Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Return To Ravnica EDH Set Review Portal

As is the custom here at The Command Zone, I've set up this post as a convenient page of links to all seven parts of my Return to Ravnica EDH set review. The links below are broken up by color.

Please leave a comment if I missed a card, if you think I assessed a card wrongly, or if you just have some cool uses for a card in the set.


Return to Ravnica EDH Set Review, Part 7: R, G, A/L

Finally! It's been far, far too long this time around. But we are now at the final installment of my Return to Ravnica EDH Set Review. Red, Green, Artifacts and Lands are all that is left, so let's dive in.


I can't see this being worth the investment of card and mana in even a token-based Red deck. Krenko Mob Boss and Ib Halfheart might be the two exceptions, but even in those decks this will often be a mediocre-to-okay card.
Very hard to utilize in EDH. It's got potential, as recurring source of targeted damage, but the enchantment itself is a bit too expensive, the damage is in too-small increments, and the trigger is too narrow.

By the way, is there some sort of law now that Red has to get an enchantment like this in every set? "Whenever you do {insert block mechanic here}, deal X damage (usually 2) to target creature or player" is a phrase we see in pretty much every damn block now.

Oh well, at least the Flashback-triggered one was sorta playable.
Such an amazing, exceptionally great card. However, this is clearly a Constructed card, designed for a very specific metagame - one in which Snapcaster Mage gets cast multiple times in nearly every game. Narrow, meta-game-y sideboard cards like this are almost always worthless in EDH (unless they're graveyard hate).
 I think this will get poo-pooed by most players for being a "do-nothing" for six. However, in any R/X/Y "Giant Monster" build, this is actually highly appealing. I'm thinking Kaalia and Mayael for starters - both are all about cheating large, expensive battlecrusiers into play, and those decks contain them in high enough numbers to make this fairly reliable.

It's free monsters, AND you'll often kill whatever your opponent flips over. Best of all, in Multiplayer, you get to pick your opponent in the Guild Fight, so you can always harrass the Edric deck or the Mono-White Soldier deck - their guys will never be big enough to kill whatever you're flipping.

'Nuff said.

Now, see, THIS is the effect I wish was on the dumb Red enchantment. Casting instants or sorceries is a broad enough trigger that it would be EDH viable, and the 2 damage to each opponent is a much more multiplayer-oriented  ability.

Sticking this on a fragile 2/2 creature is the surest way to ensure this guy is virtually worthless in EDH. Creatures just die way easier and way more often in EDH.

That said, the ability is desirable enough I can see him getting some play, especially in Blue/Red decks loaded with spells and countermagic. Counterspelling a removal spell or sweeper to protect this guy actually triggers him. Delicious.


There are easier ways to get a good, blanket overrun effect. The value in this card, though, is that, if you're already casting an Overrun spell, she effectively doubles it. Case in point: You have her, some other dudes, and you cast Overrun. Everything gets +3/+3 including her. Declare attackers. She's a 4/4 so she gives all your other guys an addition +4/+4.

I guess that's okay, but it seems kinda win-more to me.

Oh, and I really think it's a crime that she isn't an Elf. Elves and Overrun effects have been like Peanut Butter and Jelly since the early days of Magic.
 The new Guild Gates are sure to be staples of the format, helping budget-minded players fix their mana bases. The key to making them relevant to players who are already packing ABUR duals and Shocklands out the wazoo is to make the Gate type relevant. So far this is the closest thing in print to making us care about the "Gate" type, and I'm not sure even this cuts the mustard. Hopefully by the time "Sinker" hits, there will be some more powerful incentives to care about "gates".
Maze of Ith, Gaea's Cradle, Cabal Coffers. Anything that taps for lots of mana or has a powerful, cheap utility effect is worth enchanting with this. That said, I can't say it's going to be reliable enough that you'll want to play this. Getting the right land in play, AND having this in hand at the same time is tricky to pull off. And if you're using tutors to do it, well, there are probably just far better things you could be doing with your tutors and mana.

Still, sticking this on Maze of Ith in an Edric deck seems like really good times.
I'm sure this has a legit use, but I can't see what it is. Slow-rolling that mana advantage is not usually the way to get ahead in EDH, especially in Green.
Big, fat "duh". Obviously this gets played in the format. Not ever deck with green will automatically want a CMC 11 fatty, and those that do will often just run Ulamog instead. But if you're sick of playing with Elrdazi funwreckers, give this shit a try. I've seen it in live play already and it is disturbing how good this guy actually is.
Ghave decks, obv. However, Ghave already has like a million good enchantments that work great with him and this one is on average 1 more mana than most of them. Plus it's a bit less explosive than, say, Doubling Season or even Cathar's Crusade. I spent over 30 minutes trying to squeeze this into my Ghave deck and it just wouldn't fit.

Savra seems like an okay fit, but the average creature is too small to really make this shine in that deck.

No, I really think Skullbriar decks are where this is most at home. Oh, and of course Animar decks.
I'm not sure if this has an EDH home, or where that would be, but I love this card. The concept and flavor are excellent, as is the art. I think it might have a place in Edric as a sort of budget Kira, Great Glass-spinner. Other than that I'm not so sure.
Green so rarely gets "destroy target creature" cards, and when it does, they usually say "with flying" right afterward. That's okay, though because most threats to a Green deck are flying creatures. There was a time, back in the day, when every Green deck ran Wing Shards as a way to deal with Akroma, Angel of Wrath, who was, for a very long time, THE best game-ending creature in the format.

They've been printing strictly-better versions of Wing Shards for a while now, and while I still prefer Plummet over this (the 2 life isn't really worth the additional mana) I'll still happily play this in any Green deck that simply NEEDS more removal.


I usually hate it when people declare a brand-new card a "staple". By the very definition, calling something a staple precludes it being brand new to the format.

That said, if there's one card in this set I'm willing to make an exception for, it's this. Sure, it's worthless in mono-colored and only worth running in some two-color decks. But at three or more colors, this is pure, undiluted auto-include.

This WILL be a true staple of the format. Get 'em while you can - remember what happened to Coalition Relic back in the day?
EDH players have been longing for a colorless Eternal Witness for a very long time. Well, here it is. Time will tell if we're willing to pay six mana for something Green can do for 2 or 3 mana, but a colorless Regrowth is bound to make a few players happy to pay double for it.
Hilarious, inventive design, but utterly terrible nonetheless.

This represents the whole cycle of Keyrunes for RtR. This is my favorite of them, because the "looting" ability is the only one among them likely to be relevant at all points at the game.

I dislike the green-producing ones because Green has access to near-inifinite amounts of better ramp. The Rakdos one is playable, as that's a color pair that usually needs more ramp badly, but the creature is likely to be irrelevant after turn 4 which would be the earliest it could attack! And the Azorius one is just uninspiring with a 2/2 flyer (but again playable if you just need more mana rocks).

So for now, Izzet Keyrune remains the most compelling of the bunch.


The Gate Cycle
All of the Gates are certainly playable. The Invasion tap lands were always fine, and these are basically the exact same thing, save that there are (after Gatecrash) enemy pair versions too, not just friendly pairs. Also the Gate subtype might end up proving mildly relevant.

All in all, these are fantastic budget options, and while I still prefer the original Ravnica bouncelands in most decks, I can definitely see playing these in most two-color builds.

Unlikely to find the ubiquity of, say, Reliquary Tower, this is nonetheless a near-universally playable land. For virtually any deck that has a reasonable chance at General Damage wins, this is a sure bet. For many other decks, this will just be good at letting that one critical attack through.

It is a bit expensive, though, which is why I'm not touting it as playable in "every single deck in existence". Some decks simply won't have the mana available at the right time, or the right creature to push through.

But it will definitely see some play in EDH, rest assured.

Okay, folks, that's a wrap. Sorry it took so damn long to finish, but hopefully life will settle down soon, and I'll be able to get back to brewing, playing and writing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Return to Ravnica EDH Set Review, Part 6: W, U, B

Sorry for the delay, folks. It's been an insanely busy couple of weeks, and I am pretty much tapped out, but here goes an attempt to keep some kind of juice flowing. Picking up where we left off, here's the next piece of the RtR set review.


This is one of those hype cards that I just don't buy into. I'm sure it's good. It just doesn't do much for me. I'm sure it'll be popular in the EDH format regardless.

If it cost six, I might give more of a damn. I dunno.

Can any of you tell me why I should be more interested in this card?
 To hell with this card. I hate it.

But, objectively, I must say it's very playable, and certainly stands a good chance of being played in any EDH group where Graveyard decks are a thing (and that's pretty much ALL of them).

White has two of the best removal spells ever printed: Swords and Path. Even if you have an Enchantment-themed deck and would rather play Auras over Instants, White has better options there, too.

Basically, what I'm getting at is: this sucks.
 Pillow fort!!!!

 This is crap. Playable in a Doran the Siege Tower deck? Maybe, but it's still pretty janky even there. Mad props if you at least try it out - just don't get your expectations up too high.
My early draft pretty much shat on this card. However, that was before I played against it in the Prerelease. It's still not going to be universally playable in EDH, nor will it even be exceptionally powerful in the decks where it does make sense... but it definitely does not completely suck ass.
Generally speaking, this little guy is going to be badly outclassed and outmatched in battle cruiser EDH. However, I have found Boros Swiftblade to be extremely playable in a deck that runs 10 to 12 pieces of very powerful Equipment cards. This guys is basically just Boros Swiftblade x2 in my Gisela deck.
 Marginally playable in a deck that has a Soldier tribal theme AND cares about making Soldier tokens. It's still to small and lacks evasion to be a reliable threat in most decks, so it's playability should be considered extremely narrow at best.

Meh. If if could continuously poop out Soliders it'd be awesome, but as a one-shot effect it sucks. And "tap to prevent 1 damage" is one of the most pathetically laughable mechanics ever, for EDH purposes. No one swings with 1/1's unless they have a million of them.
A lot of token-deck players will love this. Personally, I think Intangible Virtue is so drastically better that I'd feel bad playing this even along side that Enchantment.

Mostly, I just don't like token-buffers to die to the same Wrath that just killed my token army itself.

Virtue is half the mana cost, doesn't die to Wrath, and has the Vigilance thing going for it as well (which makes a surprisingly huge difference in multi-player!). Meh.


Maybe my inner-Johnny is just tired, but this seems like a great fit for Zedruu decks, and pretty much junk anywhere else.
This seemed like a sure thing for Wrexial... but ultimately it just wasn't good enough to warrant a slot. I see this as a tool for decks that are dedicated to winning via decking your opponents, but pretty mediocre for decks that just want to plunder overstuffed graveyards and win along some other axis.

I expect many folks to disagree with me here, but I just see it as being too circumstantial. Also you might accidentally set up someone else's game-breaking Living Death for them.
 LOL. Another card were I am WAY less impressed than the overall reaction would indicate. I just don't see this guy being all that special in EDH.
Bah. Obviously WotC is saying "Hey, look guys! Here's a Consecrated Sphinx that doesn't do shit in EDH!"

I get that not every card should or can pass the "EDH playable?" test, but this kinda thing just bugs me. Cause I can't fathom a 60 card deck wanting this. It practically screams "only playable in EDH" yet it very specifically is NOT playable in a singleton format.
 And, the second Blue rare that is literally useless in any kind of Singleton format. What the hell, WotC? I know these kinds of cards deserve to exist, and should exist, but two in one set, in the same color, at Rare? Ugh.
 Clearly, WotC has been infiltrated by the Bronies.
Face it. If you're playing this in EDH, it's not because it's a Shrieking Drake with an extra point of Power.  It's because you're going to somehow go infinite with it. Boring combo piece for those who are into that sort of thing, but useless for the rest of us.

Let's all just be thankful this didn't see print in Lorwyn, when Faeries were the terror of Standard.


How "strictly better" does a strictly better Grizzly Bears need to be before it sees EDH play? Well, it'd have to be better, still, than this chick.

That art is strictly better, though, if you know what I mean. Mrrowwwr!
While I haven't quite figured out a place for this - I know it goes somewhere, I just don't know where. It's sexy, powerful and very swingy in the right deck... if only I knew what the deck was.
In groups with a lot of mono-colored Generals, I can see this being absolutely playable, but in my experience, Go For the Throat or Murder will almost always be far more reliable than this.
Very awesome design, and potentially quite powerful. Most groups simply see too many board-sweepers in the average game for this to be a good fit for EDH, but there are dedicated Rat fans out there who won't care enough to let that stop them!

A welcome addition to Rat tribal, either way.
There it is! The spiritual successor to Debtors' Knell arrives at long last. Ironically, you no longer need to have access to White, except you still WANT access to White because of Acdemy Rector.

The problem is, Debtors' Knell is one of those cards that always gets answered. It's literally been years since I've successfully reanimated a single creature with Knell. I hope to have better luck with this...
Seems alright, but obviously it's gonna be terrible against tokens. Personally, I'm not a fan but I can see it making cameos in Thraxi or Savra decks.
This card is in esteemed company: Phyrexian Arena, Graveborn Muse, Bloodgift Demon and now this. All of them are highly playable, and while some players might shy away from this, fearing to offer an LD player a juicy 2-for-1 opportunity, I think most decks that are starved enough for card draw to play Arena will happily play this as well.

Factor in that this can never accidentally kill you like Arena can - if you don't NEED the card, don't use it! Also, it has more tech-y uses with stuff like Deserted Temple, that untap lands. Overall, I think this is extremely good, and very playable.
Fleshbag Marauder grew up a little bit. Fleshbag is one of the most underrated multiplayer creatures ever, virtually always offering a 3-for-1 trade or better, and if you have a spare Token to sac, it's more like a 3-for-0.

At the same time, the 4/2 stats and 4 mana price point remind me an awful lot of Flametongue Kavu, another underrated piece of utility.

The thing is, I'm not 100% sure most EDH decks really need two cards worth of Fleshbag Marauder. Certainly I do have a few decks that might play both - Savra, for sure. But the difference between 3 and 4 mana is surprisingly relevant, especially considering Barter in Blood is out there.

Playable? Absolutely. But not the auto-include you might assume, given how badass Fleshbag Marauder is.
 Friggin' awful. There is no way I would EVER want to pay twice as much for a Murder just to get a lousy discard rider.
I've yet to see this kind of Black Vise strategy successfully implemented in EDH. Definitely more of a 60-card format build-around card. But, the more cards of this type get printed over time, eventually a Discard Vise deck could emerge.