At first, I wanted to talk about Wall of Vines. Since 1993, Wizards has found occassion to introduce a Wall, similar to the "kinda-like-a-quarter" foreign coin you brought back from vacation, that returns with each season to become clogged in the vending machines of today's draft metagame. This year the menace is eliminated, and the howl of demented Wall of Wood collectors is heard throughout the realm.
A 0/3 with Reach is certainly a better solution for the green defender single mana wall drop. I would certainly play with this. And it was about time the relentless power creep of creatures made its way to the core set, wall edition. More fire for the prophesied red/green standard "wall" deck.
But then besides the visual spoiler, I was drawn to the wallpapers page. There are always a few cards first spoiled as art only, and this year is no exception. Behold Mystical Maze:
Yeah, I like the art. Any minotaur would. The damp, dreary exterior no doubt hides within a fine leather sofa, a refrigerator loaded with many variety of beverages and perhaps even an XBOX running Puzzle Quest.
Curse you Lord Bane, I'll have you yet!
What will Mystical Maze give us? Allow me to go on a spree of wild and groundless speculation.
My prediction: Mystical Maze is a fixed Maze of Ith. First released in The Dark and then never reprinted (except for the snazzy and nigh-unattainable Judge Reward Foil). A staple in the most well-endowed of casual decks, where it helps control things in formats from EDH to Emperor and beyond.
There are 2 problems with the Maze that have prevented it's reprinting in greater distribution.
1. Maze of Ith doesn't generate mana. In modern magic development the land which produces no mana is a very rare thing indeed. It just doesn't happen. With the exception of pure nostalgia…seen in the Time Spiral "time shifted" reprinting of Safe Haven and the Cold Snap card Dark Depths. Otherwise: it always generates mana. It's what land does.
2. Maze of Ith helped perpetuate one of the most long-standing misunderstandings (that's a lot of standing) in the history of magic. Perhaps you never had this problem…but I assure you it was a FACT in many circles for a long time.
The myth, if you will, was this: if a creature becomes untapped, it is removed from combat.
Maze of Ith, along with its dark steed Ebony Horse, convinced many people they could get the same effect with Jandor's Saddlebags. When really it was a horse of a different color!
Part of the problem was that early Magic Cards didn't use any kind of templating. The cards just said whatever Richard Garfield, Skaff Elias and the rest of the demented crew wanted it to say (Aside: they have an awesome podcast about more general gaming currently running here). And very often rules "clarifications" were put in as a part of the actual rules. Contrast Alchor's Tomb with the modern Painter's Servant.
I suspect this new Maze will lend a chair to all the "standing" and simply take out the untapping language. This is already seen in another Maze-ish land…Kor Haven!
So my prediction (and I suspect we will find out one way or another in a manner of days)
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool
3, tap: Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and by target attacking creature this turn.
I'm probably a little wrong and could be completely wrong.
The visual of a maze or labyrinth has seen use in other non-Ith cards. It could be something like Arena (or Magus of the Arena). Or something completely unrelated like Meishin, the Mind Cage.
Certainly it will help you keep "control" of any game, in one way or another. Even in the color Green!
More un-insightful observations to come!