Friday, January 24

Akroan Phalanx

David: R/W Heroic seems to be getting some better support this set.

Matt: Holy hell is this all of them? Damn. The word “phalanx” is awesome. It has a “ph” and an “x” in it. Beat that, other words. The art is basically perfect. Steve Prescott is the man.

Monique: This card seems like it’ll be very strong in limited swarm strategies. Just imagine this paired with first strikers or even a Coordinated Assault or two.

Zach: Hill Giants with keywords are good. This one has Battle Cry, too. Seems strong.

Akroan Skyguard

Matt: “Oh look at me! I was highly edited in Photoshop!” Snore. F you and your Archangel ripoff wings.

Monique: Wingsteed Rider was a huge success in triple THS draft. I wonder if this being one mana cheaper and easier to cast will also make it a staple in white based heroic? Also, I agree Matt, the art is boring :/

Zach: Bestowing Nyxborn Shieldmate onto this T3 for a 3/4 flyer should be pretty good. Unlike Wingsteed Rider, you really want to power this dude up ASAP.

Elite Skirmisher

Matt: And then the same artist, Mark Winters, makes this super goofy ass illustration.  The card is terrible but man look at that guy wielding three Force Spikes. Sure he’s going to waste them on tapping a single creature, but whatever, historical references do not go unnoticed at Hipsters of the Coast.

Zach: Three power three drops are fine and this Snarecaster can set up some pretty good swings. Good, but no Wingsteed Rider.

Ephara’s Radiance

Matt: Much better art than Ephara’s actual god card. Like 2000x better. I can’t tell if this card is good or not.

Monique: It’s a cheap heroic enabler so it may be better than it looks but the ability itself doesn’t seem that exciting.

Zach: Cheap inspired enabler. Hilarious on Scholar of Athreos.

Excoriate

Brendan: A welcome addition to the limited removal pool.

Matt: Pretty sick art. Right? A welcome addition to the expanding Magic vocabulary, “excoriate” is a word I’ve never heard before. With all the “when this creature untaps” nonsense in this set it seems good to kill tapped things, even at sorcery speed and for a million mana.

Monique: Hello Elite Skirmisher combo!

Fated Retribution

Brendan: Seems good in a Sphinx’s Revelation deck. Plays well with Detention Sphere.

Shawn: This card has been getting some flack for costing upwards of one million mana but, I could see this card as a 1-2 of in a UW/x control deck. Retribution may not be as flexible as Rout, but being able to destroy Planeswalkers is a big game, especially when you can hold up counter mana and blow up the world on their end step.

Matt: Instant speed kill everything with legs seems good. Jonas De Ro’s illustration has a great depth and distance from the camera/viewer. So many magic card illustraions are like three feet from whatever they’re depicting. This looks like what it is and clearly depicts the scope of the power of the card.

Tim: Pricey, but I like that you can hit creatures and ‘walkers while sparing your D-Spheres. Could see Standard play.

Ghostblade Eidolon

Matt: I’m pumped about this eidolon. I named a painting after it I love it so much. It’s a great continuation of Min Yum’s style from the first two eidolons.

Monique: I remember commenting to Matt recently about the unique art on the Eidolon’s. I’m happy to see the trend continuing. As for the card, meh on its own but pretty good if you can bestow it on a huge evasive creature/trampler.

Zach: This card will end games. It’s a perfect voltron target (though a slow starter) or voltron ender.

Great Hart

Brendan: Pillarfield Elmer. Great Hart is a sweet name. I will do some blocking with this thing.

Shawn: I would prefer the name to be Best Hart to get in some sweet Bret “The Hitman” Hart references in.

Matt: When have I not been a fan of the elk creature type? Never, that’s when.

Monique: I’m bored :/

Zach: I love cowing my enemies. I’ll settle for nothing Elk.

Griffin Dreamfinder

Matt: Sucky body. Weird mana cost. And it’d be sweeter if it brought back an enchantment when it attacked, but it’s a common so who cares? It can’t be that dope. The art is pretty “meh.”

Zach: Brendan will find a way to love this bird in Scholar of Athreos decks. Because card advantage.

Hold at Bay

Matt: Shredding Winds repellent. The art is weird and I like that. Oh look! Nils Hamm did the illustration. That’s why it’s weird.

Monique: I think I like it. It almost has a God’s Willing feel to it in that it trigger’s heroic and while protecting your creature.

Mortal’s Ardor

Brendan: Yay, more combat tricks to play around. I am always happy to get lifelink.

Matt: I like when Kev Walker illustrates beyond his Blood-Toll Harpy quality work. Blood-Toll Harpy is so shitty to look at. Maybe the 300: Rise of an Empire extra is actually killing Blood-Toll Harpy to atone for the artist’s lapse in judgment. That’s nice of him.

Zach: Good tricks are good, and good one mana tricks are very good. This is worse than Swift Justice, but given how close in P/T creatures tend to be, this should often be more than worthwhile.

Ornitharch

Brendan: Can I have a Cloudgoat Ranger? I think the answer will change from game to game. This might be an interesting tribute card.

Matt: Surprisingly I like this art. It’s … peaceful. Laser white eyes are awesome.

Monique: I like it. Either way you’re paying five mana for five flying power.

Zach: I like it. Either way you’re paying five mana for- d’oh!

Plea for Guidance

Shawn: Two Idyllic Tutors stapled together. This card is going to look sweet in foil and will at least find a place in my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator EDH deck. At least there’s that.

Matt: When pigeons drink from the space water they become space-pigeons. Got it.

Zach: But what happens when space pigeons drink from normal water?

Chorus of the Tides

Matt: Steve Prescott flipping the script once again. This illustration is weird. I don’t even know if I like it. My first response was “YUCK!” but it’s growing on me. It’s just so weird! Feels like old school Magic art with better color.

Monique: Ha! Matt, my first response was the opposite. The vivid colors drew me in and just when I was ready to fall in love, I read the card. The ability is just OK, and frankly, I’d rather use my heroic enablers on something more exciting.

Zach: I like Snapping Drake. I have no idea why sirens (who’ve been described as one of the monsters of the set) are now heroic. That said, I imagine this trigger will be forgotten a comparable amount of times as Prescient Chimera’s.

Deepwater Hypnotist

Matt: Continuing the weird art trend. Christopher Moeller is becoming one of my favorite contemporary Magic artists.

Zach: The face and hands just scream, “Ooga Booga,” don’t they? A 2/1 for two is fine and if you’re attacking with him every turn, you pretty much get to negate one of their blockers(‘ power).

Divination

Matt: I remember this card.

Zach: I wonder if this is going to be a pattern. Every two years, the second set gets Divination. The card’s still sweet and I like the card. Card advantage wasn’t the easiest thing to come by in Theros and it’s cool to see it becoming more of a thing in Theros.

Eternity Snare

Brendan: Finally a blue removal aura. Expensive but good.

Matt: Min Yum hasn’t made another eidolon in terms of illustration quality but this is solid. I like the pressure point/chakra relationship jam s/he has going on.

Zach: Bad reprint is bad. Too much mana for an effect that doesn’t even tap the creature down to begin with.

Monique: In a set with a ton of enchantment removal, this looks like a six mana tap a creature draw a card spell.

Evanescent Intellect

Matt: This is the shittiest card ever (because mill is the shittiest way to win Magic games ever and it’s part of an aura, the shittiest type of Magic card ever). The art isn’t so hot. Space illustrations go a long way to save lousy art in these sets. It’s like cheating.

Zach: “WAKE ME UP INSIDE, WAKE ME UP INSIDE, PICK ME UP AND TAKE ME OUT OF YOUR DECK.”

Flitterstep Eidolon

Brendan: Six is a steep cost for the extra resiliency and power over Aqueous Form. But I like Aqueous Form, so I like Flitterwhatever Eidolon too.

Matt: Flitterstep, Brendan. It’s written on the top of the card. 🙂

Zach: Flitterwisp. Make it happen, people.

Oracle’s Insight

Brendan: That is a powerful ability on a fragile card.

Matt: Yeah I like this. How gnarly is that future eye space shit, too? Really gnarly.

Zach: This card is awesomesauce. Optular Halo.

Retraction Helix

David: This is a pretty funny take on Unsummon. I hope there is some reason other than Inspired to be tapping dudes so often.

Brendan: Awesome heroic and inspired enabler that is also a tempo blowout. Unless they blow you out by removing your creature. Theros limited is very skill-intensive, and cards like this create even more pitfalls for the less careful limited player.

Matt: Tidebinder Mage is everywhere. He should get a credit on this card, somewhere.

Zach: Banishing Knack is back (without the untap symbols)! Bounce is still good and now you can randomly get inspired from your Unsummon. Holding a creature back to use this is both awkward and a tell (unless it’s an obvious blocker like Wavecrash Triton).

Siren of the Fanged Cost

Brendan: They don’t know the target when they decide to pay tribute, but how hard will it be to guess? This card seems like it will always be Air Elemental, but that’s pretty good.

Matt: I want to play Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag when I look at this illustration for two reasons. 1, I love sailing my pirate ship and battling Spanish and British frigates (etc.). 2, There are no sirens in Assasin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Zach: So… it’s Air Elemental unless your opponent has bad creatures. I’d rather have an Air Elemental.

Sphinx’s Disciple

Matt: Too expensive, cool ability, lousy art.

Zach: You said it, Matt.

Tim: It seems like whenever we get something

Stratus Walk

Zach: Cool flexibility. You can put it on your creature to get it evasion or put it on your opponent’s creature to keep it from blocking your ground dudes.

Monique: I agree Zach. Its nice that it draws you a card and its versatility means that it will find a home in a lot of different archetypes.

Archetype of Finalit

y

David: Ouch, this card hurts.

Zach: I’m glad that this costs six mana and dies to removal, since this ability bonker.

Asphyxiate

Matt: Exodus era Kev Walker art is awesome! Look at that guy’s eyeballs. He can’t’ breathe!!! HAHA!

Zach: Love it. Strong card with a much different tension from Assassinate. I love that it doesn’t hose inspired.

Monique: Man, with this and Excoriate, my head would explode if I had to play against BW.

Claim of Erebos

Brendan: Cool, another way to win without attacking. I like!

Zach: I like that this enables inspired. I dislike everything else.

Forsaken Drifters

Matt: Min Yum, killing it. Look at that dude in the back. He’s so fucked. Coming back to life must be the w-o-r-s-t.

Grisly Transformation

Matt: This card, “Shit, this isn’t Innistrad?! I’m how late? Ah fuck, whatever. Yeah I’ll have some punch.”

Monique: No me gusta.

Necrobite

Brendan: I bet this card will be a lot better in the new limited format than it was in Avacyn Restored. This makes blocking a heroic creature a little more palatable.

Odunos River Trawler

Brendan: This would have been awesome in my GP Sacramento sealed deck. As if bestow didn’t already provide enough value!

Matt: I like this card a ton. I LOVE the art. Magic: The Scary Stories to Tell in the Darkening

Zach: Sure, it’s a sweet card, but how creepy-awesome is that art?!

Sanguimancy

Jess: Now we’re talking. This might be a sweet draw spell for EDH, a la Minions’ Murmurs.

Matt: Seems sweet. Art, meh.

Tim: This seems like it could be played in the Black Devotion deck.

Warchanter of Mogis

Matt: “I started out as a painting of a cat and then they said, ‘No! Minotaur Shaman, idiot,’ and I morphed into this hybrid hybrid,” said this card.

Zach: Why is he falling to his death? How does Mogis still having living followers?

Weight of the Underworld

Zach: Such… sweet… flavor… too… much… awesomeness…

Archetype of Aggression

David: Man, the Red and White Archetypes are awesome.

Matt: Trample is for green. What the hell. Also, someone make me a pair of those guantlets. They’re awesome.

Zach: Gears of War is from Greece.

Bolt of Keranos

Zach: More removal is always nice to see. When it’s both good and awkward like this (double red, sorcery speed, three cmc), then it stands a good chance of getting to the drafters who need it, rather than will splash for it or will jump ship for it.

Cyclops of the One-Eyed Pass

Matt: Totally read this as “Cyclops of One-Eyed Peas.”

Zach: If Cobblebrute loses an eye, it increases devotion. Interesting.

Kragma Butcher

David: This seems like one of the best common Minotaurs.

Zach: Looks pretty good. Once you attack, it’s a permanent 4/3 (or should be, since RED SMASH!).

Lightning Volley

Shawn: I hate this card but mostly just because it’s not Flame Fusillade.

Matt: The art is pretty sick though. Lightning temple with lightning wizards shooting lightning all over the place in unison.

Zach: Even ancient Hogwarts had its own defenders.

Tim: Is there a way to break this with Intruder Alarm? No… Tim.. Please stop. (I don’t think there really is, but I like to think of stupid-hilarious stuff like that during spoiler season.)

Reckless Reveler

David: Party foul.

Zach: It says that Xenagos is bad at logic.

Rise to the Challenge

Matt: Winner for most ridiculous and hilarious art of the set. It wouldn’t be nearly as hilarious if the feathers weren’t floating around it.

Zach: Good trick is good. Happy to join the likes of Kindled Fury and Slaughter Cry.

Scouring Sands

Zach: SIMOOOOOOON! Do entire cities only have one toughness, buildings included?

Stormcaller of Keranos

Matt: A well known fact: female human shaman creatures always do their shamaning in bikinis. #untrue

Zach: That looks like a pretty painful position to be in, particularly for her arm and back. Card seems fun.

Monique: Hello UR scry deck. Better start taking your Flamespeaker Adept’s early.

Tim: BRB. Brewing Modern Counterbalance!

Thunder Brute

Matt: When did I become a cyclops fanatic? Oh, right, when Ruric Thar was invented. I love this guy. Wish he was a cyclops shaman though. That’s some sweet lightning in his hands.

Zach: Meh. Dies to Eye Gouge. …seems strong, since both halves are good. A 5/5 trample haster for six and an 8/8 trample for six are both good. Sure, you’ll rarely get the half that you want, but both do pretty much the same thing.

Charging Badger

David: Haha, Honey Badger don’t care.

Brendan: This card is silly.

Matt: HAHA!!!

Zach: “AAAAAAAAH! WHY AM I A 1/1!?!?!?!”

Karametra’s Favor

Matt: Excellent use of light, Chase Stone.

Zach: There’s the inspired enabler I’ve been waiting for. I love ramping and fixing. I love aura of Birds of Paradise. It might not always be on curve, since you’ll need a one drop (and so few are playable, and of those, most want to attack).

Mischief and Mayhem

Zach: So many people are going to cast this as an instant. It could be mega Lava Axe. It’ll force chump blocks or do a ton of damage (like Enlarge)… or it’ll do nothing when you’re on the defensive. It’s a neat take on finisher-only cards.

Mortals’ Resolve

Zach: It’s Withstand Death with a pump. It’s green’s Gods Willing. It should be good.

Noble Quarry

Matt: This is the weirdest looking unicorn ever. My aversion to it makes me want to stare at it MORE.

Zach: This is a weird looking unicorn! They bent its back and horn just to make sure it only has one power so a bestowed Baleful Eidolon isn’t the end of the world.

Pheres-Band Tromper

David: This seems like an excellent Green common. Only gets harder and harder to deal with.

Brendan: Whirlish Dervish strikes again, thankfully without protection from black.

Jess: It’s a strong contender for Pauper Cube. It’s got reasonable base stats and gets bigger every turn. That seems like a really powerful combination.

Zach: Now you’re speaking my language. (Mole) Hill Giants are good, and if this one doesn’t die, it becomes a Mountain Giant.

Satyr Wayfinder

Matt: “Guys! Guys! Over here, I think.” —Better flavor text.

Zach: Wayfinder’s keep getting worse. Civic found you the exact basic you needed. Merfolk only searched the top three and only for Islands, but you got all of them. Satyr is the first to find you any land, but you bin everything (which is sure to cause bad feelings at prerelease, particularly among newer players who just want to play with their prerelease promos). This might enable more of the GB graveyard strategy, if it exists.

Setessan Oathsworn

Zach: Yuck. There are good things to be done with this satyr (like put ordeals on him), but he’s just too expensive to be a 1/1. Staunch-Hearted Warrior and Centaur Battlemaster both become huge with one heroic trigger, whereas this dude becomes Nessian Courser. I’d rather just started with a Courser, though if you’ve got a ton of enablers, the Oathsworn could become giant faster than anything else.

Setessan Starbreaker

Jess: Aven Cloudchaser makes this card look like a chump. For 3W, that card kills an enchantment and leaves you with a 2/2 flier. This kills fewer things and leaves a weaker body without evasion, for the same CMC. Boo! At least they could have made it a 2/3 or even 3/3!

Matt: But, Jess, how pretty is this art?!

Zach: Given the awkwardness of Revoke Existence (which is main deckable, but doesn’t always have a target or enough targets), Setessan Starbreaker may not be maindeckable. It’s so weak compared to every other green creature, that you’ll never want to cast it without blowing up something, and when you do, the reward is a non-trampling Satyr Rambler.

Snake of the Golden Grove

Matt: My favorite illustration in the set. This thing looks so awesome. The scale is surprisingly powerful, the snake looks furry, it merges with the tree creating visual confusion, and it set a trap for a weird dog unicorn deer. AWESOME.

Zach: It’ll be a five mana 4/4 80% of the time. When it becomes a 7/7, you’re about to die. Both halves of this card are fine.

Swordwise Centaur

Matt: Very good art. I’m glad there are children on Theros. It was looking pretty bleak for the future until this card.

Zach: Solid card. This is the aggressive two drop green’s been waiting for. Sure, it’s hard to cast, but devotion more than makes up for that “downside.”

Siren of the Silent Song

Zach: It’s a three mana, flying, two power, slow specter (which is still a good thing). Seems stronger, weakened only by the fact that it’s two colors.

Gorgon’s Head

Matt: It’s about time some sick decapitiation art showed up in Magic. “Do the snakes on a gorgon’s head die when the gorgon dies?” No, at least not right away.

Siren’s Song Lyre

Zach: This is no Leonin Bola, though it does enable inspired. I’m reading these spoilers backwards (so I haven’t seen everything), and so far, I’ve been surprised to only see uncommon enablers for inspired.

Thursday, January 23

Eidolon of Countless Battles

David: Now here’s a card that I can get behind. Ethereal Armor ftw.

Brendan: Dayhowler.

Jess: Fighter of the Nighthowler. Champion of the Sun. It’s a shoe-in for enchantress, and friendship for everyone!

Zach: It’s a good thing that Baron Sengir never ascend to Count Sengir – otherwise, he’d never be able to wear this.

Eye Gouge

David: An early contender for funniest card in the set.

Brendan: In flavor draft, you count the number of eyes depicted on a creature and if you hit the creature with that many Eye Gouges, it dies.

Zach: If you kill a creature with this, it doesn’t trigger Jar of Eyeballs.

Matt: Second best art in the set.

Gild

Jess: So… as cool as Gold seems to be, I would rather run Sever the Bloodline than this any day. I just don’t know that this is good enough to see Commander play. Plus, this can’t be the only Gold producing spell, right? Because otherwise it’s a waste.

Shawn: So with Aurification, turning creatures into gold made them walls. Now turning creatures into gold makes them into pseudo eldrazi spawn. The times they are a changin’.

David: Now this is an interesting card. Does the mana rock make this constructed-playable even though it costs four?

Brendan: Is this the first official non-creature token card that has been printed? So awesome.

Jess: The artwork tie-in to Gild makes me worry that Gild is the only card that makes Gold tokens. Which, in that case, seems like a gigantic waste of what could be an interesting second coming of Eldrazi Spawn.

Zach: Sweet flavor. It’s the second non-creature token that I’m aware of. Imperial Mask makes enchantment tokens (but it’s Future Sight, so it hardly counts).

David: I hate to step on Matt’s toes but I really don’t like the super CGI-ness of Gild and the Gold token’s art. Too much like God’s Willing and not enough like actual art.

Matt: Bones, you aren’t stepping on my toes. This card is the worst art in the set. If I wanted computer art I’d play a video game.

Satyr Firedancer

David: Where’s Lightning Bolt when you need it? Seems janky but fun.

Zach: You could curve this into Chandra’s Phoenix, Furnace of Wrath, Fire Servant, and then die with Jaws of Stone in hand. It’s a pretty sweet effect, though.

Revoke Existence

Brendan: I was wondering if they would reprint this.

Zach: Called it!

Vortex Elemental

David: I spent a minute trying to make a whirlpool pun/“this card sucks” joke but couldn’t get it right. Help!

Shawn: David, I sea what you’re going for and I’ll give it a whirl. Maybe if we pool our collective pun abilities we can come up with something…

More like BOREtex elemental!

Brendan: I would avoid stalking this creature in combat.

Zach: Dies to Spark Jolt. Sure, it dies to Doom Blade, but Spark Jolt costs ONE MANA. ZOMG.

Matt: This is my favorite exchange amongst Hipsters ever.

Nessian Demolok

Jess: In EDH, run Acidic Slime.

Zach: Demolok flunk archaeology school. Demolok want be left alone!

Matt: With so few beasts in this set we’ll take what we can get, I guess.

Acolyte’s Reward

Brendan: Space centaur and an obelisk? This is the Matt Jones-iest Magic illustration ever.

Zach: Another entry in the long line of confusing white mana prevent-redirect spells, starting from (I believe) Kor Chant. You’ll rarely see it coming, sometimes it’ll be a blowout, and sometimes your opponent on MODO will get the targets wrong and blow up his own board.

Akroan Conscriptor

Brendan: Apparently this card is drafting players for a shirts-vs-skins game.

Zach: “The time to serve is now, Nicol Bolas. You too, Polar Kraken. Step in line, Heliod. WAIT YOUR TURN, SHIPBREAKER KRAKEN!”

Aspect of Hydra

Zach: Now we know the difference between the Aspect of Hydra and the Aspect of Wolf. This is why you should join Hydra instead of A.I.M. If you cut off one thread of her sash, two more will take its place. ….in all seriousness, this is a fine trick. It promises to do more than Giant Growth. In practice, that depends on deckbuilding. One mana tricks ain’t bad in this format, and that’s exactly what this is.

Astral Cornucopia

David: Adults only, obviously.

Jess: This seems like a stand-out card for Commander. Worst case it’s another Coalition Relic/Darksteel Ingot/Chromatic Lantern, all of which are three CMC mana rocks that make it into decks because they have strong ancillary abilities. For this card, the ancillary ability is that it scales with the rest of the game. That makes it generally playable. Where it will shine, though, is in any deck that has the ability to proliferate the charge counters, a la Everflowing Chalice. That’s going to be a lot of fun.

Black Oak of Odunos

Brendan: I don’t know how often I will activate the pump ability, but I expect to play this card often. Actually, with inspired (and the ability to block and then tap) I probably will activate it quite a bit.

Zach: One of the few inspired enablers and a decent blocker to boot.

Matt: Third best art in the set. Chris Rahn is generally an awesome illustrator.

Courser of Kruphix

Brendan: I hate playing with the top card of my library revealed, although maybe with scry it will be less of a downside.

Jess: Ironically, I love playing with the top card of my library revealed, and try to do it a lot in Commander. While I am a little disappointed that this doesn’t have the Oracle of Mul Daya ability to actually let you ramp, the minor lifegain, relevant body, and lower casting cost all seem like they might make this worthy of inclusion side by side with the Mul Dayan elves.

Zach: This card is nuts. Incidental life gain, card quality advantage, and an undercosted body are all great. It’s not mega bomb, but this creature will provide plenty of value as long as it lives.

Crypsis

Zach: Neat. Weird. You get unblockable, a surprise blocker, and protection from combat damage. This is probably worse than Gods Willing 90% of the time (twice the mana cost, doesn’t stop kill spells, doesn’t scry), but the untap and creature-protection are still good.

Culling Mark

Zach: There need to be awful commons. This is one of them. I like it better when it’s stapled to a catoblepas.

Matt: Super gnarly art, though.

Dawn to Dusk

Jess: Do you know what’s awesome in EDH? Card advantage.

Fall of the Hammer

Brendan: Slightly more powerful than Fall of the Gavel.

Zach: The most relevant half of Soul’s Fire for one less. The red half of Pit Fit without the downside. Seems fantastic.

Fated Return

Jess: This is tailor-made for EDH. Seven mana spells are a lot easier to swing in that format, and indestructible is a super-relevant keyword. That it’s an instant makes it even better, although I bet there will be plenty of times people end up casting it at sorcery speed for the scry.

Zach: Seven mana, instant speed, darksteel Rise from the Grave. With scry. It’s expensive, but a complete and utter blowout if you ever rez something half-decent in the middle of combat. Or it’ll rot in your hand (as the creature rots in the ground) when you don’t have good targets or enough mana.

Fearsome Temper

Jess: Cowards can’t block warriors.

Matt: “Don’t make me angry …”

Felhide Brawler

Brendan: According to the flavor text, this card is a reprint of Fleshmad Steed.

Zach: Moo. This is much, much better than Fleshmad Steed. It’s still worse than a bear, but its got a relevant creature type.

Matt: More Nils Hamm illustrations please.

Floodtide Serpent

Zach: There are some cute interactions with this and bestow creatures. There are also almost no enchantments with ETB triggers (like Nylea’s Presence) that make this card good.

Graverobber Spider

David: I’ve only been playing for two years…has Wizard’s always loved Giant Spider? It’s everywhere.

Zach: Yes, Giant Spider is the card that has been in Standard longer than any other card (I believe). It was the very last card to be reprinted in every core set since Alpha, running all the way through M12 (the flavor text references this). The spider’s usually very good, and this card is no exception.

Heroes’ Podium

Zach: Coat of Arms for legendary creatures, plus Scrying Sheets for legendary creatures. Cute for EDH. Unplayable otherwise (unless you really really want to find your Polukranos or something).

Jess: Yeah, maybe we’ll see more Captain Sisay decks now that there’s a second block of legendary support cards. As is, I suspect this card will remain with Day of Destiny and all those other “legends matter” cards from Kamigawa. Sisay just isn’t that much fun.

Impetuous Sunchaser

Brendan: Kid Icarus was my favorite random 8-bit platform game.

Zach: Might be my favorite flavor hit so far. It combos beautifully with the one mana 2/1 flying pegasus and slots into red hyper aggro (which I respect even though it’s totally not my style of deck).

Kraken of the Straits

Zach: A seven mana 6/6 that might be unblockable. Sure, sure. Seems fine. Slow, but fine. It’s like a better Scrapdiver Serpent (which isn’t saying much, since that card was terrible).

Matt: WOW. This is weird/brilliant Magic art. It totally brings up my fear of deep water, something I haven’t experienced in art form since Dandân.

Loyal Pegasus

David: A War Falcon that can turn itself on. Too bad it isn’t a Pegasus Soldier or it could turn War Falcon on, too.

Zach: This looks perfect for RW heroic/hyper aggro. The 1/1 flying haste Icarus is meant to combo with this. It’s also not the worst if you have to wait before attacking with this for a bit, since a three mana 2/1 flying is playable and a two power flyer is a fine blocker. Certainly not a high pick and more of a build-around card, but it certainly isn’t a bad card.

Jess: This is the common that really stands out to me as being a potential player in Pauper Cube. I get that it’s not really attacking much on turn two, but paired with a battalion at two and a hastey dude at three, well, then you have a party. And in less magical christmas territory, it’s still pretty damn cheap for a 2/1 with evasion. The drawback doesn’t change that, ask Rogue Elephant.

Marshmist Titan

Brendan: Oh boy, Myr Enforcer. I’m sure this slots into Modern mono-black right next to Phyrexian Obliterator. It is nice for the limited format to get a big common black creature, though.

Zach: The power of this card rests solely on your devotion to black. A 4/5 is reasonable large for this format, but Benthic Behemoth is two turns too slow to be a serious threat. If you get this down on turn four, however, it’s a very serious threat (unless you’re playing against green, and then Nessian Asp and Vulpine Goliath make this the world’s shortest giant).

Peregrination

Brendan: I have cultivated a love for fetching lands out of my deck.

Zach: I love Kodama’s Reach. I love Cultivate. I love this less, since the point is to ramp as fast as possible. It’s still quite good, but its rarity makes the five color green deck still an uncommon dream rather than a common possibility. …seriously, how funny would it be if they templated it incorrectly and you scryed before fetching the lands?

Jess: This still seems playable. Usually, Commander-based Kodama’s Reach/Cultivate decks go t2 Rampant Growth/Farseek into a t3 Cultivate so that you can drop the land you got off the spell in order to conserve information about what’s in your hand. But that’s probably too fancy, and this will still be fine on turn three off a mana rock or a smaller ramp spell. Still, it’s going to be a lot more irritating when you don’t have that second ramp spell, and four mana is harder to hit than three, if you’re using fetch-spells to shave off a few lands. Playable, but definitely not a replacement for Cultivate or Kodama’s Reach.

Perplexing Chimera

Zach: Well. Wow. Er. This is new. There can be some really weird rules interactions regarding this and a spell/counter war (if you’ve got a bunch of triggers, you can continue exchanging control of the chimera after you’ve given it away – control doesn’t change, but you can still retarget your opponent’s stuff). It’s a neat proactive Redirect, but a five mana 3/3 is weaksauce.

Pillar of War

Zach: Three mana 3/3s are good even if they can’t always attack (as Returned Phalanx demonstrated). Given the abundance of bestow and auras, this card seems easy to turn on and perfectly playable.

Pinnacle of Rage

Zach: For just one mana more, your Jagged Lightning can hit your opponent (which you probably never want to do, unless your opponent is at 3)! Card advantage is card advantage, but the question is: is this too slow to be relevant, given that heroic/monstrous/tribute creatures are usually well out of range of a bolt by turn six? I’m skeptical that this card is as good as it looks.

Scourge of Skola Vale

Zach: A three mana 2/2 trample hydra just feels weird. I’ll be calling this Hungry Hungry Hydra forever.

Matt: There’s much drama in this illustration and off-beat style. I like.

Servant of Tymaret

Zach: I like the combination of regeneration and inspired! It lacks an impressive body, but can block reasonably well (unlike its younger sibling, Asphodel Wanderer), has enough toughness to be suited up, and can drain your opponent each turn. Not a high pick, but I expect this to see play a reasonable amount of the time.

Jess: If this regenerated for B, or even 1B/BB, I think it might be playable in EDH. The “regeneration + inspiration = success” thing actually seems cute, but keeping up three mana is a bit too much to ask.

Shrike Harpy

Zach: This bird-lady is worse than she appears. I love me an Air Elemental, but more likely than not, Shrike Harpy with be a five mana 2/2 and your opponent will lose a Nyxborn Rollicker, or your opponent will just kill her.

Jess: This might see play. You target the weakest player in the game with the tribute question, get the yes, and make the strongest player sacrifice a creature. But that’s a long way to go to get a Diabolic Edict effect, and leaving behind a 2/2 flier is hardly worth the three extra mana.

Sudden Storm

Zach: Frost Breath is a solid card in the right format, and Theros seems the right format. As usual, I think that scry 1 and 4 cmc make the card worse than Frost Breath (who cares about scrying when cards like this and Sea God’s Revenge are what’s supposed to swing the game to your favor), but that’s not a horrid state of affairs given that you don’t really want to play cards like this on curve. Yet again, blue is reaping the rewards of having unconditional, tempo creature removal at common.

Sunbond

Zach: If this cost three, it be a nifty combo for Oreskos Sun Guide. In general, I like my Magic cards to do so something, and Sunbond fails that test. Perhaps there’s enough incidental lifegain to make it a build around card, but if it’s supposed to combo with Hopeful Eidolon (which already kinda wins the game by itself), then I’ll leave this in my board 100% of the time.

Whims of the Fates

Zach: I like that you can go all-in, put it all in one pile, and have a ⅔ chance of nothing happening. All that I know is that this card is terrible for Limited and hilarious in multiplayer.

Jess: This card is going to be so annoying. Sadistic Hugs decks will love it.

Nullify

Shawn: I’ve never met a counterspell I didn’t like but, c’mon, you couldn’t have just made it enchantments? I think as is, most decks that could play this card would probably play Essence Scatter instead. But, if we’re being honest, they probably won’t play either.

Zach: Essence Scatter is certainly Limited playable, though it benefits from being splashable. I like this Psychic Barrier that can also shut down bestow, but it won’t be a particularly high pick, particularly considering how durdle-blue is pretty bad against heroic (given the current lack of any common bounce/blue removal in Born of the Gods).

Thunderous Might

Zach: Unexciting. On a cheap aggressive creature like Icarus-dude it can produce a lot of damage very quickly, but so often it’ll do nothing. I expect red hyper aggro will appreciate the risk/reward of this and nothing else will.

Wednesday, January 22

Spiteful Returned

Matt: THE BEST CARD IN THE SET (at uncommon, so far, for me). Life’s hard, man. Having to do it again with less “life” seems shitty. Poor zombies. The art is “ok”. It reminds me of Voldo from Soul Edge. Kinda.

Hunter: Seems really fragile, and you are mostly only ever going to want to bestow it—but when it dies, it offers you a little tiny bit of reach. Also: Aqueous Form goes WAY up in my pick order.

Tony: I can’t get over how cool that border + card art looks.

 

Oracle of Bones

David: Clearly my Invitational card.

Brendan: I suppose this is better than Mindclaw Shaman, but I don’t like it as much.

Rich: Did a 5/3 Haste for 2RR really deserve to be a Rare?

Matt: Greg Staples usually does a sweet job with his illustrations, including McCoy’s Oracle here. That little bit of green in the upper left goes a long way. Not sure what he’s doing with his mouth, though.

Hunter: Damn it, Dave beat me to his/my joke.

Tim: One thing I like about the use of the punisher mechanic, here, is that they don’t actually know what they’re choosing. That said, a four-mana, hasty 5/3 doesn’t seem THAT impressive.

Meletis Astronomer

Brendan: Good bestow target, as it draws you more bestow cards. Curving this into Nyxborn Shieldmate seems solid, although you aren’t beating down very hard with a 2/5.

Jess: More tools for a Bruna, Light of Alabaster enchantress Commander deck, and probably a solid limited card to boot. Its only disadvantage is that in general heroic is a lot weaker in EDH than it is in other formats.

Matt: If Meletis Astronomer and Artisan of Forms had a baby it would be the most boring Magic art of all time.

Hunter: There are also a lot of cards in Born of the Gods that are just straight-up enchantment creatures, with no bestow. That said, you can’t use *those* guys to trigger *this* guy, so it’s kind of feast or famine, no?

Nyxborn Triton

Brendan: A 2/3  for 2U is always playable, and bestow is usually better than Crackling Triton or Meletis Charlatan.

Matt: A real miss for creature type “Merfolk Zombie” or “Zombie Merfolk”. Much disappoint.

Hunter: This cycle of common bestow guys/gals is interesting from a design perspective, in that you would expect for these iterations—with no special abilities, just P/T-boosting—would show up in Theros, while the more complicated cards (Hopeful Eidolon, Nimbus Naiad, etc.) would appear in the second set, Born of the Gods. As it stands, these guys are all a little disappointing, especially the smaller ones—the red guy in particular is almost laughable. I’m sure that many of them will be good in draft, as we’ve seen just how powerful bestow can be, but they remain unexciting.

Tim: I have a serious spoiler to let you all know: none of the cards in this cycle will see constructed play (and don’t say, “but Tiiiiim, what about Standard Pauper?”)

Tony: I’m already bad at math. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep track of different levels of P/T increase. It was a pretty cool on Boon Satyr, but I’m not too enthused about a whole cycle of cards that uses it.v

Nyxborn Eidolon

Matt: Unholy Strength Eidolon ain’t the worst thing ever and Nils Hamm was born to paint spirits.

Hunter: A 2/1 for 1B is fine, of course … but bestow at 4B with no special abilities seems overcosted.

Nyxborn Rollicker

Matt: “Rollicker” is my new favorite word. Not so into the computer motion blur with the thrown food. I generally dislike computery art in Magic cards. Call me old fashioned. Call me whatever you want. Just don’t call me late for dinner.

Hunter: Ugh, red sure has some stinkers in this set and Theros. From Akroan Crusader to this food-fighting master, there’s just a ton of too-low-impact guys. Also, did you know that the tokens made by Akroan Crusader are not, in fact, humans? Come on, R&D! Couldn’t you have even given us interaction between those near-useless tokens and Cavalry Pegasus? (Also I am looking forward to the Christianity-themed set, wherein we get Calvary Pegagus.)

Nyxborn Wolf

Rich: The more bestow creatures they print the more underwhelming they all seem.

Matt: Yeah, snore. Pretty sweet space-wolf though. Good job with the illustration, Lucas Graciano.

Hunter: I second Rich here. That said, an extra 3/1 for 4G and leaving behind a 3/1 body when the bestowed guy dies is, IMO, way better than a 2/1 for 4B.

Hunter’s Prowess

David: I’ve never seen Hunter look that badass.

Brendan: I look forward to Hunter using this card to win games for our draft team.

Rich: This is why that rare red tribute minotaur is always going to be a 5/3 haste for 2RR. Can you imagine playing him and getting to make him a 6/4 haste until end of turn and then draw up to six cards? Christmasland indeed.

Matt: The sad thing is, Hunter won’t even comment on this card in here. Greg Staples, once again illustrating at a high level. Here he depicts a warrior jumping through sunlit smog attacking a circular saw! GOOD LUCK! Hope that’s adamantium armor.

Hunter: My invitational card seems bonkah … except I just realized it’s a sorcery. WAH-WAH. Still, it’s got some raw power, but are you ever casting it against a blue or black opponent when they have mana up? That just seems like such an incredible blowout if they remove or bounce your guy. AND they know it’s coming.

Matt: Oh look, he DID comment on it.

Tuesday, January 21

Phenax, God of Deception

David: Uh, okay.

Brendan: Yes please! I look forward to slamming this first pick and never looking back. Returned Centaur says hello. So does Triton Tactics. Phenax could potentially do something in constructed as well, for example by turning your Mutavaults into two-mana Nephalia Drownyards. It also plays very well with Lazav and pretty well with Ashiok.

Zach: Mill is much more potent in Limited, given its slower speed and significantly smaller library size, and Phenax should be a one card kill condition that unlike Mind Grind, isn’t useless until the moment that it kills your opponent.
Matt: Literally, not figuratively, give two shits about this card. You can pick up the two shits from my studio in Williamsburg Thursday at 4pm. I dig Phenax’s sweet evil Wolverine/Havok/Doctor Strange costume though. Nice sleevies.

Jess: I’m unimpressed with this one for EDH, but my better half wants to immediately replace Sygg, River Cutthroat with this God of Deception, so clearly opinions are split on the card.

Rich: Mill hasn’t been a viable strategy in ages and that isn’t about to change because of this card.

Tim: Womp Womp Womp. Dimir gets the shaft again. And nobody was surprised.

Whelming Wave

David: Kinda-sorta Upheaval?

Brendan: Sea God’s Revenge for control decks. I can see why this appeals to me.

Zach: So, it’s sorcery speed evacuation in a format where bounce is king of the removal. Looks like (tempo) Wrath of God to me.
Matt: This is a real missed opportunity. Where are all the Krakens, Leviathans, Octopuses, and Serpents in the wave? It could’ve been so funny but instead it’s super snoresville. DAMMIT!

Jess: More like missed art-potunity! Anyway, mass bounce is always fun in Commander and those aren’t particularly relevant creature types in the format.

Tim: At first, I just liked the sweet flavor of this card, but then saw Sam Black post a crazy Bant Ramp list that involved looping the wave with Archaeomancer, and suddenly, I want to play this card!

Hero of Leina Tower

Zach: Whoah. This card does a lot. Early in the game, it’s much worse than Favored Hoplite (since mana’s tight), but later in the game, it’s one of those huge, growing hydra. It’s always neat to see a one drop that best in the mid to late game, but the mana and spell investment necessary to make this creature be good are substantial. Compare it to something like Centaur Battlemaster or Staunch-Hearted Warrior, which cost more upfront but don’t require down payments on heroism.

Matt: Sometimes you gotta pay for quality service. She’s clearly tough, having already taken down a baloth with a spear, and probably pretty awesome. The art is ok though I’m not sure how her legs can support her body.

Vanguard of Brimaz

David: Seems like Cats with vigilance is a theme.

Brendan: Awkward for Heliod that the best creatures to play with him already have Vigilance.

Zach: Good two drop is good. This card doesn’t exactly compete with his best friend, Phalanx Leader, since you rarely want to play him on turn two. Perhaps there’ll be a sweet monowhite draft deck.

Matt: As a fan of Thundercats during my youth it surprises me that I totally dislike the cat creature type in Magic.

Monday, January 20

Chromanticore

David: WUBRG creatures are always interesting beasts.

Jess: Of course it would have been more interesting at Legendary, so that you could make it your general, but then they would have had to figure out how Legendary works with Bestow.

Zach: I imagine Legendary works with bestow the same way it does with the gods of Theros. It’s nice to see another Manticore and another rainbow creature. It’ll be surprising to see this on a Limited battlefield, seeing as how hard five color is to make work and how fast the format can be.

Matt: The illustration for Chromatanticore is pretty awesome. Look at its red horns! I can’t help but love a mouth breathing monster, too. Ole’ manti here is one crazy mo’fucka.

Jess: So, if you had a Legendary Chromanticore out and bestowed another Legendary Chromanticore on it, what would happen?

Brendan: I think you have to pick one to keep, ending up in the same situation you were already in (unless you sacrifice the one that isn’t summoning sick). It’s pretty rare that two copies of the same card are different permanent types on the battlefield, but I don’t think it matters for legendary.

David: Jess, there’s probably a good reason they don’t have any legendary bestow guys…that situation would be super confusing.

Spirit of the Labyrinth

David: Did I mention I’m getting a pretty nice aggro feel from this set?

Jess: 3/1s aren’t great for EDH, but a card like this slots well into any Thalia, Guardian of Thraben prison decks out there.

Brendan: White weenie can’t draw cards anyway, and this looks like a great two drop for the deck. Spirit fights Supreme Verdict by making it harder for a control player to draw it.

Zach: Well, this goes into my cube. A 3/1 for two is exactly what aggro wants. Hosing control shenanigans is… well, also exactly what aggro wants.
Matt: Sweet. Those rectilinear brain models suck, though.

Raised by Wolves

Zach: Looks like we got some Roman mythology in our Greek set. I wonder whether there’ll be wolves in BotG to help make this card work.

Matt: The wolf in the front looks ridiculous. Why’s his mouth open/tongue out? He should be in “rowr” mode, not mouth breathing mode. Bones has seen an aggro theme to the set, I’ll be the first one to confirm a mouth breathing theme.

Archetype of Endurance

Zach: This is a big dumb creature that comes down far too lately to protect anything else. A 6/5 for eight is exceptionally underwhelming in green. Sure, once it resolves, your creatures will be safe from future kill spells, except one wants eight drops to win the game or at least turn the tide of battle, and this bore (I know what I wrote) does neither.

Matt: At least it doesn’t cost six, we have too many six drops. No one will ever play Space-Boar. Sorry, Space-Boar.

Glimpse the Sun God

Zach: This looks like Gridlock, but with scry 1. It’ll either win you the game or be a wasted slot in your deck. The neat thing is that you can EOT tap your opponent’s stuff and all of your heroic creatures, making it more robust than the average Reality Spasm.

Brendan: White is happy to have this effect.

Matt: Meh. Heliod looks pretty inconsistent in this illustration (relative to His creachantment card). I guess the mountains look cool and Aleksi Briclot knows how to make things look like the sun is shining on them. C+

Friday, January 17

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

David: I’m in love.

Jess: Neat card for EDH! I could see this being a mono-white tokens general or something, but for the most part I think it’s just going to be a way to go shields up early while still getting some damage in.

Matt: More very straightforward generic art.

Archetype of Courage

David: I’m getting a wonderfully aggro feeling from this set. 🙂

Brendan: If you have a removal spell to kill this in combat, cast it before you block all their creatures, in case they have Gods Willing.

Matt: B-Mac’s comment just figuratively killed me. Big laughs. The art in this fine.

Jess: This is an auto-include in my Thalia, Guardian of Thraben mono-white tribal humans Commander deck. It’s a relevant ability, for sure.

Herald of Torment (officially spoiled in Italian, for some reason)

(Flying, Bestow, At Beginning of your upkeep you lose 1 life.)

Brendan: Seems a little bit better than Serendib Efreet. I can see bestowing it and then dying many turns later before I can kill it “twice” though.

Matt: This art is so good, so dark, so space winged.

Fated Infatuation

Matt: No one at Hipsters thinks this card is worth commenting on. I disagree, it seems shitty.

Felhide Spiritbinder

Jess: Drool. This card is great. I mean, it’s not the most powerful, but on the fields of Commander, where beef reigns? A dude like this could do a lot of damage. You just need a way to tap him. Viridian Longbow?

Matt: Holy fucking Christ this card is thrilling.

Fate Unraveler

Brendan: This is apparently the ninth hag printed in Magic. It is also the best. OK, OK, Scarwood Hag might be better. Underworld Dreams on an efficiently-costed 3/4 seems great.

Jess: And Nekusar, the Mindrazer, is going to love another one of these effects.

Matt: Black is crushing it in regards to cool card art. This thing is so weird. With all those candles, and that space-cloak. Excellent creature type. Excellent use of a tapestry.

Reap What Is Sown

Matt: They’re gonna make a fuck-ton of pasta. Good, they seem to deserve it. I love pasta.

Fated Conflagration

Matt: Snore.

Thursday, January 16

Karametra, God of Harvests

David: 🙁

Brendan: I love tutoring lands out of my deck. It is powerful and underrated. It’s too bad Karametra costs five, but come on green mages. You can play her on turn three and get value out of her ramp. You can do it!

Jess: This will see play in GW Commander decks for the foreseeable future. Why wouldn’t you run her?
Matt: I don’t know if this card is any good in any format but man I really like that there’s a god of farming. A generic landscape with a Miyazaki god-figure in it is pretty sick.

Xenagos, God of Revels

David: 🙂

Brendan: I hate this card. But I hate gruul, so I’m biased. It looks oppressively strong in limited.

Jess: Could be a fun general! Not super exciting, but clearly powerful. Some go for that.

Matt: I have a Gruul tattoo and I think this card is the most underwhelming spoiler so far (due to the high hopes I had for it). Goes to show you, kids, don’t ever get your hopes up. Ever. The art on this is awesome, though. I like how soft it feels. Man I’m so mad at this card. +x/+x, who cares? Shit still dies to fucking Hero’s Downfall. Xenagos is an expensive waste of mana. I’d take Thassa and Nylea over him any day of the week.

Searing Blood

Matt: LAVA BLOOD! This art is so freaking wonky I can hardly stand it. I love it. Look at the ring finger on the lava blood hand. Actually, look at all the fingers on both hands. They’re practically high-school-art-class-wrong. I LOVE IT! So much personality.

Ragemonger

Jess: Edgewalker for an equally irrelevant creature type!

Brendan: The awkwardness of how you can use this mana really matches the flavor of minotaurs generally.

Matt: I love Moon Clan Shaman. This art is dope. I love the blue/red/brown color scheme and the skulls on sticks and the magic skeleton stick. He looks pissed. I love him.

Unravel the Aether

Brendan: I can’t wait to play this in every main deck I can. This will be one of the best removal spells in the limited format. Also, apparently this is a reprint of Deglamer from Lorwyn.

Matt:

Mindreaver

Brendan: No thanks.

Matt: Really, B-Mac? This card seems right up your alley! HAHA. A heroic control card, right? The art is weird as shit and I like it.

Bile Blight

Brendan: This card is insane. One of the best removal spells printed in recent sets. Just don’t forget it will kill your copies too.

Matt: Black is such a cool color in Magic. It’s so grody.

Thassa’s Rebuff

Brendan: Awesome! I don’t know if this will be consistent enough but I look forward to finding out.

Matt:  To resist Thassa is to deny the rising tide, said someone, somewhere.

Wednesday, January 15

Hero of Iroas

David: Supposedly this is Hercules. Can someone explain?

Zach: Dave, have you seen his chest? The answer probably lies in the Ordeals, which kinda represent the twelve labors of Hercules. If he’s completed all of these quests, he’s a beast. As for him in Limited, there’s a reason he’s rare (though it certainly feels like he could be an uncommon). A 2/2 for two with the classic white heroic ability is quite good, and bestowing Hopeful Eidolon on turn three is pretty bonkers. Or you can bestow three Ordeals on turn three and pop them all.

Matt: Bones, let’s let Peter Paul Rubens explain how this is Hercules.

I love the flavor text but it should be added to thusly, “My left has felled a cyclops. My right has slain a giant. I bring both to every fight, and a shit ton of auras, otherwise I’d have felled no cyclops and slain no giants because I’m a fucking 2/2.”

Monique: I wonder how highly he’s going to rank on Clayton’s Shirtless Guys list?

Rich: Not being Legendary could really make this a playable card and make a deck around white heroic viable in Standard. Drop Hercules here on turn two, then, I dunno, give it Divine Favor and Ordeal of Heliod? Attack with your 6/8 on turn three and gain 13 life in the process. Seems alright.

Tromokratis

Zach: MOAR GIANT CREATURES RAWR NOM NOM. This is a neat combination of evasion and hexproof and a clear nod to how Invisible Stalker should have been (bloody Butcher’s Cleaver). I expect plenty of folks will think that Tromokratis has Lure and attack with their evasive creatures, unaware that they’ve made the Kraken unblockable (‘cause folks don’t read reminder text). I don’t mind seven-mana unblockable 8/8s in Limited, depending on how feasible seven mana is (and it’s a lot). Let’s see how Born of the Gods changes the speed of Theros Limited and what role blue wants to play, now that has only two thirds as many Voyage’s Ends, Griptides, and Sea God’s Revenges. I expect this to be a solid sealed card, particularly come prerelease weekend, but the jury’s out on whether every blue deck will want this in draft.

Tim: This will be a serious bomb in limited.. and completely useless in Standard. If I have seven mana and am in the market for something that’s hard to kill, hard to block, and can swing for eight, I’m sticking with Aetherling.

Matt: Hey, Blue, stick to drawing cards and countering shit.

Monique: If I’m understanding correctly, if your opponent attacks at all the turn before, Tromokratis is unblockable. It seems like this card will do a very good job controlling the late game.

Rich: To be fair, most rares and even a fair amount of Mythics will always fall under the category “this will be a serious bomb in limited and completely useless in Standard.” From even a limited perspective though, I think bomb is an understatement. It’s hard to fully analyze this sort of evasion mechanic, but it seems exceptionally powerful.

Drown in Sorrow

David: I know Damnation doesn’t really fit the flavor of Theros and I suppose this makes it even more unlikely for a reprint.

Brendan: Perfect for when you want to kill even fewer creatures than you can with Anger of the Gods. I’ll be happy to play this in black control decks, though.

Zach: Because black wanted a better answer to heroic than Pharika’s Cure and Returned Phalanx. The power of this card depends on your matchup. Against heroic/aggro, this will be good to insane. Against monstrous/tribute decks, it still kills Voyaging Satyr and Opaline Unicorn. I’ll happily maindeck these, unsurprisingly (since I do love my Pharika’s Cures).

Matt: Drown in Sorrow’s landscape looks like Bushwick this morning.

Shawn: In Standard, black really needed a sweeper and I suppose this sort of counts. This obviously will see play in Mono Black Devotion as a way to combat aggressive creature strategies, though I see it mostly being relegated to the sideboard. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really promote Grixis or other non UW control decks since it doesn’t do enough against the midrange decks in the format. I think this card certainly has a role in Standard but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that we’re not seeing more of a catch-all wrath like Damnation, Mutilate, or Life’s Finale.

Rich: This is a strictly better version of Infest which saw plenty of limited play when it was first printed in Onslaught and again when it was reprinted in Shards of Alara. The fact that it now comes with ‘Scry 1’ only makes it more playable. Infest was a sideboard staple back when Alara was Standard-legal, so I expect this card to be a moderately valuable uncommon. It will also be a must-have for plenty of Cubes/EDH decks, so shiny versions may be worth quite a bit.

Flame-Wreathed Phoenix

David: I’m having a lot of trouble evaluating this. Phoenix into Stormbreath seems good, though.

Zach: I’m sensing a theme with tribute cards—take less damage now or take more damage later. Both halves of this are obviously strong in Limited (and designed with Constructed in mind). I expect folks will be losing to this come prerelease weekend, since giant Shivan Dragon and smaller, unkillable hasty Phantom Monster are both very, very good in Limited. Can we look at more commons, please? Us Limited players really need to know those.

Matt: Do you really need to know these or would it actually be *fine* if you didn’t know them until prerelease weekend and only because you heard someone was playing with them? I think that’d be so much more exciting. “Did you see Draw Card Frog? It’s a blue uncommon that can only attack if defending player controls a forest and when it becomes tapped target player draws a card! It’s so crazy! The art is unconventionally amazing, too! Magic is the best game!” “I think Draw Card Frog is the shittiest Magic card, I mean, bad card is bad.” “Shut up, Billy, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” You know what I’m saying. The red/green color combo in this illustration is pretty nice.

Monique: This card seems pretty good. On the surface, its a 3/3 flier for four mana which is already impressive. The fact that it can gain haste or become a 5/5, nullifying key removal spells like Lightning Stike and Lash of the Whip makes it appear to be a limited bomb.

Rich: For a Mythic Rare this card is disappointing. Let’s say it was just a straight-up 5/5 flier for 2RR, would it be worth slotting at Mythic Rare then? What if it was a 3/3 flier for 2RR that had “When this creature dies, return it to its owner’s hand.” Well that’s a bit better, but still in the realm of bulk Mythic. Like most of the Tribute cards your opponent will always choose the better option and both options here, when better for your opponent, are really bad for you.

Fated Intervention

Zach: It’s Coursers’ Accord at instant speed, with incidental scry, for one less mana, and is much harder to cast. This’ll be a combat trick that few people will play around and will gobsmack the unwary. I dislike the scry on this, since it discourages using the card as it’s meant to be used—ambushing and eating hapless attackers. Yet another rare that should be quite good in limited.

David: Note that there is an entire cycle of the “If it’s your turn, Scry 2.”

Matt: 1, Godsmack is a horrible band, Zach. 2, I wonder if we had some way to figure out the average size of a figure in a Magic card if it’d come out to exactly the amount of space the main centaur takes up in this illustration. I bet it’s a solid “yes”. I’m happy to see that the space immediately under the human/horse connect has space-energy in it. Just how centaurs are joined has been a mystery to me since my first centaur encounter. Now I know: space-energy.

Shawn: You know, I can see this card seeing some Standard play. The heavy green commitment limits its adaptation to mono colored decks but I think Mono Green might want this card to smooth out draws and ambush attackers. It is a bit awkward in that it is at odds with the devotion mechanic, since the tokens don’t have mana costs, and that it doesn’t synergize well with Garruk, since this isn’t a creature spell. We’ll see on this one, but I think it could be a sleeper card.

Rich: I don’t think there’s ever been a 6/6 for 5 mana that was constructed playable without some type of evasion. Scry is not a mechanic that matters very much to decks that can pay GGG for any spell. Overall, this will be a decent card and maybe even a blowout in limited. Any time you attack and your opponent is holding up 2GGG just pretend he already has two 3/3 centaurs on the board. Standard-playable though, this card is not.

Fanatic of Xenagos

David: Tribute is a really hard to evaluate.

Zach: Now this is a tribute card I can get behind! A 3/3 trample for three is pretty darned good, and you’re guaranteed at least one turn with a Ghor-Clan Rampager (which is, admittedly a better card than this). I’d imagine that this’ll be Viashino Firstblade fairly often, since a 3/3 tends to be much easier to deal with than a 4/4. Still, I’m excited to play this, since I’m happy playing a three mana 3/3 trample without upside.

Matt: Volkan Baga is a poor man’s Ron Spears. Also, Hipsters of the Coast does not support ritual animal sacrifice, yet.

Tim: This seems Standard playable. Fanatic gets a lot better if Xenagos, himself, turns out to be really strong.

Brendan: I am never happy to see my opponent play this card. Seems good.

Monique: ::Rubs eyes:: Is that a silver uncommon symbol I see in the corner? This card will be very good in limited, especially since there are a lot of Aura’s and pump effects that can turn him into a trampling monster!

Shawn: As Tim pointed out, this card seems like it will see play in Standard. The problem I’m having is determining how much of a role this will actually play. I can’t help but compare it to Ghor-Clan Rampager which is more expensive to play as a 4/4 Trampler but is wholly more flexible in its ability to be turned into a combat trick. Rampager isn’t seeing much play at all right now, though perhaps this is due to a lack of other good aggressive creatures to slot into an aggressive Gruul deck. Right now it seems like Gruul strategies want to adopt a more midrange-y approach with stuff like Polukranos and Stormbreath Dragon and this guy doesn’t really fit in that deck. Fanatic really wants to be the top of a curve for a very fast RG Aggro deck, something that plays stuff like Experiment One and Kalonian Tusker.

Rich: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the 3cc is actually going to make this card too awkward to play in R/G aggro. Right now, most of the mana accel we’re looking at in the format comes on 2cc. Sylvan Caryatid, Burning-Tree Emissary, and Voyaging Satyr all jump you from 2cc straight to 4cc on turn 3. Only Elvish Mystic gets you from 1cc to 3cc on turn 2. Deathrite is theoretically a 1cc that gets you to 3, but not in Standard. So, for the most part, unless your plan is Turn 1 Dude, Turn 2 Dude, Turn 3 Dude, etc., I don’t think Fanatic is actually going to see much play. Decks are going to be designed to play 4-drops on turn 3 by virtue of the ramp available.

Aerie Worshippers

Brendan: This one seems pretty good. A 2/4 can attack and survive combat even if it is blocked, and Wind Drake tokens are really nice.

Zach: I agree with everything that Brendan said. This seems to be a recurring theme. She makes the best tokens of the cycle, since her birds are likely to smash over a board stall rather than contribute to it.

Matt: I now understand flight. Space-energy exists in the asses of birds and makes them fly. Why is Artisan of Forms so obsessed with birds? Get over it. They’re mostly scavengers.

Rich: If you can untap on your opponent’s turn, great, but if you’re playing blue, the last thing you want to do is tap 2U on your untap step before you’ve even drawn your card for the turn. A 2/4 for 3U is garbage and the ability is only going to be relevant a few times. In games where you can consistently activate this trigger you were probably already way ahead anyways.

Forlorn Pseudamma

Zach: If you liked Cavern Lampad (least mighty of all nymphs), you’ll like Forlorn Pseudamma. She’s the easiest of the cycle to enable, seeing as there’s a good chance she’s unblockable. She unfortunately makes the worst tokens (white’s are only 1/1s, but where tokens are concerned, two 1/1s are usually better than one 2/2), so unless there’s something good to do with tokens (which I kind of expect there will be), she’s probably not breaking a board stall with any degree of rapidity.

Matt: Inspired is pretty neat. This art is straight forward and terrible. A real miss. The mask is cool. Stealing children is cool (mythologically, of course, we aren’t sickos). Mist is pretty sweet. Stalagtites are super sweet. Everyone loves caves. Just, uh, so many cool things depicted in a totally boring manner bums me out.

Monique: I don’t think this card will be very good. On the later turns of the game, I want to be doing something much more impactful than spending three mana to make a 2/2.

Rich: See my comments on Aerie Worshippers. This is the same rubbish.

God-Favored General

David: My favorite of the cycle. This plus Springleaf Drum means two tokens to use Sprinleaf Drum with turn three.

Zach: Of course Dave likes the creature that makes small white tokens. This seems like the number one card that wants to equip Springleaf Drum and go to town. Let’s see what goodies Born of the Gods has for tokens (Theros didn’t have many aside from Phalanx Leader), since a one mana 1/1 and a five mana 3/3 aren’t exciting cards. Sure, you can do silly things with this as the game goes late, but there’s no shortage of cards like that in Theros, what with the bestowing and the monstrosing.

Matt: It’d be better if it made a copy of itself when it untapped if you pay 2W (and all Soldiers get +1/+1 for each soldier on the battlefield). Imagine this amazing situation: attack with a 1/1, next turn untap, spend three mana, make a 1/1, don’t cast a spell because you spent your three mana making a 1/1 which you couldn’t do til turn four because you can’t play a land during your untap step. It should be called Sort-of-God-Favored General. I want my generals to be bigger than 1/1, too. Even Hercules is a 2/2 and he has no military rank.

Rich: I don’t know what’s going on here but it isn’t actually any good. If you play Drum on turn 1 and then cast this on turn 2, what’s your next play? Another 1cc spell if you’re lucky off of Drum, otherwise you’re just going to waste turn 3’s untap step putting two 1/1 creatures into play? This whole cycle is awful. I’m glad it’s at uncommon so you don’t have to see it too often.

David: Don’t be such a downer, Rich.

Pheres-Band Raiders

Zach: Yarrr! It’s Fangren Marauder’s cousin, thrice removed. I question whether this is better than Vulpine Goliath, since if you’re attacking and untapping with a six drop, you’re already doing well. Granted, getting extra power is nothing to complain about, and an extra token or two should be more than enough to overpower your opponent’s blockers.

Matt: At least it won’t be killed by a non-deathtouch 1/1 like God-Favored General. The main centaur’s face paint is awesome.

Rich: At least green is the kind of deck that wants to pay 3 mana to put a 3/3 into play every turn. Too bad you won’t get there until the mid-to-late game. This is the only playable card in this cycle, but it’s still not very good.

Satyr Nyx-Smith

Brendan: I suppose giving this haste provides some hope of it ever untapping. You can wait until your opponent has no blockers (or has to block something bigger), drop this, and then get a three mana 3/1 haste creature to attack with next turn. Having haste means it can also take a tapping aura, like Epiphany Storm, and use it on the same turn. You need a chunk of mana to do that, and if you have that much mana then a 3/1 haste token on your next turn might not be very good.

Zach: Bad body, decent ability. I hated Satyr Rambler (except for how often it got me singing a certain Allman Brothers song) and this is essentially the same body. It hearkens back to Rakka Mar (who is very, very good) but is much harder to use. I’m not certain this would be great even if it said “2R, tap: make a 3/1 with haste,” since by the time you have that much mana, your opponent can blank your creatures with Nessian Asp. If you’re playing a controlling red deck, this can be your own personal Heliod (with better tokens), but I wasn’t that impressed with Heliod in Limited (because he’s too slow and insufficiently impactful for the mana investment).

Matt: The art here is generally ok, sort of dynamic without being stupidly dynamic. The real saving grace is how great the fire guy is with the stars in his chest. Fire + the universe = awesome.

Rich: If you didn’t open Springleaf Drum don’t bother picking this up. Attacking will not be a reliable way to trigger this effect.

Ephara’s Enlightment

Brendan: Don’t you hate when you have a mediocre heroic card in play and a good aura to cast, but you want to hold the aura in the hopes of putting it on the Phalanx Leader you hope to draw in two turns? Well, not any more! This card seems sweet. Drop it on your Setessan Battle Priest on turn three, attack with a 2/4 flier and gain two life. Then on turn five you can play the Phalanx Leader, bounce Ephara’s Enlightenment, and recast it on the Phalanx Leader.

Zach: I wouldn’t mind an aura that just gave +1/+1 and flying to my Battlewise Hoplites. This card gives you the option to toss it on something weak early and (hopefully) put it on something better later. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more flash creatures in Born of the Gods to play with this and Ephara.

Matt: Lovely to see you, straight forward composition. How perfectly pedestrian you are.

Rich: Finally, a really strong Heroic enabler. This will be very good in limited.

Champion of Stray Souls

Brendan: If you ever have a lot of mana and a lot of useless creatures, you can go deep with this thing. I don’t know when that will ever happen, but some games of limited go to turn 20. In those games, you’ll probably be happy to have this thing. Unless all your other creatures are dead. Then, well, you get a 4/4.

Zach: If you have infinite mana and infinite time, you can do infinite recursion! This looks fantastic for EDH (assuming folks don’t kill it on sight) and waaaaay too slow for Limited, where it’s a six mana nonevasive 4/4.

Matt: Everything in Born of the Gods costs six mana. Every single card. This art is ok.

Rich: Matt, plenty of them cost seven. As far as limited bombs go, this one is alright for sure. Swapping your guys in and out of the graveyard will be fun with creatures like Gray Merchant (aka Gary). Requires a decent mid-range mono-black deck to really get going. I can see this as a one or two-of in sideboards of mono-black devotion for the mirror match.

Tuesday, January 14

Mogis, God of Slaughter

David: Well this seems…good. Best god effect yet. I’m also digging the gold Nyx border.

Brendan: Two damage a turn or the Abyss? That’s a choice I’m willing to give my opponent. Interesting that a giant minotaur (half-bull) is the god of slaughter. How does Mogis feel about factory farming?

Zach: This is a neat twist on tribute: choose between Sulfuric Vortex or the Abyss (dammit again, Brendan!). It’s worth noting that Mogis does nothing if you’re behind on board but in all other cases, will clock your opponent. He seems strong, but I still question whether one would ever take a god (which commits one to two colors in a first pick, and heavily so if one wants to turn the god on) over a solid creature or removal spell.

Jess: Seems like a decent griefer general.

Shawn: I’m not really a fan of “punisher” cards that allow your opponent to make a choice, as good players will choose the better option. Furthermore, as Zach mentioned, cards like this are especially bad when you are behind on the board. Regardless, both effects are in fact powerful, and I can see this card playing a role, perhaps as a two of, in aggressive Rakdos strategies. In an aggressive shell, this acts as a finisher that is difficult to remove outside of Detention Sphere or a resolved Elspeth/Assemble the Legion.

Matt: His ax isn’t convincing but his evil Dredd shoulder pads are.

Tim: With a whopping 12 Rakdos duals in Standard, once BNG hits, this guy is a pretty easy splash in RDW Red Devotion. I know, shit-talking “punisher cards” is the hot trend du jour, especially with Wizards giving us an entire mechanic based on it, but this is a fine choice to give your opponent if you have any sort of board presence. The body is also pretty relevant. I can imagine scenarios where you get to play a turn three Reckoner, followed by Mogis, followed by Stormbreath Dragon, to swing for 14 on turn five. It’s less improbable than it sounds if you play four Reckoners and four Dragons

Rich: No one’s mentioned yet that this is a one-sided version of The Abyss or Sulfuric Vortex. Black/Red is exactly where this wants to be, obviously. The question is whether or not a Rakdos aggro deck needs this card as a finisher. I’m going to go with no. If it had haste, or trample, then maybe it’s a great Rakdos finisher. For now, I’m going to have to say that at best it’s a sideboard card that can come in for aggro matchups where both effects are very powerful.

Kiora’s Follower

David: Not quite the Inspired-enabler we were looking for. It does make for an interesting alternative to Voyaging Satyr, though, in that it can untap any land in addition to a creature or artifact.

Zach: Unbender Time on a good body, for half the mana, in my favorite colors? Yes, please! This can be used to abuse inspired, ramp or fix your mana, give a creature pseudo vigilance, and to form an infinite and pointless loop with a second Kiora’s Follower (unless there’s an inspiring aura or something). I expect that I will at some point, use this to force a creature to block Loathsome Catoblepas, and it will be glorious.

Tim: I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy helped create a RUG Twin deck in Modern. The catch, when going off with Follower, is that you will have to create all of your copies on their end step, but you get a two-drop enabler that lets you cast Kiki/Twin a whole turn earlier, not to mention, he fixes your mana for Kiki. I’m also excited to try out some sort of BUG deck in Standard, where I use Follower to power out a turn three Desecration Demon, and then proceed to use Follower to nullify his drawback.

Jess: Slots right into Derevi, Empyrial Tactician decks, but probably not much else. In a lot of situations, if you want this effect Fatestitcher is going to be better.

Matt: He seems overzealous. His attitude (put forth in the flavor quote) reminds me of the book Possibility of an Island.

Shawn: In terms of Standard playability, I think Kiora’s Follower is a niche card. If a Bant/Simic midrange deck were to exist, I could see this card being slotted in there; it ramps, allows for better blocking scenarios, and enables the inspiration mechanic. I’m sure there are a bunch of other cool interactions I’m missing that someone on Reddit is making a jpeg of right now.

Rich: Outside of enabling Inspiration effects, don’t forget that this also works as a mana-accelerator. Being able to untap a permanent is pretty versatile. You can untap lands for extra mana, or untap your Inspiration effects, or your creatures to block, etc. And we know that a 2/2 body on a 2cc creature is fine enough. If some kind of blue/green ramp deck was viable, this would be a key part. However, I don’t see that happening.

Silent Sentinal

David: The pre-release cycle isn’t very exciting.

Zach: Four of the five prerelease cards are dragons. Whee! Well… one’s a dragon and the rest are giant flying monsters… too. Here we’ve got a flying, seven mana 4/6 Sun Titan. The enchantment recursion will lead to plenty of confusion at prerelease as folks try to reanimate bestow creatures as auras (you can’t). I’m always happy to have a dragon in my deck,unless I’m aggro/heroic, then it’s too slow, and white kind of is the heroic aggro color. I’m reminded of Treasury Thrull and Archon of the Triumvirate: creatures too expensive to be relevant in time with bodies just a bit too small.

Tim: Uhhh.. I guess I can play this guy in EDH (obviously, to recur obnoxious prison pieces, because that’s how I roll). It’s kinda cool with Buried Alive and gods? Look, I’m stretching here!

Jess: Yeah, this card is basically pointed at the Commander crowd, and unfortunately it’s not exciting. It’s probably good! But… yeah.

Matt: Sliver Sentinel is already a card, wait, what? Silent Sentinal? Oh, who cares?

Rich: I’m pretty sure that being printed for EDH is how a card gets crazy valuable especially in Russian-foil form. Either way, this is basically an auto-include for any Zur, the Enchanter EDH deck, no? Not going to see any constructed play, but definitely a limited playable. 4/6 flyer is always limited playable and the fact that it reanimates all your enchantments in an enchantment-themed block is relevant. Good in limited. Nuts in Zur EDH decks. Rubbish in constructed.

Arbiter of the Ideal

Zach: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to magical christmasland, where each upkeep, you get a free Unexpected Results (that misses instants, sorceries, enchantments, and planeswalkers). Perhaps there’s something busted to do with it in Constructed (like Brainstorming and “miracling” Emrakul into play), but in Limited, this is Sphinx of the Chimes (albeit smaller and with an ability more likely to trigger): a big flying creature that’s probably the biggest threat in your deck.

Tim: Something deep, down inside of me wants to do something stupid, like use Hidden Strings and Ral Zarak and Springleaf Drum and whatever new untap toys they give us to turn this into some sort of crappy Mind’s Desire on a stick.

Jess: This reminds me a lot of Lurking Predators. It’s probably going to draw about the same degree of attention, especially if you are playing a Derevi, Empyrial Tactician build and have means of tapping and untapping her. Seems like people are going to need to start running more Tranquility effects.

Matt: Speaking of Lurking Predators, it’s nice that this sphinx doesn’t have enormous breasts. (I’m looking at you, Sphinx Ambassador. It’s not the Age of Apocalypse, put some clothes on.)

Shawn: Has Travis Woo seen this yet? I really love this card, but think it will make its way to the bulk bin right next to Unexpected Results and any hope of fun I was hoping to have in Standard.

Rich: It doesn’t drop Planeswalkers or Enchantments into play. That’s a big negative against it. Attacking with a 4/5 flyer seems fine, but at that point the inspiration effect seems like a win-more. Likely to see play in EDH with effects like Vampiric Tutor.

Eater of Hope

Zach: Abhorrent Overlord has very strong abilities, but costing seven mana and relying on devotion were glaring weaknesses. Eater of Hope also costs seven, also wants devotion (it’s not stingy about the color, but it wants plenty of creatures to snack on) and comes with the new downsides of dying to Lash of the Whip/Rage of Purphoros, not providing a whole bunch of power and chump blockers, and being weak against bounce. Seems worse than the Overlord (which was usually too slow in draft), despite its repeatable creature kill.

Tim: Maybe this is good in Limited, if you have some sort of tokens strategy. It would eat all of my hope to draw this demon in any major Constructed format.

Brendan: Skeletal Vampire forgot to bring the skeletons.

Jess: A card like this goes directly into Prossh, Skyraider of Kher and Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. The common thread? A lot of disposable tokens. Without fodder to munch on, this dude seems underwhelming. And he can’t even sacrifice himself!

Matt: Totally predictable, but I fucking LOVE almost all Magic demon illustrations. They’re so cool. This guy is no different. Gods can be appeased. Demons, however … indeed! BAMF!

Shawn: I’m going to try to preempt LSV on this one. Here we go. All hopes of constructed play have been eaten away. Wait! I can do better. “Gods can be appeased. Magic players, however…”

Forgestoker Dragon

Zach: Another set, another six mana, five power dragon with some ability evocative of firebreathing. If you untap with this, you probably win, not because of its ability, but because it’s a Lava Axe every turn. So… as ever, giant flying creatures tend to be Limited bombs. They get worse if there’s efficient removal for ‘em… and this does die to Lash of the Whip (which isn’t efficient, but is common) and is very bad when bounced by Voyage’s End. It’s still quite good, but there’s ample removal for it and it’s terrible at stabilizing against heroic decks.

Tim: This will be fun to slam the one to two times I get to play it in limited in my entire lifetime, and then I will never see it again, outside of Kaalia EDH (pretty relevant ability; it helps her survive combat).

Jess: I might put one of these in my Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck, probably in place of Two-Headed Dragon. Frankly, though, I’m not sure the card is powerful enough to earn a spot.

Matt: Oh look, a sucky dragon! WEIRD.

Shawn: I’m sorry for the puns earlier, I won’t dragon about this card being unplayable in constructed.

Rich: This card is dumb.

Nessisan Wilds Ravager

Brendan: Yuck. I never want to play with this card. A 6/6 is already big enough that your opponent probably can’t deal with it through damage, so tribute is not so expensive to pay. A 12/12 gets chump-blocked as easily as a 6/6. Number of times this fights something important seems low. The name and art also leave a bit to be desired.

Zach: It’s Gruul Ragebeast for one less (without working on all your creatures) and without control over whether you can fight at all. I like both halves of this card, but I don’t like them together. It’s either a big dumb thing that kills something (sweet) or a bigger dumb thing that your opponent can chump block with the creature that it’d be fighting anyway. I’m reminded of Quilled Slagwurm from Scars—bigger than everything, but easily chump blocked. So… I agree with everything that Brendan said, which is a shame, since I’d happily play a 6/6 ragebeast or a 12/12 for 4GG. I think that this’s just worse than Nemesis of Mortals and Nessian Asp.

Tim: Ho-hum. Another big, green fatty for the Nessian Asp.dec that you drafted. That’s all this guy is ever going to amount to.

Jess: Not a good card for multiplayer situations. Someone’s always going to give the tribute, which basically leaves you playing a vanilla 12/12 for six. That’s not typically good enough for the format.

Matt: This card and it’s illustration both suck.

Shawn: If you are anything like me, you are going to see this card in the back of every fucking Born of the Gods booster pack until Theros block is no longer being drafted. I hate you Nessian Wilds Ravager. I. Hate. You.

Monday, January 13

Ephara, God of the Polis

David: Our first glimpse at the Ravnica-guild demigods of Theros. I wouldn’t be surprised if these are actually easier to turn on via devotion to their two colors. Ephara only needs five other blue or white mana symbols on the battlefield to become a creature as opposed to the gods’ four other mana symbols.

Matt: Ugh, I hate Azorius. I also wish this art was slightly more linear and boring, wait, no, nevermind, this illustration is as linear and boring as it gets.

Jess: Not a huge fan of this for Commander. It doesn’t scale too well, and it’s got that weird Ice Age cantrip thing going on. What I do want to see happen, though, is to set Ephara up with Ophiomancer from Commander 2013 and any sacrifice outlet. Suddenly, there’s something to do with an unending stream of single snakes.

Zach: Devotion of seven to two colors may well be much easier to turn on than devotion of five to one color and I love the idea of cantripping off of my creatures. However… the gods of Theros weren’t Limited bombs. The minor gods require two colors and have only three abilities, rather than the major gods’ four. I’ll try her out if given the opportunity and will dream of cracking her and Prophet of Kruphix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the gods are drafted for money’s sake, rather than playability.

Tim: LOVE IT! This slots perfectly into Uw Devotion (which will receive a Temple for supporting the white splash). It’s another four-drop card-drawer, of which we currently have two, in Jace and Bident. I could see something like a 1/1/2 between the three of them. She isn’t difficult to turn on in that deck, and she lets you overextend into wraths without having to worry about getting blown out. I not-so-secretly would also like to see her enable some sort of (Planeswalker) Venser deck in Modern.

Shawn: Ephara is a bad draw engine in the same colors as Sphinx’s Revelation. There is some small chance that it acts as a curvetopper for Azorius Aggro or perhaps a splashable two of in Mono-Blue Devotion but otherwise it seems nigh unplayable. This card is pre-ordering for $10, but I expect it to drop to five alongside her celestial pal Heliod in no time at all.

Rich: Bad creature. Bad draw engine. Wizards is clearly trying to avoid giving more broken card-draw mechanics to blue mages. This will be a bulk mythic in no time.

Pain Seer

David: Our first look  at Born of the God’s new mechanic, Inspired. People keep calling this the poor man’s Bob but it seems like it would fit in an aggressive strategy better than Bob’s more midrangey feel. Though rather than attacking you could find a tap/untap enabler.

Matt: While this art, too, is pretty formally awful, I love the blood and hanging dead bodies so I’m gonna give it a B+.

Jess: This might make a splash in some of the other formats, but I don’t think EDH is the right one. Dark Confidant, Duskmantle Seer, and Dark Tutelage all fail to see play, and they’re very similar to this buddy. Sure, you can combo off with Mind Over Matter, but at that point you’re in blue anyway, so why not just run Azami, Lady of Scrolls?

Zach: Unless you’re worried about cards like Electrolyze or have some ridiculous untap shenanigans, this is a lot worse than Bob (who’s in the running for one of Magic’s best creatures ever, so that’s saying very little). In Limited, this effect is very dangerous, since one tends to have a diverse (re: high) curve.

Tim: As I alluded to earlier, with the Arbiter, I’m rubbing my hands in anticipation for the busted Inspired Strings deck. There’s also the sweet idea of curving Seer into Agent of the Fates into Hidden Strings, for value, rather than running some convoluted combo. That said, this guy’s best chance at success is going to be in Standard. In Modern, and beyond, he’s outclassed by Bob, and in Limited, as Zach said, he’s dangerous.

Shawn: Let’s stop with the Dark Confidant comparisons and get down to brass tacks here. This card is really only a consideration for Standard. In the format where it stands now, I think it slots right into the Orzhov Aggro/BW Humans deck that is making a splash lately since it provides a source of card advantage on a fairly costed (human) body. If anything, this deck could really use some better two-drops and losing life to draw a crucial Brave the Elements or Banisher Priest seems totally reasonable.

Financially speaking, I don’t think the card is worth the $12+ it is preselling for and would certainly be looking to pitch these things during the prerelease.

Rich: If there was a short selling market for Magic cards I would short sell the crap out of this card.

Oreskos Sun Guide

Matt: Wizards should commission more Magic art with no depth and figures in profile. It really works.

Zach: Wrote a quarter of an article on this dude, too. He can win the heroic race, he encourages your opponent to hold back creatures to block (and walk into your combat tricks), and he’s cheap enough that he can likely trigger inspired once or twice without any extra help. I love him (he’s not insane, but he’s definitely nifty).

Rich: Fun for limited. Useless otherwise.

Springleaf Drum

David: Speaking of Inspired-enablers.

Matt: Springleaf Drum’s new illustration makes me think of Susan Van Camp’s work and that’s a very good thing. Diversity in art ain’t bad.

Zach: I wonder whether nongreen decks will actively want to jump the curve with this. It’s probably just worse than Opaline Unicorn unless you’re using it to protect an inspired creature.

Tim: If inspired is going to bring about a third coming of Combo Winter (winter is coming, amirite?), this and Hidden Strings will be the straw that stirs the drink. Take all of my awesome combo craziness predictions with a grain of salt, though, because I’m speculating this with only a small fraction of the set actually spoiled, so far.

Epiphany Storm

Matt: I love the new Brainstorm art.

Jess: I’ve been thinking about this card for my Pauper cube. There’s an “enchantments matter” theme as is, and this seems like it could be interesting. Probably too weak, but at least you can cast it and use it on the same turn.

Zach: Love the new Brai- dammit, Matt! Wrote an article on this card, too. It’s a lousy heroic enabler (if that’s what you’re going for, it’s a strictly worse Messenger’s Speed) and not a particularly good aura, either, but it’s nice for turning on inspired.

Pharagax Giant

David: Another new mechanic in Born of the Gods, Tribute. I’m not a huge fan of giving your opponent’s choices but this seems like a fair tradeoff for a common.

Matt: The color in this painting is basically ripped off from Fragonard.

Jess: I’ve also been looking at this one for the Pauper Cube, but a 5/5 for five isn’t really good enough, and I can’t see your opponent ever taking the five damage.

Zach: I’ve written a quarter of an article on this dude. Tribute is worse than it looks, since providing your opponent the lesser or two evils means you’ll never have exactly the card you want. Still, a five mana 3/3 Lava Axe and a five mana 5/5 are fine cards in Limited.

Skyreaping

David: A new application for the returning devotion mechanic as it is now attached to spells.

Matt: Oh great a green card that kills flyers. FINALLY! (Also: this art rules.)

Zach: This card can be a blowout, particularly if your opponent has an Archetype of Imagination. Unlike Plummet or Shredding Winds, I’m wary of ever maindecking it, since you need board presence to kill anything and you need somewhat high devotion to green just to kill a four toughness creature. Granted, it’s boss at killing the all-Vaporkin deck.

Archetype of Imagination

David: An interesting uncommon…I’m interested in seeing the rest of the cycle.

Matt: I bet Brendan loves this card.

Brendan: These will be important limited cards, and the blue version seems like the most powerful of the cycle. What other keywords could possibly be better to gain exclusive dominion over? The cycle could be an interesting answer to the Theros gods’ weapons, potentially turning off lifelink for example.

Jess: I can see this cycle making a splash in Commander, but I am kinda hoping that they don’t. I mean, is this going to be a fun effect to play with? What happens when it gets cloned? Does no one end up with flying? Because I suspect this is going to be a cycle that just says, “no one gets to have fun on this axis,” when you’re actually playing with them.

Zach: Archetype of Imagination embodies the solution to the classic Limited problem of, “this card is good, but isn’t a creature or removal spell” — make it a creature and the problem’s solved. It can smash through a board stall and eliminate your opponent’s evasion, even if it doesn’t provide superior board presence. It won’t be impressive on its own, however, and be wary of Skyreaping and the flying cookie monsters of Ravnica.

Ashiok’s Adept

David: Heroic returns for Born of the Gods.

Matt: And it brings more smokey Thoughtseize art with it!!

Zach: Not my kind of card. A three mana 1/3 that’s not a deathtouch scorpion is meh. It’s like a Triton Fortune Hunter with a worse body and that can do mean, mean things in an opponent’s draw step.

Rich: No. Just no.

Nyxborn Shieldmate

David: Bestow also returns.

Brendan: Bestow is so powerful. Is bestow good on a Squire? Probably.

Matt: More Magic art should feature mosaics. Less shitty helmets, please.

Zach: Wrote a quarter of an article on him. He’s probably better than he looks, given the power of heroic triggers and bestow, but not particularly good. Nonsquared stats will make for more annoying board states (Boon Satyr already did this, but it’s rare and unique in Theros). Bestowing for three is sweet.

Everflame Eidolon

Matt: What’d Min Yum do to not get the other Eidolon commissions?

Zach: Firebreathing, trying to be relevant since 1993. It’s exciting that this bestows for three (less than any card in Theros) and provides +1/+1 in lieu of Dragon Mantle’s cantrip. The fact that you get two firebreathers can be quite nice, though the low toughness means Everflame Eidolon will trade for your opponent’s worst creature.

Temple of Enlightenment, Temple of Malice, and Temple of Plenty

David: I’m slightly worried that they only spoiled three of the five remaining Temples…hopefully they aren’t holding the other two back for Journey into Nyx.

Matt: Scry lands all look ok I guess. I’m getting kinda sick of dual land art. Since this is the Azorius land shouldn’t it have more pictures of mean people without souls in it?

Zach: Sorry, Dave, but the last two scry lands will be in Journey into Nyx. I don’t understand the art—why is there a busy port of merchants and whatnot and why isn’t the temple of philosophers and sages the focus of the picture?

Shawn: This is the scry land I’m most excited about as it makes UW Control strategies more consistent. It may be a small improvement but perhaps just enough of a push to really cement the deck as a tier one strategy.

Matt: Sufficiently evil looking.

Shawn: The big question for me is whether aggressive Rakdos strategies will want this card. Does the mana fixing and draw smoothing counteract the tempo loss?

Matt: Adequately placid and natury.

Zach: I don’t play Standard, but if I did, I’d pick up this scry land.

Wednesday, December 25

Kiora, the Crashing Wave

David: Two explores out of the box.

Matt: Zac Clark loves this.

Jess: Probably going to be a staple in every EDH deck that is running Simic colors. The plus is actually a pretty solid way to neuter some of your opponents’ effects (and it can turn off non-creature sources of damage as well, like Cracking Perimeter). And Explore is always a great card, especially when it’s a persistent effect. But with Doubling Season and proliferate shenanigans it seems like this might even get to emblem once or twice, and I think it’s in that gray area of being not-too-powerful that some people might just let it happen.

Zach: Planeswalkers. Still insane in limited.  She draws cards, ramps, and protects herself, so what’s not to love? Been waiting a long, long time for Kiora to finally be more than a Duels character as well as a ‘walker in my favorite color combination.

Shawn: This card has me wanting to rehash my love affair with Maze’s End in Standard as it is the perfect Turbo-Fog card. In terms of actual Standard playability, I’m still on the fence about this card. On the one hand it has very low loyalty and doesn’t neatly slot into any existing archetypes (due to its Simic color alignment). On the other hand it passes the Jace test by being able to protect itself and draws you cards. Functionally, this card is somewhere between Jace, Architect of Thought and Vraska, the Unseen, it’s sort of just a matter of playing with it to determine which end of this playability spectrum it falls on.

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