I’m back! It’s been two months since I've written an article. A lot has happened since then, but I’ll fill you in as the review goes on. A couple personal things have happened recently in my life that prevented me from really focusing on writing. Some are good and some are bad. I will share as much as I can as I am excited to share, and some things I just need to get off my chest.
I have a couple Commander specific articles set up waiting to be finished and released but I decided to reappear with a nice starting point: the fall rotation. Innistrad is upon us and by the time you read this you will have already seen the entire spoiler and dabbled in a Prerelease. As with every new set there are two things to be aware of: some cards will be over hyped, and some cards will be sleepers. I used to be a big pre-order guy (taking the easy way out) and would order almost anything that looked remotely playable. Through time and money, I’ve learned that as long as you are smart about things, and really look deep, you can usually find what to buy and what not to buy. It’s a game of calculated risks, but as long as you come out at least even in the end you should be happy.
As with my previous reviews, I will be talking about cards that I think are worth noting in any format. What makes my reviews different is I look at Commander as well as the foil market. I will not be quoting prices for many cards because at this point the prices are universally inflated. Some may go up, some may go down, but on average the prices are higher than what they will be in three months. This happens with every set without fail, at least in the era of the Mythic.
Enough talking; let’s get to the review!
As always, the Angel creature type is top dog when it comes to finance. Mythic, hexproof, and indestructible are all a casual player’s dream. This card may also have constructed implications depending on how well the Human tribe does. Angelic Overseer does not have lifelink like our favorite [card Baneslayer Angel]slayer of all banes[/card], but she is still a huge presence. Nowhere close as format defining as Baneslayer, but still strong enough to possibly make a splash. Her price will dip after the first few weeks. Get her when she's low and hold on to them till the casual market drives the price up again.
Bonds of Faith
Bonds of Faith is a very interesting card that could actually make waves in block depending on how tribal it gets. Sadly, it's a nombo with Uril, the Mistalker in Commander so don’t hunt down foils of this card unless you don't want to attack with Uril.
Champion of the Parish
Are Humans the new Allies? This one sure does a good impression of Hada Freeblade. Could Humans be the next big tribal deck? I have my doubts as a tribe needs to be ultra fast like Goblins, control/tempo based like Merfolk or Faeries, or combo oriented like Elf. Otherwise they will just die to [card Day of Judgment]Wrath effects[/card] like Allies did. The only time Allies was remotely good was when cascade was around, and that was due to the power of cascade more than the power of Allies themselves. In the end, this Champion is better than bulk, but not by much. It will be central to Human block strategies, so if you can find them at bulk there could be a small profit in them eventually.
The Human lord is not a human at all. A very interesting way to create a lord, and in a mill color I could actually see it working. I just don't see it working in white, and it doesn't seem like Humans are the right tribe to abuse this ability. Geists may have been the right call here. Bulk.
An interesting Wrath variant and it is very good in certain styles of control decks. Big blue creatures like Frost Titan and Consecrated Sphinx are perfect with this card. Slap in a Tumble Magnet and almost any creature will be better than their creature. Is this better than Day of Judgment in Standard? Probably not, but I don't think Day of Judgment can be called strictly better either. Some decks may just want a Divine Reckoning so they can play their threats and not worry about them dying. Probably very good with Geist of Saint Traft alongside Tumble Magnet. I would get foils of this, especially for Commander players. Voltron decks will love this card, as well as heavily political players.
Limited fodder at first glance, but this card could actually do something in constructed. Two-creatures-in-one, and the second creature has evasion. I am not saying this is a staple card by any means but if you see a foil, get it as a throw in. You never know what this card could end up doing. It can also be a plausible combo card down the line if the right cards are created.
This is a very strong card for a potential White Weenie Standard deck and almost certainly an all-star in Block Constructed. But sadly, this will see no play in Commander at all. This should hold above bulk rates but not much more. Still, it is definitely one of the best White Knight variants in a long time.
Get this in foil as almost any type of player will be looking for at least one. Cube, Commander, and Constructed players all can appreciate this card. This is sure to be a role player in Standard, and seems like it makes the cut in Commander. You can even use it on your own creature to bring it back after a Wrath and. what a coincidence, White is overloaded with Wrath effects! Without Lightning Bolt in the metagame to ruin day, the toughness is actually relevant. Even its power is relevant alongside another white card in the set.
Obviously comparable to Cloudgoat Ranger. A few things make this card much better in my opinion, particularly for finance. First, it's a rare. How much would Cloudgoat have been in his heyday if he was a rare? In a world without Mythics at that. I would guess $10-15. What is that in today's market? Somewhere around $5-$8 which is where I see this card eventually getting to if it proves itself. Instead of 1/1 soldiers you get 1/1 Flying Spirit tokens. Evasion on tokens is what turns them from chump blockers into possible threats. Cloudgoat himself turned into a huge flyer, but vigilance and a variable power/toughness is almost comparable.
However, comparing Geist-Honored Monk to Cloudgoat Ranger will only get you so far. It really does depend on the meta as any comparisons between the two cards can really only take into account an old format that really has nothing to do with the potential format we have coming down the corner in a few weeks. This card also seems half decent in Commander, but if you've read my previous articles, I am a big advocate of Commander cards needing to "do something". In the end our friendly monk is just a big beater, but any budget player or new player would probably love to include this guy in their deck. This monk is an easy call to be above bulk.
Mentor of the Meek
The first time I saw this card my mind started racing. It has pure potential built into it. It's like Ranger of Eos in a way that it gets better the more cards that are made to interact with it. I am sure there is some sort of convoluted combo that allows you to draw your entire deck which will only increase its allure in the Commander community. Foils of this card will be undervalued at start but I am sure it will be worth more as time goes. It even has potential to be a Standard all-star. Thank god we didn’t have this guy around to make Squadron Hawks even better. All this card needs is a deck to be played in as the pure power it gives is undeniable. Huge pick up as it can show up in any format at any time as a format defining card.
Two. Dudes. Seriously. Being instant is fully worth losing 1 of the original three dudes. If there ends up being a token strategy this will be central to it. I am not 100% confident a token strategy is there yet, but it is close. I could see this act more as another option to Timely Reinforcements. They both have their advantages of the other, but I'll leave that to the pros to figure out. In the mean time try and get foils of this card in case it does actually pan out as an amigo to Timely Reinforcements.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
This is the From the Vault: Legends preview card. It actually seems like a pretty good card, but I think it really needs Ranger of Eos to make it shine. Otherwise it may make you go through too many hoops to make it good. Commander token decks, if they actually exist (/sarcasm), will really take to this card but with the From the Vault: Legends foil out there don't trade too high for the regular foil. Especially seeing how poorly the set did.
Moment of Heroism
On the back of Uril, the Miststalker Commander decks, this card will be worth it to hunt down foils. Any non Commander player will value it at a virtual 0, and any Uril player will need it. Get them if you find them.
The un-sticking of Meddling Mage has finally happened. This type of card has been misunderstood since the dawn of time. For a very stagnant meta, or a meta where only a single card or two can stop your game plan, these kind of cards are vital. However, in a varied metagame and the cutthroat competitive environment we have now with pros attending FNMs, SCG Opens every few weekends, and numerous GPs, I don't see cards like this every really making a splash. I could be totally wrong on this but I do know even if it does see play it won't be worth much. Even if it is played in the top deck this card is not splashy enough and not worth it in enough formats to crack $5. Ultimate douche award to anyone who names a commander with this card just for the sake of it.
Purify the Grave
Graveyard hate is required in the big world of Commander. Having instant access in a colour that usually does not have graveyard hate it great to see. Add flashback and this is now almost a format staple. Getting to stop someone from going off at instant speed without them seeing it coming is sometimes the opening a table needs to turn around a table clearing combo into one less player at the table. Only look for foils as this isn't really a relevant card outside of White Commander decks looking for additional graveyard hate.
I've been hearing a lot of chatter naming this the [card Birthing Pod]Pod[/card] killer. We've had out pod killer for a few months now and it rhymes with [card Torpor Orb]Morper Forb[/card]. Acidic Slime is such a key component to pod decks that I doubt Stony Silence can do more damage to a pod deck than Torpor Orb can. The deck that it actually does kill is any sort of [card Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas]Tezzeret[/card] deck, forcing it to just go aggro with 5/5 cups. Also note, it stops artifact mana of any sort and if I am not mistaken it stops artifact lands as well. This could mean it may make a splash in Modern and Legacy. It won't be the solution to either format but it wouldn't hurt to grab foils if you find any. I doubt they will be worth much, especially if you grab them from Standard players.
The real format this card will shine is Commander. Enchantments are by far the least hated permanent types and artifacts are by far the most defining of the format. That is the perfect storm for this card, but it's average power level in other formats will keep it's price down which is good for Commander players into finance for the long run.
Back from the Brink
I doubt this card can actually make a splash in Standard, but it seems like an amazing Commander card. Turning every one of your sorceries into a reanimate spell is a very strong ability. You should have the mana to make this work in Commander. As per usual, foils are what you are looking for when it comes to Commander playables so keep an eye out for them.
WotC for some reason has really gotten their gears going for clones recently. Phantasmal Image is pretty much the top of the food chain when it comes to clones at the moment, but this is pretty close to second. Instant clones are even better than regular clones, and costing them at an aggressive three mana means this should at least see some sort of play. Having flashback is gravy on top of a heaping pile of roasted garlic mashed potatoes. It might not always be relevant but when it is, the flashback will often times be a blow out to lower end players as most people may forget about it even being an option out of your graveyard at that point in the game.
One thing I have noticed that I didn't when it was first spoiled is that it is only a clone for creatures you control, which could actually be a huge hit to the card. However, this is the sort of thing we will have to see once we get a chance to play around with it. Regardless if it shows up anywhere in competitive decks, Commander players love their clones so any foil clone is certainly worth a few bucks. It is coming to a point where you may actually be able to build an all clone deck for Commander... *runs off to build an all clone deck*
Civilized Scholar // Homicidal Brute
Double faced cards are so unique that foils of any will trade for at least a little. Powerwise, the rule of thumb for these DFC is the unflipped side has to be good. I see Dr Jekyll being played in two possible decks. The first role this card could fill is the card advantage option in control decks and acting as a possible attacker when needed. The second role this could fill, and the more likely of the two is in combination with Necrotic Ooze.
With the Scholar in your graveyard, Necrotic can use the looter ability as many times as you discard a creature card. This is because Necrotic Ooze can't be flipped so if all you have are creatures in your deck you will mill your entire deck. If you have spells or lands, you will mill until you run out of creature cards in your hand. Will either actually pan out? Probably not but I would keep my eyes out for foils as DFC foils will be pretty special that even the remotely playable ones will be worth more than what you will shell out for them when dealing with the untrained eye.
Foil Curiosity! Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind players now have another version of this card to choose from to foil out their vile decks.
Dissipate could be a vital part of the approaching metagame. If any type of graveyard deck pops up, exiling a card may be extremely relevant. Hopefully this enough to keep graveyard decks fair so they can push the envelope a little bit with the graveyard decks. Old FNM foils of Dissipate should hopefully rise a little in price. I, along with many other long time players, love the old art.
Probably one of the better, if not the best, card draw spells we've had in a while (if you ignore anything that starts with the letter “P” that is). This card gets even better if you are running a self-mill type of deck. I am almost certain this card will see Standard play and now that the ban hammer came down, a bunch of Modern play is on this card’s horizon as well. It may also show up in Commander decks because it really is 2 draw spells in 1 and that is a huge boon when considering a card for a Commander deck. Foils will be soaked up by the standard players so it may be hard to find these.
Grasp of Phantoms
If some sort of ultra control deck pops up I could actually see this as a one of. I could also see it show up in some Commander decks primarily as a partial tuck effect that is marginally decent as well. So pick up foils of this as throw ins.
My vote for the best sword holder ever, and I’m sure if there was actually a vote he would win by a landslide. This card could single-handedly keep "caw style" decks alive. I am sure there will be other uses for this card like in a deck full of pumps, but with all the edict effects running around you can't win by putting all your eggs in one basket so it won’t be as simple as replacing this for hawks in the UW archetype. This could also be played in Rafiq commander decks but it will be hard to get foils of these if Cawblade decks transition fully into Invisiblade decks for the new meta. I would strike early on foils of these, if you don't you may be waiting until Innistrad rotates out of the format to get them. This could be the chase uncommon of the set.
As soon as Laboratory Maniac was spoiled, combo players everywhere started scouring card lists to see how to break this. A few cards have come up and some may or may not pan out, Leveler being the first one that popped into everyone’s mind but is by far the least impressive. I’ll let you search QS for the rest of the picks as our trusty writers have found all the possible ways to win with this card.
Regardless of actual playability, and really the only place it has a chance of showing up is Legacy, this is a casual player's dream card. For every mill player in a casual group, and there is at least one, there will be multiple casual players thinking about using this to combat those players. But one day they will realize the true potential of this card. It does more than fight mill, it flips the world of mill on its head. It creates a whole new way to win the game, simply by drawing a card, or more correctly, not drawing a card. Be there with foils of it ready to capitalize on their need for this amazingly fun combo card.
Lost in the Mist
Five mana is a lot, but this is two parts of [card]Cryptic Command[card] so it does need to be watched. I doubt it will see any constructed play as 5 mana is a big jump from 4, but I could see it being played in Commander.
Ludevic's Test Subject // Ludevic's Abomination
This has to be the best cards to pair Training Grounds and I actually think it could be good. Training grounds seems like it was missing something to push the deck from pet deck to definite rouge concoction. This could be the final piece or this could be a red herring. Either way I think this card will appeal enough to casual players that it will always be worth a little over bulk. Don't be afraid to ask for this card as a throw in. Some people may not care at all about this card and have no idea it will have some sort of casual appeal, as do all creatures with power and toughness in this upper range of the spectrum.
I think this card is a trap for Standard, but people will over value it to start. But for Commander I think it could actually be worth it, especially in a Rafiq deck. Mill someone a few times, pump up your birdie and get two gigantic attacks out of it. Doesn't seem like an impossible thing to do and the curve of the average Commander deck is high enough that the average pump will be a decent size. It seems pretty decent in draft as it can get pretty fierce while bashing in the air. Blue also seems like a pretty strong draft colour in this set as it usually is, so most good player will have them and want to get rid of them. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to be the middle man between the drafters and the casual players.
I love the fact they are really pushing self-mill strategies with this set. I don't think this card is actually good as the casting cost plus the activation cost are too much to mill yourself for profit, but as a one of in a deck set up with to do crazy things with the graveyard I think it could be fine. It is also an unpredictable amount of mill, but as long as you build your deck right you can mill enough to make it worthwhile. I would hedge my bets and pick up a few as throw ins after the preorder dust settles.
Just pick up a foil of this if you see it. This card is dripping with so much flavour that you will find at least one person in love with the card. Zombies are the new Vampires if you haven't heard.
Is this card playable? Yes. Is this card the second coming of Vengevine? A huge no. In my mind, Skaab Ruinator is really only good in [card Birthing Pod]Pod decks[/card]. Pod decks. by their nature, do not require decks to be loaded with a large amount of their individual pieces as they run a light tool box style of game play. I could see two Skaabs in Pod decks but really I think 1 is enough because of its ability to be recast from the graveyard late game. That said, I think this card is highly over valued at the moment. I just can't see it being played as a normal creature due to it's casting restrictions, much along the lines of Myr Superion and Talara's Battalion before it. Stay away from Skaab unless you believe I'm wrong or you desperately need this card for states and can't find one for trade.
This is what you have been waiting for, the card everyone is talking about and heavily speculating on, and everything that is happening with our last Invitational card is fully warranted. It is undeniably a powerful card in Vintage and Legacy. Being blue and having flash surely help with this but the fact that both formats are filled with powerful instants and sorceries also helps as well. The real question about Tiago Chan is his place in the Standard metagame. Some have said he is amazing, some have said he won't see any play. I am a believer in this card becoming a format defining card as long as the meta is not ultra fast.
The beauty of Snapcaster Mage is now you can throw around your Mana Leak's without much worry and then use the Snapcaster almost like a Cryptic Commandesque card, a 4 mana counter for value. If it were just a Mystic Snake variant I would not be impressed but it is the ability to turn him into another Ponder, flashback a card at a discounted flashback cost, or even flashback something as game changing as a Timely Reinforcements that make this card so impressive.
All that said you would think I would be on the bandwagon saying this is the second coming of Goyf or at least Stoneforge Mystic. Funny thing is I am really against preordering this card at its current price. I fully regret not picking it up at it's less than $15 starting point, but I will not buy into this card being a $20 rare and you should not either. It is a rare in the Mythic era of Magic in the big set at the beginning of a rotation. Innistrad will be drafted for and entire year. There is no reason for this card to stay above $15, it even has a chance to dip below $10 but I think it's place in the meta as well as it's place in older formats will stop that from happening. One day it is obviously going to be worth $20 or more barring any reprinting. During a Modern PTQ season I could even see it being worth $30+, possibly even $40+ because people are so crazy with their money these days. However, supply and demand for the most part dictates the price of cards, not hype and not StarCityGames as most people like to point out.
Tiago is also great in Commander, which only helps with his price tag. Do not, I repeat, do not buy this card for over $20, unless you absolutely have to due to states being right after the sets release. After States I predict a wave of these flooding the market. Try and snipe some off eBay for sub $15 levels. If at any time you see a foil available now or till it gets banned and you have the means to pick it up, pick it up. Foils of this card should be above $50, possibly more. I'm not joking. Vintage, Legacy and Commander playability are the trifecta of foil finance. Japanese, Korean, and Russian foils are also going to be worth insane amounts, and players will be willing to pay top dollar for them. Trade any Standard cards away for foil Snapcaster Mages as you can find Standard cards anywhere but you can't find foils of this caliber ever.
A flying monstrosity like this is a scary card. Couple it with Consecrated Sphinx and this could be the 1-2 punch Standard control decks will be using for the next year. I love that it has the draw a card ability tacked onto it, which basically makes any creature better. For a proper control deck this will probably hit the table with a power/toughness of at least 4/4. Any more than that and I think you are getting a real bargain. We will see how this card actually works out in Standard because on the surface, it looks like control decks have a lot of options when it comes to finishers in this future Standard just a few days away.
For Commander it seems like an instant hit. Card advantage is even more important in the 100 card singleton format and having it tided to an evasive baddie seems like a perfect way to make Commander players fall in love with it. My favourite way to use this guy is with Praetor's Counsel but any draw spell with X will do. This card will always sit above bulk and should always be good in Commander. Trade carefully.
Zombie mill monster. Sounds like a casual player's sick fetish. Grab them off of drafters and flip these to casual players. One thing I really like about this card is it does a good job of acting as a reverse Bridge from Below. I am not sure if this was what they were going for but it resonates with me and probably some others so that’s all that matters.
Well there you have it. The White and Blue in this format has a lot of exciting stuff, but really the only cards that we will remember a few years from now are Snapcaster Mage and, to a lesser extent, Mentor of the Meek. I really hope that Wizards of the Coast creates another tournament similar to the Invitational. I know the Community Cup is somewhat of a replacement, but without the Invitational card there really isn't a way to remember it years down the line. The cards that have come out of the Invitational tournament have been format staples and had interesting back stories that are great to tell new players about years from now. At one point Wizards believed in pushing the stardom of the pros by creating the pro collector cards. I think the Invitational card is a much better representation of that as they really allow the stars of the game to become immortalized in this game we all love. Hopefully they agrees with this and are just planning out the best way to reintroduce this concept to our game.
Join me tomorrow when I talk about the Black and Red cards of the set as well as talk about a contest I will be running through Twitter (as that seems like what all the cool people are doing these days).