Category: Card Discussion


The Khans of Tarkir Game Day promos have been revealed. Everyone will be getting a full-art Heir of the Wilds for participating and an Utter End for placing within the Top 8. Both are very solid cards to have, especially the foil Utter End!

Heir-of-the-Wilds-Promo-Khans-of-Tarkir-Spoiler

I do prefer the full-art artwork on Heir of the Wilds. A 2/2 for 1G with Deathtouch is very solid and its Ferocious ability giving it +1/+1 until end of turn when it attacks makes it fairly playable. Alongside War-Name Aspirant, Standard aggro decks have a couple of good cards to fill the holes that will be left with Return to Ravnica block’s rotation.

Utter-End-Promo-Khans-of-Tarkir-Visual-Spoiler

Obviously, people are always playing for the Top 8 Promo, and this time it’s Utter End. Not only is it a Standard and Modern-playable card, but you can bet it’s going to be very valuable due to the fact that it’s going to be premium removal in Commander. No one likes to “pimp out” decks like Commander players do, and a full art version of a card that should become a White/Black staple in the format should be highly sought after. It’s perhaps one of the best Top 8 Game Day promos in a long while.

I highly doubt that I will be playing Standard for this event, but if you do have a Standard deck, I highly recommend going just to get these two cards.

– Elspeth for the Win

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avalanchetuskeravalanchetusker1

With the reveal of the Intro Pack rares, a couple of the cards previously spoiled as mock-ups actually turned out to be slightly different cards. One of them became considerably worse, but one did become a lot better.

Unlike the change to Ankle Shanker, this is a good one. Avalanche Tusker actually got a +2/+0 buff, and some flavor text!

“Hold the high ground, then bring it to your enemy.”
– Surrak, khan of the Temur

Not a huge change, but the +2/+0 power is definitely very relevant.

Until next time,

-SolemnParty

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Changes on Ankle Shanker?

ankleshanker1ankleshanker4

The Mockup on the left is the one I used during my review of the card, while the one on the right is the official version. The big problem is there was a difference with the power and toughness.

Honestly, this changes my opinion on the card. While 3/3 is still on the small side for 2RWB, 2/2 is even worse. While it does still have first strike and deathtouch when swinging, it can’t even block a morph creature without dying.

It’s not a huge thing, but I at least wanted to bring up that there was a difference between what I reviewed and what the actually card is.

Until next time.

-SolemnParty

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The Impact of Fetchlands on the Modern Format – MTG

By now you’ve heard the big news. Fetchlands are being reprinted in Khans of Tarkir. These are reprints from the allied-color fetch-lands from Onslaught: Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills.

The reason these reprints are such a big deal is, not only will Standard have fetch-lands again, but this is going to put fetch-lands in a lot of hands that didn’t have them before. Fetch-lands are extremely useful in Commander, the ever-growing casual format. The bigger news, however, is that the Modern format now has changed forever, no longer having to rely on the 5 Zendikar enemy-colored fetchlands: Arid Mesa, Marsh Flats, Misty Rainforest, Scalding Tarn, and Verdant Catacombs.

At first, you may be thinking, wow, this means that shards like Esper (White/Black/Blue), Grixis (Blue/Black/Red), and Jund (Black/Red/Green) get their allied colored fetches! Doesn’t that make everything better for them?

Technically, not really. There are, of course, 10 “shock” lands from the original Ravnica block & Return to Ravnica/Gatecrash. Even “off-color” fetchlands can get whatever shock lands you need from the deck. What can change is that you can simply play more fetchlands in the deck, shrinking your mana base even more. Also, because not as many decks will rely on the same 5 fetches anymore, the prices of the Zendikar fetches will even out a bit, making Modern mana bases a bit more reasonable to acquire. The cost on Legacy and Commander players will drop, as well, as fetches are extremely good in those formats, as well.

What this really changes, besides the overall price of mana bases, is that you can now play more basic lands in Modern. In two color decks, especially, there will be some difference. In Azorius Control (White/Blue) you will not have to depend on your Hallowed Fountains, Glacial Fortresses, and Celestial Colonnades quite as much. You’ll have Flooded Strands to grab your few Islands and Plains as well as the Hallowed Fountains, without having to worry about stuffing off-color fetchlands into the mana-base. It’s the same with Red/Green, Blue/Black, Green/White, and Red/Black. Suddenly those mana bases are just a bit more consistent without the need for expensive “filter” lands from Shadowmoor and Eventide.

As for the three-color decks, however, there are definitely going to be some mana base shifts. Let’s go over each of the color combinations, and how dramatically each will be  affected… some of them won’t be as much as you’d think.

floodedstrand1

“AMERICA” or U/W/R Control only gets Flooded Strand as the one allied fetch that it was missing. It plays full sets of Scalding Tarn and Arid Mesa already, so it’s hard to say if it really needs the Strands. I can see a couple copies working their way in.

flooded-strandwindswept-heath

BANT (White/Blue/Green) is perhaps my favorite three-color combination in Magic. Elspeth Tirel‘s great legacy on that Shard of Alara probably is the main reason for that, but I just love the combination of cards that it gives you: a perfect blend of aggressiveness, control, and tempo. Getting two on-color fetchlands makes me very happy because it allows for a bit more creativity when dealing with cards with UU, GG, or WW costs. I mean, you run Cryptic Command in Bant most of the time and a lot of times you won’t have the UUU to cast it.

Having these two fetchlands available makes your fixing a tad better. Running Arid Mesa and Scalding Tarn in Bant never felt right. However, in this case, I feel it’s more aesthetically pleasing to run these fetch-lands instead of the enemy colors. I think more people will play Bant due to this fact, as well. Your mana base is going to flow much more smoothly, and I’m all for that.

polluted-delta

“BUG” or Black/Blue/Green is a popular color combination for Infect decks in Modern, allowing you to play all of the best Infect creatures in one deck. Does Polluted Delta help the deck that much, and help push it more towards top-tier Viability? It’s hard to say. It does make dropping your Phyrexian Crusaders in an otherwise Green-heavy deck a bit easier. This one is a wait and see.

floodedstrand1polluted-delta

ESPER or White/Black/Blue is definitely getting a boost. It gets both Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta. While “filter” lands could certainly make the mana base fairly consistent, you have to draw them, and fetchlands help you to get the answer you need right away. Marsh Flats, while it can get any of the decks shock lands, isn’t enough to make the deck stand alone. It needs the blue/white and blue/black options working in tandem with the white/black.

I see this archetype benefiting a lot, perhaps even more than Bant will. It makes what you can play a lot more diverse, and Esper is such a strong color combo that just isn’t well-represented in Modern without these two beauties to prop it up. While we won’t get Legacy Esper Stoneblade in Modern, we might at least see a popular combo get some more play due to its mana base now being so much less restrictive.

bloodstained-mirepolluteddelta1

GRIXIS (Blue/Black/Red) needs more mana fixing that many of the other three-color combinations, especially as one of its key win conditions is being able to cast Cruel Ultimatum or Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker on a regular basis. As the deck tends to have a lot of double mana requirements (BB) or (UU) in its card’s casting costs, having a full array of fetchlands at its disposal truly helps. A couple Polluted Deltas or Bloodstained Mires could go a long way towards making Grixis Control, once a very popular deck in Standard, a much more consistent archetype in Modern.

bloodstained-mirewooded foothills

JUND (Black/Red/Green) gets two new friends in Modern: Bloodstained Mire and Wooded Foothills. Interestingly enough, Jund only really plays Marsh Flats and Verdant Catacombs anymore for fetchlands, using Blackcleave Cliffs for the Black/Red mana and fixing for green with Treetop Villages and the occasional Twilight Mire for Black/Green fixing. It will be interesting to see how having the Red/Black and Red/Green fetchlands affect the mana base. There are a lot of ways this could go.

windswept-heath

JUNK (White/Black/Green) is a growing archetype in the Modern Format. It’s doing just fine with Verdant Catacombs and Marsh Flats being on-color with the deck already, and the only real White card in the main-board is Lingering Souls, which has a Black Flashback cost. Windswept Heath is nice to have though, and could find a copy or two slipping its way into the mana base somewhere.

windsweptheath1wooded foothills

NAYA (White/Red/Green) is best known for Zoo. They’ve only really had Arid Mesa, though. They’ve also run a full play-set of Verdant Catacombs and 2 Marsh Flats, which isn’t quite optimal. The main thing about Zoo is that the deck used to be about playing cards like Loam Lion which becomes stronger with a certain land type being on the board. The deck currently plays just Wild Nacatl and Flinthoof Boar, but now being able to run more fetchlands in a deck which has a mana curve topping out at 3 mana, you may be able to add Loam Lion back into the mix.

Also, having more fetchlands means that the Knight of the Reliquaries in the deck become that much more powerful. It’s a deck that is definitely going to be improved by having more fetches.

bloodstained-mire

While Red/White/Black (RWB) is not really a popular archetype in Modern, it was missing Bloodstained Mire. As the Black component of the deck is probably the most important, having a full play-set of Bloodstained Mires could really help that deck find some consistency. Arid Mesa and Marsh Flats are good, but the second Black fetchland could help a lot. As it stands right now, there aren’t really any highly competitive RWB lists, so it’s hard to say what the impact may be yet.

wooded foothills

RUG (Red/Blue/Green) is a popular color combination for Ramp decks, as well as the dreaded Tarmo-Twin or RUG Twin lists. But while those decks do extremely well in Legacy, the deck hasn’t fared quite as well in Modern. Wooded Foothills joining its Zendikar brothers Misty Rainforest and Scalding Tarn might help balance out the mana base to make it more Modern-friendly. This is something I’m very happy to see, especially if the RUG clan in Khans of Tarkir provides some support for those decks in Modern borders. Definitely a benefit here to RUG.

People are super excited that they don’t have to rely on the Zendikar fetchlands completely anymore, and they should be. It will definitely change the meta-game more now, but I feel it’s more because of the fact that mana-bases will now be more affordable. Yes, it will affect deck-building, most certainly, but more for the two-color combinations and only a handful of the three-color ones. What it does do is allow players to build more creative mana curves as the fixing will be a bit more specific and if decks can play more basic lands to counteract decks that play Blood Moon, I’m all for that. Shock-lands have never thrilled me. I always preferred buddy lands myself, and obviously the Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised duals in Legacy/Vintage and Commander are the best there is.

It’s going to be fun seeing these fetchlands seeing Modern play, and especially Standard play. Also, it will be easier for Commander players on a budget to acquire them for essentially shortening their 99. I hope that the mere new affordability of the reprinted fetchlands grows the Modern format. It needs to grow, because it’s been getting a bit stale.

Also, I realize there is the question about how archetypes that don’t rely on fetchlands like R/G Tron will be affected. That question and many more will be answered on future Modern Mondays.

Until next week,

– Elspeth for the Win

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Reddit’s Opinion – Teferi, Temporal Archmage

As always, I have to thank reddit for their participation with this article – I couldn’t do it without you. You can find the original posts here:

/r/magictcg

/r/edh

And now, on with the article!

teferitemporalarchmage

For the last week, I’ve been in North Conway, New Hampshire, camping. But I literally had 2 separate people call me and a buttload of texts about this card being spoiled – less because he’s cool, and more so because he makes everyone that looks at him double-take. Namely, the little, loyalty-less ability at the bottom of his 4 ability text box.

Teferi, Temporal Archmage can be your commander.

Wait, what? But, this is the planeswalker!

Well, Mark Rosewater confirmed that the next cycle of Commander decks will be mono-colored decks led by a pre-mending walker. Flavorfully, it actually makes sense. Before the mending, these planeswalkers were practically Gods – these are special – they can be a commander because they’re just that legendary. Of course, at the moment we have no idea what the other 4 will be as of the time of writing – I’ll talk about each of them as they’re announced.

So I decided when I got back from camping that I would immediately start off my week by getting Reddit’s Opinion of this interesting card. And what is the general consensus?

Well, as one redditor said:

Meh.

– /u/inanimateblob

And I honestly have to agree. On the surface, he doesn’t do much.

At 4UU, that’s already rather high for a planeswalker, especially ff he’s going to have a Commander tax on him. Another redditor stated this:

Used as a Commander, that 6 CMC is really gross considering he doesn’t come with any built-in defense. The Teferi pilot is going to have to work hard to be able to guarantee more than one use per casting, since it’s highly likely things able to collectively knock him back to the command zone will be on the table by the time he comes out. And then what does the Teferi player get for the trouble? Another four untaps, or some very mild card selection. Neither are al lthat amzing on their own; the Teferi pilot will also need to work to make either one worth it. Not unless there’s a stategy in the deck to allow the ultimate to be fired will it feel like he’s got enough value, I think.

– /u/Kaiserwolf

5 starting loyalty is pretty solid, though. He has a +1, a -1, and a -10. +1 is a little low for a planeswalker without protection, but -1 isn’t bad, as even after a hit or two, if he’s still on board he’ll have the opportunity to either use his +1 or his -1. -10 is very, very high for a loyalty ability, but with 5 starting loyalty, that’s automatically reachable with Doubling Season.

So, what does he do?

Well, one redditor summed him up fantastically:

He’s very good in EDH.

+1 is a mini-Impulse at sorcery speed. Ticking up to draw a card with a little extra is great.

-1 is fantastic. At worth, this is a mana accelerator in a color that isn’t the best at it. At best, you’re abusing far more powerful permanents. The low cost for this is great.

-10 is a steep price for an ultimate. You can activate walkers each person’s turn at instant speed. That’s good, but not game-winning by itself. In fact, it’s pretty weak unless you have multiple walkers out. Notably immediately activated if you have Doubling Season out.

All in all, one of the most powerful blue planeswalkers in Commander, highly playable. Not an instant staple, not inherently broken, just good.

– /u/SpiketailDrake

So let’s talk about his abilities, shall we?

+1: Look at the top two cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the other on the bottom of your library.

His +1 is pretty basic. Sleight of Hand is a good card, and it’s a great way to tick up a planewalker’s loyalty. There isn’t too much to say about his +1 – it’s solid card filtering that people wish was on Jace, the Living Guildpact
. Let’s move on.

-1: Untap up to 4 target permanents.

This is a ridiculously powerful ability, especially in conjunction with the new Chain Veil.

thechainveil

He lets you use the veil repeatedly if you’re also untapping things like Mana Vault and Grim Monolith. While this card is better known with Nissa, WorldwakerRal Zarek + The Chain Veil
+ 4 Forests for infinite planewalker abilities, Teferi, Temporal ArchmageMana Vault + Grim Monolith + The Chain Veil plus something else to untap gives you a decent number of activations on all of the planeswalkers you control, and a solid amount of colorless mana from the other 2 mana you would get from Mana Vault and Grim Monolith after sinking 4 of it into the Veil. At worst, though, he turns himself into a 2 drop planeswalker by untapping 4 of the 6 lands you used to play. Ignoring the combo possibilities, his ability to untap 4 permanents is just really solid in just about any deck.

-10: You get an emblem with “You may activate loyalty abilities of planeswalkers you control on any player’s turn any time you could cast an instant.”

This is a pretty impressive ability in Multiplayer, and is still pretty solid 1v1. Now, before I go any further, Matt Tabak (Magic the Gathering Rule’s Manager) has confirmed that this means you can use one every single turn – between all players. Meaning, if Teferi is still on board after, he can -10, and then +1 each of your opponent’s turns, for example. Of course, this -10 loyalty is namely important because of Doubling Season, and his starting loyalty of 5. He can immediately ultimate, giving all of your planeswalkers this ability.

So on to the last ability:

Teferi, Temporal Archmage can be your commander.

This is where all of his contraversy lies – why is Wizards letting us play these planeswalkers as our commanders? People are genuinely split on this matter.

There are small complaints, like the location of the ability box.

I don’t like the commander ability is on the bottom instead of the top. I think it makes the card visually unbalance.

– /u/scook0

This is one I actually agree with. They put Garruk Relentless‘s ability to flip to Garruk, Veil Cursed in the right place, and that was in Innistrad!

garrukrelentless

 

It isn’t a huge deal, but it that looks better than Teferi. Moving on, though.

One redditor says that he really, really doesn’t like that they’re printing Planeswalkers like this.

I may be in the minority here but I really dislike it when Wizards makes cards that directly or indirectly reference a specific format. Just like with Conspiracy, I feel like it breaks the fourth wall and makes it so certain cards are unplayable in the formats that they are legal in (besides the specific format they were created for e.g. Command Tower). I have no problem with Wizards printing format based supplemental products with cards that are designed to play better in a certain format, but when you get to the point where you have an entire new card type that only works in on format (conspiracy) or a planeswalker that directly references a format, I feel like that goes against the spirit of the game. I realize this wasn’t exactly what you were asking so I apologize for the aside but I felt like this was a good place to voice that opinion.

-/u/MyFabulousUsername

It’s an opinion I personally respect – when card games refer to their own formats makes me cringe a little bit. When the Conspiracy cards were spoiled, for example, I was unhappy that they’d eat up slots in my packs. Luckily, they made those cards their own slot in the pack instead of replacing, but any time they print cards I won’t want to play or can’t play in any format makes me a little annoyed.

The other argument is that he just isn’t really a great Commander.

Put him in Superfriends, but he’s awful as a Commander. He’s a really cool idea – not only because of the commander aspect but because he don’t have planeswalkers that interact with other planeswalkers in positive ways – but Arcum Dagsson, Vendilion Clique, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, etc aren’t exactly in danger of losing their thrones as the best Mono-Blue commanders and the reason is precisely because they chose to make Teferi mono-blue instead of UW or something.

Your choice of planeswalkers for a deck headed by him includes Jace the Mind Sculptor, the rest of the Jaces, Tezzeret the Seeker, and Tamiyo. None of them can protect themselves, they all belong in different types of decks, and it’s not like mono-blue has the undercosted creatures to protect multiple planeswalkers. Also the only one that can actually serve as a win-con is the most hated card in Magic.Beyond his interaction with planeswalkers there’s really no reason to use him over the completely busted options Mono-blue currently has access to, thus the resounding “meh” that he’s being greeted with.

-/u/Malaveylo

/u/Malaveylo makes the best point here – mono-blue superfriends isn’t really a thing. The upside is you also have access to Karn Liberted, which he failed to mention, but that’s it. As a Commander, his ultimate just doesn’t have enough of an impact to be relevant in mono-blue.

Another redditor points out that his color is a severe downside.

Main drawback of him as commander is losing access to non-blue walkers. His ultimate really wants a wide variety of dudes to run on and just him, Jace, and Tamiyo aren’t really making the best use of it.

– /u/Darklordofbunnies

While there’s also the one Tezzeret, this is still pretty much the nail in Teferi’s commanding coffin. He just doesn’t have enough back up. If these decks produce even more walkers, perhaps – but unless we have more relevant mono-blue planeswalkers, it’s likely he won’t see much play as a commander.

What I’ve gathered from this is that Teferi, Temporal Archmage is an awesome planeswalker, but he is not Commander material. He’ll see tons of play in the format, but he won’t be getting Commandered very often. He’s mostly just a really strong Superfriends card, and will see a lot of play in that. In fact, you can already see me talking about him in another article I did on Angus Mackenzie superfriends. His -1 is also just a pretty solid ability, and will see play in some blue decks.

As far as Commanders, hopefully our other 4 will be stronger, and I’ll cover them as they’re released.

Until next time,

-SolemnParty

 

From the Vault (FTV) Annihilation – Rolling Earthquake

Some time ago, Win Target Game posted an article about a possible FTV: Annihilation spoiler. While that list was later confirmed to be fake, it has been confirmed that four of the cards from that list have in fact been confirmed for this From the Vault series. Those four cards are Armageddon, Cataclysm, Living Death, and Rolling Earthquake. All are excellent cards, but easily the most valuable of these is Rolling Earthquake.

Rolling-Earthquake-FtV-Annihilation-Visual-Spoiler

Rolling Earthquake is an extremely rare card – so rare in fact that many websites don’t even list it. It was originally printed in Portal Three Kingdoms, one of the rarest sets around. It was a set based around a mechanic called horsemanship. Essentially, creatures with horsemanship were unable to be blocked except by creatures that had horsemanship, too. They weren’t terribly overpowered, but there are some very good cards in the set, such as Cao Cao, Lord of Wei, Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, and a few other Legendary Creatures that are highly sought after for Commander decks.

But one card that should not go overlooked is Rolling Earthquake. It’s very similar to the classic Earthquake, in that it hits players and creatures, but the traditional Earthquake doesn’t hit flyers. There is also a newer version of Earthquake known as Magmaquake, which doesn’t do damage to players, instead adding planeswalkers into the equation.

Rolling Earthquake doesn’t hit Planeswalkers, of course, as it greatly predates that card type. However, it does hit flyers, and only misses creatures with Horsemanship. That may not be incredibly relevant in most cases, which means this is a red board-wipe that hits flyers – not something that’s all that common. It is an odd card in terms of flavor, but Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, who gives all your creatures Horsemanship, can make this fairly one-sided. Because it is a decent card and it’s so rare, it’s been a $200 card as recently as June 2014. Cao Cao and Sun Quan were themselves reprinted in a From the Vault product. It’s about time this sorcery received a reprint.

This card should only see play in Commander, but it’s a good enough card that plenty of people will seek it out. Now that it will be much more widely available, expect the original version’s price to plummet considerably, especially as the original Portal Three Kingdoms version is white-bordered, and the new version is a black-bordered foil. It may not be the most powerful card among the cards in this set, but it certainly could well be the rarest of them all.

– Elspeth for the Win

speed-vs-cunning-duel-deck

It’s now been confirmed that there will be Wedge-colored Legendary Creatures in Khans of Tarkir. One of them will be one of the two cover cards for the upcoming Duel Deck: Speed VS Cunning. Where the Cunning deck will feature the popular blue Legendary Wizard Arcanis the Omnipotent, the Speed deck will feature a preview card from Khans of Tarkir, Zurgo Helmsmasher.

Zurgo is an interesting one. He is a Legendary Orc Warrior, costing 2WUB to cast. This is great as there are so few Commanders of that particular wedge (known as Dega). He’s a 7/2 with Haste that must attack each turn. The cool thing about him is, however, that he is indestructible as long as it’s your turn. Additionally, every time a creature dealt damage by Zurgo Helmsmasher dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Zurgo Helmsmasher.

This is about an aggressive a commander as you could ever create. Having such a high power makes him an easy choice for a Voltron Commander. With the support of white and black, he could be quite a force. We’ll have a Commanding Opinion of him fairly soon.

Arcanis the Omnipotent has been around for quite a while. He costs 3UUU to cast and can tap to draw three cards. He also can be returned to his owner’s hand for 2UU. It will be interesting to see what Wizards has put with him in the deck.

These are pretty strong cover cards for a duel deck and we look forward to what more these decks will have in store for us.

– Elspeth for the Win

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Today begins a new mega series of top commons and uncommons from sets in Magic’s history. We’ll start with the expansions, going in alphabetical order. Most will be top 10’s, some will be shorter, and some will be longer. Today, we’ll start with one of my favorite expansions of all time, Alara Reborn.

We’ll go in reverse order, starting with Ardent Plea at #10:

ardent-plea-alara-reborn

Despite the fact that Ardent Plea does in fact have art of Elspeth Tirel on it, that is not why it makes this Top 10 list. In fact, it’s not a bad card, and there’s a reason that copies of this card can sell for $1 USD a copy. It’s an enchantment that costs 1WU (1 colorless, White, Blue) to cast and has Exalted and Cascade on it. Exalted is a neat mechanic that gives a creature attacking alone an extra +1/+1. These triggers all stack, so having multiple instances of Exalted are really good. Also, Ardent Plea is also one of the best Exalted cards around, as it also has Cascade.

The way that the Cascade mechanic works is that when you cast a spell with it, you reveal cards from the top of your library from the game until you hit a non-land card that costs less, in this case, 0, 1, or 2 mana to play. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Then every other card you removed from your library goes to the bottom of your library in a random order. Two of the best Exalted creatures of all time are Noble Hierarch and Qasali Pridemage, highly playable cards.  Hierarch costs one mana and Pridemage costs two. It’s very likely you’ll hit one of those two cards with this card’s Cascade trigger.

Because of the Exalted deck’s casual appeal, as well as fair amount of play-ability with cards like Cathedral of War and Sublime Archangel that were printed in the Magic 2013 Core Set, Ardent Plea is a very nice cog in that sort of deck.

lorescale-coatl

At #9 is Lorescale Coatl. He has a pretty silly effect, which allows you to put a +1/+1 counter on the Coatl every time you draw a card. The Coatl could get out of hand pretty quickly, and at 1UG, he was highly playable and was something an opponent had to deal with quickly before it got out of hand.

But the Coatl’s main home today is in Commander decks. Because of all the ways that counters can be used and abused that have been printed since Alara Reborn, the Coatl’s counters can be used in many different ways. That’s why he’s a $2 card nowadays. If you can draw a lot of cards and give him a lot of counters, he gets quite silly.

behemoth-sledge

Behemoth Sledge, an extremely popular card from the set, is at #8. It’s since been reprinted twice, in the Ajani vs Nicol Bolas duel deck and in one of the Commander 2013 decks. The Sledge is very popular is Commander decks, due to the fact that it gives both lifelink and trample, plus an extra +2/+2. That’s quite a boost for a 3-mana Equipment with a 3 equip cost. It just doesn’t quite have the potential game-ending quality of the next card on this list, but it can create quite a life total swing and help a creature that might otherwise be chump-blocked all day into a much bigger threat.

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At #7 is Mage Slayer, which was later reprinted in one of the Planechase decks. You might wonder how this card beats out Behemoth Sledge on this list. It’s very close, but the fact that the Mage Slayer gives an effect on a creature declaring an attack is pretty sweet. Mage Slayer is an Equipment that costs 1RG to cast and 3 to equip. Whenever the equipped creature attacks, it deals damage equal to its power to the defending player.

Put on the right creature, Mage Slayer can deal quite a bit of damage without a creature ever actually having to connect for damage. While it’s not the more popular of the two Equipments on the list, it is the one that can potentially deal more damage.

mind-funeral

Mind Funeral is an extremely powerful mill card, and here it is at #6. It’s actually the most valuable card on this list (as of July 2014), and it was even repritned in Modern Masters, which didn’t help its overall value much, but it’s still a $3-4 USD card. But it’s in the middle of the pack for our top 10. Why is that exactly?

As much as I personally love the mill deck, and it is actually an interesting strategy that’s been making more of a push in the Modern format, Mind Funeral is a bit inconsistent in that it could potentially hit 4 straight lands. Cards such as Archive Trap, Breaking // Entering, and Glimpse the Unthinkable are simply more reliable as far as dumping cards in the graveyard. However, many Modern Mill lists are still finding room for at least two copies of Mind Funeral as played correctly, they are still very potent mill cards. In any case, it’s perhaps currently the most valuable and widely played uncommon from Alara Reborn, besides of course, the number #1 card on this list…

wall-of-denial

Wall of Denial was once one of my favorite cards in all of Magic. If not for its two reprints in Commander 2011 and the Venser vs Koth Duel Deck, it might still be as valuable money-wise as Mind Funeral. But wow is it a great card. For 1WU you get a 0/8 defender with both flying and shroud. Not only can it not be targeted by spells, but it holds the air like no one’s business. Fog Bank gets a lot more love today, as that card simply prevents damage. It’s simply one of the best Walls ever made, and it still gets plenty of Commander deck love, which is why it makes #5 on this list.


zealous-persecution

Zealous Persecution is our #4 card. The reason it ranks so highly is not only is it an important part of Black/White tokens in Modern, but it is a potential combat trick that can lead to some incredible blowouts. It’s splash-able in “Junk” (green/white/black) aggro decks as well as Deadguy Ale, a Modern variation on the Death & Taxes deck from Legacy. It even sees Legacy play in Esper Stoneblade and the Legacy version of Deadguy Ale.

A card that is so often played in Eternal Formats is obviously good for a reason. For only 2 mana, you pump your own creatures by +1/+1 and creatures your opponents control get -1/-1. Most often you’ll be playing this after blockers have been declared and the potential blow-out can essentially win you the game. It’s a very powerful card, and if it hadn’t been reprinted in both the Sorin vs Tibalt Duel Deck and the ill-fated Modern Event Deck, it would have a lot higher dollar value.

terminate-alara-reborn

Terminate was actually first printed in Planeshift, but was reprinted for Alara Reborn, which brought it into the Modern Format. It’s our #3 card as it’s played commonly in one of the best decks in Modern, Jund, and is simply one of the most effective creature-kill spells in the game of Magic. It’s also a staple in pretty much any Commander deck that utilizes both Red and Black. It’s been reprinted a ton of times, and yet it’s still worth about a dollar per copy. It’s a very strong card.

qasali-pridemage

Qasali Pridemage is our #2 card not only because he’s a Cat Wizard (which is freaking awesome typing) but also because he has Exalted (very relevant) and some of the most cost-effective artifact and enchantment removal in the game on a 2/2 creature. He’s played heavily in every Eternal format: Modern, Legacy, and Commander (heck, even Vintage!) A 2/2 creature with all of that on it is pretty special, and even his Exalted ability is relevant due to the fact that he’s typically played alongside his Exalted brethren, Noble Hierarch. He’s a very splash-able, main-deck-able creature, and he’s only a common! He was reprinted in the Ajani vs Nicol Bolas duel deck, as well as a Friday Night Magic promotional version.

I don’t think the #1 card on this list can be a surprise, as format-defining as this little Elf…

bloodbraid-elf

While I greatly prefer the alternate art version of her, you can’t deny that Bloodbraid Elf was one of the best cards of Alara Reborn. She was the deck that made Jund the top deck in that Standard format, and she was played in Naya Aggro decks, as well. Since then, she was a force in Extended, was banned in Modern, and still sees tons of play in Legacy because of her combo with Shardless Agent.

Bloodbraid Elf is the number #1 non-rare in the set for a great many reasons. She costs 2RG which sounds a bit pricey for a 3/2 with Haste, but it’s her Cascade ability that is so vital for her success. Pretty much every card you would want to hit with her in Jund: Fulminator Mage, Kitchen Finks, among others, was three or fewer mana. She was two cards for the price of one, and heck, most of the time hitting a Terminate or Thoughtseize wasn’t the worst thing in the world, either. As someone who played a ton of Jund and Naya back in my online Magic Workstation days, I fell in love with this card. The Steve Argyle alternate art on the Friday Night Magic promo (also displayed on the Planechase reprint) made me love her more.

In 2013, she was banned in Modern, due to the fact that she could Cascade into Liliana of the Veil among other ridiculously powerful cards such as Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant. This still happens, of course, in Legacy Jund. But the more powerful interaction is with Shardless Agent, a card that’s only ever been printed in a Planechase product.

shardless-agent

One thing that I must point out about Shardless Agent is that you may notice a subtle change in the reminder text about Cascade. Note that it says “cast” and not “play.” That’s right, Cascade counts as casting a card. This means that if you Cascade into a Shardless Agent with Bloodbraid Elf, you get to Cascade a second time with the Agent. In Legacy, yes you can hit your Deathrite Shamans and Tarmogoyfs. That’s all well and good, but you can also hit Ancestral Vision, which basically means you draw three cards for free. It’s a very powerful and silly deck. Ancestral Vision was banned in Modern due to its synergy with Cascade. Ordinarily, you’d have to suspend it for one blue for several turns. Not with Cascade. It’s a silly combo.

So there you have it, the top 10 commons and uncommons of Alara Reborn. Yes, you could argue that some of the cards could have ranked higher or lower, but all ten cards deserve to be on the list.

We’ll be back next time with another top list. We’re planning to go in alphabetical order, so submit your guesses what set the next installment will be featuring!

– Elspeth for the Win

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Friday night, I went to the magictcg subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/magictcg) to see what people really thought about our newest blue planeswalker, Jace, the Living Guildpact. As there was decent success with the Nissa, Worldwaker Reddit’s Opinion article, I felt that I had a duty to talk about the most hated planeswalkers since Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded.

When I talked about him before (here) I tried to be as fair to the card as possible, but admitted that he is completely outclassed by Jace, Architect of Thought in Standard, and likely won’t see play in any formats aside from Commander. That’s what I’ll stand by personally.

Before we begin, I want to thank everyone for commenting on the thread (which you can check here) and contributing to the site! I’ll definitely do these more often now that we’ve started something.

Now, what did Reddit think?

The general consensus was that he just isn’t good in Standard at this very moment.

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Jace, Architect of Thought is his immediate competition for Standard, and the Living Guildpact loses quickly to him. The +1 protects him, albeit only against smaller creatures. His -2 gives card advantage. The only difference is that his -8 is less impactful, but is still a solid play of stealing any card out of an opponent’s deck.

UWx decks don’t play a whole ton of creatures (most UW decks play between 0 and 1 creatures) making him a bad match up for the those decks, and useless in the decks due to having no real protection for itself. Jace, Architect of Thought, who can see up to 4 copies in some of those decks, is a much stronger play. Even a 3/1 split between the two planeswalkers doesn’t make much sense in those cases due to the lack of impact at 2UU.

To repeat a fellow redditor, /u/memorylapseguy:

I would not be surprised is Jace is the best card in standard in 6 months. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees literally 0 play in 6 months. If putting a card in the graveyard is almost worth a card he becomes insane, but at the moment he is unexciting.

He essentially sees him being played a lot or he’ll be completely ignored due to being outclassed.

It is generally accepted that his +1 is fairly bad. To recap:

+1: Look at the top two cards of your library. Put one of them into your graveyard.

As an agreement with LSV, pretty much everyone agrees this is basically Scry 1.5. If this was just a Sleight of Hand or Preordain, people would be much more forgiving of this Jace.

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The assumption with no Scry 2 is the fact that they try to keep non-evergreen keywords off of planeswalkers – it limits their printability without the reprinting of mechanics. Similar to how it’s very unlikely we’ll see a reprint of Noble Hierarch without Exalted coming back (which it already had in the 2013 core set) or how Chord of Calling was reprinted in M15 because they brought back Convoke. Sleight of Hand, however, doesn’t have the same excuse. It’s clear that they just did not want to give immediate card advantage on the +1 of this Jace. One redditor, /u/FarazR2, makes a decent point here, though:

Something I think is that this Jace is meant to save your cards from hand hate. Probably it started out like his plus was “Draw 2, put 2 back on top of your library in any order” but that was too strong. What this hints at for me at least is that Wizards anticipates raw card advantage being weaker than card selection in the future. We won’t be able to bet ThoughtseizeThoughtseize + Waste Not very easily, and our best cards won’t just win us the game like Sphinx’s Revelation, so you have to be careful to keep them around.

He makes an interesting point here. Having Waste Not in Standard along with Thoughtseize is very powerful – you can use Thoughtseize to either drop the best card or whatever you need how an effect out of Waste Not.

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But an opponent can’t make you discard a card they can’t see. Unless they play Ashiok.

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Yet another redditor, /u/stravant mentions that it he could easily becoming obsolete with Khans of Tarkir’s release, or it may just be better to splash black or green to play one of these two. While Ashiok doesn’t create card advantage immediately, it’s playable a turn earlier than Jace, the Living Guildpact or Kiora, the Crashing Wave, and exiling 3 cards can be very relevant, especially if players are setting their libraries up with Scry lands. The downside to Ashiok is a lack of protection similar to Jace, making itself vulnerable to a hit as it can’t immediately -X to put a creature into play.

That being said, we all agree that the +1 isn’t fantastic, but we’ll have to live with it if we want to play with him, and it could still be better than we think.

How about the -3?

-3: Return another nonland permanent to its owner’s hand.

Not a bad effect, but at -3? I’m not a fan personally. Not being able to use his protection more than once before dying is mediocre.

Another Redditor, /u/sunturion tells us about his use of the newest Jace at FNM:

Played him tonight at FNM as a one-of in mono-blue, and whenever I played him, I won. He is incredibly powerful at maintaining tempo advantage.

I was on the draw, opponent played Desecration Demon on turn 4. I played Jace -3 to timewalk. 😛 And that’s pretty much it.

But his +1 seems very powerful too in mono blue. You don’t really want another land once you hit 4, and being able to look at not 1, but 2, is pretty powerful, and can be very key in how you sculpt your turn.

The only problem with this particular mention is that this is essentially playing him as a 2UU Unsummon – but as a repeatable effect, even if he has to +1 again beforehand. This is where another problem I have with Jace: being able to do a minor effect at -3 is rough on him as he can only do it once before dying. Again, I’d be a fan of this at -2, but -3 is just too much for something seen at UU or 1U on Boomerang or Disperse. 

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The ability isn’t terrible, but it’s just inefficient.

How about his ultimate?

-8: Each player shuffles his or her hand and graveyard into his or her library. You draw 7 cards.

Yes, it’s a one-sided Timetwister.

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And what is its effect on Standard…? Well, not very many people really talked about that. You basically just win if you manage to use it, but not much more than that.

So what is the consensus of this card?

Underwhelming, all in all, but not horrendous. He definitely has his fans, like /u/Jaximus, who gave us this lengthy post, which is long enough to be a review on its own:

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I personally believe that this Jace has been the best one since Jace, the Mind Sculptor. This Jace has several virtues that run parallel to the terror that was the Mind Sculptor.

First off, he starts at a higher loyalty than the Mind Sculptor does. This gives him a better chance of surviving turn one and two after being played. Which gives the planeswalker a much heightened board state value.

Second, his +1 is ridiculously powerful. By now, everyone has been able to see the effects of Scrying and just how much of an advantage being able to choose your next card is. Even thought this isn’t technically Scrying, it performs the similar function of being able to dig for answers or pieces for your next strategy. On top of performing the digging action, it also filters cards from your library to your graveyard, which we all know is what any reanimate deck is going to love.

Third, his -3 gives him relative protection against all nonland board based threats. It means that at the very least, your opponent has to recast it. If not used offensively, then it can be usesd as a combo enabler or even in an offensive situation. As long as it is a nonland permanent, he can take care of it for a measly -3.

I have seen several arguments about him being a more expensive bounce spell, but if that is the case, you’re playing planeswalkers wrong. See them as a ticking time bomb. If your opponent doesn’t take care of it, it will explode and by then the game is most assuredly lost (for them).

His ult, the -8, is probably the most oppressive of any planewalker in standard right now. Similarly oppressive ults would be Karn’s restarting the game, Liliana of the Veil’s sacrificing half their permanents, of Venser the Sojourner’s emblem of exiling when you cast a spell. It starts a slow grind that both demoralizes and crushes your opponent. Similar to laying a second turn Jin Gitaxias with no answers in Commander.

While this Jace currently does not have a shell to protect him, I daresay that he shall rival The Mind Sculptor in utility and oppressiveness. And for all you naysayers, what is it that made Jace the Mind Sculptor as broken as he was? It was the cawblade shell. Jace was a huge part of that deck, the fact that you could Brainstorm every turn, or Fateseal your opponent to oblivion. His tempo based control (even thought it wasn’t used much) and his ultimate something you just didn’t come back from.

This Jace has the right utility, all the right tempo, and is almost as oppressive as the Mind Sculptor. So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, goblins and faeries, I’d suggest putting you money down quick on picking up your playset of Jace, the Living Guildpact. He’s damned good and even if he doesn’t see play in standard, I’m sure he will see play in the eternal formats.

Whew. Mouthful. He makes a few good points, but I’ve addressed the main problems with his points already.

The only thing that wasn’t really mentioned was how good he is with Doubling Season.

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Entering at 10 loyalty is ridiculous – shuffling away the hands and graveyards and drawing you 7 cards is ridiculous. With Doubling Season, you just get to ignore the other two abilities and simultaneously shuffle away hands and draw 7 cards for 4 mana.

Even without Doubling Season, though, his ultimate is a huge threat. Part of his tempo advantage in my opinion isn’t that he slows your opponent down as much as he makes your opponent divert their attention from you to him, giving you the chance to wear your opponent out, and starting at 5 loyalty is part of that gambit.

If you think I missed anything important, or just want to give me more suggestions on what to talk about, you can tell me here in the comments below or on the reddit post I’m posting this on.

Thanks Reddit.

Until next time.

-SolemnParty

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M15 Completely Spoiled!

You can find the entire set on the Gatherer now, as well as on the Wizards website, here.

There is way too much to go into detail tonight, but here are the highlights:

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Battle Mastery Reprint.

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Pretty solid blue cards.

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Interesting little red creature.

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Two interesting convoke cards, both of which will definitely see some limited play.

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Haunted Plate Mail reprint and a new interesting equipment letting card draw into any color.

As it’s the 4th of July, updates to the site will be a little slow, but we’ll try to get something up when we can this weekend.

Happy 4th of July to our American visitors,

Until next time.

-SolemnParty

 

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