Sunday, 29 September 2013

Original Guild Lands

Duskmantle, House of ShadowNivix, Aerie of the FiremindNovijen, Heart of ProgressOrzhova, the Church of DealsPrahv, Spires of OrderRix Maadi, Dungeon PalaceSkarrg, the Rage PitsSunhome, Fortress of the LegionSvogthos, the Restless TombVitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
Duskmantle, House of Shadow
This is a worse, and rightfully forgotten, version of Nephalia Drownyard. One card for three mana just isn't worth it. If you have it in case you stall out, you're in for a loooooong game.

Pros: Repeatable 1-card mill
Cons: Costs 3 to activate
Rating: 0.5/5

Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind
Wow. Wooooow... This card is just bad. Really baaaaaaad. It's 5 mana (because it has to tap itself) to potentially cast a spell. This is just terrible and never worth running.

Pros: Maybe cast a spell
Cons; 5 mana startup, might not work, exiles card if fails
Rating: 0/5

Novijen, Heart of Progress
This is one of the better one of these lands. It's a mass buff for a good chunk of your creatures for very cheap. However, it's only for the creatures that entered the battlefield that turn. I consider it a one-time Gavony Township.

Pros: Baby Gavony Township
Cons: One-time Gavony Township
Rating: 3/5

Orhzova, the Church of Deals
Like Duskmantle, House of Shadow, this card is meant to help you if you stall out. However, unlike Duskmantle, House of Shadow, this card is actually useful. I've been a several situations in Limited wherein my opponent will swing at me then I will swing and deal the same amount of damage, but my opponent will win just because they swung first. With this card at least, I can stand a chance of winning by sipping away at my opponent's life total. Still, it is 5 mana for a 2 life difference, so outside of Limited, it's not worth it in the least.

Pros: Helps during stall outs
Cons: Pretty useless outside of Limited, 5 mana for 2 life difference
Rating: 1.5/5

Prahv, Spires of Order
It's a 7 mana Pay No Heed. 7. Mana. Pay. No. Heed. Do I really even need to describe why this card is useless? If it was Fog it would still be too expensive, but at least it would be more usable.

Pros: Repeatable Pay No Heed
Cons: 7 mana for a Pay No Heed
Rating: 0/5

Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
Now, since Rakdos' guild ability during this run of Ravnica was Hellbent, which required you to not have a hand, this card isn't that bad. It's 4 mana for a mass discard which is a little overcosted, but that's due to it being repeatable. All in all, not the worst of these lands.

Pros: Repeatable mass discard
Cons: A little expensive, causes you to discards
Rating: 3/5

Skarrg, the Rage Pits
This is the best one of these lands by far. For 3 mana, you can ensure that a blocked creature will get past the blocker and give it a buff as well. Really, that's about all there is to say here.

Pros: Buff and trample for cheap, repeatable
Cons: Dual colour
Rating: 4/5

Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Giving double strike at instant speed is really good, and costing it at 5 is reasonable considering how fast that can win you games. Costing it so high is also reasonable because it's repeatable.

Pros: Gives double strike at instant speed
Cons: Costs 5
Rating: 4/5

Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
Having a land that turns into a creature is awesome. Having a land that turns into a Boneyard Wurm is even better. It makes your opponent reconsider their plans for that boardwipe since this will dodge most of them and become huge as a result. I just wish it had trample or some other mini-evasion.

Pros: Boneyard Wurm that's a land
Cons: Only a Boneyard Wurm
Rating: 3.5/5

Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree
Not a bad mana sink for those token decks that usually have nothing to do on other people's turns. It's basically a very-difficult-to-counter convokeless Sprout Swarm. Again, not bad for a land.

Pros: Sprout Swarm on a land
Cons: Convokeless Sprout Swarm
Rating: 3.5/5

Just a note, I may be slowing down on the frequencies of my reviews for a while. Stuff has come up in my life that eats up a good portion of my time. I'll try and get at least 2 a week up, but I'm not sure if I can manage that.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Walking Desecration

Walking Desecration
This card is… okay I guess? I mean, it has its uses, but I’m not sure how useful it is. I suppose if you’re facing a Human deck you could force all humans to swing into Mikaeus, the Unhallowed’s killing trigger but I think there are better ways to accomplish this. Goblin Diplomats or Angel’s Trumpet are better examples of forced attack effects in my opinion. I can’t really think of many times you’d only want one type of creature to attack. Ok, maybe locking down some silly Myr combo that you don’t want going off on your turn. But, if that’s the case, your opponent may just have that combo go off on their turn. Finally, this card doesn’t fare well as a stand-alone creature because a 1/1 for 3 is really needs a good ability to be worth it (see: Blade Splicer) and this just lacks in the “good ability” department.

Pros: Can force a creature type to attack
Cons: 1/1 for 3, limited usability

Rating: 1.5/5

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sword of the Paruns

Sword of the Paruns
Tap/untap abilities can really lead to degenerate combos and this card is no exception. Besides being able to do stupid combos like get infinite mana out of a Gaea’s Cradle (if you do it right), the combat buff that it gives is also nice. Having a combat trick that doesn’t involve the creature being in combat allows for a lot more options since you can equip this to a weaker creature and still have its effect. However, this card is kind of expensive to use but given the fact that it’s colourless, that’s pretty much a requirement. I personally prefer cards like Freed from the Real or the infamous Pemmin’s Aura for my combos. Still, it is not a bad choice if you don’t have any blue in your deck.

Pros: Enables degenerate combos, combat trick, colourless
Cons: Expensive to use repeatedly

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 23 September 2013


Honestly, I love this card. It’s perfectly priced at 4 and perfectly set for rarity level at uncommon. Yeah, it’s not as good as Reanimate or Beacon of Unrest but what can you really expect from a modern-day uncommon?  If I can find a way to fit it in a deck, I usually will because I like it that much. It curves so nicely after Buried Alive and it works great with cards Anarchist and Izzet Chornarch. It’s just a pretty cool card.

Pros: Brings a dead creature back from your graveyard
Cons: Only brings one creature back

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Theros Gods

With the release of Theros, there is no longer just the Church of Jace for people to worship at. Now, there are 5 new gods for the masses! But which one is the best?

Erebos, God of the Dead
Erebos, God of the Dead
Being able to lock out your opponents from lifegain is a fairly nice, if not situational, effect. However, what really makes this card shine is the Greed-esque effect. Sure, it costs 2 mana instead of one, but it's indestructible Greed on a potentially 5/7! I'd say that's a pretty great card.

Pros: Indestructible Greed
Cons: Costs 2 instead of 1
Rating: 5/5

Heliod, God of the Sun
Heliod, God of the Sun
Mass vigilance for 4 is pushing it cost-wise, but considering it's indestructible, I'll let that slide. The token generation is also nice, but it's a little too expensive. I'd rather see it at Kher Keep costing of 3, but since you can attack with the tokens, it's not too bad. Basically, that's all I've got to say about this card: "it's not too bad".

Pros: Mass vigilance, token gen
Cons: Token gen is costly
Rating: 3.5/5

Nylea, God of the Hunt
Nylea, God of the Hunt
Golly gee Batman! Do you mean that I can have a Primal Rage that costs twice as much with the ability to use Barkshell Blessing for 4 times as much?! Sign me up! Seriously though, this is the worst god. I don't think it's going to see much play outside of Limited/Standard and even then it's just going to be for the trample, not the +2/+2. The fact that it doesn't even give trample to itself is just another kick in the face.

Pros: Gives trample
Cons: Gives trample to everything else, secondary effect is way too overcosted
Rating: 2/5

Purphoros, God of the Forge
Purphoros, God of the Forge
This is Krenko, Mob Boss' new deity of choice. This is just a great card for red. The first ability is worth it alone, but the repeatable Banners Raised effect is great too and it's worth the 3 mana. Finally, red has something to be proud of!

Pros: Shocks opponents when creatures ETB, mass buff
Cons: Argument could be made that the mass buff is too expensive
Rating: 5/5

Thassa, God of the Sea
Thassa, God of the Sea
If this isn't proof that WotC is purposefully trying to make blue the best colour ever, I don't know what is. First, this costs 3 whereas every other god costs 4. Second, the first ability doesn't require creatures to be good (black has that too, but it's usefulness can be dubious). Thirdly, its second effect makes it so your creatures connect 100% of the time. Finally, it's a 5/5 for 3. White and black have to pay 1 extra to get a 5-power god, but blue gets to be special? I hate R&D sometimes...

Pros: Scrying on upkeep, makes things unblockable
Cons: None because it's a blue card
Rating: It's a blue card, ergo 5/5

Urborg Elf

Urborg Elf
Now, this is a cycle that I think WotC should make period. They came close in Alara block, but they only made Noble Hierarch (which was way too powerful) and Druid of the Anima. Sad thing is, there aren’t that many mana dorks that produce more than one or two colours without needing other cards (Utopia Tree can and Skyshroud Elf does it inefficiently). I would like to see more cards like this come out because I find them really useful and flavourful. I recognize the paying 2 for a mana dork might not seem like it’s worth it, but considering that it can tap for 3 different colours of mana, I think it’s a good investment. This card is essentially a Manalith, but only for 3 colours which isn’t terrible. I think this card is pretty solid.

Pros: Produces 3 kinds of mana
Cons: Costs 2
Rating: 3/5

P.S. Wizards, please bring back Urborg’s colours (BUG) as a wedge in a block. It was really fun…

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Centaur Glade

Centaur Glade
Oh, how my friends don’t like it when I play this card. This card is, in my opinion, probably one of the most underrated enchantments in Magic. On the surface it does looks pretty bad. Paying 4 for a 3/3 vanilla really isn’t worth it. However, that mindset is too small for this card. Think of it this way: if you have 12 mana just lying around just before the start of your turn in a mono-green deck, what are you going to do with it? Use  it on cards in your hand? How many of those cards can you actually cast at instant speed (assume you don’t have a Yeva, Nature's Herald)? Why not make 3 dudes? Then, you can swing with your 3 new dudes during your combat step and still have all your mana left. Next turn, you can do the same. With that scenario, your opponent either has to tie up 3 blockers, burn cards in their hand, or take 9 damage a turn. All of those possibilities sound like a “win” in your column. Now, I’m not saying this card is perfect. Yes, its 9 mana for your first centaur but the eventual payoff is well worth it in my opinion.

Pros: Repeatable token generation, fairly cheap
Cons: 9 for the first centaur

Rating: 3.5/5

Roc Hatchling

Roc Hatchling
I really like cards with this type of “growth” effect. It’s a 0/1 to start which can act as a chump blocker if need be, but it’s basically a 3/3 Flying bird with Suspend 3 for 1 and that’s not too bad. It’s definitely more vulnerable than a card with Suspend because it’s on the field, but it’s still not a terrible choice. You can even speed up its growth with cards like Hex Parasite or Fate Transfer (just put all the shell counters on something else). For what it is, I like it.

Pros: Effectively a 3/3 Flying bird with Suspend 3 for 1
Cons: More vulnerable because it’s in play

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Eh. That’s about all I can muster when I think about this card. Yes, there are artifacts out there that like to be sacrificed (Solemn Simulacrum, Mycosynth Wellspring, Spine of Ish Sah…) but I don’t think that this is a reliable source of damage in a deck. If you have a couple Myr Servitors or a Junk Diver loop going then paying 1 red mana for +3/+0 is pretty effective. However, this card doesn’t have any form of evasion, so a Ted is probably going to get in its way. Still, if you’re looking for a fiscally cheap card to sacrifice artifacts to, you could do worse I suppose…

Pros: Can get big for cheap
Cons: Requires artifact sack, no evasion

Rating: 1.5/5

Monday, 16 September 2013

Tweaking Things

Now, never let it be said that I don’t like change. Change is fine, especially when it’s a necessity in order to keep something like Magic from getting stale. However, there’s a fine line between actually necessary change and change for the sake of it and Magic has crossed the line sometimes. Here are my top examples of it being done incorrectly and some of the times it has been done correctly.

Wither/Poisonous – Infect
I’m not about to go on yet another tirade about how much I hate Infect (see this article for my official rant) but I feel I should point out why I see it as a failure in terms of a tweaked mechanic. People inside Magic’s development team have said on the record that all the cards with Infect were going to have Wither and Poisonous originally, but they felt that it would be too wordy so they condensed it down to one word. I agree; two mechanics with fairly lengthy reminder text (especially Poisonous) would have resulted in either creatures that couldn’t have other abilities or creatures that started looking like Takklemaggot. However, I believe that the spirit of Poisonous was betrayed by Infect. Poisonous was originally a set number but Wither was a flexible number. However, I think that more credence should have been given to the fact that a 10/1 creature with Wither won’t kill you outright but a 1/1 Poisonous 10 will. Personally, after giving it a lot of thought, I think that Infect could have been fixed by making it “Infect X” where X is the number of -1/-1 counters or poison counters given out by that creature. I think it fits a little more flavour-wise too. Diseases aren’t really like poison in the sense that a higher dose of poison is deadlier than a smaller dose. Drinking a straight shot of ebola is as deadly as swimming in a pool of it.

-1/-0, -0/-1, -2/-0, -0/-2, +2/+0, +0/+2 counters – -1/-1, +1/+1 counters
Never let it be said that I liked older cards just because they’re old. When my friends play, we usually use dice (d10s or d20s) to mark down how many counters a creature has and if an Ulasht, the Hate Seed enters a Pit Fight with a Greater Werewolf and then Fate Transfers the counters off of Frankenstein’s Monster, that’s (potentially) 4 different types of counters which means 4 different dice! We wouldn’t be able to see Ulhast, the Hate Seed let alone tap it without fear of knocking some of the dice off. Those other power/toughness counters could also ruin other cards’ flavours, such as Spike Cannibal. It absorbs almost everything’s power, but not from the man made up of about 6 different men.

Kamigawa Flip – Innistrad Flip
Yes, I understand that the Kamigawa flip cards may not have had the most space for text as everyone would have liked. They also didn’t have much room for art and they could cause memory problems if someone wasn’t paying close enough attention. However, you want to know what they didn’t do? They didn’t make it obvious what you were drafting in block. They didn’t rely on you having sleeves or special cards that only came in some packs. Finally, they didn’t make you de-sleeve and re-sleeve your cards constantly, causing them to get bent, worn, and otherwise damaged! I have no idea why Kamigawa flip cards are so widely reviled and Innistrad flip cards are loved. The room for text I understand; as someone with glasses, I understand that the small text may have been hard to read for some. Same goes for the art; card art is part of the fun of the game and sometimes it adds a lot especially if it’s good (and most of Kamigawa’s art was stellar). However, the argument of “memory issues” always falls flat for me. Kamigawa flip cards only had a single-use, one-time trigger. For example: Student of the Elements becomes Tobita,Master of Winds when it gets Flying. That’s not a hard trigger to remember. If an opponent is calling you on whether or not it flipped, you can just say “last turn, it got Flying because of X”. Now Innistrad flip cards on the other hand, can have huge memory problems, especially during large games. If an opponent just draws a card and says “go” and you don’t notice, you’ve missed your trigger and you have to time machine any effects that you may have missed which can cause huge problems. Innistrad flips are also a lot less newbie-friendly since they have to constantly remember their triggers as well as their constantly-morphing field. In short, I wish this was one of the concepts from Kamigawa that wasn’t hated out of existence just because it was in Kamigawa.

-1/-1 and +1/+1 Cancellations
I was so happy when WotC made this change. Yes children, back in ye olden days, common sense was not really a factor in Magic and -1/-1 counters did not cancel out +1/+1 counters or vice-versa. I think this confused every single new player because it wasn’t intuitive and made little sense. And again, as I said earlier, the amount of counters that could accumulate on a creature could make it difficult to keep track of them all.

Functional Errata
I’m not going to call out all functional errata here, but I’d like to call attention to two specific types that I consider to be failures. First and foremost is what I call “confusion errata” wherein WotC tries to clarify what’s on a card but just manages to make it much worse. Take for example Oath of Scholars. The text on the card is pretty simple to read. Now look at the oracle text. Seems a bit less clear what the card exactly does, doesn’t it? The most famous example of this type of confusion errata is on Chains of Mephistopheles. Do you want to know what the card actually says? “If an opponent would draw a card that is not the first one drawn in their draw step, they discard a card instead”. How hard was that?!

The second category of bad functional errata is “blanding errata”. This is errata wherein part of the card’s flavour or story is wiped out in favour of “simplicity”. My best example of this is Flying Carpet (which I reviewed here). If the carpet explodes, the guy riding on the carpet should plummet to the ground and die. That’s how it originally worked, but then WotC decided to completely change it for some reason. Another example is Castle, wherein the flavour was that your untapped creatures where protected as long as they weren’t leaving the castle to attack. Now, it’s some sort of magic Green Lantern-esque castle that flies around with untapped creatures wherever they go and can be summoned at will.

Damage on the Stack
This isn’t one that I’d say I was “happy” about, but I don’t really mind the fact that it’s gone. This was why cards with the “flowstone” effect (R: +1/-1) where really powerful. If you let one through, in response to the damage going on the stack, you pump a whole lot of mana into that effect for a lot of damage. Sure, you’d lose the creature, but it resulted in a huge life loss for your opponent.

Mana Burn
Oh God, how I wish mana burn was a thing again. Why? Because then a good chunk of my old cards wouldn’t be useless anymore! Remember Citadel of Pain? Remember how awesome it was to play that down and make your opponent sad because they would either have to play out their hand or take damage every turn? Not anymore! Now your opponent can just tap out and not take any damage. I understand that some people had difficulty remembering simple math, but it prevented stupid things like infinite combos. How satisfying do you think it would feel to do this:
Opponent: “I gain infinite mana with my Myr Galvanizer combo at the end of your turn.”
You: “How much exactly?”
Opponent: “7 quadrillion. Then, I pour all of my mana into my Rocket Launcher…”
You: “I Trickbind the first use.”
Opponent: “Wha…?”
You: “Do you have another mana sink?”
Opponent: “No…”
You: “You take 7 quadrillion minus 2. Good game.”

Fading – Vanishing
This was a great change. Fading often confused new players (and me when I was younger) because it was counter-intuitive to not sacrifice a permanent that, in a seemingly flavourful mechanical sense, had faded out of existence. Vanishing, on the other hand, triggers when you take the last counter off, meaning that you know right then and there to sacrifice it.

New Legend Rule
Wow, this thing is stupid. “If I invite Sarkhan Vol over to my place and someone else comes dressed like him, they explode, but you can also invite Sarkhan Vol to your party and he’ll show up there too somehow”. This could have been changed by either a functional errata adding “but keeps its own name” to every clone effect (a la Sakashima the Imposter, by adding a rule saying that cards that copy other cards don’t cause the originals to explode, or by making a rule saying that Legendary permanent can’t be copied. I know that the “making copies doesn’t make the original go away” kind of defeats the purpose of Legendary, but let’s face it. When Link fought Shadow Link, did Shadow Link have less strength than Link or was he essentially the same? How about the twin clones of Hitler from Superman at Earth’s End? That may be “comic book logic” but this is a game wherein a giant robot infected with goo was saved by the power of friendship because of reasons. And yes, I understand the daunting task of staring down a pair of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite but that’s a problem that you’ll have to deal with. Just because something poses a tactical problem doesn’t mean it needs to go away. Did Tecumseh (look him up) ask the Americans nicely to bring back a few soldiers so that the numbers were more balanced? No; he made what he had work.

O-Ring Style Wording
We’re all going to miss the old type of wording on cards like Oblivion Ring, but it’s honestly for the best that it’s gone. It confused a lot of players (both old and new) and made cards like that ridiculously powerful (I still fear Auratog because of what it can do with Parallax Wave). Although the new wording is ugly, I think it’s going to be a welcome change.

Okay, this has gone on for far too long, so I’ll leave you with this last tweak, one which I hate more than anything else…

For those too young to have played during the Urza block, there was a huge overarching story that was told through cards and books. It was a magnificent tale that sucked a lot of readers into the game and brought a lot of players into the story. Look a few years down the road and what do we have? Very little. We went from a story wherein a planeswalker goes around fighting a force that threatens not only his plane, but all planes, building a veritable army of the most powerful people he can find, flying around on a spaceship that has an orbital death laser to… a psychopath who gets punched across the universe because the cops are chasing him. I understand the need to change up the characters in your stories to keep it varied, but can we have some consistency? The storyline used to be relatively streamlined, with events from one block having a direct and palpable effect on the next block. What effect did Zendikar have on Innistrad? What about Innistrad on Return to Ravnica? Nothing really. Yeah, Gideon went to Ravnica because of the events that happened in Zendikar, but what was really accomplished? He and Aurelia argued a lot and that’s about it. How about Tibalt, a character who could have been really cool and interesting? Yeah, he’s somewhere, but I think WotC misplaced him and they’re not looking too hard to find him.

There are characters that show up again and again in the story (namely the original 5 planeswalkers), but their stories are just that: their stories. There no longer seems to be the emphasis on the entire multiverse so much as on a few specific people. Also, with this jumping around and radical shifts in focus, it’s hard to know what’s happening relative to everything else. For example, did you know that the events of Kamigawa happen before Legends? Yeah, I’m not kidding: Kamigawa is a prequel. Tetsuo Umezawa, the guy who killed Nicol Bolas is the descendant of Toshiro Umezawa. Also, Nicol Bolas killed the Myojin of Night’s Reach in order to revive himself, so that means that if Kamigawa happened after Legends, that Myojin wouldn’t be there. There doesn’t seem to be anymore interactions like that to tell people where in the timeline certain events take place. Chandra and Gideon’s timelines seem to be the same since Gideon is always chasing Chandra (well, he used to be). Same goes for Liliana and Garruk. Jace appears in everyone’s timeline, but then again, he’s pretty much treated like Jesus, so there could just be a Jace in every single timeline. Elspeth’s doing her own thing and Bolas, well, if Jace is Jesus then Bolas is Satan.

There’s very little character development, there’s no follow-up, there’s not much effort that seems to be put into the stories anymore. For my final example, let’s look at some things in Innistrad. First off, there has yet to be a good explanation as to where the three Powerpuff Girls were during the first two blocks (Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Sigarda, Host of Herons, and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight (?)). If there was such a looming threat to the entire plane, don’t you think that they would get involved somehow? Yeah, they could have been at war with each other, but I’d imagine that these angels, these creatures of mythical power could multitask. How about Griselbrand, the big bad guy who was in the Helvault? He gave Liliana reason to be on Innistrad, but what happened when he came out? Liliana exploded him within a couple minutes. Finally, there’s Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I think her story was the biggest misstep of the block, specifically what happened to her after the Helvault was opened. She was given the choice of saving her men and allowing the Helvault to be opened or dying (and presumably allowing the Helvault to be opened still). She chose poorly (in my opinion) and asked for her men’s lives. What happened to her afterwards? Did she have to face the families of those that she indirectly allowed to be killed? How did she handle the guilt of that event? What did her men think of her? Well, we don’t know because there was little story written about her. I was really hoping for Avacyn Restored to be something like “Avacyn’s back and it’s not a good thing”. I was hoping for the last block to be people fighting against her crusading forces as she tried to “purify the land” of non-believers. But, instead we got a stereotypical story of good vanquishing evil because “bad things can’t happen at the end of a story because that makes people sad”.

However, this is the one tweak that I will not blame entirely on WotC. I place some (not a lot mind you, but some) of the blame on the player base. We don’t demand stories anymore and when we do, we settle for “novellas” and articles on WotC’s site that vary in quality. Marketing thinks that we’re morons that only buy sets because there are dragons in them (seriously) and we’re not doing much to improve on that perception. I think it’s high time that we as a community start creating our own stories from the fragments that we’re given and do the job that WotC should be doing. Also, we shouldn’t stop demanding better stories. One of the better written stories of the past few years was for Fblthp (?), a character who didn’t even have his own card, but WotC listened (presumably) to the community’s demands for a story and we got one. Maybe if we band together and demand this change, it will happen.

Actually, that “making up your own story” idea is pretty good. Hmm…

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Chub Toad

Chub Toad
Oh banzai frog, you are awesome, flavour-wise. Why am I calling this card “banzai toad”? Well, it’s got Bushido 2, so it must be Japanese! I don’t really have much to say about this card. It’s a 1/1 with Bushido 2 for 3, which by Kamigawa standard isn’t terrible (Inner-Chamber Guard costs 2 but have no power) but by general standards isn’t great. Sorry guys, but that’s about all there is to it.

Pros: Bushido 2
Cons: 1/1 for 3
Rating: 2/5   

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead
I remember back in the day when the kids I used to play with in middle school thought that this card was terrible. I was still kind of new at that point, but I didn’t think it was that bad. So, a kid I knew named Frazer (real name Maximillan, seriously) gave me all 3 of his copies because he hated them. I threw them into my really slow black deck and tried it out. Before, the deck used to run on Exhume and to get a Hypnox or Chainer, Dementia Master out and just start smashing people in the face, but it usually didn’t work because my opponent knew my deck and would always throw something big into their yard in first couple turns (usually by missing their first land drop). So, I decided to take the Exhumes out and replace them with this card. On the first day I tried it, I got a turn 4 Hypnox (thanks Dark Ritual) with a sack outlet (I can’t remember what it was, but I think it was an Altar of Dementia). After I punched my opponent, I sacked my Hypnox to my sack outlet and I did that for 4 more turns until he died. No one hated this card after that.

Losing one life a turn isn’t that bad really, especially when you can do what I did back when it came out. Now, with crazier cards like Shadowborn Demon and Dread Cacodemon, you can do a lot more damage than my little combo. It does cost triple-black, which basically relegates it to mono-black or two-colour decks, but that doesn’t really hinder it. What kind of hinders its greatness is the exile trigger, but if you layer it correctly, you can ignore it. Imagine having a Ball Lightning every turn for free!

Pros: Returns a creature to the field with haste every turn
Cons: Exiles the creature, 1 life per turn, triple-black

Rating: 4/5

Friday, 13 September 2013


This is yet another card that received functional errata that destroyed its flavour, a la Flying Carpet. Originally, the idea was that your creatures were holed up in a castle and received protection as long as they remained inside. However, the errata removed the “unless they are attacking” clause, so now what you’ve got is some sort of hover-castle that flies along with the army and protects them as long as they stay inside. I’m not an opponent of functional errata, but it should stay flavourful (for example: adding the line “but remains named X” a la Sakashima the Imposter for all Clone-like cards instead of changing the legendary rule). I know it was to “make it simpler” but it wasn’t confusing in the first place! Your dude runs out and stabs a guy and if it has Vigilance, he runs back into the castle.

As for the card itself, it’s pretty “meh”. The toughness boost gives your creatures more survivability and the errata did make it a little better since attacking creatures can get the bonus as well. I don’t know if it’s worth 4 though; maybe 3 or 2 with a drawback (like not effecting attacking creatures maybe?). Not a bad card; I just wish they hadn’t changed the wording.

Pros: Toughness boost to all your untapped creatures
Cons: Errata makes no sense, costs 4
Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Norin the Wary

Norin the Wary
You may be thinking that this card is terrible. Why would you want a creature that can’t attack, block, or be targeted by any of your own spells? Well my friend, you have not seen the Johnny potential of this card. I’m going to show you 3 cards that work wonders with this card.

First up is Genesis Chamber. Turn one, play this card; turn two, play Genesis Chamber. By the end of turn 2, you have 2 creatures. By the start of your third turn, you have 3, 3 of switch can swing. In a four-player game, you’ll probably have 5 creatures, 4 of which can swing. Unless your opponents can take care of Genesis Chamber, they are going to be facing off against endless ranks of Myr.

Second is Hamletback Goliath. I don’t really think I need to explain why these two cards work so well. Instead of being a 6/6 when it comes into play, Hamletback Goliath is an 8/8 with this card. As your opponents play, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger until they try to kill it, at which point you should probably Fling it at them.

Finally, there’s Kyren Negotiations. This card is an expert negotiator and it’s a problem that should be dealt with sooner rather than later. 1 damage every turn may not seem like a lot, but it can add up quickly, especially in a multiplayer game. When working in combination with something like the aforementioned Genesis Chamber combo, this can result in a lot of damage that you can deal just before your turn starts.

Those are just a few cards that work really well with this card. Now, it may be difficult to kill this card, but if the other combo pieces are stripped away, this can’t really do much. It’s a great card, but it relies fairly heavily on the toys that it needs.

Pros: Almost unkillable, great combo card
Cons: Can’t do anything on its own

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Mystic Enforcer

Mystic Enforcer
A 3/3 pro-black for 4? Pretty good, albeit maybe a little overcosted. A 6/6 Flying pro-black for 4? Umm… Hi baby Akroma, Angel of Wrath! Seriously, the fact that this card can easily be a baby Akroma is ridiculous! Threshold is one of my all-time favourite mechanics and I’m really hoping that it comes back soon and this is a perfect example of why. A 3/3 pro-black is probably not going to be a huge for your opponent (unless they’re playing mono-black), so there’s no real incentive to pay attention to it. However, if they don’t pay attention to it, then it becomes a much bigger problem in a couple turns. Even if they’re dealing with your other problems (like a Mirran Crusader for example), they run the risk of turning this card into a bigger problem because they are adding cards to your graveyard. However, therein lays this cards biggest problem: it’s going to be dealt with. If you drop this without having 7+ cards in your yard, you’re probably not going to have this for very long. Still, worth thinking about if you’re looking for a baby Akroma in Selesnya colours.

Pros: Can be baby Akroma
Cons: Requires large graveyard

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 9 September 2013

Naked Singularity

Naked Singularity
In my theoretical Chisei, Heart of Oceans EDH, this card is a star. Well, it would be if not for its colour identity (stupid rules and their making things not colourless…). Either way, this card is fun. It really screws with mono-coloured decks in a way that’s not too common in Magic. If you can find a way to keep the age counters off of it (like with Chisei or a Hex Parasite) it can pose major problems for your opponents for a long time. It’s a fun card that you really have to build a deck around for it to work.

Pros: Colour-shifted land mana production
Cons: Needs to be built around

Rating: 3/5 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Balance of Power

Balance of Power
This card doesn't really feel blue to me. Sure, it draws cards, but that alone doesn't make it feel blue to me. I feel like it was designed to be used against blue decks, but not in a blue deck. I think it’s leaning towards black or white more than anything (black’s idea of quickly turning the tables and cheating to win or white’s idea of improving oneself to match an opponent). Mechanically, this is a real hit-or-miss card. If you’re playing an opponent who typically has a large hand, then this card is great because it’s going to allow you to keep up with your opponent. However, if your opponent has a same-size or smaller hand then you are, this card is pretty much dead. I think an opponent would have to have 3 cards more in hand then you for this to be kind of worth it. I don’t think this card is worth the gamble. Run Divination if you have to, but don’t run this.

Pros: Can equalize your hand size
Cons: Too risky, only worth it for 3+ card difference

Rating: 0.5/5 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Desolation Angel

Desolation Angel
It’s interesting to watch every time that WotC tries to bring Armageddon back into play. A 5/4 with Flying for 7 usually isn’t worth it, but when it explodes the world when it comes into play, then we’re talking serious power. Mass land destruction is probably one of the most powerful effects in the game because it puts everyone into a bad position, with the probable exception of the player who did it. This card is a prime example of that. Let’s pretend that there are no other permanents except for 7 lands each on the board (the player before you used Planar Cleansing let’s say). You drop this and wipe out everyone’s lands. How long do you think it will take another player to find an answer to your 5/4? On average, a player will have 3-5 cards in their hand come turn 7. How many of those do you think are lands? 

Another good example would be against a green ramp deck. Again, assume you just wiped the board with a Damnation and then you play this. A green ramp deck might have up to 80% of their land base in play when that happens. You’ve just effectively removed that player from the game. Now, you may be thinking: “Why would I want to pay that much to set everyone else back, including myself? It doesn’t seem worth it!”. Before you ask that out loud, remember this: Angel of Despair costs the same amount, has one more toughness, but only hits one thing. This card, as its name suggests, desolates the field and will probably leave you in a very commanding position. However, one of its major flaws in that it’s an ETB trigger, meaning that if an opponent survives long enough to stabilize, they could flicker this card and cause you to lose all of your lands repeatedly. Still, the chances of an opponent recovering after a well-timed land removal are slim at best.

Pros: Armageddon on a creature
Cons: Requires kicker, vulnerable to flicker effects

Rating: 4.5/5

Krark's Thumb

Krark's Thumb
For the amount of times you’re going to be flipping coins in an average game of Magic, there is the perfect number of cards that alter coin flips: one. I love this card because I really like cards like Frenetic Sliver, Planar Chaos, and Karplusan Minotaur. The random chaos those cards can wreak is always fun, but I also like tipping the scales of that chaos in my favour. My favourite cad to use this with is obviously Chance Encounter because it gives me a much better shot at winning the game through that effect.  Planar Chaos is also a good combo since it gives me a 75% chance to cast my spell whereas my opponents only get a 50% chance of success. Still, this card is fairly limited in what it can do, so I can’t give it that high of a rating.

Pros: Alters coin flips in your favour
Cons: Only affects coin flips
Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Ivory Crane Netsuke

Ivory Crane Netsuke
I like this card better than its cousin Ebony Owl Netsuke. Combine this with Ivory Tower and you’re in for a fun time with your (probably) mono-blue lifegain deck. I had one and, while being a bit slow, was still a really fun casual deck that my opponents sometimes had a hard time dealing with. Since your own hand size is a lot easier to control than your opponents’ (at least in terms of keeping a big hand), you’ll see this trigger a lot in a well-built deck. In short, I like Ms. Crane better than Mr. Owl.

Pros: Lifegain based on hand size
Cons: Requires a big hand
Rating: 2.5/5

Ebony Owl Netsuke

Ebony Owl Netsuke
Mr. Owl doesn’t approve of you having nice things, so he’s going to shoot you with his laser eyes. That’s honestly what I think about whenever I see this card. This card can come out pretty early in the game, meaning that its effects are going to be felt through the match and its effect are pretty painful. Getting hit for 4 every turn you start with a full hand puts an opponent on a pretty tight clock. However, that clock can easily be jammed by just not keeping a full hand. And unlike cards like ThumbscrewsMiser's Cage, your opponent needs to have a full hand or larger to trigger the owl’s laser-death-eye-beams. A hand of six cards is still decent and the damage only triggers on upkeep, so it’s pretty easy to avoid. Cool art, less-than-decent card.

Pros: Deals a good chunk of damage to opponents with big hands, cheap
Cons: Can easily be avoided 

Rating: 2/5