My Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar testing has me examining every card in the spoiler, and along the way I noticed some cards getting a little less attention than they deserve—and some cards getting too much:
Yeah, I said it, I believe Shambling Vent is overrated. It reminds me of Lavaclaw Reaches, but with a much lower ceiling for potential—and Lavaclaw Reaches was a 1-of in most Jund lists. Some did play 4, but it was never because the card was amazing—it was because they were so hard up for late game value they were willing to take it.
Ask yourself a serious question here and answer honestly—if you’re paired against an Atarka Red deck, which would you rather have: Shambling Vent or Scoured Barrens? They both enter the battlefield tapped and provide black and white mana, but would you rather gain 1 life no questions asked or would you rather invest 4 mana into a card that could provide you with 2 life—assuming it isn’t killed.
There will even be a number of games where you never activate the Shambling Vents, and you get zero life out of the card! Don’t get me wrong, this card will see play, but it isn’t an incredible game-changer for Standard. My verdict here is clear: overrated.
When I look at Brutal Expulsion I just get confused. Half of the value of the card is dealing 2 damage to a creature or player, but it’s on a 4-mana card. The impact of Wild Slash is at its strongest in the first few turns of the game, and having to wait until turn 4 to get it means that that Jace you want to kill will have already flipped, or that Monastery Swiftspear will have already dealt enough damage to decide the game.
It’s a Remand + Wild Slash split card, and both of those cards are good individually, but the reason why those cards are good is that they cost 1 and 2 mana—not 4. I understand paying a premium for flexibility, but this card is just too pricey to be worth it. It may still find a home as a singleton in some Jeskai lists but for me it’s a bit too hyped, and ultimately overrated.
Blisterpod—the second coming of Doomed Traveler. But, why the heck would I ever want to put a Doomed Traveler in my deck? So I pay 1 and I get a 1/1—and that’s all I get until my opponent kills it, or I construct my deck in a way where I have to kill my own creature. Call me old-school, but when I play Magic I like to have my cards stand on their own merit, and that’s why I usually play decks with cards that can all at least trade for another card. If you mulligan or get stuck on lands, Doomed Traveler isn’t going to bail you out.
Doomed Traveler has been an acceptable card to play in Constructed in the past, and yes it has even won a Pro Tour, but it’s not some revolutionary effect. It’s a build-around role-player, and it will even be bad in some of the draws in a deck you built for it. And for the record, Doomed Traveler is much better than this card—flying is huge difference.
Fathom Feeder has been compared to Baleful Strix, but the comparison is laughable. Frankly, if I were playing a blue/black control deck in Standard, I would rather just have a Ruthless Ripper. At least then when I get a 1/1 deathtouch I don’t have to pay double the price. Sure, it has ingest—you could reasonably work hard to build a deck around that, and then have useless Ulamog’s Nullifers in hand when it’s killed or you’re forced to block with it.
It does have a neat ability, but the reality of the situation is that you don’t put a 1/1 deathtouch in your deck to not block with it. If they have an Anafenza, the Foremost out you aren’t going to just take 4, 8, 12 damage from it to invest 5 mana and get one card. You would block it and be thrilled to make that trade. As an early-game defensive card Fathom Feeder is a disappointment, and as a late-game mana sink it falls short as well—it’s bad at all the things it’s attempting. Anyone who rates this card as anything other than unplayable is overrating it.
Transgress the Mind
Transgress the Mind looks like a mix between Inquisition of Kozilek, Castigate, and Thoughtseize and though it’s exciting at first glance, for my money it’s a glorified Appetite for Brains which was always a horrible card. I can envision a world in which this card is playable, but I’m doing quite a few mental gymnastics to even get that far. This card is inefficient at what it does and frankly it’s a trap. It looks like it does something unique to help solve problems like Siege Rhino, but I think ultimately will just be worse than playing a threat of your own or a removal spell for whichever card is giving you the most trouble. You’re going to play some games where this card works out just right, but more often than that you’ll play games where you outright whiff or topdeck it after the problem card has been cast, and frankly there just have got to be better options out there. Overrated.