For Constructed, things work slightly differently. First of all, I don’t review every card in the set, just the ones I think have Constructed applications. If I missed a card you think is awesome, feel free to post it in the comments or ask me about it on Twitter. I try to evaluate cards without using best-case-scenario mentality, but I’ve certainly missed cards in the past, and if you can think of a good reason a card could be great, I would like to hear it.
My other reviews:
Limited Resources Reviews
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Anafenza looks like she may bolster two very different kinds of decks. The first is a white beatdown deck in Standard, where she is a 2/2 for WW that gives you a counter for every creature you play, which is solid aggressive value. You really want the counters to have haste, which shouldn’t be too hard to manage, as long as you have enough X/1s to attack with immediately after bolstering.
The second deck she may show up in is a Kitchen Finks combo deck, as she does do the same thing as Melira (Finks persists, bolsters itself, and can go infinite with a sacrifice outlet). That I’m a little more skeptical of, mainly because WW is harder than 1G, but if the mana isn’t an issue then Anafenza is a more powerful card.
A 2/2 double-striker for 3 is not quite good enough for Constructed, but it’s not that far away. 4 damage and synergy with pump spells is useful, and the list of plausible 1- and 2-drop Warriors is surprisingly long:
With enough of these in your deck, Arashin Foremost has semi-haste and deals 6-8 damage a turn, which is good enough. Whether a synergy deck like this can stand up to Siege Rhino and co. is less clear, but Arashin Foremost is definitely a card worth trying in such a shell.
We have our pick of 2/1s for 1 right now, and this has a relevant ability, easily more relevant than Mardu Woe-Reaper if Dragons are flying all over. It also may end up being the case that decks that want any 1-drops want all the 1-drops, so this could work side by side with the Reaper and other such cards. It is always funny when you play a card like this solely because of its stats, and then the other ability ends up being hugely relevant, which I could see happening from time to time (though it is annoying that this gets owned by both original Silumgar and Stormbreath Dragon).
One thing that isn’t hidden is my love of a good 2-for-1, and this offers that with very little work. It kills the creatures you want to kill, can be cast as a 2/1 lifelinker against decks that don’t have targets, and overall is a very solid card. It may see more sideboard play, but the cost of including this in your main deck isn’t very large, so you need to keep track of what creatures are being played if you want to start this. The bar is even lower for decks that want 2-mana 2/1s, so the WW decks of the world are the ones that really benefit from this.
This card is really cool, but if I were to pick whether it’s a Hit or Myth (yes, I know it’s a rare), I’d side with Myth. The creature it turns into is not protected in any way, so playing this in a deck with no removal targets doesn’t quite close out games the way you might wish. I do like the idea of sideboarding this in a control vs. control matchup, as it costs so little mana that you can run it out and wait until it is able to crack for a million.
This is the perfect example of a card that’s exemplary early or late, ahead or behind. All it asks is that you have non-creature spells, and given enough of them it can halt most offenses, gain enough life that you are out of burn range, and dodge all sorts of removal. What it doesn’t dodge is mass removal, likely because casting End Hostilities would be way too good with this otherwise. A 4-mana card has to do a lot to be good these days, but I think this meets that bar. 1-mana spells are a particularly important part of any deck with Exemplars, so don’t skimp on those, but past that you don’t need to be cast 2-3 spells a turn. An average of one per turn is more than enough to make this tick.
Orator of Ojutai
Having a card like this in Standard is a good omen, as blocking and drawing cards is really all I want out of a game of Magic. The trick is finding enough Dragons to give the Orator the voice it deserves, and that number may be higher than a deck that wants Orator would naturally play. I’d want at least 6 Dragons in my deck before including this, and likely 8 or more, and I don’t see that many decks being ready to take that plunge (check back tonight for Frank Karsten to break down the actual Dragon math). If there is a way to fit that many Dragons in one deck, Orator is a good defensive play, but you really need to get the extra card before this becomes good.
7-drops have to be spectacular before they see Constructed play, and I don’t know how often this is going to hit that level. The fact that it needs other cards to begin with is suspicious, though if it’s getting back two incredibly powerful cards this could be the last big spell you add to your deck. Imagine a deck with four or five absurd big cards, and think about what this might do as the final one. If you do have good targets, this can be just better than your other 6-plus-mana cards, so my best guess is that if this sees play, it sees play as a 1-of in a deck with a ton of haymakers. Cards like this can also be effective sideboard material, as Profound Journey really does go over the top, which you often want in post-board games.
Siege Rhino is a great card, but not so great that you need to play cards like this in your main deck to stop it. I do like that this is a safety valve against the multicolor Gods from Theros block while picking off cards like Rhino, Rakshasa Deathdealer, Fleecemane Lion, and Anafenza (otherwise known as the whole Abzan Aggro deck), and it could be a perfectly valid sideboard option. Who knows, the metagame might get to the point where every deck has targets (Jeskai Ascendancy is another that springs to mind), at which point control decks may want one or two of these to Dig for.
Secure the Wastes
While I can’t just decree that this is good and have it be so, this card’s power level makes my argument pretty easy. It’s decent for 3 mana, good for 4 mana, and great everywhere past that. You do likely need to do a little work to make it worthwhile, which just means caring about the tokens in some way, but there are plenty of decks that can provide that sort of support. My first inclination is to pair this with Jeskai Ascendancy, where you can reliably deal 5-10 damage even off a small X, but it’s possible that various Warrior strategies and/or RW midrange type decks could also put this to use. Flexible cards like this that scale very well into the late game are one of the things to look for when evaluating cards for Constructed.
A sorcery-speed Smother that is also vulnerable to enchantment removal may not sound like the best place to start, but sometimes you need to kill things early. This does kill anything that hits the board in the first few turns, and in the case of something like Flamewake Phoenix or Rakshasa Deathdealer, it does exile. There are tons of removal spells running around these days, and this is another to consider, with the exile clause being the biggest reason to choose it over anything else.
Triggering off everything your opponent plays can get out of hand, and woe to those who try to Lightning Strike this. I don’t quite like the idea of paying 5 mana for a 4/3 that doesn’t really win the exchange against cheap removal (I don’t count gaining 1 life as a win), so this is going to lurk at the fringes unless red decks get that much more popular.
Surge of Righteousness
The 2 life kicker on this is huge, as it is the perfect bonus in the matchups where you are bringing this in. Swatting down a Foundry Street Denizen or Tormented Hero and negating a burn spell is a big game, and this seems like the righteous tool for the job when it comes to anti-aggro sideboard cards.
Top 3 White Cards for Constructed
I really like all the cards on this list. Both the Exemplars (all three of them) and Secure the Wastes are powerful cards that reward specific deckbuilding, and I look forward to trying both. Surge is an awesome sideboard card, and I too anticipate crushing red creatures with it, potentially while getting a Monk for my troubles. White got some strong ones, and that’s without even looking at the multicolor cards (yet).
Next up is blue, wherein I will construct an argument defending Clone Legion.