2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Naturalize. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation 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%)
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.
Bane Alley Broker
As a Looter that can pick up a card every now and then, I’m not too unhappy with this, especially since it’s an 0/3 instead of a 1/1. Still, one of the most important qualities of Looters is that they dump cards into your graveyard, so the fact that this doesn’t could be its bane.
Looters are already good, and getting extra cards out of an already good deal is something I can get behind. I’m excited to play with this card, it seems awesome.
Call of the Nightwing
I wouldn’t call this Lingering Souls, and Lingering Souls isn’t even seeing a ton of play right now.
As a four-mana 1/1 flier that makes more 1/1s, this would already be decent. Given that you can make multiple guys instantly, I like it.
Every now and then a mill card makes it into Constructed, but that’s an aberration more than anything else.
Dimir may not have been the best guild at the prerelease, but it did have a sick guild promo. This was often a 6/6 or bigger, and almost always attacked for much more than that if you got to untap with it. It can mill them out by itself, assuming it doesn’t devour them first.
As I said in my preview article, the playability of this wholly depends on how many good sorceries are running around (and Supreme Verdict doesn’t count). It’s a good flexible card, and all the modes do useful and different things.
The Smother ability is the most useful, but when you have reason the cast the other two, I expect them to be quite good as well. It’s not often that I pass Charms of the guild I’m in, and this is no exception.
If this were a Coercion, I could see it being useful. Given that they have the choice, I’d just discard this from contention instead.
I’ve Aethersniped many a time, and never been disappointed. Plus, them discarding a card is much stronger than the evoke option, so you come out ahead on this one.
Infinite Mindcrank combos aside, I don’t think this is going to pick up the mantle of “best Guildmage” for Constructed.
The abilities aren’t insane, but as a two-mana 2/2 it’s still a fine card. As with any Guildmage, given enough mana it will cause problems for your opponent.
I really like this card. What it does is awesome, providing a giant flier with a good ability, but what it’s missing is the right colored deck to support it. If there’s a good aggressive UB deck, this should have a place, and if there isn’t, it may take some time before this goes somewhere. Also, once Falkenrath Aristocrat rotates, the competition will get easier.
As a 4/4 flier alone, this is incredibly good. The ability is a definite upside, even if in some games it might end up costing you. I can’t see passing this card very often.
Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
The casting cost is prohibitive, but the effect you get is very strong. If your opponent cooperates, you end up with quite the monster. I don’t know exactly what to do with this yet, just that the threat of a giant hexproof monster is a real one.
You don’t have to be mill to make this good, but if you are, it’s awesome. It makes any trade a potential disaster for your opponent, and will win most long games (and potentially the short ones).
Given that you don’t get to mill yourself, I think I can finally give this effect the 1 it deserves.
In a non-mill deck, this really doesn’t do that much. It won’t kill them until much later than you need it to, and does basically nothing until then. In a mill deck, it’s one of the best finishers available, though I’m not sure if it’s a reason to go mill or just good once you’re there. I’m leaning towards the second, but more grinding will help.
I’ve tested this rigorously, and determined it’s not very useful.
The best use of this is triggering extort over and over, but past that it’s a reasonable sideboard card against a bunch of X/1s.
You’d have to be pretty delusional to think this is a viable path to victory.
Only in the most dedicated mill deck is this good, so I’d say you are better off passing this a good portion of the time.
This being multicolored is a strike against it in most decks, but I can conceive of a deck that only splashes blue and desires a counterspell. The mill 2 clause is irrelevant, of course.
Cancel ranges from mediocre to good in most formats, and I’d peg it closer to the first in this one.
4 mana is significantly different than 5, and I already had some uses for Mind Control. It is annoying that they can kill it without expending any mana, but it does at least cost them four cards to do so.
This is significantly worse than an actual Mind Control effect in Limited, where stealing their best creature is often much more important than just drawing some cards. It’s still awesome, since “worse than Mind Control” leaves a ton of room for goodness.
I can’t completely dismiss what might be a Constructed windfall, so let’s see what the best way to abuse this would be. If you are getting multiple spins of the wheel, the best way to get value is to play a deck full of cheap permanents and bounce spells. That keeps you ahead on the board and makes sure you get way more of an advantage out of the effect than your opponent. Given enough fast creatures with evasion and efficient bounce spells, I could see this being a decent build-around.
I’m not too sold on the idea of spending a card on this effect. If you can really build around it, maybe it’ll work, but it seems fairly bad in the average deck.
I must confess, this does look sweet. Drawing 3-4 cards is something I like doing, but I fear this would be a draw 0-2 far too often for me to get coerced into playing it.
Mill four plus draw 2 = not great, and this will usually be less than that.
Even the most rogue deckbuilders won’t touch this, unless they have some sort of death wish.
This gets through often enough to make it quite good, both providing a decent clock and a great target for all the cipher cards. Deathcult Rogue seems like one of the most important cards for the cipher deck, if such a thing is to be good.
Nightveil Specter is one of the more aggressively-costed Specters we’ve seen recently, and might get played as a result. A 2/3 flying Shadowmage Infiltrator is worth noting, especially given how often I tend to put Shadowmage in decks. It is annoying that if the Specter dies, the cards are gone forever, so if you flip something good, be sure to play it as soon as you can.
In some decks, this is almost impossible to cast, and in others, it’s impossible for it to be uncastable. Hybrid mana sure is something. Assuming you can cast it easily, there aren’t many cards better.
Cross-post from yesterday's set review:
Top 5 Black/Dimir Commons
Dimir seems like it’s in a strange spot. A bunch of its cards want to mill you out, which implies a defensive deck. On the other hand, cipher rewards aggression, and one of its best cards (Shadow Slice) does as well. It does have good removal, and extort seems like it’s a reasonable thing to have a few of, so it’s not all bad.
Top 5 Constructed Cards