5.0: The best of the best. (Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. Wingmate Roc.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Butcher of the Horde. Savage Knuckleblade. Crater’s Claws.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Triplicate Spirits. End Hostilities. Necropolis Fiend.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning Strike. Suspension Field.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Debilitating Injury. Mardu Hordechief. Flesh to Dust.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Glacial Stalker. Bitter Revelation. Hunt the Weak.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Dragonscale Boon. Defiant Strike. Cancel.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Scout the Borders. Aeronaut Tinkerer. Ranger’s Guile.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Tusked Colossodon. Bronze Sable. Oppressive Rays.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Naturalize. Feed the Clan. Congregate.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the City. Pyxis of Pandemonium.)
Unlike Dromoka Dunecaster, this at least taps fliers, which is very important for a tapper. However, costing 3 per use is still punishing enough that I’m not excited about the thought of running this. Handcuffing yourself by spending 3 a turn is not something you can do until the late game, and a 1/1 for 1 isn’t particularly good at any point.
A Hill Giant that lets you get through for some extra damage is a fine card early and a strong one late. Curving into this is pretty good, and it can sometimes even be tactically sound to hold this to play much later. In a non-aggressive deck, this does get a worse, but you aren’t overpaying by much for the ability. As such, if you need a creature, this does the job even if you aren’t strictly beatdown. In a pure beatdown deck, this does get better, and you should prioritize it.
Anointer of Champions
Infantry Veteran was one of the more underrated cards last time it showed up in a core set, but that this is at uncommon indicates that the development team is well aware of that. Anointer makes combat very hard for the opponent, and any deck that attacks wants as many of these as it can get. A 1-drop with a dramatic effect on the game is not something you should pass lightly.
Archangel of Tithes
A 3/5 flier for 4 is already great, and the ability here is incredibly annoying for the opponent. It makes planning their turn much more difficult, and is likely to curtail their attacks significantly. You can even choose not to attack if they leave mana up to block, which gives you a ton of control over the situation. Triple-white isn’t the easiest, but everything else about this card is very strong.
I love the presence of cards like Auramancer. This is a solid 2-for-1 as long as you put in the work, which both gives you access to card advantage and an incentive to draft for synergy. I like both of those, and will be looking to draft around this if I can get a few late. Having a minor enchantment theme makes Auramancer much more plausible, and you really only need a couple good enchantments to make this worth it.
Aven Battle Priest
An overcosted 3/3 flier is still a 3/3 flier, and the ability somewhat makes up for the extra mana you are spending. You will usually want to avoid this, but every now and then you will need an extra high drop (I’m not often short on those, so I probably won’t play a ton of these).
Besides the fact that this card is incredibly sad, it’s actually a solid flier in most decks (see, once we get past the feelings and on to the mechanics, we’re good). A 2/2 flier for three is quite playable, and I’d run it even without any enchantments. Once you get a counter or two, this is a fantastic deal, especially given that you paid no extra cost to play it in the first place (again, besides the sadness).
One of the main drawbacks with the various white “kill a creature in combat” spells is that they cost a ton of mana to keep up, and Flare gets around that nicely. On the other hand, the opponent can still effectively play around this by attacking or blocking with multiple creatures if they suspect it. It’s still a good card, as you often will be able to set it up favorably, especially if you have another trick of some kind. Unlike normal edicts (cards that make the opponent sacrifice), they can’t really attack with a 1/1 to protect their 5/5, at least as long as you have blockers. Remember that you can cast this after damage resolves and creatures die in combat, because attackers/blockers are still treated as such during the end of combat step.
Getting charged four mana for a 2/2 flier is less exciting these days, but given that this attacks as a 3/3, it’s usually going to be fine. Good defensive decks will cut this, but nobody else is likely to.
Cleric of the Forward Order
Magic is a collectible card game, so it makes sense to have a cycle of “collect them all” commons, right? I’m looking forward to playing with them, and Cleric is no exception. By itself, a 2/2 for 2 that gains 2 is neat little card, and once you are gaining 4-6 life it’s a very good deal. This one doesn’t reward you all that strongly for having multiples, at least not compared to other cards in the cycle, but it’s very good by itself. That’s a fine way to balance these cards, and I’ll be happy to play one of these by itself (and won’t heavily prioritize getting multiples). Aggro decks tend to want as many 2s as they can get and control decks will appreciate the extra life gain.
A 2/1 first strike is very likely to get a hit in if you play it on turn 2, and once this becomes renowned it’s very strong. Nothing is blocking a 3/2 first strike for quite some time, and giving your team +1/+1 every time you swing means that your other creatures are also getting some good attacks in. Even if you draw this late, it’s not that bad, and combined with a trick or two it can get a ton of value. Renowned creatures with a good payoff are magnets for blockers, and drafting tricks with that in mind can be very profitable. Double-white is a real cost, and I’m wondering how often white aggressive decks will need to play 10 Plains in this format, as that will impact what off-color cards they can realistically cast.
This is a good sideboard card because you can always just run it out if you need a chump blocker, and it’s a 1.5-for-1 if you get to kill an enchantment (I say 1.5 for 1 because a 1/1 isn’t quite a full card). It’s still a sideboard card, so don’t draft it all that highly.
One mana to save a creature and give it a little boost is a fine deal. I like when combat tricks are this cheap, as it ups the chances that you get to use them and play another spell on the same turn. This also means that you aren’t too likely to get completely blown out by an opposing trick (though a removal spell in response is still bad for you). The renowned bonus is cute, but nothing worth really prioritizing.
Kytheon, Hero of Akros // Gideon, Battle-Forged
While I do think 2/1s for 1 are generally overrated, part of that is due to how little they do in the late game. Not only does Kytheon have a very relevant late-game ability, he’s also a much bigger threat than a normal 2/1 at any point. Turning into Gideon is a beating, especially given that you are already attacking with at least three creatures when it happens.
Gideon does a good job of protecting himself by making any creature a great blocker, can lure in a small creature to pick off, and can smash the opponent when the other two abilities aren’t needed.
Fliers are a vulnerability here, and neither side is great when you are behind, but in a creature-heavy white deck, I’d expect this to be a good pick.
Even if Origins ends up being a fast format, putting four 2/2s on the board goes a long way toward making up for the fact that you spent 7 mana. This interacts very well against removal spells, puts the opponent on a reasonable clock, and will often get some good ambushing in. It is a shame that a single 3/3 can blunt your offense, but you will eat a creature so often when you cast this that it doesn’t take much more to start bashing for a ton. Spell mastery is especially good here, because by the time you can cast this, it’s fairly likely it will be active.
Grasp of the Hieromancer
I made a glaring error last time I looked at a card like this, yet I’m still going to give this a reasonably high rating. If you are the beatdown, this plays very close to a removal spell, even if it does open you up to getting 2-for-1’d by opposing removal. This is very unplayable in a non-beatdown deck, but the power when attacking is high enough that I wouldn’t mind picking it up in case you are aggressive. This is the exact kind of mediocre card that is just incredible in some draws, and if your opponent can’t answer the creature this enchants, they may just lose to it.
Every now and then you may nab a token creator or a reanimation spell, but most decks you play against won’t have anything that interacts with this. As such, it’s a sideboard card, though it is a relatively low-cost one. If you draw this and need to find something, just cycle it and move on (which technically makes it playable in the main deck if you are short cards).
It’s like a Divination, but instead of a second card you draw a 0-mana gain 4. That’s actually decent, and is a relatively painless way to achieve spell mastery. I like having cards that let my control decks do nothing for longer, and this can give you a little breathing room if you don’t have early creatures. Aggro decks definitely don’t want this, but slower decks will often play it as a curve filler that’s a fine draw in the late game.
A slightly below-rate body with a medium one-shot ability. Sign me up! This does apply heavy pressure if you curve out perfectly, but a card that’s very medium unless you have a good draw is not exactly what you should be on the lookout for.
Hixus, Prison Warden
A 5-mana 4/4 flash alone does some ambushing, which means this can really lead to huge blowouts. They attack with a 5/5 and a 3/3, you flash this in, eat the 3/3 and the 5/5 gets exiled. Sounds like a good deal to me. Do be aware that if Hixus is indeed guarding an entire prison of enemies, a well-timed removal spell or even bounce spell can be devastating.
Knight of Pilgrim’s Road
I’m always happy to send 3/2s for 3 on the warpath, or in this case, the pilgrim’s road. This is a good combination of stats and cost even without the renowned ability, and the addition of a potential +1/+1 makes this a card I’m always going to play.
Knight of the White Orchid
I like cards that reward you for being on the draw, and Knight certainly does that. Just wait until turn three, play this, and profit. It’s also a 2/2 first strike for 2 mana, which has never been a bad deal. You do need to play a lot of Plains to get full value here, as it is critical to have WW early to make sure the ability blooms successfully. I also usually wouldn’t advise missing land drops on purpose to make this work, though if you only have one more land in hand and are on the play, it’s worth considering.
After seeing how good this was in Return to Ravnica, I can verify that it is better than it looks. Five mana gets you a 2/2 and +2/+2 with haste and vigilance, which is actually a very good deal. Putting this on anything of reasonable size gives you a board-dominating threat that plays defense as well as offense. Even against removal, you are left with a 2/2, making this card advantage instead of the opposite. This being uncommon makes sense, and I’m taking a stronger stance on it than the first time I saw it.
Despite their apparent aversion to prunes, there’s not much wrong with Kytheon’s Irregulars. They smash for a lot of damage and have an extremely powerful ability. Cards that are great on turn 4 and somehow greater on turn 8 are a rare breed, and I’d snap these up at every opportunity. I just don’t see how you win a game against Irregulars plus a lot of Plains, and that’s even without factoring in their other creatures.
As with the many other versions of this effect we’ve seen over the last year, Kytheon’s Tactics is unplayable in many decks and great in others. In a 16-creature aggressive deck with a low curve, it’s going to be great, and in a 12-creature midrange deck, it’s not close to playable. There’s a little tension between trying to hit spell mastery and still including enough creatures, but if you are the beatdown it doesn’t matter that much if you get vigilance, so just treat that as a bonus rather than a quest.
It’s not a huge leap to say that this is mediocre in most decks and slightly better than mediocre in the more aggressive ones. Unlike Kytheon’s Tactics, which is more like a 3.0/1.0 split card (good when you want it, unplayable otherwise), Mighty Leap is a pretty consistent 1.5. You will play it sometimes, but it will never be great.
4th-wall-breaking name aside, this card is not very good. It’s worth investigating as a sideboard card against a deck full of big ground creatures and not very much removal, but that’s so rare that you shouldn’t really plan for it.
Patron of the Valiant
A 5-mana 4/4 flier with an upside (even if slight) is pretty good in all but the fastest Limited formats. I wouldn’t make too much of an effort to build around this—if it gives you a counter or two, that’s a nice bonus more than it is an engine. It is nice that you want to play all the renown cards anyway, so you aren’t paying much of a cost on either end when this works.
This is a card I’d seek out even without a single piece of equipment in my deck, as a 2/2 renown for 2 is quite acceptable. There aren’t a ton of exciting weapons to pick up, and this is not an excuse to play some of the bad ones (like Brawler’s Plate). If you get a Throwing Knife or a Sword of the Animist, go for it, but don’t pick them much higher because your 2-drop may have a shot at searching for them.
Sentinel of the Eternal Watch
It is pretty hard to imagine the opponent attacking when you have this in play. She gets to tap their biggest creature immediately, and at 4/6 there’s not much that can challenge her on the ground. I’ll be eternally grateful if I ever get to open this in Sealed, and I foresee Sentinel being a giant beating.
Sigil of the Empty Throne
Limited: 1.5 to 3.0 (Approach with Caution)
It’s hard to give this a relevant number, as it’s completely unplayable or it’s the linchpin of your deck. I don’t think you want to snap off first-picking this, based on the other enchantments in the set, but if you see this in pack two after you already have 3 or so enchantments in your pile that’s a different story. If you can get up to 7-8 enchantments you want to play, Sigil starts getting interesting. It only takes two Angels before this card is worth the effort, and the idea of going off with Auramancer and the like sounds awesome. I’ll have a better sense of whether this is an empty promise or actual engine once I draft the set, and I do love finding out with cards like this.
A 2/4 flier at common is aggressive (don’t let the 1/3 starting stats fool you), and I anticipate this being one of white’s common stalwarts. There are times where renown won’t be easily turned on, but for the most part this will function as a 2/4 that can’t block as a 2/4 for the first two turns, which is a great deal for three mana.
Starfield of Nyx
Sigil of the Empty Throne is a tricky buildaround with high payoff. This is far afield from that, and is more of an insanely strange buildaround that really doesn’t have a payoff. As such, I recommend passing on it for now.
Four mana makes this somewhat inefficient, but it’s still basically unconditional removal. Take these, play them, and be moderately satisfied with the medium-rate removal you are getting.
Even without spell mastery, this lives up to its name. It’s cheap to cast and kills anything that had the temerity to challenge you. Once you get spell mastery, this is just premium removal, killing anything without it getting a hit in. I still haven’t seen any cards that make me want to go all-out on achieving spell mastery, though this does get a solid upgrade once you do. Most decks will have enough spells that it’s active later in the game, which is cool because early in the game is when you can afford to take the hit before killing the creature.
I like 2-drops like this. Topan Freeblade is good in basically in any deck, which makes me feel a lot better about playing it in the control decks that don’t really want 2-drops in general. Paying 2 mana for a 2/2 is standard, so getting multiple good abilities for free is great.
As goofy as this card looks, it does draw you an extra card. If you have two decent Auras to get, I’d run this, as it is worth paying 5 mana for a 2/5 that picks up a removal spell (assuming you are getting Suppression Bonds). Plus, gotta play for the Harte of the cards.
This card seems like it is quite good. Killing everything but your best creature and your opponent’s worst creature is very powerful, and the only drawback is that it doesn’t do a ton if they are on 1-2 creatures. That’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Valor in Akros
This effect is undoubtedly powerful, and will also undoubtedly be overrated. If you can keep up a steady stream of creatures, this does let you attack effectively, but playing a noncreature spell that takes a full turn to cast and does nothing without a followup is exactly how you lose games of Magic. In a deck with a ton of creatures, I’d run this, but I wouldn’t expect it to always be awesome.
The effect here is slightly more likely to benefit you than not, given you are playing a creature-heavy deck, but either way I’m fine playing a 2/1 flier for three. Maybe don’t include this in an all-spell blue/white control deck, but otherwise you are probably good.
Good luck racing this card. War Oracle is great without renown and greater still once she gets a hit in. This looks like one of the premier uncommons, and I wouldn’t recommend passing her if you are playing white.
Man, that Ox is yoked. Does he work out?
Top 5 White Commons
The best white commons are all solid and all very close together. In particular, the top two could swap fairly easily, though I think I’m going to start by taking the potentially large flier. All three cheap renown creature seem aggressively costed, where you aren’t really paying for the ability as all. That makes me want to play them, and makes combat tricks a decent amount better. As usual, white does seem aggressive, and in general I think you will want your white decks to be attacking.