Welcome to my set review, a ritual I revisit every time a new set is released. I go through the entire set, rating each card on the following guidelines:
5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]
Mana Leak[/card][card]Cavern of Souls[/card]. [card]Moorland Haunt[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. [card]Primeval Titan[/card] [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Gut Shot[/card]. [card]Tempered Steel[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Celestial Purge[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important)
1.0 It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (I believe it was tech vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%).
As usual, I caution you to both look at the rating and read the comments, since even cards rated the same might have very different evaluations. Enjoy!
Angel of Glory’s Rise
I’m disappointed by this card. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine as a card, even if expensive enough that it won’t see a ton of play. The part that I don’t like is how much better it is than Zombie Apocalypse. Why would WotC make the coolest card in years only to completely trump it, making a mockery of Zombies everywhere? It isn’t like Zombie Apocalypse is too good, so printing a hoser for it makes no sense. As flavor judge, jury, and executioner, I find this card guilty.
At seven mana, it’s hard to give this unqualified support, especially given my lack of knowledge of the speed of the format. Still, it is a 4/6 flier, and it looks like it’ll fairly easily draw you a couple cards, while every now and then blasting some of the numerous Zombies in the format. I could see this being upgraded to a 4.0 if the format is on the slow side, since the power is there.
Angel of Jubilation
Hooray! Finally, another way to make Lingering Souls good! While that’s the obvious (and likely only) place this goes, it does have a couple other selling points. It is a 3/3 flier, which isn’t irrelevant, and it does stop a number of other cards from working. This card feels like one of those cards that has just enough going on to make it into Constructed, even if it never blows anyone away.
Triple-white scares me, and makes this more of a turn 5-6 play in most decks. The ability and body are excellent, but they don’t do a whole lot when this is stuck in your hand. If you are already heavy white, this is a card worth celebrating, just don’t go slamming this first pick.
At least they are having a little mercy on me, since reviewing cards I’ve already reviewed isn’t too bad.
This doesn’t look like a format where you will side this in much, but it’s always worth keeping in mind. I liked picking one up during Core Set drafts, even if I rarely brought it in.
Sometimes, when asked my record in a tournament, I’ll respond with a creature. Being a Blistering Firecat is good; being a Horned Turtle is not. So, unless you want to be an Angelic Wall, don’t play Angelic Wall.
Hopefully I play this every time, since decks that want cards like Angelic Wall tend to be awesome. The card itself isn’t spectacular, but if you have a sick lategame, it does the job.
It was rare that this saw play before, and it will certainly be an uncommon sight now.
This is a sign, and a really good one. The format is shaping up to be an interactive one, and the fact that they aren’t scared to print this at uncommon is pretty sweet. Of course, that could mean that we are back in Zendikar, and they printed an uncommon Dragon solely because the format was too fast for it to matter, but I choose to see it more like an Ulamog’s Crusher, showing that the format is all about large expensive things. The card itself is also quite good, since, you know, Dragon and all.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
I hope you aren’t planning to cast this, since paying full retail is not all that realistic. Reanimating it seems kind of cool, depending on the removal you are likely to face. That plan might hit a snag or two, but if the matchups break right, it could be a sideboard card for Frites.
Eight is really the breaking point for finishers in Limited. Six is normal, seven is expensive but castable, and eight is really borderline, at least in the vast majority of formats. I’d love if this was a windmill slam first pick, or even a solid playable, but I suspect it will end up being a bit too ambitious for its own good. Then again, I did unashamedly cast Lorthos in the most aggressive draft format in history, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I snuck an Avacyn or two into my decks.
Even if by some stroke of luck you got to Miracle this way more often than hardcast it, it still isn’t all that impressive. It’s pretty easy to banish this to Limited.
This card is more than fine in Limited. Even at full retail, it’s still a Desert Twister, and peeling it off the top is a not-insignificant bonus. I’m still not entirely sure how to evaluate Miracles. If it didn’t have that option, it would definitely be solid but you wouldn’t want too many, due to the casting cost. However, multiples of this aren’t that bad, since unless you draw all of them in your opener, subsequent Banishing Strokes aren’t actual six drops. For the time being I don’t think this gets too much worse even if you have a couple already, but don’t go jamming six in your deck just because I said so.
A man’s home may be his castle, but this Castle will not be finding a home.
Unsurprisingly, I kind of like this. I don’t think it’s great, but I think that it’s powerful, and it rewards players who can properly harness its power. It is exactly the kind of card that you really need to understand before playing it. Many people are going to play this in decks that don’t want it, and it will be a mulligan, since despite its power, it is really bad if you are the more aggressive deck in the matchup. If you think you are the defensive deck, play this with my blessing.
Call to Serve
I’m going to call this now: it’s totally unplayable, and will serve as proxy fodder at best.
Hey, Spectral Flight gets there sometimes. Whether being an Angel is worth a point of power, we won’t know for sure until the set gets played, but I suspect it won’t be.
Is this really what it’s come to? I know the battle for Lingering Souls supremacy is a fierce one, but I really hope I never have to go over the top with is. Playing Tempered Steel in multiple Pro Tours was bad enough, and I’d prefer not to go on a Crusade anytime soon. My personal preferences aside, this actually gets dangerous very quickly, and could easily be a way to gain an edge in token mirrors.
If you can cast this and survive, I don’t see how you can lose. Every creature makes your board position more and more invincible, and even if they wipe you out, at the very worst it becomes Glorious Anthem for your next guy. The Cathars really got serious this time around.
Had this been printed years ago, it might have been pretty sweet, but it just isn’t timely enough. Gaining life is a serious business now, and there are much better ways to go about it.
Much like Angel’s Mercy, this is more of a sideboard card, but the fact that it’s a creature and a Human both make it interesting for a variety of decks. It still isn’t good, just a potential synergy card.
This might not be Momentary Blink, but I still think it has a shot in Constructed. Flickering just about any creature in Birthing Pod is decent value, particularly in response to a removal spell. Faith’s Shield does protect any permanent, but nobody plays it, so adding the ability to trigger ETB effects might be just what this kind of card needs to push it into decks.
Not being able to save your guys in combat is not entirely mitigated by the upside of reusing ETB effects, but this still counters just about any removal spell out there and will let you pick up some value every now and then. Cards like this are what make Limited interesting, and its value will vary greatly with your deck.
I have it on good authority that this will never see play in Constructed.
I like the idea here, but the execution just leaves you too vulnerable. You don’t get a guy until a turn after, you open yourself up for an easy 2 for 1, and the guy you put this on is basically Pacified to boot, since you normally won’t want to risk combat. This feels much more like a good sideboard card for slower matchups without a ton of removal than anything else.
As the analog to Divine Offering, I guess this isn’t horrible, but between Divine Offering and Revoke Existence, it’s going to be hard to justify. Block might well be the place for this.
Curses, foiled again (when you side this in, that is). Even with all the Auras running around, this doesn’t look like a maindeck card.
What would a Magic set be without art that reminds you of a gruesome dentist visit? I guess we’ll never know.
This is a solid piece of removal you can sink your teeth into, even if it doesn’t really get the job done in aggressive decks. It muzzles their guy, but they can still block, so it’s a step below actual Pacifism (with the slight upside of shutting down pingers). It also gets a higher rating than normal because of how little removal there is in this set.
The additional bonus just barely saves this from death, though it would defy my expectations if this was legitimately good in Constructed. It does have a place, and I see no need to treat a potentially powerful effect like this lightly, even if it probably won’t show up anywhere but Block Constructed (if that).
If you are lucky enough to have a ton of Angels, congratulations! Your deck is probably good, and this will just make it better. If you don’t have a ton of Angels, you better have something pretty special before taking this early. This mostly won’t be much better than Ghoulcaller’s Chant, and we all know how much of a powerhouse that card wasn’t.
I suspect that Oblivion Ring is what Humans is going to lean on in Standard when it wants this effect, but I could easily see this being sweet in Block. Repeatable Disenchants are a big game, and I did happen to win a Pro Tour with a Nullmage Shepherd in my sideboard (note: I never activated the Shepherd, though I did attack for two with it once).
With all the Auras floating around, this is better than it would be a normal set, and that is already pretty good. You aren’t even paying much for the ability, since it’s on a 2/2, and having access to this kind of recursive power is awesome. It even can make them overextend, with them playing out their enchantments and just hoping you don’t have a second Human, a Human you ideally are slowrolling.
Ah yes, the Shining Shoal effect. This has always been exceedingly confusing, and Divine Deflection does not disappoint. Every card like this (Shining Shoal, Harm’s Way, Kor Chant) works just a little bit differently, and all of them are hard to figure out. I suppose this is just a bigger version of Harm’s Way, but my point still stands. If they cast a sweeper, say a Slagstorm, since that was a question posed by an unnamed PT Champion who cast many of them, what happens with Divine Deflection? If your opponent casts Deflection for three, they can prevent three of the damage from Slagstorm, as they choose, possibly saving a 3/3 by preventing one and preventing two to their face. The target of Divine Deflection would then take three damage (plus Slagstorm, if it was a creature).
So now that we have figured out what this does (kind of), is it good?
I think it is. It is a little pricey, and might end up being too clunky, but the effect is powerful, and it scales well. There is not much more punishing than deflecting a sweeper, saving most or all of your guys, and hitting them for a good amount of damage. It also works well large creature battles, and this seems like the most important use of the card. Jamming a bunch of tokens into an equally-sized squad leads to a route, and just the presence of this card might impact how much people walk into a board of untapped mana.
It also has an oddly cartoony picture, for what that’s worth.
For only a few mana, this will usually be a nice two for one, and once you have more mana at your disposal, it becomes a Fireball. The fact that it works as a Fog as well as a way to protect your army, all while killing their best guy or hitting them for a bunch, means that you should probably not pass this very often.
TSG likes this, so it must be awesome! It is certainly reminiscent of Kor Skyfisher, which was a pretty solid playable in its day, but the increase of numbers aren’t in the card’s favor. A whole extra mana for just one point of power isn’t a good deal in Constructed, though that doesn’t completely rule this out. If there is a deck that is both interested in a 3/3 flier for 3 and reusing ETB effects, this might make it.
Even if you count the bounce ability as a mild negative, which it probably won’t be, this is still a great deal. It coming down on turn three actually makes it better, since paying a little more and getting a larger guy makes returning a land less painful. You don’t really need an excuse to take this, but having sweet combos with it can’t hurt either.
Entreat the Angels
If you caught my article on the subject, you already know how much I like this card. Mana for mana, it gives you just about the best rate of return possible in Constructed, since it’s sweet at any cost if you are Miracle’ing it. Even hardcasting it isn’t the end of the world, and in a format with limited countermagic (Block and post-Caverns Standard), this is one of the most powerful things you can be doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had cause to upgrade this to a 3.5, and I’m only not doing so because it does cost a ton of mana.
I’d treat this like any other absurd bomb, and windmill slam it as soon as possible. In Limited, even the actual casting cost of this isn’t prohibitive, since two Angels for seven mana is already a good card. Heaven help
your opponentyou if you Miracle it.
I get that cheap evasion guys are good, but exploring this is going too far. Bog Raiders isn’t a card, even with an extra point of toughness.
Wait, the Riot Devils I usually played now has a relevant creature type and is unblockable a reasonable percentage of the time? Sold!
Knock a couple mana off this guy and he would be as good as gold. At four mana, he doesn’t command even the slightest bit of interest.
In an aggressive deck, this is a nice one. If you have a steady stream of creatures, the Commander is a Glorious Anthem on wheels, and 3/3 wheels at that. Depending on how your deck is shaping up, you might not prioritize this, but I’d be very surprised if you didn’t always play it.
The only redeeming quality about this guy is that he can gain you a fairly absurd amount of life. There is a minor chance that he gets fetched with Birthing Pod, even if Hollowhenge Scavenger probably does the job better, and in a token deck, he might make a rare appearance or two.
The base stats on this guy are already exciting enough, and the potential to gain a bunch of life only makes them look better. Having your six-drop be a huge flier and buy you some breathing room in a race is as good as gold.
Herald of War
Once you land a hit with your five-drop, saving a mana on Hero of Bladehold or Restoration Angel isn’t really necessary. Anyone heralding this as a Constructed playable is pulling a fast one.
Even in a land full of Angels, I have to imagine that one that grows every turn is pretty absurd. Who knows, the cost reduction might even be relevant every now and then!
Geralf has a message for you: please play this guy.
Holy crap this is clunky. When it isn’t tapping a Zombie, you are paying at least one mana too many on the body and two mana too many on the ability. However, when you are tapping a Zombie, this is going to be one of the best cards you can imagine. I think the drawback of paying extra is worth the upside of being a Visara, and even against non-Zombie decks, a tapper is a tapper. It might not be good, but I’d still keep it in my deck even if I knew I had no targets (most of the time).
Leap of Faith
I’m going to ask you to take a leap of faith here, and just believe that this card is bad.
I’m not a huge fan of three mana combat tricks that don’t actually pump my creatures. Safe Passage was an exception, since it prevented all sorts of damage, but as a single-target spell, this really doesn’t do it for me. It’s a shame, since I really like how well the name and effect match up.
Come, bloodsucker! We meet at midnight, and only one of us is leaving here alive! Well, I’ll be alive at least, and you are technically not alive to begin with, so that doesn’t say much. Come to think of it, I’m probably not killing you either, so even though you still won’t be alive, you will be in just about the same shape you started.
Maybe let’s skip the meeting, after all. Just promise to go easy on the townsfolk.
Barring the nut Human deck, which I’m not even sure exists, this is purely sideboard material, and mediocre sideboard material at that. As alluded to in the above monologue, this guy might duel vampires, but he really isn’t going to be killing them. If they have a ton of ground vamps, somehow, this is a reasonable option.
This isn’t even a midrange card. There are vastly better options no matter where you look, from Restoration Angel to Faith’s Shield to a random white card picked out of a hat.
To put this in recent context, this is a 4-mana variation of Crossway Vampire. It stops potentially multiple guys from blocking one of your guys, with a side benefit of knocking off harmful enchantments. I’m not in love with the card, but it seems reasonable, especially with how numerous Auras seem to be.
This Geist might try and moonlight in Constructed, but it shouldn’t quit its day job.
It doesn’t take much more to make a 2/1 flier for three an appealing card, and even though the activated ability is more a bonus than anything else, this is still a fine card. Every now and then it will repeatedly block something large, and it is pseudo-immune to combat tricks.
At this point, people would expect it, so I’m not even going to go there. Just don’t play this and we’ll be good.
A bear with an upside is an appealing card indeed, even if it isn’t Darkthicket Wolf. If they were in the same set, the Inquisitor might have been haunted by that comparison, but at two sets apart it will probably escape the worst of it.
You may not know it, but I actually love lifegain. I always want to play these glacial control decks, and always look for ways to get out of burn range (disregard the fact that come Pro Tours, I’m usually found piloting 14 Plains and 4 Inkmoth Nexus). Love for lifegain notwithstanding, this isn’t near good enough to see play, mainly because it requires multiple guys to survive.
Yet another solid white card, and this one even has the potential to gain absurd amounts of life. The fact that it’s a decent early drop and a really good lategame card makes me want to take this early and play it often.
This is going to be one of the big ones. Restoration Angel is a classic example of a card that isn’t broken in any one aspect, but does a lot of things very well. It’s a way to save your guys, a fairly huge flier for four, and an instant, and the combination of those traits equals an exciting card. On its own, it’s a good threat against just about anything, and has natural resistance to countermagic and sorcery-speed removal. It pops in end of turn, picks up a Sword, and goes to town.
That wouldn’t be enough, not in this day and age, but the Angel also restores my faith in midrange by offering an advantageous way of saving your guys or re-triggering ETB effects. There is probably nothing more satisfying than slamming this when they go to Doom Blade something, and the possibilities don’t stop there. It lets you suicide hit with Geist of Saint Traft, chump block something large and save the blocker, surprise their Geist, and much more.
In Block this is going to be a powerhouse, and in Standard it will show up in multiple decks.
If there were a 4.25 rating, I’d probably give it that, since this is a shade above 4 but not quite as Flame Wave-y as most 4.5’s. Basically what that all means is that you shouldn’t pass this, it’s worth splashing, and it’s a great card.
Riders of Gavony
Hero of Bladehold, making new 4-drops wait their turn ever since Mirrodin Besieged. The really awkward part is that the Riders are specifically good in Humans decks, and that regales them to second fiddle after the Hero. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for Riders, since it seems like a potentially awesome trump in some matchups, but that the competition will be fierce. Slamming this is a permanent Falter effect against Spirit tokens is pretty sweet, and in the mirror you can get some work done. In Block, I imagine this will be pretty awesome, but in Standard it looks like more of a sideboard card than anything else.
Even by themselves, the Riders are a force to be reckoned with, bringing a 3/3 vigilance with protection from their best guy. The creature types in this set seem fairly consolidated, which is good news for the Riders, not that they really needed the help.
Exceedingly underpowered and situational removal tends to blow in Constructed, and this is no exception.
Hey, a Shock is a Shock. This might be a more restrictive Shock than most, and miss utility guys, but it still is cheap and will kill plenty of enemies.
Seraph of Dawn
It recently dawned on me that I may be suffering from a rare malady known as Witzelsucht. If I’m lucky, there is no cure.
Fighting Drake never looked this good, and Fighting Drake was awesome. This being common is the best evidence I’ve seen in a while for power creep, but since it goes so well in the decks I love to draft, I’m not complaining.
I like hitting as hard as Mirran Crusader, and trading some protections for bonus haste-like damage is not a bad deal. Curving out with a Champion of the Parish, any 2-drop, and this guy on turn three is a real beating, and definitely something Humans decks need to consider. It is clearly a metagame call whether to include the Paladin or the Crusader, but it being such a close contest at all speaks well for the Paladin.
Even if you treat this as an enchantment that just sits around and gives double strike, it’s pretty good, and it does much more than that. It will routinely be bashing in for damage, making it great in the short game and very powerful in the late game.
I may not be spectral, but in some ways I am the gateguard of Constructed, and I’m vigilant enough to prevent this card from getting by me.
I was always a fan of Drumstick Kami, so how could I not have a soft spot in my heart for this guy. He isn’t an all-star, but he gets the job done, and I hope to play him in many a deck. Note that I’m not claiming he’s good, and the rating reflects this.
I’m really liking these Miracle cards. Maybe it’s because I build clunky decks, but I look at some of them and find myself dangerously close to wanting them even at full price. I then look at the Miracle cost and am blown away, even on a spell as situational as this. Entreat the Angels certainly has more raw power, but Terminus isn’t too shabby. Final Judgment made the cut without the enormous upside of sometimes costing one mana, even if that was some time ago. This may not be Day of Judgment, but it’s something, and should heavily impact Block.
This is probably decent, but I’m not in love with Wraths in Limited to begin with. In Constructed, the Miracle cost is usually going to be awesome, since the decks you put Terminus in probably want to Wrath just about every turn. In Limited, Wrath is way more context-dependent, and you can’t plan for Miracle in any way. Still, a six-mana Wrath is fine, just not amazing.
A valiant try, but nowhere near good enough.
I don’t think there has been a Limited format in existence where this guy would be more or less than a 3, discounting such hits as Ice Age-Ice Age-Ice Age. It might be arguable that he was a 3.5 in triple Zendikar, but I try to block out any memories of that particular format.
Voice of the Provinces
Since when do they make Grave Titan a common? Ok, maybe this doesn’t quite get there for Constructed, but it’s still a pretty shocking common.
It may be optimistic to give this a 3.5 instead of a 3.0, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that if they are willing to put a reasonably large six-mana flier at common, games are going to go in a way that six drops are decent. I’m hoping this is the case, at least. This card and Archangel really make me anticipate cracking some packs and playing the set, and ideally having these epic games that routinely go to turn 15+. The card itself is clearly good, providing multiple blockers, one of which is a 3/3 flier. I really don’t see how this can be bad, and if it is, I’m going to feel tricked.
This card has a few too many strikes against it to see Constructed play: it’s both a combat trick and underpowered, not a good combination.
I really dislike this card. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine card for Limited, and I expect to play it almost every time. The baffling thing about it is how it got printed a single set after Skillful Lunge. Why on earth is it strictly better than a common in the previous set, and not a bad common at that? There is nothing wrong with either card’s power level, but one-upping a card three months later just seems bizarre, as does granting toughness and first strike on the same card. Skillful Lunge just makes more sense, and I don’t understand why they would print both in quick succession.
Top 5 White Commons
5. Thraben Valiant
4. Righteous Blow
3. Voice of the Provinces
1. Seraph of Dawn
The top four commons are way better than the fifth, and there are plenty of cards that could have gone in that slot. I’m fairly certain that Seraph is just the best common, since it seems so hard to deal with or race, and only costs four, but there is an outside chance that Voice of the Provinces is just the nuts in this format. I sure hope so.
Top 5 Constructed Cards
5. Divine Deflection
4. Angel of Jubilation
3. Silverblade Paladin
2. Entreat the Angels
1. Restoration Angel
So, is there an Angel theme to this set or am I imagining things? I’m a huge fan of Restoration Angel and Entreat the Angels both, even though I’d much rather be Entreating the Angels than Restoring anything, and the rest of the list is still pretty solid. White got a good selection of cards here, with two really awesome cards and a bunch of decent options. Any time I have a bunch of legitimate choices that don’t make the Top 5, I’m happy, since there have certainly been sets where I struggle past three, or two in some cases.
Tomorrow I follow this up with blue, which sadly has no Snapcaster Mage this time around…