Dawnbringer Charioteers – [Eric] seems pretty standard as far as Heroic creatures go for White. Opening this pack 1 pick 1 in your draft that also nets you Akroan Skyguard and Wingsteed Rider would definitely provide you a formidable airforce, but not something I would necessarily gamble on.
[Bruce] This is exactly the sort of flying bomb that all the Heroic decks at limited wanted…and they got it in spades. A 2/4 flier for 4 (2 white, 2 colourless) with a Heroic trigger of getting a +1/+1 counter when it is targeted with a spell. Had the card stopped there, it would be still be a bomb and well worth the 4 mana. However, they added one other little key word…lifelink! Well, now you have a giant bomb that can very quickly get suited up to smash face and turn your life total completely around. Even a modest 4 point life swing could be enough to turn the tide of the game, but this could get wildly out of control. So, if Wingsteed Rider and Akroan Skyguard are good, this one is NUTS! This one gets a solid A for having terrific limited playability, and it remains to be seen if it could see some fringe Standard play.
Dictate of Kruphix – [Eric] with the addition of Flash on this neo-Howling Mine you are able to somewhat skirt the issue of providing the advantage to your opponents before you, and it works into a control mindframe to keep your mana open. It is however still a symmetrical card draw and gives benefit all around. Could be useful in a Nekusar Commander build as another card drawer but the Flash is nearly useless there.
[Bruce] Well, here’s my sweet art on a blue spell. This 3 mana enchantment with flash that allows each player to draw an additional card at their draw step is a super interesting. I could see it see play in drafts, but it most certainly will not be a first pick and will likely be a mid to late pick. The trouble, once again, is that it is symmetrical in nature, meaning that your opponent will also reap the benefit. I’m not usually down on having my opponent draw cards thanks to my spells because I’m concerned that I’ll Brick out and get nothing, while they’ll pour more Gas on the fire and just shred me. However, I could see this in an all blue deck with Floodtide Serpent, where you return Dictate of Kruphix to your hand, attack with the Serpent, and then Flash it back in at the end of your opponent’s turn. Yeah, that’s pushing it, and you have to work awfully hard for your card…but it could be done. More likely as not, this will slide into EDH quite happily and take up residence in “Group Hug” decks or something of that nature. I’ll give this a C for being interesting, but not a high priority in most formats.
Dictate of the Twin Gods – [Eric] A sweet new take on Furnace of Rath which is clearly a boon to aggressive decks looking to beat face as quickly as possible. I wonder how effective adding Flash is to this type of effect as you clearly want it played on your turn to start taking advantage, but the element of surprise might get there when they decide to not block what becomes a lethal attacker. Also stacks with Double Strike to effectively create ‘quadruple’ strike.
[Bruce] This is starting to look like there is going to a cycle of Dictates and this one is once again, interesting, but hardly impressive. For 5 mana you get an Enchantment with Flash that doubles the damage that a creature or player receives when it receives damage. This is cute, and very flavourful, and Draft decks might run this, but I feel like this is again destined for EDH. Again, I’ve got it down for a C.
Doomwake Giant – [Eric] How nice is it to have a one-sided wrath effect which can dispose of Indestructible creatures as well. This can be so easily abused with enchantments that can be recurred such as Flickering Ward. While not a top tier strategy this is doubtless a casual superstar.
[Bruce] Well, this is an interesting Giant to say the least. A 4/6 Giant for 5 ( 1 Black, 4 colourless) that also has Constellation where when Doomwake Giant or another Enchantment enters the battlefield creatures your opponents control get -1/-1. There is no doubt that this will be a limited BOMB because it is basically a mass removal spell on legs. Imagine, you have the Giant in play and are playing a R/B/U draft deck…cast Fate Foretold on it, Messenger Speed, and an Ordeal of Erebos and you’ve just wiped your opponent’s board of basically everything…and you spent exactly the same 5 mana you spent to cast the silly giant. It will be devastating, to say the least. I don’t think there is a deck running Black at Standard that wants this guy, but maybe something new could shake things up and tear the title of best deck away from Mono-Black Devotion for a week or two. I’ll give this guy an A- for being a beast at limited.
Godsend – [Eric] I love how we finally have that iconic sword that Elspeth always carried around. While stat wise +3/+3 for converted cost 3 then equip of 3 isn’t going to break the game it’s the Exile clause that will constantly have opponents worried about any sort of blocking as it makes proper combat math prediction almost useless. Not being able to cast any of the exiled creatures should also play a factor in its sucess. It could easily be a one-of in any White Weenie style aggro deck.
[Bruce] So, once again, here’s my sweet art, and on a ridiculously sweet Legendary Enchantment Artifact. Elspeth’s weapon is a 3 mana artifact that equips for 3 more mana, but gives the equipped creature +3/+3 and if the equipped creature is blocked or blocks one or more creature, you may exile one of those creatures. As if that wasn’t enough, your opponent can not cast spells with the same name as those exiled by Godsend. Ok, so that’s alot of text, but the +3/+3 for 3 mana and a reusable Artifact is pretty awesome. The other abilities are also pretty neat, but when evaluating this you will be looking at the +3/+3 and that’s about it. This will be devastating in a White based Heroic deck and will be an easy pick. Standard…not so much. I can’t think of a single Standard deck that will be keen to spend the sort of mana needed to cast and then equip this instead of dropping other more potent spell. However, for being a wicked limited bomb, I’ll give this an A-.
Heroes’ Bane – [Bruce] Yet another huge Hydra for Green to run out. Heck, soon I figure Green should be able to have a full on Tribal Hydra deck from the looks of things. This 5 mana hydra comes into play with 4 +1/+1 counters on it. So, you get a 4/4 for 5 mana…alright. But, Wizards, if I’m going to play THIS hydra over others, I need more. So, for 2 colourless and 2 green you can put X additional +1/+1 counters where X is the creatures Power. So, in essence, I can double its power by sinking 4 more mana into it. The nice piece, if there is one, is that you don’t need to tap it to add the extra counters so you could do it a number of times in the same turn, provided you have the mana for it. Here’s the problem, it’s much too slow for Standard and is chumped by a Voyaging satyr. If my big monster is going to be played I want the damage to count, especially by the time I’ve sunk 9 mana in to get an 8/8, so Trample is almost a must…and it just didn’t get it. So, this will be a huge bomb in limited for players in Green, but otherwise will take up residence in trade binders and casual decks from here on after. I’ll give this guy a B+ because there are better Hydras out there.
Keranos, God of Storms – [Eric] while it is fairly stock as a God at 6/5 with the requisite Indestructible it does have an interesting ability. Easily abusable with top of the library manipulation like Sensei’s Divining Top and Jace, the Mind Sculptor or even with the abundant Scry in Theros block. The mana cost has me skeptical if it will find Standard play but if the niche is found could be a minor role-player in that deck.
[Bruce] Ah…now we’re talking. A 6/5 indestructible God for 5 mana (3 colourless, 1 red, 1 blue) with the same devotion mechanic we’ve come to expect. However, his ability is very neat because when you draw your first card of your turn you reveal it. If it is a land you get to draw and extra card. If it is not a land, Keranos will deal 3 points of damage to target creature or player. This is a hilarious card and will certainly see play in limited as a disgusting bomb to anchor a suddenly very scary R/U deck. However, I don’t think Standard will be in his future. We’ve basically established that Gods that cost 5 to play just don’t fit in Standard right now, and while this guy is fun, probably not what the players in a constructed environment are looking to pull. Now, I can dream up a deck pairing Melek, Izzet paragon and this guy for some WILD interactions, but that’s a discussion for another day and another article. This guy will get an A- for being a Limited bomb, and an interesting casual card.
Scourge of Fleets – [Eric] what a ridiculously powerful effect to hand a Mono-Blue deck. Already the color is weak in sweepers but this allows it to present a reasonable threat with a backbreaking ability. The cost is very high and you still need to survive to that point but if you cast this guy you’ve very likely just turned the tides.
[Bruce] A 6/6 for 7 mana…hmmm…this better be good. When it enters play you return all creatures that your opponent controls with toughness less than X where X is equal to the number of islands you control. Ok…well…this will go one of two ways…either you’ll never get a chance to cast this or it will be a complete and utter blowout. Wow. So, this will be drafted in Blue heavy draft decks…and that’s where it stops. There is no way a Standard deck will play this, but it does open the door for a super controlly blue deck with this guy, whelming wave, sea god’s revenge and the host of other cards that tap down or return creatures to their owners hand en masse in limited decks. I’ll give this a B+ because the body is good and the asymmetrical quasi board wipe will lead to blowouts, but the casting cost is steep and heavy to get to.
Spawn of Thraxes – [Eric] this is a supremely powerful effect tacked on to a huge flyer. Any Red based deck would be more then happy to have him as a finisher. Abusing a blink effect with it is going to be a Red mages dream come true.
[Bruce] Another 7 mana creature…this time a 5/5 flier. Well, let’s see if this guy is good. When he enters play he deals damage to your opponent equal to the number of mountains you control. Again, great limited bomb and a super relevant ability in an aggressive red deck, but 7 is huge. I love me a dragon, but I can still only give this guy an A-…if this was just a little less expensive it would be an easy A+, but at 7 he’s extremely hefty to get into play.
Squelching Leeches – [Bruce] 4 mana for a */* creature where * is equal to the number of swamps you control. This is essentially Nightmare, just without flying and for 4 instead of 6. This will be a strong card in limited decks, but doesn’t really excite me. In a mono-black deck it will be a 4/4 for 4 mana which is very good value, but you will need to be almost all in on black and that is limiting. It won’t likely see Standard play because Mono-Black is already decked out with better critters. This is a solid B because of the strong limited application, but that’s where he ends.
Underworld Coinsmith – [Eric] sure it’s always good to gain life and no doubt this guy will gain you some life, but that’s not why we would run him. He is going to be a multi-player All-Star with his ability to bleed on a stick. There are numerous ways in these colors to be gaining life which will enable it to put in some hard work. No doubt there are many Commander players salivating at the though of getting their hands on one.
[Bruce] Here we have an extremely interesting card. Here we have a 2/2 creature for 2 mana (1 white, 1 Black) with Constellation where whenever Underworld Coinsmith or an enchantment enters play you gain one life. Had the card stopped there it would be solid. It would be reasonably costed, have a relevant ability for a B/W deck to exploit, but the next ability seals the deal. For a White, a Black and a paying a life your opponent(s) lose a life. Notice that Underworld Coinsmith doesn’t need to tap in order to drain out the life from your opponent, so as long as you are winning the race you could really put this guy to use and just drain off your opponent’s life without even having to enter into combat. This will be perfect for that ultra grindy B/W draft deck that runs Servant of Tymaret, Scholar of Athreos, and a bunch of creatures with Deathtouch and Lifelink. I see this guy as being a real solid pick near the front of the pack and being a potential win condition. Now, I doubt highly that there will be a Standard deck looking for him, but perhaps a B/W midrange deck might want a copy or two to side in, depending on a matchup. I’ll give this guy a B+ for being efficiently costed and super useful in drafts.