Sunday, July 6, 2014

My Top 30 M14 Cards (Part 2/2)

Here is Part 1.

Lets start this off with a couple of creatures that didn't make the cut and I'll finish by going through the Planeswalkers.

Good 7 Drops, but...
  photo WindreaderSphinx_zps1aaab8ec.jpg photo GarruksHorde_zpsd28630d7.jpg photo ColossalWhale_zpsc6587f9e.jpg
These are all really powerful cards, but at 7 mana it was kind of hard to justify adding them next to the powerful 1 and 2 drops that we have. They do deserve a mention though.
The Whale has a very white flavor but with Islandwalk instead of Flying.
The Sphinx is downright nasty in a flying deck. It can easily win a game of Limited, though not a Commander.
The Horde costs one less than Scaled Wurm, let that sink in.

The Color Hosers:
  photo LifebaneZombie_zps3dcf7191.jpg photo FiendslayerPaladin_zps0abded22.jpg photo Mindsparker_zps0604a2c1.jpg
Sideboard options, but in Limited they are powerful enough to justifiably be included. They are all nice weenie creatures which can have a board presence even when not matched with their optimal colors. I love all three of these, I would just never main deck them. Intimidate is better than First Strike, and exiling creatures is better than having hexproof which makes the Zombie the best one.

15. Traumatize
 photo Traumatize_zpsb6e17f7a.jpg
You shouldn't ever play strict mill cards like this if you have no intention of winning by mill. In Limited though, you can put them on a 14 turn max time limit. That may sound like a bit, but in a stalemate - which can often happen, you just win those games by playing this. It fits right in the typical mill deck as well. By hitting on turn 5 you can mill for 24! That's not Glimpse the Unthinkable powerful, but it's darn close.

14. Mutavault
 photo Mutavault_zps0cc7026d.jpg
The Mishra's Factory reprint. A land that moon lights as 2/2 creature when you've got nothing better to do. It gives pseudo card advantage and possibly some free damage, but it isn't likely to win any game by itself.

13. Archaeomancer
 photo Archaeomancer_zps518c0cca.jpg
It's not exactly the next coming of Snapcaster Mage, but it's ability is more powerful. If you can bounce this via Riptide Laboratory or Evacuation, then it becomes even greater. It does cost less than Izzet Chronarch.

12. Elixir of Immortality
 photo ElixirofImmortality_zpsd4fb7ebf.jpg
Any control deck needs to at least consider this card. The lifegain is a bonus, but the ability to help smooth out your draws in combination with the extra life makes this a winner. It works against graveyard lovers as well.

11. Scourge of Valkas
 photo ScourgeofValkas_zps21cc5f07.jpg
Probably a mono red card only. In Limited it's nothing more than a Storm Breath/Shivan combo creature which is just enough to ping for one and become a huge problem. In constructed it can gain even more advantage. Imagine getting a Lightning Bolt and a 4/4 pumpable flier for only four mana together, cause that's what this can be.

10. Duress
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Blacks biggest issues are Artifacts and Enchantments. Duress can just stop either one of these cold. With no counterspells a mono black deck also has little defense against devastating burn cards or tempo reduces. This card is an answer to all those problems.

9. Ratchet Bomb
 photo RatchetBomb_zpse3839fbd.jpg
Another wonderful tool for black to take out pesky enchantments and artifacts. It also gives blue and green the ability to take out creatures, you get the idea. Not the greatest top deck and playing this on turn one is always a pickle because you never know how high it's going to need to be. Kind of like a Nevinyrral's Disk in a way - it's a delayed answer, but an answer none the less.

8. Liliana's Reaver
 photo LilianasReaver_zps5d3768a4.jpg
A 4/3 Deathtouch creature for four is already above the curve. It does need to deal damage to a player to get a 2/2 Zombie. It's clearly not as broken as Grave Titan, but as it's little brother it's got lots of potential to cause many problems - mostly Limited ones.

7. Scavenging Ooze
 photo ScavengingOoze_zpscbf56b18.jpg
It's a Grizzly Bear, yet it has so much more potential than that. Not only can it exile all cards from all graveyards, it can also get bigger and gain you life in the process. It's kinda broken at 2 mana. It probably should have costed 4. It stops Tarmogoyf, reanimator, dredge, flashback.

6. Ogre Battledriver
 photo OgreBattledriver_zps35400598.jpg
Does it go at the top of the curve or at the bottom? Either way this guy is going to be helping any deck which runs multiple creatures. A 3/3 for 4 that gave everything haste would be playable. But to add a damage bonus on top of it makes it one of the more powerful cards in the set. Works really well with weenie generators - Assemble the Legion and Young Pyromancer.

5. Seraph of the Sword
 photo SeraphoftheSword_zpsfbdeee3c.jpg
A 3/3 for 4 with flying is right on curve. It's very splash-able. Adding the bonus that it can't be killed in combat makes it both the perfect blocker and attacker. Sure it dies to Searing Spear or whatever the hell equivalent M14 uses, but it's well worth the card.

4. Shadowborn Demon
 photo ShadowbornDemon_zpsbf1e7c12.jpg
This is more of a play around card than it seems by ranking him this high. A 5 mana Sorcery kill spell is the minimum of what this can do, not the max. Hopefully you have a weak weenie lying around or a way to dredge yourself because then, not only did you hit for 5, have a huge blocker on turn 5 you also killed a creature on top of it. That is well worth the 5 mana investment. If you just 2-2 with this, you still came out ahead card wise.

3. Planar Cleansing
 photo PlanarCleansing_zpsb2e14f5d.jpg
It's hard to get a card that takes out everything. It's appropriately costed, but to put a card like this in your deck, it's taking the spot of something else that might be more appropriate. This is a reset button, but what kind of deck are you playing that might need one? Hitting Planeswalker is the big thing as white can struggle with those.

2. Archangel of Thune
 photo ArchangelofThune_zpsccd1d435.jpg
It's a Serra Angel with another ability on it. It doesn't gain as much life or win as many battles as Baneslayer Angel, but pumping your whole team is enormous even if the Archangel gets taken out immediately after. Works incredibly well with other life gain cards and goes infinite with Spike Feeder.

1. Kalonian Hydra
 photo KalonianHydra_zps9c454d6f.jpg
Pretty similar to Archangel of Thune, but this Hydra wins the game by himself if left unchecked for only 2 turns! It has no business having Trample with an ability like that. Who is dealing with an 8/8 on turn 6 very effectively. In Limited with no synergy, it still dominates the game. Heck you can easily get this out turn 4 in green. Pair him with the Archangel or Ogre Battledriver and see sparks fly.

The other number 1:
Anyone who has read my articles or knows me knows that I love ranking these Planeswalkers ahead of pretty much anything. Card advantage and having multiple choices make winning easier.

E. Liliana of the Dark Realms
 photo LilianaoftheDarkRealms_zps64654408.jpg
The four mana casting cost is just too much for what this brings to the table. It should probably have costed 3. Searching for a swamp is okay, but you would need to grab 2-3 at minimum for this to really be useful. The ultimate at 6 is kind of neat, but what are you doing with all that mana. The killing ability is good but overall it's too lackluster.

D. Ajani, Caller of the Pride
 photo AjaniCallerofthePride_zpsc762d75f.jpg
It's hard to pull of the flying and double strike combo twice, so you have to ask if 3 mana is worth that. It takes a long time to get to ultimate range which might not be that great when you finally can pull it off. A counter a turn is okay too and thankfully it's casting is appropriate.

C. Jace, Memory Adept
 photo JaceMemoryAdept_zps5ca12acb.jpg
Jace also costs one more than I would have liked. At 4 mana it's very playable, but at 5 it's too expensive. The milling for 10 is great in Limited, but outside of that with no way to protect itself he's not going to live long. I don't know how I feel about drawing 20 cards, or if I want my opponent doing that. It's just kind of average.

B. Garruk, Caller of Beasts
 photo GarrukCallerofBeasts_zps1f2c362f.jpg
6 is a ton of mana. If drawing 3 creatures and taking 5 points of damage is worth that cost, then by all means run with him. There aren't much better ways of drawing cards in green. Playing green creatures is probably a rare one, as at 6 mana there can't be too much left in your hand. The ultimate will likely win you the game, but I think at 6 it's hard to put in a constructed deck slot without really building around it.

A. Chandra, Pyromaster
 photo ChandraPyromaster_zpsbbdc3ab2.jpg
My favorite of this cycle. It's the only one not truly over-costed. It can gain serious card advantage if not checked. It also can semi protect itself and works for aggressive decks very well. The ultimate just looks fun. It's probably the best Chandra to date.

Check out my other posts:
The Top 10 Planeswalkers
My Top 20 Journey Into Nyx Cards
The Top 20 Land Cards
The Top 20 Theros Cards
The Top 20 Dragon's Maze Cards
The Top 20 Common Cards
The 30 Coolest Dragons
The Top 40 Born of the Gods Cards
The Top 40 Black Cards
The 80 Worst Creatures
The Top 100 One Drop Creatures
100 Unique Creatures
The 100 Worst Cards

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Top 30 M14 Cards (Part 1/2)

M15 is coming soon and by putting a list out now, it won't feel quite as ancient if I did list in 2 months. The core sets aren't usually great, include lots of reprints and zero new mechanics, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun with it. I ended up with 52 cards I wanted to at least mention which is quite a bit, so I made this into a two parter.

The Bottom 5:
5. Ring of Three Wishes
 photo RingofThreeWishes_zps1af1734e.jpg
The 10 mana demonic tutor! Oh you can do it twice? Well that's a Conflux that grabs 3 less cards for 2 more mana. A 20 mana investment is even worse. 

4. Demolish
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They've reprinted this twice in the last year and why? As a sideboard card it's about as mediocre as you can get. There's one land worth blowing up in Mutavault and maybe three artifacts you would consider.

3. Armored Cancrix
 photo ArmoredCancrix_zps7aa2c14a.jpg
5 mana should get you a hell of a lot more than a 2/5 that gets wrecked by the common Marauding Maulhorn. I'm not a fan of that art either.

2. Encroaching Wastes
 photo EncroachingWastes_zps6d3db598.jpg
Remember how I said Demolish above had one target, well so does this. Completely unplayable in Limited and there are so many better options in Modern. So it's a Standard card? No one is doing that either.

1. Glimpse the Future
 photo GlimpsetheFuture_zps7970f125.jpg
It's essentially a 3 mana Preordain. That is pretty awful stuff there. Strategic Planning is strictly better. Thankfully it's an uncommon so you won't end up with too many of them.

6 Timeless Classics that didn't quite make the cut:
 photo SerraAngel_zps94d0d5a8.jpg photo SengirVampire_zpsc7cc1dea.jpg
 photo ShivanDragon_zps7b599bee.jpg photo DoomBlade_zpsc1c33927.jpg
 photo Clone_zps0684ffac.jpg photo Pacifism_zps05cbd992.jpg
These are all really powerful cards, especially in Limited. I hate ranking them against the new cards because whether they hold up against the new bunch or not, they haven't changed in 20 years. There isn't much to say in their regard. Clone was almost not reprinted during the Tempest years. Pacifism and Doom Blade are the best removal options their colors have. Serra, Sengir and Shivan are all still kicking though I do miss the old art work on them.

30. Liturgy of Blood
 photo LiturgyofBlood_zps15348ce7.jpg
A bit pricey for a sorcery speed kill spell. Getting to Dark Ritual as well at least makes up for the tempo loss. It's not close to Constructed playable, but Limited would definitely be using this.

29. Briarpack Alpha
 photo BriarpackAlpha_zps4d52f01a.jpg
4 mana 3/3s are generic and boring. This thing can at least surprise some poor schlubs and possibly take out two creatures. That is good potential there. Maybe not an auto play, your opponent will at least have to reconsider how to attack if they know you have this.

28. Awaken the Ancient
 photo AwakentheAncient_zps40543889.jpg
It must go in a mono red deck and it essentially costs 5 mana for a 7/7 haste that costs you a land when it dies. That's still way over curve and not much of a draw back. It can be killed by three kinds of removal but that's another mild drawback to an otherwise powerful card.

27. Vastwood Hydra
 photo VastwoodHydra_zpsa56e873c.jpg
Weaker than the some of the other hydras in my opinion due to the fact that you can't make it bigger at all. What mana you put into him is all you get. At least Mistcutter has that surprise element. Pumping some of your creatures on it's death is nice, but only if he's got some nice size to him already.

26. Domestication
 photo Domestication_zpsffa7960b.jpg
Control Magic ain't what it used to be. Blue does get it's version of Abrupt Decay here. If you just couldn't target a 4 power creature that would be one thing. But it's kind of an annoying second clause that you have to worry about not making their Birds of Paradise or whatever weenie any larger.

25. Banisher Priest
 photo BanisherPriest_zps89d16e72.jpg
It's very similar to how I feel about Brain Maggot. It's a good short term answer to an early threat. Not removal persay but high upside on a creature that would otherwise have no business in your deck. Pretty great flavor text.

24. Into the Wilds
 photo IntotheWilds_zps46354acd.jpg
I was pretty excited when I saw this card. To always draw non land cards every turn can't be understated. This is some serious card advantage to get a free spell every 2-3 turns. 4 mana isn't the worst deal either. The hardest part is deciding if it's worth that 4 slot in your deck to play something that won't affect the board state in any way during a crucial turn.

23. Opportunity
 photo Opportunity_zps066d8354.jpg
I think this was near my top 10 the first draft I had of this list a couple months ago. 6 mana isn't tiny, but neither is 4 cards! Harmonize is playable and so is this. It's basically two Divinations in one, which isn't bad, it does take up less space in your deck. It does take a turn from you, though being an instant can go a long way to making up for that.

22. Primeval Bounty
 photo PrimevalBounty_zps77978979.jpg
Talk about advantage. While Into the Wilds gained you a free card occasionally, this thing nets you creatures, life and counters. 6 mana really knocks it down a couple of pegs as it's probably one of the last cards you cast. Top decking some extra life or Beasts is good, but it could also fizzle.

21. Chandra's Phoenix
 photo ChandrasPhoenix_zpsbf47d391.jpg
Another card which is essentially a mono red card. A 2/2 hasty flier for 3 mana is well over the curve by itself. But getting to be able to recast this multiple times is going to cause all sorts of issues, especially in Limited. Also works well with other M14 staples like Wild Guess or Ogre Battledriver.

20. Chandra's Outrage
 photo ChandrasOutrage_zps7611a273.jpg
Maybe I'm ranking this a bit too high. 4 damage for 4 mana isn't the best deal we've ever saw. Being an instant is very nice and separates it from Rage of Purphoros. The extra bit of damage is important as well though.

19. Flames of the Firebrand
 photo FlamesoftheFirebrand_zpsa935569f.jpg
My third red card in a row. That's some awesome art/flavor text for starters. Being a sorcery isn't great, but the effect is. It cost half as much as Inferno Titan though, which I would rather have for repeated effect. That doesn't make it a bad effect. Maybe you'll be able to 2-1 them which seems like might not be uncommon.

18. Jace's Mindseeker
 photo JacesMindseeker_zps7053ce6e.jpg
6 mana for a 4/4 flier would be a bit pricey - as it should probably fit in the Mahamoti Djinn P/T zone. Let's take a look at that 6 line ability though. Look at the top 5 cards of your opponent's library, that seems like that has a pretty big chance of missing. You could hit the jackpot easier the more competitive the format is. But Limited for example might have terrible cards but less ways to deal with a 4/4 flier.

17. Air Servant
 photo AirServant_zpsbb31e156.jpg
5 for a 4/3 flier is right on track of the P/T cost. 3 mana isn't a tiny cost to tap a creature a turn, but it can be both aggressive or defensive depending on you deck and how the game is going. It is the blue answer to Serra, Shivan and Sengir. Mahamoti was cooler though.

16. Wild Ricochet
 photo WildRicochet_zpsbc2a7864.jpg
I'm at a crossroads with this card. It seems like it might be super powerful. Deflection was powerful back in it's day. Until they came out with Redirect at least. Not sure if only being an instant or sorcery really matters but for red to get access to a copied Doom Blade, Giant Growth or Disperse is huge.

Check out my other posts:
The Top 10 Planeswalkers
My Top 20 Journey Into Nyx Cards
The Top 20 Land Cards
The Top 20 Theros Cards
The Top 20 Dragon's Maze Cards
The Top 20 Common Cards
The 30 Coolest Dragons
The Top 40 Born of the Gods Cards
The Top 40 Black Cards
The 80 Worst Creatures
The Top 100 One Drop Creatures
100 Unique Creatures
The 100 Worst Cards