The Chief Engineer makes his debut in M15, this summer's Magic: the Gathering core set. This potentially powerful blue creature could have a huge impact, and perhaps stir some memories of Affinity decks among longtime players.
Chief Engineer is a Vedalkan, one of Magic's more esoteric fantasy races, a group of wizards and artificers who are particularly interested in artifacts. His base stats, a 1/3 for two mana, are mediocre, although that 3 toughness gives him some survivability.
It's the special ability that's really interesting. Convoke is a keyword ability that lets you reduce the casting cost of something for every creature you tap when you cast it (and note that the tapping effect is external to the creatures being tapped, meaning they can be tapped for Convoke the turn they come into play — summoning sickness be damned).
Chief Engineer gives all your artifacts Convoke. I'm not going to say this is as powerful as Affinity (another ability that reduced the cost of artifacts, and resulted in one of the most infamous card bannings in Magic history), but there are a lot of ways this could be abused for powerful early plays or big combos.
In formats like Modern and Legacy, players have access to a lot of cards to build decks around Chief Engineer. Could you use Memnites and Ornithopters to power something disruptive, like a turn 2 Trinisphere? Sure. Or maybe ramp up to an early Sundering Titan? Destroying a lot of land is no big deal when you can cast your artifacts with all your free creatures. Probably none of those things will happen. But if there's a way to build a brutal deck with this card, Magic players will find it.
You may also notice that M15 is our first look at the newly redesigned card face. There's more room for the art, additional information about the set and artist, and a small foil oval on every card, intended primarily as an anti-counterfeiting measure.
If you're wondering what M15 is, each summer Wizards of the Coast releases a new core Magic set. They get year names, like the latest Madden (but named for the year after they are released, which is why M15 is coming out in the summer of 2014). The core set is intended to be a gateway for newer players. Since 2010, the core sets have featured 50 percent brand new cards and 50 percent reprints (core sets used to be biennial and made up entirely of reprints). M15 will be released on July 18, with pre-release tournaments at game stores worldwide the weekend prior.
You can check out all the other cards that have been announced for M15 at this spoiler page.