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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.
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte.
5.0: The best of the best. (Noxious Gearhulk. Verduous Gearhulk. Aethersphere Harvester.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Untethered Express. Herald of Anguish. Whirlermaker.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Renegade Freighter. Winding Constrictor. Thopter Arrest.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Welding Sparks. Prophetic Prism. Aether Chaser. Daring Demolition.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Dawnfeather Eagle. Scrounging Bandar. Dhund Operative.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Wayward Giant. Leave in the Dust. Countless Gears Renegade.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Bastion Mastodon. Implement of Malice. Highspire Infusion.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Renegade’s Getaway. Reservoir Walker. Watchful Automaton.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Ironclad Revolutionary. Precise Strike.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Take Down. Natural Obsolecence.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Secret Salvage. Lost Legacy. Gonti’s Machinations. Other complicated black cards.)
Blue might lean aggressive if this is the kind of common it’s going to get. Aerial Guide is quite the beater, and brings a friend along for the ride. A 3-mana 2/2 flyer is decent to begin with, and giving another creature flying makes this a fearsome turn-3 play. Blocking is not the word of the day, I’ll just say that.
Ambushing 2/2s is fine and all, but this isn’t an exciting set of stats for the cost. If your opponent gets the reed on you and plays around this, you end up overpaying for a midsized flyer, which isn’t where I (or you) want to be.
Champion of Wits
Getting to loot for 2 and then getting a nice draw 4 later is a good deal, and I’d slam this in a heartbeat. Especially given the graveyard shenanigans in this set, I’d advocate always looting here.
A soft counterspell with cycling isn’t a card I’m excited about, but it’s certainly playable. It eventually becomes a hard counter, and getting to cycle it when it’s bad goes a long way.
A 2-drop that’s good in the late game is always a nice pickup, and this looks like a mini-Hekma Sentinels with evasion. I like it, and wouldn’t mind playing it in most of my blue decks.
Eternal of Harsh Truths
This has a high payoff if you can get it through, and even punishes the opponent a little when blocked. I’d mostly look to combine this with pump spells and evasion-granting (any Aerial Guides?), though it also looks solid in a blue beatdown deck, if such a deck exists.
Unless you have a super-dedicated mill deck, it’s insane to put this in your deck.
Hour of Eternity
You can do worse as a finisher, but I’m still wary of a card that requires 7 mana and 2 creatures in your graveyard before it’s a payoff. At 5 mana it’s passable, but not exciting, so you really need 7-9 to feel like you did it.
Imaginary Threats is a very real card. Cycling is huge here, as this is a situationally powerful card, and getting to cash it in mitigates the risk of it being dead. When this is good, it’s great, as it makes it so none of their creatures can block for two turns while also letting you ambush them if you have good blocks. That’s good in a race and good in a stalled board, which is an appealing place for this to land.
I’d side this in against any blue deck, and be reasonably happy doing so. 2-mana counters are the real deal, and I’d take Jace’s Defeat over most midrange playables.
Kefnet’s Last Word
Not untapping your lands is a sizable cost, and makes this a step worse than Mind Control. That said, Kefnet’s Last Word is still absurd, and stealing your opponent’s best creature (or in some odd case, enchantment/artifact) is going to win games of Limited.
I’d slam a 3/1 flash flyer for 3, so getting to cycle it and counter all sorts of random nonsense is just a bonus. You are going to want to play this as a beater most of the time, but if you’ve seen specific triggers you want to counter, feel free to save it.
Things do get pretty ominous for your opponent if you get to untap with this. Now they can’t confidently enter combat, even if the Sphinx itself isn’t involved, and you get to bash them with a 4/4 flyer in the meantime. This is a great card even without cyclers, and it shouldn’t be hard to pick up a few of those naturally.
I kind of like this lil’ scrapper. She chumps or trades for a 2/1 early, and comes out as a 4/4 later, which is a fine deal at both 1 and 6 mana. There are matchups where you will want to side her out, as she doesn’t match up well against flyers, but against any opponent with ground creatures I think she’ll prove to be good enough.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
In the spells deck, this is a solid finisher and can even be a nice surprise defender. You leave mana up and your opponent might not attack into it, after which you just get to scry end of turn. Of course, it’s just dead in a spell-light deck, so keep in mind that you want 10+ spells for this to be a riddle worth solving.
Seer of the Last Tomorrow
There may actually be a mill deck in the works here. Seer offers a good defensive body for only 3 mana, and can act as a win condition if the board stalls. Be aware that discarding a card is a high price, and you get punished pretty hard if you mill them for 12 and then this dies, leaving you down 4 cards without accomplishing anything.
This strikes me as excellent value. It trades up for 3-toughness creatures initially, and comes back as a potent finisher. You do have to discard a card to bring it back so it’s not all just free, but it’s still a great card.
If an aggressive blue deck exists, I could see this moving up a notch. I’m a little skeptical, but open to the idea. In a control deck, this doesn’t block well, and putting random 2/1 beaters into midrange usually doesn’t work out well. At least Tah-Crop Skirmisher gets value when it blocks, whereas Spellweaver Eternal is geared much more toward aggression.
Besides tanking the value of Portal Three Kingdoms Strategic Plannings (this card used to be worth way more than you’d think), this is exactly medium filler for Limited. It’s rarely bad to add Strategic Planning to your deck, but it’s also never great. It gives you something to do early if your deck is short on plays, and gives you a bit of card selection plus a combo with graveyard effects like eternalize. In short, it’s a fine card but nothing you really need to prioritize.
I’m still a fan of 1-mana cyclers despite how fast Amonkhet was, and this does a good job of cycling early and being a real threat late.
I really like this split card. When the Mana Leak aspect is dead, it’s an Impulse, and the combo of those two cards leaves you with an interactive card that helps dig for better options. This mitigates the drawback of counterspells, since you always get to use the card for something, and I’d look to play this every time.
As much as I like sweet build-arounds, paying 7 mana for a card and then needing to untap and have more spells to play sounds like too much. I’ll try this, I’m sure, but I’m not claiming it’s intelligent of me to do so.
Making Divination an instant isn’t a huge draw in Limited, and adding the return a land or discard drawback is tragic. I’m not into this, and despite my love for card draw, have trouble justifying it.
Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign
I doubt the cost reduction part of the card will ever really matter unless you’re lucky as hell, but a 6-mana 4/4 flyer that comes with a mini-Fact or Fiction is still really sweet. This is a huge threat and draws you some cards, which is exactly what I’m looking for as the top of my curve.
Making your opponent’s creatures thirsty seems like a pretty good plan, and I love the Desert text (for both flavor and game play). One thing that makes this a little less good than it would be otherwise is how many untap effects are in this block, thanks to exert, which makes this take some splash damage. Delicious, refreshing, splash damage.
Given how impressive Winds of Rebuke ended up being, I’m starting high on Unsummon. It’s efficient, can be used on both your creatures and your opponent’s, and will come in handy in almost every matchup. Keeping 1 mana up isn’t that hard, and it wrecks combat tricks and removal spells alike.
Vizier of the Anointed
Unless you completely brick on embalm/eternalize, this is going to be a potent addition. It’s a solid body, gets you a 2-for-1 even if it dies, and can draw you many more cards if it sticks around. That’s a good recipe, and a lot of value for 1 card.
Top 3 Blue Commons
I could see both Cunning Survivor and Striped Riverwinder over Proven Combatant, but I like the cheap interaction plus potential for a 2-for-1. Blue has some solid aggressive commons here, as Aerial Guide and Unsummon press the advantage well. It will be interesting to see where blue lands, as there is a fair amount of support for beatdown, which would be different than most sets.