Category Archives: conflux

Kicking Off the Standard Season

Here we go again.

It’s another season here on the PTQC and the grinding begins this weekend at the TCGPlayer 5k in Boston followed by a Sunday Funday PTQ.

Right now, public enemy #1 is UW Tapout; a deck that you can barely damage in the early game and is nigh untouchable in the mid-late game due to the hand sculpting card advantage given to the deck by cantrippers Wall of Omens and Spreading Seas, as well as Divination and Mind Spring, and of course Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Those, along with three-time all-star Oblivion Ring, and hall of famer Wrath of God there just isn’t a whole lot you can do to this deck before they resolve Baneslayer Angel or Sphinx of Jwar Isle.

Since I took this gig, I’ve been pushing Jund hard. Play the best deck I always say, and that deck is Jund. Well, unfortunately, it’s not anymore and I’ve been contemplating dumping my Maelstrom Pulses online for a cool 66 tickets though I’m not abandoning the bandwagon just yet. I am however, probably going to sleeve up UW Tapout this weekend at the 5k, so if you’re at the event and you see a better looking guy than you sitting across the table in a bright orange power9pro tshirt, mulligan appropriately.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t been trying like hell to brew up something spicy for one of these two events, because I have. I wish I had a better head start on things but life sometimes gets in the way and I was left with just a couple weeks to prepare for “The New Standard” as you see it called around the internets.

When Prophetic Prism was spoiled, old-school Open the Vaults / Time Sieve popped into my head because of its ability to replace elsewhere flask. I got the team involved because my brother had top 8′d an Australian PTQ with the deck last year and got to seeing if we could make it work in Standard where UW is what everyone is trying to do. We put a list together, tried some different things, and like I suspected it ran shop against UW Tapout. I was struggling against Jund a bit, but I wasn’t really comfortable with what hands I should’ve been keeping and what hands I should’ve been shipping. I passed it across the table to my buddy Steve and he immediately was feeling the deck. One of his big hangups has been that he really didn’t like any deck and he wanted to hit the 5k with something spicy and off the radar. And while Open the Vaults with Filligree Angel is certainly a deck right now, it’s possible to lose despite climbing to absurd amounts of life. The Tezzerator concoction simply never passes the turn back because of Time Sieve.

Mike Siever is not very spicy, and this is pretty much just a drummed up old list with some prophetic prisms and a couple extra glassdust hulk, but it gets the job done. We found that the Hulk is pretty much the key to beating jund. They have so much disruption that it’s not exactly feasable to get the Time Sieve loop going, but if you can beat in for a couple turns with the Hulk while ramping and possibly rocking out an Open the Vaults, you simply catch the Jund Player unawares and tapped out and eventually at 0 life. Depending on how Steve does with this bear I might run it on Sunday.

Another buddy of mine fell in love with a new ROE card: Kiln Fiend. We pretty much spent an entire 24 hours discussing and testing decks with this guy trying to make him work. Sometimes he was just broken. If Jund tapped out for a sprouting thrinax on turn 3, he could straight up end the game with Distortion Strike[card], [card]Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning; attack take 15, you’re pretty damn dead. Distortion strike makes him very good but in games you don’t draw the card, or in games that your opponent has like, a lightning bolt, things get ugly quick. We sleeved up just about every 1cc spell for red and blue (what’s up Burst of Speed ) and it was just too flimsy against Jund. There’s a possibility that this guy could be really good in Boros because you have a lot of other creatres to use who are strong and Emerge Unscathed takes the place of Distortion Strike, but outside of lightning bolt, burn spells are so underwhelming in standard that Boros doesn’t seem very well placed.

I’ve given MBC some serious thought this week but haven’t had any time to test it, once ROE comes out online I’ll probably sleeve this up virtually at some point and see how it does b/c I have most every card for it and somehow Abyssal Persecutor is like $10 less than it is IRL

I really like Contaminated Ground, this deck is trying to nickel and dime the opponent, and maybe bash in with an abyssal once or twice. Contaminated Ground goes a long way and works as a removal spell for a turn 1 Celestial Colonnade. I love Ob Nixlis and Sorin Markov and this deck is just filled with good stuff. I think if you’re running Mind Sludge (which you should) then just don’t bother with tactonic edge, but this is definitely an archtype that could embrace the edge with a different approach.

My other option this weekend? Mythic Bant. The deck is pretty narrow, but it can sure as shit steamroll people. I haven’t played any games with it, which is against my motto for this season, but it is tournament one with a new set and I have to start somewhere. It does look like a pretty fun deck. If you haven’t seen the version with Sovereigns of Lost Alara and Edlrazi Conscription, I suggest you check it out because that looks like even more of a blast; “does my Sovereigns of Lost Alara Trigger Resolve? +10/+10 trample, Annihilate 2, thanks for playing” sounds like a fun mantra to repeat on the weekend. I think if anything I’d go with the Thronling version because it owns Jund, but I have to come up with a couple Rafiq of the Many if so because nobody ever seems to have that card.

I’ll let y’all know how things go next week, thanks for letting me air out my thoughts on the format and as always feel free to slam me or give me some better ideas.

Mike Gemme
Bobbysapphire on MTGO

Book Reviews: Agents of Artifice by Ari Marmell

Well, to all my loyal readers out there, I’ve returned from my excursion to South America.  It was a life-enriching experience, and I do urge you to sometime visit Machupicchu and the Galapagos, as they are simply amazing.  You can expect to see a small feature about this trip within the next day or so, complete with pictures for your enjoyment.

I’d also like to welcome the newest member of Power 9 Pro, Sean.  I knew of Sean from the Alberta Magic forums ( for those of you interested) before he came here, and I’m sure he’ll be a great asset to the team.

With those housekeeping items out of the way, I’d like to discuss something more Magic-related, namely Ari Marmell’s Magic novel Agents of Artifice. This novel is the first in a new line of planeswalker novels published by Wizards instead of the three small novels that used to accompany fat packs for each new set.

Now the price tag for the first planeswalker was about 2.5 times what I used to pay for a Magic novel, but with the elegant hardcover binding and a promotional Jace Beleren promotional card, I couldn’t really say no.  Unfortunately, most of the promo Jaces have ben bought up, so you shouldn’t count on getting one when you go to acquire your copy.

I started reading Magic novels with the Time Spiral saga, and I was not very impressed.  The initial novelty of reading about characters like Teferi and Venser that were staples in your Magic deck wore off, and I quickly lost interest halfway through the Planar Chaos novel.

Then, when the Lorwyn saga of books arrived, I was able to complete Lorwyn and Morningtide before the relatively uncaptivating plot ceased to hold my attention enough to prevent me from starting Eventide.  I was impressed by the Shadowmoor anthology, as they did not require long reading sessions t get your entertainment, and the plots were intriguing for their length.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect much from Agents of Artifice, but hey, at least I got a promo card.  I sat down to read the tale of Jace, Lilliana and Tezzeret, and was surprisingly enthralled.  After all, when the first chapter talks about Lilliana Vess getting into a bar-fight, you want to read more.

As I continued reading Agents of Artifice, I was happy to see that halfway through, I was still as excited as I had been when I had first sat down to read it.  Whereas the plots in previous novels had been almost confusing to understand, Agents brings a totally new style of writing to the world of Magic fiction.  Ari Marmell has a knack for complex character development, and does an admirable job of making the planeswalkers seem relatively human in their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Agents of Artifice is an excellent read in that anyone who loves Magic can appreciate it.  Although the story starts in Ravnica, the Magic veteran will appreciate the description of places like Kamigawa and the Blind Eternities (referred to as the Æther on most cards).  Newer players can encounter some of their favourite people and places from the latest sets, such as Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker on his home plane of Grixis as well as the megalomaniacal leader of the Infinite Consortium, Tezzeret the Seeker.

Agents of Artifice follows the life of Jace Beleren, a young planeswalker with extraordinary mental powers.  He makes his living by blackmailing Ravnica’s rich and famous with their most precious secrets, at least until he is discovered by Tezzeret, the leader of an interplanar organization known as the Infinite Consortium.  What Jace doesn’t know is that he is to be used as a weapon against one of the most powerful beings in the Multiverse: Nicol Bolas.

Needless to say, relations between Jace and Tezzeret become frosty, and with the aid of his newfound compatriots, Lilliana Vess and Kallist, he tries to bring both the crazed artificer and the vengeance-seeking dragon to their knees.  With what seems like the whole world (or at least a very big part of it) set to kill Jace, his magic is being put to a test the likes of which he has never encountered.  To find out which one of these magical forces will prevail, pick up a copy of Ari Marmell’s Agents of Artifice, available from bookstores and game shops alike.  Marmell has crafted the magic multiverse and made it his own, and has set a very high standard for the next Magic novel, Alara Unbroken, due out in May.

Final Conflux Cards – Batch 09

Aerie Mystics – 4W
Creature – Bird Wizard (Uncommon)
{1}{G}{U}: Creatures you control gain shroud until end of turn.

Sick card for limited.  This guy will only randomly (or against poor players) counter removal, but may require double removal for an opponent to break through and kill a key dork.  He’s a big flying hill giant too for only one mana more.  This guy’s a house.  A high pick, I’d think, for anyone remotely in white.

Aven Trailblazer – 2W
Creature – Bird Soldier (Common)
Domain – Aven Trailblazer’s toughtness is equal to the number of basic land types among lands you control.
“The bird wore the form of a man, bereft of filigree. Why do the Texts not speak of it?”
- Belator of Esper


Well, he’s only really great in the domain deck, but any white shard could run him as a 2/2 or 2/3 flyer for gray ogre mana.  Not terrible.

Controlled Instincts – U
Enchantment – Aura (Uncommon)
Enchant red or green creature
Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step.

Narrow but effective.  This will keep those nasty big green creatures at bay for a lot less than coma veil.

Ethersworn Adjudicator – 4U
Artifact Creature – Vedalken Knight (Mythic Rare)
{1}{B}{W}, {T}: Destroy target creature or enchantment.
{2}{U}: Untap Ethersworn Ajudicator.

So it’s almost strictly better than air elemental at one blue with equal stats.  You could avoid the ‘almost’ if only this didn’t die to naturalize.  The first ability is absolutely nuts, akin to avatar of woe, only broader hitting enchantments too.  With tnough esper mana, you can swing and nuke something.  This probably makes it a contender for a finisher in constructed if not, again, for the regrettable artifact creature thing.  All in all a house and a bomb.

View from Above – 1U
Instant (Uncommon)
Target creature gains flying until end of turn.
If you control a white permanent, return View from Above to its owner’s hand.

Not a bad trick in limited.  In constructed, it would only be worth anything as a storm generator I’m thinking, but then there are way better options.  A very decent trick though in limited for bant and esper.

Drag Down – 2B
Instant (Common)
Domain – Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn for each basic land type among lands you control.

Nice.  So this is going to be HAWT removal for all black shards, and will likely be splashed at will too.  Usually hitting for -3/-3, but occasionally for -4 or -5.  This is at least as good as dark banishing, and a strong argument exists for its superiority, particularly in the context of Alara.

Grixis Slavedriver – 5B
Creature – Zombie Giant (Uncommon)
When Grixis Slavedriver leaves play, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token into play.
Unearth {3}{B}

Hmm.  I’m notoriously bad at estimating cards like this.  I know the token gives you added card advantage / economy.  But is it worth a 6-drop 4/4?  I think unearth pushes the answer into the “yes” realm, but this guy doesn’t play nice with the 5-power green stuff, making jund sad, and it’s a total of 10 mana for a 4/4, then a pair of 2/2 tokens and a non-evasive one-shot hell’s thunder.  I think it’s probably worth it since it all comes from one card though.

Infectious Horror – 3B
Creature – Horror (Common)
Whenever Infectious Horror attacks, each opponent loses 2 life.

Hill Giant is bigger, but this guy does more un-checked.  Still, this is easier to kill and/or block.  I’m on the fence.  I think I’d rather have a normal hill giant except for in narrow situations in which I top deck this guy when the board’s locked up and my opponent is at 2.

Wretched Banquet – B
Sorcery (Common)
Destroy target creature with the least power or tied for least power.

Awesome.  A one-shot porphyry nodes / drop of honey.  Should see some play in constructed too, as it’s great for killing (un-equipped) ornithopters, heritage druids, etc.  In limited, this should help mitigate a deficient early game, allowing you to curve high.

Canyon Minotaur – 3R
Creature – Minotaur Warrior (Common)
I got nothin’.

Yay Hill Giant!  Now with 100% more Minotaur!

Molten Frame – 1R
Instant (Common)
Destroy target artifact creature.
Cycling {2}

Hmmm… thanks to cycling, this is never strictly “dead” and has some decent uses I guess… but I’m thinking that almost always, naturalize / disenchant are WAY better, not to mention oxidize.

Quenchable Fire – 3R
Sorcery (Common)
Quenchable Fire deals 3 damage to target player. It deals an additional 3 damage to that player at the beginning of his or her next upkeep unless that player pays {U} before that step.

It can only damage a player.  That’s the biggest drawback.  If they play blue, it’s only a mediocre 3-point fireball.  IF they aren’t capable of paying U, then this makes more sense as 4cc for 6 damage is not too shabby.  Thus, this is a situational burn card.

Ember Weaver – 2G
Creature – Spider (Common)
As long as you control a red permanent, Ember Weaver gets +1/+0 and has first strike
“Each night, the sun unravels and blows away. Each day, the spiders set a new one in the sky.”
- Sunseeder myth


Not bad without a red permanent, a house with a red permanent.  Jund and Naya love this spider.  Now you can pick up an early-to-mid game drop in a common slot in pack 3.  Nice.

Filigree Fracture – 2G
Instant (Uncommon)
Destroy target artifact of enchantment.
If that artifact or enchantment’s controller controls a black or blue permanent, you may draw a card.

Wow.  Even without the bonus cantrip, this is a versatile naturalize kind of thing.  But situationally it’s no joke as a cantripping version.

Jhessian Balmgiver – 1WU
Creature – Human Cleric? (Uncommon)
{T}: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.
{T}: Target creature is unblockable this turn.

Not bad.  Vulnerable as most healers and pathmagi are, but not bad.

Knotvine Mystic – RGW
Creature – Elf Druid? (Uncommon)
{1}, {T}: Add {R}{G}{W} to your mana pool.

Hmm… so on turn 4, assuming you curve into Naya mana on turn 3, then you can boost ahead to 6 mana.  This seems pretty dope.  If your 4th drop were a splash, you could resolve something like broodmate dragon or the like, and even if not, turn 4 bull cerodon is no joke.

Rhox Bodyguard – 3GW
Creature – Rhino Monk Soldier (Common)
When Rhox Bodyguard comes into play, you gain 3 life.
An enlightened soul caged in a body made for battle.

So it’s like an extremely-venerable monk, with exalted!  I like it, even for 5.  But he’s a little small I guess.  They’ve been printing some cool lifegainers lately, and a lot of them have proven quite annoying, which is to say, playable.

Scarland Thrinax – BRG
Creature – Lizard (Uncommon)
Sacrifice a creature: Put a +1/+1 counter on Scarland Thrinax.

Similar to phyrexian ghoul (/nantuko husk), only for being much harder to cast, you get counters instead of double the boost in temporary fashion.  I think this is a winner for jund.

Skyward Eye Prophets – 3GWU
Creature – Human Wizard (Uncommon)
{T}: Reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a land card, put it into play. Otherwise, put that card into your hand.
They lament the doom that is coming to Bant without realizing the part their own leaders have played in it.

Wow.  Nice 6-drop.  3 toughness is rough for a 6-drop, but the ability is nuts.  Think of it as a vigilant hill giant, and 5 makes sense.  Add Jaymdae Tomb for one more mana?  Now it’s looking very nice indeed.  Excellent with the likes of fate stitcher.

Sphinx Summoner – 3UB
Artifact Creature – Sphinx (Rare)
When Sphinx Summoner comes into play, you may search your libary for an artifact card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.

Oh my.  A respectable flying hill giant with a tutor effect stapled to it… This thing may be broken.  God help your opponents if you happened to pick up a Sigil of Distinction in the first packs.

Font of Mythos – 4
Artifact (Rare)
At the beginning of each player’s draw step, that player draws an additional two cards.

Howling-like-a-motherfucker-mine!  Lol.  No joke, obv., with the usual downsides of the original, i.e., opponent gets to draw first.

Manaforce Mace – 4
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Domain – Equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each basic land type among lands you control.
Equip {3}

Domain mace.  Nice.  Permanent +5/+5… Not sure it’s as good as the one-shot might cards, or the tribal flames burn.  But we’ll see.  Equipment is nice.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 08

Asha’s Favor – 2W
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has flying, first strike, and vigilance.

Auras are traditionally 241 fodder, setting yourself up for a loss of card advantage.  However, certain auras are powerful enough (or recursive like rancor) that they mitigate this inherent problem.  Take Lightning Talons, for instance.  This sees some play here and there.  This card is comparable, the question being whether flying and vigilance are worth more or less than +3/+0.  To my mind, they are probably superior, but only assuming you have some kind of large beefy creature to send to the skies.  Usually this won’t be a problem in Fatty Land Alara.

Aven Squire – 1W
Creature – Bird Soldier (Common)
Exalted (Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)

Seems solid to me.  2-drop 2-power fliers have traditionally been accopanied by some kind of drawback like with Foul Imp, Fledgling Djinn, or Drake Familiar, or they were difficult to cast, like with Gaea’s Skyfolk.  White has a traditional edge in this department.  Leonin Skyhunter and Mistral Charger are both clear ancestors of this new kid on the block.  This guy is pretty easy to cast, and has no drawback.  Furthermore, it can hang back when it’s time to let a different attacker take over, remaining useful with the exalted ability.  I think it’s a damn fine creature.  In the world of Vithian Stingers and Blister Beetles, he’s a bit vulnerable, but 1/1s are always that way.  I wouldn’t hesitate to run this guy in an evasive kind of exalted deck.

Mirror-Sigil Sergeant – 5W
Creature – Rhino Soldier (Mythic Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control a blue permanent, you may put a token into play that’s a copy of Mirror-Sigil Sergeant.

I’m loving the Rhino sub-theme we’re seeing in Conflux.  Rhinos are just plain cool.  This mythic rare is pretty bomby.  Exponentially expanding 4/4 tramplers tend to be devastating.  He’s a bit pricey for constructed, where as usual, you’ll have better things to do I suspect.  This guy dies to all the common creature removal, but he avoids much of the burn with his 4-butt.  I don’t see how you could really lose (in limited) once his ability fires off once.  It would take some shrewd doing by your opponent.  This guy is damn splashable too, it should be noted.  You’ll seldom see him due to his rarity, but when you do, it should be good times.

Nacatl Hunt-Pride – 5W
Creature – Cat Warrior (Uncommon)
{R}, {T}: Target creature can’t block Nacatl Hunt-Pride this turn.
{G}, {T}: Target creature must block Nacatl Hunt-Pride this turn if able.

Interesting uncommon.  I like the provoke-like ability, as well as the Frenzied Goblin-like ability.  Together, this guy is like a removal machine when you need that, and an pseudo-evasive beater other times.  Vigilance and 5 power are pretty decent already.  I like the looks of him.  He’s beef for white too.  A bit expensive, but easy to include, and 6cc isn’t THAT expensive in Shards context.

Rhox Mediant – 3W
Creature – Rhino Monk (Common)
When Rhox Mediant comes into play, if you control a green permanent, you may draw a card.

There are a surprising number of 4-drop creatures that draw you a card, from archivist-like tappers to haru-onna / jungle barrier / masked admirers / striped bears CiP effects, to the draw-when-it-dies effects like kingfisher and aven fisher.  This one is more conditional than most, but has a big butt.  What else can you say?  He’s probably slightly better than a hill giant in context.

Cumber Stone – 3U
Artifact (Uncommon)
Creatures your opponents control get -1/-0.

Not my style, but probably somewhat effective in practice.  I mean, this will play havoc with your opponent’s combat intentions.  It’s a pretty powerful one-sided effect.  I’m not too keen on it, but it’s bound to be the kind of card that’s better in practice than I think it will be in theory.  Anyone want to defend its goodness in the comments section?

Grixis Illusionist – U
Creature – Human Wizard (Common)
{T}: Target land becomes the basic land type of your choice until end of turn.

This is clearly a domain enabler that will help such decks come together in the 11th hour of pack 3.  Therefore, I think it will see a fair amount of play.  A highly decent but vulnerable fixer.

Telemin Performance – 3UU
Sorcery (Rare)
Target opponent reveals cards from the top of his or her library until a creature card has been revealed. Put all noncreature cards revealed this way into that player’s graveyard, then put the creature card into play under your control.

Lol.  I read this and envisioned it being played against something like charbelcher or 43land.dec… or even an oath of druids deck.  I think it’s probably worth the risk most of the time to go ahead and run this in limited.  Sure, more often than not you end up with a creature less expensive than the spell you cast, but every once in a while, you steal their godsire or what have you.  In constructed, I’m thinking the applications for this are highly narrow.  I like the concept though.  Bribery has long been a favorite of mine.  This card’s no bribery, but it’s in the same spirit.

Corrupted Roots – B
Enchantment – Aura (Uncommon)
Enchant Forest or Plains
Whenever enchanted land becomes tapped, its controller loses 2 life.

Hmm… a cheaper, narrower psychic venom.  Should be good for 2-4 damage over the course of the game, I’d think.  Worth the cost probably.  If you have a way to tap that land, obviously this is a house.

Kederekt Parasite – B
Creature – Horror (Rare)
Whenever an opponent draws a card, if you control a red permanent, you may have Kederekt Parasite deal 1 damage to that player.

Oh my!  So this is like underworld dreams on a color-picky pair of vulnerable legs.  I’m guessing this will have some devastating impacts on constructed.  Early enough to come down before resistence is online.  He’s worth 5 or more points if you get him going early.  He’ll suck up some removal.  I dunno… 1-drop 1/1s typically have to have some crazy power to them to be playable in limited.  I think he qualifies.

Pestilent Kathari – 2B
Creature – Bird Warrior (Common)
{2}{R}: Pestilent Kathari gains first strike until end of turn.

Deathtouch and first strike are nice together.  Flying is a good touch.  He’s runnable, I guess.  vulnerable though.  You’re paying 3 for a 1/1.  I’d be hoping for something more like woolly thoctar at 3.

Voices from the Void – 4B
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Domain – Target player discards a card for each basic land type among lands you control.

By the time you cast this, they won’t have 5 cards still in hand.  If they do, one is probably a counterspell.  My verdict is that this kinda sucks.  Nevertheless, I guess mind twisting your opponent on turn 5 isn’t bad, even if you have to tap out to do so.  Run it in domain I guess.  I’m less pumped about this than about other domain prospects like might of alara.

Ignite Disorder – 1R
Instant (Uncommon)
Ignite disorder deals 3 damage divided as you choose among any number of target white and/or blue creatures.

White and blue, eh.  Clearly narrow, but an awesome effect.  Stuationally bomby.  Other times dead.

Kranioceros – 4R
Creature – Beast (Common)
{1}{W}: Kranioceros get +0/+3 until end of turn.

Yawn.  Did I just read a card?  So sleepy.  Man, I know he’s potentially big, and he’s got 5 power… I just feel like this guy sucks and it’s such a stretch for me to try to defend him.  I think he’s a pile.

Toxic Iguanar – R
Creature – Lizard (Common)
Toxic Iguanar has deathtouch as long as you control a green permanent.

Yawn again.  Would I run a 1-drop 1/1 deathtouch?  Maybe.  Perhaps.  I’d WAY rather be the guy with blister beetle than the guy with this though.

Wandering Goblins – 2R
Creature – Goblin Warrior (Common)
Domain – {3}: Wandering Goblins get +1/+0 until end of turn for each basic land type among lands you control.

He’s quite alright in Shards country.  He should seldom be worse than a gray ogre, and will often be downright woolly thoctar-like, or even better.  Later on, you can potentially activate this guy twice and get in for 10, so there you have it.

Beacon Behemoth – 3GG
Creature – Beast (Common)
{1}: Target creature with power 5 or greater gains vigilance until end of turn.

I’m down.  I’ll pay one more for my juggernaut to have him grant vigilance.

Gluttonous Slime – 2G
Creature – Ooze (Uncommon)
Devour 1

Finally a flash devour creature.  He’ll be a sick way to counter an opponent’s removal spell and make the most of it with a cheap hill giant.  In response to infest or something, this guy could be game over.

Scaellum Archers – 2G
Creature – Elf Archer (Uncommon)
{R}{W}, {T}: Sacellum Archers deals two damage to target attacking or blocking creature.

It should be a mantra: if it’s better than gray ogre, it’s fine.  This one’s much, much better.  He’s very very fine.  :-)

Scattershot Archer – G
Creature – Elf Archer (Common)
{T}: Scattershot Archer deals 1 damage to each creature with flying.

Now we’re talking!  This is very cheap for the effect, and the creature isn’t even a 1/1.  A fine card indeed.

Knight of the Reliquary – 1GW
Creature – Human Knight (Rare)
Knight of the Reliquary gets +1/+1 for each land card in your graveyard.
{T}, Sacrifice a Forest or Plains: Search your library for a land card, put it into play, then shuffle your library.

A self-growing mini-terravore is mighty powerful seeming.  I think he’s gotta turn out to be gargantuan.  There may be some kind of attempt at a constructed deck here… but I can’t see a consistent way to dump a lot of lands… not in standard anyhow.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 07

Celestial Purge – 1W
Instant (Uncommon)
Remove target red or black permanent from the game.
“Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you” – Bant Credo

Wowzers.  This is a welcome addition to white, I’d say.  Especially alongside something like painter’s servant, I’d think.  In fact, I’m going to just go on the record saying I’ll be damn surprised if painter’s servant / celestial purge isn’t a big block deck come ~May or so.  Clearly in the domain world of Alara, this thing will be able to hit SOMETHING as often as not.  This is first-class removal.  A mana cheaper than vindicate, a better removal effect, and only slightly more constricted in-context.  Very, very good.  Can you imagine a deck with a grip of these alongside oblivion ring?  Or an extended deck (maybe too slow?) with isochron scepter and painter’s servant here?

Mark of Asylum – 1W
Enchantment (Rare)
Prevent all noncombat damage that would be dealt to creatures you control.

A non-combat damage fog enchantment, eh?  Well, I guess it’s a nice way to answer a big damage-based sweeper.  As an enchantment though, you can’t really nab the card from the opponent, but instead, their damage sweepers and the like are just stranded in hand until they deal with this.  That said, this makes a lot of wussy x/1 creatures seem slightly more playable, but in those cases, this is pretty situational.  I’m going to assume this has only narrow applications if any.  Your opponent will just start doming you until they deal with the enchantment.  I dunno… I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m missing something.  Anyone?

Inkwell Leviathan – 7UU
Artifact Creature – Leviathan (Rare)
Islandwalk, trample, shroud
“Into it’s maw went the seventh sea, never to be seen again while the world remains.” -Esper Fable

9-cc?  I think I want a hell of a lot more than this for 9 mana.  Blazing Archon or Kuro, Pit Lord, for example.  Reya Dawnbringer, Spirit of the Night, and Zodiac Dragon all cost 9.  I mean, don’t get me wrong… if you resolve him in limited, you will likely win.  He’s just… crap really.  I guess you can reanimate him… Makeshift Mannequin on a shroud guy seems okay.  I’m not that impressed though.

Master Transmuter – 3U
Artifact Creature – Human Artificer (Rare)
{U}, {T}, Return an artifact you control to your hand: Put an artifact card from your hand into play.

Sad robot, maybe?  I think this has got to be a house.  You can return the artificer himself to your hand in response to burn, putting him back in play when the ability resolves… so he’s KINDA like a weird blinking spirit or ivory gargoyle or something.  He’s gotta be good, but I don’t exactly see what the crazy combo is going to be with this guy right off the bat.  Returning sanctum gargoyle and putting the same back in play seems hella.

Rotting Rats – 1B
Creature – Rat (Common)
When Rotting Rats comes into play, each player discards a card.
Unearth {1}{B}

Ravenous Rats‘ ugly cousin.  This one makes everyone discard, so it’s probably not quite as good, however, it can do double duty, which is nice.  I think raven’s crime will remain the cheap discard spell of choice, myself.

Rakka Mar – 2RR
Legendary Creature – Human Shaman (Rare)
{R}, {T}: Put a 3/1 red Elemental creature token into play.

Right on.  Very much in the spirit of Sek’Kuar and Sparkspitter.  This guy’s undeniably powerful.  The tokens don’t die at EOT, but also dont’ have haste… just observing the obvious I guess.  I think I like this guy.  I’m none too enthused about another 3/1 elemental token, this time without haste, but whatEVs.  I think it’s probably best to wait until turn 5 with this guy, but that puts him in trip-red, which swims against the domain stream.  I dunno, maybe he’s worse than I was thinking.  Still, vulnerable as his 2-toughness makes him, a never-ending stream of sizeable chump-blockers and / or stalemate breakers is nothing to sneeze at.  <achoo!>

Cliffrunner Behemoth – 3G
Creature – Rhino Behemoth (Rare)
Cliffrunner Behemoth has haste if you control a red permanent.
Cliffrunner Behemoth has lifelink if you control a white permanent.

Rhino Behemoth!  Nice one.  So yeah, he’s quite nice in naya, assuming you’re wild-nacatl‘ed, as it were.  Raise your hand if you don’t want a 5/3 haste lifelink for 4.  Thought so.  Outside the right deck, he’s probably less than stellar.  Another in the 4-drop beef family descendant of Juzam and Erhnam Djinns.

Soul’s Majesty – 4G
Sorcery (Rare)
Draw cards equal to the power of target creature you control.
An avatar he sculpts of wisdom and strength.

Soul’s Might and Soul’s Fire have a new cycle pal.  I like the concept.  Someday we’ll have to have a philosophical discussion about why you can still use soulless one with these spells.  Function over form, I suppose.  This card is going to seal some games for sure.  I’m glad they made it a rare.  This is a bomb in 5+ power land.

Charnelhoard Wurm – 4BRG
Creature – Wurm (Rare)
Whenever Charnelhoard Wurm deals damage to an opponent, you may return target card from your graveyard to your hand.

7-drop trampler, 6/6, with infinite gravedigger, nay eternal witness.  Fuckin’ a!  This is the shit.  A bit expensive, but it will be devastating when it hits.  Pick up some obelisks and you’ll be dropping him turn 5 or 6.  Sounds good to me.  Jesus, what a beating.  My mind’s on soul’s might from the last card.  Can you imagine exponentially growing this beast?  Alas, the game would be over before you got to grow him much, methinks.

Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer – 1WU
Legendary Creature – Human Rogue (Rare)
{W}{U}, {T}: Put a Bribery counter on target creature you don’t control. Its controller draws a card.
A creature with a Bribery counter on it cannot attack or block.

Interesting.  A nice way to deal with the beef in these sets, but he’s so vulnerable that I can’t help but think the solution will be temporary.  Personally, I’d avoid this guy.  He can’t even draw you cards by bribing himself… what happened to function over form?  I guess flavor is still considered here and there.

Maelstrom Archangel – WUBRG
Creature – Angel (Mythic Rare)
Whenever Maelstrom Archangel deals combat damage to a player, you may play a nonland card from your hand without paying its mana cost.

Okay, another admission: I love angels.  This guy floats my boat for sure.  There’s some compelling domain dudes in this set.  This is no exception.  He’s evasive and has a devastating ability, letting you drop anything.  A mini eureka-like effect every time he connects, adding insult to the 5-damage injury.  In this set, you can draft into both domain and beef, but alas, you can’t really count on opening a mythic rare.  Bomby as hell, but I sure hope that I happened to be in domain when I see this guy in pack 3.  It’ll happen to someone, and they’ll be happy.

Magister Sphinx – 4WUB
Artifact Creature – Sphinx (Rare)
When Magister Sphinx comes into play, target player’s life total becomes 10.

Where you at, Hidetsugu!?  Lol.  He’s pretty cool.  It would really suck to topdeck him when your opponent was at 3 and you were at 18 with an empty board though.  :-)  I think he still counts as a bomb.  He’s kind of “come-from-behind” feeling is all.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 06

Constricting Tendrils – U
Instant (Common)
Target creature gets -3/0 until end of turn.
Cycling {2}

There’s a number of similar -3/-0 effects which have appeared throughout the years, such as torpor dust, torment, greel’s caress, bewilder, dizzy spell… heck even elven palisade I guess.  I’m of the opinion that the thing they all tend to share is that they all suck.  I dig agony warp, because it has the other half of the equation… you know… the denominator, and is therefore real removal.  The rest of this stuff, while still a combat trick, is just situational removal.  Now, tendrils is probably most similar to dizzy spell.  I tend to think that cycling is a better ability in a vacuum here, but let’s be honest, none of this shit is making the cut in a 60 card deck with the possible exception of dizzy spell, but then only if you want it primarily as a 3cc tutor for a 1cc spell… which you probably never do.  In conclusion, while this is merely “meh” in limited, it’s downright stank in constructed.

Frontline Sage – 2U
Creature – Human Wizard (Common)
{U}, {T}: Draw a card, then discard a card.

I’m a sucker for exalted, for the record.  This guy seems just fine in limited, but is clearly a lame copy of merfolk looter / cephalid looter, and the merfolk variety is in Xth, why bother?  Exalted isn’t THAT good, and you have to pay {U} for this guy.  He’s great in limited, shite in constructed, which I’ve come to realize is a very common fate for a card.

Scornful �ther-Lich – 3U
Artifact Creature – Vedalken Wizard (Uncommon)
{W}{B}: Scornful �ther-Lich gains fear and vigilance until end of turn.

Well… you know… fear is okay, but man, I just want more for my 4-drop.  In constructed there’s this axiom that if it costs 4, it better be winning you the game.  Clearly this fails that axiomatic test.  In limited, the axiom is more like, “if it costs 4, it better be at least as good as hill giant.”  I think this guy might be as good as hill giant, but it’s a close call.  I’m not as keen on fear as some… vigilance is nice though.  I guess I’m willing to say he’s on par with the giant.  Still, there’s no boner for this guy in my pants.

Dreadwing – B
Creature – Zombie Bird (Uncommon)
{1}{U}{R}: Dreadwing gets +3/+0 and gains flying until end of turn.

I like the concept of a one-drop zombie bird for some reason… reminds me of entrails feaster, the one-drop zombie cat that so resembled my wife’s late cat, may his soul rest in peace in feline heaven.  You’ll nail some people for 4 I guess, but this guy bites it to blister beetle, a card I’ve come to fear and respect.  So I vote this fucker off the island, myself.  End of tribal council.

Fleshformer – 2B
Creature – Human Wizard (Uncommon)
{W}{U}{B}{R}{G}: Fleshformer gets +2/+2 and has fear until end of turn. Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

Yikes!  A beast in the domain deck I guess… Again, I’m not a fanboy of fear necessarily, nor pump, but when it comes to reusable removal?  I’m an otaku fanboy camping out at the Best Buy the day before the reusable removal comes out.  So yeah, I think this gray ogre gets the nod in the context of domain.

Bloodhall Ooze – R
Creature – Ooze (Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control a black permanent, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodhall Ooze.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control a green permanent, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodhall Ooze.
A drop of blood spilled from the first dragon.

Oooooh… I like!  Again, “big and cheap” made a huge name for itself with tarmogoyf, so anything potentially grow-tastic has been raising eyebrows of late.  This guy is mucho grow-tastic along the lines of mr. goyf.  Growing by 2 per turn with an odious trow on board, he’s got the potential here… alas, a quick search of standard GB cards reveals that only trow, necrogenesis, and perhaps woodlurker mimic are fast enough to combine with this ooze fellow and still produce the fast half of “big and cheap”  … worm harvest token?  Quillspike?  I don’t know.  Jund mages will likely give him a once-over though.  In the right draft, he’s a house.

Apocalypse Hydra – XRG
Creature – Hydra (Rare)
Apocalypse Hydra comes into play with X +1/+1 counters on it. If X is 5 or more, it comes into play with X additional +1/+1 counters on it.
{1}{R}, Remove a +1/+1 counter from Apocalypse Hydra: Apocalypse Hydra deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

A 10/10 for 7?  Oh, and he’s also got a pinpoint removal ability reminiscent of shivan hellkite or masticore?  Plus it could be a 12/12 for 8, a 14/14 for 9, etc???  GTFOH!  Bomb city, no joke.  Alas, there’s an “alas” here… there’s no way to cheat him into play, so he’s pretty expensive for 60-card formats.  Frowntown.  Good luck winning a limited game against him though.

Child of Alara – WUBRG
Legendary Creature – Avatar (Mythic Rare)
When Child of Alara is put into a graveyard from play, destroy all nonland permanents. They can’t be regenerated.

Sick!  I love it!  A mere clone will do the trick, as he’s legendary… or (stupid combo alert) a minion relfector.  I don’t immediately see a good way to abuse it, but it’s a very very powerful ability, and it’s a 5-drop (albeit domain) 6/6 trample.  That’s some good… and the opponent might be mighty reluctant to kill this guy.  Very interesting.

Progenitus – WWUUBBRRGG
Legendary Creature – Hydra (Mythic Rare)
Protection from everything (This creature can’t be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, enchanted or equipped.)
When Progenitus is put into a graveyard from anywhere, shuffle it into its owner’s library.

Protection from everything?  What about diet coke?  What about a zippo?  Okay, I can’t tell whether I love the concept of protection from everything or not, but it’s pretty cool, and will get the johnny’s worked up into a mouth-foaming frenzy, so if nothing else, you should be able to trade these to some dorks for tons of real cards.  He can’t be reanimated, so he’s like the serra avatars of yore, only when you sneak attack with this guy, the opponent is still at 10, not dead.

Shambling Remains – 1BR
Creature – Zombie (Uncommon)
Shambling Remains can’t block.
Unearth {B}{R}

A good stats beater.  Unearth grants an added bonus.  I guess he’s got the goods.  He passes the hill giant test with flying colors, right?  Kind of boring, but pretty good.

That’s all for today.  We (team power9pro) had a blast at GP Los Angeles, though none of us made day two… d’oh!  I got to play shuhei nakamura, which was great fun.  I plan to do a tournament report in the next few days.  Until then, peace out to all my homies, and a fart in the general direction of you haters out there.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 05

Darklit Gargoyle – 1W
Artifact Creature – Gargoyle (Common)
{B}: Darklit Gargoyle gets +2/-1 until end of turn.

Okay, so this guy isn’t terrible as an artifact armored pegasus with a cooler creature type.  Evasiveness is still mucho bueno in limited.  The pump ability is good gravy here, making him a fine creature in a couple of limited archetypes.  I think you have much better things to do in constructed, however.

Brackwater Elemental – 2U
Creature – Elemental (Common)
When Brackwater Elemental attacks or blocks, sacrifice it at end of urn.
Unearth {2}{U}

This guy is hell’s thunder‘s deformed cousin who they keep locked in the basement and feed a bucked of fish-heads to each night.  I just don’t like the tenuous nature of dudes like this.  Hell’s thunder is very char-like (more like flame-javelin-like) because of flying.  This is very much like a spell that reads “destroy target 1/1 creature” or something like that, because they just chump more often than not.  The only thing it has going for it is the ability to trick the unwitting n00b who forgets it’s in your yard.  I’m not too keen on this guy, as you can no doubt tell.

Parasitic Strix – 2U
Artifact Creature – Bird (Common)
When Parasitic Strix comes into play, if you control a black permanent, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Yep, this is good stuff.  “Strix” is quickly becoming associated with “decent-to-excellent limited creature” in my mind.  This guy is pretty sweet, and even if you happen to miss out on the bonus syphon life, you still get wild griffin / wind drake, which is just awesome.  Gray Ogre isn’t the worst thing in limited, and flying gray ogres get props.  This guy reminds me of a faster, but not as ghost-like blind hunter.

Yoke of the Damned – 1B
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Whenever a creature is put into a graveyard from play, enchanted creature’s controller sacrifices it.

Hmm… somewhat conditional as far as removal goes, but removal nonetheless.  Anything that can be enchanted by a black aura will fall to this, indestructible or not.  I dunno… it wouldn’t be my first choice for removal, but sometimes you have to use the second string, and if I have some kind of sac outlet, like a puppet conjurer or something, I might not mind this so much.

Dark Temper – 2R
Instant (Common)
Dark Temper deals 2 damage to target creature. If you control a black permanent, destroy the creature instead.

This spell, for instance, makes me happier than Yoke of the Damned (although YotD has a sick name, amirite?).  This one will kill most of the relevant early stuff with damage, and by the time something with a big butt hits,  you should have a black permanent, at which point this is an unconditional removal spell.  Very nice.

Viashino Slaughtermaster – 1R
Creature – Viashino Warrior (Common)
Double Strike
{B}{G}: Viashino Slaughtermaster gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Use this ability only once each turn.

A 2-drop double striker shouldn’t be taken lightly.  I think his small butt makes him balanced, but he’s obviously deadly combined with some form of enhancement, whether aura or equipment.  Double strike is no joke.

Thornling – 3GG
Creature – Shapeshifter (Mythic Rare)
{G}: Thornling gains haste until end of turn.
{G}: Thornling gains trample until end of turn.
{G}: Thornling is indestructible until end of turn.
{1}: Thornling gains +1/-1 until end of turn.
{1}: Thornling gains -1/+1 until end of turn.

Okay, so remember that shit about Yoke of the Damned helping with indestructible?  That wasn’t an intentional setup!  But yeah, here’s why it might not be terrible to open a yoke.  This morphling is the latest in the clan.  Blue, Red, and now Green all have their take on this iconic superman of the past.  While torchling was kind of a dud, and the misdirection thing was just… well, disappointing, I think this green version is no joke.  Trample, haste, and indestructible?!  Now we’re talking!  Untap, misdirection, and pseudo-provoke are just shit abiities.  But thornling can seriously pile on the damage.  Plus, unlike the cousins, thornling starts at a bigger 4/4, allowing a max of 7/1 hasty, trampling, indestructible goodness, reminiscent of some beastly blistering firecat of yore.  This thing is a huge bomb in limited and constructed both.  A sick finisher for rock style strategies.  Extremely hard to deal with when played cautiously.  The one thing I feel obligated to complain / tease about is the naming convention here.  We can all expect Grassling and Muckling now for white and black.  It’s just a matter of time.  Maybe they’ll have Thranling, an artifact version.  Or Planesling, a planeswalker.  Hidden-Ling, where if your opponent plays a morphling variant, the enchantment becomes a morphling!  These gimmicky kinds of “card families”…. I’m just not sure about them.  I love them and I hate them.  But thornling?  It’s all love there.

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker – 4UBBR
Planeswalker – Bolas (Mythic Rare)
+3: Destroy target noncreature permanent.
-2: Gain control of target creature.
-9: Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker deals 7 damage to target player. That player discards seven cards, then sacrifices seven permanents.

Oooooh, juicy!  I’d been waiting for this one to hit.  8cc means he’s a very late game play, but oh my god, what a powerful set of abilities!  Bam, right off the bat with chain of acid / rootgrapple for an astounding +3 loyalty.  (Nicol Bolas must REALLY like when you ask him to destroy shit!)  Then you have vedalken shackles that doesn’t end…. a big upgrade to the various old man of the seamerieke ri berit / seasinger clan of creature stealers.  The ultimate on this guy has to be game over… I just can’t see how you can survive something like that.  The permanents hurt the most, as you’ll usually have but one or two cards by the time it hits, but seven permanents?  Of course, it’s turn 12 by then, so you deserve to die if this happens to you…   Ultimately, he’s powerful and splashy, but he’s a very late game kind of card.  Clearly a powerhouse, clearly something you play if you can possibly manage it (along with a ton of obelisks and the like to ramp into him, I’d think), but he’s still bordering on Johnny-hood I think.  I’m notoriously bad at guaging planeswalkers though, I must admit.  I thought Ajani Vengeant was quite “meh” at the time of his preview, so that shows what I know.  That’s not to say I think Bolas is “meh”, but simply to say that my worries about his steep cost are probably unwarranted.  He makes me want to reconsider my normal reluctance toward counterspells in limited though.  Sure to be sought after, if only by dragon afficionados.

Sludge Strider – 1WUB
Artifact Creature – Insect (Uncommon)
Whenever another artifact comes into play under your control or another artifact you control leaves play, you may pay {1}. If you do, target player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

Lol.  Obviously an attempt to make a “fixed” disciple of the vault.  As with most attempts to fix old powerhouses, it ends up being a nerf more than a fix.  However, while the disciple-reminiscent ability is a bit less devastating than the original, this guy still turns out to be quite powerful.  He’s a somewhat respectable hill giant stature, albeit for a difficult esper colored cost.  Altogether, a sure winner for any esper deck, likely to do upwards of 7-10 damage unchecked.  I like him a lot, but I think the nerfed disciple thing is pretty amusing.

Suicidal Charge – 3BR
Enchantment (Common)
Sacrifice Suicidal Charge: Creatures your opponents control get -1/-1 until end of turn. Those creatures attack this turn if able.

Hmm… So it’s a one-sided mini-night of souls’ betrayal, along with some kind of incite war kind of effect.  Certainly this is a devastating effect.  It’s a common, which is crazy too, so get used to seeing it.  Mass removal is the main reason it will see play.  It’s kind of un-intuitive to have a sacrifice ability on an enchantment this large.  At first I thought it was an instant.  The fact that you can threaten with this was at first causing dissonance in my mind, but at this point, I think it’s another strong point for this card.  If your opponent has this on board, you’ll certainly be reluctant to commit further to the board… What if wrath of god was a 5-drop enchantment?  Wouldn’t that be a compelling variant?  I’m thinking so.  I think this is a house of a removal spell.  Anything capable of N-for-1 exchanges, where N is greater than 1 with no inherent upper bound… is sick.  One-sided and devastating.  That’s my impression.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 04

Paragon of the Amesha – 2W
Creature – Human Knight (Uncommon)
First strike
{W}{U}{B}{R}{G}: Until end of turn, Paragon of the Amesha gets +3/+3, gains flying and lifelink, and becomes an Angel in addition to its other creature types.

Let’s see.  Another first strike gray ogre, so it’s playable at worst.  If you happen to have domain, it’s a house and a half, capable of ten-point life deltas.  Sick in limited, underpowered for constructed.

Valiant Guard – W
Creature – Human Soldier (Common)
“Alright, this is making you cry, it’s making me cry. Life’s hard enough as it is; you don’t wanna cry anymore.”

What can you really say about a spell like this?  “Strictly better than wall of wood?”  “Sort of like shield bearer?”  “Yawn…?”

Faerie Mechanist – 3U
Artifact Creature – Faerie Artificer (Common)
When Faerie Mechanist comes into play, look at the top 3 cards of your library, reveal an artifact card amongst them and put it in your hand, an put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Once again, 4-drop 2/2 flyer is staple goodness in limited.  The ability is gravy, and it isn’t terrible.  Situationally you’ll really want to hit a particular artifact, in which case, so much the better.  Even if you whiff, you can pretty much go zen on the ability: who’s to say those three would have been the top three if you hadn’t looked using the fairy?  Schrodinger’s cat, trees in the forest with nobody around, all that jazz.  Point being, you’re not much worse off if you whiff.  Surely a dunce in constructed though.

Nyxathid – 1BB
Creature – Horror (Rare)
As Nyxathid comes into play, choose an opponent.
Nyxathid gets -1/-1 for each card in the chosen player’s hand.

I sure like horrors.  For some reason (the 7/7 probably), hunted horror was the first comparison that sprung to mind.  But they’re pretty different really.  I think it may have some serious uses in constructed though, in a discard-centric strategy, clearly.  He’s cheap enough, but it will probably be a tension between the beater and other, potent 3-drop discard spells… heck, I don’t know.  He seems like a good finisher for this kind of deck though.  “Cheap and big” has made a name for itself in recent times.

Salvage Slasher – 1B
Artifact Creature – Human Rogue (Common)
Salvage Slasher gets +1/+0 for each artifact card in your graveyard.

Hmmm, a hard one to call!  I think in limited this guy’s “just” fine, a he’s underpowered only in narrow early game situations, but you can clearly draft a deck in which he’s a very large late game threat.  Nonetheless, he’s not evasive, and he’s vulnerable with that lone point of toughness.  This takes some of the sting out of him.  If only it were +1/+1, right?!  I think in the end, it’s probably a loser.

Hellspark Elemental – 1R
Creature – Elemental (Uncommon)
Trample, haste
At end of turn, sacrifice Hellspark Elemental.
Unearth {1}{R}

I like the ugrade on spark elemental, but the name is kind of lame.  What next, Purgatoryspark Elemental?  Michiganspark Elemental?  Anyway, I’ll pay double for the chance to pay double again!  Part of the draw of sparky, the first, is that it’s lightning bolt levels of damage-to-mana ratio.  This guy’s only incinerate levels at best.  Still, reach is important, and red’s starved enough for card advantage that it plays shit like browbeat and such.  So a double-duty card is roughly as good as card economy can get for red.  I like it, but I like it more in constructed than limited.

Blood Tyrant – 4UBR
Creature – Vampire (Rare)
At the beginning of your upkeep each player loses 1 life.
Whenever a player loses life in this way, put that many +1/+1 counters on Blood Tyrant.
Whenever a player loses the game, put 5 +1/+1 counters on Blood Tyrant.

Sick multiplayer / casual card!  I like the flavor of some beastly vampire sucking the corpse of your buddy bob dry.  It’s very bomby in limited, swinging for 7, then 9, and that should be that.  A very fast clock once on board, and difficult to kill, especially after that first upkeep.  Awesome stuff.  I love when flavorful cards are decent as well.

Elder Mastery – 3BRU
Enchantment – Aura (Uncommon)
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature gets +3/+3, has flying, and has “whenever this creature deals damage to a player, that player discards two cards”.

Still an aura.  A 6-drop aura.  It’d have to be damn good to justify that.  This card is what’s referred to as a “skill tester.”  Seems like you’re just begging for a 241, and any time it works, you would likely have won anyway, and probably would have done so faster if you didn’t play this wonky thing.  That said, be prepared to lose to some squirt at the prerelease who slaps this bad boy on Wall_of_Wood 2.0, and destroys you.

Esper Cormorants – 2WU
Artifact Creature – Bird (Common)
“I am Boxxy, you see?!”

It’s no phantom monster, even if it has a better creature type… but yeah, it’s basically phantom monster.  Listen folks, in this game, hill giant is where it’s at.  Flying hill giant is well worth another color in the neopolitan set.

Hellkite Hatchling – 2RG
Creature – Dragon (Uncommon)
Devour 1
Hellkite Hatchling has flying and trample if it devoured a creature.

Shityeah!  I mean, unless you can set it up well, the cormorants above are superior, but the flavor rocks, and in the right deck, this is a beating.  I’m thinking unblocked dragon fodder tokens (again, flavorful to boot) are destined for this guy.  In a 4-color deck, he could eat some homonculi.  Meh… so yeah, he probably sucks, but I get caught up in the flavor of this stuff sometime.  This guy sucks.  But he’s still cool.

Meglonoth – 3RGW
Creature – Beast (Rare)
Vigilance, trample
Whenever Meglonoth blocks a creature, Meglonoth deals damage equal to its power to target player.

I love this incredibly strong dude!  SO good, right?  The concept is one of those savory moments where you’re like, “of course!  Why didn’t they think of this long ago?”  Damage by blocking, AND he’s huge, AND he’s vigilant.  All with a respectable if not downright bomby 6/6 bod for 6.  Wait a minute… 666?  Beast?  Strange one-word biblical-esque name?  What would Jesus do?  That’s right, he’d dome your ass for 6, so don’t even think about attacking, succa!

Vectis Agents – 3UB
Artifact Creature – Human Rogue (Common)
{U}{B}: Vectis Agents gets -2/-0 and is unblockable until end of turn.

Yawn.  Some kid will kill me with it.  I hate it though.  It’s very terrible.

Ancient Ziggurat
Land (Uncommon)
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. This mana can only be used to play creature spells.

Very cool concept here as well.  Like a better but similar-sort-of primal beyond… that, you know… can’t add colorless.  I think it’s going to be hard pressed to see play though, unless there’s some weird legions-esque decks.  It’s a steep drawback.  But clearly there’s a slew of casual kinds of decks that love seeing this uncommon land.  Slivers, for example, love this crap.

Reliquary Tower
Land (Uncommon)
You have no maximum hand size.
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.

I like this land better, and also like the concept here.  Very library of leng… very spellbook.  In land form!  Very cool.  The effect isn’t typically tournament worthy / relevant, but it’s another cool effect done well, which makes my flavor sense happy.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 03

Court Homunculus – W
Artifact Creature – Homunculus (Common)
Court homunculus gets +1/+1 if you control another artifact.

At best, he’s non-legendary Isamaru.  At worst, he’s eager cadet that dies to naturalize.  I’m thinking he’s a bit player in a very narrow archetype.  Not seeing him doing a lot outside of 40-card formats.  Neat creature type though!

Banefire – XR
Sorcery (Rare)
Banefire deals X damage to target creature or player. If X is 5 or greater, Banefire can’t be countered by spells or abilities and the damage can’t be prevented.

Holy crap.  Holiest of holy craps.  This is easily one of the big-money chase rares of the set.  I never thought I’d say that a card makes demonfire look like crap, but this card makes demonfire look like crap.  This is just incredible.  SO powerful.  Flores’ NY state champs “This Girl” deck of a few years back was all about sneakily distracting the opponent from the end-game plan of hellbent demonfire.  This is a similar card, but requires so much less setup.  No hellbent required.  And let’s be honest, when are you going to ever cast this for less than 5?  Seldom.  Very seldom.  Only if you’re doing so very early to nuke some kind of dude to buy time… but c’mon, you already wanted to burn for large amounts.  It’s sad how outdated and crappy all those old stalwarts have become.  Disintegrate, lava burst, fireball, earthquake.  These all got outclassed by the new school of demonfire and molten disaster, though earthquake and rolling earthquake still have their places… Banefire is like another plateau leap upward, leaving the rest behind yet again.  Incredible card.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, consider that playsets are already selling for ~$50 on ebay.

Dragonsoul Knight – 2R
Creature – Human Knight (Uncommon)
First strike
{W}{B}{U}{R}{G}: Dragonsoul Knight gets +5/+3, has flying, trample, and is a Dragon in addition to its other creature types until end of turn.

Not bad as simply a first-striking gray ogre, so the ability is just gravy, and will obviously win some games if you can draft enough of the (ample, it seems) domain enablers.  Probably going to see quite a bit of play, I’m guessing, in limited.  Note you can use the ability multiple times to accrue +5/+3 again and again… unlikely but there.  (does that make it a “Dragon Dragon?”)

Worldheart Phoenix – 3R
Creature – Phoenix (Rare)
You may play Worldheart Phoenix from your graveyard by paying {W}{U}{B}{R}{G} rather than paying it’s mana cost. If you do, it comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it.

Let me just state for the record that I love the Phoenix creature type, so perhaps I’m biased.  I like this guy.  4-drop 2/2 fliers are just fine in limited.  Ones that come back as air elementals for domain are pretty damn good.

Matca Rioters – 2G
Creature – Human Warrior (Common)
Domain – Matca Rioters’ power and toughness are each equal to the number of basic land types among lands you control.

Seems like this will usually be a gray ogre at worst, but potentially a 3-drop 5/5.  The only real precedent here is phyrexian negator, the comparison to which is a bit like apples to oranges.  Negator is clearly tons better than this situational dude, but sometimes he’ll be a mid-to-late game drawback-and-trample free negator.  Not terrible.  I think he’s very playable.  A lot of times in this format he’ll be an easier-to-play gnarled mass.

Shard Convergence – 3G
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Search your library for a Plains card, an Island card, a Swamp card, and a Mountain card. Put these cards into your hand, then shuffle your library.

Hmm.  A bit of a slow way to get domain going.  If you have land’s edge or seismic assault in play, this is an 8-point lightning blast.  Yawn.  I think it sees limited play, but it’s not my favorite.  You can’t really count a 4-cc spell as a fixer… I’d much rather be playing the basic landcyclers.

Tukatongue Thallid – G
Creature – Fungus (Common)
Whenever Tukatongue Thallid goes to the graveyard from play, put a 1/1 green Saproling token into play.

As far as nearly-vanilla 1-drop 1/1s go, this guy’s probably a small step above benalish hero.  It’s like two sequentially appearing eager cadets for the price of one.  I’m almost certain some sick combo exists in which you cycle this fool through the yard again and again leaving yourself with an army of saprolings, but my self-imposed ~5 second-ish impression window was insufficient for me to think such a combo up.  I’m pretty sure it’s there somewhere, but probably uses 3 or more cards.  This guy does double-duty as a chump blocker, so maybe the swarm + team pump stratagems will employ him.

Armillary Sphere – 2
Artifact (Common)
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Armillary Sphere: Search your library for up to 2 basic land cards, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

Hmm.  I think I like this one.  Compare it to something like Journey of Discovery, and the “installment plan” kind of thing (plus the accompanying option to use the ability at EOT, when you have nothing better to do) probably makes this slightly better, despite being exposed to the usual artifact hate.  I think you could do worse if you’re trying to draft the domain deck.  (Shard convergence, for instance, is almost certainly inferior).

Bone Saw – 0
Artifact – Equipment (Common)
Equip {1}- Equipped creature gets +1/+0.

Sick name on this one!  Lol.  Bonesplitter seems to be the obvious point of reference here.  For waiting another turn (and spending another mana), you get another +1/+0 out of the original.  Whether it’s just because I have a soft spot for 0-cc artifacts or not I can’t say, but I think I like this one better.  On the other hand, whereas bonesplitter’s +2 is actually relevant and can speed up clocks well, this one is a pretty marginal effect.  Usually there will (should) be something more effective to take up the slot this guy wants to take up.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 02

Gleam of Resistance – 4W
Instant (Common)
Creatures you control get +1/+2 until end of turn. Untap those creatures.
Basic landcycling {1}{W}

I like it.  A scary effect in white which should win you a game or two at the pre-release.  The landcycling cycle is very very good this time around.  There’s a few more coming in this batch too.  I like them all.

Martial Coup – XWW
Sorcery (Rare)
Put X 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens into play. If X is 5 or greater, destroy all other creatures.
Illus. Greg Staples

Good god.  Clearly you want to cast this for 7cc or more.  This seems very fucking good.  Wrath of god + 5 or more 1/1 soldiers?  Follow up with a swell of courage FTW the next turn?  Hell, even a nicely non-creature Ajani Goldmane would do some serious damage.  Elspeth and vengeant, too.  This is definitely going to see some serious play in contemporary formats.

Sigil of the Empty Throne – 3WW
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever you play an enchantment spell, put a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying into play.

Hmmm… gimmicky for sure, but also potentially great.  How easily can the old school enchantress decks play this?  And is enchantress even viable now that it’s Legacy only?  I’m brain-farting whether there are recurring enchantments in standard, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a couple.  It could be okay… but it sure seems like a do-nothing conditional kind of thing… in other words, a pile of shit.  Maybe it’s a pile of shit that’s been shaped like a pretty statue… I dunno.  It has appeal, but seems Johnny-ish.  Stay away.

Traumatic Visions – 3UU
Instant (Common)
Counter Target Spell
Basic landcycling {1}{U}

So far this seems to be the best of the land-cycler spells… but it’s close to the red damaging one.  The white untap / pump spell is not without merit and power either.  All of them will see play.  This one may see constructed tournament play, whereas I’m not entirely convinced of the others.

Absorb Vis – 6B
Sorcery (Common)
Taget player loses 4 life and you gain 4 life.
Basic landcycling {1}{B}

You know, pretty much any ability can be stapled to these basic landcycling cards, and they’ll still see play.  10UUUUU, draw a card, instant with basic landcycling… I’d play it.  Would you?  Every once in a while, this will burn your opponent out as a late game top deck.  99% of the time, you’ll be amused by how your base-black deck so easily splashed three colors.

Goblin Razerunners – 2RR
Creature – Goblin Warrior (Rare)
{1}{R}, Sacrifice a land: Put a +1/+1 counter on Goblin Razerunners.
At the end of your turn, you may have Goblin Razerunners deal damage to target player equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it.

He’s got the goods.  I wonder whether he ends up generating more damage than seige-gang in older-format goblin decks… I’ll have to ponder that.  Intuitively though, sticking to my first-impression guideline, I’m thinking this guy is a bigtime house.  It’s not like these are “goblin bone” tokens or something; they’re plain old +1/+1s.  Ajani Goldmane and any old reinforce guy will play well with this dude in standard.  His own ability helps too… He’s seeming more and more incredible the more seconds go by here…

Volcanic Fallout – 1RR
Instant (Uncommon)
Volcanic Fallout can’t be countered.
Volcanic Fallout deals 2 damage to each creature and each player.

Tournament staple, pure and simple.  Even if it were just an instant, it would be a huge power-up over pyroclasm, its obvious predecessor.  But the uncounterable clause makes pyroclasm a thing of the past, I would think.  This card is simply amazing.

Voracious Dragon – 3RR
Creature – Dragon (Rare)
Devour 1
When Voracious Dragon comes into play, it deals damage equal to twice the number of Goblins it devoured to target creature or player.

A nice way to follow up that empty the warrens, post combat of course.  This guy is a fucking house.  Already intense as a 5-drop, if you throw him in with seige gang or mogg war marshal or the like… dragon fodder anyone?… you’ve got a powerhouse.  I predict a bright future here.  Absolute nuts in limited.  Very fast for a devastating clock.

Cylian Sunsinger – 1G
Creature – Elf Shaman (Rare)
{R}{G}{W}: Cylian Sunsinger and all other creatures with the same name as it get +3/+3 until end of turn.
Illus. Jesper Ejsing

Interesting effect.  So, clone gets this effect, and ditto volrath’s shapeshifter.  I can see a mask of the mimic kid of thing here, perhaps… interesting stuff… gimmicky and I’m not sure how incredibly good it is, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  The newness is great.  And hey, he beats the hell out of a grizzly bears, no?  Dig those creature types as well.  He’s decent in limited, and I can see some wild-eyed mages trying him out in casual constructed… depending on supporting cast, maybe he has a shot at the bigtime.

Paleoloth – 4GG
Creature – Beast (Rare)
Whenever creature with power 5 or greater comes into play under your control, you may return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.

Okay, I need a rules guru to explain whether this guy triggers on his own CiP… if he can gravedigger on his own CiP then he’s a house.  If not, he’s still pretty awesome, but probably shines most in a big-dorks kind of beats deck.  You know, either way, if you’re remotely in green, I think you run this guy.  Not seeing him in constructed formats any time soon however.

Sylvan Bounty – 5G
Instant (Common)
Target player gains 8 life.
Basic landcycling {1}{G}

Yawn.  Lifegain.  You know, lifegain isn’t always terrible, and at least this basic-land-cycles.  I think this gets the nod, especially since base-green is typically the way you do many-colored decks.  And if you get it late, EOT +8 should buy you a turn if nothing else.  I guess it’s worthy despite my normal aversion to lifegain that isn’t recurring.  Eight is a lot.

Conflux – 3WUBRG
Sorcery (Mythic Rare)
Search your library for a white card, a blue card, a black card, a red card, and a green card, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
Illus. Karl Kopinski

Would this card be game over if its text were “draw 5 cards?”  Well, probably not.  The fact that you’re guaranteeing the effectiveness of the 5 cards pushes it well into the Cruel Ultimatum zone of “I win” textboxes.  Now, this is one mana slower than CU, so I’m guessing the ultimatum still sees more tournament play.  Question: would a dedicated domain deck rather run this or ultimatum?  Actually, would a domain deck run either?  I mean, 5cc is great, but is it truly “domain?”  It’s not too focused on acheiving “domain” proper, but only as a consequence of playing esoteric and eclectic mana costs.  So I don’t know… I’m thinking this card is very very cool, and essentially “I win”, but I think it’s going to be in the shadow of Cruel Ultimatum, definitely at first, possibly forever.

Countersquall – UB
Instant (Uncommon)
Counter target noncreature spell. Its controller loses 2 life.

People had their doubts about negate when it first arrived, but it’s proven its worth.  Thus, in all sorts of decks, this will be a huge player… well, not ALL sorts… it’ll have to be UB decks, obviously, but this seems like a real winner.  Why not get a shock out of your negate?  That seems well worth a few river of tears, am I right?

Kaleidostone – 2
Artifact (Common)
When Kaleidostone comes into play, draw a card.
{5}, {T}, Sacrifice Kaleidostone: Add {W}{U}{B}{R}{G} to your mana pool.

I love it.  I loves elsewhere flask too.  The real draw for me is the… draw!  I mean, there’s a reason cloudstone curio has that “non-artifact” clause in there… even so, this is tempo-painless mana fixing, and in this case gives you a domain filter.  Very cool.

Rupture Spire
Land (Common)
Rupture Spire comes into play tapped.
When Rupture Spire comes into play, sacrifice it unless you pay {1}.
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Hmm… initially I don’t like this spell… it seems quite slow to me.  People don’t draft the panoramas as highly as the CiP tapped tri-lands, and the reason is analagous.  Spending 1 mana to drop a CiP tapped land is handing your opponent a big fat wad of tempo on a platter.  Still, various 5-color archetypes or slower controlling archetypes might play this in limited.  I’m not seeing it in any kind of constructed unless some gimmick exists that I’m missing.

Unstable Frontier
Land (Uncommon)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{T}: Target land you control becomes the basic land type of your choice until end of turn.

Okay, so usually this is just shimmering grottos 5-8.  However, this is the domain matters set, so clearly there’s going to be some more-expensive, but powered up Might of Alaras and such.  I guess a few savvy mages will prevent their opponent from landwalking them by changing their lone land…  Either way, henge of ramos is officially a bookmark for life.

New Conflux Cards – Batch 01

In the past, I’ve done “snap judgment” first impressions of spoiled cards as they appear on the interweb.  I got a late start on the Conflux spoiler, but here’s my first impressions of the initial 27 cards spoiled by mtgsalvation.  After each card, I give my impression along with (usually) some indication of how likely I feel the card is to appear in constructed and limited formats.


Lapse of Certainty – 2W
Instant (Common)
Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, put it on top of its owner’s library instead of into that player’s graveyard.

A white counterspell is pretty damn awesome.  The top of the library thing is nice too, stalling them for a turn… however, there’s certainly times you would rather have the card truly countered.  Anyway, this seems like a winner to me.  Spells that have “when you play ___” abilities can use this card to get double mileage… I can’t see any readily apparent tricky uses for this, but I’m guessing it will see some play here and there.

Path to Exile – W
Instant (Uncommon)
Remove target creature from the game. Its controller may search his or her library for a basic land card, put it into play tapped, then shuffle his or her library.

Holy Moly!  Super duper bomb uncommon!  I almost think this is better than swords to plowshares.  Bomb.  Simply put: bomb.  I mean, this is as five-star as it gets.  Will see tons of play in all formats save perhaps vintage, but even there, it’s unlikely that the opponent has basics, so it’s probably more playable there than swords even.  F*cking awesome card.

Scepter of Dominance – 1WW
Artifact (Uncommon)
{W}, {T}: Tap target permanent.

Again, another awesome one.  Seems like an even better version of ring of gix, which was in some ways better than icy manipulator, in some ways worse, but certainly a turn faster.  This is a turn faster as well without the pesky echo issues.  Again, I have to think this is bomb-level good, especially in limited, but MAYBE good enough for some constructed archetype or other… Permanent is slightly better than “artifact, land, creature”… though it will seldom matter.

Wall of Reverence – 3W
Creature – Wall (Rare)
Defender, flying
At the end of your turn, you gain life equal to the power of a creature you control.

Also seems very good.  Limited bomb for sure.  I’m not entirely sure it’s contructed worthy, but then again, a deck that wants to hole up and stall loves this guy… if you’re Mr. Late game, this will help you get there for sure, even if you only start out gaining one life at a time… it’s not bad for a 1/6 flying wall to begin with… not terribly bad anyway… but the life gain makes it incredible.  This is a wall your opponent has to deal with.

Esperzoa – 2U
Artifact Creature – Jellyfish (Uncommon)
At the beginning of your upkeep, return an artifact you control to its owner’s hand.

Avi- and Chrono- get another sibling, eh?  The Zoa clan grows.  So far, this list is mostly pure gold… this is another card which I think will have HUGE impacts.  Such a powerful effect, and stapled to a huge flying beater… it appears to be a drawback, but dont be fooled.  This is a house.  Bounce your solemn simulacrum each turn… or bounce your ___________ (insert artifact with CIP ability here)… doesn’t matter… it’s going to be fucking good.  Stock up on these early before people figure out the broken deck it lives in and the price shoots up.  That’s my impression.

Scepter of Insight – 1UU
Artifact (Uncommon)
{3}{U}, {T}: Draw a card.

Worst card yet, but still somewhat worthy.  I’d play it in limited, cause sometimes you have nothing better to do on the opponent’s EOT… may as well dray in those cases…. if you draw twice with this, I think you’re getting good payback.  Outside of limited, I think this is pretty much a bookmark though.

Unsummon – U
Instant (Common)
Return target creature to its owner’s hand.

I love reprints that bump the value of my old Beta commons up by an order of magnitude or more.  I can’t wait to trade a beta unsummon for a real tournament rare.  This card is also sick.  Cheap and effective.  Love the reprint here.  This card has a pedigree of tournament play, if I’m not mistaken.

Worldly Counsel – 1U
Instant (Common)
Domain – Look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the number of basic land types among lands you control. Put one of those cards into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library.

Hey, dig that keyword!  Another reprint here.  F*cking a.  A good one!  This is awesome.  Also has tournament play under its belt.

Extractor Demon – 4BB
Creature – Demon (Rare)
Whenever another creature is put into a graveyard from play, you may have target player put the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
Unearth {2}{B}

Hmmm… mill demon?  I’m not seeing it.  Unearth is okay on this guy… but I’m not seeing the mill thing working out unless you have some kind of myr retreiver like loop going on… outside of that kind of instant-mill combo, this is a silly dude, and I mean “silly” in the comical sense, not the ridiculously broken sense.

Scepter of Fugue – BB
Artifact (Uncommon)
{1}{B}, {T}: Target player discards a card. Play this ability only during your turn.

It’s no raven’s crime.  This was my initial thought on this one.  I think it’s too slow… if it cost 0 to cast, it’d be great.  B to cast, it’d be playable… At BB, I think it’s seriously outclassed by other discard options.

Sedraxis Alchemist – 2B
Creature – Zombie Wizard (Uncommon)
When Sedraxis Alchemist comes into play, if you control a blue permanent, you may return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand.

Conditional Man-O-War?  Sign me up!  Thumbs up here.  Also, it’s a f*cking wizard, so you can slide him right into this season’s extended nassif blue (“faeries”) deck, and start going to town with riptide lab.  I think he has a bright future.

Fiery Fall – 5R
Instant (Common)
Fiery Fall deals 5 damage to target creature.
Basic landcycling {1}{R} ({1}{R}, Discard this card: Search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.)

Hell yeah!  Well… hell yeah! to the basic landcycling anyway.  I think it’s good for red to have this fixer… lets them splash easy, and is a perfectly fine limited removal spell… not seeing it in constructed though.

Maniacal Rage – 1R
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and can’t block.

Exodus, Invasion, and now conflux.  I think this one’s not so hot.  But certain red decks just want to get damage through, so MAYBE… I’m guessing it’s a bit player at best.

Might of Alara – G
Instant (Common)
Domain – Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each basic land type among lands you control.

WHAAAAAA!?  No.  They didn’t.  WAAAA?!  They made a functional reprint of Gaea’s Might.  So now you can run 8_Might.dec.  I think it should be hella good too.  Extended will probably feature something with fast and/or evasive dudes (TS shadow men maybe?) and lots of fetch lands into rav duals into swings for lethal very early.  I’m not sure you’ll really need all 8, but… I predict this will be a huge constructed card in some deck or other which does quite well.  Why not a direct reprint?  They wanted the domain keyword I guess, but then why not do what they did to worldly counsel?

Noble Hierarch – G
Creature – Human Druid? (Rare)
{T}: Add {G}, {W} or {U} to your mana pool.

WTF?  These cards are incredibly good!  This guy’s a house!  Bant loves this fool.  I’m guessing that standard sees him play.  Stoic angel loves him.  Turn 3 angel should be the norm here.

Exploding Borders – 2RG
Sorcery (Common)
Search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.
Domain – Exploding Borders deals X damage to target player, where X is the number of basic land types among lands you control.

Nice.  Not bad.  On the first shot, it should be lightning bolt plus rampant growth… so you’re paying a premium for that first shot.  Afterward though, you should get 4 and then 5 damage, so it’s more like a shrapnel blast plus rampant growth with no artifact sac… seems very good.  Probably a staple in the domain deck they’re pushing here… however, at 4cc, it’s very counterable.

Fusion Elemental – WUBRG
Creature – Elemental (Uncommon)
Fusion Elemental is like riding a pony, which probably doesn’t sound dangerous, except that in this case the pony is 300 feet tall and covered in chainsaws, and to get on the pony you have to take an elevator with sixteen live cougars.

Stupid mtgsalvation guys think they’re SOOOOO f*cking clever.  Just give us the cards, homies.

Anyway, this is a very boring domain cc 8/8.  A yawn and a half.  I hate this stupid card.  BUT.  Maybe it has some stupid synergy because it’s every color… I don’t know.  Seems shitty to me though.  It IS an elemental though, so it’s probably awesome.  Smokebraider makes him an easy 5-drop.  Then you can soul’s fire with him and sh*t like that.  I dunno.  I remain skeptical.

Giltspire Avenger – GWU
Creature – Human Soldier (Rare)
Exalted (Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
{T}: Destroy target creature that dealt damage to you this turn.

Wow.  I love it.  I mean… he’s obviously a limited bomb… I’m liking exalted more and more.  I think he’s pretty sweet.  Blech… I’m running out of steam for decent commentary I think… what do you say about this guy?  Obviously only fits into fairly dedicated bant decks.  But he fits right into the exalted theme.  You don’t mind sitting back with this guy.  I suspect you’ll hear the phrase “no blocks” more than once with this guy in play.

Goblin Outlander – RG
Creature – Goblin Scout? (Common)
Protection from blue

Hmmm… reminiscent of invasion block here.  Yavimaya Barbarian.  Somehow I think 8_barbarian.deck isn’t quite as awesome as 8_Might.dec.  Still… something LIKE this was part of “The Solution” right?  Keep this guy in the back of your Jund / Naya minds.

Malfegor – 2RRBB
Legendary Creature – Demon Dragon (Mythic Rare)
When Malfegor comes into play, discard your hand. Target opponent sacrifices a creature for each card discarded this way.

First Demon Dragon ever.  I like the one-word name legendary thing.  The effect is brutal.  Bombs all around I think.  He’s huge for 6 and flies.  He nukes opposing potential blockers and they’re sacrifices, not targetted removal.  You can pitch useless or extra lands and stuff.  Super-duper bomb.  Grixis and Jund love him.  They should be well poised to ramp into an early version of this guy too.  Being black helps him dodge some removal.  All around awesome.

Nacatl Outlander – GW
Creature – Cat Scout? (Common)
Protection from black

8_Llanowar_Knight.dec!  Yes!  (See above barbarian commentary)

Valeron Outlander – WU
Creature – Human Scout? (Common)
Protection from red

8_Galina’s_Knight.dec!  Yes!  (See above barbarian commentary)  This was the original “The solution” all-star I think.

Vedalken Outlander – UB
Artifact Creature – Vedalken Scout? (Common)
Protection from green

8_Vodalian_Zombie.dec!  Yes!  (See above barbarian commentary)

Zombie Outlander – BR
Creature – Zombie Scout? (Common)
Protection from white

… you get the picture… they reprinted functionally the whole stupid 2-drop protection from enemy color cycle from invasion.  Yawn….

Mana Cylix – 1
Artifact (Common)
{1}, {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Nice reprint.  Obvious one for this set.  Probably why they had it in f*cking planeshift.  Allow me an aside here…. I’m kind of getting sick of Invasion, Invasion lite, Diet Invasion, Invasion II, Invasion III, etc.  Every couple sets, they remake Invasion.  WTF?  To you guys who say Ravnica wasn’t Invasion II: it was.  And now we have Invasion III.  Pure and simple.  This one’s WAY the f*ck harder to deny than Ravnica was, because they have so many goddamn reprints.  Wizards sees no reason why they shouldn’t milk Invasion for everything it’s worth, which means every 3rd or 4th set will be the next invasion.  Get used to it.  Lightning just struck thrice.  End aside.

Obelisk of Alara – 6
Artifact (Rare)
{1}{W}, {T}: You gain 5 life.
{1}{U}, {T}: Draw a card, then discard a card.
{1}{B}, {T}: Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
{1}{R}, {T}: Obelisk of Alara deals 3 damage to target player.
{1}{G}, {T}: Target creature gets +4/+4 until end of turn.

Pretty cool I guess.  Kind of expensive to just start doing one mediocre effect per turn.  Debate topic: which effect is the best?

Exotic Orchard
Land (Rare)
{T}: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color that a land an opponent controls could produce.

Fellwar Pool!  Reflecting Stone!  Fellwar‘s Orchard Pool Thing!  Awesome.  Staple.  Get a playset ASAP.  It’ll start cheap and climb.

The end!  Hope you dug it.  Lay it on me.  When am I right, when am I wrong?!