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Avatar Three Kings Loot - September 24, 2014

Fatesealing Khans of Tarkir: Filtering Through Magic’s Future

Khans of Tarkir

Fatesealing Khans of Tarkir

Filtering Through Magic’s Future

By Bruce Gray and Daniel Clayton – The bag of loot

                There is no doubt what went through my mind and many others’ like me  when they heard about Magic returning to an Asian themed plane for their newest set: Kamigawa of course. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this set felt as much like Feudal China in theme as Kamigawa felt like Feudal Japan. Flavor-wise, the set feels like a country in a constant state of war which feels pretty cool as far as sets are concerned. Let me please note that at this point I write about my thoughts as they were when the first card of the set was first released, and all of the subsequent updates in this paragraph were my thoughts as more and more cards in the set were released. I do this to track sort of the feeling of the newly released cards. My first thoughts on the set were we are finally going to go back to shard colors and I hope, but doubt that fetch lands are going to be in this set. A huge slew of releases has been going on recently and as such I thought it was time to update my article a little bit. First things first, it turns out that fetch lands are going to be released, SWEET!!!! We’ll get to them later. The theme of the set has evolved into sort of what I felt when I first saw Zurgo Helmsmasher. If any of you have ever played Dynasty Warriors (Literally any of them) you’ll know who I’m talking about when I say Lu Bu cause that’s who I think of when I look at old Zurgo. The whole set really does feel like something out of those games and needless to say, I love it. Now that the whole set’s been released I feel as though they’ve balanced the set pretty well and look forward to seeing how this draft and standard season are going to play out, It seems as if R&D has done a pretty bang-up job of putting together a very balanced set that has a lot of fun and interactive cards in it. Also, the inclusion of the Delve and Morph keywords seem really fun and interesting in this set and I am looking forward to playing Morph in my draft decks, it adds another whole level to the game that just seems fun. 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. One big change since last time is that I’ll give my rating and opinion on each and then Bruce Gray will give his on each as well. 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: Darksteel Citadel, Elvish Mystic: 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.  Ratings 2 and 3 are most of the cards in Magic.

1: Charging Badger, Staff of the ____ Mage: 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.

 

New Mechanics for Khans of Tarkir

Ferocious: This ability activates when your creature attacks if you control a creature with power 4 or greater and does something cool.

Outlast: Pay mana and tap the creature to put a +1/+1 counter on the activating creature and do cool stuff in a lot of cases.

Prowess: Creatures with this ability get larger each time you cast a non-creature spell for that turn.

Raid: This ability activates and does cool stuff if you swung with a creature before the spell with Raid resolves.

Delve: Spells with this ability can get 1 colorless mana per card exiled from your graveyard in order to cast it.

 

 

The Meat and Potatoes

Abomination of Gudul

Daniel (2): This is a very mana intensive card for what you wind up getting and long story short, it’s not really worth it.  The card might be worth a 3 if it read draw a card each time he hits, but by making you discard when you draw it just gets worse. I can’t see this card in constructed, but might see some play in draft just because it is a big flyer.

Abzan Ascendancy

Bruce (4): When this enchantment enters the battlefield all creatures you control get a +1/+1 counter?! Sweet deal. Add with it the mighty Ivorytusk Fortress and they now all effectively have vigilance! Sweeter deal.  Oh, and when things die I get flying spirits too, can anyone say VALUE! I like this but I’m not sure quite where it will fit in.  Likely in draft it will be quite good and pump your team to swing combat in your favor.  In Constructed I doubt it will get much play.  Maybe a one of in an Abzan deck, but this is a late game card because dropping it turn three seems silly.  I think can safely be called a 3, but I’ll give it upside to maybe eek out a 4 before we are all said and done.

Abzan Battle Priest

Daniel (3): Giving lifelink to all of your creatures with +1/+1 counters on them is going to be a big deal in draft. Plus with a tap and 1 white mana he can grow each turn. He is still a 4 mana card and for that reason I’m not sure if we’ll see him in too many decks in the next season. As such I’m not sure how much play he’ll see in standard or other constructed formats, but I expect to see it be a pretty solid card in draft.

Abzan Charm

Daniel (3): Oh Khans charms cycle, well before you read into my article any further let me warn you, the charms are weak (not quite bad) at worst and lukewarm at best. Overall, compared to the charms from Return to Ravnica, they’re mostly just disappointing. 3 colors for 1 of 3 effects makes the cards clunky and hard to cast, and they sit in this weird limbo where almost all of them have 1 powerful effect and 2 others that are almost not worth it. Abzan Charm’s exile effect feels pretty good, but the other two not so much. I expect this card to not see a tremendous amount of play in standard or draft.

Abzan Guide

Daniel (3): A solid creature in draft that doesn’t necessarily need to be a 1st or 2nd round pick, but definitely not a problem to pick up a little bit later in a pack if it’s in your colors. In constructed formats its good stats mixed with lifelink may make it semi-playable, but it’s doubtful for 6 mana.

Ainok Bond-Kin

Daniel (3): This creature sits as a 2/1 for 2 at its worst, at its best it can “outlast” for a tremendous amount and give a whole bunch of your creatures with +1/+1 counters first strike. He should be a consideration for just about any deck looking for a simple, efficient 2 drop with the ability to get better; I expect this card to see mixed amounts of draft and standard play.

Bruce (3): This is a pretty sweet Draft card. A 2/1 for 2 mana makes it a very solid pick when quick two drops usually are the order of the day.  The fact that this also can put counters on itself (with an investment of course) AND gives creatures with a counter First Strike is very powerful and will routinely tip combat in your favour as you opponent is just unable to block profitably.  This looks and feels like a solid 3, but sadly is unlikely to see play in a Constructed environment.

Ainok Tracker

Daniel (1): First strike is a powerful and cool ability, but it shouldn’t double the mana cost of a card that it sits on. This card is an okay card stats wise, but the mana cost makes this card almost unplayable for what you get out of it.

Alabaster Kirin

Daniel (3): Now I’m not really sure what a Kirin is, but I do know that we haven’t actually seen 1 before this set since Kamigawa. Anyway, a 2/3 Flyer with Vigilance feels pretty good in draft, because it can get in there for damage and be ready to block to save you some life on your opponent’s turn. I don’t really see a future for this card outside of draft though, because it’s just not mana efficient at 4 mana.

Alpine Grizzly

Daniel (3): At least this bear is vanilla, a 4/2 for 3 is a pretty good deal; just keep him away from any small guys. This is a pretty solid card in draft that may have a tough time finding a home in standard.

Altar of the Brood

Daniel (3): This is 1 of those cards that gets worse the longer that it takes you to land on the field, because health becomes more and more relevant than deck size as the game drags on. I’m not really sure how the effect of this card fits flavor-wise with your opponent losing his mind not really having anything to do with the flavor of the card. While this card will probably have a tough time finding a place in Standard, it can be a bomb in draft if you manage to get it out turn 1, besides that the usefulness of this card is probably pretty limited.

Bruce (2): This is suitably cheap that it could enable a Mill strategy and the fact that it triggers on ANY permanent is neat.  It could leave a healthy dent in a  Limited deck where you pool of cards is a little reduced, but I feel like this is pretty clearly an EDH card.  I figure this is a 2 and will migrate to EDH  as part of Mill decks as a passive way to keep the Mill strategy up.

Anafenza, the Foremost

Daniel (4): As you’ll probably read later in the pack or come to your own conclusion, this set is filled with powerful creatures that may make great commanders or commander support for EDH, and you can definitely count this one among them. This card makes it hard not to give it a 5, but for its high mana demand I unfortunately see it struggling to break out of Standard play. I don’t want you to get me wrong however, I think this card can definitely be a huge staple in Standard and a definite winner in both EDH and draft play but following this season I see the card struggling to do much more than that.

Bruce (4): Ok…I can only describe this one as being awesome. A 4/4 for 3 mana (sure…A black, a white, and a green) but that hardly seems like a poor tradeoff.  Her abilities make her very appealing because when she attacks you can put a +1/+1 counter on another tapped creature (read ATTACKING) boosting your impact.  THEN, as if this wasn’t enough, your opponents don’t put creature  cards in their graveyard…oh no…they get EXILED.  Like really folks…this is huge.  How huge?  Goodbye graveyard strategies…they just get shut off from that..and EARLY too.  She’s 3 mana! One Llanowar Waste, an Elvish Mystic, and Plains and you have 4/4 on turn 2.  If that doesn’t seem SLIGHTLY unfair, let me know.  She synergizes something crazy with Soul Warden to give you a 4/4 (although since it has vigilance it may never profit from her +1/+1 counter ability).  In limited I can’t imagine she’d be bad.  Even if you stumble a little with the mana, she’s still a 4/4 and can start to tilt the board in your favour. However, based on the fact that her colour combo limits the number of viable deck options, she’s likely coming in at around a 4.

Ankle Shanker

Daniel (3): I almost feel like tribal goblins are trying way too hard in all of the wrong ways to be a thing again and I think that this card proves that more wholeheartedly than anything else. Don’t get me wrong the card feels awesome, all of your creatures attacking with it gaining first strike and deathtouch, but the only real problem is that the card feels that it fits into a mono-red goblin build but with its 3 colors and its mana cost of 5 the card feels like a hard sell for this type of deck. The card can be a bomb in draft so definitely consider picking him up if you see him and aiming for the token plan, but with his colors and his mana cost I’m not sure how much play he’ll see outside of this format.

Bruce (3): 2/2 Goblins for 5 mana is not usually where you want to start…BUT…this guy is pretty boss with the first strike and death touch combo it grants your team when it attacks.  Zurgo really wants this guy as his sidekick.  This is a mean Limited Bomb.  I think 5 mana for a 2/2 likely pushes it out of the realm of constructed, but it would be a sick critter to see hit the battlefield in a creature heavy game. Once again, a solid 3.

Archers’ Parapet

Daniel (3): I personally am a fan of walls, back when I started in Mirrodin, 1 of my best cards was a wall (Steel Wall to be exact) and I can’t tell you how many games I won off this little guy stalling the board for me. The card feels pretty good and the fact that I can ping my opinion every turn also feels pretty good. Overall, I think this card will find some homes in draft, but as standard usually doesn’t care about walls too much.

Armament Corps

Daniel (3): Efficiency goes pretty hand-in-hand with this card putting 6 power on the field for 5 mana, but it seems pretty lukewarm for the mana investment that you have to put into getting this card out there. I don’t see it making a splash in constructed, but I wouldn’t mind picking 1 up late in draft.

Arrow Storm

Daniel (3): 5 mana for 5 potential damage is pretty good in draft. For that reason the card will probably see at least limited play in this format, but may not make its debut in standard. There is almost definitely no chance of this card showing up in higher formats though, simply because there are better choices.

Ascendancy Cycle (Abzan Ascendancy, Jeskai Ascendancy, Mardu Ascendancy, Sultai Ascendancy, and Temur Ascendancy)

Daniel (3-5): The Ascendancy cycle really is a mixed bunch that range from the marginally playable to the seems pretty awesome. The first card in this cycle alphabetically is the Abzan Ascendancy. This is a pretty cool card and shares one of its themes token generation with another of the Ascendancy cards that we’ll get to a little later. This card really ramps up with outlast and the outlast “captains” that give all creatures that have a +1/+1 counter on them neat abilities like flying or first strike. The card’s 2nd ability puts spirits with flying into play each time one of your nontoken creatures die, this goes well with the theme of the Abzan, a group of nomads whose ancestors protect the still living. Overall, the card feels very good flavor-wise and is worth it to play in draft as well as a constructed outlast deck if you build one in standard. Jeskai Ascendancy has two powerful abilities that combo very well with the prowess. Its 1st is a neat trick that untaps all your creatures and gives them +1/+1 whenever you cast a noncreature spell. This is a cool ability that might even make it out of standard and might help storm if they can stomach adding white to their deck. Its 2nd ability allows you to cantrip yourself by giving you the option to draw and discard a card whenever you play a noncreature spell. This is a great combo that adds to any noncreature strategy including Storm. Overall, if you’re playing the prowess strategy in any format I would suggest at least trying to add this card. Mardu Ascendancy is the premiere way to do tokens in this set by putting a 1/1 goblin token into play and attacking each time you attack with a nontoken creature. This can mean a gigantic blowout against an opponent in a quick way. The 2nd ability also works well with this aggro plan by giving them more toughness until end of turn if you sacrifice Mardu Ascendancy. This card probably won’t take off this season because of its steep mana cost, but I definitely expect it to be a force to be reckoned with in both standard and draft. Sultai Ascendancy is the weakest of all of this cycle in my opinion, but it does offer you a way to turn on Delve in a big way and dig through your deck. Not a terrible card in draft if you’re careful about not decking yourself, it’s probably not going to show up in standard. Finally, Temur Ascendancy is another card that works pretty well with the overall theme of its colors, it allows you to draw a card each time a big creature enters the battlefield under your control and gives all your creatures haste. Looking at just the card advantage alone this is a great card to have in draft, and while I’m not sure that Temur will get off the ground in standard, I expect this card to be played if it does.

Bruce (3-4): These are a cycle of 3 mana enchantments, 1 for each clan, that are all quite playable in Limited and could be quite powerful.  They all give considerable upside and seem to play to the strengths of their clan quite nicely.  Clearly, they are strong limited cards.  The real question is if they cut the mustard for Standard.  I suspect no, although the Temur Ascendancy seems to be closest in that it draws you extra cards.  I feel like these are 3’s across the board, but a few could see fringe play at Standard and creep up a little towards a 4, but others won’t even see the light of day in a Constructed deck.

Ashclound Phoenix

Daniel (3): This card is pretty cool and just based off of the fact that the card is a 4/1 flyer for 4 makes it a potentially playable card in Red, but that fact that it has 2 devotion for red means that it may have a hard time finding a home in Standard. Its Morph abilities and its return to the battlefield ability is pretty cool, but its Morph cost may be too high for it to be cost effective. I see this card being playable in Standard if it can find the right deck and I would definitely be willing to pick one up in draft, but outside of these formats I don’t see it as having high playability.

Bruce (3): This is merely a Limited card.  Yes, we all love our Phoenixes and the Morph trigger is hilarious, but a 4/1 without haste won’t cut it for Constructed.  Limited Bomb and will just keep on coming back.  This is a 3.

Avalanche Tusker

Daniel (3): As far as vanilla stats this card is lacking a little bit as a 4/4 for 5 mana. The card’s ability is almost like a strictly worse provoke and it doesn’t make up for the high mana cost of the card because it is so mana intensive. If you see this card in draft, a 4/4 is still a 4/4 so he might be worth it just for that, but in constructed I don’t see him making too much of a splash.

Awaken the Bear

Daniel (3): 3 mana for 3 more power and toughness and trample on a creature is a pretty nice effect, so nice I really only have one problem against it being a great card, and that is the fact that it’s not an enchantment. The problem is amended by the fact that it’s at instant speed, but it still doesn’t make up for the fact entirely. I might not mind picking this card up in draft, but I don’t know if I’d try to run it in my standard deck.

Banner Cycle (Abzan Banner, Jeskai Banner, Mardu Banner, Sultai Banner, and Temur Banner)

Daniel(2): Not a bad filler and mana fixer for Draft, but 3 mana for 3 different types of mana feels a lot like the cluestones out of the last set. I don’t believe these are going to make an impact on any of the constructed formats though.

Barrage of Boulders

Daniel (4): A board sweep and a functional reprint of Falter that’s been burning up Vintage Masters on Magic the Gathering: Online recently. This card is all about the tokens, you can play it against the tokens in the format to take out almost all of the cards you’re up against. In the token deck, it doesn’t hit your creatures and stops your opponent from being able to block, potentially winning you the game. I expect this card to be played in both draft and standard, but not make it past this because of the fact that there are better choices than this card in higher formats.

Bear’s Companion

Daniel (3): A 2/2 and a 4/4 for 5 isn’t absolutely abysmal, but it’s not really great either when you consider how color intensive the card is. If you see one in draft, I would pick it up just don’t expect it to really do much for you outside of this format.

Become Immense

Daniel (3): Delve is such an interesting mechanic and it really does make this card hard to place, but still, by the time you need to use this card your graveyard should have at least a few cards in it. I think it’s probably better than it would be without Delve, but I’m not hugely sold on the card.  I still feel as though it’ll probably see its time in the sun in draft before it falls off into ambiguity.

Bellowing Saddlebrute

Daniel (3): This card comes down a 4/5 for 4 mana and for those two reasons alone this card isn’t bad and definitely earns itself a place in draft. The downside to the card is the fact that you may lose 4 life when it enters play. That is easily avoided however by attacking before it comes into play, which is looking to be pretty easy for black in this format and as such, this card could very well find its way into an aggro deck in standard.

Bitter Revelation

Daniel (2): Bitter Revelation doesn’t really feel like an effective card. Coming down at 4 mana and with lukewarm effects that were better finished in the previous block I don’t expect this card to have an impact on Standard, but card advantage is card advantage in draft so while not a first round draft pick, definitely a consideration in draft.

Bruce (2): This is a strict downgrade from Read the Bones from Theros.  It’s 4 mana (not 3), it’s sorcery speed (not an instant) and just is generally not as good because you dump your cards in the graveyard instead of scrying them to the bottom.  It will see play in Limited for sure, but it won’t excite anyone and most certainly will not see play in Constructed. This is  a 2.

Blinding Spray

Daniel (4): Blinding Spray bcan be better than a regular fog effect, I really like this card. The fact that it not only works so well against tokens but also draws you a card means that I’ll be trying my hardest to pick up one late in draft if I’m in blue. It might see some sideboard action in standard, but I wouldn’t expect much more than this on this front.

Bloodfire Expert

Daniel (3): A 3/1 for 2 that gets bigger each time you cast a non-creature spell feels pretty good. I wouldn’t mind running this card in standard or draft, but I don’t expect more than that.

Bloodfire Mentor

Daniel (2): Filtering seems to be a theme for red in this set, and while it is better than nothing, it doesn’t really give red the chance to gain card advantage over your opponents which is one of the things you typically want draw for. Besides the effect being over-costed on this card, the card itself isn’t efficient for its mana cost (3 mana for a 0/5). The card probably won’t see much play in either standard or draft.

Bloodsoaked Champion

Daniel (4): A 2/1 for 1 that can perpetually bring itself back is pretty solid of a card. Add to that the fact that it sits in a color that’s going to be a great token rush type strategy and we’re looking at a card that’s probably going to be a pretty big deal in the next season. The fact that it can’t block is bad, but I don’t know If you’d even want to block with this guy. If you see this guy in draft I’d pick him up and if you’re wondering if he’s going to be played next season, my money would be on yes. He might even see some play outside of Standard, but time will tell.

Bruce (4): Wow…black Aggro just got another sweet treat.  Who cares if it can’t block…you weren’t blocking with it anyway.  The fact that you can essentially buy it back with the Raid trigger on this is bananas because what else is Black Aggro doing apart from attacking ALL THE TIME…not much else…that’s what. A solid 1 drop in Limited and very likely will see play in Constructed in the right Aggro shell I’ll give this a 4…but don’t be mistaken…this card alone will not crush your opponent because a 2/1 for 1 is good, but not format defining or ridiculously overpowered.  It is a useful card, plenty playable, but needs support to get the job done.

Brave the Sands

Daniel(3): I’m not really sure what braving sands has to do with vigilance or why this specific group of people can do it with no drawbacks, but excusing the flavor, the card’s not too terrible. Vigilance and being able to block multiple creatures is really good for decks that run larger creatures and so I expect this card to at least have a small spot in draft even if its prospects in constructed don’t look so hot.

Bruce (2): I feel like the Abzan could really use the Vigilance ability and the defensive nature of this spell to block an extra creature might enable  the Abzan deck to hold off getting blownout by using some of its larger creatures to take out a pair of creatures and really dictate the terms of combat.  This is still likely a 2 because you need to have the board state to really enable this card, but it could most certainly be a valuable card.

Briber’s Purse

Daniel (3): I’m not sure how much I get behind the flavor of this card, I can imagine I guess being able to bribe certain creatures in the set but others are more like zealots than hired hands who could be paid off. I guess there are others you could bribe to stop someone from attacking or blocking if you really wanted to though… From a game aspect the card isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t do a tremendous amount. Still in the right situation it could be the difference between a win or a loss though so not too terrible overall. I still don’t expect to see this card run too frequently.

Bring Low

Daniel (3): Instant speed is extremely important for removal, because it allows you to pull off some combat tricks on both players’ turns. There are a lot of cards in the format that either gains +1/+1 counters or put them on creatures you control, which means that this card can deal 5 damage in a lot of cases. I expect this card to see a little play in draft and less in standard.

Burn Away

Daniel (3): Removal is a big deal in draft. The reason it’s such a big deal is that there are many creatures that your deck may just not be able to deal with. Additionally, it helps you get in for that extra damage you need to get in by removing your opponent’s blockers. I expect this card to be played loosely in draft and not so much in Standard.

Butcher of the Horde

Daniel (4): A flying 5/4 for 4 is a pretty strong card; add to it the fact that it’s got its ability to give itself trample, lifelink and vigilance for the sacrifice of a creature. The card is also going to be in the colors for a token deck in the next standard season and so you’ve got plenty of cards to sacrifice to him. I think this card is a bomb in draft and will definitely find a place in a deck this standard season, but I don’t see the card doing much more than that.

Bruce (5): This is ridiculous.  4 mana for 5/4 with Flying and the sacrifice ability is nuts.  I have read that sacrificing a creature is perhaps the most powerful ability in the game of Magic and this guy sort of makes that rule stand up. This will be a monster in Draft, for sure, but I could see this be relevant in Constructed because it is so aggressively costed.  The Mana fixing is there and decks are always looking for a menacing finisher…so…yeah…this is a thing.  Likely a 4 or a 5 for sure.

Canyon Lurkers

Daniel (1): A 5/2 for 5 mana is an okay card unless your opponent has blockers than the card becomes a very bad card that trades with a 2/2 and doesn’t give you anything else when it dies. If the card had trample then it might score a 2, but as a vanilla 5/2 the card is pretty terrible. I don’t expect this card to be run much in anything.

Charm cycle (Abzan Charm, Jeskai Charm, Mardu Charm, Sultai Charm, Temur Charm)

Bruce (4-5): These are terrific cards.  All three modes for each of the charms are extremely powerful and very useful.  These will do awesome work in Limited and will absolutely see play in Constructed.  They are more expensive than the Charms from RTR, but by having fewer charms (and thus fewer modes to consider) they’ve consolidated many of the most powerful effects on to these cards making them highly sought after uncommon and very useful.  Strong 4’s or maybe even 5’s. Oh, and the new clearer template is terrific and very jazzy.

Clever Impersonator

Daniel (5): I really like this card and it pretty much feels like sideboard gold for blue, dealing with almost any board problem by just copying a vital card. I expect this card to at least be tried if not find a permanent place in every format.

Bruce (5): This is gross.  Copy any non-land permanent! Shut up.  I hate you.  This is really, really, really good and will be a bomb in Draft and Constructed because it can copy a Planeswalker…like…I don’t know…maybe their Elsbeth…or…their Garruk…and then kills their Garruk…and you still have the freaking Garruk.  The options are endless and this card is stupid good. I have no doubt this is a 4 but I feel like this will creep up towards being a 5.

Crackling Doom

Daniel (5): Crackling Doom is 1 of those cards that has a tremendous amount of potential, but has the potential to be killed by the fact that it has so many colors. I feel that the card is a solution to the biggest and baddest creatures in the game. I feel that if it can overcome this color barrier however, it may find itself a home in Legacy. This card is an easy pick up for draft and will almost definitely see some play in Standard.

Bruce (4): This is a terrific spell for all environments for the sole reason that it forces an opponent to sacrifice their biggest creature. That’s awesome because that creature is likely the reason you are up a creek…and now it’s gone for 3 mana…and it gets around hexproof and protection shenanigans.  The damage is also appealing but not the prime feature of this card.  EDH, Constructed, Limited, every one wants this card and it will do very good work.  This is a 4 and could see a 5 at the upward end of the scale.

Cranial Archive

Daniel (2): The whole shuffle your library into your deck thing is old, and it never really amounted to anything in its better form (Exilir of Immortality), and I don’t expect anything from this card either.

Crater’s Claws

Daniel (3): Short, simple and to the point, this is an improved Fireball. This is just my opinion of course, Fireball isn’t played much anymore but variants of it have found their way into various decks over the years. I’m not sure how much constructed play this will see, but it can be a very helpful card in draft.

Bruce (3): Well, hello my old Friend…Fireball…I’ve missed you.  This will be disgusting in Limited and just totally enabled another round of Burn decks for Constructed.  Who doesn’t love Red X spells?  Heck, pack in a big fatty in your deck and burninate for some more! Sigh…if only it were an instant it would be totally broken.  Yeah…this is 3 for sure with a chance to hit as high as a 4.

Dazzling Ramparts

Daniel (1): This is a defender with a pretty cool effect, but 5 mana for a 0/7 defender is too much, I don’t expect this card to see any real play.

Bruce (2): Yes, 0/7 walls for 5 mana are hardly exciting, but the ability to tap something down is very relevant if you are committed to playing the long game.  Couple this with Brave the Sands and this wall could easily block two creatures without much fear of losing the combat.  This will be perfectly playable and will no doubt do good work.  This is a 2.

Dead Drop

Daniel (4): There was a card called Chainer’s Edict that Magic printed way back in the day and It also earned itself a reprint in From the Vault: 20. Chainer’s Edict was and still is considered one of the best removal cards in the game and this card does what Chainer’s had a hard time doing for right around the same mana cost and its flashback. When you throw Delve on this card it makes it even better. I don’t know about Standard play just for its high casting cost and late game utilization, but draft will probably really like it and it might even make its way into a constructed format.

Death Frenzy

Daniel (4): There are definitely better choices in standard than this card such as Drown in Sorrow for example, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better solution against the token plan in draft than this card. It will definitely be a force to be reckoned with against Token strategies in limited and the life gain just makes it that much better.

Debilitating Injury

Daniel (3): This is a pretty simple card that gives a creature-2/-2 for 2, but that doesn’t make it a bad card. I wouldn’t mind picking one up in draft, but even as good as it is in limited I’m not sure it makes the cut in constructed.

Defiant Strike

Daniel (2): This card is basically a draw card with a bonus +1/+0 until end of turn. It’s a cantrip and that’s about it. I don’t think this card will have too much success in Limited or Standard.

Deflecting Palm

Daniel (2): This is a very situational card that may see a little bit of play this upcoming season in a Boros Burn type of deck. The card does seem very good against a big threat as a good way to solve that problem for a turn or switch a situation on its head. I don’t think the card will be hugely effective in anything but a mirror match, because of its limited applications. I believe this card may find a home in a few sideboards this upcoming Standard season, but don’t think it’s that impressive of a card in Limited or outside of Standard.

Bruce (1): This card has a lot of text.  All that text may as well read “This card will basically do nothing. Don’t bother with it.”  Sure, there will be situations where it COULD be good…but in most situations this card will be terrible.  You need to keep the mana up, pray they don’t have a counter, and after you fire this spell off you had better hope that they either they are dead or that you have a way to finish them off because you have had no significant impact on the board.  This is likely a 1 and something no one will be keen to play.

Dig Through Time

Daniel (4): Digging through 7 cards can be a pretty big deal, drawing two of them and moving the rest out of the way may make this card a serious contender. I’m still not a huge Delve fan, but it does keep powerful cards from becoming broken and this card is an example of that. I expect people to at least try this card out in standard and play it when they can in draft.

Bruce (3): I have heard people say that this is Constructed playable, but I’m not so sure.  The mana cost is super expensive and even with the Delve I’m a little taken aback.  I’ll give it a 3 and resign it for Limited for now but will acknowledge that the ability to dig for 7 cards and find 2 spells at Instant speed could be absolutely crazy because control decks will usually have cards to burn in their graveyard and gobble this thing up. I want to revisit this one in a few weeks to see how it has fared.

Disdainful Stroke

Daniel (3): Counterspells are a funky bit of business, the first thing to consider with them is the fact that cheaper is almost always better unless they have a strong restriction on them. This is one of those restrictions that could go either way. By targeting a higher mana cost spell, it means that you’re targeting a lot of your opponent’s bomb spells. It is usually more important that you target lower mana costs though, so that’s why this card is potentially a bad card. In Limited as I always mention, running a counterspell is a risky bit of business.  In standard this card may find a home as it protects you from the larger cards in the format.

Disowned Ancestor

Daniel (3): A 0/4 for 1 that can power up himself every turn is a great card in this format. While a lot of the set has been late game stuff, this card can be played turn 1 then pumped up every turn until you find something else to do. This has the potential to give you a powerful creature in exchange for your plays on less useful early turns. I definitely expect to see this card in Limited and if outlast becomes a thing in standard this card will probably be there.

Dragon Grip

Daniel (3): Enchantments are a dangerous game to play, especially when you’re not casting a bestow enchantment. They’re so dangerous because the instants in the game give your opponents the chance to get a 2-for-1. However this card has flash so as long as you have a powerful creature it makes this card better. This card isn’t that bad in Limited and can make your lower costing creatures easier to play and keep them competitive later in the game. I don’t expect this card to be played in Standard too much though.

Dragon-Style Twins

Daniel (3): Dragon-Style Twins feels just sort of lukewarm for its mana cost. The card is cool for a double-striker that grows by 1 every time you cast a non-creature spell which  can be very painful for your opponents. The card is very prohibitive both with the double red in its mana and its high casting cost of 5. This isn’t to say that it won’t see any play or that you should definitely pass one up in a draft, I just don’t expect that much from it. Remember that it is an expensive card and isn’t necessarily a game finisher.

Bruce (3): This is Limited bomb…a 3/3 with double strike is almost like having a 6/3 with First strike…meaning it wins combat almost all the time.  The Prowess makes this crazy powerful if you can trick it out with a few non-creature spells to tip combat in your favour.  A 3 for sure, but won’t see Constructed play.

Dragon Throne of Tarkir

Daniel (3): This card may be rather costly mana-wise and I know that everyone will get tired of me saying it by the end of the article, but I feel that this card would fit very well into the token game plan. That being said, it’s a tricky card for both Standard and Limited.

Bruce (3): Well…this could be messy one at Limited and tip combat your way more often than not.  The +x/+x bonus is pretty absurb.  Even equipping this to a Bear of some sort gives your team a +2/+2 bonus, which is pretty sizeable.  At Constructed we’ve seen that unless 4 mana artefacts are crazy good they’ll get passed over, and this one is no different.  This will be a 3 for its relevance in Limited.

Dragonscale Boon

Daniel (2): +1/+1 counters are pretty cool and so is the ability to untap a creature, but 4 mana to do it with only these effects is unimpressive. Considering what else you can do for 4 mana in this set, this card might see some Limited success, but don’t expect much more than that.

Duneblast

Daniel (4): This is the new world we’ve arrived in and we pretty much have to accept that mass removal for 6 or 7 is the way that R&D has decided to push it; if the card had come out a set ago, I would have given it a 2, but because of the lack of good mass removal in the block, this card has a very real chance to see a good amount of play in the next season.

Bruce (2): And once again we get 7 mana mass removal.  Super sweet card, but borderline unplayable in almost any format except EDH.  Limited will be unlikely to see you hit 7 mana in time for this to matter…Constructed most certainly not…so this will be resigned to a lifetime of EDH play.  This can safely take up residence as the coolest board wipe I’ve seen in ages…but is still a 2 at best.

Dutiful Return

Daniel (1): This card is basically just a worse reprint of the card Urborg Uprising. Long story short it didn’t work before and it won’t work now. I don’t expect this card to find much play in any format.

Efreet Weaponmaster

Daniel (3): A first strike 4/3 for 6 is not really worth it especially when you throw in the fact that the card is so mana-intensive. Its Morph ability isn’t really all that good compared to how much you have to pay for it. Overall it’s a pretty solid draft pick but I don’t see it doing much more than that.

Embodiment of Spring

Daniel (3): Two of my favorite cards to draft in Theros block were Burnished Hart and Opaline Unicorn. Needless to say I consider mana fixing to be a very important aspect of the game. While Embodiment of Spring might not be a substitution for Burnished Hart, it still feels pretty good in this set and is almost certainly going to be a pick-up in draft. It certainly will not be played much outside Limited.

Empty the Pits

Daniel (4): This card is definitely a bomb in Limited if you play it late in the game. The format does seem to cater to late game strategies over faster, earlier game strategies. For these reasons if nothing else, I expect the card to make an impact on standard play and to see a good amount of play in draft.

Bruce (3): Ahh, zombies…how I haven’t missed you.  This is kind of a ridiculous spell because at Instant speed (and with Delve) you could flood the board with zombies.  I don’t feel like this is going to be an awesome constructed card because the quad black and double X of the casting cost makes it too tough to cast. In Limited this could be a ridiculous bomb if you find it late game with a full board.  Cast it on the end step of your opponent and then untap a swarm of zombies for the win…sounds good to me.  I feel like this is a 3 but once again it is a Mythic  and tough to find.

End Hostilities

Daniel (4): The big news at the beginning of this block was that there weren’t going to be any cheap and easy sweepers in this set. They have gone out of their way to realize quite a few sweepers however, and while they have kept their promise about them not being quite so cheap we are bound to see quite a few of them. A mass removal spell is always a solid pick in draft and this one is fairly cheap compared to the others. If this is as good as it gets in the terms of cheap removal, I would totally expect to see it run this Standard season.

Bruce (6): Can I say “I told you so?” A few weeks ago (before WoTC wrote their article) I called the no 4 mana sweeper in Khans…and I was right!  This one is just fine.  A 5 mana sweeper doesn’t feel overpowered  but it does certainly put the screws to Bestow creatures.  I like that little twist.  Because control decks will run it, it will be a staple, I’m sure.  That bounces it up the table and makes this about a 6, but I doubt we’ll ever see it creep into modern or another format.

Feat of Resistance

Daniel (3): This card looks to be the premiere creature protection for the upcoming season. While it may not keep up with Ajani’s Presence, it is poised to at least give it a run for its money. This card will pump up your team, allow you to avoid blockers and have a way to protect your important creatures for a pretty low cost. I feel that this card has a possibility to be run both in Limited and Standard.

Feed the Clan

Daniel (2): Life gain spells are almost never worth it, unless they have another cool ability or are recurring in some way. Being able to set your life back 10 points is kind of a big deal though and that may just pull this card through to being playable in Limited. The jury’s still out on this one and I’m not sure whether this is a good or terrible card. It might get some play in Limited, but probably not in standard this season.

Firehoof Cavalry

Daniel (2): As a 1/1 for 1 that can pump for 4 and gain trample, this card is okay, but I don’t feel that it really keeps up with the format in the long run. This card might see a little bit of play in Limited , but I don’t expect much more than that out of it.

Flying Crane Technique

Daniel (2): Feeling just as gimmicky as it looks and sounds, this card does not pass as a good card in my book. Clocking in at 6 mana and only really being able to utilize half of its abilities on any given casting makes this card not so good in my opinion. The future for this card seems pretty bleak, but with a late game token deck the card might have a future in the game. I would have serious reservations against even picking the card in draft as most of the time the card won’t either be playable or useful in most situations.

Bruce (3): I read this the first time and largely dismissed it.  Then I stopped and Re-read this.  This is a Jeskai Overrun spell.  Think about it…everything gets flying, double strike, triggers Prowess and makes your team go nuts.  The mana cost is even just fine for an Overrun type effect.  If you are in Jeskai in Limited you want one of these in your deck as a finisher to break open the board state or to close out a game.  This is a solid 3.

Force Away

Daniel (3): 2 mana to bounce an opponent’s creature is a pretty good deal. It can answer a problem for a few turns and can also set them up to get countered later. When you add the fact that if you’ve got a big creature you get to filter your hand, then the card is definitely solid enough to see some play in Limited. My only problem with the card is its flavor, but I feel only people like me will understand that. As a pretty vanilla bounce spell with good stats this may also find itself a home in standard.

Gain Lands (Bloodfell Caves, Blossoming Sands, Dismal Backwater, Jungle Hollow, Rugged Highland, Scoured Barrens, Swiftwater Cliffs, Thornwood Falls, Tranquil Cove, and Wind-Scarred Crag)

Daniel (3): Lands like this are going to be vital in this set as they allow you extra chances to draw your dual lands. Decks will probably contain multiple copies of these withthe Shard lands, Fetch Lands and Pain Lands this Standard season. These lands help you make a playable 3-color deck in both Standard and draft. The lands are not as good as many of the other choices that are available in other formats, so I don’t expect these lands to break out of Standard.

Ghostfire Blade

Daniel (3): I think this card is cool, but it is definitely in the wrong set. The only colorless artifact creature in the set being Witness of the Ages.  I still love equipment in Limited, they just make things better. I don’t expect this card to find much play unless it is somehow coupled with a good amount of powerful artifact creatures in the next few sets.

Bruce (2): This is cheap,  equips for a reasonable cost, and is even better for colourless creatures.  Here’s the deal…we don’t have a lot of colourless creatures in this set.  There’s a couple…but not enough to really warrant this being super relevant.  This feels more like a harbinger for things to come.  We’ve seen that Ugin is here on Tarkir, Sorin who helped Ugin imprison the Eldrazi is also here, Sarkhan let the Eldrazi out is kicking around as well…could we see some sort of Eldrazi crawl into Tarkir and faceoff off with the Clans in the later sets?  Who knows.  This seems pretty neat and I want to see where it goes, but the actual card is about a 2.

Glacial Stalker

Daniel (3): A vanilla 4/5 for 6 mana that can unmorph for 5 isn’t terrible. It has 4 power so it may see play in draft, but I feel as though it will have a hard time moving into the constructed formats.

Goblinslide

Daniel (4): I may be a little biased when it comes to goblins… I suppose I should just admit to it now before I’m accused of it by someone. Most goblin cards just feel really good, and I would definitely include this card in their numbers. Following the token theme of the whole deck, this card can be responsible for dispatching a tremendous amount of goblin tokens onto your side of the field throughout the course of a game. Additionally, the added bonus of falling into the Prowess strategy makes this card feel awesome in at least this Standard and Limited season. I personally plan to pick up a playset of this card and am going to try to make it work in Modern. On the negative, the card does seem expensive in a Goblin deck at 3 mana, as well as needing non-creature spells to activate, which you might be a little short of in a true Goblin deck.

Grim Haruspex

Daniel (4): Since Magic printed Bob (Dark Confidant), it has been looking for a way to fix and reprint him. This card comes down as one of my “favorite” fixes for Bob like Dark Prophecy. While I am a bigger fan of Prophecy, the fact that it doesn’t cost your life is an important part about this card that hasn’t been explored before. Still the fact that you have to have 3 mana versus Bob’s 2 makes this card a harder sell than usual. Still all things considered I definitely wouldn’t mind running this card in a deck or pulling one in Limited.

Bruce (3): This is going to be stellar in Draft or Constructed.  The card advantage generated from having non-creature tokens die is extremely relevant in any format.  Also, a 3/2 for 3 mana is suitably aggressively costed that it can’t be ignored.  I feel like this is ideally suited for the same sort of Black Aggro strategy that Bloadsoaked Champion fits in (and can be abused somewhat by buying the Champion back) but it could be equally relevant to draw you extra cards in a Limited game. This feels like a 3 and with a chance to slide up into the 4 spot with the right strategy.

Gurmag Swiftwing

Daniel (3): While this card isn’t going to break any decks, a 1/2 Flyer with haste and first strike for 2 is pretty good. I still wish it had 2 power even if it cost 2 mana. The card is still probably going to see a respectable amount of play in Limited, but not so much in Standard.

Hardened Scales

Daniel (4): If this card was any more than 1 mana I wouldn’t be that excited, but it’s one of those enchantment that has the potential to flip the game on its head and get its own deck built around it in different formats. Hardened Scales feels really good in this set with a whole bunch of cards being able to put +1/+1 counters on things. The deck falls into various strategies that are typically covered by Doubling Season and this card does it much faster than that card. I think it has definite potential for Limited and it would be a shock not to see it run in standard and tons of other formats as well.

Bruce (2): This is exclusively a Limited card and frankly is a pretty marginal one unless you are rocking the Abzan in a large degree. It impacts the board very little initially and takes some investment to enact it with the Outlast mechanic or spells that impact the power and toughness of creatures through counters.   Otherwise, I don’t think this will be impactful enough at Constructed and pretty fringe at best.  This is likely a 2 and unlikely to be much more.

Heart-Piercer Bow

Daniel (3): What’s faster than first strike? That’s right, it’s damage before combat. The card is competitively costed and has a pretty cool ability, but it just doesn’t seem worth it in either Limited or Standard.

Heir of the Wilds

Daniel (3): A 2/2 deathtouch for 2 is a very good “Bear“. Add to that the fact that with Ferocious he gets +1/+1  when he attacks then you have a very effective beater that I expect to be run in most of the Green decks of the next standard season. Almost worth first picking cause it’s so good in Draft.

Herald of Anafenza

Daniel (5): A 1/2 for 1 is a pretty good vanilla creature, but add the fact that the card generates a 1/1 warrior tokens when using Outlast and you’ve got a creature that is playable at any point in a game. The card feels really good and efficient, I think that it will find its home in just about any token deck in about any format you want it to. It’s a great card in Limited definitely worth picking up.

Bruce (3): So, 1 mana 1/2 creatures are good.  They outclass many other 1 drops, but sadly are often outclassed themselves by the time turn two rolls around.  However, with the Outlast ability this can remain relevant well into the long game and can be an ample supply of tokens to plug up the ground or to put pressure on your opponent. This is doubtless a Draft all star and a strong 3, but perhaps it could see fringe play in a Constructed deck looking to pump a bunch of tokens to exploit with Purphorous or something.  I might go back to the drawing board with this guy and see what I can do.

High Sentinels of Arashin

Daniel (4): Acting as the strategy for Outlast, this is the card that officially changes this strategy from being very hard to pull together to very possible. This is a huge bomb in Limited capable of pumping up all of your creatures and just pushing your deck out of the range of your opponent over time. Even from just an efficient creature standpoint a 3/4 flyer for 4 that gets bigger for every other creature with a counter on it  makes him potentially playable in standard. Adding +1/+1 counters to other creatures and pumping himself at the same time is also useful late game. As long as 4 mana doesn’t turn out to be too expensive in the constructed format, it will still see play in Limited.

Bruce (3): This is a very strong Limited card that rewards you for packing your deck full of Abzan Outlast abilities.  Think about it, if you have even a pair of creatures with +1/+1 counters this is a 5/6 and can fly.  That’s crazy bomb-y!  Not likely Constructed playable, but still nuts in Limited.  This is likely a 3.

Highland Game

Daniel (3): 2 mana for a 2/1 that gains you 2 life when it dies. Short, sweet and to the point this card is a solid play in Limited that can probably get you in there for a few damage early, but I don’t see it doing much outside of this.

Highspire Mantis

Daniel (3): Highspire MantisMantis Rider… maybe there’s some similarities there… This card is a weaker form of Mantis Rider, that is uncommon instead of rare. Overall the card is not terrible as a 3/3 flyer with trample for 4, I don’t know if you really need trample on a 3/3. There are certainly worse cards to pick in draft and Mantis Rider requires a more intensive color base, so sometimes it may even be better to pick Highspire Mantis over Mantis Rider. I’m not too sure how well it’ll do in standard, but probably not well enough all things considered.

Hooded Hydra

Daniel (4): Hydras are pretty simple and good and this one feels like that. This card is a definitive bomb in Limited for its sheer power and the fact that when it’s gone it makes tokens to replace itself. It’s interesting to see how they incorporated Morph into the card, and the only problem really  is the fact that it doesn’t have trample. Even though the card does feel good and it’s a definite pick in draft, I’m not sure how big of a deal it is in Standard or the other formats, but time will tell.

Bruce (3): More Green Hydras?  Ok.  This is kind of neat because it packs Morph, spits out Tokens and is just generally another big fat creature monster. This is a Limited Bomb, but could sneak into a Mono-Green Devotion or Monsters build in Constructed as a possibility.  I think this will likely be a sleeper and 3 to start but could creep up if it finds a home in Constructed somewhere.

Hooting Mandrills

Daniel (3): If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a 100 times, when creatures get to a certain power level (namely 4) it needs trample or it’s immediately worse in my book. I am happy to report that this card has trample, and as such even with its higher mana cost of 6 it’s still a really solid card in Limited. On its mana cost, delve does help, but it still feels a little bit high for its cost. Overall, I expect to see this card in Limited a little bit, but don’t expect more than that out of it.

Hordeling Outburst

Daniel (2): Even if I do love the bum-rush with Goblins strategy in this set, this card just seems too flimsy to make an impact on standard, but in Limited it is card advantage.

Howl of the Horde

Daniel (3): My explanation for this card is short and biter, if Reverberate and fork didn’t have a huge impact on the game it’s unlikely that a sorcery speed version of them will.

Bruce (2): This should really read “Fork…but slower”.  It is pretty conditional and if you don’t have a good target then it pretty well sits as a dead card in your hand.  It could be super powerful, but I suspect it will be mostly a dud.  Constructed I think is a far outside shot with this but I could prove wrong.  This is likely a 2 and perhaps a 3.

Icefeather Aven

Daniel (3): A 2/2 flyer for 2 is pretty good, but the fact that you need Simic colors to cast is not so good. Wrap it up and put a bow on it and it still stacks up better than most other uncommons in Limited. The card’s second ability to bounce when it morphs can just be counted as the icing on the cake for a pretty solid card. I think Icefeather Aven has some real potential to play at least a little in the upcoming Standard season as well as in Limited.

Icy Blast

Daniel (3): Tapping (Freezing) and bouncing seems likes blues two favorite abilities in almost any set. If there is anyone that remembers back in the days of Titans, they’ll remember how damning Frost Titan’s ability to tap down your opponent’s creatures and keep them tapped can be. This effect may not be recurring like TORMOD’S CRYPT, but it does potentially hit a lot more targets and come out earlier. I think this card is a pretty cool in Limited and might make it into Standard, but I don’t expect it to do much more than that.

Bruce (3): This is a Limited Bomb.  Tapping down your opponent’s team on their end step, untap and then Alpha strike for the win makes this ridiculous.  The Ferocious trigger is also 100% nuts because they then STAY tapped.  Like…that’s bonkers and will lead to blow outs of unbelievable proportions.  In Constructed the impact will be somewhat reduced by virtue of the fact that the board is usually somewhat less strewn with creatures, but as a singleton or a pair of to force through damage it could useful.  I figure this is a 3 with some wiggle room to creep up to a 4 if it finds a home in Constructed somewhere.

Ivorytusk Fortress

Daniel (4): This is going to be a tough set. If I’ve learned anything from it, it is that this set is going to be difficult for anyone but some of the most experienced deck builders to really get their head wrapped around it. This being said I have my reservations with this card, fair enough. Another partially functional reprint of Seedborn Muse feels pretty good, especially with this card coming so soon after Prophet of Kruphix being powerful from Theros. I’m just not sure that the card does enough, but I suppose time will tell. If nothing else, I suppose it is a 5/7 for 5 mana even though it is a little color intensive.

Bruce (4): Clearly the Abzan have got a bunch of overpowered, undercosted bulldozers in this set.  This is a 5/7 for a paltry 5 mana.  That’s pretty good value and the fact that it untaps all your creatures with a +1/+1 counter on it is bananas.  Think about it…Heroic is still a thing.  Most Heroic creatures (or at least the good ones) are in White.  What could be more fun than a Dawnbringer Charioteer or a Fabled Hero with Vigilance?  Not much.  I could see a mid-range Abzan deck take shape and just pack a wicked punch and this Fortress is just the icing on the cake.  In Draft, there is no good reason to NOT take this.  It’s a huge beat stick that immediately sures up the board and likely outclasses anything they control.  This is the real deal in limited, even if tough to cast with the triple mana cost.  I could see being an easy 3, but perhaps creep up as far as a 4 if the right conditions emerge.

Jeering Instigator

Daniel (5): I feel like I’ve given a lot of 5’s out to this set, but it really does feel like they’ve released a whole bunch of sideboard gold in this set, and this card is an outstanding addition to that group. 3 mana for a steal spell is pretty awesome, I think it’s a great card that will make an impact.

Bruce (4): Oh boy…Threaten effects are super fun and this guy is awesome.  Threaten on a stick?  Hell yes! This will be a 3 for sure because it is just value and perhaps even a 4 if it creeps into the right deck.  I’m just a big fan for the surprise value of Morphing this guy and then smashing your opponent with his own critter.  Oh the fun I will have.

Jeskai Charm

Daniel (3): Setting charms as uncommon makes them better than if they were rares because in that case they would be very disappointing. As it is an uncommon though this card feels pretty good and I love its versatility. It comes with three abilities, sending a creature to the top of the library, can deal 4 damage to an opponent or it gives your creatures +1/+1 and lifelink until end of turn. However I still don’t necessarily like its mana cost, it just feels expensive to pay three different colors to play it. I still feel that the card is very playable both in Standard and Limited, but not much more than that.

Jeskai Elder

Daniel (3): I’m still not completely sold on the Prowess mechanic, but if it’s going to work anywhere I suppose blue is where it’s at. This card not only offers a way to get bigger, but also gives you a fair amount of filtering each time it hits your opponent. I think this card is a definite pick in Draft and I feel that if blue is still a thing next season then this card will at least see a little bit of play.

Bruce (2): A 1/2 for 2 mana with Prowess is pretty solid.  The fact that if it deals combat damage to a player scores you the chance to loot is pretty sweet as well. My problem with the Jeskai is that there is a tension between their creatures  and the Prowess ability. In Draft you want to play creatures, but Prowess wants you to play noncreature spells resulting in you being torn as to what direction you want to take your Draft deck.  There is little chance this will see play in a Constructed format, but that doesn’t make it an interesting card and a solid draft addition as a 2.

Jeskai Student

Daniel (3): A 1/3 with prowess for 2 is pretty solid, so I expect it to see an okay amount of play in Draft and maybe some in Standard.

Jeskai Windscout

Daniel (3): A 2/1 flyer for 3 in Draft is a pretty solid pick almost all of the time. Throw in Prowess on top of it and you’ve got a great pick that will get in there and deal some quick damage to your opponent. I think it’s playability in Standard is going to be contingent upon the amount of blue decks there are in the format.

Bruce (2): This is just a serviceable flier in blue for the Limited environment. The fact that it packs Prowess is a nice addition and could allow this to get a little tricky and win combat with a couple of non creature spell, but it is hardly a menace. This is yet another 2 and unlikely to ever amount to much more.

Kheru Bloodsucker

Daniel (3): This card is kind of like a powered up but worse Blood Artist. First, this card only cares when your big creatures die, taking 2 life from your opponent and giving it to you. Then you can sacrifice creatures to this card to give him +1/+1 counters. Stat-wise this is a 2/2 for 3, which means that you should be able to get it online before you have to worry about your big creatures. I expect this card to see limited success in Draft and maybe even find its way into a Standard deck or two, but any more than that would be pushing it.

Kheru Dreadmaw

Daniel (2): I’m not too sure what’s this card’s flavor. My first question is why is this a Defender? My next is why do you gain life when you feed him creatures? I’m not sure who got to make the creative decisions on this card, but I don’t think I like it. Besides the two problems I already mentioned, it just doesn’t feel that useful. I guess sacrificing a creature that’s about to die for life can be useful. However 5 mana for a 4/4 blocker, then I would much rather the sacrifice ability take away defender for the turn and say that you have to lure the beast out of its pit with a bit of meat to get him to do stuff for you. Overall, I’m not really expecting much from this guy in standard or draft.

Kheru Lich Lord

Daniel (3): A 4/4 for 6 is too much for this card even with its powerful ability to bring back creatures every turn. I think this card could be some pretty good card advantage in Draft, but I don’t expect it to see too much play in any constructed format.

Bruce (3): This one smells like Whip of Erebos on a stick…but I would rather play the Whip over this almost any day of the week.  This will be perfectly fine in Limited, but 6 mana 4/4’s with an activation ability that costs an additional 3 mana is just not going to cut it at Standard most days. Even in Limited this will be a bit of a dice roll to cast it and then use it on anything truly good.  Cool card, but this feels like an EDH special to me and will likely be a 2 or 3 on our scale.

Kheru Spellsnatcher

Daniel (2): This card feels bad for a Rare. It either enters the battlefield as a 3/3 for 4 or it can be a sort of pseudo counterspell for 3 up-front and 6 later. Realistically to get value out of this card, it requires you to leave up 6 mana just in case your opponent casts a spell you want to steal. The card might be a one of in a couple of decklists, but might be too expensive to run and keep up multiple copies in a deck. Additionally, I’m not too sure of its effectiveness in Limited only because it doesn’t seem that consistent of a card for an already potentially unstable deck.

Bruce (3): This is super fun because who doesn’t love to steal your opponent’s spells and hit them with them?  Yes, it is expensive and a 3/3 is hardly overwhelming, but it will be hilarious in a Limited environment and even better in EDH where craziness can occur with regularity.  This is a 3 simply for the high ceiling level of the spell (and I love stealing my opponent’s spells!) but is most certainly not good enough for constructed.

Kill Shot

Daniel (3): I’m very confused about the flavor of this card, just like some of the other cards in the set. The card says that supposedly Mardu archers are trained to such a high level that they score kill shots on all of their targets. Now maybe there are special archers that can do this, but there are Mardu archers in the set and they don’t have all that impressive abilities. Additionally, how do they kill anything with one shot, I mean there are demons and angels in the game, and they can be killed with one arrow…Anyway, Limited loves removal and this is better than a lot of it in this set. It will probably see some Limited play, but I don’t think it’ll do that well in constructed.

Kin-Tree Invocation

Daniel (3): There are cards that scale pretty well throughout the course of the game and this is one of those cards that does just that in my opinion. It is aggressively costed enough to come down early enough in the game to be a strong beater and its effect can make it aggressive enough to be a big deal late game. My only two problems with the card are what separates it from scoring a 4 versus a 3, that is the fact that the creature doesn’t have trample and it it has two different colors in its casting cost. This means that the card doesn’t come out quite as soon as you want it and when it pops down late it may not get in for the damage you need. I still expect this card to play in quite a few Standard decks and I would not be surprised if it’s a pretty big deal in Limited.

Kin-Tree Warden

Daniel (3): A 1/1 for 1 that can regenerate is a pretty rare find for this set that is so devoted to big and expensive cards. I don’t think this card will be anything huge, but as a blocker it’s not a bad addition to any Limited deck. As for standard, he just feels too small to have any real impact.

Krumar Bond-Kin

Daniel (3): This card is a pretty vanilla 5/3 for 5. That’s pretty much it. It feels too overcosted to see any real notable level of play. Additionally, it dies pretty easily to blockers so it doesn’t even get in for that much damage most of the time. It might see a little play in Limited, but I don’t expect it at all in Standard.

Leaping Master

Daniel (3): This is a 2/1 for 2 that you can give flying to for 3 mana. Two-drops in this set are going to be a pretty big deal for Limited because there are so few of them, but with Theros in Standard I don’t expect this card to be that big of a deal.

Lens of Clarity

Daniel (3): They say that information is power, if that’s true then this card may be one of the most powerful cards in the game for its mana cost. I believe this card has a few great combos with cards that have already been printed and it does take care of the surprise out of morphs sails. If you come up with a combo with it or you are worried about the surprise factor of morph put it in, but besides that I can’t see it seeing much play.

Longshot Squad

Daniel (3): A 3/3 that can outlast for 2 and gains reach feels amazing in Limited. The fact that it gives all of your creatures with +1/+1 counters reach definitely gives your outlast deck a way to deal with flying. I see this card being a pretty big factor in Limited, but not so much in constructed.

Mantis Rider

Daniel (4): A 3/3 flying, vigilance and haste for 3 is pretty awesome. All of those abilities on a card with 3 different colors makes the card very intensive, but still extremely good in Limited. If Red White Blue is a thing in Standard, this card probably won’t be far behind.

Bruce (4): Well, to start, the art on this is nuts.  That’s a sweet piece of art, and while the Jeskai aren’t my favorite clan, that may be the best art of the set.  The card is very solid as well.  A 3/3 flier for 3 mana makes this quite playable and it packs Flying, Vigilance and Haste making it have all the key words for each of its colours. This is a Limited All-Star for sure and is exactly the sort of efficient, evasive creature that could see play in a Standard deck down the road.  I feel like this is a 3 and could emerge as a sleeper for a Constructed deck and make a splash as a potential 4.

Mardu Blazebringer

Daniel (2): A 4/4 for 3 that would definitely be playable if you didn’t have to sacrifice it at the end of combat. I don’t expect this card to be played much in any format.

Mardu Hateblade

Daniel (3): Later on in my review you’ll probably hear me talk about how important two-drops are in this set for their rarity, and one drops are even scarcer. It is for that reason and the fact that this card can take down pretty much any creature it wants with its deathtouch, that I feel like this card is going to be a big deal in Limited. I don’t think this card will find a home in Standard though because there are just better options.

Mardu Heart-Piercer

Daniel (3): Sitting at four mana for marginally bad abilities and stats this card feels almost strictly worse than Flametongue Kavu. Mardu Heart-Piercer is still pretty cool removal in Limited and may see a little play in Standard.

Mardu Hordechief

Daniel (3): The name of the game for the Mardu forces in this set seems to be tokens and that’s all this card pretty much does. There are better options, but I still feel he’ll have his place in Limited if nothing else.

Mardu Roughrider

Daniel (3): I want this card to be Snowhorn Rider, as a 5/4 without the Morph ability basically that’s my whole review. You can refer to Snowhorn Rider for the rest of the details about my fixed version, and make this card a little worse.

Mardu Skullhunter

Daniel (3): At 2 mana for a 2/1 that enters the battlefield tapped doesn’t feel very strong. Add to it a discard effect and the card feels just a little more worth it. I expect this card to at least see limited play in Standard and is well worth picking up in Limited.

Mardu Warshrieker

Daniel (3): 4 mana for a 3/3 is okay. Add to it the fact that it gives you RWB mana when it enters if you attacked this turn and you’ve got yourself a pretty good filler for Limited. In constructed, however, I’m not sure how useful the card is.

Master the Way

Daniel (1): I gave this card a 1 because I don’t feel it’s right in a lot of ways and I think it kind of goes against some of the strongest strategies in Red/Blue in this set. I feel that the card would better be suited either for a lower mana cost or just a more efficient draw card for much less mana. Long story short, the set isn’t really set up for much draw and that’s really the way this card works in my opinion. I don’t expect to see it in standard, maybe in draft once or twice though.

Master of Pearls

Daniel (3): A 2/2 for 2 isn’t terrible and this card can flip up for a pump to all of your creatures. This card is pretty solid, but its high Morph cost may hamper its ability to appear in a lot of decks this season.  I still expect tokens to be pretty big this set so I wouldn’t be surprised if the card found its way into a couple of decks in Standard this rotation. Overall, while I’m not so sure how well it’ll do in constructed, it is not the worst card in the world to pick round 1 in Draft assuming you’re playing white.

Bruce (2): This feels underpowered and over-costed  There must be a reason that this is a rare and can only  assume that in testing the +2/+2 granted when it Morphs is backbreaking in Limited, butit seems super expensive and only nets me a 2/2.  That’s hardly exciting…and the Morph cost is steep.  This is likely a 2 but if it proves to be solid in Limited and do some powerful things to blow out the board state I could see this creeping up a little further.

Meandering Towershell

Bruce (1): This is just bizarre.  The delay on the attack makes it pretty crazy.  If this were part of the Evolve mechanic type of tricks from Gatecrash I could see some of the appeal, but having it leave play, delay the attack, and then come back in is really undesirable.  The islandwalk is neat, but I’m going out to find this on account of that.  The only real value is as a huge wall but that hardly seems appealingf. This feels like it is a 2 at best and could easily slide back into the situation where it is 1.

Mindswipe

Daniel (3): Not a terrible counterspell that dual functions as a damage spell. Counters are typically not very good in Limited, but this card may see play in Standard during the coming up season.

Bruce (4): This one is cool.  This is Syncopate crossed with a Fireball.  I know that really isn’t the best comparison, but it isn’t far off.  The part I like best is that the damage portion of this spell  resolves regardless if they match the X cost they are using to counter the spell. Great, resolve your big fatty, but in the process eat and additional 4 damage! HA! I like this. I think this could be good enough for Constructed and will certainly be played in Limited pretty steadily. This feels like a 4.

Mistfire Weaver

Daniel (3): This card almost feels like it deserves 2 different ratings, the first rating is for its morphed form and the second for its regular casting. No matter which we’re talking about though, the card still comes down as a 3/1 flyer on your 4th turn. Being cast the regular way doesn’t feel that good, but it is still a flyer with 3 power for 4 mana and that feels ok in Limited. On the other side its Morph costs one less to unmorph and gives one of your creatures hexprooof until end of turn, which feels pretty good to dodge a spell. This card could go either way in Standard, but I believe that it will see play this season.

Molting Snakeskin (3): I’m not really sure how molting saves you from regeneration or gives you extra attack, but overall this is a fairly straightforward regeneration/pump enchantment that’s pretty solid in draft and probably won’t see much play outside the format.

Monastery Flock

Daniel (1): The Morph on this card is pretty neat, but that’s about where the cool parts of this card end. First of all for 3 mana a card that has largely been considered unplayable is Wall of Frost, a defender that also costs 3, comes down as a 0/7 and keeps anything it blocks tapped down for an extra turn is way better than Monastery Flock, at least in my opinion. I don’t believe we’ll see this card played too frequently in the next season in Limited or Standard.

Monastery Swiftspear

Daniel (3): 1 mana for a 1/2 with haste and prowess is a pretty strong card. It’s almost better than Goblin Guide and paces itself pretty well by powering up each time you cast a non-creature spell. The fact that it isn’t a Goblin though deals a serious blow to this cards usability though. If there is a red deck in Standard or Limited, I expect this card to be there if it can.

Murderous Cut

Daniel (3): Delve is a very under-utilized ability in the game that utilizes the most under-utilized resource in all of Magic, the graveyard. That being said, on a card like this it just feels too expensive. I mean sure, it might come out as a kill spell for 1, but it also costs 5 if you don’t have any in your yard. Long story short, the card is expensive, but is probably going to see a good amount of play in Standard and Limited.

Bruce (4): Instant creature removal?  Nice. 5 mana? BOOO! Even with Delve it costs too much.  The Delve could be nice to help reduce the casting cost, but every time I Delve I rob my deck of the resources I want to do busted things like…oh…I don’t know…Empty the Pits.  Yes, if I need it, it’s there, but this will usually be a 5 mana instant removal spell.  You’ll Draft this and it is a staple in any Limited game and with reduced options will see play in Standard as well.  I figure this is a little better than a 3 but a bit poor on being a 4.

Mystic of the Hidden Way

Daniel (2): 5 mana for a 3/2 unblockable isn’t terrible, but I’m not really sure where they’re aiming the printing of this card at in the set. I don’t expect to see much play out of this card in the upcoming season.

Narset, Enlightened Master

Daniel (5): Out of the cycle of commanders in this set, I feel that this is the creature best posed to break out of the confines of Standard and into one of the higher formats. I’ve already seen a few mash ups of the card in some pretty interesting decklists and it seems that people like the idea of it most in American Super Friends (Big Planeswalker in Modern every once in a while). I personally think the card works best in a dual functioning equipment and planeswalkers, she practically screams pump me out and pump me up with equipment and I’ll hit in for big damage every turn. Expect a big impact in Standard, EDH, Limited and potentially even higher formats if someone figures out this powerful creature.

Bruce (2) 6 mana for a 3/2?  I’m skeptical already.  First Strike and Hexproof help this girl, but the real seller is her ability. Whenever she ATTACKS (notice, not deal damage to an opponent like Prophetic Flamespeaker who shares some similarities with her) you can exile the top four cards and cast non-creature spells without paying their mana cost.  I love getting free spells, and this works really nicely with the Jeskai Prowess ability to pump your team.  However, 6 mana is a lot for 3/2.  Her triggered ability is cool…but it feels like it goes in a very narrow deck in any sort of constructed environment.  I can also conclude that I am highly unlikely to be keen to play her in Limited because I would rather run more CREATURES over spells.  She might be a star in EDH, I hope so because she seems neat and in a cool design space. I still think she’s a bust.

Necropolis Fiend

Daniel (2): This card is expensive and clunky. It feels almost like it’s a finisher for a very long game and drawing it at any other point up is probably not a good thing in the least. I guess the counterpoint to this card is that the Delve makes up for it and the graveyard is an under-utilized resource, but the card just feels expensive for a 4/5 with flying. I don’t expect the card to make too large of an impact in anything.

Bruce (2): 9 mana?! Pardon my language…but ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  Even WITH Delve this is borderline unplayable. It’s neat…don’t get me wrong…but it costs SOOOOO much that it hurts me to look at it…and it’s ONLY a 4/5.  Yes, a 4/5 is big…but I want my 9 mana to be redonkulous, not just acceptable.  Then, once I cast this thing (likely using Delve because it is so bloody expensive), how do you propose I use the secondary ability?  How many cards am I going to have in my yard to use this if this costs 9 mana?  Not nearly as many as I would like. Again, this is likely a pretty beefy bomb that you’ll dump all your resources into to make it work and will do work in Limited, but I highly doubt this will see anything like Constructed play (BUT…EDH will undoubtedly love this guy with a sound graveyard deck!)

Outlast Captain “Cycle” (Mer-Ek Nightblade, Abzan Falconer, Tuskguard Captain, and I know I already did his review, but Abzan Battle Priest)

Daniel (3): Overall I like the idea, but the cards just don’t seem efficient compared to most of the other set. If you pull enough of these cards together you could build yourself a pretty solid Limited deck. I don’t think that these have too much of a future in standard, but only time will tell I suppose.

Bruce (3): The Abzan put off a “Sliver” like feeling in that they have a number of “Lord-ish” type cards like this  that make Limited play  against them kind of unpleasant.  It’s hard to fight creatures that all get relevant bonuses and feed off each other because it can be difficult to unravel that sort of synergy without an optimal removal package.  These feel like a very solid 3 for their Limited playability, but probably  not suitable for Constructed.

Pearl Lake Ancient

Daniel (3): I like this card, but like so many other cards I like I’m not exactly sure that it’s all that good. He feels good in blue for the counter match-up, but more than one or two in any deck feels a little excessive especially in a counter deck. He’ll offer you protection for himself through the cost of returning a few lands to your hand, he can’t be countered and he has a big power and toughness being a 6/7. Plus it also has flash to surprise block the cards your opponent may not want to lose or to play it at the end of their turn. Still though, the flash helps a lot, but 7 mana is still a tremendously large mana cost for a blue deck. While I don’t expect this card in any decks outside of this Standard season, I expect it to be run in a few blue decks this season. I wouldn’t mind picking up one in Draft, even round one.

Bruce (3): 6/7 for 7 mana with flash and can’t be countered…hmmm…this is one BIG BLUE FATTY.  However, he is totally unplayable in any form of constructed.  The fact that you can return it to your hand is interesting, but you will likely be setting yourself so far behind that it is unlikely to be a relevant ability as well.  No, this is just a big fatty to crush your opponent with at Limited.  The fact that it is mythic means that it is going to be rarely seen, but when you see it, you grab it for the tremendous power and flexibility it offers.  This is a 3 whether you like to admit it or not.

Pine Walker

Daniel (3): A 5/5 for 5 with a little bonus but no Trample is pretty straight-forward and solid. His 2nd ability to untap flipped up cards is cool, but the flavor doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t really know how it helps. I think this card is definitely solid in Limited and might even find its way into Standard given enough time even though it’s going to be a little hard.

Ponyback Brigade

Daniel (2): This card is another fun Goblin card, but it’s not very good. It has the flaw of being 3 different colors and 6 mana whether you are unmorphing it or straight up playing it. In Standard with tokens it is a big deal to put four cards into play, but only if you can make it this late.

Quiet Contemplation

Daniel (4): This card looks like an outstanding pairing for all of those Prowess decks out there. I really think it was a neat idea to put together prowess and to match it up in a deck against such a strong token presence in the set. It really does feel like a war between mages and a horde, brute force versus technique. The ice-breathing ability to tap down a creature for two turns feels very good and suited in this match-up. Overall, I feel that this card shuts down the big creature strategy and will be an outstanding addition to both the Standard and Limited decks that are using prowess this season.  Although it might be too clunky for any other formats except maybe EDH.

Raiders’ Spoils

Daniel (2): This card works very well into the token deck. The card does just about everything you could ask for in a card for a token deck, it draws cards and makes your tokens bigger and combines well with Wingmate Roc and Herald of Anafenza. The downsides of the card are the facts that it only triggers draw when a warrior hits,  it costs you life and it’s a little bit on the expensive side to cast. It is a very situational card I would definitely consider running if you have the right cards both in your Standard and Limited decks.

Rakshasa Deathdealer

Bruce (4): What is NOT to like about this? It’s a nasty 2 drop that does an early impression of a Bear…but can be pumped to ensure that it remains relevant later in the game as well.  And the pump ability is HUGE…+2/+2 is a big boost in power and toughness.  Dear LORD.  And if you can’t pump it enough, you can always just regenerate this guy continuing to make this guy relevant.  This is suitably costed and packs enough punch that it will likely see Constructed play and will be a very powerful Limited card.  This is quite certainly at least a 4.

Rakshasa Vizier

Daniel (3): This card is interesting, but I need to see more of the next few sets to give a fair interpretation. At this point the set only really has delve to exile cards from your graveyard for any beneficial effects, there could be more effects added in later, but right now it feels like the card missed its set by one rotation. I don’t expect this card to be too big of a deal in Standard or Limited  just because of the lack of interactability with the rest of the set.

Bruce (3): A CAT DEMON! Shut up! And a 4/4?! That is the meanest looking kitty I’ve ever seen…and it gets counters for exiled cards?  Well…HELLO TORMOD’S CRYPT! That could be pretty sick…drop this guy, then exile their whole yard with the crypt and watch the already huge kitty get bigger! This is a bomb in Limited play but I doubt seriously that anyone other than casual brewers will take a stab to play this guy.  This is another solid 3.

Rakshasa’s Secret

Daniel (3): Making your opponent discard cards is a pretty powerful effect, but it just feels forced in this set. Honestly I’m not really sure why they’re trying to force discard so much, they already have a pretty solid set without it. This card doesn’t feel terrible, but I don’t expect it to do too much outside of Limited.

Rattleclaw Mystic

Daniel (4): A 2/1 for 2 is pretty good. Add to that the fact that it is mana acceleration both when it morphs or when it sits on the field for 3 colors and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid creature. I expect this card to see some amount of play in Limited, EDH and constructed, but I feel that it may have trouble going past this Standard season.

Bruce (5): Ok, we have seen that Burning Tree Emissary is good.  It has been a Constructed all-star since day one when it arrived and this draws a lot of parallels.  It mana ramps you.  It can lead to explosive starts off the Morph bonus.  It can even double as a very reasonable “Bear” if you need to get on the beat down plan.  In limited we’ve seen that Golden Hind was a very high pick, and so is Elvish Mystic,so logic would dictate that this would be key as well.  This is good in Limited, very good in Constructed and is a solid 5 and I could even see it keep creeping up.

Retribution of the Ancients

Daniel (2): As a rare I think this card is undoubtedly bad. I do like the fact that it plays well into the sets +1/+1 theme with outlast, but that’s about it. The card mostly feels not worth it and weak. You might see a little bit of this card, but I don’t expect too much.

Reveal Cycle (Dragon’s Eye Savants, Horde Ambusher, Ruthless Ripper, Temur Charger, and Watcher of the Roost)

Daniel (2): This cycle of creatures feels basically like a set of value creatures with a Morph ability that makes them marginally better. I don’t expect these cards to make any real showing outside of Limited and their power  to be pretty low in of itself.

Bruce (2): This cycle is a very playable Limited cycle where all the creatures have morph, so they can come down as a 2/2 and then when you Morph them back you get a nice bonus.  In my mind the White and the Green ones are clearly the best of the cycle with the Blue one largely being a dud, but they will all be played in draft and help fill out your deck nicely. These guys are all a 2.

Ride Down

Daniel (3): I just realized what this set was missing, Horsemanship. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to print any cards with that keyword, but it is a very powerful ability that feels as if it really does fit in. Additionally, the only time they’ve ever printed Horsemanship was back in Portal 3 Kingdoms, which always went along with the idea of Feudal China. Regardless, this card and Horsemanship seem to go hand-in-hand. It’s a pretty solid kill spell for 2 color that typically doesn’t get them, but red has been leaning towards this strategy of killing the blocker for a while so flavor makes sense on this card. Overall, I think this card is great solid filler in Limited to get through the defense, but I don’t expect it to find much play in Standard due to the prevalence of better options.

Rite of the Serpent

Daniel (3): Being one of the few removal cards in the set, this card has the possibility to be a pretty strong factor in Limited. The token producing isn’t all that relevant, and for not too much more mana you actually have access to In Garruk’s Wake which wipes all of your opponent’s creatures and planeswalkers from the field. I don’t know why you’d run this card in Standard when there are better choices available, so for that reason I doubt that this card will see much constructed play.

Riverwheel Aerialists

Daniel (3): Prowess is a pretty neat mechanic in the set, and this card really does feel posed to best take advantage of it. Sitting as one of the creatures with the best protection in the set and being one of the strongest flyers this season definitely doesn’t hurt this creature’s cause. 6 mana is a little bit of a steep cost, but I still expect to see one or two in Prowess decks this season and see players playing them in Limited quite a little bit.

Roar of Challenge

Daniel (3): It’s good to see them reprinting lure effects, and this card is a fresh look at the whole idea of them. This card may just be good enough to win the game in Limited and Standard sometimes, by luring all of the blocks to your weakest attacker and getting the rest of the team in. Also combining this card with deathtouch on a powerful creature can almost be a board wipe. The indestructible on top of everything is just the icing on the cake for this card and makes an already good card even better than it already is. Overall, I expect great things from this card in Limited as it’s a great way to surprise your opponent with something they weren’t expecting, but I don’t see it doing much in Standard because of its sorcery speed.

Rotting Mastodon

Daniel (3): A 2/8 is going to be a tough customer to deal with, with this set being the way it is. I still don’t expect this card to really win you the game or anything, just to make it that much harder for your opponent to win, which is good in its own way. This card is a great way to slow down your opponents in Limited but at 5 mana I doubt any Combo/Control deck in Standard will opt for it over card’s like Nyx-Fleece Ram.

Ruthless Ripper

Bruce (3): This, THIS I can get behind. My good friend Typhoid Rats are back…and better than ever because it packs Morph PLUS a sweet bonus when you morph it back.  Limited All-star and it might sneak into the odd aggro strategy at Constructed…so I’ll give it a 3 with room to move up.

Rush of Battle 

Daniel (4): This may be the best common in the set… Pumping up all of your creatures by 2 power is a pretty big deal even if it is expensive in this set. This is a great combo piece with all of the token makers in the set, and will probably lead to a few blow-outs in a few games. The lifelink for Warriors is just icing on the cake of this already great card. I think this card is a bomb in Limited token decks, but don’t think it’ll play in Standard.

Sage-Eye Harrier

Daniel (2): Long story, short, 5 mana for a 1/5 doesn’t feel good even if it has fly. I don’t think this card will play too much in standard or Limited.

Sage of the Inward Eye

Daniel (4): The ability to give all of your creatures lifelink is going to be a huge deal if your opponent can’t find a way to deal with this powerful Flyer. I look forward to seeing a whole deck built around this card and I would definitely consider using it in Limited.

Bruce (3): A 3/4 flying Djinn Wizard for 5 mana that has the ability of giving your team Lifelink whenever you cast a non-creature spell. I’ll be honest, this is a Draft only card.  It is an underpowered Air Elemental with an ability.  The ability is cute and relevant in a Limited game, and the 4 toughness in the air seems to be where you want to be at with this set, but I doubt very highly that this will see any sort of Constructed play.  This is a solid 3.

Sagu Archer

Daniel (3): Reach and flying are typically pretty big deals in Limited, the flying because it gets around most of the cards in the set and the reach just because it can deal with this work around. 5 mana for a 2/5 is pretty bad, but when you look at a late game set like this, it might be a significant player in Limited. In constructed play, my original thoughts on the card do stand, it’s just too costly to be playable.

Sagu Mauler

Daniel (4): I love this card and it just goes to show that tokens aren’t the only way to go in the next season. I’m not a huge fan of this card just being straight green, but a 6/6 with trample and hexproof for 6 is pretty nice. His morph abilities feel pretty amazing too. He doesn’t do anything special, but surprising your opponent with him is enough. I don’t know if he’ll see play in standard next season, but I want him to be. When I see him in a draft pack I’ll try to take him.

Bruce (3): 6/6 for 6 mana…trample and Hexproof. Wow. Yes please.  The nice part is that you can actually play it earlier than turn six on account of the Morph cost.  This is a solid Limited Bomb that can protect itself and the trample just brings extra beats.  I doubt it will ever see the light of Constructed play, but that’s fine.  This is a 3.

Salt Road Patrol

Daniel (3): A 2/5 for 4 that has the potential to grow and work with the outlast strategies in the deck. This card feels like some solid filler that has the potential to hold off your opponent and still be a threat late game if left alone long enough. I don’t think this card will play in Standard, but it has the chance to do some good things in Limited.

Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker

Daniel (5): I really like this planeswalker. His plus ability turns him into a 4/4 dragon with Flying, Haste and Indestructibility for a turn. His minus ability is a Flametongue Kavu on a stick dealing 4 damage to target creature and his ultimate lets you draw more cards each turn. My one discrepancy with the card is the fact that it costs 5 mana, a little bit high for your typical red deck but still at the top of the curve. This card is definitely playable in Limited and will probably find a home in Big Red in the upcoming Standard season. I personally plan to pick up two of these cards for my Modern Goblin deck.

Bruce (5): Oh boy…New Planewalkers are sweet and this guy is spicy. 5 mana is pricey, but his +1 is petty crazy.  Let’s turn into a dragon and Burninate everything! The fact that he becomes a creature means he can get bounced or exiled easily enough, but survives most of combat is a pretty huge bomb.  His -3 is just devastating to crush a creature.  Hell Yeah!  His ultimate is a continuation on the neat design space to give Red more card draw…but they need to use it right NOW!  I like this, it feels pretty balanced and not unfair while being very flavorful and fun.  This feels like a 5, but could even creep up a bit.

Savage Knuckleblade

Daniel (4): This is a really strong creature that seems to be based off of older great multicolored creatures to take advantage of all its colors. For starters, the creature is a 4/4 for 3 mana, each of a different color. While that does seem like a little much, its effects more than make up for this intensive casting cost. It’s first ability reminds me heavily of Basking Rootwala which was a huge card back in the days of madness, it pumps our 4/4 up to a 6/6 for a turn making it deadly against a lot of cards. Its second ability adds the type of protection which was afforded to Morphling and more recently Aetherling, it deters its destruction by your opponent’s spells by returning him to your hand. Savage Knuckleblade is obviously great in Limited, but might even see play in Standard if RUG decks (Temur) starts seeing play again.

Bruce (4): This is a bomb in almost any metric you can find.  3 mana.  4/4. Packs loads of abilities. Can pump.  Have haste. Evade kill spells and board wipes.  The only thing better would be if this could make me sandwich.  This will be a staple in Temur Monster style decks for sure because it is too good to pass up and will be a ridiculous bomb in Limited.  This is likely a 4.

Savage Punch

Daniel (3): Fighting has been a mechanic that’s been almost overplayed since Innistrad Block. This card feels almost stale if nothing else, still, the combination of fighting and big creatures really does feel good. And just because something is overused doesn’t mean that the ability isn’t good, I mean there must be a reason they keep printing it so much. I still feel like the card can be good in the right deck, but it’s one you have to be careful about using because there are so many tricks that can lose you your creature once you cast it. Still, in the right deck this can be an important card in a Limited deck, but I feel as though Domri Rade might be the better choice in Standard if you’re running red.

Scaldkin

Daniel (2): 4 mana for a 2/2 flyer is too much, even if that flyer can blow itself up to deal some extra damage to a creature or player. This is a flyer so it might see a little bit of play in Limited, but I don’t think it will do much more than this.

Scion of Glaciers

Daniel (3): 4 mana for a 2/5 that can rearrange his stats isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible. If you swing in and he gets blocked just leave his stats where they are to protect him or move them around to take down his blocker. But if he gets through then pump him as much as you can to get in for some extra damage. It’s a neat little card that can get in for some good damage when you need him to and has a good amount of variability to deal with different situations. Overall this card is pretty good,  I could imagine it being run in Limited and maybe even in Standard for a little while.

Scout the Borders

Daniel (2): I don’t really know what was wrong with Grisly Salvage, but now we have Scout the Borders. It doesn’t do anything different, but it does cost 3 mana versus costing 2 different colors of mana. It’s a pretty nice bit of filtering by going through your top five cards and giving you one. But mostly just like its predecessor, the card doesn’t do a whole lot except fill your yard. This card might see a little bit of play in Limited through a Delve deck, but I don’t see it as very effective in constructed play.

Secret Plans

Daniel (4): Between this and Trail of Mystery that you’ll read about in a little while, Blue/Green/X Morph is looking like it’s going to be a lot of fun in the next Limited and Standard season. While I’m still not entirely sure that it’ll be competitive, it looks fun nonetheless. Secret plans is great, it makes all of your Morph creatures 2/3 and gives you card advantage when you flip them up, by drawing you a card. If no one else does it, I’m going to try to build a Standard deck around Morph (look forward to an article about it) so you can expect at least one deck that is going to run it in the next season. If you’ve got it in your head to try to do neat things with Morph I’d pick it up for draft pretty early. I don’t really see much of a future otherwise for this card sadly, as Morph isn’t really a thing in any format.

See the Unwritten

Daniel (3): If any of you have been following my writing for a good amount of time then you probably know that I love big creatures, and I also love ways to cheat them into play. This is a pleasant fairly costed card that has the ability to do just that and when combined with something like worldly tutor, the card basically gets the creature you want into play. I still have a hard time believing that this card will find is way out of Standard as long as cards like Tooth and Nail exist, but a fun card nonetheless. Just like a few other cards in the set be careful of decking yourself if you do decide to play this in Limited.

Bruce (4): Ok…This 6 mana sorcery reveals 8 cards and you get to put a creature from among those cards on the battlefield without paying its mana cost.  Now 6 is a pretty steep mana cost…usually…but not for Green in a world with Nykthos exists.  With Devotion powered Monster decks you could see something truly degenerate being spewed out with this card.  What makes it even more disgusting is if you can trigger the Ferocious trigger (and honestly…that SHOULD be easy…you’re in Green…everything is a fatty!) and you get to dump two creatures.  What would make this card just perfect is if there was just some devastating Green death machine in one of these sets prior to Theros rotating out. Now as for Limited, you could run it, but you’re liable to flip over some 1/1 with your 6 mana, so I might not be too keen to try it.  Based on the potential upside this has to be a 4, but only in the right deck.

Seeker of the Way

Daniel (3): 2/2’s for 2 being so rare in this set, all of them have the potentially to be really good in Limited. This one more than the others is probably going to be a great card in the format, because he’s also got the ability to get +1/+1 and lifelink each time you cast a noncreature spell. This keeps him relevant for a little while, pumping himself up and gaining you some life each time he swings if you cast a noncreature spell. I expect this card to be well-suited in Limited and to have play in at least a few competitive Standard decks.

Bruce (2): A Bear with prowess and it gets lifelink?  This will be playable but you can likely do better. This will be a 2.

Set Adrift

Daniel (3): Delve again, this is one ability R&D’s obviously brought back in a big way for this set. Bounce spells are typically an important part of the blue strategy, and if the traditional control strategy comes into Standard this season, then we’ll probably see this card. Set Adrift is also a pretty solid bit of filler for Limited.

Shambling Attendants

Daniel (3): This is an okay card, coming down for 8 mana at worst or 1 mana and 7cards from the graveyard. Shambling Attendants feels expensive even when it isn’t. Its stats feel pretty good, a 3/5 with Deathtouch. But for what feels like a relatively large investment, you get something that kind of just feels like a lukewarm creature.

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant

Daniel (3): Recently this has become an on-going theme with a lot of the cards that Magic has been printing, especially with the way that Commander 2014 is shaping up. The style that they’ve started printing so much of are cards that deck you and give you creatures in exchange. I feel like this card could be good even great in the right deck, but I just feel that it’s effects are just too narrow to have any lasting impact. That said I almost fell in love with it when I first saw it, but after looking at its effects and its mana cost it just may have a tough time finding a home in any deck at all. If you do decide to use this card in Limited, it may just wind up milling you instead so use it with caution.

Bruce (4) 3/3…4 mana…self mill…MAKES ZOMBIES!Ok…Sultai just got a little off the hook here.  Sure, this guy is totally thwarted by Anafenza, but whatever.  He’s SPICY.  I like the 3/3 for 4 mana.  That feels very reasonable and totally something I can get behind.  The more I play, the more I love the self milling strategies to speed up your access to resources.  The ability to make Zombies is just broken…and it isn’t just if creatures are milled…it is creatures from ANYWHERE.  That makes this a token factory.  Particularly when most of the ridiculous removal from Theros is in Black (ummm…Hero’s Downfall anyone).  This seems cool and an avenue Sultai players might want. In limited I’d be leary of the self mill aspect a touch, mainly because of the smaller library, but the free tokens off the second triggered ability could totally offset that loss in an environment laden with creatures. In the right deck, this could be a monster Constructed card and a very scary Limited card.

Sidisi’s Pet

Daniel (2): A 1/4 with lifelink for 4 is pretty terrible. I get that you can cast it for 3 with morph and then flip it up for 2, but this means that you’re going to have to spend almost half of your 4th turn just flipping this card up. It just doesn’t feel  like it’s worth it. I don’t expect this to see much Standard play, but with token decks still being a potential strategy in Limited, this might not be the worst pick in Draft.

Siege Rhino

Daniel (4): A 4/5 with trample for 4 is going to be a huge bomb in Limited. The card sits at a unique position where it’s a solid card that may not be good enough for Standard.  Its stats combined with its ability to gain you life and take away from your opponent’s mean it might see play in Standard. I am almost sure that it won’t find a place outside these formats though.

Bruce (3): 4/5 for 4 mana and I can drain 3 life from each opponent?  Hell  yes!  This is a huge fatty and is undercosted.  The fact that comes in with a powerful enter the battlefield trigger is just gravy and makes this eminently playable as a powerful bomb.  The 6 point life swing will be big in Limited I’m sure.  I don’t think it does enough to warrant a spot in a Constructed strategy because it lacks evasion (although does come with trample) but is on that borderline in my opinion.  This is probably a 3.

Siegecraft

Daniel (2): I love how this card references War Beast in its flavor and they’ve done it a couple times in this set. Siegecraft’s stats aren’t that good though, especially when compared to the last set’s enchantments. This card will probably see some limited success in Draft, but can’t really stack up to the last set’s enchantments so I don’t see it being run in Standard.

Singing Bell Strike

Daniel (3): Acting as a good way to slow down your opponent’s creatures is Singing Bell Strike. This card feels like a remake of the old-school Paralyze, which cost one less mana, was in black and your opponents needed 4 mana to untap their creature. I feel like this card will almost definitely be run in Limited and may also find a place in Standard.

Smoke Teller

Daniel (3): A 2/2 for 2 that can peek at morphed creatures for 2. This card isn’t going to break any formats, but it will probably be a pretty big deal in Limited for being one of the few two-drop creatures in the set. I don’t believe this card will have too much of an impact on Standard.

Snowhorn Rider

Daniel (3): A simple 5/5 with trample for 6 that can morph to go down to 5 cost is pretty solid. This is probably not Standard material, because it’s so slow. This card is great in Limited and curves out face-down for an intimidating surprise on turn 4 or 5.

Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Daniel (4): So after writing reviews on so many cards between the last set and now I’ve come to the conclusion that writing on Planeswalkers are the hardest of all card types. They take longer to write than other card types because they have more abilities than other cards and their powers are very hard to compare to other card types. His first ability makes your creatures stronger and gives them lifelink for a turn, his minus creates a Vampire token and his ultimate makes your opponents sacrifice creatures during their upkeeps. As was mentioned before if you see a planeswalker in a draft, you always pick it up. If this card has a future, it’s really more of an open-question. The one hope I do have for this card is a red, black and white tokens deck and they seem to have printed a lot of cards in this set that work well with this strategy. After this season I can’t see this card really being a major player, but if this token deck exists in Standard, It should be there.

Bruce (4): Whoa! New Sorin! Good deal.  So, from the outset, I like this guy.  4 mana is very reasonable and makes him ultimately very playable.  His +1 is perfectly reasonable and is very flavourful. It isn’t oppressive and you aren’t playing him for this +1 ability (unlike Sarkhan whom you are likely ONLY playing for his +1 ability).  The -2 ability is very solid because everyone loves to make a flying 2/2.  It impacts the board, is suitably evasive to help bring the pain, and is a solid blocker.  His ultimate is the Abyss on an emblem and it impacts ONLY your opponents.  That’s solid and will quickly tilt the board in your favour.  Yes, getting him there is the tough part, but in the right strategy it is very achievable.  He won’t warp the Constructed format, but he will see play.  He will be terrific in Limited environments for sure.  I expect him to be a solid 4.

Stubborn Denial

Daniel (5): Acting sometimes as a better Spell Pierce, I expect great things from this card. For those of you who don’t know, Spell Pierce is a card that has been played in just about every format it’s been legal in since its first printing. The card is great, but the reason it didn’t earn a 6 is because most of the decks won’t get the chance to use the 2nd part of the spell: the straight up counter that makes it better than Spell Pierce. If a new set of decks can find a home for it then it might be a great card. Maybe even something like Sneak and Show, we’ll see. I like this card a lot and think it can easily find a home in Standard, but Limited is always hard for counterspells to be good in. They will need to find a deck for it in higher formats.

Sultai Charm

Daniel (4): I almost want to give this card a 5 for how much play I think it’s going to receive this season, but I don’t think that’s fair because I don’t expect it to break out of Standard. The card is great acting as removal for creatures, artifacts and enchantments, or drawing you two cards as long as you discard two cards afterwards. The mana cost is pretty fair with it being 3, but the mana intensiveness of the card makes it almost unplayable outside of this format.

Sultai Flayer

Daniel (3): A 3/4 for 4 that gives you life every time something big dies doesn’t feel so good, but not terrible either. The card will probably see mixed amounts of play in Limited, with it not really being a factor in constructed formats.

Sultai Scavenger

Daniel (3): A 3/3 flyer for 6 with Delve. This card is pretty much like most 4 drop comparable flyers and will probably fit into decks in their spot if you decide to run it. This card will probably see some Limited play, but not do much more than that.

Sultai Soothsayer

Daniel (2): A card with mediocre abilities and stats for a high and intensive amount of mana is not worth it in most cases. I don’t expect this card in standard. It’s not the worst card in Limited so if it comes late I wouldn’t mind picking it.

Summit Prowler

Daniel (3): A vanilla 4/3 for 4 isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible. You might see some of these cards in Limited formats, but don’t expect much more than that.

Surrak Dragonclaw

Bruce (4): Well, there goes the neighbourhood.  Surrak is a ridiculous 6/6 for 5 mana and basically makes your Monster deck totally unmanageable.  One of the big draw backs to all the Monster decks is that they are susceptible to counterspells and denial strategies.  Surrak totally crushes those strategies because your Polukranos or your Stormbreath Dragon can’t be countered any more.  Oh…and those same critters now ALSO have trample.  Back this guy with a Rattleclaw Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid or two and you can ramp up to this guy quickly and then go nuts.  So long Jund Monsters…hello TEMUR Monsters backed by Surrak. A bomb in either Standard or Limited, I can see this hitting as high as a 5…but I’ll hedge my bets based on the colour restrictions being pretty high and make him a 4.

Suspension Field

Daniel (4): Removing a creature has always been a powerful effect. The ability to deal with an opponent’s creature for a little mana is what makes spells like this great. Sitting at 2 mana I feel that this card is a great Limited and Constructed card. However based on the fact that there are many other better options in higher formats, I don’t expect this card to survive past this season.

Surrak Dragonclaw

Daniel (4): I don’t know why this set has so much about bears in it… I guess they were a big deal when all the dragons were gone… Anyway, a 6/6 uncounterable for 5 that makes all of your creatures uncounterable and gives them trample is a pretty solid card that is a Limited bomb if you’re running enough big creatures. On the standard front, I’m not so sure that you can build a deck around big creatures, but if you were, you would probably want to include this card in the deck.

Swarm of Bloodflies

Daniel (3): Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is a card that’s been released recently that I love. Swarm of Bloodflies is a card that is worse than Ob Nixilis in almost every way, but beats it in mana cost by one. The efficiency of this card in relation to its mana cost is pretty terrible, but will probably still see play in Limited for its powerful ability. This card won’t see much play in Constructed because there are just better options.

Swift Kick

Daniel (2): I’m not so sure about the flavor of this card, why is a card that’s so defensively themed such an offensive card? The card is too expensive for what it is, and the flavor, color, and abilities of the card don’t really match. Overall, fight cards are okay in Limited formats, but don’t expect it to show up in Standard.

Taigam’s Scheming

Daniel (3): This card is a strong filter for 5 cards in your deck, this card fixes your draw so that you can find the answers to the problems you might come across. Sitting at only 2 mana this card can come down early and that’s when it’s most important. Limited formats will probably like this card for the amount of digging you can do with it. Since it doesn’t really provide you any card advantage then I don’t really see Standard or any other constructed format trying to take advantage of this card.

Take Up Arms

Daniel (2): With so many choices in just this set alone to make a ton of tokens, this card just doesn’t feel worth it. 5 mana for 3 tokens isn’t great and this card just doesn’t do it for me. This card might finds some very limited success in Draft, but I don’t believe it’ll find a home in Standard or any other Constructed format.

Temur Charm

Daniel (3): It makes creatures fight, it counters spells, or it stops creatures from blocking. This is a powerful card that is only really pulled down by the fact that it costs 3 mana of three different colors. This is a pretty big pull down, but I still don’t have a problem with this card finding a home in Standard. In Limited formats this card is a pretty solid uncommon to pull, but I don’t expect this card to have too much of an impact outside of these formats.

Thousand Winds

Daniel (3): Acting as a solid bit of removal if your opponent swings all of their creatures at you and entering the battlefield as a 5/6 flyer this is a great card to pull in Limited if you can play it As long as Aetherspouts exists in Standard I don’t expect this card to make too much of a splash in constructed.

Bruce (3): This IS a menace.  5/6 flier gives it the stats of a Mahamoti Djinn and then packs a Morph making it even more versatile. However, it is the ability to Flip it back for it’s Morph cost and return tapped creatures to their owners hands that just makes this deadly.  Your opponent in a Draft will have no way of knowing, will attack with  two or three creatures and you return them to their hand effectively getting a 3 for 1 and you STILL KEEP THE 5/6 blocker.  This is  an absolute bomb in Limited but will be unlikely to see play much beyond that, making this yet another strong 3.

Throttle

Daniel (3): Being an instant is both a positive and a negative for this card. It doesn’t permanently keep a creature down, but it does allow you to goad your opponent into attacking and then moving your opponent’s creature into a range where you can kill it. It is removal so it will probably see a good amount of play in Limited formats, but won’t see play in Standard because of all the better options available.

Timely Hordemate

Daniel (3): I like this card, but I feel like it’s just not his format. Coming down at 4 mana and returning from the grave a two or less casting cost creature with Raid. I just feel like there aren’t that many good two-drops and  in this set and for that reason a pretty solid card may have a tough time finding a home in Standard and Limited.

Tomb of the Spirit Dragon

Daniel (2): This card raises a few questions, first why isn’t it legendary? Is there more than one spirit dragon? Then why is a tomb such a big deal? And most importantly, where are all the colorless creatures? I almost feel like they’re going to do a big colorless creature cycle in the next set, but that just means that they should have waited on these cards till then. Seems like another Eye of Ugin style of situation. As the card stands right now, it doesn’t really have a purpose and doesn’t feel good in Standard or Limited formats.

Tormenting Voice

Daniel (3): Card draw in red is a big deal, they don’t get many at all and when they do, it’s typically pretty bad. This card is one of those bad draw cards in red all things considered, doing more to filter your cards than really earn you card advantage. One of the larger downsides to the card is that you have to discard a card to cast it meaning that you may wind up with a worse card than you started with by casting this card. Still, draw in red is rare and good when you get it, so this card will probably see some limited play in Red decks that aren’t running Blue.

Trail of Mystery

Daniel (4): Make your creatures bigger? Check. Accelerate your mana? Check. Is mana efficient without being broken? Check. This card is just about as good as it could be without being broken. I like the mana cost at 2, it comes down as early as you need it to. You play this turn two and follow it up next turn with a morph creature to score a land off of it, which lets you build towards turning it face up. It feels like it’s in the right color by being green (It pumps and ramps) and with this being a Wedge set that means that you can play it in a lot of the decks in the format. I think this is easily a top pick in Draft and will definitely find a deck to play in in Standard, but morph isn’t really a thing so I don’t really expect it outside of this.

Trap Essence

Daniel (3): Three different colors on a counterspell… really Magic? Three colors !?!? I can’t say that it’s a great counterspell. There are definitely better counterspells even just in this set, but I guess it does fall into the theme of the set. The second ability on the card just doesn’t feel like its worth it. As there are better choices everywhere and I feel that counterspells are tough in Limited, I don’t expect much out of this card in Draft or Standard.

Bruce (4): Yet another crazy example of the Temur and its increasing abilities to disrupt to protect its massive fatties rolling around the battlefield.  3 mana and counter the spell and THEN spit out +1/+1 counters for a creature? Sure.  Dear Lord.  Super solid at Limited, and fringe playable at Constructed this is probably  a 3 with a chance to hit a 4.

Treasure Cruise

Daniel (3): Drawing three cards for potentially 1 mana is a huge deal especially when you consider that the only card in the game that does this is Ancestral Recall, one of the power 9. I usually don’t like Delve, but on this card it feels really good and the Delve makes it very powerful without being broken. The only real questionable part of the card is the fact that in order for it to cost one is by removing the equivalent to your opening hand from the grave. I would definitely try to play this card in any deck that could afford it. You should consider this card in Standard and Limited if nothing else.

Tusked Colossodon

Daniel (3): A 6/5 for 6 without trample, might see some play in Limited just for the fact that it’s a 6/5, but don’t expect more than that.

Ugin’s Nexus

Daniel (3): I’m not really sure what the point of this card was as I don’t see extra turn cards in this set… the only thing I can see is that maybe this card isn’t in the set for Standard or Limited, but for a higher or different format like EDH. Nonetheless, I’m planning on picking one up for my EDH deck, because I found a combo for it and I really like the card. It should go without saying, but I don’t expect to see this card much in Standard or Draft.

Bruce (1): This is a fun little artifact that no one will play. 5 mana do-nothing cards won’t see play even if the ability is pretty crazy. I can think of very few applications for this card can’t say I’m keen to play it.  Sure, it’s cute from a flavour perspective for Sarkhan, but the card itself is not relevant for me.  This is about a 1.

Unyielding Krumar

Daniel (2): The sad part about this card is that if it came with First Strike as just a static ability on the card, it would be a fairly good card. As it stands right now, the card is pretty bad and overcosted at 4 mana for a pretty much do nothing card. I don’t expect to see much of this card in Standard or Limited formats.

Utter End

Daniel (4): This is a powerful piece of removal for white and black with Hero’s Downfall proving that a little bit of extra mana for a better removal spell is worth it. I like this card a lot, it’s simple and as I’ve mentioned a few times, I like big Red, Black, White tokens in the next Standard season. I think this card will definitely see play in a good amount of Constructed decks and is a great card in Limited as well.

Bruce (5): And here we have premium removal…and among the best answers I’ve seen to just about anything.  This is the ultimate swiss army knife of removal…God? Done. Aura? Toast. Critter…adios Amigo.  Yup…this will be a sweet one and will be a staple in Constructed and a Limited Bomb.  Can we say…this is a 5?

Valley Dasher

Daniel  (3): In a set of mostly high mana costs, this card comes down early and hopefully gets in for a pretty solid amount of damage. As a 2/2 for 2 this card hopefully comes down turn 2 and gets in for 4 damage before trading to another card. On the more negative side, if you draw this card late, don’t expect it to do much but die. If you’re going to go in on the early game plan in Draft, pick this guy up, but don’t expect him to much outside of early game in Limited formats.

Venerable Lammasu

Daniel (3): This is a big card with an even bigger mana cost. 7 mana might be a lot, but to put your opponent on a hard-to-dodge 4 turn clock will probably be enough for this card to find a home in at least a couple Limited decks. With the consistency of constructed play, I don’t expect this card to find too much though.

Villainous Wealth

Daniel (3): This one of those cards that I really like even if it’s probably going to have a very hard time finding a home. It actually reminds me of another card Genesis Wave, except it’s opposite. What I mean by opposite is that where Genesis Wave says permanent, Villainous Wealth says nonland, where Genesis Wave says yours, Villainous Wealth says target opponent. The only real similarity in the 2 cards is the fact that both only let you use the cards that cost X or less to cast. To reiterate, I’m not sure how much play this card will see in any format, it feels too bulky for Limited Formats and  for constructed. If you do manage to make a way to make it work, you’ve got yourself a pretty solid card.

Bruce (2): This wins my prize for coolest card of the set, but I can’t see it having much of an effect on Constructed.  Mill strategies rarely cut it and you are unlikely to ever have enough mana in your 3 colour Standard deck to pull this off and really have a meaningful impact. At Limited this might be ok, but it feels like a card you only want to see at the end of the game and you are hoping and praying to find their bomb and then wreck them with it.  That sort of high risk/high reward game plan probably won’t fly…so this is likely a 2 but could have ridiculous upside in the right Limited build.

War Behemoth

Daniel (3): This card is a vanilla 3/6 for 6 that may see some play in Limited, but I don’t expect to be play in Constructed formats at all.

War-Name Aspirant

Daniel (3): A solid 2/1 that can potentially come down as a 3/2 for 2 and can’t be blocked by any small guys and most walls. This is a great card that personifies the idea of efficient creature play, I expect this card to see a place in both Limited, Standard and potentially even higher level decks.

Warden of the Eye

Daniel (3): A long time ago there was a card called Scrivener, this was a huge deal even though his effect was a little more limited than this card’s. Personally, out of the two I’d probably pick old Scrivener over this card because of his mana cost consisting of only blue and colorless mana. In this set Warden of the Eye feels good to combo with Prowess type decks if it finds its way into Standard then it will probably be in t. On the Limited  side of things, if you can handle his casting cost he’s probably going to be one of the better creatures you’re going to find out there, so I would pick him up.

Warrior Chief “Cycle” (Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale)

Daniel (3): I admit that two cards does not make a cycle, but I really feel that there’s no way to review these cards separately. So I decided to toss the two together and see what came out of it. Let me preface by saying that the two creatures really should have been a 3/3 for 3 that gave all of your warriors +1/+1, then that would have been one great card versus two good cards. Don’t get me wrong a 2/3 or 3/2 for 2 that pumps your stuff is a solid bit of filler for Limited, but it’s that difference between good and great that will probably stop these cards from seeing any Standard play.

Waterwhirl

Daniel (3): Coming in the block directly after the printing of Sea God’s Revenge, this card feels pretty terrible. I guess I’ve just been spoiled by good bounce spells and then to get this feels like a slap.  Sea God’s Revenge was still pretty awesome in Limited formats and I expect good things from this card as well. Being worse than Sea God’s Revenge which didn’t see any play yet in Standard leads me to believe that this card will also receive no love this upcoming season.

Weave Fate

Daniel (3): Card advantage is a pretty important factor in Limited formats. The ability to trade this one card for two makes Weave Fate very interesting. However being more expensive than other accessible cards like Divination means that it probably won’t find a home in Constructed formats.

Wedge lands cycle (Frontier BivouacMystic MonasteryNomad OutpostOpulent PalaceSandsteppe Citadel)

Daniel (4): The introduction of Khans of Tarkir brings with it the fading out of Return to Ravnica and with that comes the fading out of the Shock Lands cycle. As it stands right now, this land cycle combined with the fetch lands and Pain lands are probably going to fill the hole left from the sets rotation. That being said this is a very mana intensive set and I expect these cards to see play in Standard, EDH, and Limited. Once they rotate out though, I don’t see this cycle having any effect just as their predecessors Shard lands.

Wetland Sambar

Daniel (2): A vanilla 2/1 for 2 that will probably see some play in Limited, but not much more than that.

Whirlwind Adept

Daniel (3): Whirlwind Adept is a 4/2 creature for 5 that has prowess and hexproof. It’s a pretty big card with a pretty big mana cost. The hexproof is pretty important on this card as it protects it from dying to a quick bit of burn and the prowess ability can push it out of the range of a lot of creatures. I expect this card to see a good amount of play in Limited, but not so much in Standard.

Wingmate Roc

Daniel (4): I feel like I’ve said this a lot in this set, but yet again I almost find myself wanting to give this card a 5. The only problem is how much playability the card will see outside of this Standard season or even other constructed formats. The card comes down as essentially 3/4 creatures with flying for 5, but only if the Raid condition is met. It also gets a bit better by gaining you 1 life for every other creature that attacks with Wingmate Roc. It’s a nice gain if you swing with an army of tokens.

Bruce (3): 5 mana for a 3/4 flying bird with Raid and if it triggers gets you ANOTHER 3/4 flying bird.  Oh…and it gains you LIFE TOO! This is a ridiculous limited bomb that is a snap first pick every single time.  In terms of constructed playability, I don’t think there will many decks looking to rock this guy, but I can totally dream up an Ajani Pridemate/Wingmate Roc deck that will be hilarious for the kitchen table (or a tier 2 or 3 standard environment). This is likely a 3.

Winterflame

Daniel (2): Long story short, the mana cost is too high for something that taps and Shocks for 2 damage strictly creatures. It’s removal so It will see some play in Limited, but don’t expect much more than that.

Witness of the Ages

Daniel (2): A simple bit of filler, a 4/4 is okay in Limited even with a mana cost of 6. This is the sole colorless artifact creature in the set. I don’t expect this card to see too much play even in Limited formats.

Woolly Loxodon

Daniel (3): This card is simple and efficient as a 6/7 for 7 that can be unmorphed for 6. I can see it being played in a few Draft decks, but there are hopefully better creatures to pick first.  It’s clunky and doesn’t have trample so I don’t see this card entering Constructed play in any competitive way.

Zurgo Helmsmasher

Daniel (4): Zurgo definitely comes down almost at the top of the pack. This is one of those cards that I absolutely love the flavor. He is the commander of a berserker horde with the name Helmsmasher and he grows bigger each time he kills a creature. All this plays well into the idea that he is a giant ripping people limb from limb. He feels like the correct colors as a very violent Mardu horde commander and is appropriately-costed so he won’t come down early. When you do cast him he rushes into battle with haste to deliver the beats. This card is a definite bomb in Limited with indestructibility on your turn, your opponent almost has to block thus making Zurgo grow larger and more dangerous. I feel that this card may have a future as a pretty popular commander in EDH. Possibly in other constructed formats as soon as people can figure him out, because he is a 3-turn clock that gets larger, protects himself and has to be answered.

Bruce (4): The stats on this thing seem ponderous.  7/2 for 5 mana?  Ok…if you say so.  The real trick is with the abilities and with three of them (all of them being very relevant) this guy could very easily get out of control.  In limited, this is a ridiculous bomb, mainly because removal is significantly much less common…and you can’t profitably block him because he’s a freaking bulldozer with indestructibility.  In Constructed…I’m not sure there is a deck for him yet, but I can certainly envision such a deck with this guy as a center piece to clean up the mess (or make a little more).  I figure he’s better than a 3…but maybe not quite a 4…but I’m leaning towards a 4 .

Notable Reprints:

Ally Colored Fetch Lands Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, Bloodstained Mire, Wooded Foothills 

Daniel: Fetch lands are some of the best mana fixing in the game. Rumors had been running about fetch lands being released in Khans of Tarkir for a long time, so pick them up if you’ve got the money because they are undoubtedly going to go up a lot after rotation.

Bruce (6): This will be the key to Constructed decks splashing all sorts of ridiculous colours once rotation hits in about a week.  Seriously.  We’ve seen all sorts of funky coloured decks pop up and this will just enable full on silliness and you can now quite seriously fetch whatever further “splash” colour you want easy as pie.  They will be terrific at Limited, Staples at Standard and are now all relevant in Modern too…and that’s just freaking amaze-balls.  This will just enable so much flexibility that it is nuts and the possibilities are almost endless.  I want to see what the best builders in the world dream up with these in the fold.  These are clearly about a 6…and that may be on the conservative end of things.

Erase

I mentioned it in the last M15 set review and I’ll mention it again. Cheap and good removal for enchantments is going to be important in the upcoming standard season and this card can exile Gods for 1!

By the Will of the Floral Spuzzem

Khans of Tarkir - PRE-ORDER

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Avatar Bruce Gray - September 15, 2014

Crack a Pack MTG Gatecrash with Bruce

Gatecrash boosters - Crack a Pack MTG

Crack a Pack MTG Gatecrash with Bruce

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

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!

 

 

Rare

 

 

Foil

 

 

Uncommon

 

 

Common

 

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 MedicFrontline 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.

 

Top 5 cards

  1. Frontline Medic
  2. Glaring Spotlight
  3. Zameck Guildmage
  4. Grisly Spectacle
  5. Aertherize

 

First Pick

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

 

 

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Avatar Bruce Gray - August 19, 2014

Crack a Pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce (3rd)

M15 Fat Pack - Crack a Pack MTG

Crack a Pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce (3rd)

 By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

                Welcome back to another Crack a pack MTG with Bruce.  Last week we busted open a pack of Journey into Nyx, but that draft format has come and gone.  Sure, you might get a chance to Retro draft that, but let’s be real, the new hot game in town is M15 draft.  We had a chance to watch the Pros draft M15 and got some neat new perspectives on things as some of the best drafters on the planet did their thing.  Honestly, to watch Ben Stark or some of the other greats of the game draft is something else.  I also had a chance to listen to Limited Resources and hear how Marshall Sutcliffe and Brian Wong, both very well respected limited players, regard the M15 draft format and with some interesting results.  Both of them commented on how unusual a format this is because there doesn’t seem to be a correct draft order for the cards.  Everything COULD be playable…but in that same vein everything COULD be the wrong pick.  It makes for some interesting choices and reads at the draft table.  So, with those ideas in mind, I thought a pack of M15 would suit our style just right…so here we go!

 

Rare

 

 

Uncommon

 

Common

 

 

This is pretty average pack, but there are certainly some stand out cards in this pack that really catch my eye.  The first place to start is with our Rare.  Stormtide Leviathan is a massive 8 mana  8/8 creature that also has Islandwalk, turns all lands into islands along with their other type, and ensures that only creatures with Flying and Islandwalk can attack.  Ok…normally I’m down on 8 mana fatty, but this guy can just lock an opponent out of their game plan and seal the deal for you.  I’m actually mildly interested by this guy and what it could mean at the end of the game if I need to bust open a board stall.  This will actually get a little consideration because the upside is actually so high.

 

Next, Quickling is exactly the sort of card I want to run.  This is basically a flying “bear” with a downside…except I don’t think it is actually a downside at all.  The fact that it was Flash means you can flash it in, bounce a creature that was about to die, and then recast your creature meaning that you don’t actually lose out.  You could also reap the benefits of an Enter the Battlefield trigger if you can wangle it.  No, this is very versatile, cheap, evasive, and could synergize nicely with a wide variety of fun creatures.

On Limited Resource, Marshall Sutcliffe was expounding on the virtues of Coral Barrier and I have to agree with him.  This innocuous little 1/3 defender comes along with a squid token giving you a very solid return for your mana investment.  Also, the fact that the squid has Islandwalk could also be very relevant.  If you can synergize this guy with an Invasive Species or a Quickling you could really see some benefits and start to build a board state that really puts you in the driver’s seat.  This is a very solid creature and would be high on my priority list.

 

The next creature that I would be looking at is the always boring Carrion Crow.  A 2/2 flier for 3 mana makes this a Wind Drake.  No one is going to write home about a Wind Drake, but the Crow is a serviceable flier and could make all the difference.

 

Sign In Blood is another card I’ve always liked because of the versatility. Usually I would cast this on myself to draw a pair of cards because I need to restock my hand. However, this one is versatile enough to target your opponent and effectively “shock” them .  This seems like a silly way to use your spell, but if you are out front and you just can’t quite close the deal, sometimes “shocking” them with a Sign In Blood is all you’ve got left.

 

Shrapnel Blast is nice card mostly for the rather sick amount of damage it can deliver in short order. My only issue is that I’m not really sure that I dig the U/R artifact deck in this draft format and so I don’t prioritize this very highly.  The only way I end up on THAT game plan is if I find “angry scissors” (Ensoul Artifact) early on and can then craft my deck to make use of artifacts.  Otherwise, if I see things like Shrapnel Blast, Aeronaut Tinkerer and Scrapyard Mongrel, they aren’t as interesting to me and will be things that I would be looking at later in the round.

 

Plummet is always a fun card and something I like very much.  Nothing like a Terror for fliers.

 

Research Assistant is an interesting card because of the “looting” ability that it packs.  Late in the game, when I’m drawing more land than I need, I will HAPPILY pay the expensive activation cost on this guy for the chance to draw something more useful.  Otherwise, he’s interesting, but not a super high priority and at common I’m likely to see at least one more before the end of the draft.

 

Ephemeral Shield is a nice combat trick.  I’m not sure if I like it better than Ajani’s Presence from Journey Into Nyx.  Ajani’s Presence has Strive meaning I can protect more than a single creature, but Ephemeral Shield has Convoke meaning you could still cast it even if you had no mana up to cast it. Either way, Ephemeral Shield is a very solid trick that can come in handy to save creature or lead to some sort of busted combat scenario.  It isn’t a high priority for me, but if I find myself considering playing White I’d like to know that I have at least one in my pile.

 

Satyr Wayfinder, Thundering Giant, Black Cat, and Runeclaw Bear are all perfectly acceptable creatures, but they are largely interchangeable depending on what strategy you want to play.  My motto for Drafting is always “more bodies is always good” and these help you to fill out those creature spots in your deck.  I won’t turn my nose up at these guys.

 

Feast on the Fallen. Ok, I feel like this is a TERRIBLE card.  The set up cost, of making an opponent lose life in order to trigger the effect, is very high.  And then, what is more, you get a SINGLE +1/+1 counter! I’m sorry…that seems like a very low return for working hard to do damage to an opponent.  Beyond the relatively low return, Feast on the Fallen does nothing to the board state.  It doesn’t STOP my opponent from doing anything to me, it eats a card slot in my deck, and has a marginal effect even when I can trigger it.  No, this is a bad card.  I’ll pass it all day long.

 

Top 5 cards

  1. Stormtide Leviathan
  2. Quickling
  3. Coral Barrier
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Sing in Blood

 

First pick

For my first pick in this pack I would be weighing the Leviathan or the Quickling.  In the end, I would likely pick the Quickling.  With the Quickling I can almost be assured that I can cast it every game.  2 mana is very achievable (and if you don’t draw 2 mana before the game is over you may have done something terribly wrong) while the 8 needed for the Leviathan is not a sure bet. Besides, the Flying “bear” with synergy is super appealing and very much of interest to me.  So, at the end of the day I would take the Quickling and leave the Leviathan to go around.

 

It also bears mentioning at this point that this pack is a BUST for players in White and Red.  The vast majority of the cards in this deck are Black, Green, and Blue meaning that you could reasonably expect that there will be players beside you that will also be in those colours.  After a single pick I wouldn’t get worried, but I would start to become conscious of such factors as the draft continued.

 

Well, there we go.  We’ve seen a number of M15 packs and seem some pretty interesting stuff.  Would you have gone with the LeviathanQuickling?  Something else?  These choices start to get tricky and some other points of view will help us all, some shoot me a tweet and let me know what you think.

 

Next week I’m going to go and truly find a Retro pack…something from the Return to Ravnica block will be on deck.  Which set? That’s a surprise for next week, but it will no doubt bring back a measure of nostalgia for those of us who enjoyed RTR or GTC draft formats.

 

So, until next time, may you open only Mythic Rare Bomb.

 

Thanks for reading

 

 By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791   on Twitter
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Avatar Bruce Gray - August 14, 2014

Crack a Pack MTG Journey into Nyx with Bruce (2nd)

Crack a Pack MTG - Journey into Nyx boosters 2

Crack a Pack MTG Journey into Nyx with Bruce (2nd)

 by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

                Welcome back to another week of Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce.  We’re going to take a little break from some M15 for a while, mostly because as cool as the set is, it is also a very tricky draft format because there are a very high number of picks where it is tough to decide what is best.  It just isn’t a clear cut slam dunk. There are so many interchangeable cards and cards that seem to be reasonable (but not amazing) in M15 that picking cards and ordering selections is very difficult.  So, this week I thought I’d go back to Journey Into Nyx…but don’t worry, I’ll be back on M15 for next week, that’s a guarantee.

 

There’s no point beating around the bush…let’s get down to business and see what we’ve got.

 

Rare

 

 

Uncommon

 

 

 

 

Common

 

 

 

 

Ok, once again this week we have opened up another premium Mythic Rare in our pack.  Pharika is pretty solid god who got a bit of bad reputation.  She’s a house at 5/5 for 3 mana if you can get her online…so if you want to take her you had better be ready to go Black and Green.  Her activated ability is also pretty useful if you can score a few Constellation cards in your draft.  She also accesses your graveyard to make 1/1 death touching snake tokens which can warp combat and trade up to take out much larger creatures.  Add in the feature that she’s worth a couple of dollars and you have the makings of a very fine first pick.  In some formats I would be shy to grab a Gold card as my first pick, but considering the relative power level of the card and the fact that the B/G deck is actually very good, I’d be prepared to grab her and see what I can manage when it comes to finding playable cards to support Pharika. She’s not quite a windmill slam first pick, but she is very solid and clearly gets out in front as the early favorite.

 

Believe it or not, the next card to grab my attention is Sigiled Starfish.  This innocuous little 0/3 is super useful.  For starters, it blocks “Bears” for days, but the real asset is the Scry 1 ability when you tap it.  This allows for SO much card filtering in your deck that it is a little absurd. This improved card selection may not give you true card advantage, but the improved quality of what you will be drawing will make a huge difference and put you in the driver’s seat.

 

The next card that grabs my attention is Bladetusk Boar.  This solid creature comes with evasion in the form of intimidate and just does work.  A 3/2 for 4 mana isn’t super efficient, but the fact that it almost assuredly speeds up the clock on your opponent means that it needs to get answered soon.  Also, Red is very strong in this format, so grabbing the Boar and then forcing Red a little doesn’t feel like a bad idea.

 

Gold-Forged Sentinel is another interesting card.  A 4/4 flier for 6 mana, but seeing as it is an artifact it can fit in any deck.  I like the 4/4 flier.  I like that it is an artifact and can deal with creatures with Intimidate.  This is a very reasonable choice and a solid body that can get rough and tumble when you need it.  Normally artifacts aren’t a high priority for me, but this one is a very serviceable body and can fit anywhere.

 

Sigiled Skink also gets my attention because a 2/1 for 2 mana is very crucial in this very fast draft format.  The fact that it allows you to scry 1 whenever it attacks can also set up some very good card filtering and really help your cause avoid drawing into dead cards.  I like this little guy, but he is a little limited due to his 1 toughness.

 

Colossal Heroics is a useful combat trick to untap a blocker and pump it…and the Strive ability can help you to set up a situation where you could conceivably blow your opponent out with surprise blockers.  It takes a fair degree of set up, so go sparingly with this card, but it does make a useful addition to a deck and is a long way from being unplayable.

 

Spiteful Blow always gets my attention.  Yes, it is still 6 mana removal…that hasn’t changed from a couple of weeks back when I looked a pack of Journey Into Nyx…but it does kill a creature, set your opponent back a turn with respect to their land, and is a nice insurance policy.  I’ll look at it because removal at almost any price will get consideration, but it’s not super flashy.

 

Akroan Mastiff is a very solid tempo type creature for white.  The ability to tap down a creature is very relevant and makes this a strong utility creature.  The body is a little fragile, so it is unlikely to be going into combat too frequently, but I won’t give up on it.

 

Nyx Infusion is a versatile aura that can act as a form of quasi removal or as a pump spell.  The options presented here makes this a very valuable little addition to deal with creatures of all sorts.  Look in this pack alone at all the things this card kills.  Sigiled Skink, Akroan Mastiff and Bladetusk Boar and it turns the Gold-Forged Sentinel into a Wind Drake.  No, this is useful in either mode, but mostly as a form of conditional removal.

 

Godhunter Octopus.  I don’t much care for this card. Sure, a 5/5 for 6 mana is pretty useful at the top end of the curve, but the condition placed on this creature in order for it to attack really makes me nervous.  There are lots of other very good 6 drop creatures in this format and I would be none too thrilled to have this at the top of my curve unless I was well and truly stuck.

 

Mortal Obstinacy, Cruel Feeding, and Nature’s Panopoly.  I lump all of these in together, not because they do the same thing, but because they are all marginal cards that you could play if you wanted to try and benefit from some Heroic triggers.  Otherwise, they are all kind of Blah and could be played as a 23 card, but you aren’t going to fist pump like a champ because you grabbed any of them. Your deck would also largely be fine if they didn’t make the deck in favor of some other card too.

 

Desecration Plague is the last card in this pack and is probably the most unplayable card in the pack.  Destroying a land is fine and all, but truthfully speaking, you would rather be doing something else with your mana.  Sure, the Kitchen Table “Land Destruction deck” will love this card, but in a draft, if you would like to do well, you avoid this and hope it gets forced on someone. It just does not do enough to impact the board state and leaves you stranded looking at a dead card in hand.

 

Top 5 cards

 

  1. Pharika, God of Affliction
  2. Sigiled Starfish
  3. Bladetusk Boar
  4. Gold-Forged Sentinel
  5. Spiteful Blow

 

First pick

Once again this week, there is almost no doubt about what gets drafted first.  Pharika, God of Affliction is just too powerful to ignore, and so you’ll grab her and try and force Black and Green a little.  There are a few other cards in this pack in both Black and Green that might work their way back to, so I won’t feel bad.  However, I have left Red and two very strong Red creatures (the Boar and the Skink) available meaning that there will almost assuredly be someone in Red nearby. All in all, I feel pretty good about my pick and comfortable with the direction I would be taking and ready to see what came next.

 

So, there we have it…another week, another pack, and pretty sweet Mythic Rare in the form of Pharika.  What would have picked first?  Pharika? The Starfish?  Something else?  I could see someone making a pretty good case with this pack as there were actually some other choices that could have made sense in another strategy, but I feel pretty safe in taking the Pharika and trying to build the B/G agro deck.

 

Thanks very much and until next time, may you open nothing but bomb Mythic rares.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791
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Avatar Bruce Gray - August 12, 2014

Deep Thoughts… on Drafting M15

2015 core set logo - Drafting M15

Deep Thoughts… on Drafting M15

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 

So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my impressions on M15 based on my experience playing Sealed at a Pre-release.  This week I was fortunate enough to get out to a local game shop and draft on what we call “Cheap Night”.  Usually entrance fees for a draft event is $15 or so…but on “Cheap Night” it is only $10, but does not have any prize support.  It is a perfect spot to get out and draft and really feel what the environment is like and is pretty friendly for newer players because there aren’t any prizes on the line.  I have to say, I really enjoyed drafting M15 and it felt very healthy and diverse with a number of very interesting decks.  Today I wanted to share some of those experiences with you before you head out to your next Draft and to see if they confirmed what I have grown to believe from playing M15 limited.

 

First off, I went 3-1 and was in contention to go 4-0 right up to the very end, but in my final match I made a couple of major mistakes that ruined all that hard work.  With that said, I felt like I drafted a very solid deck that gave many of my opponents absolute fits because they couldn’t really deal with my deck. My selections were a little more helter skelter than I would have liked, but with a variety of less experienced players at the table I was having a hard time reading the signs coming around the table.  My first pick was a Hushwing Gryff as a very serviceable 2/1 flier for 3 and a solid ability.  My next several picks were all Blue and I looked like I was going on the U/W plan. However, I was a little disappointed that I was being cut off from White so I started to explore Black and Green  a little bit and picked a couple of nice cards from both of those colours.  Pack 2 landed me a Caves of Koilos and then a Preeminent Captain in back to back picks and yielded some more White.  Pack 3 saw me open up Jace, the Living Guildpact and really locked me into Blue.  A couple of more decent White cards came my way including my boy Boonweaver Giant as a finisher and I was well and truly on the U/W Flier plan for sure.  Here’s my deck list.

 

 

Some highlights of the games were totally beating down an opponent with Welkin Tern over and over again.  Tern just did good work and brought a huge smile to my face when I’d see it in my opening hand because I really felt I had a solid chance to win.  In Round 2 I was able to live the dream with Jace.  I cast Jace relatively early in the game and immediately started ticking him up to filter my card draw.  I had just enough to run interference and give Jace some breathing room and tied up a few more of his creatures.  When Jace got to the point where I could ultimate him I did and shuffled my hand and graveyard, including Jace, back into my library.  I shuffled my deck up and offered to let my opponent cut the deck and then drew my next 7 cards while my opponent just looked on in dismay.  You would not imagine his look of disgust when I drew, and subsequently cast, Jace all over again.  Needless to say, the game was over in short order with the ridiculous card advantage I had just developed.  Lastly, Triplicate Spirits and Selfless Cathar make for a terrific combination that can quickly bring down the pain.  I finished off my opponent in Game 3 with a trio of Spirits who all got a boost from the Cathar and brought the hammer down.

 

The low light was in Round 4 where in game 1 I mulled to 6 cards and kept a 1 lander because I had a hand full of gas.  I should have had the sense to toss it back and try again because when I missed my 2nd land drop I knew I was on the ropes…and sure enough I was dead in short order. In Game 2 I did a little better but misplayed Jace when I cast him.  I should have bounced the Paragon my opponent was playing and then used the opening to force combat creating a situation where I had a profitable attack instead of sitting still and passing back the turn.  My hesitation opened the door for my opponent once again and left me reeling and trying to catch up. Needless to say, I never did and I was a little disheartened that I had misplayed those games so badly.

 

On the whole, I felt I had a pretty good showing and was relatively pleased with my performance. Going 3-0 against some pretty decent players was a good feeling and even if I did blow game 4 it just further re-enforced that I can’t get greedy and should be prepared to mulligan me regularly.  All in all, a fun evening with some solid results and few sweet finds in my draft pool.

 

Some other deep Thoughts and Observations

Jace, the Living Guildpact

This guy has got a bit of a bad rap since everyone has seen him, but I have to admit, he’s a very solid Planeswalker.  Is he crazy busted and overpowered?  No, but he is pretty versatile and reasonably skill intensive and will make a good piece in many decks when other versions of him rotate out of Standard.  His +1 is an acceptable way to filter your cards, particularly later in the game and he really helped set up some solid draws for me.  I can imagine that in Standard, where your deck is more finely tuned, ensuring that you draw into that perfect card will be pretty crucial.  However, it is timing that -3 ability that is truly vital.  You can really set your opponent back by bouncing something with Jace and I found that more often than not it was this ability that was the most powerful.  It may not say “Kill target creature/planeswalker” but sometimes bouncing it will be just as relevant.  The ultimate, like any ultimate on a Planeswalker, is totally back breaking.  To make your opponent lose his hand and only YOU draw 7 is bananas.  He’s not the best Jace, heck, he’s not even the best Jace in Standard right now, but he’s very solid and will be useful later on, I promise.

 

The speed of this format feels slow.  There is not an overwhelming number of aggressive 1 and 2 drops running around the format and the beat down plan really only begins when people hit 3 land…and can attack on turn 4.  Even then, there are lots of the 3 drop creatures that really aren’t that scary meaning that you need to get a little creative with your attacks to get early pressure on your opponent or you need to be ready to play a little more of a control route because you can’t get out the gates as quickly.  However, it is important to get creatures down on board because the removal is lousy and you will need to block to buy yourself time.

 

Invisibility

This is a terrible card.  This was just a dead card for me all night.  When I had it in my hand, I hated seeing it, and if I cast it on a creature I wished it was something else.  Don’t waste your time…it’s a pretty poor aura and not worth the card slot in your draft deck.

 

Triplicate Spirits

It’s a very good card!  This card did terrific work for me and I was impressed.  I was initially a little down on this card because it’s 6 mana for three 1/1 flying spirits.  However, with the Convoke ability these guys can be cast much sooner and make the casting cost feel much more like 4 mana…and gives you 3 bodies.  This is very useful and they proved to be just terrific for me all evening long.

 

Paragon of Gathering Mist

Of all the Paragons I think I like this guy the best.  Don’t get me wrong, they are all very good, but the ability to give something flying is just tremendous.  Nothing makes combat feel bad for an opponent than being ambushed by a creature who is suddenly flying and able to handle their flier.  He did good work for me all night and I’ll be sure to look for him again the next time I draft.

 

Aeronaut Tinkerer

This guy is a trap.  He is a very reasonable 2/3 for 3 mana and can get flying if you have an artifact.  I watched numerous players run this guy with a bunch of Ornithopters and other bad artifacts to try and trigger the Flying ability.  Yes, Yes, I know I ran one too, but I was looking at him as a 2/3 body on the ground because I only had 1 artifact, so if he could fly it was all the better.  However, to purposefully skew your deck to try and live the Ornithopter/Aeronaut Tinkerer game plan seems a bit wonky and not the best line of play.  Draft the Tinkerer, heck, play the Tinkerer and if you have an artifact or two all the better, but don’t go all in on that game plan because the reward just isn’t there.

 

I have to ask the question, do people actually say the word “Ratchet” outside of a Home Depot?  While I was playing my games they had the radio playing in the back ground and there was a song that came on by the Chain Smokers (“Let me take a Selfie”) which has been playing for months.  However, every time I listen to the girl in the song talk about  “That’s so Ratchet” I’m just left shaking my head.  First off, do people ACTUALLY sound like her?  I hope not…for all of our sakes.  Second, a ratchet is a TOOL…it’s a noun used to describe something to help repair your car or your bike…not an adjective used to describe lord knows what! C’mon…I’m not the language police, but even I have to admit that it sounds ridiculous.  Or maybe I’m just getting old.  One way or the other it sound ridiculous and should probably be stricken from the English language.  Rant over…thank you. [Editor’s Note: Sorry Bruce, but you’re getting old. Pop stars are always using the latest urban slang.  -Greg]

 

Thanks everyone for reading again this week.  If you have had your experiences drafting M15, let me hear about them.  What did you draft?  Any cool cards?  What did you deck look like?  If we are going to improve at this sort of thing we all need to be prepared to share and learn from our experiences.  I hope some of mine will help you the next time out and help you to steer clear of a few of my pitfalls.

 

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

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
 

 

 

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Avatar Bruce Gray - August 8, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce (2nd)

Crack a pack MTG - Magic 2015 core set Booster Packs

Crack a pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce (2nd)

 by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Welcome back to another Crack a Pack MTG with Bruce.  With M15 being fresh and all the buzz these days I have decided this week I’ll crack a pack of M15 and see what we find.  I promise that next week I’ll bust open something else, but for this week we’ll go with another pack of M15.  I’ve had a chance to test the set out, see the limited environment first hand and feel like I’m starting to get a pretty feel for the set.  That said, there are lots of options available in M15 so I feel by no means am I an expert, but I feel like I do have a solid grounding to base my selections in a pack.  Let’s open up the pack and see what we’ve got!

 

Rare

 

Uncommon

 

Common

 

So, this is the first week in which we’ve had a snap first pick.  Liliana Vess is very clearly the best card in this pack. The ability of Planeswalkers to warp the board state is reason enough to grab one if you see it in a pack, but Liliana Vess can be extremely nasty to cope with in a Limited game.  Her +1 forces your opponent to discard, ensuring that you gain a significant card advantage.  If she doesn’t get answered Liliana will eat away at their hand to eventually put them in Top Deck mode.  That puts you CLEARLY in the drivers seat and reason #1 to grab her.  Her second ability is essentially a tutor effect.  Wonder where that great BOMB is in your deck?  Oh never mind…Lili just found it for me! Reason number 3…is that everything that is dead is now back…and it’s mine! Yup…sounds pretty bananas to me.  There really is no doubt, Liliana Vess is the best card in the pack and a darn good reason to grab her and go Black.  But, what about the other cards in this pack?  You still need to consider what might come back your way when the pack wheels, so let’s see what else there is.

 

Let’s just get it out there, Staff of Death Magus is largely unplayable.  You might get stuck trying to jam this in your draft deck, but this card is suitably passive that you would likely be better off taking another card . Sure, it pops up once in a while in Mono-Black decks to fight Burn decks in constructed environments, but in Limited you don’t want to sacrifice the card space for this card.

 

Belligerent Sliver is a reasonable creature at 2/2 for 3 mana, but with there being not enough slivers to actually play a Sliver deck he’s just a 2/2 for 3 mana. I would be looking at something else in this pack and not this.  As a result, 2 of the 3 uncommons in the pack are pretty lousy for Limited.

 

Gargoyle Sentinel is 3/3 for 3 mana and is something I can get behind.  Sure, you need to pump three mana into it, but once you do you get a fairly formidable 3/3 flier that can attack.  This is an efficient creature with a useful ability and is an artifact so it can legitimately go in any deck and any combination of colours.

 

Encrust is a very reliable and useful blue removal spell.  It is efficient, tangles up a creature quite well and is very reliable.  It may not be flashy, but when you need a problem to be dealt with Encrust will fit the bill pretty nicely.

 

Scrapyard Mongrel is another efficient creature provided you have an artifact to trigger its bonus.  I don’t really put tons of value in picking up BAD artifacts to trigger this guy, but if I already have a solid artifact or two (like the Gargoyle Sentinel perhaps?) I would prioritize this more highly.

 

Goblin Roughrider is a solid 3/2 for 3 mana.  It isn’t exciting and is just a vanilla creature, but three power is three power and can trade up to take out larger creatures.  Also, knowing that there are quite a number of Goblins in this set I might be able to swing a Goblin sub-theme to the deck.  This is worthy of some consideration in the mid-rounds for sure.

 

Pillar of Light is reasonable removal but is a bit narrow.  Many creatures in this limited environment are small enough that Pillar of Light is unlikely to target them.  However, instant speed is a nice bonus for this sort of removal.

 

Peel from Reality is a very useful bounce spell at Instant speed.  It is even better if you can net extra value by targeting a creature that has an enter the battlefield trigger on it for when you cast yours again.

 

Selfless Cathar is a solid 1 drop creature that can really tip combat when you sacrifice him to pump your team.  I like early drops and I like pumping my team…so I’ll take a look at him.

 

Sungrace Pegasus is a perfectly reasonable 1/2 flier for 2 mana and it even comes with Lifelink.  If you can augment this thing a little bit with an Aura or Equipment then it really pulls its weight, otherwise it is just one more semi-useful creature in your pile.

 

Black Cat is very disruptive both as a blocker and as an attacker. No one really wants to interact with it because it dies to a light breeze…and then you pitch a card.  This is a reasonable early play, but is not a priority and will likely be available late.

 

Verdant Haven is cute if you want to splash a colour, but otherwise enchant land is another way of saying “does nothing”.  As a result, this should likely be avoided right to the very end.

 

Inferno Fist is a very efficient 2 mana aura that can give you a little boost, but even better, can clear a path as you “shock “ something out of the way and rumble on in.  I like this little aura and can see it being very useful.

 

 

Top 5 cards

 

  1. Lilianna Vess
  2. Gargoyle Sentinel
  3. Encrust
  4. Peel from Reality
  5. Scrapyard Mongrel

 

There is really only 1 choice in this pack and that’s Liliana.  To tell any of you I would consider anything else would be a bold faced lie.  She’s an automatic “build around” card that warps the board.  She’s worth a pretty penny from a finance standpoint if I wanted to try and trade her or sell her and she can even be viable in Standard.  She’s basically a win in every department.  The rest of the pack is overall pretty marginal and as a result the player picking 2nd from this pack will very seriously have some tough decisions to make.  It’s not like the cards aren’t playable…many of them are quite playable…but it is assessing the value of the card to the chosen strategy that will really determine what is picked second  through fifth. Even in the mid to late rounds this pack has some very useful cards that could really push a deck over the top.  As always, the last 2 or 3 picks will be basically castaways, but most of this pack is very viable and can contribute towards a perfectly viable deck.

 

Well there we have it.  First picking Liliana is the first easy pack I’ve had in the 6 weeks I’ve been doing this.  However, the rest of the pack order is less of a sure thing.  What are your thoughts on my selection order?  Have I missed something and should have valued something higher?  Something Lower? I’d love to know what you think, so shoot me a tweet and let’s figure it out.

 

Thanks for reading and until next time may you crack on mythic bombs.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@ bgray8791 on Twitter
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Avatar Bruce Gray - July 31, 2014

Crack a pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce

2015 core set booster packs - Crack a pack MTG

Crack a pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Welcome back to another Crack a pack with Bruce.   I would like to first off apologize for being a little behind this week.  It being the summer and all I was away with my family, but I am back now and excited to Crack open a pack for all of you and to see what we find.  We’ve had some interesting packs in the last couple of weeks and if you want to catch up with things you can find those articles right here on Three Kings Loot. This week we’ll be opening a pack of M15 because it will now be the default draft environment if you are out in the shops.

 

M15 is an interesting set to draft because the overall power level of the cards is much more flat.  There are much fewer absolute bomb cards in this set, but there are also a much higher level of generally viable cards that can make spots in your deck and offer you some interesting twists mid-game.  Let’s take a look at what we’ve got in this pack.

 

Rare

 

 

Uncommon

 

 

 

 

Common

 

Foil

 

 

Once again, this pack is a very mediocre pack.  There just are not any huge, obvious bombs in this pack that make it clear what direction you should be taking it.  The rare is Aggressive Mining which is a fine card, but is not something I would be looking for to start my draft off.  For starters, it’s an enchantment that has very little impact on the board when I cast it.  As I have said before, I want my first pick to be something that when I cast it I can tangibly see an impact on the board.  Aggressive Mining does very little initially.  Also, while the situation can arise in draft that you have too many land cards, I very rarely ever want to physically prevent myself from playing further land by casting Aggressive Mining.  Sure I can net some extra cards, but at what stage of the game am I comfortable doing that?  My initial sense is late in the game at which point Aggressive Mining is likely too late…or helping me to pour on the pressure because I’m out in front anyway.  It also isn’t even worth that much, so drafting it for value also falls short.  While Aggressive Mining is a neat card, and might have a place in a Constructed deck somewhere, for a draft I’ll pass and find something else.

 

So, what else grabs my attention.  Believe it or not, the card that gets my attention first is Frost Lynx.  This simple little 2/2 for 3 mana is exactly the sort of card I like to play in a draft.  It has a serviceable body at a decent cost and even comes with a very useful ability to “freeze” another creature.  While this guy isn’t flashy, he’s very useful and something that I can get behind.

 

Another card that I could see myself get on board with is Coral Barrier.  It seems weird to be ready to get behind a Defender, but 2/4 worth of power and toughness for 3 mana is good value, and if I can find a way to recur it I would be pretty happy.  Also, the squid token has Islandwalk which is surprisingly relevant.

 

The third card that grabs my eye is Encrust as a piece of reasonable removal for Blue.  There isn’t much to say about this card, but it is reliable and reasonably costed and always seems to do good work. Also, you might notice that this point, we’re three cards deep and they are all Blue meaning something from this pack might wheel because the other players at the table might not want to be grabbing Blue at this point.

 

Oreskos Swiftclaw is another decent body as a 3/1 for 2 mana.  He’s vanilla and hardly exciting, but if you want the aggressive body, he’s the guy for you.

 

Wall of Frost is the 4th Blue card that gets my eye and is another defender.  This one is another one that doesn’t need much in the way of discussion because he’s just solid, but not flashy at all.

 

Dissipate is a solid counterspell and something that I would be looking at to wheel.  I don’t prioritize counter magic too highly in a draft if I’m Blue, but it is nice to have a little in your deck to keep your opponent honest.

 

Verdant Haven can play a useful role to let you splash for another colour, but let’s be honest, this will likely be there late if you really want it.  I’ll take my chances on finding one later in the draft if I really want one.

 

Torch Fiend, Ornithopter and Soulmender are all sort of blah creatures that you’ll take in the last half of the round, but you won’t be getting excited over any of them.

 

Gather Courage is a solid Giant Growth type effect, but I’m not a huge fan and would really rather grab this much later when I know I have some bodies to target.

 

Sacred Armory is about the poorest card in the pack, which isn’t too bad.  It is still a playable card, but I’m not really excited about pumping my creatures for power only with this, but it could be a useful mana sink if you lack other options.

 

Top Five Cards

  1. Frost Lynx
  2. Oreskos Swiftclaw
  3. Wall of Frost
  4. Encrust
  5. Coral Barrier

 

 

First Pick

 

My first pick, as discussed, would NOT be the Aggressive Mining, mainly because I don’t think it does enough for me. I’d pass on it and see if it comes back to me.  No, my first pick in this pack would be Frost Lynx.  A serviceable body, a relevant ability and it doesn’t overly commit me to playing any one colour too heavily at this point.  It fits in almost any deck, even if I just need to splash it, and can impact the board quite significantly by freezing something else. As much as this isn’t an exciting first pick it is a reasonable choice.  Also, seeing the amount of Blue in this pack I might hope to see something else that is useable come around when the pack wheels.  Perhaps the Dissipate or Coral Barrier could still be there to give me another solid Blue card to add to my pile.

 

Well, there we have it…another week…another pack.  What would you have picked out of this pack?  Would you take your chances on the Rare?  Would you have gone with another of the Blue cards in this pack?  Something else?  Let me know…I’d love to hear what you guys think and what you feel should have been the first pick, so tweet at me and let me know.

 

Next time we’ll bust open another pack of M15 or a pack of Journey into Nyx…I haven’t decided, but once I do I’ll let you all know. Thanks for reading and until time may you crack nothing but mythic bombs!

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
 
@bgray8791 on Twtitter
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Avatar Bruce Gray - July 16, 2014

Deep Thoughts on…the M15 Prerelease

M15 Prerelease - Spectra Ward

Deep Thoughts on…the M15 Prerelease

 by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 

I hope everyone had a great weekend and a fun M15 prerelease experience.  I have to say, I don’t get out to play in the shops very often, but I make a point of going to the prerelease.  It is a fun environment, is a little less stressful than full on tournaments and is just a great way to try out some of the new cards in the newest set.

The shop that I attend hosts a Two-Headed Giant event on the Sunday evening which is reasonably well attended (although not packed like the other 4 events they run during the weekend) and is my preferred time slot and format.  If you haven’t tried a Two-Headed Giant event I would strongly recommend that you do.  For starters, it is a fresh and different way of playing Magic at a Local Game Store.  We routinely assume that you have to play a 1 on 1 duel but it becomes very evident that Two-Headed Giant can work just as readily.  At our prerelease events you get your sealed product and can open up your stuff, but can then share cards with your partner to make the best decks possible.  This means that deck construction can be done with a partner and with a larger pool of cards meaning you are assured to be able to play a reasonable deck in the colours of your choice. I particularly like building my deck with someone else.  I spend most of my time building my deck solo, so to have a second opinion and fresh eyes is refreshing and a pleasant change. The strategy of a Two-Headed Giant game is also substantially different because the 30 life you start with, while it is only 10 more than normal, is much harder to deal with. Your deck needs to take on much more of a mid-rangey feel because a full out aggro assault is very likely to come up short and out of gas. In the actual game play, you get the same time allotment as you would if you were playing a 1 on 1 duel, but only need to complete 1 game meaning that usually you are done in good order.  This is nice so that you can get a little bit of a breather, get a drink of water, or visit the bathroom.  There were a few games that went the distance and resulted in draws and such, but they were far from the norm.

How did my partner and I fare?  My partner for such events is my brother.  He’s the guy who can claim responsibility for getting me into Magic back when we were in High School and he is most often my partner of choice for such events. He’s a very good player and is quite polished in his game play…and we tend to think along the same lines when we sit down to build decks meaning that we can easily complement each other.  I’m not sure the fact that we are brothers is a huge benefit, but we certainly are familiar with each other and know what to expect from the other person.  In the end we went 4-1 and placed 2nd out of 20 teams which was a very strong showing for us.  Here’s a look at the deck I was running.

 

M15 Prerelease – Two-Headed Giant Sealed

 

U/W Sealed deck

 

As you can probably tell I played the White seeded pack and was generally pretty happy with the outcome.  The intent of the deck was to get out early with the 2 drops (Welkin Tern, Dauntless River Marshal, Oreskos Swiftclaw and Ajani’s Pridemate) to apply some early pressure to get us to the long game plan of the Archangel and Boonweaver Giant.  I packed in a couple of auras and a little removal but was stunned to have opened 0 counterspells.  I admit, I felt kind of naked without knowing that I had a little bit of counter magic, but you get what you get and play the games.  My brother on his end played the Black seeded pack and opted for a wildly aggressive B/R build running tons of goblins and bringing loads of pain.  In the end, our decks complemented each other pretty well and we seemed to have reasonable synergy such that we could really get out front of our opponents and then close down the match.

A few highlights were in game 1 we had fallen behind to a very aggressive Mono-Red deck that left us reeling.  We had sort of stabilized at 12 life but were still in danger of being blown right out.  In back to back top decks I ripped Boonweaver Giant and immediately tutored up Spectra ward for it giving me a basically untouchable 6/6 beatstick.  The next top deck I ripped Resolute Archangel and swung our life total back for a ton and could then attack with impunity.  The look on the faces of our opponents when the Angel came down was just priceless and the two 7 drops turned the tide of the game for us.  In game 4 we were again under pressure and from an aggressive duo had just suited something up with their own Spectra Ward but I ripped my Spectra Ward suited up my Ajani’s Pridemate with 5 counters on him and we quickly closed out the game. In our final game it was once again Spectra Ward, this time on a Krenko’s Enforcer that did the damage to finish of a pair that had got off to slow start and were being punished.

Now that I have had a chance to sit down and really see the format, granted in a sealed setting and not draft, I have a learned a few things that I would pass along in the form of some Deep Thoughts

 

Spectra Ward

You may have got the sense that Spectra Ward is good.  Based on the limited results we had, it was not just good, it was terrific.  You can make ANYTHING into a basically untouchable bomb that can shred your opponent.  I have rarely been excited for 5 mana auras, but I might be able to get behind this one.  What is a disgusting combination is the Boonweaver Giant tutoring up the Spectra Ward for FREE and then closing out the game very quickly. If you see this one, take it because it does very good work.

 

Don’t underestimate the Goblins

There are a fair number of Goblins in this set and many of them are useful.  Foundry Street Denizen is a terrific way to punish opponents for slow starts and Frenzied Goblin basically makes blocking a nightmare as they tap things down.  However, the real star of the Goblin army is the Rabblemaster who is a one Goblin army.  My brother put him to good use and routinely got in there for plenty of damage with him.  Mix in the Red Paragon (yes, I know he’s NOT a Goblin) and you have an awesome combination to get out to blinding start with loads of damage.

 

Removal

If you weren’t sure before, I’m here to tell you that the removal in this set is very poor.  It is either very situational like Pillar of Light or Banishing Light, super expensive and clunky like Flesh to Dust, or punishes you tremendously like Ulcerate.  So, with the exception of Lightning Strike you are paying a ton for lousy removal.  This puts extra pressure on you to curve out with creatures because the only real way to protect yourself is to block and to try and block profitably.  I miss the days when removal was cheap, efficient and plentiful…alas, the times they are a changing and removal just got pricey.

 

Post-Theros Block Limited

All of us who enjoy playing limited are going to have to adjust to playing in a post Theros world where Bestow is no longer a deal. It means the requirement for Auras to be playable now needs to go WAY up.  It also means that you can’t just load up one dude and have him smash away.  I watched a number of opponents suit up there creature like they would have in Theros limited environments only to have them completely nullified by a single spell.  Remember folks, don’t set yourself up for the 2 for 1 unless those auras are really good.

 

New Card Frame

The new card frame got its debut and it looks solid.  It isn’t really a major change and it still looks and feels like a Magic card.  I think everyone will get used to it and will grow to like the new look.

 

On between round meals

One of the hardest parts of playing Magic at a lengthy event is making sure you get something to eat between rounds.  Lots of people default to Mcdonald’s or Tim Horton’s, but I’m never really satisfied with those choices.  Well, as I walked into the Shop to play I noticed that the small pizza joint next door had a promotion for a slice of pizza, a pop, and a garlic dip all for $5. The proximity to the store (namely, right next the game shop), a solid price, and the fact that it was pizza sealed the deal and was the meal choice for us.  Pizza has rarely tasted to so good.

Oh, as a final point, at the end of the night for my drive home I stopped at the Tim Horton’s to grab a decaf coffee (I only ever drink decaf).  It’s 10:30pm and surely most Timmies have decaf brewing, but not this weekend. I had to stop and wait while they brewed up a new pot.  Now, I know this sounds very petty, but who exactly is buying regular coffee at 10:30pm on a Sunday night?  Presumably people want to sleep and the caffeine pretty well sewers that.  Decaf would be the obvious choice but for some reason the Timmies I visited seemed stunned that I would want decaf.  Perhaps I’m being overly particular because when I was younger I worked at a Timmies…but I hardly think expecting to have Decaf on hand late at night is a shocker.  Rant over…thanks.

 

I hope all of you had a fantastic M15 Prerelease weekend.  I’d love to hear about other experiences out there and what you observed.  Was Spectra Ward as good for you guys as it was for us?  What did you think of the removal?  Did anyone open some crazy awesome rares and just go off?  I’d love to hear the stories.  Send me tweet and let’s hear all about it!

 

Thanks for reading and until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

Bruce Gray
@bgray8791