Category Archives: type 2

Zendikar Card Review – Batch 3

Welcome to batch 3 of our ongoing Zendikar preview series.  As with the last two batches, I will give each card a knee-jerk reaction within the paradigm of limited play, occasionally speculating on legacy and EDH, while James will primarily comment on Block, Standard, and Extended, with occasional banter on other topics.

We love hearing from you in the comments section.  Without further ado…

Armament Master – WW
Creature – Kor Soldier (Rare)
Other Kor creatures you control get +2/+2 for each Equipment attached to Armament Master.
2/2
Illus. Steven Belledin
#1/249

JOE

Might randomly be awesome in the right pool / draft, but there’s a lot of pieces that have to fall into place.  Usually this is a rare that’s a slightly-worse-than-usual runeclaw bear.

JAMES
This is a great theme-driven deck (“Tribal”) but I don’t see a fit for this in anything competitive.

Arrow Volley Trap – 3WW
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If four or more creatures are attacking, you may pay {1}{W} rather than pay Arrow Volley Trap’s mana cost.
Arrow Volley Trap deals 5 damage divided as you choose among any number of target attacking creatures.
#2/249

JOE

The trap cost here isn’t a huge savings, but it hardly matters.  Whether for the trap cost, or full price, this is top shelf removal for white.  This should take down a minimum of two attackers, and will often leave your opponent wrecked.

JAMES
Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Trap mechanic (I think I’ve said this same thing about 6x ! lol!) but I feel the non-trap cost is a bit ridiculous. 5cc? That’s more than Wrath of God and Day of Judgment and really it’s not going to kill anything that frightening. The ability to divide the damage is certainly appealing. I see this card fitting more into control decks. I’m not sure that 5 color control/cascade has a future because of loss of Reflecting Pool, filter-lands and vivid lands; that being said, it’d be a great side-board option if token-based/winnie decks make a comeback. Outside that, I see better removal spells in Path to Exile, Harms Way and even to some extent (some) Celestial Purge and Martial Coup. Martial Coup may be a better benchmark because for two more cc you get to “wrath” and fill the board back up with 5 of your own dudes.

Kor Aeronaut – WW
Creature – Kor Soldier (Uncommon)
Kicker {1}{W}
Flying
When Kor Aeronaut enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, target creature gains flying until end of turn.
2/2

JOE

A solid creature with a respectable kicker.  At 1WWW, it’s white-intensive, but this can often push through important damage for aggressive archetypes that are a white mainstay.  I like this uncommon just fine.

JAMES
Pretty interesting card. It helps to have it on turn 2 because of the flying and then mid/late-game you can cast with kicker to just send in a dude with flying. That being said, for the same cc I would rather play Elspeth, Knight Errant or Ajani Goldmane–Elspeth pulling the majority of weight in my mind because she gets a loyalty counter & gives a creature +3/+3 and flying. Maybe this will go into that Kor-themed deck I mentioned above but not into anything competitive.

Kor Hookmaster – 2W
Creature – Kor Soldier (Uncommon)
When Kor Hookmaster enters the battlefield, tap target creature an opponent controls. That creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.
2/2

JOE

Another tempo-oriented card that’ll shine in aggressively curved decks.  A solid gray ogre variant.

JAMES
I’m trying to figure out if this is playable or not. I want to say yes. The appeal of a targeted Sleep is pretty strong and it’s not overly costed. You can trust that this creature will get in for 2 the next turn–well, big assumption but let’s roll with it for a moment. With that assumption we have to assume that we’re tapping down something bigger than this 2/2. Is the 2/2 going to cause enough of a tempo change? Probably not alone it won’t! What board position would we want to see this in? Certainly not in an opening hand; we want it for punching through the final points of damage. Tapping a Baneslayer Angel seems hawt. What else? Hmm, my surmise is that we’d rather play Brave the Elements (new from Zendikar) which at 1cc gives all your creatures pro-whatever-color-you-need-at-the-moment (i.e. one-turn evasion for the finishing alpha strike). Definitely not a good choice for Extended or Standard and highly unlikely for Block.

Kor Outfitter – WW
Creature – Kor Soldier (Common)
When Kor Outfitter enters the battlefield, attach target equipment you control to target creature you control.
2/2
#21/249

JOE

This will only ever save you a couple mana, so it’s mainly a bad grizzly bears, but still has a place in what looks to be a white-heavy aggro archetype in this set.

JAMES
Plays well with the first card on our list today, Armament Master but that’s assuming an “ideal world” where we have Armament Master in play AND a worthwhile equipment. I’d like to pitch this as playable if you’re equipping a bomb equipment like Sword of Fire and Ice or Umezawas Jitte but really wouldn’t we rather just pay the two and equip it than put another dude into play? I sure would so…yeah, this isn’t really that great of a creature.

Nimbus Wings – 1W
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+2 and has flying.
#28/249

JOE

Auras always have the “exposure to 241s” danger.  The risk is that you enchant your guy only to lose two cards to the opponents single removal spell.  If the rewards are greater than this risk, the aura in question is playable.  It’s my opinion that flying and a small boost are probably worth it in some cases.  Evasion is very nice, and giving the right creature flying can win the game.  I think this will have a home in WG decks with lots of ground-based fat green creatures.  Suit one up with Nimbus Wings, and you should be putting your opponent on a fast clock.  I like it.

JAMES
I don’t see this being played outside limited. Maybe there’s a spot for in block (?) but really for 2cc (1 & W) I would rather drop Honor of the Pure. The bigger butt (i.e. Holy Strength) makes this a somewhat defensive card which runs against the grain of giving a creature evasion. What’s the point of having evasion if you’re just going to sit around and block with the creature? It’s a little underwhelming imo.

Ondu Cleric – 1W
Creature – Kor Cleric Ally (Common)
When Ondu Cleric or another Ally comes into play, you may gain 1 life for each Ally you control.
1/1

JOE

Life gain has been growing in popularity.  I think this will see play, but it’s not my kind of thing… however, the Ally deck is reminiscent of affinity in Mirrodin in the sense that “the more the merrier” seems to hold true.  I can see running this mainly for its type line.  Its own ability is incidental to the fact that it’s an ally.  It’s like running off-color mana-producing myr or off-color spellbombs in mirrodin.  It’s about critical mass.

JAMES
If Ally makes a surge in Block, maybe otherwise no. As sad as it is to say Essence Warden & Soul Warden seem better since they aren’t “ally” based. Plus, how many allies are you going to have in play at any given time? 3? Regardless, I see better Ally-cards in White at 2cc (such as Kazandu Blademaster–which after seeing more and more of the spoiler, I realize I was too quick to judge as “just a 2/2″).

Quest for the Holy Relic – W
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever you cast a creature spell, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Holy Relic.
Remove five quest counters from Quest for the Holy Relic and sacrifice it: Search your library for an equipment card, put it onto the battlefield, and attach it to a creature you control. Then shuffle your library.
#33/249

JOE

Well, if you’re particularly creature heavy and have one bomb equipment, maybe this is worth a slot.  Almost always, it’s not.  You want cards that do good things all by their lonesome.  This has a lot of strings attached.

JAMES
Too bad the quest is “when you cast” because it’s probably just too slow to justify. Being able to tutor out a Jitte is pretty sexy but it’s altogether under-powered and slow. It’s not on the same threat-level as Luminarch Ascension which I find a lot more appealing. General aside: The vulnerability of these ‘quest’ cards is that a simple Naturalize hoses 5 turns or more investment. (Qasali Pridemage comes to mind as a playable)

Windborne Charge – 2WW
Sorcery (Common)
Two target creatures get +2/+2 and flying until end of turn.

JOE

Another way to ram through damage in the white rush archetype.  I like it just fine.  Also great in the WG kind of deck I mentioned above.

JAMES
Expensive. So far as constructed goes, same comments vis a vis Elspeth apply here. Just straight up better: both are at sorcery speed, Elspeth sticks around to be a continuing threat, and does a better job pumping the creature (33% better).

Summoner’s Bane – 2UU
Instant (Common)
Counter target creature spell. Put a 2/2 blue Illusion creature token onto the battlefield under your control.

JOE

Not bad at all!  I seldom play control in limited, but this is an essence scatter I can definitely get behind.  It’s somewhat easy to see coming, alas, but still… a good counter for limited.

JAMES
Certainly provides the right kind of card advantage that U needs to win. I wish the illusion had flying but maybe I’m just being a bit greedy. This is a really good card in limited, btw. It’s cancel on steroids imo. (Maybe Essence Scatter is a better counter examle but the 2 U in the casting cost makes me think of Cancel more than Essence Scatter). I can see this being a great counter spell in Block and also making some appearances in standard. Unless I’m totally blanking on some amazing control cards in U, the counter-suite seems a bit dry–probably because Cryptic Command has played such a meta-defining role and its absence is a gaping whole where once was a God of CounterMagic. I do like this counterspell.

Caller of Gales – U
Creature – Merfolk Wizard (Uncommon)
{1}{U}, {T}: Creatures you control gain flying until end of turn.
1/1
#43/249

JOE

Nice one!  Levitation always suffered from being an enchantment and from being costly.  This is a lower mana investment and can occasionally beat for 1.  I like it.

JAMES
It’s good that it’s multiple creatures otherwise it’d be strictly underpowered. I personally wouldn’t want to rely on getting my miniature creatures through on the back of this card but the Merfolk decks will probably toy with this. —-CORRECTION–checking out the spoiler on mtgsalvation right now and it looks like it’s changed to target creature. Okay, so it’s underwhelming.

Cosi’s Trickster – U
Creature – Merfolk (Rare)
Whenever an opponent shuffles his or her library, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Cosi’s Trickster.
1/1
#45/249

JOE

Interesting card.  Soldier of Fortune had a torrid love affair with this merfolk in the late 90s… little known fact.  No, this is potentially interesting in constructed, but it’s basically a 1/1 for U in limited.  You can’t ever count on it being much more.  I mean, maybe it grows to 2/2 or 3/3, but it’s almost certain to be out of your control.  Usually, this sits the bench; that’s my prediction.

JAMES
This could be a really aggressive card. Fetchlands will be making a strong appearance in every format from Extended to Block so I would expect this to be an amazing tempo-play. If you’re going full on merfolk then sleeving this up with Merfolk Sovereign is a great choice. What I really find appealing about this card is that in the early game U players can flop this puppy down and then simply protect it and keep counter magic available to tempo-play the opponent all the while exerting pressure on the opposing player. It’s proably not a game winner in and of itself but I definitely see this having a spot on the team.

Gomazoa – U
Creature – Jellyfish (Common)
Kicker {1}{U}
When Gomazoa enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, return target creature to its owner’s hand.
0/3
#46/249

JOE

An 0/3 makes me sad.  As a 1/2 I’d play this every time.  This is just a weird, pricey unsummon.  It still has a place, but I’d probably use it in a spell slot, not a creature slot, and I’d rather this guy had flash.  It’s an effect that needs to be instant to be fully useful.

JAMES
I don’t see the point of this card. Just play Unsummon[card] and then play a better creature (like [card]Cosis Trickster above).

Paralyzing Grasp – 2U
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant tapped creature
Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step.
#58/249

JOE

This has been done many times, and it’s a good example of “soft removal,” which is the normal kind of removal for blue.  Not bad at what it does.

JAMES
Very playable in limited though I can’t think of many instances where this would see play in constructed decks. Better to just have an Essence Scatter and not get that creature into play in the first place. Imo.

Sky Ruin Drake – 4U
Creature – Drake (Common)
Flying
2/5
#66/249

JOE

A solid flier in common.  Will definitely see play.

JAMES
Very interesting for limited. The big butt makes it easily a stabilizer against early-rush strategies while the 2 power lets it switch over to an attack after it played its stabilization role. Pretty cool. That being said, it’s not playable in constructed decks. (too expensive).

Sphinx of Jwar Isle – 4UU
Creature – Sphinx (Rare)
Flying, shroud
You may look at the top card of your library.(You may do this at any time)
5/5
#68/249

JOE

In limited, being a 6-drop 5/5 flying shroud makes it a bomb.  The top card thing is gravy, but mostly just a cute sideshow.  In constructed, maybe this can pair with djinn of wishes?  I dunno.

JAMES
Weird. I don’t see the value of looking at my library as worth it in this instance. It’s certainly a fairly efficient creature but it’s very boarderline. U-based decks typically don’t use big creatures for exerting pressure–simply because tapping out for a big spell like this allows your opponent to “finally” play their win-condition and they’ve been playing around the permission strategy for a few turns. Why give them permission?

Umara Raptor – 2U
Creature – Bird Ally (Common)
Flying
Whenever Umara Raptor or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Umara Raptor.
1/1
#75/249

JOE

This might end up being the most popular common ally.  This is playable all by itself as a flying (you guessed it) gray ogre.  The fact that it can easily go well beyond makes this, in my mind, a likely first pick for blue.  Definitely a very high pick.

JAMES
Agreed. Strong ally at 3cc for a 2/2 flyer and mid-to-late game it’s not a dead card. A player can cast this spell and still leave some mana open for countering another spell. Well balanced. I’d expect to see this floating around in Block.

Welkin Tern – 2U
Creature – Bird (Uncommon)
Flying, defender
{T}: Shuffle Welkin Tern and all creatures it’s blocking into their owners’ libraries.
0/3
#76/249

JOE

Pretty neat!  I like that it’s the chump blocker par excellence!  This ought to be thought of as a soft removal spell… it’s not terrible.  Block a few bears until a scary beast comes to town, then send him packing.

JAMES
I don’t quite get “and all creatures it’s blocking.” It’s not allowed to block multiple creatures so it’s just a one-for-one right? It’s ‘aight…but probably not worth it.

Grim Discovery – 1B
Sorcery (Common)
Choose one or both – Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand; and/or return target land card from your graveyard to your hand.

JOE

An awesome raise dead variant.  This will help you get double-duty out of whatever fetchland you cracked if you got lucky with landfall.  Worst case it’s raise dead for 1B.  Worth it for sure.

JAMES
I find this card really good. For the Vampire/MBC this seems like a great option. It’s cheap, does more than one thing, etc. In fact, I’ll bet it will fit really well into the Grixis-Control style decks using Soul Manipulation and Architects of Will.

Hagra Diabolist – 4B
Creature – Ogre Shaman Ally (Uncommon)
When Hagra Diabolist or an other Ally enters the battlefield, target player loses life equal to the the number of Allies you control.
3/2

JOE

A solid ally capable of doing double digits worth of life loss with the right number of allies.  However, as a 5-drop, you’ll need a few early allies to maximize your return with this guy.  3/2 is a little weak on 5 to run this guy as a sole ally.

JAMES
I just don’t have enough exposure to these allies to get a gauge on their power. Assuming you’ve been exerting even a modicum of pressure on your opponent this could be a very simple way of getting in the last few points of damage. (Assuming 3 or allies total on the battlefield). He’s pretty expensive though.

Malakir Bloodwitch – 3BB
Creature – Vampire Shaman (Rare)
Flying, protection from white
When Malakir Bloodwitch enters the battlefield, each opponent loses life equal to the number of Vampires you control. You gain life equal to the life lost this way.
4/4
#100/249

JOE

Damn.  This is a bomb.  Even as your only vampire, a 5-drop 4/4 flying is solid.  Just ask air elemental!  This should see a lot of play in constructed too, as vampires are on the rise.  This will probably be worth some $$ as well.  Pro white positions him quite well to battle a certain baneslayer angel, as well as dodging wall of reverence.  Constructed ain’t my thing really, so this is partly “on-a-limb” but I’m thinking this is a shoe-in for constructed vampires.dec.

JAMES
Seriously? This is ridiculous. Vampires is looking so damn strong. I see this as super playable. Even if the “total vampires” you control is only 2 (counting this one), then a four point swing in life with a 4/4 flyer is looking good. Pro-white is just gravy.

Mire Blight – B
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant Creature
When enchanted creature is dealt damage, destroy it.

JOE

This is on the extreme weak side of soft removal, but sometimes we all do things we’re not proud of.  Running this will be one of those times.  It happens.

JAMES
Weak.

Hellfire Mongrel – 2R
Creature – Elemental Hound (Uncommon)
At the beginning of each opponent’s upkeep, if that player has two or fewer cards in his hand, Hellfire Mongrel deals 2 damage to him or her.
2/2
#130/249

JOE

Who can guess what red creature I’m about to compare this to favorably?  If you said gray ogre, give yourself a gold star.

JAMES
Blightening loves this. There’s looking to be a few great discard spells in this set that will mesh well for a B/R strategy. I see this making an appearance in Type2. It only cost 3cc, will put pressure on an opponent and is sorta like a Sulfuric Vortex. Not bad.

Obsidian Fireheart – 1RRR
Creature – Elemental (Mythic Rare)
{1}{R}{R}: Put a blaze counter on target land without a blaze counter on it. Lands with blaze counters on them have “At the beginning of your upkeep, this land deals 1 damage to you”. (The land continues to burn even after Obsidian Fireheart leaves the battlefield.)
4/4

JOE

I’m not sure whether that parenthetical remark, “The land continues to burn even after Obsidian Fireheart leaves the battlefield,” is a joke or not, but it seems like sloppy rules execution.  The fact that the land gets this new ability already indicates that the effect is not dependent upon Obsidian Fireheart being in play.  The “continues to burn” thing is unnecessarily confusing.  Here’s hoping it’s a joke.  Anyway, the card itself seems more like a constructed card with RRR in the cost.  In limited, there’s no question it’s a huge creature for 4 mana though, so if you’re base-red, this should be a bomb for you.  The fact that it doesn’t require tapping to add counters makes him sweet.  On turn 6, they’ll already be taking lightning bolt-worth of damage per turn… FROM THEN ON.  I think it’s a bomb, but a quirky and odd one.  You need to be base red, but if so, you’re probably good to go with this guy.

JAMES
I’m not commenting on this card until I see it. It’s wording is all weird–total FUBAR imo. I can’t get a straight answer on the forums about whether this is confirmed or complete conjecture. Seems like random guesses in the dark about what it could do. Let’s see a scan of the card! ;-)

Unstable Footing – R
Instant (Uncommon)
Kicker {3}{R}
Damage can’t be prevented this turn. If Unstable Footing was kicked, it deals 5 damage to target player.

JOE

I only like it when it’s kicked.  How often is damage prevented?  An instant lava axe though?  Sign me up.

JAMES
I can think of instances where preventing the prevention of damage would be really useful. Too bad it doesn’t stop lifegain too. Would be a total shoe-in for SB. Harm’s Way cries a little in the dark when it sees this card. The kicker just gives it late-game viability. This is worth experimenting with in SB (before the tourney of course).

Oran-Rief Recluse – 2G
Creature – Spider (Common)
Kicker {2}{G}
Reach
When Oran-Rief Recluse enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target creature with flying.
1/3

JOE

Not bad.  If it had deathtouch too, it’d be properly insane.  This seems decently balanced as is.  I run him in green.  Fliers are green’s traditional downfall.  Maindecking an answer is not such a bad plan, usually.

JAMES
Pretty expensive. I don’t see this having the goods for constructed play. But heck, it will destroy a Baneslayer Angel so it can’t be all bad. Maybe think of it as a 6cc spot removal for Green? Does that make it swallow-able? Maybe…

Quest for the Gemblades – 1G
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to another creature, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Gemblades.
Remove a quest counter from Quest for the Gemblades and sacrifice it: Put four +1/+1 counters on target creature.

JOE

Only needs one quest counter eh?  And blocking will do the trick.  I think it’s a solid giant growth kind of card… it’s a little weird, and a little slow, but it’s like a seal of strength, essentially.  Lets you bluff your way through future combats for sure.  I’m down with that.

JAMES
Very interesting. The cheapest Quest of all? (cheapest as in “most accessible to actually achieve the goal of the quest). Pretty damn cheap. Too bad the counters can’t be divided. I guess that would make it over powered? Well, blocking occurs pretty frequently in combat, I’m just a little wary of saying, “put this in your deck” because I’m viewing the quests as all together un-reliable a strategy. Maybe someone will play this in some decks and leave a comment on how they work out. For now, I’m a skeptic.

Relic Crush – 4G
Instant (Common)
Destroy target artifact or enchantment and up to one other target artifact or enchantment.

JOE

Solid.  Should go into many EDH decks the day of the pre-release.  This is not terrible in limited either, since by the mid-to-late game, you’ll usually see some kind of enchantment or artifact.  Maybe it’s a sideboard card, maybe not.  This set has tons of equipment and weird enchantments of all shapes and sizes.  I’m guessing a fair number get maindecked.

JAMES
Too expensive and what artifacts are we talking here? Pass

Savage Silhouette – 2G
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has “{1}{G}: Regenerate enchanted creature”.

JOE

Hmmm… it’s better than regeneration, but I still worry about the 241 exposure here.  It’s right on the margin here for me.  I guess it depends on what my creature suite looks like.  I dunno.  I’d much rather not be in the situation where I need another card in my deck, and this is among the top contenders for the slot, let’s put it that way.

JAMES
Definitely not a bad pick in limited. Being able to Regenerate isn’t bad either. Has to be played late game when you’ll have the mana open to protect it. I don’t’ see this making the cut for constructed play though. (for example, I’d rather just play Cudgel Troll–but I don’t run that as it is…)

Territorial Baloth – 4G
Creature – Beast (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Territorial Baloth gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
5/5

JOE

5-drop 5/5 is alright by itself.  Occasionally a 7/7 makes it superb.  A solid common sure to be a vertebrae in the backbone of many green decks, and the splashed beef of others.

JAMES
Probably too expensive for constructed play; there’s better G in this set.

Expedition Map – 1
Artifact (Common)
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice Expedition Map: Search your library for a land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

JOE

Neat, flavorful name!  This is a colorless civic wayfinder without the creature.  Surely has a place as a common fixer for non-green multi-color decks.  That’s its purpose, and it serves it well, but fairly.

JAMES
This is a tad bit better than Civic Wayfinder since we can pull any land (i.e. pain lands). I’ll wager this is excellent in limited and then not quite good enough for constructed play (due to the lack of a body).

Explorer’s Scope – 1
Artifact – Equipment (Common)
When equipped creature attacks, you may look at the top card of your library. If it is a land card, you may put it onto the battlefield tapped.
Equip {1}

JOE

Whoa, nice!  Free lands, free landfall occasionally.  If you have multiples in play, they stack up nicely, letting you hit a two-land pocket every blue moon.  I dunno… it sort of doesn’t do much… that’s my only beef here.  Getting free lands is nice, but it doesn’t really enhance your creature any.  It’s a weird kind of accelerator, being on an equipment.

JAMES
Interesting enabler. And you just have to attack. Free lands = card advantage and can be activate as early as turn 2. Not bad at all. I’ll bet this little puppy finds a home in some creative decks. I wouldn’t even laugh if it was in Extended. Getting the mana boost will go a long way in that format. Heck, it’s great for a Naya-Zoo deck that wasn’t able to get a Plains-Mountain-and-Forest onto the Battlefield (Wild Nacatl). I’d test this card out. It’s major draw back is that if you want to reliably have this card early game (when it’s useful as it’s not as game-impacting late game) you’d have to run 4x. That being said, it’s still somewhat helpful late game when mana is plentiful and players are entering near-top-deck mode….that’s essentially what makes it construction-worthy imo.

Grappling Hook – 4
Artifact – Equipment (Rare)
Equipped creature has double strike.
Whenever equipped creature attacks, you may have target creature block it if able.
Equip {4}

JOE

Awesome.  Steep in cost and equip cost, but a huge payback in the end.  I don’t see myself ever opening this and not playing it.  Not exactly a bomb, I’d say, but quite solid as equipment goes.

JAMES
Dang expensive but late game as a 2-of it’s not horrible. I just worry that at 8cc total investment, it’s too pricey to justify. Being able to Lure can be great but it’s only one target creature. “any number of target creatures” would make me think this could be excellent. As it is, I don’t see it providing the pressure necessary to justify inclusion. Maybe I’m missing something…

Khalni Gem – 4
Artifact (Uncommon)
When Khalni Gem enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you return two lands you control to your hand.
{T}: Add two mana of any one color to your mana pool.

JOE

Okay, so you can still tap this once for two mana, then sac it… I’m thinking the tempo loss might be a bad thing… maybe not worth it.  On the other hand, this is an awesome way to enable many-colored decks.  I think it’ll see play, but will be a risky thing to do with decent artifact removal floating around.  I’d rather not have to resort to this kind of fixing.

JAMES
It’s not my style. I don’t like to open myself up like this. If it’s bounced or destroyed, you pretty much have to scoop.

Spidersilk Net – 0
Artifact – Equipment (Common)
Equipped creature gets +0/+2 and reach.
Equip {2}

JOE

Weak.  Not that interested.

JAMES
lol. Too bad the equip cost isn’t 1. That’d make it okay. I don’t see it being worthwhile outside of limited.

Soaring Seacliff
Land (Common)
Soaring Seacliff enters the battlefield tapped.
When Soaring Seacliff enters the battlefield, target creature gains flying until end of turn.
{T}: Add {U} to your mana pool.

JOE

This can, again, help push through valuable damage.  In this cycle, this is probably my favorite card.

JAMES
Free jump I guess but at the cost of playing something on curve. Certainly looking at this as a one-of in a limited deck makes me think it’s fine since it could be a game finisher (enabler, that is).

Turntimber Grove
Land (Common)
Turntimber Grove enters the battlefield tapped.
When Turntimber Grove enters the battlefield, target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
#227/249

JOE

Kind of a weak effect, really.  I’ll pass.

JAMES
I feel like we reviewed this cycle already. Blah, pass.

Zendikar Card Review Batch 02 (170 / 249)

Welcome to batch two of the Zendikar preview season. We’ve got ~59 new cards or so to review today. As usual, these are knee-jerk reactions, in most cases, and we try to keep these reviews as much of a first impression as possible. With the exception of Lotus Cobra, previewed by our pal Mike Flores, we haven’t seen any of today’s cards yet.

I’ll (Joe) be reviewing everything from a limited standpoint with occasional comments geared towards legacy and EDH, while James will default into evaluating the cards for constructed, particularly upcoming standard and block formats, though the latter is trickier than the former given the limited number of block cards known to date.

Enjoy, and please chime in in the comments section! That’s what it’s there for.

Brave the Elements – W
Instant (Uncommon)
Choose a color. White creatures you control gain protection from the chosen color until end if turn.

JOE

Neat little trick… should make for some favorable combat outcomes. This can be devastating soft-removal for a base-white archetype. Dr. Obvious says, “This card increases in value in direct proportion to the number of white creatures you have on board.” Thank you, Dr. Obvious.

JAMES
This is a pretty good card actually. –potentially not as good as the green version of this cycle (see below) but definitely a good card because it will hose your opponents’ attempts at 2 for 1′ing you. I’m thinking Volcanic Fallout for example, which is easily one of the best two-for-one’rs in Type2 right now. It’s also great for an alpha strike, if you’ve got lethal on board but some pesky blockers, here’s your chance to walk right on by and bash your opponent’s face in. The question becomes is this better than Harms Way? Probably; it just doesn’t have the advantage of redirecting that damage. It’s going to come down to testing so my recommendation is to test this card versus Harm’s Way.

Conqueror’s Pledge – 2WWW
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {6}
Put six 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield. If Conqueror’s Pledge was kicked, put twelve 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield instead.

JOE

Hmmm… you might occasionally play it for 5, in which case it’s a fair deal. You’ll likely never see 11 mana, so that’s slightly irrelevant. But as far as token-barfer cards, this is a good one. I’m guessing there are way better versions for constructed, such as martial coup.
JAMES
This seems pretty playable to me. At 5cc this is better than martial coup–martial coup is awesome at 7cc but because of that high cc, it’s more of a 2x. Well, I’m concluding this off experience with windswept heights which is rotating out so m.coup may get the bump. However, on a straight cc analysis, this is better than coup. At two more cc than spectral procession you get three more creatures so on a mana-efficiency level, this is a slight bump in efficiency. When B/W tokens was bashing face across the world, there were instances where Spectral Procession was played at 4cc, making this actually a bit more stable in the sense that you have two more turns to hit your third plains. The kicker does seem unlikely–and in all probability we’d probably rather see martial coup for 11 than Conqueror’s Pledge at 11 because you get the Wrath of God/Day of Judgment affect. Unfortunately it’s not as good as Cloudgoat Ranger which provides “that bigger body” as well as evasion. Tapping out on turn 5 to get Volcanic Fallout would be a kick to the nuts so it’s a tough call. I’ll probably sleeve this up post-Lorwyn in my G/W tokens…which very well may become mono-white. (Sigil Captain and even more so Dauntless Escort are very good).

Emeria Angel – 2WW
Creature – Angel (Rare)
Flying
Landfall—Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control,
you may put a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying into the battlefield.
3/3

JOE

Check out that foily promo goodness… Look ma, no textbox! This is a Super-bomb in limited, and would be highly awesome even if all it did was fly, cost 4, and have 3 power and toughness. Barfing out other fliers makes this celestial being a killer. Incredible. Looks constructed worthy to me as well, but that’s not my forte. Hill giant is solid. Flying hill giant is superb. Flying bird-barfer hill giant is bombastic-fantastic with a Jamaican accent like Shaggy.

JAMES
This is definitely worth toying with. The cc at 4 may make it a bit tough to fit–for example, would we rather play the bird-producing angel or would we rather drop an Elspeth, Knight-Errant or Ajani Goldmane? Planeswalkers are pretty much self-contained entities making for fairly ideal on-curve plays. That being said, you’re well rewarded for playing this angel. I mean, what deck doesn’t want to play a fifth land? (besides burn decks which don’t count in this instance). I don’t see 5 Color Control sticking around in the same structure (losing Cryptic Command and Broken Ambitions really are too much) so we can’t even compare this to Baneslayer Angel as a potentially “earlier play.” The only control deck that comes to mind that as far as I’m aware isn’t getting completely gutted is the Grixis-Control deck which wouldn’t be running this. So it comes down to the MWC, White-Winnie & mid-range. As a mid-range deck, we can evaluate this on a comparative level with Knight of the Watch which w/ the landfall ability on Emeria Angel will produce the same number of 1/1s as the 7cc Knight (just one at a time rather than all at once). Under that analysis, this would be far more efficient. It’s a question of “flying” vs “vigilance”–flying is pretty much 10x better than vigilance imo. That all being said, this card seems playable.

Kor Cartographer – 3W
Creature – Kor Scout (Common)
When Kor Cartographer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a Plains card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
2/2

JOE

Well, a 4-drop doesn’t work too well as a fixer, so this is more of a mid-to-late accellerant. Not bad in that role, but a little pricey for a 2/2. I’m on the fence. I’d probably run him with enough early landfall cards that I want to double up on turn 4.

JAMES
If landfall is going to be as good as I think it probably will be, then this will play a marginal role. Due to the “get a plains” nature, I’m not sure it’s going to see play outside mono-white in Type2–if a player is dabbling in G which has lots of land-searchers, then Harrow is a better option. It is pretty pricey so I’m on the fence. Getting an extra land can be pretty dang helpful…

Creature – Kor Soldier (Common)
Flying
When Kor Skyfisher enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner’s hand.
2/3

JOE

Incredible. Amazing. Awesome. Okay, well, this is pretty snazzy… it’s only rarely going to be the ideal turn 2 drop though… but it’s awesome when you have a fair number of CiP abilities to abuse (see cartographer above). This lets you get double mileage out of CiP shennanigans, and leaves you with a highly respectable 2/3 flier, all for a piddly 1W. Very sweet common here. Soldier too!

JAMES
For a two drop this is certainly a pretty aggressive card but at this point I can only compare it to filling in a slot occupied by Honor of the Pure and Kazandu Blademaster (see our other post for a breakdown). Keeping my comparison cards in mind, if an ally deck is viable then this card will be the linchpin triggering all kinds of madness. And it’d be some serious madness but as a shenanigan-enabler, I would run it at 3x (hoping to draw into it mid-to late game…not in my opening hand). I’d expect an ally deck in Block but not so much in Type2; this card could end up being very interesting.

Narrow Escape – 2W
Instant (Common)
Return target permanent you control to its owner’s hand. You gain 4 life.
“Let’s get out of here”
#27/249

JOE

Love it. This card sure weeps for the recent M10 rules changes though! “Damage on the stack…” er… not so much. But still a nice way to softly counter some removal! I’m confused by the flavor though… why the 4 life if it was a narrow escape? This is more like “Narrow Escape turned Awesome Boon….” like someone running away and tripping over a pot of gold or something… I dunno. I’d probably leave this one out of the deck if I could, as countering removal is kind of narrow. Lots of time this will be a do-nothing spell.

JAMES
I’m not so hot on this. Good game trick for limited where savign a creature from the graveyard and gaining 4 life might be viable. For constructed, I don’t see much room for this. [card]Brave the Elements[card] (above) seems 10x better to me, costing 2cc less and potentially saving the whole team.

Shepherd of the Lost – 4W
Creature – Angel (Uncommon)
Flying, first strike, vigilance
3/3
#34/249

JOE

Awesome in limited. Simply awesome. This is highly playable, highly splashable. Great body, attacks and blocks, and all with first strike. Awesome fiver.

JAMES
Great for limited and then not so hot otherwise. As an uncommon it’s a rockstar in limited! At 5cc [card]Baneslayer Angel[card] is better for constructed. Like I said in the last batch of reviews, forever will B.A. be the benchmark…

Hedron Crab – U
Creature – Crab (Uncommon)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
0/2

JOE

This is the waiting line for tryouts for the next sanity grinding combo deck. I have no clue whether he’ll make the cut there, but for limited, mill strategies are always about that critical mass. If you can land two or three of this guy (probably not) along with enough other mill cards (who knows?), then this could be viable. Otherwise, it’s a 15th pick kind of card.
JAMES
I don’t play mill and I’ve never lost to a mill deck…

Into the Roil – 1U
Instant (Common)
Kicker {1}{U} (You may pay an additional {1}{U} as you cast this spell.)
Return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. If Into the Roil was kicked, draw a card.

JOE

Love it. Should see play in limited, and maybe even that mill deck the crab above is trying out for? I dunno. The cantrip part is a little pricey, but it’s still going to be kicked a lot. This is a very decent soft removal spell.
JAMES
Tempo play in limited but I don’t see anything coming from this in constructed. Am I missing something?

Kraken Hatchling – U
Creature – Kraken (Common)
“Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth.”
0/4
#50/249

JOE

I, Joe Klesert, do hereby swear never to play this card in any limited event, so help me God.
JAMES
LMAO. Really? A 0/4 wall is pretty okay in limited. It just doesn’t do anything in constructed. Or? Anyway, it for sure is marginally playable in limited for a slow-roll U/x deck that needs to stall the ground out to build up a threat. I mean, we play 1/4′s in limited for the sole purpose of stalling, so this at 1cc isn’t SOOOO bad. (Just don’t run more than 2 or you’ll be shitting 0/4′s for dinner).

Living Tsunami – 2UU
Creature – Elemental (Uncommon)
Flying
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Living Tsunami unless you return a land you control to its owner’s hand.
4/4

JOE

At least they didn’t call it “Tsunami Elemental” as they might have in the past. This is a huge enabler whose “drawback” is pretty much a pure upside. If you have no landfall cards, this is still a pretty decent deal. You get an undercosted air elemental, and if they stop it on the board, you just sac it the next upkeep. If you have landfall guys in play before him, he guarantees their activation every turn, which ain’t bad. In either case he’s playable, and with the right landfall cards, he’s outstanding. The only real risk is when you play him on-curve and never really get to access your 5-and-up-drops, so be somewhat weary… but I suspect this won’t be much of a problem.

JAMES
Well there. This will see play. So much landfall (such as Lotus Cobra–man, I’ve just been itching to get my way down to green) in Zendikar that not playing a [card]Air Elemental[card] that enables Landfall AND cost one less seems silly to me. This is an almost drawback free 4/4 with flying for 4cc. (Drawback free because of landfall y’all!)

Merfolk Wayfinder – 2U
Creature – Merfolk Scout (Uncommon)
Flying
When Merfolk Wayfinder enters the battlefield, reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all Island cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
1/2

JOE

Hmm… funky. Flying 1/2 makes him decently costed. The benefit here is stocking yourself with Islands. This is a hard call in limited where you seldom run mono-colored decks. He’ll probably whiff a lot, but he’s still decent when you draw him early. I’m thinking he’s playable, but I’d want to be somewhat invested in a skies type flying archetype to run him.

JAMES
I don’t see this making the cut in constructed unless there’s a mono-U developing that I’ve completely missed.

Reckless Scholar – 2U
Creature – Human Wizard (Common)
{T}: Target player draws a card, then discards a card.
2/1
#60/249

JOE

Not such a bad re-make of merfolk looter, since you get another point of power for your 1. Targeting other players probably won’t matter much… maybe the mill deck wants that, I dunno. I’d run this guy for sure though. Quite playable. Selection when you need it and a non-irrelevant body when you don’t.
JAMES
x/1′s don’t seem good enough. I mean, it’s not like it can block and then EOT draw a card. I’d rather have a 0/3 than a 2/1…Anyway, for the total cost this seems too expensive to see the light of day in constructed.

Rite Of Replication – 2UU
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {5} (You may pay an additional {5} as you cast this spell.)
Put a token that is a copy of target creature onto the battlefield. If Rite Of Replication was kicked, instead put five of those tokens onto the battlefield.
Illus. Matt Cavotta
#61/249

JOE

What in the holy hell!? Okay, with no kicker, this is a decent Clone remake, which makes it pretty solid. WITH kicker… this is ridiculous. I’m immediately thinking about lotus cobra here (see below)… you should be able to kick it without TOO much trouble with mr. snakey pants on board… and what would the world look like with 6 copies of Señor Snake? Holy crap!? Anyway, weirdness aside, this will be a middle-range rare, never going above $2-3 I’m guessing, but it’ll have these weird side uses. EDH decks would like to make 5 darksteel colossus tokens, for instance.
JAMES
This card is waiting to be broken. 9cc for 5 copies of say Baneslayer Angel or (even more devastating, auto-scoop styles) Broodmate Dragon is stupid.

Tempest Owl – 1U
Creature – Bird (Common)
Kicker {4}{U} (You may pay an additional {4}{U} as you cast this spell.)
Flying
When Tempest Owl enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, tap up to three target permanents.
1/2

JOE

Think of it mainly as a 2-drop 1/2 flier for limited. You’ll eventually be able to use him to tap remaining fliers or reach blockers for the alpha strike… that adds value. He’s playable in a skies archetype as a 2-drop 1/2 flier though. Decent early, decent late. Only disappointing right in the middle game period.. turn 4 or 5, for instance. Nice one.

JAMES
I’m not so hot on this one (thinking constructed). Tapping me down three permenants would be bomb-alicious if this had flash. Without it’s just a one-turn stall and you’re not going to get much from a 1/2…

Trapfinder’s Trick – 1U
Sorcery (Common)
Target player reveals his or her hand and discards all Trap cards.
#73/249

JOE

Hard to evaluate, but not impossible… I think even if there were four or five devastating traps, this is sideboard material for constructed AT BEST. But there’s likely only one or two awesome traps, and I think it’ll never be played. It’s so damn narrow. I doubt I will ever play this card.

JAMES
Unless trap all of a sudden becomes the shit, this isn’t anything to bother with. end line.

Trapmaker’s Snare – 1U
Instant (Uncommon)
Search your library for a Trap card, reveal it, and put it into your hand.
Then shuffle your libary.
#74/249

JOE

Now this, on the other hand, I can almost guarantee I’ll play, though not necessarily in limited. If you have some bomby trap card, sure. It’s very marginal in limited, but may well see play in constructed formats. If there’s any decent traps, EDH likes this, as it’s easy to transmute for with muddle the mixture or fetch with merchant scroll, making the trap quite tutorable, if it’s compelling enough. Tutors are usually pretty good, and as Dr. Obvious might say, they’re better the more awesome targets they have.
JAMES
Not sure it would be worth losing a slot just to fetch my trap-cards. Depends on which trap we’re talking here. [card]Mindbreak Trap[card] (see other post) has a ton of potential and being able to nab it “when you need it” and then play it for zero (otherwise, why are you playing it?) is pretty sweet. But I’m not sure there are any other trap cards I’m just dying to play–plus that assumes your at least splashing U. Splashing U for access to trap cards on demand seems pretty weak sauce.

̠ther Figment Р1U
Creature – Illusion (Uncommon)
Kicker {3}
Æther Figment is unblockable.
If Æther Figment was kicked, it enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it.
1/1
Black(25)

JOE

2-drop 1/1 unblockable… I’m probably not playing it without some kind of equipment. 5-drop 3/3 unblockable… I’d get behind that! Especially so splashable. In the end, he’s playable, but will likely be dropped turn 5 more than turn 2, outside of equipment.dec.
JAMES
Not bad for limited. I don’t think it has the goods for constructed play. 5cc for the 3/3 is just a bit too pricey.

Bloodchief Ascension – B
Enchantment (Rare)
At the beginning of each player’s end step, if an opponent lost 2 or more life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Bloodchief Ascension.
Whenever a card is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, if Bloodchief Ascension has three or more quest counters on it, you may have that player lose 2 life. If you do, you gain 2 life.

JOE

Seems easy to enable it, and then the effect is immense. I’m ready to call this a bomb rare one-drop enchantment. They either answer it, or eventually take TONS of damage from it. It’s trivial to drop it, and doesn’t require you to do anything you wouldn’t already be doing in order to enable it. It does require you to have enough guys in the red zone though, so keep that in mind… this can’t take a creature slot or anything. I’m going to try to play this when I can though. Cards that cost 1 and potentially create 4, 6, 8, 10 point lifeswings and beyond… I’m down with that. I really am. Even with a 3-4 turn delay in the mix.

JAMES
Damn. This is stupidly good for a one-drop. It will see constructed play and it’s great for a R/B deck.

Desecrated Earth – 4B
Sorcery (Common)
Destroy target land. Its controller discards a card.
#86/249

JOE

Harsh but expensive. Probably sideboard for pesky nonbasic lands. It’s too expensive to be effective as an LD spell and only makes them discard one card, limiting its effectiveness there as well. People will probably sandbag lands more often in the landfall block I’m guessing.
JAMES
I don’t see this having the goods for constructed play. Not with cards likes Blightening or the new Hideous End.

Disfigure – B
Instant (Common)
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

JOE

Nothing wrong with this cheap removal spell. Weakness, eat your heart out.

JAMES
One cc less than Nameless Inversion and the lack of ‘changeling’ make me doubtful this will be in constructed play.

Feast of Blood – 1B
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Cast Feast of Blood only if you control two or more Vampires.
Destroy target creature. You gain 4 life.
#88/249

JOE

Only awesome in one archetype, which should make this uncommon even more available for that particular archetype… this should be awesome whenever you can cast it.
JAMES
Amazing for the new vampire deck developing for Type 2. I mean seirously? Target creature? nothing about “non-black” or “tapped”–excellent. And you gain life off it? Sheesh. Seems like B might be the new life-gain deck (versus W & G as most recently seen).

Giant Scorpion – 2B
Creature – Scorpion (Common)
Deathtouch
1/3

JOE

1/3 isn’t very giant, but I guess it IS a scorpion we’re talking about. 1/3 deathtouch is worth every bit of 2B in my book. Playable. Deadly recluse is this guy’s pimp though. “Scorpion betta have my money!”

JAMES
It’s not going to make the cut w/ these stats. Not sure why B would play this over some of the amazing vampires we’ve seen so far.

Ravenous Trap – 2BB
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent had three or more cards put into his or her graveyard from anywhere this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Ravenous Trap’s mana cost.
Exile all cards from target player’s graveyard.

JOE

Meh. Not a lot of uses for this. Sideboard… this is more of a constructed card / something to hose dredge.

JAMES
I don’t see it; not even sure what the point is. If we’re talking extended, then we have Tormods crypt. In standard, there might be a use for it but getting an opponent to drop 3 cards in one turn is tough and then we’re assuming that the graveyard has something worth exiling…unearth? Meh, not for me.

Sadistic Sacrament – BBB
Sorcery (Rare)
Kicker {7} (You may pay an additional {7} as you cast this spell.)
Search target player’s library for up to three cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his or her library. If Sadistic Sacrament was kicked, instead search that player’s library for up to fifteen cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his of her library.

JOE

If you ever reach 10 mana, chances are that the 15 cards you milled will win you the game. However, that rarely happens, and grabbing 3 cards doesn’t do much other than take away their bombs, two out of the three of which they likely wouldn’t have seen anyway… plus, they’re still going to see SOMETHING when they otherwise would have drawn the cards you took… so this ends up being a do-nothing kind of card in limited. Avoid it, unless you’re certain you can ramp to the 10-mana version, and you’re mill.dec anyway.

JAMES
This is sorta interesting and it goes back to my theory (last post) that we’re seeing a gentle shift toward bigger and bigger mana curves. Hitting someone on turn 10-12 with this will be pretty devastating. It’s something I can see being a 2x. That being said, MonoB is shaping up to equal “Vampires” and not so much discard/control, so I’m not sure it’s worth toying with this at all. I personally think that Thought Hemorrhage is better. This might have a home in extended decks where hosing a combo-linchpin can mean “auto scoop”. Tron losing academy ruins or crucible of worlds, or heritage druid in elves! for example.

Vampire Hexmage – BB
Creature – Vampire Shaman (Uncommon)
First strike
Sacrifice Vampire Hexmage: Remove all counters from target permanent.
2/1
#114/249

JOE

Okay, so this is going to inevitably have some kind of weird combo to it… Dark Depths comes to mind, for instance… I think we can actually be 99% certain that dark depths / vampire hexmage will see play in extended, in fact.20/20 indestructible on turn 3? You better counter the hexmage if you see him in extended. You heard it here first people! I think it’s going to have some other uses I’m not thinking of right now, but it’s probably just expedition / quest protection before then… It’s way playable as a mini-black knight in any case, plus it’s a vampire. It’s playable.

JAMES
Joe is onto something w/ Extended liking this deck. It just says “counters” so you could conceivably drop it, and then sac it to remove all counters from a planeswalker. That’s pretty vicious in itself.

Vampire’s Bite – B
Instant (Common)
Kicker {2}{B} (You may pay an additional {2}{B} as you cast this spell.)
Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn. If Vampire’s Bite was kicked, that creature gains lifelink until end of turn.
#117/249
Red(23)

JOE

Decent combat trick. Lifelink is gravy, so kick it if you have nothing better to do, since why not?

JAMES
Not much to say here…

Burst Lightning – R
Instant (Common)
Kicker {4} (You may pay an additional {4} as you cast this spell.)
Burst Lightning deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If Burst Lightning was kicked, it deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.

JOE

Strictly better than shock = playable in limited. Most likely playable in constructed as well.

JAMES
It’s filling the slot for Lightening Bolt and fighting for Magma Spray‘s so I’m not sure how to figure this one. Magma spray is slightly better for kiling creatures since it exiles the creature. That being said, it will hit players, filling in the Tarfire slot. Ultimately Tarfire proved slightly more played than Magma Spray simply because you could hit players (and helping Aunties Hovel enter the battlefield “untapped”). Keeping that in mind and the new awesomeness of Chandra Ablaze, I can see this making the cut.

Goblin War-Paint – 1R
Enchantment – Aura (Common)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has haste.
“Survival rule 223: Don’t eat the paint.”
- Zurdi, goblin shortcutter
#129/249

JOE

On an aura, haste is a complete waste of time. If you’re using this for granting a creature haste, you’ve essentially failed the skill test this card presents. It ought to be evaluated solely on the basis of a +2/+2. I think it’s clearly not worth the 241 exposure.

JAMES
Well, dropping this late game on a top-decked creature isn’t THAT horrible. Agreed, it’s a +2/+2 though. Anyway, I don’t anticipate this making any splashes in our lifetimes.

Hellkite Charger – 4RR
Creature – Dragon (Rare)
Flying, haste
Whenever Hellkite Charger attacks, you may pay {5}{R}{R}. If you do, untap all creatures you control and after this phase, there is an additional combat phase.
5/5

JOE

Bomb rare. Very very good. Incidentally, in some formats, this may present quirky / possibly casual decks that use lots of mana creatures to create an infinite combat phase recursion. Fun stuff. Two birds of paradise, two llanowar elves, a priest of titania, and a partridge in a pear tree?

JAMES
Pretty sexy dragon here. Costs one more than Demigod of Revenge but since it’s just double RR, I can see this going in a mono-red. Getting even just one extra attack phase is pretty nuts. I’m asking myself if I would rather play Chandra Ablaze at 6cc and discard a Burst Lightening for 4 damage rather than the 5 hasty…and I’m not sure. There’s also Bogardan Hellkite and Flameblast Dragon. Flameblast is qualitatively worse since it would do less damage (Haste is no joke on this Dragon Charger). Hellkite acts as a sweeper…this card is worth testing with.

Punishing Fire – 1R
Instant (Uncommon)
Punishing Fire deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
Whenever an opponent gains life, you may pay {R}. If you do, return Punishing Fire from your graveyard to your hand.

JOE

This looks somewhat promising, though it’s best against crap like angels feather that gain one life at a time. You shouldn’t need help beating people who play that mess. Against the 5 life gain of baneslayer angel, for example, this doesn’t do much other than use your mana up slightly delaying the inevitable. Still, it’s another burn spell that’s passable, and will occasionally do double duty against random lifegaining vampires and what have you. If you see an opponent attacking with a lifelink creature, remember that, mana allowing, you can use this to nuke a 4 toughness guy.

JAMES
Wow. Pretty impressive instant. Being able to return the card to your hand (and immediately play it) seems very sweet. Since red decks have a problem holding on to cards and then quickly going into top-deck mode, I’d wager this sees lots of tourney play. I like this for a B/R deck running Needlebite Trap. Two mana for 7 damage to an opponent and 5 lifegain back to “me” is impressive. Being able to hit a creature with this will be relevant.

Pyromancer Ascension – 1R
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell that has the same name as a card in your graveyard, you may put a quest counter on Pyromancer Ascension.
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell while Pyromancer Ascension has two or more quest counters on it, you may copy that spell. You may choose new targets for that copy.
Illus. Kev Walker

JOE

I’m not sure whether a card with retrace (flame jab) will trigger this when played from the graveyard without another copy in the yard… if so, that may be a weird burn variant for extended. However, in limited, this will never be enabled. In constructed, once it’s online, it’s pretty nice. The rebirth of lightning bolt has me hoping that a standard burn deck is viable. We’ll see. Pass this in draft though… it ain’t gonna happen.

JAMES
Wow, I like this card. I’m worried it might be a stretch but the potential is pretty impressive.

Quest for Pure Flame – R
Enchantment (Uncommon)
Whenever a source you control deals damage to an opponent. you may put a quest counter on Quest for Pure Flame.
Remove four quest counters from Quest for Pure Flame and sacrifice it: Until end of turn, if a source you control would deal damage to a creature of player, it deals double that damage to that creature or player instead.
#144/249

JOE

Hmmm. This might be acceptable in the right limited deck. If fireball were in my pool, for example, I’d run this guy for sure, as it makes the end game fireball win come that much faster. Four counters shouldn’t be difficult with this lax a condition. Interesting card. Even if confined to combat, this could be worthwhile.

JAMES
My primary concern with all these quest cards is the “tempo.” They all seem slow–though I am a fan of Luminarch Ascension and “sorta” fan of Khalni Heart Expedition. This one in a red deck seems particuarly underpowered. It’s essentially activated on turn 6 since it’s not likely that you’ll have enough mana on turn 5 to cast a 4th burn spell and justifiably sac it. Maybe…I mean, if you can keep Chandra on the table and discard a card for 4, with Quest for the Pure Flame activated, you’re doing 8 damage. On turn 7 that could mean end of the game. There’s just a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” in that plan. I don’t really like hopeful-wishful playing…

Ruinous Minotaur – 1RR
Creature – Minotaur (Common)
Whenever Ruminous Minotaur deals damage to an opponent, sacrifice a land.
5/2

JOE

Weak. Not interested. This is only imaginable way late game, at which time the CC doesn’t matter and a 5/2 kinda sucks… unless it follows a sweeper… but no… this sucks.

JAMES
Wtf? Why would I want to sac a land? 4 damage on turn 4 isn’t worth it.

Runeflare Trap – 4RR
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent drew three or more cards this turn, you may pay {R} rather then pay Runeflare Trap’s mana cost.
Runeflare Trap deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player’s hand to that player.

JOE

Hmm. I’m guessing this will have some play in some older formats for use against combo decks perhaps? But in limited, this is a 6 mana shock, pretty much. Nobody’s drawing three cards in limited, and even if they did, they’re still probably only at 4 cards in hand. This only hits players. I’m gonna pass on this one.

JAMES
I could see this in extended. I could see it being really good in extended. I’m such a fan-boy for the Trap ability…Anyway, there probably is enough draw from cards like Esper Charm to justify a SB slot for this. I’m just not sure that we’ll be seeing a lot of esper charms or draw-go oriented decks in this meta so I would wait on it for a while. So far as in extended, this seems like a partially viable SB choice. Ben Lundquist in last week’s online workshop warned us players going into big tournies to be VERY careful of narrow SB choices. He was answering a question about PT Austin next month and had that new extended meta in mind when he was discussion. Still, I think the advice to be wary of narrow SB choices is a good one. Final answer for playbility: marginal to really really good, depending on how the meta shapes up over the next few weeks.

Tuktuk Grunts – 4R
Creature – Goblin Warrior Ally (Common)
Haste
Whenever Tuktuk Grunts or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Tuktuk Grunts.
2/2
#152/249

JOE

This is a supporting role ally. On his own, as your only ally, he’s a hasty 3/3 for 5. Not exactly stellar. With 5 or more other allies, he’s just fine, but not the show stopper. He’s the supporting cast.

JAMES
Weird that this costs so much more for essentially a WORSE version of the same card: Kazandu Blademaster (the double Wcc, first strike, vigilance 1/1–2/2 counting his own counters). For haste? really? This card sucks. wtf.

Zektar Shrine Expedition – 1R
Enchantment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Zektar Shrine Expedition.
Remove three quest counters from Zektar Shrine Expedition and sacrifice it: Put a 7/1 red Elemental creature token with haste and trample onto the battlefield. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the end step.
Green(29)

JOE

So it’s a delayed elemental appeal. Not terrible. It does give your opponent to get his ducks in a row though. Most people won’t be taking 7 from this. As such, I’d rather not play it.

JAMES
I think all these quest cards are marginal. I don’t like this one. Too slow.

Baloth Cage Trap – 3GG
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent had an artifact enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {1}{G} rather then pay Baloth Cage Trap’s mana cost.
Put a 4/4 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.

JOE

This one, I can get behind. 5 for a 4/4 isn’t terrible at all, and it’s an instant! This will ruin combats for a lot of opponents. And randomly, it’ll cost you 1G. Strong card here. This should be thought of as in-combat removal for green.

JAMES
Not bad. I’m wondering if this will go for extended where we ALWAYS see affinity. And why wouldn’t we? Arcbound Ravanger is still broken as all hell. I definitely like the appeal of playing a 4/4 EOT–or at the beginning of the end of turn. (lol; some of the language changes always tickle me). For standard, I have seen a few pretty fun artifact, esper-bant-esque decks and this would be a good fit. It’s just not a great card to have on turns 2 through 4 where G wants to be pumping out a) lands or b) fatties. That makes me think it’s on the fence. I’m sure it’s worth testing though. Again, I’m leaning more toward extended.

Beastmaster Ascension – 2G
Enchantment (Rare)
Whenever a creature you control attacks, you may put a quest counter on Beastmaster Ascension.
As long as Beastmaster Ascension has seven or more quest counters on it, creatures you control get +5/+5

JOE

I’d say this is playable in limited. All you have to do is attack… this should be online by turn 5 or 6 in the typical green aggro deck. And the benefit is so huge. I’d almost call it a bomb, but as an enchantment that doesn’t help you with an empty board, it’s still kind of conditional.

JAMES
Assuming you play this on turn 3, this doesn’t seem so bad. It doesn’t even need to be in a mono-G deck. All those token creators (see white above) would love to have a playmate like this. Again, I’m not completely sold on the tempo-related viablity of the quest cards. This one seems pretty decent though.

Cobra Trap – 4GG
Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
If an opponent countered a noncreature spell this turn, you may pay {G} rather than pay Cobra Trap’s casting cost.
Put four 1/1 green Snake creature tokens onto the battlefield.

JOE

Well, this should be seen much as Baloth Cage Trap above. Solid as a removal spell for limited… probably even better than Baloth Cage. And this will more likely see its trap cost as well. Very cool.

JAMES
Bummer the snakes don’t have deathtouch. I like this for when my planeswalker is countered but it’s not a good “on curve” spell–meaning on curve I’m playing Garruk Wildspeaker and have no mana left. Now I have to wait a turn? I say this isn’t good enough.

Frontier Guide – 1G
Creature – Elf Scout (Uncommon)
{3}{G}, {T}: Search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.
1/1

JOE

Another landfall enabler, this one is decent as a fixer, though not as an accelerant. He can’t help your two-land stall hands. I’d still run him though, if I needed help finding my splash color.

JAMES
Not so bad. But not good. Too slow. I wonder why it’s not 2, G {T} rather than 3…it’s not an on-curve play.

Grazing Gladehart – 2G
Creature – Antelope (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain 2 life.
2/2
#163/249

JOE

Pretty solid. Gray ogre with free life gain works for me.

JAMES
Not much here for me.

Greenweaver Druid – 2G
Creature – Elf (Uncommon)
{T}: Add {G}{G} to your mana pool.
1/1
#164/249

JOE

Fyndhorn elder, huh? Well, sure, I guess. He’s worth it.

JAMES
Not so shabby but I think the timing is way off. He costs a lot more than Noble Heirarch and isn’t even remotely as good as Lotus Cobra so I say this guy doesn’t see the light of day so far as constructed goes.

Lotus Cobra – 1G
Creature – Snake (Mythic Rare)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
Its scales contain the essence of thousands of lotus blooms.
2/1
Illus. Chippy
#168/249

JOE

Mike Flores hit the nail on the head in his article previewing Lotus Cobra. There’s a reason playsets are going for $90+ on ebay already. This card will define formats. Definitely more of a constructed card, but I can’t see any reason not to maindeck this guy and never look back in limited. He’s a bear, after all, and there’s no such thing as mana burn. Whatchoo talkin’ bout, mana burn? If you open this, rejoice in your monetary boon and be happy with your karma.

JAMES
Yeah, anything I say here is just superfluous. Get your playsets ASAP. Never trade this card away. Yes, it IS that good. Stop doubting it. You will wish to god you have this card. It’s the most amazingness printed in a long while.

Mold Shambler – 3G
Creature – Fungus Beast (Common)
Kicker {1}{G}
When Mold Shambler enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target noncreature permanent.
3/3
#169/249

JOE

Hill Giant at worst makes him playable. The kicker is a total boon, and will often save the day. This should be a cornerstone common for green, and a somewhat high pick I’m guessing.

JAMES
This card is actually kind of interesting to me. I just wonder if 6cc is enough to justify destroying a planeswalker. And I think it is. With a 3/3 body, it looks pretty playable as a SB selection.

Primal Bellow – G
Instant (Common)
Target creature gets +1+1 until end of turn for each Forest you control.

JOE

Wow, this definitely sees play in older formats. Elfball can sneak a win here or there with this thing. In limited, as long as green’s a main color and not a splash, this is an excellent trick.

JAMES
Great trick. Doubles as removal for when an opponent calls your bluff–and can act like a bluff. It’s clearly better than [card]Giant Growth[card] after T3. That being said, not many decks play giant growth. I think there’s a better green card: Vines of Vastwood (see here)

Summoning Trap – 4GG
Instant – Trap (Rare)
If a creature you cast this turn was countered by a spell or ability an opponent controlled, you may pay {0} rather then pay Summoning Trap’s casting cost.
Look at the top seven cards of your library. You may put a creature card from among them onto the battlefield. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

JOE

I like this! You’ll almost always hit a creature. If they just countered your guy, great! But even if not, you may as well pay the 6 and try your luck at EOT. Cool card.

JAMES
Jesus. This is a REALLY good trap. Great, you countered by Broodmate? NP, I’ll just grab another one for free…don’t mind if I doooo! ;-) I’d expect to see this in Extended & potentially Standard as a SB.

Turntimber Basilisk – 1GG
Creature – Basilisk (Uncommon)
Deathtouch
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target target creature block Turntimber Basilisk this turn if able.
2/1
#190/249

JOE

Nifty. This guy’s kind of like a removal creature that can’t hit guys with a tap ability. But he loves opposing creatures with vigilance! He’s alright, but I’m not infatuated here. Decent stuff, nothing spectacular.

JAMES
Undecided here. It’s removal for a color that doesn’t really have much removal and a 2 powered “semi-evasion” creature (because who wants to trade w/ a deathtouch?). BUT it cost 3 and takes a turn to get going. I’m not sure the tempo is fast enough.

Zendikar Farguide – 4G
Creature – Elemental (Common)
Forestwalk
3/3

JOE

Weak. Side it in against forests. Not much else to say.

JAMES
next!

Adventuring Gear – 2
Artifact – Equipment (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, equipped creature gets +2+2 until end of turn.
Equip {1}
#195/249

JOE

Nothing wrong with this equipment! Should be good for +2/+2 a lot of the time, and +4/+4 every once in a while. The only problem is the creature gets jack on the opponent’s turn, so don’t go picking this high… it will make the cut sometimes though.

JAMES
Not bad for limited. Cost is pretty good and you “only” have to play a land to make ti worth while. I wouldn’t really want more than one but I certainly won’t start moaning if my opponent drops this one me. I don’t believe this will ever be played in constructed.

Blazing Torch – 1
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature can’t be blocked by Vampires or Zombies.
Equipped creature has: “{T}, Sacrifice Blazing Torch: Blazing Torch deals 2 damage to target creature or player.”
Equip {1}

JOE

An expensive shock sometimes, but still good because it’s colorless. Against zombies and vampires, it’s got the fear factor, so that’s a bonus too. Not bad. Removal is very important in limited.

JAMES
Nah, it’s just not good enough.

Hedron Scrabbler – 2
Artifact Creature – Construct (Common)
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Hedron Scrabbler gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
1/1
#204/249

JOE

No thanks.

JAMES
Me either.

Stonework Puma – 3
Artifact Creature – Cat Ally (Common)
These PUMAs would never settle for being third in line.
2/2
#207/249

JOE

No thanks, unless I already have 2-3 allies with rocking abilities. Actually… he IS gray ogre, so I guess sometimes I might pick him in hopes of good allies to come.

JAMES
Not playable.

Trailblazer’s Boots – 2
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature has nonbasic landwalk.
Equip {2}
#208/249

JOE

Nice. Might have a place in a number of EDH decks I can think of. In limited, this will be more of a sideboard card though, since most opponents will not have much in the way of nonbasics, and this does nothing in such cases.

JAMES
This isn’t the worst equipment ever. Non-basics are everywhere in every constructed envrionment. It’s not Loxodon Warhammer or Behemoth Sledge though so I don’t think it will be played.

Trusty Machete – 1
Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature gets +2/+1.
Equip {2}
“Until the expedition is done, that blade is your guardian, your liberation and your best friend all rolled into one”
- Yon Basrel, Oran-Rief survivalist
#209/249
Land(18)

JOE

I love the name! The effect is just fine too. Good old trusty machete. Reminiscent of bonesplitter. Probably better.

JAMES
Nope, also not going to make the cut in my book.

Kabira Crossroads
Land (Common)
Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield tapped.
When Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
{T}: Add {W} to your mana pool.

JOE

Weak… no thanks.

JAMES
editing from a mis-read. this isn’t the dual land cycle!

Magosi, the Waterveil
Land (Rare)
Magosi, the Waterveil enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} to your mana pool.
{U}, {T}: Put an eon counter on Magosi, the Waterveil. Skip your next turn.
{T}, Remove an eon counter from Magosi, the Waterveil and return it to its owners hand: Take an extra turn after this one.

JOE

Nope… not interested in a fixed time vault. In Magic, the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” gets turned on its head to become “unless it’s broke, don’t fix it.”

JAMES
Huh? I don’t think so…

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Land (Rare)
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
{T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on each green creature that entered the battlefield this turn.
Illus. Mike Bierek
#221/249

JOE

This one’s probably worth it.

JAMES
Pretty interesting. I’d toy with 2x in testing. Getting +1/+1 on tokens (see above) seems pretty viable.

Piranha Marsh
Land (Common)
Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield tapped.
When Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield, target player loses 1 life.
{T}: Add {B} to your mana pool.

JOE

Again, I’m not interested in such piddly effects. CiP tapped is worth more than 1 life.

JAMES
…Yeah, the “gain 2 life” is enough for a dual but having opponents lose a mere one life for a ETBT seems weak…

Breaking News: States Returns for 2009

The popular States program (Champs in Canada) will be returning for 2009, albeit in a slightly different form. Like last year, tournament organizers are to thank for this event as Wizards of the Coast has discontinued their support of the program. According to reports, the event, to be officially referred to as the 09’s, will be held across North America on December 5th. In the past, States was the first major event after a new block’s release. The delay this year stems from the additional hurdles that tournament organizers had to overcome in planning the event without Wizards of the Coast. As a result of this lack of support, prizes will be restricted to product and playmats produced by the TO network, rather than the promotional foils of years past. Expect last year’s plaque, unique DCI card and free tournament entry for the year for the winner to return. The entry fee will be fixed at $25.00 USD regardless of location and the format will once again be Standard.

Wizards’ lack of support is reportedly due to complaints from players in other regions where Champs was not held last year. It would appear the company is focusing it’s efforts on other programs such as Magic Game Day, already confirmed to be returning for Zendikar.

Thanks to WestCan Events for the tip.

Follow me on www.Twitter.com/SeanP9P for the latest on this and other stories as they develop.

-Sean

Sean@Power9Pro.com


Standard Pauper – Red/Black Blightening Deck Discussion

Much of Power 9 Pro’s focus in our articles is on tournament-level play but we also play casually when we can find the time. One of our teammate’s Zak participates in a “Standard Pauper” tournament from time to time. Zak thought he would bring up the decklist with our team to see if we couldn’t help with tweaks. Here’s the discussion that ensued.

Please remember that standard pauper means cards that are type 2 legal, and are common.  No uncommons, rares, or mythics allowed.

Zak:
Here’s the list that I’ve played thus far.

Pauper Blightning: 60 Cards (Pre-M10)


Now, post M10, I need to make some changes, but I want some input from the team.  

note: An abundance of Borderposts makes smash to smithereens an absolute beating, especially on decks that are 3 colors, Flame Jab is absolutely amazing, my favorite card in the list. Goblin Deathraiders[provides] simply amazing pressure.

Problem # 1 – Shock Rotates Out
Solution – Add Lightning Bolt (This is obvious)

Problem # 2 – Incinerate Rotates Out
Solution – I’ve temporarily added Sparkmage Apprentice, but this is definitely able to be changed.  Definitely want some input here, because this deck really wants as many burn spells as possible, and the bigger the better.  

Problem # 3 – Duergar Assailant becomes worse without damage on the stack
Solution – I think the right move might be to just leave it in here, but his slot could be open to something else.

Joe:

First thought: if you love flame jab, are you certain 2 is the right number? 

The only card I am skeptical of is terminate… seems like even that might be better as a burn spell… spot removal is traditionally avoided in burn decks.  I’d recommend at least re-evaluating terminate with skepticism, and if you come to the same conclusion about it, so be it.

If you’re set on removal, there are other more greedy options out there too… soul reap for example… easier to cast, slightly more narrow, but with the chance of incinerate on top… just saying, there’s other stuff out there.  Personally I’d avoid terminate and similar spells entirely… burn all the way.  I’d experiment with using no creatures whatsoever.  You can gain subtle edges with that… using sweepers and such.

Card Brainstorm:

Burn:


Maybe Give it a Try?:

SB?

As fireball variants, breath of malfegor, giant’s ire, lava axe, and quenchable fire all do bargain damage, but can’t double as removal.

James:
Joe had similar feedback to what I was thinking. Absorb Vis was also on my list. Swamp cycle or 8 life swing. I would personally keep removal to SB. Tendrils would be good.  

Quench fire seems good. If you can throw a fattie or two in, maybe soul’s fire?  I would definitely consider/focus on that a burn deck doesn’t run much spot removal. Basically, if you’re focused on spot removal, you’re probably losing.  Lava axe may actually work. Seems like flame jab works against shard volley. It’s also very under powered in my opinion. Raven’s crime is one up on power and reinforces your partial control theme through blightening.

Dillon:
Bloodspyre Elemental and Resounding Thunder come to mind. Flame Jab is a card I have always thought could break standard at one point.
Balefire Liege and that seem pretty good together.

The spark mage can kill Llanowar elves and Nip Gwyllions, [two cards] I think would be good in pauper. Mosquito Guard would be really good in pauper too.

Zak:
1. Bloodpyre Elemental is too slow.  Not only does it cost 5 in a deck that curves out at 3, it only hits creatures at sorcery speed, and seems extremely fragile as a 1 toughness dude.

2. Resounding Thunder seems good as another burn spell.  The only problem that I have with using Jund Panorama’s instead with a forest or two is that it decreases the effectiveness of Flame Jab.  I only want 3 lands, maybe 4, but the rest I want to either sacrifice to Shard Volley or use to retrace Flame Jab.  If I cycle the thunder, I’m going to have a lot of mostly wasted land sitting on the board.  This is the same with cards like absorb vis, they just don’t help me speed up the kill.  If I have 2 lands to cycle Vis, I’ve got 2/3rds of my mana set, and most likely am pretty well off.  

3. Breath of Malfegor is nice, but again the cost factor comes up.  This deck needs to be as fast as it possibly can, which it is.  If I start casting 5 mana spells, I’ll need to increase the land count, which will decrease the overall burn count.  

4. A HUGE (read 80% of the meta) part of Type 2 Pauper is the Mimics from Eventide.  These are often fueled by cards like Nyp Gwyllion and Steam Hopper, and I see the Sparkmages being a kill spell over 60% of the time based on experience.

5. I believe that Flame Jab will lose potential if I start drawing multiples.  Sure, they’re amazing in the late game and get rid of so many things, but I only want to get 1 in the graveyard, and then I can machine-gun my opponent.  Think about this situation:

I have a Flame Jab in the graveyard, with a few cards in hand.  This situation is relatively common in the late game.  The worst-case scenario is that I draw a land, which, thanks to Jab will become 1 damage, and my odds of drawing superior burn increase.  The best case scenario is that I draw a piece of burn, which is exclusively better than a Jab.  However, with any more jabs you run the risk of a third option.  That is, drawing a spell, which turns out to be a Jab.  You get the same effect as if you had a land, yet your odds of drawing superior burn have actually decreased, as you have the same amount of lands in your library with a smaller amount of spells.

6. Tendrils is not good in a deck that really only wants one swamp out.  It’s like 4 mana for 1 damage and one life most of the time, and if terminate doesn’t belong (which I’m starting to think it doesn’t), than neither does Tendrils.

7. Raven’s Crime and Duress both have a minimal effect on the game as far as my plans are concerned.  Duress could go in the board though against any decks packing lifegain.  I;d much rather get a threat/burn spell on turn one than taking away something that probably wouldn’t have hurt me all that much in the first place.  

8. The mana in this deck takes a fair bit of practice to get right.  The only reason I can get away with both Shard Volley and Flame Jab is because I need so few lands for my plans to work properly.  

9. I considered Soul’s Fire, but the combination of so few creatures and the abundance of highly played spot removal, I don’t see it pulling its weight.

10. Regarding Lava Axe + Breath of Malfegor again.  I think that maybe a 1 or 2 of could help me pull some games out of my ass.  Will consider it.

11.  One of the things I like about having creatures in the deck is it doubles the efficiency of burn spells.  If I have a goblin deathraiders on the battlefield, a burn spell that kills my opponent’s only dude might as well also deal 3 damage to them.  Thus, the decreased burn rate that comes with using burn on creatures is mitigated.  Again, Goblin Deathraiders is the cheap, high-power card that allows this to work with maximum effectiveness.

Joe:
Good analysis.  I think you’re right about keeping the curve low.  This is historically the pattern for winning burn decks.

Zak:
I figured it out, and the answer is a card nobody actually mentioned.  Dragon Fodder has always given me trouble, as it provides pressure, but it also makes your opponents reluctant to use their removal spells.  I just cut the sparkmages entirely, thinking that the Vithian Stingers and Hurly-Burlys in the board can do their job better.  Also, I kept Terminates in, because they are my only out to anything with toughness greater than 4.  However, I often will board them out.

Dillon:
why terminate over doomblade? you can cast doomblade with a panorama and a swamp. seems like that is pretty important. also the sparkmage has to be better. direct damage as well as killing something or perhaps finishing off a creature post-combat. i think a white weenie deck would be good in pauper with no viable board sweeper.

Zak:
Terminate kills Putrid Leech

Here’s The Final List:

Pauper Blightning: 60 Cards (Post-M10)

$5k Standard Tourney — G/W Tokens Report and 3 Lessons

August 7th through August 9th, Superstars Game Center hosted a $5k Standard event. Friday the 7th was an early bird, main flights on Saturday and then the official day 2 on Sunday.

(If you’re looking for my 3 main take-aways, those are at the very bottom of this report).

I played in the Early Bird flight on Friday as well as the main flight Saturday morning.

My Friday decklist consisted of the following:


Saturday:

You’ll notice a few differences first off:
Lack of Sable Stags and a Sunpetal Grove. This was simply a matter of accessibility.

Generally speaking, the difference between a number of G/W decks I’ve seen, there are no mana producers included in the deck. The turn 3 w-w-w for Spectral Procession is great but after careful consideration, I considered the mana producers a dead card after turn 3. This deck archetype really needs to focus on putting out the beats and in a big way. So far as the Nobel Heirarch, the exalted ability is not that great of a factor since I’ll typically be attacking with more than one creature–in fact, as the name tokens implies, I want a bunch of them out there. :)

The turn 3 slot lightens up a bit with Glorious Anthem dropping from standard with the release of M-10. Honor of the Pure easily takes Anthem’s place in this deck.

The G/W tokens builds presented here also have a pretty big curve, from 1 to “7″–counting Martial Coup as a 7cc spell. However, mana-cost for mana-cost, the creatures and threats presented by this deck are extremely efficient. Rather than just one creature that demands spot removal (Cloudgoat Ranger), G/W Tokens can run Captain of the Watch. Even with the removal of the “main creature” (Ranger & Captain), the board still has a bunch of token creatures. With 4x Honor of the Pure, I’m hard pressed to find a game in my notes where it wasn’t a deciding factor–meaning, I had it in play.

The deck also runs 4 planeswalkers, 2x Ajani Goldmane and 2x Elspeth, Knight Errant. If I were to play in the tournament again tomorrow, I would switch it to 4x Ajani. From all the matches played, Elspeth’s ability is slightly under-powered & anti-synergistic for this particular build, whereas Ajani’s ability to give all my creatures vigilance and +1/+1 is ridiculously powerful.

Day 1 I ran 2x Knight of the Meadowgrain, and on Day 2 I ran 2x [card]Gaddock Teeg[card]. There was quite a bit of discussion over these two cards Saturday morning. Despite finally deciding to run Teeg main and K.o.t.M. SB, I do think that the Knight is better for game one’s. Essentially my rational for this comes down to the fact that if I need Teeg against an opponent, I want 4x which I can do at SB anyway. Contrast that to “blindfolded,” I’d rather have a 2/2 first strike, lifelink–which can easily become a 3/3.

There’s also the 2x Harm’s Way with an additional 1x in SB; I believe this card is extremely important. It seems like such a simple spell but the flexibility in it’s execution cannot go under-stated.

I’d like to thank Pedro for helping me come to the realization of how important and how much I need to run Harm’s way and Knight of the Meadowgrain. :)

With all the deck details out of the way, here’s a quick review of all the matches, etc.

Friday:
Rnd 1: Fairies
Game one he wins on the back of a Bitterblossom, Spellstutter Sprite, Broken Ambitions, Vendillion Clique, and[card]Mistblind Clique[card]. Surprise surprise! ;-)
In came the Stags and Gaddock Teeg, out went Martial Coups and Elspeth.
Not much in my notes but I won the next two games. :) Game 2 handidly with him taking huge hits and me ending at 20. Game 3 there was a minor race but I had the faster/bigger beats with him going from 12 to zero.
1-0-0
Rnd 2: R/B Aggro Can Win
His start was a bit slow this game and was fairly uneventful ending with me at 22 and him going from 6 to 0. Game 2 I make a critical mistake and mistap my land (Sunpetal Grove into Windbrisk Heigtts–Sunpetal was my only white source and I had 3 or 4 forests in play!!). Had I had the white open, I could have used a Harm’s Way to take my opponent from 3 to 1 and then had the open alpha on the backswing. Dang! Game 3 he wins with me having a slower start and taking fast early beats from mounting in intensity to my demise.
The loss here is a bit sad because it resulted in me being randomly paired with LSV next match. doh!
1-1-0
Rnd 3: vs. LSV piloting 5cc (list here)
His build features Baneslayer Angel at 3x. Game 2 I was able to use Path on one, but he proceeded to drop another two and then add in the Cruel Ultimatum just for the heck of it. lol. Good times playing with Luis and getting to chat with him a bit. It’s not easy to get attention or one-on-one time with a pro. Funny highlights: Game 1 his lifetotal ending at 46–that includes a bunch of beats from a Baneslayer and a Cruel Ultimatum. Game 2, he “only” got to 24 life. Fun times!
1-2-0
Rnd 4: Jund Agrro
Game 1 I established an early Honor of the Pure and a Finks. He did drop an early Putrid Leech which after two activations was Exiled via the Path. I dropped token generating creatures and smashed face. Game 2 I dropped an early Finks again matched by a Leech. The life swing was too much, especially after I dropped a second Finks. With an Honor out, I was hitting for 8 per turn. Ouch.
2-2-0

With my record at 2-2, I was already out of the contention for the 8 slots open for Day 2 (Sunday, top-32 single elim). I decided to drop from the tournament. I wanted to discuss decks with a friend who just qualified by going 4-0 (and could Intentionally Draw the next two rounds). I also wanted to watch another round of LSV playing and then head home a bit earlier (11:30pm) to hit the sack for an early start Saturday morning.

Day 2: (entering this Sable Stag less. :( )
Rnd 1: Like the day before, Rnd 1 is matched against a Fairies deck
I lose game 1. Game 2, I drop beats quickly and sweep. Game 3 a similar occurrence. Gaddock Teeg was a champ both games.
1-0-0

Rnd 2: G/W Little Kid (not tokens)
First off, I start the round with a game loss. Because I was sitting around yammering and debating away about my build (ie Gaddock Teeg vs Knight of the Meadowgrain as 2x MD), I was rushing when I filled out my deck registration. What’s funny is that the decklist started off with full names, such as Ajani Goldmade and Elspeth, Knight Errant but the judges announced they were taking lists as I was filling it out. Apparently when I reached Windbrisk Heights, I was so pre-occupied with finishing the list, I only wrote “Windbrisk.” Oops.
Anyway, I take the loss in stride and win the next two games in a row.
One was pretty close with me only at 6, and I taking him down to 0 from 12 (Game 2).
2-0-1

Rnd 3: Jund Aggro
Game 1, I mulled to 6 on the Play. He quickly goes from 20 to 14 to 5 to 0. I ended at 13. Game 2, he establishes an early board position and smashes me down from 15 to 8 to 4 to zero. In Game 3, unfortunately, the high land count (25) came to haunt me as a drew 6 lands in a row. Any card other than Honor of the Pure or a land would have won me the match as he was only beating in with a lone Putrid Leech.
2-1-0

Rnd 4: Merfolk
On the Play I have a fairly good 7. The game is extremely close but Wake Thrasher proved superior to my army taking me from 9 to zero. Game 2, he has an extremely good draw with a number of counters and the right merfolk to quickly end the match.
2-2-0 doh. i have to undefeated from here out to q’ for the next day

Rnd 5: Merfolk
This round I start off with a game loss for being a bit late. (Was grabbing a bite to eat and ended up being about 30 seconds late–enough for a game loss. doh!!!)
Despite the handicap, I won both games quickly. There was a bit of a Cryptic Command action game 2 (officially game 3) that was doing a good job of stalling the ground forces of a casted honor of the pure into a sepectral procession into a Captain of the Watch. He simply didn’t have enough outs and I had great, great draws both games.
3-2-0

Rnd 6: Fairies
The only really intersting event occured in game three. Unfortunately for my opponent he had to mulligan to 5. He drops a turn 2 Bitterblossom so I was prepared for an uphill battle. He drops a second Bitterblossom on turn 4 or 5. By this point though, I’ve been able to captialize on his hand-size disadvantage, including the lack of counters that could have potentially stopped an onslaught from a Knight of the Meadowgrain. In the end, I’m pretty sure the double Bitterblossom is what killed him.
4-2-0 (Just one more round to go for qualification!)

Rnd 7: R/B Aggro (with Demigod of Revenge)
First game I was able to get 9 pnts of damage in one swing but he was able to keep the beats coming faster, including the casting of his Demigod.
Game 2 featured my second blunder of the day. I dropped a turn 2 Knight of the Meadowgrain. On my turn 3 (eot actually) he casts Lightening Bold targeting my Knight. I not only had mana open but I had the Harm’s Way in hand (would have targeted him). As the match played out, I’m convinced this mistake cost me the match, somewhat reinforced by the fact that he ended the match at 1 life and me drawing 3 lands in a row. :(
4-3-0
End of my chances at the $5k Superstars had open.

Three Simple Take-aways

  • Play Harm’s Way carefully.
  • Pay attention to board position, mana accessibility and deck registration.
  • Last but certainly not least: Be on time.

Match Walk-through: Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid

In the following video, Stan, Bryan and I take an in depth look at Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid (or Five Color Cascade).
The builds for these deck are as follows:
Elementals:

Five Color Bloodbraid:


Hope this is helpful for you as you evaluate decks and look for in-game tips. If you spot any plays you disagree with or think were particularly clever, be sure to let us know in the comments!