Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review – Colorless, Lands (and Sarkhan!)

 

Without further ado, let’s wrap up my reviews for Rise of the Eldrazi, with a ratings scale as follows.

Constructed

5.0: Multi-format All-Star. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf.

4.0: Format staple. Bloodbraid Elf. Baneslayer Angel.

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. Raging Ravine. Oblivion Ring.

3.0: Archetype staple. Sprouting Thrinax. Goblin Guide.

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. Rampant Growth. Divination.

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this “maybe” 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%)

 

Sarkhan the Mad 

Constructed: 2.0

If you haven’t, take a look at what I said about Gideon in my White review, since the part relating to casting costs applies here. This is a strange Planeswalker to evaluate, since he counts down, and his second ability has multiple different applications. The most useful seems to be turning your own Sprouting Thrinax or Saproling token into a dragon, since you won’t often be facing anything scary enough to want to give them a dragon. Even “killing” Baneslayer Angel is suspect, since beating a 5/5 dragon isn’t that easy if you don’t have removal, and any removal that could kill the dragon could just kill the Angel. Drawing an extra card a turn is ok too, at least for a few turns presumably, but the main problem I see with Sarkhan is that none of his abilities are that strong if you don’t already have a board presence. If you have a Thrinax or tokens out, he is decent, and if you have other blockers, you can draw cards, but if you have neither, what is he doing? Drawing a card and then dying to their guys isn’t too exciting, and giving them a dragon seems pretty counterproductive. The bar for 5-drops is set very high, and I don’t think he beats out Siege-Gang or Bituminous Blast, because those are both cards that are awesome if you are behind or ahead. One Sarkhan could be spicy, but I’m not sold that he will be good enough.

Limited: 4.5

My main complaint about Sarkhan is still that he doesn’t help you on a losing board, but that is fairly minor in Limited. Not only do you have to be losing, you have to be losing in the manner where you have zero creatures in play, since he instantly upgrades any guy you have into a dragon, and makes it very difficult for them to effectively attack. I don’t see how he doesn’t just crush any board stall, either by shipping you a stream of extra cards or turning your chumps into champs. He might not get the mythical “5” rating, which is mostly reserved for cards like Umezawa’s Jitte (which is still the best card ever printed in Limited, btw), but he is very close. If you are either of his colors, take and splash him, and if you are firmly in two other colors, sucks to be you (and consider taking him if it’s pack two).

Top Five Gold Cards for Constructed

5. Sarkhan the Mad
4. Sarkhan the Mad
3. Sarkhan the Mad
2. Sarkhan the Mad
1. Sarkhan the Mad

Sarkhan is the clear winner here, beating out the other competition for all the slots in the Top Five. While he might not see abundant play, I don’t see any other Gold cards that will from Rise. Join me tomorrow when I finish out the set by taking a look at Colorless and Lands.

Ok, I guess I don’t get off that easy.

On to Colorless!

 

All Is Dust 

Constructed: 2.5

It doesn’t get more “role player” than this. All Is Dust is too inefficient to really do much, unless you go the whole way and play with Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin, at which point it begins to look interesting. It is hard to beat Day of Judgment for efficiency, but sweeping the board of Planeswalkers and possibly even global enchantments is something that ramp decks might be interested in. It also doesn’t require any color commitment, which opens the door for non-White controllish Eldrazi decks, Green being the most likely candidate. I guess it is nice that now any deck has a potential sweeper, but I doubt any non-Eldrazi decks will be casting this. Everflowing Chalice obviously works well here too, and will appear alongside All Is Dust frequently.

Limited: 4.0

Wow, is having this card in the set annoying. All things being equal, you want to play around potential Wraths if you can afford to, but usually you don’t have to. In Zendikar, if they aren’t Black (Marsh Casualties) or White (Day of Judgment), you really don’t have to worry about holding anything back, and should just be slamming everything into play. Now, any color could potentially be turning everything to Dust, which is going to be absurdly awkward to play around. If you are crushing, now you have to consider playing another guy or two, which could open the door to losing to something like Consuming Vapors or a high impact-Eldrazi (assuming that you have no prior information about their deck). It isn’t really a big deal, since you can just not play around All Is Dust, but for those who strive for perfect play, it is now just one more thing you ALWAYS have to consider. As for what the card does itself, well, it is quite good. Sweepers are always welcome, and especially in a set where you have time to set it up, it functions quite well. Its effectiveness is a little dampened by the fact that you are encouraged to sit there leveling one or two guys, which means you won’t be 5 for 1ing them, but you should be able to leverage this into a decent advantage. Just don’t get greedy, hoping for just one more guy, since they might drop an Eldrazi, which would get you real good.

 

Angelheart Vial 

Constructed: 1.0

As either card draw or lifegain, this is not nearly efficient enough. Allowing them to control when it is useful is pretty lame, and even when it is “good” it doesn’t do enough to keep them from bashing you. I guess printing a playable Jayemdae Tome is too dangerous, since it hasn’t happened yet.

Limited: 2.5

This makes it so they really have to be sure they are on the path to killing you before attacking, which could drastically alter their gameplan. If your deck is built to take advantage of that, either by racing with evasion guys or having a good lategame, the Vial seems decent, but it is a bit slow and gives them too much control over it. Most decks are going to want this, but I don’t see myself taking it all that early. If they are bashing you, this doesn’t really help you get out from being behind, and if they aren’t bashing you it doesn’t really do anything.

 

Artisan of Kozilek 

Constructed: 1.0

If you are going so far as to try and cast Eldrazi monsters, you might as well play game-enders, not value cards. The big three Eldrazi don’t even go to the graveyard, so what the Artisan is going to bring back is unclear. Even as an Eye of Ugin tutor target, I think you can do better.

Limited: 3.0

None of the Eldrazi are uncuttable (despite the “3” rating), since you really have to build your deck around casting 8+ drops to make them effective. That being said, this has to be my favorite, although Kozilek is a pretty close second. Every mana above six is a huge jump, and in “normal” decks probably means 1.5-2 turns per, so an 8-drop takes two turns longer than a 7-drop, and so forth. Some decks have ramps that bump you by two or three, so that isn’t a precise equation, but 11 is sure a ton more than 9. The Artisan gives you great value even if they kill it, has a good immediate effect on the board, and at 9 mana is castable even in decks that can’t generate a ton of tokens. Nine is actually my limit, since I think getting to 10+ mana without a bunch of accel is not going to happen often enough, while nine can happen in even a slow control deck that lacks ramp.

 

Dreamstone Hedron 

Constructed: 1.0

Everflowing Chalice just has this beat, since cramming a six-drop “accelerator” into your deck seems like more of a dream than anything else. As card draw, it is horribly inefficient, and as fixing it only helps cast GIGANTIC spells, so you really need to just play cards that do one or the other. Flexibility is nice, but not at this cost.

Limited: 2.5

If you have no conceivable way of using the huge mana boost this gives you, it is decent but expensive card draw, making it a mid-pick at best. However, most decks have something to do with the mana, between levelers and expensive drops, so I doubt this will end up in your sideboard much of the time. It will usually go into decks that want it for the accel, since it is likely to be taken by them before any of the low-curve decks get around to picking it.

 

Eldrazi Conscription 

Constructed: 2.0

This is one of the more interesting Eldrazi cards for Constructed. Haste and Annihilator is a very dangerous combination, and that is even without mentioning the impressive 10 damage. If you can sneak this (yes, sneaking an 8-mana spell is something that is going to happen from time to time) in while they are tapped out, you deal a pretty devastating blow, and even if they deal with it you got good value. [card]Sovereigns of Lost Alara[/card] makes it even better, since now you are talking about just playing a six-drop, assuming you have another guy who can attack immediately. Six is not that high a number, especially if they don’t know what you are up to, because they might not realize how big a threat that random Noble Hierarch is. Eldrazi Temple is the other route to go, although I don’t know if that deck even wants to make the Spawn that the Conscription requires.

Limited: 2.5

I think Ulamog’s Crusher is decent, and this is way better. Like an Aura, removal in response is pretty devastating, but unlike most, if you get even one hit in you are in really great shape. Even creature-light decks benefit from the build-your-own Eldrazi kit, and it is a high pick regardless of whether or not you have much acceleration.

 

Eldrazi Temple 

Constructed: 2.5

Two-mana lands are always dangerous, even ones that only can cast 7+ drops. Printing this card was a must if Wizards wants Eldrazi to have a chance to shine in Standard (or even Block, actually), since I imagine the idea is for us to be hard-casting them in some decks. All Is Dust and Ancient Stirrings give me hope that such a deck is possible, which would be awesome. This also makes Eye of Ugin better, and if you recall, I did in fact give it a “5” in Constructed during my Worldwake set review

Limited: 1.0-2.5

It doesn’t take much for me to play the Temple, but it also isn’t a card you really can or want to build your deck around. If your mana is good and you have even one Eldrazi, it is fine, and if you have multiple it gets quite strong. I expect this won’t go late regardless, because of its value and appeal for people drafting “the” Eldrazi deck, so I doubt I will get to play with it much.

 

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 

Constructed: 2.5

Emrakul is both the Eldrazi with the most prohibitive mana cost and the one most likely to get cheated in to play. I wonder if the two are related somehow. His combination of abilities make him a really powerful Oath/Polymorph/Summoning Trap target, although not necessarily better than Iona. Actually casting him is another story, since though he will end the game just about every time, 15 mana seems unrealistic. I’m aware that sometimes these decks will hardcast him, but it will be in decks that primarily plan on cheating him into play.

Limited: 0.0

Please don’t try to cast this. I know how many arguments I will have to answer, but I still believe that fifteen mana is just an absurd amount to try and hit. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am, but even in the mono-tokens deck I don’t think it works. I admit that SOME deck, at SOME point might have enough ways to make mana that Emrakul is playable, but then you have an all-mana deck that dies if it doesn’t draw its 15-drop (and 99% of the decks that try and play Emrakul just won’t have enough mana producers anyway).

 

Evolving Wilds 

Constructed: 2.5

Terramorphic Expanse sees a little bit of play, but I doubt many decks need more than a couple. Still, nice option to have etc.

Limited: 3.0

Unless you are mono-color, you should always play this, and some decks need it quite a bit, even the two-color ones. In most decks, I wouldn’t take it over a decent playable, but if it looks like you have enough, padding the mana is always nice.

 

Hand of Emrakul 

Constructed: 1.0

I don’t see Spawn as the route the Eldrazi deck really wants to take, and even if it is, accelerating out a Hand isn’t what you want to be doing.

Limited: 1.0

This is kind of the epitome of the wrong way to approach Eldrazi. Hand doesn’t have enough of an impact on the board, since it doesn’t even crush them, and it is overcosted and difficult to play. You might mise some games by turboing him out on turn four or whatever, but he will lose you way more games than that, either by rotting in your hand or getting immediately bounced.

 

Hedron Matrix 

Constructed: 1.0

I wish I could take the blue pill and forget about this card.

Limited: 1.5

All the equipment in this format is really slow and clunky, and the Matrix is no exception. The bonus it grants is sizeable, which makes it worth playing sometimes, but decks with big creatures don’t usually need to spend eight mana making them bigger, and if they kill or bounce your guy you are set back really far.

 

It That Betrays 

Constructed: 1.0

Despite having a really awesome name, It That Betrays is not nearly worth 12 mana. Trying to get some value from their sacrifices is not what you want to be doing on a card that costs this much mana.

Limited: 1.0

Twelve is barely on the “castable” side, but only in the most dedicated Eldrazi deck is It worth considering. For the most part I would stay away from this.

 

Keening Stone 

Constructed: 1.0

While it may kill Dredge in one shot most of the time, I’m not keen on my Dredge hate costing approximately infinite mana.

Limited: 1.5

Aggressive decks won’t want this, but most decks in the format will. It kills them pretty quickly once it gets going, and is a quite acceptable win condition in a defensive or midrange deck. Racing it can be quite difficult, and not many cards meaningfully interact with artifacts, which makes it crush some removal-heavy control decks.

 

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth 

Constructed: 2.0

Kozilek is pretty much the gold standard of castable Eldrazi, though describing him as “undercosted” (which GP Champion Matt Nass did) is a bit of an exaggeration. Drawing four cards gives you awesome value even against counters, and ten mana is not outside the realm of imagination. Playing 4 Eldrazi Temple, 1-2 Eye of Ugin, and Everflowing Chalice could be enough to power a UW deck with All Is Dust and Kozilek as the only Eldrazi cards, since they aren’t that much more expensive than other finishers.

Limited: 3.0

You can play Kozilek without doing too much in the way of enabling him, which makes him a card worth considering in many decks. I probably wouldn’t run him with nothing to power him out, but he doesn’t need a whole Spawn engine to make him playable.

 

Not of This World 

Constructed: 1.0

A properly designed Eldrazi deck shouldn’t really care about spells killing its monsters, since they are either immune (Emrakul, Ulamog) or have already given you value (Kozilek). All that is a long-winded way of saying “not in this world”.

Limited: 0.5

You shouldn’t need a way to protect your ridiculous monsters, since casting them is already hard enough. If you play against a deck with a ton of removal that works against them, siding it in is acceptable, but you shouldn’t start it.

 

Ogres Cleaver 

Constructed: 1.0

Did I mention that the equipment in this set costs infinite to use?

Limited: 2.5

The Cleaver may take a while to get moving, but it hits for a ton of damage. Great on tramplers/evasion/Spawn/anything, it makes the cut in most decks. In fact, it makes many cuts in most decks.

 

Pathrazer of Ulamog 

Constructed: 1.0

Much like every non-Legendary Eldrazi, Pathrazer is too expensive and doesn’t have enough impact to be worth the effort.

Limited: 1.0

It is funny differentiating between all the Eldrazi, and calling some of them “overcosted” when they all cost a million, but Pathrazer really is. Don’t play this guy, though Spawnsiring him out is pretty sweet.

 

Pennon Blade 

Constructed: 1.0

There is an expression that has recently become common, whereby awesome things are referred to as “the blade”. Pennon Blade is a blade, but definitely not the blade.

Limited: 1.0

I don’t really like this. It works fine in some decks, but the point of equipment is to make every creature a threat, not to make them a threat if you have a ton of other creatures. It needs to reliably grant +3/+3 to make it worth playing, and even then you are very vulnerable to instant-speed removal.

 

Prophetic Prism 

Constructed: 1.0

You don’t need to be a prophet to tell that this is unplayable. Spending two mana to simply fix your colors is not feasible in Constructed, since your lands should do that for you. I guess it might fill the Elsewhere Flask role in some Time Sieve concoction, but I doubt it.

Limited: 3.0

Much like Terramorphic Expanse, most decks should play this. Unlike the Expanse, this isn’t an auto-include, since if your 2-drop spot is pretty full you can pass on it.

 

Reinforced Bulwark 

Constructed: 1.0

Walls have a high barrier to entry in Constructed, since they can’t kill your opponent, and unless they draw cards or tap for mana, they usually don’t see play. Cards like this only serve to reinforce that rule.

Limited: 0.5

It would take a whole lot of Vent Sentinels before I wanted to maindeck this, which pretty much relegates it to a sideboard card. If they have a ton of Hill Giants and you need an early blocker, go nuts.

 

Runed Servitor 

Constructed: 1.0

This looked a little interesting at first, until I realized it served your opponent as well. I don’t think Red decks are that desperate to attack through Kor Firewalker, and Kargan Dragonlord does that well enough anway.

Limited: 1.5

I’m not sure what purpose this serves. I guess it is a 2-drop, but I don’t really see of any way to make this better for you than it is for them. It still is a Glory Seeker, so if your deck is in to that, run it.

 

Skittering Invasion 

Constructed: 1.0

Much like Dreamstone Hedron, Skittering Invasion just costs too much for a “ramp” card. It is kind of like a delayed Seething Song, but this costs the same amount of mana as a Martial Coup! Even the Eldrazi Temple discount doesn’t save this; your cards need to do better in Constructed.

Limited: 1.0

If you have a bunch of ways to make use of the Spawn (Broodwarden, Hellion Eruption, casting Eldrazi), this is fine, but very few decks should be running it. This is another card that probably shouldn’t be in most of the decks that end up playing it.

 

Spawnsire of Ulamog 

Constructed: 1.0

Any Training Grounds-based combos are way too inconsistent to be good, and that is without mentioning that this costs 10 to begin with. Spells that cost 10 need to win you the game through a counterspell, which this most certainly does not.

Limited: 1.0

Yes, sire? Another card that takes more setup than it is worth, since all its abilities require a ton of time and effort. If you have enough ramps, this is not unplayable, but I wouldn’t really draft around it. The 20-mana ability is doable though, so if you are playing this try and pick up some crappy Pathrazers or whatever to stick in your sideboard.

 

Sphinx-Bone Wand 

Constructed: 1.0

Where exactly does the Sphinx-Bone Wand come from on the Sphinx, that’s what I want to know. I may never look at Sphinx of Jwar Isle the same again.

Limited: 0.0

Even in the perfect deck, with tons of rebound and Surreal Memoirs, it seems unrealistic to survive to seven mana and still have enough gas in the tank to power the Wand. I guess you could collect a ton of crappy cantrips, but cantrips that you can’t cycle until turn 8 lose a bit of their luster.

 

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre 

Constructed: 2.0

The Eldrazi deck might want one of these to tutor up with Eye of Ugin, but Kozilek is going to be the centerpiece. Ulamog is a nice trump, since he is very hard to deal with and gets to eat something on the way in, although being Indestructable just isn’t what it used to be, what with all the Paths and O-Rings floating around.

Limited: 2.0

Ulamog is an Eldrazi worth ramping to, but 11 mana is enough that he takes a bit of work. Not many cards can deal with him, and he should stabilize all but the worst boards when he comes into play.

 

Ulamogs Crusher 

Constructed: 1.0

If getting crushed is your thing, feel free to try and play this in Constructed.

Limited: 2.0

I play this most of the time, since it is a decent finisher even in most “normal” decks. The drawback isn’t a big deal, since it wants to crush most of the time anway.

 

Warmongers Chariot 

Constructed: 1.0

The Chariot has arrived, but won’t be able to fit in the door. Comparing this to Sword of Fire and Ice is pretty amusing.

Limited: 3.0

This is the only equipment in the set that doesn’t feel absurdly clunky. The second ability is not relevant in some decks, but still a very nice little bonus. Bashing with a previously harmless Wall is always a surprise, and even if they know you have the Chariot in your deck, it can throw off their math.

Top Five Colorless/Lands/Sarkhans for Constructed

5. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
4. Sarkhan the Mad
3. All Is Dust
2. Eldrazi Temple
1. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Emrakul will certainly have the most overall impact, though the upgrade from Iona isn’t all that exciting. In terms of deck construction, Eldrazi Temple is definitely the most interesting, since it feels like there is some way to harness the power of Eldrazi, even if we might have to wait until Bloodbraid Elf and co. are gone. Overall, it feels like this set has to wait to unleash its full potential, more so than most sets, since the current formats are not very hospitable to the kind of decks Rise helps.

Top Five Commons for Limited, by color

White

5. Puncturing Light
4. Makindi Griffin
3. Kor Line-Slinger
2. Knight of Cliffhaven
1. Dawnglare Invoker

Blue

5. Frostwind Invoker
4. Regress
3. Deprive
2. Skywatcher Adept
1. Narcolepsy

Black

5. Bala Ged Scorpion
4. Last Kiss
3. Cadaver Imp
2. Induce Despair
1. Vendetta

Red

5. Wrap in Flames
4. Emrakul’s Hatcher
3. Heat Ray
2. Flame Slash
1. Staggershock

Green

5. Ondu Giant
4. Aura Gnarlid
3. Wildheart Invoker
2. Kozilek’s Predator
1. Overgrown Battlement

Just a note: my values on some of these cards have changed from when I initially reviewed them (Regress, anyone), so some might be rated higher here than others that I said were better before, just to forestall any such observations.

LSV

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