A new set, hooray. More of the Hercules setting. I will rank my top 40 cards for your glorious, precious entertainment.
I started off with half the set being included on my first list, so there are tons of cards worth mentioning and reviewing even if only the usual quarter are really playable in constructed.
Let's do some new things including ranking the colors, and my 5 least favorite cards.
Ranking the Colors:
5 - Blue
I loved Blue in Theros and it was probably my favorite color. Lots of the rares here are just super underwhelming(Wave). Some cards are perplexing(Chimera). Okay no more puns.
Counters, fliers, unblockables - all things blue is known for. Though these are basically unplayable versions outside of limited.
The Vortex Elemental is mind boggling. We do get some large blue creatures, intriguing cards in Worshippers and Insight, but in general it just seems kind of stale. People like Divination, but is it that exciting?
4 - Black
I wanted to like Black more, it just didn't happen. Some cards are quite interesting while others are overpriced or just worse versions of things we have already saw.
People are comparing mono-Black to Affinity due to cards like Marshmist, but it's not quite there. Asphyxiate and Sanguimancy are examples of good ideas gone slightly wrong.
Here - we have a small extorter, a wussier Liliana's Reaver, an overcosted Sengir Vampire and whatever the hell Gild is. We don't really come to the greatness level of Gray Merchant, Heroes Downfall and Thoughtseize unfortunately.
3 - Green
Green has it's usual combat tricks, giant creatures and mana rampers. It generally works though the stinkers it does have are real bad.
We have a Giant Growth and Hurricane variant based on Devotion. A large beastie and several Tribute cards. Solid Limited cards.
And also present: a Giant Spider with upside, one of the sets best removals in AEther and several other creatures with good upside.
2 - Red
I liked Red in Theros and I like it here too. We don't have the power of Lightning Strike or Magma Jet, but we do have some different removal in Searing Blood and Fall of the Hammer. The minotaurs and the cyclops range from neat to so-so. Red is set up to aggro well and is a quick color.
The bolt won't be replacing any current spell though the Firedancer might find his way in some decks. Red suffers from the same problem that it did in Theros in that some cards are also completely unplayable. All colors have this problem to some degree, but honestly no one is playing Boulderfall or Epiphany Storm.
More quick creatures here including a reprint, a decent inspired guy and the cheapest bestow creature we have to date.
1 - White
In our pre-release, no one picked White and for good reason. At the end of the day however, I feel it got the good end of the set though when we you start counting the number of cards that are playable. Lots of the cards are built around enchantments(I know the whole block is but White really has an enchantment focus here). It's got really good versions of cards that every color has - the Fateds, Archetypes, Bestows. It has removal, and is aggressive. I love the little creatures that can become powerful quickly. Unfortunately it also has some of the worst stuff - featuring 3 of the worst cards in the set including another vanilla 2/4 for 4 Ox, *cough Elk.
6 of them, none worth playing in most decks. Review done.
Honorable Mentions: Silent Sentinel, Eater of Hope, Siren of the Fanged Coast
The Siren will almost always be an Air Elemental except for the time that you can't actually cast the thing. Chromanticore is awesome if you can play him, but good luck with that. I want to like Eater more and he is a bomb, but you already have to be winning to make good use of him. Sentinel can gain you some nice card advantage but it can't bestow anything and costs a lot of mana.
40. Champion of Stray Souls
Six mana for a 4/4 is pretty bad, so his abilities must be decent right? Well seven mana to get back your 4/4 to pay six more for and deny your drawstep isn't a good start. It's that first ability which makes the guy good. Though he is a six mana play around card so only aquire it if you need it.
39. Fated Return
A fated card which pulls off what Champion of Stray Souls wants to do for four less mana. Sure it can only be used once, but you can scry 2 or combat trick an attacking creature certainly adds to the card's value.
38. Felhide Spiritbinder
I haven't played with this card, so I can't tell where it should really rank. Two mana seems good to copy a creature every turn - assuming you can. I guess I would like it much better at three mana instead of the four.
37. Vanguard of Brimaz
A bear with defensive upside and restrictive mana cost. I do like this Heroic better than the ones that give +1/+1 counters. It's like pseudo card advantage. It beats out Oreskos Sun Guide, but still might lose out on the two drop slot to Phalanx Leader.
36. Reap What Is Sown
Even with just two creatures, this can take down a fairly large creature. Appropriately costed and colored. The real power here is to trigger Heroic on as many creatures that can gain benefit. If only it would untap them as well we would truly have something here.
35. Oracle of Bones
A 5/3 hasty creature for 4 certainly beats the crap out of
Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass. It's likely never going to be a 5/3 in Limited, though I can see it as almost always a 5/3 in Constructed.
34. Scourge of Skola Vale
Seems clunky. A grey ogre with trample isn't great. It probably can't attack for awhile until it eats a beastie or two. It's not as great as the hydras we have saw lately but it can gain advantage over time.
33. Raised by Wolves
Assuming you don't get two for oned off the bat, you are getting minimum 6 power and toughness for 5 mana. It combos well with itself as well. I wish it had flash, but it's still decent. How much would it have to cost to be considered great? 4? I mean it's pretty close.
32. Siren of the Silent Song
I don't love the one toughness on it. I also wish it were mono black as dimir does restrict it a bit. If you can connect once you have earned your stripes with this card. Thankfully it has flying. Milling for 1 is generally pointless. It was nerfed just enough from being Constructed playable.
31. Fated Conflagration
The restrictive casting cost(like all the Fated cards) really hurts the playability of it. For one extra red, this Bolt of Keranos get's you instant speed, scry two instead of one and two extra damage.Why does it have to explain scry still instead of some awesome flavor text?
30. Archetype of Aggression
A 3/2 Trample for 3 is definitely close to play solely on that. It's a bonus to remove it from your opponent, though it might not come up too much. It's the aggressive ability which gives your whole army extra damage which really makes it playable in the right deck.
Tribute really doesn't go wrong for you here. You get five flying power for five mana. There is probably some scenario where you would play this in Constructed, I just can't think of it.
Instantly reminded me of Risen Sanctuary which wasn't always playable but was also a great top deck at the top of your curve. Blue almost always had some drawback on it's big beasties. We have come a long way from Marjhan.
27. Hunter's Prowess
The artwork is straight out of 300. Being a Sorcery and one too many mana keeps it from being a solid playable. What we do have here though is raw Green card draw power. Definitely can win some Limited games by itself. Thankfully it has Trample.
26. Fated Infatuation
Restricted to mono Blue blah blah. Bonus points for being an Instant. Loses tons of points for only targeting your board, thus being a card which is better if you are winning and probably worthless if you are way behind. A three mana clone which can either take out an attacker or scry 2 is at least a card worth considering.
25. Forgestoker Dragon
It doesn't immediately pass the Shivan Dragon scale test. But in a very aggressive deck it surely will force your opponent to block with their best creature or take five in the face. That makes this an evasive bomb. So if you are a Red deck with dreams of getting to six mana, you could do worse.
24. Archetype of Imagination
Chorus of the Tides is barely playable at 3/2 Flying for four and some scry bonus. This costs two more for the other two abilities. Blue already has fliers, so it works counter productively with mono Blue decks. It might go well in Simic though. Pseudo unblockable is fine, it's more the defensive ability which gives this card the power. Six is expensive, though it might be fitting for what it's bringing here.
23. Fate Unraveler
One damage a turn is no slouch. It's a Hag! Like Felhide Spiritbinder and unlike Brimaz, it would just work so much better at three mana instead of four. It's at the very least a decent sideboard answer to Dark Confidant or Sphinx's Revelation.
22. Hero of Leina Tower
I love the versatility. It only costs one mana, though they could have made this three mana no problem. With a simple Giant Growth you can make a very large creature at all points in the game. It's a walking Helix Pinnacle. Just put a Rancor on this Human and go to town.
21. Arbiter of the Ideal
The biggest thing this card has going for it is also it's biggest disadvantage. It's big enough you are only going to get several swings with it before it just wins the game anyway. It might have been more interesting on a four mana 1/5 for example. Anyway, Blue's promo bomb is certainly worth consideration. Probably on par with Sphinx of Magosi. Mahamoti, you are the weakest link...Good Bye.