Previous Set Reviews
Limited Resources Reviews
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Alhammarret, High Arbiter
I really like the idea of dropping the Alhammarr on my unsuspecting opponents. Granted, it costs 7 mana to do so, but for that 7 mana you get a 5/5 flier and you get to negate their best card (or a spell that can kill Alhammarret). It is true that a 5/5 doesn’t dominate the board like it used to, but it’s still pretty big, and if you can get the game to a point where you can drop this it should do a good amount of work for you. Drawing multiples is bad, so I’d consider a 1-of in some kind of control deck.
There’s a chance I’m artificially inflating this rating because I like the text, but if there’s an artifact-based deck then this card is worth looking at. In order to actually be worth it, the deck has to care about this being an instant and reliably have artifacts in play, which is a tall order, though not an impossible one. This is also a way to get cards into your graveyard, if you are interested in that sort of thing.
Clash of Wills
I’m firmly of the belief that if you reveal this to clash you automatically win (and in this case, I’m referring to the mechanic from Lorwyn), but that’s not super relevant in Standard these days. What is relevant is that this is a 2-drop counterspell that isn’t bad at almost any point in the game, even if it eventually gets pretty expensive. I played a lot of Broken Ambitions (speaking of clash, funnily enough), and that was in a format full of cards like Cryptic Command and Bitterblossom. This much flexibility has value, and blue decks are sorely in need of an interactive card to play on turn two. I expect that this will get a lot of play.
This saw some niche play last time Mono-Blue Devotion was a good deck, and the same may hold true now. It does kill a creature and it does have two blue pips that hang out in play, so if Thassa is back, this may come with it.
I’ve seen people talk for days about all the different things this does, and it’s accurate to say that this is both powerful and exciting. The ways to abuse this are to a) empty your hand as rapidly as possible and cast it very early or b) cast it on the opponent’s end step with cards like Quicken or Alchemist’s Refuge. A third way to use it is more fair, which is to sideboard it in against decks that go after your hand as a way to refill. Let’s examine each possibility:
a) Generate fast mana and permanents, and use this to draw 4-5 cards while your opponent only nets 1-2. Modern Affinity looks like the best home for this, as Frank Karsten discusses in this article, and in Standard a deck with Elvish Mystic and other fast mana could be the way to go. This approach seems best in Affinity, because that’s the deck with the highest number of dump-your-hand-turn-2 draws and the deck that can take advantage of each and every permanent with Arcbound Ravager or Cranial Plating. A Standard deck with cards like Springleaf Drum and Ornithopter could mimic that, and there are other incentives to playing artifacts, but it feels a little ambitious to me. The Elvish Mystic approach also seems like it won’t quite be fast enough, so if anything works, it’s likely something with Ornithopter (and my bet is on Modern).
b) Combo’ing this out end of turn is interesting, albeit with a lot of setup cost. The question to answer here is what exactly you are doing with seven new cards. You aren’t controlling the game, so presumably you are setting up some kind of combo win, ideally at instant speed. Combos like Ad Nauseam plus Angel’s Grace do win at instant speed, which helps when you don’t draw the Quicken part, as you can cast Day’s Undoing and pass the turn. That does take a ton of mana, so the Ornithopter plan still sounds better to me.
c) The fair way to go about things may also be lucrative. Drawing seven cards is a powerful ability, and for only 3 mana it feels like there has to be a matchup where you’d want this. I kind of like the idea of this in the mono-blue Standard deck full of junky cards. You can either get the nut draw and cast it turn two or three (discussed above) or you can use it to refill mid-to-late game against decks that are trading for your cards. If it’s strong enough early and strong enough late, it could work, and combines well with cheap bounce spells and other cards that decks like that tend to like. Trading cards for board advantage sounds a lot better if you get to draw seven new ones, and Day’s Undoing could be the engine these decks are looking for.
Regardless of where this ends up, if anywhere, this is powerful enough to be interesting, and I hope it lands somewhere cool.
Disciple of the Ring
The one Disciple isn’t quite going to rule them all, but it is going to provide an interesting Morphling-esque threat in the late game. Casting this with 8+ mana goes a long way toward locking down opposing creatures and opposing spells, especially in a deck that’s chock full of spells. The biggest drawback here, and the reason I can’t give it a ringing endorsement, is that decks that would be best at fueling this already are fueling another graveyard engine: Dig Through Time. Dig is a greedy beast, and decks with four Digs don’t often hang around with a ton of spells in their graveyard. For the Disciple to be awesome, it has to have near-unlimited uses, and I don’t see that happening very often while Dig is around.
The most likely way this makes waves in Constructed is as a sideboard card. It bounces tokens like nobody’s business, and against a deck full of 1-drops, is basically a blue sweeper. Bouncing back a 1-drop and a Dragon Fodder against Mono-Red sounds awesome, and if there are enough decks that are vulnerable to this running around, it could displace some of the more traditional anti-aggro cards. Plus, blue decks don’t often have a ton of choices in this vein, so if you have a blue deck that doesn’t have access to white or black sweepers, Wave could be the answer.
If there is a mono-blue devotion deck that uses cards like Bident of Thassa, Faerie Miscreant is the kind of card it wants. That deck played all sorts of 1-drop 1/1 fliers with trinket text, and the ability to draw a card for copies 2-4 is significant. This could be a miss if such a deck doesn’t come into being, but it’s a good upgrade to the Galerider Sliver slot if it does.
Harbinger of the Tides
As with most UU-cost Merfolk, Harbinger of the Tides will do a lot more work in older formats like Modern or Legacy (or even Vintage, if you for some reason think Merfolk is a wise choice there). This can turn the tide in a race, and does a lot of work against big creatures, which Merfolk can make good use of. It really punishes the opponent for trying to race, and does so without costing the deck much. It even has the ability to be played when the opponent attacks, which lets Merfolk keep mana up and still interact, all without taking damage. Plus, using Aether Vial to drop this during attacks on turn three is just absurd, and that sort of blowout is incredibly hard to recover from. That means fewer people will attack Merfolk when they have Vial up, which is just additional value even when you don’t draw Harbinger. The presence of this card changes how Merfolk plays, and offers the deck another powerful option.
Even if this puts in a lot of work in Modern or Legacy, I can also see it being key in a blue devotion-style deck in Standard, or really any blue deck that wants to be aggressive. It’s also got potential as a sideboard card against aggro decks, as bouncing a 2-drop and blocking a 1-drop is a pretty big game for only 2 mana. The cost-value analysis here is very positive, and I like how many decisions it lends itself to, both in playing with and against it.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound
I’ve played the card Merfolk Looter as recently as a few sets ago, and Jace is way more than just a Merfolk Looter. First of all, a 0/2 Looter would be interesting already, so Jace is priced to move right out of the gates. He enables delve, can loot a few times in the early game without flipping, and is cheap enough that you don’t feel awful if he dies to removal. Starting around turn four, Jace threatens to flip, and then we are really talking. The turn Jace flips he immediately gives you the option of using a 1-shot Snapcaster Mage ability, which means re-casting a removal spell or card draw spell. A looter that flips into a Snapcaster Mage is impressive, and this one leaves a planeswalker with 2 loyalty in play afterwards. If you don’t have a good spell to cast, Jace can protect himself reasonably well, and will usually survive at least two hits from any one creature.
The amount of value Jace offers compared to how much mana he costs is fantastic, and I look forward to trying Jace in all sorts of decks. You probably can’t maindeck him as the only creature in a control deck, but in a creature-heavy deck he seems quite good. Additionally, sideboarding Jace in when you are playing control can take advantage of opponents who sided out all their removal, and pressure them to leave some in. Either way Jace sounds great, and is the 2-mana planeswalker we’ve been waiting for.
I’m not very high on this card, but I do pay attention to any card that reduces the cost of all your spells. 4 mana means you have to be dedicated to play this, as it’s not really a value card, so make sure you are operating some kind of engine before adding this to your deck. Scry 1 also doesn’t stack incredibly well, as eventually you are just going to find something, at which point all further scrys are wasted that turn.
I don’t think Scroll Thief was that far from being a sideboard option, and the addition of prowess makes Jhessian Thief much more interesting. You can steal games by running this out early in control mirrors, though now that I look at it, why aren’t you just playing Jace?
Stealing beneficial spells and negating bad ones are both within the Meddler’s range, and if there are enough good targets lying around, maybe he sees a little play. Hitting abilities does help carve out a niche, as it means that this isn’t just a more expensive Negate, so keep an eye out for cards that would be brutal if redirected.
I love having Negate in the format, and wish it were always available. It’s just the perfect sideboard card, and sometimes even makes it into main decks, all while being very fair and very good.
This is the spell version of Mizzium Meddler, and like the Meddler, requires something that would be devastating to copy before it becomes a better choice than Negate.
I may be going out on a limb here, but playing this on turn three in the blue/black mirror could be a way to end the game. Most likely it just sphinx, but new angles of attack are always good to consider. If you are drawing enough cards and they are playing enough cards of the same color, the clock isn’t that slow, and I think there’s a possibility this sees some niche sideboard play.
Talent of the Telepath
Speaking of niche sideboard play…
Cards that key off a specific type are usually best out of the board, and this is powerful enough to do work against an opponent who has a bunch of nice spells to steal. Dig Through Time sounds especially nice, though I’m not greedy—I’ll settle for a couple Anticipates.
Thopter Spy Network
Well, yes, but it’s still pretty good. As the top end of on artifact deck, this does multiple very powerful things. First, you can draw a card immediately if you have artifact attackers out when you cast this, and second, it makes a 1/1 Thopter every turn as long as you have even a Darksteel Citadel in play. This is an engine card for a specific deck, and is definitely powerful enough to build around.
I wanted to play this last time around, and it wasn’t quite good enough (actually was very much not good enough). The same is true this time, I fear, but I geist it wouldn’t hurt to mention that I like cantrip creatures, especially when they fly.
Pia and Kiran Nalaar may steal the show when it comes to 4-mana 2/2s that put Thopters into play, but Whirler Rogue has a couple key advantages: it’s blue, which is big, given what other cards you want to play, and it can make something unblockable for zero mana the instant you play it. I love cards like this: good value, not quite powerful enough to see play on their own, but synergistic enough to really make an impact if the right deck is around.
Top 5 Blue Cards
Day’s Undoing gets an honorable mention for potential brokenness, but even past that blue gets some very nice options. It gains a bunch of powerful cards from all over the spectrum: engine cards, flexible removal, tempo cards, and all at very good rates. I really hope that an artifact deck is possible, and judging by the amount of support it’s getting, it may well be.