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Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte.
5.0: The best of the best. (Noxious Gearhulk. Verduous Gearhulk. Aethersphere Harvester.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Untethered Express. Herald of Anguish. Whirlermaker.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Renegade Freighter. Winding Constrictor. Thopter Arrest.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Welding Sparks. Prophetic Prism. Aether Chaser. Daring Demolition.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Dawnfeather Eagle. Scrounging Bandar. Dhund Operative.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Wayward Giant. Leave in the Dust. Countless Gears Renegade.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Bastion Mastodon. Implement of Malice. Highspire Infusion.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Renegade’s Getaway. Reservoir Walker. Watchful Automaton.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Ironclad Revolutionary. Precise Strike.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Take Down. Natural Obsolecence.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Secret Salvage. Lost Legacy. Gonti’s Machinations. Other complicated black cards.)
A 3/3 for 4 is nothing to write home about, but it’s something I suppose I should write about. The ability is a great one, and makes Accursed Horde into a solid threat by itself, while being awesome in a dedicated Zombie deck. You don’t have to activate it to get value, and it lets you attack without fear. I’d always play this, even by itself, and would lean toward drafting Zombies if I had this.
Strange rares are always my bane, but I think this lands on the good side more than anything else. It can fall off in the mid-to-late game, but on turn 3 it’s a potent threat. Your opponent will play one spell, then you attack with a 4/4 and they either chump block or it’s back to a 5/5. In the late, late game, this is also great, as they are going to be largely out of spells to play. Basically, the only time this is really bad is when they have a lot of mana and multiple spells to play, which won’t be often enough to mitigate the times it’s good. Plus, if they are on the chump block plan, this whacks them for 3 every time, which is pretty sweet too.
I’m not overly impressed by this black rare with a drawback (spoiler: there are a lot of them). In the average game, this will come out as a 4/4 to 7/7, and that’s not insane given the drawback of needing to eat a creature in order to attack. There are some decks where this will be great, no doubt, but I don’t like this level of variance in my 6-mana cards. Sometimes this will be too small, and other times you won’t have other creatures to sacrifice, or this will get bounced or killed once it eats something.
For once a badass name like “Punisher” is accurate, as Banewhip Punisher is the real deal. It can eat a 1-toughness creature for free, or can be used as a 4-mana removal spell (that gives you a chump blocker on the way out). It also combines nicely with other -1/-1 counter effects, which gives you a wider range of targets later.
Bontu’s Last Reckoning
I might be down on 6-mana wraths, but make it cost 3 and my tune changes. Not untapping your lands is a real drawback, as you won’t always be able to play the first creature post-Reckoning, but it’s not that hard to set this up for a 2- or 3-for-1. Plus, sometimes you will just play this and a 3-drop, which is a solid turn.
This might be a pushover, but it’s still a 3-power flyer. That’s going to make the cut about half the time, depending on your curve and how aggressive your deck is, which is the definition of filler.
I love flexibility, as anyone who has read any previous reviews can tell you. When you combine two medium effects, you get a pretty good card. Making a player sacrifice a creature traditionally isn’t great in Limited, because their worst creature often sucks, and 3 mana to take the best card out of their hand isn’t great either. But combine them and you get a card that is going to be good almost every game, as one of the two modes is likely to be worth it.
A 1/2 menace that chips away at their hand is pretty sweet by itself, and works really nicely with pump spells or removal. Add the eternalize option and you have a card that can steal games easily.
This is largely worse than Hekma Sentinels, and despite the number of them I drafted, isn’t a card I’ll defend to death. The best you will usually do is trade up slightly, but not getting extra toughness makes it less likely that this lives up to its name. It’s a fine card, but you will often be able to do better.
Hour of Glory
God text aside, this is an Oblivion Strike at instant speed (or a 4-mana Final Reward—whatever you want to call it). That’s good enough for me, even if I expect to never see the secondary text happen.
Fiiiiiine, I’ll play this. It’s a decent beater, if a little small.
The additional text here is a fairly big price, but not enough to stop me from playing this in basically every deck (given a high enough creature count—around 14+). Make sure you have fodder, though it’s cute that this works with small crappy creatures and big ones alike.
Even as a strict sideboard card, this is still a high-priority pickup. It’s great when you do side it in, and that’s enough to push it above everything but premium playables.
Just from the name alone, I was ready to give this a low grade, but cycling for just B is enough to make me reluctantly play it. A 4/2 can deal serious damage when backed up by removal, and you can cycle it if it’s bad. Works for me, I guess.
Meanwhile, a name like this kicks enough ass that I was predisposed to give it a high grade, and it delivers. This is a powerful card in any aggro deck or Zombie deck, and only misses if you lack Zombies and you’re playing a control deck.
Threat activation is here in spades, though an Eternal not having eternalize seems like a flavor punt to me. This attacks well, can block if you leave mana up, and is a solid play at just about every point of the game.
Questionable name aside, I’m not super impressed by this. You won’t want an 0/5 Wall all that often, and paying 2 to cycle it is a real cost.
Razaketh, the Foulblooded
8 mana is steep, and this won’t stabilize the board nearly as well as something like Sandwurm Convergence (which has become my bar for 8-drops). Yes, this is a giant fearsome Demon, but it’s also an 8-mana card without lifelink or anything.
I’m digging this design, and I know I’ll always peek at the top card to see if cycling this would have been better than casting it. It’s pricey, but cycling for 1 mana makes this decent to cycle most of the time and only cast when you have the time for it (at which point it is powerful).
I’d always run this in defensive decks, and it’s passable in aggro. That works for me, even if it’s not the most exciting card in the world. Plus, sometimes it’ll snipe an eternalize card on the way out.
Scrounger of Souls
If you are scrounging for playables you could do worse. This combines well with pump spells and fight effects, and is a passable 5-drop for decks that lack them.
Torment of Hailfire
I’m ready for my very own Torment of Hailfire, as I know I’m going to get a million comments talking about how busted this is. The most common case for this is casting it for 6 or 7 mana, at which point the opponent takes like 6-12 damage and discards a card or two, which is not what I look for in such an expensive card. You need to be pressuring them a ton for this to really hurt, and in some of those games they will have excess cards to discard. Punisher cards have always been bad, no exceptions, and this won’t be the one that breaks the mold. That all said, I know what’s coming.
Torment of Scarabs
See Torment of Hailfire, and imagine it’s slower and less powerful. Yeah.
Torment of Venom
I’m in for the -1/-1 counters part, and the rest is just a bonus. This kills most things you care about, and weakens the rest, all while kicking the opponent on the way out.
I wish this had flying, a la Enigma Drake, but I’ll still take a 2-mana creature that can be a 3/4 or greater, all with cycling of its own. I hope the cycling deck has legs, and if so, this is one of the ways that it will manifest.
This is on the low end for tricks, but giving it cycling goes a long way. I’ve resolved to play more tricks recently, as they ended up being quite good in Amonkhet, and this may get there a little more than I think.
A 2/1 with upside in the late game is pretty sweet, and how can you not like a Zombie Camel as a build-around? I even like this as a blocker in a control deck with Deserts, and it’s a clear fit in most beatdown decks.
Top 3 Black Commons
Black has its usual mix of removal spells and mediocre creatures, and I’m not entirely sure how aggressive it will end up. The Boneslasher is a good beater, and the rest of the top black commons kill creatures, one way or another.