As per last time, here are the grading scales I'm going to use, although I did add half-points to the Constructed scale. Too many cards got either "2" or "3", when in reality they should have been somewhere in between.
5.0: Multi-format All-Star. [card]Bitterblossom[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Mutavault[/card]. [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Ajani Vengeant[/card]. [card]Ranger of Eos[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Mulldrifter[/card]. [card]Scion of Oona[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Rampant Growth[/card]. [card]Divination[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Fracturing Gust[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this "maybe" category, although explanation of why is obviously important)
1.0 It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (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%)
On to the review!
Not a whole lot of value to be found in this one, certainly not enough that I would trade in my [card]Into the Roil[/card]s for it.
Without damage stacking, this falls short of being awesome, but it is still really good. As a straight up [card]Boomerang[/card], it functions fine, with the small bonus of bouncing one of your lands for further landfall, but it really shines when protecting one of your permanents from removal. Normally, saving your permanent with a bounce spell is fine, even if you do get the slightly worse end of the exchange. With Aether Tradewinds, the effect is symmetrical, since you get a free bounce spell on any of their permanents, which is a pretty big deal. Add in the value with ETB abilities, and I doubt you will cut this card very often.
Convertible Turtle is awesome, and might even replace [card]Wall of Denial[/card] in decks that can cast either. At first, I thought it was a weaker Wall for non-UW decks, but after playing with it, I am sold. Snapper stops 1-toughness guys from bashing, can attack for a ton of damage, and overall is just a very good card. I expect this to see play in many decks.
Not quite as insane in Limited, mostly because people aren't usually in a hurry to burn a removal spell on a Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼. Still, this is a solid blocker and reasonable attacker, and can really halt an offense without fear of removal.
There are now a ton of 1-mana instants that are useful in counterwars, but more options is always good. [card]Dispel[/card] is worse than [card]Negate[/card] defensively, but much better offensively. It works better as a way to force through something big, like [card]Cruel Ultimatum[/card], [card]Mind Shatter[/card], [card]Time Warp[/card], or whatever, as opposed to just as a control card. Combo decks will use this more than any other archetype, since it is an excellent way to stop counters. It also might have some applications in Eternal formats, although [card]Spell Pierce[/card] and [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card] are more than likely better almost all the time. I guess it could be used as [card]Flash Counter[/card]s number 5 and 6 if needed.
Strictly a sideboard card, [card]Dispel[/card] is still a pretty potent one. This is basically better than [card]Spell Pierce[/card] against everything but like [card]Mind Sludge[/card] or Marshal's Anthem, and it will be the cause of many a blowout. Trading one mana and a late pick for their critical remove spell is awesome, and makes me want to have access to one or two Dispels in every deck.
If this is the Elite, I would hate to see the Enclave Mediocre.
This guy is decent, and I wouldn't feel that bad about starting him, but I would try and avoid it. Really awesome against Blue and pretty meh otherwise, unless the format has shifted much this should be in your board most of the time. Like I said before, the five drop spot is getting pretty full, so having a [card]Grey Ogre[/card]/[card Wanderguard Sentry]Big Peeks[/card] split card is pretty unexciting, which is all this is if they don't have Islands. If you are playing two [card]Spreading Seas[/card] though"¦
Move over [card Iona, Shield of Emeria]Iona[/card], we got a new reanimation target!
Actually, the only thing cool about this card is how it reminds me of the Goliaths in Starcraft. That might be a bit of a stretch, but what do you expect from a vanilla flier for seven mana?
Only the speed of Zendikar Limited makes me rate this at less than a "4". Don't get me wrong; huge fliers are always pretty awesome, but seven mana is a lot, and this doesn't protect itself like Jwar Jwar Sphinx does.
Someone is probably going to put this in a deck with [card]Hedron Crab[/card] and beat me with it, but doesn't mean it's playable. You would have to dig pretty deep to find a deck that even remotely wants it.
Limited: 1.5 without other allies, up to 4.0 if you have a ton
[card]Lumengrid Warden[/card] is actually pretty acceptable if you need some defense, so I wouldn't be embarrassed to start the Excavator most of the time. If you have a bunch of other allies, especially Join the Ranks, you can excavate their library pretty rapidly. I wouldn't pick this too early, since not many people at the table are going to be interested in it, but definitely keep it in mind. On the other hand, this is the kind of card that tends to be overdrafted, so perhaps it isn't likely to come late, even if the people who take it probably shouldn't be doing so.
Well, if the [card]Terra Eternal[/card]/manland deck gets big, at least we have a way to stop it. Maybe R&D knew that it was overpowered, and put this guy in as a natural foil"¦
A [card]Cloud Spirit[/card] with an actual relevant ability, [card]Horizon Drake[/card] brings the beats rather quickly. Blue got a bunch of pretty aggressive creatures in this set, which should elevate it from the worst color to, well, not the worst color.
[draft]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/draft]
The cat is pretty much out of the bag on this one, not that it really ever was, uh, in the bag? Anyways, Jace is one of the
rare mythic examples of a card that is ridiculously hyped and then is actually better than that. An all-star in Standard, I would be very surprised if Jace didn't have some effect on other formats as well, although not enough for me to give him a "5" right out of the gates. Having three very relevant abilities (and a 4th that probably is gratuitous), the ability to protect himself from either creatures or them topdecking, and offering a ton of card advantage, Jace really epitomizes the power of a Planeswalker. Every turn Jace stays in play is hugely advantageous, which is really a lot for just four mana. I can't think of another ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Walker that combines the ability to protect itself ([card]Ajani Vengeant[/card], [card]Garruk Wildspeaker[/card], [card]Sorin Markov[/card], [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card]) along with a significant card advantage component ([card]Tezzeret the Seeker[/card], [card]Jace Beleren[/card], [card]Liliana Vess[/card]). Jace does both, and that is why he is so sick.
In Limited, Jace is still just about as brutal. There are less direct ways to remove him, but the situation of them having enough creatures to attack through his bounce is more common as well. The double-Blue does make splashing kind of sketchy, but Jace is good enough that anyone who opens him is sure to take a mental review (or, if on MTGO, just a normal look) of what cards they have, and how they might fit the Jacerator in. He also loses the benefit of a bunch of shuffle effects, although he really doesn't need that to be sick.
How many [card]Halimar Excavator[/card]s does it take to make a Constructed deck! Shapeshifters don't usually make into 60-card decks, with [card]Vesuvan Shapeshifter[/card], [card]Body Double[/card], and [card volraths shapeshifter]Volrath's Shapeshifter[/card] being the only ones I can think of.
Limited: 1.0-4.0 (just like all the other Ally cards)
This is one of the sketchier Allies, in that it is actually just useless in its own, but doubling up on a sick rare Ally is pretty awesome. This can also piggyback on their Allies, so keep an eye out for that. Copying an opposing [card]Turntimber Ranger[/card] or whatnot is pretty solid, even if you don't have all that many exciting Allies in your deck.
[draft]Mysteries of the Deep[/draft]
I initially was pretty happy about this card, but after trying it out I am less excited. Five mana is still a lot, and the counterspells in Standard aren't good enough to warrant doing all this work to play an instant-speed draw spell. It very well could find a home at some point here, but Blue has more exciting tools to work with right now. If this was out before Jace and [card]Treasure Hunt[/card], it might have been more interesting.
I almost gave this a "4", but then I realized [card]Plated Geopede[/card] was still in the format. Drawing three cards is pretty big, and even in a fast format can let you pull ahead pretty quickly. Definitely splashable, I wouldn't be unhappy to take this pretty early, so even if you correct for my card-drawing bias, you still have a good card.
White gets [card]Refraction Trap[/card], Red gets [card]Ricochet Trap[/card], and Blue gets"¦[card]Permafrost Trap[/card]? Let's just put it this way: I don't expect to see many frozen [card]Leatherback Baloth[/card]s in Standard anytime soon.
This may seem kind of low, especially for those who remember how sick Blinding Beam was in Mirrodin. Well, Permafrost Trap isn't quite as good as Blinding Beam, and not every deck wants it. Most draft decks are interested in this sort of effect, just be aware that if your deck isn't fast enough to take advantage of the temporary lockdown, this is just card disadvantage for little gain. Defensively, there are better options, so to use this properly you should be beating down.
[draft]Quest for Ulas Temple[/draft]
Summon"¦THE KRAKEN! As cool as it would be to say that, I really doubt that it is going to happen in Constructed (at least not to good effect). That being said, there are some pretty sweet [card Inkwell Leviathan]Leviathans[/card] running around (swimming around?), and this is a very powerful effect. Using Jace to Brainstorm (which also lets you get rid of excess huge sea monsters) is good with this, so even though I am skeptical, an effect this potentially powerful is worth keeping an eye on. Or a tentacle. Or eight.
Sorry [card Lorthos, the Tidemaker]Lorthos[/card], you are going to have to settle for being cast the old-fashioned way.
That rating is mainly for this Merfolk's Legacy potential, since there not only exists a Merfolk deck, it can play Plains without much trouble. This guy is quite a beater, and if Merfolk does want to play some [card]Tundra[/card]s and [card]Sygg, River Guide[/card], it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to include Sejiri Merfolk. It isn't as if it is useless without a Plains, and it is spectacular in a race when you do have one. In and of itself it probably doesn't justify White, but if White is already the call, this might fit in.
Limited: 2.5 without Plains, 3.5 with
This guy packs quite a wallop in UW, and becomes really sick once you put on one of the many power-enhancing equipments. Even in non-White decks, he is a 2/1 for two, and that is and has always been acceptable. Of course, that also means that unlike [card]Loam Lion[/card] you probably won't wheel this as freely.
This plus [card]Treasure Hunt[/card] = profit? I was going to say more, but I don't feel like recalling it right now.
[card]Mana Severance[/card] was pretty sick in Limited, but this is going about it the wrong way. If you have enough sick landfall things out that you will win if all you draw is land for the rest of the game, you are probably crushing anyway (and drawing all spells will also do it).
[card]Dismiss[/card] is good, but not worth bending over backwards for. This is just too weak at any point in the curve.
Passable against decks with a high curve, this still shares many of the disadvantages of [card]Cancel[/card] without much of an upside. Later in the game I guess it cycles, or even draws two, but it isn't likely to even counter anything.
Man-o'-war was pretty good in Constructed, but the extra two mana tacked onto this guy banishes him to the proxy box.
One of the better plays in a race or when you are on defense, the Marauder unfortunately doesn't let you press offensively all that much, although he still is a 3/3. At five mana, you don't want too many, especially against opponents cunning enough not to let you get good value from them.
[draft]Thada Adel, Acquisitor[/draft]
Obviously geared towards Vintage, I don't think this guy is as good as people think. I know that he will be played, but I just don't see him being that awesome. I'm not saying that he is unplayable, just that he has some pretty stiff competition. Granted, if people are playing [card]Cold-Eyed Selkie[/card], I guess he looks decent, but I'm not really sold on the Selkie either.
He is probably not going to be unblockable, but more often than not they will have at least one artifact in their deck. That being the case, Thada Adel is kind of dangerous, and offers the opportunity for some pretty good value. Even if you never get a hit in, you can often force them to play very differently just by threatening to steal their [card]Adventuring Gear[/card] or whatever. If they don't seem concerned, they likely don't have anything to steal, and once you verify that you probably want to side him out vs a non-Blue deck.
The only application I can really see is in conjunction with [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], as Dr. Chapin pointed out. That doesn't seem likely to be a hit, but weird untapping things are always worth keeping an eye on.
This thing is quite a force to be reckoned with in Limited. It makes blocking almost impossible, and can even lock a guy down on the attack. Add in the potential to untap a huge dude, and you have a ridiculously dominating card. It is a little fragile, but this is the sort of guy that just beats them if they can't kill it.
Much like I said in my article last week, this card is sweet. I don't think it is best used as a crazy combo piece, but it does a really good job of letting you hit your land drops. Even without manipulation, it is fine, and pretty much any deck interested in Treasure Hunt is likely to play [card]Ponder[/card], [card]Halimar Depths[/card], [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], or some combination of the above. I don't think I oversold this card, and it seems to be living up to my expectations at least.
Most of the Constructed stuff applies here, although you are much less likely to have any library manipulation. You might have a high land count though, since if you pick up enough [card]Quicksand[/card]s and manlands, playing 19 or 20 lands isn't out of the question.
[card Fire]Ice[/card] this is not.
Decent filler, Twitch isn't something you are excited about, but it has its moments. The surprise block can be pretty sick, although removal gets you pretty good there.
I like [card]Mind Control[/card] and all, but this is way worse, and I don't like Mind Control enough to want to play more than four (or really even more than two).
I know that the abundance of bounce and enchantment removal weakens this, but it is still a ridiculous and splashable bomb. The "drawback" is clearly not an actual drawback, especially since you already need five lands to play this, unlike [card]Living Tsunami[/card]. There are very few cards I would pass this for.
A strictly better [card]Phantom Monster[/card]! Wait, Phantom Monster isn't nearly good enough? Onto the Limited review!
A strictly better [card]Phantom Monster[/card]! Awesome! This guy is even a lot more than "just" Phantom Monster, since his [card]Jump[/card] ability can lead to anything from a bonus on turn five to a Falter on turn eight. Flying [card]Hill Giant[/card]s with good bonuses are what we call "excellent" in Limited.
This enables [card]Polymorph[/card], which is really the only reason I can see this being playable in Constructed (unless you really want to rebuy a fetchland).
A cheap hasty flier, the only problem with Wind Zendikon is that you don't want to play it in the early turns most of the time. This is one of the better Zendikons, since it has evasion and is so cheap that you will often be able to play this and another spell on turn six or so. Haste also seems so off-color, more so in Blue than any of the others (not a problem, just an observation).
Top Five Blue Cards for Constructed
5. [card]Mysteries of the Deep[/card]
3. [card]Treasure Hunt[/card]
2. [card]Calcite Snapper[/card]
1. [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]
Blue made out like a bandit this time around, with the top three cards sure to see heavy play. They are even all very complimentary, since they curve out naturally and work very well together. Calcite Snapper protects Jace, which enables Treasure Hunt, which also works on turn two to make sure you can cast Jace! I feel kind of bad about complaining about the state of Blue now, since it really only spend a couple months without having some of the best cards in Standard. I'm not saying it will necessarily dominate, but it certainly gets a huge boost from Worldwake.
Join me tomorrow, when I review Black!