2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important)
1.0 It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%).
You can tell this is powerful, since it’s expensive and mythic. Sadly, “powerful” doesn’t mean “playable”, and the devil’s in the details: it costs EIGHT. If it were only a mana or two cheaper I might see the light, since gaining 20+ life is a pretty huge game.
Limited: 2.0 (3.0 if you draft like me)
Gain infinite AND get all your sweet value cards back? Do I really have to explain why I like this card so much? I do admit that it costs eight (since that’s printed on the card, it isn’t a huge concession), and maybe it is a little excessive to play for the super-long game, but I like this as a finisher. Trade, trade, maybe mill yourself a little, cast a removal spell, trade again, and then BAM!, gain 26 life and go for it again. Most of my decks will want this, most normal decks won’t, so just know what you are getting into when you take it. You can’t just put this in a regular W/x deck and magically have it do something; if you aren’t built to take advantage of it, it’s just going to clog up your hand.
Bar the Door
The bar is pretty high for Constructed, so barring something very odd happening, this won’t see any play. Bar.
PV called this the “reverse Hysterical Blindness”, which should already tell you about where it stands, and that’s without factoring in that it is actually worse. It isn’t a Fog, just a very bad trick, and the only time I could see myself casting this would be if I sided it in against some kind of sweeper.
Break of Day
While I like some of the Fateful Hour cards for Constructed, they need to be able to break games open, which this most certainly doesn’t do.
Now this is a combat trick. “Eldrazi Monument my team” is going to ruin someone’s day, and even just +1/+1 is pretty solid for two mana. I wouldn’t be completely ashamed to play this straight up, and the bonus at the end is very relevant.
Burden of Guilt
Coming up with a pun for each card is a real burden; miss just one and you feel guilty about it.
I’m not a huge fan of getting 2 for 1’ed, and make no mistake, this is you losing a card. The Burden trades for a guy, but you are pretty much obliged to lose the use of a land each turn, which makes this pretty horrendous in multiples. The first one is probably fine, since late game it works well, but I wouldn’t want multiples.
Curse of Exhaustion
When you board in a card like this, it really is just against decks that get hosed by it, and it’s rare that your deck cares about the effect. Making it one-sided doesn’t really change the card much, so I’d rather just pay 3 mana and get a Rule of Law instead. It is a powerful effect, and I doubt I’ve exhausted the possibilities here, but the days of an Arcane Lab + Forbid style lock are long gone.
Actual 0’s are pretty rare in Limited, but this manages to get there. Spending a card to make it so they have to do what they were probably doing anyway is terrible, and they would have to have quite the concoction to make me change my mind. Even the most flashback-heavy deck is still full of instants, and can very easily just cast one spell on each player’s turn and be fine.
Besides the gaudy cape and a neat sickle-looking thing, this guy doesn’t have much going for him in the realm of Constructed.
This is closer to Mausoleum Guard than it might appear on first inspection, since lifelink really does make up for the loss of a token. He might give you half the amount of value when he dies, but he has an ability that makes them actively want to kill him, which is the opposite of the Guard. You go from making bad trades or chumping to getting a real card and at least 2 life from the original body, which more than makes up for it.
This sort of effect generally hovers on the border between bad and mediocre, with occasional forays into good. This is one of those forays, as protecting any type of permanent adds the right amount of flexibility, and the fateful hour bonus is very relevant. I wouldn’t expect to see this show up as a 4-of, but I have faith that Humans might be interested in it.
Despite traditionally hating combat tricks, this does only cost one, and has a few bonuses. It can protect your equipment and enchantments, possibly even a planeswalker if you are lucky enough to have one, but the biggest extra is the pseudo-Falter effect once you hit five. That is exactly the kind of thing that makes fateful hour sweet, and this card will definitely be one of the ones to keep an eye on as a result.
Gather the Townsfolk
Cards that see play in Constructed either see play based on power or synergy, and it isn’t too tough to gather which one this falls under. Pumping Champion of the Parish, getting pumped by Honor of the Pure, and providing a giant army once you are at 5 or less all are worthwhile effects, and the last one is even somewhat powerful. The biggest drawback here is that the Townsfolk don’t really gather at the Moorland Haunt, so you might get shorted a Spirit or two over the course of a tournament, but if Doomed Traveler is good enough to see play, this probably is as well (to be fair, under that rationale just about anything flies).
It’s going to be hard to actually cut this from your deck, even if a sorcery-speed Raise the Alarm isn’t much to look at. It works well with most of the Human effects, particularly equipment, and every now and then it is actually Conqueror’s Pledge in disguise.
If you ever start to think that this is the wright card for the job, rethink exactly what job you are looking to fill.
I’ve always liked Horned Turtles, so you can imagine how much I like a Horned Turtle that turns into a super-Crusade once you get to five life (hint: the answer is “a lot”).
Drogskol Captain wants friends, but so far I’ve yet to run across one where I really think “that’s the Spirit”.
You are rarely going to get a whole card with his ability, though the potential is there. You can ambush 1/1’s, screw up their double blocks, or save a guy from a pump spell, but mainly you are just going to gain a few life by Fogging an attacker. That is still pretty reasonable on a 2/2 flier for four, making this a fine card.
This directly fights with Geist-Honored Monk for the five-drop slot in Tokens decks, and it’s a pretty close call. I’d rather have five tokens than a huge creature plus two tokens most of the time, but once you factor in that the Monk makes flying tokens, it gets tough. A mix might be good, or the old 4-1 split, but either way this has potential.
I’m first picking this even without the flashback, and the flashback is actually insane. The first shipment of tokens lets you live until the second wave, at which point they better have a Rolling Temblor or die.
It might seem ambitious to give this a 4.0, but not only is it the best (Standard) card in the set, it places very few restrictions on deckbuilding. It isn’t even really a two-color card, since you can live without black mana for a while. It won’t be difficult to make 3-color tokens decks with this and just a few black sources for the flashback, plus probably Sorin, and it gives those decks a ton of staying power. Early game this should be enough to pressure them into using a sweeper, especially with some sort of Crusade effect, and once they do, it flashes back for another go at it. Later, it becomes a solid 5-mana finisher in its own right, and all of that added together is pretty awesome. Hitting the trifecta of early threat, cheap flashback, and powerful card is a rare feat, but this card manages it.
It isn’t even just “tokens” decks that will use this, since the value is here for it to just get played in any deck that can cast both halves. I wouldn’t run out and splash black in my Delver deck, but I would consider running it in an Esper control deck. After all, the best way to answer their Lingering Souls is your own (until they play a Crusade; then you are just hosed). You should expect to see this card all over, and it’s going to influence deck construction greatly.
I’d definitely splash either half of this card, though it is obviously much better to be base white splashing the flashback. In Constructed, there are legitimate reasons to want Midnight Haunting over Lingering Souls; in Limited, this is a great first pick and Midnight Haunting is just a good card.
Classic Human/Zombies (take that, Zombie Apocalypse). Speaking of Humans, that’s the one deck that might be interested in this, even if the flipped side no longer benefits from Honor of the Pure. Like Paulo said in his article on Standard, you are just doubling up on Doomed Traveler, which then makes you fight Grand Abolisher for the slot, which then leads to this loyally sitting on the bench until Mana Leak stops being a card (don’t hold your breath).
I’m not one to turn down a solid 2 for 1, especially one that goes right into WB Human Sacrifice, my favorite archetype. I can’t imagine any white deck, regardless of how controllish, that won’t want as many of these as it can get.
I guess at midnight he really does turn into a pumpkin.
Riot Devils with Vigilance? Sign me up!
Niblis of the Mist
If you think a 2-power three-drop with a basically irrelevant ability is Constructed playable, you’ve mist the point.
Giving Crossway Vampire flying and making it a little smaller is a pretty serious upgrade, and Niblis of the Mist is one of the reasons that white-based beatdown is still a very good strategy with Dark Ascension.
Niblis of the Urn
In Constructed, each card has to urn its spot, and this falls far short.
This is actually better than Niblis of the Mist in a dedicated aggro deck, since it makes it extremely difficult for them to ever effectively block, but it is enough worse on defense that non-aggressive decks just won’t want to play it.
Ray of Revelation
It might not be a revelation, since this is a reprint, but this card is quite good. Much like Ancient Grudge (in fact, exactly like Ancient Grudge), it efficiently and effectively deals with opposing enchantments, whether they have few or many. With the proliferation of tokens decks playing multiple Crusades, I like fitting in a Ray or two, and even just against Humans with Honor of the Pure, it still isn’t bad. I know Angelic Destiny was on the downturn already, and this certainly won’t help its cause.
Much like the rating indicates, I would never maindeck this. That doesn’t make it bad, and it’s a great sideboard card, but don’t take it early, and don’t maindeck it.
I keep singing the same song, but it still remains true: Six-drops that don’t have immediate effect (ie, Titans) just aren’t playable. Playing this and waiting for something to die just to get a 1/1 durdle isn’t remotely close to being good enough.
Dragons just aren’t what they used to be. Much like Dearly Departed, the days where you could just windmill slam the Dragon are over, and I can easily see myself taking a good removal spell or a cheap creature instead. Casting this and getting it Silent Departured is sure an easy way to lose the game, and the problem isn’t limited to just Silent Departure.
I SAID meow.
A poor man’s Birthing Pod. A really, really, poor man, one with literally no other options. It takes some work to make this give you sufficient value, and since haste isn’t included in the deal, that really just means ETB effects. Unfortunately, exiling the creature also means that you need to continuously provide fuel, and the card itself doesn’t help at all in that regard. A neat card, but I think I’ll pass.
You really have to go deep to play this, with something like five or more good ETB triggers to take advantage of. Even then, just play anything else and you will probably be fine (you have more than five ETB triggers, remember?).
If this were only a Goldclaw Griffin, it might have a shot, but second place in the “Constructed or Not” game doesn’t come with much of a prize.
Three is an impressive amount of first strike damage, making this effective on offense or defense. It’s very nice that it forces them to play their tricks first, opening them up to easy 2 for 1’s when you actually have it. As usual, don’t overload on 5’s, but if you have to choose one, this is usually going to be it.
All the skill in the world won’t save you if you decide to pop a few of these in your Constructed deck.
Even a much weaker version of Moment of Heroism is a solid playable, and this is definitely weaker. There are obviously situations where the Moment isn’t right, and if you are skillful enough to take advantage of them, this should work out well. Also, its similarity to Moment is going to make playing around both easy, except the times where they are actually different, and I think you are going to get some people pretty well in those cases.
I’m really hesitant to give this a “1”, not because I can think of any immediate uses for it, but because it’s both weird and powerful. Then again, so is Sundial of the Ancients, so I suppose “weird and poweful” doesn’t really translate into “good in Constructed”. Besides doing something like Stifling the trigger, I’m not really sure what this does for you.
This card might as well read “your creatures are unblockable until end of turn”, since that’s what it’s actually going to do 9 out of 10 times. Once in a while, you will use it on yourself to reuse a Morkrut Banshee or something, but it really is just a Falter. Still, Falters are good, and this does the job quite well.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
If this weren’t Legendary, it would be both absurd and absurdly annoying, and I’m sure that wasn’t tough for R&D to figure that out. As a Legend, Thalia is likely restricted to being a 3-of, regardless of how effective she is, and mainly in decks that actively want a 2/1 body to begin with. Of course, she is also conveniently a Human, which makes it pretty obvious where most of her playing time is going to be spent. She dovetails perfectly with Grand Abolisher for the “really obnoxious 2-drop” slot, and punishes cantrips like Gitaxian Probe and Ponder like no other. She even delays Day of Judgment by a turn, allowing Humans to tap out for a 3-drop without fear on the draw, and then keep Mana Leak up every turn afterwards.
She isn’t restricted to being played just in Humans, but there aren’t too many other decks that want random 2-drop 2/1’s and this effect, since she actually is a hoser against Tokens and Delver. She also definitely has Modern and Eternal implications, considering how effective and aggressively costed she is. I suspect she is going to be a thorn in my side for years to come, as I generally play the sort of deck that she’s good against.
Thalia would be a good playable even without any ability besides first strike, which is good, since her other ability isn’t even guaranteed to help you more than your opponent. Every now and then you will play against a real durdle of a deck (often piloted by me), and she will be a legitimate hoser, but that isn’t going to be the most common scenario.
This and Gather the Townsfolk are breathing new life into Hex Parasite, which I have to admit is pretty sweet. I really want someone to go for it and just die to Brimstone Volley, especially since it won’t be me casting Hex Parasite. We did actually test Hex Parasite with Trinket Mage for Nagoya, but I’m not looking to cast it anytime soon. The Doomsayer is actually fine even before the Fateful Hour, (slowly) pumping out an army, ideally boosted by Honor of the Pure. I don’t see this being played without some sort of combo potential, but I like that it stands on its own regardless.
I’m hesitant to compare this to Bloodline Keeper, since Keeper is just broken, but Doomsayer is still pretty good. Strategically activating Fateful Hour is insane with this guy, and he does a nice job of letting you sculpt a board that will allow you to survive once you hit low life. Plus, how are they surviving an army of 3/3’s?
Nihil Spellbomb is the only graveyard hosing card I like right now, and it is more for value than anything else. Playing a basically unplayable bear just to get a mediocre ability isn’t the way to go about things in Constructed.
It might seem like heresy to advocate taking a creature over a removal spell, but the effect this card has on the game is so big that I’m doing just that. She hoses undying, Skaab decks, Unburial Rites, Ghoulraiser, and the list goes on, as well as being a solid 2-drop for your aggro deck.
Top 5 Commons
This is actually a pretty disappointing set of White commons. They are all decent, but none of them is great, and I don’t think I’d be happy first picking any of these. They are also all interchangeable, and I’m sure I’m going to pick them in varying order, depending on what else I have. White stays aggressive in this set, but having all mediocre commons isn’t exactly an exciting plan.
Top 5 Cards for Constructed
For a small set, White certainly made out insanely well. Not only does it get the best card in the set (Lingering Souls), it gets multiple sure-fire Constructed hits in Thalia, Gather the Townsfolk, and Ray, plus a nice speculative number in Thraben Doomsayer. Looks like I better dust off those beta Plains…
Join me tomorrow as I cover Blue, which sadly is lacking any Snapcaster-level card this time around!