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Pre-War Formalwear and Cryptic Coat: A new era for Stoneforge Mystic

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I love Stoneforge Mystic. She’s a poorly sized creature that generates a little (or a lot) of value, asks a little bit of you during deckbuilding and will impact most games she’s played in. However, for the longest time she was barely worth playing in Highlander due to both a lack of premium equipment and general power creep. Stoneforge Mystic in Highlander has never had the same impact as the Constructed formats, due to both the singleton nature and the infrequency of creature based midrange mirrors. Umezawa’s Jitte is laughable in 2024, but is far worse when you’re paying a point for it. The supporting cast were fine, but never good. Skullclamp is the best of it, but a lot of Skullclamp decks can live without Stoneforge Mystic.

For the longest time, Batterskull was your go to “payoff” equipment to fetch with Stoneforge Mystic. It was big, it stablised you and could threaten to win by itself. If your Stoneforge died, you could eventually pay 5 mana for it, and pick it up for 3 more mana if your Germ died.
Over time, these numbers became worse and worse contextually, and losing your Stoneforge and being stranded with a dead card in hand was such a threat that very few decks would find her worth running. Eventually, Kaldra Compleat was printed and the “threat” part was far scarier, as it was much harder to remove and ended the game faster. However, it was even harder to cast if your Stoneforge died, and even worse to naturally draw. Enter two new cards; Pre-War Formalwear and Cryptic Coat.

These two Equipment have SO many things going for them, that I genuinely believe new archetypes will emerge and established creature based archetypes should find space to add them in.

Firstly, they are both very reasonable cards to draw and cast. The difference between 3 and 5 mana is huge, and the difference between 3 and 7 mana is astronomical. These cards can range from good to actively being one of the best draws you can have, and their floors are unreasonably high for a toolbox target. Additionally, the threat of losing your Stoneforge Mystic and being stranded with an uncastable card in hand no longer exists.

Secondly, they are both very powerful and relatively unique effects, unlike their predecessors. Pre-War Formalwear allows you to rebuy specific effects in a singleton format, and has powerful synergies with creatures that have activated abilities that require them to tap, such as Mother of Runes. Cryptic Coat creates unblockable threats to challenge for the Initiative and the Monarchy, and can be picked up and replayed for additional threats at a much lower rate than Batterskull. The creatures underneath Cryptic Coat can be flipped up for their cost, or flickered to trigger their ETB effects for value.

Thirdly, both of these Equipment can be flickered and retriggered, or picked up with Regrowth-esque effects and generate even more value. Many of the flicker effects that can hit these two, like Flickerwisp and Touch the Spirit Realm, synergise very well with the other cards that naturally slot into these shells, reducing the likelihood of “dead draws”.

Lastly, they both have real upsides in their interactions with other cards that are less pronounced. Pre-War Formalwear can be exiled to cast Solitude, used to outsize creatures on a stalled boardstate and potentially reanimate cards like Broadside Bombardiers and Bomat Courier for a surprise attacker to threaten planeswalkers or steal the Initiative. Cryptic Coat pitches to Force of Will and Force of Negation, can create large board states to defend your life total and make creatures flipped with it unblockable, allowing for powerful combinations to naturally occur.

I’m uncertain that these cards and the new shells available will warp the format. I’m uncertain they’re the best thing to add to previous shells of creature decks, or that they will spawn new archetypes. I’m uncertain that people will find the success needed to put a 2 mana 1/2 into their decks. I’m uncertain that Umezawa’s Jitte can remain at one point when it has become so outclassed as a card, or that Stoneforge Mystic will remain at 0 points moving forward, now that she has new toys.

I am certain I’m going to find out.

Vi

Melbourne based MtG grinder and content creator. Ex L2 Judge, ex Twitch streamer, multiple PT attendee and team member on team Australia for the World Magic Cup.