There are a lot of things I planned to talk about this week. Originally, I planned to talk about my Modern PTQ experience and how well I did, but that did not go as planned.
PTQ or Sardines?
I and 249 other Magic players crammed into a building fire coded for 150, an extremely generous number which most likely should have been 100, for the PTQ in Indianapolis. I showed up with Naya Pod not realizing how horrible a choice it was for the event.
You see, recently an updated version of RWU Tempo won a MTGO PTQ and it seems to have caught like wildfire with the real life PTQ community. Their maindeck Aven Mindcensors give Naya Pod serious problems. The matchup is actually a close one, but it’s not something I would want to grind through a bunch of times. If you are PTQing, crack those fetches early folks because Mindcensor is coming for you free-Stone-Rain style.
The next round I lost to Kibler Green White, which should be an awesome match for me but not when I have all the lands or none at all. Needless to say, my day was a short one. It was the only time I was grateful and not at all upset to lose early, just so I could leave the overcrowded store.
Dora or DnD?
Once the Modern PTQ turned out to be a bust, I came up with a sweet idea for an article. I was going to write about how Dora the Explorer was similar to DnD. Think about it, she goes on a quest in every episode. She has a map she follows and obstacles to overcome. Sounds like DnD to me.
Once I led in with the Dora vs. DnD idea, I would transition to how a prerelease is like Magic training. Not really that closely connected, I know, but the point is still relevant. Make time to prerelease, people. Not only is it one of the most fun events every year, it also helps build basic skills that will help you improve your game.
Playing sealed forces you to learn how to build a deck. How many lands will you play and why? Which colors will you choose and why? Does your deck have a plan or are you just hoping your one bomb will win every game? Questions like these get addressed all the time at the prerelease if you put thought into how to build your sealed pool. Asking them will help you grow as a Magic player.
I suppose you want to know what my article is actually about then? Let’s go with the top ten cards for Constructed from Gatecrash.
This is an article template that I revisit every set release and one I am particularly fond of. Creating a list helps me evaluate the set. Before I wrote this article, I had an overall negative opinion of Gatecrash. Now that I have the top ten below, I can tell you there are a lot of sleeper cards. I tried to cover a few of them in the Honorable Mentions section, but there are others too.
The reason this set seems underpowered is because many of the cards are not as obvious as they were in Return to Ravnica. This set does offer us many Constructed-playable cards and should help shift the format a little. Let me know if you agree in the comments.
Blind Obedience – This enchantment has potential. In the early game, it allows the control deck to not get blown out by all the haste creatures currently available in Standard. Once you make it to the late game, you can start paying the one mana kicker to drain them.
I think this enchantment would work nicely in an Esper control shell with Lingering Souls. Between your flying tokens and the damage from the enchantment, it shouldn’t be too hard to end the game. This is a subtly good effect, and I think it is one of the sleeper cards of the set.
Whispering Madness – This was the only card I preordered from the set. I did so because I think it has huge potential. The Windfall effect is very powerful and has made a huge impact on Constructed in the past. I could see this fitting into an Epic Experiment deck. It might see play just for the first casting, and adding cipher is just a bonus.
Crypt Ghast – Turn four Crypt Ghast. Turn five, play a swamp and you have ten mana. That sure seems powerful enough in Standard. Obviously this 2/2 dies to basically every piece of removal, but what it offers in return is a turn five Griselbrand or the like. I am not certain it will see play, but doubling mana is an effect worth keeping an eye on.
Gatecrash Top 10
Alright, so I cheated a little bit with this one, but all five of the guildmages in this set are playable. [card Skarrg Guildmage]Gruul[/card] can make a lot of hasty 4/4’s, [card Zameck Guildmage]Simic[/card] makes your creatures bigger and draws cards, and [card Sunhome Guildmage]Boros[/card] makes guys or pumps your team. Those three are solid and should see some play.
The other two may have deserved their own spots on the list because they both are part of combos in Standard. [card Vizkopa Guildmage]Orzhov[/card] combos with Exquisite Blood so that any damage automatically kills your opponent. The combo with [card Duskmantle Guildmage]Dimir[/card] is not infinite, but when you activate it with Jace, Memory Adept in play, they lose ten life.
This is my type of card. It reminds me of Goblin Warchief from Onslaught block. In this case, instead of only granting haste to goblins, all of your creatures get the ability. This creature’s value is deceptive because it does not seem like a card that would fit in the Mono Red deck. While true, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a home somewhere else.
It seems like a great card for a Gruul deck with bigger creatures that would benefit greatly from haste. There may even be another card on this list that pairs well with it.
If you just look at his base stats, you should notice this card has been pushed. I know a 3/3 for three mana isn’t that amazing, but white does not get creatures like that. The other two abilities are going to be extremely relevant as well.
When you have battalion, your creatures are indestructible until end of turn. What that means is your opponent will have to sacrifice some creatures in order to block the damage. So when you are fighting against another creature-based deck, your medic will keep your team alive.
The other ability was tacked on at the end of design to help combat the insane popularity of Sphinx's Revelation. It also helps against any x spell which is nice. If they leave their Mana Leak mana up, that will drastically cut down on the effectiveness of their spell. The Medic is all around a solid creature. It’s even a human in case that is relevant for your deck.
Innocent-looking one-mana creatures that turn into something dangerous tend to be my favorite type of cards and this one certainly delivers.
As long as you are playing other aggressive creatures, this experiment is a one-mana 2/2. If you make it bigger than that, it should be one of the most powerful things you can be doing in Standard. Experiment One resonates as a new version of Wild Nacatl. The progression of Nacatl when I played it in Standard was similar to this as it was a 2/2 on turn two and then a 3/3 on turn three. If you play this in a Gruul deck though, I think it could even grow to a 4/4 or 5/5, which is something we have never seen from a one-drop before. Oh yeah, it also has the ability to remove two counters to regen.
With lifegain running rampant in Standard, it’s about time we had a way to fight back. This goes above and beyond what we normally get for this type of effect. Skullcrack is good enough (meaning it has a low enough mana cost) to see play in Eternal formats as well.
This seems like one of those cards that causes a shift in the metagame, subtle but noticeable. For example, I expect there to be less Thragtusks and Sphinx's Revelations because this card exists. It may take players including Skullcrack maindeck before the shift happens though. I like this card more as a sideboard option but it is good enough to be played maindeck if needed.
Many professional Magic players have written about the potency of this card. A four-mana 4/4 is definitely a playable body and the trample ability makes it more so. The Gruul ability is really what makes the Rampager so good though. Bloodrush is uncounterable. A split card that goes between an uncounterable pump spell that also grants trample or a creature with a solid body is a powerful thing. Ghor-Clan Rampager gives you flexibility, and will also allow for interesting in-game decisions.
I may be underestimating this card by putting it at number 4. Some have compared it to Cryptic Command and I guess this is the Boros version of that card. It should be excellent both in control and aggro.
In a control deck you will have a lot of mana available, so it will be a removal spell with bonuses a lot of the time and a Time Walk the rest of the time. In an aggressive deck, you can force through damage with your creatures and prevent your opponent from casting spells for a turn. In an aggressive deck I think this spell will be cast on turns 4 and 5 to finish the game. We have never really seen this type of a card before though, so there are a lot of unknown factors surrounding it.
3. Boros Charm
Three amazing abilities. The first is a playable Legacy card in Flame Rift. The second is Rootborn Defenses except for all of your permanents instead of just creatures. The third is Double Cleave. Those three abilities combine to form one control-beating charm. Really you have two choices to beat control with this card. You can save your creatures from their Wrath effect or you can deal them a bunch of damage. I expect this spell to impact Eternal formats as well.
Control decks are going to have a rough time keeping the board clear due to Boros Charm, and their Sphinx's Revelations will have a hard time resolving due to players’ Medics. These reasons allow Prime Speaker Zegana to jump right in and fill some new gaps. There will have to be more than just Thragtusk to support the Simic legend, but the appeal of drawing that many cards should lead to her finding a home.
Last week, I wrote a whole article devoted to how good the new Ghost Council is. I felt it was one of my best articles, so make sure you check it out. The short of it is that Obzedat is really hard to kill. The removal being played in Standard is not going to cut it. There are a lot of places the Ghost Council could see play and I expect it to be a force to be reckoned with.
Until Next Time
Well, there you have it, the Gatecrash top ten. For the most part, I think my choices were straightforward, but there is definitely some debate as to the order. What are your thoughts on the set? Do you think one of the planeswalkers belongs in the top ten? What would you replace with it? Let’s get some debate going below in the comments. I want to know what you guys think.
Until Next Time,
Unleash the Gatecrash Force!