Previous Set Reviews
There’s a lot going on in this set, and how all the pieces interlock makes it somewhat complicated to review. Vehicles, Energy, and more all rely on other cards in order to get full value, but I’ll try and factor that in as much as possible during the reviews.
I also want to mention, as usual, that the description of the card’s value is more important than the grade. The grade is a guideline, but the explanation will give you context, so use both when reading the review.
Let’s get to it!
Here’s the grading scale we will be using:
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte.
5.0: The best of the best. (Archangel Avacyn. Sorin, Grim Nemesis.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Gitrog Monster. Descend Upon the Sinful. Jace, Unraveller of Secrets. Avacyn’s Judgment.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Burn from Within. Devil’s Playground. Elusive Tormentor.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Duskwatch Recruiter. Breakneck Rider. Fiery Temper.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Graf Mole. Dauntless Cathar. Niblis of Dusk.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Nephalia Moondrakes. Stormrider Spirit. Reduce to Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Expose Evil. Inspiring Captain. Lamplighter of Selhoff.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Fork in the Road. Convicted Killer. Militant Inquisitor.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Moldgraf Scavenger. Vampire Noble. Seagraf Skaab.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Invasive Surgery. Ethereal Guidance. Open the Armory.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Harness the Storm. Vessel of Volatility.)
Appetite for the Unnatural
I can’t really stomach maindecking this unless it’s Sealed. The reason I like Fragmentize is that you are getting ahead when you use it, but the fact that Appetite costs 3 makes it more of an even trade. That, combined with the risk of missing, makes me put this in the sideboard category more than the main deck category.
Thragtusk (minus the friend) is still a great card. Arborback Stomper keeps you alive long enough to make use of a giant 5/4 trampler, and even if it’s immediately killed or bounced you got a good deal.
Architect of the Untamed
This strikes me as a great card. By itself you aren’t getting to 8 energy all that easily, but it does such a good job of fueling other energy cards or taking their energy that I’d be thrilled to start with it. A 2/3 for 3 isn’t even that bad, so taking it early seems like low risk and high reward.
Armorcraft Judge is another card that fits into the “low risk, high reward” category. The fail case of a Hill Giant is decent, and the upside of drawing one or more extra cards is very appealing. Green has a lot of ways to get +1/+1 counters, and that theme is even carried across all five colors, making this a solid addition to most decks.
Attune with Aether
This isn’t quite an auto-play, since a deck that’s evenly split across two colors and doesn’t care about energy shouldn’t run it, but it’s a good way to get energy in a base-green deck. You can even draft multiples and start replacing lands, as long as you’re willing to play 11-12 Forests.
I really like how efficient this is. Countering a removal spell or winning a combat for only 1 mana is great, and more than enough to make me overcome my aversion to combat tricks.
A 4-mana 5/4 with upside? That’s heading straight into my deck, even if I have no other energy cards (and it clearly gets better with them).
Commencement of Festivities
The festivities will not be commencing on my watch. This is strictly sideboard material unless your opponent has an Overrun-type effect that you can’t beat otherwise.
If you need a 6-drop, this is a 6-drop.
That’s about the extent of my analysis, and suitably describes my excitement level about this card.
This is a slightly worse Appetite for the Unnatural, much like it got left somewhere damp for too long.
Cultivator of Blades
Both sides of this are awesome, and which you pick is mostly dependent on what the board looks like. If you have a bunch of other creatures, this likely plays better as a 3/3, and if your board is empty, Servos it is. It also works well with pump spells, though those are not needed for this to be excellent.
Look, even I have standards. Not only is this card clearly unplayable, but the joke about the name is just too easy. Let’s just move on.
This was a cause of much debate on the Limited Resources Set Review (which is a good supplement to these reviews, if you are looking for a way to spend four hours with myself and Marshall). We settled on this being bad, though this is one of the cards I’m least certain about.
It costs a lot of mana before you get enough counters for this to be worth it, and the idea of topdecking this sounds horrendous. The activated ability helps a little bit, but not enough for me to really be comfortable, and until I have a chance to test this Handicraft for myself, I’m going to go with “bad.”
Magic is a game about small edges, and I like to think of myself as an Elegant Edgecrafter. OK, maybe that isn’t the best analogy, but this card is still a good one. A hard-to-block 5/6 is worth 6 mana, and a 3/4 plus two 1/1s is a fine deal too. I like the fabricate cards where both choices make sense, and this is one I’m happy to cast for either side.
It doesn’t take too much before I’d put this in my deck, as one counter later and this is a good deal. It’s unplayable without any support, but it’s not hard to find that support.
3/2 for 3 isn’t my favorite set of stats, because of how often it trades down for a 2-drop. That said, having an evasive ability makes this a lot more relevant in the late game than most 3-drops, and that’s worth something.
I’m not as high on this as other fabricate cards, but it’s a solid addition to any defensive deck. A 1/4 reach for 3 will certainly do a good job keeping you alive, and I’d expect that’s the mode this gets played in most often. If you need an artifact, playing this as an 0/3 is serviceable, but a little below the curve.
Hunt the Weak
Though this card hasn’t always impressed me, I don’t think it will be weak in this set. Green has some really big commons, and the +1/+1 counter theme gives it additional utility. Add those together and you have the makings of a solid removal spell.
A 2/3 for 2 with upside is a great deal, and it doesn’t take much sculpting before you have a board where this does good things. This even plays nicely with the +1/+1 counter theme, which is just a bonus given the stats you are already underpaying for.
Larger Than Life
Longtusk Cub can run away with a game when played early, and is a perfectly acceptable energy sink (and source) late. There are games where this is just a 2/2 with no text, but they are more than made up for by the games where it just steamrolls the opponent.
Talk about taking a bite out of crime. This will kill most things you care about and let your creature march in with some new abilities, at least temporarily. Note that it’s not a fight, just a mauling, and you can play this without fear of too much of a blowout if they have a pump spell.
Nissa, Vital Force
You can’t ask for much more here. Your opponent is forced to try and kill Nissa if you +1 her, as the ultimate will let you win any game that lasts more than a few turns, and hitting for 5 plus casting Regrowths make for great abilities too. Nissa is a little vulnerable to fliers, as planeswalkers tend to be, but that’s about the only place she needs help.
This is a run-of-the-mill combat trick, which puts it fairly low on my priority list. It’s enough stats with a minor ability that I’ll likely run it, but I’m not that excited to do so.
Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
At 1 mana, Oviya comes out basically for free, which makes her expensive activated ability less of a burden than on something like Whirlermaker. She’s an annoyance at worst and a game-ender at best, which is a good deal for this cost.
A common 4/4 trampler for 4 with upside, eh? This is where we are at these days? This can even come out as a 3/3 and a 1/1, if that’s better, and no matter which side you choose you are going to take your opponent for a ride.
The Tiger is grrreat too, though slightly behind the outrageous curve set by Peema Outrider. A 6/6 attacker that works well with other energy cards is a bargain for 5 mana, and this does plenty even if you never spend energy on it.
Sage of Shaila’s Claim
Given how bad 2/1s look in this format, you should only be playing this if you have 4-5+ good energy sinks. Once you do, I won’t claim it’s unplayable, but I’m still not excited.
Servant of the Conduit
A 2/2 for 2 that taps for mana is incredibly good. Mana accelerants are absurd when played on turn 2, and this isn’t a dead draw later, thanks to its stats. Yes, it can run out of energy, but the first couple uses are the most important anyway, and you can use other cards to power it if need be.
This is a sideboard card. It’s a good sideboard card, but it sure won’t fly main deck.
Thriving Rhino is a good card in any deck, energy-based or not. It gets a little better with other energy cards, but they are in no way necessary—the stats here justify it by itself.
The stats-to-cost ratio here isn’t remotely realistic, and 4 points of those stats even have haste. By itself, this is an 8/8 trampler for 5, which is silly, and it’s much better than that. This gets the top grade because it can engineer a comeback, while being unbeatable if you are ahead. That’s a lot for just 5 mana.
If you are playing three colors or have a high curve, this is a fine addition. I’m not wild about it otherwise, though it’s passable just because it is a 2-for-1, and only slightly smaller than what I’d want for 4 mana.
This is the kind of control finisher that I dream about, while being a little pricey for most aggro decks. 5 mana to draw the two best cards from your graveyard is a solid deal, and if you can stall the game and cast this for 3+, you should just win.
Cat monkey! Also too small and with too expensive of an ability! Don’t play this!
Top 5 Green Commons
Green has some absurd commons. Besides incredible stats, it has Hunt the Weak, which goes quite well with said stats. Green supports energy, +1/+1 counters, and looks excellent at playing midrange or even aggro.