Introductions and Explanations Who Am I?
Greetings fellow multiplayer enthusiasts. My name is Kyle "Prid3" Brecht and at the time of writing this I'm a 15+ year MTG veteran who's been playing and following the game competitively (across all relevant duel formats) for well over a decade. That being said whereas most Magic players spend the vast majority of their recreational time dueling/drafting/testing the bulk of my personal playtime has been spent at kitchen tables slinging spells in large multiplayer matches with my friends, family and acquaintances. Be it Cube, Constructed and/or EDH I've literally played tens of thousands of hours of multiplayer Magic in my lifetime and so I consider myself to be an expert on the subject as a whole. With that in mind I'd like to offer you my take on how Magic's latest set will affect the global multiplayer scene as a whole. That is, unlike similar set reviews this one is going to be purely focused on multiplayer formats and dynamics with absolutely no emphasis on duel and/or limited Magic. While I understand that this sort of content won't appeal to everyone it's my belief that multiplayer Magic is played by a relatively high % of the casual MTG playerbase and so it's my hope that most of you will be able to extract meaningful value from my expertise.
I'm a fiercely competitive player and my set reviews are going to reflect that. That is to say that this is largely going to be a competitive multiplayer set review and so don’t expect me to put any emphasis on subjective measures such as fun factor, flavor nor self-imposed restrictions. While I recognize that terms such as "casual" and "competitive" carry many negative stigmas in the MTG community rest assured that I don’t use either maliciously. As far as I'm concerned it's a simple matter of mindset and how players approach the game from a mental perspective. "Competitive" Magic players such as myself typically build decks with the goal of maximizing our overall match win % given an expected metagame. "Casual" players on the other hand tend to consider a wide variety of variables and factors beyond winning alone. Clearly it's an entire spectrum as opposed to a set of binary data points but the key thing that I wanted to stress is that these terms have absolutely no bearing on a person’s worth nor morality. That is, no one is inherently better or worse than anyone else for thinking about a game in a different way. The only reason why I’m going to focus entirely on "what wins games of Magic" is because every other variable is too subjective to make any definitive, sweeping claims about. That being said all other things being equal we'd all rather win games than lose them.
Grading Scale: A: Oppressive cards that completely warp the game around them. These are format definers that dominate games in which they're left unchecked and crush adversaries who aren't employing similarly powered strategies. This makes them must-have competitive staples with limitless potential. Think Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Humility, Consecrated Sphinx, Sylvan Primordial, Purphoros, God of the Forge. B: Formidable cards that will enable you to pull ahead of the pack. Winning decks should be clamoring to field them as they figure to significantly improve your overall win %. This makes them top-priority acquisition targets for players of all skill-levels. Think Grave Pact, Rolling Earthquake, Wrath of God, Recurring Insight, Tendershoot Dryad. C: Powerful cards that will enable you to keep pace with the rest of the field. A list full of C's won't crush a table but a solid foundation of them should be good enough to keep you competitive. Think Fleshbag Marauder, Clever Impersonator, Scab-Clan Berserker, Realm Seekers, Oreskos Explorer. D: Marginal playables with which to flesh out your lists in the absence of reasonable alternatives. I strongly encourage that you enlist substitutes if it's a realistic option since they're unlikely to yield impressive win %s. F: Weak cards that shouldn't be played. Niche: Immensely powerful-yet-narrow cards that are Bs/As in decks that actively want them and Fs/Ds everywhere else. Think Waste Not, Repercussion, Limited Resources, Intruder Alarm, Oath of Druids. Sideboard: Tremendously powerful-yet-niche cards that you shouldn't maindeck against unknown adversaries but that have competitive applications in known metagames with clearly defined threats and strategies. Think Dystopia, Energy Flux, Compost, Stony Silence, Ruination. +/-: Used to denote a better or worse N. That is, a B+ represents a strong B whereas C- implies a weak C.
Grade: Niche B
Parallel Lives/Doubling Season type effects are extremely powerful in token-based archetypes as they enable you to scale exponentially as the game progresses. This tends to be vital in multiplayer formats given that you'll virtually never be able to clear out a table "the fair way" without supporting your token producers with bomby finishers such as Anointed Procession, Crescendo of War and Cathars' Crusade. After all, your army will neither be wide enough nor large to reliably clear out the table otherwise. While slow, these doubling effects tend to shine when they're being paired with engines such as Luminarch Ascension, Sacred Mesa, Mastery of the Unseen, etc. at which point you'll always be in-it-to-win-it even when you're facing down board stalls and/or mass removal. You'll still need a critical mass of cheap spells to flood the board early on but come turns 6+ it's imperative that you're doing more than jamming a small number of dorky 1/1s into play. As such this is going to be a staple for White-based token decks moving forward and I would highly recommend starting your lists with at least a couple of them. They even stack amazingly well and so drawing 2-3 is a fantastic place to be. At that point your only true concern is being combo'd/aggro'd out before you can flood the board with more critters than your adversaries can possibly manage.
Initially I wasn't very hyped for this card but after playing with it for a couple of months I've come to the conclusion that it's horrifically overpowered and easily ban-worthy. I'm sure that many of you shared my initial skepticism and thought "a 2 card, 14 mana combo has to be unplayable" but as it turns out this monstrosity is significantly more oppressive than it looks. The reality is that when you're playing a Ramp/Midrange/Control/Prison deck it's trivially easy to clear the board, untap, jam the first copy, gain 7 life and untap for the win on the following turn. After all, 7 drops tend to get clumped in your hand and so you'll routinely find yourself with multiple by the time that you're ready to end the game. Sure, you might have to take a couple of turns off between casts to clear the board or draw some cards but believe me when I say that you're going to cheese a ton of games by casting these back-to-back on turns 5 and 6 (or anytime really). With respect to the card's power-level, believe me when I say that nothing comes close to approaching it. It's such a reliable + noninteractive way to win the game against any number of adversaries regardless of what they're doing. Literally none of their actions or decisions matter in the face of this behemoth because it just wins. Period. No ifs and or buts.
Starting with its broad applications Approach of the Second Sun is easily one of the most competitive ways to seal the deal when you're jamming a generic Control deck. At some point you're going to curve Wrath of God into Approach of the Second Sun into Sphinx's Revelation into Approach #2 at which point you just win. Your opponents are going to need permission in order to thwart you but since you're probably playing Blue you can always engage in a counter war yourself if needed. White also provides you with access to Silence which is easily one of the most powerful "counterspells" in the entire game when you're trying to force something through. Moreover, because this card costs 7 mana and only one of it is colored you can basically splash it into anything. I've literally taken dozens of nonwhite decks, made a couple of tweaks in the manabases and ramp packages, and converted them to Approach decks. I realize that this all sounds slow and dorky, and to some extent it is, but assuming that your meta isn't plagued with degenerate combo decks it's difficult to envision a world where this is anything other than oppressive. The card is so stupidly good that it's worth your while to splash it even if you don't have any other reason to play White.
Moving on to more targeted applications it's important to note that you don't need to resolve the first copy of Approach of the Second Sun that you cast which is relevant for both Remand and Unsubstantiate. That is to say that a simple sequence of Approach -> Remand -> Approach will literally win the game on the spot against any number of adversaries. While this'll typically require infinite mana it's still possible to pull it off with powerful forms of ramp (mana doublers, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Serra's Sanctum, etc.) or, barring that, simply having a ton of lands in play. This, again, makes it ideal for "Sphinx's Revelation style Control builds that have copious amounts of lifegain, card draw, permission, etc. All you have to do is field this as your win condition and change some of the permission over to Remand effects and now you have an reliable (albeit slow) way to close the game out. Moreover, Remand and Unsubstantiate actually pull double-duty in these types of sequences given that they double as permission to help force the second Approach through. That is, regardless of how you're trying to win (even if it's the hard way) you're always happy to have this type of interaction on hand when you're casting a spell that literally states "you win the game."
Mindcensor is one of the most powerful hatebears ever printed given its ability to neuter decks that employ a critical mass of fetchlands and/or tutors. Since those tend to be ubiquitously played in competitive shells it almost always provides you with an obscene quantity of value even though it's not always obvious to the naked eye. After all, you don't get to see the cards that your opponents aren't casting/activating because Aven Mindcensor is in play but believe me when I say that it can feel oppressive to play against at times. That being said this effect is still somewhat of a meta call because if your adversaries don't have any fetches or tutors then it's nigh worthless. In that sense this is very much a "competitive card" for "competitive metas" because it's realistically awful if people are playing budget-minded builds with limited access to older cards. I still can't bring myself to give this card anything less than a B and I don't think that it's fair to qualify it as a niche/sideboard card either but I do want to stress that it's not going to excel for everyone.
Grade: Niche C
Bluntly put I think that the new Gideon is trash and that people are massively overrating his emblem. Once upon a time this could have easily been "a thing" but now that we live in a world of Cyclonic Rifts and Perilous Vaults these types of "immortality" effects virtually never pass muster. I've never lost to a "Platinum Angel" deck in my life because inevitably someone will have a way to interact with the cards no matter how hard that people try to make them uninteractive. Even when they're granted hexproof, indestructible, protection forms colors on and on an on you're still a Cyclonic Rift way from losing everything which is why you'll never see these archetypes experience any long-run success. In that sense I don't even like this card in Control/Prison/Pillow Fort/etc. shells because he still loses to commonly played forms of interaction and that's never where you want to be in multiplayer.
The reason why I have this card listed as a Niche C is because it's an oppressive combo card when paired with with things like Ad Nauseam that convert "you can't lose the game" into "you win the game." After all, it's trivially easy to curve "immortality effects" such as Angel's Grace, Phyrexian Unlife and/or Gideon into an Ad Naus, draw your entire deck and promptly combo kill the entire table in one fell swoop. While this alternative is unfortunately a step below Phyrexian Unlife given that it's both harder to cast and less relevant as a standalone spell it's still a cheap A + B "you win the game" sequence which is good enough to earn a passing grade. Heck, it even has better synergy with cards like Pact of Negation and Slaughter Pact so there's a definitely a world in which this becomes the go-to alongside Angel's Grace so that you can start playing those free interaction spells en masse.
Grade: Niche D
Oketra is extremely underwhelming and is unlikely to make waves in any multiplayer format. She's clearly designed to be played in token-based strategies whenever possible but the reality is that you're never going to field her over things like Anointed Procession or Crescendo of War that enable you to scale exponentially as the game progresses. After all, clearing out a table of adversaries is no small feat and suffice it to say that you're not going to get there by slowing jamming 1/1s into play. While you could conceivably field her as a 1-2 of and hope to curve her off a turn 3 Spectral Procession even then, so what? What have you accomplished? You now have a decent blocker and the ability to churn out some dorky bodies for a ludicrous sum of mana. Sorry friends, I'm not feeling it. This card is simply far too weak to ever become a legitimate playable.
I consider these Cumber Stone/Dampening Pulse effects to be completely unplayable because they tend to be wildly ineffective in practice. Even creature-based decks tend to shrug them off with over-the-top finishers such as Kessig Wolf Run, Beastmaster Ascension, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, Craterhoof Behemoth, etc. and so if they can't even protect you from beaters then what the Hell's the point in fielding them? I understand that this one has relevance vs Pestilence effects and whatnot but unless that's extremely applicable for you and your meta I don't recommend putting these kinds of "Urza's Armor" effects in your lists. If everyone and their mother is jamming token decks that never grow them beyond 1/1s, sure, this but otherwise there's vastly superior alternatives at your disposal.
Grade: Niche D
While I typically wouldn't even bother reviewing a generic "Cloudgoat Ranger" it's important to remember that Felidar Sovereign is a busted magic card that can easily carry "cat tribal" as it were. As a standalone spell this won't pass muster but insofar as you're curving out with kitties such as Ajani's Pridemate, Oreskos Explorer and Healer of the Pride into a turn 5 Caral and turn 6 Sovereign then it's arguably playable. For what it's worth the deck that I'm envisioning is something like this.
Flickerwisp is an insanely powerful Magic card that I routinely jam as a 4-of in my blink-based builds and so I'm excited to see a new + budget-minded version being printed. The ideal use-case is to curve into one of these off of cards like Thraben Inspector and/or Relic Seeker in order to generate some immediate and relevant value. Moreover, the fact that it has Flash is important for other Flash cards such as Mulldrifter because it enables you to enact sequences such as "Evoke Mulldrifter, sacrifice trigger on the stack, respond with Vizier to blink it" in order to keep both critters alive and draw 4 cards. Later on it can be recurred via things like Reveillark and Sun Titan which is perfect for setting up big value chains that generate an obscene quantity of card advantage in the long run. The biggest strike against the card and the reason why it could never become a staple is mostly because it's such a huge nonbo with Wall of Omens. That might seem unfairly specific of me but at the same time how many blink decks start with 4x WoO? It's a huge % of them which is a massive blow against this Vizier. I'll also remind my readers that Stoneforge Mystic is ridiculously expensive and outside of most people's budgets which means that your options for "competitive" 2 drops are more strapped than you probably think. It's still very much a playable magic card and I would happily recommend it to people in need of a budget-minded alternative to Flickerwisp but if this is going to be your 3 drop of choice them you're going to replace your WoOs with something else and that's no simple feat.
Grade: Niche A+
This is an oppressive combo card that will see an extremely large quantity of competitive play. First of all it combos with Devoted Druid to generate an arbitrarily large sum of mana which can lead to easy turn 3 wins off of cards like Walking Ballista, Duskwatch Recruiter and/or Cogwork Assembler. If you're wondering "why Recruiter/Assembler?" it's because you can hit them off of Collected Company which could easily be a 4-of in this style of deck. Many of these combo pieces are also recurrable with Renegade Rallier which is all the more reason why this deck will be insane.
As if that wasn't scary enough she's also another copy of Melira, Sylvok Outcast/Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit for Persist combo decks that pair things like Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap with free sac outlets in order to gain infinite life, deal infinite damage, stack your deck, etc. The fact that she's easier to cast than Anafenza is immensely beneficial and, again, you also get to toss in the Devoted Druid infinite mana combo "for free" (more-or-less) which means that the Melira deck is going to be ridiculously powerful and consistent moving forward (as if it wasn't oppressive enough already). This card is utterly bonkers and should be treated with the respect that it deserves.
Grade: Niche B
This is one of the most powerful cards that will ultimately see next-to-no play. Even though it says "each turn" and "X or less" and even though it enables you to cast things like Ancestral Vision for free I still don't expect this card to find a good home outside of niche Restore Balance/Living Death/Hypergenesis decks. Think something like this. Look, I get it. I too envisioned all of the scenarios involving Leyline of Anticipation, Thrummingbird, Jhoira's Timebug, Paradox Haze, Timecrafting on and on and on. The problem that you encounter when you actually sit down and build these kinds of decks is that the finished products are unplayable piles of trash. Remember, not only do you need to add all of that garbage to support As Foretold but you also need cantrips/draw spells in order to consistently find it and permission to ensure that you don't lose to a single piece of interaction. While it's still an extremely interesting and potentially powerful card but it's not going to be nearly as broken as most people probably expect. That being said I'm personally going to keep jamming it shells with things like Forbid and Capsize (you still have to pay Buyback costs but not the initial one) in decks with 4x Ancestral Vision and/or 4x Restore Balance because that alone is basically enough incentive to field these even if you don't go out of your way to support them otherwise.
For what it's worth I'll add that I've actually been playtesting As Foretold in fair decks that aren't reliant on broken 0 CMC cards. I'm talking a regular ABC Control deck with things like Opt, Impulse, Counterspell, Thirst for Knowledge, Fact or Fiction, Engulf the Shore, Cryptic Command, Mystic Confluence, Opportunity, etc. No tricks, no cheats, fair Magic. While I expected the card to suck (and it certainly had some bad games) I was pleasantly surprised with how it fared. My initial fear that it would only be good on exactly turn 3 and only if I drew exact one in a game. Nope, not the case! It was still a fine card on turn 4-5 and drawing 2 wasn't the end of the world. I eventually shaved from 4 copies down to 3 but I still liked the card enough to keep it in. You basically just have to think of it a ramp spell that, while unreliable, has higher higher-highs than almost all of its counterparts. Worn Powerstone is good but it will never produce 10 mana per circuit and I had games where that's exactly what As Foretold did. Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of games where it was miserable and/or died to removal, I'm not suggesting otherwise, but this card was no joke in my "fair" blue decks.
This card is interesting in the sense that it's a beefy beater/blocker that provides consistent + reasonable value for a single investment of mana. In a deck full of "Windfalls" (or even a critical mass of cycling) it'll virtually always dig you into additional copies of the effect (you do get to see ~14 cards total) which makes it significantly easier to chain them together every turn. Some people might argue that that seems win-more but try playing a deck with 4x Whispering Madness for yourself if you think that you never whiff on hitting additional copies. It's not nearly as consistent as you probably think. This card is deceptively powerful in that sense because not only is he doing all of this "for free" but he's also keeping creatures off of your back in the interim. That should provide you with ample time to cast your Wheels and enact whatever gameplan that you're attempting to achieve.
Ideally you'll want to pair this card with things like Merfolk Looter, Windfall, Chasm Skulker, Jace's Archivist, Forgotten Creation, Psychosis Crawler, etc. in order to churn through your deck while simultaneously producing produce tons of flying threats. From there you can employ Delve-based value spells such as Treasure Cruise and Temporal Trespass in order to generate obscene value while protecting yourself with cheap permission such as Swan Song in order to lock mass removal out of the equation. While I wouldn't expect these kinds of decks to blow you away with raw power the core concept seems sufficiently viable and so I wouldn't blame anyone for wanting to build and/or play that style of deck. If only this card didn't cost to activate because then it would actually be somewhat interesting.
Kefnet is reasonably powerful and I expect him to become a mainstay in Blue Control decks that feature a critical mass of oppressive draw spells/engines. After all, it's trivially easy to jam him on turn 3 and follow him up with things like Reliquary Tower, Thought Vessel, Mystic Remora, Trade Secrets, Manifold Insights, Rhystic Study, etc. in order to keep him activated for the rest of the game. As much as I love things like Sea Gate Oracle and Trinket Mage it's nice to have some beef every now and then and Kefnet foots the bill like no other. A 5/5 indestructible + flying beater/blocker is a massive threat that will buy you infinite breathing room against creature-based decks while your oppressive card draw spells/engines bury the midrange/control/ramp decks over time.
Beyond that Kefnet offers additional value for combo decks that naturally seek to create infinite mana. After all, assuming that you manage to assemble Power Artifact + Basalt Monolith or Rings of Brighthearth + Basalt Monolith then you can immediately draw your deck with Kefnet's activated ability and presumably win via Laboratory Maniac or whatever. The advantage this Kefnet offers over alternatives such as Staff of Domination is that he's actually relevant before you've assembled your win given that it can actually attack/block for you whereas the Staff is rather anemic and useless by comparison. Besides, these kinds of combo decks already have plenty of incentive to field things like Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study which makes Kefnet a perfect fit for these types of shells.
Grade: Niche C
When I first saw both Trial of Knowledge and New Perspectives my first instinct was to pair them with Brago, King Eternal style blink effects in order to generate insane value as the game progresses. Given that I would virtually always play at least 1 copy of these cards in that style of deck it's clear that there's some baseline competitive value in these kinds of cards. Otherwise New Perspectives is an interesting combo enabler for Cycling decks that win games by cycling through your entire deck, jamming things like Crypt of Agadeem/Songs of the Damned and winning with giant Exsanguinates or whatever. The advantage that this card offers over Fluctuator is that it combos with cards that have colored symbols in their cycling cost which vastly increases your virtual card pool and provides you with significantly more deckbuilding freedom as a result. However, the fact that it costs three times as much mana leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me question why I would ever opt to field it instead. After all, unlike Hive Mind this isn't a combo card that's necessarily easy to cheat out given the 7-card hand size requirement to get the discount. I understand that you draw 3 cards and whatnot but it still seems dicey to me. I don't consider this to be an especially viable combo card in that sense because I would always field the unconditional, 2 CMC alternative instead. That being said this card can easily win the game on turn 5-6 against any number of adversaries and so it's clearly always going to have a baseline level of viability.
Whenever I see a big draw + discard effect like this my mind immediately jumps to Reanimator. Draw a bunch of cards at EOT, bin a fatty, untap, recur said fatty, win the game. I've employed that tactic hundreds oftimes using cards like Careful Study and Read the Runes and while this isn't one of the more competitive alternatives ever printed it still foots the bill. Otherwise Stroke of Genius variants tend to feel laughably weak in formats dominated by oppressive draw spells/engines such as Mystic Remora, Trade Secrets, Rhystic Study, Manifold Insights, Recurring Insight, Consecrated Sphinx, etc. and Pull from Tomorrow isn't going to break that mold. The only reason why Blue Sun's Zenith sees such widespread play is because it combos with infinite mana in order to instantly deck your adversaries which is why it's a cut above its brethren. Massive draw spells such as these are always playable in slow Control decks, I wouldn't fault anyone for fielding 1-2, but this isn't a priority acquisition by any means. It isn't significantly better or worse than the myriad of alternative X spells at your disposal and given that Blue Sun's Zenith is both affordable and easy to acquire I can't think of a compelling reason to actually purchase and play this card.
Grade: Niche C
This card is extremely powerful in the (what I like to call) "Brago, King Eternal deck that can continually flicker it in-and-out of play. Even if you only blink it a couple of times that's still a sizable amount of value but ideally you want to be bouncing it as much as humanely possible. Otherwise it's completely worthless and should never be played over the plethora of significantly more powerful alternatives.
Clones are reasonably powerful multiplayer curve fillers given their ability to copy the the most powerful threat cast by any player for a relatively low sum of mana. This is especially relevant in the later stages of the game where you can often copy things like Titans and/or Primordials with counter backup which is always a fantastic way to close games out. Moreover, not only is this variation an inherent 2-for-1 but it also works from the graveyard which is incredibly relevant for self-mill strategies. After all, if you activate a Merfolk Looter and bin this you've essentially drawn a free card in the process. Assuming that you're trying to flip a Search of Azcanta or fuel a Dig Through Time regardless then it's a win-win no matter how you slice it. As such while this isn't the most powerful Clone in a vacuum it's one that I do expect to see play for many years to come.
I always have a hard time grading and analyzing these types of spells primarily because I consider myself to be significantly more competitive than the average mutiplayer Magician. I actually really like this card for competitive metagames as a cheap form of interaction that fuels your graveyard-matters spells and effects such as Animate Dead and Dig Through Time. Clearly you'd rather play Cyclonic Rift if you can reasonably expect to pay its kicker cost but otherwise I'm a big fan of versatile bounce with relevant upsides.
Moreover, while I generally harp on 1-for-1s in many ways those concerns are irrelevant for Blue. After all, when you have access to Mystic Remora, Rhystic Study, Manifold Insights, Recurring Insight, Nezahal, Primal Tide, etc. card advantage stops mattering. You can bin 2 or 6 or 10 cards and still not bat an eye because it's turn 8 and you've already seen 35-40. As such going down a card on turn 2 is completely and utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Still, everything that I just explained mostly applies to competitive multiplayer as opposed to casual which means that it's not very relevant for most of my readers. After all, 99.99% of you should play with Cyclonic Rift instead because that card is bonkers. Still, I do think that it's important to highlight cards such as these because I've legitimately purchased, played and been happy with Winds of Rebuke in multiplayer.
While I make every attempt to write these reviews and grade cards long before I have an opportunity to test them I'm glad that I had an opportunity to play with Commit // Memory before making any definite statements about it. Initially I had high hopes for it because not only is it a draw 7 that works from your graveyard but it's also an "Unexpectedly Absent" that can really "get" people when they fire off a tutor or crack a fetchland. Remember, Blue doesn't have much access to permanent forms of removal (especially for noncreature spells) and so the prospect of having access to an "Utter End" seemed sweet. Then I actually played the card and since realized all of the reasons why it's underwhelming.
First of all this isn't a "Runehorn Hellkite" and shouldn't be treated as such. The fact that you have to shuffle your graveyard into your library is a gargantuan drawback that kills most its practical applications. Wheel decks play things like Windfall, Whispering Madness, Reforge the Soul, etc. because they actively want to fill their graveyards as quickly and consistently as possible so that they can close games out with oppressive mass recursion spells such as Yawgmoth's Will, Mazzix's Mastery, Past in Flames, Living Death, etc. Barring that they're often leaning on degenerate Delve spells such as Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, Temporal Trespass, etc. which also lose all of their luster once you start casting and resolving Elixir of Immortalitys. Remember, the reason to play this card in these kinds of decks is precisely because you can still gain value from it even when you discard it to your myriad of Wheel of effects but the problem is that there's virtually never a scenario in which flashing it back is the right play. Even if it digs you into action, so what? You've already undone all of your hard work and now have nothing to show for it.
Beyond that Wheels are terrible outside of degenerate combo decks. The end result is that everyone now has access to the same number of cards but you're down some quantity of mana whereas your opponents will always have access to all of theirs. In that sense not only are you hoping to somehow draw better than the rest of the table but you also have to hope that you can still squeak out a win from a massive mana disadvantage. While that's not an impossible feat it's certainly an improbable one which is why is boggles my mind when I see "fair" decks employing things like Windfall.
Grade: Niche B
Reanimator Archfiend of Ifnir is a powerful addition to budget-minded Reanimator shells that don't have access to staples such as Entomb. After all, you can always cycle it on turn 1 to set up for the easy turn 2 Animate Dead/Entomb/Dance of the Dead curve. From there not only do all of your discard/loot effects (think Putrid Imp, Careful Study and Faithless Looting) become pseudo-Plague Winds but creatures such as Nezahal, Primal Tide also start to look and feel more absurd than they already are. After all, not only can you discard 3 cards to protect him from removal but you're also nuking the board in the process. Given that Reanimator decks often lack access to reliable forms of removal this pairing is most synergistic.
Mass revival spells such as Living End, Living Death and Twilight's Call absolutely adore cycling-based threads such as these. The idea here is to spend your first few turns cycling for land drops and additional cyclers so that you enact massive Living Death swing turns in the midgame in which you reanimate a giant army while simultaneously Wrathing the rest of the board. From there it's a simple matter of beating the table into submission. What makes Archfiend of Ifnir such an awesome addition to the archetype is that he'll continues to provide value long after he's been recurred by constantly pressuring opposing creatures. Given that this is something that previous versions lacked he brings an entirely new dimension to the strategy.
Moreover, while I'm not going to do a formal review of the cards let the record show that all of the "good" 1 CMC cyclers such Horror of the Broken Lands, Curator of Mysteries, Striped Riverwinder and Desert Cerodon are also stellar additions to the Living Death archetype. The fact that they only costs a single mana to cycle is absurd given that they'll routinely smash in for 4-8 damage once they hit the table which isn't something that we've seen on 1 CMC cyclers before. It's easy to trick yourself into thinking that Scion of Darkness et al. would be the strongest additions to the deck but when you sit down and play the games out you realize that 1 CMC cyclers are king because of how easy that it is to chain them in the opening turns. Remember, when you cycle a Scion of Darkness that's your entire turn 3 whereas you could easily fire off 3x 1 CMC cyclers with the same quantity of mana and be in a significantly stronger position post-resurrection. This is why I would happily start any Living Death deck with all of these cards and never look back.
While I'm significantly less impressed with the Archfiend in the context of discard-based decks he'll still have some relevance for the archetype. After all, the prospect of curving one into a mass discard spell such as Delirium Skeins, Dark Deal or Mindslicer is extremely tempting because at that point you aren't leaving your opponents with many resources left to work with. Players with no creatures or cards in hand are going to struggle to win gamest. The unfortunate reality is that most discard-based archetypes tend to lock their adversaries at 0 cards long before anyone reaches 5 mana which makes this type of expensive finisher far from ideal. As we've seen with every other "Megrim" variant their core weaknesses is that they're A) too slow and B) worthless once players are locked in topdeck mode. Remember, if you wait until everyone everyone has access to 5+ mana themselves then they've probably cast most of their spells regardless. As such you simply cannot afford to sandbag your discard spells and effects until these payoffs are already in play.
While this card will always be a reasonable addition to any cycling/discard-based archetype the mana cost will prevent it from ever becoming a staple. Cycling and value-based discards are already low tempo + value plays and once you start taxing them further you'll quickly find yourself falling impossibly far behind on board and losing long before before your marginal value engines come online. You can still easily justify fielding 1-2 of them as a persistent source of lifegain + reach but this it's not going to be a 4-of staple moving forward or anything. After all, it's not as though the effect scales especially well unless you already have access to a ton of mana and since cycling/discard-based decks are already light on defense you often can't afford to cast additional 3+ mana spells that don't impact the board.
Moving on to mass discard (think Mindslicer) the problem has always been that these kinds of cards are too slow to pass muster. Think about it. Take Megrim, a card that's already too slow to see play, and jack up its total cost of ownership even higher. Yeah, no, not happening. You'll have already won or lost long before you've assembled Delirim Skeins mana with 3 floating which makes these types of finishers entirely win-more. Besides, it's important to remember we live in a world of "free" alternatives such as Bloodchief Ascension, Shrieking Affliction, Quest for the Nihil Stone, Waste Not, Asylum Visitor, Wheel of Torture, Geth's Grimoire, etc. that don't require additional mana payments. You may as well field the cost effective alternatives that don't threaten to throttle your mana for the rest of the game.
Gee, thanks Wizards, I'm so glad that Black finally has access to a decent 5 drop for the "Zombies matter" archetype. Yeah, it's not as though we already have access to Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Living Death, Patriarch's Bidding, Sidisi, Undead Vizier, Call of the Grave, Dictate of Erebos on and on and on. Even outside of Zombie decks she's rather unexciting as a generic Control/Stax finisher given her inability to close games out in a timely fashion. Whereas I'm happy enough to play Liliana, the Last Hope and/or Liliana Vess alongside "Obliterate" effects such as Death Cloud, Armageddon, Wildfire, etc. this alternative barely qualifies as a win condition even when you do manage to nuke the board. I also despise how irrelevant that her ultimate feels given that Black already has access to throngs of playable mass removal spells. What it actually lacks is consistent ways to close games out and ideally that's where your Planeswalkers are supposed to shine. After all, you can cast ten In Garruk's Wakes in a game and still easily lose if you fail to present a meaningful clock. Don't get me wrong, the card is fine and I wouldn't fault anyone for fielding her, I just can't think of a compelling reason to jam her over any number of reasonable alternatives. She's not even good in Zombie Tribal as far I'm concerned because I'm literally never going cut things like Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Sidisi, Undead Vizier, Dictate of Erebos, Call to the Grave, etc. for such a marginal closer.
Grade: Niche D
Even as someone who loves jamming Waste Not, Asylum Visitor, Geth's Grimoire, etc. I can't actually envision myself ever playing with/against this card. After all, Rotting Rats is orders of magnitude for relevant for those kinds of shells so unless the 2/2 body is going to make-or-break your early-game defense then it seems virtually unplayable by comparison. If you desperately want more 2 drops in your discard-based archetypes then have at it but don't kid yourself into thinking that it's anything other than marginal filler.
Grade: Niche B
Given that Nest of Scarabs + Black Sun's Zenith/Contagion Engine (or any other mass -1/-1 counter effect) asks "do you have the mass removal spell or do you die?" it's not going to take much maneuvering to have this be the single best card for the "Wither" archetype. The historic problem with that deck, in my mind, has always been its reliance on Necroskitter. The games where you managed to cast + stick one for multiple turns were always fine but the others, well, not so much. The fact that we now have access to another stellar 3 drop will bring some much needed consistency and powerful to the deck that it previously lacked. Moreover, we also now have access to Soul-Scar Mage to act as Everlasting Torments 5-8 as needed which means that we can still play Magic even when we're not drawing our BSZs en masse. Now we can turn to burn-based alternatives such as Chain Reaction, Cave-In, Blasphemous Act and more in order to ensure reliable access to -1/-1 counter-based mass removal. Otherwise it's worthwhile to consider fielding it alongside Flourishing Defenses if only to further increase the overall consistency of the build. Some people prefer Kulrath Knight in that slot but personally I want to field as many "game winning" cards as possible which is why I prefer the high risk, high reward alternatives for decks such as this.
This effect seems fundamentally broken and all it's going to take is a couple of cards or some long-forgotten synergy to change its status from "unplayable trash" to "oppressive bomb." In the same way that Retract went from trash to treasure overnight with the printing of Sram, Senior Edificer this thing is one card away from being a staple 4-of in something that's extremely-competitive-if-not-degenerate. Now, sometimes that card never comes. for example, I still maintain that Sundial of the Infinite is broken card even though it's never had a breakout pairing as of yet. I know that one mistake later and suddenly it's Time Vault + Voltaic Key levels of good at which point I'll be glad that I already have my playset. Shadow of the Grave is similar in that while I cannot provide you with a home for it at this very second I know that it could easily be a stupidly broken combo piece that ruins an eternal format at some point. Bear in mind that I'm not one of those people who tries to see the good in everything and who makes these kinds of statements without just cause. If I think that a card is unplayable trash I have no qualms bashing it and this card wouldn't be any different. There's just something about a 2 CMC instant that has such a potentially back-breaking effect that gets my spidey senses tingling in all the right ways. We're one Breakthrough away from having this be the next Paradoxical Outcome and look what that did to Vintage of all formats.
This is a bottom-of-the-barrel playable for "Zulaport Cutthroat" style drain decks that nuke the table down by assembling a critical mass of creatures, sacrificing them to things like Viscera Seer and resurrecting them en-masse with recursion such as Living Death in order to repeat the process as needed. It's also a reasonable inclusion in Zombie-based drain decks that feature things like Carrion Feeder, Maggot Carrier, Shepherd of Rot, Wayward Servant, Plague Belcher, Vengeful Dead, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, etc. which employ a similar strategy. While I wouldn't field it in the best versions of my most cutthroat builds it's still going to be a reasonable + budget-minded alternative that fits the theme and gets the job done. Moreover, whereas I could literally never see myself playing a card like Miasmic Mummy this one could actually make the cut even if my goal is to maximize my overall win % given all available options. It's still going to be a tough sell to justify fielding this over a card like Shepherd of Rot but given enough removal it's possible that this actually passes muster.
Grade: Sideboard C
As innocuous as this card probably seems it's an extremely competitive mass removal spell in metas where people are jamming 1 drops in their builds. This makes it an extremely relevant option for players who commonly compete against Green creature-based builds that open with mana dorks such as Elvish Mystic and Birds of Paradise in order to accelerate their gameplans. The ability to stymie their early game mana development without falling behind on cards/tempo/mana is crucial and can enable traditionally weak colors (such as Red and White) to keep pace with the strong ones. Moreover, while I personally don't consider most 1 drops to be playable in basically any multiplayer format there's no shortage of people who disagree with me and elect to field them regardless. Some metas are, for whatever reason, extremely aggressive in nature and may necessitate cheap forms of interaction such as these. That being said whereas I would blindly start any Red deck with 2x Anger of the Gods I wouldn't run Blazing Volley in the dark unless I had compelling evidence to suggest that they'd be relevant. In that sense I think of it as being a "sideboard" card moreso than anything else. That is, if you absolutely need outs to 1 CMC plays then this is going to be your go-to answer but otherwise you'll want to lean on cards that yield more consistent value if at all possible.
This is an extremely powerful removal spell for artifact-heavy metagames and/or formats (such as EDH) that will see a large quantity of play. In multiplayer formats your adversaries are typically going to field a large number of artifacts that matter (even if it's merely ramp) and it behooves you to interact with them if at all possible. After all, it's extremely difficult to win games in which cards such as Panharmonicon, Aetherflux Reservoir and Paradox Engine are left unchecked so having outs to remove them can often be crucial to your long-run success. While we've all come to know and love staples such as Vanadalblast, Shattering Spree and Fiery Confluence the primary advantage that By Force offers over alternatives is its lax color requirements that don't force you to assemble multiple Red sources early on. Clearly if you're playing a monored deck then Shattering Spree is going to be "strictly better" but in 3+ color brews this is likely where you want to be. Realistically you'll never have to run this in Constructed as Vandalblast is both inexpensive and drastically more powerful but I do expect this card to see a fair amount of play in EDH where you don't have the luxury of running the stronger options in multiples. Either way it's a solid removal spell that will almost always be a relevant draw that virtually any archetype could justify running as a 1-2 of.
Grade: Niche C
This card is extremely combo-rific. First and foremost it's a monored enabler for the Splinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combos which means that you're no longer required to splash colors such as Blue and White for things like Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, Restoration Angel, etc. Battered Golem has always been a Splinter Twin combo outlet too and once you toss in some fastmana and rummagespells the deck starts to look relatively fast and consistent. That being said the fact that you lose to any 1+/X first strike creature is a big strike against it (no pun intended) which means that the monored version of the deck will probably never be a tier 1 archetype and that you'll basically always be forced to splash for another color Blue if you want something reliable.
This card is unplayable trash. Period. I understand that sometimes you lose games right before you're about to win yourself but believe me when I say that these aren't the droids that you're looking for. The card is literally worthless in every other scenario and is going to be a dead draw ~95% of the time if not more. At least in duels you can actually cast this on Upkeep to "Time Walk" over your opponent's turn and set up for 2-turn lethals and other shenanigans. In multiplayer you can only skip over a single player's turn however which means that if the next player goes on to set up their win then you haven't accomplished anything meaningful. Don't get me wrong, I can understand why some people like this card, but rest assured that it's not going to bolster your overall win %. If you don't believe me consider the 95% of scenarios where you draw Glorious End, it's completely useless and you go on to easily lose the game because you mulliganed instead of drawing spells that had relevant text. Even when you encounter the scenarios where it could have turned a game, how many of them would you have still won assuming that you were down a card for the whole game? Take away a spell that you played that game and replace it with this, do you still get to stage where you're about to win? Probably not. This card is bad and you should feel bad for playing it.
This card is so bad that it's not even funny. I basically just want to say "Fiery Confluence" and call it a day but for the sake of my pride I'll briefly discuss why you should avoid this trap like the plague.
First of all if her body is active then it means that you don't have any resources to work with and given that you're playing Red of all colors that probably means that you've already lost. Moreover, even if you're somehow not impossibly far behind this card still only pings for 2 a turn and for a sizable chunk of mana at that. Again, just look at the card Fiery Confluence by comparison. It deals 6 damage to each opponent for 4 mana and 1 card. Hazoret requires how much to do the same thing? 13 mana and 4 cards? What the Hell is that? And look, I get it, he converts lands and other anemic draws into burn but come on, let's get real, you cannot put this card in your deck and expect to win games off of it. I'm incredibly disappointed that Red didn't get another Purphoros, God of the Forge because the Lord knows that Red needs all the help that it can get in multiplayer.
For those of you wondering whether or not to play this as a generic hoser for resilient threats I can safely say that I'd never even consider fielding this in a generic burn deck. I know how frustrating it can feel to rely on burn-based removal that doesn't always get the job done but at the same time you're not going to bolster your overall win % by adding conditional enablers such as these into your brews. You won't be able to consistently get your money's worth from this effect and given that the body is utterly irrelevant there isn't much else to discuss. Again, this card is exceptionally powerful in dedicated Wither decks that can legitimately abuse the effect on a consistent basis but if you're just hoping to snipe a random Colossus then you're clinging way too hard to idealistic dreams.
While Anger of the Gods will always be the de facto 3 CMC mass removal spell for Red these Slagstorm alternatives have obvious value in "graveyard matters" decks that field things like Squee, Goblin Nabob and Bonehoard to close games out. If you're not fielding recursive threats and/or Mortivores then you should almost always opt for the free exile effect, it's incredibly relevant and powerful in practice, but if you're legitimately trying to fill everyone's GY so that you can bash for them millions with a Rogue's Passage'd Bonehoard on a Kher Keep token/Squee, Goblin Nabob then you don't want to see anything hitting the exile zone. Otherwise these types of spells are always reasonable 2-ofs in my experience to the point when I'll blindly start most of my Red lists with 2x Anger of the Gods. Mass removal is almost always relevant, even against creature-light strategies, at 3 CMC the spell has relevance both early and late as it becomes relatively to easy to to weave it alongside other spells for the turn. Beyond that I don't value the cycling effect on this card very highly as I'm almost always happy to draw and cast Anger of the Gods/Slagstorm/Flamebreak/etc. That being said if this is what you own/can afford/want to field then go for it because it certainly foots the bill.
While Faithless Looting's reign will never be supplanted Tormenting Voice is typically the second-best alternative for "graveyard matters" archetypes that need to bin cards in a hurry. After all, Goblin Welder, Animate Dead, Daretti, Scrap Savant and more reward you handsomely for binning battlecruisers early on so that you can quickly cheat them straight back into play. It also combos with Squee, Goblin Nabob to create a "value engine" of sorts (albeit a dubious one at best) or even supports Dredge strategies by pitching things like Golgari Grave-Troll or Stinkweed Imp early on. It can even be paired with things like Mizzix's Mastery in order to cheat the cost of spells such as Enter the Infinite so clearly there's a number of ways to abuse it. That being said it still falls short of Faithless Looting 99% of the time so unless you desperately need this effect en-masse it's difficult to justify fielding it over the cheaper alternative. The only decks that actively want this variation are ones with plenty of copy effects (Dualcaster Mage, Reverberate, Pyromancer's Goggles, etc.) because you don't copy additional costs, they're already paid, which means that copying a Tormenting Voice is akin to "draw 4, discard 1" which is pretty sweet all things considered.
This is the cheapest damage doubling effect on the market and could, in theory, enable marginal OTK sequences such as turn 3 Repercussion into turn 4 Insult + Blasphemous Act or even various Price of Progress/Flame Rift kills on turn ~7. That being said I don't actually ever expect to play with or against this card because you're basically always going to be better off fielding Dictate of the Twin Gods which is the card that I typically see played for this effect. Unlike Furnace of Rath you don't have that turn of fear in which your opposition can smash you for millions since you can simply jam the Dictate at EOT, untap with all of your mana and win very easily.
Every Elvish Piper variant is arguably playable as a "high roll" card that asks your adversaries "do you have it?" If not that's a free turn ~4 Progenitus/Worldspine Wurm which will sometimes be good enough to go the distance. Even if they do have the removal spell it's typically not the end of the world because you'll still want to support these kinds of cards with things like Lure of Prey, Natural Order, Dramatic Entrance, etc. to ensure a consistently viable gameplan. For those of you wondering why I said "turn 4" it's because most of these decks should start with cards like Wild Growth, Nature's Lore, Sakura-Tribe Elder, etc. to ensure a turn 3 "Elvish Piper" into a turn 4 activation because otherwise it can often be too slow to matter. As for Champion of Rhonas itself the only upside that it offers over a traditional Elvish Piper variant is that it's a marginally better blocker the turn that it comes into play. The problem is obviously that it can only cheat things into play every other turn and that's assuming that it's not chump attacking in the first place. Sure, you save a mana, but in the grand scheme of things that's not nearly relevant enough to offset the inherent risks involved. If this is what you own/can afford/want to play, then sure, go for it, but otherwise there's no compelling reason to field this variant over the alternatives.
Initially I had high expectations for this card but they were quickly shattered once I started to actually test with it. My gut reaction was to field it in Cryptolith Rite-based token decks as Rites 5-8 in order to bypass the need for traditional mana dorks. Rather, you simply curve out with things like Springleaf Drum, Nest Invader, Scion Summoner, Beacon of Creation, etc. before ramping hard into things like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, Avenger of Zendikar, Craterhoof Behemoth, etc. Assuming that you manage to chain one off of a turn 4 Beacon of Creation (and some generic plays on turns 2 and 3) it can legitimately feel like a 3 mana Boundless Realms that dumps your entire manabase into play. Now that I have some actual games under my belt I can attest to the fact that it's very much a win-more card and while it had some high-highs its lows were so depressingly low that I quickly started shaving copies to try and stem the bleeding. It's a reasonable 1-2 of and makes your nut draws basically unbeatable but at the same time it's also not something that you necessarily want to draw early and often unless you're essentially goldfishing with a nut draw. Eventually I tried to field it in generic midrange aggro builds that sought to turn efficient creature sideways and hopefully employ Harvest Season as a means of building towards lategame inevitability. You know, open with cards like Mold Adder, Scavenging Ooze, Managorger Hydra, etc. and then jam one of these so that I can continue to slam bombs like Sylvan Primordial as the game progresses onward. Once again the lists were full of highs and lows but mostly lows as I was always praying for above average draws, RNG, and below average quantities of interaction from my adversaries. Ultimately couldn't get the card to work as a dedicated "build-around-me" archetype and have since relegated it to a marginal playable that can be employed as a 1-2 of in order to flesh out creature-based archetypes that are lacking some lategame oomph.
With respect to its applications in dedicated ramp archetypes, again, it's not worth jumping through the hoops required to make it work. For it to truly blow you away you'd have to curve 1 drop -> 1 drop + 2 drop -> Harvest Season in order to create some busted Thran Dynamo variant that both fixes colors and survives removal. While it's not especially difficult to get a "Worn Powerstone" out of the deal I don't see a compelling reason to take a chance on an inconsistent alternative. You're better off curving Elvish Mystic into Shaman of Forgotten Ways into Primeval Titan (or whatever) as opposed to trying to hit the nut draw while dodging mass removal. There's too many cards that always do their job (and do it well I might add) to justify taking a chance on this type of effect.
This card is bonkers. The primary reason why I've always hated cards like Reclamation Sage is that they trick people into thinking that they're making good plays when in reality they aren't. For example, a common scenario in EDH is for someone to open with a turn 1 Mana Crypt/Sol Ring only to have another player remove it on turn 3-4 with some sort of removal spell. To anyone out there who believes that said exchange actually favors the person casting the removal spell rest assured that it doesn't. After all, you've merely traded 1-for-1 against someone who's already extracted insane value from their fast mana and have now fallen behind the players who've advanced their own gameplans instead. Don't get me wrong, this isn't me saying that "you're an idiot if you do this," just don't trick yourself into thinking that you're pulling ahead in that exchange. By every objective metric you are the (overall) biggest loser and so the best argument that you can make is that you took one for the team. Manglehorn is different.
Unlike every other Reclamation Sage variant it's a card that you can feel legitimately good about casting early on because of its passive ability. Suddenly every future Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Sol Ring, Winter Orb, Grim Monolith, Basalt Monolith, Thran Dynamo, Gilded Lotus, etc. is going to ETBT and thus lose a huge % of their value. No longer can people jam their Fellwar Stones/Signets as virtual 1 drops since they now lose out on their ability to immediately tap them for value. Moreover, let's not forget about the fact that you're also destroying a mana rock (or whatever) in the process and even if there's nothing to remove you can still just run this out in order to neuter the effectiveness of future artifacts. Whereas other Reclamation Sages can easily be dead draws (you're never going to cast vanilla 2/1s for 3) Manglehorn is playable regardless of the texture of the current board state. It's unbelievably good and I expect it to be a competitive staple for years to come.
Rhonas is the "how to" God who puts most his brethren to shame. At 3 CMC he curves easily off of any 1 CMC accelerant and from there it's trivially easy to build your deck in such a way that most-if-not-all of your 4+ CMC creatures have 4 or more power in order to trigger him. Obviously it's not the end of the world if you have some misses but I imagine that you'll probably want to play him alongside Elemental Bond a reasonably high % of the time in order to further cement the importance of the mana dork -> Rhonas/Elemental Bond -> fatty curve. How you fill the rest of the deck is largely irrelevant as far as I'm concerned since any reasonable combination of meaty threats should foot the bill just fine. Otherwise this card is very much a "Kessig Wolf Run" style finisher in the sense that it's a fantastic way to close games out once you've accrued a critical mass of threats and mana. I start most of my Green decks with 1x Stomping Ground/Cinder Glade, 1x Kessig Wolf Run and 1x Xenagos, God of Revels even if I'm not splashing Red for any other cards and I could easily see Rhonas becoming part of that package. At some point you have more than enough creatures and mana to win and all you need is something give you that one final push. Again, it doesn't really matter what the rest of your deck looks like but insofar as you're generating a ton of mana and have access to a plethora of threats then Rhonas is a reasonable way to close games out.
This card is awesome. Note only does it provide you with absurd card advantage opportunities over time but the body is perfectly adequate for its cost and the ability to ignore colored mana requirements comes in handy when you have colorless lands such as Kessig Wolf Run and Gavony Township floating around in your lists. I'd gladly play one of these in 100% of my Green, creature-based decks which should already tell you everything that you need to know about it. Much like Oracle of Mul Daya these kinds of cards shine in builds that field plenty of tutors (Green Sun's Zenith, Survival of the Fittest, Eldritch Evolution, Chord of Calling, etc.) because while the first is exceedingly powerful future copies are nigh worthless. It's very much a "one and done" card in that sense which I why I wouldn't recommend going wild and fielding them in large quantities. Speaking of tutors, peeking at the top of your library is extremely relevant when your deck has fetchlands and/or other shuffle effects given that it can influence when and where you activate them based on what you're drawing next. While you probably wouldn't want to add a whack of fetches to your builds for the Vizier alone remember that Green has access to cards such as Sensei's Divining Top, Mirri's Guile, Sylvan Library, Lotus Cobra, Ramunap Excavator, Tireless Tracker, Titania, Protector of Argoth, Avenger of Zendikar, etc. that also reward you for slotting them into your builds. Otherwise there's very little to discuss/analyze given that the card smacks you over the head with raw power and so I'm fairly content to leave it at that. Buy one and play it in all of your Green decks and you realistically can't go wrong.
Grade: Niche D
There's a world where you field this as a 1-of in Dredge lists that feature a critical mass of 3+ power creatures such as Prized Amalgam, Ichorid, Ashen Ghoul, etc. I'm also thinking about scenarios in which you Dread Return a Flame-Kin Zealot into play on a board full of 2/2 Zombies (from Bridge from Below) which could also be somewhat interesting. Even if this mostly wild speculation on my part I'm not going to discount this card entirely because if Gnaw to the Bone can see competitive play then so can this.
This card's effects needed to happen in reverse order for it to be truly exciting. After all, you'd much rather ramp out a fatty on turn 4 and then draw into more action on the following turn. That being said unlike pure ramp this will never be a dead draw and since flooding out is a legitimate concern for the archetype it will always be passable as a 1-2 of. The fact that it can always dig you into more action as the game progresses provides you with a small layer of additional security. That being said doing two things poorly usually isn't something winning combo which is why I'm largely disinterested in this card as a whole. When it comes to both ramp and card draw speed is king and given that this card is slow as molasses I'd encourage you to look elsewhere when you're trying to flesh out your lists.
Speaking of poor wording here can see a clear of example of how adding "or more" can instantly turn a card from a potential bomb to an instant bust. Whereas a card like Nest of Scarabs creates 1/1 tokens for each counter placed on each creature this can never create more than a single snake per critter. That is, whereas curving Nest of Scarabs into Black Sun's Zenith can put enough power into play to OTK an entire table you're never going to see that with this kind of card. That being said if your meta happens to be extremely creature-dense then there's still a world where this passes muster so I'm not going to discount it entirely. For example, one could easily justify fielding a couple of copies in a list such as this that leans on powerful "-1/-1 counters matter" synergies such as Necroskitter, Nest of Scarabs, Flourishing Defenses, etc.
While I won't speculate on the viability of Minotaur tribal in multiplayer (ok, I will, it's not remotely playable) what I can say is that I wouldn't hate seeing a Waste Not list chock full of goodies such as Rakdos Augermage, Cunning Lethemancer and Neheb, the Worthy. Anything that forces mass discard on your turn is stellar because that way you can actually abuse the mana acceleration to jam things like Mindslicer and Ill-Gotten Gains in order to all-but seal the deal. The mana that Waste Not produces can also be put towards a clean Cut // Ribbons kill which still works even if you've discarded it along the way. Otherwise these kinds of cards pair amazingly well with things like Asylum Visitor and Geth's Grimoire which, while weaker than Waste Not, can still do a ton of work when you're locking the table at 0 cards in hand.
Patrick aside this might be my favorite Steward of all time. This card seems absolutely bonkers in Green decks seeking curve a mana dork on turn 1 into Nissa on turn 2 at which point you can immediately tick her up to 3 and set up some Scrys to start cheating some lands and/or creatures into play. Moreover, she boasts immense synergy with cheap deck manipulation effects such as Sensei's Divining Top, Mirri's Guile, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Sylvan Library, Scroll Rack, etc. which tend to be mainstays in my competitive builds. The fact that you can more-or-less stack your draws and covert her into a Phyrexian Arena that Dark Rituals every turn (assuming that you cheat a creature into play) seems absurd to me and so I cannot wait to start jamming her in my Simic shells. This is exactly what I'm looking for in a multiplayer Planeswalker and rest assured that she's going to be a staple moving forward.
Samut is one of the best mass Haste enablers in the game which is crucial when you're fielding things like Genesis Wave and Primal Surge that enable you to dump your entire library into play and swing for the win. Unfortunately that effect doesn't currently exist in monogreen outside of Concordant Crossroads which can't get fetched by any of its myriad of creature tutors. As such I could easily see him popping up as 1-of in a ton of lists, especially since the card is reasonably playable as is. Much like Oracle of Mul Daya this card works best as a singleton in decks with plenty of tutors that you can pull him as needed. Otherwise the untap effect is interesting but given that it's on a 5-drop you can't exactly abuse it. If you do manage to live the dream and tap + untap + tap things like Goblin Welder, Pritest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid, Krenko, Mob Boss, etc. then good on you but I wouldn't warp my deck around this type of effect unless I was also running things like Thousand-Year Elixir and Paradox Engine.
Grade: Niche B
Anyone who follows my posts on the multiplayer forums can probably already guess how I feel about this card. When Plague Belcher was first spoiled I already couldn't wait to start jamming it in lists with Zulaport Cutthroat, Vengeful Dead, Tombstone Stairwell, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, etc. and I was completely blown away when they went ahead and spoiled this card shortly thereafter. Needless to say I'm ecstatic to see such powerful multiplayer tribal themes being pushed because I absolutely love it when I can build decks that are thematic, flavorful and powerful all-in-one. After all, whereas you couldn't (for example) build a Minotaur deck and have it scale well to match the increased number of players whenever we see cards such as these get printed players suddenly have a legitimate incentive to adhere to a tribal theme as opposed to looking for reaching for generic midrange playables. Anyways, this card is stellar in any multiplayer-focused zombie list to the point where you could blindly start your build with 4 of them and it couldn't possibly be wrong. I've posted various sample decks already, here for example, so if you're looking for fleshed-out builds then you might to check those out. Beyond that the only extremely powerful synergy that I want to mention is that it's ludicrously easy to curve one of these into a Tombstone Stairwell to basically win the game on the spot. You obviously need a bit more setup than that but not by much.
Palladium Myr is powerful ramp spell for removal-light metas that accelerates you straight into your 5-6 drops on turn 3-4 (turn 3 assuming a turn 1 ramp spell). As long as you can reasonably expect to activate it a couple of times then it's a playable way to flesh out your curve.
While this may come as surprise to some people I have this card listed as "barely playable" despite the fact that it has multiple global effects. Bluntly put I never have and never will put a card like Biting Rain in my lists because I find them to be laughably weak in practice. I don't even have Drown in Sorrow higher than a C because I've never found this effect to be worth the 3 mana and card when Massacre does the same thing for free. The similar cards that I'll play are Toxic Deluge and Massacre for fairly obvious reasons. I'm more than happy to pay 0 for a small mass removal effect because at that point you can literally weave it into any slot of your curve as needed. With respect to Riches, I can't say that I'm particularly excited to cast the back half of this card either. Remember, this isn't Blatant Thievery bur rather a mass Evangelize. You get everyone's worst creature (creature, not nonland permanent!) and that's assuming that they even have one to begin with. While I understand that the value in Rags // Riches is in the "whole" and not "the sum of the parts" at some point the parts become far too defective to ever be put to use again. The final nail in the coffin for this card, in my mind, is its colors. Black and Blue (alongside Green) are two of the strongest multiplayer colors in the game and when you compare Rags // Riches to things like Baleful Strix, Memory Plunder, Notion Thief, Consuming Aberration, Sire of Stagnation, etc. it becomes clear that you'll never be able to find room in your builds for marginal deck filler such as this.
This card is a cut above the pack and has my pick for "best Aftermath card in the set." Heck, it's just plain "one of the best cards in the set" with no qualifiers needed. One thing that's often difficult to justify including in less competitive multiplayer spheres is cheap spot removal that enables you to interact with your adversaries. This is because trading 1-for-1 in a 4+ player game is a ludicrously weak exchange on the whole that benefits the "free riders" (i.e. the unaffected players) significantly more than it benefits yourself. This is where cards such as Sudden Demise and Mizzium Mortars shine because they take all of the sting out of playing cheap interaction. Clearly the Cut half is weaker than alternatives such as Lightning Bolt, I wouldn't deny that for a second, but whereas Bolt will never rise above a "marginal playable" Cut // Ribbons is legitimately stellar because it has the added benefit of being a noninteractive win condition. At some point you can just start flashing these back for some serious closing power that you'll never see on alternatives such as Chain Lightning. Again, it's important to stress that while the base card isn't exciting it's still playable which is basically all you care about when you're essentially slotting some free Exsanguinates into your Rakdos builds. As long as you don't lose you'll always have a way to win.
Moving on to unfair applications this card has incredible competitive value. The main thing to keep in mind is that Grixis is the color of Wheels (Wheel of Fortune, Windfall, Timetwister, Dark Deal, Whispering Madness, etc.) and hard tutors. This makes it incredibly easy to assemble combos while filling your graveyard with oodles of goodies for mass recursion spells and effects such as Yawgmoth's Will, Mizzix's Mastery, Past in Flames, etc. As such it's relatively easy for this color combo to generate large sums/infinite mana (think Power Artifact/Rings of Brighthearth + Basalt Monolith) while casting/binning a Cut // Ribbons at some point along the way. From there it's a simple matter of casting your 1-card win condition that you don't need to keep in hand nor concern yourself with discarding. Similarly these decks will often employ Waste Not as a degenerate mana/value engine because you once you start chaining Dark Deals into Ill-Gotten Gains with a WN in play then you usually have night unlimited access to cards and mana. From there you can easily recur a Cut // Ribbons from the GY (or from your hand, it doesn't matter either way) to seal the deal. The card is totally absurd in that sense and it's one that I expect to be a key roleplayer for years to come.
While we've never seen an instant-speed Hurricane variant that hasn't cost extra mana the fact that the front half doesn't hit face leaves much to be desired. The beauty of Hurricane itself is that it's never truly a dead draw because you can often ramp it out as a lethal burn spell and if worse comes to worst you just pour all of your mana into it and go out it with a bang. Who knows, maybe you even draw the game! The back half of this badboy is where my primary interest lies because I'm fairly certain that it's basically going to be a monored card as opposed to a Gruul one. If you just so happen to field 4x Gruul Turf and 4x Gruul Signet in your otherwise monored deck then so be it, it's not going to hurt you, but I'm personally going to be testing this in builds that have a critical mass of rummage effects such as Faithless Looting, Tormenting Voice, Daretti, Scrap Savant, etc. as a "free" mass removal spell for the midgame that I can bin early on when I don't need it. After all, removal is important but not always on turns 1-2 and so I like the idea of digging into action in the early stages of the game and then flashing this back later on once the board starts to get bogged down. What I will say is that I typically loathe fielding "expensive" Earthquake variants that cost additional mana because they really do feel significantly weaker in practice. It's literally to the point where I won't put a card like Magmaquake in my lists even though it seems like it would be a reasonable option. In that sense I don't have high hopes that this card will ever find a permanent home but, again, this is mass removal that you can rummage away and flashback as needed which is always going to be a reasonable place to be in multiplayer. It's still a couple tweaks away from being a total bomb but it won't take much for this to be a stellar 1-2 of for your discard-heavy builds.
Artifact + Land
This card has a couple of things going for it. Assuming that you can find a way to cast an infinite number of creatures then it can deal an infinite quantity of damage to an infinite number of opponents. One example would be Gravecrawler/Oathsworn Vampire + any sac outlet + Phyrexian Altar but even if you're playing a "Glimpse of Nature" style elf deck that's probably going to be good enough too. Yes, the card does trigger off of any creature being cast, not just Black ones, and given the nature of the trigger that makes this one legitimately playable in nonblack decks. Obviously it's "cast" and not "enters the battlefield" and so you can't go nuts with tokens or anything but it's still a reasonable way to drain people out. Otherwise it's amarginal ramp spell but it gains value in decks that draw large quantities of extra cards at which point it can start casting multiple extra creatures every turn thanks to the blanket cost reduction. If you're merely playing a "one and done" deck that plays every spell that it draws then this type of ramp is no bueno so try to pair it with some powerful mass card draw effects whenever possible. Beyond that I'll note that it has some minor relevance with Herald of Anguish since casting one those on turn 5, draining for 1 and forcing each player to discard a card sounds pretty sweet to me. Heck, you can even run him out sooner assuming that you manage to jam a Jet Medallion at which point you should be able to start jamming creatures left and right.
Grade: Niche C
I've probably played more Reassembling Skeletons and Oathsworn Vampires than anyone alive but even I couldn't imagine actually playing this as a generic "ramp" spell. It's way too conditional and stacks so poorly in multiples. The only reason why this card interests me is because of the card Undead Alchemist. It's not an automatic win in the same way that Altar of the Brood is but it's probably good enough to make the cut. I just have to imagine that turn 2 Embalmer's Tools, turn 3 Zombie, turn 4 Undead Alchemist is going to be "good enough" to justify its inclusion.
Grade: Niche C
God'Pharaoh's Gift (GPG) is an extremely powerful Magic that's easily worth jumping through some hoops to cheat into play. As a result cards that would otherwise be unplayable (such as Gate to the Afterlife) start to become legitimate contenders.
While every color can enable Gate to the Afterlife to some extent Blue is surprisingly quick at triggering it between creatures such as Hedron Crab and Magus of the Bazaar so please don't be turned-off but that "6 or more creatures" clause. It also has access to Trophy Mage to tutor for the Gate as needed and it even has Argivian Restoration in case you happen to mill over a GPG along the way. As such it's trivially easy to have one going by turn 4 as long as your creatures are gunned-down as soon as they hit the table.
The other primary colors to consider are Green and/or Black given that they have access to things like Satyr Wayfinder, Grisly Salvage, Stinkweed Imp, Buried Alive, Golgari Grave-Troll and more which can fill your GY at a lightning pace. Black also has access to Beacon of Unrest which, much like Argivian Restoration, can recur any GPGs that happen to get milled-over. At 5 mana you're not significantly cheating on the mana cost any more but the upside is that you can nab any creature/artifact from any GY which gives it some additional flexibility.
My full thoughts on the card can be found here. The TL;DR is that curving Enlightened Tutor into Genesis Chamber into Oketra's Monument into an infinite cascade of Kor Skyfishers/Whitemane Lions and/or Squadron Hawks is both extremely fun and moderately powerful. The idea here is to cast your creatures for 1 mana, bounce them to themselves and then rinse and repeat while generating a couple of 1/1s each iteration. Toss in a card like Impact Tremors and people drop like flies in no time. Again, I'm keeping this entry brief since you can always check out the full post if you want a broader analysis and discussion.
I pity the poor sap who opened this vault because the brick cards are all bricks. As much as I champion cards like Paradox Engine I can promise you that these aren't the kinds of cards that you should be pairing it with. Don't get me wrong, I love the ideal use-case nut draws in which our opponents are little more than sacks of potatoes but in anything remotely resembling a "real" game of Magic these kinds of cards are far too slow and win-more. It takes what? 10 mana before this actually becomes a "thing?" By then you'll have already won or lost even if you're now drawing a free extra spell every turn. I want to stress that I understand that if you can this into play, get counters on it, cast Paradox Engine, cast spells, etc. then you can live the dream and have all your wishes come but try to remember the ~75% of games in which the stars don't align and you have to actually make relevant plays before turn 7. Here's the thing, Paradox Engine is already broken. Making it "more broken" doesn't actually accomplish anything relevant because it's already going to win the game for you. That's what the card does. As such you basically only need to care about the games in which you're not nutting the God draw and have to play Magic with fair cards that aren't oppressive. These are the absolute worst cards to have under those conditions and so I can safely say that you should ignore them.
Same idea as Oracle's Vault. In your nuttest of nut draws this is another set of Gilded Lotuses for your Paradox Engine lists but I promise you that after testing them out 4-5 times you'll quickly realize why this card is stone unplayable compared to alternatives such as Basalt Monolith. When your deck has cards as powerful as Paradox Engine you want to have as many cards that "do things" as possible because you're already going to be able to do "all of the things" when you draw a Paradox Engine and so your primary concern should be playing spells that matter when things aren't going according to plan.
This card kicks Tut (mad props to anyone who gets the reference)! One of the most common multiplayer complaints/concerns is the complete and utter lack of aggro at higher levels of competition given how unrealistic it is to actually beat a table of players into submission. While mechanics such as Myriad and Melee have attempted to introduce it as a viable archetype progress has been slow at best and stagnant at worst. That's why I'm relieved to see a card like this being printed because it signals to me that Wizards might finally start printing aggressive cards that scale with the number of players. This is going to be a staple to any creature-based aggro deck moving forward and it's definitely going to spawn and support archetypes that we haven't seen before. After all, a curve of a turn 1 Pule Tracker, turn 2 Night Market Lookout + Vicious Conquistador, turn 3 God-Pharaoh's Gift + Thornbow Archer can clear a table out at an insane pace. I look forward to what the future has in store for multiplayer aggro if this the direction that Wizards is taking with it.
Much like Shocklands and ABUR Duals each of these new cycling lands possesses multiple basic land types which makes them ideal in builds witha critical mass of Fetchlands. After all, this combination allows you to consistently fix any combination of colors in the first few turns of the game which makes it an ideal pairing for 3+ color builds. Moreover, the fact that you can cycle them as the game progresses mitigates the risk of succumbing to mana flood while still enabling you to field 25-26 land control decks that don't want to miss their land drops for the first 5-6 turns of the game. It's the best of all worlds in the sense that you'll hit every land drop that you actively want to make while being presented with the option to cycle further ones away. The downside is clearly that they ETBT but since that's typically not a deal breaker in most casual multiple spheres suffice it to say that I'm not going to lose any sleep over such a trivial drawback. Lastly, it's worth noting that all of the allied Fetchlands were recently reprinted in Khans of Tarkir and can now be acquired for about 10-15 bucks a pop. This is fairly reasonable given that they're some of the the most powerful lands ever printed and will be permanent fixtures in Magic's competitive sphere.
While I don't expect the nongreen Cycling lands to see much overall play outside of budget decks the Green ones have slightly more competitive value than most. For starters the color has some extremely powerful ramp spells that care about "Forests" such as Nature's Lore, Wood Elves, Skyshroud Claim, Sylvan Primordial and more all of which benefit from having access to duals such as these. After all, they don't explicitly state "basic Forest," just "Forest," which means that you're free to nab anything that bears the tag. Moreover, Cycling lands are extremely relevant for Life from the Loam archetypes in the sense that they enable you to add a powerful draw engine to your builds at next-to-no opportunity cost. Beyond that they're also stellar when you're fielding recursive spells/engines such as Restore, Crucible of Worlds and Titania, Protector of Argoth which are commonly employed by Green mages.
Fetid Pools and Irrigated Farmland work well in "Esper" Control decks that include things like Vedalken Shackles and/or Engulf the Shore. Again, they enable you to hit your land drops, cycle excess lands away, splash colors, etc. without disrupting your primary form of interaction which is fairly powerful all things considered.
I'm pretty sure that I'm the one who's going to develop cataracts if I have to keep looking at this monstrosity. While you can't actually field this in a 3-5 color builds given that it only taps for colorless mana innately this will see competitive play alongside Darksteel Citadel, Flagstones of Trokair, Drownyard Temple, Dakmor Salvage, etc. in "Armageddon" archetypes that feature a large quantity of mass land destruction (MLD). Clearly you have to be careful about how the cards are worded because it's worthless if you're forced to sacrifice the lands (which is why it won't see play in Death Cloud and/or Wildfire decks for example) but assuming that your list has things like Impending Disaster, Ravages of War and/or Devastation then you're going to want 4 of these badboys no questions asked. It's an extremely powerful card in that sense but only in monocolored MLD builds which means that it's far too niche for the average player to acquire.
Grade: Niche C
Since I'm sure that most people are already aware of Evolving Wilds value as a budget-minded color fixer I'm not going to spend any additional time explaining how it's a cheap way splash/fix your colors in 2-3 color decks. The game has evolved to such a place where that'll never be the optimal way to build your manabases but if this is what you can afford, by all means, go wild.
What I would like to discuss is how increasing powerful these budget-minded Fetchlands are becoming in most Green (and many Blue) lists. Up until a couple of years ago you didn't have much incentive to field anything other than basic lands in your (budget-minded) monocolor decks. After all, a basic Forest does exactly what you need when you need it whereas a card like Terramorphic Expanse carries a legitimate drawback given that it ETBT. That being said Green is now so reliant on landfall/top of library/recursion mechanics that I routinely find myself playing 8 or more Fetchlands in my monogreen builds even if they're the "bad" ones like Terramorphic Expanse. Take the following cards for example:
All of these cards benefit massively from the addition of Fetchlands to your builds and realistically the list stretches on and on and on from here. They heavily reward you for playing with a critical mass of cheap shuffle effects and/or ways of getting lands into your graveyard in order to provide you with obscene value in the long run. These are also all cards that I routinely find myself playing in my Green lists so it's not as though I'm going out of my way to field them. They're legitimately some of the strongest cards to be casting at every slot in the curve assuming that you're able to support them.
Moreover, while all of this may seem overly niche remember that basically all of these cards work well in tandem with one another. When you curve a Courser of Kruphix into a Vizier of the Menagerie you literally don't care what the top of your library yields. You're happy with lands and creatures either way so the more looks that you have for cards the better. Beyond that most of them are worthless in multiples which means that they tend to played as 1-2 ofs as opposed to 4-ofs (ideally supported with Green Sun's Zenith and/or other tutor effects) in order to avoid flooding out on any one particular card/effect. After all, you'd much rather draw exactly one Ramunap Excavator, exactly one Tireless Tracker and exactly one Vizier of the Menagier than any combination of multiples of either card. As such decks that play one of these cards often play most/all of them in small numbers which further bolsters the power of Fetchlands. Clearly Evolving Wilds isn't a broken card. It serves a niche role but doesn't hold a candle to true Fetchlands. Still, if you're in the market for cheap library manipulation/shuffle effects/recursion they foot the bill in a pinch and that's all that matters.
Amonket, if nothing else, was "a set for archetypes" as opposed to "a set of cards." That is, rather than having a bunch of generic playables it yielding a slew of niche build-around-mes such as Nest of Scarabs, Wayward Servant + Plague Belcher, Anointed Procession, Archfiend of Ifnir, on and on and on. Still, even if you're a "good stuffs" playable who only wants to play the best cards in the slot it still brought us oodles of goodies such as By Force, Cut // Ribbons, Manglehorn, Vizier of the Menagerie and more. Lastly, Amonket also bestowed upon us one of the most powerful White ever printed in the form of Approach of the Second Sun. That card has proved to be extremely problematic in my circles to point where it started seeing ubiquitous play in every Control list. After all, nothing else wins quite as easily, compactly nor cleanly as it does. No longer do you need to dedicate 8 or more cards for combo finishers or power game-enders, 3-4 is now all you need. As a result I expect this card to be either banned or a staple in most multiplayer metas.
Starting from the top I like Harsh Mentor as a 4-of in any burn deck and/or combo hatebear but since that's a relatively weak/niche use I can't list him much higher than 10. From there we have Throne of the God-Pharaoh will be an automatic 2-of in any aggressive creature-based shell moving forward. Again, aggro isn't an impressive archetype by any means but I won't discount its potential. Moving on we have a couple of "build around me" cards like the Zombies and Procession that will excel in specific archetypes. They're not generic playable by any means but the decks that want them REALLY want them. From there we have Cut // Ribbons which is a powerful form of interaction that can be played in any Rakdos deck as lategame noninteractive finisher. Beyond that it's nothing but a slew of bombs, oppressive combo enablers and oppressive Control finishers to round out the list. They're cards that I expect to see play for years to come even at the highest levels of competition.
Full disclosure for my future-readers: I basically took a year off from writing/playing Magic and even though I wrote most of my reviews for Amonket, Hour of Devastation and C17 I never got around to posting them. That being said I see no reason to waste all of that time and effort so better late than never. As such you'll probably see references to "cards from the future" and such added throughout them because I did go back and edit my work. I write fast and make a lot of typos so I need to make a ton of revisions. Moreover, all of these reviews have also been written "in hindsight" to some extent so I'm not going to pretend that I'm a prediction God or anything. I did change some grades based on how I feel about the cards having played with them for close to a year. Still, I'd rather provide you with accurate information so that you can make more informed decisions and succeed in your games. That is, please don't look at this review and judge its merits based on how accurate my predictions were. Rather, use it to learn about cool decks and archetypes that you could be building in the near future.
Clearly, they aren't the most powerful cards out there, but they look like fun build arounds. In blue you already are going to be looting some way or another and Ifnir easily cycles early and is reasonable(ish) on 5. Curator seems like the safest inclusion since cycle one and a 4/4 body is always decent.
I'm thinking the payoff is probably too low for it to be worth it (this is for 3-4 player FFA games).
I'm thinking the payoff is probably too low for it to be worth it (this is for 3-4 player FFA games).
The first two I wouldn't even consider. Blue is a stacked color and the slots dry up fast.
Archfiend of Ifnir is interesting solely because Black has infinite 2-3 CMC recursion spells and turn 1 cycle + turn 2 revive is decent. It's no Entomb but there's only one of those. From there all of your looting spells become mass removal spells which is great because that deck is already playing every copy of Faithless Looting and Frantic Search that it can get.
Do I play him in mine? No, but he's the closest of the 3 to making the cut.