Gatecrash finally hits store shelves in local game stores across the world tomorrow. The release tournaments for the new set are, of course, going on tomorrow as well. So I know what must be done: I have to continue with my card-by-card breakdown of the entire set so that I can let everyone know my impressions of Gatecrash in the first days and weeks of its release. Otherwise, wouldn't all be lost? (Okay, not really.) Picking up from where I left off with part 1 of the blue cards, here's the rest of the color with pertinent comments from yours truly.
Rapid Hybridization - Design-wise, this is an incredibly controversial card, as any reader of Mark Rosewater's Tumblr or the MTGSalvation.com forums can attest. A lot of people think that monoblue simply should not get a card that says "Destroy target creature" in any form. This isn't really removal, however - it's more like transmogrification, something blue Shapeshifters have done since Magic first began. And while the "primary" use for this might be to turn an opponent's fat threat into a more easily removed 3/3, the fact that this card is Simic-themed should tip you off to the fact that it's also very good at turning your own small creatures into something more threatening while at the same time setting off evolve triggers.
Realmwright - I can't stress enough that this is really, really amazing mana fixing, especially for blue, a color historically known for being the worst at that sort of thing, Grand Architect and other odd artifact-themed exceptions notwithstanding. Besides giving you access to an extra color right away, it also boosts domain abilities and pumps up Arctic Aven and friends. This is only a $1 rare right now, which is probably the cheapest it'll ever be.
Sage's Row Denizen - The blue member of the Denizen cycle, in keeping with some of the themes of this set, has milling as its ability. Seeing as the sorts of decks that drop a lot of creatures in a row are usually not the kind that use milling as a win condition, this is maybe a less relevant ability than its fellows', but there are surely some defensive-creature-based control strategies that can use this. Plus it combos really well with scavenge creatures, which seems to hint at the purported guild team-ups of Dragon's Maze.
Sapphire Drake - I like that there's only one blue mana in this card's cost and it's so splashable. This is definitely something that can enable alpha strikes via mass evasion in Simic decks, sure, but it's also just as effective if not more so in Golgari and Rakdos decks. Hence it might not see that much play in Gatecrash Limited (that cost is just too damn high), but come Dragon's Maze the other +1/+1-counter-using guilds might want to splash some blue in order to get some air support.
Scatter Arc - This is technically perfectly costed for a cantripping Negate, given the "plus two colorless mana" rule. And it seems to be the best against partly-blue guilds, strangely enough: It's the Izzet and the Dimir that have guild mechanics revolving around instants and sorceries (though only the latter in the case of the Dimir).
Simic Fluxmage - This was the first glimpse of evolve we ever got, and in hindsight it's kind of underwhelming. Compared to other evolve creatures its stats aren't great for its mana cost and the fact that it can only move one counter per turn for the cost of two mana plus a tap is too slow for most Limited purposes. Only the most ardent of Johnnies would really want to play this one.
Simic Manipulator - This is also an evolver with underwhelming power and toughness for its mana cost and a tap ability that's overly slow. The difference here is that the mere potential of gaining control of multiple creatures with this guy makes it strong. Simic's green and blue elements each have ways of compensating for the Manipulator's vulnerability, and if you can keep this thing around it'll win games for you.
Skygames - The reason for the sorcery-speed restriction on this card's ability is beyond me. I mean, I get that it was meant to only be used on the attack, but I'm not sure why it was designed that way in the first place. The ability to throw flying on whatever needs it on a particular turn, though, is a Limited dream.
Spell Rupture - This is where the Simic get serious. In a green-blue evolve deck this can easily be a Mana Leak at the very least, even on early turns, and completely oppressive a few turns later. It's odd for blue to get a condition that checks for high-power creatures, but I will ignore that in the face of my excitement of the aggro-control possibilities. Good luck paying the fifteen mana you'll need to keep your spell when I get my Worldspine Wurm!
Stolen Identity - The fact that this card synergizes so well with populate keeps being brought up as further evidence for a guild alliance theme in Dragon's Maze, but even if there's no such concrete theme then R&D is definitely intent on encouraging players to splash for an extra color in their guild decks just to see what kind of wacky combinations might arise. A deck using this kind of ought to be part green anyhow, because even though that effect produces an overwhelming amount of copies when you can get it encoded on an evasive creature, that six-mana cost is hard to get out without a bit of mana ramp.
Totally Lost - That nonland restriction makes this one just short of the true apotheosis of frustration. This goes very well with the mill that's all over the place in this set and block, and I suppose every Limited environment needs its expensive temporary removal in blue. Poor Fblthp.
Voidwalk - I guess after Avacyn Restored, blinking effects are now permanently a part of blue's slice of the color pie. I'm not sure how to feel about this development, but I know that it's not exactly great at sorcery speed for four mana. This is mainly going to be for abusing enters-the-battlefield triggers multiple times, and if you can get it on a first striking hard-to-block creature it can also mess with combat a little. I'd pass on this for Limited but maybe it'll see use in Constructed combos.
Way of the Thief - I like the other "if you control a Gate" cards in Gatecrash, but this one in particular is just bad. If you haven't gotten your Gates down when you play this you're spending four mana on +2/+2. I'd honestly much rather have Tricks of the Trade any day. But then again, it's evasion, plus pump, on an Aura, which means someone will use it in Limited.