Ok, we’ve started to see Khans roll out for us and things look spicy. M15, while cool and still the game in town is pretty tame in comparison. So, with that in mind, I thought today I’d go back in the “Way Back” machine and crack open a pack of Gatecrash. I really enjoyed Gatecrash draft and it was really my introduction to drafting and Limited play. I found the format hyper aggressive and if you stumbled even slightly you would find yourself with back against the wall and in real danger of being blown out. It was explosive, powerful, and tons of fun, so the chance to open up a pack brings back a little nostalgia and fond memories. Let’s see what we’ve opened!
This pack is pretty spicy on account of it having 2 rare cards! Everyone loves foil rares…and it is even better when they are playable like Front Line Medic. Frontline Medic is a 3/3 for 3 mana and if you can trigger the battalion can make your whole team indestructible. INDESTRUCTIBLE! In Gatecrash draft getting this to trigger was pretty easy, so this is a first pick bomb. Add in the fact that a foil is usually worth a little bit of value in terms of trade or selling it makes it a pretty appealing first choice.
Glaring Spotlight is a fun little rare that makes Hexproof creatures legal targets for spells and abilities again evening out the playing field. That alone is nice, but let’s be real, nobody is too worried about a ton of Hexproof creatures in a draft enviroment. No, this card is a sweet bomb because you can sacrifice it to make your whole team unblockable. Guaranteed blow out if you end up in a board stall situation and was worth it’s weight in gold for me in multiple drafts during Gatecrash Limited.
The Zameck Guildmage is a solid card because any of the guildmages in Return to Ravnica block are good. The fact that this one can reward you for putting counters on stuff by turning those counters into cards is pretty amazing. The fact that there is a Forced Adaptation in this pack might be the big payoff as well if you can wangle getting both.
Aetherize is a brutal way to tempo out your opponent completely. There is nothing quite like sending their whole team back to their hand and clearing the board. It reminds me very much of Aetherspouts in M15, but a little bit cheaper.
Grisly Spectacle is reasonable unconditional removal that also has a mill effect attached to it. This makes it very solid and something to consider as we move through the pack. The drawback that it is 4 mana and double black meaning you need to be pretty heavy into Black in order to really benefit from it. It’s worth the pick usually, but a tad tough to cast in this format. I’ll have you note that M15 makes it even WORSE because Flesh to Dust is 5 mana, double black, and STILL sees play in every deck playing Black. Just saying.
Spire Tracer is a nice little 1/1 with Evasion in that it has a quasi flying ability. Play this turn 1, slap Forced Adaptation on it turn 2, and you are off to the races to lay a disgusting beat down in short order. This routinely did good work me in the early part of the game and routine started pressuring my opponent’s life total.
Forced Adaptation is just the sort of aura you want to play early. It’s cheap, pumps your creature every turn, and can synergize nicely with the Zameck Guildmage and can get out of control quickly. If you are in a Green strategy this is also an auto include as a mid-round pick.
Sage’s Row Denizen and Nav Squad Commando’s are serviceable creatures that play a key role depending on your strategy. You are unlikely to prioritize these guys super highly, but they do give you solid bodies, useful abilities, and just help plug up the ground for you. They may not be flashy, but not every card in Limited is.
Purge the Profane is not something I value overly. I like making my opponent discard cards, and it is cheaper than the Skull Rend that we saw in the RTR pack a week or two ago, but for 4 mana there are other things I would rather do with my mana. The way to evaluate this card is to ask “in what situations do I want to resolve this?” When I’m behind the answer is a dead no…it doesn’t help me get back in the game in any way. When I’m developing my board I’m not keen on spending my mana on making them discard because I’d rather cast spells that help my position in front of me, not take out their hand. At parity I might be interested depending on what the situation looks like. When I’m ahead I might be more interested to ensure I force them to get rid of that potential answer in their hand. So, with me only interested in casting this card sometimes I would be unlikely to be super keen to pick this up and even less likely to play it.
Shadow Slice and Scatter Arc are both marginal spells that might be relevant if I’m short playable cards, but would not be the usual thing that interests me. The fact that Scatter Arc is limited to Noncreature cards and is 4 mana is frustrating because if I’m playing Blue I don’t want that sort of price tag or restriction on my counter spell. Shadow Slice is a fine direct damage Black spell and comes with Cipher to allow it to recur, but it doesn’t drain life and give it to my total the way Black normally deals direct damage. That makes it less appealing and something I’m more likely to pass on as well.
Finally, Aerial Maneuver is just a bad combat trick. If you have to use it to start killing stuff things have gone sideways because the upgrade is so marginal with this card that it is hardly worth the card slot in your 40 card deck. You’d almost be better off playing another land to ensure that your deck runs smoothly and without a hitch. Pass this and force it on someone because it is highly unlikely you actually want this.
First pick this week is easy. The foil rare card is a no brainer and the fact that it is actually quite a good card actually helps too. I’m all in on the Frontline Medic and will be looking to be pretty aggressive to maximize my Battalion trigger. The good news is that White pairs well with a number of colours and there are plenty of solid creatures in the format so I should be in pretty good shape. Sounds good to me!
So, there we have week 11 of our Crack a pack MTG. I always enjoyed Gatecrash because it was so hyper aggressive. Things moved fast and good deck builders and drafters were rewarded with easy wins, while control players or guys who stumbled on their mana usually ended up pretty dead fast. All in all, it was a fun format and something I would happily go back and draft again.
Thanks for reading again this week. Let me know what you would have picked out this pack by sending me a Tweet. Would you have grabbed the Foil? The Spotlight? Something else? Let me know and let’s compare notes and start the discussion to try and help us all get a little bit better. Next week I’ll be taking on final look at M15 before we start getting ready for Khans and having the draft format get turned on its head pretty quick.
Thanks for reading again this week and until next time may open nothing but Mythic bomb rares!
by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
I present you Three Kings Loot top cards from Gatecrash. These are the cards we think might get played in standard, modern and Legacy. There is another list of the Top cards for EDH/Commander from Gatecrash; we’ve also made a list for Dragon’s Maze.
Make sure to check out my addendum to this article with top cards and deck lists from the latest standard tournaments post-Gatecrash. [Editor’s note] Deck lists and top cards from Dragon’s Maze Standard.
Obzedat, Ghost Council – Ghost Council drains your opponent 2 life straight out of the gate and again every turn you ‘phase’ him. That’s 4 points of life gained and up to 9 points of damage by his second turn out if he connects. And there is a limited amount of instant speed removal that can answer him. This guy could go in a Esper control build, Orzhov mid-range or Junk anyone (I like Avacyn’s Pilgrim). Is it just all hype? Ghost council certainly is interesting.
Aurelia’s Fury – It’s an instant speed Rolling Thunder that will also taps the creatures it hits. Also, players that take its damage can’t cast non-creature spells that turn so you can cast it before their main phase to either protect your creatures against wrath effects or to stop a deck from comboing off.
Blind Obedience – This card could be used effectively against Hellrider/Thundermaw Hellkite decks and maybe even Boros or Rakdos to slow down their haste. It only cost 2 mana and it adds an Extort trigger every spell you cast. Too bad it doesn’t hit lands as well but then it wouldn’t be so cheap to cast.
Legion Loyalist – A one casting cost with haste and a useful ability for all out aggro. I think this little guy has the potential to end up in a Boros or Rakdos deck for standard. Some say he’s the Goblin Guide of this block. He could also find a home in Goblins for Legacy.
Boros Charm – It’s a Flame Rift but better, can make all your creatures indestructible to protect them from wrath effects like Supreme Verdict or other sweeps like Bonfire of the Damned and the third option can come in handy as a surprise endgame to double-strike an unblocked creature for the win or to turn the tides on an otherwise unfavorable combat.
Simic Charm – This is probably the best charm in Limited, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it finds a spot in some standard deck. It’s a Giant growth, or it protects a permanent from a destroy effect even one that can’t be countered such as Abrupt Decay, or it’s can also be an unsummon. It’s obvious why it’s great in limited but will it make a difference in standard or other formats.
Clan Defiance – It’s an answer to a Non-Flier and/or a Flier and/or you can hit your opponent straight to the dome. It’s a nice card worth mentioning and has many options for you to abuse
Skullcrack – The new Flames of the Blood Hand that gives 3 damage instead of 4 but costs 1 less. It could be useful against all the Thragtusk/Sphinx’s Revelation life gain in Standard. It could also be a sideboard versus Soul Sisters in Modern.
Vizkopa Guildmage – There’s been a lot of talk about the instant win combo he makes with Exquisite Blood. Is this a future Standard or even Modern deck?
Illness in the Ranks – An interesting new sideboard tech against token based deck in Standard and Modern. Are the days of Lingering Souls coming to a close?
Glaring spotlight – Can this be the answer to Geist of Saint Traft, Invisible Stalker or Sigarda, Host of Herons in Standard and the Enchantment deck in Modern? May turn out to be a key sideboard answer and is fetchable with Trinket Mage.
Lord of the Void – There has been some talk of him as a sideboard answer against Show and Tell decks to be able to trump their creature drop, but is it really more effective then a Gilded Drake? Might also have a similar effect in Show and Tell decks against the mirror or even Reanimator decks. Just doesn’t seem very reliable.
Enter the infinite – Does this card pair with the Omniscience to win for OmniTell? Seems like it may just be a win more type of card. But it guarantees that you will have each and every combo piece necessary in your hand to just go off. And don’t even look at the casting cost since whatever the plan to cast it will certainly involve doing it for free.
Boros Elite – Similar in style to Wild Nacatl as the one drop 3/3, although the qualifier is much more limiting. This is probably aggressive enough to find a home in a Boros build for Standard, and there may even be room in Modern for Boros that could produce enough cheap hasters to reliably trigger his ability.
I hope you find my list informative and I would love to get some feedback. I have a followup article with more top cards and some deck lists from standard post-Gatecrash right here. Leave me comments and feedback please.
Greg Thibault (@gregsterism)