Previous AKH Set Reviews
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.)
Bounty of the Luxa
This strikes me as sideboard material for grindy matchups where the opponent can’t easily remove enchantments. It is powerful to get extra cards and the mana to play them, so I could see this being quite strong in the right field.
How big does the Drake have to be in order to be worth it? If it has 5+ power reliably, that’s at least interesting, and at 7+ you have a legit threat. I’m not ready to call this Delver 2.0 yet, but I like the potential. A spell-heavy U/R deck could use this as a finisher, or perhaps sideboard it in if the opponent is skimping on removal.
Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
Hapatra is really missing deathtouch in order to be great. She’s a little small by herself, and you have to do a lot of work to get her going. She is powerful, but a little finicky for Constructed.
I could see a go-wide R/W deck using this, though I suspect she will be better once Vehicles rotate and we get a new crop of aggro cards.
Neheb, the Worthy
Minotaur tribal could actually be a thing, because Neheb, Ahn-Crop Crasher, and Bloodrage Brawler all seem like solid cards. Add those to a red-black aggro deck and you could get a stew going. A delicious, flavorful, Minotaur stew.
Nissa, Steward of Elements
Nissa has a lot of potential, even just starting from her mana cost. She could come down as early as turn 3, yet still be an effective 8-mana play. Add that to some powerful planeswalker abilities, and you have quite the card.
Her +2 ability isn’t on par with drawing a card, but it is close. That means she generates value while she’s in play regardless of what’s going on, which is a good start.
Her 0 ability is really powerful in a deck built to maximize it, as hitting lands is great and flipping creatures into play is even greater. Here is where most of the cost lies, as Nissa won’t be that effective in a deck that’s creature-light, or that has too high of a creature curve. This is what restricts her the most, more even than the gold casting cost.
Her ultimate is powerful, and makes Nissa a legit finisher. 10 points of flying damage out of nowhere is no joke, and having a NissaFireball in your deck is pretty sweet, even if it’s not where the bulk of her power lies.
The combination of these abilities makes Nissa look like a solid addition to a low-curve creature deck, especially one that has enough board presence to protect her consistently. She also punishes control well, as planeswalkers tend to do, and has relevance in older formats (when busted creatures like Deathrite Shaman and Tarmogoyf cost 1-2 mana, Nissa becomes even more interesting). I like Nissa, and suspect she will see play.
Samut, Voice of Dissent
Even getting past that unholy amalgam of abilities Samut has, she is a little expensive for Constructed. She does enough damage that she’s worth looking at, but there’s a high bar for 5-drops, and you don’t get a bonus for having 10 abilities if it’s hard for all of them to be relevant at once.
A 2-mana evasive threat is a good starting point, even if I think most cycling decks will lean toward the control or combo style rather than aggro. It’s hard to develop your board while cycling—a bit different from prowess, which rewards you for actually casting your cards.
Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun
Temmet is cheap and provides intrinsic card advantage, while also having a zero-cost ability that pushes through extra damage. If you can assemble enough tokens to make him a reliable engine, he seems like a good addition to an aggressive deck (which is hard to find in these colors).
B/W Zombies looks legit, and Wayward Servant is bound to be a huge part of that. Zombies was close before AKH, and adding cards like this will help it rise from the grave where it languished beforehand. Attacking for 2 and draining for 1-3 points a turn is huge, and gives the deck legitimate reach on a stalled board.
Weaver of Currents
As much as I like mana ramp, paying 3 mana for a creature and hoping it survives is risky. Make this an artifact and I’m in, but I don’t think the format currently lends itself to this.
Reduce // Rubble
This is an interesting combination of spells. 3-mana Mana Leak is a bit behind the curve, but add the ability to make your opponent skip an untap step (or most of one), and you have a legit tempo card. This plus Elder Deep-Fiend can Time Walk multiple turns in a row, and that could be a viable path to take.
Failure // Comply
In Standard, you can’t afford to give up card advantage for a minor delay of the opponent’s game plan. In older formats, especially where decks lean on one card more, it could be legit. It’s also interesting in graveyard decks, and I’ve already heard of Vintage Dredge trying out a few of these as bonus Cabal Therapies.
Cut // Ribbons
2 mana for 4 damage to a creature is barely below rate, and could even just be good in this format. Adding a player-only Fireball as the second half makes this absurd, and there will be a lot of Cutting to Ribbons in this upcoming Standard format. Prepare to count the opponent’s lands every turn, and get ready to die to this card over and over again. This is less a card prediction than an experience one, but I predict it will be unpleasant to see this in the opponent’s graveyard all game and know your time is limited.
Heaven // Earth
There’s potential here. In a red-green deck, this acts as an efficient and modular sweeper, leaving your creatures alive if you wish. It will take a particular format for it to be good, as you need both halves to be relevant some of the time, but given small enough creatures, we might get there.
Where did the playable artifacts go? Did I miss them? Uh, let’s just say that Gate to the Afterlife is going to be great, and move on.
These are going to be a staple of Standard, and may show up in Life from the Loam decks in Modern. Having lands that fix your mana well early and cycle late is awesome, and makes Constructed much better. Play more lands, and reap the rewards of not getting screwed or flooded. Also note that these count as the basics of their types, for cards that care about that (like Engulf the Shores, maybe?).
A cheap colorless way to kill 1-toughness creatures is something older formats often pay attention to, especially in the form of a land. I don’t have a specific use for this, but it looks like a potential sideboard card.
Top 10 Constructed Cards
AKH has a good amount of significant Constructed cards. It’s hard to break into a full format, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar blanks more cards than I’d like, but I still see a lot of potential here. There’s a good mix of threats, removal, and sweet split cards, which adds a lot to play with. I also like cheap interaction like Magma Spray and Censor, and the impact of cycling lands is meaningful, if not flashy.