with this Bird in play. This is an extremely powerful ability that the red/white decks don’t really need, if I’m being honest. At 3 mana, a 2/1 flyer is completely playable on its own, so there isn’t anything to complain about here. I guess if I had to find its weak spot, it’s that it has 1 toughness in a world of -1/-1 counters, but that describes a lot of creatures in this format.

Aerial Guide

This is like Goblin Guide, but, you know, in the air.

Okay, it’s nothing like Goblin Guide. They just have “Guide” in their names. Okay, they’re also both 2/2s, but the resemblance ends there. I think—I admittedly don’t know their lineage.

This Bird was great all weekend for me.

*pushes up nerd glasses* “Um, it’s a Drake, Frank. Not a Bird.” – You Guys

Nah, they’re all birds. Is that Drakist? Birdist? I don’t know. What I do know is that being able to give your 4/5 or your 6/6 flying every turn is pretty huge, and you’re not paying any more than you would for a normal Wind Drake.

Ambuscade

This card is so much more bonkers than similar cards have ever been. It’s less mana than Hunt the Weak. It doesn’t actually fight, meaning that only your creature deals the damage, like Nature’s Way. This is great because it means you won’t be afraid to also attack with your creature, unlike fighting. But it’s an instant (which is insane with exert creatures), so maybe you’re already in combat! This card was blowing people out all weekend, and I had at least one of them in every green pool I opened, which was fantastic.

Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs

This card was surprisingly good for me in all the pools I played it. Controlling a Desert or having one in your graveyard isn’t that tall of an order in this format. In fact, it’s downright simple! An 0/4 blocks a lot of things in this format, and being able to ping for 1 damage every turn while presumably getting in with flyers can really increase your clock. There were even times I had a Vizier of Tumbling Sands and was pinging for 2 points a turn. That adds up pretty quickly. Sure, there are combat tricks in the format that can nug your wall, but there’s also removal you could use in response. All in all, this innocuous 0/4 for 2 mana was a solid performer.

Puncturing Blow

Yes, this is a red removal spell that deals 5 damage. I understand you are surprisingly unsurprised by my including this on a list of my Limited hits. But nonetheless, this card is such an all-star red removal spell. It kills almost everything in the format other than Greater Sandwurm, which is insane. River Serpent, Quarry Hauler, Quarry Beetle, Colossapede—they all die to this dude, which is basically every big creature you’re going to come across. In a format with embalm and eternalize, the icing is really the exile clause. They’ll never see their families again! Not even in the afterlife! I mean, to be fair, we’re preventing them from becoming mindless slaves of Bolas, but I dunno, some people might not see it that way. We do though. We do.

Rhonas’s Stalwart

This was another innocuous card that felt very, very good every time I cast it. I know it’s just a reasonable 2/2 for 2, but sometimes, when the stars align, it’s actually a 3/3 for 2 that can’t be blocked by creatures with power 2 or less. I’m not sure how much of this Limited format you’ve played, but that’s a lot of them. This guy is kind of like a green Gust Walker, or the closest thing to it you’ll ever see. It was surprisingly hard to deal with and I was taking an unblocked 3 damage every other turn.

Those are some of the cards that stood out for me last weekend. I know some of them are pretty obvious choices, but sometimes it was more their existence that surprised me. Like Puncturing Blow—sure, it’s an obviously powerful removal spell, but how well it performed in this particular format is what made it stand out for me. Thanks so much for reading, and hit me up in the comments and let me know what cards surprised you!