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!


  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I agree with almost all of your analyses, here are the few criticisms I had:

    Angelic Edict is not the only card with that effect. It's a reprint of Iona's Judgment.

    Putting Murder Investigation on your Uril is not that great, unless you have a way to get him back from your graveyard. If you choose to send him to your command zone, Murder Investigation won't trigger.

    Enter the Infinite is not the most expensive noncreature spell. That title goes to Blinkmoth Infusion.

    I think Forced Adaptation should be a 'No.' I would sooner play Forgotten Ancient, Ring of Kalonia, Shape of the Wiitigo, and even Forgotten Harvest because it doesn't have the Aura problem. Of all of those, Forgotten Ancient is the only one that has ever made it into any of my decks.

    Gyre Sage should be a 'Maybe.' In playgroups where the board is Wrathed every two or three turns, no. Otherwise, it's a great addition to any mono-green deck (unless you're mono-green and run fewer than 25 creatures which is very unusual) and most two-color decks.

    I agree that Borborygmos Enraged can't just go into any RG deck, but he can be quite powerful if you build your deck around him. Of course, then you're going to want to make sure you have access to him every game . . . oh, hey, he's legendary.

    I wouldn't say Homeward Path is 'better' than Gruul Charm's second mode. Path gives ALL players their own creatures. Charm only gives YOU yours.

    Using Mind Grind to take down the table is going to be challenging. Realistically, when you are going to be casting it as a finisher, most players are going to have about 25-35 lands left in their library. Maybe one or two players will be down to 15 lands if you've been focusing mill on them for the earlier part of the game, but to take down the WHOLE table is going to be about as expensive as a Comet Storm.

    Orzhov Charm isn't worse than Murder. I would gladly pay 3 or less life to save 1 mana most of the time. In EDH, I'm probably going to end up paying 6+ life a lot more often than I would like, but there's another cost to consider: are you leaving 3 mana open EVERY turn? Because if not, Murder might as well be a sorcery. Leaving 2 mana up is a LOT easier than leaving 3. I agree with you, though, that the other two modes will probably make up less than 5% of the times that card is cast.

    Soul Ransom isn't quite as good as you say. When your opponent activates it, you sacrifice the enchantment, not the enchanted creature. So they get it back. It's not a 5-for-1, it's a 4-for-1, conditionally, depending on your opponents' decisions. I don't play Control Magic and this is strictly worse.

    Coerced Confession doesn't say "target opponent," is says "target player." You can play it in your creature-heavy GUB dredge deck with The Mimeoplasm as your commander, or your Sharuum the Hegemon reanimator deck alongside Inkwell Leviathan and Enlightened Tutor and Haunted Crossroads or whatever. I'd call it a 'Maybe.'

    I find Dimir Keyrune unimpressive. There's only one really good cipher card (Stolen Identity), so I don't buy that argument.

    Orzhov Keyrune fits very nicely into one non-control deck: Doran, the Seige Tower.

    1. You have pointed out some errors of mine, and I'm sure I've made others. I've addressed several already, and I appreciate you keeping an eye on me. I knew Soul Ransom was a little too good!

      Some of your thoughts I will cordially disagree with you on. I can't see the other modes on Orzhov Charm being used very often, and I think I would pay the extra black mana to not lose 6 or more life.

      Coerced Confession might make the cut in a Mimeoplasm deck. There's a lot of fun choices for the self-milling, and this one isn't so great. Similar to Forced Adaptation--what it does is useful, but not necessarily good. I'd imagine FA sees slightly more play than CC, though.

      I say Homeward Path is better because it's on a land. If you are stealing from other players, you're not playing Path. Giving everyone their stuff back during an Insurrection or Reins of power can save your bacon, for no mana cost aside from having Path open!

      Sure, the Charm offers you more options, but I'd imagine Path and Brooding Saurian would cover most of your theft protection.

      I look forward to rebuttals. ;)

    2. Oh, I think you're right that the other modes on Orzhov Charm will almost never be used. I meant to say that; sorry if it was unclear. Anyway, I recognize and respect your position on 6 life vs 1 mana. Obviously I wouldn't be happy about paying 6 life to save 1 mana on every spell in my deck. I value the importance of only leaving 2 mana untapped during my opponents' turns, rather than 3. Ideally I never need to cast my kill spell (either Murder or Orzhov Charm) because my opponents aren't attacking me or dropping must-kill targets like Consecrated Sphinx or Rofellos. When it comes up that I DO need to cast my kill spell, I think you're probably right that the average life loss of Charm is higher than I want to pay for just one mana. But the value of Charm is that all those other turns when I was just holding it in my hand, waiting, it wasn't tying up as much of my mana as Murder would have. So I'm not just paying 6 life for 1 mana, I'm paying 6 life for several turns of 1 mana, possibly even more than six turns.

      I think you're right about Coerced Confession. I really want it to be a good card because it's fairly unique, but outside of Goblin Recruiter or Footbottom Feast interactions, it's pretty underwhelming.

      I'll cede to you that Homeward Path is 'better,' especially in that I would put it into more decks than I would for Gruul Charm, even ignoring the color restriction on Charm. I just wanted to point out that Charm has uses that Path doesn't, even if we're not talking about its other modes. For example, let's say I had a deck with Charm, Path, and Confusion in the Ranks. In a long game after trading several creatures around via Confusion, I would love to cast Cruul Charm's anti-theft mode, but I wouldn't always be happy to activate Homeward Path. Still, Path taps for mana when you aren't using it for anti-theft, so that's really good.

      Also, thanks for having good humor about my correspondence here. I realize I'm just making criticisms, and I want to emphasize that anywhere I'm not correcting you, it means I agree with you. There's just so much that I agree on, to go through everything you said and say "agree, agree, agree" would be silly.

      Thanks again for putting this review together.

    3. One thing I didn't go into with Orzhov Charm is that the competition in a BW deck is very high.

      For example, I have a Kaalia deck that I might put it in, because it's nice to be able to get back the Weathered Wayfarer or the Mother of Runes in the deck or kill something that needs to go. It's even Sunforger-fetchable.

      But the competition for spots is so high, I'm not sure.

      I'm always happy to talk about card choices. There's no wrong, just personal preferences. Some value modality highest, I tend to put a high value on exile effects above all others.

      I'm glad you enjoy my writing!

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