Other War of the Spark Reviews
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Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Skarrgan Hellkite. Ethereal Absolution.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Thief of Sanity. Judith, the Scourge Diva. Experimental Frenzy.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Gate Colossus. Mortify. Biomancer’s Familiar.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Blade Juggler. Skewer the Critics. Skyknight Legionnaire.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Sauroform Hybrid. Watcher in the Mist. Wojek Bodyguard.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Ornery Goblin. Syndicate Messenger. Plague Wight.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Radical Idea. Noxious Groodion. Ghor-Clan Wrecker.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Wall of Mist. Axebane Beast.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Feral Maaka. Knight of Sorrows. Prying Eyes.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Expose to Daylight. Persistent Petitioners.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Font of Agonies. One with Nothing.)
Aid the Fallen
If you have 2 good planeswalkers, this becomes a decent addition to your deck, and at 3+, it’s actively good. There’s also a big difference between good uncommon planeswalkers and busted rare ones, so the high end here is pretty high. That all said, I usually want 0 main deck and 1 sideboard, so I wouldn’t take this too early.
This doesn’t have a big enough impact on the game to be good—haste on a 1/1 is underwhelming and as much as I like lifelink, you need a lot of pump spells before this actually does anything.
Ravenous Chupacabra this is not, but it is still a great removal spell. It picks off a small creature and provides good value while doing so. This card is great in any deck, though it does get better in one focused on amass.
The split rating on this is a little weird, but Bolas’s Citadel is a weird card. In a normal deck, you shouldn’t play this, as it costs a ton of mana and requires you have a lot of life to take advantage of it. In a deck with good ramp, defense, and life gain, it can be quite the engine, and it is obscenely powerful if you have enough life points. This one is going to need more testing, but I am going to start with it in the “powerful build-around” camp, where it delivers if you do the work.
Bond of Revival
There isn’t really a reanimator strategy present here, so this would have to see play on base power level alone. Unfortunately for Zombify fans, that power level isn’t very high, as this only selects from your graveyard, and giving haste doesn’t do enough to get it over the line and into your deck.
The flavor on this card is great, and it’s a solid defender to boot. It is one of the best cards to pair with Huatli, and you can extract max value off even one hit with those two cards in play. I’d look to play this in defensive decks, or to side it in against opponents attacking on the ground.
Command the Dreadhorde
This is eerily similar to Bolas’s Citadel. It costs the same and rewards largely the same deckbuilding, and like the Citadel, is very powerful when you can get it to work. In a control deck with a lot of life gain, it’s a powerful finisher, especially if you have removal to put some of their better targets into the graveyard.
Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage
A 3-mana Fugue is a beating, and if the opponent is unable to kill Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage, that’s exactly what you get. You can also keep this around and ping the opponent for 2 a turn, which is a nice option to have. Davriel is high upside and low downside, and one of the more punishing planeswalkers when unanswered.
Despite this format not being super fast, it’s also a format where it’s easy to get behind on board. Planeswalkers are a big part of that, as are powerful cards like the various 2-for-1 amass creatures or proliferate combos. As such, paying 4 mana to knock two cards out of the opponent’s hand isn’t something I’m interested in doing, and this is more of a sideboard card for control mirrors.
Deliver Unto Evil
I really like this art style, though the card itself isn’t quite as good. It’s powerful in a control deck that fills up its graveyard, but for the most part is worse than other methods of gaining card advantage.
On turn 2, this is nigh-impossible to beat. Later in the game, it has a much less immediate effect and sometimes just won’t do enough. That still makes it a great card, and one I’m happy to take early. The lifelink part is huge too—it’s worth taking strides to make sure you get at least one big lifelink hit in.
I’ve liked Dreadmalkin quite a bit. It’s hard to block, both due to menace and because of the instant-speed ability to grow. It hunts down planeswalkers and gives you the perfect way to use amass tokens. With this out, you usually want to eat 1/1 amass tokens before playing more amass cards, as that gives you more value than making the token bigger.
This isn’t a format for 2-mana 2/2s, especially ones with such a mediocre ability. Stay clear of this unless you’re aggressive and really lacking at this spot in the curve.
The first rating is for the main deck, where I’d play The Elderspell if I was short on removal for planeswalkers (especially if I have a couple to add loyalty to). The second is for sideboard use, where it’s a good efficient answer if your opponent has a few in their deck. Note that while I’m not high on cards like Stealth Mission as an answer to planeswalkers, having a 2-mana direct kill spell is different. This is less vulnerable to removal and can help get you back into the game when you’re behind.
I like the Taskmaster, as it’s got good stats and a reasonable ability, but I will say that it’s a little less good than it looks. This is good, not great, and I’ve found myself taking Lazotep Reaver over it in decks full of sacrifice/amass synergies. It just doesn’t come up that this has a clear attack and something good to get back, alongside the time and mana needed to use it.
Finale of Eternity
Bontu is enormous, unkillable, and lets you cash in lands plus bad creatures for extra cards. That’s more than enough for me, and I’d be eternally grateful to get to take this first pick.
Herald of the Dreadhorde
Cards like this are why I dread attacking on the ground against black decks. It’s hard to avoid getting 2-for-1’d against this, and it’s a very good way to clog up the board. Herald works perfectly well on its own, and does even better with sacrifice or amass synergy, making it a solid common indeed.
Kaya’s Ghostform is too situational for me to want to play it, and gets trounced by bounce spells and tap effects. Having an effect like this that requires you to predict which of your creature or planeswalkers will get killed beforehand is too risky, and not worth the payoff when you do get it right.
Sometimes, you just need a big purple Hippo.
This doesn’t quite get to 3.5, but it’s close. There are precious few good 2-drops in the format, and this one checks a lot of boxes. It works in a wide variety of decks, has tons of synergies, and even by itself is pretty good value. I don’t fear the Reaver and in fact, I’m a very big fan.
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Liliana is absurd when ahead, when behind, and at parity. She has tons of loyalty, so just using her +1 already makes her hard for flyers to kill, and forget about attacking on the ground. Her passive is unbeatable once your opponent starts trading in combat, and great even if you’re just chump-blocking. She can also clear the board quickly if the opponent is only on a few creatures, and her ultimate (if it gets that far) is game over too. She competes with Ugin for title of best card in the set, and in this set, that’s saying a lot.
Edicts are at a low point in this set, what with amass and various death triggers floating around. I prefer sideboarding Triumph against decks lacking in creatures, and would recommend against putting this in your main deck.
Massacre Girl lives up to her name (and it’s a sweet name, at that). She goes up the chain nicely, killing a 1/1, which then kills a 2/2, and so on. Note that the effect lasts until end of turn, so playing her and then using a removal spell can kick start a domino effect. She’s also great post-combat after their creatures block your smaller ones, and overall this is just a very good card.
Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted
Ob is a great card, but can be a little tricky to use. When you’re ahead, he’s amazing, as the opponent will often not have time to use all the cards anyways. That makes him something akin to double Unlicensed Disintegration, which is usually unbeatable. In an attrition-based game, giving your opponent two cards per creature isn’t as appealing, but you can actually start pointing him at your own creatures instead. Killing a 1/1 amass token or a Lazotep Reaver in exchange for two cards is a great deal, and Ob’s passive still pressures the opponent at 1 per turn. On balance, Ob is much better in aggro decks, but with the right setup he’s good anywhere.
Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty
I’m loving the pushed commons in this set, and Cruelty is the prime example. This kills just about anything at instant speed, and even gets around death triggers to boot.
Price of Betrayal
I like this as a sideboard card against planeswalkers more than a main deck option. This is less powerful and has less upside than The Elderspell, which is why they differ in ratings. I really don’t want to be taking counters off creatures either, even if this does kill amass tokens when needed.
The rating on this takes a bit of a dive in non-aggro decks, and I’ve mostly liked using Shriekdiver to attack planeswalkers. It’s a fine card if you need a 3-drop, but the stats are small enough that I am not excited about it.
Sorin’s Thirst is a decent way to interact, but the BB casting cost really hurts it. I like it when I have 9-10 Swamps in my deck, and am not a huge fan when black is the secondary color. The effectiveness of this just falls off later in the game, and when you can’t cast it early it ends up underperforming.
Spark Harvest is definitely behind Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty, but not by a whole lot. This kills both creatures and planeswalkers, and can do so cheaply in a pinch. Either mode of this is worth including, and having the option of both really pushes it over the top.
I’ve liked this in the average black deck, though if you’re light on amass or creatures in general, it’s fine to cut it. The rating goes up a fair bit if you can build around it, but even as just a value card it tends to pull its weight. It’s also great at eating planeswalkers that are stuck at 1 loyalty, which happens fairly often.
This is another one that I play most of the time, though it’s expensive enough that I rarely pick it early. Tithebearer Giant adds to the board nicely and replaces itself, which is pretty good for a card you can pick up 10th pick.
Toll of the Invasion
This takes a toll on slow decks, and thanks to amass 1, does respectably well against faster ones too. Getting a token or a +1/+1 counter is almost exactly enough to take this effect from sideboard to main deck, and I’d play this almost every time.
If you’ve got a very aggressive deck and need a combat trick, this, well, does the trick. It’s unlikely that I’ll play this very often, and you can basically get the card for free, so don’t worry about taking it early.
This random Vampire won’t actually have many opportunities in this set, as a 2-mana 2/1 is quite bad in the format (amass really owns it), and the expensive activated ability doesn’t come up often. I’d avoid unless you really need a 2-drop or expect the game to stall out.
Vizier of the Scorpion
I take this behind the good common removal, though there are matchups where it really delivers. This card more incentivizes you to spread out your amass card more than most, and only playing a new one after trading off the token. Note that if they kill the Vizier mid-combat you lose deathtouch and subsequently, the battle.
This effect has never been better. The fact that this snipes planeswalkers means that the opponent will almost always block, at which point you can use this to finish off their creature. The only decks I don’t like this in are the heavy control ones, as those tend to run light on creatures.
Top 5 Black Commons
Black is excellent. It’s got two premium removal, a bunch of good creatures, and strong themes with plenty of support. I’m a fan, and I often find myself in black as a result.