5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. [card]Thragtusk[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]. [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Farseek[/card]. [card]Gravecrawler[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Naturalize[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.)
1.0: It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)
Battering Krasis[draft]battering krasis[/draft]
As cool as the picture is, if you try and play the dreaded land shark you are just going to get hammered by people with real cards.
Once you evolve this one time it’s a fine deal, and given that it has the potential to be a 4/3 or 5/4 without a ton of work, I’d always play this. Trample is also a nice touch, and exactly what you want once you’ve started to go deep.
Kraul Warrior[draft]kraul warrior[/draft]
I’m just gonna go ahead and kraul this one unplayable.
It might bug you, but I’m going to reiterate my how much I like 2-drops that have late game value. You don’t even have to spend the mana most of the time; just the threat is enough to make it go unblocked.
Maze Behemoth[draft]maze behemoth[/draft]
To the amazement of nobody, the green card in this cycle gives trample. Hooray.
Trample is a reasonable ability on a 5/4, but is in general the weakest one to share among your other creatures. Still, this justifies itself well enough, and you could do worse when you are short on high-end cards.
Mending Touch[draft]mending touch[/draft]
I wouldn’t touch this one with a 10-foot pole.
One mana is the right price here, giving you a mediocre protection spell if you somehow haven’t picked up any other combat tricks. It’s also a solid sideboard card, trading for a removal spell in the right matchup.
Mutant’s Prey[draft]mutant’s prey[/draft]
Step 1: Find and acquire one of the X-Men.
Mutant’s Prey is very clearly deck-dependent, but it’s good in the decks that want it. I’d want at least 5 creatures with evolve or unleash, and preferably more. Scavenge also helps, but not nearly as much, because unleash and evolve let you curve out and use this, while scavenge comes into effect much later in the game. I wouldn’t pick this up too early, ideally around 7th+.
This might phyt for slots in the Modern/Legacy infect deck, though I assume that costing two mana makes that somewhat unlikely. It is nice that this plus one of the 4-point spells plus any infector is 10 exactly, so it might burst onto the scene because of that interaction.
I can’t imagine ever drafting a deck so ridiculously aggressive that this becomes good, but I’m open to the idea that such a deck may exist. Phytoburst does more than 5 damage in that deck, often because it lets you attack with a creature that otherwise couldn’t.
Renegade Krasis[draft]renegade krasis[/draft]
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I realized this only pumped creatures that already had +1/+1 counters on them. What this actually does isn’t quite as insane as I envisioned, though it could still do some good work. A 3/2 evolve for three is reasonably-sized already, and if you can combine this with some [card]Experiment One[/card]s, [card]Cloudfin Raptor[/card]s, and larger dudes, there might be a deck in the making.
It doesn’t take much before things get out of control when [card]Renegade Krasis[/card] is in the house. Just make sure you stack the triggers correctly (you want to evolve your other guys first, then have Krasis hook them up).
Saruli Gatekeepers[draft]saruli gatekeepers[/draft]
As I keep saying, I reviewed these en masse during my first installment of the set reviews. It is worth noting that this is one of the better Gatekeepers, with an ability it might actually be worth stretching for.
A slow deck with a bunch of Gates can appreciate 7 life, as well as a 2/4 blocker.
Even if this doesn’t immediately see play, it’s got a lot of powerful abilities for only two mana. It’s clearly meant to deal with [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], seeing as how it’s immune to countermagic, bounce, blocks Delvers, and has flash. Sadly for the [card]Skylasher[/card], [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] isn’t seeing a ton of play this instant, and most [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] decks have [card]Searing Spear[/card]s a plenty to torch this bug. The combination of abilities here is impressive enough that this will always be in the running, even if it doesn’t fit into every metagame.
I’d feel pretty safe hiding behind a Skylasher, and that’s even before factoring in the free cards you might pick up by ambushing smaller creatures. This can be hit-or-miss, but the matchups where it’s good, it should be one of your best cards, stopping their expensive fliers at very low cost.
Thrashing Mossdog[draft]thrashing mossdog[/draft]
It’s kind of a reach to try and play this in Constructed.
I had three of these at the prerelease, and thrashed many an opponent with them. It feels very strange that this “Spider” is a 3/3, which made it quite effective on offense or defense. Scavenge is a nice bonus too, even if the card would be good without it.
Beetleform Mage[draft]beetleform mage[/draft]
You’ve probably already formed your opinion on this, but if you haven’t, I’m here to inform you that it’s way too expensive for Constructed.
Skywalla is an effective attacker or blocker, and pumps for the low cost of two mana.
Bred for the Hunt[draft]bred for the hunt[/draft]
If you want a green enchantment that draws you cards when you have creatures in play, just go with [card]Triumph of Ferocity[/card]. It’s a lot less work, and you don’t have to hunt down creatures with counters in order to make it function.
As an enchantment that doesn’t actually make your team better, just more punishing if they connect, [card]Bred for the Hunt[/card] is a little narrow. It also only checks a subset of your creatures, though those do tend to be the guys you want to bash with.
Give // Take
A six-mana draw 3 that sometimes draws 4 or 5 (but requires a creature in play regardless), Give // Take is way less flexible than most split cards. Neither half is really playable on its own, and combined they are still too expensive.
As it turns out, I like draw 3s, and in Limited it’s actually fine to cast this as a +3/+3 aura if need be. I’d give it a higher rating, just because I like card draw so much, but I don’t want to take any flak in the comments.
Krasis Incubation[draft]krasis incubation[/draft]
Considering this locks down a creature while making it stronger, you could call this arrested development. It’s a little too niche, and even if it finds critical success, it’s unlikely to be popular among a more widespread audience.
This card seems awesome. The first use is simple: [card]Arrest[/card] for 2UG, which is pretty good. You then get to use it in a bunch of interesting ways, depending on what else is going on. Moving it to a bigger threat is one of them, even if you have to deal with a slightly larger version of the original target. You can also use it on your own creatures, for a slow way to grow a monster. The fact that the base level card is very good makes all the expensive/slow other options just a nice bonus, and overall you end up with a very strong card.
Plasm Capture[draft]plasm capture[/draft]
Capturing the essence of [card]Mana Drain[/card] without the same (absurd) power level is tricky, and [card]Scattering Stroke[/card] was certainly nothing to get excited about. [card]Plasm Capture[/card] is, though, enabling some disgusting sequences of play. [card]Mana Drain[/card]ing their [card]Thragtusk[/card] into a giant [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] or even just your own [card]Thragtusk[/card] + second [card]Plasm Capture[/card] seems insane.
Playing around this card correctly is going to be an important skill for the whole time it’s in Standard, even when the amount of play it sees waxes or wanes. The casting cost of UUGG is definitely intentional, being restrictive enough that you only have to worry about Plasm Capture if your opponent has made a good effort to ensure they have the correct mana available. The reward for landing one of these is so high that I can’t help but think it will see play, despite a four-mana counter being pretty far away from what this format is all about.
It’s been a while since we have had such a punishing counterspell, and Plasm Capture will make people think twice about just running out their spells and seeing what happens (or it won’t, and I’ll get to turbo out a [card]Borborygmos Enraged[/card]).
I like the idea of casting this, though the mana cost really is tricky. It’s also very suspicious when you pass on turn four, and even more so once your opponent already knows that you have this in your deck. Again, it is so sick when you successfully drain their spell that this is worth running, but the failure rate is high enough that it isn’t a bomb.
Progenitor Mimic[draft]progenitor mimic[/draft]
I was tempted to just copy my review of some other [card]Clone[/card], but then I’d have to copy it multiple times in order to keep the flavor going. This card is sick. No only does this act as a Clone, which is very good in a world full of [card]Thragtusk[/card]s and [card]Angels of Serenity[/card], but if they don’t kill it right away it starts multiplying. Even getting one free copy is an enormous game, and most of the cards you want to clone are either resistant to being killed or punish the opponent for killing them. Six mana is expensive enough that you can’t just jam a million of these (also that’s not legal), but I’m excited to try this in both control and reanimator decks.
Clones have always been awesome in Limited, and a Clone that your opponent absolutely must kill is absurd.
Species Gorger[draft]species gorger[/draft]
I don’t see anyone stampeding like wildebeests to get their hands on this, and for good reason.
Returning a creature each turn can be a fairly significant drawback, but the reward of a 5-mana 6/6 is strong enough to make it worth it. It’s also not irrelevant that the ability actually will be an upside a fair percentage of the time, what with evolve and ETB effects. In a deck with too high a curve or too few creatures, this can easily sit on the sidelines, but I’d advise against drafting decks like that in general.
Vorel of the Hull Clade[draft]vorel of the hull clade[/draft]
This guy isn’t vorelble, and will probably get clade in some decks. A 1/4 for three survives most removal, and doubling up on planeswalkers is a very big game. Besides that, I’m not sure exactly what you do with this, since doubling evolve counters or the like does not seem worth your time.
I’m a sucker for a [card]Horned Turtle[/card] to begin with, and the ability to start going deep on counters seems sick. Having this in play is a substantial threat, and will usually demand an answer from your opponent very quickly.
Advent of the Wurm[draft]advent of the wurm[/draft]
Now that this exists, it’s an adventure every time you attack into 1WGG. Granted, [card]Restoration Angel[/card] did already do its fair share of ambushing, but the Wurmfather is big enough to eat almost anything. I like formats with a ton of sweet instants, and Advent of the Wurm looks like it will fit well into all sorts of midrange and control decks, with rare cameo appearances as the high-end threat in aggro.
To elaborate, this is a great rate, ambushes creatures frequently, makes populate insane, and is a sick early pick.
Alive // Well
Constructed: 2.0[card]Thragtusk[/card] sets a high bar, but the potential to gain a ton of life makes this an option well worth considering. Junk tokens would be my first suggestion, though any deck with [card]Lingering Souls[/card] might be interested.
I’ve been happy with this card so far, and even gaining 2-6 life feels like a pretty solid deal.
Armored Wolf-Rider[draft]armored wolf-rider[/draft]
Things look dire for this particular wolf (rider).
4/6 is large, large enough to be worth playing in most base-GW decks. It is not terribly exciting, and sometimes you will cut it from your better decks.
Bronzebeak Moa[draft]bronzebeak moa[/draft]
I’m gonna need a little moa than this before I play this in Constructed.
Having been on the receiving end of a crazed Moa, I can verify that a 4-mana 5/5 is a good deal. Even if it’s not great on defense, it more than makes up for it by sometimes being an 8/8 or even 11/11, depending on what kind of token-makers you can assemble.
Emmara Tandris[draft]Emmara Tandris[/draft]
I don’t know why everyone seems to love this card so much. It looks kind of boring to me, can anybody explain?
If you have zero tokens you are unlikely to want Emmara, but she’s large enough that it isn’t the end of the world if you draw her by herself.
Trostani’s Summoner[draft]Trostani’s Summoner[/draft]
Seven mana is a lot, but so is the menagerie this comes with. I can definitely see Constructed becoming a zoo if there are good ways to make this trigger multiple times.
Unless you are dying in the air, I’m not sure how you lose once you cast this. It has the same weakness as every 7-cost card, which is that you will die with this in your hand sometimes, but it brings you right back into almost any game regardless of how far behind you were.
Unflinching Courage[draft]Unflinching Courage[/draft]
I’ve run [card]Armadillo Cloak[/card] in formats as powerful as Extended (get in there, Doran), so I’m no stranger to suiting up a monster and going for it. Besides the obvious home in the Ghost Pants deck, Armadillo Cloak looks like a solid option for midrange creature decks to sideboard in against aggro.
For every game where a removal spell blows you out, there are games where an unanswered Armadillo Cloak (that’s all I’m calling this card, by the way) just rolls over your opponent. The only reason this isn’t a 4.0 is that it does get answered fairly harshly by both removal and bounce, making it an inherently risky card.
Voice of Resurgence[draft]Voice of Resurgence[/draft]
The floggings shall continue until [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] admits defeat. While I don’t think this (and its friends) will actually make Revelation bad, since that’s almost impossible, [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] is still an incredibly powerful card. It’s a giant beating against anyone looking to cast spells on your turn, hosing counterspells and [card]Azorius Charm[/card]s alike, but the real kicker is that it also triggers when it dies. It makes Wrathing so much less effective, unless it’s of the miracle variety, and it even makes a monster when it dies from combat. That’s just ridiculous, and makes Voice range from good to insane, depending on the matchup. In no matchup is it terrible, which is the difference between a narrow sideboard card and a great maindeck card.
That’s not to say that it’s A+ in every matchup, with decks like Junk Rites happy to see it on the other side, but overall I think we will be hearing a lot from this particular Voice.
It is kind of funny that this is in the set where most of your opponent’s combat tricks don’t work on your turn anyway (bloodrush), but this is still very good. At the very worst, it’s a 2/2 that turns into a [card]Keldon Warlord[/card] when it dies, which is a solid bit of value.
Top Green Cards
Even if the time isn’t right this instant, Skylasher is a lot of action for only two mana.
Limited: [card]Thrashing Mossdog[/card]
It’s not hard to see why an aggressive [card]Giant Spider[/card] that also provides value from the grave is awesome.
3. [card]Vorel of the Hull Clade[/card] 2. [card]Progenitor Mimic[/card] 1. [card]Plasm Capture[/card]
The top two are incredibly close together, and both will have a solid impact on Constructed. Vorel I’m less sure of, but he does such a unique and potentially powerful thing that there is a chance he finds a home.
Limited: [card]Krasis Incubation[/card]
This is really a split card, and the options of powerful removal spell and good lategame engine are ones I like to have access to.
3. [card]Unflinching Courage[/card] 2. [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] 1. [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card]
Selesnya got the lion’s share this time, as well as the Wolf’s share, the Elephant’s share, and even the Wurm’s share. Voice and Advent are both incredibly powerful, and add a ton of staying power to WG decks at very little cost. Even third place is a strong card; all of this should make Brian Kibler very happy.
Limited: [card]Trostani’s Summoner[/card]
I really can’t summon any objections to giving this the number one slot, even above [card]Armadillo Cloak[/card]. It’s possible Cloak is better, but I know I’m going to want to take the Summoner over it, just because of how much value it brings.
That wraps up the colors and guilds, leaving only the colorless cards and [card]Ral Zarek[/card], which I’ll get to this Sunday. Also coming are overall lists for the set, because everyone loves lists!
(Correction, 5/2/2013, 10:37 p.m.: It appears that Gideon is the only planeswalker that actually works with Vorel, making the dream a much harder thing to accomplish.)