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]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]. [card]Preordain[/card]. In light of recent bannings, let’s go with [card]Scalding Tarn[/card] and [card]Dismember[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Raging Ravine[/card]. [card]Lotus Cobra[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Spell Pierce[/card]. [card]Goblin Guide[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Rampant Growth[/card]. [card]Khalni Heart Expedition[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Celestial Purge[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why 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%).[draft]Abattoir Ghoul[/draft]
This has a kind of ghoul ability, but his stats aren’t anywhere near good enough to avoid getting butchered in Constructed.
As gross as the picture is, the card might even be grosser in combat. It battles very well, especially with one of the many equipments in the set, and even rewards you for battling. Plus, he’s a Zombie, which means that after they expend a bunch of cards and effort to get rid of him, you get to Ghoulraise him right up.[draft]Altar’s Reap[/draft]
You reap what you sow, and in this case, putting this in your deck seems like sowing the fields with salt. The cost is just too high, and there are better ways to either draw cards or sacrifice creatures (or both). For two mana and a creature I’d hope for a more game altering effect than this.
I’ve been surprisingly impressed by this, though I guess since it does draw cards, maybe that isn’t so surprising. Both the Zombie deck with Ghoulraisers and the white sacrifice/token deck can easily fuel this, and it still is a 2 for 1 when played in response to removal. If you don’t have any good combos with it and most of your creatures are good, don’t bother, but most of the time this will make the cut.[draft]Army of the Damned[/draft]
Army of the Damned
I really hope this is good, just because of how sweet it is. Coming in tapped is tough, since it really makes this bad when you are behind, and it already costs a million. Flashback is nice, even if mostly unnecessary, but I like that it gets around Day of Judgment fairly handily. Milling this and just flashing it back seems ambitious, so it might just be the high end of a black control deck, possibly out of the sideboard. If it resolves, it’s pretty damn good, and that alone might make it playable in some form or another.
Here, you really don’t need the flashback, since if the first wave doesn’t kill them, I’m not sure what will. It costs eight and doesn’t block, which is annoying, but it should end the game quite handily. If the format is particularly slow, which I’m not sure about yet, it might go up in value, and it seems really good in Sealed.[draft]Bitterheart Witch[/draft]
I want to figure out a way to utilize this, but at the moment, I only see one Curse that’s worth playing ([card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card]). That being the case, I’m not sure how much value there is in trying to play the Witch, sacrifice it to something, and then get the Curse, instead of just tapping five and playing the Curse. The obvious exception to this is Birthing Pod, since you can now tutor for the Witch, and then next turn (or the same, if you have multiple Pods) sacrifice it. As more Curses come out, the Witch’s stock will rise, but for now it seems somewhat marginal.
The base stats alone aren’t horrendous here, though they are certainly not exciting. At the very least, the Witch will trade for some random ground guy, but the next part is what will determine how good it actually is. The 64,000 dollar question is: do you have Curse of Death’s Hold or not? If not, you aren’t getting much of interest. None of the other curses seem particularly backbreaking, even though fetching one for free is probably worth your time. Even getting a mediocre curse makes this playable, due to its defensive capability, and if you are lucky enough to have Death’s Hold, Witch becomes a very high pick.[draft]Bloodgift Demon[/draft]
Even with Jace gone, I’m a little wary about investing five mana into a guy that doesn’t protect himself. If he survives, it’s all well and good, but it certainly isn’t a given. Of course, if he does stick around, he comes bearing gifts. Drawing two a turn and smashing for five should end the game in short order, and if for some reason you are foolish enough to find yourself at 1, feel free to give them an extra card or two. The cost on this is aggressive enough to maybe see some play, which most certainly wouldn’t have happened at six mana.
Yep. Not only is this a huge undercosted flier, it draws you two a turn, with the alternate mode of trying to slowly burn them out. It even costs less than most Dragons, making it one of the best cards in the set (black got a lot of them this time around).[draft]Bloodline Keeper
Lord of Lineage[/draft]
Bloodline Keeper/Lord of Lineage
With [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and [card]Searing Blaze[/card] gone, three toughness creatures might actually have a shot at making the big time. If you untap, this starts cranking out Vampires for no mana cost, and will probably flip in short order, assuming you have more Vampires in your deck. Not being able to attack while making Vampires is a fairly large drawback, so hopefully the value gained by getting a free 2/2 every turn is still attractive enough to keep this in the running.
And the award for best transform card goes to…Bloodline Keeper! If I open this, I’m immediately slamming it, even if the guy to my right is also taking a black card; it’s just that good. I’ve even gotten to cast it already, in the best deck I’ve had so far:
Yeah, Bloodline Keeper just isn’t a real card in Limited; to add insult to injury, he’s a 3/3 flier for four![draft]Brain Weevil[/draft]
Oh look, another very gross card that anyone with a brain realizes is Constructed unplayable.
I like this more than [card]Mind Rot[/card], even if Mind Rot isn’t exactly a Limited All-Star. Having the option to peck in for a point a turn is nice, and enabling morbid at will is even better. I usually end up playing this, even if I’m not all that thrilled about it.[draft]Bump in the Night[/draft]
Bump in the Night
If you are looking for [card]Lava Spike[/card]s, this is definitely a card. The main problem I see is that most Lava Spike decks are mono-red; if they were multicolored, they would certainly have better things to do than just Lava Spike the opponent. That, along with the fairly horrible state of manafixing in Standard, leads me to suspect that things will not be going bump in the night all that often.
This is essentially a multicolored Lava Axe, so if the B/R deck you are running would be interested in the Axe, this is a fine playable. It has some minor synergies with cards like Burning Vengeance and Runic Repetition, though I’d certainly hope not to be a Grixis Lava Axe deck. Black-Red doesn’t feel all that beatdown to me, but maybe I’ve just drafted more controlling versions so far just due to my natural tendencies.[draft]Corpse Lunge[/draft]
Not even over my dead body will this see a moment of play.
Lunges lose value incredibly quickly, depending on the rest of your deck. The first, with no Skaab guys, is certainly good, but subsequent ones greatly increase the risk of you ending up with uncastables in hand. I haven’t come close to cutting one yet, but I have definitely passed them for worse cards, just because I don’t want to cram my deck full of situational nonsense, even if that nonsense is removal.[draft]Curse of Death’s Hold[/draft]
Curse of Death’s Hold
I’m not sure how many people remember [card]Night of Soul’s Betrayal[/card], but it has seen a reasonable amount of play over the course of its history. This is Night plus one mana, along with a number of advantages. Not only does it only hit them, it gets much better in multiples, which are both huge differences. How good this ends up being is mostly dependent on what creatures look like in the new Standard, but I think it’s going to end up being very influential. As a sideboard card, it seems sweet, hosing entire archetypes, and even as a maindeck card, it kills all sorts of mana creatures, Snapcaster Mages, and more.
In my very first Innistrad draft, I got this fourth, and happily snapped up a Bitterheart Witch fifth. It was probably only because it was the first draft that this went so late, since after playing with it, I can attest as to its effectiveness. Even if it doesn’t outright kill all their creatures, it weakens them significantly, and only against green and its werewolves was it not completely devastating (though it was still good).[draft]Curse of Oblivion[/draft]
Curse of Oblivion
If this is what you want, look into acquiring some [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card]s or [card leyline of the void]Leylines of the Void[/card], lest you be the one cursed with a game loss.
This shares the same drawbacks as other graveyard hate spells, along with a few unique ones of its own…it is slow, it isn’t targeted, and it costs more mana. It is a little more effective against the Skaab clan deck, so keep that in mind, though they can just mill and play their guys immediately if they have to. I’ll be surprised if I ever have this in play during this format.[draft]Dead Weight[/draft]
Only the fact that [card]Disfigure[/card] was awesome is keeping me from calling this dead weight, but I still suspect that it is. It’s sorcery speed, it doesn’t work with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], and the advantage of being able to put it on bigger creatures is negligible.
Here, I’m glad to trade instant speed for the option of weakening a larger creature, making this one of the top commons in the set. I usually don’t weight for better targets, since it doesn’t usually deal with their high end anyways, so just run it out early.[draft]Diregraf Ghoul[/draft]
I’ll be in dire straights if I’m ever casting this myself, though I won’t begrudge it to others. One mana 2/2’s tend to see Constructed play, even the ones that can’t block the turn they are cast.
Sure, why not? It isn’t a great card, obviously, seeing as it’s just a 2/2, but it is a Zombie, and it is cheap.[draft]Disciple of Griselbrand[/draft]
Disciple of Griselbrand
Couldn’t they have at least made this a Disciple of [card]Gristleback[/card]? Mmm, delicious Gristle…
You have to have some serious morbid synergy going on before playing this, and some light token-making or Ghoulraising wouldn’t hurt either. I’ve yet to see this get in there, and suspect that it won’t most of the time.[draft]Endless Ranks of the Dead[/draft]
ENDLESS RANKS OF THE DEAD
Sorry, the name just felt like it had to be capitalized. The card obviously is a blank for Constructed, since if you have ranks of the dead, they don’t need to be endless, making this a classic win-more. The art is fantastic though, easily one of my favorite of the set (and I have a lot of favorites).
Here it’s a little more likely that you can amass an army of Zombies, even if not by much. Needing two Zombies in play to make one a turn is tough, since it is just way too easy for things to go wrong. If you have 10+ Zombies, I like the card, but that doesn’t seem like it will be common so far.[draft]Falkenrath Noble[/draft]
I like his ability to Falk up combat math, but combat doesn’t actually happen in Constructed. Things get played, they get killed, and life goes on, so paying four mana for an incremental advantage guy, however noble, just isn’t going to work.
There aren’t many cards more dangerous than this; [card]Disciple of the Vault[/card] plus lifegain on ANY creature is insane. With the Noble in play, all you have to do is survive, and you will probably win, since the advantage he gives you in a long game is huge. Building around him is even better, what with tokens and the like, which makes him that much better.[draft]Ghoulcaller’s Chant[/draft]
Don’t call it a comeback. No, really, just don’t.
You don’t actually need Zombies to call this a playable, and if you do have 5+ Zombies, it becomes quite desirable. It probably isn’t worth getting too greedy, but if you can afford to, wait until you get full value.[draft]Ghoulraiser[/draft]
Any Constructed format that would allow this to be played needs to raise its barrier to entry.
Card advantage is card advantage, even if it takes a little work. I’ve played this with as few as two other Zombies, and it was fine, though I’d recommend trying to pick up more. I’m not a huge fan of it getting a guy at random, but whatever, I’ll take an extra card.[draft]Gruesome Deformity[/draft]
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the best Gruesome of all?
(Hint: it’s the [card gruesome encore]Encore[/card])
Things would have to get pretty ugly before I’d play this, and ideally they never do.[draft]Heartless Summoning[/draft]
Any effect this powerful deserves a second look, even if it seems narrow. The best use for it seems like a deck with [card]Phyrexian Rager[/card], [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card], [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card], and [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], since the -1/-1 doesn’t hurt most of those guys that badly (there’s a reason [card]Grave Titan[/card] isn’t on the list), and all of them are powerful in their own right. You want to avoid making a deck that is terrible when it doesn’t draw Heartless Summoning, yet still uses it effectively when it is drawn. That unfortunately rules out decks with Birthing Pod or Snapcaster Mage, for the most part, but a shell like I mentioned above might be a good place to start.
I’d really like to see the deck where this is good, and will actually issue a challenge to that effect (summoning Travis Woo to the draft area). I won’t mind being proven wrong, though I doubt it’s gonna happen.[draft]Liliana of the Veil[/draft]
Liliana of the Veil
3 mana? Check.
Protects itself? Check.
Gains value every turn? Check and check.
Yep, Liliana looks good. Much like [card]Jace Beleren[/card], as long as you don’t go in expecting huge swings, she is going to deliver. She is a Planeswalker you can unashamedly play four of, and will. Be aware that other decks will also be built to utilize her +1 ability, so it isn’t a complete blowout, even if you are getting value out of it. I’m happy just Edicting them and having her die to an attack, since Edict plus 2-3 life is still a fine deal, and every now and then they won’t have the second guy, making her a huge beating.
My least favorite thing about Liliana is that they chose to use her as the art for the Pro Tour Philadelphia T-Shirt, leaving me with this shirt that just has her in a bikini, thus fulfilling all the negative stereotypes about fantasy games and art. Was that really necessary?
Liliana actually isn’t the most absurd thing ever in Limited, though she still is quite good. You aren’t going to be able to reliably turn the +1 into a big advantage, so she is basically just an Edict machine. Sounds good to me![draft]Manor Skeleton[/draft]
Manor Skeleton: You decide! (courtesy of Matt Sperling)
The really important part of this card is the Haste, since that’s what really ties it all together. Past that, it still blocks reasonably well, and is about what it looks like; a mediocre blocker, and a solid (if unexciting) playable.[draft]Markov Patrician[/draft]
So, what, this is the Mother of Night? Much like the Child, this sorta thing just doesn’t fly in Constructed (or at all; they just have lifelink).
The most common use for this is as a reverse Searing Blaze; you will play it, trade it for some random ground creature, and gain three. That’s a good deal, and if you do manage to clear the path via removal, the life swing is huge.[draft]Maw of the Mire[/draft]
Maw of the Mire
Sorry Maw, Timmy doesn’t play in tournaments.
They would have to be playing some really absurd brew before I’d ask Maw for help, and even then the plan is suspect. I suppose there is also the possibility that it is worth siding this in against a burn type deck, but that also seems sketchy.[draft]Moan of the Unhallowed[/draft]
Moan of the Unhallowed
Even though it would be unbalancing for Limited, the numbers needed to be a little better here for Constructed applicability. You can moan all you want about how [card]Grizzly Fate [/card]was a card and all that, but this falls well short of that.
I guess [card]Flametongue Kavu[/card] was oppressive enough that R&D is determined to banish any possibility of it returning, what with this costing five mana and having a difficult-to-meet trigger condition.
So far, this has been less impressive than I initially thought it would be. I’m not saying that I’m going to pass it very often, but activating it is more difficult than it looks. It seems like it kills a guy around half the times it’s drawn, which makes it good but not windmill-slam great (especially once they know about it).[draft]Night Terrors[/draft]
Replacing [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] with this is enough to give me night terrors, that I can agree with.
I’m at the point where I almost always maindeck the first Night Terrors, and run the second about 1/3 of the time. It’s a very solid turn three play, and exiling instead of just discarding is obviously quite relevant. As with most discard, it’s a bad topdeck, but that shouldn’t scare you away from running it.[draft]Reaper from the Abyss[/draft]
Reaper from the Abyss
Times are grim when your six-drop needs additional help in order to do his job. Even if Grave Titan didn’t exist, there would be about a million other big threats that would see play before this does.
Yeah, this card is real. How did black get all the insane cards this time around?[draft]Rotting Fensnake[/draft]
The [card dross crocodile]Drossodile[/card] returns, and is as rotten as he was the first time!
I’m not saying the Snake is awesome, but it combines well with both morbid and Ghoulraiser, since it almost always ends up in the graveyard within a turn of being cast. It’s fine defensively, trading for many of the bigger guys, and does enough that I usually play it.[draft]Screeching bat
Screeching Bat/Stalking Vampire
If only this could transform into something playable…
Either side is basically fine, and more often than not this lives out its life as a Bat. If you have nothing to do, go ahead and flip it on turn five, but hopefully that isn’t the case. I do find it funny that this Vampire can be a Victim of Night while unflipped, as has happened in my drafts already.[draft]Sever the Bloodline[/draft]
Sever the Bloodline
I would say that doubling up is an unlikely occurrence, but that isn’t quite true. The old [card]Sun Titan[/card] into [card]Phantasmal Image[/card] play is going to pop up quite often, and Sever the Bloodline is one of the few non-Wrath spells that actually kills both. Add a bonus Flashback option on top of that, and we have a potential sideboard card!
Limited: 4.0[card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] with Flashback? Yeah, I’ll take it. I’ve already seen Tom Raney flash this back off of two Shimmering Grottos with Islands and Forests in play, not to mention red cards, so mise.
Seriously, Manor Skeleton, which is it? (If that didn’t make you grimace, I’m not sure I can do better)
This isn’t the worst pair of pants I’ve ever seen, but I’m not usually looking to suit up my guys with random auras to begin with. If you’ve gotta run it, at least try and land it while they are tapped out (and don’t compare this to [card]Trollhide[/card], or you are just going to get annoyed).[draft]Skirsdag High Priest[/draft]
Skirsdag High Priest
When I got this as a preview card, I for some reason started under the assumption that Vampires like Bloodghast and the like would be legal. To tell you the truth, it wouldn’t matter if they were; this isn’t really a card.
You don’t really have to do much work for this guy to win you the game; all you need is him and two friends, and for something to die. Even if he never gets activated, he puts your opponent in an awkward spot, and likely makes them unable to attack or block effectively.[draft]Stromkirk Patrol[/draft]
Captain Kirk here is definitely not strom enough to see Constructed play.
Man, I thought I had it good when I picked up a [card]Zombie Goliath[/card] or two. This guy certainly isn’t amazing, but your 22nd-23rd cards have to come from somewhere, and they may as well be here. Plus, this ability pressures people way more than it should, and will likely instigate some pretty bad blocks over the course of the next few months.[draft]Tribute to Hunger[/draft]
Tribute to Hunger
This is a poor tribute to [card]Consuming Vapors[/card], and even that was restricted to fairly marginal play. Paying one less mana for half the card just isn’t a good deal.
Edicts are never that impressive in Limited, at least when compared to Constructed. They can be pretty solid if you put in some work, and have cards like [card]Geistflame[/card] to clear out the chaff first. This is a fine card, and close enough to removal to count as such. Also, instant, werewolves, etc.[draft]Typhoid Rats[/draft]
Rats, foiled again! I was pretty close to busting out the “Rats off to ya!” graphic again, but decided that would be too gruesome of an encore.
I’ve left this in the board before, but that isn’t going to be a common occurrence. Against green, it’s fantastic, trading for any and everything they can muster up. Against other colors, results may vary, but bear in mind that blue is trying to beat down with common 4/5’s now. It usually won’t be great against white, or if you have a very aggressive deck, so sideboard it out as needed.[draft]Unbreathing Horde[/draft]
Zombies as a tribe need something really spicy to breathe the life into them, and this quite literally is not that.
Once you get a critical mass of Zombies (I feel like I keep saying that, but I guess that’s the tribe’s gimmick), this is a bruiser, and unlike [card]ENDLESS RANKS OF THE DEAD[/card], it doesn’t matter if the Zombies survive or not. Don’t take it early, since you are going to be the only one interested in it, and try to have at least 8-10 Zombies before running it.[draft]Unburial Rites[/draft]
Now this is the rite stuff. Not only is this a two for one, it can bring itself out of the graveyard without any other work, meaning that it can be discarded or milled for profit. It also is accompanied by some truly excellent support cards in Snapcaster Mage, Forbidden Alchemy, Sun Titan, and Liliana of the Veil, all of which play different roles. If Solar Flare is returning, I’m happy, seeing as how that was the first deck I ever did well with in a real tournament, and Unburial Rites looks to make it a reality.
Most of the multicolor flashback cards give you good incentives to be those colors, and Unburial Rites is the best of them all. You have to have some halfway decent creatures, but that’s really all. It’s definitely worth splashing, and U(b/w) seems to be a common color combination.[draft]Vampire Interloper[/draft]
Has Bloodghast really been reduced to this? I really hope not, except, well, I guess I only ever died to Bloodghast. That being the case, good riddance!
Formats come and go, but beatdowns are eternal. The two-mana evasion guy that can’t block has been excellent every time, and I don’t expect this one to suck (except for maybe blood. Because he’s a Vampire).[draft]Victim of Night[/draft]
Victim of Night
I guess [card]Go for the Throat[/card] was already enough, and the powers that be decided that another almost-unconditional removal spell wasn’t good for Magic. That explains the second black in the casting cost, and the total lack of interest for Constructed. In Standard, it might actually miss an embarrassing percentage of the time, depending on what decks are popular, but by far the biggest problem is that extra black mana. BB is just too tough, now and always.
On the high end of the 3.5’s, Victim of Night has no shortage of victims, even against the most monstrous of monster decks. Oh, I’m also going to refer to the Vampire, Werewolf, Zombie combination as “monsters” from now on, here and in drafts, just for simplicity’s sake. I haven’t been disappointed yet, and even if this misses here and there, you can always find something to kill.[draft]Village Cannibals[/draft]
Once again, a home run in the art department and a strikeout in the Constructed arena.
There are enough humans running around that I would play this even if I had none, and that isn’t even the most likely scenario. It’s still a 2/2 for three, which is passable, making the ability more of a bonus than anything else. If you are light on humans and they seem to be missing from the opponent’s deck, feel free to sideboard this out, but I’d start it most of the time.[draft]Walking Corpse[/draft]
Heh, Grisly Bear.
The cards this most reminds me of are actually [card]Kami of Ancient Law[/card] and [card]Glory Seeker[/card] (only while in Onslaught). Like them, it’s just a bear, but served to power up other cards, the card in question being Ghoulraiser. Getting back a 2/2 might not be the most exciting, but it sure beats getting back nothing, and there are some other random Zombie synergies
runningshambling around as well. Plus, it’s still a 2/2 for two, and those tend to be fine.
Top 5 Commons
5. [card]Corpse Lunge[/card] 4. [card]Markov Patrician[/card] 3. [card]Vampire Interloper[/card] 2. [card]Victim of Night[/card] 1. [card]Dead Weight[/card]
Besides Ghoulraiser, black doesn’t seem very concerned with synergy; it’s just a bunch of good cards. The removal is actually worse than black usually gets, and the creatures can’t seem to really settle on a firm plan of beatdown or control. I think it tends more towards beatdown, but it really could go either way.
Top 5 Constructed Cards
5. [card]Heartless Summoning[/card] 4. [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card] 3. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card] 2. [card]Unburial Rites[/card] 1. [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]
No real surprises here; Liliana seems like the best, with Unburial Rites following it closely. It drops of substantially after those two, but they are a pretty good two to have. Black made out reasonably well, and will continue as a solid support color for blue, at the very least so Forbidden Alchemy can be flashed back.