The first World Magic Cup was a big, big weekend. So big, we couldn't fit everything into just five Top Cards. So instead, for your enjoyment and our sanity, we present the seven cards that helped define this first historic weekend.
It has been a while since a land has had such a defining role in multiple formats as Inkmoth Nexus does. A central player in the incredibly powerful Croatian Infect deck, the Nexus provided an evasive threat to wear all of the fancy pants the deck is packing. It shows up as a combo with Kessig Wolf Run in the Ramp decks, acting as a sort of Fireball to end games in one fell swoop. It even acts as a brilliant alternate victory path in Affinity/Robots/Deck-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, picking up a Cranial Plating as easily as the next poisonous, mechanical, flying land-bot can. In every deck it sees play, the alternate win condition it provides (or main win condition in the case of Infect) often gives those decks wins out of nowhere. In the Croatian superdeck, the evasion was incredibly important in a field filled with very few fliers not named Insectile Aberration, and was a major reason they just destroyed the Standard rounds of play.
6. Blood Artist
One of the two 0/1 creatures that had a major impact this weekend, Blood Artist is a deceptively powerful card in an incredibly powerful package. Standard is filled with ways to kill 1-toughness creatures, as decks have to be prepared to deal with Delver of Secrets and the plethora of mana critters that small in the field. Blood Artist giving a useful effect even upon death is just a minor reason the card is so powerful. The real reason shines when it sticks around, even if only for a turn. The Zombie decks that performed so well in Standard this event absolutely relied on the Blood Artist for reach, finishing games where the deck otherwise couldn't. It makes cards like Wrath of God less potent. It turns every late-game combat into a Catch-22 for opponents. It punishes decks that run disposable creatures, like many of the Delver of Secrets and Ramp decks tend to. In short, it does everything an aggressive deck like Zombies wants to do... and all in an innocuous-looking package.
An innocuous 0/1 creature, one of the top cards of the weekend? Well, we kind of like the nifty 0/1 creatures this tournament, and Duty-Bound Dead had a special place in the fate of a couple of our teams here. Team Scotland opened a copy of the exalted 0/1 in every single one of their Magic 2013 packs. That can lead to some pretty explosive starts, and Stephen Murray was more than happy to capitalize on them as he played all six, along with some copies of Tortured Soul and Rancor in a fun little theme deck that took Scotland to a 3–0 finish.
Hungary had Scotland to thank in all this. While Scotland beat them up fairly handily, they also beat Hungary's nearest rivals, keeping Hungary in the competition by virtue of their seeding, and setting them up to play Constructed, which took them all the way to the Top 4.
These days, it's hard to write a Top Cards feature without including the ubiquitous blue Wizard because, well, it's everywhere. We saw it in Standard Delver of Secrets; we saw it in Modern (Delver of Secrets or not); and it was the weapon of choice for newly minted superstar Tzu-Ching Kuo of Chinese Taipei in his white-blue deck, where a string of Snapcaster Mages let him win the clinching match in the Semifinals against Poland. Interestingly enough, the only place we didn't really see Snapcaster Mage was in its own Block format.
3. Mind Sculpt
Magic 2013 Team Sealed was a wholly unexplored format prior to this weekend, and many players weren't sure what to expect. What they found was a format that often rewarded them with more copies of commons than they knew what to do with. It wasn't uncommon for a team to see five copies of a card staring back at them once all twelve packs were opened, and nothing exemplified this more than the five Mind Sculpts Team USA was gifted in Team Sealed. Although the team was dubious the deck would work, Brian Kibler piloted the list to a win over Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa on camera to demonstrate that sometimes more really is better.
Where wasn't this card seen this weekend? The powerful green enchantment was seen barreling through the Draft portion Friday morning, helping push poison over the top in the afternoon, and keeping Croatia atop the standings during Team Constructed. We saw it in mono-green lists that put up solid showings, despite their smaller numbers, and we saw it in the Croatian Poison deck that was blink-and-you'll-miss-it fast. Everyone knew how good the enchantment was from way back in the day, but at this rate we'll all be seeing green for a long time.
What can I say about this card that hasn't already been said following a string of expletives from the United States team? Besides just plain dominating the Block format—where strings of Bonfires lit up the myriad Jund mirror matches in the Top 8—the card also was a four-of for many Standard Ramp decks and a major player in the Naya Pod lists players played this weekend. And the United States won't soon forget this card, as they were one turn away from securing a spot in the Top 16 when eventual champions Chinese Taipei topdecked the red miracle, knocking out the US and writing their own miraculous story on the way to a championship.