Wednesday, 29 May 2013

7 EDH Underdogs

Some EDH generals are expected (Azami, Lady of ScrollsKresh the Bloodbraided, and Kaalia of the Vast for example) but there are a lot out there who I think don't get the respect they deserve. Now, I'm not going to review these cards, just state why I think the deserve more praise than they get. I'll limit myself to only one for each colour and a couple multicolour just so this list doesn't go on forever.

Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
With any one of the multitudes of cards that give deathtouch, exile on damage, or lifegain, this card becomes amazing. Even without those cards, this card can easily deal with the multitude of token decks out there as well as make opponents rethink how they're going to block because, with that 2 extra damage, they could easily lose their field. Essentially, this card can easily become a boardwipe on a stick.

Chainer, Dementia Master
Chainer, Dementia Master
A friend of mine made this deck and I first thought that the life payment in its ability wouldn't make this card a good general. I was wrong. Yes, it can get expensive in the late game, but with a properly built deck full of boardwipes and life leeching, this card can make for a very, very scary general.

Chisei, Heart of Oceans
Chisei, Heart of Oceans
Now, you may think to yourself that having to remove a counter from a permanent you control every turn is a bad thing and it's understandable why you'd think so. However, Reality TwistDark Depths, and Mystic Remora would all like to disagree, along with a few other cards that like having little to no counters on them. This card can prove to be a formidable lockdown general, especially against monocoloured decks.

Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
This card is definitely more suited towards one-on-one battles, but it can really shine there. You may think to yourself that 1 or 2 cards per spell isn't really a big thing, but it can really be effective. Over the course of 10 turns, by only casting 1 spell a turn, you can remove around 15% of your opponent's deck from the game (assuming some were multicoloured spells). And how many tutors put the cards they looked for on top of their owner's library? How about Sensei's Diving Top? This card can easily get rid of that pesky little thing.

Homura, Human Ascendant
Homura, Human AscendantHomura, Human Ascendant
Suicide general anyone? Yeah, it may be a 6-costing 4/4, but it turns everything you control into a dragon when it dies. EVERYTHING INTO A DRAGON! I don't think I need to explain this card anymore. It turns everything you control into a dragon.

Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
This is Edric, Spymaster of Trest's evil twin. Forcing your opponents to discard every turn is pretty good, but forcing them to do it at random is infinitely better. The fact that is also gets you a benefit is pretty nice as well. Black/green elf decks can be very scary and this card is a very scary card to lead your army with.

Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Anyone who knows me in real life knew this one was coming. This card's second ability is just amazing. Look up mono-green shamans. You'll be surprised how many really, really good ones there are. That fact that when this card hits the table you've probably doubled your mana base is just awesome. This is also fun with Snake Basket because of the buff it gives.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Mongrel Pack

Mongrel Pack
I'm not entirely sold on this card. Yeah, it splits apart into 4 creatures when it dies but only if it during in combat, and that's what is keeping me from being sold on it. But, I guess that means your opponent will have to waste some removal on it in order to prevent this or block it with a wall. Either way, it puts your opponent at a disadvantage. And I guess it is cheaper than Symbiotic Beast, which does the same thing only without the combat restriction. I suppose you could Fling this at someone during combat (since it doesn't have to be involved in the combat when it dies). You know, I'm not too sure why I didn't like this card to start. It either draws removal (saving your bigger things), gets through in combat, or breaks apart into 4 gribblies. It's kind of a great diversionary card (screw you, "Master" Decoy).

Pros: Draws removal, breaks apart in combat
Cons: Only breaks apart in combat
Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Killer Bees

Killer Bees
[insert requisite Nicholas Cage joke here]

Time to set your wayback machines kids and head to a time when green had shades! Well, kind of. Bees shouldn't bee this deadly (pun intended)! At face value, this card may not look like much (it's a flying Frozen Shade essentially) however that fact that it's green makes it deadlier. Most green decks can easily have 3 mana on turn 2 which means you can drop this. Turn 3, after you've played your land, you can be swinging with a 4/5 flyer. That's basically a dragon except better! That's right, I just called this card better than a dragon. Why? Let's compare to Dragon Hatchling. The biggest difference (aside from the cost) is that this card gains toughness as well as power, meaning it can pump itself up to save itself from a Mutilate or even a Blasphemous Act. However, making this card big is a mana-sink, so users should be prepared to do little to nothing on their turn in order to hit hard with this card.

Pros: Shade ability, arguably the best mono-green dragon
Cons: Mana-sink
Rating: 4/5

"Dragon-bees. My god..."

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Ember Shot

Ember Shot
I touched on this card in my Razor Boomerang review and I thought I should elaborate on this card's badness. While not the 1:5 damage to mana ratio of the aforementioned card, this card is still really, really, bad. Before I rip it apart, let's get the positives of this card out of the way (yes, this card has a tiny good side). First, it's instant-speed. This may not seem important, but there are a fair number of red damage spells that are sorcery-speed (such as Burn Trail or Rekindled Flame) and depriving a player of being able to damage creatures/players at will is a detriment to red. Secondly, it cantrips. Again, it may not be much, but to burn players, keeping a full hand can be a problem at times. Finally, it references Urza. Anytime that happens is a positive. 

Do I really even need to go into why this card is so bad? It's a Lightning Bolt for the cost of an Inferno (CMC-wise). It's just... so bad. There are no words for it. I know that WotC doesn't like reprinting Lightning Bolt, but there are better options. In Judgement, there was Book BurningLava Dart, and Lightning Surge. There was no reason to run this card then and there's no reason to run it now.

Pros: Instant-speed, cantrips
Cons: 7 mana for 3 damage
Rating: 0/5

Fun fact: Inferno and Ember Shot are the only mono-red 7-cost instants and Firemind's Foresight is the only 7-cost instant with red in it.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Reflections snoitcelfeR ehT

Boon ReflectionMana ReflectionRage ReflectionThought ReflectionWound Reflection
Shadowmoor really had some awesome cards, didn't it?

Boon Reflection
Normally, lifegain isn't that powerful, but this card makes most lifegain effects viable. The only real problem with this card (and most of the other other Reflections) is that it costs too much. WotC recently recified this mistake by printing Rhox Faithmender, although as a creature, it can die easier (but that's for a later review).

Pros: Double all your lifegain
Cons: Expensive
Rating: 3/5

Mana Reflection
When a lot of people read this card, they think "oh, all of my opponent's lands tap for double now". While technically true, people often forget that things like Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro and Manalith are also affected. People didn't see this as a problem in my Sachi EDH until I started jumping from 16 mana a turn to  50 mana a turn. Great card and well-priced for it's effect, albeit it's double-green requirement may make it a little difficult to splash.

Pros: Doubles mana production of all your permanents
Cons: Double-green 
Rating: 5/5

Rage Reflection
If this doesn't make your field scary, nothing will. Giving one thing double strike is usually scary enough, but giving an entire board double strike is terrifying. Red can't really ramp up to the 6 mana required easily, but it can burst the mana using rituals so it's at an achievable level. The cost is well-deserving of the effect for sure.

Pros: Makes an entire field extremely threatening
Cons: Costs 6 in red, double-red
Rating: 5/5

Thought Reflection
This is my least-favourite Reflection. Yes, it's ability is powerful, especially in blue. However, it also has the titles of "most expensive" and "most colour-intesive" as well, which are anchors to its greatness. Blue is probably the colour with the most difficulty in mana ramping, so making this cost 7 is fairly out of the average deck's reach. With it being so colour-intensive, it makes it hard to put in a colour like green or white in order to get that mana-production that you need to play this. It has great potential, it just costs a tad too much.

Pros: Doubles each draw
Cons: Costs 7, triple-blue
Rating: 2.5/5

Wound Reflection
There's nothing like hitting someone with a Sorin's Vengeance with this card out. I love two things about this card especially. First, it specifies that the life loss occurs at the end of each turn (as opposed to on that player's turn only), so any life lost on your turn is double. I also love how it affects each opponent (as opposed to just one), which means that your Armageddon Clock rings that much louder for everyone except you. Finally, it only costs 6, which is great for what it does, as well as only one black mana, which makes it very usable in b/r or Jund decks.

Pros: Doubles life loss for all opponents, happens every turn
Cons: ...
Rating: 5/5 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Spike Cannibal

Spike Cannibal
Sure, this may only be a 1/1 for 3, but think of the possibilities! An old Simic player would be very, very sad and you'd have a huge creature. Late game against a green/white deck will probably give you a decent-sized creature as well. In an EDH game, you'll most likely get a nice creature too. Aside from the size of the creature, this card's counter-stealing ability can make your opponent really sad (like if they have a creature like Savageborn Hydra). However, if no one has +1/+1 counters, you're only getting a 1/1 for 3, which sucks. But, with the prevalence of +1/+1 counters, it will usually hit rather than miss.

Pros: Steals +1/+1 counters, can be huge
Cons: Requires at least 2 +1/+1 counters on the field to be worthwhile, takes all +1/+1 counters
Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Common Cause

Common Cause
Yes, you read that correctly. All the nonartifact creatures on the battlefield have to be the same colour in order to get the bonus. Not just all your creatures or all an opponent's creatures or even all creatures you don't control; it has to be all or nothing. Flavour-wise, that just doesn't make any sense really. Why would your opponents' creatures be supportive of your cause when your cause is to kill them? Why can your creatures have a Concerted Effort or Mobilize on their own, but they have to be the same colour as everyone else to shard a common cause?

Okay, enough ranting on the fact that this doesn't make sense of a flavour level. If I had the money, I'd run Jihad if I wanted an effect like this. It's not so much that every nonartifact that makes this card bad. It's the fact that it gives all nonartifact creatures the bonus, including your opponents'. Outside of Slivers, giving your opponents' creatures positive effects/abilities usually never works out in your favour.

Pros: Good sized buff
Cons: Universal buff, hard-to-meet condition
Rating: 0/5

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Rusalka

Rusalka are from Slavic mythology and are typically evil mermaids, but some cultures use the name for female ghosts. Now that that's out of the way...
Drowned RusalkaMartyred RusalkaPlagued RusalkaScorched RusalkaStarved Rusalka
Drowned Rusalka
I think this is the best rusalka. This is an early drop that can help you cycle through your deck quickly (actually, saying that makes me realize that it gives all of your cards "Cycling: U, Sacrifice a creature"). It can also work if you have no cards in hand since discarding it not part of cost.

Pros: Gives all cards Cycling
Cons: Requires sacrifice
Rating: 4/5

Martyred Rusalka
Probably the second-weakest card in this set, this card can stall your opponents for a while. This can work if your opponent has a big stompy creature (like a Giant Adephage) and all you have are a bunch of tokens. However, if your opponent has a bunch of tiny stompy creatures (like Branchsnap Lorians), this card is pretty useless.

Pros: Pseudo-arrest a creature
Cons: Requires sacrifice, only hits one creature
Rating: 2/5

Plagued Rusalka
It's a baby Phyrexian Plaguelord! The only major difference is that this costs mana whereas the Plaguelord is free. Really, that's all I have to say about it.

Pros: Baby Plaguelord
Cons: Requires sacrifice, costs mana
Rating: 3/5

Scorched Rusalka
This came close to the best rusalka, but it failed. The main reason it failed is because it can't target creatures. Being able to target players is great, especially if you swing for near-lethal then fling creatures for the last bit of damage, but if you can't get rid of the blockers, this card's effect is lessened.

Pros: Fling creatures for damage
Cons: Requires sacrifice, can't hit creatures
Rating: 2.5/5

Starved Rusalka
When is Wizards going to learn that lifegain isn't as powerful as they think it is? Sacking one creature for one life really isn't worth it. Ever. This is the worst rusalka, by far.

Pros: Gains life
Cons: Requires sacrifice, tiny life gain
Rating: 0/5