Previous AKH Set Reviews
Blue | 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.)
Angel of Sanctions
5 mana is a high bar to clear for Constructed, but I’m willing to officially sanction it in this case. Exiling a permanent (not just a creature) is a big game, and if this is dealt with, you get to embalm it for another go. Angel of Sanctions is powerful, and 3/4 is large enough that the body is relevant too.
Approach of the Second Sun
There are a few different approaches you could use with this. First of all, playing 4 means you just draw 2 sometimes and it’s great. Secondly, you can play card draw and cycling to speed up the clock, though make sure you aren’t including shuffle effects as well. 7 life will buy a turn or two, though this is slow enough that it seems like more of a niche win condition than a reliable plan.
Mindcensor doesn’t add a whole lot to Standard, as fetchlands and tutor effects aren’t legal, and it already exists in older formats. I don’t mind since it’s still a solid hate card, though not something that really merits a brand-new review.
If there’s an aggressive W/B Zombie deck, Binding Mummy seems like a key piece. It can render blocking very difficult for your opponent, and does so without any additional mana cost. It takes a a good ability to make a 2/2 for 2 playable, and this one may get there.
Cartouche of Solidarity
By itself, this isn’t worth a card, since you can do better than 1/1 token and +1/+1 and first strike in Constructed. Where it gets interesting is returning Trials to your hand—the red and black ones specifically. Trial of Ambition plus an aggressive Cartouche doesn’t strike me as the best combination, but I could see a red-white beatdown deck playing Trial of Zeal and Cartouche of Solidarity as a way to add pressure plus get card advantage.
Unconditional instant-speed removal is always at a premium for Constructed, and Cast Out checks those boxes nicely. It hits planeswalkers and Vehicles, as well as creatures, while even serving as a counter to opposing copies of Cast Out. Adding cycling for just 1 white mana is a huge power level boost, as it lets you play 4 copies despite it being dead against some decks, or even in just some games. I love what this does for the format, and with Saheeli out of the picture, it could give control decks the boost they need.
This is one of the most impactful Constructed cards in the set for Standard, as it adds a tier 1 removal spell with a ton of flexibility to the format. Cycling may even mean it sees some Modern play, though the rating here really just indicates how good it is for Standard.
On balance, this is much worse than Renegade Rallier, but it is a cheap way to get card advantage, and is at least mono-colored. You don’t need to devote that much to building around this, as any deck full of 2-drops has a plausible reason to run it.
Forsake the Worldly
Cycling really does wonders for cards like this. Having a low-cost way to negate the risk of playing narrow answers is fantastic, and exiling artifacts or enchantments at instant speed kills Heart of Kiran or Cast Out without having a dead card in hand.
Gideon of the Trials
I’m more excited for Gideon in older formats, though he’s certainly powerful enough to see Standard play as well.
Gideon’s +1 is a good controlling ability, as Gideon locks down one threat each turn, stopping it from attacking Gideon or you. Combine that with sweepers and spot removal and you have a good way to deal with opposing creatures and Vehicles that provides value over the course of the game.
Once they are out of threats, Gideon’s 0 turns him into a clock, and is great at threatening opposing Gideons (Ally of Zendikar primarily). It’s hard to remove a planeswalker, as we’ve seen, and Gideon will often have a good amount of loyalty thanks to the +1.
The combination of +1 and 0 abilities make Gideon a very good inclusion for aggro or control, and lets him provide a way to stop opposing threats or become a threat himself. He is vulnerable when the opponent goes wide, as dealing with multiple attackers at once is beyond his scope, so don’t expect a lone Gideon to do it all.
His ultimate is also very interesting. In Standard, it buys you a little bit of life, but that’s basically it. Very few decks will be able to kill you but unable to attack Gideon, so it just forces them to kill him first. That’s sometimes useful, but not incredibly exciting. It does combine well with Glorious End, giving you a 3-mana Time Stop with no drawback. If you have an aggressive deck that wants these cards individually, having them combo is a nice bonus.
Where the ultimate gets interesting is in older formats, as it can serve as an additional way to not lose to Ad Nauseam or Pacts (like Pact of Negation, for example). Plus, some combo decks can’t easily kill Gideon, making him a win condition as well.
Add all this together and you have a very exciting card, and one that will see play in multiple formats.
As a sideboard card against a narrow combo deck, you could do worse. Intervention also deals with creatures in play, so it has a little flexibility, and overall this is a reasonable take on the kind of effect that normally doesn’t quite make it there.
I like initiating combat with this, as it’s hard to block and leads to huge life swings. If there are aggressive mirrors, this is bound to be a great threat, and against creatureless control decks it’s still a 3-power creature for 2 mana. Either way, this looks like a solid addition to the threats white decks have available. It’s also a great sideboard option if it doesn’t line up right for the main deck.
Oketra the True
I’m not overly impressed by Oketra. She’s a good last threat to play once you already have a solid board, but she still loses to Cast Out and can sometimes be rendered useless by removal on your other creatures. If the game becomes grindy enough, she is a threat, but that’s not enough to make her one of the better cards in the set.
Catgoat Ranger? Cloudgoat Caracal? Something along these lines works, as this provides 7/7 worth of stats, and 4/4 of that has lifelink. This floods the board with Cats (have we ever seen that before in Standard?), and looks like a solid way to combat aggressive strategies.
This saw a lot of play previously, though mostly as a value-positive way to trigger Astral Slide and Lightning Rift. I don’t think Faith of the Devoted is quite there, so I’m less excited about the idea of a cycling deck. It is a nice way to use your turn 2 if you’ve got nothing else going on, making this a plausible addition to control decks that want early plays. Plus, it adds a good target for Torrential Gearhulk, as gaining 6 in the late game is no joke.
I’m not as high on this as I am for Limited (where it’s been a consistently annoying card to play against), but I could still see this is a sideboard option against aggro decks full of X/1s. It’s basically Kitchen Finks, right? Cats do like milk, after all.
Time to Reflect
Zombies to Plowshares sounds like an ineffective maneuver, but might be a playable spell in a niche deck. I assume there are better removal spells out there, though 1 mana is a nice cost.
This may be just efficient enough to see play, even if the body is a little small. If your deck utilizes a 2/2 for 2 well, this can fill out your curve while adding a relevant bonus later in the game.
Dusk // Dawn
The fact that the main threats in the format are Vehicles and planeswalkers dampens Dusk // Dawn’s power level, but it’s still an impactful card. Killing their creatures and not yours is a huge swing, and being able to flash this back and draw 2-4 cards makes it an engine in the late game. This needs a specific deck and metagame to thrive, but has the reward needed to make it worth it when those things line up.
Top 5 White Cards for Constructed
White got a ton of good stuff here, and the top 3 cards in particular are ones I expect to see a fair amount. Good removal, good threats, and even a good aggressive 2-drop make white well-rounded and powerful.