Friday, July 4

First Response

 

David: Probably too slow, but easy to activate with the painlands and Mana Confluence.

Rich: If this cost 1W instead of 3W I would strongly consider it as a constructed playable card. As it is, it’s barely playable in draft.

Matt: This card’s illustration accurately depicts a first responder responding firstly.

Aeronaut Tinkerer

David: The internet told me that M15’s artifact subtheme means that Khans of Tarkir will feature contraptions. FINALLY!

Matt: The S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier is much smaller in the Magic Multiverse.

Diffusion Sliver

David: #slivers

Jess: Not a bad sliver, although again the art is super weird. Why not just give her a tail, here, and keep some connection to the original forms. Also, that pelvic v is weirding me out. Is that supposed to be pants?

Matt: Which abilities have we not given slivers yet? How about an auto-recurring Spellpierce ability? Yeah that one’s good. #boring

Ensoul Artifact

Rich: I don’t even know what the point of this is. Seems to have very, very narrow application.

Matt: Without this card “Ace of Base Power and Toughness” wouldn’t be Hunter, Dave, and Dom’s Team Draft League team name. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Polymorphist’s Jest

Matt: None of us care enough about this card to bother commenting on it.

 

Altac Bloodseeker

Matt: Any human berserker is my kind of human berserker.

 

Belligerent Sliver

David: #slivers

Jess: Interestingly, this one is an update on two-headed sliver, which was the old version with this ability, only on a 1/1 body for two mana. I actually think I’d prefer the old one in EDH, as I’m not sure this is the type of ability you need to double up on.

Matt: Oh hey, I thought of another ability for slivers. Sigh, ok, what is it?

Hammerhand

David: I included this one because there is a cycle of auras with ETB effects, which is pretty sweet.

Jess: It sounds like a bad Spider-Man villain.

Matt: Are there good Spider-Man villains?

Scrapyard Mongrel

Matt: I love him. He’s so cute. Why he’s not called “Junkyard Dog” we’ll never know.

 

Back to Nature

David: I guess Wizard’s wasn’t going to let the all-enchantment decks ever reach tier one.

Brendan: Oof. Two mana instant crush your blossoms.

Rich: There goes the secondary market value of Tranquility.

Matt: Here at Wizards we like to give you some sweet mechanic or style of play and nerf it with the next set. Hope you weren’t excited about doing something cool with all these new enchantment cards in Standard. We just printed the “fuck you” card for all of the cool new cards you were excited about playing. You dumb idiot Magic players.

Feral Incarnation

David: Why are there two dragons on a green card?

Rich: This should have been an instant. Then it would be hilarious.

Netcaster Spider

Jess: I am thinking about this one for Pauper Cube. It’s very nice that it’s a three-drop.

Venom Sliver

David: #slivers

Jess: This is vaguely a reprint of an old one, Toxin Sliver, which was a) under the old rules, which made its deathtouch a triggered ability and thus much worse, and b) was a black five drop. This is much better, but I think I’m going to end up running both.

 

Thursday, July 3

Prismatic Runeguard

Jess: Sometimes I wonder if they regret the whole “protection makes auras fall off” rule. Every pro-white aura since day one has had to include a line of text getting around that drawback, and now they’ve made this card. It just seems like maybe they’re less thrilled about what seemed like a reasonable decision at the time. Anyway, this card will probably see play in EDH, and I can see it being somewhat bomb-y in limited as well… but it’s not exactly a standard or modern card! Boggled can’t reliable cast three-mana spells, and the hexproof style decks are already being hit with non-targeting removal, so this doesn’t solve any problems for them.

Shawn: I hate just about everything in this card. One, it’s an aura. Two, it’s really expensive. Three, the art is too slick and looks like it came straight out of Final Fantasy. I could see playing this in Limited but I’m always going to be disappointed when I open a pack and find this sitting in the back.

Zach: This seems to be the first White Ward that doesn’t remove any auras, not only your own. This is most likely going to be a weaker Holy Mantle, but provide more protection against removal.

Rich: This is pretty powerful in limited, especially when your opponent taps out and you get to make your best evasion dude +2/+2. I would first-pick this in draft easily. Then I would just draft as many evasion dudes as possible.

Matt: I love Final Fantasy.

Scuttling Doom Engine

 

David: Sweet name. 10/10

Brendan: Why isn’t this a crab creature type?

Jess: I second Brendan’s comment. I also have this idle dream that combines this card with Gift of Immortality and a sac outlet, but that’s probably EDH magical christmas shenanigans and not a good idea.

Zac Clark: Finally! A finisher for a control deck that ends the game without having to wait for you to kill off your opponents utility creatures while they crump block and top deck. Obviously this is gonna see standard play, but I wonder if Tron or even UWR Control might be into this guy in Modern.

Shawn: I have to resist comparing every six-mana artifact creature to Wurmcoil Engine or Duplicant because, well, nothing really compares. The base stats on this guy are reasonable though; it has pseudo evasion, appropriate casting cost to power/toughness, and has a relevant ability even it immediately eats a removal spell (unless that spell is Banishing Light or Detention Sphere). It’s going to be tough to compete with the Soul cycle creatures, but perhaps this thing will see some play.

Zach: Ragh! Crab battle! (Seems pretty darned strong in Limited.)

Kaloniain Twingrove

Jess: In the tradition of taking a good card and doubling the effect and the mana, we see here a doubled Dungrove Elder. I’m actually a little surprised that the mana cost is 5G and not 4GG, since the latter seems more appropriate than the former. Anyway, if there’s a mono-green Doubling Season/tokens deck in Commander (and spoiler alert, there is), it’s going to abuse this card. And normal mono-green decks will probably just run it as a Baneslayer. I can’t picture it seeing much play outside of mono-green, though.

Zach: Big dumb monster has a big dumb sibling. Strong in Limited… if you build monogreen.

Act on Impulse

David: #brainstorm

Brendan: Diminishing returns. I guess you can at least pick which one or two cards to play after casting this.

Jess: When I first saw this card, I thought it meant you could play any card that had been exiled with any Act on Impulse during that game, which seemed potentially bonkers. It also doesn’t seem to be how the card works, and probably would be a pain to track in tournament settings. Which is a shame, because that card might actually be powerful. This just digs you for a land early, and even lategame it’s going to be hard to cast this and then cast something worthwhile that you find.

Zac: I could see maybe a Tapout Control Izzet, Grixis, or American Deck in Standard playing some number of these… If only it were an Instant.

Shawn: Three mana is a lot when you need to be casting the exiled spells in the same turn. Think about Chandra Pyromaster, how often do you use the zero ability the turn it comes into play? While I like that red is getting its own form of card advantage, I don’t see this card fitting into many existing archetypes. It’s a bit expensive for the sligh decks and in more controlling builds, I think you’d rather just play Chandra.

Zach: I like it (also might have designed it for a custom set, but I digress). It costs a lot of mana to benefit from this and I expect folks will initially draft it too early, expecting it to be comparable to Divination. It’s not at all (though late game, it could be better).

Stain the Mind

Jess: In Commander, these cards are just anti-tuck tech, which means they don’t usually see play.

Shawn: Once upon a time Cranial Extraction was a chase rare and commanded a $20 price tag. Since then, people have realized that these cards are mostly just garbage. This isn’t any different.

Zach: Let’s imagine the best case scenario… T1 Thoughtseize, T2 Raise the Alarm, T3 Stain the Mind. Is this good enough? I don’t know – I don’t play Standard.

Grindclock

Shawn: Flavor-wise, wouldn’t Grindclock chime every time you activate it? I am in favor of changing the flavor text to, “Pray you never hear it chime like twenty times. The first nineteen are probably ok, but you’re definitely dead on the twentieth chime. Roughly.”

Zach: Why are all of those Mirrans standing right next to the horrible noisemaker? Run, you fools!

Hornet Nest

David: Definitely going to Chord for this.

Jess: Well, if your Stuffy Doll deck runs green, I guess it just made a friend?

Shawn: I feel bad writing about cards like this. I don’t want to be the guy who repeatedly says, “This won’t ever see play in constructed”. I mean, Hornet’s Nest is really cool and flavorful, but outside of limited, I think it requires way too much work to get any value out of.

Zach: The color pie just broke a little bit more. Limited just got an annoying rare that has no obvious spot in a pick order.

Leeching Sliver

David: Still not a fan of humanoid slivers.

Jess: Seriously! It looks like some twisted lady version of the Predator. I mean, the card itself is cool, and I’ve come around on them completely changing the slivers to be mirror-proof, but the art is still a travesty.

Zach: Ugh. I third the dislike of new art slivers. The ability’s neat.

 

Wednesday, July 2

The Chain Veil

 

David: I don’t understand.

Hunter: Jesus. I thought they couldn’t do worse than Heroes’ Podium for Limited, and yet here we are. Biggest bummer of a mythic ever. Also, could they really not have made the activated ability say, “4, tap: You may activate loyalty abilities of planeswalkers you control twice per turn”? Sure, that leaves out a bit of detail, but as MaRo (I think) has said, sometimes the best way to make a card do something is just to say you can do it. (Sidenote: Does this allow you to activate PW loyalty abilities on opponents’ turns? The way the tap ability is phrased, it kind of sounds that way, even though I doubt that’s actually the case.)

Zach: I like that a major storyline item is on a card. I like that it’s got a spicy ability. It feels mythic and kind of appropriate, considering what Liliana does with it. It just… feels odd that an evil, cursed item like this only punishes you when you don’t use it, rather than that it also corrupts you for using it.

Jess: Someone on one of the lists I’m on suggested this should have been the first planeswalker equipment, with the ability to use it double and giving hexproof. I thought that was a neat idea. For me, this feels like Primeval Bounty in the EDH context (only without the ridiculous limited bomb-status that card has). It’s potentially very powerful, but when you think about actually using the effect, it’s kinda boring.

David: Perhaps it’s worth noting that this is an infinite combo with Nissa, Worldwaker and Ral Zarek.

Brendan: It’s funny that the one planeswalker for whom you don’t always want to activate her abilities every turn is Liliana of the Veil.

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient

 

David: Weird card is weird.

Zach: There are a surprising number of artifacts-matter cards in M15. This Shandalarian Ogre Resister is a neat fork, though finding the right artifact to copy is important.

Hunter: What an incredibly bizarre card. I know it’s rare and all, so some extra complexity is allowed, but this underscores even more how Wizards has taken a hard left from their previous policy of “keep it simple” in the Core Set. And, like—it’s from Kamigawa, right? I definitely like that. Not a high pick, but it’s basically Borderland Minotaur with pure upside, which is fine.

Jess: Machine red got a new EDH general, and it’s universally better than Slobad (unless you’re a combo deck, in which case you might prefer keeping your pieces alive, and are also a monster). I mean, it’s a powerful build-around type of card, and mono-Red decks tend to do well when they have an artifact theme making up for their shitty slice of the color pie.

 

Tuesday, July 1

Sliver Hivelord

Zach: The fourth rainbow Sliver lord, and unlike the Queen, Overlord, and Legion, it’s a 5/5. Still, the effect seems pretty nuts. I wonder how many answers to this exist in Standard outside of white.

Matt: The colors make it look like an enchantment creature. Cool and terrifying art.

Generator Servant

Rich: Effects like this are often highly undervalued. You can play this on turn two and then play a 5-drop on turn three with haste. That’s very, very powerful in limited environments, especially sealed deck.

Zach: I love this card. A two mana 2/1 that might be a super creature ritual. It’s great to see commons with simple, yet nuanced effects, and Generator Servant is an excellent example.

Matt: This card is WEIRD.

Resolute Archangel

Rich: Seven mana is pretty steep but being able to flicker this creature could be devastating in limited.

Zach: Just casting it once is pretty strong. If you have it and the lands to cast it in hand on turn four, you can take just enough damage to not die (and avoid burn), then undo everything.

Matt: Seems awesome. Angels are still the worst, though.

Mercurial Pretender

Rich: That’s a pretty steep upgrade on Clone for only one more mana.

Zach: So many folks are going to think that this can copy your opponent’s creatures when it cannot. Sakashima, this ain’t. Lovely flavor, though.

Matt: This card is almost dope. It has a cool name. The flavor text is sick.

Indulgent Tormentor

Rich: This guy was the big winner at the Phyrexian Arena last week.

Zach: Anyone else think he’s reading bingo numbers? Oh yeah, five mana 5/3 flying is great in Limted, even absent a sweet ability with lots of choices.

Monday, June 30

Garruk, Apex Predator

 

David: Very well-designed and flavorful. Also, four abilities!

Matt: Dave, you’re on drugs, man. This card fucking sucks. I hate it. When I saw 5BG I threw my iPhone at an oncoming schoolbus full of children. It hit near the gas tank, sparked, blew up and ignited something like 32 kids. I just kept walking because this card fucking sucks.

Jess: This walker is going to occupy a weird place in the EDH meta. This is now the second Garruk to be restricted to Golgari colors, and neither of them get played as much as you would think; there are so many ways to have fun in EDH that playing Jund always feels boring. Since its ultimate goes critical with Doubling Season in play you’re going to see those decks running it, most likely, but unlike most of the Doubling Season ultimates this one doesn’t seem like it’s going to be fun. You’re mortally wounding another player without directly hurting them, it’s a weird and spiteful thing to do in multiplayer. The only players I could see it being worth it to play this against are Prison decks that only let you attack them with one or two creatures at a time, and even then I’d rather have tranquility against them than Papa Garruk. I don’t think this is going to make as much of a splash as one would think, and it’s nowhere near as relevant a 7-drop walker as Karn was.

Shawn: I’ve never heard the term “Apex Predator” used outside of describing WWE’s Randy Orton. I just keep picturing Randy Orton and his stupid tribal tattoos delivering finishers to other Planeswalkers.

Rich: This card makes me want to get back into Magic just to put it in a deck and beat Matt Jones with it.

Zach: Destroy another target planeswalker is a bloody exciting line of text that I’m delighted to see. This card tells a beautiful, exciting story. How Constructed playable is Garruk? Who cares! People will be exciting to open this Big Daddy and K.O. a planeswalker.

Chord of Calling

 

David: #combo

Matt: I like that beast’s face. Additionally: I called this and you all nay-sayed the shit out of me. #toldyouso

Jess: I like the art on this, although I am a little confused by the giant ginger root in the foreground.

Shawn: I feel really good about this reprint. The pricetag should go down quite a bit, which is more than reasonable for a card only played in one deck in one format, and Chord re-enters the Standard cardpool. As a Standard card, Chord is powerful without being busted; a roleplayer in some decks but not a card that gets jammed into every green deck.

Rich: People like to think that Chord is powerful without being broken in Standard, but that’s mostly because it took forever for people to break it last time around. This time people may be much keener on making Standard’s first combo kill in a long time.

Zach: Rich, how was it broken last time?

Boonweaver Giant

Matt: Seems better than new Garruk, Boring Stupid.

Jess: This set’s equivalent of Quarry Giant. I like the way they’ve been printing these big, clunky white 7-drops with EDH playability at uncommon. This would be a shitty rare to open, but as an uncommon that might table for the right deck? Seems pretty good to me.

Shawn: I’m a big fan of Auratouched Mage and this guy is comparable. While I would rather pay six-mana for a 3/3 than seven for a 4/4, if you’re in the market for this type of effect for casual or EDH, I think you’ll probably be happy to run both.

Zach: Auratouched Mage is hunting bigger game, too!

Necromancer’s Stockpile

David: I love this flavor text.

Matt: Matt Guido really wants to play this in Modern but doesn’t think he’ll be allowed to cuz it’s too slow. I’m into art with specimens in jars.

Jess: This makes me want to dust off my old Grimgrin deck. This is the best option for instant-speed zombie tokens, repeatable or non.

Shawn: I’m envisioning Stockpile as an engine card for a casual deck with stuff like Undead Gladiator and Haakon, Stromgald Scourge. This deck would be pretty sweet but I don’t play casual Magic or know anyone else who does, so…I’ll probably start envisioning something else.

Zach: Granting cycling to all your creatures is a nice effect, but it’s easy to gloss over that it’s still card disadvantage… until you discard a zombie (when it replaces itself), which I love.

 

Friday, June 27

Jace, Living Guildpact

 

David: An insane number of loyalty counters but I’d rather face this than Jace, AoT.

Matt: No one likes this card. Jace is a member of Fall Out Boy. I don’t like him even when he’s good. I feel like a poser when I play JTMS (it’s too good a card not to play, boomerang magic be damned!). I’m glad everyone dislikes this card.

Jess: In EDH, blue already has the best graveyard enabler in Mirror-Mad Phantasm, and this doesn’t hold a candle to that effect. Also, he ultimates immediately off Doubling Season, but again like Garruk it’s not a fun ultimate to pull off. It’s also countersynergistic with the plus ability; if feeding the graveyard is your main reason to be running it, why would you want to shuffle your graveyard back in the library? I’d rather the ultimate just be “draw seven cards.” At least that way people wouldn’t instakill you after you pop it.

Shawn: I’ve never met a Jace I didn’t like, but this one certainly doesn’t impress me out of the gate. I’m hoping that he’s just one of those planeswalkers you just need to get to know. Like he’s kind of a jerk but once you really get to know him you see he’s actually sort of a good guy and maybe a constructed playable planeswalker. That’s what I hope.

Brendan: I think new Jace is pretty good. We’ve been spoiled with card-drawing Jaces but the plus ability here is going to prove better than it looks. Paying three for a disperse seems pricey but that’s just because Jace, the Mind Sculptor was broken. The ultimate should win the game. Wait and see on this one.

Zach: New Jace is a cheaper, monocolor Vraska with a better plus and a better ultimate (but a worse -3). He’s much better than he looks (granted, he looks terrible at first glance, so that’s saying little).

Hushwing Gryff

 

David: Though a pretty sweet card. The vast majority of creatures that see play in the format have ETB effects. A great fit for Zoo.

Matt: The new font looks extra horrible in this creature’s name. I love what it does, though. Mindcensor for ETBs.

Jess: This is going to be an all-star in Modern and Legacy, but probably meh in EDH and standard.

Shawn: This might be more relevant in Modern than its avian cousin, Aven Mindcensor. Pod can’t combo off while this guy is in play and can’t kill it with stuff like Orzhov Pontiff or Murderous Redcap.  Hushwing Griff also stops the Twin combo which seems pretty awesome as well. While this does die to every removal spell ever, it is a solid sideboard card and potentially a maindeckable card in GW Hatebears/Modern Death and Taxes.

Zach: Stoked to try this out in UWR or in a UW Hatebirds brew.

David: Zach, I’m not sure I’d play this in my UWR deck. Turns off my Snapcasters, Restoration Angels, Cliques…basically all of my value.

Chief Engineer

David: Star Trek subtheme?

Jess: This gives me hope for my favorite unplayable Modern brew… Grand Architect combo. It never worked as a deck because it needs a second piece for redundancy, and this might be that piece! What I like is that you can drop this turn two and immediately tap it to play a one-drop like Exploration map. Which seems like it has potential! As for whether or not this is good enough for established archetypes, i.e. Robots… I doubt it, but I’ll leave that up to the experts.

Matt: I got asked what I thought of this all weekend for the future of Affinity in Modern. I don’t think it means anything for the future of Affinity in Modern.

Shawn: While I agree with Matt about this card not being playable in Affinity, there is certainly some brew potential with this Vedalken Artificer. I like Jess’s idea for a Grand Architect build. Here is the start:
4 Chief Engineer
4 Grand Architect
4 Vedalken Engineer
2 Trinket Mage
2 Treasure MAge

22 Artifacts

22 Lands

Just fill in those 44 blanks and you have yourself a pretty sweet brew.

Brendan: King Macar, helping to cast artifacts since 2014.

Zach: I don’t see how this would help any existing Modern Robots decks. It’s a two mana Springleaf Drum that isn’t itself an artifact. I agree with Jess and Shawn that it could be used in a new kind of deck, powering out Wurmcoil Engines and Sundering Titans.

Shivan Reef

David: #ouch

Matt: No new art? Meh.

Shawn: Over the past two years the price of Shivan Reef has doubled thanks to seeing some play in Modern Storm and Twin. The price should trend downward again with the reprint. Expect this $10 card to head back down to $3-5.

Llanowar Wastes

Matt: No new art? Meh. If you use this to cast Garruk, Pile of Dogshit, you’re an accomplice to the greatest crime in the history of mankind: printing this awful Garruk.

Shawn: Llanowar Wastes seems like one of the more meaningful painland reprints since BG Dredge in Standard definitely wants to play this card (over Mana Confluence). Otherwise, in the words of Matt Jones, “Meh”.

Caves of Koilos

Matt: No new art? Meh. I have four of these. Thanks, Modern Event Deck!

Yavimaya Coast

Matt: No new art? Meh.

Battlefield Forge

Matt: No new art? Meh.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

 

Wizard’s R&D: People like mono-black. We should finally try and make mono-black a viable Standard deck!

Jess: Hi URBORG! Good to see you! This utility land gets played a lot in black EDH decks, and I have high hopes for a much-needed price crash. The art still looks like butts though. At least zoom in on the tomb, instead of having all this boring swamp stuff in the foreground.

Matt: No new art? Meh.

Shawn: For a brief period of time in Standard, Mutavaults will also be Swamps. Gross.

Zach: It’s delightful that they’re reprinting a whole bunch of expensive cards. Here’s hoping to see Horizon Canopy/Grove of the Burnwillows/Noble Hierarch in an upcoming set.

Life’s Legacy

Jess: Life’s Legacy is a limited card. In EDH you have access to Momentous Fall, an instant that is almost strictly better, if two mana more.

Matt: Life’s Legacy looks a lot like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

David: I fixed it for you, Matt.

Shawn: I think that while Jess is correct saying that Momentous Fall is likely a better card for this type of effect, I can imagine that many EDH decks wanting both. I’m pretty ok with this being a sorcery given how cheap the card is for a potentially powerful effect.

Zach: Remember Tormented Thoughts? Now it’s cheaper and more likely to be relevant when you’ve got an appropriately-sized creature that you want to sacrifice. Seems fun!

 

Thursday, June 26

Nissa, Worldwaker

Matt: Watch out for those Zendakons behind you!!!

Jess: Clearly Nissa 2.0 is going to see play in EDH. I am not such a naysayer to suggest that a five mana card that reads “untap up to four target Forests” isn’t going to immediately be jammed into every mono-green ramp deck, every deck based on Mirrari’s Wake, and those five-color monstrosities that use all of the typed duals. This will be seeing play, obviously. BUT! It does seem to me that, given the wrathy nature of the format, they yet again managed to make an awesome Nissa who is worse in EDH than she is in other formats. In Commander, you absolutely don’t want your lands permanently animated, because that means all those mass creature removal spells take out your lands as well; in short, the first and ultimate abilities are strong, but worse in Commander. It boggles the mind.

Zach: It’s interesting how similar Nissa and Koth’s +1 abilities are. She’ll win in Limited, though she’s slow.

Avacyn, Guardian Angel

 

Matt: Angels are still the shittiest creature type in all of Magic. It’s safe to say I hate them.

Jess: Despite not actually having the same ability, the card this most reminds me of is Eight-and-a-Half-Tails. I’m sure you could make a very solid mono-white control deck off this general, and I’m sure that deck would run Avacyn 1.0 somewhere in its 99. Because that deck would be boring. This effect is boring. These types of cards make creature combat less likely, and that annoys me, because I like it when creatures fight. So, if you want to build a big stally white deck off a brand new commander, M15 has delivered.

Zach: Avacyn, making even more friends in EDH, but this time being castable in Limited. It’s nice to see storyline cards like Avacyn and Ob-Nob return.

Stoke the Flames

 

David: Seems sweet. Doesn’t trigger Eidolon of the Great Revel.

Matt: This isn’t Chord of Calling.

Hunter: Man, I really don’t like the “Your creatures can help cast this spell” templating. What is this, Fisher Price’s My First Magic Card?

Brendan: Amazing in limited. That probably means it is borderline viable in constructed as well.

Jess: There is a type of red deck that would be able to cast something like this. Maybe it gives some more reach to Modern Goblins?

Zach: Young Pyromancer has a new good friend. Lightning Blast is already a good Limited card, and making it potentially cheaper while maintaining its instant speed makes for a sweet removal spell.

Dauntless River Marshall

 

Matt: “Oh hey guys, yeah, I just rolled up in my boat with a grappling hook. What’s that? The party’s over? Ok whatever. Probably sucked anyway.”—Larry, Dauntless River Marshal

Jess: This whole cycle is strong in Limited, perhaps even strong enough to see play in constructed, and almost completely useless for EDH.

Zach: A two mana 3/2 is strong, and a repeatable tapper is also pretty strong. This is everything Thassa’s Ire wishes it were.

Jurobai Murk Lurker

 

Matt: Jorubai Murk Lurker, winner of M15’s “Best Orifice Award”. Congratulations!

Brendan: Blue-black gets a sweet defensive creature. All is right in the world.

Zach: This feels very, very weird. Why are leeches helpfully granting vampire abilities? A bunch of blue cards feel off-color pie in M15.

Nightfire Giant

Matt: Best … this card looks gross. Nevermind.

Jess: With that art you’d think this thing would be one of those burnt out cinder zombies, but I guess they liked giants more than elementals.

Zach: Nightfire turns the worst parts of the undead into delicious hamburgers. This will slowly grind out Limited games.

Kird Chieftan

 

David: Sad Kird Ape.

Matt: Expensive Kird Ape.

Zach: I like four mana 4/4s in Limited, and the free Sylvan Might is strong.

Sunblade Elf

 

Matt: My response to the flavor text is: “So?”

Zach: Kird Elf! A neat toy that might help Modern Zoo. This cycle looks like whole bunch of fun.

Phyrexian Revoker

 

David: This artifact subtheme is interesting.

Matt: I LOVE THIS CARD.

Zach: Glad to see this reprinted. Standard will probably enjoy the easy, proactive answer to planeswalkers.

Preeminent Captain

David: 🙂

Matt: The more Kithkin the better. KITHKIN IN THE HOUSE!!

Zach: I can’t wait to play with this dude! Never had the chance in Lorwyn Limited. Perhaps there’ll be a tribal theme in Khans of Tarkir?

Perilous Vault

Matt: More stupid Zendakon.

Jess: I really love the art and flavor of this thing. It makes sense to me that busting up a zendikon would be bad for your health, and the art really encapsulates that. It reminds me a bit of the Pandorica Opens, really. And that’s obviously great. My only complaint is that “Perilous Vault,” while a good name, doesn’t really work for me here. I think there’s a great card they could have made with this name, while calling this thing “Unstable Zendikon” or something to capture the art and the flavor. I just don’t get “blow up the world” from a name that sounds like it’s referring to someone’s security practices.

Zach: I assume that they made the generic so that it could be easily reprinted. It’s nice to a see a simple card that nevertheless feels mythic.

Wednesday, June 25

Ajani the Steadfast

Zach: This sure feels like an Ajani. I love how he protects and empowers planeswalkers in addition to creatures, and it’s always nice seeing how they play with little knobs on planeswalkers (such as which ones get to cost only one colored mana).

Brendan: The plus ability does a good job of protecting Ajani thanks to the underrated vigilance ability. Pretty cool design all around.

Jess: Ajani the newest Ajani is not bad! I like how his thing recently has been superfriend to other planeswalkers, since the one drawback of his original incarnation was that it didn’t play super well in a majority-planeswalker shell. This dude definitely does that, while also ultimating immediately off Doubling Season.

Shawn: After all these years I still have a difficult time evaluating planeswalkers. In comparison to his M14 self, Ajani the Steadfast (ATS) costs one more for the same loyalty. ATS protects itself better because of the vigilance clause but is still pretty unremarkable on an empty board. The fact that it does play better with other planeswalkers is interesting, but if you’re looking to build Bant Superfriends shell, I worry that the curve is a little too packed at four with Kiora and Jace. The jury is still out for me on this one. PS. How long do you think it will take Reddit to post a bad combos thread with Ajani’s ultimate and Urza’s Armor?

Matt: I LOVE THE ART ON THIS CARD. Chris Rahn fucking RULES. The 3W single colored mana requirement is awesome, too. This art. Man. I keep going back to it. What a good planeswalker art it is. YEAH! WOOO! FINALLY!!!!

 

Soul of Theros

 

 

Zach: The Soul of Theros is a Heroes vs. Monsters Sun Titan. As expected, it’s an obvious Limited bomb.

Jess: Now, this could definitely see some Commander play. It swings in as an 8/8 first strike, vigilance, lifelink bomb, and it helps the rest of your team swing in as well. And this is an ability worth using from the graveyard, unlike the red or green ones.

Matt: When I open these cards in Limited I’ll be stoked. I will immediately not rare redraft them when The Brendaxian Mobliterators are victorious in Team Draft League Season Three matches.

 

Tuesday, June 24

Obelisk of Urd

Zach: I have no idea who or what Urd is. It’s neat seeing more Glorious Anthem variants. This could be pretty bonkers in a white spirit Limited deck. In Constructed, this fights with Hall of Triumph and Spear of Heliod (plus Collective Blessing), but its doubled effect (and ease of casting off a swarm strategy… though it involves taking a lot of time off of attacking) could be relevant enough to try out.

Matt: More like “Obelisk of Turd”, amirite?!?

 

Soul of Innistrad

Matt: This one seems good. I miss Innistrad. I miss it so much. I hope they reprint Huntmaster of the Fells so I can give a shit enough to play Standard again. But they won’t, so I won’t.

Jess: 6/6s with deathtouch are unnecessary.

Zach: Feels like a pure EDH card. In Limited, you get a Grave Titan that doesn’t make tokens; if you’re not winning with a 6/6 deathtouch, you’re probably not going to be able to spend five mana raising some dead… to your hand. It feels like it should be reanimating, but making it into a flashbacked Unburial Rites is probably less fun for Standard.

 

Liliana Vess

Matt: I’ve never gotten to play with more-clothes-than-usual Liliana. She seems slow.

Jess: Are you kidding me? Waste Not my butt.

Rich: I’m thrilled about this spoiler because it means people can stop speculating that Liliana of the Veil was being reprinted.

Zach: It’s nice to see one of the original Lorwyn Five returning. I wouldn’t mind seeing more planeswalker reprints in core sets (particularly less powerful ones like Vess) to encourage more (pushed or wacky) planeswalker designs in expert expansions. Plus, this helps keep prices down, which is a good thing.

Shawn: I didn’t think they were going to reprint Liliana of the Veil, but I was holding out hope that we’d see a playable black planeswalker anyway. Thank you Liliana Vess for crushing my dreams.

 

Sliver Hive

Matt: This card was super hungover when they announced the spoilers from M14 and just couldn’t get out of bed in time to attend. WotC felt bad for Sliver Hive and added it to M15 despite making no fucking sense whatsoever.

Hunter: Slivers are back, in a minor way. There will be a cycle of uncommon Slivers as well as a new mythic Sliver.

Jess: It’s obviously great with Slivers! I do wonder, though, why they felt the need to restrict the token-making ability in such a way. It basically costs six mana as is, did they really think it was going to be OP if you could run this in non-sliver decks? Outside of the sliver context, this card is worse than Springjack Pasture! It definitely didn’t need to be.

Zach: In Limited, you’ll most likely only have a thin sliver of hope of activating this.

 

Monday, June 23

Soul of Ravnica

Matt: I’ve never been a fan of SoulCycle.

Jess: What I don’t understand is why this one, unlike all the other spoiled ones so far, is a 7-mana ability and not a 5-mana ability. Dana, my lady, suggests that it’s a balancing issue, but that’s dumb to me. Why not just make it a five-mana “draw three cards” ability? Like Jace’s Ingenuity? Seems pretty balanced, and very blue. This? This is Bloom Tender levels of weird. PS: They should reprint Bloom Tender.

Zach: I imagine the high activation cost has more to do with its being a dragon than the card draw being unbalanced. I’m surprised and delighted that the very soul of Ravnica is a masked performance artist that poses alone in the Undercity.

 

Soul of New Phyrexia

David: Hats seem to be all the rage on Mirrodin these days.

Matthew: Don’t call me Matthew. This is the only good Soul card. (I lied, several are good, but I was super disappointed that they made this cycle mostly because I think cycles are stupid.)

Jess: Meh. This is going to be annoying in Commander, aka the format of wraths.

Hunter: This has basically got to be the windmill-est pack one pick one in draft ever, no? If you get to untap with it I don’t see how you are losing; it goes into literally any deck (outside of the most aggro-pushed RW build); and it lets you stay open for that crucial first pick. Is this even better than Wurmcoil Engine? Probably not, but Wurmcoil did often insta-eat a Shatter in the very-unfriendly-to-artifacts environment of Scars of Mirrodin block.

Zach: Limited bomb found. The onboard trick from the graveyard is pretty nasty, though this won’t be a card easily forgotten about in the ‘yard.

David: With all of these graveyard-based activated abilities and that one dude who gets +2/+2 for something being in exile, I get the sense we might see an exile subtheme/more answer that exile threats.

 

Soul of Shandalar

David: So that’s who is on the PTQ playmats.

Matt: Looking at the PTQ table markers and Top 8 playmats I’m all “oooo who is this?” and to find out it’s some shitty anime character with a creature type from a cheesy sci-fi movie was a bit of a let down.

Jess: This seems the least relevant of them for Commander, which probably means it’s going to be the most relevant one in Standard. I love me some Shandalar, but I don’t really see the connection. PS: They should re-release Shandalar.

Zach: This card only needs one line of text: “life losses carry over.” Okay, two lines of text: “Power Struggle starts in play.”

Shawn: I like this card solely because of the Shandalar reference. The first step for Wizards is acknowledging Shandalar exists. The next step is to create Arzakon planewalker.

 

Soul of Zendikar

Matt: No surprise, I like this monster. It makes beasts (the best creature type), has reach (the best way to block blue creatures), and the art is hilarious (it’s got Zendikars all over his back!).

Jess: Zendikons, for the record. They’re Zendikons! Seems good with infinite mana, but I don’t know that it will end up replacing Ant Queen. Probably? It’s a better card for sure, but being able to spawn a ton of sac fodder before you have infinite mana seems more relevant in a lot of decks.
Matt: OH! I didn’t know they have a name. It’s so mad at that tree!

Zach: It feels bizarre that there are no beasts in the artwork. Also, I expect to quietly say, “BYAAAR” every time it enters the battlefield. That has to be what it’s yelling at that tree!

 

Return to the Ranks

David: #combo

Matt: Everyone needs a helping hand now and then.

Jess: This makes me want to play Modern again. This seems like a sick card in Soul Sisters and Martyr decks.

Rich: It’s Proclamation of Rebirth on steroids. It may find a home in some Tier 2 decks.

David: The capital Rs in the new card name font bother me. Actually, the title font in general bothers me.

Matt: Yeah the font seems bad. It makes for weird spacing issues.

Zach: Thar be weird aRRRRrrrrrss indeed.

 

Spirit Bonds

Matt: The illustration hints at a 5/5 Spirit creature token with flying entering the battlefield (due to it’s position in space relative to what I assume is a 1/1 or 2/2 Soldier creature). But, whatevs. Half a card is half a card.

Jess: This is definitely a Commander card. Basically, if it gives other creatures indestructible while having ancillary side effects, it’s probably going to see play in someone’s 100.

Zach: This card feels like it could have been in Ice Age. A whole bunch of text for a small effect that requires mana. I like the flavor of having guardian spirits/angels, but it feels clunkier than it needs to be (though I grant the clunkiness comes more from the mana costs than the effect – perhaps this card was pushed a bit by development and is much stronger than it looks?).

 

Jalira, Master Polymorphist

Matt: Hilarious.

Jess: I’m saddened that this is restricted to cards you control. One of the best things about polymorph (or Proteus Staff, really) is the ability to use it on your opponents’ creatures when all else seems lost. Jalira is cool, but she seems like she’s going to be more of a combo general than she would be if she could be used politically and defensively as well.

Rich: Did you know that Blightsteel Colossus is both Modern Legal and not a Legendary Creature? I’m just throwing that out there. You could easily make a deck full of Legendary control-type creatures (Kira, for example) and then just load up on Pact of Negations and Remands and then tutor up Blightsteel Colossus.

Zach: All I want to see Jalira do is chain Worldspine Wurm over and over and over again. She’s a neat way to upgrade weak creatures (though seven mana and an untap is a lot to ask for polymorph, and a four mana 2/2 is highly underwhelming).

 

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

David: This obviously proves that fetches are being reprinted in Conspiracy M15 Khans of Tarkir. (I read it on the internet.)

Matt: What is that weird fire-face Ob Nixilis has carved into his abdomen and chest … it’s weird.

Jess: HOW IS HE NOT GARRUK? Seriously?!! I thought it was established that Garruk lost his spark on Zendikar and got cursed to turn into Ob Nixilis, based on the sigil that popped out on Garruk’s forehead that matched the one on Ob Nixilis. Now, Garruk is peachy and Ob Nixilis is back in another set that’s boasting of Garruk’s fall, only this time Ob doesn’t have a forehead sigil? THIS IS CONFUSING!

Brendan: Six mana is a lot for a card designed to fight fetching.

Rich: Jess, Doug Beyer promised on his Tumblr that there would be an Uncharted Realms explaining what’s going on with Ob Nixlis… so stay tuned, I guess…

Jess: I really hope that column includes some sort of mea culpa, and doesn’t just try to pretend that the plan never changed. Because the plan clearly changed.

Zach: I don’t recall Garruk ever having lost his spark… or having been on Zendikar. He was on Innistrad and hadn’t left until now. As for the card, it’s silly how huge a discrepancy there is between the two lines: “Shuffle your library? FEEL MY WRATH! Lives are lost in bloody combat? Neat!”

Shawn: I can’t help but feel that this was created to stop me from durdling with Maze’s End. Otherwise, this card seems brutal in a Maralen of the Mornsong EDH deck.

 

Goblin Kaboomist

David: Early favorite for favorite card in the set.

Matt: Dave is right. This card art is dope. It’s tongue is sticking out. That’s ‘cuz it’s thinking so hard.

Jess: A lot of ways to break this in EDH, although “break” may be the wrong word. It’s good with Doubling Season and good with damage reduction effects. Also, fun fact, Stone Librande is a Diablo 3 developer. So, maybe that means something about this design, I don’t know!

Brendan: KABOOM! ist.

Hunter: This card ka-bums me out. The flavor is totally awesome, but I really wish it were a 2/1 for 1R, given that you are rarely unhappy to run a Goblin Piker in Limited. As it stands, I suppose it’s probably still good enough to maindeck: You are getting a slow, three-mana, conditional Shock-on-a-stick, which will generate more single-mana conditional Shocks 50 percent of the time. Plus, hey—it’s fun.

Zach: 50% of the time, there’s an explosion every time.

Shawn: Guys, there is totally going to be a price spike on Krark’s Thumb.

 

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Matt: For some reason I hate this card. I hate the bard class in general. I hate his stupid lyre. The insect Yisan is conjuring sucks (always get a beast when fetching a creature). Verse counters are embarrassing.

Jess: Meh. This is going to be dumb in EDH, where you have to reset his counters every time he dies. Still, with counter manipulation and Thousand-Year Elixir, this could end up being more degenerate than it seems.

Rich: I wonder if Wizards will ever figure out that it’s a bad idea to make cards that can tutor up creatures and put them directly into play. This could end up being a pretty powerful ramp card. Sure, it’s a lot more limited than Green Sun’s Zenith, but it’s still a very powerful effect.

Zach: It’s definitely better than Hibernation’s End (‘cause he’s always a three mana 2/3, which is rarely terrible), but the bard is still plenty mana-intensive. He looks like a super-sweet card to play in Limited once you can invest nine mana into him, which isn’t that unreasonable in Limited, but is less common in green (which usually would rather spend six mana all at once than over several turns).

 

Warden of the Beyond

Matt:

Zach: I’d be excited to see a Modern deck play this with Path and maindeck Rest In Peace. Or just play a vigilant Gray Ogre in Limited.

 

Master of Predicaments

David: This card is awesome.

Matt: I wish all of the “designed by” lines were replaced with funny and/or interesting flavor text. The art of this card sucks.

Jess: Dana likes these mind-game cards. I do not. Fucking sphinx. Oh, and David Sirlin is known for his work on Street Fighter.

Brendan: I guess this card sucks.

Rich: On the bright side they didn’t reprint Djinn of Wishes? I guess.

Zach: I want more wacky sphinxes every core set. The abilities are silly, and if you don’t like them, who cares? You get an Air Elemental!

 

Aggressive Mining

David: I like that Wizard’s loosened up it’s art style guide so that we could have a Minecraft card. Different art styles = more better Magic.

Matt: It looks like Garrett Koopicus did this illustration. It’s awesome.

Jess: This is going to be interesting in green decks that can ensorcel out more lands, and with cards like Terrain Generator. Fun fact, Markus Persson is the real name of Minecraft-maker Notch.

Brendan: This seems like a sweet late-game card for burn decks.

Rich: Ah, you know what card always needs more friends? Life from the Loam.

Zach: I love everything about this card. The flavor is spot-on, the art’s gorgeous, the effect is splashy and perfect for building around, and it’s risky enough to not always jam.

Shawn: I’m still not sure whether I want to play this in Borborygmos Enraged but I do appreciate that Jess taught me a new word. Ensorcel. I’m going to use the shit out of that one.

 

Chasm Stalker

David: Hm. It’s unfortunate how much swimming looks like flying because this card would be pretty sweet with flying.

Matt:I think this card is awesome. It’s creature type is “Squid Horror.” Magic does not get better than this.

Jess: This card is ridiculous. Amazing ridiculous, but ridiculous. Perhaps in line with that, Mike Neumann appears to be the writer behind the video game Borderlands. Which was also amazing ridiculous.

Zach: It’s a slower Lorescale Coatl doing its best Sprouting Thrinax impression. The token generation feels very weird for blue (which I believe is worst at token making, except when it comes to clone). I’m frankly surprised that this isn’t green, but perhaps I’m missing a Borderlands reference.

 

Cruel Sadist

Matt: Min Yum has been killing it with the Magic illustrations lately. Hopeful Eidolon is good but I think this eone is even better. So ghosty. The flavor txt is weird: Face of innocence. Hand of death. Designed by Edmond McMillen.

Jess: I don’t love this card for EDH, although I’m sure it’s a strong pick in limited. Edmund McMillen, for the record, is the guy behind Super Meat Boy and other flash-style games.

Matt: Jess, you knowing who all these “Designed by” people are is super helpful and interesting.

Rich: This card is just… weird. But yeah, the artwork is nice.

Jess: I mean, I googled them all, but yeah, it seems like who they are is relevant! What I really don’t get, though, is why Penny Arcade is identified by the thing that makes them notable, but basically no one else is. Like, would it have killed them to give that one “designed by” credit to Notch, and not Dudley McTrueName?

Zach: Cruel Sadist, a marriage between Chronomaton and Guul Draz Assassin, with life payment added in for good measure. It’s nice to see a one-drop that can be relevant and powerful in the late game, but balanced enough to not end games as the assassin did.

Shawn: Now I’m just imagining Chronomoton as Cruel Sadist’s dad.

 

Genesis Hydra

David: #nykthos

Matt: #dykthos

Jess: Obviously this is going to see play in Commander. OBVIOUSLY. I mean, sure, it’s not as good as Genesis Wave, but you can only run one. Now you get another version of the effect, tied to a big fatty. Sweet. Just like Plants vs Zombies, of which George Fan was the primary creator.

Zach: Cascade Plant Hydra? If this isn’t fun, I have no idea what fun is.

 

Phytotitan

Matt: No one designed this card. It is like Jesus. It just showed up in Mary’s belly without any intercourse.

Jess: I have nightmares about this thing, only in my nightmares they’re made of fungus. I’m pretty sure it’s all the fault of the X-Files.

Brendan: Super slow, super hard to deal with.

Hunter: There may be a minor exile-matters theme in M15, though, as is perhaps evidenced by that white card that gets +2/+2 if an opponent owns a card in exile. So maybe this will be slightly easier to deal with than we think?

Zach: Plant titan seems pretty difficult to deal with. I wonder what countermagic/exile-effects exist in the set to uproot it.

 

Waste Not

David: I cannot wait to play with this.

Matt: As much as I originally hated this card I now love it. The art’s not as bad as I thought. Oops.

Jess: So, are they reprinting Liliana of the Veil or not? For your information, the Magic community is not the smartest of collectives. THIS COULD HAVE READ “draw a card”!!!

Rich: Well good thing they’re not reprinting Liliana of the Veil. This is still pretty good with any kind of Mind Rot effect and by “pretty good” I mean this could be Standard playable. Have you heard of Thoughtseize?

Jess: Here’s why I dislike their decision to reprint Liliana 1.0 instead of 2.0: If you reprint 2.0, it gets cheaper, and in limited you’d see this play every once in a while “t2 Waste Not, t3 Lily 2.0 and then add a body to the board.” That seems powerful enough to make Waste Not worth running in a 40-card deck. Dropping it turn three and then not getting a chance to Lily up some card advantage until turn 5 seems parasitic at best, and like you’re running a rare (and thus probably singleton) Megrim in a deck that can’t be solely focused on discard.

Zach: Seems like a bulk rare in Limited that might have a neat engine deck, if the format supports it. Could be pretty unfun in Constructed.

 

Shield of the Avatar

Matt: Boring.

Jess: This is going to be annoying, I am sure. Richard Garriott is apparently most known for being some dude in Ultima, although now he seems to have become some sort of French noble or something. Wikipedia is weird.

Zach: This card will lead to plenty of math.

 

Hot Soup

Matt: I can’t believe this is real. It is so funny. I love it.

Jess: This reminds me of “I want a banana this big.” Gorilla Titan. Look it up. James Ernest is apparently the dude behind “Cheapass Games,” a vaguely popular indie board game company that leaves it up to the consumer to find game pieces and such, under the theory that most board game enthusiasts already have enough identical dice and playing pieces. Not a bad ethos!

Brendan: Don’t spill the soup!

Hunter: This is kind of a Game of Thrones reference, right?

Zach: This is… very, very silly. It feels sillier than a squirrel card. I’m frankly surprised that creative let this in but won’t permit squirrels.

Brendan: Is the flavor supposed to be that if the creature carrying the soup gets hit by something, the soup burns the creature to death? Soup duty sounds pretty bad.

Shawn: Now Trinket Mage can tutor up a delicious lunch!

 

Avarice Amulet

Matt: Shield of the Avatar’s little sister.

Jess: Fuck Penny Arcade.
Matt: Who is Penny Arcade? The burlesque dancer?

Rich: Sure Matt, sure.
Matt: Rich, why’d a burlesque dancer get to design a Magic card?

Jess: A better question—why didn’t a burlesque dancer get to design a Magic card?

Shawn: Why didn’t any women get to design cards in this set? Oh, and also, I have $20 that Penny Arcade originally submitted a wolf creature as their card. You know, cuz they’re dicks.

 

Darksteel Citadel

Matt: Wizards can’t remember who designed this card. John Avon is sometimes an amazing illustrator and sometimes a mediocre illustrator.

Jess: I am glad to see this reprinted. I want a foil version, and the Mirrodin ones have gotten out of control. I hope the new frame looks good in foil! FOIL!

Zach: This is an interesting choice for a reprint. Is it like Reliquary Tower in M13 and reprinted to lower prices, or is it a harbinger of things to come?

David: Perhaps Tarkir is really just Mirrodin.

Shawn: Then you find out that the guy in the hair piece the whole time, that was Bruce Willis…the entire movie.

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