Tuesday, September 9

Efreet Weaponmaster

Jess: Apparently the magic number for morph is five. Anything that morphs for less than five will trade or bounce with anything that would reasonably expect to take out a 2/2, but five open mana, and watch out! This is one of those things you have to watch out for. Seven points of first strike kills a lot of things. Also, I like that, even though it’s significantly less useful, you can get the +3/+0 if you cast it as well. I think that’s a good call.

Matt: I’m a big fan of the efreet creature type.

David: Jess, it seems like this choice was made in order to prevent overly complex morph math in limited. Your opponent won’t be able to eat your face-down creature by morphing their face-down creature for less than five mana.

 

Butcher of the Horde

Jess: Free sacrificial outlets are always worth paying attention to. This isn’t as powerful as something like Viscera Seer, at least in Modern or combo contexts, but it’s going to allow a lot of other creatures to dodge exile-type removal, while simultaneously being a beastly combatant.

Matt: This guy needs flavor text. Something like “I want your skull.”—The Misfits or some other scary/hipster thing.

 

Kheru Lich Lord

Jess: This is such a me card! I should love this card. And yet… I’m just feeling meh about it.

Matt: I think this card is sweet! Like, really sweet. Free making your dead dudes do stuff. Throw some Satyr Wayfinders in this deck. Mill some smashers, reanimate them with this MF’er. BOOM! Undead party time!

 

Abzan Battle Priest

Jess: Slow boy.

Matt: Slow boy with sick red eyes! The flavor text rules. The art is not Chris Rahn’s best.

Brendan: Lifelink is so good in limited. This card gives a lot of lifelink.

Matt: I hear that, B-Mac!

 

Master of Pearls

Jess: I do not get the flavor here, and I am vaguely horrified at the idea that this dude sprays “pearls” all over your team and somehow this makes them better off.

Matt: Yeah, this is a spunk joke, right?

 

Hooded Hydra

Brendan: The snake tokens should clearly have deathtouch for flavor reasons, but that would have been too good.

Matt: Must there be hydras in every goddamn set?

David: Since it’s green’s iconic creature type, yes, there will be a hydra in virtually every set.

 

Witness of the Ages

Brendan: This will probably be a high draft pick.

Matt: Mana fixing? I don’t need no mana fixing. Colorless cards in three color sets are the shit.

 

Abzan Banner, Jeskai Banner, Sultai Banner, Mardu Banner, Temur Banner

Brendan: These awkwardly compete with morphs for your three drop slot, but will still be good in limited.

Matt: These are probably all super helpful. Kadar will draft all of them.

 

Monday, September 8

Siege Rhino

Matt: Kadar showed me this card today and I responded with “how good is the removal in this set?” So, I guess I think this card is pretty awesome.

Jess: My one regret is that this was not phrased in the best possible way for multiplayer. It’s good, don’t get me wrong! But if it read “you gain life equal to the life lost” that would be perfect.

Brendan: A Gray Merchant that smashes face? Seems good.

Rich: History has shown that creatures like Obstinate Baloth and Ravenous Baloth have been quite playable. Those gained four life but this is a six life swing and a tougher creature. I expect this will see a lot of play.

 

Rakshasa Deathdealer

Matt: Here, lemme fix that art:

rakshasa

Rich: If only this were Putrid Leech instead

Jess: Nantuko Shade and Putrid Leech got together and fostered Truefire Paladin’s illegitimate child.

Brendan: This may be tough to pump or regenerate multiple times in one turn because most decks will have a third color of mana production that can’t be used.

 

Jeskai Charm

Matt: Not bad.

Jess: These charms are all bonkers for Commander. Unless you’re going hard into a theme, I can’t see why you’d cut this. Sure, in EDH you’re going to use the middle ability least of all, but sometimes you just need to pop a planeswalker!

Brendan: Azorius Charm, except harder to cast. The creature bounce and the lifelink abilities are a little bit stronger than on the two-mana charm, but four damage to a player (or planeswalker) is probably weaker than just drawing a card. This seems worse than Azorius Charm to me, but AC was ridiculously strong in Standard last year so there’s plenty of room for Jeskai Charm to still be good.

 

Temur Charm

Matt: This one seems good, too.

Jess: Removal, counterspell, and a way to push through damage. Seems great to me!

Brendan: Wow, this one is good. The counterspell mode might not be that great though, as you mostly want Mana Leak in the early turns when Temur Charm will be hard to cast. If you are behind in the late game, none of the modes are good, so that’s something to be careful about.

 

Mardu Charm

Matt: Instant Duress seems good. Kadar says, “Pretty good against Miracle triggers.”

Jess: Seriously, can we talk for a second about the fact that the art here is clearly a flaming vagina? What is up with that?! And let’s not make jokes about sexually transmitted infections here, lots of people have them and that joke is cheap. A better one involves looking up the urban dictionary definition of red wings.

Brendan: Paying three for an instant-speed Duress doesn’t seem too impressive to me, but maybe there will be a lot of powerful sorceries and Planeswalkers to nab with it. The other two modes are sweet, though.

Rich: With all those copies of Courser of Kruphix around you may often know what your opponent just drew making an instant-speed Duress pretty helpful. Also, jeez, that artwork. I get that it’s the wings from the Mardu emblem and all, but just, yikes.

Matt: Are you the same people who didn’t get mad when I was all up in arms about Stab Wound? Jeez.

 

Deflecting Palm

Matt: Talk to the hand.

Brendan: This is rare? It’s so bad. Why can’t it let you choose the target for the damage you deal?

Adamant Negation

Matt: Eep!

Jess: Oh gross. People in Commander have power 4 or greater creatures all the time. This is going to see some serious play, it’s basically the perfect response to a wrath effect. “See this guy you want to get rid of? She’s why you can’t.”

 

Pearl Lake Ancient

Matt: This guy seems crazy!

Jess: …Crazy, sure, but good? Am I just not seeing it?

Hunter: I don’t think you are, Jess. The prowess ability seems almost irrelevant. Aetherling this ain’t. Great art and flavor, though.

 

Murderous Cut

Matt: This removal spell seems really good. I liked it better when I thought it was called “Murderous Cat.”

Jess: Murderous Cat does sound like a great card.

Brendan: Better than Flesh to Dust, but no Doom Blade. Although in a tri-color set, the non-black clause on Doom Blade would be a big limitation because many creatures are randomly black.

 

Ashcloud Pheonix

Matt: Kadar says it seems slow. He’d be much happier with it if it had haste. I’m sick of phoenixes so I’m not going to comment.

Jess: Italics courtesy of moi! Just teasing, Matt, we love you.

 

Meandering Towershell

Matt: Phasing rules.

Jess: This strikes me as a sick finisher for a Kiora-based Bant control deck in Standard. A 5/9 is a pain to get through, and it comes down the turn after Kiora, and it takes a turn off if you need to wrath. This seems like a decent combination of factors! I kinda want to play that deck.

 

Trail of Mystery

Matt: I don’t understand this card so it must be SUPER good.

Jess: Again, for the year and a half during which morph Commander decks are all the rage, this is going to be a key player in the ones that run green. Hell, it makes me want to put one of those decks together, and I am obstinately sticking with my hatred of morph.

Brendan: Insane limited card. Possibly good in constructed if there are morphs worth building a deck around. That won’t happen until later in the block, but I say this is a good “buy now” speculation card, if you are into that sort of thing.

Rich: What Brendan said.

Hunter: Yeah, this seems like the (increasingly rare) build-around-me card in Limited that’s actually worth building around.

Bloodfell Caves, Blossoming Sands, Dismal Backwater, Jungle Hollow, Rugged Highlands, Scoured Barrens, Swiftwater Cliffs, Thornwood Falls, Tranquil Grove, Wind-Scarred Crag

Matt: Common dual lands is awesome.

Jess: And the mana gets better, if you’re running a Commander deck that can handle lands that come into play tapped. The enemy colors needed refuges, and now the allied colored ones can double up. Not terrible, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine.

Brendan: Okay, maybe this three color thing will work in limited.

 

Friday, September 5

Sultai Ascendancy

Hunter: “Any amount of them”? The editor in me recoils at the phrasing. Also it’s kind of odd, I think, to have this effect immediately follow (and be in Standard alongside) scry.

David: This card is most likely translated from the original non-English preview, hence MOCKUP above the artist’s name.

Jess: I like it! It’s like a better Jace, or a better Ethersworn Page. It’s a strong addition to the cycle, even if it breaks the symmetry of them having two abilities.

Hunter: Dave, you aren’t familiar with the work of MOCKUP? Great artist, kind of like Banksy.

Matt: Banksy is the worst artist on the face of the Earth.

Savage Knuckleblade

Hunter: Cool card, but the design seems a little boring, with echoes of Sam Stoddard’s reasons why designing wedge cards is difficult: i.e., they can gravitate toward, “OK, what defines a RUG card? Well, it does an R thing, a U thing, and a G thing.” P.S. You should definitely click that link.

Jess: I feel like it’s more interesting to see cards that meet at the fusion points, instead of cards like this that just look piecemeal. That having been said, it seems pushed for standard, and reminds me of the four mana 5/3 in Alara that got haste and lifelink if you controlled red and white permanents respectively.

Matt: The art of this card is so good. SO GOOD. Abilities like the ones on ol’ Knucks here are fine. They don’t feel clunky to me, they feel diverse and interesting.

Brendan: Holding knives is so tiresome. I’ll tape them on the back of my hands instead!

Mantis Rider

Hunter: See my comment above. Flying (U), vigilance (W), and haste (R). Can we go to lunch now?

Jess: Lightning Angel part duex. How many more of these pushed functional reprints do you think we’ll see?

Matt: They can’t all be amazing brand new things, not every card. Functionally reprinting Lightning Angel (at less mana and less power and toughness) isn’t the worst thing.

Jess: Same power. Lightning Angel was a 3/4.

Icy Blast

Jess: I like this more than the red ferocious spell. I think a keyword bonus should modify what the spell does or how it resolves. This does that, and I like it.

Matt: Surprisingly, I am a fan of “does not untap during their controllers’ next untap steps” and X spells.

Empty the Pits

Hunter: It’s kind of hard to grok how to pay for all of this, and how it all adds up. Will this be a 14th-pick in Limited, or will we be able to make it work? I’m definitely hoping for the latter, but this seems super slow—even slower than Army of the Damned in Innistrad.

Matt: Too expensive.

Brendan: Urborg makes this castable in Standard. Instant speed makes it a reasonable finisher for a draw-go control deck. I don’t think this is as good as White Sun’s Zenith, but it will probaby get played. Not in limited, though.

Hardened Scales

Hunter: AKA “A Little Bit More-en-ing Season.”

Matt: In the lead for most confusing text box.

Jess: I think this can be used with Ghave, Guru of Spores to make him arbitrarily huge. So… cool?

Frontier Biovauc

Hunter: Love the name (and kind of love the art, too; those ice spikes should look sweet in foil). “Bivouac” is a sweet word. C’mon, say it: bivouac. Just feels good, doesn’t it?

Matt:  What the fetch land art should be.

Jess: Nom nom nom nom nom.

Opulent Palace

Hunter: And then we have this name. “Opulent Palace.” Great, thanks. Here’s a quick writing 101 tip: Don’t use a redundant adjective in front of another word. Have you ever seen a palace that *isn’t* opulent? No. So why are you reminding us that this one, too—like all palaces ever—is opulent. I would prefer Shitty Palace. Now *that* piques my interest.

Matt: More better fetchland art.

Jess: My partner is worried about the flavor implications of depicting the South East Asian-themed wedge as being a bunch of corrupt and evil snakes. I’ll reserve judgment, but it’s a legitimate concern.

Sandsteppe Citadel

Hunter: OK, now here’s a fine name. It’s a Citadel. What kind? A Sandsteppe Citadel. Thank you. Was that so difficult?

Matt: And here’s some more art on a land that’s much better than the fetches.

Jess: Those clouds are gorgeous.

 

Thursday, September 4

Sage of the Inward Eye

Matt: I’m starting to get bored by these cycles. Djinn Wizard is a great creature type.

Rich: I feel like this just isn’t as good as Lightning Angel and that cost one less mana.

Jess: I like how this basically adds the least-used mode of Azorius Charm to all your combat tricks. And a ¾ flier for five isn’t terrible in limited or EDH.

Brendan: Hopefully they made three-color decks actually functional in limited (and not just smoothed over by morph allowing you to have three drops) because I really have no desire to go out of my way to assemble three colors of mana just to cast a card like this.

 

Clever Impersonator

Matt: Sweet. Copying planeswalkers seems sweet.

Rich: I guess after Thespian’s Stage they learned their lesson with copying lands. Also, I’m glad they changed the Legend rule so that you can copy your opponent’s stuff instead of casting Vindicate in blue.

Jess: What’s the best way to break this card?

Shawn: This card is awesome. Clone/Copy Enchantment/Copy Artifact/Copy Planewalker all for 2UU? I foresee this card being the chase mythic of the set.

Brendan: Try as you might, Clever Imp, you will never be a Mutavault!

 

Kheru Spellthief

Matt: Snakes are super freaking weird.

Rich: It’s a Naga, not a snake. This is probably an improvement on Commandeer so I expect it to be alright in Commander.

Jess: I hate uncounterable counterspells. No one plays Stifle in EDH!

 

Raiders’ Spoils

Matt: Oh look! Boring, predictable art! WOOO!!!

Rich: I would have preferred either of these effects on a cheaper card.

Jess: Finally, something powerful enough to be worth running conspiracy for. Seems like a great card in Reaper King-themed changeling decks too. Weird though that in Morningtide Warriors were the GR jobs.

Brendan: To think that friend-of-hipsters and resident beatdown artist JDB was just lamenting that Tormented Hero can’t be dropped into play by Preeminent Captain because it is a warrior rather than a soldier.

 

Crater Claws

Matt: Does this card feel kinda last minute to you guys? “Oh we have one more rare slot? Shit. I guess we could make a fireball variant that does two extra damage if they have a big creature in play. How’s that sound? Good? Good.”

Rich: So, uh, this is sorcery speed Shock? Or Incinerate? It’s not even Brimstone Volley at sorcery speed. This is pretty bad.

Jess: I first read this as times two, which might be a decent finisher? This is not. I was going to say more in that last sentence, but why bother? It’s just not.

Brendan: This card seems strong to me, assuming you put it in a deck with big creatures. A GR monsters-type deck would be a great place for it, as it provides a late game mana sink for your Nykthos shenanigans as well as being able to pick off utility creatures fairly efficiently. Those decks tend to tap out anyway, so the sorcery part wouldn’t be a big deal.

 

Mocking Instigator

Matt: I don’t get the art or the flavor or the name or any of it. How is stealing a crown gaining control of a creature? How is it instigating or mocking anything? Fail.

Rich: The latest in a long line of Act of Treason effects on creatures. It’s almost like this effect has to be included. If we’re lucky, one day, the design space for this will run out.

Jess: There is going to be a series of dedicated Commander morph decks in the near future focused around morph, and they’re going to irritate me to high heaven. I don’t see this getting much play apart from that wave.

Brendan: At first I missed the “your turn” part and thought this card would be really annoying.

 

Wednesday, September 3

Flying Crane Technique

Brendan: Instant – make your opponent concede the game mid-combat.

Zac: just make sure you draft enough creatures to make this spell insane.

Matt: I’m waiting for “Tiger Style” to be a combat trick.

Jess: Considering what that guild’s ability is, there’s a hidden “give your team +1/+1” at play as well. Sick overrun, nastier on defense.

Shawn: Disgusting in limited. At least it’s a rare and it won’t come up super often.

Rich: Combos with the Inspired mechanic.

 

Ankle Shanker

Brendan: This is the Matt Jonesiest card ever printed. It seems sweet, although the mana cost seems prohibitive for the sort of decks that want to cast it.

Matt: This is the greatest Magic card since Huntmaster of the Fells. It does amazing things. Behold blessed perfection! The art is cool, too, with the Shanker’s sword going behind the frame and the arm in such a straight line and that tree/tornado behind the Shanker’s lovely red hair. I’m a sucker for red heads, too. Seriously. I love this card.

Zac: name is second only to “The Cheese Stands Alone”

Jess: This is my favorite card so far in the set. It’s brutally powerful, and makes the three other revealed cards in this cycle look like chumps, even the huge one that untaps your board. I wonder if Modern Gobs could make it to a five-drop… a card like this makes me want to try. Finally, I think the reminder text is weird. This set has doublestrike, so “this creature deals combat damage before creatures without first strike” seems odd to me. Also, since it has deathtouch reminder text, but the uncommon deathtoucher doesn’t seem to, I wonder if they are putting reminder text onto the precon foils (of which this is one). That would make a ton of sense, since it’s a product pitched primarily towards the new.

Shawn: I hate this card, but it’s mostly just because I foresee myself losing to it more often than winning with it in Standard.

Rich: This is a pretty good way to make combat suck for your opponent.

 

Rakshasa Vizier

Zac: this alludes to something at common with an effect to make this relevant.

Matt: This art is AWESOME!!! Nils Hamm finally paints something with more than three colors and it’s scary as all get-out! CAT DEMON! Dom must be so freaking excited.

Jess: One of the other cards in the aforementioned cycle with Ankle Shanker, this card doesn’t seem nearly as powerful to me. I’m sure it’s going to be annoying, and this is cute with Delve, the mechanic for this wedge whose name I forget, but at the end of the day it’s just a fishing huge dude without trample or evasion. Don’t get me wrong, that wins games, but Ankle Shanker sets the bar high.

David: Poor Deathrite Shaman rotates before he got any cool toys to play with.

Shawn: “Poor Deathrite Shaman” —shit no one ever says.

Matt: I agree with Dave. Deathrite didn’t get to do a fucking thing in Standard, the most popular constructed format, once Innistrad rotated. Then the poor guy got banned from Modern. I have to play Legacy to use him and it’s so much fun.

 

Avalanche Tusker

Zac: it’s an abyss in draft most of the time. RUG monsters was a standard deck this could have legs in that format.

Matt: Elephants must have a hard time seeing behind them.

Jess: Did this need to be worse than Provoke? I mean, again, strong limited card. But in Commander, this isn’t quite interesting enough to make a splash, and it pales in comparison to the Rock and Raka rares in this cycle.

Shawn: The first thing I thought of when I saw this card was John Cusack on one ski in the movie, “Better Off Dead”. I’ll refer to Avalanche Tusker as Lane Meyer from now on.

 

Sagu Mauler

Brendan: This seems insanely powerful for limited. How good will it feel to kill it in morph form when its controller doesn’t have the five mana, though? I predict a lot of fist pumps when someone kills a morph and it is revealed to be a Sagu Mauler.

Matt: I am a fan of beasts.

Jess: Ugh morph is gross.

 

Wingmate Roc

Zac: Sean said it, “strictly better Stangg” which is terrible at mythic.

Matt: First bit of bad bird art. Woof. Boring. Strictly worse other bird art.

Jess: Finally, the return of Stangg tokens! I don’t think it’s terrible at mythic, though, this is a little ahead of the curve in limited. Raid seems the easiest of the abilities to trigger so far, since it rewards you for doing things you already want to be doing, and given that it’s 6/8 with evasion and a serious lifegain ability for a mere five mana. Anyway, it’s also interesting that this card won’t be in standard with populate; that’s not a terrible body to copy.

Matt: The more I think about it the awesomer Brain Mountain is in the background. The birds suck but Brain Mountain is the shit.

 

Watcher of the Roost

Zac: I like playing UW skies in draft I’m sure this will be right at home there.

Matt: Seems fine. Average level bird art.

Jess: Ugh, morph. This whole cycle of free morphs has me worried.

 

Dragon’s Eye Savants

Matt: I like the “reveal a card” morph payment. The art on this sucks.

Jess: See, I hate that morph payment. Now you can never know if a morph is live or not, I can only imagine all the feel bad situations this will engender. What I do think is neat, though, is that with all the mental minigames that morph situations prompt knowing what cards are in your opponent’s hand seems like a stronger ability than it is in other sets.

 

Ruthless Ripper

Matt: More like “sort of angry and inside of dragon bone fire ripper,” amirite?

Jess: Which clan is this associated with? I assumed Mardu, given its level of aggression, but Mardu is the only one who’s sigil I have memorized (Mardu gives you wings). I think it might be BUG, but other than deathtouch this doesn’t really feel all that BUG to me.

 

Horde Ambusher

Matt: The way WOTC has decided to depict morphing sucks.

Jess: Amen, Matt. Amen. BUT at least it’s not the weird featureless octopi creatures, right?

 

Temur Charger

Matt: Just before the Hydra ate him, the horse gave something trample.

Jess: At least this one has the common courtesy to include its clan name in its card name. Not that I remember what Temur is… RUG, right? So why doesn’t this have four power?

 

Ghostfire Blade

Brendan: The art for this card makes no sense. The flavor seems weird too. Which makes me wonder, why would a dragon relic care about being colorless? In a world with references to Ugin? Is this card telling us that the dragons are actually Eldrazi?

Matt: I like the idea of an invisible blade that burns when it cuts. The illustration sucks, but I like the idea.

Jess: That illustration is straight up terrible. I wonder if Ghostflame gets reprinted, though? And as I understand it this is Ugin’s origin plane. Ugin, Sorin, and some third party (who may never have been named) all got sparky and sealed the Eldrazi on Zendikar, where Ugin bit it at some point? Anyway, that’s why the Eye of Ugin was on Zendikar, and why ghostflame unlocked the prison. And why Sorin showed up to the party.

Shawn: I guess it’s a cool way to push the morph mechanic since unflipped cards are colorless.

 

Tuesday, September 2

Anafenza, the Foremost

Jess: Not really my cup of tea, and it doesn’t really fill a hole in the Commander playspace. If you want Abzan aggro, use Doran, the Siege Tower. If you’re going all “counters matter,” run Ghave, Guru of Spores. But this is the type of card that makes it into those decks, a solid generator of value that hinders your opponents’ graveyard shenanigans.

Shawn: The foremost of what? I can’t help but feel like this is a weird card from Legends with a bunch of tacked on abilities. Yes, the abilities fit the individual colors in the Abzan wedge but this card still feels unfocused and certainly not mythic material.

GCB: We used to get Doran, the Siege Tower at this cost. This card is much less cool, though the exile ability may find it a home in eternal formats.

David: Shawn, she was introduced as the khan that leads from the front lines…so I assume she’s at the fore/the foremost Abzan warrior. Who knows, it’s a weird name.

Derek: An incredibly powerful card for Birthing Pod in Modern. Not only is it an undercosted creature, it’s four toughness dodges Anger of the Gods and Lightning Bolt, and comes down as early as turn two off a mana dork. It is also a nice card in the Pod mirror: it’s trigger can reset your persist creatures, and it’s static ability negates your opponents.

Tim: It’s definitely the most pushed of the Khans, so far, at least as far as Eternal formats go, but I’m holding out hope that the Bear Puncher of Temur is playable in fetchland formats, as well.. oh wait.

Matt: Dunno why they wasted dragon scales on the goat armor.

 

Abzan Ascendancy

 

Jess: So the Ascendancy cycle is an interesting one, hrm? It looks like each one will have two effects, a static one and a come-into-play/activated one. With this one, the secondary ability seems quite powerful, especially in those colors. Magical christmas dreamland for this card is using it with Teysa, Orzhov Scion, and Requiem Angel, to get three spirits off each death trigger.

Shawn: Something about this card reminds me of Promise of Bunrei, which is a card I really enjoyed during its time in Standard a million years ago. This card would be good in an Aristocrats-esque strategy with lots of aggressively costed creatures and sacrifice outlets. It’s too bad Cartel Artistocrat won’t be around to wreak havok with this enchantment.

Derek: This is my first pick for the Ascendancy cycle. It has the most relevant ability when entering the battlefield of the three spoiled, and ascends all your dead monsters into spirit tokens! What value!

Tim: I have a feeling some of the Ascendancy cycle could see Eternal play. Three-drops that create at least two cards worth of value are generally strong contenders for Legacy and Modern.

Matt: More uses for my geist tokens! WOO!

 

Utter End

Jess: One mana and the inability to target lands are more than balanced out by the instant speed and exiling of this new Vindicate. It’s probably not good enough for Legacy, but it’s definitely going to be solid spot removal in Commander.

Shawn: I think this card is priced fairly to see some Standard play. While it’s a bit more expensive than Hero’s Downfall

GCB: Excellent card design. Everyone will want to play it, but it will rapidly become clear that there are better options in these colors for most decks, mostly at 3 mana. Also has to compete with Silence the Believers, which has some serious upside for the most common type of target.

Derek: Gabe, I can see black decks splitting Silence the Believers and Utter End. This is a versatile removal spell that answers anything, no questions asked, at instant speed. Creatures are one thing, but Gods, Planeswalkers, and the troublesome potential artifact and/or enchantment removal all in one card is too strong to pass up.

Tim: A solid removal option in Standard. In Legacy and Modern, Golgari is a much more powerful combination than Orzhov, and most permanents are lower on the curve, so Abrupt Decay is generally a much better option. After all, it feels pretty bad to have your four-drop Pierced.

Matt: The word “utter” is pretty funny.

Zac: This card seems particularly good vs the decks Cryptic Command is not as good against. Esper could be making a comeback!

Mardu Ascendancy

Jess: This seems like this could get out of hand quickly. Also, it provides protection from Anger of the Gods! It definitely seems strong enough for Standard, and I can imagine a world in which it’s played in Modern Goblins as well. This is added value with any of the Mardu Commander decks, although I don’t think it complements any of the existing archetypes particularly well.

GCB: Goblin Rabblemaster is SO EXCITED about this.

Derek: So, wait… Mardu has both Orcs AND Goblins? Didn’t any of these guys read LoTR? Sheesh. Oh, yay tokens!

Tim: Possible contender for BWR(g) Zombie-Pod in Legacy? You could potentially generate a lot of value by attacking with your Bloodghasts and Gravecrawlers, but I’m not completely sold, because the second ability isn’t too relevant in those types of decks, and it doesn’t really have another home.

Matt: I hope Marmaduke has a long and prosperous reign.

See the Unwritten

Jess: This is a good use of keywording. The card is solid when you’re behind, and grossly powerful when you’re ahead. And the drop back down to four power being the magic number is huge. This is no Summoning Trap, but it’s definitely a Commander card.

Shawn: While this card isn’t as good as Summoning Trap, perhaps the two could be used in conjunction to be able to cheat Emrakul into play a bit more consistently in Modern. The shell could look something like this:

Creatures (26)
Birds of Paradise
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Knight of the Reliquary
Nest Invader
Noble Hierarch
Primeval Titan
Spellskite

Spells (11)
See the Unwritten
Lingering Souls
Summoning Trap

Land (23)
Windbrisk Heights
19 Other Lands

GCB: As my friend Jaron Heard put it, “Let’s fill our deck with creatures that cost more than 6 so we can get value from our 6 mana sorcery.” Summoning Trap was exciting because it was a free instant. Maybe it’ll be good in Commander: and now I’ve lost interest.

Brendan: This will be a good topdeck in a long sealed game. But as a mythic that’s sort of the baseline.

Derek: Best for the Sultai wedge, which seems slanted for graveyard synergies. Since it will almost always replace itself, it should be worth at least a decent card in limited, but I think constructed is where we may truly see what is to be written of this card.

Tim: Cool EDH card, but having six mana AND already having a fatty in play are steep conditions for serious constructed Magic.

Matt: Unfortunately this is as close as we’ll get to Richard Kane-Ferguson artwork in the horrible RKF-less reality we live in.

Zac: Ramping into this card seems like such a good idea… TRON anyone?

Monday, September 1

Sidisi, Blood Tyrant

 

Jess: Underwhelming, but certainly not bad. It doesn’t have the raw power of The Mimeoplasm for self-mill decks, but it also doesn’t scream “I have a combo!” I’ll certainly play this in my BUG self-mill decks, even if it isn’t always the general.

Brendan: Jace, the living whatever, says “see, I knew my +1 would be relevant to some graveyard theme in Khans of Tarkir!” This card seems pretty good at enabling graveyard stuff.

Matt: I love zombies and I love snakes.

Shawn: It’s hard to look at a Legendary three-color creature for constructed non-EDH purposes but Brood Tyrant could be potentially interesting as a Standard card. The fact that it triggers immediately upon entering the battlefield could lead to really disgusting situations. Imagine playing this on turn three on the back of a Sylvan Caryatid the previous turn. Worst case scenario, you flip over no creatures, but still have a very powerful graveyard enabler looking to flip cards the following turn. It kind of sucks that you can only get one zombie per mill trigger but I’m still dreaming of a graveyard centric deck with this, Satyr Wayfinders, Nighthowlers, and Commune with the Gods.

Derek: This is what i’m talking about. Conley Woods is probably having a self-mill-gasm somewhere. Great flavor, and a one man army that enables graveyard play. Someone find me my unburial rites.

Tim: I’m reserving judgement until I see the rest of the set, but I could see this being broken. I think she’s a tad bit high on the curve for Dredge, and the fact that her ability only triggers once when a batch of creatures get binned (as opposed to once for each creature) has me feeling a bit skeptical. Oh.. and that three-butt.

 

End Hostilities

Brendan: Just last week in Team Draft League Monique, Matt, and I were lamenting that some equipment would stick around after we cast our big sweeper. Well, not anymore!

Matt: Which “Matt,” B-Mac? I never ever ever want to see sweepers cast. I mean, unless it’s in Limited. Then I guess it’s ok. I’m thinking Standard may not be as awful as it was and hoped there would be no sweepers. Alas.

Tony: Here’s to hoping we see some really sick equipment in the upcoming block.

Shawn: One thing that annoyed me about casting Supreme Verdict is that sometimes people would have Boon Satyrs bestowed onto other creatures…Thankfully End Hostilities solves this problem. While I would rather just have a four-mana wrath, I’ll take my situationally more powerful five-mana sweeper and like it.

Derek: No more four mana wraths, so we get one for five, and it destroys auras and attached equipment. Hm. The language of Khans is keen on emphasizing the “end” regarding it’s removal. What, then, will the Jeskai counterspell be? Prefabricated End?

GCB: We knew a new Wrath of God was coming, but did they really need to hose Bestow already? Aside from Shawn’s “sometimes people” and their Boon Satyrs, I feel like I was basically the only one leveraging Bestow actively in Standard. Clearly WOTC is out to get me.

Tim: “This might be a good Batterskull hoser,” said no one ever. I’ve been spoiled by Supreme Verdict, but the sad reality is that this and either Drown in Sorrow or Anger of the Gods might be the only friends a control mage has to turn to for sweepers in Standard. Ok, there’s also that seven-drop.

Zac: I’m sure this is gonna have to be played in standard but I don’t really see it making waves in Modern or Legacy. It’s only one color though, so there could be non blue control decks that like this effect? Doubtful.

Howl of the Horde

Tony: I’ve read this card like five times and still don’t know what it does. Vomiting lightning seems pretty neat, though.

Shawn: While I like copying spells more than the average mage, I prefer to have the option of copying my opponents spells at instant speed and not just mine at sorcery speed. If you can consistently trigger Raid, this card is interesting but probably not quite good enough for Standard. Best case scenario is you attack with a creature and then Howl of the Horde copying something like Lightning Strike. You deal nine damage but had to attack with a creature, pay five-mana, and use two spells. In an aggressive burn deck, you probably don’t have the mana to invest in Howl, and in a control deck, I’d imagine this is just dead too much of the time.

Matt: There is too much text on this card. What’s the TLDR? you can copy spells twice? I don’t care.

GCB: Great breakdown Shawn! My TLDR is: that’s a lot of “if” for not a lot of “then”.

Derek: I have enough mana to cast this and a burn spell! Oh, wait, I attacked with a creature! Now I cast my burn spell three times! If I wasn’t winning already, I’m sure as shit winning now! It’s MAGIC!

Tim: This card is insane. INSAAAAAAAANE.  Also, my mind is on Vintage when I say that.

Zac: I’m not sure about this one. Modern Storm does have electromancer (for the raid ability), and in a pinch this could net you some mana. I just wish it cost 1 less.

Sunday, August 31

Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker

Jess: If the Commander 2014 product prompts some change in the rules allowing planeswalkers generally to be used as your commander, I could get behind running a red deck with this guy. I mean, he’s powerful without being super dangerous, and the emblem is the type of thing that would be fun in Commander but perhaps weak elsewhere. The best thing about the emblem is that you can double up on it. If drawing three cards a turn is good, drawing five cards a turn is amazing.

Shawn: I think Sarkhan passes the planewalker test pretty nicely. If you are ahead, he does a great Stormbreath Dragon impression to seal up the game. If you are behind, he can Flame Slash a problematic creature. The problem I see with this guy is how his mana cost will affect play in Standard. I can see Sarkhan at the top of a curve for a Jund/Temur Planeswalkers deck but it might compete for space with Nissa, which has the same mana cost and a similar +1 ability. Then again, it’s possible this kind of deck might want some number of both, or decide to forgo Nissa in a deck with a low Forest count.

Brendan: My new obsession is getting double activation value out of Sarkhan plus Restoration Angel. That’s only good if you want to attack with Sarkhan and then kill something post-combat. But being able to blink a planeswalker (because he’s now a creature) seems cool.

Matt: The art is wack/boring, but damn this card is good. Everyone on the way to SCG: LEGACE in NJ was hot shit on this card.

GCB: Not sure how to feel about this guy. He’s good, but is he actually better than Stormbreath? He doesn’t block well, and he dies to Oblivion Ring. He just seems mostly worse than Nissa for the same cost. Flame Slash for 5 mana that gains you a life when their Elf has to attack Sarkhan doesn’t really float my boat either.

Derek: While less all-in on the forest plan Nissa demands of us, Sarkhan has a problem defending himself when cast. So while he seems cool and powerful, I have gone from fiery loins over this guy to, well, cooled off and curious.

Tim: Let me turn off my Eternal-goggles and try to evaluate this. He’s very similar to Stormbreath, except, by playing a split of Stormbreaths and Sarkhans, you have similar power-level threats that demand different answers. As the adage goes, there are no wrong threats, only wrong answers. By diversifying your threat portfolio among the four-power, hasty, hard-to-kill dragons, you make it more of a headache for your opponent to have the right answer at the right time. Even if he only gets to swing twice, he probably has won you the game at that point, if you’re a semi-respectable red mage. He also has a really sweet and attainable ultimate.

Zac: UWR likes drawing cards smashing for 4 and killing dudes… this card has potential.

Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Jess: Whereas I hate Sorin, Serious Houseguest’s emblem for Commander. A lot of people are going to love it though, because people inexplicably like locking their opponents out with Abyss effects. Here’s the problem with Sorin, Unhappy Tourist’s emblem though… if you drop it, and it is screwing me over, my only solution is going to be to kill you. At least when you put it on creatures or enchantments I can attack the permanent and then live. This is going to draw so much aggro, both when you cast it and then for serious when you pop Sorin, Grumpy Company for his emblem. Probably more fun in Standard than it will be in Commander.

Shawn: Flavorwise, this card does exactly what Sorin should do. The reason I know this is not because I’ve read up on the lore behind Sorin, but because they basically just jumbled around Sorin, Lord of Innistrad’s abilities. I can’t help but feel that Solemn Visitor doesn’t compare very favorably to his former Innistrad self, but at the same time the two cards aren’t really competing against eachother for space in any format (Does anyone play Sorin, LOI in Modern?). I think this guy is probably fine, Planewalkers tend to be better than they look at first glance, but I’m not excited about it.

Brendan: I’m with Shawn on this. Why is this Sorin Remix? I guess he has to freshen up his routines a little when he visits other planes. Also, the art looks like it came from the George Washington video by the Professor Brothers. That video is awesome, though, so maybe that’s not a criticism?

Matt: To quote Luis of 20SS ownership fame, “Wait, is this a real card?” And, sadly, ehem, solemnly, it is, and it sucks.

Derek: Sure, that resolves. My turn?

Tim: I saw a great tweet from Jason Alt that sums this guy up: “Meet the new Sorin, same as the old Sorin.” I personally actually think he’s worse, because old Sorin upticked to throw roadblocks in front of himself, and his pump was permanent. Ok, sure, he makes 2/2 flyers instead of 1/1 lifelinkers, but -2 is pretty steep for that. OG Garruk was a four-drop that is widely considered well-balanced, and he makes 3/3s for -1.

Zac: Sorin and Sarkhan in an INSANE CLOWN POSSE superfriends deck! I still think it’s a better name than Mardu.

Flooded Strand

Jess: I think this has the nicest art of all the fetches. It’s from a perspective that gives a sense of the whole of the thing (although I don’t get the mountains in the background of the island/plains), the dragon bones are centered, but also obviously bones and not the absolute focus of the piece. I think the whole “dragon bones as a uniting theme” decision is stupid, and would much rather have seen banners for the relevant guild as the unifying artistic flourish, but if you have to put dragon bones everywhere this is a good way to do it.

Shawn: The reprinting of the fetch lands is a big deal on so many levels. The biggest deal to me is that it encourages innovation in Modern. The success of American Control over something like Esper, is at least in part because of the manabase. American decks got access to eight fetches, whereas Esper or Grixis only had one set of completely on color fetch lands. This is all different now. Three color decks have access to 12 on color fetch lands. Burn can play a criminally low amount of lands and play 16 red fetches to thin out their deck, trigger Searing Blaze, and provide fodder for Grim Lavamancer. Does the reprinting of fetches make Steppe Lynx good again? Does it make Blood Moon better, because of greedier manabases, or worse because more basics can be fetched in response? I suppose all of these musings and questions will be answered in the upcoming months. I for one am excited.

Brendan: Definitely the sweetest-looking of the new fetches. I am happy to welcome these to Modern, since it is stupid to only have enemy fetches in the format forever.

Matt: Saying “nicest new fetch art” is like saying “he’s the nicest Nazi”. All of the new fetchland art is fucking horrible and waaaaaay to spikey (mean there are way too many weird spikes).

Derek: Hey, they finally did it!  YAY! Aaaand wow, that art is beyond horrible. Guess I’ll be hunting down myself some onslaughts!

Tim: One general comment on all the fetches: I’m super stoked for how accessible this makes Legacy on MODO. In paper, duals are now the only major barrier to entry, so I expect them to skyrocket as kids crack their “Onslaught” fetches and think they’re “so close” to Legacy.

 

Polluted Delta

Jess: This one, meanwhile, is awful. First, the forced perspective being so close to the dragon bones really prevents you from getting a sense of the polluted delta. Second, there is no delta in this polluted delta. Third, the card is polluted delta, not polluting delta, so I really don’t get the streams of smoke coming up from a black/blue card… neither swamps or islands are particularly known for smoking, since they’re the wettest of the lands! And even these dragon bones are ugly. I think this is an epic misfire, and artistically the worst of the bunch.

Brendan: I guess WotC creative figured that Polluted Delta is such an awesome card that they could just spill ink all over the art and people would still buy it.

Shawn: I think Polluted Delta stands to take the biggest hit financially out of all the fetches. The Onslaught version card was riding up near $100 TCG mid price and now it’s starting to slowly decline. I imagine that the Onslaught version will still command a higher value than its newer version much like Thoughtseize did after the reprint in Theros but that the reprint will make both more accessible.

Matt:

polluted
Derek: I was going to write about the art on this one also, but Matt’s picture made me cry. Save the birds!

 

Bloodstained Mire

Jess: What I hate about this one is that those dragon bones, the unifying theme, do not look like bones! I guess these are all supposed to be dragon horns, but a) not all fantasy dragons have horns, and b) is this just a head graveyard? Anyway, the art is super murky and the perspective is way too close for my liking. And why is the mountain/swamp the one where things are moldering? Rot is not a traditionally red concept.

Brendan: Head graveyard is my new favorite phrase!

Matt: Shockingly, I like this one best of all. The idea of the heads being buried and their horns poking out is kinda cool. I guess there are mountains back there, so, uh, red? Whatever, it sucks but not more than the others.

Derek: “Yes, but if we bend all the horns it will allude to a mighty battleground where blood now stains the remaining mire!”

 

Wooded Foothills

Jess: Again, the dragon bones don’t look like dragon bones, and the blue energy or water or whatever is sorely out of place. But, oddly enough, that’s not what bothers me the most about this art. The slanted perspective is messing with my head. Here’s the thing about nature: trees grow up. If a tree is planted on a sloped hill, it doesn’t just pop out perpendicular to the ground, it aims itself towards the sky to maximize sunlight. So those trees in the right of the card are wrong. And if they’re wrong, the perspective of the card is slanted inexplicably, and if you correct for that then the mountains in the background look weird. If you stripped the foreground of the bone shit (throw some skeleton pieces on the mountains) and fixed the perspective issues, this might be a great piece of art. As is, it does not reach its full potential.

Matt: Alternate art Taiga doesn’t look much like a red/green fetch land. More like a red/green/blue fetch.

Derek: “no no no no no no NO! There’s clearly not enough dragon bones in this image!  And look at this perspective! Straight ahead? You said you’ve  worked with us before? Here, gimmie that computer screen, mister…De Ro… SOMEBODY GET THIS MAN SOME COFFEE!”

Zac: Here’s the thing I like this card as a 4 of in RUG delver. It’s sneaky and you get to stifle an unsuspecting opponent more often. But as good as that play is in Legacy… it wasn’t $160 good. I like being sneaky, but it’s EV wasn’t right for me until now. Also it’ll be nice to have enough fetches for all my decks instead of having to switch them out every time.

Windswept Heath

Jess: I do not think that word means what you think it means. I mean, I get it, the wind blowing over the bones causes them to flute out into some weird wailing. But this seems like a stretch, an example of trying to fit a theme to something it only sorta translates onto. Anyway, again the perspective is weird… there’s some centaur in the right of the art for some reason, and I don’t really get why he’s so small compared to that tree. But whatever, this may not be Flooded Strand, but it’s worlds better than Polluted Delta.

Matt: “Where flavor text writers occasionally nail it, here they were unable to.”

Derek: Is that… wait, is that… IS THAT ELMER? Don’t say we never did nothing for you, Kibler.

 

Narset, Enlightened Master

Jess: Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge never really took off as a general, because it’s fun to play creatures in Commander, and she wanted you to play as few as possible. Narset hits the same spot, and she’s probably going to see as little play. One thing, though… she seems like she’d be a perfect fit for prowess, her guild’s special ability. That might have made her playable, since seven is the magic number when you’re looking at Commanders. Instead, she doesn’t have it, and she’s not big enough to make it through blockers. Probably going to be a solid roleplayer in Team USA colored decks, but not the general-purpose Commander the color combination so desperately needed.

Shawn: As someone who loves not playing creatures in Commander, I can get behind Narset. I’m going to take a trip to Magical Christmasland and imagine revealing Time Stretch, Bribery, Storm Herd, and…Omniscience, just to make sure I don’t ever have to attack with a creature again to get free spells. Even in the horrible world of reality, I still think Narset is a really interesting build-around general, that could lend itself to voltron strategies or sweet control brews.

Matt: As irrelevant to my Magic interests as the illustration is mediocre.

Derek: I’m unsure where this belongs. She doesn’t do much in limited, and is definitely too slow for eternal formats. Perhaps when all our new spells are revealed it will enlighten us, but i’m skeptical Narset is destined to be the Jeskai master she desires. What’s the best play in Standard you can do here? a draw spell, a removal spell, an Elspeth, and a land? Hey, it’s Christmas in America!

Tim: I guess this is a sweet control finisher.. in Standard

 

Sultai Charm

Jess: Love everything about it other than the focus on fire in the art of a BUG card. It looks way too red to be clear, and the fire draws the focus out of what looks to be at least moderately interesting set dressing. Still, the abilities are powerful, the potential for the rest of the cycle has me on tenterhooks, and I don’t see these not making any BUG commander deck down the line.

Brendan: Charms are my favorite cards. Bullet points are lame, but whatever.

Shawn: I kind of like the bullet points. While I think most people were capable of understanding semi-colons, this just strikes me as more elegant.

Matt:  I, too, like the bullet points. The fire, however, makes no sense. It kinda makes sense with the irrelevant and uninteresting flavor text, I guess.

Derek: Why is there fire in this picture, and why does it entice the Sultai? This card is charming; all the modes are effective at any point in the game.

Tim: I’m very excited for the Charm cycle. I almost think this might have a place in Sultai Control (IN LEGACY!) as a one-of. New templating is also sweet.

 

Temur Ascendancy

Jess: So apparently Temur gets a slightly more powerful version of Naya’s theme. It seems less than ideal for RUG, but if they’re going to go deep on cards like this, I can get behind it. This is going immediately into Maelstrom Wanderer, and if I make a different RUG commander deck it’s probably going into that too. What I find really interesting is the way that this and the Raka spell make it seem like there’s going to be a cycle of three-mana guilded rares, and that’s a cycle with potential.

Shawn: If playing against Animar was just too much fun for your playgroup, Temur Ascendancy is here to solve that problem.

Brendan: If you asked me to set the over/under on number of cards printed in the past two years that give all your creatures haste, I would have set the line too low.

Tony: I like how elegantly this card combines the signature mechanics from three colors. Also, I hope three-color silly things are viable in the upcoming Draft format.

Matt: Snore.

Derek: I like haste, and drawing cards, but this four power clause has me weary. Not only do I have to take a turn off for this, but I have to play big dudes in order to gain card advantage. Meh.

 

Icefeather Aven

Jess: I hate morph with a passion, but this is a solid card. Unfortunately, outside of a dedicated morph deck, it’s a worse Commander card than Mist Raven.

Shawn: I really like this card in limited. On turn two, it is a Gaea’s Skyfolk and later in the game, it provides a strong tempo play with an evasive body. Probably not a constructed card, but pretty cool nonetheless.

Matt: I’ve never played with morph before. it seems cool, potentially annoying, highly dependent on the imagery of one’s opponent’s sleeves. Ice Father Raven looks like a good morpher.

Jess: Did you see they’ve made a morph token, for you to use as a reverse Delver stand-in card? You put it on top of your morphs to remind people what the hay is going on.

Derek: The morph card looks cool. I’d first pick this card.

 

Zurgo, Helmsmasher

Jess: We saw this guy a while back, and I was initially quite skeptical. I’ve come around. He’s a solid general, much like Thraximundar is for Grixis. You don’t have to build around him, and in fact I’m not entirely sure how you would build around him. But overly specific commanders are often worse than generally applicable ones, and I suspect I’ll see more of this dude than any of Mardu’s other commander options, once everything shakes out.

Shawn: Dude smashes helms.

Matt: I want to love this card for all the reasons Shawn states, but I feel remarkably “meh” about it. The grass in the illustration is much more interesting to look at than this gray idiot, too.

Derek: Zurgo smash. Zurgo drink blood of enemy. Zurgo no green, Zurgo no have trample. Then Zurgo better.

 

Crackling Doom

Jess: It would be powerful as a sorcery. As an instant, it’s truly gross. I plan to cast this after one of my opponents has declared an attack upon another at least once.

Shawn: I keep focusing on the two damage part of the card when really it’s incidental to the edict effect. I’m not sure how I feel about this card in Standard. It’s pretty hard to cast and kind of expensive for an edict effect anyway, even if it’s slightly more choosy about the creature they need to sacrifice.

Matt: That lil’guy jumping out of the way and his reflection crack me up.

Derek: I’m sure this card is better than it seems but I can’t wrap my head around the incidental damage. It reminds me of blightning, but worse? I dunno. I’m not amused.

 

Abzan Guide

Shawn: What is this person riding? I want to see a separate creature card with this things head on it. Then you could line up the cards vertically to create a full picture.

Tony: The idea of three-color creatures at common is really neat to me, however impractical they might be in competitive drafting. Giraffe riding is pretty cool, too.

Matt: I love that I can’t see the giraffe monster’s head. It’s so freaking funny. Forker should make an alter with a flip out giraffe head on it. Like it flips up from the back. You know, like those cool books with the pull tabs we had as kids and kids have today (you know, kids who are kids now). Anyway, whatever. The colors are also nice.

Derek: So this guide emerges from the aether to lead the way to water? Sure. Shrug worthy, but limited playable. Investing eight mana over two turns for a 4/4 lifelink is a lot.

 

Duneblast

Jess: A strong Plague Wind effect, but priced accordingly. Sometimes this will be what you need, and sometimes it won’t. This is for Karador, Ghost Chieftain decks, not Ghave, Guru of Spores decks.

Brendan: This is miles better than Divine Reckoning or whatever that horrible sweeper from Innistrad block was called.

Tony: I love the concise and powerful wording. Is that a llama or goat-person in the back?

Matt: There are no non-horrible sweepers. Every single last one of them is no fun. The art on this card sucks except for the horse/deer/llama/giraffe butt. I like animal butts. They’re very funny.

Derek: Sometimes you gotta blast one out the dune. I’m not sure I like, but its the only wedge that makes sense for a multi-color almost-sweeper.

 

Ivorytusk Fortress

Jess: Yet another way to take all the turns. At least this one doesn’t untap your lands as well? At least this one requires setup, and unlike the wrath, this card is more Ghave than Karador.

Shawn: As of right now, I don’t see this being much of a constructed card.

Matt: Shawn meant to say “As of right forever, I don’t see this being much of a constructed card.”

Derek: I’m big as hell and i’m not going to take this anymore!

 

Ainok Bond-Kin

Jess: I really don’t get the flavor of outlast. You’re taking turns off from combat to get more powerful, but meanwhile you’re shields down? If it were an instant speed ability priced accordingly I’d get it, but as is it seems a little loose.

Brendan: How do you outlast your opponent if you can’t block? I supposed you get your giant elephant friend to untap your creatures on opponents’ turns.

Matt: Look at those dragon scales shimmer!!!!! Chris Rahn is so good at Magic illustration.

Derek: What Brendan said. I don’t get these whole outlast shenanigans. Unless there’s an Orim’s Chant.

 

Herald of Anafenza

Jess: Compare to Imperious Perfect.

Shawn: While this card doesn’t compare favorably to Imperious Perfect for a bunch of reasons (not an elf, more expensive to activate, no anthem effect) there is something I like about the Herald. It’s probably too slow and mana intensive for Standard play but I want to believe in the little Squire that could.

Matt: Flavor text, “Hey! EVERYONE BEHIND ME! Listen up!”—Donnie Khan, The Horn Blower

Derek: So you play this dude turn one, then you play the other outlast dude turn two. Now turn three you have two outlast dudes, ready to start outlasting. But we are beating down. And then we are casting bigger spells. So when does the outlasting start outlasting?

 

Jeskai Windscout

Brendan: It depends how easy is it to kill this thing in limited, but it seems like a good beater.

Shawn: A 2/1 flier for three is pretty standard in most draft formats and this one has a nice little upside. Reasonable if unexciting.

Matt: A lot of this bird art is total gas.

Derek: I’m sure Prowess is sweet. Aside from that, it passes the rock solid test.

 

Thousand Winds

Brendan: Outlast this!

Shawn: Probably a limited bomb.

Matt: Seems morph-tastic!

Derek: Coooooooooool.

 

Jeskai Elder

Matt: Flavor text, “I am boring and and suck.”—Robbie Khan, Jeskai Elder

Brendan: The art looks like she is about to kick someone in the crotch.

Derek: She’s just dancing the prowess dance. Y’know, flexin. Lootin.

 

Shambling Attendants

Matt: Delve is a cool mechanic.

Derek: Mill just got a whole lot millier. I won’t delve too much into this card but it’s fine.

 

Necropolis Fiend

 

Jess: Dana likes this, as she sees it as repeatable removal on a stick. I’m more skeptical, since it seems like it’s going to take a ton of resources to use effectively. I mean, mana AND cards in the graveyard? It’s too much!

Brendan: I assume the presence of this card means no Tombstalker reprint.

Matt: Wouldn’t a “Necropolis” anything be better in a Greek set?

Derek: The sky behind the demon is eerie and awesome. He’s got the hunger. How we gonna feed him?

Tim: Sup, shitty Tombstalker? An extra mana (or card from the yard) and one less power make this guy dead on arrival in Legacy and Modern, not that anyone plays ‘Stalker in Modern. Yeah, yeah, he’s got a nifty ability, but if you’re doing it right, you already exiled most/all of your yard to play ‘Stalker for two, in Legacy, leaving no fuel to eat other dudes.. and besides, I’d rather just swing for five and win.

 

Mardu Skullhunter

Matt: Snore.

Derek: Sure. My turn?

 

Bitter Revelation

Jess: Black draw spells see play from time to time, and this is the black Foresee.

Brendan: The mage who casts this is bitter she isn’t a sphinx. But still seems good.

Matt: SCG LEGACE car-mates were into this card. Note how solemn Sorin looks.

Derek: I guess it’s bitter because things went to the grave and it was painful. Seems solid.

 

Dragon-Style Twins

Matt: More boring art.

Derek: They stole our girlfriend! It’s gonna take a whole lotta kicks to get outta this one, Jimmy.

 

Mardu Warshrieker

Matt: How often does Mardu Warshrieker stab himself with his elbow knives?

Derek: Hill Giants with upside are good. Hill Giants that make mana set up for  great tempo plays.

 

Mardu Heart-Piercer

Matt: Severely Limited.

Derek: Pew Pew.

 

Heir of the Wilds

Matt: holy shit! I actually love this card and it makes me wanna draft, kinda!

Derek: Is that because it’s got deathtouch and has tusks slung round his neck?

 

Runeclaw Mystic

 

 

Jess: I wonder how often this will be played as a morp in EDH. I mean, it’s a RUG mana dude, it seems way better turn two than turn four, even if it does accelerate you two when it’s morphed.

Matt: I wish this cost G.

Derek: Sadly G is too strong for New Wizards. I like his hat.

Tim: This could be deceptively strong in Standard if there is a premiere six-drop finisher to ramp into. The fact that it morphs also means you can play ramp/fixing dudes in a non-green deck.

 

Mystic Monastery

Jess: I’m thrilled to see this cycle being printed. I also think this art is gorgeous, and an example of how to position your art on lands. It’s clear what the focus is, and that focus reflects the name of the card.

Brendan: I had a brief freakout when I thought this was the rare land cycle. That would suck. But they are welcome as uncommons.

Matt: I’m not much of a speculator, but I called this cycle.

Derek: Are these first pickable? They seem so.

 

Nomad Outpost

Jess: I love these tattered flags. It’s another scene that manages to feel like a place; I just wish the fetches looked like they had as much thought put into them as does this cycle of uncommons.

Matt: Pretty good for Noah Bradley art.

 

Ugin’s Nexus

Jess: This might be good enough for Commander. It’s a hate card for people who take extra turns, and if someone wipes the board you get another turn. The problem is that the card otherwise does nothing, so it probably needs to be played in the type of deck where it just being another artifact on the table is enough. It’s also going to end up in Arcum Dagsson decks, in which it will be degenerate, but they didn’t exactly need help with that.

Brendan: Finally Vintage Shops decks can beat a Time Vault!

Matt: I like how Ugin ties this world to Zendy and all that shit.

Zach: Fun card is card. I’d be shocked if this is Limited playable.

Derek: Ladies and gentlemen we are headed back to Zendikar!  eh?  EH?

 

Dragon Throne of Tarkir

Jess: I can see running this in any token deck with a beefy general, and there are more of those than you’d think. Can you imagine this in Prossh, Skyraider of Kher?

Matt: Dies to End Hostilities.

Zach: Nothing like spending nine mana to get Overwhelming Stampede (without trample and without your best creating). In a protracted game of Limited, this could do something, and perhaps 1 drop, 2 drop, 3 drop, this, equip + activate will do, but I have low expecations.

Derek: The cost for this effect is insane. Fuck this card.

Tim: Did G.R.R. Martin receive any royalty payments for this card?

 

Lens of Clarity

Matt: Haha. Oh shit! It’s a tiger!! HAHAHAHA.

Zach: Objects in Lens may be closer than they appear.

Derek: I thought it said Stiffness of Truth.

Tim: For lack of better words, I think think this seems really cool in limited. I am envisioning playing it in game one, then once I have an idea what morph dudes my opponent has, siding it out for more business.. unless they are heavy on morph.

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