So many cards from Magic Origins mattered this weekend, but some of them were head-and-shoulders above the rest. Here were the five cards (and the one token) that defined Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth.
Honorable Mention: Thopters
The unsung heroes of Magic Origins, Thopter tokens form the backbone of many deck archetypes in the format. Whether it's a blue-red artifact-focused deck or just incremental value across the spectrum, which player established Thopter dominance was the difference between many matches over the weekend.
5. Hangarback Walker
The artifact creature was an instant hit in Standard, so it's no surprise that its power would translate to Limited as well. In a format as potent as Magic Origins Limited, flexibility is king, and that's exactly what Hangarback offered its pilots.
Really, it does it all: fills your curve early, acts as a bomb late, and even leaves behind a flying army of Thopters if it does die. And it can do that in any deck you build, given that it's a colorless spell. When we talked to players across the room, no card topped more “the card you most want to see” lists than Hangarback.
4. Chandra's Ignition
No red card — heck, no card of any color — was more feared in the Sealed portion of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth than Chandra's Ignition. For every game that ended quickly in Dallas (aggressive Renowned creatures tend to do that) there was another game that stretched long as both players loaded up their side of the board with Thopters and more.
That meant that any card that could break that parity, even one as inherently risky as Chandra's Ignition, was a godsend in the right situation. And, given that the situation was “my opponent has creatures,” it came up often enough to make Chandra's Ignition the leading cause of head-shaking moments in Dallas.
3. Somberwald Alpha
In a format defined by the Renowned ability, anything that allowed your creatures to punch through damage becomes an instant top-tier spell.
No creature did that better than Somberwald Alpha. Renowned makes opponents want to block, and the Alpha punishes them for doing so. Even if they manage to, the wolf's ability to grant trample to push damage through anyway makes it a must-answer as soon as it hits the board, often at instant speed. Since that's difficult to do if you tapped out (to say, cast a creature of your own), the Alpha truly stood alone in Dallas, making it one of the defining cards of the weekend.
2. Enshrouding Mist
Speaking of blocking, this innocuous instant emerged as one of the format's best combat tricks this weekend thanks to its ability to help either side of that exchange. At just one mana, the small cost to Mist meant that it was easy to use it aggressively, and the fact that it could also save creatures from a burn spell was just a bonus.
And that's when it's on offense. Used defensively, Mist was even better, often creating a surprise blocker and taking down an opponent's best attacker. All in all, the many uses of Mist made it one of the format's most surprising versatile spells.
1. Topan Freeblade
It might seem silly that a two-mana, common 2/2 was the most important card of this weekend, but it literally defines the format. Topan Freeblade is the card that you're building your deck to block. If this card gets in on turn three, and you follow up with some awesome three-drop and four-drop—like, say, Somberwald Alpha—your opponent will be hopelessly behind. This is the first card you need to block.
Do not underestimate a 3/3 Vigilance for two mana. And unlike some other cards, the mana requirement is minimal, so it can go in every two-color deck that has white mana. In a format defined by two colors, one mana symbol can be all the difference.
This format is about trying to block. Sometimes you're stopping your opponent from blocking and sometimes you're punishing your opponent after they blocked. But always you're presenting an early, real threat for them to try to block. Topan Freeblade is that always.