5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Sphinx's Revelation[/card]. [card]Thragtusk[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Avacyn's Pilgrim[/card]. [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Farseek[/card]. [card]Gravecrawler[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death's Hold[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Naturalize[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation 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%)
For this review, I’m adding another set of criteria. Some people think the best way to respond to my (awesome) puns is a simple letter grade, and even though it is commonly agreed that the grading is too harsh, I left it in the capable paws of Pat Cox (@wildestnacatl on Twitter) to deliver them. Here’s the scale he will be using:
A: Something an extremely clever and good-looking person would say. It is unlikely Luis will ever achieve this grade.
B: A reasonably clever pun that is actually apt to the situation/conversation at hand.
C: Usually groan-worthy, but at least tangentially related to the current situation. Most puns fall into this category.
D: Has nothing to do with anything, and isn’t funny, but can still be understood to be a play on words. Reused puns also receive this grade.
F: These puns make no sense and have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
For just one more mana, we've had many opportunities to buy a total Evacuation, and that rarely occurred.
If Boros ends up being as good as it looks, this might be a slightly higher pick, but I'd recommend we don't go nuts for the moment. It's fairly easy to play around, and not really disaster for the opponent when it does work. In a deck with a ton of other instants, it does get significantly better, just because the threat is more fearsome than the execution.
I'd be pretty scared to play this outside of Limited.
While it isn't [card sensory deprivation]Swords to Plowshares[/card], this does stop any creature from effectively attacking for only two mana, and being able to move it around definitely helps. The biggest drawback is that the afflicted creature can still trigger battalion if need be, and that's not an irrelevant drawback.
Even if you are fishing around for some defensive creatures, you can do much better than this.
Not getting to attack certainly makes evolving this a lower priority, and the stats on this aren't amazing to begin with. This feels like way more of a Dimir card than a Simic one, though it isn't outstanding in either.
The new [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] has arrived, and all it asks you to do is play a bunch of creatures. While spells do fit better into blue's plans, a deck of all creatures has a much easier time of being aggressive. The issue is somewhat clouded by the fact that the Raptor eventually needs medium to large creatures in order to continue growing, but this shouldn't be too hard to work around. One mana is low enough that you don't need this to be enormous to be worth it, and I think this will hit 2/3 and 3/4 on a regular enough basis that it's worth investigating.
While this might not be the best topdeck on turn ten, it's a pretty sick play on turn one. It grows rapidly and almost always will provide good value for its cost. It looks like it's going to be a key piece of the Simic evolve deck, and even gives Wrapter another card to collect.
Pun: F (Wrapter said I need to give more Fs.)
Relying on your opponent to play a spell good enough to make this worth it seems ambitious. I could see sideboarding it in for some matchups, maybe, but I'm not incredibly hopefully on that front. It does get Unburial Rites pretty good, if Rites is hanging around the opponent's graveyard somehow, for whatever that's worth. It's also too bad it exiles the spell, since drawing the game off an opponent's Cloudshift sounds very funny.
Seven mana is a lot, though you do get a 5/5 flier and hopefully a removal spell out of the deal. This format seems fast enough that I can't imagine I'll always play this, especially if a good portion of the guilds end up being creature-based.
[draft]Enter the Infinite[/draft]
Enter the Infinite
There are infinite things you can do with this, and the best does seem to be Omniscience. If you can cheat Omniscience into play, Entering the Infinite seems possible, and winning should be trivial. Even in Standard, it's possible there's something sweet you can do with this, and it looks too awesome not to try.
Despite the fact that I'm going to try and win with this, I don't enter into such an exploit thinking it will improve my chances of winning the draft.
I have to say, I'm not frilled at the prospect of trying to make jokes about such strange cardnames. I have my eye on a couple, but I'm not pumped about how good they are.
Assuming you are solidly in UG, this is a very good card. I already am predisposed to like 1/3's for 2, just for blocking value, and threatening to become a 3/5 at any time is significant.
This is a lock to not see play in Constructed, unless someone comes up with a really off the grid way to use it.
It's been a while since tapping all your opponent's creatures was a bomb, mainly because the speed of new formats is much greater than the old ones. Still, this can be cast on the cheap to good effect, and racing a Boros deck gets much easier if you have one of these.
[draft]Hands of Binding[/draft]
Hands of Binding
If this handled something permanently, I'd be a lot happier with it. As is, one removal spell later and you end up having used a card to lock down their creature for a turn or two, something not generally worth it in Constructed.
I like this card, and think it may look weaker than it is, but I also think enough people seem to think that it's a bomb that it might actually be both overrated and underrated at the same time. Luckily I'm here, to correctly rate it (or something). It's not a piece of premium removal, but it is a giant beating in a race, and if you have an evasion guy, it's fairly close to actual removal. The main weakness is that it's pretty bad if you have no creatures, mediocre if they kill the guy on it, and not amazing if you don't have a good evasion creature. The card is good, and you should pick it early and play it, just don't go thinking it's the blue [card]Doom Blade[/card].
I'm a set review specialist, and I can confirm that this is not quite good enough for Constructed. It isn't that far off, but requiring two spells a turn to make it on par is just too harsh a requirement.
Once again we have a decently-costed guy with a relevant ability. This ability is certainly worse than +2/+2 on demand, yet it still does enough that most decks will be interested in this. It's an aggressive card that blocks reasonably well, and gives you a good target for various cipher spells.
One of the keys to Constructed is to avoid paying four mana for a 3/2 creature unless it has sick abilities to complement it. This does not.
The cost of bouncing one of your own creatures isn't irrelevant, but a 3/2 unblockable is fairly solid. This also gets much better when you turn the drawback into an advantage, which isn't too hard to do in a land of evolve creatures and those with enter the battlefield abilities.
I'd think twice before replacing other cantrips with this, or trying to rely on this as a card advantage engine.
[card]Curiosity[/card] does get a lot better when you draw the first card no matter what, just not enough better that this becomes awesome all of a sudden. It's a fine as one of the last cards you add in a deck heavy on evasion, just nothing special.
I doubt this will ever return to its owner's hand in Constructed, because it will never be in play in order to deal combat damage.
As a pricey attacker and a solid defender, Leyline Phantom does a reasonable job. Add to that it triggering your (hopefully numerous) evolve creatures, and you have decent card on your hands. This does get way worse in multiples, but the first is likely to be good.
With a more relevant ability this may have seen play in sprite of its size, but as-is it won't get a whole lot of attention.
This does hit for two often enough, but requiring a mana to do so makes this much different than an actual 2-power flier for two mana. Triggering cipher is the best way to make use of this (or any small evasion creature), though this will see some play as an attacker in normal decks.
I don't mind a good blocker in my Constructed decks, but even I am not willing to pay five mana for one.
[card]Belltower Sphinx[/card] was a beating (or took a beating), and this is quite similar. It might not mill them every time, so you'll have to content yourself with just the one trigger for five if this dies.
I've been known to [card]Merchant Scroll[/card] for [card]Pongify[/card] in Vintage, so far be it from me to call this unplayable. Sometimes you really need to kill something, and a 3/3 Frog Lizard is often a far sight less frightening than whatever the creature used to be.
Turning their best guy into a 3/3 can be a lifesaver, and using this to disrupt an attack or double block is often worth the loss of card economy. It's not a piece of “real” removal, just a stopgap measure, which often is the best you get in Limited.
I guess if you want all your lands to be Swamps or something, this is the wright card for the job. Whether that job is one that's useful in Constructed is yet to be seen.
Fixing your mana isn't worth playing a 1/1 for one, and unless you really need 1-drops for some reason, leave this one on the sidelines.
[draft]Sage's Row Denizen[/draft]
Sage's Row Denizen
Unless you want to lose badly, I'd follow my sage advice here and avoid playing this.
A 2/3 for three is pretty close to par, so you don't necessarily need to make use of the ability to make this card reasonable. If you do manage to draft a mill deck, this provides a decent amount more value, and becomes a much higher pick.
This is not one of the set's hidden gems for Constructed.
Most decks will want this as a finisher by itself, and it's awesome in the Simic decks that can really make use of it. A high pick under normal circumstances, though the normal cautions regarding cards that cost 6 still apply.
When you side in counters, you do so for efficiency, not card advantage. Dispel forcing through a Sphinx's Revelation draws you many more cards, and that sort of exchange is exactly why this card's chances are scattered to the floor.
I've done some work for an extra card, but even I realize this is borderline at best. In some matchups, it's fantastic. In others, it's barely playable, and I suspect the second case is much more likely than the first. Cards like this are what sideboards are for.
Even with the format in flux, I can't imagine there's opportunity for this to sneak in anywhere. It's just too small and too slow, and the ability isn't even that impressive.
Simic Fluxmage more than makes up for its slow start by making any complicated board much more difficult for your opponent, and does so without often running out of counters because of how small it stays.
This stealing creatures permanently and at no mana cost is insane, and there are sure to be many matchups where this will dominate. It is somewhat fragile, and will often take a turn or two to become active, but at three mana you only need to steal one thing to get solid value out of it. I do see its power more as a sideboard card than a maindeck one, which still does nothing to reduce how influential it may be.
The one saving grace when facing this is that it does nothing off the top in the lategame. Other than that, it has all the hallmarks of a classic Limited bomb, and rarely will you be able to beat it in any sort of protracted battle.
Skygames these may be, but win games they do not.
Giving your best creature flying every turn is reasonably powerful, just not quite enough to be worth a land and an entire card. There are matchups where this will shine, I just wouldn't advise maindecking this most of the time.
[card]Mana Leak[/card] that requires a creature plays very differently, yet still offers enough of an effect that some decks will be interested. In a deck full of creatures, the upside here is high enough that this can be one of a small number of spells played, though [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] still quashes such plans fairly effectively. It is worth noting that when this card is bad, it's really bad, and one of the deadest of draws.
The faster the format, the worse a Mana Leak-like effect is, and this format is shaping up to be fairly fast. This still is pseudo-removal, and as such is a decent fit in most creature-heavy decks (assuming the curve is low enough).
Clone effects are powerful, and cloning multiple times is definitely something to be interested in. This is especially cool if you can kill a legendary creature with it and cipher on to something else, and triggering sweet enter the battlefield effects is always a plus. This is powerful enough that if you get even one hit in, it's usually going to be a good deal, and that makes me think this has a shot.
It isn't clear that a six-mana Clone isn't already worth playing in some decks, and the ability to get multiple makes this awesome. If you can set this up and immediately get two copies of the best creature on the board, it's possible to steal almost any game on the spot.
Besides this being an apt way to describe Matt Nass when he tries to get from Point A to Point B, this doesn't have a ton of uses.
At five mana, this isn't a steal. It gets the job done, so I'll play it more often than not, but I won't be excited to do so. It does punish evolve creatures significantly, so taking it for that purpose is fairly reasonable.
You could take a walk on the wild side and try to break this in Constructed, or you could avoid that nonsense and try to actually win.
Unless you have an inordinate amount of [card]Flametongue Kavu[/card]s, I don't see much of a use for this in the maindeck. It is a fine sideboard card against Control Magic-type effects, though.
[draft]Way of the Thief[/draft]
Way of the Thief
When I said I'd consider Auras more now, I didn't mean cards like this. It's stolen enough of my attention for the time being, so let's move on to Limited.
If you have sufficient Gates (3+), this becomes a solid finisher. If not, I guess you can play it as a miser's Giant Strength and hope to draw your one Gate, but that's not the way I'd recommend.
I'm sure many people have visions of Cloning this multiple times, and who knows, they may actually come true. [card]Mirrorweave[/card] could be a way to get there, and any card that costs three mana and says “win the game” is worth looking at.
If you want a hard to cast 2/3 for three, that's about all this is. I guess you could try to go off with Stolen Identity, but that sounds more like an achievement than an actual gameplan.
Three mana for three power and flying might have been close to good enough a few years ago. Today, unfortunately, it drakes a better card than this to see play.
Triggering evolve and beating down for three in the air, Drakewing Krasis is one of the mainstays of the Simic deck. Trample is a nice little bonus too, often resulting in a damage or two when the Krasis finally dies.
Many Constructed cards elude the first review of the set; this is not one of them.
This card is sweet. It starts out as a wall, grows to an annoyance, and then starts smashing for 3+ unblockable damage a turn. It doesn't take long for this to be awesome, and it already starts at decent.
The case for this card is surely hurt by Prime Speaker Zegana, which is a giant and powerful version of Fathom Mage. Still, I can't fathom just dismissing the Mage entirely, and think that it could do a good amount of work as a value creature to play on turn three or four. If you play Fathom Mage and it doesn't immediately die, drawing couple cards and getting a decently-sized creature out of the deal sounds pretty good.
As the Simic prerelease card, I got to play against this quite often. The card is very strong, and easily took over most games where it didn't get killed right away.
Barring some sort of combo involving non Standard-legal cards, this isn't exactly my idea of a card for Constructed.
The best use of this is to ambush an attacker, making it a 3-mana spell that lets you trade a land for a 3/3 or kill a 2/2 or smaller outright. Neither of those options is awesome, and adding the value you get by attacking with the land doesn't help a ton either. If you need to kill fliers, you could do worse, I suppose.
Turning Ninja Turtles into Mutant Ninja Turtles is clearly the best thing about this card, though it does provide a decent bonus to your creatures as well. It won't replace Melira in persist combos, just because of the cost, but as a value creature it has some potential.
A walking super-Crusade is awesome, and giving your creatures even more of a bonus if you manage to make him bigger is more awesome still.
I like the callout to [card]Mystic Snake[/card] in the name, and I like how much of a beating this is when you counter a big spell. If counterspells are going to be situationally good (mostly because of Cavern), you might as well make them very powerful. This provides a strong enough effect that it will end many games, and as a 2 to 3-of in control decks, it will certainly impact Standard.
I was always a big fan of [card]Draining Whelk[/card], and cutting a mana off the cost does wonders in making this more castable. The colored symbols aren't the easiest, but any Simic deck will grab this and be happy it did. It does get a lot worse once your opponent knows about it, so make sure they pay for that knowledge by losing a game to it.
This is swimming upstream if its goal is to see Constructed play; even an X/X for X isn't good enough these days.
Given that this flies and is a 4-mana 2/2 or a 5-mana 3/3, you can't go too wrong, and it occasionally becomes a 7/7 or greater. Cards that are good in normal games and great when flooded are what you could call flood insurance, and always a wise buy.
[draft]Prime Speaker Zegana[/draft]
Prime Speaker Zegana
Prime Speaker is kind of like the Simic Sphinx's Revelation. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but if she is routinely drawing 3-6 cards and providing a large creature as a bonus, it's not necessarily incredibly far off. It seems very hard for your opponent to stop you from having anything in play if your deck is all resilient creatures, and landing this when you have even just a Beast token is quite good. With Cavern of Souls to stop counters, and Thragtusk to provide fodder, I think the format is primed to see a lot of Zegana.
For more, check out Jacob Wilson's article here.
Zegana is the reverse Master Biomancer, in that you play her after you play your creatures, but the end result is the same with both cards: you win. Drawing a new grip of cards and having a 4/4 or 5/5 (or more) in play is pretty tough for your opponent to overcome, and I suspect they usually won't.
A timely Shark or two and you can leave your opponent's plans in shambles, as you all of a sudden have a 3+ power guy to attack with. The Shark also evolves your other creatures as an instant, and can even provide an emergency blocker. As long as there are enough good creatures that this becomes a 3/2 or 4/3 without much trouble, I can see this going places.
I'm probably going to get crabby once this ambushes me for the fifth time, and given that every one of these that gets open is getting played, that's not going to take too long.
The power of [card]Unsummon[/card] has been amply demonstrated over this last year, and adding [card]Giant Growth[/card] and hexproof to it certainly doesn't hurt. This Charm works well on both offense and defense, and is perfectly placed to be part of a good tempo deck.
It's hard to imagine a game where you don't get a card's worth of value out of Simic Charm. Whether it's countering a removal spell, winning a combat, or bouncing a blocker, it's going to be exactly what you need.
Running this out and hoping for the best seems pretty fun, and given that it can generate multiple free lands I'm inclined to at least try. I don't think this is necessarily going to be part of any sick combo or anything, but who doesn't like a good spin at the wheel?
This is much like [card]Stolen Goods[/card], but with one important distinction: it can hit lands, at which point you are up a card. Granted, sometimes you need to hit anything to survive, but most games you won't be that unhappy if you pick up a land or two on the way.
I'm a big fan of both [card]Divination[/card] and [card]Exploration[/card], so stapling them together definitely has my attention. If there are big mana decks worth exploring (and there are), this will fit in quite nicely. I don't necessarily think it's going to be insane in Bant, though I will try it, mainly because [card]Thragtusk[/card] competes fairly well at the five-drop slot.
Value, value all over. The land drop is likely worse than the extra card in Limited, but that's not going to stop me from drafting and playing this whenever I can.
You'd be surprised at how far just being a 2/2 for two gets you. Both the abilities here are a little pricey, especially the first one, but if there's a good evolve deck, I can see playing this. Making your [card]Cloudfin Raptor[/card]s and [card]Shambleshark[/card]s into card drawing machines is an enticing thought.
At the very worst, this is a build-your-own [card]Jayemdae Tome[/card] plus a slow Crusade. At best, this draws multiple cards a turn and lets your evolve guys trigger repeatedly. Given that the worst-case scenario is still good, and the best-case one is awesome, this card is very strong.
Unless there's some interaction I'm overlooking, it isn't a massive mistake to call this not Constructed-worthy.
At least [card]Overrun[/card] is rare this time. This card is a beating, and even interacts very favorably with +1/+1 counters. If you are blue or green, this is a windmill slam.
Not being able to shift cards away from the opponent is probably necessary for Limited, but it sure makes this too narrow to play in Constructed.
It would take a ton of evolve guys before I even considered this, and even then I'd be suspicious. Any card that just moves your resources around instead of increasing them is always a sketchy bet.
[draft]Merfolk of the Depths[/draft]
Merfolk of the Depths
I had to dig deep to try and think of something to say about this card.
This is no [card]Trapjaw Kelpie[/card], and that card wasn't even an all-star to begin with. It does trigger evolve midcombat, as long as you are willing to pay six mana for a 4/2 (I'm not).
Top 5 Blue/Simic Commons
5. [card]Keymaster Rogue[/card]
4. [card]Frilled Oculus[/card]
2. [card]Cloudfin Raptor[/card]
1. [card]Drakewing Krasis[/card]
The top two commons are incredibly close, and often you will end up taking one over the other based on your curve and what else you have going on. It is worth noting that all of the good commons here are creatures, though [card]Hands of Binding[/card] does almost make the list.
Top 5 Constructed cards
5. [card cloudfin raptor]Cloudfin Wrapter[/card]
4. [card]Urban Evolution[/card]
3. [card]Mystic Genesis[/card]
2. [card]Simic Charm[/card]
1. [card]Prime Speaker Zegana[/card]
Simic got a ton of awesome Constructed cards here, and there are even some good ones that didn't crack the top 5. There are multiple decktypes represented, and even though most of the cards point to a creature-heavy aggressive/midrange strategy, Urban Evolution and Mystic Genesis also seem quite good in control. I expect Simic to be a major player in the upcoming format, and would be surprised if it didn't spawn a variety of interesting new decks.