Alrighty, looks like it’s time for blue, the color of free spells, sweet fliers, and even some card draw! As usual, the ratings are as follows:

Constructed

5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf.

4.0: Format staple. Stoneforge Mystic. Preordain.

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. Raging Ravine. Lotus Cobra.

3.0: Archetype staple. Spell Pierce. Goblin Guide.

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. Precursor Golem. Khalni Heart Expedition.

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why 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.)

Limited

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%).

 

Argent Mutation 

Constructed: 1.0

It’s like a one-mana cantrip that mutated into three mana, and therefore was rendered unplayable. This effect for one mana still wouldn’t be that good, and at three has no shot.

Limited: 1.0

If this worked in reverse fashion, it would be way more interesting. Dodging the various Shatters is a lot more impressive than dodging Go for the Throat and….that’s it. It has some utility in granting instant metalcraft, but that’s more cute than useful.

 

Arm with Aether 

Constructed: 1.0

Ever hear of the saying “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight?” Well, when you are Armed with Aether, it’s like bringing a sock full of marshmallows instead.

Limited: 0.5

For this to be worth it, you need to bounce two guys, which means you are hitting with multiple unblocked guys through their removal and blockers. That’s way too difficult to set up, and ultimately not worth it. This really needed to be an instant for it to be interesting.

 

Blighted Agent 

Constructed: 2.0

I’ve so far not been impressed with the super aggro poison decks, but if they already want Distortion Strike, this fits right in. Whether they should want cards like Distortion Strike to begin with, well, that’s another story.

Limited: 3.0

This would be much higher if it was in black or green, but even in blue it delivers the beats. Equipment makes the clock absurd, and it’s a viable way to end the game in a control deck, even if you don’t have other poison cards. If you are poison, it doesn’t get much better than this; if you see James Bond, slam him.

 

Chained Throatseeker 

Constructed: 1.0

This is a real nice name. Sometimes I google cardnames if I don’t remember the exact name, since the autocorrect will tell you, but let’s just say I won’t be doing that with this one.

Limited: 2.5

I can’t imagine leaving this chained up in the sideboard. If you have literal 0 ways to poison them, it’s debatable, but most decks can pick up a random Virulent Wound or poison guy, and it still makes a massive wall. He’s like the reverse Phyrexian Juggernaut actually, and that’s more than fine.

 

Chancellor of the Spires 

Constructed: 1.0

I wonder if, on average, milling a Constructed deck hurts it more than it helps it. I guess hitting the right equipment can impact a deck with Stoneforge Mystic, but that’s pretty minor, compared to the tremendous harm you do when you happen to mill a Vengevine or the like. Of course, as much as this aspires to be playable, it really isn’t, so that whole thought exercise was irrelevant.

Limited: 4.0

The base stats are enough to sell me on this, and getting a free spell doesn’t hurt matters. Plus, milling them for 7 might actually matter in a long game. Much like all the other Chancellors, this is good stuff.

 

Corrupted Resolve 

Constructed: 2.0

Resolving spells has never been easier, what with the kind of counters we have floating around nowadays (at least in Block). This might see niche play in Standard poison, but is unlikely to be better than Mana Leak, and will definitely see play in Block. I get that Remand was a mistake (and it was), but is this really what counters have come to?

Limited: 1.0

I love me a Stoic Rebuttal, and this is much, much worse. Counterspells are already situational in Limited, and adding the stipulation that your opponent has to be poisoned makes it way worse. The payoff just isn’t there to make up for the games where this is dead in hand, and even in a dedicated poison deck (which are rarely blue), this can easily backfire.

 

Deceiver Exarch 

Constructed: 2.0

Do my eyes deceive me, or did Splinter Twin gain a new friend? This is exarchly what it needed to be worth looking into, and having four toughness is leaps and bounds better than having one. Whether this is both consistent enough and resilient enough to break the iron grip Stoneforge Mystic has on the format has yet to be seen, but it has potential. All the cards that are good against them really aren’t good against this, and you still get to play 4 Jaces (whose iron grip is going nowhere, thankyouverymuch).

Limited: 3.5

I really like this. Not only does it ambush x/1s on its own, it can ambush larger guys by untapping a friend, as well as making combat math impossible (not that Phyrexian mana was making it easy to begin with). A surprise two blockers for just three mana is tough, and that’s without mentioning this just tapping something, even if that’s less of an ambush. Plus, I’ve played the classic Horned Turtle infinite times anyways, and this is waaaaaay better. It turns out that being a very solid and extremely versatile card has its upsides.

 

Defensive Stance 

Constructed: 1.0

I’m pretty firm in my stance on this one: it’s horrible, and I’m not even sure what it’s trying to do. I’m curious what the designers were thinking, though I’m sure they’d get defensive if actually asked.

Limited: 0.5

If you absolutely cannot deal with Plague Stinger or 007, draft a better deck. If it’s too late for that, I guess you could side this in (though I’d rather lose than cast it, to be honest).

 

Gitaxian Probe 

Constructed: 3.0

This is an impressive card. It may not seem like much, but it is. How much is perfect information worth, anyway? When the cost is 2 life or one blue mana, that seems like a bargain. I wouldn’t advise playing this in a non-blue deck, unless you are running something really sweet like Cabal Therapy, my telepathy is telling me that it will be good in Standard. If we were to take a peek at post-NPH Standard, I would be surprised if this wasn’t a 1 or 2 (or more) of in Stoneforge decks, just to make sure the coast is clear. There are so many times where you will pass on casting Jace, or playing and equipping Sword, or Gideon, or whatever, just because a timely Mana Leak or Lightning Bolt would wreck you. Now, you get to employ some telepathic spies and make the best play possible. Bluffing Mana Leak just got a whole lot more dangerous, I’ll tell you that, and Spell Pierce lost a reasonable amount of value (considering that it is easier to play around Pierce than Leak once you see it). The impact that this is going to have on Constructed is pretty widespread.

Limited: 2.5

I would always play this if I was blue, and avoid it if I wasn’t. If your opponent is poison, siding it in is pretty neat too, since life loss isn’t really an issue. Seeing their hand is less important in Limited, and paying 2 life is a bigger cost than in most Constructed matchups, which is why this isn’t super exciting.

 

Impaler Shrike 

Constructed: 1.0

Vlad here may be kind of cool, but he’s no Concentrate, not that Concentrate would even be good right now.

Limited: 3.0

Aggressive fliers are always good, and this is a step up from Serum Raker. Most of the time I don’t see myself cashing it in for cards, as sweet as drawing three is. If you are whacking them with a 3-power dude, what else do you need? Of course, if you do need the cards, the option is quite powerful, so go for it.

 

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur 

Constructed: 2.5

I don’t know what’s worse, his name or his casting cost. Of course, his cost will rarely be paid, much less his name will rarely be said correctly or in full, so I guess it’s a wash. Reanimation is the most interesting way to approach this, since 10 mana isn’t really a reasonable amount to add to your mana pool. If you do reanimate this, it ends the game as soon as you peel a new 7, since that should give you enough gas to repeat the process. Sadly, that’s where it ends, since talking about how sweet a card is when reanimated is only so interesting. The problem isn’t a lack of reanimation targets, it’s the difficulty of actually reanimating something at all. A creature that literally just said “you win the game” when it enters the battlefield (and presumably was uncastable) wouldn’t even make reanimator THAT much better. Oh, and uh, I’m talking about Legacy here, in case that wasn’t clear.

Limited: 0.5

Normal decks can’t count on getting to 10 mana in really any game, so don’t even think about playing this. If you are facing some ridiculously drawn out control matchup, you can git him in there, but that’s it.

 

Mental Misstep 

Constructed: 4.0

Sorry ‘bout that whammy, Legacy! This is obviously going to shake things up tremendously. While it certainly can get played in just about every deck, there are plenty of decks that will decline to do so. Some, like Dredge, 43Lands, or Affinity, might not have the room (though I think Dredge will have to, since it is so vulnerable to Misstep itself). Others, like Stax/Ancient Tomb decks, are designed to prey on one-drops, or have none of their own. Once you don’t care about countering opposing Missteps, playing them is also less important.

So, what decks do want this? As I alluded to before, decks with crucial 1s (Aether Vial decks, I’m talking to you, and don’t think didn’t see you back there, Sensei’s Divining Top) are kind of locked into playing this, since otherwise you have little to no defense against it. I don’t actually count Zoo as a deck with crucial 1s, since even though it wants to play plenty of 1-drops, they aren’t as individually important as Vial or Lackey is to the decks that play them. However, that’s not the whole story.

The decks that can best use this are decks that have other cards that interact with it profitably. That really means Force of Will and Brainstorm, since that can pitch or shuffle back unused Missteps, though it isn’t like the card becomes dead after turn three. Casting this on Swords, Brainstorm, Ponder, Lightning Bolt, Dark Ritual, Thoughtseize etc. is effective at any point in the game; this isn’t Daze, it still counters them later. Still, being able to manage your Missteps (sounds like a self-help book) is important, since people are definitely going to build their decks with the card in mind. The best decks to start adding Misstep to are Team America, Counterbalance, and Merfolk, because all three fit the above criteria and are interested in more disruption. Ad Naus might have the card filtering, but that doesn’t mean it cares about or wants to stop a turn one Aether Vial. I’m pretty sure ANT is going to stick with Thoughtseize/Duress, with maybe some Missteps in the sideboard.

The overall effect this is going to have is significant too, because some decks will not adapt well. Like I said when talking about the High Tide vs Ad Nauseam matchup , High Tide is relegated back to tier 2 (at best) status, since fighting through Mental Misstep is something it can’t really afford to do. Dredge is also impacted, since all sorts of decks now get to pack 8 ways to stop the turn 1 enabler, making Dredge rely on Lion’s Eye Diamond, Breakthrough for 1, and other new options. Ad Nauseam isn’t a big fan of the card, but it isn’t game over, since countering a Thoughtseize or Brainstorm isn’t as devastating as either of the previous examples. The Vial decks are also big losers, as they tend to lean on Vial pretty hard, and it’s now much less consistent.

Initially, people are going to put this in many decks it shouldn’t go into, and be unhappy with the results. I think it will be very popular in Providence, settle down some after that, and then be a consistent part of the format, much like Brainstorm, Force of Will, and other venerated blue cards.

Whew, and we haven’t even gotten to Standard yet!

In Standard, this will see some play but not a huge amount. The End.

Ok, I can do better than that.

This isn’t an auto-play, since some decks (*cough* Valakut *cough*) don’t get hit by it at all, and others aren’t all that concerned (RUG has Preordain and Bolt only). What it does to is own Spell Pierce something fierce. Playing Jace with Misstep backup when they tap down to one mana is a beating, unless of course they have their own Misstep. Look, another tool for the Cawblade mirror, which unless I (and every other person who has read Jace and Stoneforge) are wrong, is going to be very important. Yeah, it sucks, but it’s what we have. Misstep also ranches Boros, since it makes their “nut” draw a joke. Nice Goblin Guide, nice Steppe Lynx, nice Lightning Bolt, nice face. Whatever, only idiots play Boros anyway.

I’d start by trying this in the Cawblade sideboard, and go from there. Still, there are plenty of possibilities. Imagine Boros Misstepping your Condemn. Spicy!

This is a very dangerous card, and I’m curious to see how it’s received, though it might not be as BONKERS as AJ Sacher seems to think it is.

 

Mindculling 

Constructed: 1.0

I wouldn’t mind culling the set of Constructed unplayables; in fact, that’s what I’m doing now!

Limited: 5.0

LOOK AT THE VALUE, JUST LOOK AT IT! Not only do you draw two, they discard two! That’s so many cards I can’t even count them all. The real rating is 3.0, just so you know (and to get the people who look at the ratings and keep going; you know who you are). Jokes aside, I wouldn’t mind splashing this, and will happily take it. It might not be optimal against fast poison, but those decks have to be rarer now, what with fewer Cystbearers and Plague Stingers. It is a pretty good swing, especially if you get their last two cards, and being up three cards is good enough to make me pay six mana.

 

Numbing Dose 

Constructed: 1.0

You are probably numb to all the puns by now, so I just have to up the dosage.

Limited: 2.0

The 1 life rider makes this quite a bit more palatable. Without it this would be sideboard material at best, but the clock it puts them on is reasonable enough to make me start this more often than not.

 

Phyrexian Ingester 

Constructed: 2.0

HAAAAUMPH. That’s the noise eating a Titan makes. Will this actually eat any Titans? Perhaps. It is the best answer to a Titan, since it leaves you with a 9/9, though it costs one more mana than I’d like it to (the same can be true of any card I want to play with, I suppose).

Limited: 4.0

They aren’t messing around with these expensive cards, are they? It’s pretty hard to digest the amount of ridiculous bombs in the set, though by now that seems to be a hidden theme in the block. This is also very splashable, which makes it a safe first pick, always a good quality on awesome cards (at GP Dallas, Shuhei had a Massacre Wurm in his sideboard during draft one, a feat of willpower I’m not capable of).

 

Phyrexian Metamorph 

Constructed: 3.0

I’ve been known to enjoy playing Shapeshifters in Constructed (also, any excuse to link to Arcanis is fine by me), and this might be the best one yet. At three mana, it’s aggressively costed, and it does in fact trigger enter the battlefield abilities, which I used to pay five mana for with Vesuvan Shapeshifter. I don’t have a specific deck in mind this instant, but I would be surprised if this didn’t manage to morph the metagame somehow.

Limited: 4.0

Not strictly better than Clone, because of the artifact clause, but close enough. It’s nice having access to the best creature on the board at all times, even if poison decks are a little resilient. Still, their Cystbearer definitely gets stopped by a copy, so mise.

 

Psychic Barrier 

Constructed: 2.5

I never thought I would miss Remove Soul, but here we are. This is definitely a solid playable, and if Mana Leak doesn’t return, will be more than that. The 1 life will matter more than you think, and in Block, it’s going to be a major player, since there are less barriers to entry (like Mana Leak).

Limited: 2.5

Creatures are the vast majority of any Limited deck, so it doesn’t take a psychic to figure out that this is good. It isn’t a windmill slam or anything, but it is a solid early pick.

 

Psychic Surgery 

Psychic Surgery

Constructed: 1.0

Figuring out what cards are terrible in Constructed isn’t brain surgery, and this is a perfect example. Getting half a card, at most, when they crack a fetchland is most definitely not worth an entire card and two mana.

Limited: 0.0

A (bad) value card that won’t trigger in 90% of the games? Sign me up!

 

Spined Thopter 

Constructed: 2.0

Much like every other Thopter, people are going to play this. If Glint Hawk Idol makes the cut, I see no reason why this can’t, especially in a blue-based deck. I’m not saying it’s good, but it could help form the backbone of some Grand Architect deck.

Limited: 3.0

C-caw! Welkin Tern returns, at the low, low, cost of 2 life. A high pick and a good card in any deck, save the most aggressive of poison.

 

Spire Monitor 

Constructed: 2.0

Wait, what? Playable? Where’s the “aspiring to be playable” joke and the unplayable stamp? As it turns out, I think this might have a place in Block, and possibly even Standard. It has flash and isn’t an artifact, both of which are huge in Block, and a 3/3 is actually a beater. Imagine playing this, killing their Jace, and slamming your own. Wowee. This gives you something to do with your mana when you leave counterspells up, and at a price that is somewhat palatable.

Limited: 3.5

It’s a trap! Attacking into 5 mana is a much riskier proposition now, since the Hall Monitor might suddenly appear, and if you pass they get to slam it anyway. This is obviously one of the better cards you could be picking, since adding flash to a 3/3 flier is just plain filthy.

 

Tezzerets Gambit 

Constructed: 2.5

I’ve been a fan of Divination for a while, so making it colorless and adding a small bonus, all for the low, low cost of two life is something I can get behind. The name is even sweet, since it is truly the Planeswalker’s Gambit you are taking when you try and ultimate Koth/Tezzeret/Venser a turn early. Even Valakut could rock this, since it adds a counter to Khalni Heart Expedition and peels two, which the deck wouldn’t mind having.

Limited: 3.0

Even accounting for my card draw bias, I think it’s pretty obvious that this is sweet. If you are poison, it shocks them and shrinks their guys, and doesn’t require another loose color like Steady Progress. The non-poison decks should still have random proliferate synergies, and at worst it’s a 3-mana Night’s Whisper. I’ll take it!

 

Vapor Snag 

Constructed: 1.0

I’m trying to get this set review done, but I keep hitting snags. Disperse and Into the Roil both seem better than this, and neither is that crazy good.

Limited: 2.0

I like me a Disperse, but I don’t think this is even as exciting (as the already unexciting original). Not being able to bounce equipment is huge, and the 1 life doesn’t quite make up for it. If you don’t pick up another bounce spell, you can run this, but I wouldn’t really want multiples.

 

Viral Drake 

Constructed: 1.0

Going viral just isn’t going to happen in Constructed; it drakes better stats than this to make it to the big show.

Limited: 3.5

Infect decks can only dream of such a beast. It hits for 1 poison, blocks insanely well, and can rapidly proliferate them out. The proliferate ability is so punishing on a 1/4 flying blocker that it will halt most offenses, which then gives you time to just kill them with it. Even in non-infect, an amazing card and one of the best uncomons.

 

Wing Splicer 

Constructed: 1.0

I already said my piece on splicers in the white review, so I’ll just wing it here and say that this costs one too many for serious Constructed investigation.

Limited: 3.5

Speaking of good uncommons…Phantom Monster plus is a deal in my book. Be aware that they can kill the 1/1 midcombat to ambush the Golem, a trick that is more relevant here than against most of this cycle.

 

Xenograft 

Constructed: 1.0

I don’t know if it’s some sort of conspiracy, but all the cards with weird names like this tend to be pretty useless (and this is no exception).

Limited: 0.0

Wrong set, Lorwyn block was three years ago (wow, was it really that long? Time sure flies).

Top 5 Blue Commons

5. Psychic Barrier
4. Blighted Agent
3. Spined Thopter
2. Impaler Shrike
1. Spire Monitor

Wow, blue actually cleaned up here. The top 4 commons are all cards I can see first picking, particularly the top 2, and they mostly all work together really well. Blighted Agent of course is the odd man out, but the rest are flying beaters that even curve out well. These cards work well in controlling or aggressive decks, and the sprinkling of good rares doesn’t hurt either (though all the colors have their share).

Top 5 Blue Cards for Constructed

5. Tezzeret’s Gambit
4. Psychic Barrier
3. Phyrexian Metamorph
2. Gitaxian Probe
1. Mental Misstep

Well, what do you know? A full four out of five cards have Phyrexian mana in their casting cost. It turns out that free (or undercosted) spells are good, even ones as innocuous as Peek. I don’t think blue mages (aka me) can be unhappy, even if the other colors can technically play most of these cards. Deck construction is likely to require a lot more thought now, both in Standard and Legacy, because these “free” cards definitely compete for spots with both each other and with everything else. They offer good benefits, but the cost in deck space is real, as is the life cost if you throw too many in. That being said, they are going to change Magic significantly, much like every other time free cards were printed.

Tomorrow, we delve into black, the color of the Phyrexians!

LSV