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%).
This strikes me less as a lord for tribes that don’t have them, and more as an additional lord for an already established Tribe. Lords don’t really get degenerate until you have multiple out, and he adapts nicely to that plan. Elves are the most obvious place to start in Standard, though between Archdruid and Joraga Warcaller they aren’t short of Crusades nowadays. It’s not automatic that he sees play, but him existing is something to keep in mind.
Don’t get me wrong; this card is fine, and I’m pretty sure I’ll always play it, but I’m not excited about it. At 2/2, it can’t really fight all that well, and if the pump is relevant, you always have to be worried about it dying mid-combat. It is pretty sick in heavy Tribal decks, but not a reason to make drastically different picks than normal, just to stay in Tribe.
Getting through this set review in one piece is another feather in my cap, even if I have to resort to the likes of this to do it.
I’m going to take a page out of my own book, and skip on reviewing the Limited portion for this cycle again; just don’t do it.
Crown of Empires
As cool as it is, you aren’t going to assemble the trio outside of Limited, making this a very horrible piece of removal. The crowning insult is that it costs more to activate than it does to cast, and I don’t even want to pay two to cast it.
I’ve had mixed results with the Crown. On the one hand, it does lock down anything, which is pretty awesome in long game. On the other, it’s very terrible in fast games, since three mana to tap something is just not a good plan if you have to do it every turn. In general, I’d say that this is fine, but it is way worse than most people think.
[card chameleon colossus]C. Colossus[/card] is going to be a solid threat for years, and some decks have huge problems with him. He attacks through Bitterblossom, can’t be killed by Go for the Throat, and has four toughness to survive most red spells. I recommend you pick up your set if you don’t have it already.
Colossus smash! I like this guy; he blocks just fine, and how many 7-point hits do you need before they die anyway? I would definitely side him out if they have Act of Treason, since I’ve been on the receiving end of that unpleasant experience; I had to sit there and watch as my board position crumbled, while taking 7 to boot.
I don’t even believe that Dragon’s Claw can claim to be good in the red mirror anymore; red decks have real threats now. Once that’s gone, these charms are all out of excuses.
In both Limited and Constructed, all I want to hit is the land every time. This is cheap enough for draw-go mirrors, if such a thing is ever to exist again. I suspect that it is not, and even if gaining 2 is good against red, this is just way too slow overall to really work there. I think the cost and the power level might combine to make this workable, I’m just not sure where.
This has yet to fail to impress me, even when it “misses” on spells. It’s cheap, you get good value, and it protects really well against flood. I’ve even made plays where I have to hit a land to play my best spell, and they have worked out (though that’s more a testament to my incredible
skillluck than anything else).
Elixir of Immortality
I want to be immortal just like anyone else, and wish that I could do nothing but send out Trinket Mage for this. Sadly, even in Standard you can’t durdle that much, and most sideboards that contain Elixir seem to be aiming rather high.
It’s a sideboard against both Lava Axe and mill decks! Hooray! Without Foresee, I don’t think you can go deep anymore, since the Foresee/Elixir/removal deck was one of my favorites in M11. Oh well.
This card isn’t great.
(C’mon, you know you all sword of expected me to say that)
Some equipment, you just play no matter what. This is not one of them. You have to have an actual reason to want it in your deck, reasons such as Tormented Soul or Griffin Sentinel, or even multiple Stampeding Rhinos (though that’s less good). It’s expensive to play and equip, and doesn’t protect your guys, so you better have a plan to get them through.
I don’t care if the Puresteel Paladin deck might play this at some point in the future; this isn’t a Constructed-playable card, regardless of whether people put it in their deck.
Again, like Greatsword, you need a plan for this, though that’s mostly going to depend on the opponent’s deck. I don’t mind siding this in when appropriate, but I’d rather not start it.
Let’s skip over this so we can get kraken on the rest of the reviews.
Seriously, no means no.
I feel like this is a name I would pick for a card; whether that’s a good or bad thing, I won’t speculate. The card itself isn’t awesome, since mana accelerants either have to cost two or be Coalition Relic, and this is neither.
I’m a big fan of Manalith, but if you aren’t splashing and don’t have a ton of 5+ drops, you have my (begrudging) permission to leave it on the sidelines. Between Manalith and Rampant Growth, a lot of people are going to get themselves in a lot of trouble, splashing all sorts of things they shouldn’t, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be one of them.
Big Pents! I remember playing him in Vintage, back when Goblin Welder was a card, and you could play four Thirst for Knowledges. Those days are past, and he’s already legal there anyway, so releasing him into Standard doesn’t unleash any pent-up deck ideas that have been waiting for a finisher.
Damage doesn’t stack anymore, so Pentavus isn’t just ridiculous, but he still locks down a battlefield pretty tightly. Remember that he doesn’t in fact fly himself, something that people continually forget.
See, this is what I get for not finishing my review before tournaments start. Would I in good conscience have said this was awesome in Constructed? No, not necessarily, though we will never know at this point. It did see play in Japanese Nationals, where the man who ended my Nagoya Top 8, Toshiyuki Kadooka, started 4-0 with it. I’m still a little dubious, especially given that artifact removal is something being played nowadays, but hey, he quickly was able to turn an unplayable into something sweet.
Here it’s still pretty bad, since I don’t plan on playing a ton of guys I can’t cast, and not many that cost more than four. The instant-speed factor is relevant, but not enough to waste a card on.
Rusted Sentinel enters the battlefield unplayable.
Stupid flavor text aside, Rusted Sentinel is a fine card, and can be a machine against an army of 3/3’s.
Scepter of Empires
Empirical evidence suggests that playing this leads to an unacscepterable loss rate.
When you want it, it’s awesome, and the easiest way to tell if you do is to count up how many cards you have that say “Bloodthirst” on them. Ta-da! Something like 3-4 Bloodthirst guys + an aggressive deck makes this awesome, but in reality it’s fine in any very aggressive deck. I suspect people will often play this when they shouldn’t, so keep in mind that when I say “very” I mean it.
Lately, I’ve been jamming Solemn into every deck I can get my hands on. It may not be on the same level as Stoneforge (which will be moved to a 5.0 when I do these next) or Preordain, but it’s going to show up in all sorts of decks all over Standard, which sounds like a format staple to me. As people discovered after Affinity got banned last time, Solemn is just the right amount of value all packed into one card. It ramps, it draws, and the 2/2 body is definitely not irrelevant. It’s at its best in Valakut, but UB control makes use of it quite well, and as the format gets played more I expect it to be adopted by many more decks. My favorite card in the set for Constructed, hands down.
It’s also pretty hard to go wrong with Jens (here I have to formally object to the new horrible art instead of the old awesome art, by the way), but I’m still not taking him over a Doom Blade. I really don’t take anything over Doom Blade, so that might not be fair. I will take him over most double-colored cards, like Chandra’s Outrage, so maybe that narrows things down a little. Either way, be happy if you have him.
Sundial of the Infinite
And the vote for coolest card in the set is won by Sundial of the Infinite, in a landslide. You have to go back to older formats to really get the Dial going, but once you do, you get some nice interactions. It kills Pacts, either your own or theirs, courtesy of Hive Mind, lets your Phyrexian Dreadnoughts survive, and might even be good with Smokestack. I have no idea what it can do in Standard, but even if it does nothing, I don’t know anyone who won’t at least admit this card is awesome.
Combat tricks on your turn? Yeah, ok. I can think of infinite reasons not to play this, so don’t even try.
They look more like Hotfoot Boots, judging from the picture, but either way they are an interesting replacement for Lightning Greaves. Puresteel Paladin makes any equipment worth looking at, and even if they don’t swiftly find a home, I don’t want to give them the boot yet.
In the wrong matchup, they still Haste up your guys, which is fine. In the right matchup, they blank 7+ of your opponents cards, and make them basically scoop to a booted up Rhino. Once you figure out which kind of matchup it is, you can even take them out, though you won’t be doing that all that often.
They call him Thran, the Last Golem, mainly due to the fact that he’s picked last when it comes time to play Constructed. I don’t care how awesome he gets when Aura’ed up, I’m not playing a 5-mana 3/3 that requires horrible cards in order to become less horrible himself (but still not the best card ever).
It’s gonna be fairly obvious when you should be Goleming it up. If you have one Aura, he’s probably not worth it, at two he definitely is, and at three it becomes inthranity. He’s worth drafting around, though don’t warp your draft completely; Pacifism is still better than Spirit Mantle.
Throne of Empires
Getting warmer…but still pretty cold. These just aren’t meant for Constructed play, since as everyone knows, when you play the game with thrones, you (rarely) win or (most likely) die.
Now this is what I’m talking about. Unsurprisingly, the rare one is way more awesome than the other two, and something I’m rarely going to pass. I wouldn’t go out of my way to pick up the other pieces either; it’s just not reliable enough to justify playing Scepter in a deck that doesn’t want it, unless you have something insane like 3 Merfolk Looters.
This has to be the real reason they banned Stoneforge; why else in the world would the timing be so coincidental?
If you have a Cudgel Troll, go for it! I don’t think it’s particularly good, but it would be so awesome to pull off that I think you just have to. R&D really slays me sometimes with the cards they put in for comedic value.
Having to review this cycle every time is like pulling teeth, so I wurm my way out of it by lumping them into one.
Didn’t you read the part about me wurming my way out of doing this?
Bury it a little deeper, and while you are in there, see if there are any Academy Ruins still around. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s plans, but this just isn’t very powerful. I guess when Tec Edge leaves, there will be a colorless slot open…which will immediately get filled by Inkmoth Nexus. I actually wouldn’t be too surprised if some decks ran this is a 1-of, but probably not more than that.
Assuming my mana is ok, all I need is one good target and this is in there. It doesn’t even have to be that good, as long as it isn’t something like Scepter of Empires (which I don’t expect to die very often). I like spell-lands, and this is the only one available, so use it if you can.
These remain as they were; reliable, boring, and fillers once Scars duals and manlands have been added to the deck. The perfect Core Set cycle.
These are great, and enable splashes, but don’t take them over anything real unless you are three colors and really need the fixing.
Artifacts did pretty well for themselves this time around, mostly because of Solemn Simulacrum. I’m really happy he’s back, and look forward to getting incremental value for at least a year, and hopefully longer. Quicksilver Amulet has already seen play, and if Druidic Satchel makes it, that will be quite a coup for the Core Set artifacts, considering it is a small section of cards.
Overall, I like M12, but I’m not blown away. I’m a little disappointed that the Titan cycle came back, since they tend to hog the spotlight a ridiculous amount, and nothing really groundbreaking was introduced. Part of the reason I’m not so excited is that they did such an awesome job on M10 and M11, and M12 has an even higher bar to surpass as a result. I am really liking Limited so far, and am glad that the mill deck got pushed a little; I hate seeing gimmick cards that aren’t actually useable. Personally, Limited matters the most anyway, so the fact that it seems good is really awesome.
It was a pleasure as always, and the reviews shall commence again with Innistrad!
Sample Hand: Shouta Yasooka is an awesome deckbuilder, but he does like his brews…