Tag Archives: magic

Teneb, the Harvester EDH: Mtg Commander

The rush of the holidays are behind us.  Between bouts of shopping and decorating I got a chance to visit some family and friends.  While on my pilgrimage to Texas I caught up with my best friend, Jim.  After some preliminary catching up we decided to play some Commander.  I was fresh off of building my Kangee, Aerie Keeper deck (here) and wanted to deliver some flying beatdown.  Jim had recently put together a Teneb, the Harvester list that wanted to steal games with a big Genesis Wave.  Jim’s build was pretty awesome and I had a blast watching some cool interactions.  When it was time to go I asked Jim to e-mail me the list so I could sleeve it up and play it myself.  I have seen Genesis Wave in action in Commander many times since it came out and it can be backbreaking (just ask Power 9 Pro’s Joe about his Azusa, Lost but Seeking deck).

Since the deck wants to abuse Genesis Wave it needs to have a high concentration of permanents.  Jim runs a huge number of creatures backed up with a few artifacts, enchantments and Planeswalkers.  The list only has five non-permanents in it.

Seems a little sparse but it will work for now. I am sure Jim does not own Vampiric Tutor or it would be in there.

As for artifacts and enchantments, the selection is a bit bigger

I have always been a fan of Wild Pair in EDH.  Lurking Predators can be especially awesome in multi-player.  I thin Jim needs to be running Senseis Divining Top to take advantage of the Predators.

If you have ever been sitting opposite Sorin Markov in Commander you know that the game is pretty much over as soon as he hits the table. Liliana’s -2 ability helps look for Genesis Wave or can set up a Lurking Predator hit.

The land is pretty standard. I feel that almost every Commander deck should be running Crucible of Worlds if just for a way not to be totally blown out by Armageddon effects.

The creature package is where this deck really shines.  It is full of amazing dudes with amazing powers.  There are a lot of “enters the battlefield” effects that combo nicely with Genesis Wave.

Acidic Slime is great in EDH since there will be plenty of nice targets.  Drana is a machine-gun, destroying low toughness Generals with ease every turn and at instant speed.  Iona… well that is obvious.  Drop a Gleancrawler after you attacked with Novablast Wurm to lessen the sting.  For those of you who have not had the chance to see how much devastation Terastodon can cause, you need to trust me.  World Queller is a vastly underrated card and fits nicely with all of the recursion effects in the deck.  Thicket Elemental can be absolutely broken.

This is a great start for an awesome deck that plays with top tier creatures that can be easily cheated into play. With a few minor tweaks I am sure that this deck can be very competitive. Give me some Feedback and let me know what you think should go in or come out and I will keep the list updated.  I want to revisit this General in the future so keep the comments comming.

Scars of Mirrodin – Impact on Standard (Type 2)

Scars of Mirrodin.  Looming large over the horizon, Wizards’ newest expansion is set to hit the stores on October 1st.  With the release of Scars of Mirrodin new strategies will emerge and once powerful decks will disappear to the realm of Extended.  With all of the available spoilers it is time to speculate on what changes will occur to the Standard (type 2) meta-game.  This shift will be important with the 2010′s State and Provincial Championships on October 9th.  We will see if we can figure out which cards will make the biggest impact in the post Shards of Alara/M10 tournament world.  It is a time of new beginnings and a time to revisit places in our past.  Thinking about our past, I would like to take one moment to say goodbye to all of our Shards of Alara friends:

So long, Jund!

Time to hang up our Putrid Leechs and Sprouting Thrinaxs.  No deck was more dominant in the Shards meta-game than this B/G/R build.  High powered threats and spectacular removal made Jund the most feared and prepared against deck since the Faeries of Lorwyn.  The biggest loss?

Bloodbraid Elf

Forget Maelstrom Pulse and Broodmate Dragon, this Elf provided amazing card advantage to steal games all by herself. Without Bloodbraid, Jund would not have been remotely viable. This Elf Berserker found a home in every deck that could support her colors. Easily the best uncommon in the set. Now for a few more farewells:

It’s been fun, but now we need to move on. See you in Extended!

Out of the dozens of cards that have been spoiled already, I have picked up on a few that seem like they will make an impact on the Standard Meta currently dominated by U/W Control, FauNaya, Valakut-Ramp and Mythic Conscription.

U/W Control
Come rotation on October first U/W Control will loose a few pieces, most notably Elspeth Knight-Errant. It will be interesting to see if Elspeth Tirel will be able to replace her old incarnation. The new Planeswalker costs one more and cannot generate counters and token together. I think that the five mana casting cost will not prevent the switch initially but might come to really matter since the meta game is so fast right now. On the flip side, Elspeth’s new ultimate is very powerful. The next option in Planeswalkers is the powerful Venser the Sojourner. Also comining at a casting cost of five, the U/W walker has some interesting abilities. Being able to exile your Baneslayer Angel and following that up with Day of Judgment is a strong play in control. The other loss is the token generating Martial Coup. This loss should not impact the archetype to significantly since most build will only include it as a one-of. Path to Exile is another big loss to U/W, the role will need to be filled by the more situational Condemn.

FauNaya
This archetype is on the way out in my opinion. Scars of Mirrodin does not offer anything to this deck that is on par with Knight of the Reliquary or Noble Hierarch. The deck also looses Oblivion Ring, Qasali Pridemage, Realm Razer and the superstar Bloodbraid Elf. I am sure that the Vengevine/ Fauna Shaman engine will still be around but I think the deck will look vastly different.

Valakut-Ramp (Titan-Ramp)
The plan is simple; ramp into Primeval Titan and use him to set up a kill with Valakut the Molten Pinnacle. This is the big dog in the yard, Valakut-Ramp only looses Rampant Growth in the rotation. However, nothing in the new Standard will fits the curve of this card. Cultivate might work. I like Strata Scythe as an alternate win condition if you need to play around Spreading Seas. I also think that Genesis Wave fits nicely in the deck. Valakut-Ramp will be the archetype to beat early in the season until new strategies are discovered.

Mythic Conscription (Eldrazi Conscription, Mythic)
The biggest loss for this deck is Sovereigns of Lost Alara. The Exalted Spirit let you search up your Eldrazi Conscription in order to put the game away. Without the ability to tutor for the key enchantment, Mythic should no longer be a threat in Standard.

What’s Next?
Scars of Mirrodin offers us a vast selection of powerful spells that are sure to have an immediate impact on the new Standard. Take a look at some of the things you should be hoping to pick up at your Pre-release event this weekend:

Scars of Mirrodin will offer us plenty of new options and old favorites will soon go by the wayside. I am really looking forward to playing Phylactery Lich with Darksteel Axe. I recommend going to a Pre-release this weekend since there will not be much time to prepare for States coming up in October. The 2010′s State and Provincial Championships will be the first big events to play with the new Standard. Study your spoilers and see what you can do to deal with U/W control and Valakut-Ramp. Goodbye Bloodbraid Elf, and thanks for all the fish.

EDH deck building: The Coalition vs. Phyrexia

Getting started in EDH can be a daunting task for newer players.  Fortunately for those newer players, Wizards of the Coast releases special products, such as the Duel Decks series that showcase many older cards.  The newest line in the Duel Decks series is Phyrexia vs. The Coalition.  This product is a great jumping off point for newer players who want to try their hand at EDH packed with all sorts of EDH goodies.

Let’s take a look at what the mechanized armies of Phyrexia give us.  One of the coolest reprints in a long time, Phyrexian Negator has prompted some serious debate about Wizard’s Reserved List.  The Negator is an amazing option for an aggro deck but EDH is more about longevity and combos than about quick beatdown.  Remember life totals in EDH are 40 not 20.  Still, this guy can be decent for you if you are lean on options.  Sacrifice outlets allow for some interesting tricks and Phyrexian Plaguelord fits the bill nicely.  For card draw, Phyrexian Arena is really good, abusing that big life total.  Another nice addition is Phyrexian Processor.  Pumping out a threat every turn for a minimal resource commitment is awesome.

One of my favorite reprints is Voltaic Key.  This card was amazing back in the days of Urza’s Saga and offers great potential with good artifacts floating around (like the Processor above).  Worn Powerstone and of course Phyrexian Colossus also play nice with the Key.  Another card I was excited to get was Lightning Greaves.  I cannot think of a card that is more useful in General-centric strategies than the Greaves.  Whispersilk Cloak, Hornet CannonPhyrexian Vault, and Phyrexian Totem are all playable cards that can help a beginner with EDH.  Living Death and Slay are pretty good as well.

Taking a look at the good guys we find that the Coalition has a bunch to offer.  One, two, three, four…four Generals come in this deck!  Darigaaz, the IgniterGerrard Capashen, Rith, the Awakener, and Treva, the Renewer.  That’s a lot of Legendary goodness.

The Coalition give us some great utility creatures as well.  Thornscape Battlemage, Sunscape Battlemage, and Thunderscape Battlemage all offer some usefull abilities.  Yavimaya Elder  = card advantage (cool new art too).  Armadillo Cloak, Coalition Relic, and Power Armor are decent goodies as well.  The Coalition also gives us a great finisher in Urzas Rage.  This big spell laughs in the face of counter-magic and the foil treatment it got is superb.

If you are new to EDH, or if you know someone who wants to get into it, then the Phyrexia vs. The Coalition Duel Deck is a great place to pick up some awesome older cards.  Use this as a springboard to take the plunge into the EDH waters.

Worldwake Set Review – Black

Welcome to the black section of our Worldwake set review series. The series started here with white, for those just joining us. I will initially evaluate each card for Limited and eternal formats / EDH. James will then add his comments for the realm of standard, block, and occasionally extended. Let’s get down to business.

Abyssal Persecutor
2BB
Creature – Demon
6/6
Flying, trample
You can’t win the game and your opponents can’t lose the game.
Rarity: Mythic Rare

Oh man, Black starts with a bang. This guy made some waves in my dork email threads. Now obviously this twist on Platinum Angel is going to require that you have some kind of sacrifice outlet in your deck: big deal! Constructed has a plethora of options, most notable, perhaps, being Gatekeeper of Malakir, a card black decks love running anyway. All of this is germane to constructed, however, whereas in limited, you may not be able to play this guy simply because you have no way to kill him. And as a mythic rare in pack 3, you’re not going to be able to prepare specifically for this card, so your sacrifice outlet may have to come from your Worldwake booster. Just keep this stuff in mind when contemplating this otherwise rather deadly 4-drop flying trampler.

JAMES

I don’t see this as much of a drawback. I can just see people ussing Assasinate on their own guy so they can win. lol.

Agadeem Occultist
2B
Creature – Human Shaman Ally
0/2
{T}: Put target creature card from an opponent’s graveyard onto the battlefield under your control if its converted mana cost is less than or equal to the number of Allies you control.
Rarity: Rare

Another ally that will be gruesome indeed when the times are good, and pitiful to negligible when the going gets tough. Allies is very much an “all in” kind of strategy in this regard. This will he hawt for the heavy allies drafter who is passed this by other players with no interest in hating.

JAMES

Not bad for 3 cc but there really aren’t enough low-costing allies to justfiy this. I just don’t think Allies have much of a future outside limited and MAYBE block…Think we’ll see allies in later sets? Rise of the Elderazi? And afterwards?

Anowon, the Ruin Sage
3BB
Legendary Creature – Vampire Shaman
4/3
At the beginning of your upkeep, each player sacrifices a non-Vampire creature.
Illus. Dan Scott
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #49/145

Now THIS might make an interesting EDH general! Sheldon Menery, prepare to hate this guy’s Timmy hostility. He’s cheap and disruptive. This is another guy who’s significantly better if you happen to have a few vampires already, but he’s also good enough that few people will pass him, unlike the ally above. I think he’s going to create some serious problems for opposing mages in limited.

JAMES

Kinda cool. Tons of vamps in these last two sets (Zendikar & Worldwake) but this is getting pretty pricy. I just don’t think it’s a game winner and for 5cc I want a game winner. I’m comparing this to Malakir Bloodwitch

Bloodhusk Ritualist
2B
Creature – Vampire Shaman
2/2
Multikicker {B}
When Bloodhusk Ritualist enters the battlefield, target opponent discards a card for each time it was kicked.
Rarity: Uncommon

This guy’s going to be great for monoblack EDH decks. My pal and I have slightly different Maga, Traitor to Mortals builds, and we’re both happy about this card. It’s another big mana discard spell that comes with a gray ogre attached to it. Not bad. He’s also solid in limited, because as I’ve said many times, gray ogre is often good enough to run on its own, and this just gives it some extra oomph. On turn 5 you’ll sometimes be emptying your opponent’s hand of those high-curve bombs he was about to drop. Not too shabby, I’d say.

JAMES

First reaction? “Holy Shit”. Seriously. Sitting on the bus (38L w00t) writing this and I said, “Holy Shit.” It’s so damn cheap!!!–Playable.

Bojuka Brigand
1B
Creature – Human Warrior Ally
1/1
Bojuka Brigand can’t block.
Whenever Bojuka Brigand or another Ally creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Bojuka Brigand.
Rarity: Common

Pretty mediocre guy, strictly worse than Oran-rief Survivalist but still essentially the same creature. Good enough as a “grizzly bear +”.

JAMES

Not strictly worse, joe. The same. Meh…I guess there could be a hybrid colored Ally deck in these cards…but for standard? extended? GTFOH.

Brink of Disaster
2BB
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature or land
When enchanted permanent becomes tapped, destroy it.
Rarity: Common

Well, it’s a bit expensive, and your opponent gets to decide when the permanent dies, typically. They can also buy themselves time to find removal if that’s what they want to do. I want harder removal than this. This is quite soft.

JAMES

Hits the battlefield too late to be viable. Meaning, it can be played around.

Butcher of Malakir
5BB
Creature – Vampire Warrior
5/4
Flying
Whenever Butcher of Malakir or another creature you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, each opponent sacrifices a creature.
Rarity: Rare

Another bomby rare here, but with far fewer strings attached. If your deck can live to drop a 7 consistently, then this will help considerably with the late game attrition war, if the 5 points of flying power doesn’t do the trick on its own. I’m thinking you can suicide attack with some confidence once this guy’s on the battlefield. Top marks from me.

JAMES

It’s aight. Pretty damn expensive for 7cc. So, yeah…too slow for constructed.

Caustic Crawler
3BB
Creature – Insect
4/3
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target creature get -1/-1 until end of turn.
Rarity: Uncommon

This uncommon will be another element that can theoretically slow this format down a bit, taking out the various 1-toughness speed beaters of the ZZZ era. This guy isn’t bad at 4/3 for the cost, and the ability should help you out significantly. Save some land drops for that second main phase, folks!

JAMES

Very cool uncommon. So HAWT with Marsh Casualties. It’s a LITTLE slow at 5cc becuse a kicked burst lightning takes thsi guy out before you [concievably] start using his soft spot removal but it’s very appealing. I guess I’m talking limited. For constructed it’s just too hefty a cost for this meta.

Corrupted Zendikon
1B
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant land
Enchanted land is a 3/3 black Ooze creature. It’s still a land.
When enchanted land is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner’s hand.
Rarity: Common

You know, I like the flying blue zendikon best, but this is a close second. It’s a watchwolf with a weird kind of built-in tempo loss and additional potential tempo loss, but it’s probably worth it. The more I think about these zendikons, the more I’m getting on board with them. I’m definitely interested to see how they play out. I’m on the fence, leaning toward embracing these.

JAMES

Pretty cheap actually. Not sure B wants to do this on turn two though. I’m thinking in Blightning packing decks. Turn two is (typically) reseved for Putrid Leeches and having to replay a recently lightning bolted creature isn’t very appealing.

Dead Reckoning
1BB
Sorcery
You may put target creature card from your graveyard on top of your library.
If you do, Dead Reckoning deals damage equal to that card’s power to target creature.
Rarity: Common

Wowzers. This is quite a removal spell. Common, too! I think black has a lot of recursion potential these days, enabling the already fast color to play a more deliberate long game strategy as well. I like this card as a mid game removal spell. You do exchange your next draw for the recurred creature, but you’ve nuked an opponent’s spell as well. If your returned creature was something like the aforementioned Gatekeeper of Malakir, then you’ve got a mini engine online. Should be a mainstay, I’m thinking.

JAMES

Sexy. I like how it potentially works off ETBF abilities like Bloodbraid Elf…Man, cascade on a 4cc creature is broken. lol. This is a cool card that has some power to it…I wonder if “to creature or player” was just too broken…question for R&D i guess.

Death’s Shadow
B
Creature – Avatar
13/13
Death’s Shadow gets -X/-X, where X is your life total.
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #57/145

This is one of the most exciting and hyped cards of my email thread discussions. People are pumped about this guy. I love the silly combo with Lich myself, but that’s just me. I think the most prescient thing to note about this guy came from a guy on my thread who said something along the lines of: “drop this with 10 life, and it’s still a 3/3 for 1, only now the more life you lose, the bigger he gets.” Nice way to think about him, I think. I know this will play well with early Vampire Lacerators and such. Seems fine to me. As a rather obvious side note, this is likely unplayable in EDH. Lol.
JAMES

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as a 1-2x SB option for bringing in against either Red Burn or Boros Bushwacker builds. It’s SO freaking cheap. It makes Scute Mob feel stupid.

Jagwasp Swarm
3B
Creature – Insect
3/2
Flying
Rarity: Common

You know, I think this card would otherwise be fine in limited. 3 power and flying for hill giant’s mana cost… usually this is fine. But this format can kill 2 toughness creatures with relative ease. I’d be a little hesitant about this guy, therefore. There’s a lot of creatures nowadays whose envelope has been pushed farther than this. Anyway, he can fill a needed gap, but otherwise, I’m looking for something a little better. This will still do some beating though. He’s on the solid side of marginal, if that makes any sense.

JAMES

Meh. Moving on.

Kalastria Highborn
BB
Creature – Vampire Shaman
2/2
Whenever Kalastria Highborn or another Vampire you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {B}. If you do, target player loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.
Rarity: Rare

Not bad for a bear, albeit a rare bear. In heavy vampires, the ability could net you 8, 12, or 16 point swings… usually you’ll get at least a 4 point life swing if you play conservatively… and even if he dies when you’re tapped out, you still had a bear, so big deal. I think vampires might be a new archetype to force along the lines of allies in ZZZ and presumably ZZW. There’s quite a good pool of vampire synergy now. The mass appears to be approaching critical. We shall see.

JAMES

WOW. This card LOVES Bloodghast. Certainly worth playing with.

Mire’s Toll
B
Sorcery
Target player reveals a card from his or her hand for each Swamp you control. Choose one of those cards. That player discards that card.
Rarity: Common

Hmm. Well, it’s a weak kind of weak blackmail, since later on, they won’t have as many cards left as you have swamps anyway. I’m not crazy about this one. Sometimes, though, in limited, you can time discard right to nuke their high-curve bomb… so if your deck is wicked fast but lacks late game, this might be an option for you when your swamps equals their cards in hand, and you can ensure you ditch their best threat. Meh… I’m waffling here. This card has a place, but it’s not a real universal killer.

JAMES

Nice. This will definitly see some play. It’s no Mind Sludge or Duress but there are some distinct advantages to it; it’s SORT of like a cross between sludge and Thoughtsieze making me think it’s playable. Hmmm, worth tinkering with for Mono-B (or R/B) builds in Standard and for extended decks that run swamps. I’m hesitant to say the same for Jund-style decks because of the high dual/tri-color lands…Test it out! is all I can advocate.

Nemesis Trap
4BB
Instant – Trap
If a white creature is attacking you, you may pay {B}{B} rather than pay Nemesis Trap’s mana cost.
Exile target creature, then put a token that is a copy of that creature onto the battlefield. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step.
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #61/145

This thing is nuts, IMO. Against white it’s through the roof, but even at 6 it’s going to usually be a 241, guaranteed… the only trick then is getting them to attack forcefully into your six untapped lands! I think it’s good enough though. Cards that will consistently 241 your opponent are good. This one will, and this one is. Imagine that they attack you with a Kor Hookmaster? Or a sphinx of lost truths, or a turntimber ranger, or a Bala Ged Thief, or, or, or… you get the picture.

JAMES

Craziness. I REALLY like this as an anti-Baneslayer Angel play. Certainly worth experimenting.

Pulse Tracker
B
Creature – Vampire Rogue
1/1
Whenever Pulse Tracker attacks, each opponent loses 1 life.
Rarity: Common

Not terrible, but wimpy. In dedicated vampires, with things to do with a 1/1 that becomes roughly irrelevant mid to late, then sure. I’m not playing this outside of a very dedicated vampire theme though.

JAMES

Not really good enough. I like that on T2, unblocked you’re doing 2 damage and if you keep presenting threats on-curve then really the 1/1 won’t be blocked making it essentially a 2/1 for 1cc. That puts it on par with Elite Vanguard which saw (and may still see) some play. It’s certainly no Vampire Lacerator though.

Quag Vampires
B
Creature – Vampire Rogue
1/1
Multikicker {1}{B}
Swampwalk
Quag Vampires enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each time it was kicked.
Rarity: Common

He’s a gray ogre usually. Late game he’s a 5-drop 3/3. Not exciting. Then he’s a 7-drop 4/4. He does make a great sideboard against black, and he IS slightly more versatile than a plain old ogre. But he’s not terribly exciting. Again, though, dedicated vampires might drop him as a 1/1, so he has uses.

JAMES

No thanks. No, really. No thanks.

Quest for the Nihil Stone
B
Enchantment
Whenever an opponent discards a card, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Nihil Stone.
At the beginning of each opponent’s upkeep, if that player has no cards in hand and Quest for the Nihil Stone has two or more quest counters on it, you may have that player lose 5 life.
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #64/145

Initially I thought you sacrificed to deal the 5, but knowing that it’s a recurring 5 any time they’re hellbent… well, that makes it significantly better. This is very easy to play around in limited absent discard though. I’m not seeing how this will wreck a careful player’s day.

JAMES

Wow. There are some very interesting quests coming out in this set. I’m very intrigued by the interaction between this one (Q. for the Nihil) and Bloodcheif Asscension. Esspecially on the back of some of the insane discard like Bloodhusk Ritualist (see above)…and a long time favorite of mine Blightning.

Ruthless Cullblade
1B
Creature – Vampire Warrior
2/1
Ruthless Cullblade gets +2/+1 as long as an opponent has 10 or less life.
Illus. rk Post
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #65/145

A weak bear and then later on, a 4/2 for 2. Solid all the way around. Should be a staple filler vampire warrior. Keep this kind of guy in mind for pack 3 when you’re deciding whether to fill a bear slot in your vampire deck with something like surrakar marauder or the like… it might be better to wait for a real vamp. Definitely a situational consideration, but know that there are common, decent, early vampires in worldwake.

JAMES

I’ve always liked Guul Draz Vampire and I still do–at least over this one. I like the evasion of Guul…it’s sickaliciousness. and this one isn’t.

Scrib Nibblers
2B
Creature – Rat
1/1
{T}: Exile the top card of target player’s library. If it’s a land card, you gain 1 life.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may untap Scrib Nibblers.
Rarity: Uncommon

Ah, book eaters. So you can potentially make someone miss a land drop… but it’s pretty random, and I can’t see what kind of game plan this would further. I’m not down with this rat.

JAMES

Puke.

Shoreline Salvager
3B
Creature – Surrakar
3/3
When Shoreline Salvager deals combat damage to a player, if you control an Island, draw a card.
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #67/145

Nice hill giant! He’s Johnny Magic (shadowmage infiltrator, for the n00bs) if you’re in blue, a natural pairing for black, though this color combination wasn’t super popular in ZZZ to my limited knowledge. I think this uncommon will help make that color combination better for sure. But you can’t count on seeing any given uncommon in pack 3 really… I dunno. He’ll randomly be great for some people. I wonder where my own decision point will be when it comes time to potentially hate draft one of these. I mean, a plain old hill giant isn’t THAT terrible, really. I dunno. If you’re solid black or black with another non-blue splash, and you crack this in your pack 3, do you try to add blue? Hard question. But I think he’s around that powerful. I’d sure be tempted to get greedy.

JAMES

I sorta like this. I don’t see this being all that hot in constructed because the cost is so high. BUT it’s looking good for limited.

Smother
1B
Instant
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost 3 or less. It can’t be regenerated.
Rarity: Uncommon

Awesome reprint. Solid removal. Very strong. Moving on.

JAMES

I expect this to see play. I’m happy to see this solid reprint.

Tomb Hex
2B
Instant
Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
Landfall – If a land entered the battlefield under your control this turn, that creature gets -4/-4 until end of turn instead.
Rarity: Common

More excellent removal for black, the removal-iest color of them all. This is just plain solid. Trick some fools with a fetch land and sudden death one of their guys!

JAMES

HOLY SMOKES, BATMAN. this is redonk!! Well, not as good as Sudden Death (by a LONG shot) but it’s super solid. Next to Smother it’s not that hot either…man, i guess i’m resinding this. I just think it looks so cheap. But I was getting ahead of myself. Great for limited without a doubt though! (and I know weaker players will walk their Baneslayer right into this one……but we’re not tuning our decks for weaker players, or we shouldn’t be at least.)

Urge to Feed
BB
Instant
Target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn. You may tap any number of untapped Vampire creatures you control. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on each of those Vampires.
Illus. Johann Bodin
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #70/145

Whoa mamma. A common with Tomb hex, plus uncommon smother, and this beautiful uncommon, reminiscent of Last Gasp. The removal looks good. This thing will be a cool play for the turn after your opponent drops a 3-toughness wall or whatever, thinking they’ve stopped the flow of vampire attacks. Then on their EOT, you smile and tap your team, growing them beyond that previous barrier, all while killing one of their peeps. Love it.

JAMES

OKAY, now this is getting a little insane. Declare blockers step has never looked more fun. ;-) Vamps will have to include this. To not include it would be silly.

Undiscovered Treasure: A Complete Worldwake Review

So what happened is that I wrote up my review yesterday for my local playgroup and thought, “Hey, James might like this”  But my style is a little different and I’m not as deep into the analysis as his excellent white review is.   We talked and instead of integrating my thoughts into his review, I’d just publish mine.

In short, my opinion on the set as a whole is a little lukewarm.  I’m the guy who likes to buy x4 of everything, and this time I think I’ll sit it out as I see a lot of “jump through the flaming hoop” cards that Johnny’s like, and some EDH goodness.  Most of the cards I want I either picked up (Jace) or I don’t see them going up in price too much.  In the long run, when the set rotates out, the cards will depress.  I’m of the feeling that it will be easy to trade extra fetches (just an example) for almost anything I want out of this set.

I also evaluate for draft by default.  In that respect I think draft is about to become a bit more organic, as all the speedster cards get replaced by fatter guys, defensive guys, and better flyers.

Anyways, I haven’t done a set evaluation in a while, so sorry if it’s a little scattered.  I  do evaluation on a couple different levels so I’ll break it down by category.

Chase – A chase card is usually a premier, high value rare. Chase doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a must own, sometimes the card is just too expensive or it’s very specific to the environment that’s its being played in.  But you should know what they are, and why they demand that value.

Ex. Jace, The Mind Sculptor, Thoughtsieze, Baneslayer Angel, Tarmogoyf

Staple – A staple card are generally “must own” x4 copy.  These can be any rarity, and you’ll see these over and over again in the course of the format.  The difference from these and “evergreen” cards is that you’ll see them drop in value as they rotate out, or they’re roleplayers for a certain type of deck or format.  Sometimes, because of mana cost or ability they might be good, they won’t be relevant to every deck.

Ex.  Rampant Growth, Duress, Bloodbraid Elf, Honor of the Pure, Blightning, Tri-lands, Duals, Fetch Lands.

Staple – Evergreen – I think I’m the only person I know who uses this term – – The best example I can give  off the top of my head of a “staple” vs. an “evergreen” is Elvish Archdruid vs. Great Sable Stag.  Archdruid is a great card, but he fits a role in a particular deck type.  GSS is almost always a good deal – he’ll be a staple, a roleplayer, sure, but he’ll definitely go into any almost any  green deck, as opposed to having you have to build around him.

Evergreens provide resources to multiple deck types in casual play, multiplayer, EDH and competitive.

Ex. , Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Acidic Slime, Tri-lands, Duals, Fetch Lands.

Role player – These cards are decent, but only in certain archtypes.  I generally advise newer players to stay away from these cards unless you’re a Johnny and get the sense that you want to break it in half.

Ex.  Megrim, Traumatize

Bomb (Draft only) In a Draft, bombs are usually first picks out a pack, they’ll have a huge effect on the game if they resolve, and will almost always win you the game unless your opponent has an answer.

Ex. Fireball, Hellkite Charger, Marsh Casualities

To keep the review as easy to read as possible I’ve just linked the spoiler here.  I’m not going to clutter up the review with all the stats unless it’s appropriate.  http://mtgsalvation.com/worldwake-spoiler.html

***White***

Admonition Angel – Draft Bomb, Role Player

The four big flying fatties seeing play in standard are Sphinx of Jhar Isle, Baneslayer, Malakir Bloodwitch, to some extent Broodmate Dragon.  Sphinx and Broodmate are decent because their mostly immune to removal, and Baneslayer is too good not to play.  Malakir is immune to most removal, gains you life, and can block Baneslayer.  Any new entry into the “flying finishers” gets compared to them.  While Angel is bigger, it’s slower and very vulnerable.  In draft though, very little can deal with it.

Apex Hawk

You expect a 2/2 flyer for 3 casting cost.  And a 3/3 flyer for 5 is par as well.   Decent draft pick

Archon of Redemption – Role player

Same issue as Angel above but he’s got under average stats for his cost.  He’s begging you to build a deck around him.  I’d actually play Serra Angel over this.  Gaining life is overrated, AND you have to jump through some hoops to really get value.

Battle Hurda

Pretty boring., kind of lower pick draft card.  There’s enough x/4′s  that he won’t matter as much.

Fledging Griffin

Solid draft pick, very fair.

Guardian Zendikon

Well now we have some defense in draft. Too bad he doesn’t fly.

Hada Freeblade – Role player

If Allies becomes a standard deck, this guy will be in it.

Iona’s Judgement.

It’s removal.

Join The Ranks – Role player

See Hada Freeblade

Kitesail Apprentice

Pretty bad.  Duelist is better and didn’t get played all that much- Compare this to Skyfisher!

Kor Firewalker – Staple – Evergreen

Huge card that really really hurts mono-red.  And it’s a soldier. The gain life ability just puts it over the top.

Lightkeeper of Emeria

I actually prefer this card in draft to the archon above. It doesn’t really ask you to play other cards to make it better,  It’s got decent stats even as a 2/4 with no kick, since it comes out early to play defense, and if you draw it late, the life gain will help out.

Loam Lion – Staple

This is weird, because it might see play in extended zoo but white green isn’t the best deck in standard right now.  Amazing statistics for its cost, just like Kird Ape.

Marsh Threader

Cliff Threader’s good, so I would guess this is.

Marshal’s Anthem  – Role Player

I like this card.  Resurrection was never bad, and neither was Glorious Anthem. I think it’s a little under the radar but it’s good in control, and it’s pretty huge in EDH.  It’s probably too expensive for tournament constructed in multiples which is why it’s so low in cost.   I’d probably pick it for draft though.

Perimeter Captain

Third in the list of “red black aggro just doesn’t want to see this card in draft”

Refraction Trap – Role player

This is a huge card in draft, and may see play in standard.  Note that it protects planeswalkers, which harm’s way doesn’t do.

Rest for the Weary

Like Sunspring expedition, it’s a Decent Sideboard card for the aggro matchup in draft.

Ruin Ghost – Role Player

There’s an infinite combo with this and some other cards on the forums,  He’s got bad stats, but yeah, sometimes you want lands to come in multiple times.

Stone Forge Mystic – Role Player

Yep, someone’s gonna make a kor deck with him.  Bad stats otherwise.

Talus Paladin – Role player

This is a big swing in Allies and may push that deck over the top.

Terra Eternal

Makes your man lands INDESTRUCTIBLE!  And that’s it.  Now you youngsters will have that special feeling you only get when you open an animate wall as your rare.

Veteran’s reflexes Bleh.

***Blue***

Aether Tradewinds

Solid Utility Common.  Like Narrow Escape, it wants you to play permanents with comes into play abilities (Halimar depths! ), and it slows down your opponent.  Worst case scenario, in the early game you can put an opponent’s land back in their hand.  Boomerang has been a tournament staple, maybe this card has a place.

Calcite Snapper

Another common that owns the speed deck in draft, and it can bash for four if you like.  And shroud.  Tournament level, possibly, because of that last ability.

Dispel

Wizards just hates hard counters, this is another bad counterspell I’m just going to ignore.

Enclave Elite

Slightly worse than Apex Hawk in draft, but no slouch.  Blue usually doesn’t get fatties with no drawback.

Goliath Sphinx

<Hork>

Halimar Excavator

Woo Ally mill deck.  We continue the theme of decent defensive stats again, that 1/3 ass for 2 is no joke.

Horizon Drake

Sure!  3 power flying for 3 is great.  The ability might even be relevant.

Jace the Mind Sculptor – Chase Rare.

It’s good. The pros have already been sleeving and playing it.  Brainstorm is no joke.  And that ultimate is a 40 cal straight to the noggin.  You don’t walk away from that.

Jwari Shapeshifter – Role player

Basically, you’re either playing allies and want this card, or you don’t care.  It’s really good for that deck of course.

Mysteries of the Deep

Instant Speed Card draw is pretty clutch.  It’s expensive, but Blue Mages hate to tap out.  Not sure if this will see play over Mind Spring in standard but it seems okay.

Permafrost trap

I’m sure this is decent, but I’m not first picking it in draft.

Quest for Ula’s Temple

I actually have a deck for this.  The other 8 million magic players out there?  Out of luck.

Sejiri Merfolk – Staple?

Seems pretty strong for the cost.  Great draft pick for those colors

Selective Memory  – Role player

We’ve seen cards like this before, someone always figures out a way to break them.  I still don’t feel good opening this in a pack.

Spell Contortion.

Fairly costed, if it was costed any other way it would be a must play staple.  This is sort of fair.  I think people are still locked in on Flashfreeze as THE counterspell, will take a white or blue deck actually winning more for them to start considering other stuff.  I like it though.

Surrakar Banisher

This is no veldakin dismisser, but its got a decent body.

Thada Adel, Acquistor

Definitely in EDH.  If it were 2/2 for two it might see play in legacy.  It’s playable, but how many artifacts are in play in standard?  May be really good in Rise?

Tideforce Elemental

I think this is part of the combo with Ruin Ghost.   First pick in draft too.

Treasure Hunt – Staple – Evergreen

This is a huge card for blue.  The math has been done and the long and short of it is that you get 1.75 cards for 2 mana.  If you can manipulate the library (halimar depths and jace) then you always get more bang than divination.   Also, you always, always draw a spell.

Twitch

This is a reprint.  Can’t really complain too much.

Vapor Snare

Pretty bomby.  Mind Control is always good.

Voyager Drake

Great stats, great ability, great first pick.

Wind Zendikon

Another huge card for blue.  2/2 flyer for 1 with a minor draw back (you slow yourself down a bit to get aggro).   It’s a great card without a deck right now.

***Black***

Abyssal Persecutor  – Chase

I’m on the fence on this guy.  I like him, but not enough to shell out a twenty for him, then build a possibly weaker deck around him.  His price is leveraged around the fact that he is a solid mythic in a mostly bad set.  The black deck in standard is Vampires, and this is based on it’s synergy, and he doesn’t contribute to that at all.

Agadeem Occultist

Another weird rare. He’s pretty good in Allies, but not in constructed, since you have no idea what’s going to be in a graveyard.  Bad stats for his cost too.

Anowon, the Ruin Sage.

He just HAD to be 4/3.  Malakir Bloodwitch is so much better than this, and that’s a low cost rare.  He could have been 4/4 and relevant.  I don’t see what’s wrong with abyss in standard, I really don’t.  He’s legendary, too.  People might try and play him, and he’s just going to feel clunky.

Bloodhusk Ritualist.

The question posed earlier was “Is this better than Mind Sludge?”  Short answer: No.

Mind Sludge just ends games.  Ritualist is probably best in an edh or casual deck, but ultimately you’re paying for a 2/2 for 3, which isn’t that great.  Decent in Draft though, another solid 2 or 3 for 1.

Bojuka Brigand (why I do I feel like we’re back in Betrayers of Kamigawa land?)

The ability to block is fairly irrelevant anyway – I think black allies will rally around growers like him and the sellsword to get past all the fat blockers.  And coming out a couple turns faster is worth it.  Sick card.

Brink of Disaster

It’s removal, and it kills land, which is pretty relevant.  Not a Befoul though.

Butcher of Malakir – Bomb

A little highly costed for standard, but it does wreck some of those shroud strategies.

For draft, I suspect ZZW will be a bit slower, so this can make an impact.

Caustic Crawler

Meh.  I’d rather play shatterskull giant (which just got a lot better by the way) 4 is a much more relevant power now though.

Corrupted Zendikon.

3/3 for 2 casting cost in black is aggressive.  I can dig it.

Dead Reckoning

Huge draft masher two for one.  Might be good in standard where you want to get value back when you get hit by blightnings  – Grim Discovery saw play for that same reason.

Death’s Shadow – Role player.

Meh. Though you can search for it with Ranger of Eos

Jagwasp Swarm

Playable draft pick.  Like I said I think flyers and evasion is better now.

Kalastria Highborn.

Some people will love this card.  The question is whether it’s better to play than Hexmage in the vampires slot.   For the moment, I don’t think so.   If you have a deck for this guy, that’s great.  He’s slightly better in casual though, which I think is why his price is up.  He’ll go down over the long run I bet.   He’s no Rotlung Reanimator.

Mire’s Toll

There was a card in standard called blackmail which was 3 cards for B, and it was pretty bad. You want to play discard early, not late.

Nemesis Trap – Staple

This is Broken Visage as an uncommon. This a great card, fun to wreck people with, and will could see play in standard to 187 those baneslayers.

Pulse Tracker

I sort of like this card as 1 drop vampire, and a rogue, and he does an extra damage.  He quickly becomes irrelevant when someone drops a blocker, but he can still do duty as a vampire for you.

Quag Vampires

Same deal as Apex Hawk and the Merfolk.  Not as good as either but swampwalk is relevant.  If you’re playing swamps you can at least hate it so you don’t get killed by it.

Quest for the Nihil Stone  – Role Player

Except this one is actually really good!  Five life is pretty huge, and there’s some great discard out there.  This is totally under the radar right now (1 dollar on SCG), and I suspect it will jump up once someone breaks it.

Ruthess Cullblade

Ok draft pick.  He’s a vampire, decent stats, and an okay ability.  But in Standard he’s competing with Hexmage again.

Scrib Nibblers

What’s to say?  He’s got a mill ability, and can maybe gain you life.  Sucks in combat for his cost though.

Shoreline Salvager.

Good Stats for his cost in draft, and the ability is no slouch.

Smother – Staple

Another proven reprint that just rotated out of extended.  Now it’s back and extended players will be happy.  No slouch in standard either.

Tomb Hex

I like. Solid removal in draft.

Urge to kill

WOW does black get a lot of stuff that kills stuff. And yeah, it’s good for vampires.  Vampire players do a little dance.  Again.  Yawn.

***Red***

Akoum Battlesinger

I can imagine this scene, where wizards is sending a memo around to all the colors that they should slow down a bit, and of course Red got the memo, didn’t bother reading past the first sentence, and decided to wing it.   Red’s just gonna keep aggroing it out, like that loud drunk guy at the party that’s making everyone uncomfortable.

Ummm. yeah, not the best card unless you’re committed to mashing with allies.

Bazaar Trader

Wut?  It can’t even give away an Illusions of Grandeur.

Wizards fell down, least they could do is give us the other half the combo piece…

Donating the demon is the best I can come up with.

Bull Rush

RAAARRRRREEDDGHKAGHTG!!!

Chain Reaction

This is pretty good for red.  Not Earthquake good, though. Much more of a Multiplayer Wrath.  Phone this rare right into your EDH deck.

Claws of Valkut

RAAAAAAA…..It’s lightning Talons, basically.  But not always as good.

Comet Storm – Bomb, Staple – Evergreen

Solid red Bomb.  Instant is huge.   For standard it’s weighed against cascade, but it’s  fantastic card for casual and draft.

Cosi’s Ravager

Not particularly great.   It’s not as good as hellhound, though I guess with land tricks it can do a few extra points. Maybe there’s a combo deck in him.

Crusher Zendikon

Unlike the Black and Blue Zendikon, this guy doesn’t have good stats for his cost. Draft playable, since that 4 power is more important.

Cunning Sparkmage

Solid draft pick

Death Forge Shaman

I thought he was good, then I realized the damage is only to target PLAYER.  Well he’s a body.  If you have 8 mana he’s pretty nasty.

Dragonmaster Outcast – Chase

He makes dragons.  He’s fetchable with Ranger of Eos.  He takes a turn longer to smash face than with  scute mob, but he makes flyers.  Multiples of flyers.  He makes DRAGONS.

Goblin Roughrider

Sure.

Grotag Goblin Thrasher

Good stats for the cost, and this is about as close as you’re going to get to evasion in red for that casting cost in draft.

Kazul, Tyrant of the Cliffs – Bomb

Everything that Anawon the ruin sage isn’t, except he’s not a vampire.

Mordant Dragon – Bomb

Same issue as Admonition Angel for his cost in standard.  In draft he’s a slightly worse flameblast dragon.

Quest for the Goblin Lord –Role player

Now that’s cute, cheap, and easy to pull off.  Siege Gang Commander anyone?

Ricochet Trap

Wizards keeps making deflect/swerve variants and they keep sucking in draft and ride the margins in standard.

Roiling Terrain

This is interesting but expensive.  The card this compares to is molten rain, but it’s not as good.  Against some decks it’ll just whiff on the damage.  But then lands are better now…

Rumbling Aftershocks

Meh.  Kind of hard to build around it in your last pack.

Searing Blaze – Staple

It’s kinda like lash out, but worse.  But red loves two for ones, and red has lots of ways to make land fall happen.

Skitter of Lizards!

ARARARRARARAGAGGHHH!   Solid beats. Early game it’s a goblin chariot, late game it’s a tuktuk, whatever you like.

Slavering Nulls

Decent stats, it’s a zombie goblin, and it has a discard effect.  I miss that red/black deck… could it be back now?

Stone Idol Trap

Kills an attacker, swings in for 6 (probably)  But is it a staple, really?  I really can’t say.  Seems good, but what do you take out?

Tuktuk Scrapper

Crappy body (like most of the allies) but the artifact ability is pretty nasty.

***Green***

Arbor Elf  - Staple

It’s llanowar elf, with the possibility that you might whiff if you don’t have an actual forest in play (you have savage lands/oran rief etc out) But it’s still probably good.

Avenger of Zendikar – Bomb

Pretty cute, and fun in casual to.   Someone’s going enjoy killing with plants, I’m sure.

Bestial Menace – Staple

Flores already called it in Eldrazi green. Any deck that makes tokens.  Think Cloudgoat ranger.  Except you hit for nine.  It’s fairly bomby in draft.  If you were to get that by p/t paying “fair” it would cost you 7.

Canopy Cover

Funny,  I was just talking about how elves needed a silhana ledgewalker…  dunno if it will see play, but seems like a good draft pick. Think Whispersilk cloak

Explore – Staple

Better than rampant growth.  Great flip over in cascade decks especially.

Feral Contest

Another awkward green attempt at stall-breaking.

Gnarlid Pack

Bear, or Hill Giant, or better, it’s all good.  Solid draft beater.

“Back in my day, we played Kickered Grizzly Bears, and we called it Kavu Titan, and we lit in on fire so it had  haste.  I remember those days… ”

Grappler Spider.

Eh.

Graypelt Hunter

So it’s Nimana Sellsword with Trample?   Sold!

Groundswell – Staple

Might of Old Krosa, I missed you.

Harabaz Druid

Could be interesting.  Again, I’m not all that interested in Allies.dec

Joraga warcaller – Staple

It’s a great finisher in Elves, and you’ve got the mana and ways to put on counters.  If you’re playing elves, you should pick this up.

Leatherback Baloth – Role Player

Same issue as always – Straight green always runs into problems. It has no tricks, no card advantage, and no reach (the ability to finish the game with a random top deck or through a stall).  And elves is usually better  because of it’s synergy. But people are gonna pick it up and play it, and Wizards will promote it, and will rotate out, and no one will care.

Nature’s Claim

Nothing wrong with this, it’s a solid card, but not even naturalize is seeing play right now.

Omnath, Locus of Mana – Chase

Debatable on its power level, I think it’s a great general and someone’s likely to break it.  It’s a tempo choice – you invest in the attack at the cost of progression on the board – but Omnath is an insane late game top deck.

Quest for Renewal

Seems strong, especially in casual Multiplayer

Slingbow Trap – Role Player

It’s targeted green removal, and will have targets in draft.  I think windstorm is the sideboard card for this in standard.

Snapping Creeper

Good stats, will probably have vigilance.  Just another guy that slows down the board.

Strength of the Tajuru – Bomb

Nice finisher there – see the comet storm chart for stats.  Oh yeah, and combos with Warcaller.

Summit Apes

Huge beater in draft.  Might be too fragile for constructed… Someone’s gonna try it though.  Might be really good.

Terastadon

Blow up your own lands and get 18 power for 8 mana.  Or just play crush of wurms.
Blow up their lands and they get stuff.  I dunno.  EDH, but kinda dull.

Vastwood Animist

Another good ally card with bad stats

Vastwood Zendikon

Craw Wurm was usually good, except this attacks a turn early. Pretty saucy.

Wolfbriar Elemental –Staple – Evergreen

Pretty solid beater.  Decent stats on his own and late game drops some extra threats. Might not be standard worthy but he’s still really good overall.

***Multicolor***

Novablast Wurm – Bomb

It’s almost like Wizards designed EDH just so we could have a place to play big fatties like this.  I dunno, we’ve got acceleration, and this blows up stuff.  While it’s still pretty slow for standard, this is a great effect to have.

Wrexial, the Risen Deep – Bomb

Made for EDH again.  He’s got a great toughness, is immune to terror, and has evasion.  His ability isn’t that relevant to standard, but casual, OMG he’s got targets.

***Artifacts***

Amulet of Vigor

I really can’t comment on Amulet of Vigor without bias.  At this point I’m a bit sick of yet another “jump through the deck design hoop”  rare.   I don’t have the mental fortitude to start looking for all the CIPT permanents in standard and extended and casual that this might go with.  It’s just exhausting.  Let the Johnny’s have their cake, I’ll just do what I usually do – wait til someone figures out how to break it then lamely shell out for an overpriced rare.  …or I could just play nature’s claim on it and let you play with a slow deck.

Basilisk Collar – Bomb

There’s a Kor deck. This card isn’t good enough for it, since you never want to attack with Armament Master.  But re-usable deathtouch is sick in draft.

Everflowing Chalice – Staple – Evergreen

Turn 2 chalice for 1, turn turn 3 chalice for 2, turn 4 do fun things with 6-7 mana.  Like Play novablast wurm :D   Solid card for most formats.

Hammer of Ruin

Not exactly a bonesplitter, nor is the ability that relevant.

Hedron Rover

Better than Hedron Scrabbler, I suppose.

Kitesail

Better than Hammer of Ruin, in cost and utility. Flying matters.

Lodestone Golem

I really like this guy.  Might be a role player in an esper deck, or something likes to eat lands.  Anyone notice he’s got Juggy stats?

Pilgrims Eye – Staple – Evergreen

Stats and flying are kind of fair, but irrevelant.  We play the Borderland ranger and we’re fine. For EDH as well, anything that thins you out early is generally good.

Razor Boomerang

Wait, it is Betrayers of Kamigawa.  I should have called it at the evil red griefing Legendary Ogre for 5.  Well, Hankyu very much.

Seer’s Sundial.

I dislike that the default casting cost for artifacts that draw you cards seem to be four.  Still, I could see this (possibly) playing support in a red or green casual deck with no other way to draw cards.

Walking Atlas – role player

There was an elf a while back that had this ability, and it saw play. You could do some silly things with this and Geopede, maybe.

***Lands***

Bojuka Bog – Staple – Evergreen.

I don’t necessarily like what this card means for the reanimator deck archetype, especially in casual.  Of course it’s a land, so you have a choice of holding back vs. playing it, but in my case I would do the thing I usually do with functional lands like Maze, I just play one less business spell and treat this as a spell. It’s uncounterable.  It’s like, reanimation in standard isn’t that great, we’ve got crypt, leyline, and relic in extended, was this really necessary?   Seems like an odd call.

Celestial Colonnade – staple

It’s a dual land, it becomes a flyer.  Is it any good?  Well, as good as any manland would be.  They’re all great for casual, and they dodge  removal in standard.. could be good.  And if they were, it just makes land destruction and sea’s claim decks that much better.

Creeping Tar Pits – staple

I can get behind this card as well. Unblockable is pretty key.

Dread statuary

Sure in draft.  Seems slow and vulnerable in standard. 3/3 would have been better.

Eye of Ugin

Of Ghostflame fame.   We get a hint of the next set (Steamflogger Boss?)   The funny thing to me is, that if Eldrazi spells are actually playable/competitive, then a land that gives a discount of two to all of them is pretty crazy, like workshop crazy. But it’s legendary!

The ability is pretty silly, but I guess some casual deck might like it.  Another random Johnny rare.

Halimar Depths – Staple – Evergreen.

Great card, especially with Treasure Hunt.

Khalni Garden

Some people don’t like this card.  It does give you a guy, which is relevant.  Polymorph decks will find some fun with this.

Lavaclaw Reaches – Staple

Sure.

Quicksand – Staple.

Sure to be popular in control to stem the aggro rush, and always good in draft.

Raging Ravine – Staple – Evergreen

I REALLY like this guy.  He starts off as a 4/4 and continues to get bigger.  What’s not to like?

Sejiri Steppe

Here’s the question – if you’re playing this as a spell slot in order to ignore the question of whether you should play this as a spell or ramp, , it’s not necessarily as good as Brave the elements (The latter is a reactive instant, after all)

And if you’re playing it as a land, it’s kind of like Soaring Seacliff.  So yeah maybe I answered the question.

Smoldering Spires

Well, red actually likes it when you can’t block.

Stirring Brush – Staple

Good stats, but my Raging Ravine is better. You could be playing w/g though.

Tectonic Edge  – Staple – Evergreen

I’ll take Wasteland where I get can get it, I guess.

Worldwake Set Review – Blue

Welcome to the Blue section of our Worldwake Set Review. Thanks for coming! Let’s get to business.

AEther Tradewinds
2U
Instant
Return target permanent you control and target permanent you don’t control to their owner’s hand.
Rarity: Common

This is a VERY useful spell in limited, even post-M10 combat damage rules changes (before the change, this would have been absurd). This should let you avoid a bad combat step while simultaneously setting up either a guaranteed landfall by returning a land, or another Enters the Battlefield (EtB) effect from one of your creatures. All while messing up the opponent’s tempo. Strong one here.

JAMES

For limited it looks great. I always like playing a one-off Teetering Peaks–especially if I’m in white and have a Kor Skyfisher or get Living Tsunami–and I can see this fitting in well with that. Prevents a turn of attacking from your opponent…you see what I’m saying. So far as constructed…well, I don’t see the use.

Calcite Snapper
1UU
Creature – Turtle
1/4
Shroud
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you
may switch Calcite Snapper’s power and toughness until end of turn.
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #25/145

This looks entirely unappealing to me. There are better options for holding down the ground, and this just doesn’t do much. I’m hoping not to play with this card until I make some kind of Turtle theme deck for my kids. Until then, this is a bookmark.

JAMES

No thanks.

Dispel
U
Instant
Counter target instant spell.
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #26/145

This should see play in some constructed formats, I’m thinking. It’s a good way to fight through counters. In limited, it’s very narrow, and is thus only likely to be in your sideboard. I can’t see ever maindecking this, but picking one up isn’t too terrible for your sideboard. I’d pick it low though, even then.

JAMES

Wow. What a great counter spell! It’s a narrow card making it more of a SB option than MD–at least for any U based decks I’m thinking of. That being said, all the major decks are running Lightening Bolts AND Burst Lightening (and of course Path) so there’s certainly an argument in favor of testing out the right number for your decks. I think U-light decks in extended may also run this to counter the Cryptic Command or [card]Mana Leak[card].

Enclave Elite
2U
Creature – Merfolk Soldier
2/2
Multikicker {1}{U}
Islandwalk
Enclave Elite enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each time it was kicked.
Rarity:Common

I really like these “Gray Ogre ++” variants. They’re passable on their own when dropped turn 3, albeit a little behind the modern curves, but they stay relevant (or more relevant than usual) when you top deck them late. I’m less pumped about this one than I am for the white flying version (flying instead of Islandwalk), but against some opponents, this will be even more of a trump. It’s evasive and relevant whenever you draw him. I like the looks of this cycle.

JAMES

I don’t see this being played outside of limited and even there it’s only marginal. The kick cost is too ridiculous after even one kick.

Goliath Sphinx
5UU
Creature – Sphinx
8/7
Flying
Flavor Text: Go ahead, TACCOM.
Rarity: Rare

Big. Flying. Any questions? This always makes the cut if you’re on-color, unless you have some kind of crazy aggro curve. Usually, he’ll be in. Lots of times, he’ll win you the game when you top deck him. Big dumb fliers are great in limited.

JAMES

Neat but damn expensive. Just too damn expensive for constructed play.

Halimar Excavator
1U
Creature – Human Wizard Ally
1/3
Whenever Halimar Excavator or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is the number of Allies you control.
Illus. Kev Walker
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #29/145

An interesting addition to Hedron Crab based archetypes. Now, when you see a crab, you might be well advised to take all the allies you can as well. This should make the archetype interesting indeed… I think it may be viable. The key is getting an early crab to set you in the deck… you can’t really “force” this otherwise. In “regular” (crabless) allies, I don’t see this decking mechanism going all the way, but I could be wrong. You’d need at minimum 2, preferably 3 of this guy, I would think.

JAMES

Interesting. Getting milled always stinks…but I’m pretty sure block builds of Allies won’t include the mill strategy. This route is inherently too slow.

Horizon Drake
1UU
Creature – Drake
3/1
Flying, protection from lands
Rarity: Uncommon

Interesting protection clause. Take that Valakut! This guy’s nice mainly because he’s aggressive and evasive. Wasp Lancer was comparable, and did great things in its day. This will sometimes die, but will usually get some good damage in before taking down some kind of spider or opposing flier. I like it, but it’s not really my first string of fliers. I’ll take him though.

JAMES

Watch out! it’s a land!!!…oh…right. barf. Too narrow. There just aren’t enough lands worth worry about to justify this card.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2UU
Planeswalker – Jace
3
[+2]: Look at the top card of target player’s library. You may put that card on the bottom of that player’s library.
[0]: Draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.
[-1]: Return target creature to its owner’s hand.
[-12]: Exile all cards from target player’s library, then that player shuffles his or her hand into his or her library.
Illus. Jason Chan
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #31/145

This looks incredible to me. A bomb in limited, probably more so in constructed, but I’ll try to let James handle that. Limited is pretty straight-forward as well… this guy does so many useful things, it’s hard not to see why he’s great. I want to talk about EDH for a moment though. I think most EDH decks that can access this guy will play him. He adds another Hinder effect (in this case, I mean the “put a card on the bottom of your opponent’s deck” part of Hinder) for decks that run the Tunnel Vision combo, which is most blue decks. It also helps you with the brainstorm effects and the bouncing. Subtly, in EDH you might have more of a chance than you think to use the ultimate ability here. EDH tends to go long, and lots of decks can fend off creatures indefinitely in the late game. So Jace, tMS, should occasionally deck the sad EDH player. All in all, a very exciting mythic planeswalker.’

JAMES

This version of Jace is very interesting. Weird sort of telling time-like abilities. The draw backs are that this guy costs a LOT for his initial abilities. A control player has to REALLY be dictating the turns to justify this card. Certainly don’t want that player to activate the ultimate ability but I don’t see there being enough time to pull that off. …6 turns to “go off”? If you taret your opponent with ability one and you hit a land, dud. target yourself and hit a land, good. Use ability two, very nice. Ability three is also pretty sexy. I’m thinking the card’s use will be restricted to the first three abilities. Bouncing creatures is pretty hawt if you can then counter them. Hmmm, very interesting.

Jwari Shapeshifter
1U
Creature – Shapeshifter Ally
0/0
You may have Jwari Shapeshifter enter the battlefield as a copy of any Ally creature on the battlefield.
Illus. Kev Walker
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #32/145

Hmmm… narrow indeed. If you happen to open it in an already-allies-dedicated pool / deck, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, this will seldom see play, as it won’t be consistent enough. In allies, it’s probably only “strong” not even “bomb” levels of good… you have to have another strong ally in hand before this does much of anything aside from keeping the ally flow going.

JAMES

Pretty cheap. Pretty freaking good for limited but marginal outside that–but mostly because Allies seem weak in Block. I like the concept though. Maybe there’s a U/W/R Ally deck in block…

Mysteries of the Deep
4U
Instant
Draw two cards.
Landfall – If you had a land enter the battlefield under your control this turn, draw three cards instead.
Illus. Veronique Meignaud
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #33/145

I like this one. It’s a bit of a conundrum though… instant card draw is great because you can play it on your opponent’s end step. But this will usually get you one fewer card then… of course, you might have harrow or a fetch land, so who knows. I still like this even if you just main phase it out there for the three, or decide to live with the mere two cards to maintain a control posture.

JAMES

It’s costed somewhere along the lines of Mind Spring and Sift, both of which I’ve always felt were pretty expensive. I don’t think this does enough for constructed play.

Permafrost Trap
2UU
Instant – Trap
If an opponent had a green creature enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {U} rather than pay Permafrost Trap’s mana cost.
Tap up to two target creatures. Those creatures don’t untap during their controller’s next untap step.
Rarity: Uncommon

Whether for the trap cost or full price, this is a beating, and will win games. In the skies archetype, you will push through the last points of damage with this guy. It’s a tempo nightmare for an opponent that’s unprepared, or who over-committed. Very strong spell here, IMO.

JAMES

I like this for standard. It’s an interesting tempo play. Bloodbraid Elf played by opposing player. Boom, trap that down! Hehe. Thats’ really what I would play this for. It’s sweet for one mana because it buys two turns (one from the hasty bloodbraid and one for the next turn). Looks good to me in this currnet meta game.

Quest for Ula’s Temple
U
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may look at the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card, you may reveal it and put a quest counter on Quest for Ula’s Temple.
At the beginning of each end step, if there are three or more quest counters on Quest for Ula’s Temple, you may put a Kraken, Leviathan, Octopus, or Serpent creature card from your hand onto the battlefield.
Illus. Rob Alexander
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #35/145

Gimmicky. If you have a ton of the right creatures in your deck, then maybe, but I guess I missed all the Krakens, Leviathans, Octopi, and Serpents… sure there are some, but… I dunno. I’m not touching this with a ten foot tentacle. Looks like crap to me.

JAMES

Lorthos is what comes to mind first. lol. Looks good for casual, fun, theme based decks but otherwise it’s just too damn narrow.

Sejiri Merfolk
1U
Creature – Merfolk Soldier
2/1
As long as you control a Plains, Sejiri Merfolk has first strike and lifelink.
Rarity: Uncommon

Another Kird Ape wannabe. This guy’s a house. Two very relevant abilities in the color combination that’s the best natural fit for blue aggro. This will be a fine super-grizzly bear, even if he just swings once, then scares off smaller ground attackers.

JAMES

Pretty neat. The abilities aren’t something to scoff at because a W/U control deck has something that is cheap and can take out Bloodbraids, gain life and stick around. It’s really a question of what to pull out of the U/W deck over this…Because the lifegain and first-strike ablity is so relevant and helpful for the U/W control build, this guy will eat removal. It’s certainly worth toying with.

Selective Memory
3U
Sorcery
Search your library for any number of nonland cards and exile them.
Then shuffle your library.
Illus. Chippy
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #37/145

Very interesting rare here. Not playable in limited, but see Treasure Hunt below for some thoughts on what this thing can potentially do…

JAMES

[[[scrolls down to Treasure Hunt below…]]] Blah. Whatever. Maybe in 1.5/1 formats but I don’t see the point in exiling my own library. why not just NOT play this card AND whatever it is you don’t want in your deck. the concept of exiling my own library of cards I don’t want doesn’t make any sense to me. I look forward to reading the comment of someone who breaks this card and proves me wrong. I will happily say, “wow, I didn’t think of that. You rock.”

Spell Contortion
2U
Instant
Multikicker {1}{U}
Counter target spell unless its
controller pays {2}. Draw a card for
each time Spell Contortion was
kicked.
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #38/145

Seems utterly insane in constructed, and not terrible in limited. Usually in limited, you’ll counter something early and be happy. Occasionally you’ll go all constructed on us, and you’ll nab this late. Then you counter their play, whatever it is, and kick it into infinity and beyond! The fact that they can easily pay the 2 is not really germane here, as what you’re really after is drawing (N-3)/2 cards (round down) where N is your available mana. :-) That is going to be great in constructed, and not terrible in limited.

JAMES

Pretty neat. It’s a little more expensive than Cryptic Command and a bit more narrow but very late game you could draw two cards off this. Most of the time it will be an expensive Mana Leak though. Worth testing out but I don’t see control players running more than a couple to round out a counter suite.

Surrakar Banisher
4U
Creature – Surrakar
3/3
When Surrakar Banisher enters the battlefield, you may return target tapped creature to its owner’s hand.
Illus. Matt Cavotta
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #39/145

This kind of guy has traditionally been way better than it might seem at first. The tempo is really nice here, clearing one of their attackers and leaving behind a hill giant. Every once in a while you’ll want to return your own creature. Not a terribly high pick, but no slouch either… this is a fine addition to most decks with access to him.

JAMES

Interesting tempo card. He’s big enough that with the bounce he’s not HORRIBLE. I just would have loved to see this guy cost UUU or UU2 because then there’s at least the hope of having counter mana open. Otherwise you’re bouncing a big creature that’s just going to be there again when it’s time to attack, gaining you a whole lotta nuthin’.

Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1UU
Legendary Creature – Merfolk Rogue
2/2
Islandwalk
Whenever Thada Adel, Acquisitor deals combat damage to a player, search that player’s library for an artifact card and exile it. Then that player shuffles his or her library. Until end of turn, you may play that card.
Rarity: Rare

Every time you see a new Legendary creature, you should be thinking “would this be any good as an EDH general?” I know that’s the first though I always have. In this case, old Thada looks a bit weak. He’s very killable, has a questionable effect, though against 99% of all EDH players, you can at least play their Senseis Divining Top! I just don’t think he has enough of an effect to be worth the coveted general slot. ANYWAY, in limited, this is also usually a dud, but occasionally great. You have to just think of him as a gray ogre with islandwalk when deciding whether to play him. Sometimes that’s good enough. Rarely is it anything to get pumped about.

JAMES

I can see this getting some play in extended mirror matches for Fairies/Wizards that almost rely entirely on their ability to get Jitte down for their win. There are a TON of U-splashed decks also running Jitte that makes this card pretty interesting. It’s all about the islandwalk and that will ultimately determine how playable this is. Not the worst card on this U list.

Tideforce Elemental
2U
Creature – Elemental
2/1
{U}, {T}: You may tap or untap another target creature.
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may untap Tideforce Elemental.
Rarity: Uncommon

Very strong here. This can do a lot of tricky things, and because of the landfall effect, it does marginally more. This card is strong in limited. A wacky (read: cute and worthless) combo occurred to me, involving this card and two others from Worldwake, along with azorius chancery… the two cards are Amulet of Vigor (untaps permanents that EtB tapped under your control) and Ruin Ghost (creature with {W}, {T}: exile target land you control then return it to the battlefield under your control. All this does is let you loop picking up and dropping the chancery, with each iteration adding another “return a land you control to your hand” effect to the stack. Lame? Yes. Worthless? Yes. Funny? If you have a sense of humor like mine, then… kinda.
JAMES

Kinda cool. Super cheap. I like this for constructed because it will help with the turn-purchasing until the contorl player can setup a real win like Sphinx of Jwar Isle.

Treasure Hunt
1U
Sorcery
Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a nonland card, then put all cards revealed this way into your hand.
Illus. Daren Bader
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #42/145

Okay, this is a card I’m excited about for Legacy, and I don’t know exactly how it will pan out. There’s a popular deck known as 43Land.dec in Legacy which runs… 43 lands! The question, then, is how many non-lands in that deck can be replaced by this card, and if you do that, how many cards are you drawing on average? Another question I have relates to EDH. If you run this spell in EDH, where Muddle the Mixture and the like can find it for you, and you also run Selective Memory above, can this combo you out? I know that Lands End / Seismic Assault both come to mind here… can you combo? I think these have some potential. In limited, this is probably worth running 1-3 copies, since it will sometimes just cantrip, and sometimes run you through a land pocket into business, guaranteeing the next couple drops. I know I’ve been running 18 lands and up in ZZZ typically, because of landfall… this will be another synergy to play with high land counts. I love this card.

JAMES

This is a good draw spell. There will be times when this hits a pocket of lands and then your opponent is going to be a sad panda but mostly just hitting 1.5 cards on average is nice. I can also see this playing well with Ponder. Certainly a ‘see what you can do with this’ kinda card.

Twitch
2U
Instant
You may tap or untap target artifact, creature, or land.
Draw a card.
Rarity: Common

MEh… it cantrips and saves you from one attacker… not high on my list, really.

JAMES

Bummer. There’s just not much to this.

Vapor Snare
4U
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant creature
You control enchanted creature.
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Vapor Snare unless you return a land you control to its owner’s hand.
Rarity: Uncommon

I like this. Steals a creature and turns it into a pseudo Living Tsunami. Sounds good to me! Landfall makes this “downside” an upside.

JAMES

the mana cost makes this mid-to-late game and stealing a creature at that point is awesome-sauce. Especially if it’s something like that Baneslayer. There won’t be a lot of landfall that the U-based plaer is playing (that I can think of) so I dn’t see the potential for landfall being a bonus but it’s not that bad of a card. A blue player should be in control and be leveraging this card as a win condition. good for Block and Standard

Voyager Drake
3U
Creature – Drake
3/3
Multikicker {U}
Flying
When Voyager Drake enters the battlefield, up to X target creatures gain flying until end of turn, where X is the number of times Voyager Drake was kicked.
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #45/145

Man, oh man. They’re really pushing creatures these days, am I right? All by itself, this is a flying hill giant. Very strong. But then you get this gravy additional multikicker which might be relevant, but it doesn’t matter because you’re already playing a flying hill giant! I think it might be passe to compare everything to grizzly bears, gray ogres, and hill giants anymore… we’ll see. This IS uncommon, so it’s not necessarily the new hill giant. Man, this looks sweet.

Not so bad. I don’t think this will see constructed play but it certainly looks interesting for limited.

Wind Zendikon
U
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant land
Enchanted land is a 2/2 blue Elemental creature with flying. It’s still a land.
When enchanted land is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner’s hand.
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #46/145

I’m still unsure about these zendikons, but I like this flying one a lot. It only costs U, which is very cool. Time will tell. There just aren’t a lot of ways to get caught in a 241 with these guys because there aren’t a lot of instant speed land destruction spells, so you’ll almost always at least get your land back when your creature is killed. This should make these good enough. I’m willing to try them, and I want to try this flier version most.

JAMES

I really like this version of the cycle. It’s a cheap flier for a color that’s only going to be attacking some times anyway. The risk is someone trying to bolt the creature down. But that’s using removal on land that a person can just replay. We’re also looking at the blue version so you should have a counter available. (like Dispel, above). Neat.

Worldwake Set Review – White

Hello and welcome to another Power9Pro set review. It’s that Magical Christmas-morning-like time that happens quarterly for us Magic dorks of the world: Pre-release time. The set has just been completely spoiled, and if you’re anything like us, you’ve been chomping at the bit for the last two or three weeks, at least, Jonesing to play with these new babies.

My fellow teammate and Power9Pro founder James DiPadua is going to be the counterpoint to my points here, hopefully calling me out when I’m way off base (or misreading a card!), and pointing out anything I miss. As is our custom, I’m looking at these cards specifically from the standpoint of Limited except when otherwise noted. My second love is EDH, so you’ll see some comments with that format in mind as well, while James will cover the more constructed-tournament-oriented evaluation of these cards. We’re breaking the cards into color groups this time around, so without further ado, let’s dig in to White.

Just a disclaimer (from James): These reviews are obviously done without any play exposure. Also, at least so far as my reviews, I’m working through them color by color without first seeing what the ‘other colors’ have. Some of my comments need to be taken with that perspective. What we as a collective at Power 9 Pro will do is have a full review afer a week or so of acquainting ourselves better with the cards. So, these reviews are really meant as a “first impression and guide” for Prereleases and any Type2 events you have over the next few weeks.

Admonition Angel
3WWW
Creature – Angel
6/6
Flying
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may exile target nonland permanent other than Admonition Angel.
When Admonition Angel leaves the battlefield, return all cards exiled with it to the battlefield under their owners’ control.
Rarity: Mythic Rare
Set Number: #1/145

Okay, let’s start with a 6/6 Flying for 6 mana. This is already a huge bomb in limited, capable of winning the game on the back of evasion + huge stats. So we’re already dealing with a winner. Now consider the recurring landfall removal… this becomes huge. This spell will often be held until turn 7 so that you can drop the angel and immediately landfall to nuke something. However, unlike Roil Elemental, another 6-drop landfall guy, this creature has a 6 point backside, so it may hit the battlefield on turn 6 a lot more of the time than its predecessor, if you can consider the elemental such. Admonition Angel can also play some tricks with other creatures that YOU, the controller of Admonition Angel, control. If you have a Sphinx of Lost Truths on board, don’t forget that you can crack that fetchland in response to removal pointed at your Admonition Angel, triggering landfall, removing the sphinx, and getting you a free Ideas Unbound of sorts. This won’t happen often, but might be relevant somewhere, sometime. I give this a big thumbs up for the formats I’m concerned with, though I suspect James will say of this creature, as with many (any) new ones, “Baneslayer Angel casts a large shadow”… James?

JAMES

The mana cost is right; it’s not over-costed since it has flying and an exile ability…but it just doesn’t seem right to me. I really don’t like spending 6 mana on something that can be exiled itself…and after it is exiled (say ala Path to Exile) any of the cards I was able to remove with it come right back into, er, the battlefield.
Yeah…sorta lame. Neat from a flavor standpoint but certainly not Type 2

.

Apex Hawks
Cost: 2W
Type: Creature – Bird
Pow/Tgh: 2/2
Rules Text: Multikicker {1}{W} (You may pay an additional {1}{W} any number of times as you cast this spell.)
Flying
Apex Hawks enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each time it was kicked.
Rarity: Common

I find this interesting at common, as the “skies” player should have no problem virtually counting on getting one or more of these. They’re already a flying Gray Ogre, which would already be a premium. But the multikicker makes it more relevant late game. For a mere 7, you get a 4/4 flier: not amazing on its own, but this is the gravy dept. we’re talking about here. This is the bonus free boost to a flying 2/2 for 3 that you’d happily play already.

JAMES

Interesting but expensive if you want it to be anything bigger than a 2/2 with evasion. Kick it once and it’s already the same cost as a Baneslayer Angel. Meh.

Archon of Redemption
3WW
Creature – Archon
3/4
Flying
Whenver Archon Of Redemption or another creature with flying enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain life equal to that creature’s power.
Illus. Steve Belledin
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #3/145

Archon of Redemption fits the “hiding in Baneslayer’s shadow” bill even more than the angel above, since they share casting costs. However, this is still a fine bomby rare in limited. In the right kind of skies deck, this is both a hard-to-kill flier, and a stall card all in one. You’ll be able to sit back and gain life while you whittle away at your opponents in the air. Very strong here for limited.

JAMES

I certainly agree with Joe’s assessment that it’s going to be good in limited, especially since in mirror matches it can standup to-and kill-your oponent’s Sheppard of the Lost.
So far as constructed, I don’t see a deck that would pay the exact same converted mana cost as the Baneslayer and not play the Baneslayer. Maybe people who aren’t willing to/been-able-to drop the $200 needed to get a playset of BSA?

Battle Hurda
4W
Creature – Giant
3/3
First Strike
Rarity: Common

Hard to evaluate. He’s a turn slow and only blocks well to make up for it. Does he clog the board enough starting on turn 5? He does end up trumping other ostensibly cheaper Hill Giant type 4-drops. I’m not picking this high, but I look forward to seeing whether it turns out to be better than my first impression.

JAMES
This is the Shepard of the Lost’s retarded Giant Cousin…that’s not so Giant. Good at common in the sense that if you need a little something extra, fine. But for constructed play, there’s no place for a rather boring Hill Giant.

Fledgling Griffin
1W
Creature – Griffin
2/2
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Fledgling Griffin gains flying until end of turn.
Rarity: Common

Should be just fine, another mainstay of a UW flying aggro strategy. This will be a grizzly bear every once in a while, but will usually be, for all intents and purposes, flying to boot. This is the kind of creature that defines limited archetypes. Very solid.

JAME

Mike Flores has been discussing how to break down cards into their effectiveness on a “what you get for the casting cost.” On Twitter today, he asked me to find a case where someone would pay 2cc for a vanilla 2/2. I’m not sure if we can count this as a vanilla 2/2 since it can get the flying. I just wonder if this could be a candidate. But I’d hate to say something like that just because I’m looking for an example to show Flores.
Yeah…this is interesting but it’s uses outside of limited are fairly dubious. Maybe I’m just totally corrupted by really good 2 drops like Tarmogyof, Knight of the White Orchid, Ethersworn Canonist and Kor Skyfisher (to name only a few), that I can’t claim this will see play…

Guardian Zendikon
2W
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant land
Enchanted land is a 2/6 white Wall creature with defender. It’s still a land.
When enchanted land is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner’s hand.
Rarity: Common

This cycle will really test the common wisdom that auras are inherently weak due to exposing you to two-for-one (241) card disadvantage. If these become heavily played (their effects are all somewhat appealing, and the 241 is mitigated by the land-return policy), then keep your eyes peeled for LD spells, especially instant speed ones. Personally, the effect from these needs to be devastating to justify inclusion. I still think it’s enough of a tempo loss to enchant my land, then lose my creature and get my land back, to risk messing with these guys. A 2/6 defender isn’t arousing me much. As an aside, keep in mind lands with Enters the Battlefield (EtB) effects and/ or sacrificial effects. Dark Depths? Maybe if the right Aura is printed? Probably not, I’m just saying… think outside the box.

JAMES

What is nice about this card/cycle is that it acts as creature while allowing the caster to access the mana. I don’t think this is the one that will be seen in play but it is an half-okay fit for a control player. I don’t think this is “the one.”

Hada Freeblade
W
Creature – Human Soldier Ally
0/1
Whenever Hada Freeblade or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Hada Freeblade.
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #7/145

A 1-drop Ally. Definitely solid to any Ally archetype. Thank you, Dr. Obvious. I’m unsure what else to add here. Allies has always been about critical mass. I think this probably takes the place of a few Makindi Shieldmates and/or the like. Allies will likely remain a playable strategy, especially in times when you force it hard and early and end up one of, if not the, only player in that archetype.

JAMES

Kazandu Blademaster really needed an on-color ally one drop and this could be it but the pool of allies is pretty thin that I don’t see a creature like this making the Ally an archetype in Type2. Allies are pretty strong in drafts if you can pull them off and one thing I’ve noticed is that while Kazandu Blademaster is sweet it’s so conditional on getting more playable Allies. In the end we have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to pay 1cc for a 1/2. Probably not…so my verdict is “keep on looking.”

Iona’s Judgment
4W
Sorcery
Exile target creature or enchantment.
Illus. Mike Bierek
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #8/145

Very solid removal in a color usually lacking it. This will hit any creature, and doesn’t trigger graveyard effects. This will be a high pick despite its high cost, because randomly nuking Quests and such at the last moment will be clutch. Very strong here, IMO.

JAMES

For constructed I don’t see why a person wouldn’t just play Oblivion Ring for one less (yeah, yeah, drawback…but kinda only against Maelstrom Puls and the Jund player would rather use Maelstrom on something…well, better). Are enchantments such a big freaking deal? Not unless your playing against Fruity Loops (or whatever it’s called…the Pyromancers Asscension deck). If enchantments/planeswalkers aren’t your weakpoint, then I suggest Journey to Nowhere or the instant-speed Path to Exile. The bar is pretty high so far as removal in white for constructed play and this just isn’t it…not for 5cc! Play the BSA; that’s removal and lifegain all in one.

Join the Ranks
3W
Instant
Put two 1/1 white Soldier Ally creature tokens onto the battlefield.
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #9/145

Instant speed double-ally trigger. Just keep this card in mind as you play your first limited match against an allies player! In dedicated allies, this goes from “very solid” to “absolutely devastating”. This should usually be the equivalent of a Windborne Charge or a kicked Bold Defense in terms of “I win” potential. Outside its home archetype, this is still very good, posing as white-like removal, letting you surprise block to your advantage.

JAMES

I like the fact that it creates Ally tokens. When I frist read this card a week or so back I didn’t catch the Ally part. Pretty sweet for limited. Again, I’m not sure that an Ally deck is going to be a powerful enough archetype by itself. Jund is still putting up some massively good numbers and this little ally-token maker doesn’t make enough of them to offset the card advantage inherent from Bloodbraid Elf, Maelstrom Pulse, Sprouting Thrinax and Broodmate Dragon.

Kitesail Apprentice
W
Creature – Kor Soldier
1/1
As long as Kitesail Apprentice is equipped, it gets +1/+1 and has flying.
Illus. Austin Hsu
Rarity: Common
Set Number: #10/145

This is tricky to evaluate. With enough equipment, I might consider running this, as it instantly gets evasive and bigger. With an Explorers Scope or a Trusty Machete, for instance, I’m tempted by this guy. Otherwise, I’m hoping I don’t need to fill the early drop hole this bad…

JAMES

I’ve tried building a mono-white soliders deck with a lean toward Kor and a couple of pieces of equipment but was never able to figure out something that was very competitive. I’m not trying to imply that this will be the card that tips the scales but it’s certainly worth toying with if you’ve been playing a wheenie Kor deck (and getting smashed). There are some very decent equipment cards such as Adventuring Gear, Behemoth Sledge and maybe even Bone saw (hey, it’s SUPER cheap–and on a card like Kitsail it’s a rough beating).
–returning back to reality: I’ve always felt that Kor weren’t very good for even limited considering that it’s a new creature type for Zendikar so if i have a Trusty Machete or an Explorers Scope (or both) I could consider taking some Kor knowing that they’ll be lightly drafted. It’s worth testing…but don’t come crying to me if you get your ass whooped. I said that it can be super weak and worth trying out.

Kor Firewalker
WW
Creature – Kor Soldier
2/2
Protection from red
Whenever a player casts a red spell, you may gain 1 life.
Rarity: Uncommon

Wow, this looks like a constructed metagame hoser to me. Seems like a Dragons Claw stapled to a weird, slow poke Silver Knight. Since either of these are already played against certain red decks as sideboard options, we can safely conclude that this card has a similar fate. As for limited, there’s nothing wrong with a Grizzly Bear, and the extra rules text is gravy when it’s relevant. I like it.

JAMES

Pro-red has been really good over the last few years and i expect to see this making the cut. mono-White builds have been sadly underpowered and here we have a creature that can block Bloodbraids, Thrinaxes and Goblin Guides (oh, my!). It is ‘only’ a 2/2 for 2 (aheh, mike…) but I can see this being a great SB selection for that player looking to make a go @ mono-white weenies.

Lightkeeper of Emeria
3W
Creature – Angel
2/4
Multikicker {W}
Flying
When Lightkeeper of Emeria enters the battlefield you gain 2 life for each time it was kicked.
Rarity: Uncommon

Whoa mamma! Nice uncommon here. This is the kind of card that Multi-kick was made for, making what’s already quite relevant and good enough (a 2/4 flier for 4 is solid-to-fantastic in limited, traditionally) relevant when you draw it later and later into the game. In your opener, this is quite good provided you can make drops. Nothing wrong with playing this guy turn 4. But when you top deck this on turn 18, suddenly you’re gaining like 10 or more life. Seems like a bargain for an uncommon. Skies looks like a healthy archetype so far, and it was no slouch in ZZZ either.

JAMES

Interesting but I don’t see this being THAT great. It’s only 2 life and I have to pay a bunch for it. It comes down to this: would I like to kick this a couple of times (or even once if I’m sitting at 5 open lands) and gain 2 life each time OR leave mana open for other options (such as Path, Harms Way, etc)? I think I’d like to have mana available for other things.

THAT means I’m only looking at a 2/4 for 4…barf.

Loam Lion
W
Creature – Cat
1/1
Loam Lion gets +1/+2 as long as you control a Forest.
Rarity: Uncommon

Ah, the fabled “New Kird Ape” cycle. This one looks neat enough. I know a lot of old school Legacy types who will love to play a WG stompy with fetches into Savannah into this guy… but what’s crazy is that this kind of play is only about marginal for such a deck. This guy might have legs in standard too, given the presence of fetches there. I just think he’s pretty sad on turn 1 naked. In limited, it obviously hinges entirely on being on-color, but when he’s on color, he should be a very good foil to the typical ZZZ aggro deck, blocking crap like Vampire Lacerator all day. Also dodges Disfigure and un-kicked Burst Lightning. All ticks in the Pro column for Loam Lion.

JAMES

I’ve also experimented with G/W builds that weren’t quite strong enough and I’ll have to see about adding this in those builds. Having a ’3′ sized butt is nice. This is also worth considering for the Zoo decks that just haven’t been able to keep up with Jund builds…2/3 for 1 really isn’t that bad.

Marsh Threader
1W
Creature – Kor Scout
2/1
Swampwalk
Rarity: Common

If you think this is unplayable, I’ll refer you to Cliff Threader. This is the kind of guy, a 2/1 for 2, that is deceptive… these guys DEFINE limited in almost all limited formats. True story.

JAMES

Pretty nice for limited, sure, but not so great outside of that. The 2 power just isn’t enough to kill that much in this meta…

Marshal’s Anthem
2WW
Enchantment
Multikicker {1}{W}
Creatures you control get +1+1.
When Marshal’s Anthem enters the battlefield, return up to X target creature cards from your graveyard to the battlefield, where X is equal to the number of times Marshal’s Anthem was kicked.
Rarity: Rare

WHAAA? This is a crazy sick mashup of a card. It’s like Glorious Anthem slipped a Flibanserin into the drink of Resurrection, and nine months later, we get Marshal’s Anthem. This card gives me a bit of a res-erection. As a late game bomb, this thing will swing the game for you. It’s mana-into-card advantage. I don’t know what else to say. Compare with the card’s ancestry. Play this thing. Pray you started in W/x when you crack this pack 3. Etc.

JAMES

Hmmmm…it’s not Honor of the Pure which at WW (plus 2 more) is the best comparision (especially because the kick requires TONS of W) but the attrition rate of white decks makes this SORTA appealing. Just sorta. I’ll say this is’nt nearly good enough for constructed. It’s just way too freaking expensive to get anything out of it. (8 mana for two creatures AND +1/+1?? pssshhh, just play [card]Emeria, the Sky Ruin[card] if you need creatures from the graveyard and keep your mana for dropping [card]Captain of the Watch[card] + 1 for Path to Exile)

Perimeter Captain
W
Creature – Human Soldier
0/4
Defender
Whenever a creature you control with defender blocks, you may gain 2 life.
“We stand between the jaws of chaos and the mantle of order”
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #16/145

Again, they’re pushing lifegain in fun new ways. This guy actually fits the bill for the Skies archetype I’ve been obsessing about up until now: it comes down early, stalls the board, and when it finally dies, it usually bumps you up a couple life points, aiding the cause further. I think it’s a good fit for decks that want to stall and/or tie up the board on the ground.

JAMES

This is a good construction card. The weird defenders have been making a good impression on constructed for the last two…three blocks (from Plumveil to Wall of Reverence to Wall of Denial). This one is actually a little better since it has a big enough butt to matter AND buying more time against the aggro builds that U/W control struggles with. I’d definitly put this in my build. It’s also GREAT in limited, skies decks that leverage Kraken Hatchling to stall the ground but needed a little more to help with that…dang, I like this one.

Refraction Trap
3W
Instant – Trap
If an opponent cast a red instant or sorcery spell this turn, you may pay {W} rather than pay Refraction Trap’s mana cost.
Prevent the next 3 damage that a source of your choice would deal to you and/or permanents you control. Refraction Trap deals that much damage to target creature or player.
Rarity: Uncommon

Hmm… obvious constructed (and limited) sideboard options here. I’m not sure I play this main though in limited… however, Shieldmates Blessing got some well deserved play, and in the right deck was quite strong. Then again, that was essentially this card with the trap cost moved to the casting cost. So I dunno… I’m in the air here, but I think this stays in the board for me, and it picked not-too-high.

JAMES

Jesus. Move over Harms Way there’s a new sherif in town. If a player casts a red instant or sorcery? yeah, that NEVER happens…

Rest for the Weary
1W
Instant
You gain 4 life.
Landfall – If you had a land enter the battlefield under your control this turn, you gain 8 life instead.
Rarity: Common

Long time readers (and I know they are legion) will recall that I’m no fan of lifegain in and of itself. I don’t mind incidental or abusive-recursive lifegain, but a spell like this is a waste of a slot in my opinion, even at the ever lower mana costs and ever higher payoffs that are being pushed these days. That said, in the right context, these kinds of spells are great. If you’re just trying to buy time against weenie rush strategies, and your late game is solid, then this is just fine.

JAMES

freaking lame.

Ruin Ghost
1W
Creature – Spirit
1/1
{W}, {T}: Exile target land you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.
Flavor Text: “Haunting us, these different meanings and spectral beings. We’re fighting sleep with broken, rusted weaponry.”
Rarity: Uncommon
Set Number: #19/145

I like the landfall-as-an-instant mechanic here, which is the entire point of this spell. Should be good enough, and should be picked fairly high. Lots of skies decks will want this. Don’t forget that you can do seemingly innocuous crap like leave only white up, but then shennanigan an island out of and into play, and then use that U mana to counter, and other miscellany like that. This is a new skill testing tricky card that enables LOTS of shennanigans. I think it might be higher picked than some might think. He is a 1/1 though, and you have to have something relevant to do with him. Every draft will have someone who is pumped to have opened this, let’s put it that way.

JAMES

I don’t like spirits that can’t fly so I HATE this card. lol. jk. I think the ability is too slow. It’s just way, way too slow…and do you konw what it’s like to be way, way too slow? Well, I don’t know and you don’t want to. ;)

Stoneforge Mystic
1W
Creature – Kor Artificer
1/2
When Stoneforge Mystic enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an Equipment card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.
{1}{W}, {T}: You may put an Equipment card from your hand onto the battlefield.
Illus. Mike Bierek
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #20/145

Alright, our first EDH must-have! I think every EDH deck that has access to white will likely want this. It’s basically a second copy of Steelshapers Gift or another more narrow copy of Enlightened Tutor. Let’s face it, lots of decks just want to get Umezawas Jitte. These are all redundant copies. Everything aside from the EtB effect is windowdressing. The same kind of scenario plays out in limited. Did you nab a machete? Then he gets the nod.

JAMES

Hmmm, interesting. I also think this might be too slow. Most of the equipments that a Kor creature will want to fetch are cheap enough to cast. Plus, it excludes cards like Sigil of Distinction which is a pretty darn cool equipment…maybe getting Quitus Spike or Umezawas Jitte would be good? I don’t know…I don’t think this is worth playing.

Talus Paladin
3W
Creature – Human Knight Ally
2/3
Whenever Talus Paladin or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Allies you control gain lifelink until end of turn and you may put a +1/+1 counter on Talus Paladin.
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #21/145

Lifelink is huge, despite what I said about lifegain. Lifelink can be thought of as one step across the “is it recursive?” line for lifegain. Anyway, this will make some ally strategies bomb-tastic. However, you’ll have to open it yourself, as most people will take it if they’re on color and not in allies, because a 3/4 for 3W is good enough to hate the card away from anyone who happens to be in allies. I like him.

JAMES

Interesting. This makes me think that mono-W (or splash for something…but not sure WHAT) Allies might not be a complete waste of cardboard. The fact that they get the +1′s is what makes this appealing. It’s too bad it has to stick around long enough to attack…but I guess the Ally deck is going to have to be defensive to start with…maybe with Honor of the Pure? This is wroth toying around with in the lab…at least for five mintues.

Terra Eternal
2W
Enchantment
All lands are indestructible.
Rarity: Rare
Set Number: #22/145

There’s probably a cool combo with this, but I can’t think of it… maybe Legacy 43Land.dec will like this? This will be a recurring comment for me, lol. I know there’s at least one blue card for which the same thought occurred. Anyway, this is lots better when you have a man-land of some kind. Luckily there’s just such a cycle in this set…however, since both are rare, it’ll be… um… rare to see both in limited.

JAMES

I dunno…Legacy is beyond my meta knowledge. I see a LOT of strip mines played in vintage but I dont’ see the vintage players jumping out of their seats for something like this. Meh.

Veteran’s Reflexes
W
Instant
Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Untap that creature.
Rarity: Common

An awesome combat trick in a color whose removal usually comes in this form. This should be seen as a removal spell. Occasionally you’ll do that magical last point of damage to an unsuspecting opponent. I like it. This should enable many an ambush block.

JAMES

lol. COULD act as a piece of removal but it’s not the best removal in the world…at all. If it gave your creature first strike too, I’d be all about it…but it’s really just border line…

That does it for white. Please chime in down in the comments section to let us know where you agreed and, more likely, where you disagreed with our evaluations. Thanks, and we’ll see you again in the other posts.

Luis Scott-Vargas, Pro Tour Champion and Magic-Strategy Coach

Just this past week, we notified Power 9 Pro customers that we’re launching another series of MtG workshops led by Luis Scott-Vargas. We definitely wanted to keep our blog readers up to date too!

I’m especially excited to have Luis Scott-Vargas on as an instructor/coach with Power 9 Pro. It’s taken a lot of juggling of schedules but we finally figured out all the details just in time for an excellent finish to 2009.

If you don’t know Luis (often endearingly called LSV by the Magic community) from his win at Pro Tour Berlin or numerous top 8′s at multiple GPs and Pro Tour events, you may know him from his “Drafting with LSV” series on YouTube/Channel Fireball. Regardless of how you first heard about LSV, his record is extremely impressive.
His most notable finishes include:

  • 1st – Nationals 2007
  • 1st – GP San Francisco 2007
  • 3rd/4th – GP Philadelphia 2008
  • 1st – Pro Tour Berlin 2008
  • 1st – GP Atlanta 2008
  • 1st – GP Los Angeles 2009
  • 2nd – Pro Tour Kyoto 2009

LSV is a great new addition to the instructor base at Power 9 Pro, where he’ll be able to leverage years of article writing as well as his foray into online video. He’s written content for BlackBoarder and Channel Fireball, conducted interviews with WotC and much more. Power 9 Pro Online Workshops are the next step in LSV’s consistently giving nature that always results in a fostering of the Magic the Gathering community and player base.

There are numerous benefits to the online workshops for players, the most notable of which is summed up by “Learn from the best to be the best.” Truly top-level coaching is hard to come by and here’s your chance to dive deep into relevant discussions on Magic. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about what cards to include when evaluating your sideboard options–whether prep’ing for an FNM or Grand Prix Trial. LSV himself is excited to share his insights into drafting Zendikar. His perspectives from over 1200 matches (not counting MTGO!) will be leveraged for your benefit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. The last workshop of 2009 is a “Deck Doctor” format which means you can send in your deck for LSV to make a list of adjustments. See how he would adjust the card base for optimum results for your deck. Talk about an unique experience!

Here’s an example clip from our recent workshop series led by Ben Lundquist.

You can learn more about the workshops at power9pro.com/workshops or in another recent blog post.

Further information about Luis Scott-Vargas is located at wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Scott-Vargas. You can also read some of his latest articles at Channel Fireball where he also does a weekly video-cast called Magic TV. LSV has also written for notable Magic the Gathering strategy sites Black Boarder and Starcity Games, though his writing is exclusively available on Channel Fireball as of early 2009.

FYI, if you sign up for Power 9 Pro’s (very infrequent) newsletter, we’ll send you a mp3 clip with Ben Lundquist discussing the in’s-and-out’s of the Metagame. This single 2 min clip alone will help you make better choices when it comes to what decks to expect at the next tournament and how to track the best decks in a format. We’re happy to provide this as a small sample of what Power 9 Pro aims to accomplish with our workshops.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have workshop topic requests, thoughts or concerns, feel free to lets us know in the comments. I can also be followed on twitter where I post updates, commentary and discussions with fellow MtG players. :)

Zendikar Pre-release promos to include Planechase card

Today’s arcana revealed that the Zendikar pre-release promo will be rampaging baloths:

However, there’s another bonus promo, while supplies last, a planechase card from a new plane, “Luvion” with the location “Celestine Reef:”

This looks like an intriguing planechase look at island sanctuary.  Very interesting.

Wizards’ Zendikar preview article gives props to EDH

On the mothership, in his zendikar sneak preview article today, Kelly Digges reveals a new mythic rare legendary octopus creature called Lorthos, the Tidemaker.  Behold:

Before I even see the casting cost or textbox or typline or anything, the name of this guy makes me wonder whether the psychographic profile / player type “Vorthos” is the intended audience for this card, simply because the names are a single consonant apart.  This suspicion is bolstered in my mind by the fact that Digges then goes on to post an EDH deck as his example deck.  At first glance, EDH as a format does seem to me to be vorthos-esque, though perhaps this is a contentious claim?

This constitutes some major props for the format which seldom sees the light of main-page articles, much less the headliner.  Aside from this piss poor deck, searching EDH and/or “Elder Dragon Highlander” doesn’t turn up many recent results outside of the forums.

At any rate, what good is this creature?  Is he worth consideration as an EDH general?

Well, Vorthos comes to mind immediately as I glance at the 8cc and type line.  Octopus?  Really?  Have there been any other octopi in Magic, I wonder?  Just Giant Octopus, it turns out.  He’s also a non-evasive 8/8, which makes spike throw up in his mouth a little.  Okay, so let’s see if this ability can save him…

When he attacks you can pay 8 (!!!)… if you do, you tap eight permanents.  They essentially “sleep” for a turn. Again, this is all vorthos-central.  It’s crazy eights!  It’s Octo-card!  Eight cc, eight power, eight toughness, eight mana to activate, eight permanents get tapped.

So this lazy octopus requires a mana input for each tentacle it uses, and won’t budge any of them unless you jolt each and every one… it’s all or nothing.  Then he tentacle-slaps eight permanents?  Weak sauce.

By the time you cast this guy in EDH, you’re going to be in big trouble, and the payoff seems like a far cry from “I win.”  It seems to me that Digges deck would instantly become better, for example, if he ditched the octopus and went with kira great glass spinner, teferi mage of zhalfir, or arcanis the omnipotent as general, all of which are in his deck.

However, in the spirit of Vorthos, I think we can all agree that he does indeed have a certain flavor appeal.  He’s very similar to darksteel colossus in his whole numerological repetitiveness, with darksteel using 11 rather than 8.  This was the impetus for my very first joke magic card, btw:

dorksteel_colossus

Anyway, I’m glad to see wizards supporting EDH, as well as Vorthoses everywhere.  I wonder, though, how the EDH community takes the tacit association of their format with this particular player type.  I know about 15 EDH players, and of them all, there’s only one or two who come close to being a Vorthos.  Most are actually spikes who play EDH in their “down time.”  Holler in the comments section if you have an opinion about this crazy eights guy or the edh / vorthos connection.

M-10 Draft Wellington, NZ: Post-mortem: What I did right, What I did wrong

So the first thing you might be wondering (or at least what I wrestled with) is why write about a draft you didn’t enjoy or win at? I believe that ultimately, if my goal is really to improve my game, I need to post-mortem all of my drafts. Ask myself what worked and what didn’t work. I think I have been sort of ignoring this in my better drafts. I mean it’s there if you read between the lines (drafted bombs, made a good deck, mulled when appropriate) but I’m not really calling out what specifically. When I went 1-2 a few weeks ago,  I just wanted to go home and not think about the game at all, but now I’ve had some time to mull it over and my conclusion is that it’s worth dissecting where I messed up and get it out of the way – both so that I can avoid the same mistakes in the future and for the benefit of all of you. There’s so much more to be said than “blue sucks” (and experiences since that draft have revealed other ideas) – In any case  I think the statement deserves to be examined.

Pack 1 pick 1 – I opened and picked Planar Cleansing. – There were some other decent white cards in the pack I could have taken though that would mess with signaling. I wasn’t holding out hope that I could make a great white deck just from that – white is a heavily drafted color and the three white in the CC isn’t great, but I have hopes for the money value on the card and it IS a wrath.

Pack 1 pick 2 – Stampeding Rhino. Wasn’t a lot in the pack to take – some white guys but Rhino stood out – now I’m thinking I can go W/G. I note a phantom warrior in the pack which is pretty bomb – but I’m not confident enough to go W/U.

Pack 1 pick 3 – Mind Control

Here’s where it all goes wrong. From this I figure two guys to my right haven’t taken it so they are not in blue, even if they were rare drafting, and Mind Control is a pretty ridiculous bomb. So I settle into taking the best of blue (which isn’t much!) trying to get more green to supplement the rhino – in the mean time I’m seeing lots of red but I avoid it, I’m getting nothing in green so I figure I’ll cut off my guys on pack 2 (which works).

In Pack 2 and 3 I open Air Elemental and some other green bomb, but I have to take the Glacial Fortress in pack 1, and Sunpetal Grove in pack 2 over them. I also get passed Open the Vaults, which I take (maybe this was a bad call) and Underworld Dreams, but I’ve already sort of given up on my deck so I just raredraft it.

Here’s the deck, roughly.

What I think is wrong with the deck.

· Not enough creatures. 13 is much too low, and there’s virtually no curve. It’s a bunch of 1’s and 2’s and two 5ccs. I started with Sage Owls to get the count up and it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t start with Divination and so I trade out the Owls for that and Giant Growth.

· No removal – I have an ice cage and the very situational Essence Scatter, but that’s it.

· 2 Evasion oriented cards – Levitation is worth it if I get a big Howl, but otherwise most of my creatures won’t break a stall anyway. Levitation actually worked against me in one game. Whispersilk cloak seemed like a great pick early but I didn’t have anything to equip it to in any of my games.

Match 1 vs. Jonas with W/G/R

Jonas seems like he knows what he’s doing as he just won the last draft– he laments over his deck and I lament over mine. But which deck is worse? Read on to find out!

Game 1

Jonas drops a turn 1 mold adder. I have a fist full of blue cards. I try to dig for ice cage with double Sage owls but instead I see some lands and both Howls (of course not enough mana to cast it!) Mold Adder gets massive and quickly rolls over my weenies.

Game 2.

Jonas mulls down to four, but has quick land drops and drops a Giant Spider. I have a Rhino to roll past the spider. He drops some blockers for the rhino but I have a Levitation. He drops Armored Ascension on the Spider making it a 5/7, but I Ice Cage it. I drop more dudes for the win but he Windstorms my entire army! I still have a Howl of the wolfpack for 3 wolf tokens and swing for lethal. He attempts to block, but I remind him about my levitation.

Game 3.

I drop a turn one sprite, he drops a bear. I get out coral merfolk and go for the trade but he has a regeneration for his bear. It’s followed by a Giant Spider, I get down a Craw Wurm, and he drops a spider and a Rhino. Attacking into him will lose me a Wurm to the spider and so I trade my Wurm for his Rhino. I have a howl for two wolves, but he eventually takes me out with the spiders. Sprite had no chance.

Match 2 against John playing UW

John is a young pup and doesn’t seem very confident. He shuffles up his deck and starts drawing but I point out I never cut his deck, so we reshuffle and I give him a free mull.

Game 1

I drop a sprite, a Merfolk, sprite, and get him down to 12 before he drops an illusionary servant and siege mastodon . I cage the servant (it dies), and he drops the 1/3 flying vigilance griffin and I all have are my sprites to block, but he doesn’t attack with it. I keep building up bears – I figure if he attacks me on the board and has any tricks I’ll take the worse end of it, but he holds back. The siege even could have traded well but he doesn’t risk it. Our armies get bigger and bigger. I have an overrun in my hand but (again) no more than 2 forests to cast it. I finally get a levitation rendering all his ground dudes irrelevant, cast a 3 wolf Howl, and Overrun him to break the stall. At this point I don’t care if he has a safe passage, our board is too clogged up. He doesn’t have the passage and dies.

After this I point out to him that his griffin could have been dinging me the whole time, but he insists I had lethal damage in blockers. Considering I have two flyers in my deck that are 1/1, I doubt this. I guess he didn’t realize his Griffin had flying.

Game 2

I side in Unicorn since I expect another stall. He has ornithopther (?!?!) turn 1, and I get a phantom warrior out – he follows with an illusionary servant and 2/2 flying first strike griffon. I mind control the servant (dead), drop a ranger, and follow up with whispersilk cloak . I get a howl for 2 (this is getting depressing – really. It’s a 7cc card and EVERY TIME I have 2 forests? That’s not even the mana ratio of the deck!) . I follow with levitation for great justice, get in a swing, and he mises Divine Offering the next turn, which buys him some time… but I have enough dudes to outrace him.

Match 3 against Leon with G/R

Leon seems pretty cool, I hung with him and his friends the other night and he seems to know his way around the cards.

Game 1.

I drop deadly recluse and he drops piker. I drop merfolk, and essence scatter his Oryx (the 2/3 forestwalk is bad news for me) – He drops craw wurm and cudgel troll. Recluse drops the wurm, but Troll eventually gets in there and I get nothing but lands.

Game 2.

He has turn 1 elf, turn two 3/3 centaur, turn 3 Cudgel troll. He bolts a blocker and he’s definitely got me on the ropes. I draw into a wolf pack and hold off the troll, and he draws Oryx while I’m at 2 life. I have Overrrun but it’s not enough to alpha strike him, and I couldn’t cast it earlier because I’m on two !@#$% forests. I figure I’ve only got Mind Control or cage to deal with Oryx. I top deck Mind Control and take the oryx. He top decks Pyroclasm which owns everything on the table except his centaur and cudgel troll, and that’s game for me.

Match record: 1-2

Game Record 3-4

What went right:

* Rare drafting. – This seems obvious, but it’s also up to luck. I really can’t take any credit for opening money rares, but It’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t a total loss
* Green bombs. – Since I wasn’t getting any green in turn 1 after that early Rhino, I made it my goal to cut green off from my right hand guys. This was rather pyhrric but I did get the overrun and double howl, which either won me games or kept me from losing it too soon.
* Didn’t make any play mistakes. – Aside from the picks of deck and building the deck itself, I feel like I did really well in the play session – I stayed in a few games quite longer than I originally thought I would be able to.

What went wrong:

* Rare drafting – Of course, passing great playables for dual lands will do that for you some times. I really could have used that air elemental.
* Mind Control – To be honest, going into this draft I had a hankering to draft blue just to see how it played. So when I saw mind control I just bit hook line and sinker and was passing ridiculously good stuff in black and red and just wasn’t rewarded back. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good color – Actually the uncommon in blue are pretty good – it’s that the color isn’t “deep” – you can maybe have two blue drafters at a table compared to 3 or even 4 white or green players.
* Too few creatures overall – The problem with going blue/green is that you have no removal, which is really bad since there are so many silver bullets in the format. On top of which going main with blue, it’s creatures are neither very aggressive or defensive. Blue really works as a supplementary color that helps out other deep colors like White and Red, and I passed ridiculous red. Mind Control just made me blind to all signaling.
* Didn’t support my green bombs with the land they really needed to work. I played 8 forest since I had far more blue spells, and never had more than 3 on the board at any time (and that took divination or the ranger to pull off). I don’t know what the mana ratio would be to make this work – less blue may have hurt my deck.
* Started with the wrong cards – Sage Owls were awful. Divination was a killer role-player card that powered me into the lands I needed to cast my bombs. The first version of this deck had a singleton swamp and Rise From the Grave, but I quickly realized I had no way to get creatures into the graveyard so it was worthless. So I subbed a forest for the swamp. (see land problems above) Sprites were okay but they really didn’t go very far in many of my games.

$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.