Wait, it's the end of January already? Wow, yeah so I guess it's time to start the set reviews. After all we now have 249 new cards to shake up the constructed formats and all the limited formats are now rotating to be just the new cards. So I'm bad from the shadows to share my thoughts.
I know I've been kind of a hermit lately, but I started a new job so I'm skipping a lot of tournaments right now. Still, I'm hanging out on MTGO more to keep up my skills. So let's dive into the new cards and look at how much all the formats are going to change once Friday comes. As normal with my reviews I'll only be talking about the formats in which I think that the cards are good in.
Let's get this going with the Black cards.
Balustrade Spy – 3B – Creature – Vampire Rogue – Flying. When Balusrtrade Spy enters the battlefield, target player reveals cards from the top of his library until he or she reveals a land card, then puts those cards into his or her graveyard. 2/3 Okay, so the blue Dimir cards are the mill spells and the black are the mill creatures, LOLs, looks like the guild instant going to suck that much if you go heavey, heavy black. Also we are going to need more mill dorks like this one.
Basilica Screecher – 1B – Creature Bat – Flying. Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.) 1/2 Yeah, Extort flier for Limited. Still not impressed with the Guild.
Contaminated Ground – 1B – Enchantment – Aura – Enchant land. Enchanted land is a Swamp. Whenever enchanted land be becomes tapped, its controller loses 2 life. Last time this was printed it didn't make many waves, but that was because no one cared. It was printed in Rise which was a slow format in which it didn't matter if you took some damage from tapping the land because normally you were just going to drop something nasty that killed you opponent in a turn or two after you ramped up tones of mana. Now it's being printed in some fast Limited, Block, and Standard formats that have a good number of utility land enchantments. This might just see a bunch of play as it also turns off the color fixing of the thirty duals we have in standard right now.
Corpse Blockade – 2B – Creature – Zombie – Defender. Sacrifice another creature: Corpse Blockade gains deathtouch until end of turn. In Limited it's an okay blocker if you have token spawning abilities, but I think this is going to be better in Standard. Think about it, this is a three-drop zombie with a sac ability which allows you to start the Gravecrawler tricks on turn four.
Crypt Ghast – 3B – Creature – Spirit – Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.) Whenever you tap a Swamp for mana, add B to your mana pool (in addition to the mana the land produces). Hang on, loading magical X-mas land program. Turn one, land into Gravecrawler; turn two, land into Blood Artist; turn three, land into Corpse Blockade; turn four, land into this; turn five, land, tap two lands, cast another of this, tap last three lands to make nine mana, cast another Blood Artist leaving seven mana floating, sac and cast Gravecrawler to have it die eight times stealing sixteen life, then sacrifice both of the Crypt Ghasts for game. Aright, back in the real world these are going trade fast because they lead to these kinds of Magical X-mas brews. In Limited they are bombs because they ramp you above and beyond when the format because of the small removal pools. Also this makes Extort cards good if you are playing mono-black in Limited.
Death's Approach – B – Enchantment – Aura – Enchant creature. Enchanted creture gets -X/-X, where X is the number of creature cards in its controller's graveyard. That's like the oddest removal in the world. Only way that this is good is if you are playing mill, and you will need to Draft every one you see. That's right, this is only good in draft if you can get four or more and you also can draft all the mill cards as well.
Devour Flesh – 1B – Instant – Target player sacrifices a creature, then gains life equal to that creature's toughness. See Death's Approach. I can't believe that they pushed mill so hard by making black's removal rely on mill being your win condition. WTF?
Dying Wish – 1B – Enchantment – Aura – Enchant creature you control. When enchanted creature dies, target player loses X life and you gain X life, where X is its power. "Trunks, Bulma... I do this for you... and yes, even you...Kakarot." It's going to be so easy to alter this card to look like Vageta self-destructing. That said, this is only going to be as good as the creature and only in Limited, unless you are planning on killing it. Let's face it the other formats either have better removal that can kill in response to this being cast, or the removal is exile based instead of destruction based.
Gateway Shade – 2B – Creature – Shade – B: Gateway Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Tap an Untapped Gate you control: Gateway shade gets +2/+2 until end of turn. 1/1. So it's best in Sealed deck because you only need one black to cast it, and you get rewarded for playing as many gates as you can in the same decks as it. Yeah, moveing on.
Grisly Spectacle – 2BB – Instant – Destroy target nonartifact creature. Its controller puts a number of cards equal to that creature's power from the top of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Even more mill related removal. Wait, could it be that mill might end up mono black and be good? No, must resist the temptation for X-mas Land. Only good in Limited, I must not brew a mill deck for constructed.
Gutter Skulk – 1B – Creature – Zombie Rat 2/2 Woot! More rat in Standard. AS it stands I like the mono-black rat deck I have, but it suck having most of my creatures all being 1/1s. If I decided to remove the discard part of the deck this is going to get added into it.
Horror of the Dim – 4B – Creature – Horror – U: Horror of the Dim gains hexproof until end of turn. ¾ Wow, this feels like a pimp-slap. Couldn't this have flying so I would want to play it outside of those times I'm playing Sealed and get forced to play mostly blue/black?
Illness in the Ranks – B – Enchantment – Creature tokens get -1/-1. If it wasn't got the fat that my rat deck makes Pack Rat tokens this would so go into the deck to replace Shrieking Affliction. Hmm, maybe in the sideboard. Yeah, this might just be the sideboard card that makes sure that tokens stay a bad deck in Standard and Block.
Killing Glare – XB – Instant – Destroy target creature with power X or less. Wow, that's a bad removal spell. I mean really bad, as in would only see limited play if it was you only choice kind of bad.
Lord of the Void – 4BBB – Creature – Demon – Flying. Whenever Lord of the Void delas combat damage to a player, exile the top seven cards of that player's library, then put a creature card from among them onto the battlefield under your control. 7/7 Holy cow, so there is a card that will make you want to draft all those bad mill cards and this is it. Fine, I'll draft mono black mill if I see this looking at me from the back of pack one.
Mental Vapors – 3B – Sorcery – Target player discards a card. Cipher (Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.) So the first turn you use this it acts like Okiba-Gang Shinobi. Still you would have to make Okiba-Gang Shinobi unblockable to get as much mileage of of it as an already unblockable creature encoded with this. Why are all the good Dimir cards black?
Midnight Recovery – 3B – Sorcery – Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. Cipher (Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.) Another good Dimir black card? In Limited this is an engine when you get it on an unblockable creature and it is never killed. As you now get back all the dudes that you lost and will lose in combat or to that fool with his mill deck.
Ogre Slumlord – 3BB – Creature – Ogre Rogue – Whenever another nontoken creature dies, you may put a 1/1 black Rat creature token onto the battlefield. Rats you control have deathtouch. Okay, I am so making some updates to my Standard rat deck. I just have to put two copies of this in the deck. Oh, you sacrificed a creature to my Desecration Demon, oh well, look like you just made my Pack Rats bigger.
Sepulchral Primordial – 5BB – Creature – Avatar – Intimidate. When Sepulchral Primordial enters the battlefield, for each opponent, you may put up to one target creature from tha player's graveyard ontop the battlefield under your control. 5/4. As with the other Primordials this is awesome in Commander and Achenemy, but it is also good in limited for the mono/heavy black mill deck that I keep seeing pieces for. Everytime I think I have resist the trap they add more bait.
Shadow Alley Denizen – B – Creature – vampire Rogue – Whenever another black creature enters the battlefield under your control, target creature gains intimidate until end of turn. 1/1 You know I was thinking that this was just some enabler for Cipher in Limited until I reread the creature type. My Vampire deck could use a one-drop dude that allows me to drop a lord vamp into play and then get around blockers when I attack. Hmm, this might just be more than a Limited dork.
Shadow Slice – 4B – Sorcery – Target opponent loses 3 life. Cipher (Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.) That might just be the best Cipher card for Limited. If only it didn't cost so much it would be the card that would have made Cipher a deck.
Slate Street Ruffian – 2B – Creature – Human Warrior – Whenever Slate Street Ruffian becomes blocked, defending player discards a card. 2/2. Yup, that's the stuff that might just make Cipher work in Limited. I mean this is golden for Limited as the kind of card that will force your opponent to give you free information when you attack. The time ti takes for you opponent to figure out if they are going to block and which card to discard when they do will help you judge their skill level as well as they kind of hand they have. This also most makes me want to be in black, but because the black guilds suck in this set I'm going to have say that this might just be better in dragons maze or maybe even in Block with a heavy discard deck.
Smog Elemental – 4BB – Creature – Elemental – Flying. Creatures with flying your opponents control get -1/-1. 3/3 That art is so, so cartoony. Run big bird it's the smog shark! Still, I like it for Limited.
Syndicate Enforcer – 3B – Creature – Human Rogue – Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life. 3/2 Extort beater for Limited decks... moving on.
Thrull Parasite – B – Creature – Thrull – Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you many pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.) Tap, pay 2 life: Remove a counter from target nonland permanent. So, so awkward that it is going to keep it from having any effect unless it's in Commander sideboards a way to deal with generals that put funky counters on things.
Undercity Informer – 2B – Creature – Human Rogue – 1, sacrifice a creature: Target player reveals cards fromt eh top of his or her library until he or she reveals a land card, then puts those card into his or her graveyard. 2/3. I 'm loving this. Thinking I just found the card that is going to change the face of Dredge in Standard. I say Dredge instead of reanimator because this makes Angel of Glory's Rise reanimator into a pure combo deck. Just get Angel of Glory's Rise, Fiend Hunter, Undercity Informer, and Burning-Tree Emissary into your graveyard. Reanimate Angel of Glory's Rise to bring the rest back, exile Angel of Glory's Rise with Fiend Hunter. Use the two man from Burning-Tree Emissary to sacrifice Burning-Tree Emissary to Undercity Informer and the sac Fiend Hunter. This well reanimate them both and you just repeat until your mill you opponent out of the game on turn four. Done right, and this might even be a deck to use in Modern as you can ramp to have five mana so you have the extra white before you combo to reanimate a Flame-Kin Zealot after you have milled yourself out with the combo to make an army of Zombie tokens off a few Bridge from Belows.
Undercity Plague – 4BB – Sorcery – target player loses 1 life, discards a card, then sacrifices a permanent. Cipher (Then you may eixlie this spells card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.) Limited bomb that is too expensive for standard but I think that a lot of players are going to over look this as they try to make it good.
Wight of Precinct Six – 1B – Creature – Zombie – Wight of Precinct Six gets +1/+1 for each creature card in your opponents' graveyards. 1/1 Monoblack mill. It's a thing, get use to it.
Alms Beast – 2WB – Creature – Beast – Creatures blocking or blocked by Alms Beast have lifelink. 6/6. Screw this! Cipher sucks but we get to have a 6/6 for four that has no other trick then it gains you opponent more life in the same colors as the life stealing guild. Two steps forward, one step back.
Cartel Aristocrat - WB – Creature – Human Advisor – Sacrifice another creature: Cartel Aristocrat gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn. 2/2 Yet, another creature that helps out the Angel of Glory's Rise deck so if you can't win by milling you can win by stealing all their dudes by siding into this and Zealous Conscripts as the combo.
Deathpact Angel – 3WBB – Creature – Angel – Flying. When Deathpact Angel dies, put a 1/1 white and black Cleric creature token onto the battlefield. It has “3WBB, tap, sacrifice this creature: Return a card named Deathpact Angel from your graveyard to the battlefield.” 5/5 Did all the guilds get a six-drop mythic that will force players into the guild if they open it in Limited? Still, this is a limited Bomb that can get a lot of millage out of itself.
Executioner's Swing – WB – Instant – Target creature that dealt damage this turn gets -5/-5 until end of turn. You know for Limited this is a good removal spell, but the fact atht you have to let the creature deal damage before you can destroy it is going to keep this out of constructed.
High Priest of Penance – WB – Creature – Human Cleric – Whenever High Priest of Penance is dealt damage, you may destroy target nonland permanent. 1/1 Seeing how Red Deck Wins is so popular online this might just see some Standard play. In Limited this is one of the few cards that redeams Orzhov. I mean forcing the question of taking one damage or losing you best nonland card is really good for the attacker. Put a good piece of gear on him and High Priest of Penance becomes good clock.
Kingpin's Pet – 1WB – Creature – Thrull – Flying. Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.) 2/2 Just a three-drop 2/2 flier for Limited that you can deal some damage with if you have extra mana.
Merciless Eviction – 4WB – Sorcery – Choose one – Exile all artifacts; or exile all creatures; or exile all enchantments; or exile all planeswalkers. I really don't know how to value this. I mean normally six-mana wrath effects are only good in Limited, but that last part where you can exile all planeswalkers is cool.
Obzedat, Ghost Council – 1WWBB – Legendary Creature – Spirit Advisor – When Obzedat, Ghost Council enters the battlefield, target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life. At the beginning of your end step, you may exile Obzedat. If you do, return it to the battlefield under it's owner's control at the beginning of your next upkeep. It gains haste. 5/5 That is going to be such a fun general for Commander. I even like this for Limited in that you can cast it then phase it out so you hid it from your opponents removal when they untap.
One Thousand Lashes – 2WB – Enchantment – Aura – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature can't attack or block, and its activated abilities can't be activated. At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted creature's controller, that player's loses 1 life. That's really good for Limited not only do you get to lock down their best dude, but you also leach their life total.
Orzhov Charm - WB – Instant – Choose one – Return target creature you control and all Auras you control attached to it to their owner's hand; or destroy target creature and you lose life equal to its toughness; or return taget creature card with converted mana cost 1 or less from you graveyard to the battlefield. Hmm, that seems like a good charm for Limited. With a removal option as well as two ways to save dead or soon to die creatures. If only that reanimate ability could work on three-drops or less instead of just one-drops this could have seen constructed play.
Purge the Profane – 2WB – Sorcery – Target opponent discards two cards and you gain 2 life. You know with all the discard effects in Standard it makes me wish that Liliana's Caress and Megrim were still in the format. Might try to build some kind of WRB Dueling Megrim deck for fun in Modern.
Treasury Thrull – 4WB – Creature – Thrull – Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.) Whenever Treasury Thrull attacks, you may return target artifact, creature, or enchantment card from your graveyard to your hand. 4/4 Wow, that's epic in Limited to regenerate your lost nonland permanents.
Vizkopa Confessor – 3WB – Creature – Human Cleric – Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay W/b. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.) When Vizkopa Confessor enters the battlefield, pay any amount of life. Target opponent reveals that many cards from his or her hand. You choose one of them and exile it. 1/3 If Extort is really working goof for you in Limited this might be worth using. If only I hadn't already found a killer combo of the reanimator deck I would be willing to use this plus a life gaining human to have the unlimited discard.
Beckon Apparition – W/b – Instant – Exile target creat from a graveyard. Put a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield. This could be used in Limited in the mill deck to make more creatures, but I think this is going to find a true home in sideboards to fight undying, zombies, and reanimator decks.
Gift of Orzhova – 1W/bW/b – Enchantment – Aura – Enchant creature. Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has flying and lifelink. Just a pump enchantment for Limited, moving on.
Immortal Servitude - XW/bW/bW/b – Sorcery – Return each creature with converted mana cost X from your graveyard to the battlefield. If only that said “converted mana cost X or less” then this would be epic and maybe Mythic rare as well. Still this might just be the answer in Limited to the mill deck were you can just reanimate and army once you have put it into your graveyard.
I'm so divided over the Orzhov guild. On one hand it has so many cool and powerful spells and on the other you'll have to play the extort spells with them. I just feel that mana sink abilities that allow you to just dump extra mana into them are bad. If you don't use the ability it's a clear sign that you have something up your sleeve, and when you use them it's like telling the other player you have nothing better in hand. It's just one of those mechanics that you can't bluff around if you are in it.
Well, I got three more of these to write. This has been...
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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