The potential the cards in Future Sight give to the limited format is immense, truly. The set has a strong variety of what we like to call 'bombs', combat tricks, utility creatures, removal and plenty of other miscellaneous goodness to go around. In some ways, the set has so many new things to offer it's easy to get lost in all of it - be overwhelmed by all of it and simply have no idea what the hell is going on!
So, let's first start off with the new abilities in the Future Sight set, this isn't a generic set review, but seeing that limited potentially uses each and every card it's important that we all know what's out there and how useful it is.
Absorb - This ability has a number, such as Absorb 2. A creature with absorb has the listed number of damage prevented if it would take damage from a given source.
Delve - Reduces the playing cost by 1 colorless mana for every card in your graveyard that you remove from the game as you play it.
Frenzy - If a creature with Frenzy attacks and isn't blocked, it gets +X/+0, where X is the frenzy number.
Grandeur - This ability on a legendary creature in play allows its controller to discard a card that has the same name for certain special effects.
Gravestorm - Similar to the Storm ability also seen in Time Spiral, it copies the spell for each permanent put into a graveyard from play this turn, rather than for each spell played.
Lifelink - This means gaining life equal to a creature's damage dealt, an ability long present but only now a keyword.
Poisonous - The ability for creatures to give X number of poison counters to a opponent by attacking them, where X is the poisonous number. Ten of said counters will cause a player to lose the game. The ability has been used before in past sets, but it is for the first time a keyword.
Aura Swap - Allows you to exchange the Aura card in play with swap for another Aura card in your hand by paying the Aura Swap cost.
Transfigure - Somewhat similar to Transmute from Ravnica: City of Guilds, a creature in play with this ability can be sacrificed with a cost to let its controller search for another creature with the same converted mana cost as the creature, then put the searched creature directly into play.
Reach - Creatures with this can block creatures with flying. Used many times before, only now having a name to relate to its many representations.
Deathtouch - Whenever a creature that has this deals damage to a creature, they destroy that creature. Another effect seen before but not named until now.
Fateseal - Similar to Scry from Fifth Dawn, this version lets you look at the top X cards of your opponent's library as opposed to your own library like the mechanic Scry and place the cards either at the bottom or the top of your opponent's library in any order you choose, where X is the fateseal number.
Assemble & Contraption - An ability and related new type that are hinted at on the card Steamflogger Boss, but do not actually appear on any of the set's cards. Contraption is a new subtype for artifacts according to the May Comprehensive Rules update.
Fortification & Fortify - A new type of artifact, the land equivalent of Equipment.
Shroud - Recently keyworded, shroud is the new version of "This cannot be the target of spell or abilities." Both players and permanents can have shroud.
You may notice while reading some of these abilities that they've already existed, they simply didn't have an official name. Many of you may have called the ability reach 'web ability' or called a creature a 'spider' previous, now you have a WOTC label for it. The same is true for death touch, poisonous, lifelink, etc.
In the limited field almost all of these abilities is useful, however some don't serve limited well at all, hell, some can't even serve the game right now! Very briefly, I'll list those which are of almost no use to the limited field, if it wasn't obvious already...
Grandeur - The chances of you having 2-of a Grandeur card will probably be quite low, leaving the ability useless in most cases.
Assemble / Contraption - There is absolutely no way to use this ability currently
Fortification / Fortify - So far, this ability is underdeveloped and there are no cards making it strong in the format.
Gravestorm - Unfortunately getting a large amount of permanents to the yard in limited can be quite hard, with the exception of 2-Headed Giant play, leaving this ability fairly weak in most circumstances.
Aura Swap - Aura's, unless utterly amazing find themselves becoming 2 for 1 situations and thus this ability looks to be pretty weak. Yes, you might be able to use this new ability to save an aura but wouldn't that mana have been more useful for another drop the turn prior?
Now that those silly things are out of the way, let's move on to the colors that came out strong and those who didn't, and what cards prove these points, shall we?
I won't list a hierarchal order of which colors are the next worst or next best, but I would like to talk about them each individually and the cards that we get with them. Sometimes it's not even possible to be completely objective and not allow subjective opinions determine what colors you think are the best or worst in the set, so it's best to detail each of them and allow the community to decide for themselves.
Blue sees a few cards that you'd expect it to see. Card draw from Forsee is fantastic, there's no doubt about that. Bounce is provided by Aven Auger and Venser's Diffusion; these are both great bounce spells. Finally in terms of actual threats, Infiltrator Il-Kor is probably the best bet. He's somewhat fragile but a nice turn 2 suspend, nonetheless. In terms of rares Blue sees Magus of the Future who is incredible in limited, Take Possession which is terribly expensive, Venser, Shaper Savant who is not bad at all and Linessa, Zephyr Mage who is pretty sub-par. Overall Blue's rares offer almost no 'bombs' whereas the other colors of the spectrum are plentiful.
Sleeper Spell for the Color Blue: Leaden Fists - I love this card because of its versatility. It gives you the opportunity to shut down a creature at EOT your opponent is abusing or it gives you the opportunity to end the game by pumping a shadow or flyer that's going to make it through.
Green was blessed, as it has been recently (see Planar Chaos Spoiler as proof), with a strong variety of creatures with great abilities. Early game 2 drops are fantastic for Green. In particular, Riftsweeper can be amazing and is a great bear regardless of if its come-into-play actually occurs. (Keep in mind this can affect your suspended cards too.) Thornweald Archer is also great. Fragile, but he's a one-man-army in many cases and shouldn't be passed up. Curve out with the very decent Nessian Courser who is always a decent drop and worth picking up early to mid pick in your pack. In terms of bombs, Baru, Fist of Krosa is extremely strong. Quagnoth is certainly playable with its mana costg allowing for multi-color decks, despite it being at 6. Nacatl War-Pride is devastating. This is an I-WIN card when left on the board, never let this go. With its ability to be played early game, or late game easily with convoke Ravaging Riftwurm is very decent and shouldn't be overlooked as a potential bomb. Imperiosaur? Ha! Simply lovely. Green also received a good mana fixer, Edge of Autumn, not much more I can say for it.
Green's Super-Not-So-Secret-Tek: Sprout Swarm. Do I even need to explain its ridiculousness in limited? Fantastic card design for green - it's about time Maro
Red Red received some nice direct damage spells that are great for the format. To begin, Ghostfire works great, even just for a splash. 3 cost for 3 damage at instant speed is well-accepted. Thunderblade Charge is pretty nice for Red that's running evasive creatures from another color. Its less powerful sidekick Riddle of Lightning is not bad, however it's an expensive form of removal despite its scry ability. Fatal Attraction is playable, but can be a disappointment in many situations, so play it wisely. The real powerhouse of the set for red is Molten Disaster; this is just a bomb - no questions asked.
On to creatures, let's be honest - Gathan Raiders is amazing, in any deck for that matter. It's just so versatile, its morph cost can become a utility to Madness on not a drawback. Rift Elemental is a great utility creature. Its ability allows you to work off elongated suspend cards while making itself a threat early game - what's not to like of this for a 1 drop? Tarox Bladewing is a tough drop with in its mana cost, but a flying haste dragon is usually never a bad thing. He's playable, but he's not amazing by any means. Fomori Nomad is very decent for some beef on your side of the table; there's nothing wrong with a 4/4 for 5 with such an easy CMC.
Red's Smart Creature of Future Sight - Emberwilde Auger. 2/1's for 2 are just fine with an aggressive deck, but they become useless on a board that's progressed to fatter meat. However this Auger still becomes useful dealing 3 damage to your opponent instead of sitting on the table as a useless chump blocker late game.
White got a few great spells and tricks but seemed to lack in the creature department where it's shined in the previous sets of the block. Judge the Unworthy has proven to be a fantastic removal spell on so many levels. It's cheap, extremely effective for lower and mid power creatures and makes for a great deck fixer if nothing else. Even the Odds is a great combat trick that can yield 2 for 1 opportunities all day long. Marshalling Cry is a good card, it's not great - but the cycle and flashback abilities make it very playable. I must emphasize you should almost never play this spell from your hand, cycle it early and use it to smash later on unless the win it's truly there. Knight of Sursi is a good turn 1 suspend, flying and flanking are just great - pick him up when you can with no regrets. Spirit En-Dal is not the best of creatures, but its forecast ability makes it worth running as a 1-of for an evasion trick and game win. Finally, Aven Mindcensor is a decent card. It's a flash flyer with a semi-relevant ability; in other words, you could do worse.
White's Sad Truth: Angel of Salvation is white's biggest 'bomb' and is nearly unplayable. The cost to save a creature is just far too great for this mediocre flyer. Compare it to Bogardan Hellkite that can actually kill a player or creature which is also too expensive for the format and you should be able to see where I'm coming from on this one. Yes, it has convoke which is the only reason it is playable - however for how late in the game you'll be able to play this guy I have to give it the thumbs down in most limited scenarios. Perhaps sealed with its slower game times it's much more viable than draft.
Black received a few very strong bombs and just a small amount of usable removal. In terms of bombs, Tombstalker is it. The potential for being a 5/5 flyer for 5, even 4 is certainly there - and being black he's harder to deal with than other colored creatures. Take him all day, everyday. Korlash, Heir to Blackblade is also a solid drop if you're running heavy black. Not only will he probably sustain as a 4/4 or higher, but he regenerates at a cheap price. On the tempo side of black's creatures don't pass up on Deepcavern Imp whose haste and flying abilities are great and its discard outlet in echo form is certainly acceptable. Depending on your deck, Yixlid Jailer can be a decent 2 drop. In some cases he can also disrupt your opponent quite well. Stronghold Rats is also a decent drop as long as you have some synergy to accompany with it. Quick mention of Shimian Specter, being a solid drop - but he certainly wears a target on his back as Hippie style creatures have in the past.
In terms of removal, this set we were gifted with Ichor Slick. What a fantastic card in every which way. Although it's at sorcery speed, the potential for this card is just awesome. Removes Low and Mid Range creatures, Cycles and pitches to Madness? Lovely.
Circumstantial, but powerful, is Death Rattle, instant speed accompanied with delve can't be all that bad though, right? Finally, Grave Peril is a subjective choice. It's certainly not fantastic, but it certainly destroys an early game drop of your opponent’s choice. Don't invest much into this play, though.
Black's Utility Creature of the Set - Skirk Ridge Exhumer. This little guy just screams control and synergy with madness and delve, enjoy it!
You are probably thinking one of the two things after reading the article thus far:
1. Why the hell do they let this guy write?
2. Why the hell hasn't he talked about the Magi or the Pacts?!
Hopefully, it's #2, and not so much #1
- Pact of Negation: Unfortunately in the limited format, this card is almost unplayable. Certainly you could use it somewhere late game in some situation, but it's a pick for cash, not for competition.
- Pact of the Titan: An extremely powerful card in the format, it not only gives you the potential to destroy an unaware creature attacking you but it gives you some beef on the board at an affordable cost.
- Intervention Pact: Certainly a playble card in the format, however life gain is never that great in limited, let alone any format.
- Slaughter Pact: Fantastic removal spell at a cheap price. Nothing like a free Dark Banishing!
- Summoner's Pact: Great, Green, Goobles! ( It just sounded cool with 3 G's in a row, sorry. ) This pact is good, not great. You get to search out some beef but you pay a heavy cost for the tutor, not to mention the creature you'll have to pay for the FOLLOWING turn, most probably.
- Magus of the Moon: In most cases, this just isn't that swell in the limited format.. maybe I should just say it's bad altogether? A 2/2 for 3 is usually never efficient and unless your opponent has a lot of non-basics it's not going to make up for the cost in the ability department.
- Magus of the Abyss: This can be a devastating card, especially if you're able to work out some synergy with it, perhaps with some recursion or token making, beware.
- Magus of the Vineyard: Do not play this card unless you have absolute beef and confidence, right?
- Magus of the Future: Fantastic card. This card can be a game winner when left untouched, he wears a target on his forehead.
- Magus of the Moat: Incredibly devastating control card. Many decks will be defeated by this card unless they can remove it.
Limited is extremely healthy right now because of Time Spiral and Planar Chaos's great designs and Future Sight has not created any disappointments as a 3rd set. Although some may feel a bit discouraged by the large amount of new abilities or under-developed abilities this brief glimpse into a possible future has been fun and adds to what will be a great limited season of TS, PC and FS.
Thanks for reading!