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
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?
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.
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.
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.
He's back and better than...well he's back. Again, in the right deck - a super beater.
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.
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.
Can be a blowout in the right situation, it can also do practically nothing.
Jalira, Master Polymorphist
Another build around card really. But the more you build your deck around this card, the better it will be.
I'm just not sure how you gain an advantage with this, except with the now modern zombie re-animator cards.
Stain the Mind
5 mana convoke reprint, it's a constructed only card, but useful in that format.
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.
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, Stormbind, Trade Routes, Thirst for Knowledge, Mind Over Matter, Devout Witness.
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.
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
My favorite Paragon. Haste is relevant and with an aggressive color like Red, larger creatures is a great thing.
Maybe the best red common not named Lightning Strike. This can create some dumb creatures for 5 mana on turn 3.
Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient
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
They actually printed a better Tranquility! Two mana and an instant is quite the enchantment blowout.
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
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.
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.
40. Hoarding Dragon
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Probably the best straight removal in the set. Though this next card might Rays the bar.
27. Heat Ray
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
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
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
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
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
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
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