So what happened is that I wrote up my review yesterday for my local playgroup and thought, “Hey, James might like this” But my style is a little different and I’m not as deep into the analysis as his excellent white review is. We talked and instead of integrating my thoughts into his review, I’d just publish mine.
In short, my opinion on the set as a whole is a little lukewarm. I’m the guy who likes to buy x4 of everything, and this time I think I’ll sit it out as I see a lot of “jump through the flaming hoop” cards that Johnny’s like, and some EDH goodness. Most of the cards I want I either picked up (Jace) or I don’t see them going up in price too much. In the long run, when the set rotates out, the cards will depress. I’m of the feeling that it will be easy to trade extra fetches (just an example) for almost anything I want out of this set.
I also evaluate for draft by default. In that respect I think draft is about to become a bit more organic, as all the speedster cards get replaced by fatter guys, defensive guys, and better flyers.
Anyways, I haven’t done a set evaluation in a while, so sorry if it’s a little scattered. I do evaluation on a couple different levels so I’ll break it down by category.
Chase – A chase card is usually a premier, high value rare. Chase doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a must own, sometimes the card is just too expensive or it’s very specific to the environment that’s its being played in. But you should know what they are, and why they demand that value.
Ex. Jace, The Mind Sculptor, Thoughtsieze, Baneslayer Angel, Tarmogoyf
Staple – A staple card are generally “must own” x4 copy. These can be any rarity, and you’ll see these over and over again in the course of the format. The difference from these and “evergreen” cards is that you’ll see them drop in value as they rotate out, or they’re roleplayers for a certain type of deck or format. Sometimes, because of mana cost or ability they might be good, they won’t be relevant to every deck.
Ex. Rampant Growth, Duress, Bloodbraid Elf, Honor of the Pure, Blightning, Tri-lands, Duals, Fetch Lands.
Staple – Evergreen – I think I’m the only person I know who uses this term – – The best example I can give off the top of my head of a “staple” vs. an “evergreen” is Elvish Archdruid vs. Great Sable Stag. Archdruid is a great card, but he fits a role in a particular deck type. GSS is almost always a good deal – he’ll be a staple, a roleplayer, sure, but he’ll definitely go into any almost any green deck, as opposed to having you have to build around him.
Evergreens provide resources to multiple deck types in casual play, multiplayer, EDH and competitive.
Ex. , Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Acidic Slime, Tri-lands, Duals, Fetch Lands.
Role player – These cards are decent, but only in certain archtypes. I generally advise newer players to stay away from these cards unless you’re a Johnny and get the sense that you want to break it in half.
Ex. Megrim, Traumatize
Bomb (Draft only) In a Draft, bombs are usually first picks out a pack, they’ll have a huge effect on the game if they resolve, and will almost always win you the game unless your opponent has an answer.
Ex. Fireball, Hellkite Charger, Marsh Casualities
To keep the review as easy to read as possible I’ve just linked the spoiler here. I’m not going to clutter up the review with all the stats unless it’s appropriate. http://mtgsalvation.com/worldwake-spoiler.html
Admonition Angel – Draft Bomb, Role Player
The four big flying fatties seeing play in standard are Sphinx of Jhar Isle, Baneslayer, Malakir Bloodwitch, to some extent Broodmate Dragon. Sphinx and Broodmate are decent because their mostly immune to removal, and Baneslayer is too good not to play. Malakir is immune to most removal, gains you life, and can block Baneslayer. Any new entry into the “flying finishers” gets compared to them. While Angel is bigger, it’s slower and very vulnerable. In draft though, very little can deal with it.
You expect a 2/2 flyer for 3 casting cost. And a 3/3 flyer for 5 is par as well. Decent draft pick
Archon of Redemption – Role player
Same issue as Angel above but he’s got under average stats for his cost. He’s begging you to build a deck around him. I’d actually play Serra Angel over this. Gaining life is overrated, AND you have to jump through some hoops to really get value.
Pretty boring., kind of lower pick draft card. There’s enough x/4′s that he won’t matter as much.
Solid draft pick, very fair.
Well now we have some defense in draft. Too bad he doesn’t fly.
Hada Freeblade – Role player
If Allies becomes a standard deck, this guy will be in it.
Join The Ranks – Role player
See Hada Freeblade
Pretty bad. Duelist is better and didn’t get played all that much- Compare this to Skyfisher!
Kor Firewalker – Staple – Evergreen
Huge card that really really hurts mono-red. And it’s a soldier. The gain life ability just puts it over the top.
Lightkeeper of Emeria
I actually prefer this card in draft to the archon above. It doesn’t really ask you to play other cards to make it better, It’s got decent stats even as a 2/4 with no kick, since it comes out early to play defense, and if you draw it late, the life gain will help out.
Loam Lion – Staple
This is weird, because it might see play in extended zoo but white green isn’t the best deck in standard right now. Amazing statistics for its cost, just like Kird Ape.
Cliff Threader’s good, so I would guess this is.
Marshal’s Anthem – Role Player
I like this card. Resurrection was never bad, and neither was Glorious Anthem. I think it’s a little under the radar but it’s good in control, and it’s pretty huge in EDH. It’s probably too expensive for tournament constructed in multiples which is why it’s so low in cost. I’d probably pick it for draft though.
Third in the list of “red black aggro just doesn’t want to see this card in draft”
Refraction Trap – Role player
This is a huge card in draft, and may see play in standard. Note that it protects planeswalkers, which harm’s way doesn’t do.
Rest for the Weary
Like Sunspring expedition, it’s a Decent Sideboard card for the aggro matchup in draft.
Ruin Ghost – Role Player
There’s an infinite combo with this and some other cards on the forums, He’s got bad stats, but yeah, sometimes you want lands to come in multiple times.
Stone Forge Mystic – Role Player
Yep, someone’s gonna make a kor deck with him. Bad stats otherwise.
Talus Paladin – Role player
This is a big swing in Allies and may push that deck over the top.
Makes your man lands INDESTRUCTIBLE! And that’s it. Now you youngsters will have that special feeling you only get when you open an animate wall as your rare.
Veteran’s reflexes Bleh.
Solid Utility Common. Like Narrow Escape, it wants you to play permanents with comes into play abilities (Halimar depths! ), and it slows down your opponent. Worst case scenario, in the early game you can put an opponent’s land back in their hand. Boomerang has been a tournament staple, maybe this card has a place.
Another common that owns the speed deck in draft, and it can bash for four if you like. And shroud. Tournament level, possibly, because of that last ability.
Wizards just hates hard counters, this is another bad counterspell I’m just going to ignore.
Slightly worse than Apex Hawk in draft, but no slouch. Blue usually doesn’t get fatties with no drawback.
Woo Ally mill deck. We continue the theme of decent defensive stats again, that 1/3 ass for 2 is no joke.
Sure! 3 power flying for 3 is great. The ability might even be relevant.
Jace the Mind Sculptor – Chase Rare.
It’s good. The pros have already been sleeving and playing it. Brainstorm is no joke. And that ultimate is a 40 cal straight to the noggin. You don’t walk away from that.
Jwari Shapeshifter – Role player
Basically, you’re either playing allies and want this card, or you don’t care. It’s really good for that deck of course.
Mysteries of the Deep
Instant Speed Card draw is pretty clutch. It’s expensive, but Blue Mages hate to tap out. Not sure if this will see play over Mind Spring in standard but it seems okay.
I’m sure this is decent, but I’m not first picking it in draft.
Quest for Ula’s Temple
I actually have a deck for this. The other 8 million magic players out there? Out of luck.
Sejiri Merfolk – Staple?
Seems pretty strong for the cost. Great draft pick for those colors
Selective Memory – Role player
We’ve seen cards like this before, someone always figures out a way to break them. I still don’t feel good opening this in a pack.
Fairly costed, if it was costed any other way it would be a must play staple. This is sort of fair. I think people are still locked in on Flashfreeze as THE counterspell, will take a white or blue deck actually winning more for them to start considering other stuff. I like it though.
This is no veldakin dismisser, but its got a decent body.
Thada Adel, Acquistor
Definitely in EDH. If it were 2/2 for two it might see play in legacy. It’s playable, but how many artifacts are in play in standard? May be really good in Rise?
I think this is part of the combo with Ruin Ghost. First pick in draft too.
Treasure Hunt – Staple – Evergreen
This is a huge card for blue. The math has been done and the long and short of it is that you get 1.75 cards for 2 mana. If you can manipulate the library (halimar depths and jace) then you always get more bang than divination. Also, you always, always draw a spell.
This is a reprint. Can’t really complain too much.
Pretty bomby. Mind Control is always good.
Great stats, great ability, great first pick.
Another huge card for blue. 2/2 flyer for 1 with a minor draw back (you slow yourself down a bit to get aggro). It’s a great card without a deck right now.
Abyssal Persecutor – Chase
I’m on the fence on this guy. I like him, but not enough to shell out a twenty for him, then build a possibly weaker deck around him. His price is leveraged around the fact that he is a solid mythic in a mostly bad set. The black deck in standard is Vampires, and this is based on it’s synergy, and he doesn’t contribute to that at all.
Another weird rare. He’s pretty good in Allies, but not in constructed, since you have no idea what’s going to be in a graveyard. Bad stats for his cost too.
Anowon, the Ruin Sage.
He just HAD to be 4/3. Malakir Bloodwitch is so much better than this, and that’s a low cost rare. He could have been 4/4 and relevant. I don’t see what’s wrong with abyss in standard, I really don’t. He’s legendary, too. People might try and play him, and he’s just going to feel clunky.
The question posed earlier was “Is this better than Mind Sludge?” Short answer: No.
Mind Sludge just ends games. Ritualist is probably best in an edh or casual deck, but ultimately you’re paying for a 2/2 for 3, which isn’t that great. Decent in Draft though, another solid 2 or 3 for 1.
Bojuka Brigand (why I do I feel like we’re back in Betrayers of Kamigawa land?)
The ability to block is fairly irrelevant anyway – I think black allies will rally around growers like him and the sellsword to get past all the fat blockers. And coming out a couple turns faster is worth it. Sick card.
Brink of Disaster
It’s removal, and it kills land, which is pretty relevant. Not a Befoul though.
Butcher of Malakir – Bomb
A little highly costed for standard, but it does wreck some of those shroud strategies.
For draft, I suspect ZZW will be a bit slower, so this can make an impact.
Meh. I’d rather play shatterskull giant (which just got a lot better by the way) 4 is a much more relevant power now though.
3/3 for 2 casting cost in black is aggressive. I can dig it.
Huge draft masher two for one. Might be good in standard where you want to get value back when you get hit by blightnings – Grim Discovery saw play for that same reason.
Death’s Shadow – Role player.
Meh. Though you can search for it with Ranger of Eos
Playable draft pick. Like I said I think flyers and evasion is better now.
Some people will love this card. The question is whether it’s better to play than Hexmage in the vampires slot. For the moment, I don’t think so. If you have a deck for this guy, that’s great. He’s slightly better in casual though, which I think is why his price is up. He’ll go down over the long run I bet. He’s no Rotlung Reanimator.
There was a card in standard called blackmail which was 3 cards for B, and it was pretty bad. You want to play discard early, not late.
Nemesis Trap – Staple
This is Broken Visage as an uncommon. This a great card, fun to wreck people with, and will could see play in standard to 187 those baneslayers.
I sort of like this card as 1 drop vampire, and a rogue, and he does an extra damage. He quickly becomes irrelevant when someone drops a blocker, but he can still do duty as a vampire for you.
Same deal as Apex Hawk and the Merfolk. Not as good as either but swampwalk is relevant. If you’re playing swamps you can at least hate it so you don’t get killed by it.
Quest for the Nihil Stone – Role Player
Except this one is actually really good! Five life is pretty huge, and there’s some great discard out there. This is totally under the radar right now (1 dollar on SCG), and I suspect it will jump up once someone breaks it.
Ok draft pick. He’s a vampire, decent stats, and an okay ability. But in Standard he’s competing with Hexmage again.
What’s to say? He’s got a mill ability, and can maybe gain you life. Sucks in combat for his cost though.
Good Stats for his cost in draft, and the ability is no slouch.
Smother – Staple
Another proven reprint that just rotated out of extended. Now it’s back and extended players will be happy. No slouch in standard either.
I like. Solid removal in draft.
Urge to kill
WOW does black get a lot of stuff that kills stuff. And yeah, it’s good for vampires. Vampire players do a little dance. Again. Yawn.
I can imagine this scene, where wizards is sending a memo around to all the colors that they should slow down a bit, and of course Red got the memo, didn’t bother reading past the first sentence, and decided to wing it. Red’s just gonna keep aggroing it out, like that loud drunk guy at the party that’s making everyone uncomfortable.
Ummm. yeah, not the best card unless you’re committed to mashing with allies.
Wut? It can’t even give away an Illusions of Grandeur.
Wizards fell down, least they could do is give us the other half the combo piece…
Donating the demon is the best I can come up with.
This is pretty good for red. Not Earthquake good, though. Much more of a Multiplayer Wrath. Phone this rare right into your EDH deck.
Claws of Valkut
RAAAAAAA…..It’s lightning Talons, basically. But not always as good.
Comet Storm – Bomb, Staple – Evergreen
Solid red Bomb. Instant is huge. For standard it’s weighed against cascade, but it’s fantastic card for casual and draft.
Not particularly great. It’s not as good as hellhound, though I guess with land tricks it can do a few extra points. Maybe there’s a combo deck in him.
Unlike the Black and Blue Zendikon, this guy doesn’t have good stats for his cost. Draft playable, since that 4 power is more important.
Solid draft pick
Death Forge Shaman
I thought he was good, then I realized the damage is only to target PLAYER. Well he’s a body. If you have 8 mana he’s pretty nasty.
Dragonmaster Outcast – Chase
He makes dragons. He’s fetchable with Ranger of Eos. He takes a turn longer to smash face than with scute mob, but he makes flyers. Multiples of flyers. He makes DRAGONS.
Grotag Goblin Thrasher
Good stats for the cost, and this is about as close as you’re going to get to evasion in red for that casting cost in draft.
Kazul, Tyrant of the Cliffs – Bomb
Everything that Anawon the ruin sage isn’t, except he’s not a vampire.
Mordant Dragon – Bomb
Same issue as Admonition Angel for his cost in standard. In draft he’s a slightly worse flameblast dragon.
Quest for the Goblin Lord –Role player
Now that’s cute, cheap, and easy to pull off. Siege Gang Commander anyone?
Wizards keeps making deflect/swerve variants and they keep sucking in draft and ride the margins in standard.
This is interesting but expensive. The card this compares to is molten rain, but it’s not as good. Against some decks it’ll just whiff on the damage. But then lands are better now…
Meh. Kind of hard to build around it in your last pack.
Searing Blaze – Staple
It’s kinda like lash out, but worse. But red loves two for ones, and red has lots of ways to make land fall happen.
Skitter of Lizards!
ARARARRARARAGAGGHHH! Solid beats. Early game it’s a goblin chariot, late game it’s a tuktuk, whatever you like.
Decent stats, it’s a zombie goblin, and it has a discard effect. I miss that red/black deck… could it be back now?
Stone Idol Trap
Kills an attacker, swings in for 6 (probably) But is it a staple, really? I really can’t say. Seems good, but what do you take out?
Crappy body (like most of the allies) but the artifact ability is pretty nasty.
Arbor Elf - Staple
It’s llanowar elf, with the possibility that you might whiff if you don’t have an actual forest in play (you have savage lands/oran rief etc out) But it’s still probably good.
Avenger of Zendikar – Bomb
Pretty cute, and fun in casual to. Someone’s going enjoy killing with plants, I’m sure.
Bestial Menace – Staple
Flores already called it in Eldrazi green. Any deck that makes tokens. Think Cloudgoat ranger. Except you hit for nine. It’s fairly bomby in draft. If you were to get that by p/t paying “fair” it would cost you 7.
Funny, I was just talking about how elves needed a silhana ledgewalker… dunno if it will see play, but seems like a good draft pick. Think Whispersilk cloak
Explore – Staple
Better than rampant growth. Great flip over in cascade decks especially.
Another awkward green attempt at stall-breaking.
Bear, or Hill Giant, or better, it’s all good. Solid draft beater.
“Back in my day, we played Kickered Grizzly Bears, and we called it Kavu Titan, and we lit in on fire so it had haste. I remember those days… ”
So it’s Nimana Sellsword with Trample? Sold!
Groundswell – Staple
Might of Old Krosa, I missed you.
Could be interesting. Again, I’m not all that interested in Allies.dec
Joraga warcaller – Staple
It’s a great finisher in Elves, and you’ve got the mana and ways to put on counters. If you’re playing elves, you should pick this up.
Leatherback Baloth – Role Player
Same issue as always – Straight green always runs into problems. It has no tricks, no card advantage, and no reach (the ability to finish the game with a random top deck or through a stall). And elves is usually better because of it’s synergy. But people are gonna pick it up and play it, and Wizards will promote it, and will rotate out, and no one will care.
Nothing wrong with this, it’s a solid card, but not even naturalize is seeing play right now.
Omnath, Locus of Mana – Chase
Debatable on its power level, I think it’s a great general and someone’s likely to break it. It’s a tempo choice – you invest in the attack at the cost of progression on the board – but Omnath is an insane late game top deck.
Quest for Renewal
Seems strong, especially in casual Multiplayer
Slingbow Trap – Role Player
It’s targeted green removal, and will have targets in draft. I think windstorm is the sideboard card for this in standard.
Good stats, will probably have vigilance. Just another guy that slows down the board.
Strength of the Tajuru – Bomb
Nice finisher there – see the comet storm chart for stats. Oh yeah, and combos with Warcaller.
Huge beater in draft. Might be too fragile for constructed… Someone’s gonna try it though. Might be really good.
Blow up your own lands and get 18 power for 8 mana. Or just play crush of wurms.
Blow up their lands and they get stuff. I dunno. EDH, but kinda dull.
Another good ally card with bad stats
Craw Wurm was usually good, except this attacks a turn early. Pretty saucy.
Wolfbriar Elemental –Staple – Evergreen
Pretty solid beater. Decent stats on his own and late game drops some extra threats. Might not be standard worthy but he’s still really good overall.
Novablast Wurm – Bomb
It’s almost like Wizards designed EDH just so we could have a place to play big fatties like this. I dunno, we’ve got acceleration, and this blows up stuff. While it’s still pretty slow for standard, this is a great effect to have.
Wrexial, the Risen Deep – Bomb
Made for EDH again. He’s got a great toughness, is immune to terror, and has evasion. His ability isn’t that relevant to standard, but casual, OMG he’s got targets.
Amulet of Vigor
I really can’t comment on Amulet of Vigor without bias. At this point I’m a bit sick of yet another “jump through the deck design hoop” rare. I don’t have the mental fortitude to start looking for all the CIPT permanents in standard and extended and casual that this might go with. It’s just exhausting. Let the Johnny’s have their cake, I’ll just do what I usually do – wait til someone figures out how to break it then lamely shell out for an overpriced rare. …or I could just play nature’s claim on it and let you play with a slow deck.
Basilisk Collar – Bomb
There’s a Kor deck. This card isn’t good enough for it, since you never want to attack with Armament Master. But re-usable deathtouch is sick in draft.
Everflowing Chalice – Staple – Evergreen
Turn 2 chalice for 1, turn turn 3 chalice for 2, turn 4 do fun things with 6-7 mana. Like Play novablast wurm Solid card for most formats.
Hammer of Ruin
Not exactly a bonesplitter, nor is the ability that relevant.
Better than Hedron Scrabbler, I suppose.
Better than Hammer of Ruin, in cost and utility. Flying matters.
I really like this guy. Might be a role player in an esper deck, or something likes to eat lands. Anyone notice he’s got Juggy stats?
Pilgrims Eye – Staple – Evergreen
Stats and flying are kind of fair, but irrevelant. We play the Borderland ranger and we’re fine. For EDH as well, anything that thins you out early is generally good.
Wait, it is Betrayers of Kamigawa. I should have called it at the evil red griefing Legendary Ogre for 5. Well, Hankyu very much.
I dislike that the default casting cost for artifacts that draw you cards seem to be four. Still, I could see this (possibly) playing support in a red or green casual deck with no other way to draw cards.
Walking Atlas – role player
There was an elf a while back that had this ability, and it saw play. You could do some silly things with this and Geopede, maybe.
Bojuka Bog – Staple – Evergreen.
I don’t necessarily like what this card means for the reanimator deck archetype, especially in casual. Of course it’s a land, so you have a choice of holding back vs. playing it, but in my case I would do the thing I usually do with functional lands like Maze, I just play one less business spell and treat this as a spell. It’s uncounterable. It’s like, reanimation in standard isn’t that great, we’ve got crypt, leyline, and relic in extended, was this really necessary? Seems like an odd call.
Celestial Colonnade – staple
It’s a dual land, it becomes a flyer. Is it any good? Well, as good as any manland would be. They’re all great for casual, and they dodge removal in standard.. could be good. And if they were, it just makes land destruction and sea’s claim decks that much better.
Creeping Tar Pits – staple
I can get behind this card as well. Unblockable is pretty key.
Sure in draft. Seems slow and vulnerable in standard. 3/3 would have been better.
Eye of Ugin
Of Ghostflame fame. We get a hint of the next set (Steamflogger Boss?) The funny thing to me is, that if Eldrazi spells are actually playable/competitive, then a land that gives a discount of two to all of them is pretty crazy, like workshop crazy. But it’s legendary!
The ability is pretty silly, but I guess some casual deck might like it. Another random Johnny rare.
Halimar Depths – Staple – Evergreen.
Great card, especially with Treasure Hunt.
Some people don’t like this card. It does give you a guy, which is relevant. Polymorph decks will find some fun with this.
Lavaclaw Reaches – Staple
Quicksand – Staple.
Sure to be popular in control to stem the aggro rush, and always good in draft.
Raging Ravine – Staple – Evergreen
I REALLY like this guy. He starts off as a 4/4 and continues to get bigger. What’s not to like?
Here’s the question – if you’re playing this as a spell slot in order to ignore the question of whether you should play this as a spell or ramp, , it’s not necessarily as good as Brave the elements (The latter is a reactive instant, after all)
And if you’re playing it as a land, it’s kind of like Soaring Seacliff. So yeah maybe I answered the question.
Well, red actually likes it when you can’t block.
Stirring Brush – Staple
Good stats, but my Raging Ravine is better. You could be playing w/g though.
Tectonic Edge – Staple – Evergreen
I’ll take Wasteland where I get can get it, I guess.