5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage. Judge’s Familar)
4.0: Format staple. (Sphinx’s Revelation. Supreme Verdict. Thoughtseize. Pack Rat)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Geist of Saint Traft. Nightveil Specter)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Underworld Connections. Thassa, God of the Sea)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Rapid Hybridization. Divination)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Naturalize. (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.)
It’s been a long time since a 2/2 flier for UG was a competitive rate, but add that 2/2 flier to a relatively cheap bounce spell that happens at instant speed (though with a little forewarning) and you have a card. Sagu Mauler and this complement each other well, as both look like good fits in the same types of decks, and your opponents will be much more likely to use a removal spell on your morphs when you have less than 5 mana up. Getting an Aven Downfalled and flipping it to bounce their 4-drop in response is a huge swing, and just playing and using this accomplishes a lot of what a Temur tempo deck is trying to do.
These are somewhat disparate effects to put on a card. Lava Axe‘ing your opponent is definitely something some decks want to do, but those are not usually the same decks that want to use X-spell counters to control the game, especially counters that cost at least 3 mana. If there is a tempo deck that wants something to press the advantage, I guess it might not mind trying this, but Crater’s Claws and Stubborn Denial seem like much more reliable ways to accomplish such goals. Yes, that is two different cards, but both of those cards are much better at doing the thing they do, whereas Mindswipe does two different things at once but in a much less efficient way.
This card is gonna do some mauling in Standard. It’s got two modes of being cast, and both of them are reasonably efficient for what you get. What you get is a giant monster that dies to very few things in the format, and that all combined makes this quite the strong threat. Rattleclaw Mystic plus this is a natural curve, and the two of them being morphs helps make games harder for your opponent to play as well.
Eh, this guy’s ok.
(This is secretly just Savage Knuckleblade, continued). What you get for the price here is just absurd. This beats any creature that costs anywhere in the same ballpark of mana costs, is naturally resilient to removal once the game goes long, and has haste, making it a great draw almost any time. It threatens planeswalkers and life totals alike, and is one of the best new cards in the format. The biggest downside is that blue is not traditionally an aggressive color, so you are looking at mostly using blue cards from Khans in a deck with this. That’s not insurmountable, but does seem like the biggest reason this wouldn’t see a lot of play.
Bear punching aside, Surrak is still a monster. He makes counterspells look just horrendous, ambushes creatures of almost any size, and even can be a strange combat trick by granting your other creatures trample at instant speed. Surrak might even be a victim of his own success, as he may make the kind of decks he’s good against so bad that he himself doesn’t see as much play as he would otherwise. Still, that is success, and the mana cost isn’t so restrictive here that he can’t show up in all kinds of decks.
The deckbuilding restrictions on the Ascendancy cycle are interesting, and this is one of the most strict of the five. It requires a lot of 4+ power creatures to really be worth it, as giving smaller creatures haste just isn’t that big of a deal to begin with. If you do the work, the rewards are there, and luckily cards like Savage Knuckleblade offer you 4-power creatures at a bargain price, which eliminates one of the biggest barriers to this. This card has a lot of room to grow, and offers one of the more powerful effects in the format.
Temur Charm is quite strong, even if it doesn’t have the raw power of some of the other Charms. It’s very good when you are ahead, great in some kinds of parity situations, and horrendous when you are far behind. Two of the three modes actually require you have good creatures in play to do anything, and the Mana Leak mode may well be the same. If a Temur deck is good, it likely will be an aggressive tempo deck, and Temur Charm plays into that perfectly. It’s less flexible than the other Charms, but when it’s good it may have the highest ceiling.
This looks best to me as a sideboard card against aggro, as it does stop an attack in its tracks. It kills one creature and taps the best one left, which is a decent swing for two mana. Arc Lightning may be more powerful, but against a deck with a lot of haste creatures, this could do some work.
Delve is powerful, and I feel obliged to mention all the delve cards that have swingy effects. Having just one of these in a beatdown deck could lead to immense blowouts, though I wouldn’t think you could support more than the one.
Feed the Clan
The age-old question of “how much life is enough on a pure life gain spell?” usually ends up with the answer of 8 or so, and this does have the potential to be more than that. Unfortunately, you often need the life even when you don’t have a big creature in play, so I’m not optimistic that this meal is big enough.
Heir of the Wilds
A 2/2 deathtouch for two isn’t the most absurd thing that’s seen play in Constructed, even if it is relegated to the role of support card at best. If the creatures that are commonly attacking on the ground are vulnerable to this and cost more mana, there are worse defensive options (and it even can do some attacking if need be).
I wouldn’t be surprised if this just got overshadowed by Genesis Hydra (all while not working well with the card at all; sibling rivalry can be ugly). Hooded Hydra is a very powerful card, and one of the best “gotcha!” morphs to flip up, so I think there’s a very real chance this sees play as an anti-aggro option at least and a legitimate threat at best.
Sideboards, always in print, good to have, etc.
This is a powerful card, and when it comes to 2-drop mana accelerators, most of them don’t spend much time on the bench. Even Golden Hind has been played some, and Voyaging Satyr was a mainstay. Rattleclaw blows both those cards out of the water, as it not only plays the part of a triland-colored accelerator on two, but it can ramp you right to six mana on turn four if you morph it. That’s an awesome set of abilities, and it’s in the colors that really want it as well. I like this trend of playable morphs, and especially like that there are a bunch of green ones. The morph guessing game is one that saw almost no Constructed play the last two times, and having it happen now would be great.
Scout the Borders
While this is borderline playable, there’s no way I wouldn’t max out on Satyr Wayfinders and Commune with the Gods first. If you’ve done that and still need self-mill, maybe one or two Scouts make it in.
See the Unwritten
I can see this being good, but competing with Chord and Genesis Hydra is a tough sell. Green can only play so many expensive engines that require creatures, and I have this at third after those two.
Green has a lot of cards that fight for the same spots, and in this case we have Sultai Flayer going up against Nylea’s Disciple. I again have to give it to the older card, as the immediate lifegain from Disciple trumps the better stats and higher potential of the Flayer.
Top 5 Green and Temur Cards
Rattleclaw is the lone mono-green representative, but Temur still did pretty well here. That does mean that green decks are going to lean hard on previous sets when they aren’t full Temur, but I think there is a card or two that makes that acceptable. I like the tempo-based feel of Temur, and think that seems like by far the most likely way for the deck to shape up.
I’ll be wrapping up my set reviews with the cards I haven’t covered thus far (lands, artifacts, and Sorin), after which I’ll take a look at the full Top 10 for Constructed.