5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/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]Intangible Virtue[/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 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%)
This is one of the most efficient and flexible removal spells that has been printed recently, and the list of relevant targets continues almost indefinitely. In Standard, it kills any creature played in the first couple turns, [card]Oblivion Ring[/card], [card]Detention Sphere[/card], Keyrunes, and more, for the low cost of two mana. It being uncounterable is sweet too, though more relevant in other formats.
Other formats are actually where I see a good amount of this card’s value. With better manafixing, more non-creature permanents, and more counterspells, Modern and Legacy both are going to be impacted by this. Take that, Counterbalance!
Cards this efficient always see a lot of play, and unless Constructed Magic changes abruptly, this will be no exception.
Cheap removal isn’t something I’m going to pass up frequently, though I suspect this will be overvalued just based on how strong it is. In Limited, killing only small guys is an actual drawback, and the uncounterability clause is basically irrelevant.
A 4/4 for four isn’t the most menacing thing in the world, though the ability to double up on counters does increase the threat level. I guess he jacks corpses for additional scavenge counters, is that the idea? It works with the couple good scavenge/unleash guys, undying, and a few random individual cards. Whether that’s enough to make a deck, I don’t know. In general, win-more Crusade-type things like this haven’t been fantastic, especially with competition like [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card], but I wouldn’t be surprised if this saw some play.
This is eminently playable even if the text box is blank, and it really shouldn’t be hard to make it do some good work. It combos with both unleash and scavenge, coincidentally I’m sure, and even getting two extra counters on something is awesome.
I don’t want to make too hasty a judgment, but I like this card. [card]Boggart Ram-Gang[/card] saw a good amount of play, albeit with a much better color/easier casting cost (it was just mono-red, right?), but [card]Dreg Mangler[/card] has a significant upside attached. In a beatdown deck, having your hasty beaters provide free sources of damage is sweet, and three counters can even get guys past blockers, making the damage dealt often greater than just the extra three.
Golgari’s got some aggressive monsters here. Draft enough of these and you can’t help but mangle your opponent, where all your guys are cheap, efficient, and come back for a second helping. Scavenge is super fun to play with; everyone loves flashback for a reason.
I really wouldn’t have minded this just giving all their guys -1/-1. Maybe that doesn’t feel Golgari enough, but it sure impacts how much play this sees. That mode directly fights with the team regen one, since green decks with a ton of creatures tend to gravitate towards Elves of various shapes and sizes. It does kill enchantments, making it a reasonable card against the token decks, with two of the three modes being strong. Overall, this isn’t the most exciting Charm, even if it certainly still has some uses.
All three modes are relevant in Limited, the nuking enchantments being the most narrow. It seems really hard not to get at least one good card out of this, and both the board-impacting modes can easily pick up a couple.
This is one way to salvage a bad draw. We haven’t seen this good an [card]Impulse[/card] variant in a while, with [card]Ancient Stirrings[/card] being the closest, and vastly more narrow. A ton of decks are going to be digging up creatures with this, and if they can make use of the graveyard as a resource, even better. It doesn’t take much of a theme to want this; if your deck has a lot of creatures and can produce BG easily, you should at least consider it.
I like this card, especially with Salvage, but I can easily conceive of (and draft) decks that won’t want it. It hitting lands does mean it’s very hard to miss with, but if your deck has only like 10 creatures, just be aware that this is more an extra mana source than a sick gas card.
[draft]Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord[/draft]
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
It isn’t hard to imagine how good this guy could be. With enough creatures and [card]Grisly Salvage[/card]s, not only will he be enormous, but you can dig him out of the graveyard without too much trouble. Throwing guys at them is even a good way to finish the game, if Jarad decks need more late-game power. The biggest drawback is how slow he is to get online, with both his abilities and his size being unimpressive until at least the midgame. There are definitely workarounds, [card]Grisly Salvage[/card] being the most exciting, and as a finisher for either an aggressive or controlling Golgari deck, Jarad seems effective.
Jarad’s an enormous unkillable monster, and tosses your guys at the opponent’s head at will. Sounds pretty good to me. If you draft your deck with him in mind, he’s even better, but it’s not that hard to figure out that Swamps, Forests, and creatures are all it really takes. Unless you’ve managed to draft a creatureless Golgari deck, you should probably be slamming this.
Jarad’s usual order involves a six-inch sub, but in the event that he wants to diversify, there are plenty of options. In Standard, you are spending four mana on a decent guy plus some possible graveyard value, which is decent. If there are enough toolbox targets and enough ways to get something out of binning a guy (say, Jarad himself), this could do some good work.
In Modern it gets much more interesting, as Owen wrote about HERE. Whether that’s better than [card gifts ungiven]Gifts[/card] into [card]Unburial Rites[/card] is yet to be determined, but it certainly has potential.
I’m normally not a huge fan of just paying four mana to search for a card, especially when it has to be a creature, but with Scavenge in the format I don’t mind so much. The pseudo-card advantage appeals to me, and if I have a bomb to search up, even better.
As intimidating as the first ability is, it’s not actually all that impressive. If this guy sees play, it’s going to be on the back of the second, converting [card]Thragtusk[/card]s and [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card]s into token armies. While I don’t think it’s incredibly likely, a card with this much potential power for only two mana is worth considering. Plus, you may even have cause to use the first ability to send in a 9/9 Silverheart plus whatever he’s bonded with.
Both abilities are a bit on the slow side, but I still don’t expect the game to last all that long once turn six or seven rolls around. Sending in your biggest two creatures should end things, and if you aren’t in a position to do that, blocking and making tokens can get you to that position rapidly. It’s worth noting that making gold creatures intimidating isn’t all that effective, especially considering how many random hybrid/gold guys the opponents could have.
There’s a lot of possibility here, and I’m not even trolling. [card]River Boa[/card]-esque stats plus trample and a non-mana activated ability make this a legitimate threat in a normal deck, much less a super-focused one. Just playing this straight-up seems reasonable, and if you so desire, you can go deep with [card]Slitherhead[/card]s and [card]Gravecrawler[/card]s. Both paths honestly seem fine, and as someone who’s played Tempered Steel at every opportunity, I can’t really frown on the turbo-aggro version.
Even as just a 2/1 regenerator for two (with random bonus trample) would be more than fine, and threatening to discard at any point makes this quite a bit better than that. You can attack into 3/3’s with impunity, offering to trade one mana and a random creature in hand for a permanent counter and their guy.
[draft]Rites of Reaping[/draft]
Rites of Reaping
This seems too expensive to me, but I guess if you make the rite deck you can reap the rewards.
If this was an instant, it would be insane, which probably explains why it isn’t. It is usually going to kill a guy and let you get in for some extra damage, which is still fine, but not off-the-charts good.
This costing four mana instead of three is the touch of death. There are just too many good things going on at that casting cost to justify telling this guy to get over here.
As for as keywords go, deathtouch is one of my favorites. You can always be secure in the knowledge that your deathtouch guy is going to get a card out of them, one way or another. This also granting a nice little +2/+2 is just delicious scorpion gravy.
While you might be able to find uses for this here and there, Magic's come a long way since Regrowth had to be restricted. Not being able to Snapcaster this is also relevant, and probably for the best.
Raise Dead any card is decent, and scales pretty well with the overall quality and composition of your deck. If the power cards in your deck are hard-to-kill creatures, this is much worse than if your good cards are removal spells. Some decks are going to love having access to this, and others might just not play it.
Who needs Lotleth Troll when you have this? Not only is its toughness much bigger, it has reach, making it the ultimate defensive machine. This is going to be the gold standard among creatures come new Standard. If they don't pass the Troll test, they are going to be completely unplayable.
This is just removal in creature form. It doesn't really attack, but it can stop most things without needing to regenerate, while handily retaining the ability to do so. I like blocking, so it's pretty natural that I like this.
[draft]vraska the unseen[/draft]
Vraska the Unseen
What's seen cannot be unseen, so I'm going to drop a link to my spoiler spotlight article right here. As I said in that article, Vraska offers up a powerful way to kill things, leaving a reasonable threat in the wake of a [card]Vindicate[/card]. Her +1 makes it very difficult to kill her, and most circumstances are going to involve her trading for multiple cards and gaining you many points of life. I dream of the day when I assassinate someone with her ultimate, and don't think that's going to be that difficult to pull off.
Yeeeeah. This here is exactly why planeswalkers are insane in Limited: they are supposed to be powerful and exciting Constructed cards, often making them absolutely the stones in Limited.
While this card is kind of a mess, with three different activated abilities and outputs, what you end up getting might actually be pretty sweet. In formats with fetchlands, the mana ability is a real thing, and being able to eat creatures and spells at will is awesome on a mana accelerator. Where it gets more tricky is when you can't reliably get the mana, which is the case in Standard.
Playing this just for the [card]Withered Wretch[/card] aspect is way more narrow, since you are spending an entire card on it. As a sideboard card against something like Zombies, it doesn't seem quite powerful enough, and if you think this is going to completely hose Snapcaster Mage, I have bad news for you. It is annoying enough for Snapcaster decks if it lives, but I've yet to see a Snapcaster deck that doesn't have an abundance of good removal.
Its weaknesses in Standard aside, I do see plenty of potential for this in older formats. If you (and your opponents) are playing enough fetches that this produces mana in most cases, this card is a 1/2 Birds of Paradise with an enormous upside.
At one mana, I'd be hard pressed not to play this if I had both black and green mana available to me. Randomly shooting them for 2 and gaining 2 for every creature is awesome, and most games this will get used many times. It even randomly hoses their scavenge guys, though that's balanced by you not being able to eat your own very profitably.
I'm not going to spend long explaining why this isn't very interesting for Constructed.
Good in black decks, good in green decks, slightly better in black-green decks. Everyone wins!
If we've learned anything from Magic, it's that free things are good. No matter how trivial, cards that provide a free benefit are always worth looking at. In this case, we have a 1-drop Zombie that offers a free +1/+1 bonus after it's put into the graveyard. As a Zombie, it can trigger Gravecrawler, and as a creature that gets you a little value from the yard, it's a natural combo with Lotleth Troll (also a Zombie). If this sees play in Standard, it's by far the most likely case that it's in a deck with those two cards.
In older formats, namely those that involve the dredge mechanic, this is yet another free spell. It isn't the most impactful, so it by no means is a lock, but this does provide food for Ichorid and a small bonus to whatever creature you are trying to kill them with. Kingdoms have been built on such marginal value that I don't want to underestimate the power of this card.
I'm really not in love with 1-drop 1/1's, even when they cast a free spell from the graveyard. This isn't a whole card in play or after death, and even added together I don't think it's that great.
Golgari Rises Again
Golgari reaped huge benefits from Return to Ravnica, with Abrupt Decay and Vraska both being pretty high up on the list of powerful cards in the set. I also like how it feels in Limited, as eking out value is exactly what I want to be doing. I know I've said it before, but this Standard season is shaping up to be insane.
The next time I write it'll be from San Jose, as I'm flying out to meet up with the rest of Team Channelfireball this weekend. We have a team GP to practice for, not to mention a Pro Tour, so my next two weeks will be filled with drafting and Modern. I shall wrap up my review this weekend, as only red, Rakdos, and the artifacts/lands remain!
(I haven't forgotten about Selesyna Charm's Limited rating either, and plan on including it in the conclusion)