Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Return to Ravnica EDH Set Review, Part 1: Azorius

Given the prevelance of multicolor cards in Return to Ravnica, and the inherent Guild-based structure of the set, I'm slightly altering how I present this set review. The first five parts will be dedicated to the five starring guilds. This includes all cards with the respective guild's watermark, even the mono-colored cards. The following two sections will include all non-watermarked cards.

Right, so that's out of the way. Up first, we're doing this Azorius style. We'll kick things off with the head honcho, then move on to the rest of the cards.

Well, this is more impressive looking than the original Isperia, the Inscrutable. Compelling size for a W/U creature, although a 5/5 would feel more W/U appropriate. She comes packed with a compelling ability that promises untold card advantage, but it seems a little at odds with itself. To get value from her, players need to attack you, yet having Isperia on the board represents a big incentive not to attack you. Solving the Isperia riddle makes her a bit more of a Johnny general than you'd first expect. Likely to inspire a fair bit of deckbuilding, but I'm not convinced she'll pan out.

This certainly looks amazing for Limited, and probably pretty good in 60-card casual. I can see this in a deck with Venser the Sojourner and Restoration Angel. I can also see this in extremely niche EDH play. I have a Bant list currently in the queue that will likely love this card. Overall, it likely lacks board impact to really see much EDH play.

Niche-playable at best. Seems like an ideal pillow-fort card, but typically those decks have access to stuff like Propaganda that have a more blanket effect. Occasionally, though, a scalpel is a better tool than a hammer.

One thing to note, this could be a good, budget-friendly way to hose decks that rely on General Damage. I'm thinking specifically of Thraximundar. It's a good way to neutralize the threat without sending it back to the Command Zone to be recast.

I could see this having a home in Edric. It's too small/expensive to really be EDH material. But in a deck that favors small, evasive critters to big splashy ones, it might just be fair to middling filler.

In the world of pre-Titan EDH, this thing would absolutely make the cut in most decks. He does not stack up favorably to most Mythic seven-drops, though. I don't know. I'd love to declare this guy widely playable and swingy, but 7-mana guys that absolutely have to survive long enough to attack to be worth casting tend not to be, well, worth casting.

Then again, stuff like Butcher of Malakir gets played, so maybe there's hope for this guy.

Two really impressive modes and one exceedingly mediocre mode. Actually, this really just has two modes, and Cycling. That's kinda lame, but it also fits well enough into the Charm mold, plus the two real modes are pretty good. The third ability should never be miscontrued as removal (unless you have some way of making the opponent shuffle right after), but rather a huge swing in tempo. Tempo swings like this are less relevant in EDH, but not irrelevant. It'll be hard to use an effect like this consistently, but occasionally it will just save your ass in a big way.

Definitely geared more toward tournament and/or 60-card Magic. Most of the time, this will just be a bad O-ring in EDH, and most decks will answer this at the most inopportune time for you, catching you with your pants down, so to speak. I'd avoid this for EDH, unless you really know what you're doing.

Yawn. Absorb isn't exactly great, and this is a bad Absorb.

A bit underpowered for EDH. The Justiciar above would be my go-to Detain guy, simply for the fact that it hits two guys. This comes down, Detains once, then sits around uselessly until you either chump-block or a Wrath gets it incidentally.

Okay, this is a little bit better. This is one of the few cards where the ability to repeatedly detain something is built right into the card. You don't need flicker effects.
That said, it's a bit pricey to use the better ability, and the cheap ability is fairly awful.
Worst, it is impossible to avoid comparing the new Guildmages with their original Hybrid counterparts, and this guy is up against the absolute best member of that cycle. Azorius Guildmage blows this guy out of the water, but if you have room for both, this one could do okay.

Bruna, Geist of St Traft, meet your new BFF. Naw, there are still better ways to Voltron-up your W/U dudes, but this one is still really neat. It's like a Phyrexian Arena that doesn't cost you life and makes your dude bigger. It's also an Arena that dies incidentally to creature removal. If you get 2-for-1'ed immediatly, sad times, but if sticks long enough to draw you a card or two, you're okay with it. Any more than that, you're in great shape.

Kinda wish this was U/G, simply because my Edric deck would be happy to have another hand-peek effect, this one with a little added-value bonus tacked on. Other than that, it's definitely not EDH material.

I do find it amusing that you can target yourself. So, if you just drew like 40 cards off your Consecrated Sphinx, you could be a dick and just flash your awesome 40-card hand to the table and see if anyone scoops. If they don't bite, hey, at least you just gained 40 more life to weather the onslaught comin' your way!

I'd rather this cost 5 and be a 3/3 Flying Man-O-War. But even if it were that, I still probably wouldn't play it in EDH. Seems amazing in Limited though. 3/3 Flyers are great when they cost 5... at CMC 4, this thing is solid gold.

I'm torn. As impressive as this looks at first blush, I'm not sure the life gain is enough to make me play this over Mind Spring. The fact that it's an Instant, on the other hand definitely makes a bigger splash. The thing is, I'm just going to know, every time, that I'm drawing one less card than I could be.

Nah, okay, I give. In the right deck, this is basically strictly better than Stroke of Genious. Now that I look at it this way, my skepticism seems ill-placed. WANT FOIL NOW.

I don't know how often the can't be countered part will matter all that much, but some decks will just be perfectly happy with yet another 4-mana Wrath. Definitley playable, because virtually every sweeper is playable, and this ain't even a middling one. Top-tier for sure.

I need a foil of this one too.

Filibuster counters.


I rest my case.

A good example of the kind of card where, no matter how good it is in 60-card formats, it'll never be worth it's salt in EDH. This thing looks insane for competative play, but it'll just get laughed at around the EDH table.

1 comment:

  1. Filbuster Counters! I must say though that I'm not super impressed with much in the Azorius guild, but I think the number one deck that gets a boost in EDH from RtR is Ghave(like that needed to happen) with all the Selesnya/Golgari stuff. Looking forward to checking out your thoughts on the rest of the set!