Hands-On History

Posted in Card Preview on April 10, 2018

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

I'm eagerly anticipating the return to Dominaria, all the more so because that's where my adventures as a Planeswalker began (about fourteen years before the planeswalker card type was printed). Dominaria looks to be legendary, and at first blush, that usually doesn't mean a lot for Limited. Legendary permanents tend to be of higher rarity, and that makes any sort of legendary theme nigh impossible to translate into Draft.

However, Dominaria is poised to make history, and I've got a stack of preview cards today that will show us how. Not since Champions of Kamigawa have we seen legendary be such a focal point, and this time the net is being cast much wider. The mechanic is called "historic," and it comes in many shapes and sizes.

Historic cards are one of three things:

  • Legendary – Cards with legendary on their typeline
  • Artifacts – Yep, artifacts. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Sagas – These are new enchantments that tell a story about specific events. They show up at uncommon and above.

Now that we have this class of cards, historic, what are we doing with it? There are tons of ways to interact with historic cards, as the mechanic is very open-ended, and I've got some examples of ways to use this space.

Make Them Better

One thing you can do is make your historic cards better, or in this case cheaper.

Jhoira's Familiar

This little birdie is a rather modest four-mana 2/2 flier, but it gives you a nice discount on a wide swath of cards, which can really make your deck hum.

How else can we make historic plays?

Get Powered Up by Them

Making historic cards better is nice, but going the other direction is sweet too. There are many cards that get better once you have access to historic cards, Mishra's Self-Replicator among them.

Mishra's Self-Replicator

The Replicator is pricey, but once it gets going it's very hard to stop. Each additional copy also has the ability to clone itself, and given enough mana (and historic cards), you will end up with a massive army in no time. If the opponent doesn't kill this right away, things just get completely out of hand, and I'm sure it won't be too hard to find ways to trigger it.

If making 2/2s isn't your thing, you can use historic cards to gain good old-fashioned card advantage, using cards like Urza's Tome.

Urza's Tome

Urza's Tome is an efficient way to pull ahead, and fuels itself quite rapidly. First, you discard a historic card, then you exile it on the next activation. That's the natural play pattern, though if your historic cards are dying, you can also tap into that without even having to discard first. This is a great deal, and I look forward to Tome-ing it up in Limited.

So, given that historic benefits go both directions, the next question is "Will there be enough of them?" The answer appears to be yes, and is bolstered by the appearance of legendary creatures at uncommon. Take Kwende, Pride of Femeref (like actually—take him in Draft).

Kwende, Pride of Femeref

This is a text box and type we would normally see at rare, but it's present in Dominaria as an uncommon. That indicates that history isn't only for those with gold (rarity symbols), and makes me optimistic about drafting these themes.

History Has Its Eyes on You

So now that we've seen the different ways historic cards interact, and how ubiquitous they appear to be, what does that mean? I see this set as open-ended, since these mechanics show up in a lot of different ways, and besides having one characteristic they care about (historic status), they can do a ton of different things. Some are card-advantage engines (literally and figuratively), some are ramp enablers, some are aggressive, and some are just powerful. That sort of flexibility is very appealing to me, and even though I'm sure some of these directions are better than others, I like the idea of being able to create whatever history inspires you. After all, history is written by the victor, and if you harness the power well, that could easily be you.



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