[draft]Blue Suns Zenith[/draft]
[card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card]
You might think I would be really excited about this one, given how much I love to draw cards, but the price seems a bit steep. I will be trying it, but I would rather have a [card]White Sun’s Zenith[/card] for almost any X I can think of, and [card]Jace’s Ingenuity[/card] even beats it until you pay seven. As a one of, I can see it fitting in UB, since casting White Sun’s Zenith isn’t really an option, and I like ways to make use of all the lands you play. Green decks with [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] seem like the best fit for this card, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being quite good there.
Now we are talking! If I open this, I’m likely slamming it, and looking to draft a sweet control deck. Blah blah blah [card]Cystbearer[/card] blah blah blah [card]Plague Stinger[/card], none of that concerns me. I’m going to draft my slow deck and finish the game with an 8-mana Zenith, and eventually kill them with it once I’ve got the board completely locked up. In all honesty, I really do think that this is a card you can base a deck on, and will be doing my best to prove it.
Hold on, I’m getting back the results from the Jace Test. Things don’t look so good, but it isn’t a complete failure. On the plus side, it looks like you draw two cards regardless, but you still get your guy bounced, and probably countered (plus, they have a Jace out). Between Jace and Titans, six-drops have to be pretty insane in order to make the cut, and Sphinx offers enough value to at least be in the running. Outdrawing them 3 to 1 is incentive enough to consider it, and might make up for the fact that it is vulnerable to any removal spell and gives you no value if they kill it right away.
I really like the rares in this set. Not only do they give immense value, they are slow and expensive, which I feel makes up for the fact that they are really powerful. Don’t get me wrong; bombs are bombs, but I would much rather play against expensive bombs than something like [card]Vampire Nighthawk[/card], which was insanely powerful (for the format) and cheap. As for the Sphinx specifically, it is guaranteed value, and worth slamming if you are lucky enough to open it.
It’s been a while since I considered [card]Mind Control[/card] as a sideboard card, mostly because [card]Volition Reins[/card] is enough of an upgrade that the extra mana is more than worth it. Mind Control + infect doesn’t really change much, and I can’t in good conscience call this Constructed playable.
[card]Control Magic[/card] effects have always been windmill slam first picks in Limited, and adding infect is break-even at worst. Sometimes you will take a guy and wish he didn’t have infect, but you should be saving this for something awesome anyway, which usually means something that will kill them in 2-3 hits once given infect. There are very few cards worth taking over this, and as much as I like [card]Volition Reins[/card], shaving a mana off the casting cost is huge, making this much better.
I’ll admit that I never thought [card]Renegade Doppleganger[/card] would be good, but this is quite different. It doesn’t have the Vengevine/Extractor Demon combo potential, but what it does have is more of a [card]Vesuvan Shapeshifter[/card]-like feel. There might not be a [card]Brine Elemental[/card] for it to copy, at least not yet, but a repeatable [card]Clone[/card] effect might eventually see some play, even if it isn’t right now. Wrapter has dreams of copying their Titan on upkeep, then killing their Titan, which seems a little optimistic to me.
This might not be as good as the Shapeshifter was, which in no way will stop me from first picking it. Being able to switch it to the best creature on the board every turn is sweet, even if playing against infect might make the best creature for them not all that impressive on your side. Still, copying a [card]Phyrexian Juggernaut[/card] or the like will end the game quickly, infect or not. I don’t know if it’s better than the good common removal spells, but this early in the set I am going to take the rare and try and figure it out.
I have a distant memory of a [card library of lat-nam]card[/card] I played many, many years ago, when I was quite terrible at Magic. I thought it was the most awesome thing ever, when in fact it was pretty bad. Fast forward 14 years and shave a mana off the casting cost…and you still get a pretty mediocre card. [card]Concentrate[/card] would be good, and a guaranteed [card]Diabolic Tutor[/card] might be good, but combine the two and give the opponent the choice and you are left with dreck. It turns out that the opponent doesn’t have your best interests at heart, so any choice they make is likely not going to be good for you.
The other thing to consider is how bad Diabolic Tutor is in Standard right now. Paying four mana to get a card is only worth it if the card either completes a combo that wins the game or gets a card that can make up for the tempo lost by spending four mana to get it. I don’t see the possibility of either in today’s Standard, especially since if you did make a sick combo deck, they could always let you Concentrate when you are missing a piece, which wouldn’t really help your (presumably) narrow combo deck. I like the flavor of the card, since I loved [card]Library of Lat-Nam[/card], but I just don’t see it for Standard (and older formats have better options).
It sucks that they get to see the card you tutor for, which takes away any cool mind games, and makes it pretty mediocre. Even if you do have a [card]Contagion Engine[/card] or something to tutor for, if you get it they will let you draw three, and you lost your Contagion Engine. If you aren’t lucky enough to have an Engine, and have like a [card hoard-smelter dragon]Hoard-Smelter[/card] instead, they are only going to give it to you if they have an [card]Arrest[/card] or [card]Go for the Throat[/card]. Just to be clear: I will never let my opponent [card]Concentrate[/card] with this card. I don’t care if I’m at two and I know they have [card]Galvanic Blast[/card]; they aren’t getting value off me.
[draft]Fuel for the Cause[/draft]
[card]Fuel for the Cause[/card]
This might fuel an [card]Everflowing Chalice[/card], but four mana for a counterspell is pretty big. I don’t think that the minor upside of proliferating justifies paying an extra mana, even if it is for a good cause.
You won’t find many bigger fans of [card]Stoic Rebuttal[/card], and tacking on a potential upside is kind of sweet, but I would be hesitant to include too many of these. One is fine if you couldn’t pick up any Rebuttals, or if you have some sweet proliferate synergies, but even I wouldn’t advocate slamming multiples in most decks.
I spy a Constructed unplayable!
Blocking is this guy’s specialty, and he does a good job at it. Not only does he block most (unequipped) fliers, he even untaps himself or your biggest creature in order to block even more. I’ll be picking up a few of these if I can in order to side them in against aggressive decks filled with x/1’s and small fliers, though I can’t promise I will start them most of the time.
There are a few problems with this card, the biggest of which is that in order for you to get something really good you either have to have something awesome in play (in which case you don’t need Mitotic Manipulation) or they have to have something awesome in play that you also have in your deck. Those conditions are pretty narrow, and that isn’t even taking into account the fact that you can very easily miss, especially without library manipulation.
A risky [card]Rampant Growth[/card] with the (very) minor upside of possibly copying a random permanent is not what I want in my Limited deck. Even if I had four copies of something awesome, I don’t think I would play this card.
In formats long past, this guy would have been a beating. [card]Ophidian[/card] plus Shroud just beats up on creatureless control decks…which just don’t exist anymore. U/W has Hawks and Wall of Omens, U/B has Sea Gate Oracle, and RUG has a whole mess of dudes. Trust me, I love me an [card]Ophidian[/card] (check out the list Cheon and I both played from Nats ’07 or the list I used to win GP SF if you need convincing), but even I don’t think it’s worth going commando. I don’t think it’s completely unplayable, since you could certainly mise an opposing control deck that sided out Wall or Sea Gate, but I don’t have high hopes.
It might not have the most impressive stats, but I’ll run this guy just for the mise factor. Sometimes you will run him out, have a removal spell for their guy, and just go to town. Worst comes to worst, you can trade him off without fear of removal, making Neurok Commando a pretty solid pick.
More like Awkulus. He isn’t even a [card]Surveilling Sprite[/card], which isn’t much to aspire to anyway.
In a deck that wants ground blockers (aka every blue deck ever), this guy is going to shine. Chumping and drawing is more than fine, and if they ever have x/1 ground guys, they can’t attack at all. [card]Floating Dream Zubera[/card] was one of my favorite cards, and this hasn’t lost much
Some cards you can dismiss pretty quickly; this is one of them, especially since it’s clear there’s no silver lining here.
Double bounce is almost as good as a card, and there are certainly matchups where I would be very happy to have this in my deck. Even using it to bounce your own guy in response to removal plus their best guy is pretty solid, and I anticipate playing one in most of my decks.
I’m just afraid of getting raked over the coals in the comments if I put in too many puns, so I’ll take a break on this one.
[card]Snapping Drake[/card] with a weird discard clause is still a Snapping Drake. The discard a card part is more in your favor then not, since you have control over when you want to trade your guy off, though do be aware that a well-timed removal spell (say, during your draw step), could get you pretty good.
This guy aspires to be more, but I just don’t sea him being good enough for constructed, and I’m not really inspired to write much about him.
The neat thing about the metalcraft on this guy is that you don’t need to get it going all that quickly, making him a solid option for control decks. I would say that with even 6-8 artifacts he’s worth it if you need defenders, since him attacking is just a bonus.
Artifacts would have to get preeeeeety good for me to try and sabotage them with this card. The one mana cost might steal games, but I can’t see this being the best sideboard option, and is certainly not good enough for maindeck play. Block Constructed might be a different story, especially since those decks don’t have access to [card]Spell Pierce[/card] (which seems much better in Standard).
My Limited (and limited) experience with Steel Sabotage has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only is it cheap and efficient, it has the exact mix of abilities to make it basically never dead. Even the infect decks play a bunch of artifacts, and if you draw it too late to counter something, it still manages to get a full card out of the bounce most of the time. This is blue’s version of good removal, and should be picked accordingly.
I love me a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card], and giving me a value guy that can go and grab it sounds awesome. [card]Mindslaver[/card] is definitely another possibility, though you don’t want to go too much deeper in the tank. A [card]Treasure Mage[/card] toolbox is most certainly clunkier than a [card]Trinket Mag[/card]e toolbox, so I would stick to something like 1-2 Wurmcoils plus maybe a [card mindslaver]Slaver[/card], if that. Still, I always try to jam Trinket Mage into my blue decks, and now I get to do the same with Treasure Mage (and like Trinket Mage, wrapter and Web eventually make me cut them anyways).
You should be so lucky as to have a target for Treasure Mage. Anything it can get is going to be pretty high-impact, and if it is something like [card]Steel Hellkite[/card] or [card]Contagion Engine[/card], that’s just gravy. I think taking him in anticipation of picking up a target later is acceptable, especially since playing something like [card]Hexplate Golem[/card] or [card]Razorfield Thresher[/card] isn’t the worst fate imaginable. I would hope to avoid doing that, but you gotta do what you gotta do to get value.
[draft]Turn the Tide[/draft]
[card]Turn the Tide[/card]
I hope puns don’t turn you off, since there is still a tide of them yet to come.
This is more a sideboard card against aggressive decks with low-power guys (hmm, I wonder if that sort of deck is common in this format), since it takes a pretty contrived board situation for this to be a blowout. I would expect to get a card out of this most of the time, but not enough to start it in any of my good decks.
Whoever is pulling the strings at Wizards should consider making a playable tapper one of these days, since this certainly isn’t it.
[card icy manipulator]Icy[/card] + [card trigon of corruption]Black Trigon[/card]? Yeah, this card is real. If they can’t kill it, their board position will crumble rapidly, all while their best guy gets tapped each turn. In a pinch, you can even untap your own guy, as painful as that might be. Still, additional options on an already-insane guy is just free value.
Now if only he could infuse himself with some efficiency, or perhaps power. Sadly, he’s lacking both, and even costs the dreaded four mana (the mark where commons and uncommons really don’t see Constructed play).
When you need a [card]Horned Turtle[/card], you need a Horned Turtle, and even one sweet synergy is probably enough to push this over the edge. In an ideal world, you have a few cards this benefits, including some high impact ones like [card]Tumble Magnet[/card] or [card]Trigon of Corruption[/card].
[card]Concentrate[/card] has fallen pretty far, hasn’t it. I don’t want to dissect all the reasons that this sucks, but suffice to say that it does.
You can’t just throw this into any deck, but I know that I’ll be playing it most of the time in my decks. All you really need is two value guys and a few Myrs and you have a pretty solid card on your hands. I had a deck with 2 Myrs, [card]Clone Shell[/card], and Necropede, and was quite happy. Sacrificing an Arrested guy is awesome, and even sacking a random guy still gets you some value.
Top 5 Blue Commons for Limited
5. [card]Quicksilver Geyser[/card]
3. [card]Spire Serpent[/card]
2. [card]Serum Raker[/card]
1. [card]Steel Sabotage[/card]
With a small set, commons dry up quickly in each color, which explains the inclusion of Oculus and Quicksilver Geyser. I wouldn’t be unhappy first picking Steel Sabotage or Serum Raker, but the rest leave something to be desired (though blue decks tend to be heavy on artifacts, so it isn’t a big deal).
Top 5 Blue Cards for Constructed
5. [card]Neurok Commando[/card]
3. [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card]
2. [card]Treasure Mage[/card]
1. [card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card]
Once again, an awesome Zenith ranks pretty high on the list of Constructed cards. I’m impressed at the design on these things, since it is pretty hard making X-spells good enough, especially when you are doing one for each color (and all but the red are definitely playable). Past that the pickings get a little slimmer, but I anticipate trying out Treasure Mage and Consecrated Sphinx in my Paris testing, and urge everyone else to do the same.
Join me tomorrow when I tackle Black, and until then check out my new Facebook fan page here!