While not nearly as exciting as some of the recent spoilers, we do have some new cards, some of which may have interesting Limited connotations.
Kapsho Kitefins is an interesting uncommon from Magic 2015. It’s a 3/3 flyer for 4UU, which sounds a bit over-costed until you read its effect. Whenever it or another creature enters the battlefield under your control, tap target creature an opponent controls. There’s already been a suggestion to play this card alongside Master of Waves in mono-Blue devotion, but I think 6 mana for a 3/3 flyer is a bit fragile, even with the potential power of that effect. Tapping down creatures is nice, but it’s not as good as bouncing them. Scourge of Fleets from Journey Into Nyx is 7 mana, and actually bounces opponents’ creatures equal to your devotion to Blue.
However, Kitefins could be pretty good in Commander, where tapping down creatures in this way could be better taken advantage of, especially in a multi-player setting. Derevi, Empyrial Tactician lists could find a home for this card. There are aggressive Grixis lists like Marchesa of the Black Rose and Thraximundar that could use this to help clear a path to victory. Bant tempo decks will be able to tap down any creatures in the way of their armies’ assault.
It’s also going to be an interesting card in Limited. It just doesn’t do enough on its own for 6 mana to warrant being viable in a Constructed deck, honestly.
Research Assistant is a much worse version of Merfolk Looter. The original Merfolk Looter was a 1/1 that had the same ability to draw a card, then discard a card, but without the added mana cost, only a tap. The only improvement here is that the Assistant is a 1/3. It’s also a Wizard, meaning Azami Commander decks could potentially use it. I don’t think that R&D had Azami in mind when they created this card, though. They must have had their reasons for not simply reprinting Merfolk Looter. A disappointment here. Seriously, 4 mana for a loot effect?
Wizards just wants Mono-Black to be the best deck ever, apparently. Festergloom is basically a common version of Drown in Sorrow. It’s considerably worse, of course, but it only hits non-black creatures for -1/-1 until end of turn. Were it instant speed it would be a lot more useful, as it could be a combat trick. But at sorcery speed, it’s probably not going to see any play outside of Limited, or perhaps sideboards to help deal with Master of Waves Elemental tokens.
I don’t know why they didn’t just make this the black version of Holy Light, a common INSTANT from The Dark that did the same thing for non-white creatures. I guess they felt that may have been too good.
I’m jumping for joy that Striped Bears from Weatherlight has been transformed into an Elf Shaman. Seriously, Shaman of Spring is literally Striped Bears as an Elf – same effect and same mana cost. I do like the artwork, however, and it is an elf, which counts for something at least. Of course, you could have just reprinted Elvish Visionary, the 1/1 for 1G that draws you a card when it enters. It may see Limited play, of course, and perhaps some Pauper Commander play, but it’s pretty underwhelming outside of that; again, the artwork is pretty.
Wizards seems to be continuing their trend of creating functionally worse versions of cards that they could have just as easily reprinted. While the art and flavor of Nimbus of the Isles is cool, it’s just a vanilla 3/3 flyer for 4U. You could have reprinted Chasm Drake from Magic 2012, which is the same thing but gives one of your creatures flying until end of turn when it enters. Or you could have reprinted Faerie Invaders from Magic 2013, which is this card plus Flash. I guess they have to lower the power level of the set somewhere, but why in such an obviously dumb way?
Being a huge fan of Krenko, Mob Boss (and he may be reprinted or get a new version in Magic 2015 – that hasn’t been confirmed yet), I’m glad to see Krenko’s Enforcer. He’s a 2/2 Goblin Warrior with Intimidate. As awesome as it is that he can only be blocked by Red or Artifact creatures, and that he’s a Goblin, he is in fact yet again a functionally worse version of a couple of cards that already exist. Blind Zealot from New Phyrexia was a black common with Intimidate, but it had an additional effect of being able to sacrifice it whenever it dealt combat damage to destroy a target creature. Spectral Rider was a White Uncommon from Innistrad and although it was a vanilla Intimidate creature, it also cost one mana less.
My only reasoning for making Krenko’s Emissary 1RR with no additional effect is that he’s a Goblin that can get a lot bigger with Goblin Lords in other formats. He’s also a nice inclusion in many Goblin Commander and Pauper lists. He’s a good Limited card in any case, but this trend of reprinting functionally worse versions of existing cards and at times color-shifting them is kind of annoying. But he is better than Bladetusk Boar; I will give him that.
Here we have another functionally worse version… oh, seriously I feel like a broken record. It’s basically a more expensive version of Griptide and Grasp of Phantoms, both of which put a target creature on top of its owner’s library. Griptide was an Instant, though, and Grasp of Phantoms was a Sorcery, but both were 3U and very playable in Limited. Chronostutter does put the target creature second from the top, which is the reason for the two more mana. But guess what? There’s another card that already did that in Magic, Oust in White, which does the same thing for ONE White mana at Sorcery speed, but its controller gains 3 life. Blue is the color of bounce for God’s sake. Why not just make this 3U as an instant in Blue and just make it an upgraded Griptide and put it at uncommon?
And it might be playable in Commander. In Pauper Commander, that is.
Wait, Borderland Marauder is a functionally better version of a card that already existed! Rogue Kavu was a 1/1 for 1U that had the same effect as this creature: whenever it attacks, its gets +2/+0 until end of turn. It’s no Goblin Piledriver, obviously, but it’s essentially a 3/2 for 2 mana, which at common is perfectly good in Limited. This one gets a thumbs-up for a good aggressive early drop.
Overall, these spoilers are a bit disappointing for M15 Limited fans. There’s only one common that’s functionally better than a card that could have just as easily been reprinted (Borderland Marauder) and an uncommon that could serve a purpose somewhere somehow outside of Limited. Color me unimpressed with these cards.
– Elspeth for the Win