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Raging Levine – M14 Commander Review (Part 1)

Hey folks! I’m back with some M14 chatter. I spent yesterday watching Emily win our local prerelease with a [card]Shivan Dragon[/card] and a [card]Windreader Sphinx[/card]. News flash: Bombs are good in Limited. I’m here now, waiting for the throng to show up for the Sunday event, and I figured, why not get some scribblin’ done? It’s new set time, which means we should be talking about the cards that rock in M14. Let’s break it down with a set review!

I won’t be reviewing every card, nor will I be using any kind of rating system. Each card is different for different decks, and things aren’t as cut and dry as they are in Limited or tournament Constructed, not that things are always particularly cut and dry there.

Ajani’s Chosen

[draft]Ajani’s Chosen[/draft]

While this seems like it would be pretty cool in a deck like Rafiq or Bruna that wants to slam a lot of auras on the table, I’m not particularly convinced. Those decks want to make one giant monstrosity, not a few medium-sized cats. You could always just leave the auras attached to whatever you were trying to pump up, but if you’re doing that, why play Ajani’s Chosen?

Angelic Accord

[draft]Angelic Accord[/draft]

Gaining 4 life on your own turn with something like a lifelink creature is not too hard. Gaining 4 life on each opponent’s turn… well, between upkeep effects like the one on [card]Sun Droplet[/card] and triggers like that of [card]Soul Warden[/card], I think it’s possible. If you’re getting a 4/4 on each of your own turns, you’re doing fine with this card, but every Angel you make on an opponent’s turn gets you closer to where you want to be with this card. It’s probably worth it if you know you can make two Angels before it gets blown up.

Archangel of Thune

[draft]Archangel of Thune[/draft]

Now here’s a stunner. Only a 3/4 flying lifelinker for five? Not so. As long as you’ve got an army, this mighty Angel can act like a second [card]Ajani Goldmane[/card], pumping up your creatures permanently. Each lifelinker you have exacerbates the problem for your opponent, making your army stronger and stronger, and if you’ve got a card like [card]True Conviction[/card], [card]Windbrisk Raptor[/card], or even the unassuming [card]Azorius Charm[/card] to give your whole team lifelink, then [card]Archangel of Thune[/card] isn’t just a creature—she’s an engine!

Banisher Priest

[draft]Banisher Priest[/draft]

More [card]Faceless Butcher[/card]s is good. A [card]Faceless Butcher[/card] whose ETB effect can’t be abused by things like [card]Vedalken Mastermind[/card] is not as good, but we’ll take it. It’s awesome to see the Cleric creature type on something playable like this, because that’s just a fun one. I miss getting in there with cards like [card]Vile Deacon[/card].

Bonescythe Sliver

[draft]Bonescythe Sliver[/draft]

Slivers bore me. Sorry, Sliver enthusiasts, but they do. These new Slivers just make it easier to pick up a stack of cards, put a [card]Sliver Overlord[/card] on top, flip the cards over, and declare yourself the winner or whatever. If you like Slivers, then most of the Slivers in this set are cool. If you’re like me and don’t care, then good, because I’m not going to be talking about any more Slivers; there’s not actually a whole lot to say about them.

Celestial Flare

[draft]Celestial Flare[/draft]

If you need this effect, get [card]Wing Shards[/card] first. Then go get some better removal instead of this.

Devout Invocation

[draft]Devout Invocation[/draft]

This is going straight in my [card]Ghave, Guru of Spores[/card] deck and presumably into all [card]Hazezon Tamar[/card], [card]Ghave, Guru of Spores[/card], [card]Rhys the Redeemed[/card], and [card]Rith, the Awakener[/card] decks around the globe. Getting Wrathed afterwards (or Routed in response!) is going to happen, but if you have some way to give your creatures haste and/or make them indestructible, you’ll be much happier. [card]Akroma’s Memorial[/card] and [card]Eldrazi Monument[/card] are pretty classic ways of handling this.

Path of Bravery

[draft]Path of Bravery[/draft]

Someone seems to have learned a lesson from [card]Serra Ascendant[/card] and has specifically tied things to our starting life total here. That’s not so bad—at the beginning of the game, you’re just one [card]Sejiri Refuge[/card] away from turning the anthem part of this on, and it gives you life whenever you attack. The problem is that neither half of this card is particularly good unless you have so many creatures that you should just be winning anyway.

Seraph of the Sword

[draft]Seraph of the Sword[/draft]

Some people see a really cool creature that holds equipment well. I see a kind of crappy 3/3 flier. I’ll probably try it out in some sort of Voltron-type deck, but I’d really rather just equip things to Ruhan if it’s all the same to you.

Colossal Whale

[draft]Colossal Whale[/draft]

This card has already inspired my good friend Phillip Wulfridge to create a Moby Dick deck where the goal is to cast [card]Purelace[/card] targeting [card]Colossal Whale[/card]. (The general? I suggested [card]Ith, High Arcanist[/card], a.k.a. “Call Me Ithmael,” but Phil seemed to prefer [card]Gosta Dirk[/card] because “he’s angry like Ahab.”) Sweet theme decks aside (and there is probably an article coming about this) this card seems awesome if there’s anyone to islandwalk all over, which there generally is. That way you can attack and haumph stuff with impunity! I’m a huge fan of this just because the flavor is so great.

Dismiss into Dream

[draft]Dismiss into Dream[/draft]

Let’s see… what gets way better with this card? Why, my favorite goofy Legends cycle: [card]Heaven’s Gate[/card] (what an unfortunate name), [card]Sea Kings’ Blessing[/card], [card]Touch of Darkness[/card], [card]Dwarven Song[/card], and [card]Sylvan Paradise[/card]! Blammo! (See also the much better [card]Sway of Illusion[/card], which at least cycles.)

Seriously though, this card seems cool but probably does a lot more seeming than doing. (BECAUSE IT’S AN ILLUSION OOOO) Sure, it gives [card]Bogardan Hellkite[/card] a little extra oomph, but I think your value will come largely from your opponents getting each other with the illusion triggers. I should mention that just because a card says “deals 4 damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures or players” does not mean that you can choose to target something and deal 0. You have to deal at least one to each target, meaning something like [card]Violent Eruption[/card] can have at most four targets. For reference purposes:

107.1c. If a rule or ability instructs a player to choose “any number,” that player may choose any positive number or zero, unless something (such as damage or counters) is being divided or distributed among “any number” of players and/or objects. In that case, a nonzero number of players and/or objects must be chosen if possible.

Elite Arcanist

[draft]Elite Arcanist[/draft]

Reminds me a bit of [card]Kaho, Minamo Historian[/card]. This is a legal card that resembles [card]Panoptic Mirror[/card], meaning that people will do boring stuff like put [card]Time Warp[/card] on it and take infinite turns. Luckily, it’s a 1/1, so kill it on sight if your playgroup is like that. If your playgroup is fun, probably kill it anyway because your opponent will probably [card]Strionic Resonator[/card] the trigger, put [card]Opportunity[/card] and [card]Runeflare Trap[/card] on it together, and start paying 12 to blast people in a pretty hilarious way. (Yes, that’s how [card]Elite Arcanist[/card] works if it has two cards exiled – you pay the combined costs and cast none, one, or both of the cards.)

Jace’s Mindseeker

[draft]Jace’s Mindseeker[/draft]

The effect on this eel thing is pretty cool. Mill an opponent for five, which is dangerous, in order to cast a spell from those five… but it stays in the graveyard instead of getting exiled or anything. If you’re playing this you’re probably living on the edge most of the time, which is fun at minimum. At best you could copy something really sweet like a [card]Rise of the Dark Realms[/card]. Do you know, though, what’s better than this creature’s effect? The type line “Creature – Fish Illusion.” Big fan.

Windreader Sphinx

[draft]Windreader Sphinx[/draft]

This card’s pretty great for letting you gain an advantage off your own air force with something like [card]Beck // Call[/card], but where it really shines is getting cards when your opponents attack with flying creatures. That’s right, go ahead and read that text box again. It does do that. Yep, that’s insane. There are often quite a few creatures in the air in Commander, and this won’t disappoint you if you’re in that kind of environment.

All right! That’s white and blue! Come back next time for Black, Red, Green, and anything colorless! Remember, folks, the new rules are in effect, so we can all have Jaces and Akromas! Woooooo!

-Eric Levine
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