Previous AKH Set Reviews
White | Black | Red | Green | Gold, Artifacts, and Lands
Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
The ratings scale is slightly different as well:
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
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.)
This is a big one. Super Aether Vial is a powerful card, and one that comes with a ton of possibilities. The first place I go is casting 0-cost cards like Ancestral Vision or Restore Balance. You can cast them right away, making this more than just a mana cheat, but a way to cast previously uncastable cards. That’s a promising direction, as there is a reason these effects aren’t normally castable, and I could see this being legit in Modern.
As a “fair” card, As Foretold is harder to utilize. It does eventually give you an edge on mana, but it takes a while to get there, and if you don’t have a steady stream of cards to play, you did use a card on very little. Topdecking As Foretold is pretty bad too, so this suffers from the Aether Vial problem of being a horrendous draw when it’s not in your opener.
All (fore)told, this is a powerful card with a lot of possibility, but outside of cheating out 0-mana spells, it seems hard to get to work.
Cartouche of Knowledge
The rate on this is not too far off from playable, as +1/+1 and evasion without costing a card is something creature decks may be interested in. Once you start getting interested in bouncing Trials, you probably want the 1-mana Cartouches, but this replaces itself, making it the strongest Cartouche to just cast. This looks like a borderline playable, but might have wings.
I’m forced to admit that I may be more excited about this than I should be. There’s nothing more fun than spiking an expensive spell with Censor, and it gives you a relevant 2-drop in a format lacking good early plays for control. Sure, it goes dead pretty soon, but that is where cycling kicks in, and a 1-mana cycler is potentially playable in cycling decks even without text. Censor looks like a great addition to control decks, and most blue decks without early plays should consider adding it.
I don’t have much of an argument for this card, compelling or otherwise, but any 1-mana cycler has combo potential with cards like New Perspectives and Drake Haven. The actual effect here is negligible, but it still might make the cut.
I’m not so much seeing this for Standard as I am for Modern and Legacy, where cards like Thought Scour, Serum Visions, Preordain, Ponder, Gitaxian Probe, and Brainstorm all reside. If this can reliably cost 2 or 3 mana, it’s basically a blue Tarmogoyf, and spell-heavy Delver of Secrets decks could be interested in another threat that costs blue mana (and even pitches to Force of Will).
Curator of Mysteries
An aggressively-costed threat that both cycles and pays you off for cycling is one I’m interested in. The challenge here is finding a blue deck aggressive enough to want a 4/4 flyer for 4, as control decks aren’t exactly in the market for it. Where I see the most potential is in a cycling-themed deck, as you can cycle this to trigger Drake Haven, cast it if you have nothing better to do, and get paid off if you cycle while this is in play.
Drake Haven is the best cycling payoff I’ve seen, as it provides a recurring source of card advantage and board presence all in one. If there is a cycling deck, it uses a ton of 1-mana cyclers and is built around Drake Haven, possibly with New Perspectives as well.
It’s always nice to have Essence Scatter in the format, even if it doesn’t look all that well-positioned right now. Missing on Heart of Kiran and Gideon is a big drawback, and Censor already gives blue decks a great 2-drop option. Still, Essence Scatter is something to keep in mind, and it could see some play in control decks.
While this doesn’t exactly counter Glorybringer, at least it trades with it. It’s resilient to removal, and comes back if the opponent does kill it. I’m in for keeping Glyphs, and can see this as a real threat both in control decks and against them.
1-mana cycling on an effect you already want sounds great, and this is especially good at giving you a target for Torrential Gearhulk. I’m a fan of Hieroglyphic Illumination, and I anticipate trying it in a variety of decks.
Kefnet the Mindful
This looks like the kind of card I would side in for control mirrors, as it does take a lot of mana before you get ahead. I can’t imagine casting this and having it be good against a Vehicle, or even a Winding Constrictor, but being able to keep mana up for counters and activate Kefnet end of turn is sweet in a slow matchup.
I wouldn’t be amazed if this saw play, as a 2/3 for 2 that flashes back is a solid little blocker. If this interacts relevantly against aggro, it might be a good sideboard option, as it’s better than a removal spell if it beats or trades for most early cards.
I’m not going to claim that this is very good, but a cycling 7-mana bomb is at least on the table. Stealing a planeswalker and ultimating it can be brutal, and getting to play sick late-game cards without having them stuck in your hand is relevant for Constructed as well as Limited.
6 mana for 3 cards isn’t a good deal, so most of the power is in making your cycling costs 0. It’s especially broken with Shefet Monitor and Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and getting up to 7 cards isn’t impossible in a deck full of card draw. Once you are going crazy cycling, you need to get value, and that’s where cards like Drake Haven and Faith of the Devoted come in. I don’t know if this is actually going to get off the ground, but if it does, this has the capability of being one of the most dangerous cards in the set.
Pull from Tomorrow
While this isn’t quite Sphinx’s Revelation, Pull from Tomorrow is a great expensive card draw spell you can fire off early if you want to. Blue control decks got a lot of tools in this set, and this checks one of the boxes that those decks need, which is a way to get ahead on cards late.
Like Compelling Argument, this is an essentially blank 1-mana cycler.
I don’t like Divinations that you have to do a lot of work for, but this does at least draw you 2 cards you know are action. It’s likely digging a little too deep to make this work, but the option is there.
Seeker of Insight
A 1/3 Merfolk Looter would be quite good, and you may be able to put together a deck where this isn’t that far from it. Having to play a spell before looting does make this always a step behind in terms of flexibility (you have to commit to something before seeing all your options), so it’s not super likely this ends up making the cut.
Trial of Knowledge
By itself, Trial of Knowledge isn’t quite good enough. Sift has seen niche Constructed play, but cards are powerful enough these days that it shouldn’t get there. But if you can bounce this a few times over the course of the game, it becomes real, and there may be a deck using Trials and Cartouches that has merit. The blue, black, and red Trials are all playable, and the blue Cartouche looks plausible.
Vizier of Many Faces
Clone with flashback is a powerful enough effect that I take notice, even if it looks like it’s expensive enough to miss the cut.
Vizier of Tumbling Sands
If there’s a cycling combo deck, this looks like a key piece. It generates mana with New Perspectives active, and that’s a critical part of the puzzle.
Commit // Memory
Commit is a great card on its own, and has the right combination of power and flexibility to see Constructed play. You can pass with 4 mana up, and stop whatever they play, with the option of targeting something already on the board if they don’t do anything. Memory is also powerful, and if you can generate a lot of mana, can give you a huge advantage. Overall, this is two distinct and powerful cards stapled together, which add up to a solid addition to Standard.
Top 5 Blue Cards
I could see Cryptic Serpent quietly being one of the best blue cards, but I weigh a little more heavily toward Standard, and all these cards look impactful. Blue gets a bunch of different ways to draw cards, some much-needed disruption, and multiple cycling engine cards. Interesting times lie ahead.