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 player base 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 a spectrum as opposed to a binary set of 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" 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.
Partner Grade: F
Will's Grade: C
Rowan's Grade: F
As Commanders these cards are unplayable. They're both slow, weak and there aren't any interesting ways to build around them.
Rowan Kenrith is embarrassingly weak and shouldn't be played anywhere outside of your Command Zone. That isn't to say that I recommend trying to build around this pair but there's no sense in leaving free value off of the table. None of her abilities are relevant and her ultimate doesn't even affect mana abilities which is a joke if you ask me. I wouldn't even play her in an Izzet Control deck that already featured Will Kenrith. She's that bad.
Partner Grade: C
Virtus's Grade: C+
Gorm's Grade: F
Virtus the Veiled is the first card that we've seen so far that I actually really like. Gorm the Great is a dumb, forgettable brute but he's Green and enables you to play Green cards in your EDH lists so the card itself is largely irrelevant. Assuming that these are your Commanders then you can consistently go turn 1 dork, turn 2 Virtus and then from turn 3 and onward you're swinging for 10-20. This is especially brutal if you're using Black's tutors and Green's ramp to power out things like Wound Reflection and Archfiend of Despair which turn him into an OHKO machine. Granted, at 8 mana the Archfiend isn't exactly easy to cast early on but that's what cards like Entomb, Survival of the Fittest and Animate Dead are for. Putting all combos aside playing a "20" power creature on turn 2 can be incredibly powerful assuming that you build the rest of the deck to capitalize on the opportunities that it creates. As such you don't have to gunning for combo kills to justify jamming them in the CZ.
Not much changes outside of EDH other that the fact that everything becomes less exciting. Gorm still sucks and you shouldn't play him but Virtus loses some of his luster once he's only hitting for 5-10. That being said he's still immensely powerful in decks with cards like Rakdos, Lord of Riots and Neheb, the Eternal so there's definitely some new and interesting avenues to pursue. Turn 3 Virtus, turn 4 hit for 10, cast Rakdos, cast Void Winnower + Nullstone Gargoyle + Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is gas :)!
Partner Grade: C+
Pir Grade: B
Toothy Grade: C
These are by far and away the most well balanced and well designed Partners of the set. Both cards are stellar and playable in a slew of formats and archetypes. Massive props to Wizards for their design. Not too strong, not too weak, they truly nailed it.
Moreover, neither of these cards need to played A) together and B} in any specific format. Everything that I've said holds true for both EDH and Constructed regardless of what your colors are. If you're playing a Golgari Winding Constrictor deck with Corpsejack Menace then you don't have to splash Blue to justify adding Pir. You may still want to (so that you can add cards like Hadana's Climb) but it's not strictly necessary. Toothy is similar in the sense that he's happy as a clam to be played in any Blue deck with mass card draw and by no means does Pir make-or-break anything. That's what makes this such a perfect pairing in my opinion. Both cards hold their own and together they're absolute power houses.
Partner Grade: D
Ley Grade: C
Lore Grade: F
Ley Weaver, much like Argothian Elder, is surprisingly playable as a "standalone" ramp spell for decks that feature effects such as Gaea's Cradle, Cloudpost, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Wild Growth, Utopia Sprawl, Overgrowth, etc. You can clearly see how 2 lands != 2 mana since it can often ramp for 6+ mana in the right shell. This is the primary reason to field this duo in any format since you're essentially taking a good ramp spell and are making it better. The issue with this plan is that some % of the time you'll draw Lore Weaver (which is unplayable trash in a vacuum) and so your "free value" just became a massive liability. Now you have to cast her before you can tutor out your Ley Weaver so you're down a full turn's worth of time and mana for no benefit. Lore Weaver is still playable, it's a risk that you should be willing to take, but if you're fielding 4x Ley Weaver then you should only be adding 1-2 Lore Weavers tops. It's not a card that you ever want to draw naturally.
Grade: Niche B
This is one of the most overrated cards in the set. Sure, in the context of a Flash, Evolutionary Leap, Eldritch Evolution or Birthing Pod deck it's a stellar way to cheat out cards like Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and/or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon but you have to work to extract meaningful value from the guy. The curve of turn 2 mana rock, turn 3 Rector, turn 4 mass removal spell is strong but unless you have a way to kill the Rector yourself he can easily be ignored. Don't get me wrong, I like the card, but you do need to jump through some hoops to make him feel busted. In a vacuum I would still recommend acquiring and building around it (White desperately needs access to card advantage engines) but given the current price-tag it's tough to justify the investment. The card isn't bad any means (turn 4 Ugin/Bolas is no slouch) but the main thing that I'm trying to stress is that you need reliable ways to sacrifice him. You can't just add them to random White decks, toss in some Ugins and call it a day.
Grade: Niche D
Marginal filler for Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx decks given that it's "devoted," resilient and acts as a mana sink. I wouldn't play it elsewhere but it arguably fits the bill if you're looking for a turn 3 blocker that scales as the game progresses.
This is a political card done right and strikes a favorable mix of fun, flavor and functionality. After all, you can stop someone on their turn, say "we're going to lose to Bob unless we exile his board, help me cast this" and make a deal to wipe the board. At that point it's a ~4 CMC mass exile spell which is utterly bonkers and so I definitely have high hopes for this card. Note, I'm not suggesting that you're required to manipulate people to get good value out of this type of spell. In my experience there's almost always someone playing a "go wide" strategy that requires a critical mass of resources and it usually trumps the fair ones being employed by the other players. That is, the players are usually forced into taking the deal regardless because the alternative is losing the game. Lastly, there's almost always someone who's struggling with a marginal draw and so it's quite easy to find someone to help you out with the casting cost. Even if they only pitch in 2-3 mana that's still more than enough to make the card bonkers because an unconditional Urza's Ruinous Blast is a busted Magic card.
Grade: Niche D
In a deck full of counter-based creatures this functions as a reasonable form of defense. It also has an immediate impact on the game and is cheap enough to hit play before you start slamming your heavy-hitters. That being said my biggest issue with this card is the CC because most counter-based decks are, well, literally every color except for White :P. At 1W it would be somewhat splashable but at WW I don't see how you're casting this unless you're playing base White. In that sense I think that it's functionally unplayable because I literally couldn't list a single deck that would be interested in playing it. I do like these "Cauldron of Souls" effects in general but for now I'm going to stick with the one that's free and colorless as opposed to shoehorning this in.
This is one of the most generically powerful White spells in the game given that it essentially reads "you don't miss land drops." Note, it doesn't ruin games with oppressive ramp (*COUGH*Carpet of Flowers*COUGH*) but it does limit the number of nongames where you essentially don't get to play Magic. I'm not going to say that it's a "fair" card but it's also not so unfair as to trivialize the actions of your adversaries. Moreover, it boasts immense synergy with Scroll Rack (build-your-own Ancestral Recall baby!) which is sadly one of the few competitive card draw engines available to White. Your next-best option is what? Victory Chimes + Mind's Eye? I'll take the former thank you very much! It's also stellar in decks that feature Goblin Charbelcher because it will straight kill players past a certain point. That's less important now that Approach of the Second Sun is a card but it's certainly relevant to note. Still, even if we leave these types of synergies behind us it's hard to imagine a White-based deck that wouldn't be thrilled to start with 4 copies given that it's one of the most mana and card efficient ways to consistently hit your land drops.
Grade: Niche B+
Midnight Guard + Presence of Gond (and/or Splinter Twin) is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to clear a table in a multiplayer setting. By no means is the combo the "be-all-end-all" (it loses to permission, spot removal, mass removal, enchantment removal... basically everything) but from pure cost-to-benefit analysis the cards are dirt cheap and when the combo works you literally just win. Bear in mind that cards like Silence and Grand Abolisher can even shut instant-speed interaction out of the picture. I'm not saying that every White deck should be fielding it or whatever but worst-case scenario you're down what? A whole $2.00 on your investment? Life goes on :P.
While Cat Tax is noticeably weaker than his Enchantment-based brother he does offer some unique advantages. Namely, it doesn't specify "basic" Plains and so you can fetch Duals/Shocks/Cyclings etc. and/or things like Mistveil Plains. This can be especially relevant for decks that feature cards like Squadron Hawk and Sunforger that're reliant on self-recursion to grind the table into oblivion. Otherwise, even if you're playing a monowhite deck it's still a warm body that "draws 3 cards" which is better than missing drops and falling behind. You need all the help that you can get when you're trying to support things like Emeria, the Sky Ruin, Sun Titan, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Emeria Shepherd so don't look this gift-cat-horse(???) in the mouth.
Plow always has and always will be the single best multiplayer spot removal spell of all time. 1 mana, exiles, no functional drawback. Boom! It's so good that it still makes the cut even though it doesn't scale with the increased number of players and that's really saying something. The rate is too efficient and the "drawback" is negligible at best which means that you can happily start any list with 4 of them and feel good about it. That being said I prefer to shave on them and field 2 as generic catch-alls for game-ending bombs and lean on mass removal as much as possible. You can also feel free to omit them entirely, it's not a "must have" by any means, but there's no sense in glancing at alternatives until you've maxed out on Plows. Buy and play your copies because it doesn't get any better than this.
I really like what Wizards is doing with Looters because things like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Arcane Artisan bring some complexity and power to Blue's early game creature lineup. This card card is clearly unplayable in spell-based builds but anything creature-focused is definitely going to consider it. After all, a basic curve of "turn 3, turn 4 activate" can enable you to cheat your bombs into play (ala Elvish Piper) right off the bat. Moreover, it enables you to play the game at instant-speed while holding up your permission, tutors, bounce, etc. As if Consecrated Sphinx wasn't already bonkers enough you get to cast it for 3 mana, make it uncounterable and hold up your Swan Song for protection without ever dropping your shields. Nice!
Moving on, there's many subtle advantages that being Blue offers to these types of threats. First, Blue has the strongest and deepest selection of cantrips (Brainstorm, Portent, Ponder, Preordain, Impulse, etc.) which makes these types of sequences incredibly consistent. You don't need to playing dozens fatties; a handful will suffice when you're seeing throngs of additional cards in the opening turns of the game. Second, Blue enables you to field cheap/free permission spells to protect your Artisans and/or Bounce/Flicker effects to abuse the "leaves" trigger. After all, if you activate your Artisan and bounce it with the trigger still on the stack then the token remains indefinitely. Third, these types of cards offer significant deterrence against creature-based aggression because it's difficult to justify swinging your army into the unknown. The last thing that you want to be doing is chump attacking into a fatty. This is especially relevant for Blue decks which tends to lack early-game board presence and are thus more susceptible to beat-down strategies than the other colors. Lastly, Blue decks typically want to be playing at instant-speed as much as possible (to lean on their tutors, card draw, permission, etc.) and Artisan enables you to avoid tapping out on your turn.
Whereas I legitimately like Play of the Game I don't foresee this "Windfall" variant passing muster. If you're ever in a position to abuse the card your adversaries can elect to decline assisting you with the cost at which point it becomes virtually unplayable. After all, you'll spend all of your mana drawing everyone into a fresh grip at which point everyone else will get to untap and use their mana first. It doesn't work in 2HG either for similar reasons since no matter how you slice it your team is down 6 mana whereas the opposing team will still untap with all of theirs. Don't get me wrong, if you can magically get this to work as a Windfall then it's broken, I just can't envision how you could pull that off against competent opponents.
This is officially Blue's strongest 3 drop. Full stop. It's also easily the best card in the set. I know that I use terms like "eternal staple" far too often but this card is legitimately never going to be replaced. 10 years from now I can promise you that it's still going to be an auto-include in 100% of my blue EDH decks, my Cubes and could reasonably see play in any of my Constructed lists. I'm not going to sit here and list every single card that it can fetch but the reality is that it's basically anything. Ramp, permission, cantrips, removal, bounce, there's nothing that she can't find for you. High Tide, Pongify, Brainstorm, Counterspell, Cyclonic Rift, Pull from Tomorrow, the thing is a freaking Demonic Tutor on a stick. Heck, she can even assemble combos like Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter (via Transmute Aritfact/Reshape) and High Tide + Reset so she's even a win condition! She's also busted with mass bounce (hello Displacement Wave!) because, again, you get to Demonic Tutor every time that you cast her so that's plenty of incentive to field things like Coastal Breach whenever possible. By the way, did I forget to mention that I've only named Blue cards thus far? And that she has no color restrictions. Unreal. Best card in the set, not close, not close to being close.
This is best 2 CMC cantrip ever printed. It's instant-speed, sees a ton of cards and doesn't require a shuffle effect to get full value from the spell. That makes it perfect for assembling combos/key cards and/or sitting on removal/permission and digging into action at EOT as needed. Any constructed Blue deck could reasonably play 4 and you'd be a fool to exclude it from your EDH/Cube lists.
Much like Spell Swindle this is a permission spell that's worth the price of admission. Worst-case scenario it cycles away as a Jace's Ingenuity but far more often than not you can snag a powerful spell and draw a couple of cards in the process. Even the bounce can be relevant at times, especially if you need to bounce a Stax/hate card to combo off on your own turn. What I will say is that it loses some of its luster in MP as opposed to duels (5 is a lot of mana to sit on and Jace's Ingenuity isn't a "great" card) but it's still perfectly playable in anything but the most cutthroat tables.
This is another card that I've never excluded from an EDH/Cube list and that's always reasonable in Constructed. 2 CMC, easy color requirements and it tends to counter all of the spells that actually matter in multiplayer. It's also affordable and easy to acquire so it ticks more than enough boxes to justify grabbing.
While I dislike Sower compared to durable alternatives such as Mind Control it still fits the bill in removal-light and/or small metas where it's unlikely to die. Even then I'm not overly impressed with theft effects in general (not counting Treachery) given that they "miss" ETB triggers and your deck can't often capitalize on the synergies that your adversaries will have access to. Knight of the Reliquary is powerful, but less so in a 22x Island deck. It's still a reasonable card but not one that I personally use or play with.
This card never fails to impress me to the point where I consider to be one of Blue's most powerful and consistent finishers. Yes, I know, it costs a million mana and only blinks a single permanent but every time that it hits play I get the sense that I cannot possibly win. The Blue mage will simply counter or bounce every relevant spell played for the rest of the game to all-but ensure their victory. It's both slow and painful but it's nothing if not certain. You try and gang-up on it, you try and overload the Blue mage's mana, you struggle and squirm as hard as you can but it's all for naught in the face of this behemoth. The sea of cantrips, Spell Bursts, draw spells, permission, etc. is ultimately impossible to fight through and eventually you succumb to the inexorable tide.
While I'm fond of "Wound Reflections" in general this card is unfortunately way too overcosted to see play. After all, at 8 CMC you can't reasonably cast it in aggro decks and it's not worth your while to include an Entomb + Animate Dead package to cheat him out. Otherwise there's significantly better ways to abuse cards like Exsanguinate and Torment of Hailfire, namely with mana doublers such a Crypt Ghast. After all, they work with all of your spells and effects and not just your nukes. I'm still hoping to see more cards like these in the future but I'm looking for something in the 5-6 CMC range to get my juices flowing.
This, to me, is probably the single most powerful (all-around) Black 2 drop in multiplayer. After all, even if you put all of the Warrior nonsense aside it's a 2 CMC Scroll Thief in the color that has access to throngs of spot/mass removal. It's trivial to curve one into a card like Merciless Executioner to start drawing some cards and pull ahead of the pack. Moreover, it's important to stress that she doesn't need to be able to attack "everyone," because as long as "someone" is open then she's a 2 CMC Arena. Removal can clear the path as needed, but it won't always be.
Moreover, Magic isn't played in a vacuum and you don't have to work very hard for some of these Warrior synergies. I was probably already going to play cards like Fleshbag Marauder to clear the way for Mindblade Render and it just so happens that those kinds of cards are Warriors. Moreover, I'm a big fan of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in MP and he's also boasting the tag. Mindblade Render is also big enough to survive Massacre (a card that I play as a 2-of in most of my lists) and turn 4 Kalitas + Massacre is already one of my favorite opening sequences. Finally, if you do open with a turn 1 Warrior, turn 2 Mindblade Render then you're literally playing with a 2 CMC Arena that canrtrips which is obviously just a broken card. I wouldn't add marginal threats such as those to my lists for Mindblade Render alone, but if I'm already fielding cards like Contamination and Braids, Cabal Minion then I was going to need them regardless.
Bluntly put I think that this card is unplayable trash. The card looks awesome, I desperately wanted to make it work, but man is ever terrible in practice. At 4 CMC it has almost no combo potential, especially since the primary card that you'd pair it with already draws your deck. I also briefly tested it in various Final Fortune builds to see if those had any merit but they weren't even close to being playable. The problem is that dropping to 1 is essentially a death sentence so there's no such as thing as "untap and use your 7 cards to win." I couldn't get that to happen once. For this card to be good it needs to be cast on another's player's turn, you need them to kill you, you need to take the following turn and you need to win on the spot. That's possible, I'm sure that it can and will happen for someone, but I'm done trying to make it worke. Great art, great flavor, crappy card.
This is one of the most overrated cards in the set as I don't expect it to carry its weight in a typical multiplayer match. It isn't worth your while to try and build around it with things like Phyrexian Scriptures and/or Living End because at that point your deck is way too timing-sensitive and vulnerable to copious forms of disruption. Believe me when I say that I want to like this card, it's very cool, but having played with similar cards in the past I've never been impressed by them. They're slow, unreliable, win-more, etc. to the point where they don't have any functional relevance on the game. When they win it's typically because you couldn't possible lose to begin with and when they lose they feel miserable. Sure, some % of the time you'll blow someone's Wrath out but there's also going to be dozens of games where it rots in your hand or provides some trivial return on investment. To consistently make this card work you basically have to assemble an ~8 mana ~2 card combo like Toxic Deluge + Thrilling Encore but at that point you may as well field an actual combo kill or cast a 1-card "combo" like Rise of the Dark Realms instead.
Even though we already have countless variations of this card (Fleshbag Marauder, Merciless Executioner, Oath of Liliana, Vona's Hunger) it never hurts to have a slew of options based to suit your personal deckbuilding needs. After all, many decks are lacking things like recursion and/or devotion-abusers which makes these alternatives such as Virtus's Maneuver strictly superior. Moreover, Virtus's Maneuver is unique in the sense that it's never a completely dead card because it can act as a Raise Dead in a pinch. Vona's Hunger is literally useless against a creature-less combo/control lists whereas this will always have some relevance at some stage in the game. It even possesses potential political applications since you can "buy a friend" when it suits your needs. I know that I typically hate on "political" arguments but in scenarios like these it absolutely makes a different. After all, the card is still a Fleshbag Marauder when needed, but it can also be more. As such you're getting the "political value" for free as opposed to paying for it. That, combined with the "free" Raise Dead easily puts it ahead of the pack (alongside Vona's Hunger). It's a fantastic card that I highly recommend acquiring.
This is one of the most powerful tutors in the game and I'm ecstatic to see it reprinted at rare. It's akin to adding 4x Demonic Tutor in your creature-based decks because you'll always have something worthless to pitch and relevant to find. It's especially brutal with cards that have ETB triggers which is why it's often played in Golgari decks that feature cards like Evolutionary Leap and Birthing Pod as well. Chaining things like Viridian Emissary into Meren of Clan Nel Toth is a huge game and these are the types of sequences that I adore. I also need to stress that you don't need to field things like Reassembling Skeleton to fuel it (although you certainly can) because literally any creature or token will suffice. As long as you have a critical mass of them then I highly recommend adding these to your lists in large numbers. It's Demonic Tutor and, surprise surprise, Demonic Tutor is a busted Magic card.
While I've come down on this card a bit I still think that it's one of Black's most efficient (albeit conditional) draw spells. I don't recommend playing 4 of them but assuming that you deck has a large number of expensive permanents than 1-2 is a reasonable place to be. The examples that I often provide are things like Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Gray Merchant of Asphodel that cost a lot of mana but that don't need to survive. It also skyrockets in value when have cards like Ugin's Nexus and Spine of Ish Sah in your builds but you really don't need to go out of your way to support it. The lesson here is merely that it's a card that players need to keep in the back of their minds.
This card is fine. Not good, not bad, just "fine." Once upon a time it was one of the more competitive mana doublers but nowadays everything plays second-fiddle to Crypt Ghast which is miles ahead of the pack. It's roughly on par with Magus of the Coffers but even then Magus combos with things like Umbral Mantle and Sword of the Paruns to generate infinite mana and so it often gets the nod instead. After all, the Sword is legitimately good when you deck has things like Josu Vess, Lich Knight, Army of the Damned and Rise of the Dark Realms (+2/+0 baby!) so it's not even a pure combo card any longer. Otherwise there's also Extraplanar Lens (vastly superior), Gauntlet of Power (vastly superior) and Caged Sun (marginally superior) which tend to win out given their durability. Otherwise you also have things like Cabal Coffers and Cabal Stronghold so she doesn't have a clearly-defined home any longer. To be clear, the card is still "fine," but you can see why it's difficult to get excited over the 8th best card for the job. Unless you're consistently granting her evasion and beating people down there's superior alternatives to pursue.
Burn decks are also place where this type of spell can shine, especially if you're going for something slower and more controlled. After all, it's easy to clear the board, build up your mana and end the game with a flurry of Price of Progresses and Flame Rifts. This is another instance where a card like Ruby Medallion shines at which point it becomes easy to convert 6 mana into something like Bonus Round + Price of Progress + Fiery Confluence. I did some quick maths and it came out to "millions" of damage. Obviously any spell-based burn will work here so it doesn't really matter what you field.
Finally, this card is just plain stellar in an spell-based deck. It doesn't have to be monored, it doesn't have to be Storm, it doesn't have you to be burn, all you need to be doing is playing a lot of spells and mana. If your mana is ramp as opposed to rituals/reducers that's fine. It's weaker, but still fine. If you have cards like Mizzix's Mastery and Pyromancer's Goggles that's awesome. If you want to double cards like Wildfire to protect them from permission that works. You don't have to be killing on turn 2-3 to justify including it; all you need is a critical mass of spells and mana.
Grade: Niche A
Prior to Battlebond you couldn't even consider Warriors to be a real tribe but Mindblade Render have definitely pulled them out of the dumpster. Not only is she an extremely powerful "Lord" but she also boasts degenerate synergy with mana engines such as Cryptolith Rite and Druids' Repository. After all, once you have a critical mass of attackers you can pour your Druids' Repository mana into taking additional combat phases and repeat the process ad nauseam until you win. This coupled with Mindblade Renders insane card advantage makes the tribe infinitely more competitive than it used to be.
Moreover, what separates Najeela from traditional 2-card combos is that all of your components are legitimately good as standalone spells. Lords have obvious applications in tribal decks and cards like Cryptolith Rite tend to vastly outperform traditional forms of ramp when you're swarming the board with tokens and small beaters. It's equally important to note that some Warriors are just great to begin with. Think Nettle Sentinel (bonkers with Cryptolith Rite), Mindblade Render, Radha, Heir to Keld, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Grand Warlord Radha, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, etc. In that sense you're literally playing a deck full of "good cards" that has outs to assemble a combo kill. That being said you can still easily win a "fair" game of Magic if needed which is clearly the best of all worlds.
EDH, same thing. Run her as your Commander, use your Black tutors to locate things like Cryptolith Rite and/or Druids' Repository (field cards like Shred Memory and Dimir Machinations if needed) and consistently go off with your infinite combat phases. There's no special modifications that need to be made and you have the added advantage of always drawing your Najeela.
Geez, the Red hits just keep on coming! Assuming a 4 player game this thing can draw up to 3 spells per turn (although 2 is your realistic average) while enabling you to bypass any and all color requirements and/or restrictions. This means that you can focus on lands that tap for large quantities of mana while ignoring colors (think Cloudpost, Urza's Tower, etc.) and/or rituals such as Seething Song to power out additional spells each turn. After all, you won't need many threats (or much card advantage) when you have these in your lists which leaves more slots for things like ramp and rituals to truly abuse the effect. Moreover, rituals have the added bonus of powering this card out ahead of schedule since jamming it on turn 3 off of a Vessel of Volatility or Seething Song enables it to come online on turn 4 as opposed to turn 6. From there they'll assist you with casting multiple spells per turn which ensures that they stay relevant all throughout the game. Finally, unlike most alternatives this card doesn't run the risk of "flooding out on multiples" because it doesn't actually matter if you draw 3-4 of them in a game. After all, insofar as you have one in play then your own resources are largely irrelevant and so "mulligans" become trivial concerns. That being said you'll want access to spare copies in case it succumbs to removal which means that you can confidently field 4. This is what separates it from alternatives such as Mimic Vat and Flameshadow Conjuring which are powerful but unwieldy in multiples. Whereas I wouldn't play 4 of either I'd happily start a list with a playset of Stolen Strategys.
While I typically prefer things like Insurrection most of Red's big finishers are either conditional or weak whereas Magmatic Force is neither. After all, he's relevant on any board state and (more-or-less) seizes complete control of the game. The downside is that he's extremely vulnerable to removal and rarely outperforms alternatives such as Inferno Titan on average. He can certainly win games that Inferno Daddy couldn't but unless your games are huge you're not getting a great deal on your 8 mana relative to the 6 CMC alternative. I still like the card in ramp decks and/or removal-light metas (especially if you have things like Oblivion Sower to consistently power him out) but more often than not I find myself to deferring to alternatives such as Inferno Titan, Myr Battlesphere, Emrakul, the Promised End, etc.
In theory this card seems like it would be a reasonable foil to Xerox decks that field copious amounts of cantrips and permission spells but in practice I've never actually been impressed by it. Most decks have enough powerful instants and sorceries that they can play at either speed as needed without sacrificing too much power or mana in the process. It's still annoying, but not in a "game losing" way. The "must attack" clause somewhat slows the game down (it's safer to sit back on defense rather than attack all other things being equal) but, again, not in a way that provides enough of a return on your investment. That makes it vastly inferior to cards like Possibility Storm that do a significantly better job of screwing people over. Watching people "Cascade" their Brainstorms into Counterspells and/or Damnations into Sign in Blood is hilarious. The card isn't pure upside by any means, I've definitely had someone cast Baral, Chief of Compliance and "Polymorph" it into a Consecrated Sphinx for free (I lost that game miserably btw), but in general I prefer cards like Blood Moon, Stranglehold, Ruination and Possibility Storm to War's Toll.
This is an utterly absurd value engine that threatens to run away with the game if left unchecked. It's balanced by the fact that it's slow, mana intensive and dies to removal at no benefit but it does just win the game outright if players can't remove it. Sure, you'll need sink a turn or two into doubling cards like Sakura-Tribe Elder and Wood Elves but then it's quickly escalating into things like Primeval Titan, Avenger of Zendikar, Sylvan Primordial and Craterhoof Behemoth. There's no coming back from that. The card even works with devotion mechanics such Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Karametra's Acolyte since the tokens retain their mana cost. It's even good with things like Lure of Prey, Lurking Predators and Woodfall Primus given that it doesn't care where the cards are coming from. As such it boasts immense synergy with all of the cards that you should already be playing making it a fantastic addition to most creature-based builds.
This is my "pet" card of the set because it's easily the most overlooked one in my opinion. The card is innately good (yes, even you're not going out of your way to build around it) and some of its potential synergies are obscene. Consider Sea Gate Oracle. It's not a card that turns heads or elicits groans but it's an eminently reasonable 3 drop that can be jammed into any Blue deck for reasonable value. Not a broken card by any means but it often makes the cut, especially when you're building on a budget. Why, then, are people so quick to dismiss a SGO with a bigger butt that always 2 cards? What am I missing?
And look, I get it. The counters have to go creatures you don't control. So what? Who cares? This is multiplayer; there's going to be creatures and most of them won't matter. They'll have bodies, sure, but not ones big enough to enter the Red Zone. After all, Aggro decks are basically unplayable in MP and so the overwhelming % of creatures are played for other purposes. The "drawback" is functionally irrelevant in that sense which is why more people need to treat this as a big Elf body that draws 2 cards. Heck the counters can even used to "buy a friend" or pressure a combo player so if anything I'd consider it to be a slight advantage. Besides, it's not like people spend much time trying to race Green decks (hint: it's not a winning proposition). Rather, they typically try to thwart them with removal and needless to say you can make the people playing Doom Blades feel silly when you're jamming Divinations as opposed to Baloth Gorgers.
Finally, I also want to stress that the card is obscene in Wither decks that feature cards like Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and Black Sun's Zenith. Her big butt comes up huge in these types of scenarios because it ensures that she'll survive multiple "wipes" (think cards like Midnight Banshee) and/or persist until you can start going off with Blowfly Infestation. That isn't to say that you can only field her in these types of shells, but it would be foolish to omit her.
There's not much to say about this card other than "it's fantastic." They took a (to play) Sylvan Scrying, stapled Tribute to the Wild onto it and didn't even bother upping the cost. Much like Crop Rotation, Tempt with Discovery and Hour of Promise it's "any land" which is incredibly important in a world of Gaea's Cradles, Cloudposts, Urza's Towers and more. It doesn't just have to be ramp either. It also nabs things like Bojuka Bog and Arch of Orazca that act as disruption and/or card advantage. The removal is also a nice little bonus as it helps tide you over until your big Bane of Progress/Sylvan Primordial turns. This limits the need for stop-gaps such as Reclamation Sage which are anemic draws at most stages of the game. I really like how it gives you something cheap to interact with your adversaries while still advancing your own gameplan. In that sense it's a must have staple for anyone even considering a Cloudpost style deck because you'd much rather have this than a marginal removal spell.
You can't ask for much more than an instant-speed Vindicate that only has a single colored symbol in its cost. After all, the drawback is functionally irrelevant in a multiplayer setting and that fact it removes anything, from anyone at any time for the low sum of 3 mana is bonkers. This is the kind of card that should be played in 100% of Cubes and EDH lists and most Constructed decks could reasonably run 4. That being said, as with any other 1-for-1 removal spell in MP it's critical to stress the fact that "less is more." Please don't fill your lists with them unless you want to get buried in threats in card advantage. Still, if you're going to run ~4 copies of something then it's hard to pass on the strongest 3 CMC spot removal spell in the game.
Grade: Niche A+
This card is so freaking oppressive to play against that it usually feels like a 1-card combo. After all, the fact that it doubles Planeswalker loyalty is utterly degenerate because it enables you to immediately activate their ultimates in order to win the game on the spot. For example, if you curve Doubling Season into Samut, the Tested you can instantly "Tooth and Nail" Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Zealous Conscripts (or any other combo) into play for the win. The same hold true for most 'Walkers and so the card usually reads "Suspend 1: win the game" in the Superfriends archetype. Otherwise, assuming that you're playing a token/counter deck the card is only marginally less frustrating to play against. The game might not end on the following turn but realistically you cannot hope to beat this card through "fair" channels. When Avenger of Zendikar creates twice as many tokens and each one gets twice as many +1/+1 counters you realize that there's nothing remotely fair transpiring. The card is utterly absurd in that sense and it's easily one of the most iconic build-around-mes of all time.
This is one of my favorite value Enchantments in Green and it's also the one that I think is the most underplayed. Granted, it's lost a bit of luster with printing of cheaper/less conditional alternatives such as Evolutionary Leap, Lifecrafter's Bestiary and Birthing Pod but it's still an absolute monstrosity in fatty decks. After all, it makes removal look like a complete and utter joke given that your 6/6s get converted into 3 additional cards when they die. Moreover, your graveyard gets absolutely packed with goodies in the process to ensure that cards like Eternal Witness, Ramunap Excavator and World Shaper become that much more insane than they already are. While decking can become a legitimate concern (especially if you're hitting things like Lord of Extinction) it can easily be dismissed with reshufflers such as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Eldrazi aren't dead cards either since you can typically World Shaper your entire manabase into play at which point they become castable. Still, you can also lean on Elixir of Immortality (and various other other budget-minded options) to fit the bill in a pinch so by no means are expensive options required. I obviously can't sit here and list every possible graveyard-based synergy that it enables but needless to say most MP decks are going to have some combination of bombs and "graveyard matters" spells which makes this type of card advantage engine feel utterly obscene. The key in ensure that you have cards like World Shaper to take advantage of pitched lands so that you can eventually get to the point where you're able to draw and cast your entire deck at your leisure.
2HG Grade: A
This card is busted in 2HG since it enables you to funnel your mana to your ally from turn 2 onward. 4 drops on turn 2, 6 drops on turn 3, things like that aren't remotely beatable if people are making fair/balanced plays themselves. It can also do silly things with cards like Wild Growth and Overgrowth which, you guessed it, you're often casting on your partner's lands to speed up their mana progression.
Outside of 2HG I don't find this card to be especially playable. The problem is that it's too win-more for the Cloudpost/Urza's Tower style decks because by the time that he's active you've already won or lost. You can't justify cutting cards like Crop Rotation, Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying, Pir's Whim, Hour of Promise, etc. because those get you your critical-mass of Cloudpost when you don't have access to million of mana already. That makes them good from ahead or behind whereas the magus is only relevant from ahead. Not unplayable, just not a card that you'll ever see in my lists for example.
Before moving on to my rant, let me quickly state that this card is fantastic. No, it's not Prophet of Kruphix levels of good, but assuming that you deck has plenty of instants/mana sinks/etc. then it's a ridonkulous ramp engine that provides obscene quantities of mana. I'm not saying that Ant Queen is a good in a vacuum, but when you magically have access to 15, 20, 35 extra mana per circuit then even she starts to look good. Moreover cards like Spell Burst and Capsize become absolutely soul-crushing to play against because suddenly there's no opening to exploit. You always have the mana.
While I could go on, I'd rather take the time to clearly state that "THIS CARD ISN'T PROPHET!" You can't just take a 24-32 creature deck, add these and expect the card to do work. After all, Prophet gave your creatures Flash which meant that you didn't need instants/mana sinks/etc. to abuse it. You could simply cast your critters to your heart's content. I get unreasonably frustrated looking at most Seedborn Muse lists because the overwhelming majority have no actual way to abuse the card. It's a glorified vigilance enabler and little else. Please, do everyone a favor and only field this card if you're actually going to abuse the resources that it provides for you. Spell Burst, Sprout Swarm, Thrasios, Triton Hero (thinking EDH here), Duskwatch Recruiter, Capsize, Tireless Tracker, Fact or Fiction, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, you need to have ways of putting all of that mana to use.
This is one the stronger ramp spells in the game for a multitude of reasons. First, it the lands enter untapped giving it a functional CMC of 2. Assuming that you jam one on turn 4 you can immediately follow it up with a 2 drop and even if you cast it on turn 6 a 4 CMC follow up is still in the cards. Moreover, it doesn't specify "basic" forests which means that it can nab things like Dryad Arbor, Canopy Vista, Bayou, Breeding Pool, Murmuring Bosk and Sheltered Thicket. This ensures that it not only ramps, but also fixes multiple colors (up to 3!). Lastly, the fact that it's land-based ramp is relevant for "Landfall" triggers such as Lotus Cobra, Khalni Heart Expedition, Tireless Tracker and Avenger of Zendikar. Since these tend to be common played in multiplayer formats these types of synergies tend to naturally come together even if you're specifically building around them. All-in-all I consider this to be a must-have staple as it's a card that routinely makes the cut in my EDH/Cube/Constructed/etc. lists.
Grade: Sideboard C
While I dislike expensive creatures that die to removal at no benefit Vigor is somewhat unique in the sense that it trivializes creature-based strategies from your opposition. The only realistic way to slog though one is via cards like Craterhoof Behemoth because otherwise you literally can't interact with Vigor'd critters. Still, the downside to these types of strategies is that they're utterly destroyed by mass removal which is why I don't value the card especially high. It's more a Sideboard card that you can bring in when you feel as though your friends are cheating on removal.
While expensive this card has the potential to "Iona" the game and so it would foolish to dismiss it outright. After all, if you clone or copy the ETB trigger to name instants and sorceries then a huge % or archetypes will be locked out of the game. That's obviously a tall task and it's still not a guaranteed win by means but throngs of my own lists that would scoop to that. It's also obnoxious when paired with things like Rite of Replication/Progenitor Mimic but, then again, what isn't? Clearly it would help if the card were cheaper (I'd rather have a 3 mana 0/1) but that would be an extremely dangerous card to print so I don't blame Wizards for being gun-shy. After all, these kinds of cards are monumentally unfun to play against because you literally can't play Magic when they're working as intended. Ultimately it's too expensive to see much play (you want your hatebears to cost 2-3, not 5-6) but I'm not counting it entirely out.
This card is better than it looks and I could envision fielding it in any creature-based deck that could reasonably develop a board in the first couple turns of the game. After all, it only takes a single "open" adversary to transform this into a "Phyrexian Arena" and it even has the upside of drawing a card the turn that it's cast. Moreover, he fuels graveyard-based synergies such as Animate Dead and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death which can take advantage of the rummaging. Beyond that it's also a Warrior for Mindblade Render (so is Alesha btw) which certainly helps. That being said my issue with this card is that removal destroys you and so I'd be hesitant to field it myself. Don't get me wrong, I don't care if my Phyrexian Arena eats a removal spell (that's Magic), but I don't want to pitch another card in the process. That's more risk than I'm willing to undertake. Cool card, certainly playable, but a touch too unreliable for my blood.
While I expect this card to be hotly contested I have it firmly in the "busted" camp. 3 mana to (mostly) clear the board is an obscene rate and ensures that it's a relevant draw at every stage of the game. It makes it ridiculously easy to double-spell on the same turn which is a feat that alternatives such as Deadly Tempest cannot boast. Obviously it's going to backfire a small % of the time but honestly, who cares? The average use-case is ridonkulous and so you shouldn't lose sleep over the handful of scenarios where that Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur wins the flip. Now, clearly it's no Toxic Deluge (which is a hard 3 mana Wrath that even gets things like Eldrazi) but there's only one Deluge and so I'm more than happy to nab additional copies for formats such as EDH and Cube. Heck, the card is still absurd in Constructed given that it doesn't cost any life which makes it less of a liability as the game progresses. Paying 6-8 is trivial in EDH but it does add up in 20 Hp formats. Otherwise most playable Wraths cost 4 or more (I'm not going to count cards like Balance) which puts Last One Standing on the short-list for "best multiplayer removal spells in the game." It's does so much for so little and everyone should be more than happy to gamble on it.
Grade: Niche C
This card is generically decent and have some niche applications in certain shells. First, it acts as mana doubler (think Caged Sun) in the sense that it enables you to immediately jump from 6-to-12 mana. Clearly you'd rather have Boundless Realms in a vacuum but you get the idea. Moving on, it works well with "cheat" effects such as Lure of Prey whereas most alternatives wouldn't. Turn 1 Wild Growth, turn 3 Lure of Prey -> Savage Ventmaw is an easy way to start jamming 11 drops on turn 4 and that's no small feat. Finally, it boasts degenerate synergy with extra combat phase spells and effects, namely Aggravated Assault. At that point you have infinite combat phases if you want. It works with any of them (Seize the Day, World at War, Waves of Aggression, Scourge of the Throne, etc.) but none of them boast the same "I win" factor as AA so that's the one that I try to pair it with whenever possible. To be clear, this card is still playable as a bad Caged Sun, but I wouldn't advocate fielding it unless you were going above and beyond to truly abuse the trigger.
Artifact + Land
Grade: Niche B+
This card is utterly bonkers in spell-based Storm decks as an additional copy of Aetherflux Reservoir (mainly relevant for singleton formats such as EDH). Much like the Reservoir it takes roughly 15 spells to clear a 4 player table (even in an EDH setting, 15+14+13 etc. = 120) and that's assuming that you cast and resolve your spells one a at time. That number can be significantly reduced in 20 HP formats and/or if you respond to instants/sorceries with instants while they're still on the stack. Even 10 spells in enough to kill in most Constructed matches since that comes out to at least 55 damage (again, assuming that you cast and resolve your spells one at a time). While 10-15 spells probably sounds like a lot it's actually fairly trivial when you're playing with things like Yawgmoth's Will, Past in Flames, Mind's Desire, etc. Just keep cycling rituals, tutors, cantrips, etc. until you win; it's not an especially difficult feat.
The primary advantage that Sentinel Tower offers over Reservoir is that it kills dorks and such as the game progresses while also quickly building towards a kill. For example, even a basic turn of Ponder into Counterspell still deals 3 damage across 1-2 targets which either kills 2 critters or dings someone for 3. Toss in another spell and suddenly you've cleared the board or nuked someone for a huge % of their life total and you're barely done anything. This is going to make it especially brutal for Red, Blue and Black decks but anything spell-based should consider it for that reason alone.
The major flaw to this card is that it only triggers off of instants and sorceries which is a major liability in formats such as EDH. After all, it's extremely relevant that Aetherflux Reservoir triggers off of fast mana such as Mana Crypt, Lotus Petal, Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Grim Monolith, etc. as well. This virtually ensure that it will always play second-fiddle to the Reservoir in EDH and limits its relevance in "Vintage" Constructed metas but it's still eminently reasonable for spell-based Storm decks that field actual rituals as opposed to rocks.
Grade: Niche C+
While I wouldn't blindly jam this as a generic ramp spell the turn 3 Victory Chimes, turn 4 Mind's Eye curve is powerful enough for any deck to consider. This is especially true for colors like Red and White that lack relevant card draw engines in general. It's also fantastic with Endbringer and/or any other card that puts the colorless mana to use each turn. These are the primary ones that come to mind but I'm sure that there's others as well. Again, I don't recommend fielding this elsewhere but it's ridonkulous if you're able to effective use that mana each turn.
Not much needs to be said about these; they're absolutely bonkers in MP. After all, not only do they ETBU but they also tap for multiple colors of mana. Their "downsides" are that they aren't fetachable and that they "only" tap for 2 colors of mana which makes them less than optimal in 4-5 color decks. #firstworldproblems
Grade: Niche B
I like this card a lot. It's not oppressive by any means, but when it's good it's usually the best ones in your deck. Turn 1 Norin the Wary, turn 2 Genesis Chamber, turn 3-4 Impact Tremors/Purphoros, God of the Forge springs to mind and it's also bonkers in the Oketra's Monument deck that abuses Kor Skyfisher/Whitemane Lion style threats. It's also typically accompanied with 4x Skullclamp because adding "kicker 1: draw 2 cards" to all of your creatures is obviously bonkers once it gets going. At that point you just need need creatures and lands, 2 things that're extremely easy to acquire when you're drawing ~5 cards per turn. Otherwise it's a fantastic way to swarm people out, especially if you have things like Parallel Lives and Craterhoof Behemoth to go over-the-top of your adversaries. To be clear, you basically have to build around the card to get you're money's worth (it's not a generic playable), but the payoff is there once you do.
Funnily enough I don't assign much value to this card in MP. Victory Chimes combo aside (I've been playing with this card for over a decade, long before it ever existed) it's extremely slow, mana intensive and vulnerable to removal. After all, not only do you have to tap out to cast ME but they you have to spend another huge chunk of mana drawing cards to make it worthwhile. I've always found it to be far too slow and clunky and routinely found myself cutting it from my lists as a result (even in Cube/EDH). Now, I'm not saying that it's unplayable or anything, but I legitimately don't like it outside of Red and White decks. I'd much rather field something faster/cheaper/more reliable/etc. so I'll only field it as a last resort. Still, Victory Chimes makes the card significantly more appealing to the point where it starts to look legitimately good. The card becomes significantly more appealing once you're supporting it properly. It's still a playable card even without the Chimes, but less good than most people think.
Grade: Niche C
This card is sweet. I don't think that it's very good, but it's definitely sweet. Back in my day we used to combo it with cards like Gorilla Shaman to nuke opposing lands unimpeded. Even if your adversaries had removal, didn't matter, you could pour all of your Red mana into killing lands. Moreover, we would often pair this card with Darksteel Forge to make our board indestructible at which point we'd cast something like Shatterstorm to Obliterate the opposition. There's also cards like Vandalblast, Shattering Spree, By Force and Hellkite Tyrant which, as you can imagine, put the effect to good use. Moreover, the deck isn't reliant on Lattice by any means. After all, things like Liquimetal Coating and Thran Forge could also fit the bill early on. That being said you still desperately want to hit a Lattice eventually which is where cards like Daretti, Scrap Savant and Scrap Mastery shrine. There's nothing like binning Lattice + Forge early on only to recur them. Anyways, these decks are fun for a laugh and can be somewhat annoying to play against at times. Turn 2 Liquimetal Coating turn 3 Mox Monkey "kill a land" is no joke and can basically take a player out of the game.
Battlebond is a stellar set that boasts a strong mix of new and old. The vast majority of the cards highly playable and most of the reprints were sorely needed. Moreover, even the cards that I didn't bother grading are still reasonably playable (but not exciting enough for me to discuss) and the Partner mechanic brings a fresh approach to card advantage and Commanders. Wizards did an excellent job designing the set and should be lauded.
One of the biggest issues with the top 10 list this time around is that there's too few new cards to spur much competition. I basically just took all of the "unconditionally good" cards and tossed them on a list. That isn't to say that I don't like cards such as Bonus Round and/or Najeela, the Blade-Blossom but they're useless unless you're building extremely specific archetypes. I do have Spellseeker firmly in the #1 seed though, even towering above the duals. It's the strongest 3 drop available to Blue and I couldn't envision a world where it's not making the cut in my lists for the next decade. The other cards are somewhat interchangeable but Spellseeker reigns supreme.
The card looks good on paper; it just plays like crap. I'm also not surprised to see it overpriced but believe me when I say that it will steadily drop as more players realize that it doesn't actually do anything. It's still a very "mythic" and unique card so I doubt it'll drop to bulk status but this shouldn't be a $6-8.00 card.
Not really. It's too expensive and mana-intensive relative to cards like Viscera Seer. If you're going to field something expensive it may as well be Sadistic Hypnotist because it's A) free and B) a 2-for-1 that heavily disrupts your adversaries. I'm not saying that you can't field him, but I personally wouldn't if I were looking for something repeatable. That's why I like him in token decks. I can sac 7 Avenger of Zendikar tokens to draw 7 cards, create my 10/10, gain 7 life and move on with my gameplan. I don't want to sit there paying 3 mana to recur + sac a Reassembling Skeleton over and over again.
Well like I said in the review I do like the card in token decks where it can function as a Skullmulcher. The upside of creatures is that they're significantly easier to tutor for and they're recurrable whereas a card like Shamanic Revelation isn't. After all, I'm basically always going to field cards like Evolutionary Leap in my token decks (as a 2 of) so being able to "hit" my card draw is a big game. I'm also not worried about the high mana cost since token decks field things like Cryptolith Rite and Song of Freyalise to enable them.
Your Arcane Artisan review suggests that you need library manipulation but she requires zero setup.
"[T]his card is still reasonable even if you're just using it as a generic draw engine..."
It's fine, perfectly playable, but it's not busted unless you're pairing it with Brainstorms.
Xyx's point is that Brainstorm is unneeded because you discard from your hand after drawing. She obviously becomes better if you draw more so that you assure a creature in your hand, but it doesn't have to be the card you draw. She's busted.
Xyx's point is that Brainstorm is unneeded because you discard from your hand after drawing. She obviously becomes better if you draw more so that you assure a creature in your hand, but it doesn't have to be the card you draw. She's busted.
Wow I completely misread this card. For some reason I thought that it exiled the top card of your library.
Well, it is faster, in a better color (at least in terms of sitting on disruption), and has the all important text: "draw a card." I would say significantly better and the piper is considered playable.
All-in-all this makes the card slightly worse but still extremely powerful. In my mind you always drew a card and could potentially cheat a fatty into play whereas this more "neutral" in terms of sheer card quantity. I'll rewrite my review for it.
It is pretty good, but how much better is it then Elvish Piper?
Mana is everything in Magic. After all, 1 mana often represents an entire turn (given the land drop limit) which makes the difference between N and N+1 gargantuan in practice. In the same way that Counterspell is more than twice as good as Cancel and Lightning Bolt is more than twice as good as Lightning StrikeArcane Artisan is more than twice as good as Elvish Piper because it accomplishes the same goal as a significantly faster and more efficient rate. Moreover, Blue has the best filtering by far (Ponder, Preordain, Brainstorm, Impulse, etc.) which makes it trivially easy to assemble your curve of "turn 3 Artisan, turn 4 activate" without having to run a slew of fatties.
To highlight the 3 vs 4, think about a card like Thran Dynamo. Thran Dynamo is always the card that I point to when I see people clamoring over marginal 4+ CMC "ramp" spells. After all, more often than not the card is straight worse than Thran Dynamo. It either affects fewer spells in your deck (only your creatures, etc.) and/or it has less immediate value. I'll often cast Thran Dynamo on turn 5 alongside a Sublime Exhalation and then cast my Ulamog (or whatever) on the following turn whereas a card like Elvish Piper doesn't allow for that type of sequence.
Worn Powerstone doesn't do that. It's a good card, don't get me wrong, but it's useless the turn that you cast it and you're not dropping Ulamogs the next turn or anything. As such cards like Arcane Artisan compete favorably because they have comparable play patterns. I'm not saying that one is strictly better than the other or anything but you can make interesting deckbuilding decisions and have either work in different contexts. Whereas with Elvish Piper I always feel like I'm playing a bad version of a good spell I don't get that sense when I'm playing with cards like Eldritch Evolution.