Tag: top-cards

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Samuel Carrier Samuel Carrier - July 17, 2015

Magic Origins modern influences

Goblin Piledrider - Magic Origins modern influences

Magic Origins modern influences

 

Hello Readers,

since the long awaited release of modern masters 2015, we had the privilege to see a spoiler of new cards coming ahead for the new set Origins. After that we’ve enjoyed opening packs and figuring out the strategies for limited in the last prerelease weekend, here are the cards that have most impressed me for  modern and standard;

 

Since the arrival of Dragons of Tarkir, a green spell changed the metagame by bringing back a similar combo used with a banned card. Figured it out? You don’t know yet???

……

Well, It’s obvious, I’m talking about Collected Company Side and the banned card Birthing pod.

 

Podless collected

by Samuel Carrier

 

 

The Podless collected deck, as they love to call it, is looking to do the Melira Sylvok outcast , Viscera seer and Kitchen Finks or (Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, Viscera seer, Kitchen finks  can do it as well)  infinite life combo and then do the infinite damage Murderous Redcap to kill you if you didn’t scoop the game already…

BUT!  as the darkness arised, a bright light glare came from the skies…

 

Hallowed Moonlight

 

This card will block many staples combo cards used at the moment in the metagame. Forget Collected company , Goryo’s Vengeance, Chord of calling, Living end, Splinter twin, Summoner’s Pact, Through the breach, Lingering Souls and Unburial Rites. They can now be managed by Hallowed Moonlight.

 

Hallowed Moonlight can hose all those instantly and can be used again with Snapcaster Mage in u/w control or u/w/x control decks. I can easily see that as a one-of main deck card for those two archetypes. If not, a possible 2-of in sideboards at least.

 

The next card from the Origins set is an old favorite for our favorite freaky goblins.

I shall name it,

 

Goblin Piledriver

 

Its been quite a long time this card was due for a reprint, but here it is. Recently, we saw the card Blood Moon skyrocket to 60$ as the average on the market and this goblin won’t help lower it as Goblin could very well be a thing in Modern. I could definitely see a list including Goblin Chieftains, Frenzied Goblin, Foundry Street Denizen, Dragon Fodder, Goblin King, Goblin Guide, Goblin Warchief with this mischievous Goblin Piledriver.

 

You can even have 4 Blood Moon with 1 Magus of the Moon as a way to be unblockable and Goblin Grenades to finish off your opponent. With only 22 lands and you can kill quick while locking his mana since so many shock lands and fetchlands are played in almost all Modern decks. If this deck ever becomes popular and wins, it could very well change the metagame to 1 or 2 color decks to be less punished by Blood moon strategies. It reminds me of my old days playing goblins in legacy events and killing opponents in 4 turns easily.

Watch your face so it doesn’t get piledrived!

 

After the hordes comes the army of light flying towards us….

 

Vryn Wingmare

 

I totally think that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a good card. Although, it needed some kind of transportation.

 

Here she can ride on this pegasus and dominate once again!  This guy can be entered on turn 2 with help from Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch and wreck your opponent’s possibilities to cast removal spells.

 

GW Hatebears MTG Modern

by Samuel Carrier

 

 

I’d be considering playing Aether Vial in the list but It’s not necessarily needed as we got 6 one-drops to accelerate to our 3 drops. I would suggest to remove 1 x Qasali Pridemage , 1 x Loxodon Smiter , 1 x Voice of Resurgence , 1 x Scavenging Ooze if you want to play a set of Aether Vial. This deck consist of screwing up your opponents mana with Ghost Quarter and Leonin Arbiter so they can’t search for a land, as Thalia and Vryn are making sure they can’t manage your creatures. It’s a prison aggro deck.

 


 

 

To wrap this up,  I’d definitely think there is possibility of combo using Day’s Undoing for card draw. Harbinger of the tides as a new merfolk. since you don’t have to cast it really with vial at 2 or cast it for 4 to bounce your opponent’s attacker or at end of turn to force your opponent to recast it.

 

I will be attending a PPTQ modern this weekend and wish to hear your comments about the future of the Modern metagame. What do you expect in this new meta? Have a great weekend everyone and I will come back soon with an article on the effects of Origins on the standard format. Until then, enjoy  some modern testings!

 

By Samuel Carrier

@infiwill on Twitter

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Avatar Bruce Gray - July 14, 2015

Casual Encounters – Top 10 Casual Cards from Magic Origins

Pyromancer's googles - Magic Origins

Top 10 Casual Cards from Magic Origins

 By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Well, the whole spoiler went up the other day and so now is the perfect time to make some predictions about what some of the top cards from Magic Origins will be.  Today I will be looking at Casual Cards that will likely make an impact in Casual formats.  Some of these cards might overlap with cards for Constructed formats, and that is ok.  Just because a card is good doesn’t mean that Casual players won’t be excited to play with it too.  Many of my selections will be cards that will be often overlooked or just not make a ton of waves but pack a potent ability or offer something kind of unique to help keep your Casual game night kind of fun and fresh. Let’s take a look at what I’ve found.

 

Honorary Mention:

I’m picking two for this selection.  Alhammarrett, High Arbiter and Hixus, Prison Warden are both super flavorful and really capture the story that is being told in the orgins of our planeswalkers.  However, I can’t say that they are super good.

Alhammarrett, High Arbiter is too expensive for Tiny Leaders. His ability is rather muted in Singleton formats in general where you can’t prevent multiples of a key spell from being cast just due to the nature of the format.  5/5 for 7 mana is expensive and he gets outclassed by a number of other things floating around kitchen tables like any of the Titans, Sphinx of Uthuun and things of that nature.  Sure, from a flavor perspective he’s super cool, but not the easiest card to play with and might find himself relegated to the Bulk pile.

Hixus, Prison Warden is slightly different.  He is still too expensive for Tiny Leaders, but in other formats he could be very useful.  His Flash ability can mean he can ambush attackers and kill one, and then exile another. That is a very real scenario and can’t be ignored because it is a very powerful 2 for 1 and a big tempo change.  I don’t think he’s good enough to see Constructed play, but I really like how flavourful he is and I find this is a neat space to use that is similar, but not the same, as Banisher Priest.

 

Number 10- Mizzium Meddler

This looks and feels a lot like a watered down Spellskite. When it enters the battlefield you can change the target of a spell to Mizzium Meddler which is very similar to Spellskite but the ability can’t be repeated as easily.  As a 1/4 creature it can absorb a pretty healthy amount of Burn and live through it or just cause your opponent to totally miss with their combat spell or other targeted ability. The antics you can get up to with this guy are pretty amazing. You might see people try and brew all sorts of nonsense using cards that can blink this guy or return him to their hand and make for a very fun addition to all sorts of decks.  Don’t overlook this guy, he might be a little clunky, but a fun addition to the repertoire for sure.

 

Number 9- Separatist Voidmage

Well, hello my old friend Mist Raven/Man-o-War! Long time no see. It seems like they are always trying to find a way to reprint this sort of card and make it less broken than they did with Man-O’-War.  So, here we have 2/2 for 4 mana and a bounce effect.  The antics this guy will produce will be legendary.  No doubt he is already one of my favorite Limited Cards, but will do pretty awesome work Casually as well.  A very useful common and will see lots of play in all sorts of decks where he will be abused by blinking him in and out of play and bounce a whole pile of creatures and set your opponent back quite a bit.  Too bad he doesn’t cost 3 to fit in a Tiny Leaders deck, but you can’t have everything.

 

Number 8- Tower Geist

This is a very playable 2/2 flier for 4 mana that allows you to filter your cards by letting you look at the top 2 cards. You then put one card in your hand and the other in your graveyard.  While the body is a little unexciting, this card replaces itself and does even better because it gives you a measure of selection as to which card you get to draw.  Who doesn’t like drawing more cards?  Tower Geist is going to be a quiet hit and often overlooked but should not be dismissed.

 

Number 7- Sigil of the Empty Throne

This card is hilarious and people are going to brew up all sorts of enchantment decks featuring this and Eidolon of Blossoms. There might be some people who will take a stab at a Constructed deck featuring this for a while until Theros block rotates out, but Casual players are going to jam this and run it all day in those janky enchantment decks they’ve got hidden down in their box of cards.  Who doesn’t like making endless 4/4 Angels by playing enchantments?  I’m a big fan already.

 

Number 6- Abbot of Keral Keep

This is going to be a hit with Red Mage’s in every shade and tint.  This is a sweet way to allow red some extra card draw in a vein similar to Chandra Pyromaster and Act on Impulse. This a pretty exciting little card not because it is going to generate a pile of damage through combat, but any time a Red player can have an extra chance to jam you with a Burn spell they’ll take it!  It’s a cheap 2 mana for 2/1 body with a super relevant ability so I can see this one being a bit of a hot ticket.

 

Number 5- Gaea’s Revenge

There’s nothing sneaky or goofy with this.  This is for those players who love to play big green critters and smash stuff.  8/5 with Haste and can’t be countered AND a near complete form of Hexproof is music to the ears of most Green mages and this guy is awesome.  Also, if you are packing some sort of Devotion strategy or some ramp then 7 mana really isn’t out of the question. Look for this guy to appear in Green decks everywhere.

 

Number 4- Zendikar’s Roil

This just feels like an awesome way to generate a pile of dudes for relatively cheap.  In any sort of Multi-player game producing 2/2 creatures for free is a big advantage.  If you can enable a few extra land drops with some spells like Farseek or Map the Wastes then you will not only be ramping out your mana into a big old Gaea’s Revenge, but producing lots of attackers to then Alpha strike for the win with an over run type effect. This can be readily abused and will be ignored by many players…until then get beat by it.

 

Number 3- Gilt-Leaf Winnower

The ability on this is super hilarious. It feels super conditional, but then when I take a minute to think about the number of creatures in Magic that don’t have equal Power and Toughness and suddenly this could be very interesting.  For one more mana than a Nekrataal you get a 4/3 and a very relevant kill spell.  Also, the sub-type could see it fit in a tribal Elf deck or a tribal Warriors deck…which are both very prevalent tribes in Casual magic games.

 

Number 2- Talent of the Telepath

Our runner up is a very interesting card because it does EXACTLY what I want to do…rip my opponent’s deck apart and cast their stuff against them.  There are very few decks that will ONLY run creatures and so you’re hoping you can find some pretty good Instants and Sorceries. I’m thinking things like Treasure Cruise of Dig Through Time, or maybe an Ultimate Price.  And that’s only in among cards that are Standard legal because once you start to expand the card pool things get a little crazy. Looking at the top 7 cards is a long way to look so presumably you’ll find something. The Spell mastery is just extra gravy on top because 2 is always better than 1.  I can imagine lots of people are going to try and make this a back breaking spell to shut down their opponent and do some very funny things and so I can see it getting played at a kitchen table pretty extensively.

 

Number 1- Pyromancer’s Goggles

This just feels super broken.  Yes, it’s a 5 mana ramping mana rock.  But the thought of copying ANY Red instant or sorcery is too good to turn up.  I bet some competitive players are going to try and break this.  They might even succeed.  But before that happens I can fully bet some kitchen table player is going to have a spot for it in their Casual Red deck and try to burn out all his friends in record order while sitting around the kitchen table.  I can already imagine two guys in my play group that are going to do exactly that…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg I’m sure.

 

Well, there’s my top 10 picks.  Some of them may not be exciting for some of you, but that’s the beauty about Magic. We all have our own preferences and opinions about what we like to play and use in our decks.  However, on the whole Magic Origins has given us a pretty interesting set with lots of neat cards.  It doesn’t feel like a Core Set.  My experience is that the Core Sets are usually watered down, but this feels more like they opened up the card vault and found a bunch of cards that were intended for their original sets and shifted them around to fit together.  I rather like this and it feels like this could be a very fun set and a nice way to bid farewell to the Core Set.

Thanks for stopping by and until next time have yourself a great MTG day.

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

 

 

 

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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - January 17, 2015

Top Cards from Commander 2014

Feldon of the Third Path - Commander 2014

Tip of the Spuzzem – Top Cards from Commander 2014 

By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem

Rating Commander and other pre-built products is a little bit different than rating other Magic sets, to do one of these, there’s no need to look at the cards in terms of power relating to their draftability, just whether a card is good in its own set, its own format and other formats in general. Since this is a different way of grading cards than usual, it requires a different break-down:

5: Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire: At this level you get the amazing cards that can improve almost any deck and are extremely either powerful or broken.

4: Brainstorm, Sensei’s Divining Top, Tarmogoyf: Extremely powerful cards that have either been format defining or format warping. These cards will typically see play in many formats.

3: Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Rampaging Baloths: Solid hardworking cards that are some of the most balanced in the game. These cards typically see a lot of play.

2: Darksteel Citadel, Lightning Strike, Searing Blaze: Solid hardworking cards in their own right that are used to make decks functional when the optimal choice is not an option.

1: Deflecting Palm, Kheru Dreadmaw, Briber’s Purse: Bad cards that don’t ever really find a home.

0: Storm Crow: Why Wizards? Just why?

Before we dive into the cards, I want to take a second to review the pre-constructed decks themselves and talk about some of the concepts introduced by the sets as well. The decks themselves are actually pretty competent EDH/Commander decks as they are; just needing a few cards to push them over the edge to tournament victory. They are fun and interactive and can be a serious contender straight out of the box. As for the concepts introduced by the set, the first is the story implications that sets such as this can have on the game, whether it’s Nahiri’s role as the Lithomancer or Ob Nixilis’s human form. I think that following Fate Reforged, we can look forward to having these stories fleshed out. The other concept that was brought about from this set is that things besides creatures can become EDH commanders. Now, it might not be that far from Legendary Creatures to Planeswalkers, but this means that other card types might be able to become commanders in the future. I’m waiting on plain artifacts. I’m not going to be reviewing the whole set, just the cards that I found interesting or there was a lot of talk about.

 

Angel of the Dire Hour (2): This card is far too expensive for what it is… still, this card feels awesome to top deck on the turn that you are going to lose to your opponent’s aggro plan.

 

Containment Priest (3): This is an interesting card that has a real chance of breaking out of the format into Legacy at least if not all the way into Vintage. It fits the theme of Death and Taxes pretty well, and fights well against some decks in the formats, such as Sneak and Show, Dredge, and Oath. That being said, I’m not too sure the card will catch on, especially with cards like Grafdigger’s Cage already in print.

 

Creeperhulk (3): Sitting at 5 mana, I don’t know how much play this card will see outside of EDH, but still a fun card that does well when you’re running a ton of small creatures like Goblins or Elves, and the trample is the icing on the cake.

 

Daretti, Scrap Savant (3): If there are any long-time readers of my work out there, you’ll know that I absolutely love artifacts, so when I saw this card I knew that I just had to get it. His plus ability is a great combination of filtering and graveyard filling for his minus ability, allowing you to toss some of your most powerful cards to the yard to draw into even more power. His minus just does the job of Goblin Welder (also in the set), a powerful ability that I almost wish cost Daretti less to use. His emblem is the real cherry on top of the card, with the powerful ability to keep taking back all artifacts that went to the graveyard each turn. On paper, this seems like an awesome card, maybe even a format defining one, but in play, he’s too slow and hard to defend and typically gets knocked out the turn after you play him.

 

Dualcaster Mage (2): There has been a lot of talk about how powerful this card is, but I don’t see it. I would much rather have Reverberate or Fork over this card, but that’s just me. Overall, it feels like a more expensive form of these cards, but I digress. I don’t expect this card to find a home in Legacy or Vintage, but maybe some play in EDH.

 

Feldon of the Third Path (4): Acceptance, Despair and Refusal, those are the three paths in my opinion and it’s obvious that Feldon has chosen refusal as his way of coping with his woman’s death. The card is much more aggressively costed than its opponents, and lets you not only take back a copy of a creature in your graveyard, but gives it haste, makes it an artifact, and has you sacrifice it versus exile it at the end of turn. Altogether, the card allows for a lot of shenanigans especially in the deck that it sits in. While this card is pretty outstanding in commander, I’m not sure it will see play in Legacy or Vintage.

 

Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury (3): Out of all the planeswalker commanders in this set, I don’t know if I would call this the best planeswalker in the set, but I would definitely call her the most versatile. Acting as a solution to most of the problems you see in games. She has no abilities that scream bomb or game-ending, but all of her abilities feel like you’re getting value out of them, and in supporting a deck she is probably without equal. Her plus ability acts as creature horde/swarm, mana acceleration, and defense for her. Her minus ability deals with all of the artifacts and enchantments that you’re having trouble with, and her final is aggressively costed and gives you more resources in the form of card draw. Overall, this card probably isn’t good enough for Legacy or Vintage, but definitely a contender for solid commander material.

 

Ghoulcaller Gisa (3): This is one of the more powerful Alternate commanders in the set. I just don’t know why you would want to build up zombies in this way, if you were aiming for an agro strategy it’s terribly slow, and if you were doing things differently, I’m not really sure why I don’t want the big creature.

 

Jazal Goldmane (1): We’ve seen this ability before, it wasn’t impressive then, and it’s not now.

 

Lieutenant Cycle (2): These cards just feel lackluster and forced in EDH and even less impressive in a Legacy or Vintage deck. The idea of Lieutenant seems cool and it’s something that EDH needed a lot earlier, but these cards don’t do a very good job of showing off the ability.

 

Loreseeker’s Stone (2): Loreseeker’s Stone is almost a pretty good card, but a high mana cost combined with a tentatively bad effect makes the card hard to play in any format. With a mana cost as high as it is, it doesn’t help you solve mana delays, and with its ability it doesn’t really help decks that already draw a lot of cards. It’s just a card that wants to do a lot, but isn’t willing to dedicate itself to 1 path to get there.

 

Masterwork of Ingenuity (3): An interesting card that is aggressively costed at 1, but I can’t help but feel that it sits in your hands most games.

 

Nahiri, the Lithomancer (3): I just love the flavor of this card. When you first look at the card, most people who are fairly experienced respond with “Oh look, it’s Stoneforge Mystic as a planeswalker”, and that’s just what this card is. Her story is that she’s the founder of the Stoneforge Order, and has had some major effects on the story, especially the Zendikar storyline. Her plus ability gives her the ability to protect herself by generating a token and putting all of your equipment on it. Her minus ability lets you cheat equipment into play from your hand or graveyard, allowing you the ability to defend her defenders. Her final puts a powerful equipment into play that is indestructible, and gives its creature +5/+5 and double strike. Overall, while it’s a pretty cool card, there’s no deck in Legacy or Vintage that can really make use of her at a mana cost of 5, it’s just too slow. On the other side of things, this card isn’t that bad of a match for EDH, where it was designed for originally.

 

Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath (3): Ob Nixilis and his deck are uniquely positioned among the pre-constructed deck in that they get worse the fewer players that are in the game. His plus ability is a way to keep ahead of your opponents and while may not be all that good in 1-on-1, it can be a significant force in a 3 or 4 player game. His minus ability allows you to create a demon for some of your life, and feels very flavorful for black. His final creates a powerful emblem that lets you sacrifice creatures to gain life and cards. This card does feel a little heavy at 5 to be playable in Legacy or Vintage, but in a Commander game with multiple opponents this card feels pretty good and definitely playable.

 

Reef Worm (3): This is an efficient creature… in a few turns… if someone kills it… and its other forms… maybe it’s not so efficient, but it is a pretty cool combo with board wipes. Maybe someone will figure that out. Plus, it’s a pretty good blocker so that’s a plus.

 

Scrap Mastery (4): This card is flat-out awesome. If someone could figure out Living Death, then I don’t see why someone couldn’t figure this card out. It brings back all of the artifacts from the graveyard and puts them onto the battlefield, and puts all artifacts from the battlefield into the grave.

 

Song of the Dryads (3): Removal in green isn’t that big of a deal, and this card gives your opponent an extra land. Even though it caused a huge uproar, at least in the Magic circles I hang out in, it feels like a powered down black spell. I don’t expect it to make too many waves, but isn’t a bad addition to your green EDH decks.

 

Stitcher Geralf (2): I feel like this card is pretty much a glass cannon, a high propensity to completely blow out your opponent, but just as likely to completely wiff time after time. The card might almost be playable if the Zombie also had the abilities of those creatures as well, but as the card stands now, I don’t really think this card has a place in any format.

 

Teferi, Temporal Archmage (2): A very lukewarm card with abilities that also feel lukewarm especially for its mana cost. His plus ability is just peek, look at the top 2 cards put 1 in your hand and the other on the bottom. His minus ability is the best part of the card, he untaps 4 permanents, and his final allows you to play planeswalker abilities any time you could play instants, but overall I’d rather have Jace in any format where Teferi’s legal. As for him as a commander, I don’t really see why he’s a good choice so I’d probably just make a different choice.

 

Titania, Protector of Argoth (3): This card has already made its presence known in a few EDH decks. I have a friend that picked up the Green deck just for this card. The card fits well into decks that discard a lot of lands, such as Borborygmos EDH. The card doesn’t seem like much of a player for Legacy or Vintage, but I expect it to see play in EDH for a while.

 

Wave of Vitriol (3): While 7 mana is a steep cost, and I don’t expect this card to see play in Vintage or Legacy for this reason; this card is uniquely positioned to wreck whole decks in EDH. The card is targeted at those players that have picked up as many powerful lands as they can and can be ruining to a deck that traded up all of its basic lands for fancier ones.

 

Well of Ideas (2): This cards okay, but I’d still much rather have Howling Mine, and even that’s not run that much. More than the card itself, I like the ideas behind it and hope Wizards prints more like it.

 

Overall, the sets are pretty neat and if you’re looking to have fun playing some pre-constructed decks with a friend I would definitely consider picking these up. Besides that the decks are slightly over-costed and gives many players filler they don’t really need or already have (It’s sad to call Sol Ring filler). Pick them up if you want to play the decks with your friends or just buy the singles if you need the individual cards would be my suggestion on this set of cards.

 

Full Commander 2014 spoilers

By Daniel Clayton – the Will of the Floral Spuzzem

@DC4VP on Twitter

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Avatar Bruce Gray - January 16, 2015

Fate Reforged Reviews: Top 10 cards for Standard

Silumgar, the Drifting Death - Fate Reforged

Fate Reforged Previews: Top 10 cards for Standard

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

So, I’ve already gone and taken a look at Fate Reforged for Casual play…how about we explore a little Constructed play…namely Standard?  Let’s get right into this and take a look.

 

10– Valorous Stance– This is similar to Reprisal in many regards because it can be used as a removal spell to whack big stuff.  Now, 4 toughness can be a bit of hurdle to leap over, but there are many bigger creatures that pack 4 toughness that this efficiently mops up.  Butcher of the Horde, the Dragons, Polukranos, Courser, Siege Rhino, Wingmate Roc and a number of other threats all get taken out by this.  On top of that, the other mode might make it more relevant than Ajani’s Presence…and the fact that this card can do BOTH things is what truly makes it a solid addition to Standard play.  I expect this will certainly see sideboard play, at a minimum, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see this creep into the main board of a few decks.

 

 

9- Silumgar, the Drifting Death– I can make a case for this one creeping into a B/U or Esper control build as the win condition along side Ashiok, Prognostic Sphinx, or Pearl Lake Ancient.  The evasion, hexproof, and a nasty ability puts this into the realm of discussion and I expect that people will give it a try.  What I will remind people is that while this is 3/7 it tussles with other creatures very effectively because it essentially can fight through 4 toughness creatures meaning that Wingmate Roc, Butcher or the Horde, and even a Stormbreath Dragon are hard pressed to block this effectively.  The 7 toughness makes it very difficult to kill via combat meaning your only option is a board wipe (or I suppose a Sacrifice outlet) and the control deck ought to have enough counter spells to make that threat fairly minimal. Expect to see this dragon lurking around in Standard for the foreseeable future.

 

 

8- Flamewake Phoenix– Temur or R/G Monsters just got one sweet addition to really turn up the pressure. Chandra’s Phoenix was extremely solid last year and this looks no different.  It is 2/2 for 3 mana, flies, has Haste, and serves an almost identical purpose.  The caveat where you need to attack each turn is no biggie either because if you are on the deck that wants this guy in Constructed then Blocking isn’t really your thing anyway.  The trigger to get this guy back is a little different and might be a little harder to trigger depending on the deck, but with things like Ashcloud Phoenix, Savage Knuckleblade, Polukranos and Stormbreath Dragon being in the potential home for this guy it might be feasible.  Here comes the nuisance that is a repeatable burn source to Standard.

 

 

7- Dromoka, the Eternal– This is intended to be the Abzan curve topper that we could see replace Wingmate Roc.  With the Abzan Aggro decks looking to curve out by playing a 2 drop, a 3 drop, a 4 drop and then a 5 drop, this could slide right in.  The fact that it can also pump your other creatures can’t be overlooked.  Sure, Wingmate Roc can trigger some additional life gain, but the sheer power of a 5/5 flier that adds counters just can not be dismissed.  People will certainly test this one out and see what this can do.

 

 

6- Wild Slash– Hmmm…an upgrade on Shock you say? Well…Shock has been very good for a long time, so I expect this one to be good too.  It will find a way into every single deck playing Red burn spells and no one will miss a beat.  At Limited, it will be good too, but it will not win you the game out right.  You will need back up in order to seal up those wins, but Wild Slash will be a nice addition to your deck because it pairs well with Ferocious OR Prowess.  Enjoy some more first rate burn.

 

 

5- Reality Shift– : Is this Blue Removal?  It sure looks that way…because you just exiled their Butcher, or Dragon, or God, or …or…ANYTHING and replaced it with a 2/2.  I think that’s a good trade in most situations.  This looks like it could get insane and really give Blue the ability to deal with relevant threats after they hit the board.  So much for respecting the Colour Pie! Blue Removal to the rescue!

 

 

 

4- Soulfire Grand Master: Jeskai Burn/Wins decks just got insane.  This unassuming “Bear” just makes Burn decks plain old ridiculous.  Your spells get LIFELINK?! You can get them back in your hand?! Good grief.  The Lifelink is the back breaker here because it gives burn players a longer lease on life with which to find that all needed burn spell to finish you off by gaining 3,6 maybe even 10 points of life depending on the sequence of spells you can cast.  The secondary ability is disgusting, the get your spell back, but it is a pricey cost to pay and most burn decks won’t really be interested in that.  I mean, do you really want to spend 3 mana on your Jeskai Charm to burn him for 4…and then pay 4 more mana to get it back?   You just spent 7 mana on the spell.  If you have 7 mana to play around with in your Burn deck (and you haven’t won outright) you are doing something wrong.  So, because of the high cost on the secondary ability I don’t think this will creep into Modern as anything more than a sideboard card, but in Standard I feel like this could take the Jeskai Burn decks to a whole new level.

 

 

3- Crux of Fate:  I saw this card and said “well, there is your functional reprint of Damnation everyone.  Sure, Damnation is 4 mana…and this is 5…but face it folks, you aren’t getting wrath effects at 4 mana any longer.  We’ve seen that trend and Wizards has admitted as much.  So, 5 mana Black sweepers is the best you can do…and really, wasn’t Damnation just a 4 mana Black sweeper  à la Day of Judgment?    So, here is your “updated” Damnation card that is Modal.  Whatever.  No biggie.  Now, the 5 mana cost essentially prohibits this from seeing play in Modern or any format where Damnation is legal because Damnation is likely just better in every circumstance, but in Standard, for EDH players looking for a Black wrath effect, and in Limited this will do just as well. Decks rocking Black…thank R & D. That is all.

 

 

2- Mardu Shadowspear…So the B/W tribal warriors deck might be good enough to see play in Standard moving forward.  Fate Reforged has given us a ton of new Warriors to complement the already disgusting amount of Warriors already available.  If you look at the abilities of these new Warriors the deck could take on some frightening abilities and really punish slower decks.  The Shadowspear and his Warrior buddies will just run wild and will surprise a lot of people…and while I’m headling Shadowspear here, the truth is he will have a whole pile of his friends that will coming to the party right along with him and will be bringing down the house.

 

 

 

1- Ugin, the Spirit Dragon– And now for the elephant in the room.  Is Ugin good enough for Standard…well, he’s certainly good enough, but can you get him onto the battlefield.  I figure lots of people are going to try and why not? He’s colourless, ridiculously powerful, and just plain warps the board.  This guy is an absolute menace and his ultimate is just plain wrong.  His –x ability wipes the board…so why wouldn’t a control deck try and play him?  Mono Green Devotion would be keen to give him a try as well, because if you hit that ultimate, what could be more fun than dumping Hornet Queen and Polukranos onto the battlefield for free? No, people are certainly going to try and make Ugin work for them so be ready to have Ugin see play in Standard for a while.

Well, there we have ourselves some of the sweet new treats that Standard is going to get to rock out with.  Let’s see how many of these make the cut…and what ones I missed. The Middle set of a block can always be tricky because the cards need to fit into an existing mold and we’ll see just what shakes out in the weeks to come.

Thanks for reading…

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters 
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Daniel Clayton Daniel Clayton - July 13, 2014

Scrying M15 MTG: A Look into the Future

M15 Logo

Scrying M15 MTG: A Look into the Future

(Full M15 spoiler Gallery here)

by Daniel Clayton – The Will of the Floral Spuzzem
additional commentary by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

If you’ve been asleep or just haven’t cared for the past month in a half you may have missed it, but it’s Spoiler season everyone. As such it is time for the compulsory look into the set and see what’s hot and what’s not; as with most core sets there are about 95 million re-prints, I will not be examining this sets re-prints (they’ve already had their time in the sun) unless the re-print is something worth mentioning and if that’s the case, I will mention it. Now, before we begin I should give my opening thoughts on the set and explain how the rating system will work for me. When I first saw the sets, I was, as most people usually, are pretty impressed with the mythic rares that they’d released up to that point and was waiting for the ball to drop on the big name cards as they’d been doing in previous sets (Most of the mythics of Modern Masters, Thoughtseize in Theros, and Mutavault in M14). The first feeling I got from the set was that it felt very Zendikar, and it is a very Zendikar-ish set, but that’s not all it is, it’s imported things from many different planes of Magic and brought them all together in a sort of “fixed” sense, a few good examples are Ob Nixilis and Avacyn, being brought in and being drastically different from their original counterparts. Another theme in the set, as expressed by their commercial for the set more than anything else is the theme of it being a war between planeswalkers and the set also accomplishes that very well including several different planeswalkers into the overall design of the set. As for the rating system, I will score all cards out of ten, and give a brief description of why I felt that card deserved that rating. I’ll give an example of each rating to show you what I mean:

10: Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire: A card that can fit into almost any deck and is so powerful that it has earned either a banning or restriction in any format it’s in.

9: Skull Clamp, JTMS: A card that has earned bannings in multiple formats for its power.

8: Tarmogoyf, Force of Will: A card that skates just under the power window of banning and is a staple in multiple formats.

7: Mox Opal, Snapcaster Mage: A powerful staple in its own right skates just under crossing over to another format.

6: Lightning Bolt, Brainstorm: A great versatile, work horse card that you can find 4 of in many formats without the card ever being considered broken (Even if a card breaks a deck, that doesn’t necessarily make the card broken).

5: Creeping Corrosion, Abrupt Decay: A powerful card that isn’t quite a workhorse, but is run enough of to take significant note of. This is the area for sideboard staples.

4: Goblin Grenade, Gray Merchant of Asphodel: A powerful card in the right deck, used right, might have been considered a staple at one point.

3: Archetype of Finality, Asphyxiate: Solid filler, draft bombs that don’t really see play outside the format.

2: Razorfoot Griffin, Jace’s Ingenuity: Okay filler, may see some play in Draft, EDH or Casual, but mostly lost to almost every other format. 2 and 3 are most of the cards in Magic.

1: Charging Badger, Staff of the ____ Magus: Bad cards, okay filler. Not run almost ever outside of draft, these cards would have a tough time having someone defend it, even on the Internet.

0: Storm Crow, Search the City: While opening most cards give you a sort of meh feeling; these cards make you feel legitimately bad pulling them from a pack. People hate pulling them so much so that they complain on the Internet about it.

 

The meat and potatoes

Ajani Steadfast: 4

Daniel: To Start things off we have Ajani Steadfast and he continues on the tradition of the long line of Ajani’s before him, namely being interesting and good in the right deck, but leaving you feeling unfulfilled by the end of using him. Let’s talk about the negatives, he costs 4 and comes in with 4 loyalty, not a huge deal unless you consider the fact that he can only give himself +1 and he has no traditional way to defend himself from threats; this means that a lot of the time you’ll get him out only to lose him in a turn or two. That isn’t to say I don’t like the big cat; his +1 is a kind of pseudo protection as you can leave up whatever creature you gave vigilance to block, his -2 is definitely interesting making everything you control more powerful by giving up a little of himself (A theme of Ajani they’ve kind of been going with since Theros). Finally, his final lends itself to Forcefield, one of the most powerful cards ever created in magic’s history. Not to mention, the planeswalker is almost aggressively costed at 4 mana, and with the right deck (I’m thinking a deck that involves a lot of token production, probably working along-side new Elspeth) he could be a powerful card in standard, but past this I don’t see him having a very long life or breaching any format but standard too harshly (maybe Modern for a little while… but we’ll see); even with all of this, not too major of a player, but definitely an interesting card. If you see this card in draft I would definitely pick it up, but in constructed the card doesn’t play too well without the right deck.

Bruce: Holy CRAP…another new Ajani! This one is pretty sweet and at 4 mana is very playable. The +1 ability is strong and will see plenty of use…but it is the -2 ability that is just BROKEN.  Your whole team gets a +1/+1 counter and your OTHER PLANESWALKERS get more loyalty!! That is totally going to be abused.  Think…Bant super friends…Kiora comes down on Turn 3 with some ramp.  She pluses and is now at 3.  Turn 4 Ajani comes down…you plus Kiora so she’s at 4.  Then -2 Ajani and she goes to 5 and is ready to ultimate.  Turn 5 Kraken emblem?! Wow.  Or Speed Elsbeth to her Emblem.  Watch out! The ultimate is ok with Ajani…but that -2 is going to be all the buzz. He will be an automatic first pick slam dunk in draft and absolutely see tons of Standard play.

Act on Impulse: 2

Daniel: I know Ajani comes after these next ones, but I already did the Ajani one and thought that most of these cards were reprints. This is one of those cards you have to re-read before you call it good or bad. Extra playable cards in red is an amazing ability you almost never see. It makes up for making the cards only playable for 1 turn and by turning up the cost of the card to 3 making it unplayable in most red decks. I don’t know if you necessarily play this card in draft, but with a higher mana cost, constructed, red deck I believe you could easily run this card and it be a powerful part of your deck.

Bruce: A 3 mana sorcery that exiles the top 3 cards of your library.  Until the end of the turn you may play cards exiled this way.  This plays on Red’s propensity to take a risk and exile cards that may, or may not, be useful to you this turn.  The fact that you COULD net some good card advantage off this card is pretty impressive.  If you flip over 2 or 3 solid spells that are cheap enough to cast, you are off and running.  If you flip 2 lands and some dud, well, you just burned through your deck all that much faster (although at least you might be able to find some action at the NEXT draw step).  This one is risky business and not usually my style, but there are people out there who love this.  Enjoy it.  It looks spicy.

Aegis Angel: 3

Daniel: A 5/5 flyer for 6 isn’t bad in draft and its ability may make it a great card to pull, but I see its usefulness in constructed being limited by its high mana cost. This card is pretty much the top of your curve in draft and a great bomb at that, but it doesn’t really play too well in constructed at all.

Bruce: A 5/5 angel with Flying for 6 mana (4 and 2 white) that gives another creature indestructible as long as Aegis Angel is on the battlefield.  Let’s be real…5/5 angels for 6 are very playable and won’t get outclassed by much.  The fact that something else gets indestructible is just gravy.  You’ll grab this is a first pick and smash face.

Aeronaut Tinkerer: 3

Daniel: There was a cycle of creatures that were called ____ Splicer’s; they entered the battlefield created a token and gave Golems abilities such as flying or first strike. The Flying Ability on creatures didn’t work then and it won’t work for this card either. Overall, I’m not sure there’s really a place for it in draft with such a limit of artifact creatures in this set, and history speaks for itself about this card in constructed.

Bruce: So, here we have what is effectively an undercosted flier. 2/3 for 3 mana and can have flying if you control an artifact is pretty solid, particularly when there are a fairly high number of artifacts in the set.  Even nicer if you play the Darksteel Citadel and then run this guy out there.  If you want to be on the Blue/Artifact deck this is a must have.

Aetherspouts: 5

Daniel: While 5 mana is a lot, sending all attacking creatures way away is a powerful effect, I believe that this card may make quite a splash in Standard for a while and may be one of the better cards released in the set. The card works as a situationally better evacuation, sending away all opposition sent against you and returning them to their owner’s library either choking out their deck by residing on top of it or removing them almost permanently by sending them to the bottom of their deck. A great addition to constructed and draft decks that run blue, definitely think about including this card if you can afford the mana commitment.

Bruce: A 5 mana instant that says for each attacking creature, its owner must decide to return it to the top of their library or place it on the bottom of their library. Potential mass bounce effects like this are very powerful, but your opponent will only fall for it once because it is pretty easy to telegraph this one. I like it, but I’m a little skeptical of its application in most games.

Aggressive Mining: 5

Daniel: That being said this may be my favorite card in the entire set as well as I believe this card may be one of the most significant releases of the entire set. In the classical red deck by the time you have 4 or 5 mana, you already have too much and you probably just want to burn off mana by this point. Additionally, red has never really had a way to simply draw cards (outside of Wheel of Fortune) and it’s the one thing that it’s kind of always needed. This card works perfectly and should fit into the top of any good red curve (for the most part). The one negative side to this card is it stops you from playing lands and that could cost you the game. The final verdict of this card is be careful about running it in draft, it is dangerous, but in constructed if you run mono-red, I would run 1 or 2 of these in your deck to give you a little card draw.

Bruce: This is an intriguing card.  For 3 mana (2 colourless and a red) you get an enchantment that says you can’t play lands and when you sacrifice a land draw a card but you may only use this ability once per turn.  This is interesting because Red doesn’t usually get card draw because it usually has to discard first and often at random before it can draw.  However, this card allows you to trade your land for cards much like the way Black trade life points for cards when it gets to draw.  That’s a unique twist on things and may be attractive to many players.  I think in draft it will be a little underwhelming, but perhaps in some form of constructed Burn deck where you need extra cards is where this card will turn up and be very powerful.

Altac Bloodseeker: 4

Daniel: I love this card, in red black agro this card may just take over standard for a period of time. Get it onto the field, kill as many of your opponent’s things as possible, then swing in for a lot. Also, with a little instant creature destruction this creature may be a pretty solid defender as well. I think this card is a powerhouse in any red black deck with a lot of creature kill, definitely consider this card if you are planning to make a rakdos deck.

Amphin Pathmage: 2

Daniel: This is a card that would be very powerful if it was a Merfolk, but it isn’t so the card just seems like it’s not worth it. It can be an okay draft choice, but for the most part it’s not really good enough to see any real constructed play.

Bruce: I like this card only because it is a salamander wizard! I think that is awesome.  The fact that it is 3/2 for 4 is reasonable, but I like the ability to make something unblockable…like…I don’t know…my Soul of New Phyrexia or some other gross fatty.  I think this is a suitable mid-round pick.

Avacyn, Guardian Angel: 3

Daniel: A flavorful twist on a not-to-distant classic, this angel feels like the Avacyn that Avacyn should have been, but while original Avacyn was closer to a 5 or a 6 this card squeezes in at a high 3 when actually translated to card form. This card is definitely a draft in bomb and while I love the flavor that fits well in line with the story protecting both players and creatures alike with her activated abilities and the player even more with vigilance, that doesn’t make for too powerful of a card. It would definitely be something serious to consider in draft, but its stats and abilities don’t make it a very good choice for any constructed deck.

Bruce: This one has me super excited.  I loved the original Avacyn, Angel of Hope but she was so difficult to cast at 8 mana.  This one is for 5 mana and is much more reasonable. 5 mana for a 5/4 vigilance flier is pretty amazing.  Serra Angel is 4/4 for 5 mana…and she’s good…this one is better.  The abilities are also pretty relevant and can really help out when combat starts to get harry.  Now , I don’t think she’ll see play in Standard, but EDH for sure and is a limited bomb.  I’ll be getting my playset simply because I think she’s super sweet and fun to play with.

Avarice Amulet: 2

Daniel: 4 mana is a little bit much for this equipment, and then on top of that your opponent may gain control of it; Overall, not worth it. I don’t see this card being very played in either draft or constructed.

Bruce:  When the equipped creature dies your opponent gets the Amulet of Avarice. This is a card in a draft that you need to be all in on.  It gives you +2/+2 to a creature, vigilance, and an extra card meaning it is very powerful.  The drawback of losing it is also very crucial because it basically sinks your whole plan and turns all those resources over to your opponent.  I’m a big fan of this and think it is worth the risk, but you need to watch out.  Believe it or not, I could see this being run as a single in a Hexproof deck where t can allow your Witchstalker or Gladcover Scout to really get a big boost, and then draw you extra cards as you put together the other pieces needed to dismantle your opponent.  I could see this sneak into a Standard deck like that, even if it is a Tier 1.5 deck and not a Tier 1 deck.

Belligerent Sliver: 2

Daniel: I like the fact that they went back to the old sliver art, but this card is not a good card, only making it more likely to lose your slivers. This card is not that playable in either draft or constructed, unless you are running a sliver deck; but even at that, the card is only marginally playable in this type of deck.

Blastfire Bolt: 2

Daniel: The mana cost of 6 on this card compared to the ability to deal five damage to target creature is a pretty bad deal. The card is not worth it in constructed almost at all, but might be playable in draft as removal, but even that would be a stretch.

Blood Host: 2

Daniel: This is a 5 mana 3/3 creature that can grow by sacrificing another creature. It’s bonus do not outweigh the negatives and overall this seems like a pretty terrible and over-costed creature. I do not see this card being played in either in draft or constructed for the most part.

Boonweaver Giant: 3

Daniel: Coming directly after Theros, this card feels very well timed, but while a 1/1 for 4 that searches and equips an aura may have been fun, if not broken, a 4/4 with the same effect for 7 feels far too expensive to be very playable. I would say that in draft it might see a little play, but unless there’s a white deck with a lot of acceleration I can’t see this card being played much in constructed.

Bruce: Ok. Let’s all agree 7 mana is pretty steep for limited and most constructed decks.  So, unless this ability is off the charts…he’s probably a pass most times.  The fact that he goes and gets an aura is cute and fun when paired with Theros…but without some pretty heavy acceleration he’s not going to hit the table to do anything.  I don’t even know if he’ll see play in Commander.  He’s just very lacklustre and I think he’s going to fall by the wayside more often than not.

Brawler’s Plate: 3

Daniel: A little bit expensive to play and to equip, adding 2 to power and toughness and giving out trample makes it a solid draft pick, but very little chance of ever being used in constructed.

Brood Keeper: 3

Daniel: Well coming in-between the enchantment and dragon blocks this card could not be more appropriately timed, but it stills feels too clunky to really be considered a good card. While it may be wrong to use a keyword on only one card in a set, this card really feels like the heroic ability would work well on it.

Bruce: Whenever an aura is attached to Brood Keeper put a 2/2 flying dragon token into play with firebreathing. This is kind of flashy and has some fun synergy with cards in Theros Block.  Suit this guy up with some Auras and reap the benefits of Dragons! It’s kind of cute and could make a fun casual deck. Here’s the problem with it in Limited.  You have no Bestow creatures to suit it up with making this a prime card to get 2 for 1 on. Sure you got the extra Dragon token, so you aren’t totally out of luck, but you never want to set yourself up to get 2 for 1 if you can help it.  Now, will it be played…sure…and it’s a perfectly reasonable card, but I’m not rushing out to grab this first and play the Brood keeper/Aura deck when I draft.  If this is the best red card in my pack and I’m playing red…sure…but this isn’t a reason to play Red yet.  Maybe another card spoiled will change my mind, but that’s my thought.

Burning Anger: 2

Daniel: An over-priced aura that ensures a hit on something or someone each turn at the cost of the creature’s ability to swing, might be cool in draft attached to a deathtoucher, but will almost assuredly not have much of an impact on constructed.

Carnivorous Moss-Beast: 2

Daniel: 6 mana for a 4/5 creature feels over-costed and the cost of its ability proves this fact whole-heatedly. It’s playable in draft if only for a 4/5 body, but I don’t see it making its way into constructed anytime soon.

Carrion Crow: 0

Daniel: It’s hard to find a card worse than Storm Crow, but I think this card is a definite competitor for the title of worst card ever. Please reference previous sentence and don’t play this card.

Bruce:  Hello my old friend “Wind Drake”.  We all know Wind Drake is a very solid limited card and so is this one…even with the drawback.  Really…were you going to block with it anyway?  Probably not.  Get it down early and put down some early pressure.  This will likely make your black deck, but isn’t a high pick because I can imagine that it will likely be available late.

Chasm Skulker: 3

Daniel: This is an interesting card, with the ability to grow very big, very quickly, it has the ability to be a powerhouse in certain decks and when you combine that with the ability to create tokens when the creature dies, it seems like you’re getting a solid card; but the 3 mana cost associated with it being a 1/1 makes this card fall just below the norm. I could see this card being run in a Blue White life gain deck, but its play will be limited at best.

Bruce: This is just value.  We’ve seen that creatures who replace themselves are huge (think Thragtusk…that 3/3 beast token was just crazy extra value)  and this could be bonkers as well.  If it is left unchecked it’s going to be large…think pair this with the Avarice Amulet we just looked at, it’ll get +2/+2 from the amulet and get +2/+2 each turn because you are drawing 2 cards…so in a mere 2 turns you are looking at a 7/7 that when it dies spews out 4 squid tokens! That’s a lot of value, and you can decide if you want to chump with them or swarm with them.  What do people think…Mono-Blue devotion post rotation with Chasm SKulker, Master of Waves, and a Hall of Triumph?  There might be something to that…but we’ll see.

Chief Engineer: 3

Daniel: I struggled between three and four for this card. I love the fact that it’s a 1/3 for 2 in draft. I love its ability to give artifact spells convoke, there are a ton of decks, especially in EDH that will find some way to make this their own and will run with it into a perfect combo. What I don’t see is the rest of the Artifact spells that this is working with in this set. With it being released when it was I believe this will be a waste of an outstanding card. This card may not be playable in draft, but it will almost assuredly be playable in constructed play in multiple formats.

Circle of Flame: 4

Daniel: Acting as a solution to ground pounding agro decks (especially token decks) across the spectrum for a low mana cost and it only protects you meaning you could run it in a mirror match against these decks as well. I expect this card to be run in some of form of constructed and it may be helpful in draft as well. Additionally, I expect it to be run in some sideboards this season.

Constricting Sliver: 4

Daniel:  While Magic has worked hard throughout this set to make it so that they released cards that were fair and balanced (even more so than the originals that they printed), it seems that the R & D had a soft side for slivers. Constricting Slivers is a card that almost feels too powerful for a card. It turns all of your slivers into an oblivion ring for creatures. The only reason that it did not achieve a higher position on my list is for the sheer wall that six mana may pose for various decks and the fact that I want to see how the rulings work for this card. It actually is a huge rules question on cards like these, and the question is what happens if the sliver (Constricting Sliver) leaves play before another sliver that entered after it leaves play? Maybe I’m overthinking it, but with an ability like this if the ruling comes out that the creatures in exile just stay there a combo blinking all of your creatures such as Sudden Dissapearance may make it a blowout games especially when you consider how quickly slivers get strong. By itself in constructed or draft, I don’t believe that this card is playable, but in a sliver deck this card could be a huge bomb in constructed.

Bruce: So, slivers are back, but not a whole lot of them, meaning they likely aren’t overly relevant in Draft.  However, there is a chance that a 3, 4, or 5 colour sliver deck could emerge over the summer while both M14 and M15 are Standard playable.  This sliver has the Banisher Priest ability…and grants it to every sliver as they enter the battlefield.  6 mana is pretty steep, but this ability is super powerful.  It’s the removal that Sliver decks want and need and a 3/3 body to come along with it is also pretty decent. I’m not going to write Slivers off quite yet and I would be pretty pumped to see them emerge over the summer as a force to be reckoned with.

Coral Barrier: 2

Daniel: A vanilla 1/3 wall for 3 that gets an islandwalking token when it enters the battlefield; well, it’s not the worst card in the game and isn’t overly terrible when it comes to drafting, but constructed is a different story and this card just doesn’t make the cut when you’ve got an option like Wall of Frost in the same set. The card is playable in draft for sure (maybe not as a core card of any deck, but still), but doesn’t really hold up when you go over to the constructed formats.

Bruce: Putting 2/4 of power and toughness on the battlefield for 3 mana is actually quite good value and makes this a solid pick in Limited.  I’m not sure Tribal squid is a thing, but t could be a sub theme you want to try out…or not…whatever.  This is will just be a useful card.

Covenant of Blood: 2

Daniel: The card costs 7 mana which in my opinion is far too much for a card that only deals four damage and gains you 4 life even if it does have convoke. I see the card seeing some play in draft, but just about no play in constructed.

Bruce: For a whopping 7 mana you get a sorcery with Convoke that deals 4 damage to target creature or player, and you gain 4 life.  In draft this will see play because removal is removal and you’ll need it.  However, by comparison, Pharika’s Cure deals 2 damage to target  creature or player and gains you 2 life…and costs 2 mana as opposed to 7 here.  No, this will be just playable in Draft but is otherwise pretty mediocre…and verging on being bad.

Crowd’s Favor: 4

Daniel: This is a really solid card +1/+0 and first strike in exchange for potentially only tapping a creature or 1 red mana. I think this card will be played quite a little bit in both draft and constructed.

Cruel Sadist: 2

Daniel: This card is effectively a 1/1 for 1 with the ability to grow if you have any extra mana to spend. The card feels slow and clunky and doesn’t feel that it really ever enters the field at the right time. While the card’s abilities might never be used, a 1/1 for 1 still might be run in the 1 spot in a lot of draft decks just to flesh out their curve, but I see almost no play for this card in constructed.

Bruce: This is effectively a form of repeatable removal or a threat that can grow to apply early pressure.  The fact that this uses your life as a resource is something that you might be totally down with to power out this versatile weapon, so don’t overlook it.  I think this will also see home in Standard as people dabble to find it a home.  I think these abilities are too powerful to overlook and it will settle somewhere.

Diffusion Sliver: 4

Daniel: This card acts almost as the Crystalline Sliver of old as it provides protection for slivers unless your opponents pay 2 extra to affect them. I believe this will be a staple in Sliver decks if they start to become a thing this season.

Bruce: It just got a whole lot harder to destroy Slivers with Spot removal, giving sliver decks more time to flood the board and dismantle you.  This is deceptively powerful.  It may see some play in Limited, but this is a card clearly geared to go into other formats straight away.

Endless Obedience: 2

Daniel: If any of my readers are old enough they may remember the card Reanimate (The card that the deck is named after), the power of that card and Magic’s strong shift to avoid printing cards of the same power ever again; will Reanimator ever be a serious shell in Standard again? Well with Whip of Erebos I thought we might have seen a shying towards more power for this deck archetype. Endless Obedience disproves this notion, giving us high cost Reanimation at 6 with convoke for the typical reanimation at 5. I don’t expect this card to be run in either constructed or draft.

Ensoul Artifact: 4

Daniel: 2 mana for a 5/5 creature seems good even if you have to give up an artifact to do it. I expect this card to be run in both constructed and draft play.

Bruce: An aura that targets artifacts and makes them into 5/5 creatures…all for 2 mana.  I wasn’t aware this was something people wanted to do any more, but it reminds me of animate artifact, but much cheaper, and by far and large an upgrade.  I feel no burning urge to play this…but there could be artifact decks that would love this and enjoy turning their Staff of Mind Magus into a 5/5.

Ephemeral Shields: 3

Daniel: Not quite as good as Gods Willing; this card offers its protection at a slightly higher cost, but with Convoke to make up for this weakness. I expect it to play well in draft, and have almost no showing this season in constructed because of Gods Willing.

Bruce: A 2 mana instant that gives target creature indestructible until end of turn.  This even comes with convoke.  This is perfectly good combat trick or way to preserve your creature from getting killed.  Instant speed.  Cheap. And could very seriously lead to a blow out if you can orchestrate a wonky combat scenario. It is a tad situational, but reasonably powerful.

Eternal Thirst: 3

Daniel: Has the ability to make a creature large later in the game and gives lifelink, but until you can get the creature large it doesn’t really add to the ability of defending the creature. I feel it will find its way into draft for its lifelink abilities and may even find its way into a constructed rakdos creature kill deck.

Feast on the Fallen: 2

Daniel: While the card would be impressive if its effect affected all of your creatures just affecting one makes the card seem just a little under-powered. I suspect this card will see limited play in draft just for the sheer ability to make small things bigger, but do not expect it to make its way into constructed play.

Feral Incarnation: 3

Daniel: Three 3/3 creatures for 9 is good enough to be playable in draft, equip it with convoke and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid draft card swinging field advantage in your favor for a potentially pretty cheap cost. I expect it to be run in draft, but not to make its way over to constructed at all.

First Response: 2

Daniel: Its 4 mana cost makes this card overcosted; its ability only activating when you lose life makes it weak. Still I expect people will play it in draft and attempt to figure out a way to incorporate it into a Standard deck or two.

Flesh to Dust: 2

Daniel: 5 mana for a kill spell is a little bit much; being situationally worse than Hand of Death… This is not that good of a card. Is it worth to pick up in draft? Well, if it comes down to this or a third string creature and you’re black, I’d probably go with this; as for constructed with Hero’s Downfall in constructed I do not expect this creature to be run in almost any deck.

Bruce: 5 mana removal is steep, but it has no limitation like Doom blade or ultimate price. This kills stuff dead.  So, it will see play in draft…no doubt.  Will it make Standard?  Not sure…usually decks aren’t really cool with spending that much mana on removal…but you never know what might happen post-rotation.

Frost Lynx: 3

Daniel: Oh M13, the implications of this set are still felt today… well at least one mechanic is. This was the time that Magic’s R&D fell in love with the idea of Freezing on a creature and this mechanic has appeared on at least one creature in every single block following. Frost Lynx is the next addition to this set of Ice-breathing creatures and it does its job as well as any Dungeon Geist. Do I think the card will have a huge impact like its predecessor Frost Titan? No, I have no illusions about that. Do I think the card may be a solid draft pick as well as a not too terrible addition to a standard blue deck? Yes. I highly expect this card to be run in both draft and constructed, as a side board card, if nothing else.

Bruce: A 2/2 elemental cat that taps target creature and it doesn’t untap during the next untap phase.  This is a solid utility creature that can help to slow an opponent down and gives you a serviceable body.  It will get drafted lots by players in Blue and will see plenty of play.

Garruk, Apex Predator: 6

Daniel: This is the second 4 ability planeswalker that Magic’s R&D has developed; the last one that they developed is Jace, the Mind Sculptor, is arguably the best planeswalker ever, and sits at a price over $100 per card. It’s needless to say that Wizards needed to take great care when they made this card, so as to not create the monstrosity they did last time, how did they do this? Namely through mana cost; they tried to balance the abilities of this planeswalker with the mana cost associated with him, and the question is, did they succeed? That is a question that is more up in the air; they did make him a 7 mana walker, making him the most expensive planeswalker they’ve printed to date, but they made him in green, a color that traditionally hasn’t had any problem producing a tremendous amount of mana. Anyway, let’s examine his abilities to determine if the card is worth its cost. His first ability is the ability to destroy target planeswalker. If we examine a card by its ability to beat out other cards of the same type then he is the best planeswalker of all time; on top of everything else, this is a plus ability. The second ability (also a plus ability) is the ability to create a 3/3 beast with deathtouch, giving him a powerful way to defend himself. On top of this, his third ability just kills a creature and you get to gain life equal to its toughness. His final ability will make the Timmy in all of us happy by turning all of the creatures in your deck into a large if not huge creature with trample that pretty much spells the end of the game for your opponent. On the other hand Garruk only starts out at a 5 and even though he’s only 2 turns away from his ultimate his loyalty abilities only add 1 to his loyalty and his third ability takes away 3 from his loyalty count. Overall, I expect this card to be a huge bomb in draft, but unless a deck comes along that produces a lot of mana I can’t see a future for it in constructed.

Bruce: Hello my friend…is this where you have been hiding?  Last year we had a 6 mana Garruk…now we have a 7 mana Garruk and I think he’s awesome…totally unplayable in competitive environments…but awesome.  +1 destroy a Planeswalker? Sweet! +1 make a beast! Sure. -3 destroy a creature and gain life equal to its toughness…sweet deal. The ultimate just oozes multiplayer non-sense…and the reason I love this version of Garruk…target opponent gets an emblem saying that whenever a creature attacks them it gets +5/+5 and trample until end of turn.  Well, isn’t that a nice little present to leave someone in a multiplayer game! He’s ridiculously unplayable…but terrific all in the same breath.

Geist of the Moors: 2

Daniel: As a card I can only really see this as a card that acts as okay filler in draft and doesn’t really have a future in any other way.

Bruce: You’ll take this because 3 power fliers are solid in draft, but the 1 toughness makes this guy scarce because there are lots of mini-sweepers and -1/-1 effects that will take this guy out.  He’s a solid pick, but be ready to have it killed pretty readily.

Generator Servant: 3

Daniel: A battery with legs that can give haste; not a terrible card and might even affect draft in some way but overall a pretty bland card; might see some play in fast burn decks and draft.

Genesis Hydra: 4

Daniel: This is one of those cards that requires a re-reading, and it falls into the category of “fixing” a broken card for the same reason; so what card am I alluding to? The answer to that question is Genesis Wave and even its name, Genesis Hydra, lends itself heavily to that same card. The card feels very good in terms of flavor, getting more powerful and looking for more powerful cards if you paid enough mana. While this card will probably not have a huge impact on the game (but who knows with how powerful green is starting to look this season), definitely a card worth picking up in draft both as a bomb and just in case.

Glacial Crasher: 1

Daniel: A card that is worse than a vanilla version of itself, this card is bad, very bad. I don’t see a future for it in draft or constructed play.

Goblin Kaboomist: 2

Daniel: I love Goblins as a general rule, they’re fun. Are most of them good? No (Yes I understand that Goblins are one of the most powerful tribal decks of all time, but those decks run a very small portion of the multitude of different goblin cards out there), but fun? Yes; Goblin Kaboomist is a great example of this. A 1/2 for 2 that has the potential to deal a huge amount of damage to other creature’s is great, him blowing up before he ever gets the chance to swing… not so great, but it deals 2 damage one way or the other, which isn’t great, but it’s not terrible. There was a card released a while ago that allowed you to re-flip coin flips, with this the card might be playable in a constructed deck with this, but is it worth it to make such a complicated deck, probably not. In draft this card is not that powerful of a card based on the randomness of the card.

Bruce: Goblins really do appear to be a thing and this one is interesting. 2 mana (1 colourless and 1 red) gets you a 1/2 Goblin Warrior that makes a Landmine token each upkeep.  You may pay 1 red mana to sacrifice a Land mine Token and have it deal 2 damage to target creature without flying.  Then you need to flip a coin and if you lose the coin flip Goblin Kaboomist deals 2 damage to itself.  This is classic red…I blow you up…but I might also blow myself up in the process.  I like this card because of the flavour, and if you are into cards that have a high degree of chance to them you will love this little guy.  I think he’s not something you really want to draft, much the way Goblin Test Pilot was with Dragon’s Maze, but some people surprise me and might roll the dice with this one.

Goblin Rabblemaster: 5

Daniel: As I mentioned before, this set attempts to “improve” a lot of cards that they’ve printed in the past and this is one of the most powerful “fixed” reprints they’ve ever done. As a functional reprint of Goblin Piledriver, it loses Protection from Blue, gets a little bit more expensive and a little weaker, but it gains the ability to put goblin tokens in play and most importantly, it’s now in modern. If there was ever a chance for goblins to take off in Modern, that time may be now with this card. I see this card as a big player in draft and also as the potential to make a huge goblin tribal deck in modern.

Bruce: A 2/2 Goblin Warrior that makes all your goblins attack each turn if able, gives you a 1/1 Goblin token at the beginning of your attack phase, and gives itself +1/0 until end of turn for each other attacking Goblin.  This is going to be a an easy first pick even you don’t get any other Goblins because this just makes free stuff for you.  He makes Goblins, wants to attack lots, gets bigger whenever he attacks…you just to protect him a little to get some major league benefit from this guy.  The other piece is that I hope this is a signal that post-rotation Goblins are going to be a think again.  Tribal Goblin decks are always lots of fun!

Hammerhand: 3

Daniel: This card is solid and aggressively-costed, at 1 mana to give a creature haste, +1/+1 and stop a creature from blocking this card is a powerful draft card, but it will most likely not see play in any of the constructed formats.

Heliod’s Pilgrim: 3

Daniel: This is a pretty vanilla 1/2 for 3 mana. Its effect doesn’t do much but interact with the previous set… which it won’t do much of in draft… overall it feels like a card that missed its mark by a set. I think this card might make a short appearance for a little while in an enchantment based deck.

Hornet Nest: 3

Daniel: I like this card honestly, it has good flavor and the token generation makes this card a very viable draft choice, and may even make itself known very briefly in standard.

Hot Soup: 2

Daniel: The mana cost is right, but the abilities don’t even out for this card. Giving a creature unblockable for a mere 3 is a pretty good deal, but destroying it whenever it gets damaged makes the card fall just short of being a value card in draft. Pretty sure that this card will not see play in constructed formats.

Bruce: An artifact equipment that costs 1 and then equips for 3.  It says target creature can’t be blocked, but when damage is done to destroy the creature.  There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of Hexproof creatures, but that doesn’t change much really.  The drawback is acceptable because you can play around that a bit.  No, the real issue with this card is the name.  My lord…Hot Soup?  That’s a terrible name.  There better be another card in this set called “Ice Cream” or “Frozen Blueberries” because that’s awful.

Hunter’s Ambush: 1.5

Daniel: This is an over-costed, targeted version of fog, and even though there are situations that could make the card better than fog, these are limited and the card becomes worthless in a mirror match. Doubtful to see play in draft. Even though it’s unlikely, this card may seem some sideboard play in the constructed arena this season.

Hushwing Gryff: 4.9

Daniel: Another solid for a set full of solid cards; this is a 2/1 flyer for three that has Torpor Orb Effects. This card just barely skates under my 5 rating as sideboard gold if only it had been colorless, as it stands right now this card shuts down two of the most powerful gods in my opinion (Purphoros and Karametra) as well as Eidilon of Blossoms and Gray Merchant. I expect this card to have an effect on white sideboards throughout standard and maybe even peeking its way into Modern, Legacy or Vintage. As for why to run it over Torpor Orb, well flash quite frankly is a great help. Nonetheless I hardily expect this card to make quite the impact on the game in general.

Bruce: This reminds me kind of Stifle…but on a creature.  True, it is a little more limited in scope, but the effect is very strong and comes on a creature with Flash all at the reasonable cost of 3 mana.  I feel like Control decks can’t wait to get their hands on this to shut people down even further.  I like it…maybe not a first pick in draft…but very strong and likely has a reasonable future in standard.

Hydrosurge: 2

Daniel: This card at one mana makes it a playable card in standard, but being a functional reprint of a card (Shrink) in a different color and seeing the history of that card, I do not expect this card to find its way into the constructed arena this season.

Indulgent Tormentor: 3

Daniel: When this card originally came out I was on the bandwagon for it (Of course I was also on the bandwagon for Pain Seer, and you can tell how well that worked out). After thinking about it and examining it, I began to see that it wasn’t all that I thought it was, a 5/3 Flyer for 5 isn’t great (It isn’t terrible, but it’s not great). Its ability is pretty cool, but not as good as a lot of the other choices available to players at this point. Overall, it’s a pretty cool card that hasn’t found a niche and at this point probably isn’t going to find one; not a bad card in draft, but the card’s going to have a hard time finding a home in constructed play for a long time.

Bruce: I think this is wildly powerful. 5 power fliers are nothing to laugh at, and while his 3 toughness is an issue, this guy must be answered or it will take over the game.  The ability to draw a card, at no cost to you, is super significant.  The fact that it can be countered by 3 life isn’t really an issue for you because you want your opponent to spend that life anyway, so who cares HOW it happens.  No, this will be a huge bomb.  I think this might sneak into Standard paired with Master of the Feast in some sort of B/W mid-rangey sort of deck with an Athreos just for extra good measure.

Inferno Fist: 2

Daniel: Overall, not that impressive of a card, +2/+0 for 2 is bland with the option to deal 2 straight damage for 1 red mana. I don’t expect the card to make a real splash in either draft or constructed play.

Bruce: It gives target creature +2/+2 and can be sacrificed to effectively shock something…but without the mana cost we just aren’t sure how playable this is.  At 5 mana I’d say this will only see play in Limited, if the cost is 2 or 3 it could see play in Standard in the right deck.  We’ll have to wait and see.

In Garruk’s Wake: 2

Daniel: This targeted sweeper seems pretty cool, but at 9 mana it seems very clunky and overall not costed correctly. I can see this card being run in constructed along with its namesake Garruk, Apex Predator, but only if someone can figure out the mana problem. On the other hand, this card may be too expensive of a card to run in a draft deck (well a competitive draft deck that is).

Bruce: The casting cost for this is wild, but this is not intended for a limited environment.  I figure EDH will gobble this guy up because who doesn’t love an asymmetrical wrath effect? Oh…right…everyone else you’re playing against.  Oh well, whatever…this looks fun and just the chance to shoot this one off once is well worth the story.

Invasive Species: 3

Daniel: While the judge is still out on whether effects like these are actually good in the long run, I feel like this card is well-positioned to be a work horse of the Green Enchantment decks. Besides having a cool effect that will give you a 2-for-1 on any Enchantment enter the battlefield you might have, it also works as an effectively-costed beater sitting at the 3 spot in your mana curve. I expect to see this card in constructed worked alongside Eidolon of Blossoms, if that deck takes off, but not played as much in draft as there are not as many good enchantments.

Jace, the Living Guildpact: 3

Daniel: Let it be known that I am not a Jace fan, but I hate this card, it just feels lazy. In an attempt to bring the multiverse into this set, they have brought one of the coolest moments in Magic’s history into the form of a card and just like all of the major events of the Magic multiverse they managed to screw up the card. As I’ve mentioned multiple times before, this feels like the safe version of a previously printed card in Magic, namely the most powerful planeswalker card ever printed, Jace the Mind Sculptor. As an example let’s start with his abilities, only give him a plus one, a negative three and a negative eight versus the plus two, the zero, the minus one and the negative twelve; but we’ll make up by giving him five to start with versus three. For the actual abilities, he trades brainstorm and fate seal for look at the top two take one and the other goes in the graveyard, he trades an unsummon at negative one for a boomerang at negative three and finally he trades a basically game ending final ability for card advantage. Needless to say he’s a huge step down from his old self and may in fact be one of the worst Jaces ever printed. On top of all of this the timing flavor of the card is terrible also showing up so late that he just barely makes it in before Return to Ravnica rotates, and he doesn’t feel like a Ravnica card, he feels like a blue card with no flavor. Finally, on top of having lukewarm abilities, no flavor, and just being pretty much a rip-off of a much better card he has no real sustainable way to defend himself and he need to defend himself. It’s still a planeswalker, so it would still be a good draft pick, but with Jace, Architect of Thought still in standard and hopefully a new blue planeswalker coming out in Khans of Tarkir I can’t see this card making its way into constructed any time soon.

Bruce: ANOTHER new Jace.  This guy gets all sorts of love from Wizards, and why not. The guy is a star.  His +1 allows you to filter your cards so you draw more of what you need.  Who doesn’t want to keep drawing gas?  His -2 returns ANY NON LAND PERMANENT.  Planeswalkers, Enchantments, Artifacts…they all get bounced.  That’s pretty potent, don’t overlook it.  The ultimate is fun, but not really something overly relevant.  This version of Jace does exactly what you want him to do.  He draws you cards.  Anything else relevant is a bonus.  Sure, he’s no JTMS…but he’s perfectly serviceable and will do good work.

Jalira, Master Polymorphist: 4

Daniel: This is one of those cards; one of those weird cards that will find its home and explode into almost every format. This is a card just waiting for a deck that can use it right. It feels like a card that would work outstanding in a deck with enter the battlefield abilities. Regardless, this card feels really good and truly feels like a card that will find its home one day. I don’t know about its playability in draft, but I do feel that this card will make its home in constructed play without a doubt.

Bruce: She is a 4 mana (3 colourless and a blue) for a 2/2 Legendary Human Wizard that allows you to spend 3 mana (2 colourless and 1 blue), tap her, and sacrifice another creature and then reveal cards from your library until you reveal a non legendary creature and place it on the battlefield.  Put the cards revealed back on the bottom of your library.  This will average to slightly below average in draft just because you can’t set your deck up to really take advantage of her ability.  However, in a constructed format you can use her to reveal ANY non legendary creature.  There are no other drawbacks…no limitations…no nothing.  Just flip it over and get the creature. So…Worldspine Wurm anyone?  I think there will be a bunch of people out to break this is a bunch of formats because the ability it grants and I can’t blame them.  Like I said, in draft potentially a little underwhelming but has potential for a constructed format.

Kalonian Twingrove: 3

Daniel: An overall okay card that generates card advantage by generating a token when it enters the battlefield; the only thing that stops this from being a genuinely good card is the fact that both it and its token are missing trample. I don’t expect this card to find its way into constructed play, but draft may find a use for it through the sheer fact that it is card advantage and that it is such a powerful creature in terms of its power and toughness.

Bruce:  Two creatures for six mana is very good and a potential source of significant advantage in a Mono-coloured deck.  Sadly, with no trample, evasion ,or other ability is just the prototypical “big, dumb, green creature”.  I’ll still play it in draft and I think it could be a real bruiser, but I think that is where the long term playability of this card ends.

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient: 4

Daniel: Duplicating an ability is a very powerful ability itself, it can very easily act as an engine for a very powerful combo and that seems to be the way that most of the cards in this cycle have positioned themselves to take advantage of a powerful ability; will this card make a deck that will be a serious competitor for a while? Who knows, but a powerful card nonetheless that I expect to do well in constructed play even if its play in draft is a little bit underwhelming.

Bruce: So…we all just read The Chain Veil…right?  Pair this guy with Chain veil…copy the activated ability…and you get 2 free activations of your Planeswalkers…right?! That’s how I read this one and it makes my senses tingle because that’s BUSTED.  Wow.  I don’t even WANT to think about the possibilities in other formats…but this seems pretty bananas powerful.  Johnnies…wherever you are out there…someone PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, break this one wide open and let the artifact craziness start.

Leeching Sliver: 4

Daniel: Turning all Slivers into a pulse tracker this card is cool, but without a sliver deck to run it in, the card just doesn’t seem worth it; in draft this card isn’t terrible as pulse tracker wasn’t a bad draft card, but I can’t see it running in constructed unless its backed up by a sliver deck.

Life’s Legacy: 2

Daniel: This card feels reminiscent of Momentous Fall, and just like that card (which I loved) I’ll say this, I’ve tried to make it work and it just doesn’t. At the end of the day, the cards that you wind up with at the end of the day is almost never as good as the card you have to give up to get it. Still, card advantage in draft is nothing to laugh at and this card can be a great source of that; so I’ll say while it will probably never find its way into constructed, it might be a solid card to pick up for draft purposes.

Living Totem: 2

Daniel: This card is aimed right and with convoke the card costs right, but it’s overall very unimpressive and may see very light play in draft, but not much besides this.

Master of Predicaments: 3

Daniel: This card is very interesting, it can come as either a treat or a punishment and overall I think the card is very well made to keep it from being broken at all. The only thing that keeps it from rising even higher in ranking than 3 is the fact that it’s a random ability (not good to build a deck around), and as such, there is a very real possibility that someone will thwart your plans. Still, it worked for cursed scroll and who knows it might work for this card too; don’t see much chance of it making a splash in constructed or draft play.

Bruce: A 4/4 flying sphinx for 5 mana (3 colourles and 2 blue) that when it deals damage to a player you pick a card from your hand.  They need to guess if the converted mana cost is more or less and than 4.  If they get it wrong you may cast that spell without paying its mana cost.  This will be good in limited, no doubt.  Air elemental is the same 5 mana for a vanilla 4/4.  This has an ability that could be crazy.  Any time you have the chance to pick up a spell and NOT have to pay for it is pretty big.  I’m a big fan.  I don’t know if it is good enough for a constructed format, but it looks like tons of fun for around the kitchen table!

Meditation Puzzle: 1

Daniel: Life gain even this much is almost never worth it to add to a deck, especially if it’s a one-time shot like this. It might see some very light play in draft, but overall I don’t think this card will see much play.

Bruce: 5 mana (3 colourless and 2 white ) for a sorcery with Convoke that gains 8 life.  No, I’ll pass on this.  It does NOTHING to impact the board, is sorcery speed and if you do make use of the Convoke ability to reduce the casting cost you are tapping one of your creatures further hampering yourself.  NO, this is not a card you want to run. I’m struggling even to find an upside for this one. Just pass it and keep moving.

Mercurial Pretender: 1

Daniel: I really don’t like this card, if this card was any worse it would undoubtedly be a 0 as this card still has the ability to be good in a very limited expanse it earned itself half a point, but only just barely. It is almost strictly worse than a card that was printed a year ago and that card (the better version of this one) fell flat on its face. This card is bad from every point of view. If clone couldn’t do it, I don’t see any real hope for this card either in draft or constructed play.

Bruce: I’m usually a little down on a Clone variant, but I really like this one.  Sure, it’s 5 mana  to be a Clone of another creature on the battlefield, but you can return it to your hand.  So, you can change targets, or protect it if you have to.  This makes it a considerable upgrade and gives you more flexibility.  I’m in and really like this card.

Meteorite: 1

Daniel: Dealing 3 damage generally costs 2 mana, tapping for 1 mana of any color typically costs 3 mana but Magic numbers typically are not simple math and this card is a perfect example of that. Separately, at their respective mana costs, the two cards would have been marginally playable, but together they make a 5 mana monstrosity that is nearly unplayable. On a more positive note, I love the flavor of this card, it feels very much like what a meteor should do; still I don’t feel that this card will see much play in either draft or constructed.

Bruce: A 5 mana artifact that when it enters the battlefield deals 3 damage to target creature or player and can then tap to add 1 colourless mana. Ths can’t decide what it is.  Is it a very expensive ‘Bolt or ramp?  Honestly, I look at this as just an expensive bolt spell because by 5 mana you are unlikely to be too hard pressed for the ramp ability this offers.  It’s cute and kind of funny…but if you are relying on this for “acceleration” you might find yourself behind in a lot of races.  This is just a pricey bolt spell.

Might Makes Right: 2

Daniel: With the ability to sweep away defenders or to make a strike more powerful you can see where the theme for this card came from; the card itself feels very well flavored, you’re so strong that others are afraid to go against you and join you. The card itself though is far too highly costed and comes off as one of those cards that if you can use, you probably don’t need it. Stranger things have happened however and it may be more utilized especially in draft to deal with defenders this time around; don’t see much hope of constructed play for it though.

Military Intelligence: 3

Daniel: This is one of those cards that make me mad. This is a great card in literally any color but the one it has chosen to make its home in. Now I understand that the flavor of this card, and it really does feel like a blue card, but it misses its chance to be a great card by not being in literally any other color than the one it’s in. As such and with Bident of Thassa existing in standard I can’t see this being used for anything but draft play.

Bruce: This is pretty sweet but does need the right build to maximize its use.  I could see this being an amazing card draw engine in an aggressive deck in order to pour on the beats.  The casting cost feels cheap and the fact that you get to draw cards is pretty big.  I like it, but I figure this is a mid-round pick in your draft once you’ve started getting yourself set up.

Mind Sculpt: 4

Daniel: A huge bomb in draft taking a sixth of their deck away from them, and it may finally make mill a playable strategy in constructed formats.

Miner’s Bane: 1

Daniel: 6 mana for a 6/3 creature is pretty bad, and his pseudo firebreathing doesn’t really make him any better. I do not expect many players to play this card assuming they have a choice.

Necrogen Scudder: 2

Daniel: Not the worst filler in draft if you have to take it, but there are better choices no matter what you’re playing. As a side note, do not expect this card to come into the constructed formats any time soon.

Necromancer’s Assistant: 2

Daniel: I’m sure there are some situations, where it’s actually beneficial to put cards into your graveyard, but not for me without some bonus. Dredge is not currently a viable strategy in Standard, but maybe it will be at some point this season. A 3/1 creature for 3 isn’t terrible, so overall not the worst draft pick out there. Long story short, this card just doesn’t do it just yet to be considered a good card in either constructed or draft play.

Necromancer’s Stockpile: 3

Daniel: Do the advantages of this card outweigh the negatives? Almost definitely; discard a card to put a creature into play then draw a card to make up for the one you just discarded, it’s essentially getting a creature onto the field without losing any cards from your hand. The real question is, what creature card is worth discarding to play down a vanilla 2/2? The answer may be found in Dredge and Reanimator, but not too much besides that. On the other hand, may be very cool to run in draft.

Bruce: A 2 mana enchantment that allows you spend 1 colourless and a black to discard a card to draw a card.  If you discarded a Zombie you get a 2/2 zombie token that comes into play tapped.  This is a Zombie deck’s dream come true.  I can pitch my zombie, draw MORE zombies, and still get a Zombie Token?! Yes Please! How relevant in draft?  Who knows.  I’m not the guy to find out as I usually avoid the Zombie strategy, but I know some casual players who will gobble this one up!

Netcaster Spider: 3

Daniel: This card is probably a good defense against flying in draft, but not likely to see a whole lot of play in constructed.

Nissa, Worldwaker: 4

Daniel: Just barely holding onto the number 4 slot, just like her predecessor, is Nissa, Worldwaker; an over-costed planeswalker that just doesn’t feel worth the money. Don’t get me wrong, the card’s abilities are pretty awesome and feel well-costed if you can get enough of them off. Her first ability makes a creature to defend her, I like that, and a 4/4 at that. Her second untaps 4 lands making her ability to accelerate your mana base heroic; jumping from 5 mana turn 3 or 4 to 9 or 10 next turn. Her final is definitely heroic and will leave the Timmy in all of you happy to play magic with an army of 4/4 creatures with trample fit to take down any kingdom. It’s a fun card and will almost assuredly be picked up by any Timmy casual players out there, not to mention, all of her abilities are plus abilities with the exception of her ultimate. It may even be run in a few standard decks for a little while; and while I hate to use the adage well it’s not good because blah blah blah dies to blah blah, it is relevant here. She is a 5-drop planeswalker with only plus one abilities that dies to a lightning bolt… a lightning bolt. (Or for you standard players out there, Searing Blood) Her protection is good, and she is a fun card, but she is too much work to get killed off by a lightning bolt.

Bruce: Wow…so for the first time in a long time the Green Planeswalker isn’t Garruk.  Nissa makes a comeback and she looks pretty amazing.  For 5 mana you get a 3 loyalty Planeswalker.  She has two +1 abilities.  The first one turns a land into a 4/4 elemental.  That’s always sweet.  The second one allows you to untap 4 forests.  4 FORESTS! That’s ridiculous and ramps you like nuts.  Her Ultimate just makes you an army of 4/4 land elementals by tutoring up your WHOLE deck worth of lands.  In limited she’ll be out-right amazing and turns those draws where you get a whole slough of lands into 4/4 creatures (which is actually a very good size). I would like to think that she will see play in some sort of Mono-Green Devotion Strategy…but we’ll see.  Still, she’s very solid.

Nissa’s Expedition: 3

Daniel: Fetching up 2 lands is typically a pretty good ability, but this card will have a tough time finding a home with a mana cost of 5, even if it has convoke. I guess this card may splash in draft a little bit, but I don’t see it finding its way into a constructed deck any time soon.

Obelisk of Urd: 2

Daniel: Adding 2 to the power and toughness of all of your creatures is nothing to sneeze at, but doing so for 6 even with Convoke seems a little shaky. Not to mention it can only help creatures of a specific type, it’s interesting and strong if you can get it out, but at the end of the day it doesn’t feel worth it. I can see this card potentially run in draft as well as a few token standard decks, but that’s about all.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled: 4

Daniel: This is another one of those cards that really needs to find a deck to get a higher place on the list. It’s really sad for Avacyn to come out and be overshadowed by her opposite in two separate sets (First it was Griselbrand in Avacyn restored and Ob Nixilis does this handily with his stats and abilities alone). He could have sat at a 4 with just Flying, Trample and his second passive ability and still be more than a match for any creature in any draft match, but it’s his 1 passive ability that his potential may truly lie. A huge punishment for those that decide to use fetch lands or search through their decks for combo pieces; not to mention, with a way to make your opponent search through their library, it’s a fast track to the end of the game. The card definitely has the potential to get there and I can’t wait to see what players do with it. I expect to see this card in draft a lot and to find it in quite a few decks if someone can figure out how to break it.

Bruce: Whoa! Ok, this is a 4/4 flying demon with trample for 6 mana (4 colourless and 2 black) that has some scary abilities.  First off, any time your opponent searches his or her library they must sacrifice a creature and lose 10 life.  Whenever a creature dies it also gets a +1/+1 counter. That first ability is stupid powerful and could be seriously abused…heck…I bet people are already proxying up this guy for all sorts of format just to punish fetchlands, tutoring, or other tricks that let you search through your deck.  The other ability is neat, but much less relevant in constructed…and very relevant in Limited where there are far more creatures and the possibility to pick up a large number of counters. All in all, this is pretty strong in almost any format even at 6 mana and likely a first pick.

Paragon of ______, Kird Chieftan, Sunblade Elf, Nightfire Giant, Jorubai Murk Lurker, Dauntless River Marshall: 3

Daniel: Sitting comfortably at a solid 3 is this cycle of cards that make friends or themselves more powerful based on the lands and colors you control. While I don’t expect any of these cards to make too large of a splash in any format, the best looking of the entire cycle are the Sunblade Elf (Marginally playable in standard GW decks and maybe even a modern deck or two) and Paragon of Open Graves and Paragon of Gathering Mists (which will allow you extra flying or creature destruction in draft). Overall though, the whole cycle seems fairly bland and they almost seem a little forced in the grand scheme of things; on the other side of things I did like the throwback to Kird Ape through Kird Chieftain. With only an exception or two I feel like these cards may be bland filler for any deck, and as such not see much play in either draft or constructed outside of a very limited expanse.

Perilous Vault: 5

Daniel: If I’ve seen anything it’s how much decks love board wipes and this is one of the most powerful ones ever created. I expect this card to find its way into just about every format, the tron decks in most formats, the control decks, and Scapeshift decks. Basically any deck that wants the field clear of just about everything but lands and has the mana to activate this card would be able to use it… might be hard in blue, but it still is a pretty solid card for them too.

Phytotitan: 3

Daniel: I like this card, I really like this card; but one word separates this card from being a truly outstanding if not broken card, and that is the word trample. Without this word, the card just feels weak and easily held off; not capable of scoring a hit almost ever. Still, I would definitely suggest picking this card up in draft, even though it’ll probably never see constructed play.

Bruce: Big Plant elemental huh? The fact that this is pretty tough to kill is kind of fun, but this cards feels like a trap.  Let’s imagine, your opponent attacks and you block with Phytotitan…wait…it’s a 7/2, why are you blocking with this?  Ok, change the scenario…YOU are attacking and your opponent blocks the Plant Elemental and it dies.  It goes to your graveyard where it stays for the rest of this turn, and then for your opponent’s turn, and then you get your turn again.  So, untap your stuff…upkeep…get Phytotitan back tapped…tapped? Aww crap. So, now it’s tapped thoughout your whole next turn and your opponent’s next turn before it can FINALLY untap and be useful. No thanks.  It’s cute and is kind of interesting, but the low toughness means this dies to readily, and then comes back to slowly.  If you see him, grab him and try him out, but I wouldn’t rate this one overly highly.

Pillar of Light: 3

Daniel: A workhorse in draft that won’t be played much outside of it because there are many cards in almost all formats that are better.

Bruce:  This is an inexpensive way to take out their fatty and the nice feature is that it exiles the creature meaning that it just goes away.  Solid and relatively inexpensive makes this very playable and solid mid-round pick up.

Polymorphist’s Jest: 5

Daniel: Acting as a functional reprint of Humility, this card has its advantages and disadvantages over that card. Its advantages come from being a surprise (Instant), and working on only 1 player. The disadvantage comes from being temporary (Instant). I would definitely pick this card up if I was running blue in draft as it has the ability to turn a game into a complete blow out and with its abilities as they are I highly expect this card to be run in formats throughout magic if for nothing else than to deal with Emrakul.

Preeminent Captain: 3

Daniel: I actually struggled to place this card correctly, it’s another of those cards that attempts to card a card previously printed (Hero of Bladehold in this case) and make it more what they meant it to do. In this case, that meant scaling back both the power and mana cost. Did it work? Well if they meant to make it weaker, they succeeded, this card is a shadow of its former self, but they may have taken it too far. Don’t get me wrong in draft this card makes the cut into most white decks, but in constructed this card has just been too weakened to be any type of serious contender.

Bruce: A Kithkin soldier that when it attacks allows you to play soldier cards from your hand for free.  If this is going to be a herald of a Soldier Tribal feel to this set then this will be well poised to take full advantage of it.  I like this for draft…and am intrigued about the future of White weenies soldier decks when this gets mixed in with Theros and such.  There could be some possibilities there.

Profane Memento: 1

Daniel: Just like the staffs in this set, this card just doesn’t feel worth the card spot it plays in; would be interesting to see it play against a token deck though. This card may enjoy limited draft play, but I would be very surprised to see it take on a more dominant role than this.

Quickling: 3

Daniel: Quickling is a solid 2/2 with flying for 2. It has Flash and makes you return a permanent to your hand. Everything I said for evasive species also applies to this card except in your two spot. My one complaint with this card is the fact that it sits in blue versus green, but with Flash and Flying it almost overcomes this complaint. This card will most likely see a fair amount of draft play as well as a fair amount of play in constructed play as both a bounce spell to protect your creatures as well as getting double the effects out of your creature cards.

Bruce: This is another very strong card because a 2/2 flying “Bear” with Flash is very good…even if you have the drawback.  I could see this in Standard in a Mono-blue Devotion or a G/U Flash deck because a 2/2 flier for 2 mana is quite good. In draft he’ll also be very strong and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Radiant Fountain: 1

Bruce: It taps for colourless mana, has incidental life gain and won’t hurt you.  This is playable so long as it doesn’t dilute your land base for your draft deck. It’s a little lackluster but generally quite playable

Reclaimation Sage: 3

Daniel: Overall, this is a pretty cookie cutter creature; a little over-costed for its power and toughness, but with an ability to destroy an enchantment or artifact that may be extremely relevant in this format. I don’t know how much draft play this will see as it isn’t terribly relevant to destroy artifacts or enchantments in this set, but I could see this run as a side board card in both draft and constructed play.

Bruce: This is naturalize on a stick…so…yeah you’ll draft this and you’ll run this all day.  Again, this could creep into standard because with Theros block remaining after rotation there could be a heavy preponderance of enchantments running around and this guy kills them dead. This is just a solid card with value.

Resolute Archangel: 3

Daniel: A solid creature with a powerful ability, but it’s mana cost is too high; might see draft play, but anything beyond that would be a stretch.

Bruce: You’ll draft this as the top of your curve if you are in white and you’ll be ok about it.  4/4 for 7 is steep, but the ability to re-stabilize your life total is actually a pretty big swing. This will never emerge in Standard but I could imagine this seeing play in EDH as well to really put the screws to someone.

Return to the Ranks: 2/3

Daniel: I like cards like this, heck, at one point one of my favorite cards was Death Denied, but I can’t get my head around this card showing up right now. It’s the converted mana cost two or less that really does it for me. The card just feels like it showed up at the wrong time and for that, I don’t like the card, especially when you consider how well the rest of the set is themed and timed. With its high mana cost, I don’t see this as too major a player in either draft or constructed play.

Bruce: It also has convoke in an effort to hep keep the casting cost down and hit this one for cheaper.  The ability to bring back creatures to the battlefield is a powerful ability, but this one is limited with the exception of in the right aggressive strategy.  Creatures with a casting cost of 2 or less means you are going for an aggro approach in your draft to maximize the effectiveness of this card, but in other more mid-range builds it might not have that many legal targets.  All in all, a little limited in terms of the decks that want this, but the ability is unmistakably powerful.

Rogue’s Gloves: 3

Daniel: A solid card to pick up in draft that just feels like it came out at the wrong time. In draft this card will help you get to where you need to be in terms of card advantage, but in constructed, Bident of Thassa feels like the better choice.

Rotfeaster Maggot: 1

Daniel: I thought all Maggots ate rot… so shouldn’t this card be called Maggot then… anyway, this is another card of the set that comes down and just feels altogether too high-costed for what it does. A 3/3 for 5 is very unimpressive and its ability doesn’t do a whole lot either. Overall, it might see a tiny bit of play in draft but anything more than that would be a stretch.

Bruce: Terrible name…urgh.  Ok, this is a playable card but you aren’t going to be thrilled about it.  A 3/3 for 5 is ok and the incidental life gain is nice, but it’s not going to pump itself or gain any extra power or toughness or abilities after consuming the creature…which is a shame…but it is still a perfectly playable card.  So, while being a half step better than a vanilla creature, it’s still nothing to write home about.

Sacred Armory: 1

Daniel: This card costs 2 mana to get out and 2 mana to increase target creature by +1/+0, and the added power doesn’t even stay on, this card is over-costed with an over-costed ability. I don’t expect this card to see just about any play in either draft or constructed play.

Sanctified Charge: 2

Daniel: An interesting card that can be vital to a token draft deck; at 5 mana it will be hard for this card to make it out of draft however without trample.

Scrapyard Mongrel: 2

Daniel: Let’s talk about this card for what it is a vanilla 3/3 for 4 with the ability to become a 5/3 with trample. At 5/3 with trample for 4 it would be a pretty solid draft pull, but as it stands right now it’s only an okay draft card and almost unplayable outside of draft.

Scuttling Doom Engine: 4

Daniel: Strong creature with slight evasion and powerful ability when it dies, may see some standard play and work its way into a few interesting combo decks, but overall limited play I believe. On the other hand, the can be card is a powerhouse in draft and has the power to win you the game all by itself potentially.

Seraph of the Masses: 2

Daniel: 7 mana on this card, enough said; it’s far too much for this card, even if it has Convoke. This card may be run in a token draft deck, but play outside of that would be a stretch.

Bruce: She costs 7 to cast  and carries convoke and flying.  This will be a popular card in white weenie strategies where if you flood the board with cheap creatures and then tap them to reduce to reduce her mana cost with the Convoke ability…and then in turn she could be a powerful bomb particularly at the uncommon slot.  Still, you may not want to tap down your team to get her out early and 7 is steep.  She could close out a game in a hurry…or lead to blow out central.  I’m still pretty in on this one.

Shadowcloak Vampire: 2

Daniel: An over-costed creature at 5 mana for a 4/3 that gains flying if you’re willing to give up half the life that it will take away from your opponent if it hits, as it stands this creature is not really worth the cost to cast it; the card may enjoy some limited play in draft, but anything outside of that would be pushing it.

Bruce: 5 mana  for a 4/3 vampire that can also gain flying if you pay 2 life.  This is the sort of meat and potatoes creature every deck needs.  It has decent stats. It isn’t horrible from a cost perspective.  It could even gain flying for a little evasion.  No, this is a decent pick for Black and will be a useful addition to your deck.

Shield of the Avatar: 3

Daniel: At its mana cost even its basic values are solid for its mana cost. Giving a creature pseudo regenerating toughness the creature is worth the 1 to play and 2 to equip. Will it see much play? Probably not; it doesn’t leave you with any wow factor and it doesn’t do anything too impressive. It’s certainly value for its cost and I would consider picking up one if I saw it round 3 or 4 of a pack. The card has the potential for limited play in both standard and draft.

Bruce: I could see this be a useful card in an aggressive deck looking to flood the board and attack an opponent quickly.  You could equip this on your biggest creature to ensure it stays alive and then attack with near impunity.  This could be a fun card and make combat very tricky to deal with a threat, but I’m not sure it’s constructed worthy.

Siege Dragon: 3

Daniel: Someone, somewhere, one day in R&D decided that there should be a format for certain flying creatures (1-4 mana and 1-3 p/t for birds, etc.), and one of those thing that they decided on was dragons; the format has held true in recent memory for 98% of all dragons, that format is Flying, mana cost between 5 and 7, power and toughness between 4 and 6, with some effect that corresponds to dragons and done. This format turns them from the unique creatures called dragons we used to see into something bland that comes off as a 5th string draft pick sometimes. This is another one of these, its abilities are cool and it even seems fairly well costed for its abilities, power and toughness, but that’s it. A definite play in draft if you see it, as well as a potentially but doubtful play in constructed because of Stormbreath Dragon.

Bruce: OK, I’m not sure, but this seems very powerful in a limited environment.  Walls aren’t usually a big thing and so the wall clause is a little weird.  The second part basically wipes out the whole ground game of your opponent whenever this critter attacks. Notice it doesn’t even need to deal damage, just attack.  This is a first pick bomb because it can totally warp the board in your favour.

Sliver Hive: 5

Daniel: This is a card that has the same ability as Sliver Queen… on a land… it has so much potential as a power house that it may just get banned in Standard if they print too many good Slivers in this set. By and large it reinforces the logic that R&D is trying to bring Slivers back into Modern without having them corrupt Standard, but who knows, I could be very wrong and just like the Slivers printed in M14 this card could fall flat on its face, only time will tell. If you’re planning on running a Sliver deck in either draft or constructed this card is almost a necessity and if Slivers become a thing again this card will see quite a bit of play in constructed.

Sliver Hivelord: 6

Daniel: This card and all of the others like it may just bring tribal slivers back into the competitive zone of play in almost every format. This is an insanely powerful card that basically ends the game once it hits the field in a sliver deck unless your opponent can find an answer in a short period of time. If you’re running a deck that already runs 5 colors or you run Slivers, this is another one of those cards that you almost have to run.

Bruce: 5 colour 5/5 legendary Sliver…and makes them all indestructible.  Yuck! Clearly an EDH  card and will haunt casual and multiplayer meta games with sliver decks.  I see no real appeal for him in draft because there isn’t a critical mass of sliver cards in this set (unless they start popping up soon in the spoilers!).  No, this is for other formats that are supported by Wizards…making this one feel a little out of place.

Soul of _____: 3 or 4 depending on which one you’re talking about.

Daniel: All of these Soul Cards Pretty much fall into the same lot for me, they don’t feel terribly costed and their abilities are not terrible, the cards just don’t give me a lot of feeling dragging me down to a 3. I’ve actually already decided I love the Soul of New Phyrexia and am picking up a foil once they start selling them. They actually remind me a lot of the colossus out of Theros, definitely a bomb in draft, but overall pretty hard to build a deck around in constructed formats; that all being said, I like the idea of flashback effects on creatures and with a lower mana cost they’d probably be something that was run quite a bit. The cards may see their day and not be staples or a prime card in the deck, but a nice component of a standard deck nonetheless.

Spectra Ward: 3

Daniel: Not a bad card giving a target +2/+2 and protection from colors but at 5 mana the card seems bulky; as such a big card to play in draft, but I feel that it’s play in constructed will be limited.

Bruce: I’m usually luke warm on Auras, and this one is not much different.  5 mana for +2/+2 and protection from all colours. Now, I get the fact that protection from all colours ALMOST makes this untouchable, but the real question is…what else could you be doing with 5 mana?  The answer is lots. Maybe with the Boonweaver Giant…I don’t know.  But there are a decent number of artifact creatures and such that just might be able to render this less powerful (Perilous Vault is a thing…just saying).  I’m willing to try it out because I love the protection from all colours, but I’m leery of the 5 casting cost.

Stain the Mind: 3

Daniel: A functional reprint of Memoricide that plays almost identical to the original. The one difference between this and the original is the fact that you add 1 mana to it and add convoke to the mix. As with its predecessor, I do not expect this card to be run too heavily in either draft or constructed play. 

Statute of Denial: 3

Daniel: An okay Counter Spell that comes off as much too expensive; the marginal benefit of drawing and discarding a card does not make up for the added cost. Counter Spells are rarely run in draft and there are better Counter Spells that are better than this in the current meta, so I don’t expect this card to be run too heavily.

Stoke the Flames: 4

Daniel: This feels like one of the best convoke spells in the set, sitting comfortably in red and with potential to be directly adopted into red decks across the board, this feels like the right card at the right time.

Sungrace Pegasus: 3

Daniel: A solid card that gets you value in draft with its lifelink and flying; outside of draft this card will most likely not be played too frequently, if at all.

Bruce: Flyers with Lifelink are pretty key and great targets for augmentation. At 2 mana this is also suitably costed and with 2 toughness means that it avoids MOST (not all) of the mini-sweepers in this set.

The Chain Veil: 5

Daniel: Being able to play a planeswalker’s ability twice a turn is awesome, but for 4 you have to question if it’s good enough for its cost; still a potentially powerful card that may just see its time in the sun and break a few decks (I’m thinking Tron featuring Karn would love this card… maybe). In draft I do not believe that planeswalkers will be drafted heavily enough to really make this card worth playing.

Bruce: Ok, here is the little beauty that has caused all this fuss with Garruk and friends. First, let’s just get this straight…this will likely be terrible in draft.  Enough said.  However, in Constructed this could be SUPER abused. There are tons of Planeswalkers floating around for people to pick from and getting an extra activation off each of them is down right filthy.  I’m not convinced it’s going to make an impact in Standard, but there are going to be a bunch people out there trying their hardest to bust this and make the “Super Friends” deck a real and scary option.

Triplicate Spirits: 2

Daniel: It’s not a terrible card and convoke brings it to a more reasonable level, but 6 mana is a little bit much for a spell like this; might see limited play in both draft and standard for its ability to create card advantage and creatures.

Bruce:  6 mana for 3 spirits is steep but you can reduce the casting cost because it does have convoke meaning it could see play earlier.  I think this pairs nicely with your Seraph of the Masses and can lead to a pretty heavy white weenie deck, but the flying tokens are always useful.  SIGH…I miss Lingering Souls…oh well.

Tyrant’s Machine: 2

Daniel: While the utility of tapping down a creature every turn may not be so useful in constructed, it can be extremely useful in draft. This card in particular may be too expensive to use in draft however, depending on your deck and most likely no play in draft.

Ulcerate: 4

Daniel: -3/-3 for one; the life loss on this card hurts but isn’t that bad. Overall, the card is a pretty solid removal card that will probably see a good amount of play in Standard next season. Removal is a very powerful force in draft so you can be almost sure that it will see quite a bit of play in draft as well.

Bruce: Usually 1 mana removal spells at Instant speed are pretty good.  The trade-off is stiff, but if you’re in black you are likely willing to make that trade.  Solid removal and well worth the early pick in a draft.

Undergrowth Scavenger: 3

Daniel: This card could be extremely powerful and cost-effectively; the only problem is that with its mana cost and its ability it will spend a large portion of the game being a dead card and eating up a spot in your hand, still can be a huge bomb in draft so consider it if you’re running green with a lot of small creatures.

Unmake the Graves: 1

Daniel: A strictly worse card than a card (Urborg Uprising) that was already pretty terrible, enough said. This card is not terribly playable in either draft or constructed play.

Venom Sliver: 4

Daniel: Slivers have been getting some awesome prints in this set and this card just continues to contribute to this tradition. A 1/1 deathtoucher for 2 is already a pretty solid pick in draft, but putting it on a sliver makes the card almost, if not wholeheartedly good enough to run in a constructed deck.

Vine Weft: 3

Daniel: A card that can give +1/+1 for 1 is pretty good, especially if you can recur that card, but the card feels underwhelming at best. It will probably be played in draft if the player is playing green, but play in constructed will be something that’s almost impossible for this card.

Void Snare: 3

Daniel: A lot like Boomerang (except as is the theme with this set a little bit weaker for cheaper), I think this card competes well with Boomerang as a standalone card in many situations. I think the added value of making it more cost effective adds more than you lose to the weakening of the card. I believe this card will be playable in both constructed and draft.

Bruce: The sad part is that this is at sorcery speed and not instant (if this were instant speed it would be amazing).  All the same, this is still a very solid ability and nicely costed at 1.  Blue players will draft this and play it regularly.  However, I don’t think this will see much play in Standard because sorcery speed bounce spells aren’t really in demand.

Wall of Limbs: 3

Daniel: I tend to think that 3 mana for a 0/3 Defender is pretty terrible, but this card works each time you gain life which is a pretty good ability. The second ability is a little bit much but can win you the game if you gain life frequently enough.

Warden of the Beyond: 3

Daniel: For an uncommon, a 2/2 with vigilance isn’t terrible; one that can pump up to a 4/4 with vigilance will not break any decks and probably won’t break out of draft, but still a solid card at a good price.

Bruce: I like the feel of this.  A 2/2 for 3 isn’t bad, and vigilance helps…but if you trigger that bonus you have really got something.  It usually isn’t too hard to exile something so I feel like it could happen more often than not.  A solid pick for a deck playing White.

Waste Not: 4

Daniel: This is the hallmark of the deck and it begs to ask the question, is it strong enough to carry the set? This is the fan created card and it feels cool, it feels right, and it might just make discard work in Modern again. Is this a likely scenario? No, but one can hope; I love the rack decks in Modern and would love for one of them to succeed for once. Is it the set carrier we all hoped for? Probably not… am I gonna try to pick up a full playset if the price is fair? Most definitely; I don’t think this card has a chance in standard, but if someone manages to build a working discard deck in constructed I think the card will be a powerful addition to that deck.

Witch’s Familiar: 2

Daniel: This card is a vanilla 2/3 creature for 3 mana, the way creatures used to be. All things considered I kind of wish magic was still like this sometimes. That being said I can’t see this card being played too much.

Will-Forged Golem: 2

Daniel: A vanilla 4/4 for 6 with convoke makes this card almost strictly worse than a 4/4 for 4; this card won’t see much play in either constructed or draft.

Xathrid Slyblade: 3

Daniel: This is one of my favorite cards in the entire set, it reminds me very much of Bogles for Black. At 3 and 4 mana to activate its ability, I fear that this card may see less play than it deserves. It has a great amount of protection, when sitting, it sits under the shroud of Hexproof and while swinging in if blocked you can switch it over to Death Touch and First Strike (I like to call it Death Strike). This card feels very good and well-defended for its cost without being broken, however the mana cost to play and to activate may be too high for this card to ever really see play.

Bruce: Hmmm…this one is a bit of mixed bag. Hexproof is interesting because I usually assume it is an ability that is Blue or Green…not Black, but it fits in a flavour sense if you think about an assassin. For 3 colourless and a 1 black Slyblade loses Hexproof and gains deathtouch and first strike. So, that pretty much makes it a nasty blocker and just kills stuff dead.  So, in limited this will be a very solid card and can jump out of the shadows and take down all sorts of things.  In constructed I feel like this is just a little frail.  I mean, Bassara Tower Archer has the same 2/1 body with hexproof (and reach too) but isn’t intending to be used extensively as a blocker unless you’ve dressed it up with some “pants”.  However, with Slyblade you aren’t likely to have mana to put pants on it, do anything else, AND keep up the mana to activate the deathtouch and first strike abilities.  So, either it doesn’t block, or it becomes a speed bump for something larger.  Nice.  It’s still pretty sweet, but likely doesn’t cut it for a constructed format.

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard: 3

Daniel: This card comes from a cycle of cards that I’ve actually been a huge fan of in this set, it’s the well we made it in the past, but now let’s fix it set. My biggest problem with Yisan is the fact that he feels slow and with as weak as he is, this slowness may cost him his spot as a good card; but let’s take a step back and look at the positives of this card for a second, he is based off of 2 of the best cards in the modern meta (In my opinion), those cards being Aether Vial and Birthing Pod, and for his mana cost he’s overall not a terrible creature (I could ask for better, but I’m just nit-picking). While this card could be turned into a powerhouse in the right deck, just like most of the others of this cycle it feels like more of a stretch for this card, but who knows, he may have his own spot in the Melira Pod modern deck in the future.

Bruce: This is something interesting that might catch the imagination of some “johnnies” out there.  The stats alone aren’t bad, although 3 toughness sets it up to get burned out pretty quick…but I digress. The real interesting part is that for 2 colourless, a green and tap ability.  This has a very “Birthing Pod” feel to it…and if anyone is wondering Birthing Pod is VERY MUCH A THING! So, the options here seem pretty high and the ability to abuse it is pretty sweet…but in a draft environment you may not be able to take full advantage of the ability.  I could see this migrating to a constructed environment and be abused with the high quality cards…so sit tight on this guy. I have only one complaint with this and it is that this feels like it should be an elf and not a human rogue.  It is just a minor complaint, I know, but one that I think makes sense considering cards like Elvish Piper and such exist.

 

Notable Reprints:

Back to Nature Not that valuable of a card, but in a format saturated with enchantments, a card like this with such a low mana cost is an outstanding card),

Chord of Calling A card being a $20 straight out of the gate reprint makes this card definitely worth picking up if you get the chance

Convoke Because it would be the preface to about 90 cards in the set I believe I should address this mechanic here, it feels pretty good in this set and it feels right with token decks seeming to come more into the fold right now, so 10/10 on the timing of bringing back this mechanic Wizards

Juggernaut Just wanted to mention the new art on Juggernaut, it’s amazing

Lightning Strike I guess a theme going for Wizards as seen in the reprint of this card is the printing of a lot of downgraded versions of older cards, changing the classics of the game like lightning bolt into the tamer lightning strike, or maybe I’m over-reacting and this is just Wizards deciding that two lightning bolt look-alikes in Standard is too much

Pain Lands Releasing lands that are marginally worse than the Shock Lands seems to be a new theme with Magic’s R&D Department, in their own way, in some situations, the pain lands may actually be better than the shock lands, but that’s for you to decide

Phyrexian Revoker The reprinting of the fixed Pithing Needle, while not terribly exciting, it is worth noting as the card is sided in many decks

Tormod’s Crypt This card may have been reprinted a few times, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less good than the original printing. There’s a reason this card is run in just about every format, and that reason is because there aren’t many better graveyard hates than this card 

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth Extremely powerful and ran in multiple formats, enough said

Wall of Frost  I know it’s pretty boring compared to the rest of the set, but this is an example of one of the best walls in the entire game

 

 

by The Will of the Floral Spuzzem
Daniel Clayton
Twitter: @DC4VP

 

 

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Avatar Bruce Gray - May 25, 2014

Underappreciated cards of Magic sets past: Dragon’s Maze

Ral Zarek - Dragon's Maze art

 

 

 

Underappreciated cards of Magic sets past: Dragon’s Maze

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

So, much time has passed since I last wrote about underappreciated cards, but it has now been a full year since Dragon’s Maze joined us as far as a set to be played.  By and large, the reception for Dragon’s Maze was lukewarm at best despite having all the flash and dazzle of being the final set for the Return to Ravnica block.  However, the set was rife with cards that are geared for EDH and multiplayer formats with only a few staples that would get seriously added to the pool of competitive cards.  It did allow for the full Return to Ravnica block draft, which was also very challenging and tons of fun, but constructed players were deeply saddened by the near unplayable cards and fringe options the set yielded. However, this set was a veritable gold mine for casual players of all stripes.  Today, I’ll be going through my selections for some underappreciated cards at each of the 4 rarity slots (common through Mythic) that you might want to slide into a deck the next time you sit down to play at your next Casual Encounters.

Dragon’s Maze gave us a full set of 10 Maze Runners, champions for each guild that would negotiate the Maze and dominate Ravnica.  However, while it would seem that the Maze Runners were going to be the most powerful cards printed in the set, the reality was that many of them were clunky and poor at best.  No, the most powerful cards were creatures like Voice of Resurgence, Aetherling, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa and a select few spells like Advent of the Wurm.  However, while the Maze Runners weren’t much fun to play with, and these select high priority spells cost a small fortune to acquire a play set, there are still plenty of viable cards at all 4 slots that can bring some variety and fun effects to your next game.

 

Common:

Gatekeeper Cycle

Each of the 5 colours had a Gatekeeper for 4 mana.  These 2/4 creatures were serviceable bodies in their own right but hardly exciting unless you controlled a pair of guildgates, in which case you were able to reap some sort of benefit.  Now let’s be honest with ourselves.  In draft were you likely to EVER be able to grab a pair of guildgates? Not likely.  In any form of constructed format, were you likely to even THINK about playing guildgates, much less these guys?  NOPE.  In EDH you are only likely to have a pair of guildgates, at best, among your 100 cards which means you would be unlikely to be keen to run these cards either.  No, these gatekeepers fall firmly in the realm of casual players looking to do something silly with them.  Of their abilities, they are pretty standard (ie. Blue draws a card, Black gives target creature -2/-2, Red gives a threaten effect etc) and only impact the board when they enter play…but if you’ve read some of my previous articles I LOVE making these effects recur by finding ways to get my stuff to leave play and then re-enter the battlefield.  Also, as a Casual player, I’m very apt to play guildgates because they are very functional (if unexciting) ways to help smooth out your mana.  Particularly in a multiplayer game of some sort where things may be a little slower, the requirement for the correct colours is key and you may be spared the punishment of having lands come into play tapped by the slower pace of the multiplayer environment. These 5 guys are solid additions with decent bodies and good upside. Give them a second look and see if you can make them fit into a deck the next time you sit down to play.

 

Uncommon:

Give//Take

If you’ve been reading my other articles, you might have got the sense that I’m big on the shenanigans that +1/+1 counters can do for you in Return to Ravnica block.  Scavenge and Evolve are both super interesting mechanics and the ability to then turn around and draw cards off of those counters is super fun.  In a previous article about Gatecrash I attempted to describe how Zameck guildmage can be abused to draw all sorts of cards off those counters…but with Give//Take you don’t even need a Zameck in play to go card crazy.  Perhaps my most favorite play is to land Prime Speaker Zegana on the battlefield and draw cards equal to her power.  This can usually be a fairly solid number of cards because having her be at least a 5/5 is no real stretch.  However, on your next turn, cast both halves of Give and Take and turn all those +1/+1 counters into cards and suddenly your card advantage has gone bananas.  In a multiplayer casual variant this is totally possible and means that you now have a significant edge over the opposition because of the resources available to you. Let me assure you, it’s fun and your opponents will be doing their utmost to prevent this from happening since they don’t want to get caught behind in the race for resources…and when you pull it off it’ll be amazing! Try it out for yourself!

 

Rare:

Tajic, Blade of the Legion

This guy is so simple in terms of design and so mindlessly powerful that he gets overlooked.  A 2/2 indestructible creature for 4 mana means he’s likely too expensive for a Constructed format (and to trip his Battalion ability takes WAY too much set up cost), but in a casual environment this guy is a true menace.  It is very conceivable to see this guy get his Battalion ability triggered and be a MONSTROUS 7/7 wrecking ball of hate smashing around…and he’s indestructible meaning he’s wildly difficult for your opponents to deal with.  If nothing else he becomes a reliable blocker and suitable target to dress up with auras to pump him with because you are unlikely to get 2 for 1ed off of an exchange.  But here’s the thing, more than a few people in my play group will just flip right on by Tajic in favour of other creatures…and every time I ask “WHY? ARE YOU SICK? PLAY THAT DUDE!”.  He crushes face, is hard to deal with, isn’t unreasonably costed and is in perhaps the most aggressive colour combo available…making him a perfect bulldozer in your next game.  Trust me…you won’t regret it.

 

Mythic:

Ral Zarek

As always, the mythic slot is hard to pick because they are all powerful.  Dragon’s Maze was no exception and the planeswalker of the set seems like a dead obvious place to start when picking a card, but Ral was spoiled with great fanfare.  His ultimate, of flipping coins and taking extra turns, is hilarious and immediately caught the attention of the Magic playing community…only to hit the ground at release with a resounding THUD! He was unplayable in competitive Standard, and cost too much to play any Eternal format. His first two abilities are reasonable, but hardly awe inspiring, and the ultimate leaves a lot to be desired.  Basically, he was very quickly resigned to his role of coming off the bench for Casual Magic and I’ll happily pick him up to pinch hit for me!

If nothing else, the ultimate ability on Ral Zarek just SCREAMS Casual all-star.  When you think of playing Casual Magic you think of splashy cards, crazy abilities, and full on shenanigans…well…here you go! All of these things are rolled into the flip of coins as part of Ral Zarek’s ultimate.  Also, his +1 ability of tapping and untapping various permanents just leads to soooo many ridiculous plays that it is almost impossible to list all the possibilities.  Basically, Ral Zarek opens up loads of fun and innovative options that will totally take your opponents by surprise that I think he’s well worth the time to pick him up and give a try.

 

So, no article highlighting underplayed cards would be complete without some sort of deck showcasing some of the cards and today is no exception.  Now, if I asked you how do the vast majority of games get won and lost, what would you say?  If you said attacking with creatures, you would be right.  Sure, sure, there are some people who prefer combo or mill or locking out your opposition with a control deck, but let’s be real, you play Casual Magic to cast fat creatures, turn them sideways and see what powerful interactions you can dream up.  Now, let’s change the axis on which you are prepared to engage your opponent and instead of you using YOUR creatures to kill your opponent, why not use HIS creatures to kill your opponent.

Let’s see what I’ve got today:

 

Jund Punch your own face Decklist

 

The game plan with this deck was inspired by that older brother who used to take your hand and smack you in the face with your own hand…and then say “Stop hitting yourself!”.   So, your opponent is expecting you cast creatures and attack, but in reality you are waiting for them to cast creatures and then use Act of Treason and Traitorous instinct to take their creature and smack them in the face.  However, what made this deck really sweet was the addition of Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers who is an Act of Treason attached to 2/4 body…and if it is attached to a body it can be recurred.  So, the ability to have Roaring Primadox return Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers to your hand and cast it again for the recurring Threaten effect.  Ubul-Sar Gatekeepers is basically a Dead-Weight on a stick and Saruli Gatekeepers gains you a huge pile of life that can quickly put things out of range, but they aren’t the real threats.  Now, after you’ve taken the creatures with  the Threaten effect, most opponents won’t block because they don’t want to block their own creature, when they know that they will be getting the card back shortly so they eat the damage and hope to move on. Before you return the creature, nothing is more hilarious that sacrificing it to one of the numerous Sacrifice outlets in the deck for a) more damage b) cards c) to mill them d) attack their hand e) gain more life.  The options are endless and drive your opponent bonkers because they are expecting to get the creature back. As an additional way to close out the game Crackling Perimeter allows you to tap the large number of gates in your deck to do damage to your opponent and close out the game.  All in all, this deck is a funny way to punch your opponent in the face with their own creatures and to reap the benefits.

 

So, that’s my selection for underappreciated cards from Dragon’s Maze and a little sample of what you can do with the cards to make a fun and unexpected deck that can really frustrate your opponent.  Perhaps I’ve missed something and some of you have other things you would rather play, or cards that I may have skipped over, so I’m always game to hear what others think. Shoot me a tweet and let me know what you thought…or go ahead and build yourself your on deck and see what you can find from Dragon’s Maze to make your next Casual Night fun and lively.

Until next time, keep fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791
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Avatar Bruce Gray - April 29, 2014

Casual Encounters- My favorite Cards from Journey Into Nyx

Kruphix God of Horizons

I hope everyone enjoyed their pre-release events this weekend.  I had a blast playing in a Two Headed Giant pre-release and got my first up close and personal look and feel for Journey into Nyx.  The consensus around the room was that the set was very solid and very interesting.  There are some terrific cards, some very intricate cards that will need careful timing to work, and a bunch of very useful and relevant creatures that make the whole process a lot of fun.  I wanted to take a moment, now that we’ve all got a taste, what I think are some of the more exciting and interesting cards from Journey into Nyx.

Let’s start off with this disclaimer.  I may not be picking the best cards, or the flashiest cards.  I’ll leave that to players who will trying to brew up top level competitive decks. No, I’m taking more of a Casual approach and looking at cards that I feel offer us something interesting that we may not have seen in a while, offer some interesting deck ideas, or are just plain fun.  So, without further delay, let’s get to looking at what new treats I can’t wait to get my hands on where Journey into Nyx is with us for real.

Commons-

There are actually a number of really sweet commons that have been printed in the set and I had a hard time settling on one…so I picked 2.

Desecration Plague I love the versatility of this card.  The ability to take out an enchantment or a LAND is super fun, particularly the land.  With this and Red’s Demolish in the same set, the Casual Brewer in me is seriously looking at building a R/G land destruction deck and just make a wreck of the land base for my opponent and frustrate the heck out of them.  I bet there is no one else on the planet that is actually jazzed for this card, but I think this will be a fun addition to our repertoire of spells.  Nothing quite like undercutting your opponent by eating his land.

Flurry of Horns- The more I look at this card, the more I think it is going to be a ton of fun. I love me a tribal deck.  Goblins, Merfolk, Spirits…you name it, I love it.  Now, Minotaurs are a thing. They REALLY REALLY are.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look for yourself.  This spell will be an awesome addition to a Man-Bull deck and for 5 mana is suitably costed, gives you 2 more Minotaurs with haste, and lets you stampede over your opponent.  If you’ve got Kragma Warcaller or Felhide Petrifier in play as well, well, wow, things are going to get ugly…FAST.  This is dripping with flavour in a mythology inspired block and is a fun and card to rock in your new Minotaur deck.

 

Uncommons-

Fleetfeather Cockatrice- This gold card has too much text for it to not be good.  Honestly, Flying, Flash, Deathtouch and MONSTROSITY all on the same card?  This will be awesome.  Sure, it’s 5 mana, but it comes out of no-where thanks to flash and straight up kills something.  It’s big enough that it could survive combat, which is awesome, and it can then take over the skies if you can trick it out with the Monstrosity ability to make it a 6/6…that’s a freaking dragon!?  I love it. I am sure that my G/U flash deck is going to love seeing this addition in at least a pair of, but I might be prepared to take this guy out and see what other carnage I can cause with him.  He doesn’t lend too much in the way of combos or wild synergy, but there is something to be said for just a straight up good creature that will do a lot for you. This is the sort of creature I want and will get good value from him. Oh, and I love the reference to the original Cockatrice from Revised which was a staple and can now have a new play mate in 2014.

 

Rare:

There are a number of fun rares in this set and generally I feel like they are powerful without being broken. There has been lots of buzz around Eidolon of Blossoms, but I’m not convinced that the Constellation trigger on it will actually end up being that cool.  No, the rare that caught my eye, just because of the simplicity is Dawnbringer Charioteer.  This is a tried and true tested formula in Theros block and you can’t miss with this guy.  We saw very early on that Wingsteed Rider was good.  Like ridiculously good.  Then, we saw that Akroan Skyguard was good too.  We have seen that just about ANY Heroic Trigger that puts +1/+1 counters on it is good, and if it flies it is even better…so how can you miss with the Charioteer?  Bottom line, you can’t.  It’s a 2/4, flying, lifelinking, Heroic BOMB and it just destroys your opponent.  I raved about this one when it was spoiled and I still think it is awesome.  Is it going to be Constructed playable?  Doubtful, but the Casual Brewer in me is already hard at work trying to brew up something disgusting to do with this guy.

While we are on the topic of Rare cards, I wanted to diverge a little.  Yes, I said I would talk about cards that got me excited, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about a card that I can’t imagine playing.  Dictate of the Twin Gods is just about as unplayable a card as I have ever seen.  Yes, I get that there are some people that will love this one, but my honest sense is that it will backfire and end up costing the caster far more often than not.  If you can’t close out the game the turn this lands on the table, my honest sense is that it is game over for you because you have committed to being all in…and didn’t get there…and now the backswing from your opponent is going to sting twice as much.  I had an opponent run this at our pre-release and instead of allowing them to run up the damage with their Minotaurs, it resulted in double damage to the face when my Charioteer punched through for about a million.  Yeah, this card seems like more trouble than it is worth and I am really struggling at seeing too much in the way of quality uses.  Funny uses?  Oh hell yes, I can dream up FUNNY…but they aren’t GOOD uses. Rant over…thank you.

Mythic-

It seems like a bit of a cop out to pick one of the Gods, but they all look really cool in this set.  The one that has me most excited is actually the last one I thought I would like when I read his abilities.  Kruphix, God of Horizons is actually super neat, but initially I misunderstood his abilities.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one as the twitter universe was all a-buzz about his abilities.  The first ability, of having no max hand size is nice.  However, what makes him exciting is the second ability that basically means you get to store your unused mana as Colourless mana.  The more I think about it, the more I think that the second ability is tremendous in some strategies and casual decks.  The sky is now the limit! Just keep pouring in that mana into good ol’ Kruphix and watch the fireworks.  Think about it! Giant Sphinx’s Revelation. The biggest Mistcutter you’ve EVER seen. Wild Strive Triggers. Going  Monstrous with Polukranos for…oh…I don’t know…about a million and blowing out the whole other team.  The options available are just about endless.  Now, this is living in Magical Christmas land again, but honestly, there’s nothing wrong with living there for a little while.  Heck, that’s why we love the new cards! Magical Christmas Land has come and you can see all the cool new treats and the silly things you can do with them…and Kruphix is just the same.   I’ll let the Scrooges out there dump all over Kruphix for Constructed purposes, but for Casual he’s going to be HILARIOUS!

So, there we have my picks for cards for Journey into Nyx.  It is interesting to see the difference between Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx, both of which were similar add-ons to Theros, but while Born of the Gods was almost simplistic in nature, Journey into Nyx is actually pretty complex with a bunch of really interesting new abilities and mechanics to weigh when considering making a deck.  Is a Constellation deck possible?  Would it be any good?  How good will Strive be?  We didn’t have the same questions from Born of the Gods because the mechanics were pretty straight forward.  This time we have new things to consider and some very serious options to weigh when building decks.  Oh well…time to get down to work and see what else I can brew up.  I’ll catch you guys later.

Until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

Bruce Gray

@bgray8791

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Avatar Bruce Gray - April 14, 2014

Casual Encounters – Underappreciated cards of Magic sets past: G...

Master Biomancer

As I sit here writing we are slightly more than 6 months away from another rotation and seeing all those lovely cards from Return to Ravnica block disappearing from Standard.  In the world of Magic, six months is an eternity as there are countless events across the world.  The game will change week to week meaning that 6 months will take a very long time and there will be a near infinite combination of cards that can come together to redefine the game.  However, in real terms, 6 months isn’t very long at all.  In 6 months we’ll be finishing summer up and bracing for the return of cooler weather and another long bout of winter.  My work will be restarting the cycle of the school year for school aged children.  The new NHL or NFL season will just be starting.  6 months isn’t really that much time…and so it is the perfect time to be checking out those casual playable gems that may have been overlooked. Once again, today I will go through my pick for underappreciated card at each of the 4 card slots (common, uncommon, rare, mythic) in search of those hidden gems that a more casual player can make use of to help make their games fun and yet still keep an eye on their bottom line. Today’s set is Gatecrash.

While I was initially a little underwhelmed by Return to Ravnica (despite the high number of ultra powerful and valuable cards), Gatecrash was right in my wheel house and appealed to me straight away.  Boros and Gruul were immediately colour combinations that I could get behind.  The Simic colour combination was a little unusual, but the Evolve mechanic that they carried intrigued me and made me curious.  Extort and Orzhov quickly proved to be a powerhouse mechanic in a duel and absolutely devastating in a multiplayer game.  Dimir’s colour combination is always a force and some of the cards did not disappoint. All in all, it was a set full of terrific cards and some fantastic casual gems that a player like me can use to full advantage.

I also could fully get behind the set because this was the first time I had ventured into the realm of Limited play.  I experienced my first ever Draft with Gatecrash and immediately loved the experience.  Playing Limited is still my favorite way to play when I can find time to play at my local game shop.  I don’t claim to be an expert but I really enjoy the challenge of card evaluation and selection and then building a deck that is hopefully strong enough to get some wins.  Everyone is technically on the same even playing field and I have found that it makes for some great variety and fun games.

 

 Common:

My common is a little guy that got overlooked for the most part but has time and time again proved to be a valuable little addition to most decks.  Shambleshark is a 2 mana 2/1 creature with Flash and the Evolve mechanic.  He isn’t going to wow anybody with his stats, but he is very versatile and a nice addition to decks running Green and Blue.  Flash is his biggest attribute because it gives him the ability to sneak in at any time.  Need a surprise blocker to mix up the combat math?  Need an inexpensive trigger to boost another Evolve creature? He has a quasi-haste like ability if you drop him on your opponents end step.  He trades favorably with “Bears” and can be used in all sorts of situations.  Some will say that this guy saw Standard play and had his moment in the sun, and I fully agree.  However, he is not omnipresent like Voice of resurgence, Blood Baron, Loxodon Smiter or some of the other powerful creatures in Standard.  He had a role in one particular deck that made waves for about 2 weeks, or until everyone figured it out.  However, the Standard format quickly recovered and is very much still defined by the three way dance that Mono-Black, Mono-Blue and Blue/White control. However, this little guy can still be a useful little critter not to be overlooked.

 

 Uncommon:

While Gatecrash facilitated a super aggressive format, in no small part to the Gruul and Boros guilds being hyper aggressive, there are a few other cards that can allow for some interesting abilities.  One such card starts to push into a hand disruption angle which can be very debilitating to players as the game moves along.  Vizkopa Confessor is a pricey 5 mana (1 White, 1 Black, 3 colourless) for a 1/3 with Extort, that when it enters the battlefield you may pay life and your opponent will reveal cards in his hand equal to the life paid and then you get to select a card he will discard.  This is an expensive card to play both from the mana invested and then in turn from the standpoint of the life paid to force him to reveal cards.  However, if you have gone the route of playing an Orzhov deck you likely have multiple Extort triggers in effect, particularly by the time you hit 5 land to cast this bad boy in which case you could make up the life lost simply by casting spells.  Also, if this is a multi-player game, the Extort triggers return an enormous amount of life points, so using life points as a resource to crush the hands of your opponent is probably just fine. The crushing of the hand is only escalated if you can flicker the Vizkopa Confessor with Cloudshift, or recently one of my new favorite tricks from Theros, Triad of Fates.

The biggest problem with this guy is the 1/3 body you get for your 5 mana.  It isn’t very big, but you aren’t playing this guy to lay a beating on your opponent.  I was running him in an Esper deck that was premised on destroying the hand of my opponent and this guy fit right in.  However, while I really like the Vizkopa Confessor, I didn’t like the deck and took it apart.  That doesn’t mean I’ve given up on him. What it means is that I am looking for another deck to make use of this guy and once I do I will use the ability to target hands of my opponents and leave them crippled and dejected.

 

 Rare:

My rare card of choice appears on the outset to be a hyper aggressive card, however with a little adjusting it can far more than just be an aggressive beater.  Rubblebelt Raiders is a 4 mana (3 hybrid red/green, and 1 colourless) for a 3/3 creature that gets a +1/+1 counter whenever it attacks for each creature you control that is attacking.  Ok, in a straight Red/Green deck this card is monstrous.  This card rewards R/G for casting dudes and attacking and in the process grows Rubblebelt Raiders into a gigantic monster.  However, if left unchecked Raiders become an instant target for a removal spell and then all that hard works goes for nothing.  So, how do you get more value for your Rubblebelt Raider?  Here’s how.

Instead of looking at Rubblebelt Raiders as a R/G spell, look at the hybrid casting cost as being all Green and then slide Raiders into a Simic build.  This will give you access to Zameck Guildmage and the very handy ability to transform +1/+1 counters into cards.  So, swing in with your Raiders and friends (I like Elusive Krasis as a starting point, but the more the merrier) and have Raiders power up a bunch of counters.  Eventually your opponent will play a removal spell to deal with the ridiculously large monster you have stomping around but this is when you start tapping your lands to turn those counters into cards. Also, you can protect your Raiders with a Simic Charm or Mizzium Skin to grant it hexproof and save your card draw engine.   You may or may not lose the raiders, but you can absolutely pickup 2,3 or maybe even 4 extra cards in the process by using your Zameck Guildmage.  Give//Take would afford you a similar ability if you lack a Guildmage.  Or more enjoyable yet still, Bioshift those counters onto your Elusive Krasis and have your Krasis bring the pain.  All those counters create so many possibilities and represent loads of resources that a Simic deck would love to rock. These quirky little relationships allow you to approach your casual game from a slightly different angle and presents you with more options, and potentially more ways to frustrate you opponents.

 

Mythic:

Once again, mythics are usually very strong and so it hard to identify one that is “underappreciated”, but in this set there is one that is ultimately quite playable, but never really fit anywhere.  Borborygmous Enraged was very straight forward and difficult to cast at a massive 8 mana.  Deathpact Angel wasn’t much different at 7 mana.  However, Master Biomancer was a very reasonable 4 mana and provided for a very interesting ability.

Master Biomancer is a 2/4 creature for 4 (1 blue, 1 green, 2 colourless) that grants each creature entering the battlefield a number of +1/+1 counters equal to Master Biomancer’s power.  So, at a minimum, your creatures enter the battlefield with +2/+2, but with the right deck this can result in creatures of a ridiculous size.  Slam Master Biomancer in a BUG deck and scavenge an early creature or two on to Master Biomancer and watch your little 1 drops turn into massive bombs.  Or, use the counters from Rubblebelt raiders and bioshift the counters onto Master Biomancer for a humungous boost.  It takes time, but often in a multiplayer game you can find yourself with an extra turn or two to put this combination together and have it come off looking pretty amazing.  Here would be a pretty fun example of how this might play out in a RUG deck rocking mostly Simic creatures:

Turn 1- forest, tap the forest, play experiment one.

Turn 2- island, tap forest and island, gyre sage, evolve experiment one (1 counter). Attack with experiment one

Turn 3- forest– tap your lands, Elusive Krasis (or Drakewing Krasis) evolve experiment 1 and Gyre sage. (2 counters this turn,  3 in total). Attack with Experiment one

Turn 4- forest, tap your lands, Rubblebelt Raiders, evolve Gyre Sage and Elusive Krasis (2 counters this turn, 5 total). Attack with Elusive Krasis and Experiment One.

Turn 5- Island– Attack with Raiders, Experiment one, and KrasisRaiders get three counters.  Second main phase drop master biomancer and bioshift counters off of the Raiders, and now Master Biomancer has 3 counters on it.  With one remaining mana cast another experiment one.  It comes into play with +5/+5 and is a 6/6 creature ready to lay down the beats…and the counter shenanigans start from there.

For some reason Master Biomancer was largely overlooked despite the obvious benefits it can provide.  It takes a little work in order to get Master Biomancer where it can be suitably explosive, but once he comes online he is well worth the investment.  You can trade the counters generated for cards, shift them around to make combat math a nightmare, or even use them in conjunction with Simic Manipulator to take control of creatures.  This is the perfect casual card for someone who likes to play around with counters and can be very entertaining. Don’t overlook this guy in your trade binder.  Instead, sleeve him up and take him out for a spin to see what he can do for you!

There we go…I have gone through my choices for common, uncommon, rare and mythic for Gatecrash that you should go and dig out of that box or that trade binder.  Give them a second look.  Maybe they can liven things a little the next time you sit down with some pals on a Saturday night.  Maybe you can go one better and build them into a funny combination that can make life difficult for an opponent.  Whatever you choose to do with them, I’m all ears…I love to hear about how those gems got used, or if you have some of your own that I’ve neglected.  The beauty with playing Magic is that everyone has an opinion and every opinion has merit.  So, drop me a line and let me know what you like, don’t like, or anything else that is on your mind.  Once again, thanks very much and may your next Casual Encounter be loads of fun.

 

Bruce Gray

@bgray8791

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