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%)
Awe for the Guilds
[draft]Awe for the Guilds[/draft]
This card is pretty aweful. It's also bad.
I can see siding this in when it's going to be [card]Falter[/card], but it's way too situational to maindeck.
Clear a Path
[draft]clear a path[/draft]
Another card that clearly isn't good enough for Constructed, at least until the defender deck really gets big.
I actually like this as a sideboard card against decks with 4+ defenders, and you will basically get this for free in draft anyway.
I'm going to need a lot more than haste before I rush out and get a playset of these.
Six-drops with 3 toughness are not usually very exciting, and this is no exception. It can get a solid hit in when you cast it, but it won't do much afterwards. [card]Tenement Crasher[/card] is far better, unless you have a good number of multicolored creatures.
I can't in good conscience say this is unplayable, because the possibility always exists that it could be incredibly broken. Travis Woo has already suggested playing all [card]Increasing Ambition[/card]s plus something like [card]Enter the Infinite[/card], and even the small chance that this lets you cast a horrendously expensive spell for free makes it possible that this is somehow broken.
The possibilities are endless, though the futures where you win the game with this are vastly outnumbered by the ones where you don't.
Punish the Enemy
[draft]punish the enemy[/draft]
The enemy is not the one who will be getting punished if you try to play a five-mana removal spell in Constructed.
[card]Barbed Lightning[/card] is significantly weaker when you are forced to entwine it, but it's still pretty solid. I also like that this very accurately describes what is happening when you cast it.
The ability to bring this back any time you smack them is kind of wild, though three mana certainly complicates things. It isn't the cheapest card, which is a shame, because the decks that can use it best aren't likely to want very many expensive cards. You are also paying for the special ability by getting slightly bad rates on both the bloodrush and the Shaman itself. This seems like it would fit best as a 1-2 of in a very aggressive red deck, with the odds of that increasing drastically once the sick high-end like [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] rotates out.
Even if this didn't have bloodrush it would be as annoying as hell to play against, so giving it an easy out to trade for a card makes it quite good.
Pikers. I hate pikers.
You have to be pretty sure you are beating down before this makes the cut. It's fine when you curve out, but it'll feed your opponent a free card way too many times to really make it good.
Are you surprised that I chose to maaka pun here? My guess is a resounding “no.” If [card]Slaughterhorn[/card] is a marginal playable, I guess I see no reason that this can't be as well, though I certainly don't think it's great.
This is costed quite fairly no matter which side you want, which means you aren't really paying for the flexibility. That makes a solid card, and one you will always play.
All the Gatekeepers were reviewed in the white review.
[card]Threaten[/card]s are a little less good in decks with a ton of Gates, but this still is a reasonable card.
We're overloaded with combat tricks these days, so even a cheap global one like this is unlikely to see play.
It does not seem difficult at all to get a 2-for-1 with [card]Weapon Surge[/card], and a 1-for-1 will be even easier. Some decks just don't want combat tricks, but for those that do, this will suffice.
Talrand this is not. Not only does this cost more, it triggers less, and gives you slightly worse output when it does. Boros, stick to attacking and blocking.
It isn't that bad if you play this without ways to trigger it, but nor is it exciting. If you have a few spells that work, it won't be hard to pick up a couple free tokens.
I doubt that this is the shape of 7-drops to come, at least when it comes to Constructed.
Keeping creatures on the board seems like a nightmare for your opponent when you have this in play. It can force bad attacks or blocks, prevent them from attacking you, and even let you smash past a large defender. There are so many permutations of what can happen that it seems unlikely to favor the player without the Battleshaper in play. You do have to pay seven mana, but that should be well worth it.
Gleam of Battle
[draft]gleam of battle[/draft]
Trying to win with this has to be an uphill battle—just compare it with something like [card]Mirari's Wake[/card].
Six mana is a lot to pay for this effect. It could be a good way to top off your curve if you are very creature-heavy, but doesn't really fit in just any deck.
It looks like the Legion has a pretty comprehensive medical plan. Need power? Got it. Toughness? Sure thing. Protection from any potential event? Why not. This even gives your team haste if you really need it, and does all of this at a very affordable cost.
It does ask that you consider the color of your creatures carefully, but that seems both doable and worth the effort. [card]Sphinx's Revelation[/card] isn't the only UW card that has taken a beating this set, as [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] is now finding out.
Assuming you can cast this, the effect should apply to most, if not all, of your creatures. They might not all get double bonuses, but even just half is fairly relevant, and the option of protecting them is always nice to have.
Tajic, Blade of the Legion
[draft]tajic, blade of the legion[/draft]
Being indestructible is a big game. Tajic will be a beating against some decks, though his success will directly influence how vulnerable he is. Too many Tajics running around (there can be only one!) and the Edicts will start to replace the [card]Searing Spear[/card]s. Still, a 2/2 indestructible blocker that turns into a 7/7 attacker is quite an interesting card.
He's unkillable and very hard to race. Sounds like a bomb to me.
I've seen [card]Skyknight Legionnaire[/card] in play in Standard before, so I guess anything is possible, but this is worse than Skyknight, and Skyknight is already not my first choice.
You could do worse when it comes to delivering a beatdown. Haste, as we found out during Gatecrash, combines very well with battalion. This blocks poorly, and attacks with less ferocity after a turn, which might explain the name.
I like this card, but bear in mind that I was a huge fan of [card]Ribbons of Night[/card] as well. This is clearly worse than Ribbons, or [card]Lightning Helix[/card], and its role is somewhere in between the two. Killing a creature and gaining 4 is powerful, as [card]Faith's Fetters[/card] showed us, and this can take out planeswalkers as well. You can't play too many expensive removal spells, but I'd take a second look at this one.
Great removal is great, especially when that removal can also function on the opponent.
I like cards this flexible, and anticipate it tearing up post-board games in many different formats. It might not be as sweet as [card]Orim's Thunder[/card] (what is?), but I'll overlook that.
This is certainly one of the better sideboard cards around, and I wouldn't mind maindecking it in Sealed if you can cast both halves.
If you're in the market for a sorcery speed [card]Berserk[/card], here you go. This can do a dangerous amount of damage, especially given the nice little +1/+1 to kick things off. Casting [card]Lure[/card] is a little less exciting, though it is really cool that you can split up the two halves on different targets to get damage in, or double up on one to try and wipe their team.
Using this as either an alpha strike card or a [card]Plague Wind[/card] is exciting, even if you will rarely cast it for less than the full six mana.
If they were shooting for Constructed, this guy Animissed by a fair margin.
The dream here is big, but as I found out back in original RGD, it's rarely achieved. If you have a reliable way to give him trample ([card]Maze Behemoth[/card] springs to mind), the Animist gets a lot more exciting.
Gruul War Chant
[draft]gruul war chant[/draft]
Come, let me sing you the song of my people. As with most cards that involve blocking, the chants that this sees play is basically zero.
You obviously have to be aggressive, but once you are, this becomes excellent. It makes blocking a ridiculous pain for your opponent, and sets them up perfectly to get blown out by bloodrush.
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
[draft]ruric thar, the unbowed[/draft]
I fear that [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] will overshadow Ruric to some degree, seeing as how they both cost the same and hose the same kind of decks. Still, this ability is powerful enough to keep an eye on, and even in the land of Ravnica not everyone plays every single color. Some decks won't have black mana, and will opt to run Ruric.
Vigilance is a nice ability on a must-attack creature, and makes Ruric a sick offensive and defensive machine. He also punches anyone who casts spells, which greatly favors the player that already has a giant 6/6 in play.
As savage as this might look, it's not headed for Constructed anytime soon. Trample would have gone a long way, and without it the clock is just too slow. Even if you get a 5/5+ Hydra out, they can just chump it, and that's not even taking into consideration what a removal spell would do.
As big as the Hydra is, there's always room to grow. You can run it out as a 2/2 or 3/3 to start with—but wait, there's more! You only have to pump this if they have a big enough blocker, which is unlikely, letting you smash for a bunch of damage and keep developing your board. Also, this is as splashable as most x-spells, as long as you are at least one of the two colors.
Randomly playing this would be a giant mistake.
Even if the ability is random, the odds are stacked in your favor. First of all, a 4/5 is big enough to win the vast majority of fights. Secondly, you do have the choice of when to play this, so try not to play it when there are too many misses on the board. It might be annoying when you kill a random 1/1 instead of their 3/3 flier, but them's the breaks. It says right on the card that accuracy is its ninetieth concern, so you can't claim false advertising.
I can't think of any way for things to go wrong if you tap out and give your opponent a [card]Mana Flare[/card] on turn five. Nope, none.
Ok, fine. There are plenty of bad things that can happen to you, but that doesn't mean that [card]Zhur-Taa Ancient[/card] lacks power. Getting a 7/5 and a ton of extra mana is certainly interesting enough to be a potential build-around, especially if you can find ways to mitigate the massive amounts of mana your opponent gets. Casting this and [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] in the same turn is one way, and playing a bunch of [card]Negate[/card]s might be another.
This card introduces an incredibly large amount of variance to the game. It's overall very good for you, since a 7/5 is still probably better than whatever they are going to play, and you also get bonus mana when this survives. The main risk is when you play this, and they use the 10-12 mana on their turn to drop a creature or two and then kill the Ancient. If you are winning, dropping this is probably not the best idea, assuming you have other plays, even "worse" ones. If you are losing, spin the dice, flip the wheel, and roll the coin.
Most 2-drop mana Elves are rightfully scorned in Constructed, and this is no exception. Gyro Sage at least grows and beats down, where the Shaman is harder to cast and has less upside. Costing two colors of mana is actually a bigger beating on this than on most cards, just because of how crucial it is to play it on turn two.
A mana dork that's good early and still relevant late is sick in Limited, even at two mana. The casting cost is still a little tough, but this is good enough to be worth it.
Top Red Cards
Constructed: [card]Pyrewild Shaman[/card]
3/1s that come back from your graveyard have traditionally been pretty good, and even if [card]Pyrewild Shaman[/card] doesn't live up to its predecessors, it still can provide some nice card advantage.
Limited: [card]Punish the Enemy[/card]
You can maaka case for the bloodrush 3/3, but I'd rather just take [card]Barbed Lightning[/card].
Top Boros Cards
3. [card]Wear // Tear[/card]
2. [card]Tajic, Blade of the Legion[/card]
1. [card]Legion's Initiative[/card]
Wear // Tear might have broader applications, but Tajic and Legion's Initiative certainly add more new angles of attack for all the RW decks that would be interested in such things (and if I know RW decks, they are always looking for angles of attack).
Limited: [card]Warleader's Helix[/card]
It's pretty hard to argue against a sick removal spell, so I'm not going to try.
Top Gruul Cards
3. [card]Zhur-Taa Ancient[/card]
2. [card]Armed // Dangerous[/card]
1. [card]Ruric Thar, the Unbowed[/card]
Gruul gets a more speculative group than most, but there are certainly some combos to be had between [card]Berserk[/card] and [card]Mana Flare[/card]. Ruric, on the other hand, disdains combos, and will punch anyone who tries to assemble one.
Limited: Armed // Dangerous
The finishing potential combined with the [card]Plague Wind[/card] potential make this card exceedingly powerful, and good in any creature-heavy deck.
Tomorrow I move on to green, Simic, and Selesnya, wrapping up all the colors and guilds!