Tempest was one of the most enjoyable draft formats to me, but of course I’m currently thinking back on something from so long ago that maybe I can only remember the good stuff! I do know that Tempest Remastered will shake up anything you might have known about Tempest block Limited.
For starters, many of the best commons (Rolling Thunder, Pacifism, Rootwater Hunter, Evincar’s Justice, Capsize) have been moved up a rarity. I think the best way to evaluate what will essentially be a new format is to take a look at all the common creatures and where they fall on the mana curve in addition to the common spells for each color. I’ll then repeat the process for uncommons, and finally try to give a general ranking for the rares.
Let’s dig in!
1cc: Nomads en-Kor
2cc: Armored Pegasus, Master Decoy, Soltari Trooper, Youthful Knight
3cc: Armor Sliver, Charging Paladin, Soltari Lancer, Standing Troops
4cc: Mounted Archers, Spirit en-Kor
5cc: Staunch Defenders
Upon initial inspection, this looks really weak.
We all know Soltari Trooper from his days in Vintage Masters and a 2-power evasion creature is very strong. Soltari Lancer gaining first strike also allows it to win combat against the other shadow creatures when it is attacking, so that’s another strong common.
Spirit en-Kor has always been solid and resilient, but with just 2 power for 4 mana, it is not the biggest of threats.
Mounted Archers is playable, but at 2/3 for 4, even with reach and the ability to block extra creatures, we are not getting much for our investment and it’s not an early pick ever.
I suspect Master Decoy, one of the better tappers ever printed, will be the top common. Staunch Defenders was basically a bomb uncommon and moved down in rarity. Tempest is an aggressive format without many ways to get rid of a 3/4 blocker. Gaining 4 life when it enters the battlefield is a huge swing.
The combat tricks are super unexciting. Angelic Blessing can only go in very aggressive decks as a Lava Axe. Anoint costs quite a bit too much for too little an effect to be worth buying back. Bandage is a cheap cantrip that can sometimes net a card, but the effect is certainly small. Conviction, or just “pants” as it was once called, can force a creature through and the ability to bounce it back is relevant, but it’s not an early pick.
Shackles looks like a great card to many, and while it is playable, the fact the creature needs to already be tapped is a huge drawback. The ability to bounce the Shackles is what makes it still quite playable, but at a cost of 3 mana plus 1 to bounce each time, it is not an ideal removal spell.
Smite, on the other hand, is cheap but conditional, and does nothing against the very powerful creatures with abilities that will never be attacking.
Top 5 white commons:
Wow, there is SO little to see here!
Merfolk Looter is great and my choice for top blue common, but that being said, there isn’t much in terms of graveyard synergy, and effects like buyback put good use to excess mana already, so it is not actually that amazing.
The blue shadow creatures at common are really unexciting. Thalakos Seer is great if it can trade for a 2/1 shadow creature and kind of pathetic otherwise. At UU, I don’t even really want it. Thalakos Scout had the bonus of being tough to actually deal with, since you could stack damage when it blocks or is blocked by another shadow creature and return it to your hand for more. That is no longer the case and he’s looking a little pathetic.
Wayward Soul also suffers dramatically from the damage-on-the-stack rules. Once able to take down 3 toughness fliers and come back for more next turn, the ability to simply put it on top of your deck is unimpressive. A 3/2 flier for 4 is still reasonable, but we are basically looking at a double-blue casting cost Assault Griffin with a rare upside at this point.
Time Ebb and similar cards have been around for a while. They are good tempo cards that not every deck wants, but can give you a pretty nice swing. I like Mana Leak as it is basically a 2-mana removal spell in a sense, but it’s still not an early pick.
Sift is very good, albeit pretty slow. It’s likely the second best blue common despite that.
I actually have Wind Drake as the #3 blue common… a 2/2 flier for 3 with no other ability being ranked so highly speaks volumes to how shallow blue is.
Scrivener can be an excellent value card and one of my favorites, but not a high pick. Whispers of the Muse is another of my favorite cards from this time period, but the 6 mana to buyback doesn’t come up super often (although quite powerful when it does and being able to cycle for 1 makes it a fine card). Sea Monster is the biggest dude on the block at 6/6, but not being able to attack is a pretty gigantic drawback. I would still pick them up for the Islands mirror, but 6 mana is already a lot to ask for.
Top 5 blue commons:
No shortage of potentially powerful aggressive cards here. Carnophage and Serpent Warrior don’t go in every deck as they will deal you a reasonable amount of damage, but they also hit harder than their CMC.
Both shadow creatures, in Dauthi Horror and Dauthi Jackal, are legitimate threats that I’m happy to include in my deck. Gravedigger has been around forever, but it’s a super solid 2-for-1 that scales excellently in multiples.
Dark Banishing is a solid removal spell and thus the best black common in my book. Diabolic Edict and Death Stroke are far more conditional and nowhere near that power level, but yet both only cost 2 mana, so I’m happy to have either.
Clot Sliver is the first Sliver I’m OK having in my deck with no other synergies. A 1/1 that regenerates for 2 at 1B is a reasonable deal and the fact that it can get the bonuses from your opponent’s Muscle Slivers, Winged Slivers, and the like make it perfectly reasonable as a card to pick up (just remember that they will also be able to regenerate now).
Top 5 black commons:
Mogg Fanatic is one of the biggest losers from damage no longer going on the stack. This card was a really legitimate 1-mana card that could trade with 2-toughness guys to borderline unplayable.
Mogg Conscripts is not as easy as you might think to turn on. He will often be a 2/2 wall for 1.
Mogg Flunkies ranges from completely busted to borderline unplayable depending on the rest of your deck. 3/3s for 2 are quite good, but without any Haste in this set, he is lacking compared to Flunkies of the past. He will definitely make the Mogg Fanatics and Conscripts into closer to real cards if you get a lot of them.
The potential evasion on Canyon Wildcat, plus being a 2-power creature for 2 mana, makes it a reasonable pick.
Aftershock does what it says it does. You take 3 damage. It costs 4. Not the best rate, but removal is removal is removal. Being able to kill a land can also randomly win games.
Furnace Brood is a reasonable Hill Giant. Lowland Giant, a.k.a. OG Summit Prowler, is a reasonable body. Sandstone Warrior, however, is the real winner from the 4-drop slot as he is extremely tough to kill in combat. His big downside is the base power of 1, meaning when they just let him through since they can’t block, you actually need to invest mana to do any damage.
I’ve played many Maniacal Rages in my day—you should note that putting it on their creature makes it unable to block. Stun is a reasonable trick to force through damage and replaces itself. Seething Anger is excellent in decks that can force creatures through.
Top 5 red commons:
These cards are really strong across the board.
Skyshroud Elf, Rampant Growth, and Harrow are all excellent mana-fixing and ramp. The option to draft many different colors in your base-green deck is viable in Tempest Remastered and all of these cards are quite playable in almost any deck.
Muscle Sliver is the Sliver that really scales. You can pick these early and know that each additional one makes the previous that much more insane. Getting several of these may make your deck unbeatable (and makes every other Sliver you play pretty absurd, as well).
Rootwalla is fantastic. It’s very hard to block effectively as a potential 4/4 attacking on turn 4 is really strong. Trained Armodon as a 3/3 for 3 with no drawback besides its double-green casting cost is above the curve in this format.
Skyshroud Troll is super tough to deal with. Regeneration is extremely strong and a 3/3 for 4 is already fine in this set. Endangered Armodon is tough to make work and won’t make many decks, but when it finds a home, it is simply huge.
The spells besides the ramp aren’t overly exciting. Elvish Fury is a Giant Growth for 1 mana that can be bought back, so that is quite powerful, but the rest are meh. Provoke can be played, but I don’t like it since it’s hard to get actual value.
Mulch is basically draw 1.7 lands for 2 mana… if you have a use for cards in your graveyard, go for it. If you want it for card advantage, look elsewhere.
Top 5 green commons:
This is the one list that I feel could keep going and there are a lots of things that are close. I really like Trained Armodon but it lost the nod due to its cost. I also really like all the ramp spells and Elvish Fury. The green commons are quite deep and mostly interchangeable depending on what you have, as I could see the 8th-best green common go above any card on this list depending on the deck.
There aren’t many common artifacts. They certainly aren’t good.
Metallic Sliver is the big wildcard. I pick these up when there’s nothing for me as it tends to be a good sideboard card against decks with Slivers. The fact that they grant their bonuses to all Slivers on the board, different from the core set Slivers, means Metallic Sliver is just the same creature as Muscle Sliver or Clot Sliver once your opponent plays them. I don’t mind having 2 in my sideboard, but I would only consider bringing in 2 or more against really dedicated Sliver strategies (of which I don’t think there is a good one).
All 3 Soltari shadow creatures are excellent and worthy of early picks.
Angelic Protector and Avenging Angel are moderately costed evasion creatures that are tough to deal with. Avenging Angel is a much higher pick, but the ability to cause combat havoc on your own Angelic Protector should not be overlooked.
Repentance kills most of the things you want to kill, so it’s always a solid pickup. Gallantry is a fine defensive combat trick if you don’t get blown out by instants, so it’s not one of my favorite cards.
Warrior en-Kor is already a 2/2 for 2, which is fine, but the en-Kor ability is good enough that this goes way up in heavy-white decks (and combines excellently with protection from colors).
Pegasus Stampede at its worst is a 1/1 flier for 2. This is not good. Being able to buy it back when you’re flooded sounds like a good thing, but often 1/1 fliers aren’t great when you’re flooded either. There are games where this will be “8 mana, sac 4 lands, make four 1/1 fliers” and that can win the game—but they aren’t common. Not a high pick.
I’m quite happy first-picking Rootwater Hunter as it’s just fantastic in this format. There are lots of 1-toughness creatures, it pings opponents, and allows you to trade up in combat. I can not have enough of these.
I’m also happy to first-pick Capsize as, even though it is slow, it does take over games. The late-game can be completely decimated by a Capsize with buyback.
Fighting Drake is the perfect size to defend against everything at a similar mana cost. 2 power to go with 4 toughness on a flier makes this a very high pick.
Counterspell is fantastic. Dismiss is playable, but costs far too much to be an early pick. There are matchups in which it’s great, and it’s a total blowout vs. buyback cards, but otherwise it’s not fantastic.
Curiosity can take over a game but runs the same risk as any creature enchantment. You can usually get at least one hit in, so it replaces itself, and at only 1 mana that’s fine but not a high pick.
Wind Dancer is fairly bonkers in a UG deck, sending your Spined Wurms to the air while pinging away from turn 2 is pretty nice. It can play a similar role in a UR deck, but it’s a mediocre UB card and an unexciting card in UW.
Cannibalize is a really strong removal spell despite the perceived drawback. There will often be a creature you don’t care about getting counters and there will even be times where you need the counters for yourself. This also combines very well with bounce spells, but just having a spell that can exile a bomb you can’t otherwise beat is nice.
Evincar’s Justice is incredible. Really great. Thrilled to first-pick it.
Revenant has been considered a bomb rare in the past. It’s now uncommon. It only has single black in the casting cost and doesn’t go in every deck, but if you’re heavy on creatures, this is what you want. Even if it starts as a mere 2/2, it will grow quickly. It can easily be splashed into Mulch decks, as well.
Skyshroud Vampire and Screeching Harpy are both really good evasive creatures. I would take the Vampire very highly as it’s extremely challenging to block and can end the game out of nowhere. Regenerating fliers like the Screeching Harpy are always solidly playable.
Not every deck wants a Sarcomancy, but there are more Zombies to negate the potential drawback. The problem is that most die, so if you’re a defensive deck, this is just a liability.
Fugue is very good in slow matchups, otherwise it costs quite a bit of mana when facing down a bunch of shadow creatures. Reanimate is too costly for not enough gain to go in many decks. Reanimator is tough to build and you need lots of things you want to bring back. It is certainly playable in some decks to potentially steal their rare after you deal with it, but it’s not exciting.
If Mogg Fanatic took a dive due to damage no longer stacking, Goblin Bombardment fell off a cliff. I would almost never play this card. The same goes for Spellshock and Mogg Maniac (and Shadowstorm is clearly a sideboard card).
Mage il-Vec is surprisingly good as dealing a point of damage is quite strong in Tempest. Not the highest of picks, but coming on a 2/2 body makes this a solid inclusion.
Sabertooth Wyvern does a decent job of ruling the skies at 3 power with first strike, but 2 toughness and 5 mana make it a below-average inclusion. I would much rather have a Flowstone Wyvern as a 3/3 flier with the ability to cheaply deal 5 damage when unblocked.
Flowstone Mauler is huge and becoming an 8-power trample creature is great. A high pick for sure.
Rolling Thunder is on the short list for best cards in the set, which really speaks volumes to how insane Tempest draft was when this was common. It will often Plague Wind them and othertimes simply Fireball them out. Almost never pass this card.
Deadshot is an excellent removal spell that also forces damage across. Being a sorcery so you can’t use it defensively for the tap part of the card is unfortunate, but it’s still a solid pickup. Searing Touch is very strong and has the ability to take over a game.
Renegade Warlord is playable but not super exciting, especially since red doesn’t have any real ability to go wide and flood the board with creatures.
Overrun, just as in every set it’s printed, is a fantastic first pick. The green creatures are already a little bit larger than the creatures in the other colors, so giving them +3/+3 and trample will end things consistently.
Hermit Druid is a solid card. It’s a 1/1 for 2, but the ability does effectively draw you a card (albeit a basic land) every turn for 1 mana. Having any graveyard synergies, especially something like Recurring Nightmare, makes this card go way up.
Wall of Blossoms is basically never getting cut and I’m happy to draft it relatively early.
I like all the Spike creatures. Spike Feeder and Spike Breeder are no exception as they have some decent ability. Spike Feeder went from being great to just playable now that you can’t stack damage and gain 4 life, but it’s still a reasonable card.
Lowland Basilisk effectively has deathtouch, so we like that. Crashing Boars is pretty sweet with pseudo provoke, so we like that. And Rootbreaker Wurm is simply gigantic, so we really like that. Rootbreaker Wurm would be my higher pick, although still far below the likes of Overrun.
It’s just the 5 allied-color Slivers for uncommon gold cards. All are completely reasonable 2-drops if you happen to be in the 2 colors and go up in value with Sliver synergies (shocking, I know!). None are exciting and I wouldn’t use an early pick on them.
Artifacts and Lands
Phyrexian Hulk is the lone creature. He can make the cut, but is not good.
The uncommon dual lands are really bad, but they will often make the cut. Mana fixing is still mana fixing, but the non-allied lands both deal damage to you AND come into play tapped, which is a huge cost. The allied lands don’t untap when tapped for colors. These are huge drawbacks and I wouldn’t fault you for not playing them in your 2-color decks if your mana is already fine. Luckily, they do produce colorless mana as well.
Maze of Shadows is a tough card to maindeck as many decks can’t afford the random colorless land, but if you can, it’s a solid inclusion in most main decks. It also allows you to save your own shadow creature from being blown out by combat tricks, which is a nice bonus.
Stalking Stones also falls into the colorless land camp, so not every deck can afford that, but this one is quite solid as it only takes a one-time investment to turn your land into a permanent 3/3 creature and you can do it at instant speed (you can also tap Stalking Stones itself to do this).
These are the cards I consider bombs. These are not in order and I wouldn’t necessarily take any of them over Rolling Thunder, but these are the ones I’m happy to first-pick:
I think I’m happiest of all to first-pick Wasteland from this list, assuming it’s not a phantom draft! There are many cards that are close to this list and are very strong but not necessarily better than many of the uncommons. A card like Stronghold Assassin went from being a bomb with damage on the stack to just being a very solid card I’m happy to play. A card like Survival of the Fittest can become a complete bomb with some good graveyard interactions, such as Coffin Queen and Recurring Nightmare.
There really aren’t any distinguished archetypes in Tempest Remastered. There are going to be decks with more fliers, or more shadow creatures, but the only real “theme” deck, or deck that rewards you, is Slivers. Muscle Sliver is hugely important there and already good on its own, but with good mana fixing and a card like Sliver Queen or Volrath’s Laboratory, you can do some crazy things.
I tried to make this as inclusive and informative as possible, but we always miss a few things… what are you most looking to draft out of Tempest Remastered? Which cards have I undervalued the most? What did I completely miss?
Good luck, I’ll see you in the queues!