Friday, September 26, 2014

My Top 40 M15 Cards (Part 2/2)

Well it's been four months since part one. Two sets have come out in this time which seems like a lot, but it's right on par with what Wizards has done the last ten years. It's no surprise that I didn't recognize the game after fifteen years away from it. I've been keeping up fairly well with the new sets, though sometimes the special boxes, sets(Conspiracy), Commander cards elude me.
This is my opinion on the "new" M15 set. I made this list back in September and I won't be changing it which should be entertaining for us both.

Back to Part 1

I will kick this off with a little activity called my least favorite cards. Always fun to see what crap Wizards comes up with and maybe what they were thinking.

The Bottom 8: (no particular reason why 8, these just seemed to make the cut)

8. Wall of Limbs
 photo WallofLimbs_zps47296e97.png
Three mana for a Wall of Wood, not a great start. It's a zombie archetype which is kind of relevant. A counter if you gain life, well you aren't typically going to gain lots of life and that makes this a specific card. For seven additional you can throw away your hard earned mana for a couple life points. Not the greatest strategy. 

7. Necromancer's Assistant

 photo NecromancersAssistant_zpse5d4a4ad.png
Really bad for three mana, who cares if it mills three? It dies to everything. A zombie again which is worth noting given the heavy zombie cards we are seeing lately.

6. Tyrant's Machine

 photo TyrantsMachine_zpsd6f1d126.png
Icy Manipulator this is not. The cost of four mana a turn gives you the ability to tap a creature - this might save you occasionally, but it will be hard to recover if you are relying on this.

5. Vineweft

 photo Vineweft_zpscdef4b17.png
I think this was the first time we saw these new borders? I think they look fine, or at least I don't dislike them. Another narrow card. It will trigger Heroic at least once. Six mana to give another creature a counter is too expensive. An instant and making it cost like three to bring it back would have made it much better. Still not playable, but better!

4. Clear a Path

 photo ClearaPath_zps23e446c2.png
Dragon's Maze reprint. It sucked then and it sucks here. How many walls are in need to getting rid of clearing? Wall of Denial or Wall of Frost? Not in this set. One day I'll make my top ten defenders list. 

3. Tireless Missionaries

 photo TirelessMissionaries_zps719d70cb.png
Ish. Five mana. You can't justify this for that much, I don't care how you rationalize it. Life gain isn't great to begin with. You won't build around this thing. All kinds of unplayable. Four mana would have been bad. Three would have been decent in limited. Two - decent in constructed, you get the idea. 

2. Fugitive Wizard

 photo FugitiveWizard_zps13be5af7.png
More of a snooze than anything. There are 466 creatures with one power, toughness and casting cost. 61 of them Blue. They are all better than this guy with the exception of possibly a Merfolk or Spirit. So now we have our third generic blue one drop. Enjoy! 

1. Mediation Puzzle

 photo MeditationPuzzle_zpsc5686744.png
Five mana wouldn't be worth twelve life. One more mana and one more life than Angel's Mercy. I see through you. You think Convoke is going to make us excited, it doesn't. At least your opponent isn't drawing a card - see the worst card ever printed.

Back to the top 40!

20. Chord of Calling

 photo ChordofCalling_zps833565ed.png
Triple green hurts the card a bit. But being an instant at least puts it in the conversation with Green Sun's Zenith. Convoke can be relevant in the scenario where you are on the defense and your opponent thinks you are tapped out.

19. Master of Predicaments

 photo MasterofPredicaments_zps3baac42f.png
In a way it's just a boring Air Elemental. But it's got a plus on top of that. I'm not a huge fan of cards that only do work after they have dealt damage to an opponents life total. Your opponent isn't going to ever guess 3 or less in any casual game of magic. Is it a competitive card? Probably not, but it's fun enough to deserve a mention.

18. Liliana Vess

 photo LilianaVess_zpsa5ba85d1.png
Reprint of maybe the worst Liliana. I had this as number four in my top ten planeswalkers. I know that isn't right now. Sure I've never actually played the card so this is all speculation.
Don't get me wrong, it's a Pain, Vampiric Tutor and super Living Death all rolled into one. It's not always how you want to be spending turn five. Sure a tutor is always great, but you don't get it right away and there is a good chance Lilly will bite it afterwards.

17. Kalonian Twingrove

 photo KalonianTwingrove_zpsdc226a8f.png
Despite the casting cost, it's a card that goes into the mono green deck. Blinking such a thing could create great things. Two 6/6 creatures for six mana is way over the curve. Cast Nylea afterwards and watch sparks fly.

16. Soul of New Phyrexia

 photo SoulofNewPhyrexia_zps1dc7bb7b.png
Probably my second favorite Soul. A colorless 6/6 Trampler at six mana works so well in many decks. If you can get it to live a turn, your opponent is in for a beating. And even if it dies immediately(which it should) it still has a decent graveyard play. All in all a great six drop.

15. Resolute Archangel

 photo ResoluteArchangel_zpsed8715ce.png
This can save your behind and win you a game at the same time. It's sort of situational and at seven mana is a dead card for a good chunk of the game. But if you are feeling confident it will be cast in good time you can afford to play more recklessly than your opponent will expect. That's what winners do.

14. Hornet Queen

 photo HornetQueen_zps523222c2.png
Another seven drop with specific color requirements. Sure it doesn't take well to a tiny Hurricane or Drown in Sorrow, but stops opposing flyers cold. Six points of Deathtouchy power will topple most regimes

13. Genesis Hydra

 photo GenesisHydra_zpse6973ee5.png
They really didn't short green in the creature department with this set. You need to cast it for a big amount - not all hydra's require that. Not as broken as it's Genesis Wave cousin, but it is cheaper and gives you a body on top of things.

12. Soul of Shandalar
 photo SoulofShandalar_zpsa95b606a.png
First strike is barely relevant and it really just means it will forever chump blocked. That's where that ability comes into play. A reusable better version of Searing Blood afixed to this guy. Again it gets a free shot from the grave which is nothing to sneeze at. Five seems about right for this ability. 

11. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

 photo ObNixilisUnshackled_zps9dc40ee6.png
Four abilities on a 4/4 for six mana is a great thing. Trample on a 4/4 flyer is rarely relevant. Flying is the best part of it. The second best being it grows ever so slightly bigger when any creature dies. This thing is clearly a bomb. Even if the 10 life loss ability never goes off - as it seems like it wouldn't in most cases - it's quite solid. 

10. Scuttling Doom Engine

 photo ScuttlingDoomEngine_zpsaf367d52.png
Maybe my second favorite card other than Soul of New Phyrexia. Colorless fatty beasts are great in many a scenario. Can't be chump blocked is a good ability. Hitting your opponent for at least six and probably not losing card advantage is very strong. The artwork reminds me of that spider in Wild Wild West. 

9. Cone of Flame

 photo ConeofFlame_zps0ed1b854.png
It's a sorcery and five mana, so it might not be worthy of a top ten mention. When this thing hits though, you have tipped the game in your favor. 2-1 or 3-1, either way this thing will do it's job. It's not legacy playable in the lightning bolt or pyroclasm way, but in limited I have had it wreck boards.

8. Indulgent Tormentor

 photo IndulgentTormentor_zpsaf35cf08.png
Three toughness is a bit low, but on a flier it doesn't mean as much in combat. Sure more spells are likely to get him, but not too many in limited. It really doesn't have to attack to do work though. Sure there is a possibility of your opponent taking eight, but more than likely you are at least gaining card advantage. Whether that is through your opponents worst creature or a free draw - card advantage is always king.

7. Aetherspouts

 photo AEligtherspouts_zps8b050250.png
Yikes this thing is great. Never trust a blue player with five open mana. Let that be lesson number one. It can create a game winning blowout. It's like a warm blanket. Makes your opponent pay for overextending.

6. Chandra, Pyromaster

 photo ChandraPyromaster_zps9b0f3768.png
I love my planeswalkers and my top five of this 2015 set is loaded with them. Chandra's zero ability is just pure card advantage which we have discussed - wins games. Poking a creature may be relevant or stopping the best blocker for at least a turn is a tide turnable thing. You can't count on the ultimate often as it takes four turns of poking to get there. 

5. Garruk, Apex Predator

 photo GarrukApexPredator_zpsfd791c01.png
I'm pretty sure this is the poster boy for M15. Garruk has turned to the shadows. What an Apex Predator is - I don't care to know. Seven mana is a ton for a competitive Planeswalker. it pails in comparison to Karn, Nicol Bolas or even the new Ugin. Though it boasts four abilities that I don't know has happened before. It can also kill the aforementioned baddies. Creating a 3/3 for plus one is quite similar to Garruk, Primal Hunter. It doesn't draw cards though sadly even if Deathtouch is relevant. Destroying your opponent's best creature and gaining life for it is probably the best thing this has going for it. If that were -2 instead, I would probably be more on board.

4. Nissa, Worldwaker

 photo NissaWorldwaker_zps9b9aef31.png
Filling the void of a Green Planeswalker that Garruk left is a card that rivals the Garruks that came before. Adding GGGG essentially to your mana pool is pretty great for a +1. Creating a 4/4 blocker as another plus ability is also great late or early game. The ultimate is a game ender, whether it's a win or not.

3. Avacyn, Guardian Angel

 photo AvacynGuardianAngel_zpsa536967a.png
The top three cards are all White interestingly. Serra Angel was always considered one of the best creatures in the game. Well for the same mana cost we get a card that is almost strictly better. Being a legend and one more White are slight drawbacks. These two abilities are pretty great. The first ability of protecting your other creatures is almost Mother of Runes like. Saving yourself from direct damage to the face is always fantastic even if it doesn't come up often. Can even save teammates in games. It also has an extra point of attack which is a nice boon.

2. Soul of Theros

 photo SoulofTheros_zps9351e90e.png
Vigilance, Trample, First Strike are all great abilities on these souls. Probably Deathtouch is the worst. Flying might be the best. But they are all good on these cards. They aren't up to the same level as the Titan cycle, but doing things from the graveyard creates great times. Pumping all your creatures and giving First Strike/Lifelink is so great. You need a board obviously for it to be super dumb, but attacking with a 8/8 Vigilant, First Strike, Lifelinker on turn seven isn't too shabby.

1. Ajani Steadfast

 photo AjaniSteadfast_zps78c0f9cf.png
Doesn't create pure card advantage like the great Planeswalkers do, this one has to work with a board state. When it hits with at least three cards that it can pump. it's very powerful. It's splashy and works well with super friends. I love that combination of three abilities that Soul of Theros also has. 

That's it for now. I think in hindsight either Aetherspouts, Nissa or one of the Souls probably deserve top billing but I think Ajani is still in the running.

Check out my other posts:

Top 20 Journey Into Nyx Cards 
Top 40 Born of the Gods Cards 
Top 20 Theros Cards 
Top 30 M14 Cards
Top 20 Dragon's Maze Cards

Card Types:

Top 10 Planeswalkers
Top 20 Land Cards 
Top 20 Common Cards
Top 40 Black Cards 
Top 100 One Drop Creatures
30 Coolest Dragons
80 Worst Creatures
100 Worst Cards
100 Unique Creatures

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Top 40 M15 Cards (Part 1/2)

Well it's new set time, and how else can I celebrate but by going over the previous set! Yah!
Wizards made a valiant effort in giving us something new with M15. The power level is alright, but nothing terribly exciting. They gave some outsiders cards to design - which really are the most interesting of the bunch. They brought back Convoke as a mechanic, some more slivers and terrible walls. They gave us a new set of mythic creatures name based on older sets. They also gave us creature versions of other cards we know and love - Birthing Pod and Torpor Orb. This review is based solely on my opinion and limited experience with the set. It doesn't seem like a bad set, but I don't think it will stand out from some of the other core sets when all is said and done. For this review I'm trying to stick to newish cards - I'm not including Elvish Mystic for example, even though we all know it's amazing.

Here are some quick reviews:

Return to the Ranks
 photo ReturntotheRanks_zps69c853b1.png
Very powerful in the right situation. If you have lost all of those tiny creatures, you have to ask yourself - how did they die, will it just happen again, is it worth bringing them back at this cost/point in the game?

Mass Calcify

 photo MassCalcify_zps70f6dbaf.png
Destroying all non-white creatures might be a blow out, but 7 mana wipes are rarely playable in competitive. Even in limited, it might not make the cut.

Preeminent Captain

 photo PreeminentCaptain_zps740baf10.png
Great deal for the mana and just for attacking you get a free soldier onto the field. One of the best aggro cards in the set. First Strike solidifys it into being at least greater than average.

Constricting Silver

 photo ConstrictingSliver_zps3fad385e.png
Probably the sets best sliver. It does cost a whopping 6 mana, but at 3/3 it isn't tiny in the right sliver deck, and should come along with more cards to reproduce this effect for cheaper. 

Ajani's Pridemate

 photo AjanisPridemate_zpsbdcfb08b.png
He's back and better than...well he's back. Again, in the right deck - a super beater. 


Illusory Angel
 photo IllusoryAngel_zps84b235a2.png
This made my list at first but I just don't know about it. It's basically an Air Elemental that can come out with more of a surprise effect.

Mercurial Pretender 

 photo MercurialPretender_zps7fe20c53.png
Only hitting your own creatures is a huge drawback to this 5 mana clone. Sure you don't have to wait with it to get something better, but it's also essentially 9 mana to get your card back. Just play a regular clone and move on.

Polymorphist's Jest 

 photo PolymorphistsJest_zpsa762375b.png
Can be a blowout in the right situation, it can also do practically nothing. 

Jalira, Master Polymorphist

 photo JaliraMasterPolymorphist_zpse543c5ac.png
Another build around card really. But the more you build your deck around this card, the better it will be.


Necromancer’s Stockpile 
 photo NecromancersStockpile_zps34fec07a.png
I'm just not sure how you gain an advantage with this, except with the now modern zombie re-animator cards.

Stain the Mind

 photo StaintheMind_zpsf3156fe3.png
5 mana convoke reprint, it's a constructed only card, but useful in that format.

Waste Not

 photo WasteNot_zps6505f916.jpg
So you play this with Mind Rot, Black Cat and Thoughtseize? What else is there? They get an A for effort, F in playability. Well there is always Mind Twist.


Aggressive Mining 
 photo AggressiveMining_zps9930be42.png
There is some sick combo out there I'm sure, or just prevents mana flood really late game. Works extremely well if you can pitch cards - Seismic Assault, StormbindTrade RoutesThirst for Knowledge, Mind Over Matter, Devout Witness.

Goblin Rabblemaster 

 photo GoblinRabblemaster_zps70cad4f6.png
Perfect for the super aggressive Goblin deck, too bad there aren't many more Goblins in this set. The bad might outweigh the good here though.

Goblin Kaboomist

 photo GoblinKaboomist_zpsd7d7c963.png
There is a chance you can just bomb every ground creature in existence. There is also a chance you can pay 2 mana for a card that doesn't do anything.

Paragon of Fierce Defiance

 photo ParagonofFierceDefiance_zpse1144af2.png
My favorite Paragon. Haste is relevant and with an aggressive color like Red, larger creatures is a great thing.

Generator Servant

 photo GeneratorServant_zpsf43684ec.png
Maybe the best red common not named Lightning Strike. This can create some dumb creatures for 5 mana on turn 3.

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient

 photo KurkeshOnakkeAncient_zps23c88d6a.png
Again, almost made the cut. Really in this set though, there are no activated artifact abilities worth copying. So from a limited perspective, it's a legendary 4/3 for 4.


Back to Nature
 photo BacktoNature_zps7f960b67.png
They actually printed a better Tranquility! Two mana and an instant is quite the enchantment blowout.

Life's Legacy 
 photo LifesLegacy_zps16cb1fb9.png
You could draw a ton of cards with this. But if the creature is that big how much of an advantage are you gaining. I also hate that it's a sorcery.


The Chain Veil
 photo TheChainVeil_zpsef409fd9.png
How good or bad depends on how many planeswalkers you have. I guess I would really have to try it out to know if it was good. 2 life seems like a stiff penalty due to the fact that you also have to commit 4 mana a turn for it. Really if there are 2 or more planeswalkers out there that can't be stopped, you already won.


Sliver Hivelord
 photo SliverHivelord_zps67f90f06.png
That is a pretty nasty ability. The mana cost clearly might be an issue, but Sliver decks obviously don't always have a problem with this.

The countdown:

40. Hoarding Dragon

 photo HoardingDragon_zps37493d35.png
A M11 reprint. If it was just a 4/4 flying Dragon, it would be a boring Air Elemental. So the question is - can you can that ability to be useful? Do you have a Wurmcoil Engine or Steel Hellkite in your deck. Make them deal with this 'baby' first. 

39. Spectra Ward 

 photo SpectraWard_zps9e1968cc.png
Suffers from the same problem that all auras do and it does cost 5 mana. But boy can this win the game. There are few cards I'm more scared of seeing.

38. Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth

 photo UrborgTombofYawgmoth_zpsa1b7a9e3.jpg
Such a good card. It helps mana fixing in multi-color sets, but also makes non mana producing lands work. Swampwalk and cards that count swamps are that much better. And of course Cabal Coffers gets dumb. It does help your opponent possibly, so there's that.

37. Hornet's Nest 

 photo HornetNest_zps84a41ab7.png
Slows down all types of ground assault, but it isn't exactly the scariest card though. Two 1/1 flying deathtouchers for three mana that also stops a creature is the least this card will do(if you lose it to a ground assault). The lack of reach hurts it though.

36. Phyrexian Revoker

 photo PhyrexianRevoker_zps30f0efb0.png
A Pithing Needle on legs. Nice to see this card back with the horrible art. It's uses are plentiful. Shuts down everything from Birds of Paradise in Legacy to Lions Eye Diamond. Also hits Spellskite and other dumb things in Modern. Should be some decent targets in Standard.

35. Hushwing Gryff

 photo HushwingGryff_zpsf2b03e26.png
The instant Torpor Orb on legs, or wings as it were. Those are some large ass wings. As a 2/1 Flyer for 2W would be playable in Limited by itself, the abiltiy is great sideboard material. You want to make sure it won't hurt you of course. Modern will still stick to the orb as it is harder to remove.

34. Spirit Bonds

 photo SpiritBonds_zpsb82cfa32.png
Since I haven't played with this card, I don't know how good it really is. It seems like it could take over a game fairly easy, or at least give a control deck with lots of creatures a ton of power. It's not a quick card by any means. You do pay three mana (and a card) for a 1/1 flier and then two more on top of it to give a creature indestructible. 

33. Phytotitan

 photo Phytotitan_zps8ff9c3f7.png
Six mana is steep, but the thing never dies. Even if your opponent has some crazy removal with Banishing Light or Briber's Purse, that's one less card for you to deal with. The lack of Trample sets it back a couple of notches, but it has potential in the right situation.

32. Triplicate Spirits

 photo TriplicateSpirits_zps5abdb7f6.png
Six mana again is kind of steep. Three evasive creatures isn't too shabby though. A 3/3 flier at common these days for Blue is five mana so ask yourself how that stacks up.

31. Jace, the Living Guildpact

 photo JacetheLivingGuildpact_zps98890cc9.png
So underpowered this time. And yet it's still a good card. First the loyalty starts off pretty high. The ultimate is game over, so there's hope for it. Bouncing a creature would have been much better at 2 or 1, but at 3 it feels very situational. What you are doing then is basically the plus one which isn't a bad ability, but it isn't exactly card advantage or even scying.

30. Siege Dragon
 photo SiegeDragon_zpsd2669cd4.png
Seven mana is too expensive for any serious play. It is quite the aggressive finisher in this set though. There are quite a bit of walls running around and even if he doesn't destroy them, he is pyroclasm-ing your opponents entire board. It's a great ability, but like all fliers - if your opponent can't stop it - their just dead anyway.

29. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

 photo YisantheWandererBard_zpscf69fb9b.png
The Birthing Pod on skates. He requires a commitment and is easily removable. However, he also tutors for cards onto the battlefield! That is a seriously amazing ability even if it does take 4 turns to grab a simple Courser of Kruphix.

28. Devouring Light

 photo DevouringLight_zpsb117d385.jpg
Probably the best straight removal in the set. Though this next card might Rays the bar.

27. Heat Ray

 photo HeatRay_zpsbdcafde4.png
This reprint might be standard playable. I'm not sure if it ever saw any constructed play. I'm pretty sure it doesn't see modern play. Being an instant is the most important part of the card. It can be used for combat tricks and pushing in that last few points of damage that your opponent might not see coming. Like all Limited environments - direct damage is a bomb.

26. Soul of Innistrad

 photo SoulofInnistrad_zps4c81c06e.png
I like all of the souls. They aren't as good as the Titans, but they have more flavor and do come along with abilities that can trigger even once the creature is dead. Even Grave Titan can't pull that off. This is the worst of the bunch - Deathtouch isn't relevant on a creature this big. Pulling three creatures from the graveyard is pretty darn great at a late stage in the game. If the game is going that late, this gets some serious card advantage.

25. Perilous Vault

 photo PerilousVault_zps044f59ad.png
Oblivion Stone it is not. Though it can't save your other permanents and costs one more colorless to cast - it also doesn't mess around at all. There are quite a bit of graveyard decks going around in all formats, this is a great sweeper to take care of all of them.

24. Ensoul Artifact

 photo EnsoulArtifact_zpsd0fab11b.png
Part of me wants to take this off the list. It's not playable in many situations. It's an aura which means you get 2-1ed in the process. However if you can play this on something you want to die - Ichor Wellspring, Spine of Ish Sah all the merrier. The goal is to put it on something indestructible though - Darksteel Citadel or Darksteel Axe.

23. Chasm Skulker

 photo ChasmSkulker_zps762edb97.png
Lorescale Coatl was playable in the right circumstances. But to gain this much value after your squid dies is just gravy. It's something that demands an answer to.

22. Soul of Zendikar

 photo SoulofZendikar_zpsd457dc75.png
Reach is always useful on Green creatures. Five mana for reusable 3/3 ability is decent, but not great. Four mana for this ability wouldn't hurt. Getting a single 3/3 from the graveyard isn't too exciting either. This can dominate a 1v1 game in limited as well and I'm not blind to that.

21. Soul of Ravnica

 photo SoulofRavnica_zps90af1fe4.png
It seems under-powered compared to the others. It just reminds me of one of my favorite cards from when I was a lad - Mahamoti Djinn. Evasion cannot be stressed enough. The other Avatars don't have this. It is just +1/+0 better than the now boring and vanilla Genie of the Lamp. It comes down to his ability, are you playing mono-blue? You probably aren't losing bad enough to pay seven mana for an extra card. Do you have three colors though? Well that's not too shabby now. Five colors? Perfectly reasonable game breaker.

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 Top 30 M14 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