Welcome to the first installment of my Innistrad Set Review! Today I’ll be looking at white, using the following (and hopefully now-familiar) rankings:
5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]. [card]Preordain[/card]. In light of recent bannings, let’s go with [card]Scalding Tarn[/card] and [card]Dismember[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Raging Ravine[/card]. [card]Lotus Cobra[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Spell Pierce[/card]. [card]Goblin Guide[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Rampant Growth[/card]. [card]Khalni Heart Expedition[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Celestial Purge[/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%).
It takes vigilance on my part to make sure that nobody accidentally plays cards like this in Constructed.
The four-mana 2/2 flier is an old standy, and I don’t see that changing this time. Vigilance is fairly unimpressive on a 2/2, but it’ll still swing some games, especially if you have some decent equipment.
[draft]Angel of Flight Alabaster[/draft]
Angel of Flight Alabaster
So you want to play this, have it survive, and have something waiting in your bin, for which you get to be up a card? I like the spirit, but it just isn’t realistic.
The fact that this would be a solid 3.5 without the second ability makes it pretty easy to pin a rating on. I don’t know how many Spirits you will naturally end up with, but with this in your pile you probably want to prioritize them slightly (though not by an absurd amount).
Much like Knight Exemplar, this suffers from the problem of needing two pieces but only protecting one. I don’t see it happening consistently enough over a tournament to bet on a five mana guy that dies to just about anything. Plus, needs more lifelink…
This not only beats in for five, if you have white’s most common creature type in play, they can’t even do anything about it. Sounds about right.
I wish I could just say that tappers aren’t playable in Constructed and leave it at that, but I had the dubious distinction of running a Gideon’s Lawkeeper in my GP Pittsburgh deck, and it was actually good. That being said, this costs twice as much and could randomly miss, so don’t bother.
A tapper is a tapper, and even though he might not be at his best in some matchups, he will still be more than fine. Just pray you don’t run into the all-human deck and you should be good to go.
[draft]Bonds of Faith[/draft]
Bonds of Faith
Faithful readers will know that I’m not big on Auras (not that anyone really is, honestly), so this getting a 1.0 is probably no surprise.
I really like cards like this; it’s a perfect way to make Giant Strength awesome. It even has the drawback of not being removal against Humans, which makes me further impressed with the design. This is the kind of Tribal card I like, as opposed to nonsense like Sparksmith or Silvergill Douser.
[draft]Champion of the Parish[/draft]
Champion of the Parish
So this is a slightly smaller, much rarer Hada Freeblade that enjoys the bonus of needing any Human, not just Allies. If he didn’t perish quite so easily, I could see running him, but any piece of removal does the trick in the first couple turns, and most still work even afterwards. If there is a white beatdown deck that naturally wants to play almost mono-humans, I could see him making the cut, but the bonus here isn’t insane enough to do much work for.
It’s going to be hard to find a heavy white deck where you wouldn’t run the Champion (5+ is probably enough), but he is rarely going to be that absurd. He seems worse than the premium commons, though if you can pick him up early enough you might as well.
I doubt this pleasant chap’ll find himself in many Constructed decks, at least if I’ve geist correctly.
A flying Kird Ape is pretty burly, even if it does take double white. Cards like this heavily incentivize you draft to build a 10-7 manabase, much like Armored Warhorse in M12 (but with an actual payoff instead).
This isn’t horrible, assuming there is a white beatdown deck to be had (there usually isn’t). A two-mana 3/3 isn’t bad, and the life loss is more attractive than having to spend any extra mana or do anything tricky. It even triggers Champion of the Parish when it comes in!
A 3/3 bashing on turn three is kind of a beatdown, but the more I see this card in play, the less I really like it. Losing a life every turn is a very substantial drawback, and with three common enchantments that lock it down, you can really get into trouble by flipping this. Plus, sometimes they just race it, and a few chump blocks later and you are dead. The card is fine, but I’m not a huge fan.
You have to pay dearly for each mana above four in Constructed, and if you think this is worth it, your common sense has departed you. The ability is neat, but any deck that can really use it can’t dump it in the bin at a low enough cost. Just play Honor the Pure if you want a Crusade, or Sun Titan if you want a six-drop.
Yay Dragons! It really takes some of the fun out of evaluating cards with interesting abilities when their base stats make them a 1st pick for any deck that can cast them.
I reckon that this card won’t be great; most Constructed decks are more than capable of killing you with their best creature, and they don’t often have that many in play anyway. I like the idea, but it just doesn’t serve the Wrath function well enough, even with flashback.
Much like most Wrath variants, this is pretty solid when they don’t see it coming. It sucks against bombs, but will be crippling against fast starts, and especially the token-based strategy. You won’t tend to get a ton of value off the flashback, though it isn’t nothing.
You would need a really good way to get value out of sacrificing creatures before this could hope to travel from Limited to Constructed, and I fear it will be doomed to never make the trip.
I’m more impressed with this guy than I thought I’d be. He isn’t much in Sealed, but he was put to good effect in both of the drafts I did. He fits well into the white token/sacrifice type of deck, with Thraben Sentry and Unruly Mob, as well as cards like Demonmail Hauberk. If you can’t take advantage of him, he isn’t great, though he still is a solid card against green decks, possibly out of the sideboard.
It’s pretty cathartic to be able to just slam a 1 on a card and move on with no guilt.
This is yet another card that fits into white’s themes, but unlike the Traveler and the like, it takes no work to make Cathar decent. All you need is other creatures, preferably humans, even though any type is fine.
I don’t see Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies being numerous enough to tag him in over Spectral Rider, but if there is a deck that wants either, it might just want both.
In Limited, a 2/2 first strike + vigilance guy for two can rightfully be called “elite”, and tacking on protection against a fairly solid chunk of the field doesn’t hurt either. Plus, he’s rare, so nobody expects him.
[draft]Feeling of Dread[/draft]
Feeling of Dread
The name sums it up perfectly; this is dreadful in Constructed.
The effect here is powerful, under the right circumstances, but those circumstances don’t seem like they will be incredibly common. It really is two colors, since half of the card isn’t enough, and you have to be a fairly aggressive deck to really be interested in it. I feel that the decks that want this, really want this, but can also pick it up dreadfully late.
This is the first card I’ve really liked for Constructed, mainly because it is a solid tempo play in creature mirrors. Sometimes, even just slowing them down is enough, since this clearly isn’t a permanent solution. For just three mana, you do get a pretty good deal, and I think this is going to show up in numerous decks.
This may have the unfortunate side effect of dying at the most inopportune times, but you still aren’t going to pass it very often. If you have good sacrifice effects, you can even sacrifice it in response to the trigger for a permanent exile, and even straight up it will usually just be removal.
I don’t mean to leave you hanging, but I think you can figure out the rating.
The bonus isn’t that important, since you don’t want to rely on it and get blown out by removal, but the stats on Gallows Warden certainly fit the bill. 3/3 fliers are 3/3 fliers, and Innistrad isn’t fast enough to make them anything less than great.
[card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card] returns, and I was always a big fan of the ‘Goat. While it is certainly worse than the original, it still has the possibility of being a 7/7 or larger, which is interesting. Having a couple of these as the high end of a WW deck could work out.
She doesn’t monkey around; she comes in with friends, and will usually be big enough to dominate the board. Even if they have removal, you got a good deal on the exchange, and if you have a way to bring her back, more the better.
Not a ghost of a chance of seeing play, I’d have to be possessed, etc.
I’ve been fairly unimpressed with this card so far; it’s no [card]Brink of Disaster[/card]. While it does shut down their biggest threat, they now have a blocker for your biggest threat, flying or not. If you have insane lategame or are just planning on swarming them with tokens, this is effective, but otherwise I’d only play it if I was desperate.
The reasons that this is worse than [card]Honor of the Pure[/card] are actually pretty tangible; it doesn’t pump most guys you would play and just about all your tokens are white anyway. Vigilance in no way makes up for all that.
I would have to be pretty convinced that I was going to have 3-4 tokens a game before I’d play this, and so far that doesn’t seem common. The card is undeniably powerful, so keep it in mind, but don’t pick this early and try and build around, since it should wheel.
This, on the other hand, is not Cloudgoat Ranger.
I’ve been very happy with Mausoleum Guard. It almost always trades for more than just one card, and even in a chump block situation, it guards your life total for multiple turns. This seems like one of the key cards for the heavy white archetypes.
[draft]Mentor of the Meek[/draft]
Mentor of the Meek
I like what this is trying to do, since it provides a substantial amount of value at a pretty low cost. I’m not sure that a WW deck can turn the extra cards into a decisive advantage, but a multicolor deck with some disruption certainly might be able to. As long as you are playing cards that make up for the fact that you are slowing your game down substantially, the meek will in fact inherit the Earth.
One obvious build would be a [card]Puresteel Paladin[/card] deck, since Mentor triggers off [card]Flayer Husk[/card], Paladin, [card]Mortarpod[/card], [card]Trinket Mage[/card], [card]Invisible Stalker[/card], and even [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card]. Mentor acts as Paladins 5-8, and the deck can get out of control pretty quickly.
It also might fit into Birthing Pod, again as a backup for when the namesake card isn’t online. All the mana guys make it work, and [card]Phantasmal Image[/card] is pretty sweet when it copies Mentor.
This is definitely a sweet card, and it looks like it has potential to be good in multiple decks.
It isn’t exactly hard to utilize this in Limited; 90% of the creatures you would cast in white trigger it, and it even goes off when combined with all the token making. A windmill slam first pick for sure.
Much like how Geist-Honored Monk isn’t Cloudgoat Ranger, this really isn’t Spectral Procession. So much so, in fact, that it will be reduced to haunting games of Limited almost exclusively.
In most sets, two 1/1’s would be worse than a 2/2, but there are enough cool things you can do with tokens that the two guys are vastly better here. This seems better than the 2/1 first striker if your deck is good, but worse if it isn’t very focused.
[draft]Mikaeus, the Lunarch[/draft]
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
He might not be that impressive on first glance, but Mikaeus costing anywhere from two to a million mana is nice. Early on, you can drop him for however much you have to spare, and later you can sink all your excess lands into him. He is a fairly large threat, and once in play doesn’t take any mana to use. I like the threat he presents, and even when you don’t have other guys out, he can at least beat down.
[card]Ajani Goldmane[/card] plus a 5/5 beater? Sign me up! Ideally you curve out and play Mikaeus on four or five mana, but even dropping him turn two or three is fine. He even splashes well, and you should rarely pass him.
[draft]Moment of Heroism[/draft]
Moment of Heroism
Using this Moment for life just isn’t an effective use of a card, and won’t fly in Constructed. I don’t think I’ve ever met a pump spell I liked for Constructed.
This swings races pretty well, but doesn’t combine all that well with white’s main theme, which is a mass of small guys. The first one should be a decent addition, with subsequent ones losing some value. You just don’t have the room to fill up your deck with too many non-creature spells.
I’ve never liked this kind of effect, and adding one more mana to the cost certainly doesn’t help. I’m never going to play this.
If they have multiple of the same flashback card (and it’s named [card]Devil’s Play[/card]), maybe, but probably not.
It’s time to go paraselene on a wave of enchantments! Yeah!
This can obviously blow them out postboard, but it shouldn’t touch your maindeck.
[draft]Purify the Grave[/draft]
Purify the Grave
Now white has [card]Coffin Purge[/card], which is kind of cool I guess. It is a good answer to a reanimator deck, but that sort of thing hasn’t existed in quite a while, and graveyard hate has come a long way since the days of Coffin Purge.
If they have multiple ways to use the graveyard, and particularly Unburial Rites, this is a legitimate sideboard card.
[draft]Rally the Peasants[/draft]
Rally the Peasants
This rally isn’t the kind of card that gets played in Constructed, and that’s just the unpeasant truth.
Much like many of the multicolor flashback cards, the range of decks that want this is fairly narrow. The fact that it’s so aggressive further decreases the number, since it isn’t really a good splash, all of which means that the decks that do want it will get it. It is a very good reason to go RW tokens, since it gives you access to a powerful finisher that most decks won’t take.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to chastise anyone who is considering playing this Constructed, since it just isn’t good.
Unlike previous incarnations, Rebuke is cheap enough that is isn’t a complete telegraph when you leave mana up for it. Even if they know about it, it won’t break the bank to leave three up most turns, and it kills anything that dares attack you. It does suffer a little against good players and utility creatures, but nearly unconditional removal is few and far between in this set.
I’m kind of glad it takes two mana to activate this, because if it was free I could potentially see uses for it in Constructed; as it is now, I don’t even have to bother.
Even in the token deck, this is a bit of a stretch. It definitely has some value, since it pumps Unruly Mob, flips Thraben Sentry, and can boost your squad, but it isn’t a card you will play all that often. The more focused your deck, the more likely it is you play this, which means that usually it will be a good sign if it makes it.
Paying an extra two mana to exile the enchantment isn’t a deal worth chasing, which makes this the silver to [card]Kami of Ancient Law[/card]’s gold.
He’s about what he looks like: a Grizzly
BearFox with a slightly useful ability. You will play him more for the stats than anything else, but every now and then he will blow up a sick Curse or a Bonds of Faith.
[draft]Slayer of the Wicked[/draft]
Slayer of the Wicked
If only this were one cheaper! At four, it has to fight against [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] and other such luminaries, and that isn’t a battle it’s going to win. At three, it might have been a contender, though it would probably have been a bit too wicked for Limited.
[card]Flametongue Kavu[/card] returns, and this time he’s not as evil! He is going to miss in some matchups, but monsters appear in almost any color, so it won’t be hard to get insane value out of this guy. Take him early and splash him, since he really is that good.
[draft]Smite the Monstrous[/draft]
Smite the Monstrous
You’d think I smite get tired of making monstrous puns, but you would be wrong; until I suffer some kind of reprisal, I’m going to keep doing it.
Against non-green decks, this will mostly just hit their bombs, but that isn’t actually a bad place to be. By forcing you to save your removal, Smite is actually making you play better. Hooray!
[draft]Spare from Evil[/draft]
Spare from Evil
[card]Brave the Elements[/card] this is not; spells are way more likely to kill your guys than creatures, and I expect Humans to be a pretty popular tribe in any case.
The Human mirror is pretty funny to watch. Both sides tend to have a bunch of cards that are pretty loose, like Bonds of Faith, the tapper, and Spare from Evil, all of which get drastically weaker. Of course, Spare from Evil wasn’t that great to begin with, and I’d advise against maindecking it (though it’s an ok sideboard card).
I’d like to hope that I never stoop to playing this card, but I have played both Knight of Meadowgrain and Vault Skirge, so I’m not ruling anything out. In WW, this seems like it gets the job done reasonably well, but only if that is a real deck (which it usually isn’t).
If he was only a Human, he’d truly be something to fear, since all the equipment is insane on Humans. Even as just a Spirit, he still beats down effectively, and should get picked early as a result.
There are two pretty obvious strikes against this, when compared to [card]Null Rod[/card]. The first is that it costs white instead of colorless, which somewhat limits the range of decks it can be played in. The second is that the flavor text goes from amazing, and one of my favorites, to something kind of random. I’m willing to live with those drawbacks, I suppose, especially given that this effect is now legal in non-Eternal formats. If Affinity is big in Modern, this is quite the trump, and a combination of this and Kataki seems pretty rough. It also could shut down equipment in Standard, if that becomes necessary, though I doubt it will. What it won’t do is be good against Tempered Steel, since it does nothing against a horde of giant artifact guys bashing in. This is a powerful card, and it should be worth keeping in mind when constructing sideboards over the next few years.
If they have a whole mess of equipment, you can consider this, but I’d need to see at least 3 before I’d be happy bringing it in.
This is a dog to ever see Constructed play, at least until Siege Mastodon rotates, since very few decks really need Mastodons 5-8.
Much like the aforementioned Mastodon, you are never really happy to have a pack of hounds in your deck, but they end up there more often than not.
Is it bad when even the flipped version isn’t nearly good enough for Constructed? I’d say every night is going to be quiet, since there’s no way he’s seeing action.
I really like this guy for Limited. He is one of the cards that utilizes white’s token/sacrifice theme well, as well as being pretty reasonable just on his own. He isn’t absurd, even when flipped, but he is definitely formidable, and works especially well with Butcher’s Cleaver. Most white decks are going to want a couple of these guys to go along with their Doomed Travelers and Mausoleum Guards.
Unruly, unplayable, unexciting.
Much like Thraben Sentry, I suspect that Unruly Mob is going to be an important card in draft. It rewards you for drafting around it, and can soon grow to unmanageable proportions. Once again, being Human is a fairly large bonus when it comes to equipment, and the Mob benefits greatly.
Quick! I’ve got a spirit/enchantment I can’t deal with, and I need an exorcism! Stat!
I honestly don’t know how to rate this card. It has ranged from awesome to dead enough times that I’m still not sold either way, though I would play it maindeck at this point. Getting rid of an enchantment like Claustrophobia, Bonds of Faith, or Sensory Deprivation is a huge blowout, and most decks have at least one or two Spirits to nuke. This doesn’t seem like a high pick, but it seems like a reasonable card (albeit one you shouldn’t be afraid to side out).
It’s finally time for Red-White [card]Splinter Twin[/card] to shine. Modern, here I come!
Nothing like a nice little ambush to start the day off right. You can’t be too obvious with this, since passing on turn four or five with a large tapped creature out should set off their alarm bells, but at least the first time you might be able to get some value out of it. Plus, a Horned Turtle is a Horned Turtle, and I’ve always been a fan.
Even if he had a voice, it wouldn’t be heard in Constructed, so it’s probably for the best.
This is an efficient little package, good on offense or defense alike. You can never have enough of these guys, and they seem to come around pretty late.
Top 5 White Commons
4. [card]Voiceless Spirit[/card]
3. [card]Chapel Geist[/card]
2. [card]Avacynian Priest[/card]
1. [card]Bonds of Faith[/card]
If you are drafting tokens/sacrifice, Thraben Sentry and Unruly Mob go way up in value, as does Elder Cathar. Otherwise, just stick with the classic removal+fliers pick order, which should steer you right.
Top 5 White Cards for Constructed
5. [card]Mikaeus, the Lunarch[/card]
4. [card]Geist-Honored Monk[/card]
3. [card]Fiend Hunter[/card]
2. [card]Stony Silence[/card]
1. [card]Mentor of the Meek[/card]
This isn’t the best haul for white. It ended up with a good draw engine, a sick sideboard card, and a decent Flametongue imitation, plus a bunch of speculative WW cards (and we know how those usually turn out). I really do like Mentor of the Meek, and Fiend Hunter seems sweet, so hopefully white ends up with some solid additions thanks to Innistrad.
Tomorrow I look at blue!