Previous Set Reviews
There’s a lot going on in this set, and how all the pieces interlock makes it somewhat complicated to review. Vehicles, Energy, and more all rely on other cards in order to get full value, but I’ll try and factor that in as much as possible during the reviews.
I also want to mention, as usual, that the description of the card’s value is more important than the grade. The grade is a guideline, but the explanation will give you context, so use both when reading the review.
Let’s get to it!
Here’s the grading scale we will be using:
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa's Jitte.
5.0: The best of the best. (Archangel Avacyn. Sorin, Grim Nemesis.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Gitrog Monster. Descend Upon the Sinful. Jace, Unraveller of Secrets. Avacyn’s Judgment.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Burn from Within. Devil’s Playground. Elusive Tormentor.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Duskwatch Recruiter. Breakneck Rider. Fiery Temper.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Graf Mole. Dauntless Cathar. Niblis of Dusk.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Nephalia Moondrakes. Stormrider Spirit. Reduce to Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Expose Evil. Inspiring Captain. Lamplighter of Selhoff.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Fork in the Road. Convicted Killer. Militant Inquisitor.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Moldgraf Scavenger. Vampire Noble. Seagraf Skaab.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Invasive Surgery. Ethereal Guidance. Open the Armory.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Harness the Storm. Vessel of Volatility.)
Without any combos, this card protects one of your creatures from a removal spell, untaps a surprise blocker, or lets you chump something gigantic and keep your creature. That’s pretty good for a 3-mana cantrip, and things really get interesting in decks with a bunch of creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities. At that point, Acrobatic Maneuver becomes both flexible and powerful, and an easy inclusion.
I know I’m not the first to get there, but there’s no way this doesn’t end up being called Vampire Whitehawk. It won’t be as dominant as its namesake, and vigilance is surely worse than deathtouch, but it’s still going to be a great card. It can bash for a 4-point life swing, crew vehicles on defense, and is a lot of stats for low cost.
There’s a lot going on here, all great. First of all, the Roc is a 3/3 flier for 4, which is already good. Second, it generates a lot of energy, starting with the one you get when you play it, and there are plenty of other cards that care about that. Plus, all you have to do is play a creature before attacking on the next turn and you get to use the last ability, which is awesome. Tapping down their blockers and growing the Roc is a huge offensive threat, making this a brutal card to defend against. All of these abilities combined make the Roc one of the best first picks in the format.
Angel of Invention
Even if white didn’t invent the bomb rare, it may have perfected it. Angel of Invention checks all the boxes I look for:
- Not easily answered by one card.
- Adds a ton of power to the board.
- Great when ahead, at parity, or behind.
- Not too expensive.
You will usually want to play this as a 2/1, as it brings two 2/2 Servos along to the party and is more resilient to removal. Sometimes you will need the 4 points of lifelink and will opt for a 4/3, at which point you are still getting a great deal. No matter what you choose, you are going to be in very good shape, and I can’t imagine passing this if I open it.
Note on fabricate: With this card, as with most, making Servos will be the default use. It’s just better against so many cards—think about the counters as an Aura, and the tokens as almost another card. That doesn’t mean you will never want +1/+1 counters, but it will happen less often than the alternative.
Authority of the Consuls
The Consuls may have the authority, but they seem a little confused with how to wield it. Tapping down the opponent’s creatures is an ability you want in an aggressive deck, but gaining a life per creature is more on the controlling side. I suppose this does let you win a race, but being down a card on Authority of the Consuls is a pretty big cost. Even if you are absurdly aggressive, drawing this at the wrong time makes it completely useless. I’m going to pass on this one.
This does a couple neat things. It’s a 2/2 for 2, which some decks are definitely on board for, and it can pick up any of your ETB creatures or permanents (like the Puzzleknot cycle). The ability is strictly upside, and even if you don’t have any synergies, this can rescue a creature from a negative Aura or untap a creature after you attack with it. Low cost and decent upside make this an easy include.
Built to Last
1 mana for +2/+2 is becoming a standard, and it’s a fine place to land. You don’t need to have artifact creatures to make this good, just a desire for pump spells, even if the second part is a nice bonus. I’d play this in aggro decks, try and take it about the middle of the pack, and I'd be fine cutting it if I don’t have a ton of creatures.
Captured by the Consulate
Captured by the Consulate is an interesting twist on Pacifism. It is a rare, so it’s not coming up all the often, but that’s because of the complexity. What this does is turn one of their creatures into a defender, while also blanking all of your opponent’s pump spells and removal spells. That’s a hugely powerful effect, and well worth the disadvantage of not being able to attack past the enchanted creature.
These Gearhulks are amazing. This isn’t quite Tragic Arrogance, because each player makes their own decisions, but forcing the opponent to sac down to their best creature + artifact while keeping your own (one of which is likely a 4/5) is a very powerful effect. It doesn’t solve your problems if the opponent has one gigantic creature, but on most boards this will give you a sizable advantage at a reasonable cost. If you know this is coming, trying to kill off your opponent’s artifact creatures and leave them with all nonartifacts (or vice-versa) is a good plan.
By itself, Consulate Surveillance prevents all damage to you from a source twice, which is definitely not what I’m looking for when I spend 4 mana. Where this gets a little more interesting is if you are using its energy to power other cards or using energy from other cards to power this. The output of preventing damage to you isn’t strong enough that I’m too excited about making this a build-around, so whether you want this will mostly hinge on how you can use the 4 energy it provides.
The flavor judge approves of the Shieldguard not protecting itself, though as a 3/4 it’s going to do a solid job of surviving combat regardless. This plays nicely with other energy cards (both in creating and spending energy) and is big enough that I’d play it even if I weren’t aggressive.
The Hawk, on the other hand, is way more aggressive in nature. It does a good job of getting damage through, poking in for 1 a turn and giving a lift to your biggest creature twice, while also having natural energy synergies. The power level on this is high enough that aggro decks will always play and be happy with it, but it’s focused enough on attacking that control decks won’t be interested.
As with every time we’ve seen this effect, it’s a solid addition to any Limited deck. You get rid of their best creature for as long as you can keep a 1/3 around, which offers the opportunity for a 2-for-1. This also plays nicely with the multiple flicker and bounce effects in the set, letting you choose a new creature to nab.
The way this format is looking, I’m inclined to maindeck Fragmentize. It seems like most decks will have a couple targets at least, and a 1-mana removal spell doesn’t have to be that flexible to still be worth including. It’s definitely great in Sealed, and a good way to shore up a removal-light deck in Draft (though be ready to side it out if you don’t see good targets to hit).
While I don’t think wraths stink in Limited, I’m historically a little lower on them than most people. This one is good enough that I’m optimistic, as it’s cheap enough and gives you a life buffer that lets you slowroll it at least one extra turn. It’s a great combo with Vehicles, though, in that vein, it’s bad against them, making it highly variable depending on the composition of your opponent’s deck. Still, this is a solid early pick, and seems like gas even in an aggressive deck.
Given that I’d always play a 2/1 first strike for 2, it doesn’t take much to sell me on Gearshift Ace. You do have incentive to pick up Vehicles once you have this, but don’t feel like it’s in any way necessary. I also think it should be mandatory to sleeve your deck if you draft one of these.
I will never cut this from a Limited deck, and will actively seek out as many as possible. A 2/2 plus a 1/1 is a great deal for 3 mana, and gives you more artifacts to play with (or crew Vehicles). Worst comes to worst, making a 3/3 in the face of opposing 2/2s and 2/3s is good, and there’s no way to lose out when you add this to your deck.
Herald of the Fair
This is fair at best, and not the kind of card I’m going to prioritize drafting. The ETB ability will sometimes let you force a couple extra points of damage through, but isn’t so powerful that this is anything but a filler card with filler stats.
There aren’t that many phases where you can even play this, so your timing will at most be decent. This will trade for what you want it to often enough that it’s a good card in midrange and playable in aggro.
I wasn’t inspired last time, and I don’t think things have changed a ton. Some go-wide fabricate decks will want this, but nobody else will, so it shouldn’t be hard to pick one up.
You are getting a lot of bang for your buck with Master Trinketeer, though I wouldn’t read too much into his activated ability. It’s part of what makes the card powerful, but in my experience with similar cards, you don’t actually get a chance to repeatedly spam the ability all that often. Where he truly becomes masterful is in a fabricate-heavy deck, at which point he can be 5 or 6 power without spending any additional mana.
Ninth Bridge Patrol
It’s somewhat ironic that this Patrol is perfect at keeping unruly mobs under control, given how similar the two cards are. Ninth Bridge Patrol is going to be good in tokens-based strategies and has the additional bonus of counting when your creatures get bounced or flickered (which white does with a few different cards). You don’t need a lot to want to play this, as one or two counters later you have a great card.
Cheap utility cards like this are easy to include even if they don’t have a ton of impact. I’d rarely cut Pressure Point, but I also wouldn’t prioritize taking it unless I was drafting a very aggressive deck.
A 3/2 flier for 4 is solid, and a 2/1 flier plus a 1/1 is even better, propelling this into the upper echelon of picks. That this has flying makes the fabricate choice a little closer, as you get to put the 1/1 worth of stats into the air if you choose to get a counter. Either way, you are getting a good deal.
Much like Zombify-type cards, I’m not a huge fan of Refurbish. When it works, you paid 4 mana for an artifact that probably cost about 4. When it doesn’t, it’s a dead card. The risk of being dead plus the low reward makes me unexcited.
This effect is always great, and I’m happy to pay 3 mana for it. The twist in this set is that it prevents the creature from driving any kind of Vehicle, which is a relevant bonus.
It’s interesting that this is an uncommon, which may serve as a clue as to what the developers think of the power level. On the surface, it’s not exceptional, providing 2/2 worth of stats for 2 mana. Where it gets alarming is when you put it in a go-wide deck that’s capable of raising the stats of these Servos, and that’s typically going to be GW.
Simple, clean, and well-costed. There’s a little swirl of french in this vanilla, and the cost and stats are good enough that I’ll always look to pick one of these up.
Once you start talking about 3 power instead of 4, this stops being situational removal and starts just being removal. I’d take be happy to take a Shot first pick.
If you could crew vehicles with this, I might be a little more into it, but it makes sense that you can’t—can you imagine a camel piloting a racecar?
This looks like pure sideboard material to me, and not particularly exciting even there. Having zero power is just such a big hump to get over, and there will be too many games where this doesn’t have nearly the impact you need from your cards.
Similar to fabricate, this cycle gives you a solid deal no matter how you use the energy. A 4-mana 3/5 (once it gets to attack) is great, and having two energy to use on other cards is also perfectly acceptable. This can even consume energy from other sources if it comes to that, and overall I will be happy to play as many of these as I can get.
If you don’t have an artifact, this is barely a card. Once you make it a 3/2, you get a solid attacker, and if you can get it to first strike, it becomes a beast. It’s hard to end up playing this, as you need to be aggressive and artifact-heavy, though once you meet those conditions you do end up with a pretty solid threat.
A 3/2 vigilance for 2 isn’t such a great deal that I’m excited about it, though it’s certainly fine. Note that this can block still, making it reasonable even in a defensive deck.
Getting a 2/1 and two 1/1s is fantastic, and will be the main mode of this card. You will occasionally play it as a 4/3, and having that flexibility makes an already good card even better.
In a deck without good combos, this is a slightly overcosted 4/4 flier, which is still a fine playable. Add even a few enters-the-battlefield triggers to the mix and it becomes very appealing, which is what the grade is based on. It shouldn’t be hard to make this one of your better cards, as the cards that it combos with are good and easy to find.
Top 5 White Commons
All of these cards are insanely close together once you get past Revoke, so the order of the next four (plus Thriving Ibex as an honorable mention) is likely to shuffle around based on what your deck needs.
White looks like it’s very well-rounded in this set. It has the tools for aggro, midrange, and control, with an overall high card quality and a lot of well-supported themes. That sounds like a strong color to me, and white is likely going to be near the top.