Cycle of rare MDFCs showcase the deans of MTG Strixhaven, School of Mages

You don't want to get sent to the dean's office at Strixhaven.

Image via WotC

The first day of spoiler season is highlighted by the news that Modal Double-Faced Cards are back in Strixhaven, School of Mages with a rare cycle of Creatures that have complementary effects on both sides.

The deans of the five colleges are featured within this cycle. Each dean represents one color of mana in the college’s color pair. This cycle sets the tone for what players can expect as the spoiler season continues. 

Strixhaven is scheduled to be released digitally on April 15 with a tabletop release on April 23.

Uvilda, Dean of Perfection // Nassari, Dean of Expression

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Front:

  • CMC: 2U
  • Type: Legendary Creature Djinn Wizard
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 2/2
  • First ability: Tap: You may exile an Instant or Sorcery card from your hand and put three hone counters on it. It gains “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this card is exiled, remove a hone counter from it” and “When the last hone counter is removed from this card, if it’s exiled, you may cast it. It costs four less to cast this way.”

Back:

  • CMC: 3RR
  • Type: Legendary Creature Efreet Shaman
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 4/4
  • First ability: At the beginning of your upkeep, exile the top card of each opponent’s library. Until end of turn, you may cast spells from among those exiled cards, and you may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to cast those spells.
  • Second ability: Whenever you cast a spell from exile, put a +1/+1 counter on Nassari, Dean of Expression.

This is a pair of creatures that will take several turns to maximize their value. Each side of this MDFC gets better with each passing turn through upkeep triggers. The Suspend ability on Uvilda is a potentially game-winning ability. Prismari decks will be using spells that cost five mana or more. The four mana discount Uvilda provides helps create double-spell turns.

Nassari works well with Uvilda and has a more immediate impact on the game. If Nassari survives a turn, you draw two cards. Nassari also has a strong ceiling as a base 4/4 that will get counters.

Plargg, Dean of Chaos // Augusta, Dean of Order

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Front:

  • CMC: 1R
  • Type: Legendary Creature Orc Shaman
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 2/2
  • First ability: Tap, Discard a card: Draw a card.
  • Second ability: Pay 4R, tap: Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a nonlegendary, nonland card with mana value three or less. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Put all revealed cards not cast this way on the bottom of your library in a random order.

Back:

  • CMC: 2W
  • Type: Legendary Creature Human Cleric
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 1/3
  • First ability: Other tapped creatures you control get +1/+0.
  • Second ability: Other untapped creatures you control get +0/+1.
  • Third ability: Whenever you attack, untap each creature you control, then tap any number of creatures you control.

Plargg is a fine creature that can act as a mana sink in grindy matchups. The ability is expensive, but creatures are generally cheap in Red and White decks. In a late-game situation, it should be possible to activate Plargg’s ability and cast an additional creature.

Augusta, Dean of Order is an interesting card design that cares about creatures being tapped or untapped. Tapped creatures get an offensive boost and untapped creatures receive a defensive boost. The simple use for Augusta is to give your Creatures Vigilance, but this ability enables more complex lines.

Valentin, Dean of the Vein // Lisette, Dean of the Root

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Front:

  • CMC: B
  • Type: Legendary Creature Vampire Warlock
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 1/1
  • Keywords: Menace, Lifelink
  • First ability: If a nontoken creature an opponent controls would die, exile it instead. When you do, you may pay two mana. If you do, create a 1/1 Black and Green Pest Creature token with “When this creature dies, you gain two life.”

Back:

  • CMC: 2GG
  • Type: Legendary Creature Human Druid
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 4/4
  • First ability: Whenever you gain life, you may pay one mana. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on each Creature you control and those Creatures gain Trample until end of turn.

Best case scenario is to have Valentin and Lisette on the battlefield at the same time. These cards work well together. Valentin gains life and Lisette grows your creatures based on that life gain. Both are weak on their own, but appear to be possible engines for a Green and Black life gain deck.

Kianne, Dean of Substance // Imbraham, Dean of Theory

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Front:

  • CMC: 2G
  • Type: Legendary Creature Elf Druid
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 2/2
  • First ability: Tap: Exile the top card of your library. If it’s a Land card, put it into your hand. Otherwise, put a Study counter on it.
  • Second ability: Pay 4G: Create a 0/0 Green and Blue Fractal Creature token. Put a +1/+1 counter on it for each different mana value among nonland cards you own in exile with Study counters on them.

Back:

  • CMC: 2UU
  • Type: Legendary Creature Bird Wizard
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 3/3
  • Keyword: Flying
  • First ability: XUU, Tap: Exile the top X cards of your library and put a Study counter on each of them. Then you may put a card you own in exile with a Study counter on it into your hand.

The big combo is to exile a lot of cards with Study counters and create several Fractal Creature tokens to close out the game. This is a slow game plan but Blue and Green have enough control pieces to keep the battlefield stabilized while it sets up. Imbraham appears to be a good late-game mana sink that can find a finisher or answer with one activation.

Shaile, Dean of Radiance // Embrose, Dean of Shadow

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Front:

  • CMC: 1W
  • Type: Legendary Creature Bird Cleric
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 1/1
  • Keyword: Flying, Vigilance
  • First ability: Tap: Put a +1/+1 counter on each Creature that entered the battlefield under your control this turn.

Back:

  • CMC: 2BB
  • Type: Legendary Creature Human Warlock
  • Rarity: Rare
  • Stats: 4/4
  • First ability: Tap: Put a +1/+1 counter on another target Creature, then Embrose, Deam of Shadow deals two damage to that creature.
  • Second ability: Whenever a Creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it dies, draw a card.

Shaile will see some play in White aggro decks when Strixhaven is released. A two-drop that can buff creatures as they enter the battlefield is worth trying out. Flying and Vigilance also lets Shaile be an effective attacker when paired with Luminarch Aspirant or Maul of the Skyclaves. If White decks want to splash a few Black pathways, Embrose is a good card that should see play. It works well with Shaile, but can fit into any Black deck that cares about +1/+1 counters like Elves.

The Strixhaven: School of Mages set will launch digitally on April 15 and a tabletop release is scheduled for April 23.