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.)
The idea here is that this can skulk by the opponent’s defenses and kill planeswalkers, but in practice it’s just a little too expensive to be good. I’d play this if I needed a body, as a 3/5 for 5 is passable, but it’s not a high priority card.
Augur of Bolas
In the spells-matter deck (mostly U/R) this is a fine 2-drop. At 8 spells, you’re 50/50 to find one, which is decent. When you start lowering the spell count, this gets worse and worse, and it’s not worth playing in the average 5-6 spell deck.
I really like Aven Eternal. A 2/2 flying plus a 1/1 is a great deal by itself, and this can combine with other amass cards and sacrifice outlets for additional value. You can’t go wrong with a powerful card that’s good on its own and good when combined with major themes of the set.
Bond of Insight
I’ve been liking Bond in spell-heavy Draft decks. It flips four cards, so you have a few additional shots at finding better options, and a 2-for-1 that gets all the good common removal spells back is something I’m in for. This is another spells-matter payoff, and again rewards synergy more than just being a powerful card in a vacuum.
This sounds better when you think about it as a 1/1 Man-o’-War (it sure did when I framed it that way for Marshall on the LR set review), and it plays nicely with the various amass payoffs. I also like that it’s a 2-drop if you need to make a relevant play early, and a good way to push damage through late. This is flexible and gives you good value, though the number is small enough that sometimes you want to trade your amass token off before casting this, as a 1/1 is often better than a +1/+1 counter (and that’s true for any amass card—think of ways to use the creature in order to get a new one).
Commence the Endgame
Fittingly, this sounds like an Archenemy scheme rather than a normal Magic card. I’m a huge fan of Commence the Endgame—a 4/4 or 5/5 at instant speed that also draws you two cards is a beating. This can frequently ambush an attacker, and can be used as a combat trick if you already have an Army in play.
There’s nothing contentious about this card—it’s just great. It’s a low-cost way to get extra mileage out of amass cards and +1/+1 counters, and puts extra loyalty onto planeswalkers. Replacing itself is huge, and Contentious Plan is one of the best ways to make your proliferate deck tick.
Crush Dissent is way worse than it looks. Leaving mana up for this and having the opponent play around it is brutal, and given that it isn’t a hard counter, it’s often easy for them to avoid walking into it. It’s also quite difficult to get to a board state early where you can leave up 4 mana, and later in the game it won’t usually counter anything. Crush Dissent is not a card I’d be happy to play, and the more people get used to factoring it in, the worse it will get.
As much as I like looters (I always loot), paying 2 mana is a real cost. I still do like that this is a 2-drop that develops your board while being a decent way to filter cards later, and 1/3 is a good statline to dump +1/+1 counters on in a proliferate deck.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing with this multiple times by now, and my estimation of it keeps going up. Eternal Skylord dominates the board, at worst is a 3/3 plus a 2/2, and frequently lets you hit with a 5/5 flyer the turn you play it. This is one of the best amass payoffs in the set, and even works nicely with proliferate, making it a slam-dunk early pick.
Fblthp, the Lost
Fblthp isn’t just a meme card, as a 2-mana 1/1 that draws a card is a solid playable. It won’t get shuffled back or played from your deck very frequently, but I’ll take an Elvish Visionary any day of the week.
Finale of Revelation
This format lends itself well to this card, and if you can fire this off for 5 or 6 mana, you should be able to close out the game shortly thereafter. This pairs well with green acceleration or cheap removal in red-black, so keep that in mind if you pick this up early.
Flux Channeler looks like a build-around but it actually fits into just about any blue deck. It does get better when you try and maximize the ability, but your average deck will have 5+ spells and a bunch of rewards for proliferating, making this a great card even without putting in much work. Proliferate is a real thing, and this makes all of your amass cards and planeswalkers that much better.
All the God-Eternals are just absurd, and Kefnet is no exception. A 4-mana 4/5 flyer is already great, and this gives you random card advantage and is nearly unkillable. If you’re lucky enough to get graced by a God-Eternal, do not turn down that gift.
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
I would like Jace a lot more if his cost was a little bit lighter on the blue requirements. A lot of the power of planeswalkers is dropping them at the right time, ideally when ahead on board. At triple-blue, Jace is awkward to cast, though quite good when you get him into play. A card a turn and high loyalty is a good combo, and Jace can mill either player out to good effect. In general, I’d target the opponent, unless you’re very confident you can keep Jace alive.
I’ve never turned down a Divination, and I certainly won’t be starting now. Don’t be fooled though—this being uncommon is because it’s part of a cycle, not because Divination is all of a sudden better than common power level.
Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor
Move over Jace, a new Wizard has entered the arena! Kasmina combines a powerful passive and a great minus ability, making her a great early pick. A 2/2 + a loot is great, and making the opponent pay more to target your stuff with spells increases the odds she survives to -2 a second time. Throw a little proliferate into the mix and you have a card that can snowball early and is wonderful late.
While this is a solution to some problematic cards (like God-Eternals), overall it’s a fairly bad one. Your opponent gets to keep a 1/1, and can rescue their creature later with bounce or enchantment removal. This also doesn’t interact well with armies, as they are 0/0 base, so this actually makes them bigger.
While I wouldn’t call this great, it’s been pretty dam good, and definitely better than it looks. Proliferate is a well-supported mechanic, and it’s easy to get two counters or more out of this, which makes it worth 6 mana.
I’m a fan of Lazotep Plating. It will often save a creature and give you a solid bonus, and it can even protect you from discard or burn that’s going upstairs. That’s a lot of value for 2 mana, though if you have zero other amass cards you may end up cutting this.
There are more than enough playables in this format, and I’d be eternally sad if this made the cut.
Narset, Parter of Veils
Narset is very similar to Augur of Bolas and operates under basically the same restrictions. I have had the passive come up before, and it was pretty annoying against my looter, but for the most part it won’t make a huge impact.
Narset’s Reversal is too narrow for what you end up getting. Even when this does work, it’s not often a huge blowout, and it will rot in your hand too often for my taste.
I don’t mind playing one of these if I need another 3-drop, as this does counter most of the cards you care about. Having only a single blue in the cost and providing a scry 1 makes this easy to use and rewarding, though you don’t want too many counters in most decks.
While Relentless Advance is better than a Hill Giant, you do need a couple of synergies before it becomes good enough to play. I’d run this with 2+ amass or proliferate payoffs, and it even checks the box for spells-matter decks if you run short. These aren’t hard to pick up, so don’t go nuts grabbing them early.
The Sphinx is a big flyer that often bounces something with a good ETB ability, which is well worth 4 mana. I’ve liked this with Lazotep Reaver primarily, though there are plenty of juicy options to pick up. It’s also perfectly playable without synergies, as it threatens enough damage in the air that it’s a force to be reckoned with.
I’m deeply disappointed in Silent Submersible. Not only is it mediocre in Limited, which is a waste of a cool card concept, how does the submarine not have evasion of some kind?! The flavor judge in me finds this wanting.
Sky Theater Strix
Much like the actual theater experience these days, this usually isn’t worth leaving home for. It takes too much work to get a good damage output, and doesn’t block well at all. I could see running it in very dedicated spells decks, or siding it in against specific planeswalkers if your opponent is weak to flyers.
Finally, MTG Arena’s own Sparky gets a card! Spark Double is almost always worth more than the mana you paid for it, as a +1/+1 counter or +1 loyalty makes copying a 3-drop pretty good value (and that’s near the floor). This card is splashable, powerful, and only requires that you have some good creatures/planeswalkers in order to profit.
Even in spells-matter decks, this is a little bit slow. It does do a decent job of defending you early, but getting the spell back is more of a late-game bonus than the main focus of the card. I’d look to play this when I have 5+ good spells to get back, ideally alongside a few others just to have options.
Even though this does let you kill most planeswalkers with ease, it usually isn’t that great of a deal. Spending a card to kill a planeswalker that already used its ability isn’t where I want to be, even if I get a couple +1/+1 counters as part of the deal. In an aggressive deck, this is a decent finisher, but most blue decks don’t seem to be interested in closing out the game like this.
I foresee casting this card a lot, especially given how nicely it pairs with removal. Getting to look at up to six cards is immensely powerful, and it gives you a great chance of finding whatever you are looking for. The only reason this isn’t the best blue common is because of how absurd Aven Eternal is, but both are well above the curve we are used to for commons.
Teferi’s Time Twist
Running the triple T is perfectly reasonable, and gets better the more ETB and proliferate effects you have. This is the kind of card it can be hard to find room for, so don’t prioritize it, but if you have an extra slot this fights removal pretty well.
I really like Thunder Drake. It’s not hard to make this a 3/4, and 4/5 is definitely not out of the question. It makes cheap cards more valuable, especially cantrips like Defiant Strike, and fits perfectly into the blue-red spells deck.
Fblthp’s Signature Spellbook is a passable card, but not exciting in the slightest. You play this if you have no other good removal options, or if your spells-matter deck really needs another instant. Note that against planeswalkers, you often want to cast this during the opponent’s draw step. That stops them from using the planeswalker that turn, because they can’t until their main phase, but also prevents them from drawing it since they’ve drawn for their turn, so you get a guaranteed turn off.
Wall of Runes
In a good control deck, Wall of Runes can buy you some breathing room at a pretty cheap cost. Blocking early and scrying gives you time to leverage cards like Tamiyo’s Epiphany, which makes this a little better than it looks.
Top 5 Blue Commons
Blue has some really nice commons, and multiple different themes going on. Blue does skew controlling, but is capable of applying early pressure as well. I like both amass and proliferate, and blue supports these themes nicely.