5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Siege Rhino. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Seeker of the Way. Hordeling Outburst.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Deathmist Raptor. Dromoka’s Command.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Tragic Arrogance. Dragon Fodder.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) 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.)
Bring to Light
Look, every new set brings a couple cards I can’t help but love, and I don’t think you can blame me for being optimistic when it comes to their impact on Constructed. That being said, Bring to Light looks awesome. The mana in both Standard and Modern is very good, which means that casting this with 4 or 5 different colors of mana is not a huge challenge. Once you can reliably do so, the power level here is very high. Bring to Light becomes a very efficient Demonic Tutor, as it plays the card without need for additional mana. The price you pay is that it always costs 5 to cast this and you need a 4+ color deck to make the card good. Those are costs I can live with, since the output of getting and casting anything (that isn’t an enchantment or planeswalker) is one I’m quite interested in.
For Standard, Bring to Light is primarily a Siege Rhino/Languish split card, which is already a beating. Getting a threat or a sweeper at only 1 additional mana is not weak, and the Abzan mana base supports this without much trouble. Once you get to 5 colors, Crux of Fate and Gilt-Leaf Winnower are live (all of which Gerry Thompson played in his version of the deck last weekend). The possibilities are nearly endless, and the Abzan Control route is only one way to go.
One of the directions I think is very interesting is a Demonic Pact-based control deck, as Bring to Light can get Silumgar’s Command or Sultai Charm as answers to Pact, as well as all the cool cards I mentioned above. It sadly can’t get Pact itself, but Ugin’s Insight draws into it, and overall Bring to Light does a lot of what this deck wants.
Once you move to Modern, the toolbox gets even bigger. I wrote an article detailing my first draft of a Bring to Light Gifts Ungiven deck (why not just combine two of my favorite cards?), and am still excited to test it.
Bring to Light Gifts
I don’t have any updates yet, since I haven’t gotten to battle with it, but rest assured I will be doing so after the Pro Tour.
That’s probably enough on the first of many cards I’ll review today, but suffice to say that this is the card I like most for Constructed, and one I’ll be spending a lot of time on. The combination of power level, flexibility, and good, clean, fun is exactly what I’m looking for.
Even after accounting for my immediate disappointment when comparing this to Bring to Light, there’s not a ton of meat here. This is one of the many cards that would be interesting if it cost 1 less, since a 3/3 plus a 1/1 with a decent sacrifice ability isn’t bad.
Brutal Expulsion is powerful enough that it will see some play, but costs enough that it won’t be a 4-of in any deck. It really needs to kill a 2-toughness creature (or 2-loyalty planeswalker) to obtain max value, which means that in some matchups it’s not the best. When it does work, it’s great, as Remand/Boomerang + Shock is a great combination, and a tempo-based Jeskai deck seems very well-poised to take advantage of that. I like Brutal Expulsion, and predict it will show up in Jeskai decks from time to time.
Like Zulaport Enforcer or Blisterpod, Catacomb Sifter works toward a very specific goal. That goal will usually involve cards like Grim Haruspex, Nantuko Husk, Smothering Abomination, Rally the Ancestors, and other cheap sacrificial lambs (or Eldrazi, which I assume are significantly less tasty). Sifter gives you multiple creatures in one, is cheap, and helps you scry (sift?) into whatever your engine cards are. It’s not quite there as a pure value card in a non-synergistic deck, but enough cards exist that combo with this that I could see it making a real impact.
Drana’s Emissary is efficient enough that it could be part of an aggressive life gain deck (wow, those words don’t combine well). As such, she might see a little play.
Funnily enough, it’s not clear that the return ability is always a drawback in Constructed. Dust Stalker can whack a control deck for 5 and come back to dodge sweepers, with the option of sticking around if you want to commit more creatures. The biggest downside is that there are a ton of incredible 4-drops right now, and most of the competition leaves this in the dust.
Like Owen said, this is basically Baleful Strix. At least, that’s what I think he was trying to say. Fathom Feeder is an interesting and complicated card either way, though the two main abilities do conflict with each other. A 1/1 deathtouch is a good early blocker, but a creature that draws you extra cards for 3UB isn’t something you want to trade off. What this combination could provide is a slot that interacts against creature decks while still being a threat against control, a cheap removal spell and a card-draw machine all in one.
The downside to this flexibility is that it plays neither role particularly well. Typhoid Rats isn’t a playable card, and a 5-mana card draw option is less exciting when the control decks can kill it with any number of removal spells. I’m basically treating the exiling as flavor text, as most decks won’t concern themselves with it, though if your deck does care about it, it is a nice bonus.
Overall I like cards that can fill multiple roles, and my biggest concern with Fathom Feeder is that it doesn’t fill those roles in a powerful enough fashion. If it ends up being good enough against either aggro or control that it gets a pass in the other matchup, that would be great, as Magic is more fun when cards like this see play.
Forerunner of Slaughter
If this was either a 3/2 for 2 that gave other creatures haste or a 3/2 for 3 with haste, I’d be a lot less interested. The fact that it gets to be both is much stronger, and this is already seeing play in aggressive red/black decks. A solid 2-drop and a late-game engine all in one is the kind of thing aggro wants, and Forerunner of Slaughter fills that role nicely.
Herald of Kozilek
Herald of Kozilek is surprisingly large for a mana accelerator, and that’s part of what interests me. A 2/4 for 3 is no joke, so a deck built to use this gets both an accelerator (which doesn’t have to tap, mind you) and a good early blocker. That’s a good combination, and one that could have some legs.
Kiora, Master of the Depths
Kiora is (unsurprisingly) similar to the last Kiora planeswalker, though a little more dependent on having a deck full of creatures. She defends herself a little less well but draws cards a little better, and in a deck full of creatures that tap for mana, can do some serious ramping. Given how neatly she can rattle off two -2s, I’ve liked her as the full 4-of in the ramp deck that wants her. Her ultimate is also a real piece of work, though it’s pricey enough that it doesn’t come up all that often.
March from the Tomb
Kalastria Healer and Chasm Guide both offer different ways to kill the opponent with a resolved March, and could actually fit in the same deck. I’m more interested in the idea of Kalastria Healer here, as multiple Healers can let you deal a ton of damage without the opponent being able to stop you. Zulaport Cutthroat is also an Ally, and combined with some kind of sacrifice effect, could be another piece of the puzzle. Any time a 5-mana card offers 8 mana worth of value, you should take a look.
Munda, Ambush Leader
Another Ally plant, Munda goes where he pleases. I’m assuming that’s an aggressive and less combo-oriented Ally deck, but the ability to find other Allies and hit for a solid chunk of damage may make him good enough in either. A 3/4 haste for 4 is not that far behind curve, so if you can make use of the second ability, Munda is no joke.
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
Noyan can be a one-Merfolk army, or at least turn a bunch of lands into such. You can stack up the counters on the same land, and I could see Noyan Dar playing like Talrand. If you can untap or potentially even save up a ton of mana, playing multiple spells gives you a pretty big return on your investment.
Omnath, Locus of Rage
I give Omnath a high grade despite knowing full well that the appropriate shell hasn’t yet been found. This card is just too powerful to do otherwise, and I hope that there is a red/green ramp deck to take advantage of him. Getting a 5/5 per land and tossing a bunch of Lightning Bolts at the opponent is a big game, so all that you really have to figure out is how to get Omnath in play before you die.
Sire of Stagnation
Sire of Stagnation does not seem like the most fun card to play against, but I sure would like to have one in play. The Consecrated Sphinx comparison is a natural one, except the opponent can just kill this with sorcery-speed removal without giving you a card. They can even choose not to play lands, putting the trigger wholly under their control. That, unfortunately, makes this very far from Consecrated Sphinx indeed.
The Ally part of this is negligible, but a 2/2 flier for 2 with upside isn’t the most unlikely candidate to see play. It’s an aggressive beater in colors that haven’t fielded an aggro deck in quite some time, so keep that in mind.
Given good enough exiling effects, this card could move up significantly in value. I don’t think we are there quite yet, but I’m keeping an eye on this. A 2/3 flying Mystic Snake is very strong, so if you can get the ability to trigger without much work, you have a great card on your hands.
If you can flood the board reliably, and even a couple creatures in your deck happen to be Allies, this may be the leader you want. It hits for a lot of damage, and those are a lot of interesting abilities, assuming you can get them active.