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Alara Reborn Set Review – Bant

 

Welcome to the Bant review for Alara Reborn!

The scale I was given for reviewing, which may be familiar if you’ve checked out the other parts of this series, looks like this:

Constructed:
5- Multi-format All-Star. Bitterblossom. Tarmogoyf.
4- Format staple. Mutavault. I originally put Vault as a 5, but then realized that decks don’t alter to deal with it. It is just a very very good card in a lot of decks, and I think that is the distinction between 4 and 5. It’s possibly a 4.5 if we use halves. Thoughts?
3- Archetype staple. Mulldrifter. Scion of Oona.
2- Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Fracturing Gust.
1- It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was “tech” vs Owling Mine.)

Limited:
5- Windmill slam bomb. Broodmate Dragon (although I famously didn’t take it once. It was pack three and I was only in one of the colors with very little fixing). Banefire.
(This is where I feel half-point ratings could be useful. Oblivion Ring is clearly a cut above the rest of the commons, but doesn’t win games like the above duo.)
4- Not embarrassing first pick. Agony Warp.
3- Archetype staple. Mosstodon.
2- Low end playable or archetype dependant card. Glaze Fiend. Incurable Ogre. Sideboard staples. Naturalize.
1- Someone somewhere used this card once. Mindlock Orb. (I am waiting to use this card against a 5cc deck with infi Panoramas and landcyclers…)

Ardent Plea

Constructed: 2

The number given to this card is irrelevant. On the first level, this card isn’t very good. You wouldn’t play this as a three-mana exalted enchantment that plays a random spell from your deck, so in that aspect it gets a 1. The exalted deck isn’t really a Constructed competitor, and this isn’t a reason it could become one.

On the second level, this card starts to get exciting. The enchantment part is now irrelevant. Instead, this is a tutor that plays a particular good spell from your deck each time. That card could be Time Walk, Ancestral Visions, or even Time Sieve. If you need to tutor for a combo piece that costs less than three, this is a way to do it. The biggest problem is not being able to run other cards that cost less than three, otherwise they will get in the way. Because of this drawback, I don’t see this deck doing very well.

On the next level, however, this card is mind boggling. This is the level where you don’t care that you can’t play many cards that cost less than three because you’re using Ardent Plea to play Restore Balance, Wheel of Fate, or Living End. Ardent Plea isn’t just limited to these spells, because this is the level of wacky costs. You can cast either side of Boom//Bust if you hit it off of an Ardent Plea. Not only do all these new strategies have to be tested, but any time a new spell comes out with some wacky cost that also has a converted mana cost less than three, it needs to be checked against Ardent Plea.

This doesn’t mean Ardent Plea will be played, or that any of the decks made with it will be any good, but the mere fact that it has so many ramifications pushed Ardent Plea in the realm beyond ratings.

Limited: 3

The cascade cards are weird to rate in Limited, because their power varies widely based on what is in your deck. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some cascade spells that are so powerful I would run them whether or not I had whiffs in my deck. This includes Bituminous Blast, Enlisted Wurm, Enigma Sphinx, and possibly Deny Reality, though I’m not sure about that one yet.

The other category of cascade spells are those I wouldn’t run if there were any whiffs in my deck, or at least a minimum of one. This includes Kathari Remnant, Captured Sunlight, Stormcallers Boon, and Violent Outburst. As long as these spells consistently hit a creature or removal spell, I’ll be happy to run them. Often I’ll change the way I build my deck so I can run spells like this, cutting that Spell Snip from my deck and running a different 23rd card instead. Whiffing with these spells can be devastating, however, so I want to make sure that is nearly impossible.

Ardent Plea fits into the second category. I love having this spell in an aggressive deck with a lot of good two-drops. It’s especially great when you cascade into a creature that also has exalted, or into Bant Sureblade or another member of that awesome cycle. If there were whiffs I had to run, however, I don’t think the risk overweighs the reward. Ardent Plea is best when it’s essentially a two-mana creature with exalted, but that’s not worth getting blown out by hitting a Feral Hydra, Banefire, or a Hindering Light. It’s hard to whiff on two mana, but it can be done.

Aven Mimeomancer

Constructed: 1

This is a weird card for Constructed. It looks to me like Aven Mimeomancer wants to be in an aggressive deck, upgrading your creatures and attacking. Unfortunately, most of the creatures you’re running should be good before they are turned into a 3/1s with flying, so that can’t be that much of an upgrade. Downgrading your opponent’s creatures starts to get interesting, but having to wait to your upkeep to do so seem very inconsistent. I’ve heard this guy could make an impact in formats beyond Extended, but I’m not the guy to consult for that kind of advice.

Limited: 4
The moment I saw this card I thought of the sick things that a Vithian Stinger can do. Beyond pingers and Blister Beetle, this card still has a lot of potential. He’s already very aggressively costed, but the fact that he can get your other creatures up and into the air, sometimes with a power boost, is pretty good. Not only that, but he can even downgrade your opponent’s big creatures in a pinch. I have yet to play with Aven Mimeomancer to see how good he actually is, but I’m pretty sure it’s great.

Bant Sojourners

Constructed: 1

This is no Decree of Justice. It’s not even Raise the Alarm. When you want tokens, you want a lot of tokens fast and cheap, and Bant Sojourners’s cycling ability doesn’t deliver. A creature being able to replace your team when it dies to a Wrath of God is good, but a 1/1 is hardly the replacement you were looking for. I’ve seen some Elvish Visionary seeing play in Block just to save some damage and replace itself, kind of like a Renewed Faith, but three mana is a lot more than two. Maybe I’m wrong and the versatility of Bant Sojourners to actually be cast could make a difference. Still, I don’t see a 2/4 being very impacting.

Limited: 3
This is a low end three, but still solid. Bant Sojourners still bores me a bit compared to the rest of the cycle. It doesn’t have the good ability of Jund Sojourners, the impact of Naya Sojourners, the flexibility of Esper Sojourners, or the body of Grixis Sojourners, but it still gets the job done. I haven’t been able to fully test this one out yet, so I could see myself liking this card more as I play with it. There are so many good cards in pack three that solid cards like this will often come late – a good thing if you are the Bant player. I would play some of the other Sojourners just for their cycling ability, but not this one.

Bant Sureblade

Constructed: 2
This whole cycle deserves a look because of how efficient each one is. Bant Sureblade has one of the more underwhelming abilities next to haste, flying, and even shroud, this one is in the right colors. Green, white and blue like efficient creatures, and Bant Sureblade is certainly that. Unfortunately, so are the other creatures in the same color. Qasali Pridemage should usually be the better GW option. Most creatures you’ll want to play are going to be better than a vanilla 2/1, so the risk of having a disabled Sureblade coupled with the deck-building restriction of wanting a lot of multicolerd permanents will probably be the bane of Bant Sureblade

Limited: 3
A very solid card, first strike makes this creature very hard to block early in the game. He’s no Esper Stormblade, but a good card nonetheless. This is what most two-drops in your deck will aspire to be, but its power level does shift depending on the number of gold permanents you have in your deck. This cycle does change the way I draft, as now I value multicolored permanents slightly higher.

Captured Sunlight

Constructed: 2
I’ve said most of what I have to say about the cascade mechanic under Ardent Plea. Captured Sunlight is a lot worse because, when you’re trying to cast a particular spell, four mana is a much bigger deck restriction than three.

I made the cascade deck for Block, and it’s pretty neat. The deck works surprisingly well, and Captured Sunlight is one of the key spells. Sometimes you hit a Borderpost or a Trace of Abundance instead of a removal spell, putting you a little behind. Captured Sunlight helps regain that ground and gives you another chance at that removal spell you need. Still, the deck is pretty gimmicky and doesn’t have the feel of a format-winner.

In a normal deck, Captured Sunlight doesn’t make the cut. Gaining four life isn’t powerful enough on its own to outweigh the possible whiffing. You can build your deck so that you never whiff, but the deck building restriction can’t be worth it.

Limited: 3
Most of what I said about Ardent Plea is relevant here. I wouldn’t run Captured Sunlight if there was more than one whiff in my deck, and it would still be hard to convince me to run it if there was only one whiff. I like this card more in the control decks, as hitting an Obelisk or Borderpost isn’t that bad, and the four life is very helpful. Those decks will usually have more removal to hit, also. It still has a role in an aggressive deck as you often hit a creature, and the four life is helpful in a race.

A big thing with cascade is knowing what you can hit before you cast it. Some decks cast an Ardent Plea and know they are going to hit a creature, though there is often than Unsummon to keep in mind. Don’t let yourself be put in an awkward situation by being surprised by a spell you didn’t see coming off of your cascade. Also, I’ve been struggling with when to cast my cascade spells. Generally I’ll cast them before combat, especially on something like Violent Outburst or Ardent Plea. Your deck will often have an exalted creature or removal spell in it that would be useful to hit. There are times, however, when you’ll hit a Call to Heel and want to bounce your own creature after combat. There are intricacies to cascading you need to watch out for – one day the decision to cast your spell before or after combat could be the deciding factor.

Crystallization

Constructed: 1

This is essentially Pacifism plus, a card that never really saw play. There are times when white just needs to keep a creature out of the red zone, and Pacifism sees play, but it’s never ideal. There are the niche enchantment decks, but that’s not really relevant right now. It could easily just happen that you need Crystallization in Block to hold back a Woolly Thoctar, but you’re not going to be happy about it. A real removal spell is instant and works on everything, not some silly enchantment.

Limited: 4

This is a great removal spell. Sure, while slightly easier to cast than Terminate, it’s still worse in the long run. Even then there are times where you kill a Spearbreaker Behemoth and laugh. I’ve found that targeting the creature usually isn’t a big deal. Something like Jund Battlemage isn’t stopped by a Crystalization alone, but combine it with a Naya Sojourners and you are fine. I don’t know where you’re supposed to rate high class removal spells, but they are fours in my book.

Dauntless Escort

Constructed: 3

Sheesh, what a man! We’re paying three mana for a 3/3, so there is no room to complain as far as size is concerned. This is the dream card for anybody who’s ever been on the wrong end of a Wrath of God. Heck, he’s even good with your own Wrath! I Foresee bad things happening to my friends when a Dauntless Escort and a Martial Coup make for a very awkward game. He can even protect more important members of your team from spot removal spells like Terminate.

While Dauntless Escorts is super efficient, there are still some problems. First, you can still get blown out by a Wrath of God when they Terror your Dauntless Escort at the end of the turn. That, or they can just cast Hallowed Burial. Path to Exile, Bant Charm, and Oblivion Ring can still make it though his shield. Clearly he isn’t unstoppable, but he’s still very efficient and usually stops you from being two-for-oned, so I give him my thumbs up.

Limited: 4

Sheesh, what a man! His size is big enough to elicit a groan from the other side of the table on turn three. Then he makes any combat involving more than one creature very dangerous. He’s great at protecting your bombs, and makes it very hard for your opponent to two-for-one you. Two-for-one shields are fantastic, especially when they come attached to a 3/3 for three.

Fieldmist Borderpost

Constructed: 2

It is very hard to justify a Borderpost over a tri-land, especially because they require you to run too many basic lands. Even in block each two color combination has two tri-lands they could use. There is a chance that the multi color part could matter, like with a Bloom Tender for example, but I don’t think the basic land tradeoff is worth it. I could be wrong, though, as Anathemancer is looking popular, especially since five-color control seems to have so many haters. Borderposts are a way to avoid the painful sting while still getting your fixing.

Limited: 3

Worse than tri-lands, but still good fixing. They are not quite Obelisks, as I usually find myself getting a color I don’t already have from them, but the ability to accelerate is nice icing. Hitting a borderpost off of a cascade spell usually isn’t that bad, but it depends on your hand. I’ve seen too many people blown out by a Qasali Pridemage or a Vithian Renegades, though, not to be wary of Borderposts. They do come with a risk, but you still run them. I’m not sure what the minimum number of basics you need in your 40-card deck to make a Borderpost reliable, but you should usually be fine.

Finest Hour

Constructed: 2

Rafiq of the Many should be the better card in most situations. He’s good, but not format-defining. Finest Hour does stick around after a Wrath of God, where even a Mutavault can deal seven damage. Still, five mana for an enchantment that doesn’t do anything on its own deserves much scrutiny.

Limited: 4

I’ll admit it, I didn’t lie Finest Hour when I first saw it. I had flashbacks of Angelic Benediction, a do-nothing enchantment that I just ignored. I have, however, heard countless tales of Finest Hour doing ridiculous things. Realizing that you get the exalted bonus twice (meaning even a 1/1 deals five damage in two attacks) was a big step, but I’m still skeptical. I recognize the power this card has, you just have to be the deck for it. This is a situational card. Sometimes it will be unstoppable, and look like the biggest bomb ever, while other times it will be blank. It’s still a great card, it just isn’t on the same level as something like Behemoth Sledge.

Flurry of Wings

I love the design of this card because of how flexible it is, yet it’s so simple to understand. You get a 1/1 flyer for each attacker. You could be the one attacking, doubling your attack force. Or, you could be the one on the defense, throwing a bird in the way of each attacker, fogging for a turn and maybe even killing a few things. You could even cast this on the defense and not block, giving you an equal attack force for the back swing. Simply great design.

Constructed: 1

Because I like this card so much, I want it to see play. Unfortunately, I also recognize how weak it is. You need to be attacking with three creatures for this to be at least a Spectral Procession, but then you’re committing even more resources to the board. As a fog, it’s very awkward to cast and probably won’t kill anything relevant in Constructed. Basically, way too many creatures need to be in the red zone for this spell to be efficient, but then there are more important things to do than get 1/1 flyers.

Limited: 2

I’m probably selling this card a little short, but I’m wary. I’ve never seen it in action, and it’s been going late, probably because of the strict color restriction and the much better cards to take in that back for a Bant deck. This is probably best on defense, but should rarely be better than a Winged Coatl. I’m willing to be persuaded, however.

Grizzled Leotau

Constructed: 1 Stars

Cheap walls like this rarely work out. I’m used to seeing 0/3s for 1U, and I see Grizzled Leotau playing a similar role. It’s a way for a control deck to stay alive long enough to do something cool. But Grizzled Leotau is white, meaning you have access to Path to Exile, or even Condemn. Not only that, but Grizzled Leotau can’t even block a Woolly Thoctar.

Limited: 2 Stars

It’s really hard to win on the ground through a 1/5. Unfortunately, Grizzled Leotau doesn’t really have a job. Guardians of Akrasa usually does what Grizzled Leotau does, but is much easier to cast. A control deck could want this to buy time, but casting it early can be difficult. This cat is by no means unplayable, it just isn’t advancing your own strategy in any way. This is terrible against flyers, obviously, but I would respect sideboarding it in against Rip-Clan Crasher.

Jenara, Asura of War

Constructed: 2 Stars

I’m impressed by this card, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not feeling it. This might be the most aggressive three drop around if it wasn’t for Woolly Thoctar. That beast ruins everybody’s day. I just can’t justify trying to cast Jenara on turn three when I could have a 5/4 instead. This is still one efficient creature, and deserves respect.

Limited: 5 Stars

The mana cost is very restrictive, but Jenara is such a beating. If you’ve ever seen this cast on turn three, you’ll understand. Even past turn three she is nuts. Feral Hydra is pretty amazing, but Jenara does all than and more. Flying is insane here, getting huge amounts of damage in fast with less chance of chump-blocking. She might not be the type of bomb worth stretching your mana base for, but she sure gets it done when you can cast her.

Knight of New Alara

Constructed: 2

I don’t like this deck. Knight of New Alara can make other creatures very big, but do you really need an 8/7 Woolly Thoctar? I am very wary of four-mana 2/2s, but I can understand the excitement. Light from Within had a lot of hype after its release, but never amounted to anything. Knight of New Alara has the same potential for really fast starts, but the fact that he does next to nothing on his own is pretty terrible. I could be underestimating the amount of damage he does with the blade cycle of two drops, but I still don’t think it is enough. Maybe in Block, but definitely not in Standard.

Limited: 4 Gold Stars

This is a very high four, only being held back from being a five by being situational. Still, the situation he excels in is when you have a multicolored creature on the board. This shouldn’t be too hard to set up, depending on how your first two packs went. The amount of damage a Jund Hackblade can do is absurd.

Knotvine Paladin

Constructed: 1

This strikes me as more of an uncommon than a rare, but whatever. I’ve been talking about GW two-drops throughout this article, and this is yet another decent one. I’m not convinced he’s anything special, though casting Spectral Procession then attacking is pretty good. Sometimes he’s a big creature, but I imagine that Qasali Pridemage is better most of the time.

Limited: 3

This is a high three. It is very good in certain decks, though sometimes it’s worse than Ceredon Yearling. He basically gives your other creatures exalted, but better. I’d like to see what happens when this is attacking alongside Ceredon Yearling or other creatures with vigilance.

Leonin Armorguard

Constructed: 1

Flame-kin Zealot saw Constructed play, why not this guy? Glorious Anthem seems to be all the rage these days, but the fact that it is permanent is very relevant. The deck that Leonin Armorguard would be best in, GW tokens, is already a deck, and even it doesn’t want him.

Limited: 3

Green-white has a lot of solid cards. Creatures that are good for their cost are all over the place. The problem becomes identifying which ones your deck needs. Leonin Armorguard is a very aggressive four drop that wants creatures already on the board ready to attack. Sometimes it’s just a 3/3 for four, but that’s not the worst ever. The trick is finding the right cards for your deck, because it’s likely that you’ll have many shots at cards very similar to Leonin Armorguard and of the same quality. Something that is especially true with the amount of playable cards in the third pack is that you’ve got to draft a deck, not just cards.

Lorescale Coatl

Constructed: 2

There was a time where this card would have been really exciting, but creatures are bigger than they used to be. Quirion Dryad was enough to get the job done back in the day, and Lorescale Coatl wants a very similar deck. It does begin your next turn as a 3/3, making it pretty efficient already, and anything like Brainstorm can really pump the power up. I don’t think there is a deck for Lorescale Coatl, but that doesn’t make it a bad card.

Limited: 3

This is a very solid three, though the mana cost is more restrictive than it looks. The Bant shard is the only shard with blue and green mana (hence why I’m covering all the UG cards) so the number of decks that can cast this Snake is pretty low. You would love to cast this on turn three, and it keeps getting bigger, but big creatures are nothing new to this format. You take it, you play it, you love it, but you don’t bend over backwards for it.

Meddling Mage

Constructed: 3

I did not expect this thing to come back! I’m hopeful for Meddling Mage. It might not be the right environment for this little wizard, but it’s a card you always have to be thinking about. When there is a problem, can Meddling Mage solve it? How does your deck feel about Meddling Mage? Some form of an Esperlark deck using Meddling Mage has to be decent. Tidehollow Sculler into Meddling Mage is pretty amazing, and getting them both back later in the game can be crippling.

Limited: 3

In game one, she’s much worse than Vedalken Outlander. In game two and three you can maybe shut an important spell off, but the odds are still against you. Still, a multicolored two-drop is somewhat valuable in this format. You would probably rather have a protection bear instead, but sometimes the flashy rare will get the simple job done for you.

Messenger Falcons

Constructed: 1

Aven Fisher was never close to Constructed play, and moving the card draw to the front isn’t going to help. There is value in being multicolored, but I think that’s lost on a four-mana creature.

Limited: 3

I love this creature, and am sad every time my deck doesn’t have one. A creature that cantrips is awesome, especially when it’s a 2/2 flyer. I wish this was a common because it’s so nice to play with, but then everybody would have them! What’s awesome is that you don’t need blue mana to draw the card, so the GW deck now has even more ways to draw cards, adding to the Rhox Meditants. This is a high three.

Nulltread Gargantuan

Constructed: 1

Now we have Doran, The Siege Tower and Woolly Thoctar, so five power for three power isn’t as special. Nulltread Gargantuan is unique, however, in that it is blue. Also, you could probably find a way to turn the drawback into more of an advantage, bouncing a creature you want to play again anyway. Reveillark is the dream, but will probably be nothing more than that. Also, this guy fights with the other five power guys I mentioned and still lives, which is pretty impressive. The potential for a blowout is high, however. Nulltread Garguantuan is dangerous, situational, and nothing special, so I’m not rating it very high.

Limited: 3

I keep seeing this card go thirteenth or fourteenth pick, and I don’t understand it. I guess the fact that I’m not taking it says something, but I haven’t seen the deck that can play it yet. In the right deck this guy is a beating. So what if he’s not as good as Woolly Thoctar, he is still a 5/6! I doubt this card deserves to be a fifteenth pick, you’ve just got to do a little work to make it happen. Again, bouncing a creature you want to play again, like Messenger Falcon, is the key. [Avoiding opposing removal forcing you to put the Gargantuan on top of your library is also key. –Riki]

Offering to Asha

Constructed: 2

It’s hard to compete with Cryptic Command at four mana, but gaining four life is pretty good. This could be the counterspell of choice in Block, where countermagic is pretty weak. In Standard, however, I’m not sure Offering to Asha has a role. You want the four life against an aggro deck, but four-mana counterspells aren’t very good in that matchup. Then again, as aggro shifts towards five casting cost spells like Cloudgoat Ranger, there could be more room for something like Offering to Asha. You’ve got to appreciate four life.

Limited: 2

It’s funny. This is usually easier to cast than Cancel, which makes it better in my book. I generally try to avoid counterspells so that my cascade is better, but this is still a totally respectable card maindeck. You don’t want too many, but a dab of counterspells are always welcome. This card also does weird things, like win games because you cast a spell you didn’t need and your opponent just wanted the four life. Watch out for that.

Qasali Pridemage

Constructed: 4

Finally, here he is. I’m skeptical when it comes to new cards, so giving out the five is hard for me, but this one was close. I had designed this card in my head many times, wanting a good Reveillark target that can Naturalize things. I never dreamed the card would be this powerful, though. It’s a Watchwolf! It’s an efficient attacker that can also kill a Bitterblossom, but I’m not sure if there is a deck for it in Standard. I have no doubt Qasali Pridemage has a role to play somewhere and will make its way into winning decklists. This is another card that has to always be on your mind when building decks.

Limited: 4

I have a hard time rating “just a creature” a four. The more I play with it the more its power becomes revealed. My favorite Pridemage moment was when, on the play, I made a Rip-Clan Crasher on turn two. On turn three I played Qasali Pridemage, hit for three, and killed my opponent’s Borderpost. He was so far behind at that point, winning was trivial. The fact that this guy is a legitimate threat without his second ability but also plays as a maindeck Naturalize is great.

Sages of the Anima 

Constructed: 2

A 3/4 for five isn’t the worst deal in town, and the ability certainly has room for abuse. If you play it as just a good creature in the all creature deck, you’ll probably draw two cards a turn instead of one. Sages of the Anima has the unfortunate Countryside Crusher drawback of only drawing you spells for the rest of the game, except this one is only getting you creature spells. I imagine somebody asking, maybe even you’re asking, what do you mean this is a drawback? You may be drawing two cards a turn, but it’s hard to cast all those spells without the lands. I’m sure there are workarounds with Civic Wayfinders, but it still worries me. I’ll try this card sometime, but I’m not expecting much.

Limited: 4

Better in some decks than other (a trend, I would say) this card is still a beating. You get all of the creatures revealed, not just one. That is nuts. Sages of the Anima is a little situational, as you have to be in a position where you can win with just your creature spells, but that isn’t too hard. He’s even got a decent body! Just make sure you have all the mana you need when you cast Sages.

Shield of the Righteous

Constructed: 1

Equipment that doesn’t boost power or draw me cards? Sign me out.

Limited: 1

This might be the worst card in the set, but that’s not saying much. There are situations where this card could do something, so it’s easy to imagine this card being good. Unfortunately, I don’t think that happens very often. There are decks where this could be right, but not very many.

Sigil Captain

Constructed: 1

Oh, the jolly rhino. Much like Knight of New Alara, this card has blowout potential, but it’s much slower. You need to get Sigil Captain into play, then get 1/1s to come into play, then get to attack with those 1/1s. That’s probably three turns of everything going perfectly. [I’m surprised you haven’t heard of the Murderous Redcap combo. Probably worth a prospective 2 for that. –Riki]

Limited: 3

It’s hard to rate a 3/3 for four lower than a three, but Sigil Captain is probably the worst GW creature in a sea of decent GW creatures. Usually Leonin Armorguard will be better for you, and that’s not even taking into account Sigil Captain’s casting cost. Two white is a lot more than one white. There are decks where this guy makes a lot of sense, but generally you’re cringing at the mana cost on a creature you had to run to fill out your curve.

Sigiled Behemoth

Constructed: 1

Sorry buddy, you’ve got to be a lot bigger to make an impact. You’re in the same set as Lord of Extinction, so good luck.

Limited: 3 Stars

Zzzzzz.

Would you look at that, another decent GW creature! Look, you play creatures like this and you don’t complain, but they are just filling out your curve. Sometimes your deck wants a big six mana creature, so you run Sigiled Behemoth. You’re never scrambling for them, however.

Sovereigns of Lost Alara

I’m always so confused when I open this in a pack. I read the ability, think it’s another goofy enchantment with exalted”¦but why does it have power and toughness? WAT! There is apparently a creature in this art, hiding behind the clouds!

Constructed: 1

I was really happy when Zur the Enchanter saw awesome Constructed play, but he had a lot more flexibility. I did an aura search for Evershrike recently, excited at the idea of using Corpse Connoisseur as a tutor, but I was severely disappointed. There aren’t enough auras that are worth the work, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara have the same problem.

Limited: 3

Sovereigns of Lost Alara isn’t the worst creature on its own. It’s practically a UW Sigiled Behemoth, so that gets it close to a three. Four toughness is less than five, though, as five is a key toughness in this block. Still, the cool ability earns some points in my book, as this is the type of card I like to play. I’m not sure what auras you are running though, as you don’t really want that terrible card type stuck in your hand. It helps that some decent ones have cycling, like Sigil of the Nayan Gods. I don’t expect this card to be that impressive, but it should always be decent.

Stormcaller’s Boon

Constructed: 1

You’ve heard my take on cascade a couple times now, so I won’t go over all of it again. Stormcaller’s Boon is probably the worst one for Constructed play, as the ability is pretty irrelevant.

Limited: 3

More of the same; it’s entirely dependent on your deck, and this is a cascade spell you can’t afford to whiff on. I’ve found this ability to be a lot better than I originally thought, getting you up and over for the win more often than I expected. I especially like what this does with Brackwater Elemental.

Talon Trooper

Constructed: 1

It is a three mana creature that doesn’t have five power. Next!

“¦ok that isn’t entirely fair. Still, it’s just a creature and it isn’t particularly efficient as far as Constructed is concerned, so it gets the thumbs down.

Limited: 3

A very high three, though. This is the exact card you want in that deck because it’s so efficient. I first realized how powerful this card was when I cast it against my opponent’s Ceredon Yearling. I said go, and picked up my pen prepared to mark my life total down to 16. My opponent played a land, played a spell, and said go. Oh yeah, it’s a 2/3! That’s different. Usually when you spend your third turn casting an evasive creature, you have to take another hit from their two-drop. Not today!

Vedalken Heretic

Constructed: 2

Not too long ago this card would have been pretty awesome. The Standard environment is pretty hostile for something like this, however. The control decks are not only running Plumeveil, but Volcanic Fallout eats this guy alive. I saw a UG deck somewhere using Cephalid Constable, and if they can get him to connect you can probably get Vedalken Heretic to connect. There are probably formats where this guy is unbeatable on turn two, but I don’t think they exist anymore (or yet).

Limited: 3

I’d say this is generally worse than Vedalken Ghoul, because it gets blocked and doesn’t deal four damage to your opponent. I give Vedalken Heretic a three, however, because of its potential. If you back this guy up with some exalted or pump spells, he becomes a lot scarier. He also demands a blocker, which isn’t the worst effect. Generally this card is bad, but I like the possibilities.

Wall of Denial

Constructed: 3

The ante has now been upped on walls. It worries me in a control deck that probably wants to cast Wrath of God, but Plumeveil and Wall of Reverence are each seeing play in Standard, usually demanding they be Terrored. Wall of Denial can’t fall victim to such a fate, but it also does a lot less. It just blocks – it doesn’t kill a creature, it doesn’t gain you life, it just blocks. Forever. This is probably a powerhouse in Block, and I could easily see it being applied to Standard. There are few better ways to protect a planeswalker.

Limited: 4 long, drawn-out sighs

If you’ve ever faced this, you can’t help but sigh. It doesn’t do anything, but it’s so hard to beat. There are ways around it, like deathtouch, unblockable, or a big pump spell, but the wall should still keep you at bay for a while. Casting the wall early on gives you so much time to do whatever you want. I’d probably run it in even the most aggressive deck because it makes winning a race so much easier.

Wargate

Constructed: 2

I thought this was a worse Chord of Calling when I first saw it, until Gavin pointed out that you can grab a land when X=0. That’s all I needed to fall in love, and I’ve been trying to put it into a deck ever since. Even though I like Wargate, it is quite slow. I’m not sure there are enough cool lands to grab, but if the right collection of permanents comes together Wargate could be a powerhouse. I’m thinking that every one of these decks I make should have a great option for every value of X, topping out at Empyrial Archangel.

Limited: 2

It would take a very particular deck to make Wargate playable. Its very awkward casting cost limits its abilities, but you can still use it to mana fix or accelerate by grabbing a land. I’d want to play this if I had good targets in a control deck, like Courier Capsule, Necrogenesis, or Oblivion Ring. Otherwise it’s probably underwhelming.

Winged Coatl

Constructed: 1

This could never be better than Plumeveil, right? I’d like to think a UG deck has a better way to kill a creature, like splashing white or black. If you are blue and green and you must kill a creature, then you’re out of luck; Winged Coatl isn’t good enough.

Limited: 3

I’d rather have Resounding Silence most of the time, but I’ve been known to enjoy my fair share of Pestilent Katharis. While Winged Coatl doesn’t quite have the stopping power of Pestilent Kathari, it has the surprise factor. I also like being able to cast my Winged Coatl at the end of the turn if they didn’t attack with anything I want to kill. Leaving Resounding Silence mana open can be awkward. This is decent, but not outstanding, removal spell that should usually make the cut. The biggest limiting factor is the casting cost that isn’t for everybody.

END

Thanks for reading everybody! Let me know what you think in the forums.

Jonathon Loucks
Loucksj at gmail

 

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