I wanted to take a quick look at some of the hits at the top of the rarity food chain on the way to us in M13.  For those of you following the various spoilers out there, this set is shaping up to be very exciting. 
Now, I know I took Wizards of the Coast to task recently for the obvious power creep that is working its way into the modern Magic design scope, but let me be clear – it’s incredibly exciting to me nonetheless.  The sixteen-year-old kid in me is still doing back flips with each new discovery on MTGSalvation or MagicSpoiler, despite attempts by my older, more rational (and way less flexible, I might add) self to downplay the new toys headed to booster packs in a scant matter of weeks.
At the end of the day, every single one of us gets excited for new cards.  Don’t try to pretend you don’t; it’s absolutely impossible to not revert fully to ‘kid on Christmas morning’ mode when the smell of new packs starts wafting around the room.  That same impulse that kick-started my credit-card debt all those years ago* quickly overrides the rational response to purchase the few singles I actually need and throws me headlong into the nearest gaming store on release day to shred open foil like a madman.  
Shiny and new, dammit.  Shiny and new.
So anyway, let’s look at a few high-end hits from the new Core Set.
THUNDERMAW HELLKITE
What the hell is it about a converted mana cost of five, anyway?  Whenever I bring this up, I hear quite a bit about it being the “high end of playable” for Standard decks.  This is apparently why I had to shell out something in the neighborhood of $40 for my foil copy of Sigarda, Host of Herons, despite it being absolutely un-played in every other format.  
“It might see play at some point due to the aggressive cost.” I was told.
I’m waiting, dammit.  Will someone break this damn thing somewhere, please?  I need to justify wasting my money.  
Anyway, this rant was my first reaction to Thundermaw Hellkite, especially after seeing the insane pre-sale prices it’s already reaching.  I’m starting to soften up on it, however; it’s got my favorite keyword (haste) and does have the ability to open up the skies for a lethal unblocked alpha-strike.  Plus, it has lightning on it, so it’ll look great in foil.  I suppose I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt if I get my hands on one.
Actually, that’s a lie.  I’ll open three play sets of Stuffy Doll before I get lucky enough to crack one of these guys, so there’s that.
OMNISCIENCE
There’s nothing to see here, people.  Move along.
No…really.  It’s not that good.  I’m not kidding.  
Here’s the thing; if you want to look at a game-winning card that gets it right, look to something like Genesis Wave.  I know, I know…Academy Rector it in on turn four and dump your hand for free, right?
Great.  You’ve essentially got a massive mana source here, and that’s it.  
It doesn’t actually dig into your deck and find you things to cast, so that killer opener of High Market, Rector, and this thing is going to look great on the board.  It’ll give you something to look at while you’re in top-deck mode and the rest of the table is beating you senseless due to the giant blue bull’s-eye you cheated in. 
Omniscience is a combo enabler, and that’s about it.  And there are far better ways to combo out that don’t involve trying to figure out how to get a bunch of combo pieces into your hand so that you can play them for free with this.
On the bright side, foil copies of this thing will wheel in drafts.
AJANI, CALLER OF THE PRIDE
I’m really not sure that New Ajani has anything to offer EDH that doesn’t already exist.  He may not even be the best Ajani period for EDH.  But hey, it’s cheap to cast.  I’m hoping that I can open this guy in the GenCon drafts I’m planning on doing so that I can windmill-slam him onto the table.
And of course, by “table”, I mean the one at the dealer’s booth, so that I can pay for my draft and a sandwich on the side.  
And by “sandwich”, I mean Long-Island Iced Tea.
LILIANA OF THE DARK REALMS
This is a little more like it.  I’m actually hoping I do open one of these, because I think she ends up being a solid role-player in my mono-black Kuon, Ogre Ascendant deck.  
We’ve got mana-fixing, which black doesn’t see too frequently.  Kuon needs that.  We’ve got a way to handle creatures, which Kuon really doesn’t need at all.  We’ve got a way to make my creatures better, which Kuon needs badly.
And we’ve got a way to make Exsanguinate easier to hose a table with.
In retrospect, I’m wondering if what Kuon really needs is to be taken apart.
WORLDFIRE
Philosophical question for the masses –
You’re playing in a three-player game.  The player to your left has added Worldfire to his deck.  The player to your right has just played Knowledge Exploitation, and decides to go for Worldfire to “prove a point.”  
Which player do you punch first?
ELDERSCALE WURM
“Dear DJ,
We currently have a job opening in the field of opening packs of Magic cards.  We are looking for someone to fill our “Pull Elderscale Wurm Technician” position, and thought you’d be perfect for the job. 
In response to your original inquiry, we are sorry to inform you that we have already filled the position of “Open Cards With Actual Value Technician”.
Please let us know if you’re interested, and we’ll set up an interview at your earliest convenience.  
Thanks very much,
Wizards Of The Coast.”
.   .   .   .   .
That’s it for today, folks.  Stay tuned –

àDJ

*-No joke…I was a college freshman walking to class, and a Mastercard rep had a booth in the student center.  He was offering a jumbo bag of M&Ms for each person signing up for a new account.  I wanted a snack. 

Quick…head over to Dictionary.com and look up “impulsive”.  Is there a picture of me on the page somewhere?

(Pics courtesy of MagicSpoiler.com)