Ravnica Limited Review (Part 1)

My pilot is the best there is, an ex-military guy who moved to the private sector because he didn't get enough flight time in his old job. He dropped the altitude still further and slowed the jet to just below mach-1. Canada's snowy peaks were close below us now and we didn't want to start an avalanche. I looked at my cat in the seat next to me and nodded. Pulling on our goggles and checking our harnesses one last time, we jumped.

Anyone who tells you that you can stay warm up there is lying. The icy wind felt like it punched straight through my dropsuit, straight through me and out the other side. Even my cat, who is basically a solid ball of fur, didn't seem to be enjoying the experience. We opened our chutes as late as possible and guided our trajectory carefully down towards our target, flaring our chutes at the last minute to convert our lethal downward velocity into forward motion along the landing strip.

Standing coolly by the side of the strip was our host, gamermk. Our descent reflected in his mirrorshades. He flicked open his ultra-tech cellphone and briefly notified his staff of our arrival.

I landed perfectly, unclipping the chute before I'd even fully stopped. I strode towards him and we shook hands firmly.

"Dom," he nodded, "it's time."

"Yes," I replied, "Ravnica is here..."

Myles then turned to one side and frowned. My cat, being approximately spherical, had landed in the style of a bowling ball. She'd ended up almost thirty yards away, completely rolled up in her parachute.

"Come to think of it, maybe doing this face to face was a bad idea," I suggested, "maybe we could just have collaborated over the internet?"

The three of us headed inside and began to discuss Ravnica: City of Guilds. This was not only one of the most anticipated sets in years, it was also an unprecedented opportunity. With MTGSalvation having achieved a full spoiler so far ahead of the prerelease, this was our chance to do exactly what the cat had already done: make ourselves look really silly.

That's what set reviews are about. Didn't you know ?

Maybe this isn't a game you've ever played, but if not I recommend it. Take a set review written by some pro or other, who you assume knows a lot about Magic. Then read it at the end of the year in which the set came out. They're usually hilarious.

So why write a set review at all? Actually, they're really useful - at least for Limited. Even if a fair few of the cards are misevaluated, it's enormously useful to read someone else's condensed impressions of the set. In some places you will doubtless disagree, in others you'll feel the advice is obvious, but what you end up with yourself by the end of the article is an understanding of the set which is both better than the one you started with and better than that of the authors.

Why write a joint set review? Simply because that way it contains more insight and less nonsense. Either that or it contains twice as much nonsense, which means you lucky people get twice the value for your money!

If you're feeling really helpful you could post your comments/corrections in the forums. That way you get to look stupid too, twelve months from now.


[COLOR="DimGray"]Wooden tit be good to open one of these?[/COLOR]
Various themes run through the set as a whole which it's worth having a look at before considering individual cards.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: It would seem particular attention needs to be paid towards the colour combinations R/W, G/W, B/G, B/U since those guilds will be the ones appearing in Ravnica. It should mean that draft strategies based around those colours will be very rewarding.[/COLOR]

Selesnya Convoke: Convoke is a mechanic which lets you tap creatures to reduce the casting cost of a spell. There are some solid creatures offering this option and the overall result is simply: bigger things sooner.

Consequence: Ravnica is not a slow format. Doing nothing in the early game will often be fatal.

Golgari Dredge: Dredge is a graveyard mechanic which allows you to mill yourself a bit to replace your next draw with a Dredge card from your graveyard. Like most such mechanics it gives your deck real resilience whilst not really adding much power.

Consequences: Any control deck needs a plan for winning before the game goes long, because a Dredge deck will ultimately beat you on card quality as you draw lands you don't need. Also: decking matters.

Dimir Transmute: Probably the most skill-testing mechanic ever. Allows you to replace a Transmute card with another card sharing its converted mana cost.

Consequences: Turns Limited games into some kind of insane variant on Mental Magic. Know what's in your deck. And while you're drafting, keep track of which mana costs have good Transmute targets in your cardpool so that you know which Transmute cards to value. Also makes uncommon and rare bombs at certain costs (especially 3) better than they first seem, because you can effectively "tutor" for them.

A word of warning, though: skill testing does not equal powerful. Transmuting really slows you down. Don't rely on it too much.

Boros Radiate: A relatively weak mechanic at common. Radiate causes certain spells to affect all creatures sharing a color with the original target.

Consequences: Interfering with creatures at instant speed is slightly better than you might expect, because if the target of a Radiate spell is invalidated, that's it for the whole spell. (See also Enchantments below.)

Defenders/vigilance mini-theme: The set seems to have an unusual concentration of quality defensive creatures - and not just in White and Blue. Even big creatures are not safe as there are quite a few ways beat them during the combat phase, even at common. Also, hordes of Saprolings can provide a great deal of stalling even if they're dying in the process of defending.

Consequences: Evasion is likely to be even better than usual. A deck with no evasion at all will sometimes just be screwed. The beatdown deck of the format is going to be R/W and even it will expect to finish the job with fliers.

Enchantments mini-theme: Wizards seem to be pushing Enchantments - and particularly Auras - in this set.

Consequences: As with Radiate, the ability to mess with a creature at instant speed will be really valuable. There is a cycle of Common Auras with very strong comes-into-play abilities. If you can stop them from coming into play, that's a big advantage!

Sealed vs Draft

Apologies in advance to fans of Sealed Deck play, because this article is going to have a lot less for you than it will for the Draft players in the audience. The simple fact is that most of what we could say about Sealed at this stage either applies to any Sealed format or is too obvious to be worth saying.

If you are a Sealed player, the card discussion should still be helpful, but more to give you an idea of what your deck needs to be able to deal with than to tell you what to include. Building your Sealed Deck works the same as for any other set: You look at what you have and see how much card quality you can squeeze in and still have a viable manabase.

There's more to Sealed than that, of course, but it's all about understanding what to expect from opposing decks. We don't know that yet. And nor do you, unless you work for WotC. (Aside: Playing games on Magic Workstation and the like is all very well, but in my experience many of the decks you will face at this point will often be shockingly misbuilt if not also misplayed.)

So... on to chatting about cards. In order to give things a bit of structure we've divided cards into three broad categories. Cards described as "splashable" are high-quality early picks which you may want to consider taking in packs two and three even if you don't have the card's color as one of your main colors. What with Ravnica being packed full of finishers this kind of thing is no longer restricted to a handful of bombs - most decks will at least splash a third color.

The distinction between "main deck" and "sideboard" is really to do with your mental tally of playables as you draft. Obviously a draft that goes really well will leave you not needing to run the weaker maindeck cards and a draft that goes badly wrong may see you maindecking a normally sideboard-only card.

OK, let's get on with it!



[COLOR="DimGray"]Watchwolf digs the phat beats during a dull shift.[/COLOR]
[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Faith's Fetters
3W, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant permanent When Faith's Fetters comes into play, you gain 4 life. Enchanted permanent's activated abilities can't be played unless they're mana abilities. If enchanted permanent is a creature, it can't attack or block.[/COLOR]

Pure quality. Let's face it, this would be fine even without the life gain. My ambition is to win a game by casting it on my own Bramble Elemental, but I'm sure you can find better applications.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Simply excellent. The life gain is extremely relevant as this card will not only provide the crucial removal, but also make huge swings in tight late game races.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Veteran Armorer
1W, Creature - Human Soldier 2/2, Common
Other creatures you control get +0/+1.[/COLOR]

The best bear since Winnie the Pooh. Ah, OK, still nothing like as good as Wild Mongrel, but that's an amazing special ability for a Common.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Veteran Armorer is good, but splashable I don't think so. We have already noticed that this set is extremely defensive. This creature does not provide evasion or removal making it miss my list of gotta haves.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Screeching Griffin
3W, Creature - Griffin 2/2, Common
Flying R: Target creature can't block Screeching Griffin this turn.[/COLOR]

Obviously this dude is only a decent White splash if you're running Red as a main color. Not exciting, but evasion really is necessary.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Screeching Griffin is pretty average in most formats, but in this one flying is obviously so essential that he is good. If you are running Red I agree he becomes splashworthy.[/COLOR]

Main Deck

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Conclave Equenaut
4WW, Creature - Human Soldier 3/3, Common
Convoke (Each creature you tap while playing this spell reduces its cost by 1 or by one mana of that creature's color.) Flying[/COLOR]

From the Latin equus meaning "horse." An equenaut is someone who explores the inside of horses. But in a platonic way. Maybe.

OK, I have no idea what an Equenaut is, but they're really good. You will frequently get one down on turn four and the opponent will almost always need to use removal on it when you do.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Conclave Equenaut is amazing. Take a look through the set, he is the largest flying man in the common slot and only one blue guy equals his power. If you have built your white deck properly he should always be coming out turn 5 if not sooner. Faith's Fetters is the only white card you should draft before this guy if you are in white.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Nightguard Patrol
2W, Creature - Human Soldier 2/1, Common
First strike, Vigilance[/COLOR]

Vulnerable to pings, but apart from that a good addition to any white deck. A lot of the Black and Red creatures can't get past two points of first strike without assistance.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Benevolent Ancestor
2W, Creature - Spirit 0/4, Common
Defender :symtap:: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Benevolent Ancestor is Samite Healer's cooler, fatter cousin. Sure he can't actually win you the game, but when was the last time you remember Samite Healer swinging in for the win? White has a lot of quality creatures so how high you draft this guy will be very dependant on your deck. There are few decks though that I would be sad to run this guy in. I think this guy might get the nod for the splashable category even in my book.[/COLOR]

The lack of a point of power really hurts our friend BA, who couldn't be less like Mr. T if he tried (except that he hates aeroplanes). Despite this, the card is still playable since White likes the late game and this will get you there. The damage prevention trick is more useful than it might seem at first sight - anything which stops Galvanic Arc from hitting your Equenaut has to be some good.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Boros Fury-Shield
2W, Instant, Common
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt by target attacking or blocking creature this turn. If red mana was spent to play Boros Fury-Shield, it deals damage to that creature's controller equal to the creature's power.[/COLOR]

Not much good unless you've got a reasonable chance of managing the :symr:, but if you have then you could easily get an eight to ten point life swing out of this. Ouch.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Just pretend the cost is 1WR when you think of drafting this. As long as you do it will never disappoint you.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Courier Hawk
1W, Creature - Bird 1/2, Common
Flying, Vigilance [/COLOR]

Looks rubbish, but actually pretty solid. Normally one power isn't enough to be worth it for a vanilla flyer, but the Vigilance makes it good value as a Convoke enabler.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Its a messed up format when this guy is good and he is. Evasion is premium and his obvious synergy with Convoke make him very playable.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="Olive"]The Cat: Looks more like a tasty snack than a playable card to me. This format has very few ways to permanently boost power - there's no Uncontrollable Anger or Bonesplitter equivalent. Using Vigilance to help Convoke is worth one damage per Convoke spell at best.[/CARD]

W, Creature - Human Cleric 1/1, Common
W, Sacrifice a creature: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Caregiver is really terrible is what I thought first time I read it. It got slightly better the second time, but only slightly. He basically is only as good as the number of creatures with Convoke you have. The nice thing is he isn't likely to be drafted highly so you will have plenty of time later on to pick up this little man once you have your convoking monsters.[/COLOR]

The sacrifice victims will typically be either Saprolings or the Caregiver itself. Even this wouldn't make it good enough were it not for the Convoke thing. Also, remember that you don't usually want more than two to three one-drops even in a Convoke deck, because they're weak.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Votary of the Conclave
W, Creature - Human Soldier 1/1, Common
2G: Regenerate Votary of the Conclave.[/COLOR]

Only a maindeck card if you're also in Green, it still isn't much good since the Regeneration is overpriced but you may again want to run it for the Convoke.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Votary of the Conclave isn't even good with Green. We already have enough defensive creatures and they don't require you to leave open three mana.[/COLOR]


[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Wojek Siren
W, Instant, Common
Radiance - Target creature and each other creature that shares a color with it get +1/+1 until end of turn. [/COLOR]

It's nice that it only costs one mana, but keep it in the sideboard until you're sure that the opponent isn't running too many of the same colors as you.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Wojek Siren can do cool things like pump up your opponents creatures as well as your own. I don't even know how often I'd bring this out of the sideboard. Occasionally its going to do something crazy like kill your opponents team, but 99% of the time its pure filler.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Dromad Purebred
4W, Creature - Beast 1/5, Common
Whenever Dromad Purebred is dealt damage, you gain 1 life.[/COLOR]

This would be OK for 2W, but at this cost it just comes down too late. Avoid.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Leave No Trace
1W, Instant, Common
Radiance - Destroy target enchantment and each other enchantment that shares a color with it.[/COLOR]

The Radiance will seldom matter. Also, note that the decent Common Auras rely heavily on the comes-into-play effects to be good, so don't side this in just because you've seen a Galvanic Arc in game one.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Gate Hound
2W, Creature - Hound 1/1, Common
Creatures you control have Vigilance as long as Gate Hound is enchanted.[/COLOR]

Place your bets now. Will any of my opponents at the prerelease actually be bad enough to run this? Sadly, the smart money goes on "yes".

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Conclave's Blessing
3W, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant creature Convoke (Each creature you tap while playing this spell reduces its cost by 1 or by one mana of that creature's color.) Enchanted creature gets +0/+2 for each other creature you control. [/COLOR]

What I like about this card is that it's bad in multiple ways at once. This won't stop me building a casual deck with this and Mannichi, the Fevered Dream. Nor will it stop me drafting it. However, I draw the line at drafting it sooner than fifteenth pick.



[COLOR="DimGray"]Blue lipstick is in this season. Just don't get it
in your eyes.
[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Flight of Fancy
3U, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant creature When Flight of Fancy comes into play, draw two cards. Enchanted creature has flying.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Awesome! Next.[/COLOR]

I really hate cards like this. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think it's bad. The reason I hate it is because it's so effective for so little skill. I'm going to win games with it. I'm also going to lose to it repeatedly. At random.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Peel from Reality
1U, Instant, Common
Return target creature you control and target creature you don't control to their owners' hands.[/COLOR]

Another outstanding card, but this one's exactly the opposite. There's a real trick to using it well. Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, bouncing a creature in response to your opponent targetting it with one of Ravnica's shiny new Common Aura cycle... well worth it in every case and positively awesome in the case of Faith's Fetters.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: This will makes my blue decks no doubt about it, but I don't see myself splashing it.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Compulsive Research
2U, Sorcery, Common
Target player draws three cards. Then that player discards two cards unless he or she discards a land card.[/COLOR]

You know how with "Draw X, discard Y" cards you usually end up discarding lands? This time it's actually encouraged. This will almost always be a discounted Sift. That's good.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Caution - results may vary. This will always be awesome for me, but it might not be for you. Why? Because I always play 18 land in my draft decks. This starts losing value very quickly if you run even 17 land.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Snapping Drake
3U, Creature - Drake 3/2, Common

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: First pick.[/COLOR]

Mmm... efficient! Comes down as early as an Equenaut without the need to tap all your dudes and beats down just as hard.

2U, Creature - Human Wizard 2/2, Common
1: Choose a basic land type. The land type of each land you control becomes that type until end of turn.[/COLOR]

2/2 for 2U isn't awful by itself, but the ability both fixes your mana and hoses landwalkers. Not a hugely exciting card, but if your deck is looking very multicolored you really do want a couple.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Terraformer is obviously really good for a 4 or 5 colour deck, but he also allows you when you draft multiples to sideboard in virtually any card you want. However, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to splash for a card that is only good at allowing you to splash things.[/COLOR]

Main Deck

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Stasis Cell
4U, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant creature Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step. 3U: Attach Stasis Cell to target creature.[/COLOR]

Can't fault the effectiveness, but it's just a bit too pricey to be first-rate. Wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't mention the cute combo with Bramble Elemental.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Vedalken Entrancer
3U, Creature - Vedalken Wizard 1/4, Common
U, :symtap:: Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Pretty average. I don't think I would ever be happy running him since I think turn 4 is just a tad late for a defensive creature. He might be effective at digging for Dredge spells though.[/COLOR]

This guy clearly doesn't belong in fast decks. He fills the usual Horned Turtle / River Kaijin role with the neat bonus that decking an opponent will often be a real possibility if they're using Dredge. Just be careful you don't actually save an opponent who's in trouble by milling a quality Dredge target into his graveyard. My guess is he's main deck material.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Tattered Drake
4U, Creature - Zombie Drake 2/2, Common
Flying B: Regenerate Tattered Drake. [/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Pretty nice when combined with black. Its definitely worth splashing him if you have Black as your base colour.[/COLOR]

Meh. Overpriced. I suspect the combination of Flight and cheap Regeneration makes it worth running most of the time, but I wouldn't splash this unless I had at least one other Blue card I wanted. Obviously trash if you don't have access to :symb:.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Drift of Phantasms
2U, Creature - Spirit, Common
Defender (This creature can't attack.) Flying Transmute 1UU (1UU, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as this card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.) 0/5[/COLOR]

Eeek. Not an easy card to evaluate, but I suspect it makes the main deck. The lack of one power is a shame, but the ability to block flyers means this will be some use against any opposing deck. Even better, if you draw it late when you need a threat you can Transmute it. Good card to have against Coalhauler Swine.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: A nice defensive creature, but as bateleur says the lack of power really hurts. If for some reason it pairs up with a rare it should be taken significantly higher. The most note worthy common target this can snag is Galvanic Arc.[/COLOR]

...though unfortunately few decks will run both Red and Blue.

2U, Instant, Common
Counter target spell unless its controller pays 4.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: I really like Remove Soul and Mana Leak, but they cost two mana. That extra mana makes a big difference and makes it all the more apparent when you sit around and do nothing on your turn. Leave this one in your sideboard until you see a rare you just don't think you can handle.[/COLOR]

A staple of every set - the good old three mana Blue spell that isn't quite a hard counter. Experience has shown that these often make it in as 23rd card - but don't draft 'em early.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Surveilling Sprite
1U, Creature - Faerie Rogue 1/1, Common
Flying When Surveilling Sprite is put into a graveyard from play, you may draw a card.[/COLOR]

The critical part here is "Faerie Rogue". You just just imagine this little pint-sized rebel with a safety pin through it's nose rejecting the tedious conformity of Faerie culture and blazing a trail across Ravnica. The "draw a card" is just my official excuse for my Faerie Rogue obsession.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Don't go drafting an entire team of these, but don't be too disappointed if you have to play one or two. You could do a heck of a lot worse for two mana.[/COLOR]

1U, Instant, Common
Target creature's color becomes the color or colors of your choice until end of turn. Draw a card.[/COLOR]

Makes the maindeck as a 23rd card because it effectively cycles for 2. Once in a blue moon you'll get to screw up your opponent's Radiance effect at the same time and laugh a lot.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: My goal is to use this to cast something with Convoke. This card is pretty nice so don't blame me if you don't run this and lose to Incite Hysteria.[/COLOR]


[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Dizzy Spell
U, Instant, Common
Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn. Transmute 1UU (1UU, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as this card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.)[/COLOR]

If you have a Disembowel or two then you could run this purely with the intention of Transmuting it. The card's own effect really isn't worth it, though.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: 1UU tutor for a one casting cost spell. That's all it does, ignore the other part.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Drake Familiar
1U, Creature - Drake 2/1, Common
Flying When Drake Familiar comes into play, sacrifice it unless you return an enchantment in play to its owner's hand.[/COLOR]

Too situational. If you had a crazy number of comes-into-play Enchantments you might consider running it, but it's not going to come down on turn two anyway, so still wouldn't be much good even if it stayed in play by bouncing an opponent's Enchantment.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: I'm really liking the idea of a Red/Blue deck where Drift of Phantasms allows you to get your Galvanic Arc and this guy lets you play it over and over again. Since everyone thinks this guy is terrible (and he kinda is) this deck might be more possible to built than you might expect. Also good with Flight of Fancy... course what isn't?[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Muddle the Mixture
UU, Instant, Common
Counter target instant or sorcery spell. Transmute 1UU (1UU, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with converted mana cost equal to this card's, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.)[/COLOR]

I have heard it suggested that this card is good. Well, you won't want to have to leave UU all the time and even if you do the opponent sometimes won't play any Instants or Sorceries anyway. It is indeed possible that it's good solely because of the Transmute, but that will depend on what else is in your deck. Certainly you don't want to be drafting Transmute cards before their targets.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Vedalken Dismisser
5U, Creature - Vedalken Wizard 2/2, Common
When Vedalken Dismisser comes into play, put target creature on top of its owner's library. [/COLOR]

I think we can safely dismiss this one. Hahahaha! Dismiss! Geddit? Heh.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Grayscaled Gharial
U, Creature - Crocodile 1/1, Common

Board it in if you see Islands but no Viashino Fangtails. That's going to be most decks with Islands, since R/U is really not going to happen often.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Induce Paranoia
2UU, Instant, Common
Counter target spell. If B was spent to play Induce Paranoia, that spell's controller puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is the spell's converted mana cost.[/COLOR]

Interesting, three mana to four mana seems to make all the difference to the playability of counters in Limited. I'm guessing this will be no exception and will prove to be unplayable.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Zephyr Spirit
4U, Creature - Spirit 0/6, Common
When Zephyr Spirit blocks, return it to its owner's hand.[/COLOR]

If you flood so badly that this becomes playable, you have already lost. Wouldn't even have been good in Kamigawa where it would have triggered spiritcraft.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: I'm ripping these up on sight.[/COLOR]



[COLOR="DimGray"]In Ravnica, the penalty for drafting like a clown
is death.
[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Last Gasp
1B, Instant, Common
Target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: You can rearrange the letters to spell Glass Tap. I'd say that makes the card pretty sweet and the fact that its cheap, splashable removal is nice too.[/COLOR]

Very good. It's cheap, it's instant, it kills almost everything (used in combat when dealing with bigger things).

XB, Instant, Common
Destroy target creature with converted mana cost X.[/COLOR]

Not cheap, but good for getting rid of evasion creatures, which is important. Horribly weak against Convoked creatures, though. Still very good due to being an instant.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: The sickest name in a while. I can't wait for the art.[/COLOR]

3B, Creature - Insect 4/1, Common
2G: All creatures able to block Mortipede this turn do so.[/COLOR]

Might not look like much, but that lure effect will win games. Of course, it'll also lose games if your opponent has any instant-speed kill after you declare attackers, but what do you expect from a Common? Still rock solid. Also works a bit like Onslaught block Provoke to trade with a threat the turn after it comes down. That and if you can somehow hit your opponent with it, four power for four mana is good value.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Mortipede with Green: good, without: bad. End of story.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Dimir House Guard
3B, Creature - Skeleton 2/3, Common
Fear Sacrifice a creature: Regenerate Dimir House Guard. Transmute 1BB (1BB, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as this card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.)[/COLOR]

May look a bit slow after Nezumi Cutthroat, but this guy is seriously good. The fact that the Regeneration costs no mana means your opponent can't trick you into losing him quite so easily. The Transmute will mostly get used against opposing Black decks.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Dimir House Guard is not only a large evasive man in a set where evasion is premium, but also has a very useful Transmute since you will be able to efficiently cast whatever you search for on your next turn. When combined with Green and its Saproling host his regeration ability becomes very relevant.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Strands of Undeath
3B, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant creature When Strands of Undeath comes into play, target player discards two cards. B: Regenerate enchanted creature.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Strands of Undeath isn't as strong as the Red, Blue or White cards in the cycle, but at least one copy should make your deck always.[/COLOR]

The effects may seem a bit weak, but it's still a three-for-one, which makes it a high pick like the rest of the cycle.

Main Deck

3BB, Sorcery, Common
Destroy target creature that isn't enchanted. It can't be regenerated. Transmute 1BB (1BB, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as this card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.)[/COLOR]

The double black actually makes this card better in a sense, since it will stop people from grabbing it to splash. Although the cost's a bit high and the card's conditional it's still a fairly high pick just because it's removal.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: This is going to feel like an expensive Cruel Edict sometimes and that's not cool. I would pick black's other three removal spells over this one and I would never run more than one, but I'll never cry about playing this card either.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Clinging Darkness
1B, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant creature Enchanted creature gets -4/-1.[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Another nice removal spell for black. Four common removal spells is just a little ridiculous, I think.[/COLOR]

The low casting cost makes this good. Any creature whose main function is to deal damage might as well be dead once this is on it and there are plenty of X/1 creatures to kill if you feel that way inclined. Note also that the dynamics of this card play into the set's defensive theme.

3BB, Creature - Spirit 3/3, Common
Swampwalk Sacrifice Sewerdreg: Remove target card in a graveyard from the game.[/COLOR]

With players often running more than two colors and Black being one of the three favoured colors in this set, Swampwalk will be a strong ability. I suspect this will turn out to be a perfectly respectable maindeck option as a result.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: 3/3 for 5 isn't exactly super, but the power of the Dredge mechanic should make his ability pretty awesome. Add to that the fact that he has evasion against what is probably going to be the most overdrafted colour in some time and you have a nice card.[/COLOR]

Oops, I didn't even spot that sac ability. I wonder how often players will forget about it in play?

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Stinkweed Imp
2B, Creature - Imp 1/2, Common
Flying Whenever Stinkweed Imp deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature. Dredge 5 (If you would draw a card, instead you may put exactly 5 cards from the top of your library into your graveyard. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand. Otherwise, draw a card.)[/COLOR]

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: Well not only will he hold off your opponents valuable flyers while your Dimir House Guard sneaks past, but he'll also dig for your more valuable dredge spells. He makes for a pretty cool combo with Galvanic Arc too. Definitely a solid pick.[/COLOR]

Not just flyers either - I'm not attacking my Autocthon Wurms into this guy. (And not just because I'll never get one into play.)

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Roofstalker Wight
1B, Creature - Zombie 2/1, Common
1U: Roofstalker Wight gains flying until end of turn.[/COLOR]

Just about playable if you have access blue mana mana, but too weak otherwise in a world full of Saprolings.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: The early pressure should catch some decks off guard and you won't mind paying the activation later on in the game. Don't pick him high, but definitely play him with blue.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Sadistic Augermage
2B, Creature - Human Wizard 3/1, Common
When Sadistic Augermage is put into a graveyard from play, each player puts a card from his or her hand on top of his or her library.[/COLOR]

Playable in an aggressive deck where you don't want the opponent drawing enough to reach the late game and might be able to empty your hand before it dies whilst your opponent still holds cards.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: I don't like this guy, I'd keep him in the sideboard. Permanently. At least that is what I would like to say, but sadly Black was given so much removal that it's running low on creatures. You might have to play this guy often, regrettably.[/COLOR]


[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Shred Memory
1B, Instant, Common
Remove up to four target cards in a single graveyard from the game. Transmute 1BB (1BB, Discard this card: Search your library for a card with the same converted mana cost as this card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play only as a sorcery.)[/COLOR]

Side it in to hose Dredge decks. Duh. Also nice because you can Transmute it to fetch Last Gasp.

[COLOR="DarkRed"]gamermk: The formula is: the number of Shred Memories you play must be less than or equal to the number of Last Gasps you have drafted.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Thoughtpicker Witch
B, Creature - Human Wizard 1/1, Common
1, Sacrifice a creature: Look at the top two cards of target opponent's library, then remove one of them from the game.[/COLOR]

Not worth it unless you're short on Convoke enablers for a G/B deck. You could, however, side it in if your opponent has bombs you fear.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Necromantic Thirst
2BB, Enchantment - Aura, Common
Enchant creature Whenever enchanted creature deals combat damage to a player, you may return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.[/COLOR]

If you're repeatedly doing damage to your opponent with the same creature, you're about to win anyway. You could possibly side this in if you have loads of evasion and your opponent's deck is just raw beatdown as a way to supply chump blockers. That said, it will usually be better to just run another chump blocker.

[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Infectious Host
2B, Creature - Zombie 1/1, Common
When Infectious Host is put into a graveyard from play, target player loses 2 life.[/COLOR]

Not bad with Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. Very overcosted for Limited.

That's probably enough for now - I can see some people's eyes glazing over at the back there. Come back tomorrow for the rest of the lowdown in Part II!


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