2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Naturalize. (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%)
Unless you are just horsing around, there’s no reason to have this anywhere near your Constructed deck.
I loved Saltfield Recluse, but tacking on three extra mana to the activation cost makes this a horse of a different color. Having to keep three up every turn really dampens the defensive potential, though it’s not the worst if you are beating down. I do hope that my blue decks mostly attack in the air, and don’t relish leaving all my mana up on their turn, so I don’t expect to play this all that often.
I’m trying to construct a scenario where this is better than a normal removal spell, or even bounce spell, and completely failing.
It’s funny trying to figure out which half of each Overload spell is the “real” spell, and which is the situational bonus. In some rare cases, both halves are insane (see: Mizzium Mortars), and in some, it’s pretty clear that you play it for one half and make some use of the other. Blustersquall is such a spell, as it gets its foot in the door by offering to tap all their creatures for 3UU, and can be used as Twiddle in a pinch. If you need a finisher, and expect to have enough creatures out to take advantage of it, this does a good job.
Until Dissipate is gone, this card’s potential is effectively cancelled out.
The value of Cancel varies dramatically from matchup to matchup and format to format. I can’t with all honesty say I know exactly where this fits, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt to begin with. If the format isn’t super fast, and has a bunch of powerful midgame and lategame spells, counters go up in value. I also love it as a sideboard card, even in fast formats, and don’t mind loading up my deck with counters against opposing control decks (or if they have a bomb you really can’t beat).
The only chronic flooding I want to see in Constructed is on my opponent’s side of the table, whether by drawing this or too many lands.
This is the worst kind of split card; either the milling does nothing, and they continue about their business, or it threatens to be relevant, and they just stop using the land. Even if you have a million scavenge cards, milling yourself is also unlikely to be a good plan.
I can’t really conjure up a scenario where this is broken. Even in the deck that has no other permanents to steal, it’s still a Volition Reins that not only takes a full turn to get going, but has a potentially huge drawback. It would have been awesome if switching was not optional, forcing them to take one of your lands every turn while you steal their actual permanents.
I’m certainly going to try this out, since it is nice that you can take their best card, and if they want to take your (other) best card, you get to run it back. It does cost six, make you wait a turn, and limit how good of permanents you get to play, but the effect is powerful enough that it still might be pretty sick. I could see this secretly being very good, since the effect is very powerful, however unwieldy.
Oh look, another card I can cross off my list.
If you are in desperate need of 2-drops, this guy fits the bill. His ability is more likely to be a drawback than anything else, since unless you are a dedicated mill deck, you are way more likely to mill a scavenge card than actually kill them with it. Still, sometimes you just gotta get something out early.
Now we’re talking. Any card that resembles Upheaveal is worth considering, and even though this doesn’t do the whole Armageddon thing (which is probably for the best), it still has a hugely powerful effect. Being a split card of Into the Roil without kicker plus Upheaval all their nonlands is awesome, and I don’t even think you need combos to make this a very good card. As an early-game delaying effect and a lategame sweeper, it can fill multiple roles in control, and an aggro or tempo deck can make even more use of it. It can also be combined with Rakdos’s Return, as many have pointed out, letting a Grixis control deck perform the complete board/hand wipe in the lategame. The uses for this card are many, and the power level is high, both of which are hallmarks of influential Constructed cards.
You have to appreciate the flexibility here. Not only is this a card that would be a high pick for just the 7-mana version, if you absolutely need to blow it at 2 mana, you have the option. Bouncing their board end of turn should lead to a win in most cases, and when your insane lategame card doubles as emergency removal, you know you are in a good spot.
Dispel is another one of those cards I like having around, even if it never makes it into a single maindeck. Like Duress, it’s eminently fair, as long as it’s not being used to protect some degenerate combo (and there, it’s usually the combo that’s the problem). I would like to dispel the idea that this is an awesome maindeck card, because the format feels very far away from being at that point.
I’d never maindeck this, but it’s certainly a good sideboard option. If you see four or more good instants, it’s reasonable to bring it in, especially since they might have a couple more lurking about.
I too see myself as a kind of door keeper, and rifraff like this are exactly who I’m trying to defend Constructed against.
This is the first card that makes me even a little optimistic that milling might be a thing in Limited. Door Keeper serves as a reasonable defender and hard to stop, if slow, win condition. It might not be Vent Sentinel, but if you get enough cards in this vein, you’ve got an actual shot at milling them out.
Just by printing this, pool of potential Constructed playables has been downsized by one.
Adding the one-mana version to Mass Hysteria goes a really long way towards making it a solid Limited card. I sided in Mass Hysteria every now and then, but if it had the option to play it for one, I suspect I would have maindecked it reasonably often. You are going to cast it for one most of the time, and getting to cast it for three when it’s a blowout is awesome.
Nobody is playing this for its rate, though potential synergies do exist. I don’t see anything that shrieks combo right now, but it just drakes one card and all of a sudden you’ve got a deck.
The value of this card varies wildly. In decks with a ton of one and two drops, it becomes quite good, and helps bolster any sort of aggressive theme. Likewise, if you have a couple good EtB triggers, the reward you get for playing this shoots up too. I’d say that the average deck will play this more often than not, but because some decks are so much more interested, it’s way more likely to end up in one of those decks.
There is a certain barrier to entry for playability, and 0/6 walls hover slightly below it.
If you are in the market for some defense, you really could do worse. You do have to be fairly committed to the blocking plan, but once you are, this becomes pretty solid. It also is a natural fit in the Doorkeeper deck, an archetype I already want to try.
A sorcery-speed version of Ice (from Fire/Ice fame) that can only hit creatures, this does gain a decent amount of value from Snapcaster Mage existing. I like the idea of cycling these, delaying your opponent from killing you, and wiping the floor with some kind of sweeper.
While the effect here is relatively minor, I’m never going to cut this in a blue deck. The value you get ranges from straight up cycling to a huge tempo swing, and when the worst case is still good, you can tell you have a winner.
I’ll admit, this does inspire me to make more Rewind decks. The last time Inspiration was legal, it showed up a little in mono-blue, and even though counters were way better back then, it isn’t out of the question for this to do some work. Still, it isn’t the cheapest spell around, and with Jace at 4, times are probably going to be tough for an honest Inspiration.
Sadly, this is way worse than Divination in Limited. I love Divination, so that doesn’t make Inspiration unplayable by any means, but trading sorcery for instant isn’t close to being worth a mana. At four, you just can’t play too many of these.
As I watch the mana costs rise on the detain cards, the odds that they show up in Constructed go rapidly the other direction, this being the prime example.
At six, you certainly don’t want too many of these, even if it is quite powerful. Buying you a turn’s respite from attacks and eliminating a blocker are both exactly what you want on a six drop, and once in play the actual body is quite relevant.
Jace, Architect of Thought
I feel like any card named Jace automatically gets extra latitude in the power department. Sadly, Jace, Memory Adept suffered from a backlash against Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but looks like things are back to normal with this Jace.
Starting with the +1, we have an excellent defensive measure. It might look minor, but hitting all their guys puts a frustrating amount of defense up. It improves your blocks, requires them to have some good-sized guys to get damage through, and greatly reduces the odds that they are able to kill Jace immediately.
The -2 is where the real money is at. A three-card Fact or Fiction is very close to drawing two cards, especially once you factor in the information imbalance between you and your opponent. While there is hidden information on both sides, the fact that they have to take action first, by making the split, gives you a pretty significant edge. You also know way better than they do about the value of lands, unless it’s very late game or you’ve already missed a land drop. Add all that together and you end up pretty far ahead every time you -2 Jace, so even if he doesn’t survive, you are doing well.
If he does survive, the outlook cannot be positive for your opponent, and eventually you might even get to the ultimate. Like Owen has said before, you could cut the ultimate off of most Planeswalkers and it wouldn’t matter all that much. While that’s mostly true, threatening a sick ultimate is still a tool you have at your disposal, and I find it hard to believe that you can’t figure out something awesome to do by going ultimate with Jace.
Jace is awesome, and I expect it to show up in multiple formats. Caleb even thinks it has a shot in Legacy, and wrote a pretty sweet article on the subject.
Jace is also great in Limited, though that is the one category where Memory Adept can claim the title of “Best Jace”. The +1 is way better here than Constructed, with creature combat and cluttered board states being dramatically more common, and I can see working up to the ultimate being a viable plan. You will also probably win if you get to -2 a few times, assuming you have other good stuff to dig to. Planeswalkers are still windmill slams in Limited, it turns out.
“He survived by the skin of his teeth” is about to gain more relevance to the Magic community, especially since I think this has some potential. It isn’t fantastic by any means, but one mana is a good enough deal that it’s worth considering. If upping your team’s toughness by one is relevant as well, this might just provide enough value to make it. Then again, we tried really hard to make Vines of Vastwood work, and the kicker on that was way more powerful. It would be really funny if this countered other overload cards, but alas, that isn’t how it works.
I like this more as a sideboard card against removal than a maindeck card, though the toughness bonus does make it more likely to do something than if it was only an anti-removal spell.
It can’t be that hard to grasp why this isn’t viable in Constructed; it only works once the creature has already hit you, it is vulnerable to enchantment removal, and it costs way too much mana.
I was never happy playing Paralyzing Grasp before, but I still played it a reasonable amount of the time. It’s like blue’s worse Assassinate, and gets the job done if you are in desperate need of removal.
Hopefully this isn’t good in Constructed, because if it is, it might lead to a downhill spiral where you have to play them just to counter your opponent’s. That also isn’t a big concern of mine, since with the time it takes you to set this up, you might as well win the game with Sphinx’s Revelation or something.
I hope the mill deck happens, and if it does, this has to be pretty sweet. Part of the reason I like this is that you don’t even need to be dedicated mill; just using this as a finisher seems legitimate to me. I’m not psychic, but I predict that I will be playing this card shortly.
I don’t want to rune any hopes or dreams, but this doesn’t cut it.
You are happy if this lives and happy if it dies, which is a good place to be. Any deck can play this card, though it is slightly better on defense, what with the 4-cost and desire to trade and all.
Search the City
I’ll be honest, I couldn’t figure out what this does, but I assume it’s bad.
If it’s bad in Constructed, it’s gotta be even worse in Limited. I’ve searched for a reason to play this, and came up empty.
If your goal is to catch a predator, I wouldn’t recommend Constructed as the place to look.
At six mana, this doesn’t come cheap. It does provide a 3-power flier, which is always nice, and will ambush something at least once, but it’s so expensive that you can’t really count on catching the same opponent twice with it. It isn’t that big a deal, seeing as how you just cast this and move on, but it does diminish the power level somewhat.
I guess when it comes to detaining, white is the color to look at. All the blue detain cards aren’t really priced to move, this being a prime example.
On the other hand, the more expensive blue guys all are much more relevant in Limited than the white ones, and together they combine to form a nice curve. This is a perfect racing card, removing a blocker and putting an unblockable threat on the table. It is a little frail, which is why it isn’t rated higher, but it’s still pretty nice.
Sphinx of the Chimes
I’ve heard a good amount of talk about this guy, but I’m still going to chime in with my thoughts. If you are playing a deck with a ton of 4-ofs and other card draw, this seems like a strong card. A 5/6 for six is a good starting point, and if you just wait to play it until you cast Careful Consideration for free, it starts to look like a great deal. It does put some restrictions on your deckbuilding, which might be its biggest weakness. Control decks typically would rather play a bunch of 1 and 2-ofs, especially when it comes to removal spells, so building to enable the Sphinx could end up not being worth it.
It’s a Mahamoti Djinn, and once every 15 games, you might get a bonus. Mahamoti Djinn is still good in Limited.
Stealer of Secrets
You are going to steal more cards with Scroll Thief than this, just because Scroll Thief lives through more combats. When it comes to Constructed, all you care about is getting through, and neither of those guys does that well enough.
I always like Scroll Thief, and I like this guy. Even if you have no combos, he still threatens to hit them for great value, and that can drastically change the way they play. Plus, sometimes you just play him turn three on the play, kill their first guy, and draw a bunch of extra cards.
Having a monopoly is as good in Magic as it is outside of Magic, and Syncopate has a monopoly on the 2-drop spot, unless you count Essence Scatter. Syncopate is pretty inefficient at most costs, but solely based on its ability to be a counter on turn 2 and turn 10, it’s going to see play. The exile clause is certainly relevant too, but much like Dissipate, it isn’t what makes or breaks the card.
I like this in Limited, both on the play and on the draw. Having multiples of any counter can lead to awkward draws, so I wouldn’t go overboard, but the first one is almost always going to be in the deck.
I’d love to say that this towers over the competition, but that isn’t even close to being true.
The classic 2-power flier for three mana is always acceptable, and once you add in some white mana, this even becomes good.
Barring some bizarre Birthing Pod deck in Modern, I really would avoid playing this in Constructed.
A Man-o’-War is a Man-o’-War, even if it only has one power. It’s definitely no Ogre Savant, and it won’t really increase the pressure that much, but it’s still bounce on command.
Top 5 Blue Commons
And in a 5-way tie for 1st, every blue common! None of these commons are something I’d be happy to first pick, though they all are pretty reasonable. Having a lot of solid cards is almost always worse than having a couple insane ones and a bunch of mediocre ones, but this is a common situation for blue. Either way, I’m still picking Azorius at the prerelease, for better or for worse.
Top 5 Constructed Cards
In the Constructed column, blue has absolutely nothing to complain about. Jace is likely the best card in the set, Cyclonic Rift opens up a ton of possibilities, and a pair of interesting counterspells also provides some good utility. I’m more excited about building Standard decks than I have been for a while, though I suppose Modern is really what I need to be focusing on.
Next up is Izzet, and you should be impressed that I didn’t run any sort of “Izzet time yet?” out there; it took great restraint.