Monday, January 28, 2013

Gatecrash EDH Review

Here we go. Every card, and commentary to match.

Just to review, here's my scale:

I Wouldn't If I Were You (No): Just don't do it, unless you're deliberately choosing less-than-amazing cards for your deck, for some reason. Maybe it's a tribal deck, maybe you're building a deck on a bet, but generally, you shouldn't be playing this.

Let's Take A Test Drive (Maybe): I would add this to a deck, and see how it works. This is also where a card goes if one variety of deck loves this effect, and other decks scoff. It's possible that the card is worse than I think, or better, but I'd want to cast it in a few games and get a feel for it. For example, in hindsight, Thragtusk turned out to be less than amazing in EDH games. I thought I would need a lot of the 'tusks, but I've taken him out of every deck I thought I would play him in.

Can't Wait To Sleeve It (Yes): I'd put this into almost every deck of the right color(s). I'm going to play this card, and unless it turns out to be a real stinker for some unforeseen reason, I'm going to enjoy the heck out of this card.

Again, we are going to follow the Card Image Gallery.


Aerial Manuever - No - This set is full of cards that are both combat trick and creature, so 'just' combat tricks are going to have to be exceptional.

Angelic Edict - Maybe - If you're building a Pauper EDH deck, then maybe.  Otherwise, we can do a lot better.  Worth mentioning that this is and Iona's Judgment are the only choices for exiling a creature or enchantment flexibility, as Mortify only offers a 'destroy'.

Angelic Skirmisher - Yes - Normally, I'd say no, but there is an important caveat in this card: "Each Combat" means that your creatures get the chosen bonus on every player's combat step. This lets you give vigilance during your attack, and first strike when someone is attacking you. This seems good to me! It might turn out to not be good, but I'm going to take it for a spin.

Assault Griffin - No - Okay, okay, play it in your Zuberi, Golden Feather deck.  Leave me alone, tribal fanatics! It's a reprint anyway, sheesh.

Basilica Guards - Maybe - I think that Extort is a mechanic that will show up all over the place. This one will go most easily into someone's Defender deck, draining three life for the low price of black/white.

Blind Obedience - Yes - I'm always surprised that Kismet and Loxodon Gatekeeper don't see more play, especially with all the haste and tokens and foolishness people play. Adding Extort to a delaying mechanic like this will be effective. Be warned, though: Extort is annoying enough, the tap effect will draw a target on your head.

Boros Elite - No - Even with a decent Battalion bonus, a 1/1 for 1 without some awesome ability isn't going to make the cut.

Court Street Denizen - Maybe - If I still had my Soldier deck, this would be in.  Most token decks will enjoy this card, since if you cycle Decree of Justice for 5 soldier tokens, you'll get five tap triggers.

Daring Skyjek - No - Probably not even in dedicated Knight decks.

Debtor's Pulpit - No - You can play Maze of Ith, and since you're in white, you can play Kor Haven.  Both are not going to cost you a full card as this will.

Dutiful Thrull - No - Thrulls were only black, and now they are having a dash of white.  This one isn't good enough.

Frontline Medic - Maybe - Not every deck will want to attack like crazy. Most decks should attack more, it's true, but not all. Indestructible is a great reason to attack like mad. The countering of X spells is very relevant in Commander, too.

Gideon, Champion of Justice - Yes - Finally, we are not fooling around with effects that sort of win the game and we have this If this ultimate fires, then shuffle up and start a new game. This is also the first ultimate that will take care of multiple players at once. I really like how this card both preys on and dies to token swarm decks. Note that this Gideon literally cannot do anything to the board, aside from drawing the attention of everyone else who is playing.

Guardian of the Gateless - Maybe - I'm not too big a fan of cards dedicated to blocking duties.  I prefer a more aggressive approach.  Still, if you don't mind building a fortress, this card will do a lot of work for you.

Guildscorn Ward - Maybe - This should probably be a No, but I've seen Enemy of the Guildpact go a long way in some games, so maybe this is worth a second look.

Hold the Gates - No - Someone's going to build a Gate-themed deck, and this will be a star.  But the deck won't be very good.

Holy Mantle - Maybe - In an Enchantment deck, this is going to do some work.  Spirit Mantle is cheaper, but this has a bigger bonus for your general.  Never hurts to have backups of your good cards.

Knight of Obligation - Maybe - Who am I kidding?  Only the Extort deck will play this.

Knight Watch - No - Puns and Terry Pratchett references aside, 5 mana for two 2/2 creatures is not going to get it done.

Luminate Primordial - Yes - All of the Primordials are playable, but this is one of the best. Duplicant is one of the most common plays, and while this is slightly worse, since protection from white is more common and it costs one more mana, it's still quite amazing. This even scales up! Triple Swords to Plowshares is a real bargain. Heaven forbid that someone cast this, or any Primordial, with Conjurer's Closet in play.

Murder Investigation - Maybe - Your general would have to go to the graveyard, and if you've got a huge creature, then you might want to put on this safety suit.  This is an awesome card with Cathars' Crusade, because you'll get that many tokens, and then that many counters on those tokens, along with every other creature still in play.

Nav Squad Commandos - No - There's plenty of ways to give Soldiers vigilance.  Play those instead.

Righteous Charge - Maybe - If you're playing a swarm deck without green, then this is as close to Overrun as you can get, and you get a bonus of it being a surprise.

Shielded Passage - No - Damage prevention is part of Protection, so just play spells that grant Protection instead. (Go here and scroll down to Protection spells)

Smite - No - I love this card, I really do, but is it worth playing instead of Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, or even Condemn?

Syndic of Tithes - Maybe - Extort is so amazing when you can stack instances. So build the extort deck and don't look back.

Urbis Protector - No - This is cute.  Just a couple of sets ago, we got a 3/3 Angel that gave us a 1/1 Human token: Voice of the Provinces.  Now we get the reverse, but slightly better now that Populate is running around.  In most cases, though, this isn't good enough.

Zarichi Tiger - No - I'm so sad that the Cat decks get a new addition who doesn't really want to attack. Boring kitty!


Aetherize - Yes - I may switch this out with Cyclonic Rift, because this is the relevant effect I want. No targeting, no answer but a counterspell. A total stomach punch if someone went infinite on you.I really like the ability to say to someone, "Should have picked on someone else!" but really, if they made a swarm once, odds are they can do it again.

Agoraphobia - No - Some decks are fueled by enchantments entering and leaving play, but the cost on this is prohibitive.

Clinging Anemones - No - If it could attack, maybe.  I love Jellyfish, and I love seeing people struggle to say the word 'anemone'.

Cloudfin Raptor - No - Some Evolve cards are good enough, but since this can only be relevant if you play five big creatures after this one, I'm going to pass.

Diluvian Primordial - Yes - As the format with big spells and such, I don't think you'll lack for targets here. I really like that the stolen spells get exiled, so you can cut down on recursive shenanigans. My guess is that on an average casting of this, you'll get a ramp spell, a removal spell, and some card drawing. Which is amazing!

Enter the Infinite - Maybe - Let's face it, someone is going to cast Omniscience and then this, or maybe the reverse order. It Twelve mana! The second-most expensive non-creature spell ever! (Blinkmoth Infusion FTW!) Draw your whole deck! Use more exclamation points! I'm going to try this in most blue decks and see how far I can go.  I'm really looking forward to casting this with Psychosis Crawler out.

Frilled Oculus - No - It is a 1/3 for two mana, a very good point for blocking purposes...but this is EDH and we can do better.

Gridlock - No - In terms of tapping nonland permanents, there's a handful of artifacts you might like to tap, and that's it. You want to tap creatures, so they can't attack or block, and Blustersquall is a far more efficient choice.

Hands of Binding - Maybe - I can see this getting played, as lockdown is a viable strategy. I don't think it will be as good as people want it to be, because creature-based, and especially combat-damage-based strategies don't always work.

Incursion Specialist - Maybe - There's a place for this in some Wizard decks, as a second spell isn't going to be difficult, and it's a free bonus.   Load an Equipment or two on him and go to town.

Keymaster Rogue - Maybe - Unblockable is a great ability to have, and it's why Whispersilk Cloak is just amazing.  This is a full mana less than Covert Operative, but only your deck will know if bouncing a creature is too great a burden.

Last Thoughts - No - If this cost less, then Maybe.  But the drawback of needing a creature to stay in play and connect is just too much.  I'd rather have the guarantee of Inspiration, or any of the X card draw spells.

Leyline Phantom - No - There's a spirit that is worse, but this is still quite terrible for EDH purposes.

Metropolis Sprite - No - This is only for the hardest-of-core Faerie decks.

Mindeye Drake - No - I wish the ability was like Mind's Eye, but instead, we get this.  Boring.

Rapid Hybridization - Yes - A functional reprint of Pongify, and a good time. Blue decks don't often get 'target creature dies' and now you have two choices!

Realmwright - Maybe - This is interesting, though I can't see it getting too much play.  It's sort of mana fixing, but it's dependent on a 1/1 staying in play.

Sage's Row Denizen - No - Let's do the math.  One creature mills them for two cards.  That means in an EDH game, you've got to get 40-45 blue creatures to enter the battlefield.  Shouldn't you win anyway?

Sapphire Drake - Maybe - My Kraj deck is going to play this, and I imagine some counter-based Animar decks will too.  Free bonuses are good, but I wish this was a 3/3 with "add a counter to target creature" instead of a regular 4/4.

Scatter Arc - Yes - This isn't Dismiss or Cryptic Command, but it's pretty good.  Commander games are stuffed with awesome noncreature spells, many of them game-breaking, and while this isn't cheap at four mana, it's a single blue.  I would run this in spell-based decks.

Simic Fluxmage - Maybe - I'm going to try this in Kraj, and maybe Animar too.  Its ability offers some utility, but for moving one counter, it still might not make the cut.

Simic Manipulator - Yes - This is an awesome, awesome card.  I love permanently stealing creatures, and while this requires you to play some creatures before you can start stealing, it offers a fun subgame of "Who's got the best creatures to steal?"  A real combo with Agoraphobia, since if the targeted creature's power is zero or less, you can steal it by removing zero counters!  You can go next level with Meishin, the Mind Cage if you want to. And you know you want to.

Skygames - No - If you're this hard up for flying, there's no shortage of Equipment that can get you there.

Spell Rupture - No - Conditional counters aren't very good in EDH, when for two mana we have several choices. 

Stolen Identity - Yes - Clone effects are generally useful, and if you get to do it again for free, then you've really gotten a bargain. I try to jam Spitting Image into every deck I can, and there's a fair chance Stolen Identity gets similar treatment.

Totally Lost - No - If you're dying to play this effect, at least go Vanishment.  Otherwise, you're playing this because of the art, which is a truly sweet and easy to understand image.  Who doesn't feel sorry for little Fblthp?

Voidwalk - Maybe - If you have a deck heavy on the Flicker effects, here's another.  Keep in mind that if you target the Ciphered creature with this, it'll come back without the Cipher effect.

Way of the Thief - No - Unblockablility isn't too hard, and since your deck can only play three gates at three colors, this is bad.  Tricks of the Trade is far easier to use effectively.


Balustrade Spy - No - Just not enough milling, yet.  Even with the 'mill till you hit a land' option.

Basilica Screecher - Maybe - For the Extort decks only.

Contaminated Ground - Maybe - Turning a land into a Swamp can be surprisingly relevant, from turning off a Maze of Ith to enabling your swampwalking creatures.  Add Icy Manipulator just for fun.

Corpse Blockade - No - If it didn't have Defender, then Maybe.

Crypt Ghast - Yes - There's extremely few black decks that wouldn't like to double their mana output. Notable that this is the cheapest doubler since the original--and symmetrical--Mana Flare.  Also, this is the premier card for the Extort deck, since you're now getting extra mana to use the Extort abilities.

Death's Approach - No - For one black, it's not bad, though I'd rather have Tragic Slip or Vendetta.

Devour Flesh - Maybe - This has potential, depending on your metagame.  An instant-speed sacrifice effect can really throw a wrench into some plans.  It's cheap enough, too, and if you need the effect, the life gain is probably not something to scare you.

Dying Wish - Maybe - If you like to have one huge creature, then this is for you.  I can see Kresh decks using this and some huge Hamletback Goliath in order to kill more than one person at a time.

Gateway Shade - Maybe - We haven't gotten a legendary shade yet, but I'm sure someone has a Shade deck that this will go into. The Gate ability is not relevant for us.

Grisly Spectacle - Maybe - I wish this didn't have the nonartifact clause on it.  We just got Murder, which is the measuring stick for instant-speed black removal.  This is not as good, but maybe you want to go a-milling.

Gutter Skulk - No - It's a two-drop Zombie Rat, both tribes that have EDH fans.  People will play this...but they shouldn't.

Horror of the Dim - No - Yes, it can gain hexproof, but if you have blue open, they are probably just going to cast Supreme Verdict and make you sad.

Illness in the Ranks - Maybe - If you know a lot of people who are infected by the token diseases, or who always tutor up Avenger of Zendikar, then go for it.  However, as someone with a token deck, I can tell you that the first, or even second, of these Illnesses doesn't frighten me too much, because I have lots of pumping effects.

Killing Glare - No - This is probably better than Death Wind, but you weren't playing that anyway.

Lord of the Void - Yes - A thousand times yes. You're paying seven for a 7/7 flyer, with no drawback. None. That itself is unusual, but to have a special ability like this is truly awesome. I have a lot of trouble imagining that you will miss on the ability if you hit someone, but there are creatureless decks out there.

Mental Vapors - No - I would have to get four discards out of this before I thought it was worth it.  If this said "Target player discards two cards" then you'd have my attention.

Midnight Recovery - Maybe - There's a lot of ways to bring creatures back from the graveyard.  Grim Harvest, Oversold Cemetery, Sword of Light and Shadow...this is not as good, but it can be serviceable.

Ogre Slumlord - Yes - This card is a plan and a defense all by itself. You not only get incremental advantage of trading your Rat tokens for other creatures, you get more Rats! And if someone wipes the board, you get a swarm of Rats to wreak havoc with! Everyone with a Marrow-Gnawer deck just got happy.

Sepulchral Primordial - Yes - I'm not in the business of telling you which of the five Primordials is the 'best', but good grief, this card is amazing and a half. This will only be a blank card if you're playing against THREE creatureless decks. And even then, a 5/4 intimidate isn't that bad. In most games, you're going to grab some creatures and people will get mad at you for it. Good times.

Shadow Alley Denizen - Maybe - If you're heavy into Vampires or Rogues, sure, but Intimidate is not Unblockable--keep that in mind.

Shadow Slice - No - Five mana, three life.  Again, I'd have to get a lot of uses from this card before I felt it worthwhile.

Slate Street Ruffian - No - There's not even a relevant creature type!

Smog Elemental - Maybe - I like this card a lot.  It's up to you, though, to know if your friends play enough flying tokens to make this six-mana 3/3 worth it.  It does kill Pestermite tokens, if someone likes to make infinite amounts with Kiki-Jiki or Splinter Twin.

Syndicate Enforcer - Maybe - Rogues have a place, and the Exort cards have a place.

Thrull Parasite - Maybe - I can see this getting play in the Extort decks, but the sad truth is that the ability may not be worth. A 1/1 for 1. If it wasn't a tap ability, then there might be potential, but as it is, his value is in being a cheap Extort card.

Undercity Informer - Maybe - It's good to have sacrifice outlets in case of theft or boardwipe, and this ability has the potential to take someone out of the game....eventually. It'll take longer than you want, and probably long enough that you'll wish you had a different plan of attack.

Undercity Plague - Maybe - Another powerful Cipher card, its effectiveness will be completely dependent on your ability to get there more than once. As a spell, this is not good enough, unless it gets copied via Cipher.

Wight of Precinct Six - Maybe - I'm going to add this guy to my Zombie deck.  I would add this because he's going to be big for his cost, even if he's just a big Zombie, it's still a big Zombie.


Act of Treason - Maybe - There's red decks that love to steal, and Bazaar Trader lets you keep after a theft.  Bonuses if you hit someone with their own Eldrazi.

Bomber Corps - No - 1 damage is not going to be enough for EDH.

Cinder Elemental - Maybe - It's surprising how 'keep away' this card is.  When it's out, people will only play their second-tier threats, or the ones that will cost you too much mana to kill.  It's a fun sub-game.

Crackling Perimeter - No - 'Each opponent' is a key phrase I watch out for, but this isn't going to trigger very often until something comes along that makes all lands Gates.  And before you ask, Conspiracy can't make your creatures Gates--because Gate is not one of the creature types.  Here's the list, in case you were curious.

Ember Beast - No - I've seen the Beast-themed decks, and this guy doesn't even make the cut there.

Firefist Striker - Maybe - I haven't decided if there's a battalion deck to be had, though I suspect there is one. We have lots of choices with ways to make blocking difficult, and while this guy is cheap, he's fragile too. Grotag Thrasher is three more mana, but doesn't need any help for this ability.

Five-Alarm Fire - Yes - I can't wait to play with this card. I love how it encourages you to attack, attack, attack. Even your little expendable guys, who you might save for later blocks, want to get in on the arson. I would guess that under most circumstances, you'll get 5 damage every other turn. If you're one of those mega-token decks, you can get ten triggers on this thing in one attack, and just burn players out.

Foundry Street Denizen - Maybe - I would put this into my Krenko deck, if I had one.

Furious Resistance - No - Who cares about blocking in red?

Hellkite Tyrant - Yes - I am all for huge flying tramplers. I think this will always offer you value against most decks, and there will be a few decks where they just concede. Even if there's no artifacts on the table, you still have a 6/5 flying trample to beat face with.

Hellraiser Goblin - Maybe - It is always a surprise to me when people are hesitant to attack, and unless you already have a ton of haste-enablers in a deck, you'll want to add this to the group. It's true that we have a lot of choices for giving our team haste (Anger, Fervor, Urabrask, Akroma's Memorial) but I like being spoiled for choice.

Homing Lightning - No - Not even as a single piece of ammo against a horde of token decks.

Legion Loyalist - Yes - Now this is a 1/1 for 1 that most decks should consider. As a hasty Battalion creature, you have total control over when to play him and use his ability. No setup or protection needed--just one red mana. The surprise value is very high, which always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. His bonuses are pretty outstanding: First Strike, Trample, and then tokens being unable to block is a very powerful set of abilities.

Madcap Skills - Maybe -It's cheap enough for the bonus it gives.

Mark for Death - Maybe - First of all, every player named Mark wants a foil of this card.  It's just awesome.  As for the card's effect, there are ways to mess with blocking, but none that are quite so fun.  and since it's a sorcery, you Mark one creature, and then kill that creature! 

Massive Raid - Maybe - I'm going to try this in my token deck.

Molten Primordial - Yes - I love the mega-Threaten but I also love big hasty creatures. I can easily see someone dying to their own Blightsteel Colossus due to this card.

Mugging - No - I like that it's always relevant, since you would like to kill a potential blocker, but we have better tools available.

Ripscale Predator - Maybe - It's a big Lizard with a little evasion.  Give it a try, the ability is better than you think it is.

Scorchwalker - Maybe - I would use this for the bonus instead of the creature, especially if I were running with a double strike/trample creature.

Skinbrand Goblin - No - Just not enough utility, despite the two modes.

Skullcrack - Maybe - I've seen decks filled with burn spells and those are interesting, but it's better to play Sulfuric Vortex or the like if you're worried about lifegain.

Structural Collapse - No - This does a lot of things, but it would have to say 'exile' and 'deals 5' before I ran this card.

Tin Street Market - No - Discarding is part of the cost, so you can't ever get ahead on cards with this. Don't do it.

Towering Thunderfist - Maybe - There's Giant decks out there, and this guy fits right in.  Otherwise, no.

Viashino Shanktail - Maybe - I don't think that most of the Bloodrush cards will be worth it, unless the bonuses are notable. I like this one, because it is pretty much a removal spell if they are blocking.

Warmind Infantry - No -Fun though it is, and I want to know more about this Warmind Initiative, this card will not see EDH play.

Wrecking Ogre - Yes - This guy, however, will.  I can see a lot of decks playing this card, and being supremely happy to do so.  This will enable faster general kills, and watch out if things wil trample start attacking.


Adaptive Snapjaw - No - Upgrade it twice, and it will still just trade with most other creatures.

Alpha Authority - Maybe - This is intriguing.  It's not easy to give your creatures hexproof.  Except for Asceticism.  And Swiftfoot Boots.  And Champion's Helm.  And so on.

Burst of Strength - No - I cannot express how much my Kraj deck wants this card, but nothing is worth cutting for it.  And that's the only deck that wants this.

Crocanura - No - Again, Evolve by itself makes for a weak card. This isn't even a spider for the spider-themed decks I've seen.

Crowned Ceratok - Maybe - This card is Animar's new best friend.

Disciple of the Old Ways - No - It'll be awesome in your Sealed pool, but terrible in your Commander deck.

Experiment One - Maybe - Now this is an Evolve upside I can vote for. I don't think it's an auto-include, but there are decks where this will stay of relevant size and regenerate a couple of times. It still has a lot of weaknesses, being a terrible late-game draw, but the regeneration with no mana cost is always worth looking at.

Forced Adaptation - Maybe - In decks that care about counters, I can see this getting incredible.  This card is such a winner for Kraj and Animar.

Giant Adephage - Yes - Pretty straightforward. It is a big trampler, and it you hit, you get more big tramplers. Go forth and create a giant insect swarm!

Greenside Watcher - No - Far too focused a card.  I am looking forward to Gates that make more than one mana, though.

Gyre Sage - No - I want to like this card, but in green, I can do better. This could get you a lot of mana, but incrementally. Most notably, you don't get any mana from this until you play a creature and add a counter.

Hindervines - Maybe - If you have the +1/+1 counter deck, this is a win.  Just remember that others play such cards too.

Ivy Lane Denizen - Maybe - If it was 2G to cast, I'd say Yes every time.  It's just a bonus that keeps on giving.  As it is, you'll need to use the counters or make green tokens (Saprolings!) to make full use of this card.

Miming Slime - Maybe - Sure, the price is right for getting a creature, just 2G for what will probably be a 3/3 or greater for most green decks. However, it's very dependent on what is already in play and that makes me nervous.

Naturalize - Yes - Sure, you'd rather have some bonus effects, like Split Second or some such, but most green decks should have an effect like this handy.

Ooze Flux - Maybe - There are decks focused on +1/+1 counters that can use this card well, especially because it doesn't require all the counters to be taken off of one creature.

Predator's Rapport - No - If you love huge life swings, this is for you.  I feel this is going to be a dead card, or maybe giving you 8-10 life on average.  Not bad, but not dealing with problems on the board, either.

Rust Scarab - Maybe - I love this card, because they will take 4 or lose something they like.  Usually, though, they will take 4 or 8 and then kill the Scarab for its impertinence.

Scab-Clan Charger - No - It's not a Spider, but it looks like one based on its stats.

Serene Remembrance - No - If this were an instant, then it would be a maybe, a tool if you play against a lot of recursive decks. As it is, I just can't see this being useful enough.

Skarrg Goliath - Yes - This is one of the Bloodrush cards to make your heart sing. Cast on a general, it should be most of the way to dealing 21 damage, and if you have nothing else going on, then you spend 8 for a 9/9 trampler.

Slaughterhorn - No - Just play Giant Growth if you need combat tricks this badly.

Spire Tracer - Maybe - The Elf decks love this ability, but still, it won't see much play.

Sylvan Primordial - Yes - Holy wow, is this card amazing.  It would be good if it had just the first half of the ability, of detroying a nonecreature permanent.  But you get to find 1-3 forests too?  And most notably, it doesn't say 'basic', so feel free to grab some shocklands!  I get the sense that this is an apology to Commander players for Primeval Titan getting the axe.

Tower Defense - No - I've played enough Tower Defense games to know that this won't win.  (am I the 343rd person to make such a joke?)

Verdant Haven - No - You have enough cheap options for powering up your lands.

Wasteland Viper - Maybe - Granting Deathtouch to a trampling creature means that the defending creature(s) only need to be assigned one damage before the rest can be trample damage to the player.  If you need deathtouch this badly, you have my blessing.

Wildwood Rebirth - Maybe - Black does it better, but Green gets this action too.  Just play Regrowth, though.


Alms Beast - Maybe - It's cheap and big, and will get some serious hurts on an opponent who doesn't have early blockers.  It'll win most fights, and then get the beatings in.

Assemble the Legion - Yes - If you can go turn 5 without affecting the board, then you're golden.  This will take over any game, left unchecked.  I am a huge fan of this card.

Aurelia, the Warleader - Yes - As I said last time, she's just very, very powerful.  Go forth and beat face.

Aurelia's Fury - Yes - For one extra white mana, this is an instant-speed, easier-to-multitarget-Fireball.  It's comparable to Comet Storm, but with a lot more flexibility.  You're tapping down a team, turning off counterspells, all sorts of good things. 

Bane Alley Broker - No - I'd hate to be the one playing this, and then it's killed.  For one more mana, you could play Archivist, and the extra two toughness is not a big deal at all.

Biovisionary - Maybe - I dearly enjoy alternate win conditions.  Rite of Replication kicked?  Good game.  Extra awesomeness is the flavor text.

Borborygmos Enraged - No - I've got two deck with R/G, and he won't make the cut in either.  I's why he's so mad.  If you absolutely have to, then Life from the Loam is his best friend.  Ugh.

Boros Charm - Yes - You're going to have to think about it.  Indestructibility is an incredible bargain at two mana.  The other modes will have their uses, but for EDH, being able to make sure your team survives is a fantastic trick.

Call of the Nightwing - No - I just can't see free bugs as being worth it.

Cartel Aristocrat - No - Free sacrifice effects are good, but this doesn't do much.

Clan Defiance - Yes - Once again, you just can't argue the value here. For an extra green mana, your Fireball can hit a creature, and/or a player, and/or a flyer.  It's a rare game where there you won't be able to hit three targets.

Consuming Aberration - Yes - I play Lord of Extinction, and this card is actually better!  This has the potential to mill opponents like CRAZY, and be warned--some decks are going to view this as a very good thing.  Or mill an Eldrazi and reshuffle the deck--which is the main reason why mill decks are a bad choice in Commander.

Deathpact Angel - Maybe - It's another black/white angel for the Selenia decks, and with a fun take on recursion.  Sure, people will kill the token all the time, but what the heck, it's fun!

Dimir Charm - Yes - Three very relevant modes.  All sorts of sorceries need countering, all sorts of utility creatures need killing, or get the best of your top three.

Dinrova Horror - Maybe - Sure, it's Recoil with a 4/4 attached, but there's a lot of decks that can't do it at six mana.  Combine with other discard effects first, and this becomes Vindicate with a 4/4 attached.

Domri Rade - Maybe - If you're heavy on creatures, he's your man. (Kid?) You're not playing him for the card draw, you're playing him to try and get to that sweet, sweet emblem.  I know I'm going to give it my best shot.

Drakewing Krasis - No - Sure, if you want.  Most decks won't bother, though.

Duskmantle Guildmage - Maybe - Yes, they are pushing mill this hard.  Yes, it's an auto-win with Traumatize or Mindcrank.  But it's a mana-intensive combo, and not easy to pull off all at once.  Godspeed if you want to do it, though.  Be aware that Rest in Peace, a common enough EDH card, turns off the Guildmage's first ability.

Duskmantle Seer - Yes - Hooray, it's another awesome Vampire!  I am a big fan of Baneful Omen, and this is half the cost with a big flying body attached, so I would cram this in anywhere.  If you're not into giving the other players cards, combine with Words of Waste.  It'll cost you a mana, and a draw, but it'll keep things even.

Elusive Krasis - Maybe - I do love unblockable cards, but this one needs a lot of work to get big.  Doesn't have any built-in protection, either, but still, playing this means everyone gets nervous.

Executioner's Swing - No - Far too conditional to be effective removal.  Dismember, anyone?

Fathom Mage - Yes - I love creatures that reward me for playing creatures.  The only time this stops giving a bonus is when your Mage is already huge!  Increasing Savagery is a Standard-legal 'draw five cards' play for this card, and watch out with Forgotten Ancient, Vigor, or Decree of Savagery!

Firemane Avenger - Maybe - This is one of the best Battalion abilities around.  Lightning Helix is always relevant.  Still just a 3/3 flyer that needs to attack with two other creatures, though, so be careful.

Fortress Cyclops - No - Not even with Agrus Kos.

Foundry Champion - Maybe - Just like Massive Raid above, only with a body attached.  Everything is dependent on how consistently you can get 5+ damage out of this.

Frenzied Tilling - No - If I need to kill a land, I'll go with Stone Rain and keep it cheap.  Adding Rampant Growth just doesn't do it for me.

Ghor-Clan Rampager - Yes - I'm probably not going to play this in my G/R decks, because it's not big enough, for all that gives a great boost for very cheap.  Remember, this is EDH, and you're competing with Wildsize, which is what I feel is the best pump spell ever.  This is close, and if you need pump spells, this is pretty outstanding at +4/+4 and trample for GR.

Ground Assault - Maybe - It's an intriguing card that will usually be able to kill something.  If it were an instant, I'd say yes with no hesitation.

Gruul Charm - Maybe - Regarded as the weakest of Charms for Standard, it's very situation-specific for EDH.  We have a better 'get it back' with Homeland Path, we have lots of 'creatures without flying can't block' and we have lots and lots of 'kill flyers' effects.  I can think of precious few instances where I've needed these modalities, though.

Gruul Ragebeast - Yes - I love this card.  It's free fighting!  Your worst-case scenario is Ulamog or Blightsteel, but unless they have an indestructible creature, you'll just keep playing creatures until all of theirs are dead!  How I wish this were a 'may' trigger, though...

High Priest of Penance - Maybe - Oh, the tricks and tweaks of this card.  I think I'd have some four-color monstrosity, where I boosted his toughness a little and started pinging with Nin, drawing cards and killing things.  If you see this card, someone built in ways to abuse it and you should plan accordingly.

Hydroform - No - But feel free to send in your game-breaking combos that involve your animated-for-a-turn land.

Kingpin's Pet - Maybe - I do love Extort...

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind - Yes - As I said in my Generals of Gatecrash article, this guy is the real deal and should be expected to do a lot of work.  Note that he can copy a creature even if a trigger shuffles him into the deck, such as Ulamog or Serra Avatar.

Martial Glory - No - While it's fun that this is a reverse of Agony Warp, that doesn't see play in EDH either.

Master Biomancer - Yes - This is the card that has Animar and Kraj most excited.  Free counters are good.  Very good, even.  Plus, if you boost his power just a little, you start getting major rewards for it.  Thank god it's a mythic.

Merciless Eviction - Yes - Modalities are very useful, as is the 'exile' aspect.  This is going to be an EDH staple, as much as I hate throwing that term around.

Mind Grind - Maybe - If you have lots of mana to spend, and need a way to take down the table, this can do the job.  Again, watch out for Eldrazi or decks that can make good use of a full graveyard.

Mortus Strider - Maybe - It's no Reassembling Skeleton, or Squee, Goblin Nabob, but if you like bringing things back over and over, he's the skeleton for the job.

Mystic Genesis - Maybe - We have Voidslime for GUU, Mystic Snake for 1GUU, and now this.  Five mana for a counterspell/get huge creature isn't too bad.

Nimbus Swimmer - Maybe - I like Ivy Elemental, and I like that this has flying even more.  Animar says hi!

Obezdat, Ghost Council - Yes - The only question is, will he go into Kaalia?  He's that amazing, that I'm thinking of saying yes.  Hard to kill, hasty, and a life drainer, he's going to be spookily omnipresent.

One Thousand Lashes - Maybe - Prison Term is the best of all the lockdown enchantments.  This adds a little life loss to Arrest and calls it a day.  Effective and annoying, if you're into that.  It needs to be said that for a mana less, we could just Unmake the same creature.

Ordruun Veteran - Maybe - Double strike is a no-kidding, hardcore ability.  If it activates, then it'll hit for a lot.  Can you activate it often enough, and can you stomach paying four for a 3/1?

Orzhov Charm - Maybe - I don't see this having a lot of EDH use.  We have much better options on all fronts, but not all on one card.  I think the destruction and the 'return a 1 power creature' offer good flexibility, but if it's used as a bad Murder most often, shouldn't we just be playing Murder?

Paranoid Delusions - No - Probably the worst of the Cipher cards.

Primal Visitation - No - I'd be higher on this card if we didn't have Goblin War Paint at only 1R giving us 66% of the bonus.

Prime Speaker Zegana - Yes - Do not flinch at putting her in any deck that can support her colors.  All she needs is a small-to-decent creature to be worth it, and if you have something of decent-to-big size, then everyone is going to be very jealous of you.

Psychic Strike - Maybe - In a multi-color deck, it can be hard to keep UU open.  1UB is a more reasonable mana cost, and the milling of two cards doesn't really matter.

Purge the Profane - No - If it was Cipher, this would be amazing.  As a single spell, no thank you.

Rubblehulk - Yes - It scales to get bigger and bigger, and can give a huge bonus late game for little enough mana.  I'm looking forward to playing this.

Ruination Wurm - Maybe - A 7/6 for six mana.  Used to be that Craw Wurm was the flagship six-drop.  How times have changed.

Shambleshark - No - As much as I love a creature that is a Fish Crab, there's no benefit to this card that makes it worthwhile.

Signal the Clans - Maybe - There's a group of people that dearly love randomness.  I think that I would be included there, but this card isn't terribly great until you see someone cast it for Sylvan Ranger, Yavimaya Elder, and Sakura-Tribe Elder.  Now we're talking!

Simic Charm - Yes - The levels of flexibility are all precluded on how reactive you like to be, since all of these modes are there to save your creature.  You can save it from damage, targeting, or even bottom-of-library plays like Terminus.  It will almost never be dead in your hand.

Skaarg Guildmage - Maybe - With enough mana, you can create an army out of nowhere.  A trampling one, if you want.  I can see the trample ability getting used more, and rightly so.

Skyknight Legionnaire - No - Not worth it, and what's up with this crotch-thrusting piece of art?  How do we know this flies?

Soul Ransom - Maybe - I am sad to say that I thought the 'sacrifice it' clause in the card referred to the creature, when it refers to the enchantment.  So it's a Control Magic that they can discard two cards and make you draw two cards to get rid of. I knew this was too good to be true!

Spark Trooper - Maybe - If you have a Mimic Vat, or a Teferi's Veil, then you are in business.  Otherwise, don't do it, awesome as this card is.

Sunhome Guildmage - Maybe - This is another 'army-in-a-can' card, one that will make a bunch of tokens and then make someone very sad.  Pair with Training Grounds for true profit!

Treasury Thrull - Yes - It's no Titan, but it's got a handy ability.  This allows you to attack and get things back, and then recast them with Extort!  I'm debating on whether to put this into Kaalia.

Truefire Paladin - No - While it's capable of doing some major work on offense and defense, you have to put so much mana into it that it's not worthwhile.

Unexpected Results - YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES - It's pretty good to get stuff cheap.  If you hit an X spell, or a counterspell, you're sad.  If you hit a land, you're accelerating.  Pretty good stuff.

Urban Evolution - Maybe - If you play Explore or Divination, why not mash them together?

Vizkopa Confessor - Maybe - Coercion is easier, but this comes with Extort and would be a lot of fun to blink in and out of play.

Vizkopa Guildmage - Yes - Giving anything lifelink can be very useful.  The second ability is groovy, being 'each opponent', and especially with the Standard-legal combo of this and Exquisite Blood.

Whispering Madness - No - Unless you're playing some Underworld Dreams deck.  Then go forth and conquer.

Wojek Halberdiers - Maybe - Anytime we have a 3/2 for two mana, I have to just look.  No drawbacks, and the bonus of first strike can be relevant.  Most of the time not, though.

Zameck Guildmage - Yes - If nothing else, it's a card-drawing engine all its own.  That would be worth consideration.  In EDH, we have bonuses, especially Persist, that mean amazing things with the first ability.  This means if you trigger that first ability, and a creature with persist dies, it'll come back with a -1/-1 counter AND a +1/+1 counter, which cancel each other out.  So this plus a Murderous Redcap and some free sacrifice outlet means infinite damage for the table, for example.  Also: the first ability is cumulative!  Pay it twice! Three times! Creatures just have to enter the field, they don't have to get cast, so tokens can get the bonus too! This card is ridiculous, and it will be the non-foil Game Day giveaway.

Zhur-Taa Swine - Maybe - A very reasonable cost for a good-sized creature, and a cheaply costed Bloodrush cost.  Worth thinking about.


Arrows of Justice - No - Four to one target for three mana isn't going to make the cut for us.

Beckon Apparition - Maybe - Sometimes, you just need to exile a card.

Biomass Mutation - Yes - This bears thinking about as a finisher, not least because counters will go on top of the effect this sets.  If you have a 2/2 with two +1/+1 counters, and cast this with X=6, it's now an 8/8 because of the layering rules.

Bioshift - No - Not even to make Fathom Mage grow bigger!

Boros Reckoner - Maybe - Again, it's a great cost: 3 mana for a 3/3.  No one will ever block this, either.

Burning-Tree Emissary - No - I was hoping for Burning-Tree Shaman to come back, and this card isn't even a distant cousin.

Coerced Confession - No - I don't care how many decks are running 66 creatures.  Don't do it.

Deathcult Rogue - Maybe - there is a deck to be had with Rogues and unblockability, and in these colors you can do some Prowl costs. This joins right up.

Gift of Orzhova - Maybe - If you want Lifelink, you're surprisingly restricted on how to give it. So if you want to slap some wings on and gain some life, awesome.

Immortal Servitude - Maybe - I can never have Debtors' Knell survive for more than a turn. The problem is that to get awesome six drops or more out of just your graveyard, you're going to need nine or more mana. As a late game reload this has a lot of potential, but keep in mind that you ONLY get one converted mana cost back.  I originally thought that this was X or less, and that makes me like this card a lot less.

Merfolk of the Depths - No - Six mana, 4/2 flash. That's it, and it is terrible.

Nightveil Specter - Maybe - I love using other peoples' cards. That being said, we have two major issues. First is the color restriction aspect: If you control something that could add mana that is not of your commander's color identity, you get colorless instead. So even if you have Darksteel Ingot, you can't add other colors to your pool to play the cards exiled this way. The second issue is that once the Specter is dead, those cards can't be cast.

Pit Fight - No - Fighting is fun, but it's not worth one card, even at instant speed.

Rubblebelt Raiders - Maybe - I like that this card is more resilient than Fangren Firstborn, the card that this is modeled on. It's much better as an attacker than a 5/3 attacker; it always seemed like I was getting one bonus from the Fangren before it was dead.  This card can get out of hand quickly with just an extra attacker or two.

Shattering Blow - Maybe - It is funny to me that this card's name references Shatter, but is much stronger. In red/white, we have many options for dealing with artifacts, but this is straightforward and effective. Up to you how many such effects to play.


Armored Transport - Maybe - I had a Twitter follower refer to this as the A-Team's Battle Van. I can't argue. It's meant to go crashing in, over and over.  Since it can make attacks and survive getting blocked, it's helpful as a Battalion enabler. I like Dolmen Gate because it lets everyone attack without fear, but this little guy won't last long in most games. A pity.

Boros Keyrune - Maybe - As the keyrunes go, they have to be pretty special. I'd say that the Signets are better for mana fixing and acceleration, so the added creature-ness needs to be worth the extra cost. This one comes close, but it needs help, from a Crusade or other such effect, to be playable.

Dimir Keyrune - Yes - This is about as good as it can get. Not only is it fixing and acceleration, but it can be the target of Cipher cards as long as it's a creature when the Cipher spell first resolves. This would be a key card for Cipher decks.

Glaring Spotlight - Maybe - I would not play this card unless I was in a metagame full of Asceticism, Privileged Position, or Uril, the Miststalker. Even though those cards don't have hexproof printed on them, that's what the official Gatherer text says. If you see those cards often, or lots of hexproof Equipment, I'd play this. I am not sure if it's worth it as a one-shot, your team is unblockable effect. I'm probably going to try it, though, and see what my results are.

Gruul Keyrune - No - In green, I'd much rather cast a ramp spell like Cultivate.

Illusionist's Bracers - Yes - Every EDH deck is packed with creatures that do powerful things. This card doubles up on that, for free once it is equipped, a tremendously powerful effect. It's so good, I wouldn't be shocked if it got banned in a few months. The mana ability restriction is a good start for making things stay within the realm of reasonable, but I am not looking forward to seeing what happens here. Kill this on sight, unless you're the one playing it and abusing it.

Millennial Gargoyle - No - This is an overpriced card. I can't imagine you being this desperate for flyers.

Orzhov Keyrune - Maybe - This is not bad, but you'd have to be a grindy control deck indeed to need this creature effect.

Prophetic Prism - Maybe - I have played more than a few decks that ran this card. It replaces itself and fixes your mana. If you don't have the nonbasics for a three-or-five-color deck, this will be a card you're always happy to see.

Razortip Whip - No - This isn't even worth a bad "Whip it Good!" pun.

Riot Gear - No - Vulshok Morningstar would like a word.

Simic Keyrune - No - In Green, I'd rather spend three on a Kodama's Reach. The creature would be an emergency blocker that would likely die on use.

Skyblinder Staff - No - Too high an equip cost to be worthwhile.


The Shocklands - Yes - They are amazing and you need them. Get them. Play them. Remember that they can be found with Fetchlands or Wood Elves and the like.

The Guildgates - Maybe - Sometimes you don't have all the nonbasics you want. These will work until then.

Thespian's Stage - Yes - Ever been jealous of someone else's land? Get your own! Upgrade it as needed! WARNING: Watch out for Legendary Land - copying one of those means both die.

Whew! That's it! I hope you enjoyed your Prerelease events! Feel free to tweet me @WordOfCommander if you open something super-awesome at the Release events this weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Generals of Gatecrash

I posted a column about the generals of Return to Ravnica, and it is time for Gatecrash's guild leaders to get the same treatment.

Let's do this in alphabetical order.

Aurelia, the Warleader

I am impressed that both legendary Boros angels (Aurelia and Razia) are flying, vigilance, haste. I love hasty generals, but the vigilance is far less relevant for Aurelia than for Razia. I would have rather had higher power and toughness over the vigilance. A 3/4 for six mana is not the best starting point.

Realistically, though, as long as she doesn't die to Spirit tokens or Lightning Bolt, her power and toughness are not what you're paying for. You want to attack again, and well that you should.

Red/White has had similar effects on enchantments and sorceries and creatures, and Aurelia delivers a worthy successor to those effects. These are also very aggressive colors, and she is an amazing general for leading the charge.

You're going to see a lot of Aurelia going forward. She brings you into not only a 'multiple attacks' deck, but she fits a 'voltron' theme well. That sort of deck seeks to build one huge creature and kill other players with it, using Auras or Equipment. It doesn't matter if Aurelia is attacking alone or as part of a horde, you'll get extra attacks. Win!

One super-neat thing about Aurelia's effect is that she says 'untap all creatures you control' instead of 'untap all creatures that attacked this turn.' This means that you can use assorted tap-ability creatures, then get extra uses out of those creatures.

Her casting cost is about right for the power of her ability. Six is almost cheap, eight is unpleasant, and ten is rather annoying. So make sure you take someone out with her attacks.

Final Verdict: Great as the Commander or in the 99.

Borborygmos Enraged

I have to admit, I'm severely disappointed in this card. The first incarnation of Borborygmos was difficult to cast and use--and I tried in two different decks--but the new one, I'm sad to say, is worse. Switching the power and toughness doesn't make up for the extra mana, rising him to eight mana.

Let's talk about his two abilities. For hitting a player, you don't get to draw three cards, you get the lands of the top three cards. If you have gotten to eight mana, you probably don't need more land. Until your general gets killed, and you need ten mana.

His second ability, which lets you discard a land to Lightning Bolt something, is interesting.  I'm pretty sure that unless you're hitting Life from the Loam over and over again (and that would be awesome if you did!) you're not going to get too much out of it.

I feel like the first ability should have been a lot more broken. Without a lot of help, or players who don't have enough removal, this guy won't hit very often. The reward should have been to tutor for two basics, or maybe tutor for any nonbasic land.

I know that some people will build a deck with 99 lands and this guy, but that's still going to be a very, very slow deck. Borborygmos Enraged has no way to protect himself, some immediate effect, and is going to be difficult to build around.

Final Verdict: Marginal as a Commander, and probably in the 99 too. Unfortunately.

Lazav, Dimir Mastermind

I love this card. This is the general that will often go into the mill decks, over Oona, Queen of the Fae. Lazav is cheap and self-protecting, which is one heck of a combination.

The mana cost is a little tough to lay down on turn four, but the payoff is going to be pretty tremendous.  His ability costs nothing, and triggers off of cards milled, discarded, destroyed, anything! 

A warning, though: You won't get 'enters the battlefield' triggers when you change him into something, so be cautious.  EDH players love creatures with spell abilities, and those are usually 'comes into play' effects.  I know that I always want super-awesome-effects on a creature!

Nonetheless, Lazav is the real deal.  Sure, he's vulnerable to board sweepers, but there's only four legendary creatures who are indestructible anyway. (Ulamog, Avacyn, Sapling, and Konda, if you want to know)  I'd be inclined to play a couple of black regeneration tricks with Lazav, so in case of Supreme Verdict, you can have him become anything that was on the board.

What I really love about Lazav is how you can have a second plan of attack, or go after two people at once.  With Lazav out, you mill Player A for some cards, and flip over Avacyn, or It That Betrays, or whatever awesome huge card they have in their deck.  Then you attack Player B for much greater general damage! Just amazing.

Final Verdict: Outstanding as a Commander, and great in the 99 too.

Obzedat, Ghost Council

Strap in, folks, because Orzhov just got aggressive.

On first impression, Obzedat is merely very efficient. Five mana for a 5/5 with a small drain life effect seems good enough, but the devil--or Spirit, in this case--is in the details.

The first Ghost Council of Orzhova was very similar, with an efficient power/toughness to mana cost ratio and a repeatable slow life drain effect. Obzedat takes that further.

Unless your opponents are big Rout players, Obzedat will never die to a board wipe. Never.

Obzedat might as well say 'protection from sorceries' because unless you allow it, he will never be in play to get killed by one.  What's more, this protection doesn't cost anything. Not mana, not life, not creatures to sacrifice, nothing. All you have to do is say that you want to use his ability at end of turn.

I have to imagine that since Extort says 'each opponent' and Obzedat says 'target opponent', the developers tried him out as a mega-Extort and found it was far too good. I can see the 6 points a turn being a bit too good, but I would have rather had 'each opponent loses 1' over 'target opponent loses 2' just so it would fit Extort better. That's probably just nitpicky.  I tweeted Aaron Forsythe and he said it wasn't too interesting a story. 

I think you will see a lot of Obzedat in the weeks ahead. Dodging all sorcery-speed interactions seems very good to me, and the life gain/loss is not too bad either.

Final Verdict: Very good as a Commander and in the 99.

Prime Speaker Zegana

If you ask the average EDH player what things you need to do well in games, you'll probably get an answer that involves enough mana, big creatures, and a full hand of cards. Zegana gets you two of those with only a little help.

Zegana's usefulness is heavily dependent on what else you have in play when you want to play her. As a six mana 1/1 that draws you a card, she's terrible. But with even a 2/2 in play, she comes in as a 3/3 and draws you three cards. That's more manageable.

But that's her low end. For her high end, things are ridiculously high. I've enjoyed Momentous Fall and Soul's Majesty as cards, but Zegana not only draws you a stack of cards for having a fattie out--she then BECOMES a fattie herself! Even a little bigger than the one you had out before!

In blue/green, we have several choices about creatures who have power and toughness equal to your hand size. My favorite with Zegana, and likely a popular combination, will be with Psychosis Crawler. I draw, you lose.

Keep in mind that her first ability is not triggered--you need to kill big creatures in response to her being cast, and Aether Flash will not kill her.  If you can do something to lower her power in response to her second ability (which IS triggered) then you should do so for real hilarity.

Her limitation, of needing another creature in play to be truly effective, is going to sometimes cause an awkward board for you, where you have lots of mana but no creatures, probably due to a board wipe.

Your task, then, is to jam mainlands into a deck with Zegana. Treetop Village, Faerie Conclave, Mutavault...the list goes on.

Final Verdict: Awesome as a Commander or in the 99.

In a week or so, I'll give you the card-by-card rundown for all the Gatecrash cards.  My fingers already hurt.  See you then!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gatecrash mechanics and EDH

I don't want to talk about the legends of Gatecrash yet, though that's coming, I swear.

Return to Ravnica's mechanics ranged from not worth it (Scavenge, Unleash) to occasionally relevant (Detain, Populate) to amazing (Overload!) and Gatecrash promises to offer a similar range of usefulness.

The mechanics are here, and the FAQ is coming.

I'll list these from least-used to most-used, at least in my opinion/guess. As of now, only 67 cards are spoiled and I reserve the right to say, "But this card is amazing and should go in any deck of these colors!"

Bloodrush - Gruul (Red/Green)

(Pay a cost, discard this card: target attacking creature gets a bonus until end of turn.)

I wanted to like whatever mechanic showed up for the Gruul Clans, and I do. I'm a big fan of these colors and of decks that feature a lot of creatures. I can't wait to build some deck with 37 creatures and 23 lands in Standard.

That being said, I don't think this is going to do enough in EDH games to make a difference.  I've seen decks with high numbers of pump spells, and they are usually some verion of infect or trample-get there for 21 general damage deck.

If Bloodrush was a spell, and not an ability, then it's possible that some deck with Wild Ricochet and Fork would take advantage, but that's not going to work either.  Alas.  I like the flexibility, but very few EDH games will hinge on Bloodrush--unless we get one that gives Double Strike and Trample, a la Runes of the Deus.

Evolve - Simic (Green/Blue)

(Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under you control, if it has higher power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)

I want, so very very badly, for this to be overpowered and amazing.  I've got two decks, Animar and Kraj, that are going to snap up a lot of Evolve creatures...and then slowly take them out again, I suspect.  The problem is that these creatures are competing with, no kidding, some of the best creatures ever printed for space in your deck, and most of them are not going to live up to that billing.

For an evolve creature to be good, it has to come down early, and then you need to play other, bigger creatures for it to grow.  There's nothing wrong with a creature-heavy deck, but for these to be good, they REQUIRE lots of other creatures to come into play.  Realistically, you're better off just playing a better creature to start with.

Here's the caveat: Simic gets a lot of tricky creatures, and Fathom Mage is an effect I love to have in a creature-heavy deck.  I already play Garruk's Packleader and Primordial Sage in lots of decks, so having a third--that gets bigger!--is always going to be fun.  We'll have to see what other awesome Evolve cards show up.

Battalion - Boros (Red/White)

(Whenever this creature and at least two other creatures attack, get a bonus effect.)

This ability has the potential to be impressive in EDH.  A lot is going to hinge on the quality of the base creature and the bonus granted.  Some of the spoiled cards are absolutely worth it (An angel that throws a Lightning Helix! Clerics who give indestructibility!) and I'll be talking about those in my set review column.

I'm not sure how effective it will be, though, considering that I rarely get to attack with a group of three or more creatures more than once or twice, unless some haste or indestructible tricks are happening.  There's just too many board-wiping cards to count on Battlion being active.

Cipher - Dimir (Black/Blue)

(Cast the spell, then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.)

Rules Question: Can you encode onto something that isn't always a creature, like a Keyrune or a Creeping Tar Pit? Yes, you can.  As long as it's a creature when your spell resolves, then it doesn't matter if that stops being a creature, you can make it a creature again and get the Cipher effect.  Go to town, Tar Pit!

Free spells are inherently dangerous.  We've got some very strong evidence of that in Magic's past.  Palinchron is one of my 'I wish they would ban you' cards, because it goes from free to infinite so easily.

Cipher is as close as they want to get, I imagine.  It requires a creature to be in play, and that creature to deal combat damage.  I'm surprised that they would print Cipher cards while Invisible Stalker is in Standard, but that's the main interaction I'd be aware of.

In EDH, it's a lot easier to be unblockable in some way, especially in Blue/Black.  I fully expect to see lots of Cipher cards in the right color of deck, especially once the more powerful cards are spoiled.   It's going to be a fairly common thing, and I've already seen enough decks with a theme of 'unblockable' to know that the Cipher cards will be added. 

The lesson, as always: Have answers for creatures.

Extort - Orzhov (White/Black)

(Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {WB}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)

First of all, the rules question.  Can you play Extort cards in a deck that isn't B/W?  The answer is yes. Believe it or not, mana symbols in the reminder text doesn't count towards determining color identity.  See Rules Manager Matt Tabak's Twitter feed on December 31.  So you can play Extort cards in a wider range of decks, and brother, you're going to.

Sucking one life from each person at the table and gaining three, for the low cost of  {WB}, is a real bargain.  So far, they have only given us creatures with Extort, but heaven help us if this ability is on an artifact, enchantment, or (gulp) a land.  You'd see that land in almost every deck that could play it, and rightfully so.  If the ability is just on creatures, then it won't be too bad, because creatures die a lot.  Exort stacks, though, so if someone gets two cards with Extort out, they can pay the {WB} twice and gain 6 life.

The good news is, someone playing Extort cards is very quickly going to earn the ire of the rest of the table, so they will get attacked for their impertinence.  Good times!  Even with that, I do feel Extort is going to be the mechanic that sees the most play in EDH games.

One more thing that applies to all of the Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash mechanics: Dragon's Maze, the third set, is probably going to add mechanics to new colors, or do new things with old mechanics.  There's a good chance that we'll see a lot of really amazing cards.

Stay tuned, as it's time to talk about the Commanders of Gatecrash!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I have a confession to make: I was a jerk for a long time. Then every New Year's, I would resolve to be a better person. I've been successful enough at that task to think that the following list is reasonable and optimistic.

A goal is something you want to do, but you're not sure if you can. Thus the nobility is in the attempt. Here's my list.

-Play more EDH

This seems simple enough, I know. I've been writing this for six months, and yet I can say with certainty that I've written more posts the last couple months than I have played games. Moving to a more sparsely populated area hasn't helped, and this leads to other goals:

- Encourage local playgroup

I'm guilty of this sin: I avoid metagames dominated by combo decks. Last year, we moved up here where combo runs rampant, and I haven't done enough to encourage people to try something new.

I know nothing will change if I stay away. If I get involved, with decks that do appropriately degenerate things, there's a chance others will come around. Since I'm not planning on moving, I should at least try...right?

- Finish the wedding plans and do the deed!

We are excited and yet intimidated by the logistics of the ceremony and reception. Our first two plans have fallen through, and we have been in sort of a scramble. Nonetheless, it's exciting and I couldn't be happier.

- Be a good father and husband

We are expecting a baby girl this year, and while I'm aware that a newborn is going to impact game-playing time, I know that I'm going to want to spend a lot of time with my daughter.

- Avoid selling again

Even though it was for the best of reasons, getting 50% value on cards via buylists chafed me in ways I can't describe. I didn't mind taking apart the decks I rarely played, but letting cards go to stores for the cash infusion wasn't too fun. I'd like to avoid doing that again if I can.

- Kill with Delirium again

It was magical. A friend of mine tried to kill me with Blightsteel Colossus. GG sir!

- Keep readers entertained

I think I'm doing this nicely.  I haven't yet done a 'improve my deck' post or a mailbag, but those are in the works.  I'm certainly more popular than I ever thought I'd be, and hopefully people will want to stay because they find my work not only helpful when building or playing, they are entertained enough to come back for more.

- Continue to be ad free

There's a little money to be made via AdSense and such, but I don't find it does a lot.  Plus, if I start making money off this, it might well cease to be fun and turn into something I feel compelled to do, rather than something I want to do.

- Cut Adun back to five noncreature spells

It was up to 7 at one point.  I'm working on it.
- Sit down with strangers without fear of turn-four combo kills

I have become paranoid about this. I'd like to get over that feeling, but it seems that everyone starts off with their Teferi or Memnarch deck. I have an Azami deck, but it doesn't get played in my first game with a new group. If it turns out that people can handle it, then away we go!

- Make it to two GPs and play Commander games

I don't mean the $5 games, I mean just random strangers playing games.  We tend to go to GP events with a goal of signing cards and drafting--noble goals, but I should make time for this format I love so much.

- Continue interacting via Twitter (@WordOfCommander) and email (

I don't have a lot of followers, but I'm surprised at the way in which this grows.  I think that people who follow 1,000 others on Twitter are mad--there's just too much to read and too much to keep up with!

- Make a Zeerbe-style cutout custom foil

Zeerbe gave me a lot of help and advice on the forums when I was learning how to make my generals and such (here's the full gallery) and his eBay page is filled with a new variation that looks pretty darn amazing.  I can't wait to try it...when I have the time.

Coming soon: Let's talk Gatecrash!