Seeing as how almost all the cards are split up neatly into guilds, [card]Ral Zarek[/card] is really the only exciting card I have yet to review. If you missed any of the previous reviews, check them out first:
After a quick look at Ral and some Cluestones (I think people get what Guildgates and Shocklands have to offer), I’ll wrap up the review with a list of the cards I think are interesting for Constructed.
Ral Zarek[draft]ral zarek[/draft]
After playing with Ral, I have liked him less than Ajani, which is not to say that he’s bad. [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] on a stick is by far the most attractive part about the card, and the ability to untap a land is pretty relevant. As with any planeswalker, when you can play Ral and kill their only creature, it’s a good amount of value, and 3 damage is enough that it’s not inconceivable that such a thing occurs. You will need to have interactive cards leading up to that, or a way to ramp Ral out on turn three, but [card]Farseek[/card] and various removal spells can help there. Also, even though evaluating planeswalkers based on their ultimate isn’t quite the best method, I would like to note that flipping coins for extra turns sounds sweet.[card]Ral Zarek[/card]’s biggest weakness is opposing 4/4s. Playing this against [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] and company is a somewhat unpleasant experience, and large green creatures are not hard to find these days. That does speak again to the power of having green in your deck, with [card]Thragtusk[/card] providing a good blocker to place in front of your powerful planeswalker.
While he might not take Constructed by storm, Ral Zarek will see play, and will be a solid card in a few different decks.
It is the rare planeswalker that is not awesome in Limited (because most planeswalkers are mythic). Ral Bolts at will, can act as ramp, and in general does about what you’d expect from a mighty planeswalker.
It feels a little odd having both Keyrunes and Cluestones legal in the same format, but options are nice. Decks that are interested in either aren’t usually all that interested in having a random creature, with Jund decks being a possible exception (just because [card]Rakdos Keyrune[/card] is so good). In general I’d assume that popping a Cluestone for an extra card is going to be better, though still not quite good enough to make 3-cost mana rocks super exciting.
Cluestones are kind of like Panoramas from Shards of Alara: mediocre fixing that provides a necessary amount of consistency. The aggro decks would rather not run them, and the control decks usually have to. Guildgates are much better, but Cluestones are plentiful and do the job.
Top 10 Constructed Cards
10. [card]Advent of the Wurm[/card] 9. [card]Aetherling[/card] 8. [card]Turn // Burn[/card] 7. [card]Ral Zarek[/card] 6. [card]Putrefy[/card] 5. [card]Notion Thief[/card] 4. [card]Far // Away[/card] 3. [card]Sin Collector[/card] 2. [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] 1. [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card]
This list basically represents my excitement level for each of these cards, so there may be ratings inconsistencies (e.g., a 2.5 ranked higher than a 3.0). I’ve also played much more with the set since I started a week ago, so my perspective has changed.
Overall, Dragon’s Maze has a ton of awesome Constructed cards. It’s always hard for the last set in a block to heavily impact Standard, just because of how many cards it has to compete with, but this set puts up a good fight. The split cards go a long way, offering a ton of useful abilities and the maximum amount of flexibility, but there are also some very powerful cards available. [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] and [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card] are both giant beatings, and [card]Aetherling[/card] (even though a little expensive) is one of the most absurd creatures they’ve printed.
There are some nice older format hits too, with [card]Notion Thief[/card] and [card]Beck // Call[/card] potentially doing some work there (as well as [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card], again).
I’m excited to play more with Dragon’s Maze, and think it delivered on the promise of a sweet gold set.