Risen Executioner

There have been cards like this in the past, and the pattern to spot is this: “I don’t want to spend my turn doing this, but this allows me to spend multiple turns doing it.” It tends to not work out because this isn’t 1999, where something like Nether Spirit can slowly creep over a game. This is 2015 and while you’re casting 4/3s that can’t block, your opponents will be casting Rhinos that can block, or Whisperwood Elementals, or Dragons, or… anything playable. These cards will tend to leave your Risen Execution in the dust and create a game state where you’re looking to sweep the board and then yay you can replay your Executioner. I’d rather just sweep and then play a bomb-type permanent like Ugin.

As for the prospects of Zombie aggro, maybe one day it can be added to the Legacy Cube on MTGO for no good reason, but I’m not seeing it come together in Standard at this time.

Damnable Pact

Modes are good. But you’d always rather have a good rate and a bad rate than two mediocre rates. This spell isn’t technically modal, but the ability to target either player creates a modal feel and effect. You either give yourself some cards at a bad rate or drain an opponent out at a bad rate. The card is just not quite up to snuff at the card drawing mode to excite me. This is a one-of potentially in a Nykthos deck—but don’t hesitate to own 0 copies and pick one up only when you know you need it.

Dragonlord Silumgar

If you pay 6 mana for something, it better damn near win the game for you right then and there. Elspeth takes a few turns to do it, but we’ve all had an opponent cast it and realize we had few outs to stop it and the game was over.

People will have lots of outs to Dragonlord Silumgar, including ignoring him (e.g., a tokens player or Mastery of the Unseen player).

This big lounge lizard is at his best stealing and ultimate’ing a planeswalker. With Duress and Thoughtseize legal, or just a smart opponent, this will be very easy to play around.

This isn’t even the best Silumgar in Standard.

Lightning Berserker

In a vacuum this card is a powerful tool in an established (timeless really) strategy. The issue here is that something like 100 cards in this Standard format produce a 1/1 token. This set itself brings the very playable Dragon Fodder and the hyped but NOT overhyped Secure the Wastes into the fray. This could easily make the Lightning Berserker a good tool for a bad job. The fact that it requires so much red mana means unlike something like the other dash brother Zurgo Bellstriker, a multicolor strategy will likely leave Berserker behind.

Silkwrap

Killing something and leaving behind a enchantment was already a precarious proposition. Ugin, Reclamation Sage, et al. can make playing a long game hard with these O-Ring type enchantments. This one is interesting in that the game text encourages you to play a not-so-long game with it—to use it in an aggressive deck. The problem with this might come recyclable-cardboard-wrapped in the same pack as the Silkwrap itself: Dromoka’s Command.

You weren’t even sure you wanted a Smother in this world of Siege Rhinos, Dragons, and control decks. Now you’ve got to worry that in the right matchup your opponent doesn’t blow you out with Dromoka Almond Fudge.

Roast

Between tokens and Dragons, you can see exactly why this card is allowed to see print right now with a big number on it like 5 damage for 2 mana. Also, it’s a sorcery. Oh, and when you’ve finally found that WG opponent playing ground fatties you’d love to Roast, oops they have Dromoka’s Command and your Roast and your Seeker of the Way are in the graveyard holding each other, trying to forget what happened and move on.

Commune with Lava

Do me (and yourself) a favor, if you get enough mana to cast a big red X spell, just cast Ugin or Crater’s Claws your opponent in the face.

One more favor, if you want to draw some cards in your red deck, use Chandra or Outpost Siege.

Could this possibly be used in a Nykthos deck? Sure, it’s possible, but “what to do with 10 mana” is the easiest problem in Magic to solve, and the hype around this card is definitely overblown.

Radiant Purge & Mirror Mockery

There are a lot of removal spells that are awesome if you get to imagine up the opponent’s board or hand. You might even imagine your most hated nemesis, such as the dreaded Siege Rhino. But when you find yourself in an actual game, not every opponent is casting Siege Rhinos. You don’t want to be the gal who showed up cursing Siege Rhino and vowed to do something about it, only to leave early cursing Stormbreath Dragon instead. You want to be the gal who came prepared with answers that protect you from multiple angles of attack.

As narrow as I’m predicting Roast will be, these cards are even narrower. Recognize what is the rule and what is the exception. Ultimate Price is going to be more useful than Radiant Purge, not as a matter of me saying so, but as an empirical fact.

Ojutai’s Command

As with Damnable Pact, you can’t really find the good rate here among the modes. I’m not 100% bearish on this card’s prospects, but its inclusion in the overhyped list is not going to keep me up at night. Easy to play around, many low-impact modes, and at a 4 slot that is guaranteed to be clogged with other powerful effects.

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

This set’s Wescoe-Rietzl Memorial Award—awarded quarterly to the white 2/2 that looks great on paper but doesn’t fit into a coherent, powerful, tier 1 deck—goes to Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit. These cards fail for two reasons really: 1) their base rate (2/2 for WW in this case) is too poor to create a powerful deck unless “everything comes together” synergy wise, and 2) that synergy rarely comes together in this space because in today’s Standard, creatures are easy to target and kill and easy to sweep—few opponents show up without being able to do it.

Your deck becomes synergy dependent, easy to interact with, and left without much room to play effective reactive cards to mitigate the weaknesses in your proactive plan. This ghost woman is not the spirit of Arcbound Ravager or Wizened Cenn.

Blood-Chin Rager

You can put a lot of Warriors into a deck, but that fact alone won’t make this Grizzly Bear into a playable. Seeker of the Way gets bigger, gains life, and is hard to play against. This card maybe gets a couple damage in, maybe not. His ability is also turned off until he himself is ready to attack and does attack, so not only is the benefit narrow, but you have to wait for it.

Assault Formation

Picture it, your army scooting backwards, threatening to sit on the opposing forces. The problem with this card is all too obvious. You can’t fill a deck with Kardashians and defenders and just pray to draw this thing. When you do get it, what happens when an opponent takes it out, via Thoughtseize or just the concept-killer theme of this article: Dromoka’s Command.

What if our deck just naturally has guys like Courser, Caryatid, and Tasigur that have a big butt but don’t need the Assault Formation to be effective? Well, those types of decks don’t just toss in “+2/+0 to my squad” type cards and expect to show a profit. Give me a Courser and a Tasigur, and I’ll take hand disruption or removal to add to my formation instead of this any day of the week.