Category: Product Review

Now that MTG Card Market has posted the list of cards from From the Vault: Annihilation, it seems that the cards from the booklet that was spoiled on reddit a few months ago were in fact the actual cards for the set. Below is the list:

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Before now, only Wrath of God – with Theros-related art – Armageddon, Cataclysm and Rolling Earthquake were confirmed. Elspeth for the Win wrote a piece about Rolling Earthquake already. We’ll take a look at the rest of them now.

As we get the new arts for the cards, we’ll be inserting them into this article!


Armageddon is one of the original (and hated) board-wipes, destroying all lands in play. It was expected to be seen in here, and it’s not surprising in the least. Its popularity has increased as of late, mostly in EDH, for decks that can either make their lands indestructable (decks that include Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Darksteel Forge & Mycosynth Lattice) or don’t need lands as much, like some Stax lists of Grand Arbiter Augustin in Commander that rely mostly on artifact mana.



Burning of Xinye is a mean card from Portal: Three Kingdoms, one of three cards from the very rare Portal sets being reprinted in this From the Vault. Both you and a target opponent each destroy four of your lands. Then this card deals 4 damage to each creature. It’s land destruction and mass creature removal on one card. There are land-destruction themed Commander decks that have used this card, and now that it won’t be upwards of $80, it may start seeing a lot more play in the format as it will become far more affordable.



Cataclysm is a powerful card originally printed in Exodus. For 2WW, Cataclysm forces each player to choose to keep one artifact, one creature, one enchantment, and one land. Then all other permanents are sacrificed. Note that it specifically says sacrifice and not destroy. That’s right – it gets around indestructibility. It’s one of the nastiest board-wipes in Commander and it’s so powerful that it’s actually banned in Duel Commander, the one-on-one version of the format. It’s also found a home in variations of the Legacy Death and Taxes deck, most often in the sideboard. It’s been only around a $7-10 card, but the new artwork and the fact that it will now be available in foil should make it a fairly sought after card from this set.



Child of Alara is a card that many are happy to see in here. It’s a fantastic card, being a very popular Commander for 5-color tribal decks and 60-land decks alike (and Maze’s End). A 6/6 with Trample for 5 mana, it is a constantly ticking time bomb. Whenever it is put into a graveyard, you destroy all non-land permanents and they can’t be regenerated. It’s an impressive ability, and we’re glad to see it in FTV: Annihilation.



Decree of Annihilation is an extremely expensive board-wipe, originally from Scourge. But there’s good reason for it. For 8RR, it actually exiles all artifacts, creatures, lands, graveyards, and hands from the game. It’s an extremely mean card. If that wasn’t enough, you can cycle it for 5RR, letting you draw a card, and in the process destroying all lands. It’s not a very expensive card value-wise, and it was already available in foil before, being from Scourge. It does fit the flavor of the set, however, so it’s inclusion makes perfect sense. It’s a Commander-only card.



Firespout is one of the more surprising cards to see on this list, but as it can potentially deal 3 damage to creatures both with and without flying simultaneously, it makes some sense. It’s also the card that sees the art that was revealed along with this FTV in the first place as seen here on the Wizards site. That being said, Firespout is still a good card, going for around $1 USD for both the Shadowmoor and Commander uncommon versions.



Fracturing Gust is actually a card that’s seen some Modern play, really only in sideboards, but it does have a pretty strong effect. For 2 and three green/white hybrid mana, you destroy all artifacts and enchantments, gaining 2 life for each permanent destroyed this way. It’s a solid card, and it’s been a $4-6 USD card for some time now. It’s not a bad card to stick into a From the Vault, as it will definitely be wanted.



Living Death is a very good card. It’s been reprinted a whole bunch of times, but it’s now getting some new art – which we’ll have on this article as soon as we have it. It also has never had a foil printing, so why not now? It’s a Commander only card, as it’s a bit slow for Legacy, but it is extremely strong in Commander. For graveyard based decks, Living Death is a way to turn the tables on your opponents, since those sorts of decks will usually have far better creatures to bring back than the other players. It’s a fun card, and it’s cool to see it finally get that foil treatment, being a card that hasn’t been printed in an expansion set since it was first introduced in Tempest.



Martial Coup is only a board wipe once you actually put 7 or more mana into it, but it definitely coutnts with the theme of this set. It’s a cool card, and it has seen Constructed play at one time or another, and still sees some extremely fringe Legacy play. But it’s mostly a Commander-friendly card that can serve to simply make tokens or make tokens and destroy all of the other creatures on the board. It’s a fun card, but not one that desperately needed a reprint.



Rolling Earthquake was once a 200-dollar card from Portal: Three Kingdoms. It’s a great card, but not quite worth that much aside from being from Portal: Three Kingdoms. One good thing about this card is the fact it hits everything without Horsemanship, making Sun Quan a very nice card to combo with this card. It’s a card I don’t mind seeing here, especially due to it’s rarity and secondary market price, it isn’t surprising to see it here. Aside from it having the word horsemanship on it however, it isn’t much different than Earthquake or Magmaquake.

Here’s a more in-depth look at Rolling Earthquake by Elspeth for the Win.



Smokestack is a card definitely worth of the From the Vault treatment. It’s never had a foil printing, being printed only in Urza’s Saga (and in Vintage Masters on Magic Online.) It’s still a fairyl valuable card, as well, with its current market value around $10 USD. At one time, it was a very strong card in Legacy, however. It is, in fact, the card that gave Stax its name, since you can over time stack counters on it to force players to sacrifice more permanents. It sees play in some fringe Stax decks in Legacy today, but it’s mostly a Commander card now. Still, it’s really fun to see a card that has some definite history with it being printed in a From the Vault, as that’s what these products should be about, right?



While Terminus is hardly worth anything anymore since rotating out of Standard, it is a card that belongs in a From the Vault. Not only is it an incredibly popular Commander card, and a staple in the Legacy Miracles deck, but it was also a force in Standard when it was in play. It already has epic artwork, and a card that puts all creatures on the bottom of libraries that can essentially be played for a single White mana is borderline absurd. The power level of this card means it belongs in the set.



The colors definitely needed to all be present in this set, and this is what blue does best – bounce everything. The only real downside to Upheaval being in the set is that it is banned in Commander, and for very good reason. Being able to be the only one to cast spells after playing it (floating mana and waiting for your land drop before casting it,) you easily take the lead over any of your opponents. Problem is, it’s not really playable in any format besides Legacy, and no Legacy decks play it. It’s a Casual-only card.



Virtue’s Ruin is a 2B sorcery from the original Portal set which destroys all White creatures in play. There’s been a trend of including cards from the Portal sets in these From the Vaults, so it isn’t surprising to see this here; Sun Quan and Cao Cao from From the Vault Legends. Virtue’s Ruin was going for around $7 USD on the secondary market, but if this were to be reprinted, it still would probably not be worth all that much, as other cards from the three Portal sets have all taken major hits to their secondary market prices after being reprinted.



Wrath of God was the first card confirmed. There isn’t much to say about Wrath of God – it was the first board wipe, being around since Alpha and Beta.

Obviously, the greatest disappointment is not seeing Damnation in the set. It’s possible that it may see a printing in the near future, perhaps in the mono-Black Commander deck in November 2014. While there are some worthwhile reprints in this From the Vault, this set is barely going to be worth it $35 retail price. IT will be interesting to see how card shops decide to price them.

Until next time,

– SolemnParty & Elspeth for the Win


As of August 7th, this entire list has been confirmed. Here’s our take on all 15 cards.

Here is the reddit post that originally spoiled the list for From the Vault: Annihilation spoiler.

This is the list of things appearing in From the Vault: Annihilation, shown on the paper sheet that comes with each FTV, similar to this one from FTV: Relics:


Here’s the list, and the images.


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Before this, the only card we knew about was Wrath of God, with Theros-related art. Wrath of God is the only card on this list already 100% confirmed, as it was confirmed from a different source. There isn’t much to say about Wrath of God – it was the first board wipe, being around since Alpha and Beta.

Overall, the greatest disappointment is not seeing Damnation in the set. It’s possible that it may see a printing in the near future, and there are some nice reprints in this potential From the Vault list. However, most players are going to be disappointed if this is indeed the true list. It’s going to barely be worth its $35 retail price, let alone whatever shops decide to sell them for.

Read on here for a more in-depth review of the set.

– SolemnParty & Elspeth for the Win


From the Vault: Realms – Part I

In this article, I’ll be going over the first four cards of the latest From the Vault, Realms.

The set is completely land, all of which are playable in EDH/Commander to some extent.

Cephalid Coliseum is originally an uncommon from Odyssey, the original art being by John Avon and the new art being Cliff Childs. While it’s not great for a blue source, tapping for one blue and taking a damage, it’s mainly used for the Threshold ability, for blue and a tap, you sacrifice it to have a player draw three cards and then discard three cards, being very good in dredge and black/blue re-animator decks.

Personally, I enjoy both artworks, but I have to like the new one, as it looks better in the modern border.

Desert was originally printed in Arabian Nights, and then reprinted as a Timeshifted card in Time Spiral. Desert has always been a great card, holding off the common 1/1 creatures by itself and deterring large creatures in multiples. Desert is also one of the cards that did get new artwork, and I have to say it’s impressive.

While High Market isn’t considered as great as Diamond Valley, though better than Miren, the Moaning Well, High Market sees a significant amount of Commander play, and is a nice card to see printed in here; though people will complain about this not being Diamond Valley instead. Sadly, it didn’t get a new artwork, though the original by Carl Critchlow is very nice.

Oh, Maze of Ith. Originally from The Dark, Maze of Ith for From the Vault: Realms is already pre-ordering on Star City for $50 USD, making the usual MSRP of $35 for one of these box sets completely worth it. But, as usual, the actual stores are going to be selling them (and the individual cards) for a lot more. While it doesn’t produce mana (unlike its watered down counterpart, Mystifying Maze) it completely removes a creature from combat, preventing all damage dealt to and by that creature. In fact, Maze of Ith is even part of an infinite mana combo with Argothian Elder. Great inclusion, and I’m not surprised to see it among the cards getting a new art out of the set.

While this is technically a spoiler for the Izzet vs Golgari Duel Decks, it is assumed he will also be printed in Return to Ravnica.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is a 2/2 Legendary Zombie Elf for BBGG; which doesn’t seem all that impressive. Though, his first of three abilities makes up for his low power for a 4 drop; he gets +1/+1 for each creature card in your graveyard. With the older Golgari mechanic, Dredge, he quickly becomes a monster. However, we still don’t know what the new mechanic for Golgari is going to be in Return to Ravnica.

His second ability is an activated ability for 1BG and sacrificing a creature; each opponent loses life equal to the sacrificed creature’s power. Essentially, it’s a fling to all of your opponents. If you’re playing him in Black/Green/Blue EDH, you could deal infinite damage with Grim-Grin + Gravecrawler + Rooftop Storm.

His last ability is a nice touch; you can sacrifice a swamp and a forest to return him from the graveyard to your hand. I personally don’t like sacrificing my land, but green can usually spare it with the amount of ramp.

I doubt he’ll see Standard Play when he comes out, personally; however, I expect him to see quite a bit of play in EDH/Commander, due to being a legendary creature and being a Ravnica one at that. I like him myself.

The other card I’m going to mention is Niv-Mizzet’s reprint, that I’m a little disappointed about.

As Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind is the same is ever, it’s missing one thing.

“(Z->)90° – (E-N²W)90°t=1”

This version doesn’t have any flavor text, which I’m a little disappointed in. While the Champs one not having flavor text makes sense, it doesn’t even have the alternate flavor text shown in From the Vault: Dragons.

I’ll get to Niv-Mizzet in my Generally Speaking series when I get to him.

From The Vault: Legends Part II

Well, on part two of the review of From The Vault: Legends, we start off with Omnath, Locus of Mana, originally a mythic from Worldwake. While you’d much rather pull a Jace the Mind Sculptor as your mythic rare out of Worldwake, Omnath isn’t terrible. Green mana doesn’t empty from your mana pool as steps and phases end. In all honesty, Omnath is my favorite Mono-Green general in Commander. Which is why Wizards continues to disappoint, not giving Omnath a new artwork either. As much as I like the original art work, why do they insist on not giving the cards I like new art? However, he’s a great inclusion to the set, but I wish he got a new art.

Are we sure Wizards actually checked this set? Oona, Queen of the Fae, while being a great card in Modern and Commander, also did not get a new artwork. Which is certainly irritating when they’re reprinting only 15 cards from older sets. But from that I digress; Oona, Queen of the Fae, is a 5/5 black and blue 6-drop that wreaks havoc on mono-colored decks, and every other deck, as for x+B/U, she exiles the top cards of the deck equal to x. A great inclusion to the set, but I really wish it had new art.

As far as the art is concerned, I’ll have to agree on The Magic Show; his breast plate is very… breasty. But he’s riding on what looks like a tiger, so I guess that’s cool, but does his buster sword have to take up most of the art? But at least he -got- alternate art. Now, actually about Rafiq; he’s one of the new Legendary Creatures in Bant’s colors (well, one of eight), originally from Shards of Alara, he’s the only legendary creature with Exalted, according to The Gatherer, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. A 3/3 Exalted double strike isn’t bad for 4 mana. I’m fine with Rafiq being in here, props to Wizards for putting him in, but I prefer his original art.

Sharuum the Hegemon is an interesting card in my opinion. Namely because of Sharuum’s infinite damage combo with 2 Sharuum and Where Ancients Tread or with Hissing Iguanar, which you can find here. Outside of her infinite combo, Sharuum is decent in Commander, getting slain Solemn Simulacrums and destroyed Sol Rings or used up Nevinyrral’s Disks. A little costly for 6 mana, but she’s a decent 5/5 flyer on top of the ability. If you like playing Esper Colors, go for it. It’s also another card that got a new art that I like. Props to Todd Lockwood for this one.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre (a gyre being any large system of rotating ocean currents… why isn’t he blue then?) is just… meh. No new art, doesn’t really need to be in here, and is completely inferior to Emrakul, The Aeons Torn and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, despite Kozilek actually costing less to cast than Ulamog. Like the rest of the legendary Eldrazi, when he’s sent to the graveyard by any means, he and the rest of the graveyard are shuffled into their owner’s library. He’s not terrible, but I’d rather play Kozilek if I’m not playing Emrakul. I don’t see the necessity to have Ulamog in here, they should’ve put Emrakul in here despite being banned in Commander.

Visara the Dreadful, originally from Onslaught, is an interesting card to see reprinted, especially with a new artwork, which I personally like far more than her original artwork from Onslaught. She’s a decent card, a 5/5 flyer for 3 and 3 black, with a good tap ability in blowing up creatures and not letting them regenerate, which is good in Commander with Thrun, the Last Troll and Cromat both loving to regenerate when they’re on the board. Come to think of it, why isn’t Cromat in here instead of Kresh? However, there’s only one card left in the set; our new block of Innistrad’s first revealed card;

We have a legendary creature named Mikey; Mikaeus, the Lunarch is a pretty fun card, honestly. As a 1+x drop, you could play him turn 2 if you really wanted to get him on the board early and pump him up with his own ability, or drop him late game with tons of counters to try and finish up a game. In Commander, he finds a friend in Ghave, Guru of Spores, his +1/+1 counters turning into Saprolings at any given time. He’s a great card, and I’m complaining about him not having an alternate art, seeing as the preview card never does. He’s a solid card in the set, and I think he’ll see some significant play in Commander, if not in Standard.

Now, what about the set as a whole? Is it worth shelling out the 50 USD my locals wants to charge for it? In all honesty, probably. As much as I criticize the lack of alternate arts for half of the cards in the set and my hating on Kresh the Bloodbraided, it is worth the 50 USD to buy it, let alone the 35 MSRP. But it’s up to the individuals; if you’re looking for a Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, just buy it. It’s worth it for him in Commander. Though, I’m not sure how you’ll get Ghave, Guru of Spore or Nicol Bolas on horses for his Horsemanship, but that’s up to you.





From the Vault: Legends Part I

We really seem to love these things, and people know we’ll pay too much for them. Hell, my local is selling them for 50 USD, regardless of the 34.99 USD MSRP. From the Vault: Legends is, in my opinion, hilarious. As it’s all legendary creatures, you’d think it’d be more geared towards Commander… but it really isn’t. They’re great cards, but very few of them are actually what you’d use as a Commander, aside from Teferi and Progenitus. Many of them are perfectly playable, if not all of them, though, in Commander.

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir is an amazing card, originally from Time Spiral, that makes everyone angry, other than the people who play him. It makes every counter spell in the game completely useless against you, making peoples Force of Wills and Dazes and even Mental Missteps useless while you’re dropping in creatures like air strikes with the flash he’s giving them. Teferi’s go for about 5 dollars a piece still, as many people like playing him in EDH and even some people in Legacy. I think he’ll see a bit of play in Modern; but being a triple blue 5-drop can be a difficulty in fast formats. All in all, Teferi is a great card, including the new art for him.

(Elspethftw’s Take: Teferi is just awesome versus control. Period.)

Kresh the Bloodbraided (from Alara Reborn) isn’t a great card (nor is he Bloodbraid Elf), but he’s one of the 5 Legends in Jund’s colors, making him a possible general, but you’d more likely play Adun Oakenshield as he’s only a 3 drop utility, making him a lot more useful than Kresh in any given commander game. Not a very impressive choice for a From the Vault card, honestly. I do prefer this art to the original art, though.

(ELSPETHFTW’s take: He can be a decent Voltron commander, though.)

Progenitus is one of my favorite cards ever printed, honestly. I’m all for Hydra gods and the such. And having protection far more ridiculous than Emrakul, The Aeon’s Torn, having Protection from everything gets ridiculous, on top of being shuffled back into the deck if it finds itself in the graveyard. This would probably only leave the field if they drop a Day of Judgment or Wrath of God (or Plague Boiler if you want to be more original). Progenitus is a card I’ll be taking another look at in Commanding Opinion, along with Plague Boiler rather soon. I’m glad Progenitus is in here, though I think I like the shadowy Conflux Art more.

Good old Doran, the Siege Tower. I’m rather disappointed he didn’t get an alternate art (I mean, they gave Kresh an alternate art, but not Doran?) but I certainly don’t mind seeing him in here. Assigning combat damage with toughness is amazing, especially since that makes Doran a 5/5 for 3, and even makes Spellskite from New Phyrexia a 4/4 for 2. It’s also all creatures that assign combat damage with their toughness, so Deceiver Exarch is hitting for 4 per copy after Splinter Twin (they may only make 4 billion Deceiver Exarchs if that’s the case) and Tarmogoyf is hitting for 1 more than it would be otherwise. Speaking of Splinter Twin, that leads us to the next card on the list…

(ELSPETHFTW’s take – A lot of people may not realize that Doran actually affects all creatures on the board, even your opponent’s. But in the right deck, that isn’t going to matter too much anyway, not as long as Tree of Redemption is around!)

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, originally from Champions of Kamigawa (as it’s a Legend, it’s probably from Kamigawa Block) is Splinter Twin on a stick. That’s all that really needs to be said about Kiki-Jiki. Only difference is that Kiki-Jiki says sacrifice the copy, and Splinter Twin says exile the copy. Oh, and Kiki-Jiki has Haste. So he can copy Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite as soon as he hits the field, just like Splinter Twin. He costs one more red mana, but in Commander that means you have 2 Splinter Twins in a deck, along with running both Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite. I’m pretty sure with his reprint, we’re gonna be seeing KikiTwin making some appearances with Pestermite, doubling the combo from 8 pieces to 16 pieces, making the combo that much more difficult to stop in Modern. But I’ll get around to that later. As far as the art is concerned, it’s great art, but I honestly prefer the original art. Why? Because it has a dragon on it. But we’re not here to discuss my taste in card art.

(ELSPETHFTW’s take – I prefer old art too! Such an awesome card.)

They might as well have just written “everything is unblockable forever, win target game”. Why? Because Horsemanship was a mechanic restricted to Portal Three Kingdoms (with a few of the cards also printed in Master’s Edition III), and Sun Quan, Lord of Wu makes all your creatures have Horsemanship, himself included. And with there being only 36 cards in the entire game that even mention Horsemanship, it can get silly. He’s decently costed at a 6 drop and is just a very silly card in Commander, 6 mana being easy to get to. That being said, he’s still valued around 35 dollars for an original, and the reprint might fetch for around the same, if not a little less. The MSRP is 35, so he (along with another card from Portal Three Kingdoms that I’ll get to) is practically worth buying it by himself. He’s great in Commander, practically making him a win condition (especially if you’re playing infect or just Triumph of the Hordes, which I’ll review in Commanding Opinion as well) and just good for poking an opponent. As far as the art is concerned, it’s the same as the original, but that’s to be expected, as this is its first printing with a new border.

(ELSPETHFTW’s take – If you’re opponent is dead in one swing of your forces with Sun Quan on the board, it is Win Target Game. Horsemanship is probably one of my favorite mechanics in Magic of all time, simply because it’s on so very few cards. As Solemnparty said, he’s pretty good in a blue/black infect strategy, too.)

Cao Cao, Lord of Wei is a decent card. 5 drop that taps to make an opponent discard two. Honestly, Cao Cao isn’t really all that great. In fact, on the secondary market he goes for less than Sun Quan, originals going for around 20 and the From the Vault ones going for around 12 or so. Regardless, Cao Cao is another Portal Three Kingdoms card, and is nice to see another printing of. Like Sun Quan, he has the same picture as the original, simply in the new border.

(ELSPETHFTW’s Take – Cao Cao is a fantastic reprint that sees play in discard-oriented Commander decks. He’s a lot of fun!)

Captain Sisay, originally from Invasion, is a decent card, but I wouldn’t say it’s worth being a General. She tutors legendary creatures every turn just by tapping her 2/2 self. They go for about 3 USD on the secondary market, namely because of seeing play in Commander, as it searches commanders that got shuffled in off of an Oblation or Spell Crumple, plus any other legends you’d play. Another thing about Sisay is that she also got gypped out of a new art, which is rather disappointing. A lot of people were concerned about the fact it seemed Wizards didn’t take this From The Vault seriously with the alternate arts, 4 of the first 8 I’ve reviewed here do not have new artworks.

(ELSPETHFTW’s take: Actually, Sisay seeks out not only legendary creatures, but any legendary card, including lands, equipments (like Umezawa’s Jitte), artifacts, and enchantments. So she’s actually a pretty decent Commander, overall, especially being in my two favorite colors! Selesnya Forever!)

However, I’m going to cut off Part I here; next, we cover the remaining 7 cards in From the Vault: Legends…

Part II of From the Vault: Legends

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