For Constructed, things work slightly differently. First of all, I don’t review every card in the set, just the ones I think have Constructed applications. If I missed a card you think is awesome, feel free to post it in the comments or ask me about it on Twitter. I try to evaluate cards without using best-case-scenario mentality, but I’ve certainly missed cards in the past, and if you can think of a good reason a card could be great, I would like to hear it.
My other reviews:
Limited Resources Reviews
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) 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.)
Clearly, a 3-mana 3/3 isn’t going to cut it, so how playable this is will depend on how good cutting the opponent with your other Warriors is. This can serve as a way to Fireball the opponent out in the late game, and playing it with five mana, using it once, then untapping and using it once or twice does sound like a good way to finish things off. That plus its ability to attack passably well makes this worth investigating if Warriors is a deck.
Speaking of Warriors, if they are going to be a tribe to be reckoned with, Blood-Chin Rager will be part of the reason why. It’s a 2-drop that gets to freely attack early and can set up some good alpha strikes late. There will be plenty of boards where you attack with this into larger creatures just to get 5-6 damage through, which is a fine deal given that you only spent two mana and likely got some good attacks in already. Black aggro decks have been close but not quite there for a while now, and this may help them return to prominence (or at least playability).
If you can get a 6/6 out of this, you are doing well on the mana-to-power front, and having a Corpseweft in play does imply a good amount of future value. Every dead creature becoming a 2/2 is strong, and you can even combine them in to some kind of Frankenstein’s monster if an army of 2/2s doesn’t cut it. The drawback is that drawing the second Corpseweft is very marginal, and the card is a bit slow. I like the idea of this in some kind of Abzan deck, a deck that has a lot of creatures but isn’t really looking to use its graveyard as a resource otherwise.
I like drawing cards, and I guess I don’t mind Fireballing the opponent to death. If you are ahead, this card is great. It can finish the opponent off if they are low or refill your hand if you can’t quite kill them. Where this card is at its worst is when you aren’t attacking them and they are attacking you. There, paying life isn’t really an option and neither is taking them from 16 to 10, making Damnable Pact just a dead card. This looks like a sideboard card for matchups where life totals aren’t contested, but it could be a 1-of as the top end of a black aggressive deck.
There are a lot of powerful 7-drops flying around, and Desolation Giant certainly qualifies. This is a perfect counter to Hornet Queen, and looks like exactly what you would want against all the green devotion decks. It is unfortunate that you can’t get the trigger by Whipping it back, but I guess that would be too easy. It’s strange to keep saying this, but this does feel like a very powerful sideboard option for a midrange/control black deck. I guess black just gets incredible situational cards, which is better than not getting incredible cards at all.
Black can do way better than this in general, but maybe there is some corner case where Ultimate Price doesn’t kill the creatures you need to kill and Bile Blight is too hard to cast. In that unrealistic scenario, maybe Defeat makes the cut.
Duress is a great sideboard card, and in some metagames, even sneaks into the main deck. Probably not this time around, given how many good creatures there are, but this is still an A+ sideboard option against spell-based control decks (otherwise known as control decks). Owen does a good job explaining why he loves Duress so much, and he has had the results to back it up.
How far am I willing to go for a Divination? Here, you are drawing two cards, just the second is a kill spell you cast for zero mana. The requirement is that you have a creature in your graveyard and the opponent has one of equal or smaller size. That really isn’t that hard to set up, especially in a world of Siege Rhinos, and this could be an important tool when fighting opposing Rhinos. You can’t play a ton of Foul Renewals, just because the risk of it getting stuck in hand is real, but the first one or two can give you a lot of mileage.
It’s funny that both the gain 4 and the Diabolic Edict effect are way better in Constructed than Limited. The life gain is more relevant because you can trigger it much more reliably, and because decks that play this need incidental life gain a lot more than the average Limited deck. Edict effects are also better because there are Constructed matchups that have very few creatures that see play, and some even have hexproof—though those matchups aren’t often the same ones where the life matters. The two effects combine to make a solid card, assuming you have 5+ Dragons, and ideally 7+. That is the tricky part, but you really do need to gain the life for this to be a good Constructed card.
Black decks were missing good sideboard cards, so finally they get one in Hedonist’s Trove. Casting this against a fully-stocked graveyard sounds awesome, and playing one Hedonist’s Trove in the Abzan mirror sounds kind of sweet. Of course, there’s a limit to how many cards you can board in for that kind of matchup, and there are plenty of other good choices, but this does have the power you are looking for. Playing a land and an extra spell every turn is outrageous, and it doesn’t take too many turns before the game is just over.
I’ll let Marshall and Efro handle this one on Constructed Resources, as I know they will have more to say about it.
5 power for 3 mana is no joke. This comes out early and is hugely threatening, while still being a good hasty topdeck later. Whether this will see play is contingent on black aggro being good, but if it has a home this has the power level needed to compete.
Grave Titan is back, though it’s now in Cat form. This isn’t good in the same decks as the Gravedad, but if you have good fodder to feed it, Rakshasa Gravecaller is a lot of power and toughness for not a lot of mana. A 3/6 stops everything, and the two 2/2s mean that a single removal spell will not clear the way. 7 power is also enough to really threaten the opponent, and all of that combined makes me like this as a midrange option. I probably like this more than I should, but there are some matchups where slamming this is awesome, and I did just have this in multiple draft decks…
I don’t think this card is playable, but it’s close enough to playable that it’s fooling people, so I figured I’d talk about it. I don’t really want to pay four mana for a 4/3, much less multiple times, and this only gets more expensive. Being a Lord is counter to the first ability, so I’m not sure where exactly this is supposed to fit in. Vengevine this is not, and even if I like the idea, the execution just isn’t there.
Finally, black gets Searing Blaze. This is a solid sideboard card, especially if you are planning on damaging the opponent, though it is annoying how many white decks make tokens and how many green decks have mana dorks that protect their bigger creatures. If you are looking to inflict wounds, I’d come prepared with more removal to make sure you get the target you want.
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
As much as I like Rakshasa Gravecaller, I do have to admit that Sidisi is a direct competitor for that slot, and will likely be the victor. Sidisi adds a huge board presence and lets you trade in a bad creature for a great card, which is a solid deal. Sidisi seems tailor-made for Whip of Erebos decks, and even without Whip, Sidisi plus Satyr Wayfinder sounds awesome.
I like other members of this cycle a little more, mainly because casting Silumgar’s Assassin is less exciting and because it only kills small creatures. It’s still a 2-drop that can provide card advantage, but for the most part you can do better in this format.
I like the return of the 2-mana removal spell. There are still plenty of conditions attached, but having the option to play good kill spells that cost two mana is awesome, and Ultimate Price will do some good work. It does miss Siege Rhino, Mantis Rider, and Dragonlords, but hits so many other cards that I have trouble imagining a Standard format where this doesn’t see a lot of play. It’s not the kind of card you necessarily want 4 of, because the current suite of removal spells reward you for playing a mix, so make sure you aren’t overloading and making yourself vulnerable to some key threats.
If you want to beat Jeskai Tokens, this is a reasonable way to do so. I wouldn’t say that token decks are plaguing the format right now, but the existence of such a powerful card makes it unlikely that they ever will. Decks in older formats will still likely default to Illness in the Ranks, but there’s no harm in having more options.
Top 3 Black Cards for Constructed
A discard spell, a removal spell, and a Demonic Tutor with legs. Yeah, that sounds about right for black. It is funny that two of the best cards black gets from Dragons are reprints, and I guess that isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but I do like the dimensions they will bring to the format. Sidisi seems pretty cool too, and just gives more ammunition to the powerful Satyr Wayfinder lobby.