Saturday, September 28, 2013

Theros EDH Set Review, Part 6: Multicolor

I'm quite surprised at how many Multicolor cards we got in this set. It certainly made sense to have some in the set, since we are coming off the Return to Ravnica block. Having some mechanical overlap and synergy between two sequential blocks is a smart move. Still, this is a bit more than I expected, though I'm certainly not unhappy about it.

Sweet! More Minotaur Tribal love.
Don't be a dick and play this in Rafiq.

Or, alternately, DO.
No, this isn't getting played, ever. /sarcasm

Seriously, Angel of Despair on steroids is 100% pure EDH gold. I can't wait to be That Guy and pair this off with a Deadeye Navigator. And then feel like a real prick for it, and never do it again.
That there is always a real chance that the +1 could literally do nothing - either you have no creatures in play, or no way to spend all that mana - is a major downer. That said, making hasty dudes for 0 is pretty cool, and the potential for crazy ramp is compelling. I'd definitely be happy shoving this into Animar or Stonebrow, or pretty much anything with lots and lots of creatures. Highly playable in the right decks, but there isn't any one deck in which I feel this is an absolute must-run.
Seems okay. Not sure how often the combat damage trigger will be relevant though. There are plenty of Echantments worth destroying of course, but generally, you want removal to be reliable and consistent.
I don't often get to call a recursion spell "crap" but in colors with access to Eternal Witness, Regrowth, Treasured Find, Phyrexian Reclamation, etc... well, this seems like a 3rd-tier option at best. But it is a Gorgon so it gets some mad flavor points for Golgari decks, and it's a creature itself, which is more inherently abusable than spells. Simply put, this will get played because it is recursion and fairly unique at that.
Watchwolf on steroids is still, basically, just Watchwolf. 
The fact that it's power is static (relatively, compared to, say, Wee Dragonauts or similar), and that it has Trample, makes this much better in EDH than it's contemperaries that require you to cast all your spells at once. I'll probably throw one in Melek as it seems most appropriate there. But honestly I don't expect it will do much.
This seems to have excited and intrigued a segment of the EDH crowd, but I have a hard time getting behind this. It's a creature that HAS to stay on the battlefield for several turns for it to even start to deliver a return on your investment, and that violates one of my main rules for evaluating creatures. I've been playing the similarly-templated Mercurial Chemister for a year now, and the number of times it has died before I could tap it even once far outstrips the number of times it's stuck around - the main difference is, I only need to tap the Chemister ONCE for it to have value - this needs to tap at least twice, usually more than that.
Well, if you ever wanted to use Pyre Zombie as your General, now's your chance, I guess...
Garbage. Points for having the best creature type combination in the set, though.
Perfect fit for all those Chorus of the Conclave decks out there... oh, wait...
The 15 year old goth kid in me really, really loves this art. Actually, the grown-up, old-ass man in me really likes the art too. I don't even know what the card does. I can't read it - every time I try I just stare at the art some more. It's a Siren, so that actually makes a lot of sense.
LOLWUT? This seems way more like a U/B card than a W/U card, but whatever, I'll take it. Card is insane, in case you were wondering. Sure he'll need a little help getting past the average EDH fatty, but it's definitely worth it. Might I recommend Steel of the Godhead, or perhaps Aqueous Form?
I'm so playing this is Edric and Damia. Oh! Combo with Drogskol Reaver!  Neat!

To be clear, this isn't really that great of a card, but it happens to fill a hole, in that my Edric deck was in need of a good way to gain some life without diluting the creature base. This will do nicely.
I know I've been shitting all over Heroic in this set review, and I stand by that criticism, but I really, really like this card. I still haven't figured out how to make it good in EDH, but I really want to, 'cause damn.
Oh my holy crap. This is my absolute favorite card in the set, by a mile. Nothing else comes close.



This is actually a pretty good utility spell. The two damage is pretty incidental, but you're not actually paying more for it. The only problem is, it competes with Hull Breach, and I don't think it wins that battle. You might run both, though...
The best Dimir spell in years comes in the block AFTER a Ravnica block? What? I don't know why in hell this wasn't in Gatecrash, but whatever. I'm just glad we got it eventually. Very good card.
I see this getting crapped on in comments and forums, but it looks solid to me. Maybe that's my bias as a die-hard Wrexial player, but this sure seems like a good fit for that deck at least. 
Limited jank.
Weird, splashy and potentially powerful. Definitely getting some attention in the format, but I personally don't like it much. Graveyard hosers tend to hose ME more than anyone else in my group. It is  also a 6/6 with solid evasion, though. 
It's quite irrational that I wan to play the crap out of this card, since it's technically a little worse than Fact or Fiction and I don't play that card much at all. But as a true Izzet fan, I feel obligated to give this a shot anyway.
The activated abilities might as well not exist. We'll hardly ever use them, to the point we'll likely forget they are even there, and probably miss out on the one golden opportunity to use them, remembering only a few turns later, smacking our head in frustration. "Shit! I had mana open! I coulda saved her!"  Still, it is a 4/5 for four mana, which is good, and the Scry 1 death trigger will be a huge boon for certain decks (Savra and Ghave, I'm looking at you!)

Well, we're almost done with this set review, but we've got Artifacts and Lands yet to go, and for the multicolor section, we've got to do the top 5 picks as well.

5. Steam Augury
4. Daxos of Meletis
3. Psychic Intrusion
2. Ashen Rider
1. Prophet of Kruphix

Lots and lots of good stuff here! In addition to the five cards above, I'm definitely playing both Planeswalkers, Reaper of the Wilds, and a handful of other cards. I'm also really love Anax and Cymede. And while Medomai might be a bit of an antisocial card, there's no denying that he's good.

Theros EDH Set Review, Part 5: Green

It's 2:00 am and I can't sleep. Hopefully this will, later on, help to explain the lack of a proper introductory paragraph.

Hopefully, the review itself will be coherent.

In what world is 2/3 of an Ancestral Recall not appealing?

Well, okay, that's not an entirely fair assessment, as this is a bit more conditional than just "G: Draw two." Enough of a difference that this looks less like 66% of a Recall and more like 100% of a dud.
Potentially big, but way too vanilla. No evasion, no ETBF effects, no value.
Generic and subpar. Not sure this makes the cut even in Enchantress. Maybe Mono-Green Enchantress?
Poor choice for ramp when there are so many better, more traditional offerings out there.
When will we stop the vicious cycle of Green-on-Green violence?
I generally don't like mana dorks that cost ONE in EDH - allowing your opponents Wrath effects to come with a free Stone Rain or two is just terrible value. That said, some Mono-Green players will be happy with this.
Nylea is pretty fantastic, but the mana cost on that activated ability is really high. I complained about Purphoros' ability earlier, but this one feels like it costs even more, but does even less. Still mass-Trample is good for some decks, and an Indestructible 6/6 with Trample is good for a lot of decks. This is one god, though, where you really need hitting that Devotion mark to be reliable, as she really isn't quite good enough as just an Enchantment.

Obviously you play her in Stonebrow, though, because I mean, c'mon...
Yep. I just love making my lands vulnerable to MORE types of removal!
How friggin' sad is it that, these days, a 6/6 for five mana with all upside abilities just fails to impress me? Pretty sad, that's how. I mean, it's impressive enough in it's stats that it should get some play, but somehow I see this guy as just a trussed-up Craw Wurm pretending to be a better card than it is.

I would love it for it's anti-Akroma potential, if Akroma were still the big, bad, scary bitch she used to be.
Well, it took me until the final card to realize that all the Emissaries cost about a bazillion mana to Bestow...
 ... but if you thought Bestow was pricey, check out some of these Monstrosity cards. Dang. Of course this one has a handy cost-reduction ability built right in. But even if this was just straight 10/10 for GGGG would anyone play it? Well, when's the last time you saw a Ghoultree in action?
Following the trend for most Monstrosity cards, this is a really efficient vanilla beatstick, seemingly with an upside, but a prohibitively costly activated ability. This one seems marginally more playable than most. As expensive as the Monstrosity can be, you can often get decent value out of just activating it for 3 mana - I mean it already kills Consecrated Sphinx at that point, which already makes this way better than the Reach Giant up above.
It's a shame this activated ability costs so much, because it has some unique and interesting multiplayer implications. You'll play this, imagining you might get to activate it and magically get a 2-for-1 by forcing an awkward block when two opponents are involved in combat. But, realistically, that isn't likely to happen very often at all. Maybe once, but after you catch an opponent off guard the first time, they'll remember in the future exactly why you're playing such a janky card.
As much as I love Scry 2, there's no way I'm paying a premium of 2 mana just to add it to my Naturalize.

Meh. Not really that great as an anti-Blue card, but as a giant hasty beater it could do... still seems largely mediocre to me.
More like Bow of Crazy Value! I don't know what any of these abilities, save the Damage Flyers one, have to do with archery, flavorwise, but the Swiss Army knife approach certainly works mechanically. Mass deathtouch is insanely good, too. It's about as close to "all your creatures are unblockable" as you can get, so 3 mana in Green seems like a real bargain. This definitely competes with Thassa's for "Best God Weapon" in the set.
As I said before, I don't like mana dorks.
Hey look! It's been a while since I've seen a Kev Walker illustration this good. What happened to that guy? I remember when he used to do stuff like Commander Greven il-Vec or Lightning Helix.

Oh well, he DID do Jhoira of the Ghitu, though, so that alone buys him enough goodwill to automatically forgive about a hundred less illustrations.

Well, surprisingly Green didn't do too well in this set. They get the best of the God Weapons and a couple of other treats, but not a lot to get excited over. Here's my top 5 picks:

5. ... I got nothin'.
4. Arbor Colossus
3. Nylea, God of the Hunt
2. Polukranos, World Eater
1. Bow of Nylea

That Arbor of Colossus even made the list, and I couldn't find a 5th card at all is damning. I'm not even over the moon for #2 or #3, though they're certainly playable. Really, the Bow is singlehandedly propping Green up in this set.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Theros EDH Set Review, Part 4: Red

Ah, the weakest color in Magic... I kid, I kid. Red does seem to get the shaft a lot, though. Let's hope this isn't one of those times.

Minotaur tribal, at last! Someone get to work making this, pronto! Lord knows I'm not gonna do it. I don't play bad decks.
So... that activated ability seems pretty awful when you consider that Moonveil Dragon is a card. However, that insane triggered ability is just redonkulous. Definitely gonna get some play in Rith. I think Mono-Red fans will be most pleased by this guy, but I can see him giving R/G decks some reach too. Animar would definitely play the hell out of this guy too.
This is certainly one of the sexiest Pyroclasm variants to come along in a long while... maybe ever. EDH isn't really a "weenie" driven format, and most real threats start at 4/4 or better, so this is going to seem downright lackluster when it just hits some Wood Elves and whatnot. Still, any card that can potentially exile multiple opposing creatures at once is definitely worth looking into. Oh, and it's definitely going into every Gisela deck out there. 
Did anyone else like Prometheus? I thought it had some issues, but overall was quite entertaining. That c-section scene with Noomi Rapace, though... .wow. That made me squirm uncomfortably in my seat. Not many movies can do that.
I have this idea for a R/W Heroic deck, for 60-card Magic, with Isochron Scepter and lots of cheap pump spells. Think it will work?
Lame. Who needs to hate on Red? It's already the worst color in EDH...  :)
Definitely viable for Mono-Red. Like many Devotion cards, it's going to be a dud sometimes, but in mono, it should be well worth 4 mana quite often, and sometimes it'll just be downright crazy how much damage you get out of this. Leaving behind a 4/2 isn't terrible either.
Seems kinda random, but the existence and popularity - no, the ubiquity of Consecrated Sphinx practically guarantees that this will see some play. The rest of the package isn't too shabby either. 
 Seems playable, but I'm not a fan. I have a feeling activating it's Monstrous ability will hurt you far worse that it will hurt the Green mages at the table.
Heroic bad.
 Jeez that some steep Bestow mana there. Totally weaksauce. Art is friggin sweet though.
 I don't usually do reprints in these reviews, and this one isn't all that great in EDH. Just wanted to share how much I love that new art. Love it. There, I shared.
SO MUCH DOWNSIDE! Everywhere you look, this thing is screwing you more than it is helping you. Then someone casts Blasphemous Act and you're almost happy taking the 13 just to see this thing gone and stop the bleeding.
Really good static, horrible activated. Worth it? I'm thinking, not usually. Red's already got Fervor and Urabrask, not to mention Ogre Battledriver and In the Web of War. Plus there's Fires of Yavimaya, and God knows what else. Just that whole "sac a land" thing... really seems to be a buzzkill.

Okay, that's about it, except for the Top 5 wrap-up.

5. Rageblood Shaman (on cool points alone)
4. Anger of the Gods
3. Fanatic of Mogis
2. Stormbreath Dragon
1. Purphoros, God of the Forge

Well, as usual, Red is rather unexciting overall, but it is thankfully not devoid of playables. A little disappointing, but it has fared worse in the past.