Welcome to my Magic 2015 Set Review! I’ll start by looking at each card for Limited, as the prerelease is coming up this weekend, and next week I’ll dive into my Constructed review.
If you missed my other M15 Limited reviews, you can find them here:
As usual, here is the ratings system I’ll be using:
I debated between 3.0 and 3.5 for this, but decided it to give it the gold rather than silver, mostly because regeneration can make this truly unstoppable. There are just some matchups where this is completely bananas, as I’m sure Marshall Sutcliffe can attest to, even if it does cost a lot of mana. I also like that this is a good uncommon now, when it used to be a pretty good rare (granted, that was in a format where Pestilence was common, but still). Limited sure has changed.
Back to Nature
Back to the sideboard with you. It is nice to have access to one of these, but don’t pick it over much that’s good.
I’m kind of operating under the assumption that green wants one or two six drops, and this is a passable one (despite the ridiculous concept). The activated ability may look horrible, but a 6-mana 4/5 is still kind of large, and having the bonus option to level it up if you have nothing better to do is a real thing.
This is green’s ham-handed approach to evasion, but at least you aren’t being charged much for it. The stats check out, the ability is solid, and if you are in the market for a groundpounder, you can definitely do worse.
Chord of Calling
Constructed implications aside (get over here, Arcanis), Chord is not the best card ever in Limited. If you have some good creatures to get, it gets better accordingly, but it still costs a lot of mana and has a lot of colored symbols. As the rating indicates, I think you are more likely to play it than not (especially given that green decks tend to be heavy green), but it is not mandatory.
When the mana elf isn’t the best green common, something strange is going on. Until further notice, M15 is still a normal Limited set, so it would likely be a big mystic to pass this.
NOW we are talking. This really is the incarnation of what I want to be doing in Limited (and what Ben Stark is trying his hardest to beat out of me). Tapping a couple dorks to cast this on turn six seems sweet, and I could see this being a very high pick in a deck with a lot of Convoke enablers. Cards like this incentivize linear decks, and one cool thing about the “Convoke deck” is that it isn’t using anything particularly fancy. Any deck with a lot of creatures can support cards like this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was legitimately a high pick.
I’ve come around a bit on combat tricks since this was first printed, and now think that it’s a solid card, and I’d even go so far as to call it good. It being castable off no untapped lands is nice, even if it will give me headaches as I feel duty-bound to play around this against any green mage.
You are paying about one mana too much at every cost, but that’s mitigated by the fact that you get an extra card most of the time (assuming you hit X=3+), and that this scales beautifully into the lategame. If you have a deck that supports ramp well, this is the perfect card, especially if you have some other good cards it can (semi) tutor for.
This might be the flavor champion of the set. It’s truly a masterpiece, and I don’t say that lightly. It’s also quite playable, making it very unpleasant for your opponent to attack you on the ground, and likely requiring either a kill spell or a painful 3 for 1 trade. Even aggressive decks should probably play this, as it does a great job of stopping attacks, and unless you are the perfect beatdown deck, you sometimes will find yourself on defense. Keep in mind that pointing a burn spell at this is not a bad play, and turning Nest + Lightning Strike into three deathtouch fliers can be a huge blowout.
Even factoring in my predilection for 7’s, this is an excellent card. Your opponent can be busy as a bee and it will still shut them down, as a massive army of deathtouch fliers tends to do.
Hunt the Weak
This being a Core Set does not excuse weak cards, and that’s exactly what this is. You have to have a creature of equal size to theirs, four mana, and do this all at sorcery speed.
This is a surprisingly flexible card, acting as both a combat trick and a Fog, or even both at once. It does cost three mana, which is a bit of a drawback, and does fall flat against other green mages, but past that it really does live up to its name. It also requires that you have some good green bruisers, but I think that’s pretty clear.
I love playing with cards like this. At level 1, this is a 3/3 for three with a small drawback, which is decent. 3/3’s for three are good enough to pay a little penalty, and if that were the end of it, I wouldn’t be too offput. The awesome part is that this can very easily be a 3/3 for three with a big upside, and it’s all up to you. If you draft some good enters the battlefield effects, you all of a sudden have a sweet combo card in your deck, and even if you don’t draw this + an ETB creature, there are plenty of other tricks. It frees up creatures with negative Auras on them, can untap attackers to create pseudo-vigilance, and can even bounce a land to get you an extra mana in a turn where you wouldn’t otherwise play a land.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this card is mono-green or bust. Sure, it is much better when it’s double 6/6’s, but given that you are getting two creatures in one card, how big do they really have to be? Actually, telling you that is my job, and my answer is “3/3”. If you have even half Forests when you cast this, it’s passable, and ideally you’ve built your deck with 10+ Forests, giving you a good shot of having some much larger monsters. Plus, they continue to grow, making the whole deal that much sweeter.
As much as I like drawing cards, even I realize that board position matters. In order to get good value from this, you need to sacrifice a 4+ power creature, and I don’t want to count on playing a creature of that size, having it survive, and giving up that much board position. There are easier and better ways to draw cards, even if this looks flashy when it works. What I do like is siding this in against Encrust, as sacrificing an Encrusted creature is the sort of play legacies are built on.
Even though this can’t target itself, it’s still very close to a 3/4 for four, with the relevant option to play it for cheaper. That’s just good clean fun.
Is this Scars of Mirrodin?
The answer is “no”, so leave this in your board (I will accept playing it maindeck in Sealed if you are short, but even there I’d rather start it in the sideboard).
It’s hard to cast anything better than this on turn three, and I very nearly gave it a 3.5 as a result. Only its relative weakness at battling ground creatures prevented that, because this has the air on lockdown. Green decks want as many of these as they can get their hands on, and it does the common Spider slot proud.
Playing Nissa on turn six and making a 4/4 to protect her is awesome, and she puts out a steady stream of 4/4’s as long as you can keep her alive. Eventually she puts out all the 4/4’s, and sometimes she even ramps your mana if you have better plays to make. Nissa is a bit on the expensive side, as far as planeswalkers go, but she’s still incredibly strong. Her weakness to fliers is the only soft spot, but pick up enough Netcaster Spiders and you should be fine.
As much as I like ramping, paying five mana to ramp isn’t really where I want to be. I get that Convoke makes this a 3 or 4 drop sometimes, but that’s still a lot of effort to cultivate a pretty small payout. This card is kind of a reach, if you ask me.
Overrun this is definitely not, though it’s still a respectable finisher in the right kind of deck. Casting a bunch of Triplicate Spirits into this will overwhelm your opponent, and as long as you realize that this isn’t necessarily the best fit in the average green deck, you will be fine.
Paragon of Eternal Wilds
I’m less thrilled with this Paragon than others, though it is funny that having sizable green creatures makes the pump ability less relevant and the trample ability more relevant. In a deck with eight or more other green creatures, this is probably fine, if not the paragon of excellence.
Unkillable 7/2’s are no joke, though this does move very slowly once they start trading for it. As long as you aren’t dying in the meantime, this will eventually win you the game, and that’s a fine quality on a six drop.
I wouldn’t say that this has plummeted in my estimation, though it may not be flying as high as it used to. If you don’t have good flying defense, I would maindeck one of these, but almost never two. This is one of the better sideboard cards in the set, good enough to take relatively early.
This is a combat trick that stops even the Doom Blade-type removal, and as such this tends to range from good to great. Don’t go nuts grabbing too many tricks like this, but the first one is usually awesome.
Let me give you some sage wisdom: a card that protects you from all sorts of bad things at low opportunity cost is exactly what you should be looking for.
I don’t mind a 5-mana draw 2, mainly because the two you are drawing are guaranteed to be good (or at least spells). The usual caveat about too many slow spells applies, but this is one of the decent ones, especially if you have more actual spells. It’s not as good a combo with dorky creatures, but combine this with efficient removal and you have yourself a deck.
This is like an Invasive Species with higher upside and higher downside, which presents another interesting puzzle. Roaring Primadox is much more of a build-around, because it punishes you so much more when you aren’t comboing, and that naturally limits how many decks end up wanting to play it. Once you have a couple good things to bounce, or even just a couple 1 and 2 drops, Primadox becomes quite the beast.
I can’t guarantee that Bears are great in this format, but it is unlikely that they are terrible (though it is possible). It bears repeating that you need enough 2-drops, and even unexciting ones like this fill out your curve.
The odds of missing are low enough in a normal deck that I like this without any combos, and once you have a couple ways to use your graveyard it becomes an auto-play.
Shaman of Spring
I’m not passing up a 2 for 1 that’s this easy, though I am well aware that it’s better to have some of these and some two-drops instead of just all of these. I’m not happy about it, but I’m aware.
Finally, we’ve gotten to the driving force behind the Convoke deck. Siege Wurm really is the real deal, and plays the role of Myr Enforcer in the really streamlined Convoke decks. If you can’t reliably cast this for 5, well, your deck is either really bad or really sweet. Normal green decks will want this, and Convoke decks with a ton of token-making will really want this.
Soul of Zendikar
Reach may not be flying, but it’s basically the same if your only goal is to defend yourself. Given that this makes a steady stream of beasts, you don’t really need to do anything else, which makes this awesome (if way less aggressive than the plane whose name it bears). Getting a beast on the way out is a very relevant bonus, and overall this card does exactly what you want out of a bomb 6-drop.
In GW, this is an early beater, which is good, but more importantly it provides a very strong lategame plan. Threatening to boost your whole team is the real deal, and that makes Sunblade Elf an awesome play on any turn. It’s even cheap enough that you can drop this and use it right away in the mid to lategame, making this quite the split card indeed.
As with Ranger’s Guile, pump spells tend to go down in value reasonably quickly. An aggressive deck does want lots of them, but midrange decks want fewer, and control decks likely want none. I like that this deals a bunch of extra damage, but dislike the two mana in the casting cost. I’d lean towards Ranger’s Guile to begin with, even if they are close enough together that I’m not going to stress about which I end up with.
This isn’t really a 4-drop, but it does provide a good body nonetheless. The earliest you will likely want to cast this is turn five or six, and that’s assuming there have been a few trades. I’d be worried about having too many of these, though I do like the first one as a good lategame drop. It’s also pretty clear that you want this in a combat-oriented creature deck, or at the very least a deck with a good amount of removal (though the first deck is going to be way better for Scavenging purposes).
Even if this is worse than a Typhoid Rats in most decks, a 2-mana 1/1 deathtouch is still very playable. If you have other Slivers, sweet, but that’s in no way mandatory.
Unless you are playing three or more colors, this is really not worth the investment, and even then it’s not outstanding.
Think of this as an extremely expensive and slow Leonin Scimitar and you are on the right track. If that doesn’t sound exciting then you have good instincts.
Wall of Mulch
I’m not mulch for exaggeration, but this really is the kind of card I like. It’s a good defensive 2-drop and you can cash it in for full value whenever you please. The only thing holding it back is that it’s not want beatdown decks want at all (though the presence of Convoke make it so that even aggressive decks want cheap creatures to help cast their Siege Wurms).
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
It’s hard to go too wrong with a 2/3 for three, and it doesn’t take long before you have some good creatures start wandering into play. Once you have Yisan, one-drops become extra sweet, though I wouldn’t play a crappy 1-drop just because of this.
Top 5 Green Commons
5. Living Totem
2. Siege Wurm
Green has excellent commons this time around. Both Siege Wurm and Elvish Mystic are fine first picks
Garruk, Apex Predator
Apex Predator indeed. Garruk eats anything, including other planeswalkers, makes 3/3’s to defend himself, and ultimately just wins you the game. Seven mana is a lot, but this more than gives you your mana’s worth.
If you can assemble the necessary mana, this is powerful, but therein lies the rub. Much like Chromanticore, tales of Sliver Hivelord are nothing more than myth and fable.
Unless you are absolutely sure your opponent is lacking in removal, playing this seems extremely greedy. It’s slow to get going, doesn’t protect your creatures, and punishes you when it gets stolen.
I like the idea, but bronze is about what this deserves. It’s expensive and unwieldy, even if it can have its shining moments.
As much as I trumpet the need for 2-drops, not all 2-drops are good enough to get excited about.
Unless you are quite aggressive, this is going to do some good work. It blocks early, can finish the game late, and can even block fliers if the situation calls for it.
Grindclock is a very hard to stop win condition, but that doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate card for all decks. If you are Grindclocking, you better be serious about it, and that means a ton of defense, removal, and ways to survive. It’s also much more vulnerable after board, when you can expect some kind of removal to come in.
Haunted Plate Mail
Sometimes this sits on the board doing nothing, but that requires you to have a combination of other creatures and no time with which to equip them, which is not going to be all that common.
Ridiculous Name: 0.0
I guess you can side this in if you know the matchup is going to lead to a board stall, but I can’t imagine running this maindeck (or really at all).
Nobody can stop the Juggernaut, least of all your opponent.
Even if your deck has absolutely no way to use mana number six, this still deals 2 damage. Because of that, and because most decks will have a way to put the mana to use, this gets a pass.
Obelisk of Urd
This is a bomb in the turbo-Spirits deck, but barring a lot of Spirits (in triplicate), I’m not in love with the idea of paying this much mana for a situational Anthem.
If You Have Ensoul Artifact: 0.0
Please do not cast Ornithopter, regardless of how many sweet combos and Convoke cards you have.
While this isn’t the most aggressive card I’ve ever seen, underestimate it at your own peril. It wipes everything instantly for nine mana, and still gets the job done for less, albeit with a one-turn delay. Having a reset button can be nice, and this is reasonably costed to the point where I wouldn’t mind running it.
This is strictly better than Bronze Sable, but don’t go nuts and try and slowroll it unless you know there’s something fearsome for it to shut down in your opponent’s deck. Treat it as a 2/1 for 2 that sometimes does a little more and you should be satisfied.
Even if you expect a lot of trading to happen, this is too much effort for too little (life) gain.
This will win the Golden Glove award when put into the right deck, the right deck being a deck full of cheap evasive creatures. That does mean it won’t make it into every deck, but when it’s good, it’ll be very good.
This might be a nice way to complicate combat, but the cost is high enough that I think you can do better.
Scuttling Doom Engine
I can’t say I really get what this card is trying to do, or why it has such a strange combination of abilities, but hey, it’s a 6/6 for 6 that can’t be chump blocked and nugs the opponent for 6 on the way out. That sounds like a fine deal to me.
Shield of the Avatar
At the very least this prevents one damage, and often it will make the equipped creature unkillable. That’s not a bad deal for the cost, and in a creature-heavy deck I’d be happy to run this.
Soul of New Phyrexia
This is a tick lower than the other Souls, mainly because the ability doesn’t really generate a card all that often. It’s still very good, just not quite up to the standards of its brethren.
As I’ve said before, maybe side these in for the aggressive mirror match, but still probably don’t.
The Chain Veil
If you put this card in your deck you are way more likely to have it lose you the game than any other alternative. This might be the worst card I’ve ever reviewed for Limited; it doesn’t just do nothing, it’s actually really bad for you if you cast it.
This only gets the pity 0.5 on the off chance that there’s a deck that actually would be hurt enough by this for you to side it in (hint: there isn’t).
It’s slow and expensive, but it does stop a creature cold. If you have to resort to this for your removal spells, so be it.
Ok, I guess this is the actual Myr Enforcer of the set. I like additional Convoke rewards, and this will still be good in most decks, even if they aren’t going very deep on tokens. That actually makes drafting a dedicated Convoke deck a little tougher, as other people will be sniping your golems and disrupting your well-forged plans.
Enemy-Colored Pain Lands
If you are both colors or splashing, play these, but don’t pick them early.
If You Have Ensoul Artifact: 0.0
Barring the extreme outlier deck with a ton of Shrapnel Blasts and Ensouls, this is not a playable card.
Manafixing is good, and having Evolving Wilds around makes splashing much more viable. I approve.
Most decks won’t be able to afford the risk this adds to your manabase, but if you are mono-colored, go nuts.
I’d run this if I had even two Slivers, or one if I thought my mana was otherwise good enough. It’s a bit of a drawback that it mainly taps for colorless, but the upside is high enough that it’s worth it.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Even though this can help your opponent, if you have any double-black spells in a 2-color deck you should always run this. Fixing is that important.
Next week I’ll be back with a Constructed review, and until then, enjoy the prerelease!