The full spoiler isn’t out as of this writing (will probably be later today, as I’m writing this in Finland), so I can’t be sure all the remarks I’m making are going to hold until the end, but I’ll go ahead anyhow.
[card]Jayemday Tome[/card] was first printed in Alpha and last printed in Origins. It is still quite popular in Old School, where options are limited. Apparently, now it isn’t worth it anymore, so they dropped one mana from both the casting cost and the activation for [card]Arcane Encyclopedia[/card]. This isn’t the only card where the creep is apparent. For example, [card]Graveyard Marshal[/card] (if that is indeed it’s name, as it’s been spoiled only in German) is a black 3/2 for BB without any drawbacks. That hasn’t happened before. In fact, white has never received anything on par with this on it’s face. Of course, there’s a lot of white creatures for that mana, which are better in practice. Green, on the other hand, has had cards like [card]Kalonian Tusker[/card] and [card]Avatar of the Resolute[/card], so black hasn’t jumped all color completely.
[card]Havoc Devils[/card] are a 4/3 for 2RR with an ability (trample) at common. We did have [card]Keldon Raider[/card] before this in Dominaria as well, but historically they’ve been vanillas and often 3/4. Maybe they finally noticed that they were not getting play, so maybe it was fine to push them just a tad. Since they can’t really drop the elated powerlevel of rares and mythics, they should indeed push the cards at lower rarities to make limited play better.
This does have a downside of making the games even more draw dependent. If you falter even a little bit with your curve or lands, you’ll just lose. Which isn’t great for the game.
Planeswalkers, on the other hand, not that much
We now have five planeswalkers spoiled, if we forget about Bolas (which we will for now). They feel… weird. But in a good way. Like, [card]Karn, Scion of Urza[/card] you’ll just put in decks and it doesn’t really matter. It’s going to be good. Of course, it’s going to be better in decks with a lot of artifacts, but mostly it’s just there for the card advantage. Same with the new Teferi. If you can cast it, it’s going to be good.
These… they feel like you actually have to design your deck around them. They are not the first of this kind (Jaya did this nicely as well), but their design seems to have moved greatly into a better direction. They can still do cool things, at times, without synergies, but they are much better with those synergies available to you. This is what they should strive to. Planeswalkers should be strong, but you should actually have to design a deck for them.
Hate is Everywhere, but is it going to have any impact?
Someone actually suggested they are planning on unbanning more cards in Modern and they wanted to be ready for that by having more hate available. I’m not sure they are strong enough to actually see play, because they seem quite narrow and you can’t really use that many sideboard spots to any specific match-up in Modern, because the spots are so valuable and there are just so many match-ups to consider.
On the other hand, the Standard hate seems to be too late. There’s finally something for energy, but that is rotating out in a couple of months and isn’t seeing much play now anyhow. We don’t really get any hate for those decks that really need it. This doesn’t feel like it opens anything for most decks against control, for example, which is definitely something that would have been needed.
Many Decks Might See a Resurgence
Well, if [card]Chainwhirler[/card] and the overly powerful control decks hang around, this won’t happen, but we seem to be getting toys for certain decks. There’s plenty of tribal cards for example, but no specific tribe seems to be getting that much support. Instead, decks like Zombies might receive enough of a push to see some play before Amonkhet rotates out. There’s also pirates, spirits (and a pirate spirit), vampires, wizards and so forth. Maybe something will come out of these decks. You’d just have to really nerf the control decks.
Some Weird Color Pie Changes
I mentioned Graveyard Marshal before, which feels like a shift in the color pie, but this seems even more so:
Why didn’t they do something like make it change the Toughness to 1 instead of the current design, which sort of rubs me the wrong way. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Yes, it would have played differently in the face of [card]Chainwhirler[/card] among other things, but it would have also felt more blue.
The Rainbow Is Strong in This One
There was a time when they wouldn’t print any gold cards in Core Sets, because they felt it would complicate the game for beginners. Well, I’ve always thought they were wrong, since I think the problem would be just for those players who are a little bit invested and then come across these, whereas for the new players they seem intuitive. Especially if you don’t have to worry about things like Protection from Color any more.
Sure, they’ve had multicolored cards in Core Sets before, including [card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card] and those usual uncommon archetype cards in Origins, but now they have five mythic dragons and those 10 uncommons.
Reprints for You and You and You
Core Sets have always been a good place for reprints, so we have quite a few here:
Crucible of Worlds
Djinn of Wishes
Mentor of the Meek
… and that’s just the rares and mythics (not including [card]Shivan Dragon[/card] frmo the Planeswalker decks). I don’t know why [card]Pelakka Wurm[/card] got an upgrade from uncommon to rare.
In general, I do like these reprints. Not all, but some. The modern playable ones were getting out of hand in price, but there’s also some good reprints for more casual players. I personally like [card]Djinn of Wishes[/card] quite a bit. [card]Banefire[/card] might have actual Standard repercussions.