fbpx

Magic 2011 Set Review – Artifacts and Lands

 

Artifacts haven’t been all that exciting lately, since the fact that any color can play them puts some pretty hefty restrictions on their power level, but there are a few good ones in M11. Now red has an actual answer to Kor Firewalker, since Blazing Torch doesn’t work, and Stoneforge Mystic just found another friend to search up.

As usual, the grading system is as follows:

Constructed

5.0: Multi-format All-Star. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf.

4.0: Format staple. Bloodbraid Elf. Baneslayer Angel.

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. Raging Ravine. Oblivion Ring.

3.0: Archetype staple. Sprouting Thrinax. Goblin Guide.

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. Rampant Growth. Divination.

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this “maybe” category, although explanation of why 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.)

Limited

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%)

Angel’s Feather

angels feather 

Constructed: 1.0

I would love to give this cycle a blanket 1.0 and be done with it, but Dragon’s Claw has the habit of showing up in sideboards a good amount of the time.

Limited: 0.5

It would take multiple Ajani’s Pridemates for me to even consider playing this, and even then I probably would only side it in against another white deck. Now, if you could get ahold of the Angel that the feather came from, that’s a different story.

Brittle Effigy

Brittle Effigy 

Constructed: 2.5

This is somewhat pricey, and just a one for one, but Kor Firewalker must die. So far, this is the most reliable way I’ve seen to kill the Firewalker, and is much less narrow than something like Leyline of Punishment, since it can still kill their other random guys if they don’t draw Firewalker. It also kills Baneslayer, or even giant guys like Knight of the Reliquary. Its use is not limited to Red decks either, though I suspect most of the play it gets will be in mono-red.

Limited: 4.0

The flexibility of Brittle Effigy elevates it above most removal spells. No matter where your deck ends up, the Effigy is making the cut. Unconditional removal that even kills black creatures is few and far between, so don’t pass this often. If you are already firmly in your colors, taking a cheaper on-color removal spell is worth considering, but the extra mana is usually going to be worth not having to worry about bounce/enchantment removal (Pacifism) or them having black creatures (Doom Blade).

Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball 

Constructed: 1.0

Crystal Ball is undeniably powerful, and when in play its effect rivals that of Top. Not being able to trade it in for a card probably puts Top ahead, though it is close. It is the initial investment that kills it: paying three mana for a card that gets you incremental value as the game goes on is just not good enough for most Constructed decks. At what point is Crystal Ball better than a Divination, or even a Sea Gate Oracle? Only in a very long game is the Ball going to shine, and most decks aren’t built with that in mind. Even the control decks in Standard have a ton of finishers, from Baneslayer to Jace to Gideon to Grave Titan, and they aren’t designed to just grind over the course of twenty turns. Even in slow matchups, lands are good to draw, so all you are really doing with Crystal Ball is improving card quality slightly (unlike in Limited, where putting dead lands on the bottom is akin to drawing cards). Conveniently enough, Counterbalance also just rotated out of Extended, making a Counter-Ball deck impossible. As it stands right now, Crystal Ball is not Standard-playable, though I would certainly like to live in a world where it is.

Limited: 3.5

This is a tough card to rate in Limited. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure out that it is good, but how good is the question. Right now, I would take it over most common removal spells, at least early, but not over bombs like Fireball, Air Servant, or Serra Angel (which I believe is in a print run with the Ball). Filtering through your deck doesn’t accomplish much if you don’t have absurd cards to find, so taking the Ball over such cards doesn’t make much sense. Similarly, if you have little or no removal late in the draft, you probably can’t justify Crystal Ball over Pacifism or Doom Blade, whichever is applicable. The more lands your deck needs to function, the less awesome Crystal Ball is going to be, since it really starts to shine when you can just bottom every land you see. Then again, decks with expensive cards tend to have a good late game, and the late game is what Crystal Ball is made for. All those negatives are aside, a few turns with Crystal Ball in play will let you stabilize fairly easily, and a few more turns after that should put you far enough ahead to win most games, making this a high pick.

Demon’s Horn

demons horn 

Constructed: 1.0

I don’t think Dragon’s Claw has to worry about this horning in on its market share.

Limited: 0.5

The same Ajani’s Pridemate exception could technically apply to all of these, even though it is a thin premise indeed.

Dragon’s Claw

dragons claw 

Constructed: 2.0

At long last, we have the king of the charm cycle, and the only playable one at that. Non-white decks can’t just jam four Kor Firewalkers and be done with it, which is why Dragon’s Claw has shown up in some sideboards. Of course, now that Jund decks can side in Obstinate Baloth instead, I don’t see a bright future for the Claw. It is still tech for the mirror, and Grixis Control might go so far as to try and Claw them, but white and green decks now have way better options.

Limited: 0.5

RW lifegain, coming to a draft near you!

Elixir of Immortality

Elixir of Immortality 

Constructed: 1.0

This doesn’t gain life very efficiently, which leaves its only use as a Feldon’s Cane. If that is the effect you want, playing some giant Eldrazi is a better way to protect against being milled, since I doubt you are just playing Elixir to reshuffle back good cards. If you are looking for immortality, this won’t do the trick.

Limited: 0.5

Neither of these effects are worth a card, yet I still saw a ton of these in play at the prerelease. I guess this card looks playable, since it presumably staves off death by damage or decking, but in reality you are just wasting a card. It is a fine sideboard card against the mill deck or the Lava Axe deck, but avoid running it main.

Gargoyle Sentinel

Gargoyle Sentinel 

Constructed: 1.0

Finally, now every color has access to a three-drop on par with Sprouting Thrinax!

Limited: 3.0

You might not get to beat down on turn four with the Sentinel, yet it still does its job admirably well. It blocks until you have the mana to jump it, and even keeps flying creatures back if that’s what you need.

Jinxed Idol

Jinxed Idol 

Constructed: 2.0

Wall of Omens and Sea Gate Oracle mitigate the effectiveness of Jinxed Idol, though they don’t completely neutralize it. Elspeth is a much bigger problem, and one which might forestall the appearance of the idol until after Shards rotates. Jinxed Idol is clearly quite powerful, and exactly what red decks are looking for, but now is not the time. Throwing away guys that are going to die (Ball Lightning, Hell’s Thunder, Hellspark Elemental) for a hard-to-stop two damage a turn is a great deal, or at least will be once Elspeth rotates out. If some non-white control deck gets big, like Grixis, this could be the ideal card to fight it, though I don’t want to jinx it.

Limited: 1.0

The only deck that would possibly play this main is the Act of Treason deck, and that won’t come up all that often. Jinxed Idol could be a decent sideboard card against a creature-light control deck, which is also something that won’t show up all that often.

Juggernaut

Juggernaut 

Constructed: 1.0

Lodestone Golem is everything Juggernaut wishes he could be, which I’m sure is quite a [card thorn of amethyst]thorn[/card] in Juggernaut’s side.

Limited: 3.0

When you slam down a 5/3 on turn four, the last thing you want to do is stay on defense, so that particular drawback isn’t huge. Evading Walls is also not a big deal, making Juggernaut just a slightly underpriced beater.

Kraken’s Eye

krakens eye 

Constructed: 1.0

(Don’t) RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

Limited: 0.0

You know what, no. Not even with Ajani’s Pridemate in the UW vs mono-blue matchup. I’m tired of trying to construct theoretical situations where these cards are playable, so I’m going to just go ahead and tell it how it is.

Ornithopter

Ornithopter 

Constructed: 1.0

Affinity aside, there has never been a use for the oft-invented Ornithopter. Now that Extended is rotating, even Affinity doesn’t exist, so there goes the rating for this guy.

Limited: 0.0

If your opponent has a horde of 1-power fliers, well, just be thankful for that and proceed to win the match.

Platinum Angel

Platinum Angel 

Constructed: 1,0

Despite a little play in Reanimator, big Platz has never done a whole lot in Constructed. Krosan Grip defeated my vague attempts to make a Platinum Angel/Pact of Negation deck for Worlds 2007 (Platinum Blue was such a cool name, too), and past that, I have never felt the urge to try using her. As cool as it is to not be able to lose the game, paying seven mana for one of the most vulnerable types of permanents is not the way to go about it.

Limited: 4.0

For obvious reasons, any time a Platinum Angel hits the board, the game revolves around her. Some decks have few or no outs, and the decking plan is viable, while others have enough ways to kill her that you still need to keep your life total positive. Counterspells, particularly Cancel and Negate, are awesome in conjunction with the Angel, and you can legitimately plan on decking some opponents. You aren’t going to run into Platinum Angel all that often, but having a way to kill or remove creatures is something you need to just to have a good deck, so try not to be caught dead. If you know they have a Platinum Angel, your removal needs to be conserved even more rigorously than normal (one of the best ways to up your Core Set win % is to not burn removal unless you absolutely have to, since it is scarcer than in normal sets).

Sorcerer’s Strongbox

Sorcerers Strongbox 

Constructed: 1.0

The Sorcerer isn’t hiding any treasure interesting enough to bother trying to break open his box, especially since you can just choose a Jace instead (but there could be anything in the box, even a Jace!).

Limited: 3.0

Much like Ember Shot was the most expensive removal spell that people still played, this is one of the most expensive card draw spells that is still going to make the cut. Three cards is three cards, even if it takes at least six mana, and often more, to get them. A strong card (though hopefully not too strong).

Steel Overseer

Steel Overseer 

Constructed: 1.0

I’m not entirely sure what troops this guy is supposed to oversee, and I suspect that Scars of Mirrodin may provide answers. A cheap recurring ability like this is definitely worth paying attention to, there just aren’t any other guys that can really get big. Lodestone Golem is the best of the bunch, and he doesn’t need too much help.

Limited: 3.0

Even by himself (and most of the time, he will be by himself), Steel Overseer grows rapidly enough to steal games. If you ever get multiple artifact guys out, your opponent will be hard-pressed to keep up, making him a solid pick.

Stone Golem

Stone Golem 

Constructed: 1.0

This guy is most certainly not the stones.

Limited: 3.0

I don’t see how you can get away from playing Stone Golem, unless you are in green and have a ton of 5+ drops already. A 4/4 for five is not overpriced in the least, which means that Stone Golem will spend very little time in the sideboard.

Sword of Vengeance

Sword of Vengeance 

Constructed: 2.0

The playable equipment count in Standard just increased by 50% (for the record, I’m not counting Adventuring Gear at this time). The Sword isn’t at its best against control, but it more than makes it up for that in creature-based matchups. It is hard to beat any Sworded guy in combat, and just the threat of hasting up cheap threats like Knight of the Reliquary is substantial. Even against control, it can threaten Planeswalkers out of nowhere once you get to six or more mana. Standard might be a bit fast-paced for the Sword to see play right now, but it will certainly have its vengeance once Shards rotates.

Limited: 4.5

Once you have a Sword in play, all you usually need to do to win the game is draw a few creatures, even bad ones. It is very difficult to race, and even putting it on something like Barony Vampire will dominate the board. The hefty equip cost can lead to problems if you are too hasty, so try and make sure that a well-timed removal spell doesn’t blow you out. A mid-combat Naturalize is going to be ugly regardless, so just hope that doesn’t happen I guess. Still, there are few cards I would prefer to open, especially early in the draft.

Temple Bell

Temple Bell 

Constructed: 2.0

I’m sure there are plenty of people just waiting to build the next generation of Turbo-Fog and Time Sieve decks, and Temple Bell replaces Howling Mine well enough. I suspect the extra mana isn’t worth being able to draw immediately or wait until their end of turn, but you work with what you got. My dislike of Howling Mine strategies in general is well-documented, and Temple Bell does little to change that.

Limited: 1.0

Stupid mill decks, making it so I can’t call all these unplayable cards unplayable. The combo with Jace’s Erasure is actually pretty good, but don’t slam Temple Bell on that account. Combo decks like that work if you have enough pieces, but something like 1 Bell 2 Erasure 2 Tome Scour isn’t even enough to outrace an average draw unless you have a good defensive deck to go with them. Turbo-Mill isn’t the approach that I would go for, more like U/x control with mill as a kill.

Triskelion

Triskelion 

Constructed: 1.0

Vintage aside, I can’t say that Trike gets much action. That’s too bad, since I have always liked the three-armed machine, and even have a crimped Antiquities one in my EDH deck just because it’s sweet.

Limited: 4.0

Damage may not stack anymore, but Trike is still awesome. Eating a Blinding Mage and still trading for a 2-drop is more than fine, and there are plenty of neat combos with Trike. Unsummon, Rise from the Grave, Gravedigger; they are all two for one’s at the very least once Trike gets involved. Even if you have to trade Trike for a 4/4, you at least have the option, and most games he will do much more than that.

Voltaic Key

Voltaic Key 

Constructed: 2.5

The archetype this helps is of course just Vintage Time Vault-Key decks, and it ends there. For now, there is nothing very interesting to untap in any other format, and I don’t expect some cheap mana artifact to appear anytime soon.

Limited: 0.0

Playing a card whose only function is to give your artifact creatures vigilance or untap Crystal Ball is not the key to winning matches in Limited.

Warlord’s Axe

Warlords Axe 

Constructed: 1.0

I hope that nobody axes me why this isn’t good enough.

Limited: 2.5

Vulshok Morningstar this isn’t, but Warlord’s Axe is still a good way to get an edge in the long game. The low toughness boost and expensive equip cost are not enough to stop me from playing the Axe in most decks, since equipment in Core Sets has always been absurd.

Whispersilk Cloak

Whispersilk Cloak 

Constructed: 1.0

I once equipped Lightning Greaves to Bosh at a PTQ, and it was pretty sweet. It has been a long time since that sort of nonsense was good enough, and Whispersilk Cloak is way worse than Lightning Greaves, which puts it firmly in the Limited-only camp.

Limited: 2.5

The Cloak was unplayable in Mirrodin Block, but I have since learned to respect its power. If you have any 3+ power guy, it puts them on fast clock, and one that isn’t easily answered. I don’t think every deck plays the Cloak, even though most do. If anything, people still overvalue this card; it certainly isn’t a bomb, just a solid piece of equipment.

Wurm’s Tooth

Wurms Tooth 

Constructed: 1.0

Writing reviews for this cycle is seriously like pulling teeth.

Limited: 0.0

GW lifegain is not an archetype I plan on drafting, pretty much ever.

M11 Duals

 

Constructed: 3.0

The manland cycle has overshadowed this one the whole time they have both been out, but these lands have their uses. In two-color decks, they are a fine choice, and even function reasonably well in a three-color fetchland manabase. They are probably going to show up some in Extended, which really drives the point home that Extended is just super-Standard.

Limited: 3.0

If you are both colors, you play these, no questions, and they do a reasonable job of enabling a splash. Manafixing isn’t usually that important though, so I wouldn’t take one of these over most maindeckable cards.

Mystifying Maze

Mystifying Maze 

Constructed: 2.0

I like this card. I don’t think that it’s awesome, or super-powerful, but it should fit well into some control decks. Tectonic Edge does take up many of the colorless land slots, so finding a home for the Maze might not be easy. I just like lands with spell-like abilities, since they feel like 2 for 1’s much of the time. If you don’t have a lot going on, Mazing a guy every turn makes them overextend into Wrath, or buys you time until you can cast Martial Coup or draw something awesome.

Limited: 3.5

Every deck should play this, even as the 18th or possibly 19th land. Dealing with an evasive guy or huge threat is useful, and this will function well as a spell that taps for mana. In Limited, lands like this are essentially 2 for 1’s, and Maze is one of the best. I do caution against using it at the expense of developing your board, since it is more of a late-game card or a way to win a race.

Terramorphic Expanse

Terramorphic Expanse 

Constructed: 2.5

Not quite as many decks want Expanse as the Rootbound Crag cycle of duals, though some certainly do. Tri-color decks play this from time to time, and I expect it to continue seeing play, though I wouldn’t expect the percentage to expand.

Limited: 3.0

The same goes for this as the other duals: good in a 3-color deck and always playable in a 2-color, but not something particularly exciting. If you have a splashed Fireball or the like, it clearly moves up, but most decks don’t need this all that much.

I’m going to skip on the Top 5 lists for artifacts and lands because there really isn’t enough to populate a full list. Brittle Effigy is definitely the most interesting artifact, with Sword of Vengeance not too far behind, and all the nonbasic lands are playable. There are a fair number of draft bombs too, which all should be easy to recognize.

Top 10 Magic 2011 Cards for Constructed

10. Destructive Force
9. Primeval Titan
8. M11 Duals
7. Birds of Paradise
6. Obstinate Baloth
5. Baneslayer Angel
4. Lightning Bolt
3. Grave Titan
2. Mana Leak
1. Fauna Shaman

The Top 10 from M11 is an interesting mix of powerful reprints (Baneslayer, Lightning Bolt, Birds, Duals, MANA LEAK) and cool new cards. I am particularly interested in seeing how Fauna Shaman and Grave Titan impact Standard, with Fauna Shaman even looking like a person of interest in Extended. Blue, Green, and Black all won pretty big in the M11 lottery, with Blue gaining Mana Leak, green gaining multiple new cards and keeping Birds, and black receiving Grave Titan. White broke even, and red definitely lost: trading Siege-Gang and Earthquake for Destructive Force is not exactly a deal, especially considering how Destructive Force is at its best in control, which is not a very “red” strategy.

I think M11 stacks up well when compared to M10, both in Limited and Constructed. While I can’t say I’m excited to draft a Core Set at Nationals, a Pro Tour, and multiple GPs, Scry goes a long way to making the format more palatable. The bombs do seem to have gotten more absurd, which is never good for Limited play, but we have to literally play the cards we are dealt. For Constructed, the top three from that list are all going to make Standard a very interesting format, and one I look forward to playing. The monotony of the last year looks to be fully broken up, and Jund is now just a deck among decks, not the deck.

LSV

65 thoughts on “Magic 2011 Set Review – Artifacts and Lands”

  1. Nice to see the Sword getting some minor notice. Many people seemed to have dismissed it as a Timmy trick. My current interest is what happens with the sword and the Lich post Alara.

  2. Crystal Ball is sick as hell. I’d still take Fireball over it, and probably Mind Control or some bombtastic rare like a Titan, but I don’t think there’s a common I would take over it first pick first pack, and it beats a number of uncommons and rares too. It’s the card I most want to see in sealed outside of afformentioned bombs. When you get to the midgame, all you want to do is draw business every turn and this delivers.

  3. Uhm, if you don’t mind me asking, how is Bolt not the #1 card, considering that you gave Fauna Shaman a 4 and Lightning Bolt a 5. Just asking.

  4. Probably because bolt, while the most powerful card in print (only Jace competes), is not the key stone of many decks. It does not define or enable, its just insane value for your mana.

  5. Sword of Vengeance 4.5 in limited eh… I’d like to see the deck that doesn’t play this, period.

  6. No mention of Voltaic Key and Steel Overseer? Played in the sealed against some guy with a pair of each, those bastards got big fast.

  7. @Vick

    I agree, but for arguments sake, a clear R/G ramp maybe?

    Its a double three drop which might not work as well if your going elf->cultivate->greater basilisk–>6 green fatty. And backed up by red direct. Sword might get in the way a bit. Maybe.

  8. Sword might not be the BEST card for a deck in certain circumstances, but I think it has to be a 5. Better than fireball and doesn’t mess with your mana base. If you don’t play this, then your deck is so insane that it doesn’t need a rating system. Or else it’s a mill deck, and it still doesn’t need a rating system.

  9. I found Temple Bell very useful in sealed. It’s Howling Mine when you’re losing, then it shuts off once you’ve drawn into your bombs/colors/removal. It certainly loses a lot of luster in draft, but in the slow, awkward arena of sealed, I really liked it.

  10. I think he just didn’t want to give it a 5 because masticore and jitte are 5s and that just seems wrong to put it at the same level. Also not a 5 because there are cards you will pick over it whereas there is nothing you ever even consider picking over a jitte.

  11. @Savant: But he gave fireball a 5… the only qualification for 5 is “I will always play this”, not “I won’t pick anything over this.”

  12. I’m with Vick and friends on this one. Given his definition for a 5, which is that you will always play this, it just seems too good not to play in any deck, because it can turn any old dork into a beatstick. Kind of like the justification for Trusty Machete in Zendikar drafting, but Zen is much faster and Machete is cheaper.

  13. A funny fact about Crystal Ball is that it gets better if you natural “draw luck” is not high.

    Lategame if you dont want lands, you can pretty much get a “draw a card” out of the effect, as you can avoid drawing dead cards completly, which will give you the giant edge late game.

    But as LSV said, its just good if you actual “can” draw into that good stuff, which means they are all better than the Crystal (most removal).

  14. @ Elixir of Immortality… I too was sceptical on this and had one in my first prerelease but didnt play it. went against an opponent with two of these…
    Lategame it is insane as it recycles all your graveyard dead creatures and removal… once you thin out the lands you end up drawing only juice and add the fact that you gain life… well… one is very playable… i would rate it a solid 3 in limited and in multiples they are just sick.

  15. I’ve been testing Crystal Ball and it has been performing quite well. The 3cc is a pain but can be mitigated by playing it a bit later than one would normaly like. Also I actually tend to use it to make sure I find land when I need them only putting a second land on the bottom if I am looking for additional gas as well. Final note the mere presence of Crystal Ball means thet decks that traditionally do not have access to this kind of librairy manipulation(i.e. red decks much like with the top) allowing them to keep game when they would usually stall out. But yes sometimes I wish it only cost 2 mana.

  16. i also gotta disagree on the low rating of elixir of immortality in limited. i wouldnt give it a high rating, but just not that low. if all it did was gain you five life and hit the graveyard, then yeah itd suck. but as long as your not cracking it instantly and using it when you have some stuff in your graveyard your gaining five life (and this number matters sometimes in limited especially vs red), and increasing your odds of drawing spells against lands. it goes back in with all your stuff too so you get to do it again later possibly.

    if i ever got it in my card pool id try and play it. and a mid pick in draft at the least over bears.

  17. “Throwing away guys that are going to die (Ball Lightning, Hell's Thunder, Hellspark Elemental) for a hard-to-stop two damage a turn is a great deal, or at least will be once Elspeth rotates out.”

    The only problem is, when Elspeth rotates out, so does the three guys you can sacrifice 🙂 Perhaps there’ll be some new ones in Scars though…

  18. Also re: Elixer of Immortality:

    I doubt this is enough to change your rating, but note that it does combo well with Voltaic Key. While “2, T, sac: Gain 5 life” isn’t that impressive, “5, T, sac: Gain 10 life” looks a little better while, with two Keys, “8, T, sac: Gain 15” could be pretty significant. I wouldn’t play these cards just for this weak combo, but if I had some more synergy (Steel Overseer, e.g., or maybe Phylactory Lich), I’d think about it.

    Also, your constructed rating for Angel Feather may be a little low, since I figure it’s probably better than Ajani’s Mantra (or whatever the card’s called; 1W, enchantment, gain 1 life each turn) in a mono-white deck running Ajani’s Pridemate. I still don’t think the deck will be great by any means, but, well, stranger things have happened, and with Serra Ascendant, etc., in the mix, the deck seems on the verge of playability, at least post-rotation. Time will tell, but I expect some version of this to appear at many FNMs (though definitely not PTQs) across the country in the near future.

  19. gotta say, i still think crystal ball is gonna be big in standard, although i was more confident about it before i found out the master of disaster disagreed. Although i should mention, i’ve been testing with it and it seems quite good in playtesting

  20. Thanks for the review, now get back to the online drafts!

    When does M11 come out online? 🙂

  21. I enjoyed your reviews; thanks LSV. But I have one point of contention:

    I think Crystal Ball is the most overrated card in the set for Limited.

    Why? Firstly, it just costs so much mana! The card would be amazing if it didn’t require one mana in its activation cost, but unfortunately it does. If I value Scry 2 at approximately 2/3rds of a real card (which makes it easier to compare it with other cards), then, e.g., after 3 activations and 3 turns you have spent 6 mana to draw an equivalent of 2 cards, which is not the best deal.

    If games go longer and you are able to activate it many times, then it eventually pays off, sure. But this brings me to the second strike against Crystal Ball: based on my M11 experience thus far, I think the format is rather fast and tempo-based, resolving around mana curves rather than bombs. At least, I consider the format to be much too fast for a slow card like Crystal Ball to shine.

    Overall, Crystal Ball is still playable (in some decks), but doesn’t deserve a 3.5 in my opinion.

  22. @Frank: As I normally play green based big mana decks in core set limited, with splashes up to 3 or 4 colors, I have grown attached to this card and the advantages it offers for that particular archtype. I have yet to lose a game that I had a crystal ball in play and I don’t see that changing anytime in the future. It does promote questionable keeps where you have like both splash colors of mana and a crystal ball and think you can just get there. Although lsv would probably keep.

  23. Maze, Whispersilk Cloak and Crystal Ball are all first picks barring bombs such as Titans and the very best removal like Fireballt. They go into any deck and are insane most of the time. The Maze deals with their evasive guys, potential tokens and auras, the Cloak blanks all their removal and the Ball is just pure card advantage once you get rid of useless land/spells.

  24. @ Frank

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. I’ve only played it in Sealed so far, but I can definitely see how it is too slow for some draft decks. I wouldn’t take it over bombs/good removal (as I said when I talked about it), but it does seem fine in most decks, though I suspect Crystal Ball is being overrated atm (and I may have done so myself)

  25. “Every deck should play this, even as the 18th or possibly 19th land.” 18 lands in M11 limited seems a bit much?

  26. Re-drawing your Elixir of Immortality soon after shuffling your graveyard back in is quite miserable. It’ll just gain you 5 life and will not improve your draws (in fact worsening them by giving you the chance to draw the elixir yet again).

  27. @gaztaseven

    Have to agree with you on that. I ran 17 in my G/W aggro list at the prerelease (only had 1 cultivate for accel) and even then was getting too much land most games, and I had a fairly heavy top end.

    I definitely wouldn’t run 18 in M11 personally, under almost any circumstance.

  28. @GRF:
    Saccing the elixir is part of the cost to activate it, so you can’t untap it in response.

  29. Oh wait – never mind me. I recalled the card in correctly. Your use of the word sacrifice made me misremember the card. Turns out you don’t sacrifice it at all, although the “combo” with voltaic key does work.

  30. Hope you know these reviews (and other articles) are greatly appreciated.

    Talk more about this EDH deck!

  31. Wait; If the sword is the 2nd equipment playable in standard, which is the first — Sledge or Collar?

  32. Overseer gets a 1 in constructed? Lemme tell ya about a little set called “scars of mirrodin”…

  33. @Ozryel:
    LSV didn’t write “increased by 100%” – he wrote “increased by 50%”, which means that Sword is the third playable equipment, not the second (the previous two being obviously Collar and Sledge).

  34. Jinxed Idol and Reassembling Skeleton is pretty unfair in Limited, which I would say is a maindeck-able strategy. Just wanted to point out this interaction, as you may have missed it (though I don’t know if that boosts the rating above 1 at all).

  35. @Ian: yes, please tell us about a set that has no currently spoiled cards and pure speculation driving cards that only interact well with it in very vague theory! If you happen to have some spoilers handy, I’m sure you’d drive up the readership of this site by 9,001% single-handedly.

  36. Argh, you swapped Drowned Catacombs and Glacial Fortress! It would have been perfect! My aesthetic sense is in pain.

    I agree with these reviews, for the most part. I think you should include a conditional bump to most of the artifacts in Limited, though, if you get a Phylactery Lich. Crystal Ball or Whispersilk Cloak both work very well with the guy.

  37. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  38. Reassembling Skeleton + Skull Clamp = HUGE profit. Every EDH player with swamps will be playing this combo from now on.

  39. I kinda hate expensive standard cards (Jace and other planeswalkers, Baneslayer, to name a few) especially because they’re insane and hard to out-do with cheap alternates. However, I like the direction Magic is going with this set. There are more specialty cards that you have to build decks around. For example, I think the lifegain deck is really underrated. Maybe I just like fun decks a lot, but Felidar, Ascendant, and Pridemate, combined with the lifegain quest has potential.

  40. I got beat down pretty bad in a sealed event by a Steel Overseer + 2 Juggernauts. >_< I like Triskelion as colorless removal in other mono-color decks (like green), but 6 mana is kind of a lot .. hmmm …

  41. LSV, you keep mentioning Grixis control. Is that going to be a deck? I was a huge fan of the archetype for awhile, but set it asid ewhen superfriends and similar stategies gained prominence, as Spreading Seas and Planeswalkers were both difficult to deal with. If so, what is it that has changed? I know the meta has shifted considerably, but are new cards like Grave Titan and Jace’s Ingenuity enough to make Grixis a real deck?

  42. I whiffed 8 times on the sorcerer’s strongbox at the release, don’t know if thats a record or not

  43. What’s the opinion on using Brittle Effigy for Faeries to beat Great Sable Stag in new Extended? Given the option of splashing a 3rd color for removal, investing the mana in Effigy seems like a reasonable alternative. Plays well with faeries too, playing on your opponent’s turn.

  44. The limited scale seems to be shifting from a true “fits description at top of article” to a more “relative to other cards at this rating, how good is it?” scale. Stuff like mystifying maze, brittle effigy, and sword of vengeance are all 5’s by your description — you’ll always play the card. Not that this is a bad thing (the limited scale has always seemed a little shaky to me), but it should probably be mentioned somewhere in the article.

  45. “Affinity aside, there has never been a use for the oft-invented Ornithopter.”

    Orny is sick in kami-block Ninja decks.
    Sick.

    Yeah it was never top tier obviously, but I just feel like this guy deserves a little more respect.

  46. Elixir of Immortality is actually pretty good. Had it in my UR 3-0 draft deck few days ago. Since format is slow, ability to play again all cards you already spent is very powerfull. Especially when paired with blue drawing and scrying cards. For example i managed to play a single Fireball 3 times with this. Oh and 5 life comes handy too.

  47. I’m with LSV on Elixir. It’s pretty much a do nothing. You’re playing a card for 5 life and the slim slim slim odds of getting a better card. It’s not like Scry where your draws are actually decided. Your library is still random and your odds of drawing what you shuffled (and you want) are minute.

  48. @Various people complaining about the rating of colourless things:

    If you think about it, you are technically always playing “colourless,” thus, by lsv’s ratings, if there is an artifact or land that you would always play, it just has to be at least a 3.

  49. What is the point of rating cards for M11 based off the current Standard? In a few months Alara Block and M10 will rotate and will affect the power of these cards for better or for worse. I can understand maybe talking about them in relationship with older formats, but not comparing them to cards that won’t be around once Scars rotates in.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top