Pokemon Pro Reviews Magic Cards

LSV and I teamed up to swap a set of ten cards from each of our games – I’m a Pokemon TCG player at heart with little Magic experience, although I’ve played a few paper matches, and a little bit of Arena/Online on a friend’s account this past summer. I do like Magic, I’m most drawn to Commander currently, but my knowledge of the larger card pool is extremely limited. Coming from opposite sides of the gaming spectrum we though it would be fun to see how these card reviews/first thoughts turned out. We both tried to mix in some cards of different strengths, some bad, some good, and some absolutely broken. Will we figure the other’s out correctly? We’ll see. Even if you do so satirically, please enjoy!


I haven’t played enough MTG to know how quickly graveyards fill – but at some point this card seems broken. It’s only a two-drop – it also gains power from the opponent’s discard, so there’s a high power ceiling for it. I imagine if it was popular that some unique counter play measures would develop, like holding certain card types. I took to Google to check how many there were – if I’m not mistaken, there’re thirteen different card types, so this could threaten as a 13/14 – that’s sick. I don’t know how or if I really can go about ranking these cards on a numerical scale, so I’ll just list my gut reactions.

Almost broken: Might be too difficult to ramp up to full power, unsure – also seems awkward in an opening hand since it starts off as a really small body

LSV’s Comments: Caleb is right that Tarmogoyf gets large, but doesn’t appreciate how rapidly that can happen. While I wouldn’t call Tarmogoyf broken, it’s one of the best creatures in Magic, and still sees plenty of play.

Savage Knuckleblade

Really cool card design here, especially since it fits into three different colors. I don’t see the blue ability being of great use, but the red and green parts seem great. It already starts as a 4/4, so if you were playing a deck that could consistently find the three colors by turn three, this could be pretty sweet. It doesn’t feel broken or anything, it looks balanced because of the way they split the types up – it’s also creative in that way, making for some fun gameplay.

Strong: Not sure how realistic getting three colors on three is, but if you could, it would do well in any of these decks – perhaps a multicolor red aggro build

LSV’s Comments: Savage Knuckleblade was never good, but it tricked plenty of good Magic players into thinking it was. The mana ended up not really being the problem, the problem was that the card just didn’t do enough.

Skaab Ruinator

5/6 is sick, as a three-drop it’s efficient, but the additional exile clause makes this seem clunky. I imagine this gets played later in the game, maybe as a finisher, especially since it has flying as well. Coming back over and over is awesome as well, but I still worry about fulfilling that three creature exile – not sure if that’s realistic to do time and time again.

Strong: Great, amazing even, if exiling creatures from the graveyard is realistic

LSV’s Comments: Skaab Ruinator was one of the biggest busts in Magic history. Getting three creatures in the graveyard was not trivial, and what you got for it wasn’t enough. This card never saw play, and likely never will.

Omnath, Locus of Creation

This was slightly spoiled to me after seeing it all over online, I think at some point I saw someone calling for it to be banned as well. I know how great Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath was pre-ban, so seeing something as often as that draws the eye. Starting off, it looks like all the effects on this card are great – you get a little card draw, some life, a huge ramp, and even some damage. Again, like with Savage Knuckleblade, I can’t speak well to the multicolored cost, but if you can do it efficiently, this would be absolutely insane.

Broken: Provided paying that cost is fine, I assume it is since I’ve heard so much about this card

LSV’s Comments: Damn, the cat was already out of the bag. This card is indeed broken, and got banned in multiple formats shortly after printing. The real question is why this card was made – perhaps it was like this article, where someone who doesn’t play Magic gets to make a card?

Wood Elemental

Depending on the types of removal out there, especially when this was printed (it’s really old), this could be great – only to be destroyed immediately by a spell or creature effect. If not, this could be a sweeper once green has ramped to the point of closing the game. I’m somewhat familiar with the rule of thumb of twenty lands, so if you got anywhere near that full twenty, this would be a 20/20 – that’s insane. Again, if it were able to be countered immediately, then you lost those lands and you probably lose. I feel like this wasn’t as great as it might seem at first glance!

Almost strong: I fear it could just get hated out immediately, losing you far too many resources (and likely the game) in the process

LSV’s Comments: Wood Elemental is one of the worst Magic cards of all time. It did trick Caleb a little with the promise of a huge creature, but he clearly recognizes the drawbacks inherent in the card, and is cautious. He still overrates it, since it’s literally in the bottom 0.5% of cards, but that’s not a big miss.

Swords to Plowshares

Wow, some really good removal here, right? I figure the life gained matters very little if you remove their big threats, so playing four of these looks super strong, especially as early game removal being a one-drop. Playing four means you have quite a bit of leeway to set up your bigger removal spells that I’m sure many white control decks play.

Broken: Amazing one-drop removal for white

LSV’s Comments: Nailed it. Swords is in fact broken, and is a 4-of in plenty of decks (despite only being legal in very old formats).

Flame Rift

Just a two-drop for four damage looks good, I know there’s that one-drop in most red decks now that deals two damage, so this looks like just another burn spell. I bet most red aggro decks play some combination of burn spells in older formats, probably some count of this one? As an aggro deck you usually don’t care about your own life lost if you can get over the top of your opponent quickly enough. This doesn’t strike me as overpowered or anything, just a decent card – I bet there’s so many burn spells in older formats that this doesn’t always fit into some decks, especially creature-based ones.

Decent: Four damage is something, but doesn’t strike me as overly broken – sure you could rope four of these together for 16, but that seems like a tall order

LSV’s Comments: Flame Rift has seen play here and there, though the only reason it’s not more is that this is too dangerous to reprint. It’s only legal in Legacy/Vintage, and is far too risky to be Modern or Standard legal. The card isn’t busted, but it’s quite a bit stronger than it looks.

Lion’s Eye Diamond

Holy crap, this is definitely broken – even with the hand discard. What were they thinking with this? Zero-drop instant ramp? I have a strong feeling everyone knows how strong this is, so I won’t go on any further, anything could play this too – sheesh.

Better than broken: Insane card, probably a four-of in every deck if it’s not banned or something

LSV’s Comments: Caleb didn’t fall for this trap. Lion’s Eye Diamond was called complete garbage when it was first printed, but it has proven to be an incredibly powerful card in a variety of decks. It’s not a 4-of in every deck, since it takes some work to get the benefit, but it’s definitely broken.

Jester’s Cap

This could completely wipe a players deck of the cards they needed – it is of high cost, so pulling it off multiple times might not be feasible, but this would be great in a control deck. In Pokemon there’s no searching of the opponent’s deck, so perhaps I’m biased, but this looks insane for any control deck.

Broken: High cost, but high reward for any control deck, perhaps strong in a midrange deck as well that needs to stabilize (removing potential threats with Jester’s Cap)

LSV’s Comments: Jester’s Cap was overrated in 1995 and has never really gone anywhere else. It does look imposing, but it’s all bark and no bite. An understandable miss here.

Ancient Tomb

Two colorless mana is better than just one for the cost of a single land – I imagine this is a very strong card for any deck that has fulfillable colorless costs. Two damage to yourself isn’t a terrible price to pay, especially with the little ramp that you get each time.

Almost broken: Not all decks need to fill a colorless cost – but for those that do, this looks sick

LSV’s Comments: Ancient Tomb isn’t almost broken, it is broken. I still count this as a hit for Caleb, since he does identify how strong it is, and that the drawback is negligible.

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