Monday, April 23, 2012

Avacyn Restored EDH Set Reveiw, Part Two: Blue

Time for the Blue portion of the set review. Blue usually has some pretty abysmal rares with weird, janky effects that usually wind up being way to quirky to actually be good. This time, Blue gets Infinite Reflection, which seems likely to be a cut above the usual wacky Blue rare. It at least has lots of potential for awesomeness. Let's see what else Blue might have to offer...

Only warrants a mention because of it's vague similarity to Sakura-Tribe Elder, a beloved staple of the format. But, while this does look an awful lot like STE, superficially, it's significantly less powerful. For one, drawing a card is not nearly as good as the Rampant Growth given by the snake, and for another Blue just has better ways to draw cards. Where as STE was actually one of Green's best ramp spells of all time, this is rather mediocre for a Blue card-drawer.
Speaking of mediocre card draw, this is pretty underwhelming. However, it's useful if you're setting up for some Tunnel Vision shennigans or something like that. mostly, though, I'd be playing Foresee or Deep Analysis well before I'd be looking at this.
The key to breaking a symmetrical effect like this (that benefits all players equally), is to build your deck to take better advantage of it. For this Enchantment in particular, that means loading your deck with more powerful, high-end Instant and Sorcery cards so that, while your opponents will be getting discounts too, you're just getting better value by casting more powerful effects than they are.

It should also be noted that this will be a lock for many Riku decks; at least those that aren't focused too heavily on creatures. It's nicely satisfying that this just happens to reduced the cost by 2, while Riku's copy ability costs 2...
Cute, but probably too weak to really matter unless you find a way to go infnite, then it's just another dumb combo peice. Still, I can think of a few minor uses for this that might elevate it from "bad" to "acceptable".
Impressive. I'm pretty sure this card will see tons of EDH play, but it may take some time for him to catch on. The myriad possible uses for this card are FAR too numerous to mention here, but just trust me when I say this is one of the most endlessly versatile creatures I have ever seen.
It will do stupid, stupid things with Primeval Titan.

Damn. This makes Evacuation look downright sad.  Yeah, Evac is an Instant and this is not, so that's a definite downside. But, I think the fact that it hits all nonland permanents and the ridiculously sexy Miracle cost makes this vastly superior. Best of all, though, is that you can play them both!
My kneejerk reaction to this card was angry confusion. This just feels like one of the least Blue cards I've ever seen. It just feels like an egregious breach of the color pie, that I hated it right off the bat. Then I looked all the way back to Alpha, which had Lord of Atlantis, and then more recently at Grand Architect. So yeah, it still feels like they cheated a bit here, but I guess there is some precedent for giving Blue a vaguely specific Anthem effect. Seems cool with Emeria Angel.

I get that a 3/4 Flyer for three mana is supposed to be sexy, at least in Blue. But I hate this for pretty much any format. I might draft this, but I can't see using this outside of Limited.

Meh. So, I can now attack with Arcanis AND draw cards? Wait, why am I not just playing Consecrated Sphinx? That's way better. Potentially a janky combo peice, terrible everywhere else.

One of the most interesting and exciting commons in the set, Ghostly Flicker has a lot of potential. It's a shame that it can't target Planeswalkers, though. I defiintely think this is playable in the right decks, which is quite a lot of them. There are a number of ways this can be used in an infinite combo, but it has a very diverse range of possible uses outside of that one.
For once the standard shitty Blue enchantment is actually pretty cool. Maybe it's still shitty, but it's the kind of card I'll try to play anyway, just because it has such a high potential for funny, awkward game states that even if it completely fails to win me the game, it will still probably be fun enough that I don't care. That said, there are some pretty tech-y ways to make this actually good. Putting it on an opponent's Primeval Titan is a good start.
 Blue already has better bounce options, most of them Instant speed.
I'd almost always rather play Invisible Stalker or Blighted Agent over this. I can see this being acceptable in Rafiq, though.
 Really cool set of abilities, but as a 4/4 with no evasion, this isn't likely to be able to safely attack more than once or twice, if at all. Also the "if you control no other creatures" part makes me sadface. I can't imagine this being played at all in EDH, apart from in some very odd, very janky theme deck.
Card drawing engines like this are always good. It's a bit narrow, yes, and to such an extent that it will definitely limit it's overall playability. But there are absolutely some decks out there that will just go to town with this guy.  Most of the time, I'll be sticking with my Mulldrifters and Consecrated Sphinxes, but I'm determined to find a home for this guy.

I'm not sure Blue is the best color to take advantage of this, but I suppose it will draw 3 or 4 cards most of the time in the right deck.
 Ugh. I know a lot of people think this is awesome, but I just think it's boring. Yeah, it combos wtih Food Chain, but I could care less about yet another infinite mana combo. Most of the time, this is simply going to be an utterly irrelevant body that only works against stuff like Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile, yet isn't at all threatening enough to warrant an opponent wasting one of those spells on it. I'll definitely be trading away every copy of this I open.
Nice. New take on Mistmeadow Witch, but with the new flicker technology. Obviously this is pretty good with repeatable steal effects like Dominus of Fealty or Chamber of Manipulation, where it lets you cheat and keep the stolen guy permanently. But it's also a 1/1 creature, and likely to get Wrathed away incidentially before you've done anything cool with it. Still probably pretty useful in a variety of decks.
"I cast my big, scary threat."
"Counter that?"
"Mmm... I'd rather you didn't."

What can I say, I dislike countermagic, but a counterspell that will mostly be used to counter other counterspells is not at all a bad thing.
Yay! Another too-expensive Control Magic variant. I take back what I said about Infinite Reflection. THIS is Blue's shitty enchantment for the set.

God, I miss Treachery.
Well, they've been pushing mill quite a bit lately, but this seems weaksauce, if that's what you're going for. Almost certainly too weak for EDH. If you're really wanting to push Mill as a viable win-con, this ain't the card to do it with.
Seems too random and uncontrollable to me, but I'm sure it'll see quite a bit of play regardless. This would defiintely be fun to copy with Riku or Echo Mage...

Clearly that "ultimate" is just bonkers. True, that applies to most P-walker ultimates, but this one is definitely up there with one of the most powerful. Her other two abilities are also pretty wildly variable. Some situations, she'll be amazing, others, she'll be terrible.

At $40.00 currently, she's not good enough to run out and buy a copy of her, but if I happen to crack her in a pack, I'd be happy to find a home for her in one of my decks. Probably Edric.
Bleh. There are better Ophidian variants out there. That said, I'm considering this for Edric, as it's pretty thematically and mechanically relevant, but beyond that, I see little to no use for this guy.
Well, I rather doubt any of you need me to tell you that Time Walk is rather playable. On the other hand, not a lot of you will want to pay seven mana for a Time Warp that exiles itself, thus preventing Cronarch/Witness bullshit.

That's why I love it, though. Extra Turn effects are just fucking annoying when you can get them back repeatedly with various regrowth effects. The self exile clause, plus the holy-shit sexiness of the Miracle cost makes this my favorite Extra Turn card in the game.

(You can always Echo Mage this...)

Beautiful art, compelling Miracle cost, but atrocious retail mana cost. Hard casting this will almost never be worth doing. If it was a tuck spell, I'd say it was absolutely 100% playable (assuming you are willing to play with tuck effects, naturally). But as-is I don't think this stands a chance.

That's it for Blue. What's the verdict? Well it's a little unfortunate that there are two mythics in the color that are extremely high-dollar right now, but I can see Tamiyo failing to connect with the serious business players and dropping in cost, a la Jace, Memory Adept. She might also have such a high casual appeal, though, that she remains quite expensive for the time being. The psuedo-Time-Walk will almost certainly retain it's value, so you better pray you open one in a pack, if that's the kind of thing you'd like to have for EDH.

The rest is a pretty typical mix of trash and treasure, but with a fairly high amount of playable stuff. Blue doesn't usually fair quite this well, so it's a happy day for non-dickish Blue mages.

Next up is Black. Enjoy!

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