On this penultimate night of week 3 of Gatecrash official previews on the mothership, we get to see two guilds break out some of their biggest bombs at midrange mana costs. First, in Jacob Van Lunen's Perilous Research, the Boros get their own variation on a classic and beloved red creature trope. Then, in Mike Flores's Top Decks, we get to see the Dimir non-guildmaster mythic rare, and let's just say it's high on both the risk and reward meters. Say hello to Spark Trooper and Duskmantle Seer, then let me take you through my first impressions.
Spark Trooper - Your eyes do not deceive you. This is really as straightforward as it looks - nothing more or less than a lifelinked Ball Lightning. But it's worth noting that the simplicity of this design only underscores its sheer effectiveness. This is a four-mana creature that only hits once, but that one blow is a potential 12-point life swing. That's not getting into how much damage it can dish out if you've got Aurelia, the Warleader on the board and it survives the first combat. The Boros seem to be masters at combining their opposing natures - red's direct damage and white's lifegain - to incredibly potent effect. The guild's major strength lies in sheer numerical life-total advantage, and hence they're going to be one of the great Limited forces of the block and the foundation of some of the most powerful aggro decks in the Standard environment to come (you heard it here first).
Duskmantle Seer - The nostalgic original-Ravnica-block player in me loves this card from the outset since it's a fusion of two of the most-loved cards from that set, Dark Confidant and Moroii. And, of course, there's a bit of Howling Mine in there too, which, given the Confidant aspect, can be either a good or a bad thing. Some have cried foul at the fact that Duskmantle Seer gives your opponents draws, which might lead to them getting game-winning cards in hand and hence making it a risk to play. I say, think about it this way: Everyone gets to draw, sure, but you're the only one with a 4/4 evasive creature out of the deal. Assuming everyone has roughly the same mana curve and barring outliers such as someone grabbing an Enter the Infinite off this ability, the fact that you're throwing that kind of weight around puts you at a distinct advantage. All in all, the combination of familiar elements with a new twist makes this design one of my favorites in the set, and although I will likely be representing Boros at the prerelease, I would happily run Duskmantle Seer in a blue-black deck.
What do you think of these two game-ending creatures? Let me know in the comments.