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Magic 2011 Set Review – Blue

 

Today we have blue, which despite being awesome in Limited, falls a little flat in Constructed. Mana Leak is insane, but there aren’t a whole lot of other interesting cards (though there are certainly some with potential). At least Vintage gets something cool!

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%)

Aether Adept

 

Aether Adept 

Constructed: 2.0

While interesting enough to not be immediately rejected, I don’t think a slightly harder to cast Man-o’-War is going to be awesome in Constructed. What creatures are you looking to bounce right now? Ranger of Eos? Bloodbraid Elf? Vengevine? If all the higher end creatures are bad targets, you are left with guys that cost 3 or less, which makes the Adept much lower value. If you aren’t getting a mana advantage out of the deal, it is pretty poor, since a random 2/2 isn’t really worth a card. It is nice that she can bounce something like a Birds and trigger Vengevine, but that still doesn’t make up for her general lack of power.

Limited: 3.0

Adept is definitely not cuttable, though this format might not be fast enough for her to be as absurd as the original. The faster your deck is, the better she gets, since if the games are fast enough, bounce is almost as good as removal. Even in a slow deck, she can help you stabilize, and is a good card all around.

Air Servant

 

air servant 

Constructed: 1.0

Good help is so hard to find.

Limited: 3.5

Losing to Lightning Bolt and other 3-damage effects is annoying, but the tapping ability more than makes it for it (when compared to Air Elemental, obviously). Air Servant dominates the skies and is great even if they don’t have fliers, which makes it absurd if they do. Not many cards can beat Baneslayer Angel, but this one can.

Alluring Siren

 

Alluring Siren 

Constructed: 1.0

Much like a year ago, there is still nothing alluring about playing this.

Limited: 1.5

In a controllish deck with some decent blockers, like the 5/5 Serpent, Siren can do some good work. Picking off their guys and making combat awkward is fairly powerful for just two mana. On the other hand, if your deck is planning on racing them with fliers, Siren is going to basically be a blank, and most blue decks seem to fall into the latter camp.

Armored Cancrix

 

Armored Cancrix 

Constructed: 1.0

I don’t really know what a Cancrix is, and have no desire to find out. You would think something with futuristic armor would be better then a 2/5, but I guess not.

Limited: 1.5

I don’t actually feel too bad about playing this, since if I really need a ground blocker that bad, my deck is probably pretty sweet. Cancrix isn’t going to win any MVP awards, but it sure can hold off random 4/4’s so your Cloud Elementals can kill them.

Augury Owl

 

Augury Owl 

Constructed: 1.0

Cute, but not quite good enough. Scry 3 isn’t quite drawing a card, and the addition of flying doesn’t cover it, so this is a little worse than Elvish Visionary. It is blue, which is always good, but I don’t see a place for this.

Limited: 3.0

The better your deck is, the better this gets, and it is fine to begin with. As has been said many times, this is infinitely better than the always-depressing Sage Owl, and I look forward to scrying with this many times.

Azure Drake

 

Azure Drake 

Constructed: 1.0

This isn’t good enough for Constructed, that’s for zure.

Limited: 3.0

There is no limit to how many Azure Drakes I would play, since it blocks and attacks with equal efficiency. When you drop Assault Griffin, you may bash for more, but you usually won’t be able to block and survive. The Drake comes out, probably blanks their next attack, and then either starts bashing for two or holds the fort while Cloud Elementals do the dirty work.

Call to Mind

 

Call to Mind 

Constructed: 2.0

When I look at this, the only deck that comes to mind is Pyromancer Ascension. With a few Call to Minds, it is very easy to power up Ascension, though that wasn’t usually the problem with the deck. Even though Call to Mind basically guarantees that you will flip Ascension, I don’t know if it speeds you up enough to make the deck worthwhile. Past combo shenanigans, I doubt Call to Mind will really make an impact.

Limited: 1.0

Despite the low rating, I think I will be pretty happy when I have cause to play this. I figure that the only times I will play this are when my deck has a bunch of awesome spells, in which case Call to Mind will be solid. Most decks are not going to play this, so it shouldn’t really go early. I would say that you want like two-three good targets and two-three mediocre ones before this makes the cut (good meaning removal or Foresee, mediocre meaning Unsummon, Mana Leak, and Negate).

Cancel

 

Cancel 

Constructed: 2.0

Cancel is still chugging along, picking up work here and there. Nobody has ever been excited to play Cancel in their deck, but sometimes is the right card for the job. Deprive is going to seriously eat into Cancel’s market share, though some decks will play both.

Limited: 2.5

The format is slow enough for Cancel to be a solid playable, and is even quite good in some matchups. Some decks will cut it, particularly the very aggressive UW ones, but I expect to play it the vast majority of the time I draft it. The bombs in M11 are particularly insane, so counterspells in general are important to have.

Clone

 

Clone 

Constructed: 1.0

Turns out that copying Bloodbraid Elf or Vengevine doesn’t really work the way you want it to. I probably should have just Cloned my M10 review of this and saved myself the time.

Limited: 3.5

This will range from solid to insane, and usually closer to insane. It is hard for Clone to be actually bad, since that means they have nothing good in play, in which case you can usually wait, and when it copies a Titan or something the payoff is huge.

Cloud Elemental

 

Cloud Elemental 

Constructed: 1.0

Rishadan Airship had three power and it was playable for a while. Cloud Elemental doesn’t and isn’t.

Limited: 3.0

Not being able to block much isn’t that big a deal on your evasion guy, and this particular evasion guy beats most other cheap fliers in a battle. There’s a reason I always use Cloud Elemental as the example when I talk about blue beating down; he is the go-to guy when you want to drop a flier and bash.

Conundrum Sphinx

 

Conundrum Sphinx 

Constructed: 2.0

This puts me in a bit of a conundrum. I like the card, and want it to be good, but I just don’t think it can compete with the current crop of 4-drops. At what point would you rather cast this than Jace, Bloodbraid Elf, Vengevine, or Ranger? It dies to everything but Lightning Bolt, and doesn’t even guarantee you a card without some work. It is the most aggressively-costed 4/4 flier we have seen in a while, but I still don’t think it will have a chance to shine until Shards block rotates out.

Limited: 4.0

You aren’t likely to get much of an advantage out of the Sphinx’s special ability, though having a few scry cards does up the chances. That doesn’t really matter, since bashing for four a turn in the air is all you need to accomplish, and thanks to the absurdly low casting cost on this guy, you get to start on turn 5.

Diminish

 

Diminish 

Constructed: 1.0

Snakeform at least drew a card, which made it worth the effort. Having your removal not be able to kill anything by itself is not what you are looking for in Constructed.

Limited: 2.5

I doubt I will cut this often, but it is possible. If your deck is very creature-light, Diminish isn’t actually great, and some UB control decks could definitely fit into that category. This is definitely good removal for most decks, though sometimes you will have to bite the bullet and “chump” a huge guy in order to Diminish post-combat and guarantee the kill, since they can’t use removal to save their guy at that point.

Flashfreeze

 

Flashfreeze 

Constructed: 2.0

Much like Celestial Purge, Flashfreeze does its job in an orderly but unexciting fashion. It has started to fall out of favor recently, and now that Mana Leak is back, I suspect that trend will continue.

Limited: 0.5

A fine sideboard card, but nothing more than that. As usual with sideboard cards, take them over marginal playables, since they become quite good when you bring them in.

Foresee

 

Foresee 

Constructed: 1.0

It pains me, but Foresee just doesn’t have a shot nowadays. It is definitely a better card than Divination, but Divination was at the perfect point in the curve for what the decks that played it wanted to do. I miss the days where I got to play 3 Careful Consideration, 3 Mystical Teachings, 2 Foresee as card draw, with 3 Shadowmage Infiltrators just in case, but 4-drops now have a ridiculously high barrier for entry.

Limited: 3.0

Card draw is awesome in slower formats, and Foresee is no exception. I can foresee myself taking this above similarly-rated cards, though don’t go too overboard. Card draw is only good if you have good cards to draw, so at some point you need to take removal or solid creatures over this sort of thing. Still, Foresee is one of the easiest ways to get ahead in this format, so early in a draft I would take it over most cards.

Frost Titan

 

Frost Titan 

Constructed: 1.0

Would shroud really have been too much to ask for? As is, this Titan doesn’t even net you a whole card when you play it, and its ability doesn’t really protect it by the time you get around to playing it.

Limited: 3.5

Frost Titan is not quite as good as the other Titans, but still is fairly ridiculous. It locks down their best creature every turn, and is a 6/6 to boot. I doubt the semi-shroud ability will be all that relevant, but it is a decent bonus I suppose.

Harbor Serpent

 

harbor serpent 

Constructed: 1.0

Sea Serpents have always been mediocre in Limited, which doesn’t bode well for their Constructed chances.

Limited: 3.0

Now this is what a serpent should look like! If they are playing blue, it’s absurd, and it is more than fine if they aren’t. It might not be able to attack right away, but it should eventually, and being a 5/5 defender will keep you alive until then. Blue getting a pretty monstrous common creature is awesome, and I expect Harbor Serpent to go quite early.

Ice Cage

 

ice cage 

Constructed: 1.0

Narcolepsy has neatly supplanted Ice Cage’s chances in the Constructed arena, since having them Bolt a pumped Putrid Leech is a disaster Narcolepsy avoids. I guess you will have to save your icing for Limited and frat parties.

Limited: 3.0

I would always start with Ice Cage in my deck, though it will often get sideboarded out. Not only is it just naturally worse after board, since they will likely bring in Unholy Strength or whatever, if I see multiple Blinding Mage-type cards I will cut the Cages. Removal is removal, and most of the time this should be fine, but the drawback is worth considering when sideboarding. I also don’t like multiple Cages, since if one is bad, three is terrible, and you set yourself up to get blown out.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

 

Jace, the Mind Sculptor 

Constructed: 5.0

What is there to say about Jace? He has shown up in every Constructed format but Pauper, and thoroughly dominated the smaller ones (Standard and Block). Now that he is getting reprinted, his price should drop to a somewhat more manageable level, since 90 dollar Standard cards are bad for everyone but those who hoard Jaces. As long as Jace is in Standard, he is going to be worth a ton, and I don’t see him going that low even when he rotates out, since he will have a home everywhere else still.

“¦

That’s the review I wanted to write, since I really hoped Jace would get reprinted. Sadly, that isn’t the case, and his price isn’t going anywhere but up. As for the actual review:

Jace Beleren

 

Jace Beleren 

Constructed: 2.0

Little Jace’s role in the metagame has basically been reduced to fratricide (or is it suicide? I really don’t know), as he mainly shows up to deal with opposing Big Jaces. The only time you have little Jace in your deck, it is as the 5th-6th Jace card, and that means only against other decks playing 3-4 Mind Sculptors. Yes, I suppose he shows up in Turbofog-type decks, but like Vampires, I don’t really count them.

Limited: 3.5

One thing is for sure about Planeswalkers: they change any game they are involved in, Constructed or Limited. As soon as Jace hits the table, the game completely revolves around him, and there are a few directions you can go. You can use him as a Jayemdae Tome and keep all your creatures back, counting on the stream of cards to overpower the opponent and force them into bad attacks. Alternately, you can just +2 him every turn, which doesn’t net you card advantage but does usually blank their attack steps, since if they ever stop attacking Jace you can just –1 him or even build towards milling them. The second option often lets you bash with your creatures, since it is hard for them to race you AND kill Jace at the same time. Either way, Jace is awesome.

Jace’s Erasure

 

Jaces Erasure 

Constructed: 1.0

When If a mill card that has potential is printed, I will be the first to admit it. This is not that card.

Limited: 1.0

This is clearly not a card that you can just put into a deck, but it certainly has its uses. The most obvious is in a mill strategy, where you combine this, Tome Scour, card draw, and maybe Temple Bell or Traumatize in order to try and deck the opponent. If you have multiple Erasures and Tome Scours, it might work, though any sort of half-measure is likely to end in disaster. The other, and more realistic use of Jace’s Erasure is as a sideboard card in the control vs. control matchup. If both of you have a ton of removal and are light on win conditions, Erasure might be awesome, especially if both decks have a fair amount of card draw. You probably won’t pick any up, since someone is bound to try and draft the mill deck, but if you can take one late, might as well.

Jace’s Ingenuity

 

Jaces ingenuity 

Constructed: 2.5

Will Mana Leak + Jace’s Ingenuity make traditional control viable? Probably not, but you can’t blame me for hoping. If such a deck exists, Ingenuity will be a solid 2.5, and let you refill midgame, losing the power of Mind Spring for the option of countering their spell instead of casting your own.

Limited: 3.0

This is usually going to be better than Foresee, but not by much. Normally, scry 2 is much worse than draw 1, but by the time you cast Jace’s Ingenuity, drawing lands is usually not going to be all that important. The instant speed option is also nice but not that relevant, since most of the time you aren’t going to be keeping counter mana up or anything. I hope I have the option between the two, since that means I’m getting an awesome card draw spell!

Leyline of Anticipation

 

Leyline of anticipation 

Constructed: 1.0

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don’t anticipate this particular Leyline being good in Constructed. It has the “Leyline problem” of needing many copies to maximize opening hand potential and being weak in multiples, and hardcasting it just does not seem worth it. I get that the ability is powerful, but I don’t see the rewards being worth the drawbacks. If it does see play, it will be in Vintage most likely, since there at least you can do powerful enough things to make the waste of the card irrelevant. I doubt that will happen either, but it is at least more likely than in Standard.

Limited: 0.0

This is in no way worth a card or four mana.

Mana Leak

 

Mana leak 

Constructed: 4.0

Now this is a card I can get behind. Just the existence of Mana Leak is going to drastically change how Standard plays, since no longer can you assume that your 4+ mana spells are going to resolve most of the time. Mana Leak might not be great against cascade or Vengevines, but it sure is against Ranger, Sovereigns, planeswalkers, and really anything. I imagine that most blue decks are going to want some number of these, and it is a shot in the arm to blue-white control strategies. The impact on Extended is less exciting, since we never really lost Mana Leak, though it will be quite important in that format too (and my inclusion of it in that Faeries list was a pure oversight, not some sort of inside information).

Limited: 2.5

Leak gets dead fairly quickly, but is going to counter anything in the first six turns of the game or so. Even later, it still gets their expensive cards, especially if they don’t play around it. This definitely gets worse in multiples, but one or two is usually going to be decent.

Maritime Guard

 

Maritime guard 

Constructed: 1.0

There is no time when this would have been playable.

Limited: 1.0

This is more of a sideboard card than anything else, since the only cards it stops are cards they shouldn’t be playing in the first place. If they are playing a ton of Glory Seekers and whatnot, feel free to bring this in, but you really shouldn’t be playing this main.

Mass Polymorph

 

Mass polymorph 

Constructed: 1.0

Look, it’s like Polymorph but MASSIVE. This is just too unwieldy for actual use, though it not targeting is kind of nice. In order to have a mass of creatures, you are either playing random castable creatures or many ways to make tokens, and both options have drawbacks. If you are playing castable guys, you might Polymorph into more of them, which defeats the purpose. If you aren’t playing castable guys, and just have a bunch of tokens instead, you need to have a number of Big Guys to Polymorph into, and that leads to plenty of awkward draws. Six mana is a lot, also, and all these problems added together make this not good enough.

Limited: 0.0

In Rise draft, this would have been interesting, since it combines well with Spawn tokens, but the closest we get to that in M11 is Squadron Hawk. If you have four Hawks, I guess you could try and make a sick Mass Polymorph deck, but past that it seems pretty suspect.

Merfolk Sovereign

 

Merfolk Sovereign 

Constructed: 1.0

Merfolk Sovereign had found a good niche in Legacy Merfolk as the third-tier Lord behind the Reej and Lord of Atlantis, but Coralhelm Commander has taken its place.

Limited: 1.0

You aren’t going to draft enough Merfolk to make this worth it unless you randomly pick up six or seven or have a deck really light on playables. If those are the two options, I don’t like your chances in the draft.

Merfolk Spy

 

Merfolk Spy 

Constructed: 1.0

When will the Merfolk learn that instead of spying and observing they should be doing something useful, like pillaging or plundering.

Limited: 0.5

I don’t think I am ever going to sideboard this in, but if you end up with a U-based beatdown deck and are playing against another blue deck, this isn’t the worst. I sided in Grayscaled Gharial a fair amount against the mill deck in Ravnica draft, and I suppose this is strictly better.

Mind Control

 

Mind Control 

Constructed: 2.0

I have yet to really be impressed with Mind Control, despite trying it in a variety of sideboards. While it is a decent answer to Malakir Bloodwitch, it is so bad against the rest of the Jund deck that it never quite works out for me. Vapor Snare is splashable in decks that really want to answer Baneslayer, since most blue decks don’t care about Baneslayer Angel very much.

Limited: 4.5

It doesn’t get much better than Mind Control. Unanswered, it is at the very least a two-for-one, and since you are taking their best guy, it is often more than that. There are very few cards I would take over Mind Control, and it is the biggest reason to make sure you pick up some random enchantment removal or bounce.

Negate

 

Negate 

Constructed: 2.5

With Mana Leak back, Negate is no longer much of a maindeck card. It is still a fine sideboard card, but Mana Leak just does its job better.

Limited: 2.5 in Sealed, 2.0 in Draft

I normally don’t vary my ratings much for Draft and Sealed, but Negate is much better in Sealed. The format is slower, and most decks will have a number of bombs that you want to stop. In Draft, I don’t mind playing Negate main, but it is much less of a sure thing.

Phantom Beast

 

Phantom Beast 

Constructed: 1.0

This wouldn’t be remotely playable even without the drawback.

Limited: 2.5

The Beast is a solid blocker, and the drawback isn’t big enough that I would cut it from the main. Like Ice Cage, it is often sided out, but playing one of these is fine.

Preordain

 

Preordain 

Constructed: 2.5

The Constructed rating on this card is mostly predicated on its Vintage playability, since I think Ponder is going to be better in most decks. If you can’t shuffle, Preordain is better, but shuffles are pretty easy to come by nowadays. In Vintage, Ponder and the like are restricted, so Preordain is the only game in town. I think it will perform well, since it digs rapidly for the awesome cards you get to play in Vintage. Part of the reason that Ponder and Preordain don’t see any play in Standard is that you aren’t finding anything powerful enough to make up for the time wasted in casting these cantrips. In Vintage and Legacy, you are digging for cards like Dark Ritual, Force of Will, Black Lotus, etc., and these cards more than make up for the time lost. In Standard, you have nothing you can find really, so the cards don’t see play.

Limited: 3.0

Don’t let the high rating fool you. While I would never cut Preordain, it isn’t better than most “good” cards, unless your deck is kind of mediocre and you have a few ridiculous bombs. In that case, go nuts!

redirect

 

redirect 

Constructed: 2.0

I tried to make Swerve work in Grixis, and redirect is way more awesome. It gets Blightning real good, and even can retarget Maelstrom Pulse or Terminate, so if you are playing a blue deck with creatures, it seems pretty sweet vs. Jund. It also serves a good purpose in a matchup that involves counter wars, making this a reasonable card to have in your sideboard.

Limited: 2.5 in Sealed, 1.0 in Draft

It seems pretty greedy to start this in draft, but I would definitely play it main in Sealed. It is a sick sideboard card, and should lead to some pretty ridiculous blowouts.

Scroll Thief

 

Scroll thief 

Constructed: 1.0

Strictly better than Ophidian, but it has been a long time since Ophidian was remotely good enough. Cards are just too good in all the formats to bother trying to steal games with this.

Limited: 2.0

I would usually play one of these, though it won’t get through all that often. It combines very well with removal, obviously, and even if you don’t have removal, the opponent doesn’t know that. They will often be forced to leave multiple blockers back to avoid getting 2 for 1ed by removal, or they will use their removal on the Scroll Thief. Overall he can perform a bit above his pay grade, even if you can’t really take that much advantage of him. Of course, when you can take advantage of him, with Whispersilk Cloak or Blinding Mage or whatever, he should deliver the game in short order.

Sleep

 

sleep 

Constructed: 1.0

Zzzzzzzz

Limited: 2.5

I expect people to be as up in arms about my “low” rating of Sleep this time as they were last time, but I haven’t changed my opinion. Sleep is not an auto-include, since if you aren’t pressuring them it really doesn’t do anything. If you are in a race, sure, it’s awesome, but not every game comes down to that. Nothing is more miserable than having cards like this when you need something that affects the board. In some decks it is quite good, but early in the draft I don’t think I would slam this over something like Foresee.

Stormtide Leviathan

 

Stormtide Leviathan 

Constructed: 2.0

Another set, another interesting reanimator target. The Leviathan is better than [card]Blazing Archon[/card] against a fair segment of the population, though the fact that it fails hard at stopping Merfolk is a definite strike against it. While it does kill faster than Archon, the ease in which some decks get around it is likely going to axe any chances of it being good.

Limited: 2.5

Eight-casting cost spells are always suspect, since fast decks will have too many games where they never get there. This does give you your mana’s worth in value though, since it stops them from attacking as soon as it comes out, and puts them on a really fast clock. Early in the draft this is a high pick, since you can build your deck to survive until eight, but later in the draft you might have too fast a deck to be interested.

Time Reversal

 

Time reversal 

Constructed: 2.0

Any card this powerful is worth notice, but I think that Time Reversal is dangerously over-hyped. In order for this effect to be good, you have to either use your cards to generate a ton of mana or you have to cast this absurdly early. Since there are very few good rituals in any non-Legacy format, the mana generation part seems difficult to accomplish. It is worth noting that the “all burn spell” strategy is essentially accomplishing the same thing, with your burn attempting to end the game before they can use the extra cards they have been given. Right now it doesn’t look like there are the cards to take advantage of the effect that this offers, and until there are this is probably going to see no real play.

Limited: 0.5

I guess you can side this in against the mill deck, though Jace’s Erasure gets around it pretty well. It doesn’t seem realistic to accumulate enough cheap spells to get a measurable edge out of Time Reversal, so I wouldn’t bother.

Tome Scour

 

Tome scour 

Constructed: 1.0

Crypt of Agadeem makes this barely playable in theory, but that deck hasn’t seen the light of play in many months, even if you scour all the MTGO decklists.

Limited: 1.0

The mill deck, etc. For the record I never saw the deck succeed in an M10 draft, though it is theoretically there sometimes.

Traumatize

 

Traumatize 

Constructed: 1.0

Even the Crypt of Agadeem deck doesn’t want this one!

Limited: 1.0

No, opening this is not a sign you should be drafting the mill deck, even if you think you can wheel the Tome Scour out of the pack.

Unsummon

 

unsummon 

Constructed: 1.0

Every now and then there is a hint that Unsummon might be Constructed playable, but such rumors often prove to be false. Even in the Turboland deck, Unsummon is too much of a lost card to really be worth it.

Limited: 2.5

Exactly one Unsummon is fine to start, with the option of more postboard against removal or enchantment-heavy decks. I suppose if you are very aggressive, multiple Unsummons is passable, but I would be wary of doing so.

Wall of Frost

 

Wall of Frost 

Constructed: 1.0

Every time I look at Wall of Frost, I realize I could just be playing Wall of Denial, since UW is the only deck interested in this sort of effect anyway.

Limited: 2.5

If you want a wall (and blue usually does), this is a good one. It is not quite as effective as it looks, from experience, since even against two creatures they still get damage through every other turn; the inability to actually kill things is annoying. It still does the job, and stops almost every ground creature in the format.

Water Servant

 

Water Servant 

Constructed: 1.0

I guess this is the guy that brings Morphling coffee and does his laundry (and even Morphling wouldn’t be good enough in Standard).

Limited: 3.0

blue gets some pretty good groundpounders in this set, with both this and Harbor Serpent locking up the ground really well. Water Servant can block anything and live, or just trade for anything with six or less toughness. Even at 2UU for a 3/4, it would be good, and it is much more than that.

Top 5 Constructed Cards for blue

5. Cancel
4. Negate
3. Jace’s Ingenuity
2. Preordain
1. Mana Leak

blue gets a mixed bag here. On the one hand, Mana Leak is one of the best cards in the set for Constructed, if not THE best. On the other hand, blue gets almost nothing else of interest for most formats. Preordain is a good boost for Vintage, but past that there is nothing all that special. Negate will see play, but Jace’s Ingenuity certainly might not, and nobody is ever excited about Cancel. It’s a shame the Titan isn’t cool, since that cycle as a whole is pretty awesome.

Top 5 Commons for Limited

5. Harbor Serpent
4. Aether Adept
3. Cloud Elemental
2. Foresee
1. Azure Drake

Azure Drake and Foresee are pretty far ahead of the rest, with the last three being interchangeable, depending on the deck. Blue made out really well in Limited, and it looks like one of the strongest colors. Card draw, evasion, counters, and some light removal tend to combine well, and it even has a number of large common creatures.

Join me tomorrow as I take a look at black!

LSV

90 thoughts on “Magic 2011 Set Review – Blue”

  1. um Time Reversal is amazing in sealed. i had a R/U/G deck that had 2 lava axes 1 call to mind an Act of Treason and Time Reversal. the fact that you can shuffle a 40 card deck which would be like 28 by 7th turn almost guarantees you getting your important spells back. in limited its so much better in limited than constructed.

  2. I will be trying 2 conundrum sphinx in my U/W/G Turbo Land deck. Oracle of Mul Daya + Sphinx is probably asking for too much, but would be pretty hot nonetheless.

  3. Maybe I missed it, but did you mention how you knew about Mana Leak in advance (as hinted at in your White set review)?

  4. “Another set, another interesting reanimator target”

    That was great.

    And yes, I would have liked to see the other Jace in the M11 boosters.

  5. When is Wizards going to learn that EVERYBODY wants card values to be cheap in Standard/Extended. The only “investment formats” are Legacy and Vintage. They should have reprinted Jace 2.0. It’s a damn shame, since that locks a lot of people out of competitive decks. $100 cards are not good for Standard.

  6. I have heard some really interesting things about the leyline in limited i don’t see why it’s unplayable

  7. Yeah flashing in Phantom Beast or Harbour Serpent or Azure Drake to block doesn’t seem that bad. Probably worth a 1.5.

  8. Magicthegatherin

    Calling Blue one of the strongest limited colors seems rather off to me. In a set with Kodama’s reach where many players will be stealing your foresees, blue is significantly weaker.

    Further, the blue lost snapping drake and that 3/4 illusion as well as the wind drake.

    Aether Adept is rather weak. Bouncing a dude aint what it used to be.

  9. “When will the Merfolk learn that instead of spying and observing they should be doing something useful, like pillaging or plundering.”

    Hey that one was really funny!

    You should continue to experiment with forays into non-pun humor, LSV. Your Water Servant joke via Morphling wasn’t bad either. You’re really evolving as a humorist; stick with it and they’ll start asking you to do standup in front of thousands of people at future GP’s 🙂

  10. I don’t know if Leyline is GOOD in Limited, but I do think it’s worthy of discussion, or at LEAST some justification beyond “This card sucks, 0/5.” Being able to flash in a Harbor Serpent or AEther Adept or something midcombat is fairly strong, and it interacts well with counterspells, and so on.

  11. Lsv, I saw your comment on Ingenuity and Mana-Leak being the return of traditional control, and that reminded me of many comments that control does not always consist of using counter-spells. Surely a good control deck doesn’t always need counter-magic to be strong does it?

  12. The Leyline also looks pretty good in limited to me. It turns every creature (in all colors) into a combat trick. Also, it combos well with many sorceries… not so much the blues, but casting Assassinate during their attack would be pretty awesome. There are lots of other good combos.

    Also, control decks can benefit immensely. You leave all your mana up and they wonder if you have a counterspell. Leaving mana up becomes less intimidating, which means that when you do have counterspells, you’ll be able to use them more often. And if you don’t counterspell anything, you cast a creature, so there is no trade-off for leaving mana up! Though occasionally, you’ll have to choose between leaving mana up for a post-combat counterspell and 2 for 1ing them with a mid-combat creature. *sigh*

    By the way, I love your reviews and drafts, especially the puns! Keep it up!

  13. For those thinking the Blue leyline is playable in limited, move out of magical Christmas Land, because casting this thing on turn 4, so you can play instant speed aether adept is very weak. Sure, it is pretty good in your opening hand, but the chances of that are not good and this results in an inconsistent deck. Its the same as Elite Vanguard. People claim it is “an excellent 1 drop”. But when you are top decking after 10 turns, and draw this, you just want to face palm.

  14. My friend tried out the blue leyline in the release, just for fun, and it was pretty ridiculous with Excommunicate.

  15. Also, it’s funny how the so called AMAZING M11 as advertised by Evan Erwin has not really materialised. Taking LSV’s review + what was said on Magic TV, it seems that overhyped cards like Time Reversal are actually given a proper examination. So thanks for this since I can learn something rather than watch 10 minutes of adverts.

  16. @ Blue Leyline

    Much like Silence, I think people are too focused on the best possible scenarios. Losing a card in order to maybe ambush their guys is just not worth it, especially since if you have guys that outclass theirs, you are in reasonable shape anyway. Spending a turn casting the card is pretty miserable, as is ever drawing it in the mid or late game. I understand that people want cool new cards to be good, but I just don’t see it here.

  17. I don’t think the Leyline is insane by any stretch of the imagination, but it is not unplayable. Giving everything flash adds a ton of utlity, and killing a single attacking creature by flashing in a threat already more than pays for the card spent by playing leyline. Because it’s so situational and such a bad topdeck it will never be a great card, but it’s certainly playable in most decks.

    The sheer utility of being able to leave up your mana and make your decisions on your opponent’s turn or in their eot gives you a huge information advantage – you make all of your plays with the information of how much mana they have, what creatures they have tapped / untapped, and what the game state will look like once it becomes your turn again. Your opponent also loses all of that information, making all of their actions uncertain and all of yours well-informed. This is really a pretty significant advantage and I think that most of the time it pays for the mana cost / the cost of a card. Also randomly having it in your opening hand is really strong (and much better than an Elite Vanguard).

  18. I managed to turn a pair of Sylvan Rangers into a Child of Night and a Spined Wurm using Mass Polymorph at the prerelease.

  19. what’s the matter with you ppl…lsv explained his logic in the article enough, and he bout 10000000000x better than each of you

    I GOT YOUR BACK LSV 🙂

    + my friend played the leyline at the pre release and was usually misable when he drew it…according to him, any random dork wouldve been better

    in my opinion, the only way to make leylines good would be to add cantrips to them, such as: when this enters battlefield, draw a card/or scry 2…otherwise, none of them are powerful enough to make the main in any format(except the void perhaps?)

    anyways, great article lsv….i guess you’ll be slinging blue around in limited since you gave many of the cards high ratings, and the deserve it.

  20. Leyline of Anticipation – This card is not a 0 in limited.

    I’ve seen this card in action twice in draft and it is pretty good in the right deck. Forsee is absurd as an instant and attacking becomes nearly impossible with this thing out. Furthermore, Leyline + Sleep = Win the game.

    I wouldn’t take it very highly, but it’s a card that plays better than it looks.

  21. Blue leyline seems like a fine card to me, definately better than a 0. Flashing all your spells puts your opponent in a bad spot. Attacking is awkward, removal cannot be spent as effectively, you might even get to eat a guy or 2 by flashing in a creature. Plus, if you are playing counterspells, you can ALWAYS leave your mana up.

  22. I haven’t played with the blue leyline, but I think I’m going to fall on the side of “probably not completely unplayable in limited”, although I probably wouldn’t be happy to play it. That being said, it does turn every creature in your deck into a combat trick, which seems decent. Also lets you keep counter mana up, cast sorceries at instant speed, creatures at EOT, etc. If my deck was light on four-drops, I’d think about playing it.

  23. The leyline is cute but it’s only useful if you drop it turn 1 and even then, if you’re on the play, you’re down to 5 cards without affecting the game. It’s a useless topdeck at pretty much any point in the game and is almost always worse than a random 2/2.

    The only thing I disagree with is that it isn’t a 0 in constructed too. As long as anyone puts it at higher than a 0, you’ll hear people saying how good it is if x, y and z happen…

  24. I have to say, I stuck the levithan in my sealed U/R deck, and every time it came down it was a house. I agree that 8 mana is a ton, but if you pull the levithan, and a fair amount of blue it’s the best card in your deck. Period.

  25. The thing about this article that most opened my eyes was when LSV said that “even Morphling would not be good enough in Standard”. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

  26. Oh snap, (I/my friend) played this card in a once deck and it was good at least once. So I’m going to ignore statistical data and be sample biased.

    Probably shouldn’t be 0 though for most people. However his ratings clearly state that

    “0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)”

    So as long as long as he never does it’s fine.

  27. i think that people need to play with the leyline a bit more before the start speculating if it is a 0 or not. There seem to be two sides and nether of them have really been able to play with it so maybe instead of sucking on lsv’s tit jeremy and comparing someone that spends most of his time playing a game for a living to the rest of the world maybe realize that people have been wrong in the past and can happen again. and maybe its just me cause i have opened 13 jaces but i kinda like the price that they are at cause im making a killing!!!

  28. I played with the blue leyline in all three of my sealed pools this weekend. I can honestly say it rocks. I had some pretty fun cards to go with it, but the high point of my weekend was flashing in a grave titan and killing all three of their attackers, then swinging for the win next turn. it makes all of your cards better, even if you do play it on turn 4.

  29. Merfolk Sovereign with 1.0 in Constructed? You gotta be kidding me. Last time I checked, the winning Merfolk lists in Legacy contained 16 lords (4 of them being Sovereings).

  30. I got to say, the blue Leyline is definitely not a 0 in limited. With the Leylind out, it makes combat a nightmare for your opponent. I really think this merits more consideration.

  31. Just a few words about Scroll Thief.

    I think its a really powerfull common as it does much more than it might look at first.

    If they have a singel creature they wont attack you, as otherwise you get the free draw. If they never attack with the singel creature you are just going to draw removal or just a trick to attack them so they cant safely block.

    No matter what happens, its allways good for you, and even if you have 3 creatures and the Scroll Thief is the smallest, they will feel a need to block the Scroll Thief as you just get more cards otherwise.

    Its a really clever card, and 1/3 for 3 mana can block quite a bunch of creatures on its own.

    A late pick Merfolk Lord is a great thing if you can get 3+ Scroll Thief , they grow to 2/4 and you even can make them unblockable, thats really great.

    Ideas to power this guy up could be in white/blue with the tricks provided, or red/blue with more removal and Panic effects (even the Siren does a good job to remove the blockers they have to give you free attacks for cards).

    So really, dont underestimate Scroll Thief , its such a great blue creature.

  32. urzassedatives

    I feel like people are thinking of unlikely best case scenarios for the blue leyline a little too often. Maybe it isn’t completely unplayable in limited, but it is probably better to treat it as such.
    The best leyline in limited is the green one. I had one in my pool and didn’t run it, but I saw a guy that did, and it made combat really tough for his opponent, not to mention his life total was continually padded.

  33. The blue leyline was very good to me in the two sealed events and one draft that I played in. It’s amazing with sorcery speed removal (I had Assassinate and Day of Judgment), counterspells and fat flying creatures. Reanimating your opponent’s leviathan with Rise from the Grave at the beginning of his combat is allso pretty sick 🙂
    I actually didn’t think it will be any good but included it anyway just for fun and at a friend’s advice and I really didn’t regret it. For the record – I only cast it for 0 mana once and I didn’t lose a single game with it in play.

  34. Five? So you’re saying that in blue decks without the Leyline, being on the play means turn one “you’re down to 6 cards without affecting the game” the moment you drop your island?

    Haven’t you heard that “Island is the most broken card in Magic”? 😉

  35. Another view on Leyline.

    It is most definitely an include for me in sealed if in blue and a pick in draft from about 5th onwards. Dropping it turn zero is just silly and dropping it turn 6/7 isn’t awful. Also given that you want a counterspell or two in this format just makes it better since you only cast guys in your opponents combat phase or end phase.

  36. Leyline isn’t ridiculous, but its a fine playable. I think people are missing the point. It doesn’t just turn every creature into a combat trick, it turns every CARD into a POTENTIAL combat trick in your opponent’s mind.

    You have Pegasus and Wild Griffin in play, your opponent has no flyers, but has Leyline and 5 lands open, and 3 cards in hand. Life totals are still pretty high. Can you afford to attack and just pray he doesn’t have Cloud elemental, Azure Drake, or the 4/3 flyer?

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  38. Marcin Sciesinski

    IMO blue Layline is playable in both constructed and limited.

    For limited – I was unfortunate enough to have to play against it. Luckly my opponent was a fresh MTG player, so I was at an advantage there, and it was a REALLY close game.

    For constructed – I guess time will tell who was right.

  39. Blue got the goods. The elemental that taps fliers is pretty amazing. The mini-morphling in limited blocks all day long, threatens 6 dmg a turn, or eats a chump blocker. Sadly the drakes have moved to white, but if you’re drafting U/W skies that doesn’t change much of your drafting game plan.

  40. Draculla_magic

    I have to disagree on the leyline. I have it in my latest blue deck. The ability to draw go, scares the heck out of the opponent. Kicked sphinx of lost truths during opponents combat as surprise blocker and serious card advantage. Nothing you play on your turn dosnt benefit from playing on opponents combat/eot. All I’m sYing is don’t knock it till you have tried it. Despite the supposed statistics, it works.

  41. dowjonzechemical

    meh…blue sux in this set. Mana Leak being the best card speaks volumes.

    I do like Water Servant in Limited. Jace’s Ingenuity is good there too. Scroll Thief is good removal bait.

  42. Hey guys, arguing that the Leyline should be rated 1.5 instead of 0.0 isn’t exactly saying that it’s great. You don’t have to try and claim that it isn’t amazing, because that’s obvious and we know that already.

    Also, given LSV’s love for Horned Turtle and drawing cards, I think -0/1 for the Ophidian ability should rate higher than a 2.0.

  43. Sleep is seeing some sideboard play at the moment as technology against Eldrazi Temple decks. (Mostly in Dredgevine)

    Æther Adept also could potentially replace the Sedraxis Alchemist in that deck, since ‘most of the time’ you’re just bouncing a creature you control to turn a VV; it’s easier to set off and uses Blue mana, making it much easier to cast.

    What do you think of Merfolk Sovereign in new extended? Wasn’t merfolk a deck just before Zendikar came in? What about Wake Thrasher + Merfolk Sovereign + Bear Umbra! Ok that’s a bit win more.

    I love the flavor text on Armored Cancrix, it’s our first glimpse of Dominara on since Time Spiral. I always wondered the vorthosian flavor of that event’s impact beyond just the ‘planewalkers can be summoned now, and aren’t immortal.’ Like what is the flavor of Future sight? What did that Time-ma-geddon mean to the people there? Time Spiral had the least flavor text per card of any set to my knowledge so without reading the books I’m just constantly pondering about the whole apocalypse.

    Mass Polymorph might see some tier two play as a Warp World 5-8. It’s faster, easier to splash, and doesn’t give your opponent dudes. Maybe an Ooze based deck with Acidic Slimes and Mitotic Ooze? Seems like a fun deck I might bring to the weekly tournament.

    Finally: Why do you always hate on Glory Seeker? I don’t take them that highly, but they’re amazing in the boros aggro decks in Rise draft. And Grizzly Bear is always a welcome sight in 10th edition. Sure it isn’t amazing, but A 2/2 for 2 on turn 2 is pretty decent, especially when you follow up with a 3/3 for 3 on 3.
    (Or the other day when I sideboarded in Merfolk Observers and Lone Missionaries just so I could beat my opponent’s slower and bombtastic deck before his threats came online. Sometimes going Turn 2 : 2/1, Turn 3: 2/2, Turn 4: 2/2 gets there! Sometimes YOU are the beatdown)

  44. Yeah, Mass Polymorph should be thought of more like “new warp world” instead of “new polymorph”. I’m pretty sure it’s better than warp world, actually.

  45. I hope every opponent I play in draft has the blue leyline in their deck, I like starting up a card on my opponent. Lots of things cited by previous posters included things like the following:

    “Reanimating your opponent's leviathan with Rise from the Grave at the beginning of his combat is allso pretty sick”
    I’m fairly certain reanimating your opponent’s leviathan on your turn is equally as devistating. The only time doing it on your opponents turn is better is if they have sorcery speed removal they could use during their first main phase. If you instead do it during their combat phase before attackers are declared…congratulations, you played 2UU to fog. Seems pro.

    “the high point of my weekend was flashing in a grave titan and killing all three of their attackers, then swinging for the win next turn”
    If their entire board consisted of a 5/5 (at best) and two 2/2s, I’m fairly certain they weren’t beating a grave titan regardless.

    “Leyline + Sleep = Win the game”
    No sir, it does not.
    Leyline + Sleep + Enough creatures to kill them = Win the game.
    also,
    Sleep + Enough creatures to kill them = win the game.
    leads to…
    Leyline + Sleep + enough creatures = Sleep + enough creatures
    meaning
    Leyline = 0, grats on having one less creature to hit the “enough creatures to kill them” mark.

    Also, how is flashing in Aether Adept better than just playing it on your turn? You can block and kill their 2/2 after you bounce? Hint: so can merfolk observer, which costs 1U less than the Leyline

    Leyline + Assassinate does mean you don’t have to take the one hit off their creature. Also (baring what little trample there is) Merfolk Spy, one of the worst blue cards in the set, prevents that damage just as well, and you can even beat for 1 a turn until you need to block.

  46. i like the comment about diminishing after combat to ensure their guy dies. hadnt occurred to me yet. thanks.

  47. Haha I like your recap on jace. Mana leak forces blue into top tier postion in standard and mind control and frost titan are the best for limted makes sense.

    Mass polymorph is garbage too many problems to build around and many people don’t understand how to stay focus on whats the goal when building a combo deck in the first place. Seeing horrid builds being placed everywhere.

    Sleep is pretty good though in limited if your used to building more agressive style decks in limited. I had two sleeps some garruk companions and 2 of those card drawing merfolk can’t remeber the name. basically I had a good number for 2-3 mana dorks that did the job fine. Anyway sleep won me a few cause I had a solid agressive curve but overall I agree its usally a weak pick in limited. G/U felt pretty agressive and a good fit for sleep. went 5-1 2nd place I have this I come in second place curse im sure im not the only one.

    Good article.

  48. tome scour has seen some play recently in the new vengevine/bloodghast 8 looter crabs deck. it top 8d some 5k and it shows up in the modo 2 man ques frequently enough id call it a real dec

  49. @ Zealot 452: I think Leyline is overhyped as well, but instant Sleep allows for more blowout swings than otherwise. Say you’ve got exactly 4 mana. As an instant, you cast Sleep, then bash and summon another dude or two, then bash again. As a sorcery, you can’t summon guys on the turn you cast Sleep b/c you’re tapped out.

  50. I’ve also found the Leyline to be quite good in limited. At the pre-release I was able to draft U/W fliers with a Leyline. The only creatures that didn’t have flying happened to be 3 Aether Adepts (these guys can be a blowout at instant speed). In every match I was able to start with Leyline in play for 1 of the games. I did not lose a game where I started with Leyline in play, and went 4-0 in the draft.

    Yes I’m probably overvaluing it right now, but it was absolutely perfect in the deck I drafted along with light permission and a couple unsummons.

  51. To clarify, the reason why leyline is at least decent if not awesome is not combos with sleep or any of those cute shenanigans.

    It’s that it reads if you have cards in hand, your opponent can not safely attack you.

    Ever

    Period.

  52. @Delha: Or you could cast the creature on your turn, then on your next turn cast sleep and swing for more than you would have otherwise. The trade-off without leyline is that you take the damage of their attack; in which case the Leyline could have just been Fog and you’d end up better than you were in that situation with Leyline.

    @Erik: If you drafted a deck that is all fliers, Aether Adepts, and instants I don’t think you were losing anyway. I’d wager that you would have had the same record if Leyline had been a 2/2 for 2.

    @Vick: That’s assuming you have something in your hand that can get them, which you have one fewer card in your hand to do so since you wasted one on the leyline. It’s also assuming they don’t have an instant that can, in turn, get you, of which there are a ton of just at common. There are too many good combat tricks to make me want to ambush my opponents. If you play the creature on your turn, and they swing into a bad situation, you know the combat trick is coming (or they’re bluffing) and can prepare for it next turn.

  53. @Vick: To clarrify, I’m not saying I wouldn’t use creatures with flash (Affa-guard hounds, etc) to ambush my opponents, because it’s certainly worth the attempt. I just mean that I wouldn’t waste an extra card for the option of doing it, especially when it diminishes my chances of having a creature/trick by 1.

  54. Dude, stop trying to argue that Leyline of Anticipation is not awesome in limited. No one is claiming that it is. It could, however, still be playable even as your 23rd card, kind of like Reckless Scholar or Luminous Wake. These cards aren’t exactly good, but they can still be playable sometimes.

  55. The fact that you are comparing Leyline to Reckless Scholar or Luminous Wake is why I felt the need to defend my low rating. Both those cards are very far ahead of leyline on the playable scale, and I think people don’t understand that.

  56. To Erik – you should do the math on the chances of your Leyline draws. You are being misled by much better than average draws and timing in seeing it.

    The chance of seeing a 1/40 card in your opening hand is 17% or about 1 in 6. Your chance of seeing it in a given match that goes 3 games is 44%, 32% for a shorter 2 game match. Your chance of seeing it in at least one opening hand in each of four matches is less than 4%, even assuming each match goes 3 games. That is 1.78 standard deviations better than the mean.

    These chances are true for any single card, but the Leylines are particularly sensitive in value to when you get them, open vs topdecked late. If you measure the 4% best outlier in timing of drawing them against the next best card in your sideboard, picture getting conditional removal right when you need it every match and never getting it when it would work – or getting an expensive fatty right after you have the mana for it in every match and never having it dead in a mana screwed hand.

    Not the way to measure the value of cards…

  57. In my sealed pool I opened Aether Adept and Scroll Thief… They were awesome for me all day, especially since I played against a TON of U/G decks. Turn three scroll thief, turn four Adept with early black/blue removal was just insane!!!

  58. Good review, except I wholeheartedly disagree with a few cards. In the release event I opened Leyline of Anticipation and played it main deck. Everyone disagreed with my decision until I would hard cast it and turn every card in my deck into 2 for 1s. Its just sick in limited especially paired with red. I like when they attack me and I can act of treason their creature to block their other creature. I liked using Sleep on their turn as well. Creatures can turn into removal spells too. Every time Leyline of Anticipation hit the board, I won. I went 4-1, placing 3rd. The round I lost was the only round I didn’t see Leyline of Anticipation either game.

  59. Nice review.

    At my prerelease a guy opened a pool with 5 ophidians, double sleep, and enough removal, scrye, and giant angels to make his deck truly baneful. Best sealed deck I’ve ever seen, not close.

    Mass polymorph+Awakening Zone+4x Avenger of Zendikar is a line that might beat a lot of decks, and avoiding blowouts to lightning bolt or vines of the vastwood while getting both iona and emrakul might be worth a couple more mana.

  60. I don’t see how hard-casting leyline of anticipation is a disadvantage. All of a sudden you’ve doubled the number of black/red removal spells you can cast and aura enchantments are no longer 2 for 1s(plenty of one cmc “umbras” out there thanks to RoE.). Spells like flame slash have become twice as castable and chances are that you’d still have the one mana to play it after casting LoA. You just drew? I’ve got a one cmc card that starts with a “D” and I am loving that I’ve got one more card from your hand to choose from. And it forces your opponent to waste valuable slots for enchantment destroying spells. I personally think this card is broken and will detract from the enjoyment of the game and really hope it is “unplayable” but 4 cmc is not at all that bad a casting cost. If it cost any less there would be no doubt that this is broken.

  61. It seems Wizards just wont reprint awesome planeswalkers in the coresets. the base 5 is all they will probably do for a while. But hopefully they realize how absurd it is that he cost so much. Even if they put him in a special 30 or 40 dollar precon or something, that would at least cut his price in half.

    They could probably reprint him with the new Scars of Mirrodin block, but i get the feeling they’ll want to put tezzeret in, and probably find a way to make karn a planeswalker.

  62. On the Leyline: Am I the only one finding this an interesting discussion? (Yes, probably I am.)

    I was pretty unsure about the card, so my gut was telling me that LSV’s probably right. But… the effect is genuinely powerful. There’s no way to know how many people played it in the prerelease and did NOT do well with it, and thus aren’t motivated enough to post herein their story. Still, for once the anecdotes sound like they might have merit. If nothing else, I wonder if Leyline’s a good sideboard card against… a weaker player / a newbie?

    But all in all, the main thing is it definitely feels to me like either LSV’s at LEAST slightly undervaluing the Leyline or his rating’s more to make a point than anything else. In particular, even if it’s a 0.0 in draft, it seems at least a little better in sealed. Plus there are *3* counters at common, ALL rated 2.5. And without glancing at a spoiler, doesn’t blue have the best common at blocking fliers AND the best common at blocking non-fliers? That’s 5 commons where you’re getting fairly significant value out of the effect.

    Draft is probably too fast for this card to be worth it, but Sealed is slow and bomb-heavy, giving this card more time to be decent, AND making all those good counterspells that combine so well with this card important anyways. All combined make me almost certain that the card is, at the absolute minimum, worth sideboarding in in some sealed matchups. I suspect, though, that it’s maindeck playable, probably a 1.0 but just maybe even a 1.5 in Sealed format.

  63. I can’t think of a creature in the set that I would cut for a blue Leyline. Maybe the Glowmeadow Moth but just barely.

  64. @Robert

    I did play the Leyline in Sealed. When I got it first turn, it was fine, and it made things fairly uncomfortable for my opponents. When I drew it later, it was underwhelming. Mostly it was underwhelming. But I wouldn’t go so far as to put it at 0. That’s Clarion Ultimatum territory.

  65. @JMC – regarding your statistics for drawing Leyline – yes, you won’t draw the card in your opening hand very often. On the other hand, unless you’re doing a lot of scrying, you won’t draw the card at all most games, and you also wouldn’t draw whatever card you’re considering running instead of the Leyline. So that’s not a very fair comparison. You need to only look at the times when you draw it at some point during the game, and figure out what fraction of those times it is good, and what fraction it is not.

  66. I can see why LSV and others are down on the Leyline, but I want to add that I had nothing but success with it during my first Prerelease flight. I was playing a rather controlling U/W skies deck, and decided to test drive it, since it was only a pre-re. I found the Leyline in my opening hand twice, and both times the card paid for itself and them some via the combat step. They can never attack with confidence against it, or do any sort of combat math.

    I was matched against one of our pros, and he wryly remarked that I had mulliganed when I slapped down the Leyline turn 0. However, by the end of the match he conceded that the Leyline had shown some worth, both by allowing me to kill his attacking creatures with flashed-in blockers, and responding to discard with sorcery-speed effects….”Mind Rot me? In response, Fireball both your guys, then Aether Adept your guy.”

    I can’t say whether or not it will be good in draft, since the format should be much faster, but I am willing to pick it up if I’m in Blue and give it another go.

  67. After playing blue in both M10 and M11 drafts, I have to say, I agree with your assessment of Sleep. It did win me a game or two in an M10 draft, but a lot of the time I just didn’t have the damage to get there. In addition, if they have a dude in hand, your alpha strike isn’t going to be very powerful.

    I played horribly in my first M11 draft. I Mystifying Maze’d one of my opponent’s dudes and played sleep the following turn *facepalm* I attacked for the first time and the creature returned to play at the end of my turn and went, “Oh crap, I’m going to die.” It just doesn’t quite do what you want it to. It’s a lot better in decks with some bounce since you can just bounce the guy(s) they play after you drop sleep.

    I didn’t get the chance to play with the leyline, but I feel it might be good if you have a deck full of strong creatures and some good card draw. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much the worst topdeck imaginable. I think we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

  68. @LSV – I see your point on best case reasoning. I’ll break it down into good vs bad case analysis. I’ll assume we’re playing a control deck, since UW evasive aggro mostly has weenies that would turn into Puncturing Light, at best.

    Good case: You have this in your opening hand. An Azure Drake or even a Scroll Thief has a reasonable chance of 2-for-1ing in the first 5 rounds and you can scare them out of early beats. I think by that point, the leyline has already earned its keep.

    Bad case: You draw it mid-game. Now, it has to make up for its card disadvantage and a lost 4-drop opportunity, without the benefit of an early 2-for-1. This really depends on the cards on your deck. Sorceries get a little better (though not a ton). Control decks tend to have fewer, more defensive/bigger creatures that you can flash in later on. Answering big creatures with bigger ones is hard, so you’ll mostly get 3&4-drops. Call that 1.5-for-1. Also, flashing in a mythic doesn’t count, as they’re awesome without flash.

    Add in the information and counterspell advantage… I’m not too familiar with control decks in these yearly sets, so I’m having a hard time estimating how many cards get an edge from the leyline. Maybe it’s ok?

    Worst case: You draw it late game, when you have 0-1 playables in hand. This sucks.

    In a typical control deck game, you’ll draw up to 20 cards (including card draw spells). So you’ll start the game with this spell 1/4 of the time (great?), get it mid-game 1/2 the time (ok?), and late game 1/4 of the time (blank). That adds up to… a little better than a 23rd card?

    So it’s a good card in some control decks. I’d call that 1.5. As with any conditional 1.5, it can rise to 3.0 in pack 3, with the right deck.

  69. See, now, I can understand that Leyline of Anticipation may not be the best card. But to rank it lower than Leyline of Punishment? And INCITE? I mean, for crying out loud, man! It’s not THAT bad!

  70. I appreciate the few cards where you differentiated between draft and sealed, and I think that almost every card has varied value between the 2 formats. For example Fling was given a low rating and viewed as a trap – and in draft, thats probably true, but it was awesome in the prerelease sealed event. The problem of coarse with rating cards based on their value in sealed, in LSV’s defense, is that every card is so situational in sealed and can almost always only be rated in the context of the other cards you opened(besides obvious bombs), booster draft is far more straight forward and more clear cut when rating.

  71. Im sorry but this guy is just awful… its like he is complaining about cards sucking so bad just so he can look like an MTG big-shot. I would type down every flaw with his logic but I dont feel like writing a 100 page essay right now…..

  72. Pingback: » Magic 2014 Set Review – Blue (And HoF Ballot)

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