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.)
It’s not hard to imagine this being a major player in Standard. Even 75% of an Impulse is more than we usually get, and having access to this level of filtering is incredible. Playing Anticipate makes you resistant to both mana screw and mana flood, as it can find whichever element you are missing, and all it asks is a small investment of 2 mana. 2 mana costs some decks more than others, and I wouldn’t expect to see this show up in aggressive decks that are looking to play to the board. Where it is going to be best is in decks that want to keep up countermagic and are happy to cast Anticipate on turns where casting a counter wasn’t necessary. This adds a lot to those decks, and will impact the format significantly.
Constructed: 2.0 (really just 1.0 twice)
OK, hear me out. First of all, I have accurately read the card, and realize it costs 9 mana. That being the case, I am not arguing that this card is amazing, but it is amazingly cool. I would like it to be good, and even if that’s very different from it actually being good, one can dream, right? Where I think this could be applicable is in a matchup that frequently goes to board stall and involves blue mana, preferably one where Nykthos or green acceleration plays a part. Is that realistic? Who knows, but I will try and cast this card. It is insanely powerful if it resolves, and can cast upwards of 50 mana worth of cards, so how could I not?
Both Silumgar’s Command and Ojutai’s Command take up a lot of the room this might have, but I don’t want to dismiss it without at least thinking about it. It is a 2-for-1, and it could be a 1 -or 2-of in a slow control deck.
Blue decks have their fill of card draw these days, even if none of it really replaces Sphinx’s Revelation. Divination on 3, Jace’s Ingenuity on 5, Dig Through Time on turn six or so (though for less mana), and now Dragonlord’s Prerogative on 6. I’d expect this to see play alongside Ingenuity and Dig, depending on what the deck’s mana curve looks like, and the uncounterable aspect is occasionally relevant. In control vs. control, having your card draw be unstoppable is a sizable advantage, and this could also be a fine sideboard card if you want additional copies of this effect for those matchups.
Encase in Ice
This looks like purely a sideboard card, which not a bad place to land. This deals with Stormbreath Dragon first and foremost, while also being a fine way to lock down assorted red dorks. I don’t love it against Abzan Midrange, Siege Rhino notwithstanding, though I would side this in against Abzan Aggro. It does stop enough of their creatures to make the cut, and a sideboard card that’s good against most red decks and some green decks sounds like a good fit to me. I really like this cycle of sideboard cards, and enjoy playing Constructed when such powerful options exist.
Lurking is most likely what this little guy will be doing, though if there is an aggressive blue deck (say, one based on devotion), this looks gud to me. It comes out on turn one and never stops attacking, while also being a decent way to spend 3-4 mana later in the game. Synergy decks look for cards like this, even if they don’t get there on pure power level alone.
If you can play this on a turn where your opponent left mana up but can’t afford the extra 2 mana, you really did it. Even when they do just untap and kill it, you are talking about an even mana exchange, or close, and you got a half-turn of lockdown out of the deal. That plus the power level when this doesn’t die make me a fan of this card. It is a 5-mana creature, and those have a very high bar, but I’ve fallen for this one. It does need a good surrounding cast, as playing the role of the lone creature doesn’t work out so well when you really want it to survive, so if there isn’t a blue deck full of creatures I will be forced to admit that this doesn’t do what I hoped. I also like that it enables Silumgar’s Scorn, another card I like.
I only want to mention this because of how cool this card is. It’s super flavorful, plays interestingly, and is not quite good enough for Constructed. Spending a lot of mana and time to set this up isn’t really how you win games, as awesome as the card is (and it is awesome).
The only mockery I really expect to see involves my team mocking me for trying to play Clone Legion, but this is another interesting card I wanted to mention. It does do funny things on creatures like Siege Rhino, but I’m having a hard time envisioning the deck that does this. If you play it on their creature, I guess it stops it from attacking, but that makes it a very bad Pacifism, which is barely Constructed playable to begin with. Putting it on your own creature opens you up to getting 2-for-1’d by removal, so this seem like more of a theoretical point of interest than an actual card that will see play.
This is already in the format, but I want to be clear that it is a great card and I love having it around.
How good this card is and how good blue devotion is are intertwined, and if one is bad, it is likely that the other is too. Shorecrasher is an efficient and powerful card, but only if you can reliably cast it for UUU, preferably with U still untapped. That does likely require a mono-color deck, and one with Thassa, Master of Waves, Gudul Lurker, Silumgar’s Sorcerer, and other such cards.
Sight Beyond Sight
With all the card draw floating around, the most likely scenario in which this gets played is in a deck that wants to trigger cards that care about spells being cast. Once you are getting that extra bit of value, paying 4 mana for double Sleight of Hand starts sounding a lot better, so finding the deck that has those cards will be the trick.
I probably like this card more than I should, but I’ve always been a sucker for Mystic Snake effects. Silumgar’s Sorcerer serves as a counter for any creature for 1UU, with the bonus of a 2/1 flier if you have something bad to sacrifice to it. Playing this in a Mono-Blue devotion deck that has Gudul Lurker, Master of Waves tokens, and other cheap creatures sounds pretty good, and it can potentially make use of Satyr Wayfinder in a blue/green deck. There are ways to get value from this, and you aren’t paying a huge cost if you don’t, making this an interesting addition to a number of decks.
This is one of many very powerful new tools that blue-based control decks are getting from Dragons. As Force Spike, Scorn does a good job in the first five or six turns of the game even without a Dragon, and by the time the late game rolls around, presumably you have found a scaly beast to make this into a real counterspell. A counterspell that works on turn two and turn ten is a rarity these days, and this will impact how decks are built, how good control decks are, and how decks play against them.
Stratus Dancer is at its best in decks that want both a 2/1 flier for 2 and a Negate-on-a-stick later, which does restrict its possibilities somewhat. Still, it’s an excellent card in those decks, and offers card advantage at a low cost, which is not something to turn down lightly.
Top 3 Blue Cards for Constructed
Blue got some very good cards in this set. Anticipate and Scorn are both huge boons to control decks, though they both are perfectly capable of showing up in midrange or tempo decks, depending on the builds. Icefall Regent is one of many cards that pushes more aggressive blue decks, and there are even some plants for Mono-Blue Devotion floating around. That’s a lot of action, and it looks like blue is well and truly back in Constructed.