Guildpact: A Guide to Value
By metaller on February 1st, 2006 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
As I sit down to write this, I’m feeling great. You see, I’ve just come home from playing in the Prerelease of the newest Magic: The Gathering set, Guildpact. This weekend, for the first time, players all over the world were ripping open packs of cards in hopes of pulling a foil Godless Shrine, Stomping Ground or Steam Vents, me amongst them. As with any new set, many have been poring over the spoiler here at Salvation to see which cards are going to be playable; but others will have been scanning the forums to try to get a feel for which will be the valuable cards in the set. As with any new set, some cards are initially going to be over or undervalued. Today, I’m going to discuss which cards are diamonds in the rough, which are overly hyped, and which ones are right on the money. Of course, my values will be different from those of many people, and I might well miss a broken card that turns out to be the next Jitte and climb to similar prices. I am not aiming to give exact values of cards, more to give an outline of what is hot and what is not at the moment. Also of note is that I am going to discuss the rares and a couple of the uncommons only – the majority of commons and uncommons will go for between two cents and ten cents. All prices are in US $. Bolded comments are the opinions of my good friend and collaborator, aurorasparrow. So, without further ado. . . .
By metaller on February 1st, 2006 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
To be honest, any kind of deck abusing discard and looking for a three-drop creature would much rather play Hypnotic Specter and/or Dimir Cutpurse. In Block, there are better three drops in Orzhov, such as Teysa and Orzhov Pontiff.
Think of this card as a Megrim with feet. If Megrim ever becomes a playable deck, this might be worth a dollar. (Hint: Megrim will probably never be a playable deck.)
Angel of Despair
The ability to hit any permanent in play (barring cards with protection, etc) is a very powerful one. Vindicate getting a 5/5 Flying body tacked onto it for is good in and of itself, but the fact that it blocks or attacks into Firemane Angel could be huge in Block. In other formats, I see this being reanimated.
The problem with this card is that you want to hold it back for something big to kill, which is that many fewer turns of Angel bashing. There are definitely better reanimation targets than this. In Standard, the Angel is a lot more expensive than the rest of Orzhov, and will compete with the Kamigawa Dragons for finisher spots. I think the Dragons will see more play, especially with their sacrificing benefits and Spirit creature type.
A fun card in Limited, but pretty unspectacular in any other format. It'll appeal to Timmy, along with about 95% of the set. . . .
I guess you could play around with him and Crown of Convergence, but he's just trashy.
He’s probably too expensive to see play in Gruul, although I guess I could see him as a two-of to round out the curve. He also has Timmy salivating; however, he’s in the Gruul preconstructed deck, meaning that any n00bs wanting to get their hands on him may just buy the theme deck.
There are so many better options than this: Kodama of the North Tree, Verdant Force, Rumbling Slum, etc. . . . Trade this to Timmy, because nobody else will take it.
Price: Timmy's Leyline of the Void
Now this is more like it! This is the most talked about nonland card in GPT, at least in my area of the UK. The fact that he’s a more than solid body that nerfs Glare of Subdual, Sensei’s Diving Top and Sakura-Tribe Elder in Standard alone makes him good; the fact that this is a must counter/kill card versus Psychatog in Extended gives it extra value. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of this guy in Constructed.
He will skyrocket in price and be played simply for the fact that he can stop Psychatog, but he's not as good as he looks (though he's still great). Just remember what he does to your Jitte and Grim Lavamancer. Also note the lame effect Suppression Field had on the meta; the Centaur's ability is worse than Suppression Field's. Still, three for a 3/4 plus some damage is almost Call of the Herd good, and the price is unlikely to decline much.
Price: $12 and rising
While this card is versatile, it really puzzles me in what it's trying to do. I suppose it's an instant source of card drawing, but as a card-drawing spell it reads: “ – Draw two cards and take three or more damage.” [Actually, it's quite easy to only Shock yourself when you play it. -Ed.] While it can finish off an almost-dead opponent, there are simply more efficient ways of dealing instant-speed damage than this. Maybe a sideboard card against Tron in T2.
Obviously, it's no good to use on yourself. Player-only burn is generally bad, but this really has to take the cake (compare it to Lava Spike or Shrapnel Blast). Unless used against a Blue deck in tandem with Sudden Impact, it's just not effective.
Wrath effects in Block are always valuable, and the discriminatory nature of the card means that it can kill a lot of opposing Saprolings against a Glare deck whilst leaving your Ghost Council of Orzhova around to swing. Still, outside of Block, I’d rather use good old Wrath of God.
W/B plays a good amount of small creatures, and you definitely don't want to be stuck with this against a Rumbling Slum. Wrath is definitely better, and if you're playing Orzhov, you can afford the extra expense.
Some are calling this Limited bomb a great win condition for mono-Black decks or decks sporting Putrefy and Mortify. I’m undecided on this; don’t go out of your way to look for it, but if you can pick it up cheaply, do so.
If it weren't an enchantment, it might see some play, but it's too slow and vulnerable.
Price: $1, because Timmy plays Black sometimes, too. Or he will now.
3/5 Flyers for seven mana really need to be good in Constructed to be playable. This, I just don’t see. Anyone wanting this should be able to pick up the Prerelease foil versions pretty cheaply.
We all want to be able to Shock our opponent 8 times for the kill, but the Djinn is too slow. Meloku is game-winning without the 7-mana cost.
Price: $0.20, because everybody has one and doesn't want it
Ah, the first of the four Nephilim. He’s not the worst of the bunch, but after fixing your colours, I’d expect more than a 3/3 with no evasion. Ugh.
There are a lot of cards that can do dangerous things . . . if only they deal combat damage to the opponent. The four-color commitment makes it unplayable.
I’m honestly not sure what this card is meant to interact with unless it’s Rude Awakening. If that is the case, it’s a win-more card. In any other case, it does absolutely nothing on its own.
There are way better ways to pump your creatures. And they don't give away your strategy.
Ghost Council of Orzhova
This was a really good card to have at the Prerelease I attended. While its mana cost is imposing, as is its Legendary status, I think this is the defining Orzhov card. It has very efficient power and toughness for its cost and provides a great win condition; he can block big Gruul guys all day or beat down against weenie decks, and is exceptionally hard to get rid of with removal.
Despite all the crazy things we've seen, 4-mana 4/4s are still very rare. ESPECIALLY for White and Black. Tack on a great ability and you have a strong card for W/B weenie. Especially if you have Wrath of God.
Price: $8, but loses value in the long run
This is a card that I feel has some degree of potential, but I’m not sure if that potential will be realised. It certainly is a versatile effect, being able to dodge a Wrath or save all your creatures from a bad combat step. Whether it will be used remains to be seen.
People thought Planar Guide was good, too. Leaving three mana open at all times is asking a lot, and that's just in the situations where it would be helpful. Most of the time its a glorified Fog that removes your spirit tokens.
There was a lot of speculation regarding the giant spider. As he was a 4/3 for a long time in the spoiler, he was being touted by many as the best nonland card in the set. But when it was revealed that he was a measly 4/1, the general consensus was that he had become an overcosted Ball Lightning. He still retains some of the value generated by his hype, and may see play in Gruul as a Bloodthirst enabler.
You know, even at 4/3, Giant Solifuge wasn't going to wreck the meta (although it was WAY too good for Red). Being untargetable means you can't equip or enchant it, meaning you'll trade with a Watchwolf or something and get some trample damage. The big insect is still exceptional against control, but everybody's going to be picking Rumbling Slum now that it's obvious you won't get much from Solifuge.
My pick for the best of the Nephilim, even if it is the best of a bad bunch. The fact that he can get indefinitely bigger and, given an empty board, can cycle through cards to keep the board clean makes him slightly more interesting. Only slightly, though.
I could play this, or I could play and equip Jitte to a creature that isn't horrible.
This joins with the other two GPT duals to make the best cards in the set. Good lands have a history of fetching a premium; from old classics like Library of Alexandria, Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad and the original duals, to the painlands and the fetchlands, good nonbasics are always in high demand. These coupled with the fetchlands in Extended are already making massive waves in the tournament scene.
Probably why there aren't many great cards in Guildpact. Three super-chase rares means Wizards doesn't have to print much amazing stuff for the set to sell.
He’s big and he flies. Other than that, he’s pretty unremarkable. In combination with the Orzhov Pontiff, it creates a one-sided Wrath. But then, for nine mana, so does Plague Wind.
If he said, "destroy all other creatures," he'd be good. But he doesn't, and stuff like Night of Souls' Betrayal hurt the Orzhov pretty badly.
Price: $1 because maybe, just maybe, he could be good.
Gruul War Plow
Quite underestimated, in my opinion. The ability to give all creatures trample in any colour is potentially very good in this world of 1/1 tokens. The fact that it becomes even more useful when you have the mana free to turn it into a 4/4 every turn makes it all the sweeter.
If giving all my creatures trample was a 1-mana enchantment, I still wouldn't play it. The ability to turn into a 4/4 for 3 mana per turn doesn't sell me, either.
Another one of those cards that just screams “Break Me!” To me at least . . . or maybe its because, if I squint, it kind of looks like a massively under powered Standstill. . . .
You'd think there would be a way to break this, but you can't find it. You could flashback Ray of Revelation, but you might as well just flashback Deep Analysis. What we need is for Enchantress to make a comeback.
Price: $0.50, because Johnny is waiting for the card that can break it.
Yes, there are more of these. I guess it could be fun to play Dowsing Gloom on this to annihilate your opponent’s army of X/1s and X/2s. Meh.
Uh . . . maybe if you targeted it with a whole bunch of cantrips, but otherwise, no.
Invoke the Firemind
In most circumstances, it just doesn’t do enough for its mana cost to be too useful. However, with the Urza lands in the format, anything is possible. I still think it would have been fine at , though.
If this cost one mana less, it would be good. It would also be a better Braingeyser. So it becomes very limited.
Timmy will love trying to get his overcosted fatties into play for a free swing. I suppose a case could be made for playing this with Sensei’s Diving Top and cards like Autochthon Wurm and Mindleech Mass. But probably not.
If I'm playing RG, I'm going to be rushing the opponent, not waiting for fatties.
Leyline of Lifeforce
The first of the cycle of five “Leylines.” As with any card that has an alternate free casting cost, it has the potential to be very good. This I can see in the sideboard of any Block Gruul deck if a good Blue deck is established, and maybe in other formats too. One to watch.
If MUC ever becomes strong I guess you could run this, but it's not like its significantly stronger than Choke or Defense Grid.
Leyline of Lightning
While free cards can be broken, sometimes they are still overcosted even when they cost nothing. This is no Lightning Rift, but might find its way into a Gruul deck needing to trigger Bloodthirst. I doubt it.
Would a Standard deck play this? I doubt it, and every non-Block format besides Standard has Grim Lavamancer, which is 10,000,000x better.
Leyline of Singularity
A great answer to Glare decks in Block and Type 2. I could see a Blue decks using Legendary threats such as Keiga finding a use for this.
Definitely a card of interest, although I don't see it being anything but a sideboard card.
Leyline of the Meek
It could find a place in Glare decks, especially in Block. But I’m not convinced; the question is, is it good enough to draw in the midgame when you have to pay mana for it? My guess is no.
Because I need my tokens to get +1/+1 right out the gate? I guess it's playable, but it's also very suboptimal.
Leyline of the Void
The is the best of the five Leylines, and it looks like quite the house. In T2, it deals with Kokusho and Yosei. In Extended, it deals with Life From The Loam and Pschatog. Even in Vintage, it's an uncounterable way to deal with Goblin Welder. The fact that it can be splashed into a non-Black deck make me really like this card. Pick them up.
This card can just shut down decks if it begins in play. If you run four and mulligan, you have great chances to draw it. I wish I could say more than that; it's definitely a metagame changer.
Timmy just keeps getting happier and happier. For eight mana, a Constructed-worthy card should win the game. At the very best, this takes two turns to Wrath all of their creatures and leave you with an eight-power attacker. Ugh.
Kiki-Inferno, maybe? I don't really see anything else it might do.
Price: $1, because somebody likes Kiki-Inferno.
This could be good. But then again, it could not be. At worst, this digs out a land. It is quite important that it kills a Legendary permanent for four mana. I just don’t see this getting replicated that much.
About as good as Clone (seriously, what do you copy besides creatures?).
Price: $1 for cool points.
Unless some ridiculous artifact is printed in Dissension, I foresee this having zero application in Block. In Standard, there are better ways to kill Jitte than this. For the moment, really poor.
Did Sculpting Steel see any play?
While this has some potential, there just isn’t really enough going on in the graveyard at the moment in Block or Type 2 to make this playable. In Extended, there are better options such as Leyline of the Void and Morningtide for removing graveyards from the game.
Kinda cool, but completely undependable if you’re trying to combat a graveyard deck. Five mana to Cranial Extraction something in play might make it worthwhile against combo, but it doesn't have any strong points that might afford it a sideboard spot.
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
One of the more hyped cards, and its not hard to see why. Apart from his restrictive mana cost, he’s really good. Type 2 at the moment is defined by 5/5 Flyers, and Niv-Mizzet trades with them. A free card and a couple of pings every turn is a very powerful ability, and he can always fly over for 4 when the situation arises.
Tapping your huge creatures for something other than attacking usually isn't a great idea, which makes me prefer Meloku or Keiga. He can trade with 5/5 fliers by blocking and pinging.
Quite a versatile card that can be an absolute bomb. The fact that he can take out all of your opponent’s Saprolings for three mana means he will have some application, at least in Block.
A potentially useful post-combat sweeper or token-sweeper.
The only application I can think of for this is against Tooth and Nail in Extended, or possibly against Storm Herd if the card is played. Still, it’s much better to just counter the spell in a Blue deck; and Tooth has yet to make a real impact in Extended. [It did make Top 8 in the last GP of the season, so expect to see it. - Ed.]
MAYBE if it cost 2 mana.
Jeez, another card for Timmy? This one is pretty ineffective, and just doesn’t give enough bang for the buck. His lack of any kind of evasion is what makes him really unplayable.
Bad or win-more.
Another card that was hyped a lot before the set was released. In theory, it has a very game-breaking ability, and is versatile in that it can just cycle for at end of turn. However, in my experience, these are pretty easy to pick up. Maybe people are under-appreciating them at the moment, but they just don’t seem to have much value. This could change in the near future.
Wrath of God EOT cantrip? I'm guessing that Blue control decks don't like to play sorceries. Still, I can't see this card not being useful somewhere. I guess there are more useful spells and thus no space for this one right now.
Burning-Tree Shaman’s best friend in Gruul in Block. Forgetting the fact that he triggers Bloodthirst each and every one of your turns, it is easy to forget how this breaks the curve. In a world full of Watchwolf and Kird Ape, it is easy to forget how good a 5/5 for four mana is. Iwamori was played in a block full of Legends, and this is a far superior card, in my opinion.
He's not Phantom Centaur, but he's still great. A good alternative to Iwamori that really pressures control decks.
More fat for our little friend Timmy. My, he certainly is getting some love in this set! This is quite a good fatty in my opinion; the fact that he can selectively Wrath for and still swing for 7 must count for something.
There are some WEIRD names in Ravinca. By the way, this card is horrible.
Seize the Soul
Two-for-ones are great, especially when it comes to removing creatures, and with this card it is quite easy to generate this effect. However, not being able to hit Loxodon Hierarch, Ghost Council, or Grave-Shell Scarab, as well as many other cards, and the fact that both Putrefy and Mortify are much more versatile than this, means it will probably go unplayed.
This card just stops aggro decks without large White or Black components. It's obviously worthless against a lot of decks, however, so one would run it in the sideboard if at all. Two spirits and two Dark Banishings for 4 mana is an insane deal.
Siege of Towers
No deck, even the most aggressive of Red decks, wants to sacrifice its lands unnecessarily. The most times I can see this getting Replicated in such a deck is three, and the fact it can’t be cast at end of an opponent’s turn means that it's clunky and generates a mediocre effect.
Remind me again why we'd play this over Genju of the Spires?
I think that this is a great way to round out the Gruul mana curve in Block. Sure, if he isn’t Bloodthirsted, he’s pretty poor, but in a dedicated Gruul deck, achieving Bloodthirst should be no concern, making this a recurring 6/6 flyer for six mana. Plus, the art is damn sexy.
An interesting card. If you can trigger Bloodthirst, six mana for a 6/6 flyer is already good, plus your topdeck burn generates extra threats. It would fit in a controlling red deck, but I think Shard Phoenix is better.
Price: $4, depending on if it finds a deck
A cool idea that is pretty powerful over time. However, a pretty weak card for the mana. The fact that he comes in a theme deck means that his value shouldn’t ever go up too much, even if a use is found for him.
for a flying token? He's not powerful or threatening, so I don't see why he would become popular (unless he has incredible art that I haven't seen).
The Eater of Days of this set. There is nothing interesting like Brand in the format to make this card playable. In Extended, if anyone wanted to play this with Stifle, the aforementioned Eater is a better choice anyway.
Invasion sac-lands can bring this down on turn 3 while giving your opponent one, or no, land. That's the only time this thing is playable.
Price: $0.20, even if Delusions of Grandeur gets reprinted. Well, maybe $0.30 then.
Sure, it puts the brakes on an aggressive deck. However, a defensive strategy wants to be doing this way before turn six. On top of this, he’s an inefficient body for his cost that dies to most removal in the format.
Because increasing costs matters at turn 5? Glowrider is a lot more playable, and he isn't played.
Price: $0.20, although I'd rather have a double cheeseburger than 5 of these.
Hey, it’s another dual land. Any Izzet deck is likely to want to play a full set of these, as will any UR decks in T2 and Extended. What’s not to like?
Stitch in Time
The mere fact that this does nothing except cost you a card and three mana 50% of the time makes this unplayable in Constructed (at least without something like Krark's Thumb). However, this won’t stop people from playing the odds on them because they have the potential to be an improved Time Warp.
Costwise, this averages worse than Time Warp. And at least Time Warp gives you the chance at doing some crazy combo or something.
Price: $1, because bad players think it's cool.
Really, the same applies to this as the other two duals. Its true value will likely depend on how good Gruul is in Block and Type 2.
First-turn Kird Ape is looking better.
I think there is little doubt that without the Urza lands or other mana acceleration like them in Standard, cards costing 10 mana would be pretty unplayable. However, the mere presence of the deadly trio means that players may take a second look at this. After all, if it hits, you should win the game.
Tooth and Nail and Decree of Justice are both way better in Extended. The Urzatron is available in Standard, but it can't fuel many cards and lacks the land searchers from Mirrodin.
Sword of the Paruns
In Darksteel, there was Skullclamp. In Betrayers of Kamigawa, there was Umezawa's Jitte. In Guildpact, there was Sword of the Paruns. Notice the odd one out? I think WotC has made sure to not repeat their mistake of printing undercosted equipment in the second set of each block. As a result, the Sword is really expensive. Well, I guess its better than another colourless bomb, right?
I'll be very generous and count this as a seven-mana artifact that gives your creatures +2/+2. That's not a good deal.
Teysa, Orzhov Scion
I’m not quite sure what about this 2/3 makes it a Scion, but it's certainly not her power and toughness. This is likely to be played in any Orzhov deck playing Ghost Council or any of the other efficient sacrifice outlets in the set. However, the fact that it's in a theme deck will limit its value.
A weakened version of Rotlung Reanimator, Teysa will be popping up in a lot of decks even though she's not broken.
Price: $4, just because it will be well sought after.
Tibor and Lumia
Their name reminds me of something out of a Coheed & Cambria song. Their abilities are pretty good, and their body is reasonable for the cost. However, if there is an Izzet deck in Block, it's unlikely to want to win through efficient creatures. Again, theme deck status is sure to limit its potential.
The only relevant part of this card is the Tremor ability, which is pretty weak on a four-mana 3/3. I can't see anything broken happening with this card, which is bad news if it's competing for slots in a Blue deck.
Ulasht, the Hate Seed
Probably more at home in a Selesnya deck than a Gruul one. If you want efficient Gruul four-drops, go with Rumbling Slum.
If he came into play with 4 +1/+1 counters I'd love him, but he's too inconsistent. Rumbling Slum is definitely Gruul's power four-drop.
Price: $1, because he might randomly see play.
Yes, it has fun interactions with Might of Oaks. But it's easily picked off by the weakest of spot removal if timed correctly.
Twice as powerful as Quiron Dryad for twice the cost doesn't make a Quiron Dryad. Probably the most playable of the Nephilim, but still not very playable overall
It's just another opportunity to give the opponent free card advantage by destroying the targeted creature in response. It grants no kind of evasion, meaning that to be in any way effective' it needs to be enchanting a creature with Trample or a Birds of Paradise. Not to mention. it’s in a theme deck.
Twice as powerful as Elephant Guide for twice the cost doesn't make an Elephant Guide. The fact that you need mana open to make the Wurm makes it way too clunky to be considered.
Finally, the last of those annoying Nephilim. And in my opinion, this one is the worst. Seriously, that kind of mana fixing wants to be set up by Birds of Paradise or Farseek in Block. Yet the card uses no Green mana to pay for it. What a sad end to the rares. . . .
It's a four-color Zombify, because it will not survive the combat phase.
There are also a couple of uncommon cards to be aware of. Most important amongst them is Mortify. In my opinion, this is better in today’s format than Putrefy; its ability to deal with Glare of Subdual or a Faith's Fetters mid-combat will be very useful. It should fetch $2 each. The other two "power uncommons," Electrolyze and Wreak Havoc, are also likely to be played in their respective decks as efficient utility cards, and should go for $1 each. Shattering Spree should see a lot of play in Extended and Vintage, and should go for $1. Lastly, Savage Twister will be a life saver for budget deck builders everywhere, giving them an effective mass removal effect at uncommon. Expect to see it go for $1.
Shattering Spree returns red to its artifact-smashing glory, and should be a popular card. Skarrg, the Rage Pits will be in every RG deck because it really messes up combat math. Mortify will definitely see Standard play, although Putrefy and Vindicate are better in Extended.
Well, that’s the end of our Guildpact price review. I’d like to thank you all for reading this, and look forward to seeing your responses on the message boards. Until next time!
Additional comments: aurorasparrow
Editing: Dr. Tom