In celebration of the the fifth annual Arvika Festival next February, KungMarkus decided to legalize Homelands for his tournament. He's not opening the doors for dilly-dally like Revised nor Fallen Empires though; only Homelands will be added to the traditional "Swedish legal" sets. And he mentioned that he found inspiration in that old April's Fool post. So by ridiculing the fiction of having Homelands legal it somehow became fact. Irony. Now here we are, and I for one have gotten properly excited to brew in this space. So let's travel to Ulgrotha - for real this time - and take a peek at what the expansion has to offer.
While the true high end of The Dark - Fellwar Stone, Blood Moon and Maze of Ith - would make most comparisons skew in that sets favor, I believe Homelands have a larger total number of cards that could possibly see play. In a small enough card pool, any addition is bound to have some effect on the meta, and 93/94 is about as small as a constructed card pool gets.
While Merchant Scroll mostly serve to reinforce existing strategies, Homelands also bring some heavy hitters that beg for build-arounds.
There are zero creatures in the original 93/94 cardpool that survive both Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares. Homelands bring two to the mix with Autumn Willow and Ihsan's Shade. Autumn Willow was the first creature printed with shroud / hexproof. As such, she also laughs in the face of The Abyss. One of the first times I played against The Deck at a convention in 1996 Autumn Willow was in fact one of the finishers of choice. She also became a mainstay in ErhnamGeddon decks, to the point that many players in the area started referring to them as "WillowGeddon" decks.
|The most black of knights.|
There's a lot to unpack with Homelands's midrange threats. E.g. Eron the Relentless (a five-mana 5/2 haste creature that regenerates for RRR) is a properly potent summon. And the original shattergang brothers - Joven and Chandler - may be far less horrible than we expected in 1995. Even commons like Hungry Mist (6/2 for 2GG, pay GG each upkeep or sac it) could be something to look into. It is not like it's an easy card to steal with Control Magic unless the opponent is heavily invested in green, and having a big beater that survives City in a Bottle could have implications.
|Probably not this one though. Unless you build a sweet control deck with Mystic Decree and Wall of Kelp and have Marjhan as roadblock/finisher. Hm. Might actually be onto something durdly here.|
An-Zerrin Ruins is at worst "Destroy target tapped creature", and at best some solid card advantage in red. Whenever you say "Efreet" with the ruins you are entitled to a happy dance. Broken Visage is a little harder. If you get to resolve it and trade 2-for-1 it is certainly great, but I think I'd rather have Terror in most cases. I still place it well within the realms of playables; unlike Homelands worst "removal spell" (and contender for worst card in the set):
|Like this one. Green is supposed to only handle flying creatures, Roots somehow does the exact opposite. A sick combo with Mammoth Harness though.|
|Something, something, Ashnod's Altar.|
|These may have been Spectral Ferrets in an alternate timeline. Pretty nice stats on this one btw.|
I could go on. I could mention Sea Sprite and its success in the early days of the Legacy format. Rant on about Jinx as a way mess with Factories, or how Roterothopter is a nice mana sink in red burn and help Atog fit in the 2-slot in Sligh. Homelands may have been far from a home run, but it was by no means a complete strike out either. I think WotC themselves said it best in their hilariously mid-90s commercial.
"As you'll discover, there's much more to this new world of Homelands. A world of intrigue and magic. Not to mention, surprises..."
Enjoy this one, and best of brewing until the Festival in February.