We have a bunch of spoilers today. We’ll go in order by rarity. Since we have already discussed the Clan Banners, we’ll start with Efreet Weaponmaster.
This common creature from the Jeskai clan costs a whopping 6 mana to play (3URW) and is a 4/3 Efreet Monk with First Strike. Whenever he enters the battlefield or is turned face-up (as he is a Morph creature), another target creature you control gets +3/+0 until end of turn. The Morph cost is 2URW. At common, this isn’t a bad card, but that’s quite a mana investment for that sort of effect. It’s Limited playable only.
Bear’s Companion shows some promise. This uncommon Human Warrior from the Temur clan costs 2GUR for a 2/2 that brings a 4/4 green Bear creature token onto the battlefield with him. It may not seem like much, but that’s a really strong card in Limited. Two bodies, especially one which brings a 4/4 body with it, is always better than one. It’s hard to say how Standard-playable this is, being a 5-drop, but it’s a fun card to look at and consider what may be done with it.
Witness of the Ages is one of those Golems that tend to show up in these sets for Limited purposes at Uncommon. Its Morph cost of 5 is not unreasonable for a 4/4. Its casting cost of 6 means that it will probably be played more often as a Morph creature for the surprise factor.
The only way this might be playable outside of Limited is alongside Chief Engineer from Magic 2015, which would give it Convoke, allowing you to tap your creatures to help cast it. However, there are far superior 6-drop artifacts to this.
Now onto the rares…
Besides the obvious question of why someone who train to become a Master of Pearls, this 2/2 bear for 1W that has a Morph cost of 3WW is a bit underwhelming. Yes, when he’s turned face-up, you get a Sanctified Charge effect – creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn. Yes, that also makes him a 4/4 until end of turn. This is a very good effect – in Limited. Outside of Limited, the Master of Pearls is just not really going to do very much. For a 3WW mana investment, you’re better off flashing in Dictate of Heliod for a permanent +2/+2 boost for all of your creatures.
Butcher of the Horde is interesting – a 5/4 Flying Demon for 1RWB. This Mardu creature has no drawbacks – which is good – but it does have an interesting ability. You can sacrifice another creature and the Butcher can gain your choice of vigilance, lifelink, or haste until end of turn. This should be a Limited bomb and depending on how expendable your creatures are in a given situation, the sacrifice ability could prove to be relevant. It looks quite Standard playable.
Kheru Lich Lord is a Zombie Wizard from the Sultai Clan. He costs 3BGU to cast for a 4/4. His effect reads:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay 2B. If you do, return a creature card at random from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains flying, trample, and haste. Exile that card at the beginning of your next end step. If it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else.
This is a rather nifty Reanimation effect. There are some obvious drawbacks, however. The creature card is at random and the effect can only be used during your upkeep. On the flip side, that creature gains flying, trample and haste. It then gets exiled at the end of the turn – or if it would be otherwise removed from the battlefield – much like the Unearth mechanic. Right now, Whip of Erebos does this job pretty well, as you get to select the creature while also giving all of your creatures lifelink. Giving the creature flying and trample on top of the haste given by Unearth is definitely a nice bonus, however. Sultai should have a lot of control over its graveyard, so the random element may not be all that bad.
At the very least, it will find a home in some Commander Reanimator decks such as The Mimeoplasm. But it may see Standard play eventually, as well.
The Butcher is probably the only card here I’m super excited about, although the Lich Lord has some potential. The rest are basically Limited-only cards.
– Elspeth for the Win