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PV’s Playhouse – A First Look at Magic 2011

 

Hello!

First of all, I’d like to correct a mistake I made last week; When I talked about Faeries and the chance to have an Island in your opening hand, what I calculated really was the chance to have Island in your opening hand, but that is not the most relevant information ever, since what you actually want to know is the chance you can cast an Ancestral Vision if you have one. Since you are basically working with 6 cards instead of 7, the chance is a little bit smaller, so sorry for that!

In this article, I will talk a bit about some of the cards that have been spoiled thus far, and what I think they change in the current format. It is hard to have a big format overview, since there are many cards not spoiled yet, but I will try to insert them in the current format anyway.

Squadron Hawk  

At first I didn’t pay much attention to this card, because I thought it was a reprint, but then I read it again and realized it was not – it is a cross between some cards that already existed, but a little bit different, and it is actually interesting.

As I see it, there are two applications for this card, none of which has a home in any current formats. The first is the Ancestral Recall potential of this – you do get three cards for one (four for one, if you will), even if they are all 1/1s for 2. As for what to do with those extra cards, I have no idea – there are many ways to turn extra cards into profit, but none of them, at the moment, look like they make it worth for this card to be ran.

The second application is with the intention of actually playing the Hawks once you get them, and this is in my opinion more viable than the first one. There are a ton of cards that benefit from having multiple creatures (Eldrazi Monument, Crusade effects, etc), and this adds another critical mass of dudes that you can spare. Ever drawing this card means you will also probably never worry about running out of guys to equip, and he is actually fine as an equipment target because he flies.

I see two problems with this approach: the first is that you are playing 1/1s for two in your deck. Sure enough, it is four of them in one card, but it is still 1/1s for two, and if you ever draw two of them in your opening hand, you’ll want to kill yourself. This gets worse by the fact that he will probably be the worst guy in your deck, so he will generally be the last one you play – you will give preference to any other creature, all the turns, and each turn that passes is another turn that you can draw a card that effectively doesn’t do anything. The second problem is that you’re playing white creatures and crusade effects, and I am really not a fan of this strategy. In any case, if this card sees play, it will probably be in one of those 32 guys / 4 pump effects kind of deck.

As a side note, this card is pretty decent against Blightning, but I assume it will get “splash hated” by the new Baloth, meaning that [card]Blightning[/card] will be hated by the Baloth, so people will play it less, which makes this card worse even if it has nothing to do with it.

Sun Titan

 

MYTHIC RARE, OBVIOUSLY, AS IF STANDARD DECKS DIDN’T COST ENOUGH ALREADY, THANKS WIZARDS (kidding, kidding)

When I first saw this card, I thought it was very interesting. Now I’ve seen the other four, and I’m not sure which one I like the most (though I am sure which one I like the least). This card is unique, and hard to evaluate; it seems that, if it finds a home, it will either be in a control deck or in a GWish deck, like Naya. Possible things to return in control decks are fetchlands (not super awesome when you are on 6 mana already), [card]Jace Beleren[/card], [card]Wall of Omens[/card], [card]Tectonic Edge[/card], [card]Sea Gate Oracle[/card], [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]/[card]Journey to Nowhere[/card] and, uh”¦ that’s about it. Most of those cards would make the Titan worth the cost if they were added to him – for example, 4WW 6/6 Vigilance and 1/3 + impulse for two is a good deal, in a vacuum. He is a bit more versatile than that, since you might have more options, but he also requires one of your cards to be in the graveyard first, which might be problematic in a control mirror for example.

He might be more interesting in a GW deck, since [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], for example, combos perfectly with him, by being a way to accelerate him into play and an excellent card to return. I think, though, that if you are willing to pay six, there is a very good chance [card]Sovereigns of Lost Alara[/card] is just a better investment. As a side note, he is also good against [card]Blightning[/card].

aether-adept

This card does not impress me at all, and yes, I was around when [card man-o-war]Man-o’-War[/card] was good. The main problem is that, nowadays, creatures are so much better that the body might as well not exist. At one time, a 2/2 would be a threat, trading with most other creatures. Nowadays, a 2/2 doesn’t do anything other than chump blocking for the most part. I ran into a similar problem with, say, [card]Elvish Visionary[/card] – my friend kept advocating it in Jund, since it was a “2 for 1″, but the 1/1 body was so irrelevant that it just felt like cycling; This card’s body is just as irrelevant.

For this card to be good, I think you need way a deck to be way more tempo-based than you have now. Nowadays, you are going to bounce their guy and they are just going to replay it, and it will outclass the 2/2 body completely. We don’t play [card]Regress[/card] in our decks, and this is honestly what it feels like to me. The exception is the Bant deck, since you have Vengevine shenanigans, but I see people talking about playing this card in Faeries, for example, and this is just absurd. It is also not irrelevant that the trigger is mandatory. As a side note, this card is good against Blightning, since it being in your hand protects your good cards.

 

Conundrum Sphinx 

 

I have to say this card also does not impress me as much as it impresses other people. Sure enough, the body is respectable – 4/4 flyer for 4 is something I don’t think we’ve ever seen without a drawback. The ability is not irrelevant either – with Halimar Depths and Jace, it is not hard to abuse, though if you untap with this and Jace I don’t really think you need to be drawing an extra card. The main obstacle this card faces is that it costs four, just like every single good card in Standard. I think not once a format has been defined this much by your four drops – in previous days, people would play Birds of Paradise to accelerate from turn one to turn three, but nowadays people just don’t care and play Lotus Cobra instead, since there isn’t anything relevant to accelerate into other than Knight of the Reliquary in the three spot.

As it stands, I don’t really find a home for this card. He is a cross between offensive and defensive – I feel like his body is not good enough for defense, and his cost is not aggressive enough for offense (at least in a blue deck), but he is just a little bit short in both accounts. I can see this being played in the sideboard of some decks, to go for the aggro plan, much like some people played Coralhelm Commander in their UW sideboards in San Juan, but I think that, for the most part, people will stick with the Lost Truths and Jwar Isle sort of sphinxes in their maindecks.

Frost Titan

 

Eh, I guess blue can’t just get all the goodies”¦ they didn’t even have the decency to give it shroud. This is the worst of the bunch by far.

Jaces Erasure

 

I’m sure someone, somewhere, is thrilled about this card being printed. I am not one of those people. I know you want to play this card. Resist the temptation!

Mana Leak

 

I don’t think I can convey in words my happiness for not having to play Broken Ambitions in Extended, I didn’t even need Mana Leak; I would be happy with the likes of Power Sink. The main problem I had with Ambitions is the clash – and what happens if you win. In Standard, whenever I milled a Demigod of Revenge or a Hellspark Elemental, I felt like ripping the card into pieces. In Extended you now have the opportunity to mill Vengevine, as well as putting yourself into a lot of not as drastic but still terrible positions – I was playing a match against a friend the other day (with Faeries, obv.) and played Broken Ambitions on his turn two Tarmogoyf, milling three lands, and then he promptly played a 7/7 Knight of the Reliquary, and that is not even mentioning what happens when you play against something like Living End

Anyway, never again, Broken Ambitions. I think Mana Leak is the most important card spoiled so far for Extended – which is pretty ironic since it was in Extended a week ago, and no one really cared much for it. It is truly one of those cards that you have to be left without to appreciate the real value; it is certainly not going to break the format open, but it will make certain decks (like Faeries, or Mystical Teachings, which just cannot survive without a two casting cost counter) MUCH better than they were without it.

As far as Standard goes, it is also very important – finally there is a counterspell that will counter a turn a two Putrid Leech or a turn four Jace, and this is something the format was really lacking in my opinion. I don’t think all the decks will suddenly turn into draw-go because of this and Jace’s Ingenuity, though – I expect a small shift, but not much – you will still not see blue control decks without Jace, for example, since it’ll still trump anything else opposing control decks can do if it resolves. Most likely, those decks will just add four Mana Leaks and be done with it.

The fact that Mana Leak exists also means you have to play a bit differently, even if you aren’t the one playing Mana Leak. Certain cards (Sovereigns of Lost Alara, Mind Spring, Avenger of Zendikar, Cruel Ultimatum) get worse because it exists, and it also impacts a bit the order you play your spells, etc. Overall I am very happy that Mana Leak is back.

Preordain   

This card is basically just worse than Ponder, so the only relevant discussion is for the brief time span where they will both be legal, though I think that doesn’t really change anything. If you want to build a Polymorph deck, you now have more tools, but I believe Polymorph has many problems and this only helps with one of them. Anther possibility is the Pyromancer’s Ascension combo, but that is probably not good enough either.

Scroll Thief  

Sad days when the strictly better Ophidian doesn’t see any play, but this card does not appeal to me in any way, even if he is now a Merfolk. The aggro decks will simply ignore him, and the control decks will either play Wall of Omens, or use one of the spare removal spells they will have, or play a planeswalker that does more than drawing a card per turn when you tap out for him. In my opinion, all the decks will just prefer Sea-Gate Oracle. It does have some nostalgic factor, though, since now we have both Ophidian and Man-o’-War – it wouldn’t surprise me if we got Nekrataal spoiled next.

 

Time Reversal  

 

I will admit my total inability to properly evaluate this card; the effect is certainly powerful, and hasn’t been seen in Standard or Extended in quite some time, so I have no idea what this card is capable of doing. My initial impression, though, is that it is not very good, since there is a complete lack of rituals of any kind (or there was a lack of rituals, by the time I wrote this – now they have a new one, which, despite being the worst ritual in the history of the game, is still a ritual. Still, probably not good enough for this card).

I see people who want to use this card as merely a draw spell, in Turboland for example, and I think that is not going to work out – if you use this card, make sure you are killing them that turn. If all you want is to refuel your hand to continue playing a fair game, then there are probably better alternatives. Sure, the prospect of chaining multiple Time Warps into multiple of this with Oracles and Lotus Cobras and Jaces in play is appealing, but there are probably cards that will win you the game the same way in those situations while not being terrible when you are not super ahead.

Captivating Vampire

 

The only reason Vampire Nocturnus was played, and the only reason Vampires could even pretend to be a deck, is because he gave them all flying and plus TWO damage, shortening their clock by a bunch. This card does neither, so that means the vampires deck is probably dead as soon as Nocturnus rotates.

While that is not true, I accept that you want to test Vampires with him, though I personally wouldn’t and can’t see myself playing that deck – I don’t even think he does what you want your Vampires to do for the most part.

Grave Titan

 

Even though deathtouch in a 6/6 is almost as irrelevant as trample in a 1/1, this is what I think is the best of the Titans; He offers 10 power for 6 mana, and even if he dies what you get is not irrelevant. If you untap with him, it is very hard for you to lose, since even if he is dealt with you will still have four 2/2s. The obvious comparison to me is Broodmate Dragon, and I think he loses in some decks but wins in others.

In today’s format, flying is not an irrelevant ability – some decks just clog the board like Next Level Bant and having a big flyer is a good way to break through. In the Jund deck, which is where you have to make the choice, I don’t think he is better than the Dragon, because Jund has many sources of damage, and sometimes all you need is some air damage to finish them, so I don’t think he will see much play in there, if not even the Dragon does anymore. In a defensive deck, though, I think the Titan is better (not to mention he is only one color). As soon as he comes into play, he gets you three blockers, one of which is a 6/6, meaning he can block Vengevine. If you attack with him, you are still left with four blockers (as opposed to only one if you attack with a Dragon). And, in a control deck, he will kill one turn faster than the Dragon would, which is not super needed but not completely irrelevant either. I expect this card to see play in any sort of control deck with black – Esper, Grixis, Mono-Black, etc, and it might be a good step in making those decks beat a Vengevine.

Phylactery Lich  

This card is interesting, though I see no real applications for it now. The biggest problem is that all the removal either exiles (Path), or puts on the bottom (Condemn, Bant Charm), or also gets artifacts (Oblivion Ring, Maelstrom Pulse), so indestructibility is not really what it used to be, and not worth risking yourself to potential blowouts. There are not many artifacts you’d currently want to use for this, but a couple come to mind – in Standard you have Prophetic Prism, Everflowing Chalice and the Borderposts. This seems to be yet another card on the “wait for Scars of Mirrodin“ list.

The reason I mention this, though, is that the flavor of this card is soooo awesome. I mean, I am a competitive player, and I would play the card the same if it was called Liliana’s Demon or something, but I think anyone who has ever read anything about D&D can recognize where this card comes from, and that’s just great and effort that I can appreciate, so kudos for that, WotC.

Combust

 

I don’t know where I stand regarding this card; When I played red, I liked the Flame Slashes, and this is basically a Flame Slash that kills Baneslayer Angel in some decks, but my red deck was different than those of today – it wanted to attack with creatures. This card is better against UW, dealing with Baneslayer, Wall of Omens and Celestial Colonnade by itself, but against a deck like Mythic or Naya I think the ability to kill the early mana producers is important enough that I would rather have a split of this and Slash than four of this (and you really want to kill the 4/4 Baloth, so Flame Slash gets the nod here too). In any case, you can probably fit this in any Mono-Red sideboard, since the color just doesn’t have good sideboard cards.

Ember Hauler

 

This card is sweet, but not really broken in any way. I have seen people who think this is the best red two-drop since Slith Firewalker, but I think Plated Geopede is better – though that might be because I don’t like the “all-in” red decks with Ball Lightning and such, that don’t even play Geopede but would most likely play this card. Overall a nice design, and plays the function of being a body that is not outclassed by all the other bodies later in the game, thus letting the burn deck play an early, constant source of damage without having to sacrifice late game burn potential.

Inferno Titan

 

This card also seems good to me, even if I have no idea where to play it. It is probably not for an aggressive deck – if that is what you are looking for, Hellkite Charger is probably your man – but in a control deck, this cross between Bogardan Hellkite and Flametongue Kavu could have some applications. He does deal 18 damage by himself with 8 Mountains if unchecked, and he does clear the way for himself to hit for a billion with firebreathing, so I would not count him out.

Cultivate

 

I keep hearing OMG Kodama’s Reach is back as if Kodama’s Reach had broken any formats when it was legal, and I don’t really understand the enthusiasm. Sure the card is decent, and might see play in some decks, but the only reason it saw play in that Standard was because of the Gifts Ungiven deck, which had a billion colors and was very mana hungry. In Standard right now, I don’t think there is such a deck. It could be argued that Turboland might want this, but, as has been said multiple time by many people, four is the magical number in Standard right now, so this loses the fight to every single two-mana accelerant in my opinion since it doesn’t really accelerate into, well, anything.

Obstinate Baloth

 

I’m glad this card is not mythic, because there is nothing mythic about it. It also saddens me that I have to be happy every time a good card that doesn’t feel mythic is actually not mythic.

Anyway, this guy is probably the most influential Standard card, battling with Mana Leak. The card is obviously very decent, having a very reasonable body for the cost when it comes to battling Red and Jund (I know I said the Sphinx doesn’t have a good enough body and they are just as big, but they are different decks and different colors), but his applications are way bigger than one might think at first glance, and he will certainly impact way more decks than those he is actually played into.

First of all, the fact that this card exists, and will be played, probably means that Jund decks do not maindeck Blightning anymore, which is a move that we’ve started to see already because of Vengevine (both yours and theirs, since you also want to maximize the number of cascades that bring it back). This does not mean this card is not good after they remove Blightnings – it is still decent, and some people might still be playing Blightning. The other consequence is that Red decks now have a much harder time killing anyone, and even your good matchup, Jund, is suddenly not so good. I think this card, alone, is enough of a reason for me to not want to play Mono-Red.

Once you establish those two things as true (fewer Blightnings and less Red), then you can start thinking of what decks become more attractive because of this. Turboland, for example, used to lose to Red – now not only it has this sweet sideboard card against it, but, simply because the card exists, there will be less Red in any given tournament. Another card that gets better on both accounts is Jace – even if there is no Baloth to be seen in your 75, the opposition will build their decks with the card in mind, and your Jaces will live more often. A deck like Mono-Green Eldrazi (of the ramp sort) is also starting to look more appealing, since that deck had issues with Blightnings and with Red.

Overall a very good card that I am happy was printed, and will see a lot of play in Standard. As far as Extended goes, I don’t see a big future for him.

Primeval Titan

 

The interesting part of this guy is that he says any land, and not only basic land. He is probably the most redundant on the attack, but the effect he leaves you with if he is killed is pretty good. Imagine the UGR deck, you can play this and get Halimar Depths and Raging Ravine, for example, and that deck is certainly mana hungry. The only question is whether he is better than Rampaging Baloths or not.

Right now, I think the answer is no. The only deck I can see him in is something similar to the UGR deck I played, and in that deck I think the Baloth is better (and not even played). Sure enough, if this dies, you get two lands and if Baloth dies you get nothing, but you could just have stalled him for one turn, and then with a Fetchland you get two four/fours, which is miles better than two lands against the decks you want this type of card. Sure enough, against Control the Titan is better, but why are you playing this kind of card against control? Against aggro, where the Baloth shines, it truly shines, and its upside is much bigger than Titan’s.

Sylvan Ranger

 

I don’t know if this card is going to be played or not, but I definitely like it a lot; It is an upgrade over Elvish Visionary, and Visionary is a card that is almost good enough to me. It does have the problem of the body not being very relevant, but there are some decks that will not care much about this – Next Level Bant, for example, probably likes this card a lot (Vengevine, etc.) and, considering what he does, the 1G cost is a huuuuuuge upgrade to the 2G of Borderland Ranger. I remember when I was building Mono-Green Elf Monument decks sometime ago, my biggest problem was dealing with a creature like Baneslayer Angel – if you play this guy, splashing a color to solve those problems becomes much easier. Overall, not a Sakura-Tribe Elder, but still a solid card in my opinion, and an Elf.

Temple Bell

 

This has upsides over Howling Mine, since you get to use the card on the spot (and before they do), and even if they Disenchant it you can still activate and avoid the 2×1, as well as simply not activating when you don’t feel like. Is that worth the extra mana? In my opinion, no. Howling Mine decks really wanted to play them on turn two, and once you start drawing a lot of cards a turn, every mana makes a difference because you have a lot to play. It is relevant, though, because they will both be legal for some time, and then you have a critical mass of Howling Mines that might even make decks like Time Sieve playable (as a side note, this is much better than Howling Mine as you are comboing, because you can activate them and then sacrifice them for Time Sieve). I still don’t like the deck, but if there is ever a moment where it is good, it is probably the time period in which this is legal alongside Font of Mythos and Howling Mine. Oh, it also combos with Tezzeret.

Anyway, I’m done! Obviously there are still cards to be spoiled, and that might change some evaluations, but this is what I think thus far. If I have to pick cards that will impact the format, I say for Standard they are Mana Leak, the Baloth and the black Titan. For Extended, I don’t see anything other than Mana Leak being very important, but I might be wrong since that format is also new and no one really knows anything about it yet.

Thanks for reading,

PV

Editor’s note: The following two cards were referenced but not given their own section in this article:

Pyretic Ritual  

Jaces Ingenuity

74 thoughts on “PV’s Playhouse – A First Look at Magic 2011”

  1. Can’t speak for anyone else, but I like two-for-ones and I like Rampant Growth. Kodama’s Reach has always felt like a green Divination… even if I think the new T2 is far too fast for Cultivate, I am eager to be proven wrong.

  2. I think that Preordain is much better than Ponder. It’s certainly better on turn 1, but as the game gets longer Ponder starts to look stronger. In a format with a lot of come-into-play-tapped lands, probably neither will be played as a 4 of, but I think the stronger turn 1 possibilities of Preordain make it better in other formats.

  3. I chuckled at the comment about Pyretic Ritual being the ‘worst ritual in the hisotry of the game’…you have a good sense of humour Mr. DdR. I didn’t consider the effect that the Baloth would have on mono red (completely killing the deck), interesting stuff.

  4. The presence of Mana Leak makes all the titans bad. Unless someone of them becomes the standard finisher of the control deck (probably packing Leaks itself) they are all going to be clunkier options than Baneslayer. Why were the trigger set on they coming into play rather than being cast?

    And as if Faeries needed to be better…

  5. I pretty much agree 100% with you. The only thing I think is that the Baloth won’t affect the amount Red decks being played any more then Firewalkers did. Red just waits around until everyone kind of forgets about it and tosses stuff out of the board to shore up other matches then it comes roaring back. Same cycle as always. =p

    Grave Titan = 3 for 1 hotness. Can’t wait for the prerelease!

  6. Does Sun Titan return sac lands (or any other land in your graveyard)? If it does is that relevant?

  7. Sorry I reread the Sun Titan entry and see that PV mentioned Tectonic Edge. I guess the question should be, is the ability to return lands relevant? Seems control always wants to hit land drops but if you already have 6 land is then 7th and (if Sun Titan attacks) the 8th good (I guess 9th if you play a land as well)?

  8. doesn’t that ritual seem fun at least in a devastating summons – goblin bushwhacker deck?

    T1> Land. Guide. Swing for 2. Go
    T2> Land. Ritual. Summons for 2. Bushwhack kicked. Swing for 11. Go.
    T3> Land and pray for you R to cast burn spells.

    makes kiln fiend blowouts even more ridiculous lol.

    i wonder if that makes the summons-whacker work in my kiln fiend boros build..

  9. The green titan is like a strictly better Nirkana Revenant. It ramps you up to even bigger spells (Eldrazi), thins your deck, and kills them at the same time (with Trample!).

  10. “As a side note this card is good against blightning.”

    I was laughing maniacally the more you said this.

    Also, that ritual sounds like cool beans for pyromancer ascension. Faster time warps, and it is relevant to charge it. I have been meaning to put together a ascension deck for a while and with this and preordain it feels like the time. The only question is whether to wait for shards to roll or not, seeing how broken naya charm is with it. Then again, my other idea for the deck is to fuse it with the training grounds deck for fun times… and fabricate is a sorcery after all.

  11. The Green Titan is insane, once you understand the context of the decks he’s going in. The inherent problem with ramp is the part where you draw all ramp and no beaters. While this guy isn’t quite into either category, powering him out on Turn 4 in an Eldrazi deck gives you a beater and very good ramp, something very few cards combine.

  12. Sun Titan – The New Boros ?

    Goblin Guides, Hellsparks, Skyfishers etc…

    So many fun cards in M11 which is what I like to see because that means more ppl buying cards and playing magic locally. If the set sucked.. those ppl would play CoD instead and I’d be twiddling my thumbs until big events.

  13. squadron hawks are a nice match for vengevine… and maybe primeval titan can be used to fetch an Eye of ugin plus an eldrazi temple witch is perfect to go to a koziliek / ulamog on the next turn or an emrakul hard casted in the next if it’s left unchecked (bringing another 2 temples).

  14. I think the interesting thing about the Green Titan is fetching two Eldrazi Temples or a Temple and an Eye of Ugin. That ramps you straight to 10 for Kozilek, or more if you have any already in play. He also doubles as a threat. Rampaging Baloths sometimes suffered from two things – that he essentially cost 7 because you didn’t want to give your opponent a chance to remove him before you got a landfall trigger, and that he sometimes just died and you were left with one or two 4/4s which were not enough. The Green Titan, if it resolves, nearly always gives you options, even after he dies.

  15. Aether adept can return an emrakul that has been polymorphed up, to give it some kind of respect. Not sure that’s ever going to be relevant, but it’s probably worth mentioning.

  16. PelakkaIwantYourBabies

    The best article of the week, as always.
    Is there any chance that you see Conundrum Sphinx as a 4/4 Thieving Magpie?
    Any chance that Sarkhan Vol sees play with the titans?

  17. @Brady: why is preordain better than ponder? Seems just worse to me

    @Venkarel: Well, it is certainly not very relevant, for the reasons you mentioned, but it’s still nice knowing you can do it. If you have a fetchland, playing and attacking with him will “ramp you two mana” if you want, so that’s not that bad if there is nothing else

    @Chaos_Noise: that might be true, people play Red anyway… but Red right now is overrepresented (at least that’s what my modo friends tell me, *omg played vs red again* etc, and I read ptq reports and all) so in any way that is probably the end of the cycle. The diferences with Baloth and Firewalker are a) both will exist, so now pretty much any deck can hate Red if it wants to – suddenly if Red is popular there are not many decks you actually want to face and b) he will be played regardless of Red being good, which kind of messes with the circle – if everyone, for some reason, played 4 maindeck Firewalkers in their decks regardless of whether Red existed or not, then the deck simply wouldn’t be good, people remembering it or not. Baloth is not as extreme as firewalker, but his presence independs of Red’s, so it is not like anyone can “forget” it now – they will remember it even if accidentally

    @Gatch: that seems hoping for a nut draw too much and ignoring any kind of consistency, I doubt that will work.

    @someguy: uh, Dauntless Escort is a very good target too! Goes in the same deck as the knight of the reliquary ;P

    @Green titan: duh you guys have a good point, I completely missed the fact that, if a mono green deck exists (which it just might), then green titan is very good in it, miles better than baloth would be. By himself he grabs two temples, so that’s already 10, and then he attacks and grabs Eye of Ugin, so 12 mana. He also grabs two Tectonics, or khalni Garden, etc… definitely good in that deck

    @Orie: :]

  18. Actually, cultivate is a nice thing when ramped up with llanowar elves and the likes of him. In some decks it will allow for less lands in the deck and also a great possibility for splashing. who does’nt want a mana elf, and a clump of lands on turn 2? 5 mana is still where jund plays its most dangerous bombs too and I would be surprised if there is’nt any jund list that want to include cultivate to get a safer and higher mana curve. plus, it cascades off bloodbraid elf which next turn will make a early broodmate dragon possible.

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  20. PV: Consider this simplified scenario where the top 3 cards of your library are either good or bad and how Ponder/Preordain changes your draws:

    Good, Good, Good
    Ponder: Good, Good, Good
    Preordain: Good, Good, Good
    Advantage: Draw

    Good, Good, Bad
    Ponder: Good, Good, Bad
    Preoordain: Good, Good, Bad
    Advantage: Draw

    Good, Bad, Good
    Ponder: Good, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Good, random
    Advantage: Preordain

    Bad, Good, Good
    Ponder: Good, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Good, random
    Advantage: Preordain

    Good, Bad, Bad
    Ponder: Either Good, Bad, Bad or Random, random, random
    Preordain: Good, Bad, random
    Advantage: Unclear

    Bad, Good, Bad
    Ponder: Either Good, Bad, Bad or Random, random, random
    Preordain: Good, Bad, random
    Advantage: Unclear

    Bad, Bad, Good
    Ponder: Either Good, Bad, Bad or Random, random, random
    Preordain: Good, random, random
    Advantage: Preordain

    Bad, Bad, Bad
    Ponder: Random, random, random
    Preordain: Bad, random, random
    Advantage: Ponder

    As you can see Preordain has a clear advantage. However, if you make a similiar breakdown but include one free shuffle whenever you want, Ponder wins out in almost all cases. Conclusion is that Preordain wins without shuffle effects and Ponder wins with shuffle effects. The problem is that Ponder is borderline unplayable without shuffle effects.

  21. I would much rather play red against baloth than red against firewalker. I would probably rather have 30% of decks playing Baloth than 15% of decks playing Firewalker. The baloth is rough yes, but if you have finished attacking on the ground he’s still just “gain 4 life” and he costs one mana more than ball lightning to gain 2 life in the exchange. Unlike Firewalker he doesn’t come down on turn 2 to screw with your Goblin Guides and Hellsparks. Jund will get a lot tougher to race yes, but I doubt Jund will play this over Vengevine.

    Also, even IF the Baloth makes red even more of a fringe deck, people might play less Firewalkers (maybe even UW skipping them) and red could therefore become an even better choice for the few that choose it, making more people choose it and reintroducing Firewalkers… the red rotation still in full effect.

  22. i think an important thing that everyone seems to be forgetting is that 6 mana for a titan does not happen on turn 6 anymore… it happens on turn 3 or 4… (a la mythic) which makes them all REALLY good… even the universally lauded “worst” titan is pretty good when you consider him a 6/6 ajani vengeant on turn 3… tempo much? Infinite land destruction on turn four or five via sun titan and edge seems good-ish… end step summoning trap on turn 4 into Primeveal Titan into hard cast eldrazi… And @ PelakkaIwantYourBabies… grave titan with Sarkhan 1.0 on board seems pretty good… haha what is that…? 13 power for 6 with haste? that’s gotta be good SOMEWHERE… In decks that can cater to them, they seem more like “key components” rather than “win more”s… Thanks for having me… (first time forum input…)

  23. I think you missed out on some power of squadron hawk because I think it’s great.
    First of all it’s a fantastic way to enable turn 3 vengevine returns simply because by grabbing 3 hawks you can discard the vengevine(s) your holding in hand AND have creatures to return it with. For example turn 2 hawk on the play, you got have 8 cards after it resolves, discard 1 vengevine and you can play 2 hawks on turn 4 or have something else and bring it back turn 3. 1/1 flyers are fairly nice as well actually in this format.
    Jace + hawk also gives some nice card advantage, by brainstorming away some hawks you fetched the turn before, for example turn 3 fetch 3 hawks and turn 4 jace + brainstorm, put 2 hawks back. You can even go hawk -> brainstorm, put hawks back -> play #2nd hawk for good card advantage and jace blockers at the same time.

    Also the order of titans imo is:
    green, white, black, blue, red.
    The green is the only one that gives definite card advantage and has a lot of tricks, like fetching double khalni garden for blockers or some kind of eldrazi tutor package with eye of yugin and a couple temples.
    The white one also gives good card advantage but he has the problem that you need things in the grave. In a aggresive deck this can be easy but you get back a creature then which might not be as appealing as you still get sweeped by a day of judgement then. In a controllish back being able to get back wall of omens, sea gate oracle or o-ring looks good though and 6/6 vigilance is also really nice for that.
    The black one gives the biggest army but has no wrath protection at all and gets chumped quite easy. He lacks evasion and garanteed card advantage to be good imo.
    The blue one is only good when it comes out quick as the tap effect is at its best then and it’s pseudo-shroud might work well then. A aggresive deck is probably GUx though which has access to better stuff probably.
    THe red one is just crap to be honest, 6 mana in red is alot and his abilities only fit a aggresive shell, this won;t be played.

    So far the most impressive ones to me seem the green titan, the squadron hawk and ember hauler. The green titan looks especially interesting in a ramp kind of deck where it’s a fine threat that also ramps into your other threats. A turboland or summoning trap shell looks good for this. He might just be outclassed by avenger of zendikar though I could see a 3/3 split or something working.

  24. Good, I get to destroy people that really don’t know how to play around mana leak, and the answer isn’t waiting 3 turns to resolve something. It will be fun for punishing mythic for some of it’s dumb draws. Sovereigns on turn 3? Nah, pay 3.

  25. Just to fix Emtee’s analysis it should be: (and this is how I was thinking about it too)

    Bad, Good, Good
    Ponder: Good, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Good, Random random
    Advantage: Preordain

    Original Order: Good, Bad, Bad
    Ponder: Either Good, Bad, Bad or Random, random, random
    Preordain: Good, Random, random
    Advantage: Pre-ordain

    Original Order: Bad, Good, Bad
    Ponder: Either Good, Bad, Bad or Random, random, random
    Preordain: Good, Random, random
    Advantage: Preordain

    Thus in general digging for gas Pre-ordain is significantly better (probably in a format like limited or Vintage). When digging for a Specific card Pre-Ordain is worse.

  26. So you have no idea what to do with “Squadron Hawk” and say: Jace the Mindsculptor….?
    Turns every turn brainstorm in every second turn Ancestral… (or the like)

  27. Good insights, buuut on the green titan vs baloth argument, isnt the a-plan to cast baloth as a seven drop any ways. It seems like those cards would interact very well and shouldn’t be pitted against each other in the first place. green titan go, baloth, land, and swing with the titan

  28. Oh and on a side note, maybe, just maybe, with the Green Giant’s help I’ll cast EMRAKUL THE AEONS TORN!!!!!! on my kitchen table of course, were every planeswalker ( i mean us players not the cards) starts at 100 life.

  29. billTHEexterminator

    First of all, I'd like to correct a mistake I made last week; When I talked about Faeries and the chance to have an Island in your opening hand, what I calculated really was the chance to have Island in your opening hand, stop saying the same thing twice learn to speak and write in proper english grammer or dont write at all

  30. @Lucas Siow

    Original Order: Good, Bad, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Random, random

    Original Order: Bad, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Random, random

    I think you need to read Preordain a second time.

  31. I don’t think it’s a very good point when you say:
    “I remember when I was building Mono-Green Elf Monument decks sometime ago, my biggest problem was dealing with a creature like Baneslayer Angel – if you play this guy, splashing a color to solve those problems becomes much easier.”

    Since now we will have Plummet.
    Maybe for some “ground problem”, but Baneslayer Angel stops being a problem to the Japan Green as soon as M11 comes out. ^^

  32. Nice grammar, spelling, and punctuation there Bill. You might want to follow you own advice.

  33. @Lucas Siow
    Original Order: Good, Bad, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Random, random

    Original Order: Bad, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Random, random

    I think you need to read Preordain a second time.

    Hrrmmm Scry 2, then draw a card. I read it. Now explain how any of ur corrections make sense.

  34. Just wanted to say that i cant wait to get my hands on 4 primeval titans. Searching up 2 valakuts, then attacking for 6 trample and searching up 2 mountains for 12 damage will end games a little faster than baloth i think.

  35. Byron the Less Long-Winded

    Lucas, I think what Bob is trying to say is that if there is a bad card third from the top of your library, then since you only scry 2, it will still be in the top three cards of your library after you scry away the bad card in the top two cards of your library, so “Good, random, random” will actually be “Good, bad, random.”

  36. @ Lucas Siow

    I DIDN’T make any corrections.
    Was copying your text

    I don’t see how the following is accurate

    Original Order: Bad, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, Random, random

    it should be :

    Original Order: Bad, Good, Bad
    Preordain: Good, BAD, random

    In other words, Emtee’s analysis looked right and your corrections look wrong.

  37. @Emtee: I think Jund decks are playing maindeck Baloth, yes, and I think decks might play Baloth in the board anyway even if they don’t expect Red, since it is not as specific. Sure it is miles worse than firewalker, but it is still a problem;

    @petterud: I highly doubt Jund would play KOdama’s Reach. As I said, you want your acceleration to go from 2 to 4, because 4 is the number where things start happening, and 2 is the number where nothing happens. You have much to do on turn three, you can’t spend it for acceleration.

    @Markwerf: Sure, jace is “cute” with hawk…and that might see play in NLB. I don’t think it is that strong of an interaction though – for eample, you aren’t going to play Hawk in UW to combo with Jace I don’t think. I mean, EVERY CARD is good with Jace, because Jace is just good – the good part of the combo here is Jace, not the hawk, and it doesn’t need any help. As a side note, the hawk is also good with the new survival guy that was spoiled.

    @Bill: I am not saying the same thing twice, I am saying that what I calculated was correct (i.e. the number really is what I said it was), but just not the relevant number. What’s wrong with the sentence?

    @Felipe: But the point remains – you can now splash for other colors for whatever you want. Also, Path/Ring for ex are much better than that card.

    I think you guys are missing very important points that make the Ponder/Preordain discussion not valid the way you posted it;

    The first is that ponder digs a card deeper – you see 4 cards as opposed to 3 if you are looking for something, and decks that play Ponder generally are

    The second, and way more important, is that with Ponder you get to see the third card before you decide, and with Preordain you do not. Yo usay Good and Bad as if those are crystal clear, but they aren’t necessarily so. For example, if you have 3 lands and play Preordain into Jace and something else, what are you going to do? Are you going to keep the jace and hope you draw a land? With Ponder, you KNOW if you are going to draw the land or not, so you know if the Jace is good to draw or not. If you are playing a deck like Thopter Foundry, you might Preordain a Hexmage to the bottom – only to find out that the next card is Dark Depths! With Ponder, you would have known before making your decision.

    There are also situations where you want both cards, but you want the third now. For example, on turn three you draw Ponder, and the top is irrelevant, Jace, Mana Leak. You draw the Mana Leak that turn, cast it, and on turn four draw Jace. With Preordain, you draw the Jace and then, on turn four, you draw Mana Leak – MUCH worse.

    You mention good, good, good as a draw – the advantage here clearly lies with Ponder, since you get to choose between three good cards to draw, and not two, and you are going to know which the third is before you have to cast the first two, unlike with Preordain, for example.

    And third with a fetchland ponder just gets much better in almost every scenario, so I still think it is better than preordain

  38. @4/4 Flyer for 4 with no drawback, I suppose “Champion a Faerie” is a kind of a drawback without stacking damage, but would faeries really have played mistbind clique if was just a 4/4 flyer for 4?

  39. I still think squadron hawk is gonna see a fair amount of play in standard. The interaction with jace isn’t that special that’s true but it’s still nice. The interaction with vengevine is what makes it so good I think as it would fit quite well in NLB imo. Drawing 2 is the only sucky thing about this card but the chances of that happening aren’t that big for it too be a great drawback. In many decks you can play this decently fast as well I think as many decks have few cards at the 2 mana spot (like bant or naya).

  40. Mistbind Clique had flash AND tapped down your opponents lands in his upkeep or in combat. And in lorwyn+alara+m10 it was played a lot.

  41. The huge attention being paid to primeval titan (and mono green in general) really puzzles me. The web-boards are abuzz with the baloth/titan combo, but, seriously, if you’re bashing unhindered with two gigantic six drops, having more power is completely redundant…It’s the same reason I play Iona over Emrakul in polymorph: After a point, the numbers in the bottom right don’t matter all that much…they might as well be 1,000,000/1,000,000 if your opponent is at low life with no board control.

    I keep wondering why there’s no love for the red titan (it’s $4 on SCG preorders versus primeval’s $30 tag); that guy seems good for any UWr, WR, or RB control list in standard since he cuts down the opposition, and comes in for 9+ damage if unanswered. It’s pretty impressive to get a guy who can race baneslayer.

  42. @ PV

    Your analysis in the comments section Preordain VS Ponder : was amazing and I agree 100%.

    Clique had flash, tapped down your opponent’s lands and was also a Faerie.

    I foresee blue been in 80%+ of the top 8 decks in standard tournaments.

    With Mana Leak and Baloth owning blightning, Jund’s not really a deck anymore.

  43. “As a side note, this card is good against Blightning, since it being in your hand protects your good cards.”

    That sir is the funniest and best defense for a card being good I believe I have ever heard/read.

    Great article, thanks PV

  44. @PV

    You asked me why Preordain is better than Ponder. Preordain is better because it lets you filter your draws.

    Consider casting either of these on turn 1. In this case, Ponder’s ability to reorder the three cards is almost useless. Unless the third card from the top is a two drop AND you have no other two drops in your hand, you will just draw all three cards before playing any and the order doesn’t matter. Your purpose for casting a turn 1 filter effect is to set up future turns, usually by ensuring that you maintain a good spell/land ratio. If your opening hand already has a good spell/land ratio, both spells will mostly just cycle. If your opening hand is tipped towards more spells or more lands, then Preordain allows you to adjust this ratio by placing unwanted card types at the bottom of the deck. With Ponder, you are restricted to shuffling away all three cards or keeping all three, and that can be awkward. Say you kept a two lander and you have a Jace 2.0 in your hand, and Ponder reveals two spells and a land. Do you shuffle? It’s kind of an awkward situation that is common with a turn 1 Ponder, you don’t know if a shuffle will help or not.

    Now, past turn 1, or in a deck that is looking for more complicated things than a spell/land ratio, Ponder is stronger because it lets you dig towards specific cards better. Take any combo deck, or any blue Vintage deck (they all have some combo element to them), and Ponder will be better because a lot of the time these decks need to find a specific card. Likewise, in standard games that go late, Ponder is better because you are searching for that one game-ending spell.

    TL:DR – Preordain is better for maintaining a good spell/land ratio, Ponder is better for digging towards specific cards. This means that Preordain is usually better in the early game.

  45. I think the Red titan is clearly the worst of the titans. It just doesn’t do anything. It might get lucky and kill a BBE but that’s about. The blue seems way better than the red one

  46. @Dan

    By using your example, the Inferno Titan can kill a BBE and a Lotus Cobra. The Frost Titan can just hold the BBE tapped. If you untap with either one at this point the Inferno Titan is going to cause a lot more damage then just tapping another permanent.

  47. one of the first things i thought about when i saw Squadron Hawks was the fact that you could cast it and then only search for one other…that way, when you cast the 2nd one, you’d get another shuffle effect, and the same when you cast the 3rd one to search out the final one…just my 2 cents

  48. @Dan

    What do you mean ‘doesn’t to anything’? He eats up to 3 creatures just for coming into play, and, if you’ve got him, I’ll assume you’ve been earthquaking, doomblading, blighteninging, and other such things to keep the game in your hands. If you’ve managed to cast 1 blightening, 1 earthquake for 2, and nail them with 1 staggershock resolution, they’re at 13 life (assuming 0 fetchlands or other life loss effects). You play the titan and they either go to 10 immediately or you eat some guys that would be blocking you next turn. By the time you attack, you’ve done a potential 6 damage to their board, so I think it’s safe to say that, outside of awakening zone and elspeth, they shouldn’t be able to have too many dork blockers. Even if they do have dorks to block with, you can deal with them 2 or more at a time every single attack phase.

    If they have a board so unbelievably impressive that you can’t handle it by attacking with 6 power and a triple forked bolt every turn, you probably couldn’t have won that game anyway.

  49. @lordkryptic: you can search your library whenever you play any of them, even if you’ve already gotten all four 😉

  50. lol i forgot that facet of it, ty…so there ya go, 4 shuffle effects and we all know ways to exploit that 😉

  51. People keep forgetting any deck that plays baloth will probably be able to cast pelakka wurm as well, so there is a dirty dirty turbolands deck out there.

    Some friends and I were just testing ondu giant/sporecap spider in TL just as decent roadblocks out of the board to specifically address RD and decks like boros.

    They are literally ALMOST good enough, because they do buy you the time you need to get to pelakka wurm, but often one wurm isn’t enough.

    Once Baloths come out G/U or potentially G/U/X is going to be insane, since the aggressive decks won’t be able to punch through potentially 37 life attached to beaters, with card filter to find said lifegain.

    Im psyched!

  52. @Brady

    you playing a deck with 26 land. your hand is 2 land jace ponder/preordain +3 others.

    therefore your deck is 53 cards 24 lands

    the probability to hit 4 land by turn 4 is:

    playing neither 38.3%
    preordain 51.3%
    ponder 69.3%

    add another land to the deck:

    playing neither 38.7%
    preordain 52.1%
    ponder 70.1%

    these were calculated using the HYPGEOMDIST function in excel.

    neither: HYPGEOMDIST(2,4,#land,53)

    preordain you do the 3 outcomes of scry (2 land, 1, 0) and then for 1 and 2 multiply by the chance to get the other in the remaining draws (given that the deck size iz smaller by the number of card you put on the bottom) and add those 3 numbers.

    ponder you work out the chance seeing it in the 3 cards then add the chance to draw it if you shuffle

    tl:dr you have more chance of hitting your lands to play jace off ponder than preordain

  53. @thom

    I am not sure of the answers you got using hypgeomdist. I decided to work it out manually.

    Assumptions: You are on the play, you have 2 lands, Jace 2.0, Ponder/Preordain, and 3 other spells. There are 24 lands and 29 spells remaining in your library. When you cast Preordain, you will put any spells on the bottom and any lands on top. When you cast Ponder, you will shuffle if you see 1 or fewer lands (you have a greater chance to hit 2 lands from 4 random cards than you do to hit 1 land from 1 random card).

    These are the probabilities you will hit two OR MORE lands.

    Neither: 42.8%
    Reach Through Mists: 61.9%
    Preordain: 82.6%
    Ponder: 79.9%

    Therefore, Preordain will allow you to hit four lands on turn 4 slightly more often than Ponder.

    Here are my calculations. In the first column are the possible card combinations you will see on top of your library. S = spell, L = land. In the second column are the probabilities that these combinations will occur. There are more spells than lands in your library, so the combinations with more spells will be more likely. The probabilities in this column should sum to 1. In the third column are the probabilities that you will hit four lands on turn 4 should each combination occur and you follow the assumptions above. For example, if you reveal two lands with Preordain or Ponder, then you will have a 100% chance to hit four lands on turn 4. The percentages above were obtained by multiplying the probability that you will hit four lands by the probability each combination will occur, and then summing together each combination.

    SS 0.294629898 0.648859544
    LL 0.200290276 1
    SL 0.252539913 0.859543818
    LS 0.252539913 0.859543818

    SSS 0.155980534 0.648859544
    SSL 0.138649364 0.648859544
    SLS 0.138649364 0.648859544
    LSS 0.138649364 0.648859544
    SLL 0.113890549 1
    LSL 0.113890549 1
    LLS 0.113890549 1
    LLL 0.086399727 1

  54. Really good article.
    I just want to say that Sun Titan can bring back SoA’s capsules..

  55. Though nothing more than cute, Squadron Hawk’s interactions with Jace are certainly plentiful; they chump all day long (even Hell’s Thunders), they can be pitched to Jace’s brainstorm and/or they will shuffle after a brainstorm. Since they are a two-drop that stalls a little, you can filter them out of your deck in the early turns. Wall of Omens 5-8?

  56. When talking about Primeval Titan, you probably forgot that he can get a Sejiri Steppe on each attack, making him unblockable. That’s not what i would call redundant.

  57. What a garbage article. “Well I don’t know how to evaluate this card…” was about said in over half the card reviews. Thanks for nothing. :/

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