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Author Topic: Pros: this review is free of charge Cons: piracy    (Read 4227 times)
Tiggupiru
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« on: 25-06-2014, 03:00:13 PM »

Now that everyone is excited about M15 spoilers and Conspiracy is almost forgotten little summer set, it's a great time to write a set review for it, right?

Cards are in no particular order, I mean there were like 50 new ones and dozen or so were cards that we can't even play outside of draft.

Link to the visual spoiler:

The grading scale I use for this review:

Format Staple - Sees play in numerous decks, sometimes even an autoinclusion in decks that run the required colors. Examples: Mana Drain, Demonic Tutor

Archetype Staple - Will see a lot of play in an established deck or two, but is not powerful enough to break free from the deck type it is mostly associated with. Examples: Goblin Guide, Fact or Fiction

Potential - Sometimes appears in an established decks, but is not considered to be automatically included in any deck. Examples: Bonfire of the Damned, Harmonize

Niche - Doesn't fit to any current archetypes or those archetypes aren't strong enough to be playable, but there is a chance you see this played against you should a lot of things come together. Only for professional drivers on a closed track. Lot of the cards I highlight fall into this category, because I am just that type of sicko. Also there wouldn't be much to talk about if I didn't include cards of this category. Examples: Spiteful Returned, Scroll of Avacyn

Unplayable - Should not see play at all. If I don't review a card, it means that I don't think it is playable (or I brain-farted), but sometimes I talk about unplayable cards because I have a horrible pun or the card looks playable, but might be a bit deceiving if you are unfamiliar with the deck or format. Examples: Lost in the Woods


Dack Fayden

The big one.

First ability isn't terrible in a generic control deck. Sure, it probably doesn't generate straight up card advantage, but you do see a lot of cards every turn. This eliminates some of the problem control decks have that you simply draw the wrong part of your deck. Of course, if you happen to be able to abuse graveyard in some form or fashion, Dack becomes pretty incredible.

The second ability is massively powerful in HL. Not only we have artifact centric decks (hello Academy) that could very easily fall apart when you steal their most important toy, but pretty much every deck plays at least some artifacts and stealing freshly played sword of somethingsomething from an aggro opponent saves you a lot of headache even when you are unable to equip your own guys. He even hits the curve to steal an opposing signet when you are on the play. That is a huge swing. Dack even survives if you activate this ability first thing when he hits the table. What this effectively means is that you can hold casting him if you other things to do before you get ready to steal something. I mean, stealing premium artifacts is kinda hard when opponents refuse to play them to the open maw of Dack. This is the ability you want Dack for most of the time, everything else is there just to s(t)eal the deal.

Ultimate is kinda useless. It's hard to target stuff without destroying them or bouncing them. Dack isn't good enough reason to start playing bad cards. The one redeeming thing is that you can sometimes target opposing finishers with red removal spells that otherwise cannot kill them, but opponents can play around that possibility pretty easily. Lightning Bolts also never target the planeswalkers even when it reduces their loyalty, so no luck there either. It is however nice to be able to bolt opponents Solemn Simulacrums and be the one to draw the card, but I assume the continuous Careful Study is more often simply the better play.

The real nice thing about the ultimate is that when it's good, it's really good. These rare occurrences make good stories to share with your friends between the rounds. I personally look forward to recite some epic Dack Tales. #woohoo.

Verdict: Archetype Staple

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Council's Judgment

Wait what? So, kill anything for three mana? Actually no, not kill, EXILE anything. And I do mean A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G, from True-Name Nemesis to Elspeth, Knight-Errant to Helix Pinnacle, you just declare that it's gone and *poof*. I love Oblivion Ring and this is O-Ring on steroids. At the end of the day, this is still _just_ a removal spell, but I would argue that this is even more flexible than Vindicate. Getting through untargetable things and exiling is a big deal and arguably more relevant than killing a land. Doesn't really matter what I type, or argue about irrelevant little things, I judge this to be a format staple.

I do want to point the slight drawback that probably comes up sometimes, although it is so easy to miss that not everybody is remembers to exercise that possibility. I am of course talking about the fact that you can choose to exile a liable card when your opponent casts this. Just try to remember this the next time you are about to die to your Dark Confidant and your opponent casts Council's Judgement.

Verdict: Format Staple

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Custodi Soulbinders

The posterchild for win more - the movie premiering this summer.

Verdict: Unplayable

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Muzzio, Visionary Architect

I... don't... hate him. I mean, I don't like him either. Artifacts are able to manipulate the top the deck via Scroll Rack and Sensei's Top, so you can cheat a little, but even when you are not, he still should hit decently every once in a while. Ability costs a lot and you need expensive artifacts, but that is pretty much what the Academy decks do nowadays anyway and cards like these that generate card advantage and impact the board are premium in that deck. I do not think this goes into every Academy build, or it might never go to one once we figure out the "optimal" way to build the deck, but I am not ready to dismiss Muzzio until we have settled with more or less commonly accepted "best" Academy deck. I grade him probably somewhere around useless training wheels and a niche card. Either way, probably worth testing out if you are a brewer.

Verdict: Niche

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Plea for Power

I've played Concentrate, I don't mind playing another one in certain decks (combo). This will pop up here and there, but probably doesn't matter to most players.

Verdict: Niche

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Tyrant's Choice

Two mana four damage to the face is playable in a red deck, in BR aggro this could work if you want cheap and fast burn just to finish the game. Mono black aggro probably wants to win with their creatures, but this is quite efficient burn spell for them should the need arise.

In short, this effect is playable in the format, but the deck that wants to do black burn spells might not be.

Verdict: Niche

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Scourge of the Throne

Good chance that Dragonstorm for this and Hellkite Overlord will be enough, but nine mana is probably still a bit too steep. You also probably want to play more dragons just to play around spot removal, random life loss from your opponent or drawing one of your combo pieces.

With Mystical in the format there might be a shot for Dragonstorm to do something, but I feel like we have better combo-options anyway. A bit shame really.

Verdict: Unplayable

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Treasonous Ogre

Very unique ability. Not that it matters too much as this is a horrible deal and bad body. I am not going to write this one off just because there only needs to be some weird lifegain card that gains you four or more life for one mana for this to go infinite and then all the bets are off.

Verdict: Niche

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Dack's Duplicate

I was going to make a joke about recent trend of Wizards printing clones for about every set, but couldn't think of an original one.

Four mana just might not be the thing for clones. Phyrexian Metamorph and Phantasmal Image have been so successful because they are relatively cheap. I reserve some right for this one, since Haste is quite an ability, randomly growing is nice little bonus too.

Verdict: Niche

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Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Hey. Not bad. Seems right at home in Goblin deck, Grenzo being goblin and all that jazz, but also the ability is quite decent mana sink whenever you fail to hit the perfect curve, which is a decent problem with the goblin deck with the new mulligan. He is primarily a two drop, but nice for him to scale with the turn you cast it too. Just think of this a pretty good two drop in creature-heavy decks (great one in Goblins), but don't forget that he can be much bigger later on. Also creates interesting scenarios when you need to figure out how big you need him to be and should you purposely make him smaller so that you can activate him immediately.

Verdict: Archetype Staple

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Marchesa, the Black Rose


Powerful, but slow. Also kinda hard to cast and weakish body to CMC ratio make me very unlikely to ever consider this in any kind of serious fashion. Also, she triggers in the next end step, means that you can't go straight up infinite with her ever, so if you want this effect, Lifeline is still probably the card to go to and the last time Lifeline has seen play was back when everybody were really worried about the Y2K.

Verdict: Unplayable

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Selvala, Explorer Returned


Just looking at the mana cost, ability and stats made me relatively unimpressed. You hate giving your opponents cards, you hate unreliable mana producers (see: Mul Daya Channelers) and you really hate unreliable life gain when you absolutely need it. It really doesn't help that she is very good even if you don't hit exactly perfect with her against aggressive decks, but it is suspect to put all your chips in the center and tap this to desperately try to get two mana to cast some big green dude. This guy also hates Sensei's Divining Top with a scorching passion.

On the other hand...

Pyyhttu pointed to me that she is an elf. This is very much relevant as elves as a combo-aggro deck (or even pure combo) has problems if they cannot start drawing cards and with multiple untappers Selvala can go through most of your deck all the while generating mana and life. I think she either is a slam dunk for the elves in general or she might even get the pure combo version that much closer to playablity. She also wins with Mind Over Matter, but that is a combo that probably never gets assembled outside of Elder Dragon Commander.

I am going to say she is an archetype staple, but I have little to no experience of elves in this format, so I cannot say if I am being very generous or not. In short, I don't like her in decks that cannot untap her with decent reliability.

Verdict: Archetype Staple

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Magister of Worth

I don't like six mana wraths at all, but they usually don't come with 4/4 flyer attached. Also, this is very much abusable, as you can reanimate him (her?) and get the board wipe going. This probably still won't make it to very many decks, six mana just is too much, but it can be quite nice option for decks that can abuse kind of ETB (Read: Reanimator) or want to overload on sweepers anyway (Read: Stax).

Verdict: Niche

EDIT: Formatted to make the text little bit more readable
« Last Edit: 25-06-2014, 04:59:40 PM by Tiggupiru » Logged
Maqi
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« Reply #1 on: 26-06-2014, 10:20:51 AM »

Nice summary. Pretty much agree with everything you said. +1!
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so_not
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« Reply #2 on: 26-06-2014, 04:37:13 PM »

One card not mentioned here is Coercive Portal which is quite an upgrade compared to previous card drawing artifacts like Grafted Skullcap and Bottled Cloister.
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Tiggupiru
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« Reply #3 on: 26-06-2014, 06:08:19 PM »

One card not mentioned here is Coercive Portal which is quite an upgrade compared to previous card drawing artifacts like Grafted Skullcap and Bottled Cloister.

You are absolutely correct. I actually fully intended to write about it, but forgot the whole card existed in the end. Let's get this corrected immediately then:

Straight up upgrade over Grafted Skullcap and way better than Bottled Cloister (Cloister does dodge discard) which both are not that far away from being playable. The card draw ability is not as powerful as the most powerful blue cards, but the fact it is an artifact could mean that Academy still wants to try it out. I'd try this on Academy and would definitely run this in stax. Potentially playable in other decks too, but if you really want to draw cards, you might just be better off splashing blue and be done with it. Planeswalkers also fill similar role to this as they usually cost about the same and will generate constant advantage and that is pretty big hurdle to clear for Coercive Portal. More and more planeswalkers seeing print by the day does mean that the window for this to see actual play is getting quite thin, but you should not forget this card as it is powerful enough of an effect. Sometimes you also prefer not to lose your CA engine to Wild Nacatl or Lightning Bolt, so it's not strictly worse or anything. In the end the card is an improvement to cards that I have played already and considered them reasonable options should you need something very specific.

Verdict: Niche
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