Let’s take a look at the grading scale, with the usual caveat that what I write about the card is more relevant, as there are many factors that aren’t reflected in a card’s grade.
Efficient removal is always at a premium in Limited, even if 3/3 is probably better than whatever you exiled. Still, this won’t get removed often, so that’s a minor drawback at most.
Bishop of Binding
Not only is this high-quality removal, it also can function as a 4/4 (or greater) attacker. Usually cards with this exile text don’t do much attacking, so adding the ability to brawl makes this truly excellent.
This card is bizarre, and I don’t think it’s going to end up being great. It largely doesn’t work until you’re at 5 or less life, and can sit dead in your hand for long enough that it seems weak. It gets better when they have giant monsters, but I still don’t have much hope that this is going to be good.
A great sideboard card is still a sideboard card—this won’t see the light of day in my main deck, but I will take it over middle-of-the-road playables. When you side this in against Vampires, it’s excellent, and it’s nice to have enchantment removal as well.
The verdict is in, and this is still playable. It’s not efficient, and aggro decks won’t love it, but it’s playable in just about any white deck.
The fact that the opponent can’t ever kill this in combat is sweet, and this plays well with pump spells. It isn’t in a supported tribe, but besides that, this is a great card no matter what kind of deck you’re playing. Blocking well and attacking without fear makes this an awesome 3-drop. It’s basically True-Name Nemesis, though slightly better because it doesn’t die to -1/-1 effects.
Not only is this a Vampire, it’s also efficient. Non-Vampire decks will be happy to play this, and it’s an early pick for Vamps. It does require 9+ Plains to be a consistent turn-3 play, so keep that in mind when selecting it.
Famished Paladin is hungry, yet blocking doesn’t seem to bother him. Playing this as a 2-mana 3/3 blocker is great, and if you have a couple incidental sources of life gain, he can bash in for a ton of damage. In a defensive deck, this is playable without life gain, and in an aggressive deck, I’d want 3-4 (including at least one lifelink) before being happy with him.
Forerunner of the Legion
I’m never going to call this anything but Vampiric Tutor, and I expect to mention it a lot. It’s quite good in a dedicated Vamps deck, especially with token making, and becomes absurd once you have a good uncommon or rare Vamp to search for.
Imperial Ceratops is a brick house, and will do a mighty job of keeping you alive. It is a little less exciting in purely aggressive decks, but Dino ramp decks will love this beast. It blocks well, has a very nice enrage bonus, and can even attack when needed.
I’ll admit—this ended up being a lot better the last time than I expected, and oddly enough, “last time” was just one set ago. Having this as a reprint makes a ton of sense, and it’s pretty sweet that the Legion continues to conquest. This was good value in Ixalan and will continue to be good value, with slightly more Conquistadors showing up per Draft thanks to Rivals’ smaller size.
Removal is removal, and this should do the trick quite nicely.
In an aggressive deck with a decent amount of Dinos, this acts as a 5+ power flyer. I’m not super excited about it in Dino ramp because it doesn’t block well and you usually don’t need that much help winning with your 6-drops. Red-white seems like the natural home here, as this could give the deck the last bits of reach it needs. Also, “heliopterus”? At that point, couldn’t you just call it a helicopter?
Martyr of Dusk
I really like Martyr of Dusk. It trades off well, is the perfect Vampire to give stat bonuses to, and is resilient to removal. All of that is a great deal for 2 mana, and I like this even outside of Vampire decks.
Moment of Triumph
If combat tricks are as good in Rivals as they were in Ixalan, this could be nudged up to a 3, but I’m starting it here. It is efficient, and the 2 life bonus is a nice one, especially with the light life gain theme of the set.
Paladin of Atonement
This seems annoying to play against. If you have it in play, your opponent can’t attack without giving you some good value, and when the Paladin dies, you get a nice bit of life back. It starts to get nuts once you have cards that let you pay life, but even straight-up I think this will end up playing well.
Pride of Conquerors
Ascend is a tricky mechanic to evaluate. In the normal case, you aren’t ascending almost ever in a game of Limited, so the bonus for ascending doesn’t seem that likely to occur. But there are cards that generate Treasure and other tokens, which makes ascending a little reliable, at which point you can really start to pay attention to what you’re getting.
For the most part, I don’t want to play ascend cards that aren’t good without the city’s blessing, and this is one that is fairly mediocre as such. This does push you to make a deck that will hit 10 permanents more often, so bump this in value if your deck looks well-suited for that.
In a heavy tribal deck, this is a great card. It’s the most effective on Vampires, but any tribe of small creatures you can go deep on will work. Dinos don’t need it quite as much, but it’s still a solid bonus there. The city’s blessing gives you so little that I don’t even count it when evaluating the card.
I expect 2-drops to still be important, so this is about as good as it was in Ixalan. This one feels a little stranger to reprint, but it will play just fine.
You need at least a couple other Vamps before this becomes more than just a glorified Hill Giant, and in an all-Vamp deck it becomes great. Pushing through damage and giving you 4/4 of stats for 4 mana is a solid deal, and it doesn’t ask a whole lot in terms of deckbuilding.
1-drops aren’t that much better than 2-drops in Limited since you rarely use the mana on turn 1 anyway, so don’t be fooled by how big the difference is in Constructed. Still, this is a fine early play and sometimes is relevant late game, which is a real bonus on a cheap aggressive card.
Slaughter the Strong
How good this card is will be highly matchup-dependent. Against Dinos, as pictured, it will be quite effective. Against other tribes you will need to catch them overextending or with auras before you really get value, though knowing that this is coming will let you set up for it nicely.
Unless you’re in the market for 0/3s, this is not what you’re looking for. By the time you ascend, it’s not even that impressive, and you won’t be getting there any time soon.
I keep reading the card, but I don’t see “draw a card” anywhere. Don’t play this card.
If Mark of the Vampire is good, how can this not be? You get a nice little chump blocker alongside your Aura, and it’s 1 mana cheaper to boot. This is good on evasive creatures and otherwise hard-to-kill targets, and because it’s only +1/+1 you do need to pick your champion well.
Being off-tribe hurts this one quite a bit, and vigilance isn’t even a great ability on a 2/2. You’re going to play this to fill out your curve, but it’s never going to shine.
This isn’t the worst 5-drop, as it’s got solid stats and potentially two good abilities. I like this in defensive decks, and Dinosaurs can lean that way.
Now this is an annoying card to play against. It lets your Dinos get enraged, but nothing more, as they are essentially immune to damage once this hits the board. You need a decent amount of Dinos to go with this, but once you’ve got that, you are set.
It’s a shame that this doesn’t take something out with it when it dies in combat, but either way it’s a beating. It’s got great stats and a very powerful ability, which are all the hallmarks of a Limited bomb.
Zetalpa, Primal Dawn
Despite costing 8, this looks like it might hold up as a finisher. Indestructible really sells it, and vigilance means that it can crack for 8 a turn while still playing defense. You’ve got to do some work to make sure this comes out in a timely fashion, but the payoff is there.
Top 3 White Commons
White got a lot of good aggressive cards, and Vampires in particular did well. Dinos still looks kind of slow, though there are some good uncommon and rare payoffs.