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Battle for Zendikar Set Review and Set Redo

Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Siege Rhino. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Seeker of the Way. Hordeling Outburst.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Deathmist Raptor. Dromoka’s Command.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Tragic Arrogance. Dragon Fodder.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) 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.)

Deepfathom Skulker

Constructed: 2.0

The dream scenario is to land this on a turn where multiple creatures hit your opponent. That sounds like you are going too deep, but the text is powerful enough that I want to give it a nod. Plus, Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin lead to some very strange places in Modern.

Dimensional Infiltrator

Constructed: 2.0

Blue tempo decks haven’t been a thing since Master of Waves and Thassa parted ways (waves?), so I fear this will join the other cards of its ilk that have been printed recently. Still, this has enough cool abilities that I could see it sneaking in, and does sound neat against control as an unkillable threat. If we see less Dragons-based control and more Mage-Ring all-removal control, this has a shot.

Prophet of Distortion

Constructed: 2.5

As someone who Top 8’d Nationals with Azure Mage in my sideboard (weeks after calling it unplayable in my set review), I like cards like Prophet of Distortion. Siding this in for the control mirror sounds sweet, and you could easily catch an unaware opponent. Jace makes removal a little better after board, which is bad news for the Prophet, but I still have hope that 1-2 Prophets are a good sideboard plan. It’s also a cheap creature for any blue deck that needs such things, though like Dimensional Infiltrator, it may have missed the boat on mono-blue.

Void Shatter

Constructed: 3.0

I like having Dissipate around, and this should replace Scatter to the Winds. I’ve never seen Scatter awaken and be relevant, so I’d much rather have additional protection against things like Den Protector or Jace flashback.

Comparative Analysis

Constructed: 2.0

I can only assume this was tested at surge 1U and found to be too much, because 2U is pretty safe. This is a bit too much work for a Divination, and I’ve done plenty of work in search of Divinations in the past. I did want to mention this, just because it is the kind of card that could be awesome, and I think it’s 1 mana away.

Containment Membrane

Constructed: 2.0

Removal that only works on tapped creatures is usually relegated to Limited, but offering removal for only 1 mana is worth at least considering. If you want to play blue without traditional removal colors, this could efficiently solve some problems.

Crush of Tentacles

Constructed: 3.0

Now we’re talking. Crush of Tentacles is certainly worth building around, as the effect is powerful and does exactly what you want when you’re behind (which I assume surge decks generally will be if they are trying to set fancy things up). I don’t know how far you can go in search of cheap spells to play, but if things go really deep, Bone Saw is still ready.

If there’s a blue deck that tends to get into board stalls, Crush could be awesome, though this would likely require a deck with actual blockers, i.e., not Esper Control. Blue/green of some sort could generate the mana and time necessary to Crush, and some Part the Waterveil + Crush ramp deck could be sweet. Well, that description actually proves it’s sweet, but it could also be good.

Gift of Tusks

Constructed:2.0

This is a cute way to get around some problematic creatures, though needing a second spell or a combat to occur makes me skeptical.

Grip of the Roil

Constructed: 2.0

A spell that did this for 2 mana would be an interesting card to consider, so if you have a deck where this is surge-able often enough, it might get there. It is painful if you don’t have surge enabled, and I can see getting stuck with a bunch of these in your grip.

Hedron Alignment

Constructed: 1.0 x 4 Hedrons, so 4.0

While this may not be a very realistic dream, it’s a dream I can get behind. This even has hexproof, just to make the optimistic among us hopeful that it could one day happen. Someone will assemble Hedrons in a tournament at some point, and I hope I am that person. It’s probably most likely in Legacy, as there are easier ways of doing all this there (Intuition springs to mind), but no matter where it happens, it’s going to be more awesome than effective.

Negate

Constructed: 3.0

I wonder which card I’ve reviewed the most time at this point. Negate has to be a candidate.

Negate is even seeing some main-deck play, and as always, shows up in plenty of sideboards. That’s great, because I love the card, and love having it around.

Oath of Jace

Constructed: 2.0

As a discard outlet, this is fine, but formats with decks that want that tend to have better options. As a card draw engine, it doesn’t put you ahead, just cycles, though that is also justifiable if you are looking for a specific card. The scry ability is nice, though having planeswalkers live is already the dream, and I don’t know how much help you need. Add all that together and you have a card that may see some fringe play.

Overwhelming Denial

Constructed: 2.5

Uncounterable counters always lead to interesting deckbuilding decisions, as they hose 1-card combo decks and can be brutal in control mirrors. It’s hard to surge this defensively, but does work well as your second counter. It’s funny that it doesn’t actually help you force a threat through besides just being a normal counterspell, as the opponent can presumably just re-counter whatever you played to begin with.

I’m sure Esper decks will toy with this, and it may earn a sideboard slot or two as a result.

Sphinx of the Final Word

Constructed: 2.5

This is the kind of card that I often can’t beat, and is the kind of card I’ll often play in order to get an edge in the mirror. Unfortunately for the Sphinx, the dominant control deck right now runs Foul-Tongue Invocation, so the time may not be right. That isn’t the final word, and once Foul-Tongue rotates (or if Mage-Ring Esper becomes more popular) I could see Sphinx dominating. This is one of the unique cards that you can play to beat the opponent from a position where no other card would save you, as they could have five counterspells and two removal spells and still die. That kind of power is not to be overlooked.

Top 3 Blue Cards

3. Sphinx of the Final Word
2. Void Shatter
1. Crush of Tentacles

Blue gets an interesting mix of a combo card, a new(ish) counterspell, and a narrow but absurdly powerful sideboard card. There are a lot of different directions to go from here, though blue keeps getting cards for a deck that hasn’t really come to fruition (Mono-Blue Aggro/Tempo).

Next up is black, which got quite a few interesting cards both with and without devoid!