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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.
From the first pack of Revised I ever opened until now, Air Elemental has been a powerhouse. A 4/4 flyer for 5 is a great addition to any Limited deck, and you’ll be happy to have it.
The uses for this are few and far between. You need to have the odd combination of multiple great tribal payoffs while also failing to have enough ways to fulfill them. Even then, if you draw those payoffs and don’t draw Adaptation, or vice versa, your deck doesn’t really work. I’d pass on this in all but the strangest circumstances.
Cancel always hovers between a 1.0 and a 2.5 or so, with the most likely grade being 1.5. Most formats aren’t that kind to 3-mana counters that require double-blue, as the payoff for casting it is that you traded 1-for-1 and the punishment for having it sit in your hand is severe. I’d start by assuming this is marginally playable, and upgrade that if it turns out the format is slow enough.
Chart a Course
At worst, this is draw 2 then discard 1, which is a serviceable deal for 2 mana. At best, it’s a straight-up draw 2, and a card I want in any Limited deck. It’s not hard to enable this, and you should be happy to have it in every deck. Even aggressive decks, which often don’t want card draw, will play this, as you will almost never have to discard thanks to your frequent attacks.
This is the most prized of all cards, a 2-drop that’s great on turn 2 and very strong late in the game. Chipping in for 2 and looting is a good deal already, and being able to slip by defenses once you have extra mana makes this an auto-play in every deck.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
If you have two good hits, I’d be happy to run this. With only one, it’s playable but not exciting. With none, it’s clearly dregs, and all that sums up the card nicely. There aren’t so many targets for this that I’d take it early, but once I had one good one I’d have my eye on this.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
Goblinslide returns, and with hexproof! Merfolkslide is an intriguing card, and rewards you pretty heavily if you can get 10+ Merfolk into your deck. I wouldn’t snap this up too early, as nobody else is likely to want it, but it does provide a good ground army if you get it in the right deck. Hexproof is a funny ability to have on 1/1s, but it’s better than nothing.
Depths of Desire
I’d almost always run the first one of these, as a bounce spell that doubles as 1-shot ramp plus minor color fixing is a good deal for 3. Bounce spells do tend to get worse in multiples, as they are intrinsically card disadvantage, but I suspect most decks will desire one or two of these.
Combat tricks that don’t increase power tend to be suspect at best, and I’m somewhat down on this as a result. It’s a fine sideboard card against removal, or if you know the matchup is going to feature a lot of 3/3s and 4/4s on each side, but I wouldn’t start it.
Dreamcaller Siren doesn’t need other Pirates to be a potent threat, as a 3/3 flyer with flash is a fantastic deal for 4 mana. Being unable to block ground creatures does make Dreamcaller Siren less likely to completely snap off the opponent, though it’s still nice to play this end of turn and start smashing. Once you factor in the huge combat swing when you do have Pirates, this goes from an efficient beater to a game-changer, and a card I’d certainly call a dream.
Stealing opposing creatures has always been bomb-level territory, and no matter how many times you hear the same song, it doesn’t get old. This isn’t the most efficient iteration we’ve seen, but paying 2 mana on top of the cost of the creature is still a price I’ll gladly pay for such a swingy effect.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
In most decks, this is unplayable, but once you have 7+ flyers, especially cheap ones, it becomes a potent build-around. It’s a little tricky because most decks full of flyers are already great, but why not make a great deck even better if you can?
This is essentially graded as a 7-mana 6/6, because milling half the opponent’s library just isn’t that relevant an effect if you are attacking with such a monstrous creature. There are some games where that will matter, but for the most part this is an expensive finisher, and not a very notable one at that.
This can help you make headwater in filling out your curve, but that’s about it. If you really need a 4-drop, or are a heavy Merfolk deck, there are fishier things you could spend 4 mana on.
Herald of Secret Streams
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
In the right deck, this is a playable finisher, though it often won’t be necessary. If you’re doing a good job accumulating +1/+1 counters, the last thing you need is a card that makes your creatures better at evasion, and a 2/3 for 4 isn’t something I’m excited about. The main thing this makes me think of is someone streaming on Twitch without telling anyone, which then leads me to mention the best slogan I’ve seen on a shirt: “Stream like nobody is watching.” Also, you probably shouldn’t play this card.
Jace, Cunning Castaway
The bulk of Jace’s power is in the -2 (and certainly not his arms—I’m gonna say that Jace does not lift). Making a 2/2 and sticking around to provide value isn’t bad, and if you can protect Jace and get to 5, you get multiple tokens and a lot of card flow. If you are ahead, Jace is very good. If you are at parity, he pressures the opponent, and unless you are too far behind, he’s still worth the low investment of 3 mana. Jace may not be a windmill slam like some other planeswalkers, but the combination of affecting the board and getting to an ultimate quickly does make him a good early pick.
Kopala, Warden of Waves
Making your Merfolk a little harder to target isn’t going to make waves in most games of Limited, and a 3-mana 2/2 just doesn’t excite me. I’d play this in a dedicated Merfolk deck, but it’s not a build-around and not something I’d prioritize. All too often, the opponent is just going to ignore it, point their removal at non-Merfolk creatures, or just pay 2 mana and have it not disrupt their plans.
I will always be on the lookout for this in a dedicated Pirate deck (6+), and it’s a fine playable even in decks with just a few Pirates. I’ve played Convolute before, and getting a counter for 2 mana can lead to some mana-efficient turns.
This card is aptly-named—not only does there not look to be a supported mill deck, this requires you to attack each turn in order to mill the opponent. That goes against the primary advantage of mill decks, which is that you can play defensively and not waste resources trying to put together an offense. I’d avoid this.
One With the Wind
I am not a leaf on the wind, and hopefully none of my creatures will be either. I will grant that this card gets games over with quickly, and putting it on a 4/4 Dinosaur is threatening, but I don’t mind working a little harder for my wins, instead of hoping the opponent doesn’t have a removal spell. If you end up in a blue aggressive deck without many flyers, that’s the most likely place for this to appear.
The ratings system breaks down a tiny bit here—I’ll always play Opt since it makes your deck more consistent at little cost, but it’s not a card I’d take over premium removal or cards that fill out your curve. It is a nice addition to any deck, and I’d happily play 2 or even 3.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.5
In most decks, this isn’t a playable. Spending 7 mana and not affecting the board is no way to go through life. In a control deck, this seems like a passable win condition, though it’s still rough to stabilize, then play this, then hope to untap one more time. I’m certainly interested in using this to win the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was worse than just a 7-mana 6/6 or the like.
It’s a shame this doesn’t reward you for bouncing the cards you really want to bounce (expensive ones), but it’s still a cheap bounce spell with upside if you do bounce something cheap. Not being able to target your own stuff is a real drawback, so keep that in mind—this has lost a lot of flexibility as a result.
I like the combination of drawing cards and getting a bonus mana to pay for them, though I’m aware that not every deck will want expensive card draw. The Prize also goes down as you get multiples, as there are only so many slots you can dedicate to effects like this. As for how many slots, I’m guessing 2-4, though I’m willing to find out what the upper limit is.
I really like Prosperous Pirates in a ramp deck. As the top of your curve, they aren’t quite as exciting, but getting you to at least 7 mana makes them useful for enabling sweet plays while playing good defense themselves.
Limited: 1.0 // 3.0
You shouldn’t play this in a non-Merfolk deck, though I suspect it’ll sneak its way in more often than it should. In an aggressive Merfolk deck this looks great, and an easy way to clock the opponent for a solid 2 damage a turn.
Bouncing your opponent’s entire board is quite the bounty, and well worth paying 6 mana for. If you start with this, aim to draft an aggressive deck, and you will be rewarded richly.
I’m happy playing Run Aground, as it trades for a card and leaves you either up mana or neutral in almost every case. That plus the ability to mess up combat and disrupt the opponent’s plays makes it a solid playable that I’ll always run.
Sailor of Means
I like the support for blue ramp here, as this fits perfectly into a control deck. It gives you a good blocker and a one-shot mana accelerant, all of which costs you only 3 mana. Aggressive decks will pass on this, but midrange and control shouldn’t.
There isn’t a huge cost to having this without other Merfolk, as a 2/1 for 2 is only slightly below average. As such, I’d prioritize it in a heavy Merfolk deck, but would still play it with just a few other fishy friends, assuming your curve needs a 2-drop.
One-shot looting is a good way to make this relevant in the late game, though it’s not so powerful that it is a card I’m excited about at any point. It’s got the same fail case as Shaper Apprentice with a much lower upside, and in a tribe that seems to care about critical mass a lot less. In this case, not looting may be correct.
Limited: 1.0 // 2.0
In no deck is this amazing, though I will be playing it in my control decks. If you’re in the market for an 0/3 blocker, this is a keeper, though I know you really just want an excuse to play an un-delved Treasure Cruise. That actually seems legit to me, and I’m curious if Trilobite Control is a viable strategy, especially given the random Treasure counters floating around.
Either this is a 3-mana 1/2 flyer that draws you a card or it’s a 2/3 flyer that lets you scry 1. Those are both fantastic deals, and it doesn’t take an alluring song to get me to play this.
I like this card quite a bit. It is a 1/1 flyer for 1, which I always warn is overplayed, but being able to protect you or a creature you control later in the game more than justifies its inclusion. There are matchups where I’d side this out, as you do want the ability to be useful in order to make the cut, but I’d be happy maindecking it (especially in a raid-focused deck).
Limited: 1.0 // 2.5
In a Pirate deck, especially one with many ETB effects, I’d happily run this. Outside of that, it’s a sideboard card against removal, and not a particularly powerful one at that.
This is an awesome Constructed reprint, but a marginal Limited one. Side it in only if your opponent has multiple expensive spells, or if the matchup is very fast and they have a good amount of cheap removal spells they are inclined to play early.
If you land this on an expensive spell, you really did swindle your opponent. That said, leaving 5 mana up is not trivial, and you aren’t even guaranteed to have expensive cards to play with all that hard-earned Treasure. I like this in control decks, especially ones with lots of other instants (so that you don’t waste your mana if you end up not being able to play this).
Storm Fleet Aerialist
This is both a raid reward and a raid enabler, and does a very good job on either side. I’m a fan of Storm Fleet Aerialist in any halfway aggressive deck, as triggering raid isn’t hard and getting a 2/3 flyer for 2 is a very good deal.
Storm Fleet Spy
The same largely goes for Storm Fleet Spy—if you have 10+ creatures in your deck, I’d run this, and there’s even less need to be aggressive. This is just good value, and it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to get an extra card from it.
Now this is an interesting one. A 3/2 that can’t be blocked is very powerful, and this nominally has a drawback of bouncing one of your creatures in order to make up for that (note that this will bounce itself if it’s your only creature). But bouncing creatures with good enters-the-battlefield abilities seems like a natural fit, making Storm Sculptor a powerful engine and a substantial threat. I like this card, though some decks won’t be able to play it (decks that are creature-light or have too high a curve). Decks with a low curve or lots of synergy will easily be able to sculpt games where this is awesome, and I think this may be the most interesting common to evaluate. Its value is going to fluctuate wildly, and figuring out when you want it will be a way to gain a good edge.
In aggressive decks, this is a great finisher, while also being fine to run out on turn 5 or 6 to get a couple of damage through. I wouldn’t call it a bomb, but it’s exactly what aggro needs to close out games.
I like this effect in just about any deck, as it helps push aggression or stabilize when you are behind. It’s even a Merfolk, which is a substantial bonus for some decks.
This set of stats and abilities always performs worse than it looks, so I’m going to start low on Wind Strider. 5 is just a lot of mana, and this rarely ends up ambushing the opponent, making it unexciting in a format with a lot of powerful things going on.
Top 5 Blue Commons
I can see an argument for Shaper Apprentice (and it’s possible I’m too low on that ratings-wise as well), but the top couple commons are solid. They all fit in any sort of deck, and all provide either good value or good interaction, or both. Blue looks flexible, and could be a good way to support aggro and control decks alike.