Huatli, Radiant Champion
Now at first glance it may look like Huatli, Radiant Champion doesn’t do much. Which is accurate. At second glance it may still not look like Huatli does much. But by glance four or five you start to see the potential.
+1: Put a loyalty counter on Huatli, Radiant Champion for each creature you control.Well this does nothing. As we saw with Gideon, Champion of Justice doing nothing is not a recipe for success. The difference being Huatli adds loyalty based on your creatures, not your opponents. So you want to play Huatli in a deck with lots of creatures and the good thing is she’s gonna be hard to kill.
-1: Target creature gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of creatures you control. This ability also seems bad and does almost nothing. Once again you want lots of creatures and you could look at her as supporting some sort of doublestrike or infect shenanigans. Mostly though this is not what you want from a planeswalker since it doesn’t affect the board or protect herself.
-8: You get an emblem with "Whenever a creature enters the battlefield
under your control, you may draw a card." To me the hope for Huatli being playable is all about her ultimate, which is rare for a planeswalker, since their ultimates are usually afterthoughts. It’s a long shot, but it might be the key here. We are trying to look on the bright side since she is the Radiant Champion after all. Speaking of which, do we really need every planeswalker to be the “Champion” of something. Now we have a Huatli, Radiant Champion, Gideon, Champion of Justice, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Does the Sun really need so many champions? It’s the Sun! Besides the only champion the Sun needs is Dayman, Fighter of the Nightman since he’s a master of karate and friendship for everyone.
So to play Huatli and +1 into her ultimate the next turn you need four creatures. Huatli, Radiant Champion’s ultimate is really good and potentially easy to reach while providing a big body to soak up damage. So how does this all happen? Well we might as well start with Temur Energy again since it’s what matters. Whirler Virtuoso is actually excellent with Huatli since it provides plenty of bodies to fuel her loyalty, and then once you ultimate, draws a bunch of cards, since each Thopter gets you one. Maybe a pipe dream, since she has to compete with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and various Nissa’s.
Wow. Now this is the ultimate value engine. The downside being, it’s slow, very slow. That said, if you’re in an attrition war with creatures involved, you’re not losing with this card out. It’s particularly good against the The Scarab God, which is incredibly relevant since Temur Energy is the center of the Standard metagame. Even just exiling your own creatures allows you to dodge removal, or get value from a Whirler Virtuoso or Rogue Refiner. Another problem for Profane Procession is you need white and black mana, which Temur Energy doesn’t have access to reliably as it stands. Probably too slow anyways, but might be worth exploring.
As one of the biggest fans of Tireless Tracker and Rogue Refiner out there, how does Jadelight Ranger compare? Well Jadelight Ranger is a lot more complicated. In a “best” case scenario you get a 2/1 and draw two cards. If you’re playing 22 lands in a 60 card deck you’re looking at around a 36.6% chance to hit a land each new explore, which makes for around slightly better than 1/9 to draw two lands in a row (quick maths). In a “worst” case you, keep the card you explore on top twice, and get a 4/3 for three mana and know you’re drawing a good card next turn. If you always got the best case scenario, Jadelight Ranger would be amazing, the tricky part is going to be juggling the variance in expected return. I think just the simple comparison to Rogue Refiner shows that Jadelight Ranger is a step below. Drawing a card and getting a 3/2 body is a great outcome for Jadelight Ranger, and Rogue Refiner always does that (with two energy to boot). Jadelight Ranger can only ever draw you land, whereas Rogue Refiner draws you anything. But is Jadelight Ranger worth playing anyways? Maybe, since Rogue Refiner is pretty damn good, so if Jadelight Ranger is just a little worse it’s not bad at all.
This is the type of card we need in every Standard! This card destroys Refurbish and slaps The Scarab God back down to earth. While we’re at it, it’s also potentially nice in Modern, since it permanently shuts off Snapcaster Mage. Actually pretty costly to cycle though, which drastically limits its effectiveness to just toss in every deck and sideboard for free. Which makes it a great hate card, I’d love to see more like it.
Azor, the Lawbringer
So the idea is you cast Azor, and your opponent can’t remove it on their turn because they can’t cast Instants or Sorceries, and then you get to attack and get a free Sphinx’s Revelation. I want to believe, mostly because it’s so darn cool, but I don’t think this is Dragonlord Ojutai 2.0 by any means. Clearly I’ve grown cynical and forgotten the true joys and magic of casting Sphinx’s Revelation. You can protect Azor on your turn with countermagic, but then you have less mana for your Revelation. Sphinx’s Revelation was reliable and instant speed, Azor is trying to sneak out a Sphinx’s Revelation when your opponent isn’t looking, but that seems like it’ll be hard to do.
Angrath, the Flame-Chained
I’m just happy Nic Cage finally got a planeswalker card at all. A better name might have been Nicolas Cage, the Ghost Rider, rather than his birth name, Angrath, the Flame-Chained, which he changed once he became “serious” about acting.
+1: Each opponent discards a card and loses 2 life.
The inhuman torch turns up the heat with a decent +1 ability. Angrath is all about aggression, and this ability is kind of sneaky good I think. Discarding a card is the mashed potatoes and the extra two damage is the gravy. After two turns you’ve gotten more than a Blightning out of the deal, and that’s before you consider the versatility and future turns of activation. In the sort of attritiony yet tempoy style games that Temur Energy can have, this ability seems worth having access to.
-3: Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Untap it. It gains haste until end of turn.
Sacrifice it at the beginning of the next end step if it has converted mana cost 3 or less. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is kind of a swiss army knife and Angrath is more of a sledgehammer. -3 killing a creature and smacking your opponent in the face is nothing to scoff at. All the incidental damage Angrath can lob at your opponent is going to add up quickly. It’s going to be difficult to say Angrath is better than Chandra, but just because a card is worse than Chandra, Torch of Defiance most of the time doesn’t mean it still won’t have uses. Angrath might open the door for a B/R Control deck with few creatures.
-8: Each opponent loses life equal to the number of cards in his or her graveyard. Angrath’s ultimate is kind of the backup ability to roast your opponent to a crisp if they are completely out of creatures and have no hand. Under and reasonable circumstances it should read “win the game” although obviously if your opponent has a way to clear out their graveyard it’s not doing anything, but that’s not much of a consideration in Standard. I think Angrath’s playability might be a surprise, but a welcome one. Flame on!
· *2nd* at Pro Tour Ixalan: http://dro.ps/ixalan
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· The Art of Sideboard Construction - Sultai Energy: http://dro.ps/jon-sideboard
· Blue Moon Beach Control: http://dro.ps/scott-bluemoon
· A Commoner's View on Pauper: http://dro.ps/mark-pauper
· Top 5 Modern Decks: http://dro.ps/pascal-modern