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2011 Core Set Review – Blue

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by Kelly Reid

Blue got some interesting mythic rares, but how did it do in the rare department?  It got a number of mediocre reprints, but a few of the new rares are perking up a few ears.  There's a potential bargain with a mana cost-adjusted re-imagining of an old favorite, but beyond that, Blue looks pretty underwhelming.

The only conundrum is whether he makes the cut.

Clone.  We've seen this before.  It's not really anything special, but it's a great introduction to the "copy" mechanic in the core set.  Clone is rarely good value, or the card that makes an archetype tick, so he usually makes it into the Dollar Box.  Rating:  Irrelevant.

Conundrum Sphinx is a very interesting card.  The synergy with Jace and with Halimar Depths is crucial to its tournament viability, and the fact that it's aggressively costed makes it a potential sleeper card.  Still, there are an awful lot of 4-drops around, and the double U cost makes it difficult to play as a splash.  A 4/4 flier that can potentially draw you a card every turn is worth keeping an eye on.  Its presale price of $4 implies a Hold rating, since it doesn't have the potential to be a format-busting rare.

Leyline of Anticipation is the source of all my pain.  The Twitter puns were just unbearable the other day, and I considered suicide.  Thinking better of the idea, I just decided to hate the card instead.  In all honesty, Leyline of Anticipation is not Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir.  Let's find out why!  Looking at Teferi, we notice a few stark differences.  He's got funny little numbers in the bottom right.  He has Flash.  He stops your opponent from doing, uh, anything, when it really matters.  He is all that is Man.  Leyline of Anticipation is none of these things.  Using rough math, we know that we'll get Leyline for free about 45% of the time.  For all you artsy-types that can't do arithmetic, that means you're paying "retail" for Leyline 55% of the time.  When Leyline is free, it's bone-crushingly good in Control decks.  When it's not, its pretty bad.  By the time you're willing to tap out for this card, it's too late.  It is an over-rated, over-hyped piece of garbage if you're a Tier 1 player.  It's got plenty of other applications, but not almost $10 worth of them.  Rating: Sell, and sell hard.  There's no way this stays this high, and if it does, you can always buy right back in.

Mass Polymorph is a flagship casual card, but will probably not see tournament play on account of its mana cost.  Mana Leak pretty much ends any chance of this card seeing Tier 1 play, but it will be a $2 rare due to casual usage.  Don't put it past some rogue deckbuilding genius to find a way to break this.  Rated Hold only on the off-chance someone does break it.  If you can get good value at the pre-release, do so, but make sure you're getting $4-5 for it.

Merfolk Sovereign is another reprint, and if it wasn't doing anything before M11, it isn't doing much after.  Merfolk are an inferior tribe to Faeries in Extended, so it's unlikely they'll see much usage. Sell, because tribal cards are popular at prereleases.

Redirect is an appropriately-costed Deflection, and at 2 mana, is possibly playable.  It's a nice complement to Mana Leak in UW Control type decks, and is currently a bulk rare.  Buy, because it's so cheap that they'll be practically free.  If they end up being used either in Extended or Standard, they'll hit $4 or $5.  It's worth the risk.

Stormtide Leviathan is a giant unblockable Island Sanctuary that can occasionally fix your mana.  He'll be an EDH powerhouse but will end up in the dollar box.  There are obviously better fatties to waste your time with.  Irrelevant.

Traumatize is another reprint that has almost no relevance whatsoever.  Irrelevant.

Blue didn't get the best rares this time, but it got a marquee mythic (even if the card is massively over-rated).  It's not the deepest color in M11 as far as rares go, but the commons and uncommons are very powerful and give control decks a robust suite of options.  Despite the general lackluster of its rares, blue decks should continue to see play because of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Mana Leak alone.



Kelly Reid has been playing Magic since Revised Edition, when his first purchase was a starter deck and a Scrye magazine.  He threw away the magazine and kept the price guide.  Years later, he founded Quiet Speculation, the first website dedicated to the financial side of Magic: The Gathering.  Preferring to leave strategy to the professionals, Kelly writes about potential sleepers, undervalued cards, and trends as well as covering a wide breadth of theory articles.

Kelly's work has been published across the Internet, including Star City Games,The Starkington Post, ManaNation, MTGO Academy and soon, Blackborder.com.  He has appeared on the Top 8 Magic podcast, the Yo! MTG Taps podcast, and Evan Erwin's Magic Show in addition to having his decks featured on MagicTheGathering.com.  As editor and content manager of Doubling Season, Kelly will be covering a wide variety of topics.  His main competitive format is Standard, and he prefers to leave the Eternal formats to Doug and Jonathan.

5 thoughts on “2011 Core Set Review – Blue

  1. I completely agree with you on Leyline, but I think Conundrum Sphinx's value isn't going anywhere, as it is the intro pack rare. Jwar Jwar Sphinx has seen a fair amount of Standard play, but its value has remained pretty low- saturated market.

  2. @Nathan

    I wouldn't dismiss the value of Intro Pack rares out of hand. Though generally they take a filler's role, and certainly do offer a virtual soft cap on the value the rare can attain, on occasion one comes along that competes with the price of the Pack itself (or even pushes it up).

    We only have to go back one set for the Leveler's Glory intro pack, which featured a foil Student of Warfare. Star City Games has the foil single at $9.99, which is very near the price a canny shopper can grab an intro pack itself for.

    Not only that, but my local retailer- no fool himself- gunned the Leveler's Glory accoringly, a couple bucks above the other four. And Star City Games? Two of the intros cost $8. Another two go for $12. And one sits above them all at $15… guess which one? ; )

  3. I don't agree with you on the Leyline. You need to hardcast Teferi as well… if you do arithmetics how many times does The Man hit the table on turn 0? Moreover, Teferi only allows to play Creatures as instants… which can't be compared to all nonland cards.

    I don't say that it will stay that high, but I'd rather hold them then sell hard!

  4. So many times I see this. Redirect =/= Deflection in effect. Redirect can change multiple targets. This may become relevant, especially if cards like Comet Storm become good post rotation.

  5. I was just using Deflection as a short-hand way to refer to the card's effect. Being able to flip a Searing Blaze just feels great (although may not come up often). My fault for not clarifying how relevant the multi-target switching is, you're 100% right.

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