Tag: mtg-strategy

Kyle A Massa - March 28, 2016

5 Quick Prerelease Tips

Play the Ten Drop – 5 Quick Prerelease Tips

Ah, the prerelease. The first time we get to play with those shiny new cards. It’s also one of the few times of the year that we get to play Sealed deck (which may or may not be an exciting prospect, depending on your tastes.) Eh, whatever
––just hope for a bomb.

If you’ve never been to a prerelease before or just want a refresher, here are some quick tips, tricks, and suggestions for having a good time!


Do a Little Research Beforehand

You’ve probably already checked out the spoiler, but it never hurts to go a little deeper. Consider the strengths of the colors, the possible synergies, the cards you’d be thrilled to open and the cards you’d rather not see. For instance, if you made a vampire deck, it might help to consider a hypothetical ratio of discard enablers to madness spells. This helps for faster and better deck construction.


Find Your Bombs

Sealed deck, more so than draft, is a bomb driven format. A bomb is basically a card that, if unanswered, will win you the game by itself. Think Archangel Avacyn, Arlinn Kord, Sigarda, Heron’s Gracethose kinds of cards.

A word of warning: don’t be deceived by rarity. Despite the above examples, a rare (or even a mythic rare) does not a bomb make. Altered Ego is a great example. Sure, it’s a big, splashy spell with a unique effect, and it’s rare. But is it the kind of card that’s going to win you the game all by itself? Eh, probably not.


Be Kind

I see a lot of new players showing up for prereleases, which is outstanding. I think it’s because prereleases are generally a little less intimidating than, say, Modern tournaments. People are usually pretty laid back about the whole thing.

That said, I still see experienced players being totally unforgiving at prereleases. They just roll the new players and then walk away.

Am I saying that you should let the new player win? No, absolutely not. You paid good money to play, so you absolutely have the right to play hard and win. Furthermore, if you let the inexperienced player win, they’re not really learning how to play and they’re not getting any better.

However, if you notice that your opponent made a huge mistake in games one and two, you can definitely try to give a little advice. A lot of new players will appreciate it. You can say something like, “Hey, I’ve found that this works pretty well,” or, “I tried doing this and I love it.” Sometimes it’s tough to give advice without sounding like a know-it-all, but it can make a huge difference.


Throw Out Your Packaging

Maybe this is just a pet peeve, but packaging always seems to gravitate toward the middle of the table, where it clumps and turns into a gigantic mess for the store owners to clean up. You might say, “Who cares? They can just throw it out.” And sure, they can. But remember that these people are giving you a place to play Magic every week, and that they work long hours for not a whole lot.

Do them a favor. Show your appreciation by walking to the trash can and throwing out the wrappers. It’s not that hard.


Have a Good Time

I think this one’s pretty self-explanatory. Magic is the best game there is––but it’s still just a game. Just go and have some fun. If you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose. The most important part is having a good time.


In Parting…

Have any amazing prerelease stories? Did you flip your Westvale Abbey into Ormendahl? Did you make a successful investigate deck? Did you kill someone with Triskaidekaphobia? Tell us your prerelease story in the comments below!

By Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop

You can reach Kyle at @mindofkyleam on Twitter or through his site www.kyleamassa.com

Gregoire Thibault - March 16, 2016

An Intro to Intros

Optimum Jank – An Intro to Intros


So You Want to be a Magic Player?

Welcome to the world of Magic: The Gathering. A world filled with nuanced heroes in troubled circumstances, interesting monsters that are often more than they appear to be, captivating worlds begging to be explored and fantastic spells that bend the reality of those worlds. Somewhere in that mix, there just happens to be a pretty fun card game to collect as well. Exciting, isn’t it?

Whatever the reasons may be that brought you to this game, there are always a number of questions that plague new, returning, or even experienced players. Whether it be about card evaluation, deck piloting strategy, or simply how to introduce the game to a new player, there’s no end to the number of queries this game can create.

Although there’s an endless amount of content by pro players much better at the game than I am to answer questions about critical meta-game strategies, there’s far less content out there for the more casual players. The ones trying to figure out if now is the best time to come back to the game after a long hiatus. The ones who have no idea what to do with all the draft cards they’ve amassed. The ones who want to introduce the game to their friends but aren’t sure how best to present it to them. The ones who like to bring their silly combo deck to Friday Night Magic. If this sounds like you or one of your friends, I have a feeling we’ll get along swimmingly.


Everyone Starts Somewhere

Getting started (or re-started) with Magic can be a daunting and/or overwhelming experience. There are a lot of rules. There are a lot of experienced players. But most of all, there are a lot of cards. The sheer number of cards alone can often astound newer players. Some of the most frequently asked questions I get when explaining the game to prospective players are: “How do you remember what all the cards do? Did you have to study them all? Does every player know what all these cards do?”

Here’s a little secret: Most players don’t know what every card does. Certainly, there are players who do know a large percentage of the cards, but most don’t know every single card printed in the history of the game. A large majority of the time, you’ll only need to know a handful of cards at a time (depending on which format(s) you’re currently playing) to follow along. The longer you play, the more time you’ll spend talking about cards. After a while, you’ll notice that you’ll hear about particular cards more than others. Eventually, you start to learn based on this repetition. There’s no need to study the entire catalog of Magic cards before you start playing and there’s no need to memorize all the strategies, archetypes or lingo before you get going. All you need is a pack of cards and a buddy who’s willing to guide you through your first few games and you’re good to go.

treasure hunt

Anything and Everything

Now that we’ve covered what you don’t need to do, the next question becomes: Which cards do I need to collect or need to know about in order to play? Technically, the answer to that could be any and all cards in the history of Magic as long as your deck meets the format’s minimum card requirement.

I can see you panicking again. Don’t worry, we can fix this too.

Magic‘s most popular format is something called “Casual Magic,” also known as “Kitchen Table Magic” because of the mental image that most casual players play around the kitchen table. When playing Casual Magic, all you need is a deck of cards and some buddies to play. The reason this is the most popular version is that it has the least rules and regulations. At this level of Magic, people are just reading the cards and playing the game as they see fit. There’s no banlists nor format requirements that allow certain cards and prevent others cards from being in your deck.

Inevitably, there will come a time when you might want to optimize your deck. Or challenge yourself by playing against more difficult or focused decks rather than the random cards you’ve thrown together for kitchen table games. Most players will recommend Friday Night Magic (FNM) events at their local game stores as the next logical step. While this may be a solid step for returning players who already have experience with the game, I’ve seen a number of new players get very nervous about Drafting or playing against expensive, finely tuned Constructed format decks.

Frequently overlooked by enfranchised players of the game, there are other options available to newer players which will allow them to step up a their game before venturing in the realm of FNM. A format I love recommending to newer players is what I call “Intro Pack Magic.”

intro art

Allow Me to Re-Intro-duce Myself

Whenever a new Magic set is released, Wizards of the Coast (the folks who make the Magic cards) release “Intro Packs.” These are 60 card pre-constructed decks that (currently) come packaged with two booster packs. These decks and boosters predominantly contain cards from the current and/or immediately preceding set of cards. As an example, at the time of writing, the newest set released is Oath of the Gatewatch. Oath of the Gatewatch Intro Packs contain cards found in OGW (the abbreviation for Oath) and Battle for Zendikar (BFZ); the set that preceded OGW.

These decks are exactly what you would expect from something called an “Intro Pack;” they are a means to introduce a new player to the newest set and to Magic itself. These are not meant to be tournament competitive decks: They will be crushed by top tier decks if played against one. That being said, they’re usually solidly balanced to play against each other. If you can find a friend who’s interested in playing “Intro Pack Magic” with you, here’s how it’s done:

  • Both you and your friend buy an Intro Pack: You can each buy the same Intro Pack if you both desire, but it is much more enjoyable to play two different decks. You get to see more cards and more mechanics from the newest set if you do.
  • Don’t open the booster packs right away: You’ll often hear differing opinions about why you should or shouldn’t “crack packs” depending on who you talk to in the Magic community. In this particular case, there’s sound reasoning why you shouldn’t crack them open right away.
  • Play with your Intro decks first as is: You’ll want to get a feel for your Intro deck. Play a few games against your friend. Try to learn the strategy behind your deck and at the same time, try to figure out what your friend’s deck is trying to accomplish. Perhaps you like your friend’s deck better than yours? Ask if your friend would mind switching decks with you. It is very rare that Intro decks will contain tremendously valuable cards, so trading an entire Intro deck with your friend shouldn’t be too much of a hassle… unless of course, you friend loves their Intro deck. In that case, you’re on your own.
  • After you’ve played a few rounds with your Intro decks, now is the time to crack open those boosters.

Why are we waiting to open them, you may ask? By playing with your deck straight out of the box, you’ll hopefully have developed an understanding of your Intro deck and what it’s trying to do. These booster packs will have a lot more meaning to you now. Not only do you get to see sweet new cards and hopefully open an expensive rare, you’ll be looking at all the cards through the filter of your Intro deck. You’ll start to evaluate which cards would work well with your deck, which cards might actively work against it and which cards might not have any importance either way. Perhaps you’ll find a card or two that you’ll want to add to your deck. Great! Try to take one card out of your deck for each card you add in. Replay your decks with your new cards and see how that goes. You can continue making modifications to your deck as you see fit.

By focusing on this smaller initial pool of cards, you’re already starting to develop and learn basic skills you’ll be needing as a burgeoning Magic player: You’re learning such concepts as card evaluation, deck construction, the management of limited resources and the ability to quickly learn new cards found in a particular Standard set.

Intro Pack Magic can be taken a step further within your playgroup if, at the end of every week, you each agree to buy a booster from the set your Intro Pack is from. Add the cards you like from your new booster to your deck. Over time, you’ll acquire more cards for your collection, have a uniquely tuned deck that you’ve played with friends in a non-competitive environment, and will develop skills needed if you do decide to make that leap to FNM Draft or Constructed.


The End of the Beginning

I hope you enjoyed today’s column! The topic of how to start (or jump back into) Magic is one I often see pop up on Magic forums and websites, so I was excited to address it here. In future, we’ll be looking at various other ways to play Magic which will hopefully appeal to the Casual and Competitive alike. If you liked what you see here or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the Comments section below!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank

Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - August 7, 2015

Abzan Elf Company in Standard for Origins Game Day

Standard Abzan Elf Company

It’s been a long time since I was even remotely interested in sleeving up a deck for Standard, but with the spoiling of Shaman of the Pack that all started to change. Seeing that card made me instantly pull on my brewers hat because honestly, Collected Company right? It seemed like this pair was too powerful to dismiss at first glance but the real test seemed like it would be finding enough of the pointy eared guys to build around them to make the deck run right. This is how the idea for Abzan Elf Company started for me.

Shaman of the PackCollected Company

Searching up all the Elves in Standard brought up a suite of eighteen soldiers to recruit, but how many of them would truly be worthy? I knew that one main factor is the added value of Collected Company so another key was converted mana cost of those at three or less. Also, another strength of the Elf tribe is one mana accelerants or mana dorks which would be a key to powering out our gas as quickly as possible.

So let’s take a moment to look at the two main cards we are using to gel this idea together with Shaman of the Pack and Collected Company. The true power behind the Shaman lies in its ability to end games quickly and without even requiring much charge to entering the Red Zone. As for Collected Company it is a card advantage machine for green decks which is something they are often lacking, but it requires a build around commitment to execute properly. What these two ideas revolve around is a high density of creatures to pull it off and because of that synchronicity they can be meshed into each other.

We can safely say then that we are looking at that density to fall somewhere between twenty-eight and thirty-two to be consistently reliable on both fronts. Let’s take a look then at all the creature possibilities that are afforded to us in those eighteen dismissing whatever is sub par to the plan and see if we can shake out a cohesive decklist from that.

Elvish Mystic – this is our quintessential turn one play which enables us to accelerate to early action.
Gnarlroot Trapper – the other one drop mana dork, but that he can’t pay for Collected Company is a real downside.
Sunblade Elf – with an Abzan splash this little dude can be a beast in fudging up combat math with his ability.
Thornbow Archer – while I don’t expect many mirror matches there is a non-zero amount of Nissa floating about.

Elvish MysticGnarlroot TrapperSunblade ElfThornbow Archer

Dwynen’s Elite – three power and two bodies for the Shaman for just two mana is pure value in this deck.
Elvish Visionary – replaces itself very efficiently and is just total gas for the deck, so amazing to Company him in then draw another to keep the pedal to the metal.
Leaf Gilder‎ – the other mana dork available to us but droping it turn two is way less valuable then having it active turn two.

dwynen's eliteElvish VisionaryLeaf Gilder

Nissa, Vastwood Seer – while she isn’t a bad card the low land count in the deck works against her transforming reliably but if you can then ticking her up will just keeps the gas flowing.
Reclamation Sage – Another handy three drop it seems with the amount of thopter decks and incidental enchantments or other artifacts floating about he is not just another Elf body but also key utility.
Shaman of the Pack – this is the whole reason to pull this deck together. With it’s ability to just kill out of nowhere, if you are able to apply any pressure to the opponent this is without a doubt going to be an incredible finishing move. And the feel goods when you are able to drop two from a Collected Company is just indescribable.

Nissa, Vastwood SeerNissa, Sage AnimistReclamation SageShaman of the Pack

Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen – giving that boost to the team is crucial when you need to adjust the combat math in your favour and gaining some life in the process ensures you can survive to your critical turn.
Sylvan Messenger – with such a high concentration of Elves in the deck the chance to whiff is so slight and when you get to refuel your hand with another three or four creatures that is nothing to shake a stick at.

Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf DaenSylvan Messenger

Gilt-Leaf Winnower – that he is tutorable with Chord of Calling is his prime selling point but the condition that his target can’t have equal power and toughness does leave quite a few good targets off his list. But he is big and menace helps to push through extra damage.

Gilt-Leaf Winnower

So there we have our options to put together our cohesive mixture. If we start at the top with the one drops it is obvious that our first eight slots are taken with both Elvish Mystic and Gnarlroot Trapper to boost our games with a turn one accelerant. But just eight turn one plays doesn’t seem enough, since often turn two we have three mana at our disposal, which left the choice between Sunblade Elf and Thornbow Archer. Looking at the Archer I wasn’t fully convinced that it was any good and thinking about the white splash for Sunblade seemed very doable with little downside due to Windswept Heath, while providing additional sideboard options as well.

Next the two drops were fairly straightforward for me as both Elvish Visionary and Dwynen’s Elite are just pure value for the cost and definitely auto-includes. Now while I did find some deck lists running Leaf Gilder I wasn’t convinced this deck wanted a turn two dork and I was happy with eight creatures for this spot on the curve.

That brings us to lucky number three. Obviously we are running with the full compliment of Shamans, but it’s the other options where numbers are the key. I really like Nissa very much and she helps not only to ensure we have mana coming to us but also keeps the gas going when she flips, IF she flips. It’s not going to be easy to get to seven lands with this deck so for that I don’t want too many in there, as well as reducing the whiffs on Collected Company. Our other option is Reclamation Sage which I like very much with some of the decks already floating around. With a 1/3 split between Nissa and Sage that gives us another eight elves added in total.

Now we start to get beyond where Collected Company is useful and we already have twenty-eight Elves in the deck so anything now beyond has to be just value for the deck. Both four drops Dwynen and Messenger are really good but we don’t want too load up, so I opted for a 2/2 split. As far as continuing to climb up the mana ladder as much as I liked the idea of a tutorable removal spell the amount of creatures that Gilt-Leaf Winnower could not destroy made me want to shy away from it.

With the creature suite pretty well locked up that left only the decision on what were the complimenting spells to the deck would shake out to. The card advantage engine consists of Collected Company and Chord of Calling which I settled on a 4/2 split. I wish there was a way to squeeze in another Chord of Calling, but I really wanted a one-of Obelisk of Urd with so many Elves in the deck. Convoke really helps keep the actual costs down so we don’t have to worry about stumbling on the more expensive spells.

Collected CompanyChord of CallingObelisk of Urd

As for the manabase I feel like I’ve come to a good balance considering the splash for some white cards and abilities. For the green and black side of the deck I’ve got five Forest, two Swamp, and one Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, along with four Llanowar Wastes and two Temple of Malady. Then for the white side I added one Plains to be fetched up by four Windswept Heath, and some tri-coloured choices with Mana Confluence and Sandsteppe Citadel. I really wanted to minimize the amount of lands which come into play tapped to ensure a first turn play which is why I didn’t go for a third Temple or additional Citadels.

Putting everything together the decklist looks like this:

Abzan Elf Company

by EJ Seltzer

One flex spot I’m considering is moving a Dwynen to the sideboard to add an additional Chord of Calling and possibly one of the Reclamation Sage as well perhaps to get a Hero’s Downfall into the maindeck, but I’m still debating those choices. There might also be some value to a second Obelisk of Urd instead of the Downfall to ensure tons of pressure from my creature rush.

For now the sideboard is still in flux but the main cards I have been considering include Bow of Nylea, Obelisk of Urd, Nylea’s Disciple, Dragonlord Dromoka, Hornet Queen, Duress, Eyeblight Massacre, Dromoka’s Command and Hero’s Downfall. Other options could be Nylea, God of the Hunt, Mistcutter Hydra, Whip of Erebos, Palace Siege or Abzan Charm. Of course it’s always dependent on what you’re expecting to face in your meta.

If I had to decide right now on my sideboard it would look like this:

Some of the decks I would expect to see would be:
Mono-Red Aggro – the key to this match is gaining life back to keep from dying to topdecked burn so Dwynen and Nylea’s Disciple are going to play a huge roll.
U/R Thopters – with artifact hate already in the deck it isn’t too hard to hold them off by destroying key pieces, but an Ensoul Artifact on a Darksteel Citadel is very scary to be staring down.
G/R Devotion – this matchup is the most troublesome when they are able to drop their big bombs and we aren’t able to deal with them before we get run over, but since we don’t necessarily need to attack to kill them and we have incidental deathtouch to eat through their blockers or vanquish their attackers it isn’t so bad.
Abzan Control / Megamorph – the real scary card here is Languish which can put the kibosh on our whole plan in one fell swoop so making certain to not overextend and build towards a focal turn to try and sneak in the kill under their nose.
U/W / Bant Heroic – on a similar line to the thopter deck we already have maindeck hate for their auras so this looks like something of a favourable matchup for the deck.
Jeskai Tokens – with the possibility to just gum up the board with so many creatures until they can go nuts with Jeskai Ascendancy out to pump their army and cheat out Stoke the Flames at the same time Reclamation Sage never looked so good, especially with Chord of Calling as an instant.

So there you have Abzan Elf Company, the deck I plan to give a good shake out this weekend with the Game Day tournaments going on. I  plan to continue to push this deck going forward so expect to hear more about it in the near future. If you plan on going to you own Game Day then I wish you luck. Let me know anything you see in my list that could be tweaked, I appreciate any feedback. Thanks for reading.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com

Bruce Gray - September 30, 2014

Deep Thoughts on…Khans of Tarkir Prerelease

Abzan Houses -

Deep Thoughts on…Khans of Tarkir Prerelease

 by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

So, I’m back and all bleary eyed from my Khans of Tarkir prerelease experience.  Wow…what a time!  Let’s get out in front of this…I didn’t do very well.  I played in the Two-Headed Giant prerelease on the Sunday evening and it was packed! We ended up in the pizza joint next door for deck construction as overflow and it was nuts.  With that many players it was bound to be a tough hill to climb and it was exactly as I expected.  My brother, who is my usual partner, and I had a record of 2 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw.  We ended up way down the standings, but had tons of fun and really didn’t feel like our record was indicative of the strength of our decks.


In the first game we were a little slow off the mark but were starting to make some headway and stabilize the board.  It wasn’t helping matters that I drew land for 6 consecutive turns forcing my partner to handle the load of the work.  However, just as we were turning the corner and getting things set up to really get in the match we got hit with a HUGE Icy Blast that tapped us down for 2 full turns.  Needless to say, we didn’t last long because that sort of tempo play is just backbreaking.  We took it on the chin and were 0-1 to start.


In game two our opponents got out to a quick start and built up some solid board presence.  However, they got tentative and tried to slow roll us as they set up their kill stroke.  However, when both our decks roared to life at the same time, and yet another HUGE Icy Blast later, we had them dead and kicking themselves for playing so slowly.  We moved on in a very respectable 1-1.


Game 3 was a situation where we came out and dictated play reasonably well.  We had strong board presence, had preserved our life total reasonably well, and generally were in good shape…until they hit us with…you guessed it…Icy Blast.  Well, that was the game and we were 1-2.  You may have noticed that we were just getting crushed by Icy Blast and it was doing some work.  Essentially, whoever resolved Icy Blast typically won out and it proved to be a ridiculous bomb.


Game 4 we were on the beatdown plan pretty hard.  We had them on the ropes pretty good and were laying waste to them pretty hard when out of nowhere came End Hostilities clearing the board.  Since they knew it was coming they could follow up with some explosive creatures and very quickly we found ourselves in a hole.  We just never recovered from the Board Wipe and they quickly mopped up the rest of the damage to leave us 1-3 and feeling pretty sorry for ourselves because we felt we deserved a better fate,


Game 5 was one of those games that everything went our way.  We dodged all their big spells, countered or killed all the most relevant threats and generally had the run of things.  However, they scrounged and wouldn’t give up and we ended up going to extra turns.  In the end we drew, but it should have been a win for us…with our life total being at a ridiculous 49 life to their 2 points and all the threats in the world. We just couldn’t quite seal the deal leaving us in a draw. This sort of game leaves a bad taste in your mouth because we had the win…we could see it…we just didn’t quite get it in time. Sweet…everyone loves to be 1-3 and a draw.


It was at this point that we dropped the actual event, but we did sit down with some buddies of ours who came with us to play.  They had fared much the same way we had and were way down in the standings, so they dropped too and we played them in a sort of exhibition game with our Limited decks.  It was pretty fun but we pretty much ran them over quite quickly.  I’ll call this a win for us, even though it doesn’t appear in the standings.  2-3 and a draw…not ideal, but fairly reasonable.


Here’s my deck:


Abzan Limited



Overall, my impression of the format was that it felt very slow.  With so many tapped lands entering play to enable the wide array of colours, early pressure was super important and usually left your opponent reeling.  The good news was that it was easy as pie to meet your mana requirements in terms of colours.  I found that all evening I was able to cast my spells and never in need of looking for double black or double white to cast my spells…I always had it.  The “Refuge” land cycle was hugely important because it was occupying a common slot in just about each booster pack and was readily available to provide the fixing that was needed.  Also, casting costs seemed to be generally pretty high and did not have a ton of easy to cast 1-2 and 3 drops.  The argument on the flip side was that Morph could enable a quicker play, but a 2/2 for 3 is pretty poor considering what else we can get.  I’m not sure I saw Morph get used to its fullest abilities in this first go around, but it definitely looked powerful and could do some very neat things.  I liked the Limited play in general, but deck construction proved very challenging as I had to balance a number of colour requirements, a reasonable curve, and generally manage the demands of straining my mana that little bit further than normal.


Icy Blast- This was a devastating card all night long.  Every time it resolved it pretty assured that a winner was going to be declared soon.  For limited this is a ridiculous bomb and automatic include in your deck.  If you see this in a Draft, grab it, even if you aren’t in blue just to ensure you don’t need to face it down.


End Hostilities- Another disgusting bomb that messed things up. Not as scary as Icy Blast, but still very good and pretty uncool to try and face down.  At least now you have the option of countering it, but it is still pretty crushing if you can hit it.


High Sentinels of Arashin- This is a disgusting bomb.  A 3/4 flier for 4 mana is pretty good, but it is the additional abilities that makes it just busted.  It gets +1/+1 for each creature you control with a counter on it.  Cool…but in Abzan that’s EVERYTHING.  This was routinely a 8/9 creature for me, and with the “Sliver-esque” feel to the Abzan it could get first strike, trample, Lifelink, or anything else really.  It’s pretty crazy to say the least.


Abzan “lords”-  As I said, the “Sliver-esque” ability of the Abzan to grant each other abilities can make for a devastating combination if left unchecked.  It resulted in gross amounts of life gain through the Lifelink granted by Abzan Battle Priest and coupled with the High Sentinels I had a full team of disgusting, Lifelinking monsters to terrorize my opponents.  I liked them and they all synergized well together.



On the whole, I liked the Outlast mechanic, but I found it very slow.  Some of the other abilities, like Prowess or Ferocious ended up being easier to trigger and it was a bit of a challenge about when to spend the mana on the Outlast counter and tap the creature down versus when to keep it up to block.


Funniest card that I ran

Feed the Clan.  Normally I would never run a card like this.  Pure, unadulterated life gain is just not something I like to play, but we kept getting blown out on Icy Blast and such.  So, both my brother and I main decked one of these with the express intent of firing one off to save our bacon and let us buy another turn in order to staff out getting knocked out of the match.  Believe it or not, it worked.  It bought us considerable time in one match and was not a dead card in another game we played.  I could hardly believe it was playable.  I’m still not convinced based on my small sample size, but I will be keeping an eye on it.



My MVP was Armament Corps.  My opponents would always allow this to resolve thinking that it was just a 4/4, but it could target itself and be a nasty 6/6 to cope with it.  However, the real benefit was in dumping the +1/+1 counters on other creatures (without utilizing their Outlast mechanic) to gain the benefits of the Abzan “lord” cards or to trigger the High Sentinels.  It proved to be a terrific barrier to shut out an aggressive ground game and a great way to enable powerful plays through the synergy with other Abzan cards.  This was a quiet star and one I was always glad to see turn up.


Biggest Bust

Honestly, while it was useful a couple of times, Take up Arms largely disappointed.  This is not M15 limited where Triplicate Spirits and the like are defining cards.  This is an expensive card that spews out some counters that could be neat if you are all aboard the Warrior-tribal theme…but I think will usually be an under performing card.  1/1 tokens just aren’t relevant enough because they don’t really trade profitably with much unless you double (or usually triple!) block a creature.  I would have rather played something more powerful at 5 mana than this.


I really enjoyed the Prerelease and wished I could have played a few more over the weekend, but needless to say that wasn’t possible based on my schedule.  It was a ton of fun, but it was just a glimpse of the Limited format that is going to shape up now that Khans is hitting the stores.  This format seems light years more complicated and nuanced than M15 which felt very narrow and stifled, but Khans is crazy diverse and a breath of fresh air.  The next several months are bound to be fun.


Well, there we have it, thanks for reading this week.  I’ll be back to my usual affairs of putting together a crack a pack and I’ve got some other irons in the fire in order to brew up some new decks and some other fun things.  So, stay tuned as we start to ramp up some of the brewing and news now that Khans is here.


Until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…and most importantly keep it is Casual.


by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
Daniel Clayton - July 13, 2014

Scrying M15 MTG: A Look into the Future

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Scrying M15 MTG: A Look into the Future

(Full M15 spoiler Gallery here)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The meat and potatoes

Ajani Steadfast: 4

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

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

Act on Impulse: 2

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

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

Aegis Angel: 3

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

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

Aeronaut Tinkerer: 3

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

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

Aetherspouts: 5

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

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

Aggressive Mining: 5

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

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

Altac Bloodseeker: 4

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

Amphin Pathmage: 2

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

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

Avacyn, Guardian Angel: 3

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

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

Avarice Amulet: 2

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

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

Belligerent Sliver: 2

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

Blastfire Bolt: 2

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

Blood Host: 2

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

Boonweaver Giant: 3

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

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

Brawler’s Plate: 3

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

Brood Keeper: 3

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

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

Burning Anger: 2

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

Carnivorous Moss-Beast: 2

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

Carrion Crow: 0

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

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

Chasm Skulker: 3

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

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

Chief Engineer: 3

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

Circle of Flame: 4

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

Constricting Sliver: 4

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

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

Coral Barrier: 2

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

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

Covenant of Blood: 2

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

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

Crowd’s Favor: 4

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

Cruel Sadist: 2

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

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

Diffusion Sliver: 4

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

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

Endless Obedience: 2

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

Ensoul Artifact: 4

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

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

Ephemeral Shields: 3

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

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

Eternal Thirst: 3

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

Feast on the Fallen: 2

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

Feral Incarnation: 3

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

First Response: 2

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

Flesh to Dust: 2

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

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

Frost Lynx: 3

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

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

Garruk, Apex Predator: 6

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

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

Geist of the Moors: 2

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

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

Generator Servant: 3

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

Genesis Hydra: 4

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

Glacial Crasher: 1

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

Goblin Kaboomist: 2

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

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

Goblin Rabblemaster: 5

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

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

Hammerhand: 3

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

Heliod’s Pilgrim: 3

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

Hornet Nest: 3

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

Hot Soup: 2

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

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

Hunter’s Ambush: 1.5

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

Hushwing Gryff: 4.9

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

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

Hydrosurge: 2

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

Indulgent Tormentor: 3

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

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

Inferno Fist: 2

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

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

In Garruk’s Wake: 2

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

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

Invasive Species: 3

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

Jace, the Living Guildpact: 3

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

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

Jalira, Master Polymorphist: 4

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

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

Kalonian Twingrove: 3

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

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

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient: 4

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

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

Leeching Sliver: 4

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

Life’s Legacy: 2

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

Living Totem: 2

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

Master of Predicaments: 3

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

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

Meditation Puzzle: 1

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

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

Mercurial Pretender: 1

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

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

Meteorite: 1

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

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

Might Makes Right: 2

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

Military Intelligence: 3

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

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

Mind Sculpt: 4

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

Miner’s Bane: 1

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

Necrogen Scudder: 2

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

Necromancer’s Assistant: 2

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

Necromancer’s Stockpile: 3

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

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

Netcaster Spider: 3

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

Nissa, Worldwaker: 4

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

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

Nissa’s Expedition: 3

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

Obelisk of Urd: 2

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

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled: 4

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

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

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

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

Perilous Vault: 5

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

Phytotitan: 3

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

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

Pillar of Light: 3

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

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

Polymorphist’s Jest: 5

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

Preeminent Captain: 3

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

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

Profane Memento: 1

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

Quickling: 3

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

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

Radiant Fountain: 1

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

Reclaimation Sage: 3

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

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

Resolute Archangel: 3

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

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

Return to the Ranks: 2/3

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

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

Rogue’s Gloves: 3

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

Rotfeaster Maggot: 1

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

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

Sacred Armory: 1

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

Sanctified Charge: 2

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

Scrapyard Mongrel: 2

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

Scuttling Doom Engine: 4

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

Seraph of the Masses: 2

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

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

Shadowcloak Vampire: 2

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

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

Shield of the Avatar: 3

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

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

Siege Dragon: 3

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

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

Sliver Hive: 5

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

Sliver Hivelord: 6

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

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

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

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

Spectra Ward: 3

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

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

Stain the Mind: 3

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

Statute of Denial: 3

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

Stoke the Flames: 4

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

Sungrace Pegasus: 3

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

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

The Chain Veil: 5

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

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

Triplicate Spirits: 2

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

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

Tyrant’s Machine: 2

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

Ulcerate: 4

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

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

Undergrowth Scavenger: 3

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

Unmake the Graves: 1

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

Venom Sliver: 4

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

Vine Weft: 3

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

Void Snare: 3

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

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

Wall of Limbs: 3

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

Warden of the Beyond: 3

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

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

Waste Not: 4

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

Witch’s Familiar: 2

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

Will-Forged Golem: 2

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

Xathrid Slyblade: 3

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

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

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard: 3

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

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


Notable Reprints:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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Bruce Gray - July 10, 2014

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Crack a pack MTG Born of the Gods with Bruce

by Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters


This week I will be opening a pack of Born of the Gods  and go through the top five cards and the first pick from the pack if you were drafting.  This is a follow up to last week’s Theros pack and acts as a bit of bridge towards the full block Theros draft.  Let’s have a look and see what we’ve got.


















Once again we have a fairly mediocre pack just like last week. A good starting point is always the rare but in this pack we have an awful card to draft first.  Plea for Guidance is a lovely way to tutor up enchantments, but it is terrible as a first pick.  You have no idea what direction your deck will be headed, it costs 6 mana for a sorcery that simply tutors up enchantments, and has no impact on the board.  No, this is a terrible choice for first pick, so we need to go deeper into this pack for some other things.


Once I’ve discounted the rare  (because it’s AWFUL) there are a few things that grab my attention. The first one is Siren of the Fanged Coast.  I always like playing blue and this gives you a very solid creature to start with.  It can either be a 4/4 flier (aka Air Elemental) or if your opponent is feeling particularly dense lets you take control of their creature.  In either case, this card is good and something that will a good long look to be first pick.


Everflame Eidolon is another good card because of the ridiculously aggressive cost of its Bestow ability.  Sure, it is 2 mana for a 1/1 with Firebreathing, but it Bestows for a very reasonable 3 mana.  If nothing else, using it as an aura is its intended purpose.  Don’t believe me?  Remember the Bestow costs in Theros?  Spearpoint Oread is a 2/2 for 3 mana and Bestows for 6. 6 mana! That’s huge! By comparison the Everflame Eidolon is HALF of that, gives your creature +1/+1 AND firebreathing. In draft, aggressive red decks love this guy and abuse him all day long.


Swordwise Centaur is another reasonable choice for first pick.  A 3/2 for 2 mana is solid and this just does work.  He’s gets down early, applies early pressure, and if you end up playing the devotion game is a solid devotion engine too.  The lack of other relevant abilities probably means that this guy isn’t picked first, but if you have your heart set on green you’ll give him a long hard look.


Pheres Band Tromper is another solid green card giving this pack two very good green cards.  3/3 for 4 mana is a good sized body and isn’t over priced, but the Inspired trigger to make it bigger is super relevant and makes this a very strong card.  Let’s be real…if you’re the type of player who likes to play green you love to turn creatures sideways and smash.  The Tromper rewards you handsomely for doing that and in the process makes you and even BIGGER beat stick.


The last card of real interest in this pack is Loyal Pegasus.  A 2/1 for 1 and has flying is always of interest, even with the drawback.  I would be less likely to get super excited for the Pegasus, but there are always people who want to force the aggro train and will jump on this as the entry point to an aggressive White based deck.


The other cards in this pack are very lacklustre. Stormcaller of Keranos is interesting for the repeatable scry effect, but a 2/2 for 3 with haste doesn’t really excite me.  Griffin dreamfinder is another reasonable card, but a 5 drop that is a 1/4 hardly scares anyone.  I’ve said as much before but Felhide brawler is a pretty poor “Grizzly Bear”.  A 2/2 for with a drawback makes this quite undesirable unless you are the B/R Minotaur deck. Crypsis, I suppose, could be a fun little combat trick, I would hardly take this early in the draft because I’m sure I’ll see several copies in the later rounds. Eye Gouge could be a perfectly reasonable choice because it kills a number of important creatures from Vaporkin, to Soldier of the Pantheon, to Sigiled Skink and Sedge Scorpion.  If you can nab a Cyclops with it, all the better. Grisly Transformation and Evanescent Intellect are both lacklustre auras that should be avoided in most cases.  Finally, Culling Mark is just a bad card and not worth wasting a selection…it will be the card forced at the end of the round.


So, top five cards we have in this pack:


  1. Everflame Eidolon
  2. Siren of the Fanged Coast
  3. Pheres Band Tromper
  4. Swordwise Centaur
  5. Loyal Pegasus


First pick:


Really, there are only 2 cards worth considering as a FIRST pick.  The others on this list are nice cards and can play big roles in a number of decks, but really only Siren of the Fanged Coast and Everflame Eidolon would be serious contenders to be first picked.  The Siren is unfortunately a Tribute card, meaning you could find yourself taking control of your opponent’s Nyxborn Rollicker or other innocuous creature instead of getting a 4/4 flier, but in most cases you’ll be getting a 4/4 flier which is pretty strong.  The Eidolon isn’t as powerful by itself, but the pretty inexpensive Bestow makes something else pretty frightening…particularly because if you can slap it on a Heroic creature, well, you’re off to the races.  At the end, the fact that the Siren is most consistently a 4/4 flier, and you aren’t looking to attach it to something like the Eidolon, makes the Siren a better choice and my pick for 1st pick in this pack.


Well, there we have it…our Crack a Pack for Born of the Gods all primed up for you.  I hope you enjoyed reading.  Next week we’ll crack a Journey into Nyx pack just before we start looking at M15 pack.  Until next week, take care and may you open many Mythic Bombs.


Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - July 9, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Esper Control by Gerard Fabiano (1st at ...

Esper Control -Detention Sphere

Esper Control by Gerard Fabiano

1st Place at StarCityGames Standard Open on 7/5/2014
As we get ready for a little metagame shake-up from the upcoming release of Magic 2015 we finish up the lame duck Standard with a final tournament. This one continues to show that Mono-Black Devotion is not the end all and be all of this metagame. We also see the Aggro dominance tamed by pro player and crowd favorite Gerard with a return of Esper Control to the spotlight.

Esper Control decklist


As with any Blue and White based control strategy we find a stock shell with this deck sporting a trio of Jace, Architect of Thought for draw and protection from creature swarms, a set of Sphinx’s Revelation to restock your hand with options and incidental lifegain to boot, a set of Supreme Verdict to deal with Aggro creature swarms, and a set of Detention Sphere which is able to answer most every other problem the deck may face. The meat of the deck comes from its planeswalkers, where we find the duo of the light and darkness alongside a pair of Jace options. First looking at the light we have Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as a primary win condition spitting out soldiers three at a time, while also able to sweep the board of all creatures with power greater then four and should she go ultimate will pump those soldiers of hers into veritable jet planes. Next plunging into darkness we find Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver who is especially powerful against creature decks to steal away their threats by milling away the top of the library and given enough support then dropping them into play. Then we have the two Jace, Architect of Thought integral to the deck surviving creature rush Aggro and grinding out card advantage, but also a singleton Memory Adept to work against Control strategies and mill them down to no library while you sit back playing a defensive role. The potatos of the deck come from a variety of Control staples of permission, removal and draw. The permission package is two-fold using the potent Thoughtseize to strip away their threats before they can play them while also providing you with very valuable information about what their plan is, and also a pair of Dissolve as the deck only real denial with a bonus Scry tacked on to help dig through your deck for more answers. As for removal this deck is chock full of including Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere already mentioned, but also some spot removal with a trio of Devour Flesh to abolish that huge threat when the enemy doesn’t have a swarm present and a Doom Blade able to destroy anything in RG Monsters in a pinch. As for draw power the main tool lies in Revelation and Architect, but the deck also leans heavily on the eleven Temples for Scry to help filter draws into what is absolutely needed. We wrap up with the utility player Azorius Charm which can gain a few points of life with Soldiers if desperate, filters itself into a new draw when needed, and even bounces an attacking or blocking creature to the top of its owners library to set them back and save some life.


While it’s true we are on the verge of a new Standard format in a few weeks it is certain that UW Control will be a strategy to continue going forward. Normally I would also say that with the summer here and Magic in its dog days that it isn’t important what to play, but remember that the World Magic Cup Qualifers are coming up. If you like oppressive Control strategies then I would definitely recommend this deck for you but be sure to clue into the current meta as this is always a deck that needs to be tweeked and tuned for what’s current. And good luck chasing down that glory.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Email: ejseltzer@hotmail.com
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - June 27, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Legacy Burn by Brian Cambidge (1st at SC...

Legacy Burn - Eidolon of Great Revel


Legacy Burn by Bryan Cambidge

1st Place at StarCityGames Legacy Open on 6/22/2014

It is truly bizarre how the recent successes of Red decks in Standard seems to be porting over to Legacy. While this is very far from a new deck and also not unheard of to win in Legacy, it is not one of the dominant strategies. What it is though is a strategy which has been the identity of Red decks over the last twenty years through the history of magic. It is simple in design but requires the skill of a practiced mage in order to bring it to victory. But the framework of Legacy Burn is often the same as it uses only the very best of the best that Red has to offer.


While the Legacy Burn has more then twice as many instant or sorceries spells then non-land permanents there are some very deadly ones that are showcased here. The first is what has been dubbed as the best red creature printed with Goblin Guide as not only a source of hasty beats but also provides some valuable information about what’s coming up for the opponent. We also find Grim Lavamancer which with a mass of cheap spells and some fetchlands will often find the fuel for its fire from the graveyard to close out the opponent very quickly. The other creature in the deck is relative newcomer Eidolon of the Great Revel which is so deadly given the spells in the format generally all fall under three mana and therefore even to try and remove him is going to cause the opponent to feel the burn in the process. There is also a pair of Sulfuric Vortex which are most especially needed against lifegain otherwise you’d be entirely blown out by a simple Batterskull and the extra damage each turn is gravy. Then we get into the spells which fall into one of three categories: Burn, Burn or Burn !!! You have all the three points for one mana all-stars with the classic Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Rift Bolt and Lava Spike. Against any decks running creatures it’s not hard to trigger Landfall on Searing Blaze to not only blast the creature but also dome the player for an additional three. With so many decks running dual lands and other non-basics Price of Progress can easily count for anywhere between four to eight damage which will end games very quickly. And as a very efficient finishing move you’re able to sacrifice some Mountains instead of paying for Fireblast to burn up those last remaining points of life and fry up your opponent.


The best part of Legacy Burn is that you’re able to pull it together so affordably as the only real cost comes from the fetchlands which are certainly not the same as loading up on dual lands. While it may not be storming out a combo or cheating out a fattie, it is still a fun and efficient deck that is very useful as an entry point into Legacy. I would highly recommend this deck if you are looking to dip your toe into the Legacy pool for a taste as you’ll be spending a fraction of what the other decks cost. And definitely have a good time with this deck and use it as a way to learn what you like about the formats other decks.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter