Archive for April, 2012

The Helvault – My Letter to Wizards of the Coast

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A bunch of people had asked me to post this before and I was considering it. Then the original version got destroyed for all time by the beauty of Yahoo mail’s shitty programming. I had to rewrite it, and the rewrite is simple not as good. I had no intentions of ever posting this, but I was discussing the Helvault with Jay Boosh earlier and decided that I’d rather put up the sloppier, less complete version of this than have to type everything for a third time in 140 character increments. Most of the key points are all still there, so..yeah. I dunno what else needs to be said, so here you go:

“As I said on Twitter, 140 characters is far too few to discuss what happened with the Helvault. As you’re seeing now from the feedback rolling in, to say the Helvault was met with mixed reactions might be being generous. I’d like to discuss what happened from the original idea through the conclusion of the prereleases. Unfortunately as my original draft was lost, I’m sure I’m going to miss some of the points I originally made. I was very happy with the original letter, but can only hope this one is coherent and inclusive.

While I can’t know for sure what happened inside the walls at the Wizards of the Coast offices, from outside it appears that you started with the idea of creating a different and exciting promotion for the Avacyn Restored prerelease. Ideas like this are always welcome, especially because the player base feels that they are owed something since the termination of the Magic Player Rewards program. That concept may sound ridiculous, but it is the sentiment of the (I would wager overwhelming) majority of players.

From this idea, the Helvault was born. The concept and physical design of the Helvault were brilliant. “A box of unknown goodies that everyone needs to work together to open” is the best promotion since the priceless treasures in Zendikar. This was much more in-depths, however, and also created excitement about the storyline of the set since they were heavily linked.

Up to this point, everything was going well. I’d like to look at the promotion and execution of the Helvault now though, as that’s where things went wrong.

The promotion of the Helvault was extremely effective. A lot of hype was generated, especially with the extreme emphasis being placed on preregistering for events. The perceived message was that you did not want to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity, and that events would all reach capacity. However, the writer (or writers) of the original Arcana fell into the same trap that a lot of overzealous Magic writers fall into when trying to sell people on their new tech: deckbuilders will use the “God Hand,” or best case scenario, as their baseline for describing how a deck is supposed to work when they should really be looking at the average case scenario. That is precisely what happened here. You had the benefit of knowing about the premium Helvaults, and knew that for some people the message being perceived by the public would be true, however the average case scenario was that players would receive a Helvault without a single tournament legal Magic card in it.

As a side note, while some people had unrealistic expectations, the Helvault didn’t need to have 54 foil Avacyns, Griselbrands, and Command Towers. If there were alternate art (preferably foil) Pillar of Flames inside, people would have thought the Helvault had been over sold, but at least they’d have a special promo card that they would likely have a use for.

A little over a week before the prerelease, stores started receiving their Helvaults. This is where things started going downhill. As I’m sure you knew would happen, two or three stores opened their Helvaults and posted the contents online. As far as everyone knew, the secret was out. And most everyone was disappointed. Players tend to like tokens and dice because they’re useful, but even most hardcore Commander players don’t use oversize cards as the mechanics of the game require you to still have a normal version anyway. People were disappointed that there wasn’t a single tournament legal Magic card inside. Players started canceling preregistrations, and stores that had been foolish enough to charge more for the Helvault events were being vilified and labeled as “scumbag stores” that players should never visit again.

Prerelease weekend hit, and people had stopped caring about the Helvault. Early prerelease attendance was as expected, but then someone reported the first premium Helvault. It was met with natural skepticism, but then more and more reports and cell phone pictures kept rolling in. The premium Helvaults were confirmed. I missed when it happened, but Helene even said she mentioned that they existed that day on Twitter. Now people only cared about the Helvaults and the potential of receiving incredible prizes. Our 10 am Saturday prerelease attendance was unaffected by our Helvault because no one cared, and our 6 pm prerelease was less than half of what it should have been because everyone wanted to go to Helvault events. Our Sunday Helvault event was better than normal, but it was too little too late. While other stores benefited, our overall attendance was only 80% of what it would have been had the Helvault not even existed. I’m sure that worldwide the attendance numbers were the same or higher than normal, but many stores were hurt by this. By contrast, the priceless treasures had the same chance of being opened anywhere by anyone, and it was an ongoing promotion. Because it was ongoing, everyone benefited from it. The Helvault was a one shot deal, so it was do or die from the vendor perspective.

Having to write a large check for product that we now can’t do anything with for a week stings a little, but this is a minor concern thanks to Avacyn Restored being such a good set for both competitive and casual constructed so I’m sure we won’t be sitting on it long (If the set were to initially sell like, say, Morningtide, then we might be a bit more upset about this). The real concern, however, is the reaction from the players. Players went from being apathetic about the Helvaults to being disappointed, angry, and feeling ripped off. As organizers and judges, we were the ones in the trenches receiving the majority of their complaints. A player who was at an event with a premium Helvault received prizes that were worth as much as 15000% more than players with nonpremium Helvaults. While the secondary market isn’t and shouldn’t be your main concern, it is important to be aware of it. In the last two or three years, Magic finance has really started to take a front seat and is heavily discussed and written about. While I disapprove of this for tangentially reasons, it is important to be aware of the phenomenon and these people’s line of thinking.

So what could be done to fix this? There are a few key points that you need to keep in mind:

1. You are working from the viewpoint of trying to create an exciting experience for players. No one is made you do this; you did it to reward players and make their experience special. Players are working from a viewpoint of entitlement and expect you to do things like this every so often to make up for prying MPR from their hands. (Yeah, I know. I’m not any happier about this than you are.)

2. The hype should not exceed the average player’s experience. If someone gets even more than they expected, awesome for them! If someone gets far less than they expected, they will be extremely upset.

2a. The hype may exceed the average player’s experience if, and only if, there is a known variable. GPs are hyped, but the average player wins $0. While initially secret, the priceless treasure became hyped, but the average player opened none. These are still considered hugely successful because the players knew what they were getting into.

3. The disparity in outcomes must be either known, preferably with published odds, or minimal. Examples:
A. Priceless treasures had a huge disparity in outcomes. Once the secret was revealed, the odds of opening one were published. Because this was ongoing, players remained excited.
B. The textless nonfoil MPR cards were normally not known until players started receiving them, but because the disparity between them was so small it wasn’t a big deal if someone else got a different promo card.
C. The Helvault contents were thought to be identical, but then suddenly premium Helvaults were discovered and the found out the incredible things other tournaments had received. Players started to angrily ask “Why them? Why not us? How is this fair?”
D. Had the premium Helvaults been known about beforehand, the comments when people reported these things would have been “Aw, you’re so lucky! I can’t believe your tournament was the one to get those!” (And probably “How is this fair?” because you will never be able to make everyone happy).

4. Don’t be over ambitious unless you have complete control. This is the reason the promotion was flawed from the beginning. You want the contents to be secret. However, it is absolutely guaranteed that a couple people will open theirs ahead of time to spoil the contents. But if the existence of the premium Helvaults is discovered, every greedy and dishonest organizer in the world will open their Helvault beforehand and remove the judge foils, say “Darn, looks like we didn’t get any of them!” and list them on eBay. So the odds of getting a premium Helvault have to be small enough that the spoiled ones will most likely be nonpremium. But you don’t want premium Helvaults sent to near empty prereleases where the dozen players each get one and 40 go on eBay. So you need to hype the event to get players in. And now we’ve gone in a (hopefully not too confusing) circle, because too many of these decisions were being dictated by circumstances beyond your control.

So back to the actual question of how could this have been done differently? Well with those points in mind, there are a number of possible options:

5. The contents of the Helvault are known, but not the existence of the premium Helvaults. With the contents known, there would be no reason for anyone to open them prematurely so the premium ones would not be discovered. This would ruin a lot of the mystery, but it would prevent dealers from trying to cannibalize their Helvaults for expensive foils. Because the premium Helvaults would be a secret, the disparity would have to be smaller. Instead of $100+ cards, there should be $10-20 cards. As I stated before, I wasn’t in any of the meetings about this so I don’t know how the cards wound up inside it. It is possible that the discussion was about how to disperse all the excess judge and MPR promos that were laying in around, rather than the discussion was what to fill the Helvault with. If the main goal was to find a way to get these foils into the hands of players, this option wouldn’t work.
6. Have the existence of the premium Helvaults known, but not the exact contents of either. For this to work, it would have to be known that there were three things, and all were foil in the premium Helvault. Most likely you would remove the dice and have foil tokens, oversize cards, and promo foils. This way, if a store opened a Helvault with the foil tokens and oversize cards but nothing else, the players would know that their organizer was trying to screw them over. This is probably the worst option and the announcement of such a thing would have to be written extremely delicately.
7. Make all Helvaults the same. The previous solution is worse, but this is my least favorite. It is very rare that you are able to surprise the community as happened this weekend, and it is always extremely exciting when it happens.
8. Keep the contents of the Helvault secret and the existence of premium Helvaults secret, and just drastically reduce the disparity in value.

I know there are a number of key points I’m forgetting, but I’ve taken enough of your time already. I know many of these points have been mentioned already, but I hope I was able to help shed some light on the negative feedback from this weekend. If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to discuss them via email or phone at anytime. Thank you very much for taking the time to read all this.”

That’s right, folks, I actually am capable of writing a 2000 word letter without swearing. It’s just a lot harder.

Dr. Jeebus’s Avacyn Restored Set Review

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Alright guys, it’s been a while since I did a full on set review of every single card, but here you go. There’s also financial analysis of the set and a top 10 list at the end, cause people love money and lists. And lists about money. Oh yeah, and if you somehow found this review and are completely unfamiliar with my work, I use bad words. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

White (41)

Angel of Glory’s Rise 5ww
Creature – Angel Rare
When Angel of Glory’s Rise enters the battlefield, exile all Zombies, then return all Human creature cards from your graveyard to the battlefield.

It’s the perfect foil for all those decks running around based on Zombie Apocalypse! They slap that thing down turn 6 and then BOOM! Turn 7 you turn the tables, with extreme severity. In all seriousness though, the only possible use I can see for this is as a sideboard card for Frites against zombies. Elesh Norn is overall better, but if they have a couple Diregraf Captains out things can get a bit dicey. Even 1 captain can result in quite a bit of life loss, especially combined with Geralf’s Messengers, so the exile is relevant.

Angel of Jubilation 1www
Creature – Angel Rare
Other nonblack creatures you control get +1/+1.
Players can’t pay life or sacrifice creatures to cast spells or activate abilities.

I’m not too big on this card outside of EDH although others disagree. It hoses Birthing Pod, Mortarpod, and off color Dismember Pod, but that’s about it. Four mana for a 3/3 flying Glorious Anthem isn’t awful by any means, but it’s also not as good as Hero of Bladehold. Strong in limited if the triple white isn’t an issue and can stop random things in EDH, but that’s about it.

Angel’s Mercy 2ww
Instant Common
You gain 7 life.

Bad reprint is bad.

Angelic Wall 1w
Creature – Wall Common
Defender, flying

Moderate limited reprint is moderate limited reprint.

Archangel 5ww
Creature – Angel Uncommon
Flying, vigilance

I strongly disapprove of this reprint. Yeah it fits the angel theme and all, but it’s also bad. This thing was a rare (And thank God it’s uncommon now) from the era when Serra Angel was considered too fit to see print. Archangels are supposed to be stronger than other angels. While that’s true with power and toughness…except for all the other angels as big or bigger than it…it’s a much worse card. If the format is slow enough then yeah a 5/5 flying, vigilance is good in limited, but seven mana is an awful lot.

Avacyn, Angel of Hope 5www
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, vigilance
Avacyn, Angel of Hope and other permanents you control are indestructible.

Potentially strong reanimation target, but we won’t know until at least October. Between Vapor Snag and Elesh Norn, there’s no reason to be running this right now. Except in EDH, where my buddy Dan will hit it the first time he uses Mayael every fucking game. And in Kaalia. The ability is irrefutably power, especially in EDH, but there are just better choices for your mana. Unless you have a hardon for angels.

Banishing Stroke 5w
Put target artifact, creature or enchantment on the bottom of its owner’s library.
Miracle {W} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Strong in limited despite the high casting cost. Even not as a miracle, though, this card is good. I imagine it will also see EDH play as another way to tuck generals. As for constructed, I’d rather just run O-Ring.

Builder’s Blessing 3w
Enchantment Uncommon
Untapped creatures you control get +0/+2.

In what fucking world is a functional reprint of Castle necessary? I’m not that upset because it’s not like they wasted a particularly good card name on this, but it won’t see any play so I’ll need to keep all my Bob the Builder jokes to myself.

Call to Serve 1w
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant nonblack creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/+2, has flying, and is an Angel in addition to its other types.

I expect this to slightly less playable than Nimbus Wings was, solely because this set seems to have a lot more flyers than normal. And cause maybe you wanna be W/B. Best case scenario, it’s exactly as good as Nimbus Wings.

Cathars’ Crusade 3ww
Enchantment Rare
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.

The effect is really strong here. Definitely sealed playable, draft if the format is slower as well. In constructed it MIGHT see play as a 1 or 2 of. Dropping this the turn after Hero of Bladehold gives all your guys +2/+2 once you attack. Dropping this then casting/flashing back Lingering Souls is pretty impressive. I’d prefer it if the Crusade got the counters instead of the guys themselves, but that would also make it way more powerful. I’m sure someone will want this for EDH as well; pretty funny in a token deck.

Cathedral Sanctifier w
Creature – Human Cleric Common
When Cathedral Sanctifier enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life.

There have been plenty of variations of this card. On a vanilla 1/1, I’m not impressed. Maybe stupid decks like Martyr in modern will play it, but I have no idea cause I hate decks like that.

Cloudshift w
Instant Common
Exile target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.

Flickering doesn’t seem to be nearly as powerful in this limited format as I had hoped. There’s several things that do it, but I don’t recall seeing a ton of ETB effects. It resets undying and repairs soulbound guys, but overall not impressed.

Commander’s Authority 4w
Enchantment – Aura Uncommon
Enchant Creature
Enchanted creature has “At the beginning of your upkeep, put a 1/1 white Human creature token onto the battlefield.”

R&D learned their mistake with Bitterblossom. Unfortunately, they are so afraid of making that mistake again that token generating enchantments must now be unplayable garbage. ?Five mana to give me nothing until my next turn, and even then only if my opponent doesn’t have creature removal and even then only a single 1/1? Sweet!”

Cursebreak 1w
Instant Common
Destroy target enchantment. You gain 2 life.

Nifty Demystify variant. It’s cute, but it’s still Demystify.

Defang 1w
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Prevent all damage that would be dealt by enchanted creature.

The artwork on this is pretty funny. I think it’s interesting that this costs 2 mana whereas Ghostly Possession, the significantly worse though technically more versatile card, costs 3. Bad pacifism variant that will be forced to be playable by a limited amount of removal.

Defy Death 3ww
Sorcery Uncommon
Return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. If it’s an Angel, put two +1/+1 counters on it.

More cards that are cute. I’ve used Rise from the Grave plenty of times in limited so I’m sure this is fine there, especially with the high number of bomb creatures in the set, but at this mana cost and with such a minor bonus effect, I think it’s okay to hit opponents’ graveyards too. Unburial Rites still wins for constructed though. By a lot.

Devout Chaplain 2w
Creature – Human Cleric Uncommon
{T}, Tap two untapped humans you control: Exile target artifact or enchantment.

Another limited only card, but at least this one I like. It’s expensive to use, but I had a lot of success back in Ravnica with Nullmage Shepherd (Who went on to become one of the most hated cards in our casual group thanks to me). This is far more restrictive and may be relegated to sideboards, but having this in your pool will definitely be relevant.

Divine Deflection xw
Instant Rare
Prevent the next X damage that would be dealt to you and/or permanents you control this turn. If damage is prevented this way, Divine Deflection deals that much damage to target creature or player.

Love. This is about the most powerful combat trick you could ever hope for. Used properly, it’s like a Safe Passage that also damages your opponent. Unlikely to see constructed play because of the XW cost (We want things more like Harm’s Way or Refraction Trap), but a complete blowout in limited. Unless you’re a durdle.

Emancipation Angel 1ww
Creature – Angel Uncommon
When Emancipation Angel enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner’s hand.

Meh. Kor Skyfisher was better. The extra W for an extra +1/+0 isn’t a big deal. You can use it to switch up soulbound guys, but in a format that appears to be a lot slower, running the risk of having to bounce your own land seems bad. Oh yeah, Skyfisher was in a much faster format too, one where 16 lands wasn’t uncommon so you would’ve missed a land drop anyway. Yeah, not a fan.

Entreat the Angels xxwww
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Put X 4/4 white Angel creature tokens with flying onto the battlefield.
Miracle {X}{W}{W}

Crap mythic is crap. In EDH Decree of Justice is better (uncounterable, cantrip, though only 1/1’s but whatever. In constructed White Sun Zenith is better (more efficient and an instant). In limited this is a Serra Angel without vigilance that flat out dies to bounce or flicker. Though at seven mana you can get two angels, oooh! The miracle cost makes it worth running since you could wind up drawing it turn 5 and getting two 4/4 flyers, but I wouldn’t be super excited about opening this.

Farbog Explorer 2w
Creature – Human Scout Common

Playable limited fodder. Next.

Goldnight Commander 3w
Creature – Human Soldier Uncommon
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.

Decent in limited, though would’ve been better in ISD/DKA when you had a lot more things making tokens. Please don’t run that awful enchantment just because you have this though. I will hurt you. Oh yeah, and it pairs with flickering.

Goldnight Redeemer 4ww
Creature – Angel Uncommon
When Goldnight Redeemer enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life for each other creature you control.

Fucking bomb in limited. If you don’t believe me, you’ve never cast Congregate in limited. You won’t be gaining as much life as Congregate, but Congregate wasn’t a 4/4 flyer either. I’m sure this has mediocre EDH implications as well.

Herald of War 3ww
Creature – Angel Rare
When Herald of War attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
Angel spells and Human spells you cast cost 1 less for each +1/+1 counter on Herald of War.

Garbage. Run it in limited cause it flies and gets bigger, then toss it in your bulk binder.

Holy Justicar 3w
Creature – Human Cleric Uncommon
2{W}, {T}: Tap target creature. If that creature is a Zombie, exile it.

It’s an Undead Slayer that doesn’t belong in your limited sideboard! The cost to tap is really high especially for a four mana 2/1, but we’re about halfway through white and haven’t seen a lot of removal yet. What choice do you have?

Leap of Faith 2w
Instant Common
Target creature gains flying until end of turn. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to that creature this turn.

Cute name. This card also seems to do a whole lot to just say “Rebuke.” Yeah you can Jump a creature and attack, but it’s going to be Rebuke far more often. Also, Mighty Leap is better like 90% of the time. Just sayin.

Midnight Duelist w
Creature – Human Soldier Common
Protection from Vampires

Where was this when I had to deal with fucking Bloodcrazed Neonates and Erdwal Rippers? You’re in the wrong set, asshole. Um, yeah, sideboard against vamps for limited. Did you need me to tell you that? (Unlike the strictly worse Sanctuary Cat, I don’t think this is ever correct in your main deck)

Midvast Protector 3w
Creature – Human Wizard Common
When Midvast Protector enters the battlefield, target creature you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.

This card wants flash in a big way. Making a bomb flying angel unblockable-ish until EOT is nice I suppose, but without flash I just dislike this creature. It turns all your flickers into super awesome tricks, but by itself is kinda meh.

Moonlight Geist 2w
Creature – Spirit Common
3{W}: Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and by Moonlight Geist this turn.

As long as you pretend removal spells don’t exist, this guy works pretty much exactly like Lantern Spirit. I mainly see this as another Niblis of the Mist: French vanilla 2/1 flyer that I don’t particularly like but I’ll play if I have no better options.

Moorland Inquisitor 1w
Creature – Human Soldier Common
2{W}: Moorland Inquisitor gains first strike until end of turn.

Wow, I’m full of analogs to ISD/DKA draft cards! Early game this will play exactly like Darkthicket Wolf. Late game you’ll wish it was Darkthicket Wolf. It’s a bear with a relevant ability though, so it’s playable.

Nearheath Pilgrim 1w
Creature – Human Cleric Uncommon
As long as Nearheath Cleric is paired with another creature, both creatures have lifelink.

I’m not sure which word describes this card more accruately: strong, or annoying. Definitely playable in limited, probably really annoying in limited.

Restoration Angel 3w
Creature – Angel Rare
When Restoration Angel enters the battlefield, you may exile target non-Angel creature you control, then return that creature to the battlefield under your control.

It’s a card I have a lot to say about! This thing is amazing. I’m sure everyone has already told you that, but it’s seriously one of the best cards in the set. In limited it’s a 3/4 flying combat trick that resets Soulbound stuff or untaps creatures for surprise blockers, possibly with their undying reset. But in standard it does all that and more. It makes control’s life a nightmare because they have to choose to either counter this at the end of their turn thus tapping their mana, or they let you start attacking with a 3/4 angel. Also works particularly well with Phyrexian Metamorph which has finally been getting the respect it deserves. Against other creature based decks you can alpha strike, leaving your opponent thinking he’s free to attack. When they swing, you drop the angel, flicker a Metamorph which then copies the angel and flickers something else, and now you have three blockers. That’s best case scenario in terms of combat tricks, but it’s hardly magical Christmas land. Go to FNM on May 4th and get your promo one. The art’s not as cool, but it’s foil alternate art.

Riders of Gavony 2ww
Creature – Human Knight Rare
As Riders of Gavony enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Human creatures you control have protection from creatures of the chosen type.

Those of you who follow podcasts and/or Twitter may know that one Christine Sprankle, one of my cohosts on Jinxed Idols, got an episode of The Eh Team removed from MTG Cast for using the N word. Needless to say someone so racist would love a card defined by racism. Definitely strong in limited, and seems like it might have constructed applications as well. Spirits, humans, zombies, and giants are about the only relevant creature types right now, in that they’re about the only creatures right now. Unless we see a massive shake up in the meta from Avacyn Restored, this is going to be a card to watch. A 3/3 vigilance for four that makes an entire human deck unblockable seems worth running.

Righteous Blow w
Instant Common
Righteous Blow deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.

Limited removal. It hurts being both situational and only 2 damage in a slower format with larger creatures, but it’s going to be playable.

Seraph of Dawn 2ww
Creature – Angel Common
Flying, lifelink

As far as four mana common angels go for limited, I’m not sure we could’ve hoped for much better. Not super exciting, but still very playable.

Silverblade Paladin 1ww
Creature – Human Knight Rare
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Silverblade Paladin is paired with another creature, both creatures have double strike.

As soon as Mirran Crusader is gone, this guy is going to see a metric shitton of play. Unless Ravnica changes the way we think about Magic. May even see some play beforehand, but it’s hard to imagine soulbound (a sometimes null ability) beating protection from two colours.

Spectral Gateguards 4w
Creature – Spirit Soldier Common
As long as Spectral Gateguards is paired with another creature, both creatures have vigilance.

I expect this to see some limited play and to be annoying as all Hell. Vigilance on a high toughness creature can be annoying enough, but sharing it with another creature is even more annoying. Not something I’d be excited about running I don’t imagine, but certainly useful.

Terminus 4ww
Sorcery Rare
Put all creatures on the bottom of their owners’ libraries.
Miracle {W}

Hallowed Burial! I’m super excited about this card because now I can run two Hallowed Burials in EDH! It’s fine as a board wipe in limited even at six with how slow this format looks to be, and it may be a one or two of in constructed control decks.

Thraben Valiant 1w
Creature – Human Soldier Common

Meh. It’s a bear that refuses to let your opponent race bears.

Voice of the Provinces 4ww
Creature – Angel Common
When Voice of the Provinces enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 white Human creature token onto the battlefield.

A little pricey for this, but it is a common. As a general rule, one card giving you multiple creatures is good. Also works with flicker shenanigans if you have nothing better.

Zealous Strike 1w
Instant Common
Target creature gets +2/+2 and gains first strike until end of turn.

Strictly better Skillful Lunge. Weird seeing cards strictly better and strictly worse than cards from the previous set. Combat tricks win limited events though.

Blue (42)
Alchemist’s Apprentice 1u
Creature – Human Wizard Common
Sacrifice Alchemist’s Apprentice: Draw a card.

Nothing special, but it gives you something to do early that either trades of chumps then cycles. Not a high pick, but your curve will thank you.

Amass the Components 3u
Sorcery Common
Draw three cards, then put a card from your hand on the bottom of your library.

This is way too cool a card name to waste on a near reprint of Sift. Decent midlevel pick.

Arcane Melee 4u
Enchantment Rare
Instant and sorcery spells cost 2 less to cast.

The first time I read this card I loved it, because I missed that it was symmetrical. Even so, it’s still a really strong effect that probably has applications in either Modern storm decks or crazy combo shit I can’t think of off the top of my head. Definitely strong in EDH as well where you’re routinely casting 7-10 mana spells.

Captain of the Mists 2u
Creature – Human Wizard Rare
Whenever another Human enters the battlefield under your control, untap Captain of the Mists.
1{U}, {T}: You may tap or untap target permanent.

I really wish I understood why this was rare instead of uncommon like Tideforce Elemental. Hitting all permanents instead of just creatures is nice, but the extra mana to activate makes a big difference. It’s a very high pick as these types of creatures always are, just wish it was uncommon.

Crippling Chill 2u
Instant Common
Tap target creature. It doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.
Draw a card.

Considering how many times I’ve run Twitch in limited (Normally as a 22nd or 23rd card), I’d be an asshole if I didn’t say this was limited playable. Especially in a format that looks like it’s going to be won by bomb creatures attacking, this may wind up going higher than I’d expect.

Deadeye Navigator 4uu
Creature – Spirit Rare
As long as Deadeye Navigator is paired with another creature, both creatures have “1{U}: Exile this creature, then return it to the battlefield under your control.”

What an annoying ability. Thank God damage doesn’t stack anymore! So we’ve basically got a 5/5 that will never die and makes sure something else of yours never dies. And if they try to remove a creature, just flicker this guy, switch soulbond to the targeted creature when it comes back, then flicker that one. This creature will win games, annoy the fuck out of people, and separate good players from bad.

Devastation Tide 3uu
Sorcery Rare
Return all nonland permanents to their owners’ hands.
Miracle 1{U}

Not a huge fan in limited, although there will be decks that will want this for sure. Definitely possible as a card for control decks to gain tempo in constructed, and another Evacation/Innundate for blue EDH players. Oh, and badass art.

Dreadwaters 3u
Sorcery Common
Target player puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard, where X is the number of lands you control.

Don’t play this card.

Elgaud Shieldmate 3u
Creature – Human Soldier Common
As long as Elgaud Shieldmate is paired with another creature, both creatures have hexproof.

Fuck you, hexproof. No one likes you. This is at least a mid level pick, especially now that we know how fucking annoying hexproof is. Fuck you.

Favourable Winds 1u
Enchantment Uncommon
Creatures you control with flying gets +1/+1.

Show me a constructed deck that would be happy with this card, and I’ll show you a deck that would be happier with Intangible Virtue or Honor of the Pure. If you manage to draft ALL flyers then this is fine for limited, but for the most part it’s a cool card that has no use.

Fettergeist 2u
Creature – Spirit Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Fettergeist unless you pay 1 for each other creature you control.

I feel like this card is really good, but I get fooled by powerful midrange flyers for 2U constantly. I probably just have too many fond memories of Serendib Efreet from the mid ’90s. Any argument I could make about the viability of this card in Standard is destroyed by the existence of Thunderbolt.

Fleeting Distraction u
Instant Common
Target creature gets -1/-0 until end of turn.
Draw a card.

I don’t remember ever running this in Rise of the Eldrazi limited unless I had like 3x Kiln Fiend. Considering that’s not an option here, I can’t imagine myself running this unless I desperately need cards that will cycle for 1 mana.

Galvanic Alchemist 2u
Creature – Human Wizard Common
As long as Galvanist Alchemist is paired with another creature, both creatures have “2{U}: Untap this creature.”

Is there a Tim in this set? I don’t remember seeing one, but if so now you can make him a machine gun. Or for that mana cost I guess a BB gun. Decent enough early game protection that can give your bombs “vigilance” seems decent.

Geist Snatch 2uu
Instant Common
Counter target creature spell. Put a 1/1 blue Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

Summoner’s Bane was such a strong card and a high pick in limited. I think being a 1/1 flyer instead of a 2/2 hurts this card a lot, but then again it’s a common now instead of uncommon. Playable in limited for sure, but not as good as I’d like.

Ghostform 1u
Sorcery Common
Up to two target creatures are unblockable this turn.

I have a feeling that in this format you may want one of these in your deck, but I normally ignore the blue unblockable sorceries unless I have a build that specifically wants it.

Ghostly Flicker 2u
Instant Common
Exile two target artifacts, creatures and/or lands you control, then return those cards to the battlefield under your control.

The effect is super strong, but there don’t seem to be enough ETB/LTB effects to fully take advantage of what should be such an awesome card. Even so, it’s still two surprise blockers, save two chump blockers, save guys after opponent wastes combat tricks, untap special lands, etc etc.

Ghostly Touch 1u
Enchantment – Aura Uncommon
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature had “Whenever this creature attacks, you may tap or untap target permanent.

Kinda hard to say anything nice about this after having Niblis of the Urn. I like this ability, but I want a creature that already has it.

Gryff Vanguard 4u
Creature – Human Knight Common
When Gryff Vanguard enters the battlefield, draw a card.

This is pretty strong, actually. Sure it’s just a Snapping Drake, but you get to cantrip for only one extra mana. Compare that to the perfectly draftable Kavu Climber which costs 2 more for the extra card. I’d be perfectly happy running two of these in a limited deck.

Havengul Skaab 5u
Creature – Zombie Horror Common
Whenever Havengul Skaab attacks, return another creature you control to its owner’s hand.

This is what I expect from big blue commons: garbage. We’ve had it too good for too long with things like Harbor Serpent!

Infinite Reflection 5u
Enchantment – Aura Rare
Enchant Creature
When Infinite Reflection enters the battlefield attached to a creature, each other nontoken creature you control becomes a copy of that creature.
Nontoken creatures you control enter the battlefield as a copy of enchanted creature.

I kinda ripped on this on Jinxed Idols, but I’m not sure it’s bad in limited as a finisher. Having a card that says “5U: All your creatures kick ass” doesn’t seem terrible. Unlike Essence of the Wild it does require that there’s a creature worth copying already in play, but it also affects the things you already had in play beforehand as well which can potentially make this like a blue Overrun. Until the limited format is known, I’d say it’s worth running this at the prerelease if you get it and see how it works. It may be a first pick in limited, but it may also be unplayable shit. More likely it’s somewhere in between, like a 3rd or 4th pick.

Into the Void 3u
Sorcery Uncommon
Return up to two target creatures to their owners’ hands.

This is called Undo at costs 1UU. Oh yeah, and it was fucking broken in limited at 1UU. Expect this to be super good as well. I’m not sure that you’d first pick it, but it’s definitely not going to table…so I’d first pick it and then force blue. I’m also a control freak.

Latch Seeker 1uu
Creature – Spirit Uncommon
Latch Seeker is unblockable.

It’s a nice clock in limited, but really meh in constructed. I keep double checking the artifacts to see if there are swords or cleavers to put on this thing. Man am I spoiled.

Lone Revenant 3uu
Creature – Spirit Rare
Whenever Lone Revenant deals combat damage to a player, if you control no other creatures, look at the top four cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the others on the bottom of your library in any order.

The theory behind this card is that it’s a must-block creature. However, this must-block creature is a 4/4 for five with no evasion, and blocking is only a must if it’s your only creature. Pretty unimpressive as a card draw engine, but a 4/4 hexproof for 5 isn’t exactly bad.

Lunar Mystic 2uu
Creature – Human Wizard Rare
Whenever you cast an instant spell, you may pay 1. If you do, draw a card.

I love this card, and I love the art. Unlikely to be great in limited…or constructed for that mana. But man did my Azami EDH deck just get even more annoying!

Mass Appeal 2u
Sorcery Uncommon
Draw a card for each Human you control.

I present to you this set’s shitty card draw spell based on one of the set’s mechanics. Next!

Mist Raven 2uu
Creature – Bird Common
When Mist Raven enters the battlefield, return target creature to its owner’s hand.

Mist Raven: Starring John Cusack. Sorry, I’m tired. Flying Man-o-War is really good. This is another card that probably shouldn’t be a first pick but won’t table so I would take just to force the archetype. This also belongs in your common cube if you have one. I don’t know much about building cubes, but I sure as Hell know that’s true.

Misthollow Griffin 2uu
Creature – Griffin Mythic Rare
You may cast Misthollow Griffin from exile.

This card is impossible to gauge without testing it first. We’ve never had a card you could cast from exile before, so there’s really no baseline of comparison on this one. It combos in Legacy with Food Chain (And I grabbed 4 foil Food Chains cause I think that’s viable) and it has synergy in Standard with Moorland Haunt, but beyond that? No fucking clue. My guess is that it’s a lot like Tarmogoyf – A deceptively powerful card that will result in decks running subpar cards for cute combos with this, but ultimately will be revealed as being strong on its own and just working well with existing cards like the Haunt. Oh, and I’m not saying this is anywhere near Goyf in terms of power of potential value, just in terms of deck construction (When Goyf came out, decks were running Chromatic Star for no reason other than it made Goyf bigger and didn’t cost you a card from your hand. This was later realized to be idioctic). Absolute worst case scenario: Phantom Monster is good in limited.

Nephalia Smuggler u
Creature – Human Rouge Uncommon
3{U},{T}: Exile another target creature you control, then return that card to the battlefield under your control.

Mistmeadow Witch for 1 instead of 2. More annoying combat/soulbound crap and pretty useful, but I’m not in love with it beyond their being a shortage of worthwhile 1 drops.

Outwit u
Instant Common
Counter target spell that targets a player.

Generic conditional counterspell. Whatever.

Peel from Reality 1u
Instant Common
Return target creature you control and target creature you don’t control to their owners’ hands.

I don’t see this being as strong here as it was in Ravnica when you had much better ETB effects like Galvanic Arc, but it’s still a decent tempo play in limited.

Rotcrown Ghoul 4u
Creature – Zombie Common
When ~ dies, target player puts the top five cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

You’re not going to draft enough mill for this guy to be anything but a bad Hill Giant.

Scrapskin Drake 2u
Creature – Zombie Drake Common
Scrapskin Drake can block only creatures with flying.

I was just thinking how much I wished Cloud Elemental had been a zombie! Good limited card nonetheless.

Second Guess 1u
Instant Uncommon
Counter target spell if it was the second spell cast this turn.

The flavour text of this card “I see where you’re going with that. I don’t like it.” sums up my thoughts on this card perfectly. MAYBE if it cost U instead of 1U it’d have a place in Modern or Legacy, but at 2 mana it’s kind of insultingly bad.

Spectral Prison 1u
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step.
Whenever enchanted creature becomes the target of a spell, sacrifice Spectral Prison.

Ice Cage variant that’s far less playable in this format with the abundance of flicker effects.

Spirit Away 5uu
Enchantment – Aura Rare
Enchant creature
You control enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has flying.

Based on the name, this card should be far more complicated. It should exile the creature and give you a token copy that’s a spirit in addition or something. But that’s just me. Seven mana seems hefty, but I have a feeling that in this format it should go just as high as Mind Control in any other format.

Stern Mentor 3u
Creature – Human Wizard Uncommon
As long as Stern Mentor is paired with another creature, both creatures have “{T}: Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.”

Okay, I missed this card before evaluating the stupid zombie. This card is what you need to make mill a viable strategy in limited, and it pairs really well with the expensive machine gun soulbond dealy. The ability to mill 4 every turn is pretty huge. This guy and the untap soulbond or the rare that untaps or just a couple of these and mill can happen very quickly. Probably shouldn’t be your main win condition, especially with this guy only being 2/2, but definitely gives you options.

Stolen Goods 3u
Sorcery Rare
Target opponent exiles cards from the top of his or her library until he or she exiles a nonland card. Until end of turn, you may cast that card without paying its mana cost.

This shouldn’t be played anywhere but EDH, but I like it. Cute name too.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage 3uu
Planeswalker – Tamiyo Mythic Rare
+1: Tap target permanent. It doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step.
-2: Draw a card for each tapped creature target player controls.
-8: You get an emblem with “You have no maximum hand size” and “Whenever a card is put into your graveyard from anywhere, you may return it to your hand.”

I hate this card. A Soratami planeswalker out of place is really cool, but I hate what she does. Play better card draw spells or play Frost Titan (Until October), but I hate this so much. Just casting Frost Titan will have the same effect that this almost always will, except instead of needing to crazygonuts with her ultimate, they’d just be dead from taking 6 damage a turn. And multiples are awesome, not dead. If you live in magical Christmas land then sure, she does all sorts of zany shit. In the real world, she’s terrible until October, and probably then too. She can be really strong in EDH where you can run Doubling Season and just ultimate the second you cast her, but beyond that meh. Dump these as soon as you get them, cause she’s not retaining her price. Just because she’s blue doesn’t mean she’s JTMS. Cause she’s awful.

Tandem Lookout 2u
Creature – Human Scout Uncommon
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Tandem Lookout is paired with another creature, each of those creatures has “Whenever this creature deals damage to an opponent, draw a card.”

I think this is really strong, especially because it can either pair with your 2 drop to draw a surprise card immediately, or it pairs with the 1 drop soulbound guy coming up.

Temporal Mastery 5uu
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Take an extra turn after this one. Exile Temporal Mastery.
Miracle 1{U} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

This card’s awesome. It exiles itself so it’s impossible to break, but it’s still really strong. You may want to dump these immediately in case Brainstorm, SDT, or others get the axe in Legacy. Worst case scenario you can just pick them back up for the same price you sold them for being the ban announcement, but I expect at least Brainstorm and probably others have finally reached the end of their tenure in Legacy. Oh, and this won’t be banned. They’ll ban the cards that were already potentially a problem, not the card they JUST printed and included a clause on to prevent stupid infinite turn bullshit.

Vanishment 4u
Instant Uncommon
Put target nonland permanent on top of its owner’s library.
Miracle {U}

This card is fine whether it’s the miracle cost or not. Five mana is a little expensive, but being instant and being any nonland permanent, not just creatures, are both huge boons. Probably a pick 3-5.

Wingcrafter u
Creature – Human Wizard Common
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long a Wingbonder is paired with another creature, both creatures have flying.

It’s that guy I was talking about that pairs well with the soulbound Ophidian! Solid limited guy especially as a one drop.

Black (41)
Appetite for Brains b
Sorcery Uncommon
Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it with converted mana cost 4 or greater and exile that card.

It’s decent, but I’m not overly impressed. The exile is relevant right now, with all the reanimation stuff going on, but if I’m playing a turn 1 discard I want to be hitting their turn 1 or 2 play, not their turn 4 or 5 play.

Barter in Blood 2bb
Sorcery Uncommon
Each player sacrifices two creatures.

This card is amazing…as soon as people stop playing Lingering Souls. Frequently will act as full on board wipe in limited though.

Blood Artist 1b
Creature – Vampire Uncommon
Whenever Blood Artist or another creature dies, target player loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.

It may be fragile, but we already know how powerful the effect is from Falkenrath Noble. Despite being a two drop it’s not as good since it can never do damage on its own, but still very good.

Bloodflow Connoisseur 2b
Creature – Vampire Common
Sacrifice a creature: Put a +1/+1 counter on Bloodflow Connoisseur.

Cards like these tend to be very strong in limited. Not new, but not fun to play against either.

Bone Splinters b
Sorcery Common
As an additional cost to cast Bone Splinters, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target creature.

I imagine this will be pretty strong removal in this format as it kills anything, and there’s a lot of really big anythings much removal would miss. Also, the new artwork is amazing.

Butcher Ghoul 1b
Creature – Zombie Common

Hey, it’s Young Wolf! At 1 mana this was fine. At two? Much less so.

Corpse Traders 3b
Creature – Human Rogue Uncommon
2{B}, Sacrifice a creature: Target player reveals his or her hand. You choose a card from it. That player discards that card.

Wow do I hate this. I mean, it gives you an excuse to run the 1/1 undying zombie I guess, but blech. I didn’t even like Cat Burglar in limited, so I don’t see how I’d like one that sacs a guy instead of just tapping. I realize it’s Coercion instead of letting them choose to discard, but still really dislike this guy.

Crypt Creeper 1b
Creature – Zombie Common
Sacrifice Crypt Creeper: Exile target card from a graveyard.

It’s a bear…I mean as close to a bear as black gets in limited…not counting Walking Corpse which had durdles up in arms for some reason. The exile ability doesn’t seem amazing in this format since there’s no flashback, but there’s still some amount of undying so it’s fine.

Dark Imposter 2b
Creature – Vampire Assassin Rare
4{B}{B}: Exile target creature and put a +1/+1 counter on Dark Imposter.
Dark Imposter has all activated abilities of all creature cards exiled with it.

Hilariously bomby. Yes, the activated ability is expensive, but I liken this guy to Deepfire Elemental. Coldsnap was another format that was light on removal, and that guy was fucking bonkers. And he usually cost more mana to remove stuff, didn’t grow, cost 6 to even get into play, and didn’t leech their abilities. Early game this guy’s a Grey Ogre that can get some tempo advantage, and then as soon as you hit 6 mana this shuts down anything they want to do. Except hexproof. Fuck hexproof. I think others will disagree, but I would first pick this guy in draft. Not sold on him for EDH yet, but I might test him out in my Geth deck to see. I feel like your average black deck has so much amazing removal that he’s not necessary, but you can always steal some asshole Kraj player’s infinite combo or something which is funny.

Demonic Rising 3bb
Enchantment Rare
At the beginning of your end step, if you control exactly one creature, put a 5/5 black Demon creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

Really hard to tell what I think about this without playing the format. It’s huge that this says at the beginning of your end step and not your upkeep, though. That means the turn you cast it (assuming you only have 1 other guy) you already get a 5/5 flyer for 5, which is absolutely fine. If you ever get another token off it that’s just gravy for what you paid, but the question remains: how often will this trigger when cast on turn 5?

Demonic Taskmaster 2b
Creature – Demon Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature other than Demonic Taskmaster.

Seems like a fine beater for a control deck. Four power flying that just doesn’t want you having another creature is fine. Not casting other creatures means you just have more mana to control the game state. The only thing that keeps me from loving this guy is that he trades with Delver which gets in under every counterspell except Mental Misstep.

Demonlord of Ashmouth 2bb
Creature – Demon Rare
When Demonlord of Ashmouth enters the battlefield, exile it unless you sacrifice another creature.

This guy sure is efficient, but that drawback is going to be a bigger pain in the ass than it’s worth in constructed. In limited this guy is probably an enormous bomb cause you should have something to sac on turn 4 to get this guy out and start beating.

Descent into Madness 3bb
Enchantment Mythic Rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a despair counter on Descent into Madness, then each player exiles X permanents he or she controls and/or cards from his or her hand, where X is the number of despair counters on Descent into Madness.
The stairs lead down in both directions.

Did anyone say they wanted a fixed version of Smokestack? If so, go fuck yourself for making them waste a mythic slot on this garbage.

Death Wind xb
Instant Common
Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn.

Very high pick limited removal. It fucks shit up.

Dread Slaver 3bb
Creature – Zombie Horror Rare
Whenever a creature dealt damage by Dread Slaver this turn dies, return it to the battlefield under your control. That creature is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types.

Did anyone say they wanted a fixed version of The Wretched? Oh, I did? Well yeah, but that was 1997. I’m over it. This is about the best defender you could ask for, but on offense it’s just a 3 power unblockable for 5 which isn’t super impressive. It has EDH applications though, especially because it says NOTHING about combat damage. This guy is just a Basilisk Collar and Thornbite Staff away from making you lose all your friends. Oh, and if you cast the rare green miracle on this guy and steal your opponent’s entire board at the prerelease, John Medina has offered to give you a free foil Cavern of Souls. Just kidding, that asshole’s not giving you shit; it’ll be cool though!

Driver of the Dead 3b
Creature – Vampire Common
When Driver of the Dead dies, return target creature with converted mana cost 2 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

In theory this is a really strong common for limited (And very reminiscent of soulshift). Sadly, there’s not a whole lot for 2 or less to return.

Essence Harvest 2b
Sorcery Common
Target player loses X life and you gain X life, where X is the highest power amongst creatures you control.

I question how good this card is going to be, but I love the design. The fact that it’s common and not uncommon like most of these cards are indicates that it’s probably not very good, so it’s okay for it to show up a lot.

Evernight Shade 3b
Creature – Shade Uncommon
{B}: Evernight Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Not sure if this is a first pick, but it’s up there. Shades are really powerful in limited, and an undying shade is pretty phenomenal, even at 4 mana for a 1/1.

Exquisite Blood 4b
Enchantment Rare
Whenever an opponent loses life, you gain that much life.

This card is amazing for EDH. Sure you can play it with Sanguine Bond to flat out win the second anyone takes a damage/loses a life, but then you’re a cunt. I’d play this over Sanguine Bond because it’s less likely to make enemies and has a stronger effect. I wouldn’t play this alongside Sanguine Bond because I’m not that kind of asshole.

Ghoulflesh b
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature.
Enchanted creature gets -1/-1 and is a black Zombie in addition to its other colors and types.

Well…it’s kinda like removal. In a pinch this is fine, but hopefully you can find some other way to kill creatures.

Gloom Surgeon 1b
Creature – Spirit Rare
If combat damage would be dealt to Gloom Surgeon, prevent that damage and exile that many cards from the top of your library.

Very cool design on this guy. Hate it for limited, but possible constructed applications. A 2/1 that can swing every turn without fear is pretty nice, but it loses points by not being a zombie and loses even more for exiling instead of milling. I wouldn’t write it off yet, but I don’t think the feature bodes well for undead sawbones.

Grave Exchange 4bb
Sorcery Common
Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. Target player sacrifices a creature.

At the low, low cost of only 6 mana to combine a 1 mana spell and a 2 mana spell, this is guaranteed to always make your opponent sacrifice the creature you want dead. I would fist pick this monster of a bomb for days.*
*Editor’s note: If it needs to be explained to you that this is sarcasm, please quit. Life, I mean.

Griselbrand 4bbbb
Legendary Creature – Demon Mythic Rare
Flying, lifelink
Pay 7 life: Draw seven cards.

When I saw Avacyn spoiled, I thought she would be the new reanimate target of choice. Then the next guy this guy escaped from the Helvault. Seriously what the fucking shit is this? I love it and it’s amazing, but wtf? This will probably start seeing serious play come October, but sadly it’s already banned in EDH. I mean, not officially yet, but it’s fucking banned. Yawgmoth’s Bargain is banned, and this guy is just Yawgmoth’s Bargain as your general. Not a fucking chance, you combo playing douchebags. You will play Necropotence in EDH, and you will thank the good lord every day that we even allow that! Oh yeah, then we’ll cast Mind Slaver and play “Stop hitting yourself.”

Harvester of Souls 4bb
Creature-Demon Rare
Whenever another nontoken creature dies, you may draw a card.

Seems really strong for limited, and another awesome EDH card. Turn every mass removal spell into a Decree of Pain!

Homicidal Seclusion 4b
Enchantment Uncommon
As long as you control exactly one creature, that creature gets +3/+1 and has lifelink.

At least it’s not an aura? I dunno, seems like garbage.

Human Frailty b
Instant Uncommon
Destroy target Human creature.

Don’t mind if I do! I know there’s a lot of humans, but without the set in gatherer yet I can’t easily found out how exactly useful this will be. My guess is very, but you can count all the humans yourself.

Hunted Ghoul b
Creature – Zombie Common
Hunted Ghoul can’t block Humans.

Finally Sanctuary Cat’s reign of terror over limited can come to an end! That card was far too powerful, so I’m really happy that the black version has a potentially serious drawback.

Killing Wave xb
Sorcery Rare
For each creature, its controller sacrifices it unless he or she pays X life.

This card is an exercise in beautiful, elegant design that will sadly never accomplish what you want. There is no world in which I would ever want to run this in my deck over Black Sun’s Zenith (Please don’t comment with a million fucking corner cases in which this card is better). Maybe black will run this as a sideboard against token decks in October, but it’s too situational to be a maindeck card.

Maalfeld Twins 5b
Creature – Zombie Uncommon
When Maalfeld Twins dies, put two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield.

Six mana is a little steep, but a 4/4 that gives you two 2/2s when it dies is really good and certainly worth the investment. Also, as I’ve mentioned, six mana seems totally reasonable for this limited format.

Marrow Bats 4b
Creature – Bat Skeleton Uncommon
Pay 4 life: Regenerate Marrow Bats.

Fair. A 4 power flyer for 5 isn’t unreasonable, and paying 4 life to kill a creature isn’t unreasonable (Think Slaughter with buyback, which is a fucking BOMB in limited). Sadly this isn’t Slaughter and this isn’t Sengir Vampire, nor is it both in one. There’s no Geistflame so it’s probably correct to run the bats, but I’m not happy about them.

Mental Agony 3b
Sorcery Common
Target player discards two cards and loses 2 life.

Normally I’m against Mind Rot variants except as a 23rd card or if it’s Blightning. In this limited format, however, this card may be as high as a 20th card.

Necrobite 2b
Instant Common
Target creature gains deathtouch until end of turn. Regenerate it

Situational removal! But hey, it’s removal and it can hit anything so take this way over that -1/-1 thing (but take the -X/-X over this).

Polluted Dead 4b
Creature – Zombie Common
When Polluted Dead dies, destroy target land.

With so many 5+ drops being relevant in this format, this guy might actually matter. If you hit him turn 5 and your opponent misses a single land drop, there’s a decent chance you can set them too really far behind…or just get a 3/3 unblockable. Either way.

Predator’s Gambit b
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+1.
If enchanted creature’s controller controls no other creatures, it has intimidate.

Look at your limited pool. Would you run Unholy Strength in your deck? If so, run this. If not, don’t. Totally ignore the conditional ability when choosing and just treat it as a happy bonus if it happens. And if you don’t know whether or not you should be running Unholy Strength? Well…it’d take me way too long to even attempt to answer that question correctly in an already enormous article, so when it doubt, just assume no.

Renegade Demon 3bb
Creature – Demon Common

It’s 1 better than Zombie Goliath! Still not impressed, but playable? Well…technically? You should have so many better cards on the high end of your curve though; not like there’s any shortage of them.

Searchlight Geist 2b
Creature – Spirit Common
3{B}: Searchlight Geist gains deathtouch until end of turn.

Remember all that stuff I said about Moonlight Geist? You can pretty much just copy and paste that here with the exception that white gets better flyers so a 2/1 flyer for 2B is better in black than it is in white.

Soulcage Fiend 1bb
Creature – Demon Common
When Soulcage Ghoul dies, each player loses 3 life.

Aww, what a cute little 3/2 demon! Definitely gives the possibility of an aggressive draft strategy though, as this guy seems more balls to the wall than most of this set.

Treacherous Pit-Dweller bb
Creature – Demon Rare
When Treacherous Pit-Dweller enters the battlefield from a graveyard, target opponent gains control of it.

I will try to be objective with this card, but I have an irrational love of overly cute plays. For starters, don’t play this guy in limited; he’ll kill you. In constructed, however, I think he has a real chance in an aggressive black/blue or black/red deck. There’s a few important things to remember here: 1. There’s no lightning bolt. Your opponent doesn’t have a simple way to kill this. There’s O-Ring, but that negates the drawback anyway. 2. Your opponent gains control of it as a triggered ability. This gives you the option to cast something like Fling or Altar’s Reap after it undies before they get control of it. 3. If you cast it on turn 2 and are splashing blue, on turn 3 you can start cloning it with Metamorphs or Phantasmal Images to keep the pressure on your opponent. If they die, just have them return to the battlefield as a different creature. Hopefully you’ll have a Phyrexian Obliterator by then or your opponent will have something nifty to copy. Also, if you’re going to the blue route (Which I would choose over red) then you get Vapor Snag so when it undies you make them lose a life and just recast it. Fun times!

Triumph of Cruelty 2b
Enchantment Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, target opponent discards a card if you control the creature with the greatest power or tied for the greatest power.


Undead Executioner 3b
Creature – Zombie Common
When Undead Executioner dies, you may have target creature get -2-2 until end of turn.

This card is both really good, and makes me really sad. It’s a near functional reprint of Disease Carriers, except the -2/-2 is a may ability. My favourite part of Urza’s sealed is figuring out how to fuck my opponent over and force them to chain all their rats together and wipe their whole board with a single removal spell. It’s probably better for everyone this way. And again, high limited pick, like 3-4.

Unhallowed Pact 2b
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
When enchanted creature dies, return it to the battlefield under your control.

I suppose this makes a lot more sense being in black than in blue, but I will always love False Demise. Unfortunately, this card is kinda impossible to rate in a vacuum. There are so many intricacies as to if and when you want to be running this in your limited deck that I don’t know where to begin. I think more often than not it will be incorrect to run this though, and it won’t be a high pick anyway so you can always snag one late just in case.

Red (42)
Aggravate 3rr
Instant Uncommon
Aggravate deals 1 damage to each creature target player controls. Each creature dealt damage this way attacks this turn if able.

I wasn’t a fan of this in Shards block (I realize it was also an enchantment so less of a trick and was two colours), but there were always decks that you wanted this against. Sideboard card in limited, but I don’t see any other use. Unless they ban Intangible Virtue. And Honor of the Pure.

Archwing Dragon 2rr
Creature – Dragon Rare
Flying, haste
At the beginning of the end step, return Archwing Dragon to its owner’s hand.

I can’t stop reading the name as Darkwing. Anyway, it’s like Viashino Cutthroat all over again! Or Hell’s Thunder. It’s fine for red aggro probably as a two of, can sneak lots of damage through in limited if you don’t mind not advancing your board position, and, for my money, is simply not as good as Hell’s Thunder. Good, but not amazing.

Banners Raised r
Instant Common
Creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn.

I didn’t see a ton of opportunity for swarming in limited here, so not sure that you’d want to play this ever. Unless I’m totally missing something, in which case…it’s a maybe at best.

Battle Hymn 1r
Instant Common
Add {R} to your mana pool for each creature you control.


Bonfire of the Damned xxr
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Bonfire of the Damned deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls.
Miracle {X}{R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Okay, so it’s an easier to cast Lavalanche the becomes less efficient when X > 2. But if you topdeck this thing late game your opponent just loses. Limited bomb, and decent for EDH since the one enemy you make will need at least a turn to recover.

Burn at the Stake 2rrr
Sorcery Rare
As an additional cost to cast Burn at the Stake, tap any number of untapped creatures you control.

This strikes me a lot like a red Overrun…which is probably what it’s designed to be based on the cost. It’s pretty cool, and seems really strong in limited if you get into a ground stall. Not sure what new RDW decks will look like, but as a one or two of it could give a lot of reach if the builds are correct for it.

Dangerous Wager 1r
Instant Common
Discard your hand, then draw two cards.

I love this as a RDW card, even though I hate RDW. With a low enough card, you can empty your hand of everything except maybe a land and have a way to get more gas, which is one of the things red has a huge issue with. In practice it might not work out that well and you may be happier with Faithless Looting, but especially at instant it seems like it can either provide more gas or help you dig for answers. Also, gives you a means to miracle on your opponent’s turn.

Demolish 3r
Sorcery Common
Destroy target artifact or land.

It’ll never be Pillage :'(

Dual Casting 1r
Enchantment – Aura Rare
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has “{R}, {T}: Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control. You may choose new targets for the copy.”

Strikes me as a very powerful card for EDH and even for limited if you have enough spells worth copying. Sad that red only copies its own spells this block, but this would be pretty insane anti-countermage tech if it copied other people’s spells. Sadly, you can’t draft both this and Lingering Souls.

Falkenrath Exterminator 2r
Creature – Vampire Archer Uncommon
Whenever Falkenrath Exterminator deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.
2{R}: ~ deals damage to target creature equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it.

This guy is absolutely a top limited pick for red. It may be tough to get that first counter on him, but once it has one it gets really good, really fast.

Fervent Cathar 2r
Creature – Human Knight Common
When Fervent Cathar enters the battlefield, target creature can’t block this turn.

Even though it’s smaller, I much prefer the haste (and single red) on this guy to Crossway Vampire. The vampire was frequently playable in limited, so I don’t see why this wouldn’t be okay as well.

Gang of Devils 5r
Creature – Devil Uncommon
When Gang of Devils dies, it deals 3 damage divided as you choose among one, two, or three target creatures and/or players.

Not a fan at 6 mana. It had to cost 6 mana thanks to the precedent of Pitchburn Devils, but especially with the bump to uncommon I think this could stand to be a 4/4.

Guise of Fire r
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +1/-1 and attacks each turn if able.

Misread this as +1/+1. It’s okay pseudo-removal, but try to draft better cards.

Hanweir Lancer 2r
Creature – Human Knight Common
As long as Hanweir Lancer is paired with another creature, both creatures have first strike.

First strike can be really, really difficult to deal with in limited as many people probably learned from Stromkirk Captain. I really like this guy, especially with flicker effects for limited combat tricks.

Havengul Vampire 3r
Creature – Vampire Uncommon
Whenever ~ deals combat damage to a player, put +1/+1 counter on it.
Whenever another creature dies, put a +1/+1 counter on ~.

This may be my favourite of these vampires in the entire block since it can get bigger without hitting the opponent. Creatures like this tend to be underrated at first in limited formats and then people finally appreciate them after losing to them, so early on I bet you can pick these guys up way later than you should be able to.

Heirs of Stromkirk 2rr
Creature – Vampire Common
Whenever Heirs of Stromkirk deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Man, these +1/+1 vampires are all pretty good, or at least decent. This guy is a little slow, but the intimidate is big and he can become a problem very easily.

Hound of Griselbrand 2rr
Creature – Elemental Hound Rare
Double strike

This seems really, really strong in limited. Also, double strike paired with undying is really cool. Sadly, as cool as it is, it still has bulk rare written all over it.

Kessig Malcontents 2r
Creature – Human Warrior Uncommon
When Kessig Malcontents enters the battlefield, it deals damage to target player equal to the number of Humans you control.

Worst case scenario, this is mediocre in limited. This is either a really strong card to splash in humans for standard, or it’s a wicked durdly idea. I can’t figure out which, but it’s definitely worth playtesting. The possibility to cast this guy on turn 3 in constructed and get a 3/1 that deals 4 damage seems pretty strong though.

Kruin Striker 1r
Creature – Human Warrior Common
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Kruin Striker gets +1/+0 and gains trample until end of turn.

Man, red sure has a lot of cards that want you to be running token decks. Where my red tokens at?

Lightning Mauler 1r
Creature – Human Berserker Uncommon
As long as Lightning Mauler is paired with another creature, both creatures have haste.

This guy is good, and I’m SO glad he didn’t cost 1. He’s unlikely to have haste if you play him correctly, but your next guy (and potentially multiple subsequent ones) will have haste. On the off chance you cast him and another creature in the same turn, that’s just extra good! Perfect card for RDW against control decks. Either speed your clock up, or hold this and another creature back for post Day of Judgment to immediately start putting them back in the danger zone. Fuck, now I need to go watch Archer.

Lightning Prowess 2r
Enchantment – Aura Uncommon
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has haste and {T}: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”

Fun combo with that rare black demon guy in limited: just ping any creature that would die from combat anyway! Even without silly combos, Tims are always really strong in limited, even if it’s in enchantment form. Oh yeah, and it’s a BB gun with that stupid blue guy!

Mad Prophet 3r
Creature – Human Common
{T}, Discard a card: Draw a card.

Red sure does love haste this set, huh? Guy seems really good: looter that doubles as a 2/2! Oh yeah, and red!

Malicious Intent 1r
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has “{T}: Target creature can’t block this turn”.

I’m sure there will be situations where you want this card in limited, but man do I dislike auras like this.

Malignus 3rr
Creature – Elemental Spirit Mythic Rare
Malignus’s power and toughness are equal to half the highest life total among your opponents, rounded up.
Damage that would be dealt by Malignus cannot be prevented.

Seems like this guy could be really fun for EDH, but beyond that it’s pretty meh. It’s awesome in limited until it hits them, then it just becomes kinda bad. On the plus site, while there have been guys that halve your opponent’s life when they deal damage, they’ve always been tiny and easy to kill. Making this guy’s P/T variable makes a huge difference here.

Raging Poltergeist 4r
Creature – Spirit Common

I like you even less than I like Rotting Fensnake.

Reforge the Soul 3rr
Sorcery Rare
Each player discards his or her hand and draws seven cards.
Miracle 1{R}

You can never have too many Wheels in EDH! Another possible 1-2 of in RDW as well, and undoubtedly other applications I’m missing. Wheel is just good.

Riot Ringleader 2r
Creature – Human Warrior Common
Whenever Riot Ringleader attacks, Human creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn.

It’s a 3/2 swinging at least, so it’s better than a Grey Ogre. Which for red is pretty good!

Rush of Blood 2r
Instant Uncommon
Target creature gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is its power.

This is just a bad Soul’s Fire. Like, really bad. Doesn’t even get trample so I can’t call it a Berserk variant. Lame.

Rite of Ruin 5rr
Sorcery Rare
Choose an order for artifacts, creatures, and lands. Each player sacrifices one permanent of the first type, sacrifices two of the second type, then sacrifices three of the third type.

Such a stupid card. Too slow for limited or constructed, and too stupid for EDH. Unlike Obliterate/Jokulhaups which piss everything off and leave them empty handed, this just pisses everyone off. They still have the means to fight back, so you’re fucked.

Somberwald Vigilante r
Creature – Human Warrior Common
Whenever Somberwald Vigilante becomes blocked by a creature, Somberwald Vigilante deals 1 damage to that creature.

It’s fine, but it’ll never be Ashmouth Hound.

Scalding Devil 1r
Creature – Devil Common
2{R}: Scalding deals 1 damage to target player.

This seems pretty okay. It’s only 1/1, but the ability is repeatable so you’ll always have something to do at least. Not constructed worthy by any means, but a nice mana sink for limited.

Stonewright r
Creature – Human Shaman Uncommon
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Stonewright is paired with another creature, each of those creatures has “{R}: This creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.”

I think I’d rather just a 1/1 firebreather for R instead of bothering with soulbond. Had to happen I suppose, and it’s fine.

Pillar of Flame r
Sorcery Common
Pillar of Flame deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead.

It’s the new Magma Spray! Good card good. Good for limited, and very important for RDW or any deck with red to take out Geralf’s Messenger and Strangleroot Geist.

Thatcher Revolt 2r
Sorcery Common
Put three 1/1 red Human creature tokens with haste onto the battlefield. Sacrifice those tokens at the beginnig of the next end step.

Hey, it’s all those tokens we wanted! Except they die at the end of turn. Oh. Um…meh? By itself I think this card is the worst Spark Elemental variant ever. It can be good if you jump through enough hoops, but I’m not positive they’re worth it.

Thunderbolt 1r
Instant Common
Chose one – Thunderbolt deals 3 damage to target player; or Thunderbolt deals 4 damage to target creature with flying.

This card is really good. If you didn’t get to try it the first time around, you’re in for a treat! And with Restoration Angel being so strong, this becomes extremely relevant.

Thunderous Wrath 4rr
Instant Uncommon
Thunderous Wrath deals 5 damage to target creature or player.
Miracle {R} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Amazing for its miracle cost, frequently a dead card otherwise (except in limited where that cost is fine, even if it’s overcosted). It will definitely see play, but the question remains “how much?”

Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded rr
Planeswalker – Tibalt Mythic Rare
+1: Draw a card, then discard a card at random.
-4: Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player’s hand to that player.
-6: Gain control of all creatures until end of turn. Untap them. They gain haste until end of turn.

Maybe it’s because it’s the first 2 mana planeswalker. Maybe it’s because the card has the word “random” on it. But Tibalt makes me want to play red. It sneaks in under Mana Leak/Negate and can just Sudden Impact the control player once or twice to pretty much own the game. The Insurrection ability is awesome in EDH and limited, though the randomness in limited will hurt a lot more where you can’t build around utilizing your graveyard really. It’s not really the card for a RDW style deck (maybe board against heavy control), but it’s extremely powerful and I’m excited to see what he’s going to offer.

Tyrant of Discord 4rrr
Creature – Elemental Rare
When Tyrant of Discord enters the battlefield, target opponent chooses a permanent he or she controls at random and sacrifices it. If a nonland permanent is sacrificed this way, repeat this process.

This is strictly an EDH card, but it’s hilarious. It’s either a Kindercatch + 1, or it’s a total blowout. Or something in between. No one wants to build around that kind of randomness (except in EDH), and no one wants to play Kindercatch in limited (except when they do…which is more often than I’d expect).

Uncanny Speed 1r
Instant Common
Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains haste until end of turn.

I prefer my combat tricks to give first strike or toughness boosts. Haste is okay, but I’m not particularly sold on this.

Vexing Devil r
Creature – Devil Rare
When Vexing Devil enters the battlefield, any opponent may have it deal 4 damage to him or her. If a player does, sacrifice Vexing Devil.

It’s a Lava Spike that does 4 damage…except when it deals 0. Will probably average like 3.6 damage, which is still better than 3, so yay. Strong card, playable in legacy burn replacing a 3 for 1 (cause 4 is more than 3!) and REALLY strong in modern in conjunction with Ranger of Eos.

Vigilante Justice 3r
Enchantment Uncommon
Whenever a Human enters the battlefield under your control, Vigilante Justice deals 1 damage to target creature or player.

Too slow for constructed, but seems like you can gain some serious advantage from this with a properly constructed draft deck. Or an insanely lucky sealed pool.

Zealous Conscripts 4r
Creature – Human Warrior Rare
When Zealous Conscripts enters the battlefield, untap target permanent and gain control of it until end of turn. It gains haste until end of turn.

This has the power to be a total fucking blowout in limited, stealing their bomb and giving you an extra 3 attack. Stealing any permanent is hugely relevant too, especially in EDH where you can steal someone’s Maze of Ith to swing in, steal their planeswalker to set off its ultimate, or do a bunch of other cool stuff.

Green (41)
Abundant Growth g
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant land
When Abundant Growth enters the battlefield, draw a card.
Enchanted land has “{T}: Add one mana of any colour to your mana pool.”

Very well designed card, but doesn’t seem to be much use for it aside from cycling for 1 mana.

Blessing of Nature 4g
Sorcery Uncommon
Distribute four +1+1 counters among any number of target creatures.
Miracle {G}

Great card for limited as you can distribute them, and really good for its miracle cost. For constructed, I’d rather just use Hunger of the Howl Pack. Easier to trigger the alternate ability, and it’s an instant.

Borderland Ranger 2g
Creature – Human Scout Common
When Borderland Ranger enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.

Good card good. Reprint known commodity.

Bower Passage 1g
Enchantment Uncommon
Creatures you control can’t be blocked by creatures with flying.

For far too long Michael Bower, famous for his portrayal of the character Donkeylips on “Salute Your Shorts,” has gone unappreciated in the gaming industry. Finally there’s a card dedicated just to one of the greatest American actors all time. Sadly, this card is going to receive about as much play as his first rap album.

Champion of Lambholt 1gg
Creature – Human Warrior Rare
Creatures with power less than Champion of Lambholt’s power can’t block creatures you control.
Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, put a +1/+1 counter on Champion of Lambholt.

OMG. I just read this card correctly for the first time ever. I’d written this off because we’ve seen cards with that first ability time and time again. They were always decent, but rare? Bleh. I was so unimpressed that I couldn’t even be bothered to read the entire fucking sentence and really his ability effects ALL creatures you control. This is a huge deal. Definitely can just completely blowout games in limited, and may even have a place in standard. A single equipment or even a pump spell can make your entire team unblockable every turn. That’s nothing to shrug at. Also seems like an auto include in green EDH decks, or at least mono green.

Craterhoof Behemoth 5ggg
Creature – Beast Mythic Rare
When Craterhoof Behemoth enters the battlefield, creatures you control gain trample and get +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of creatures you control.

A 5/5 haste Overrun? Do I really need to tell you what to do with this card?

Descendants’ Path 2g
Enchantment Rare
At the beginning of your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card that shares a creature type with a creature you control, you can cast this card without paying its mana cost. Otherwise, put it at the bottom of your library.

This is one of those blatant combo cards that actually has a chance of being important. Not so much in standard, but a really good chance in Modern. Remember: Nest Invader et al are Eldrazi creatures, as are the tokens they make. It may not tier 1, but you’ll need to prepare for it when the set first comes out.

Diregraf Escort g
Creature – Human Cleric Common
As long as ~ is paired with another creature, both creatures have protection from Zombies.

Sideboard card for standard? I dunno. I’m largely unimpressed, especially with the rapid decline in zombies in this set.

Druid’s Familiar 3g
Creature – Bear Uncommon
As long as Druid’s Familiar is paired with another creature, both creatures get +2/+2.

A 4/4 for 4 that makes another creature bigger? Good times.

Druids’ Repository 1gg
Enchantment Rare
Whenever a creature you control attacks, put a charge counter on Druids’ Repository.
Remove a charge counter from Druids’ Repository : Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

If there’s a viable use for this card, I’m not going to be the one to find it for you. I don’t even like this for EDH. I may run this in sealed though just cause it will reduce the chances of you having to listen to me bitch about mana screw on Twitter.

Eaten by Spiders 2g
Instant Uncommon
Destroy target creature with flying and all Equipment attached to that creature.

Awesome name, and a really good card as well! Fuck you, Delver! I’d run it in limited since good players will have flyers. Same reason you maindeck Plummet and Crushing Vines in limited…you have been doing that, right?

Flowering Lumberknot 3g
Creature – Treefolk Common
Flowering Lumberknot can’t attack or block unless it’s paired with a creature with soulbond.

Yuck. 5/5 for 4 isn’t such a huge discount for a green creature that it’s worth that drawback. If you have enough soulbond stuff sure, but otherwise yuck.

Geist Trappers 4g
Creature – Human Warrior Common
As long as ~ is paired with another creature, both creatures have reach.

If you played Somberwald Spider, you should probably play this too. Man, green has some awesome soulbond abilities, the previous card excluded.

Gloomwidow 2g
Creature – Spider Uncommon
Gloomwidow can block only creatures with flying.

Green psuedo-removal, and just a good card. Reprint is known commodity.

Grounded 1g
Enchantment – Aura Common
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature loses flying.

Why would I play this when I can just feed the creature to my spiders?

Howlgeist 5g
Creature – Spirit Wolf Uncommon
Creatures with power less than Howlgeist’s power can’t block it.

SIX MANA? UGH. I know this card is better than I’m going to give it credit for, but it just seems so expensive to me. I know the 5 mana 4/1 undying vampire was sometimes playable, at least in sealed, and he didn’t have the bonus ability, but still. I think it’s really hard to judge power when the tempo of a limited format is going to be so drastically different than the previous format.

Joint Assault g
Instant Common
Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn. If it’s paired with a creature, that creature also gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

Another beautifully designed card. I know there’s always a Giant Growth variant with the new mechanic, but this one is particularly good. One mana to potentially two for one your opponent or just four damage for one are both really good options.

Lair Delve 2g
Sorcery Common
Reval the top two cards of your library. Put all creature and land cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

Was Harmonize really so broken that green is reduced to this for its Divination variant? Get this shit out of my face. I mean, the design makes sense and is cute, but this needs to look at three cards, even if for 2GG.

Natural End 2g
Instant Common
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. You gain 3 life.

Naturalize Variant. Neat. No more or less playable in limited than a regular Naturalize, though the bonus for the extra mana is pleasant. That’s right, the card is so innocuous I have to use words like “neat” and “pleasant” to describe it.

Nettle Swine 3g
Creature – Boar Common

Solid limited common. Badass art. NOT named Gentle Boar. (Confused? Listen to Jinxed Idols!)

Nightshade Peddler 1g
Creature – Human Druid Common
Soulbond (You may pair this creature with another unpaired creature when either enters the battlefield. They remain paired for as long as you control both of them.)
As long as Nightshade Peddler is paired with another creature, both creatures have deathtouch.

Kinda surprised that a soulbond deathtouch creature can be common. I know he’s just a 1/1, but the potential for every creature someone controls to have deathtouch is beyond irritating. Oh yeah, I think this card is good, obviously.

Pathbreaker Wurm 4gg
Creature – Wurm Common
As long as Pathbreaker Wurm is paired with another creature, both creatures have trample.

I mean…if you WANTED to play Craw Wurm in your limited pool then this is strictly better. I dunno…the format needs to be so much slower than ISD/DKA for this to be good.

Primal Surge 8gg
Sorcery Mythic Rare
Exile the top card of your library. If its a permanent card, you may put it onto the battlefield. If you do, repeat this process.

OMGWTFLOL. Stupidly powerful for a properly designed EDH deck. I’m tempted to design a standard deck that can use this and dump and entire library of Titans into play, but it’d be sooooo bad, especially since you could only have one Primal Surge for it to work properly.

Rain of Thorns 4gg
Sorcery Uncommon
Choose one or more -Destroy target artifact; or destroy target enchantment; or destroy target land.

Love love love LOVE. Awesome green EDH card.

Revenge of the Hunted 4gg
Sorcery Rare
Until end of turn, target creature gets +6/+6 and gains trample, and all creatures able to block it this turn do so.
Miracle {G} (You may cast this card for its miracle cost when you draw it if it’s the first card you drew this turn.)

Total blowout in limited, probably too inconsistent for constructed as it’s not super impressive at 6 mana there.

Sheltering Word 1g
Instant Common
Target creature you control gains hexproof until end of turn. You gain life equal to that creature’s toughness.

People are ejaculating waaay too hard over this card. It’s a Ranger’s Guile that doesn’t pump and gives you a little life for an extra mana. I’d rather run Ranger’s Guile, and don’t see myself wanting this.

Snare the Skies g
Instant Common
Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains reach until end of turn.

More green pseudo-removal! Can’t even begin to compare to Spidery Grasp, but not awful as an answer to problem flyers.

Somberwald Sage 2g
Creature – Human Druid Rare
{T}: Add three mana of any one color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast creature spells.

In this limited format, this guy seems like he could be really powerful. In any other format, he seems way too slow and fragile for restricted mana ramp.

Soul of the Harvest 4gg
Creature – Elemental Rare
Whenever another nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may draw a card.

Really bomby in limited…unless it dies right away. If it didn’t say nontoken, I’d think this might have a chance at being constructed worthy once Primeval Titan is gone. Not bad for green EDH, but it probably already has enough better options already.

Terrifying Presence 1g
Instant Common
Prevent all damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures other than target creature.

Kind of odd green fog/pseudo-removal. Probably a lot more powerful than I think.

Timberland Guide 1g
Creature – Human Scout Common
When Timberland Guide enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

Not bad. A bear with a little versatility. Worth noting it can be used to put a counter on opposing undying creatures.

Triumph of Ferocity 2g
Enchantment Uncommon
At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card if you control the creature with the greatest power or tied for the greatest power.

I have absolutely nothing left to say about this card.

Trusted Forcemage 2g
Creature – Human Shaman Common
As long as ~ is paired with another creature, both creatures get +1+1

A 3/3 for 3 that pumps another creature at common? Seems really good.

Ulvenwald Tracker g
Creature – Human Shaman Rare
1{G}, {T}: Target creature you control fights another target creature.

There’s very little I would draft over this guy. Very inexpensive, recursive removal is absurdly powerful. It’s a little conditional, but in green having the bigger creature shouldn’t be too hard.

Vorstclaw 4gg
Creature – Elemental Horror Uncommon

Vorstclaw? More like worstclaw, amirite? It’s strictly better than Kindercatch, but I don’t think that’s enough to sell me on a vanilla 7/7.

Wandering Wolf 1g
Creature – Wolf Common
Creatures with power less than Wandering Wolf’s power can’t block it.

Man, green is all about this pseudo-evasion stuff this set. If you can pair him with the pumping soulbond guys, this is a decent bear for aggressive limited strategies.

Wild Defiance 2g
Enchantment Rare
Whenever a creature you control becomes the target of an instant or sorcery spell, it gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

Oh man, let me start brewing infect decks again. No wait, let me sell these as bulk.

Wildwood Geist 4g
Creature – Spirit Common
Wildwood Geist gets +2/+2 as long as it’s your turn.

At long last the world has given as a jank common that’s better than Hollow Dogs. I can die happy. A 5/5 attacker for 5 is fine, but I hate the drawback.

Wolfir Avenger 1gg
Creature – Wolf Warrior Uncommon
1{G}: Regenerate Wolfir Avenger.

Soooo good! Pseudo-removal in limited, annoying as fuck creature in limited, and most likely constructed playable as well.

Wolfir Silverheart 3gg
Creature – Wolf Warrior Rare
As long as Wolfir Silverheart is paired with another creature, each of those creatures gets +4/+4.

An 8/8 for 5 that pumps another creature? Even if there’s nothing to pair it with, it’s still marginal at lesat. When paired, this thing is such a fucking bomb. Might even say play in midrange decks, though possibly not until October. It’s just straight beats, but it’s also a combined 12/12 on your side for 5 mana. That’s more efficient than Ghoultree!

Yew Spirit 4g
Creature – Treefolk Spirit Uncommon
2{G}{G}: Yew Spirit gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is its power.

Oh, it’s an uncommon Chameleon Colossus. Cute.

Multicolor (3)
Bruna, Light of Alabaster 3wwu
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, vigilance
Whenever Bruna, Light of Alabaster attacks or blocks, you may attach to it any number of Auras on the battlefield and you may put onto the battlefield attached to it any number of Aura cards that could enchant it from your graveyard and/or hand.

This card is amazing and pisses me off. I was really happy with my Hakim Loreweaver EDH deck, and now it’s just completely obsoleted. Fine in limited just as a 5/5 flying vigilance for 6, and such a badass EDH general.

Gisela, Blade of Goldnight 4rww
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, first strike
If a source would deal damage to an opponent or a permanent an opponent controls, that source deals double that damage to that player or permanent instead.
If a source would deal damage to you or a permanent you control, prevent half that damage, rounded up.

God damn this thing is powerful. We’ve got essentially a 10/10 flying first strike, not to mention all that other stuff it does. Much more bomby than the previous angel in limited, but slightly less impressive a general.

Sigarda, Host of Herons 2gww
Legendary Creature – Angel Mythic Rare
Flying, hexproof
Spells and abilities your opponents control can’t cause you to sacrifice permanents.

A 5/5 flying HEXPROOF for 5? Toss lifelink on this thing and it rivals or possibly even surpasses Baneslayer. Oh yeah, and not only is it hexproof, it can’t die to edict effects like Liliana or Geth’s Verdict. My least favourite of the three as a general, but easily the most constructed playable.

Artifact (14)
Angel’s Tomb 3
Artifact Uncommon
Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Angel’s Tomb become a 3/3 white Angel artifact creature with flying until end of turn.

Much rather just have Gargoyle Sentry. I’m sure this isn’t terrible, but I really dislike it.

Angelic Armaments 3
Artifact – Equipment Uncommon
Equipped creature gets +2+2, has flying and is a white Angel in addition to its other colors and types.
Equip 4

Hmm…this is probably costed correctly? It’s really expensive to equip, but the bonus is worth it at least in sealed.

Bladed Bracers 1
Artifact – Equipment Common
Equipped creature gets +1/+1.
As long as equipped creature is a Human or Angel, it has vigilance.
Equip 2

Considering like every creature in this set is a human or angel, I’d just assume it’s always vigilance. With that iin mind, this is fine, but it’s no Avacyn’s Collar. Not by a long shot.

Conjurers’s Closet 5
Artifact Rare
At the beginning of your end step, you may exile target creature you control, then return it to the battlefield under your control.

I get that this needed to cost 5 because of stupid combo shit in older formats, but that makes it pretty unplayable in limited as far as I’m concerned…and pretty unplayable in everything else.

Gallows at Willow Hill 3
Artifact Rare
3, {T}, Tap three untapped Humans you control: Destroy target creature. Its controller puts a 1/1 white Spirit creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

I love the flavour of this card, and it’s repeatable removal! You just better fucking pray you have a way to handle all those flyers.

Haunted Guardian 2
Artifact Creature – Construct Uncommon
Defender, first strike

This card is really cool, but is this format fast enough to make him worth running? I’m guessing it’s a no.

Moonsilver Spear 4
Artifact – Equipment Rare
Equipped creature has first strike.
Whenever equipped creature attacks, put a 4/4 white Angel token with flying onto the battlefield.
Equip 4

This looks like shit to me, but we’ve been spoiled by all those swords. Definitely playable (bomb?) in sealed, and probably in limited as well.

Narstad Scrapper 5
Artifact Creature – Construct Common
2: Narstad Scrapper gets +1/+0 until end of turn.

Dragon Engine, eat your heart out. In a slow format, a card like this can be surprisingly good…like Dragon Engine in Master’s Edition! Then again, that was also good cause the creatures were all tiny. With only 3 toughness, this little scrapper may not fair as well.

Otherworld Atlas 4
Artifact Rare
{T}: Put a charge counter on Otherworld Atlas.
{T}: Each player draws a card for each charge counter on Otherworld Atlas.


Scroll of Avacyn 1
Artifact Common
1, Sacrifice Scroll of Avacyn: Draw a card. If you control an Angel, you gain 5 life.

Meh, cycle and maybe get 5 life. Whatever.

Scroll of Griselbrand 1
Artifact Common
1, Sacrifice Scroll of Griselbrand: Target player discards a card. If you control a Demon, that player loses 3 life.

Far more meh than the previous.

Tormentor’s Trident 2
Artifact – Equipment Uncommon
Equipped creature gets +3/+0 and attacks each turn if able.
Equip 3

This is probably my favourite equipment in the set in terms of power/cost. There’s always the chance one of your guys will just run to his death, but I’d try this equipment out while the format is young.

Vanguard’s Shield 2
Artifact – Equipment Common
Equipped creature gets +0+3 and can block an additional creature.
Equip 3

This is I like way less, though good sideboard against a super aggro deck if someone has one.

Vessel of Endless Rest 3
Artifact Uncommon
When ~ enters the battlefield, put target card in a graveyard on the bottom of its owner’s library.
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Random EDH replacement for Manalith? Not sure where this is going. If the format is as slow as it looks, this may actually be important to draft as well.

Land (5)
Alchemist’s Refuge
Land Rare
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
{U}{G}, {T}: Until end of turn, you may cast nonland cards as though they had flash.

The card itself is really cool (Better Winding Canyon) and it’s great for EDH, but not sure constructed players want to pay 3 more each turn to make their spells instants.

Cavern of Souls
Land Rare
As Cavern of Souls enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast creature spells of the chosen creature type. If this mana is spent on a spell, that spell can’t be countered.

Card is nuts. EDH staple, and likely to play in every other format ever. It doesn’t even ETB tapped, wtf is that?

Desolate Lighthouse
Land Rare
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
1{U}{R}, {T}: Draw a card, then discard a card.

Such a good ability to have on a land. Considering I designed this for the set I made last November (though mine was mono-red), I absolutely approve.

Seraph Sanctuary
Land Common
When Seraph Sanctuary enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
Whenever an Angel enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.
{T}: add 1 to your mana pool.

Cute. Janky card that will go into a few random EDH decks.

Slayers’ Stronghold
Land Rare
{T}: Add 1 to your mana pool.
{R}{W},{T} : Target creature gains +2/+0, haste and vigilance until the end of turn.

Another really strong ability on a land, and nice and cheap. Can provide extra reach for aggressive R/W decks.

Financial Advice for Avacyn Restored

I’ll start with this because it seems to be all most people care about. I could give you an indepths analysis of which cards I think are going to go up and which are going to fall and which you should hold just in case. However, that is a MASSIVE fucking waste of time on my part and yours. Avacyn Restored, like Innistrad, has the easiest way to make money. You don’t have to memorize a giant list of moves you should be looking to make, it’s one simple instruction.

My advice for Avacyn Restored is to convert EVERYTHING you possibly can into Cavern of Souls. The vast majority of cards either fall or plummet in price the second the release date hits. Much like Snapcaster Mage (A total no-brainer), however, Cavern of Souls is going to retain its value in perpetuity throughout the universe. Turn all your Avacyn Restored cards into Caverns while the price is inflated, then a month after the release trade some Caverns for all the stuff you need back at much less than you traded them away for. Then laugh at all the people who either lost money or profited less than you did by making following a giant, complicated matrix of advice instead of just going for the one common sense move.

Dr. Jeebus’s Top 10 Cards of Avacyn Restored

These cards are in no particular order, and are my top 10 picks for what will see tournament play.
10. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded – Screw what anyone thinks, I love this guy.
9. Pillar of Flame – With relevant undying creatures existing, this seems like a no brainer.
8. Vexing Devil – Card will make an impact in all formats, with the largest I think being felt in Modern.
7. Cavern of Souls – I seriously hope I don’t have to explain this.
6. Griselbrand – Maybe if we make Yawgmoth’s Bargain cost 8 this time but put it on a creature and make you draw in increments of 7 instead of 1 nothing bad will happen. Right? Right?
5. Sigarda, Host of Herons – This thing is actually pretty damn close in power level to Baneslayer. The loss of lifelink is huge, but the advantage of being almost unkillable is also huge. The only thing that could hold this card back is the green mana symbol.
4. Temporal Mastery – Another cross format card. It’s not going to break anything, but it’s going to be really fucking strong.
3. Silverblade Paladin
2. Misthollow Griffin – Not putting this here to hype the combo in Legacy. I think that’s a real contender, but I think this card is going to see so many applications in the future that we can’t even fathom. We’ve never had a card like this (And I love the design; one simple sentence creates so many options!) so we haven’t figured out everything to do with it yet. Furthermore, like is EXACTLY the type of card that could become even better. Much like Grindstone, a casual favourite that was no big deal, some cards shoot up in value/utility as cards are printed years later. This Griffin has so much potential to be one of those cards it’s unfathomable. Not saying to stockpile these for years because this list isn’t the top 10 best investments or anything, I just think in the long run this guy is going to be huge. As a frame of reference, the last time I jizzed this hard over a card that I loved because of elegant design it was Knight of the Reliquary. The thing sat at $3 for a year, and then suddenly shot up to $20 while in standard and became a staple across formats. I’ve made some big misses before like Bitterblossom and Baneslayer Angel, but anytime I’ve been this in love with the design of a card (Staff of Domination, Tarmogoyf, Vedalken Shackles, and more), they’ve always proven themselves. It’s almost as though I have a strong sense for design or something!
1. Restoration Angel – This thing is unlikely to be worth anything since it’s not mythic and is a foil promo, but it is easily one of the most powerful cards in the set, if not the most powerful. Not sure it has a lot of applications outside of Standard, but it should be a Standard mainstay for the next 18 months.

Final Thoughts

I really like this set. It has a few shit mythics, but in general the quality of the mythics is way up, and the worthwhile rares run so much deeper than Dark Ascension, not like that’s much a compliment. The commons and uncommons strike me as a little shallow in playables, but I’d rather my good cards be rares anyway; makes opening packs worthwhile. There’s also a wide breadth of cards that are either clearly designed just for EDH, or simply awesome in EDH. I’m really happy overall with this set, and based on the presale numbers I’ve seen and the general reaction from the player base, I’d say that the majority agree with me.

Why There No Male Angels in Magic

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Okay, so this is going to be a really quick entry, but with all the recent nonsense I have been asked this over and over again by people claiming sexism. They answered this at PAX, and while I’m pretty sure you can find a video of the entire panel online, I’ll save you the time of searching through it for the answer. That also means my answer isn’t going to be as thorough or coherent as when they answered it, but it’s a general idea at least.

Basically, the answer is that while there is art direction and stuff, they don’t want to reign over the artists like dictators (for various, logical reasons). As such, the artists have a certain amount of freedom to create images as they see fit. Historically, most representations of angels have been female (Which always struck me as odd since the only biblical angels I can name are all males). Likewise, most representations of demons have been males. This is also why the majority of cards (outside of Mirage) depict only white people. It’s not because they have to, it’s because that’s what the artists are turning in, and unless there’s a specific reason why a character should have a certain skin tone(Teferi in Time Spiral, being from Mirage and all) then they don’t want to shackle their artists and impose unnecessary rules for them.

If you want a better articulate answer, as I said you can probably find video of the PAX panel. Just wanted to have this written somewhere I can point to since people keep asking me this.

Triumph of Misogyny – Sexism and White Knighting in the Magic Community

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Christ, how do you even open an entry on a topic like this? Well let’s start with the obvious: sexism is bad, m’kay? I hope that doesn’t need to be stated, but I don’t want anyone to misconstrue a number of the other things I have to say as an endorsement of the virtues of sexism. More obvious things: sexism and gender inequality have existed for a long time. By a long time, I mean thousands of years. All of human history, in fact. Even in the small handful of matriarchal societies that have existed, there was still massive gender inequality.

Sexism in Magic

I'd tap that! hur hur hurMeet Jackie Lee. Jackie is a really cool girl who I’ve known for almost ten years now from playing at the now defunct Your Move Games. She was always very friendly and funny, and even used to let a few of us hang around after YMG closed to do team drafts with her. She also eliminated me from contention in the 2004 GP Boston the round before what would’ve been my win and in. She went on to win her win and in round, and then overslept and didn’t show up for day two. So thanks a fucking lot for eliminating me.

Jackie was a really good player then, and is an even better player now. So good, in fact, that she’s putting up consistently good results at the top levels of competition. However, the world is (theoretically) a lot more connected now than it was back in 2004. Social media and event coverage have exploded to the point where anyone in the world can watch matches at an event, and if anyone says anything untoward the entire fucking world will hear about it on Twitter within five minutes. And so now sexism has been brought into the forefront of everyone’s minds because we’ve seen some pretty brutal examples of it.

On the live stream of some of Jackie’s matches, there were comments being made about her appearance. There were people rooting for her to lose. There were people telling her to get back in the kitchen. Basically, a lot of classless fuckwads saying stupid shit. You know, THE INTERNET. Of course, people had the option of speaking anonymously in the live stream chat, so they chose to do so and to say awful and disgusting things. Also, some of them made some really, really stupid suggestions about what they felt the correct play was in a number of different situations. That has nothing to do with sexism, just further proof that maybe allowing commentary on the live streams is a bad idea, because people are all stupid and have nothing worthwhile to say.

However, here’s something you may not know: none of this is new. I mean literally none of it. Years ago, I think it was 2005, there was an article on Star City Games Premium involving Jackie. The article was allegedly a tournament report by one John Rizzo, but it was really just a pretty creepy monologue about her and how he could stare at her for days. Yeah, fucking creepy. It also almost resulted in an incident involving local player John Rizzo who was a completely different person. The confusion was cleared up very quickly, and many laughs were had by all. Why do I bring this up, you ask? This happened before Twitter. There was a lot less connectivity and dialogue between players. As such, this quickly faded away. There were no articles written about it, no Twitter drama, nothing. Jackie was weirded out a bit and John Rizzo became known as “that creepy pervert,” but that’s pretty much it. I’m not saying that you should ignore all your problems and hope they’ll go away, but the less attention something like this gets the better.

The problem is, now talks of sexism are unavoidable. There are countless articles about it and how detrimental it is to the game we all love. As I said before, however, this isn’t new. Sexism has existed forever. I don’t condone it, but it is indeed a thing. And no poorly written blog post or tweet is going to change that (Yes, I understand the irony in using a blog post to decry them, so don’t bother pointing that out). Sexism also isn’t limited to the gaming community. This is the part that pisses me off the most, because people don’t seem to understand this. Even if you somehow solve the project of gender inequality in gaming…so what? Are you going to crawl into a cave with your EDH decks and half the print run of Deranged Hermits and just pretend that there isn’t still gender inequality and sexism in every other fucking part of society?

Yes, sexism is a problem and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future. No, I do not condone it or take part in it in any nonsatirical way.  But seriously, guys (and gals), it’s okay to go 24 hours without bringing it up. Fucking relax.

Oh, and one other thing: don’t exploit the fact that women are succeeding in Magic. For serious. In an interview Jackie mentioned how some guy’s girlfriend hated when he asked her to watch top 8 coverage until she saw Jackie playing, and now she’s okay with it. That’s not a heartfelt story of female Magic players breaking down barriers. That’s an example of a terrible, terrible boyfriend. Why are you making your girlfriend watch top 8 coverage with you? The notion that she is required to partake in your hobbies as well, against her will, is extraordinarily sexist. When I lived with my ex-girlfriend I never tried to force her to play Magic or watch event coverage, and she never tried to force me to watch America’s Next Top Model. You’re allowed to (and should) have separate hobbies.

White Knighting in Magic

If this looks sexual to you, see a psychiatrist.While sexism is a problem, an even bigger (or at the very least more annoying) problem is the one of white knighting. The white knights out there, and there’s an increasing number of them, will pounce on anything that seems evenly remotely offensive to women. They are severely overcompensating for something and somehow think this will garner them favour with women who, since this is the internet, aren’t going to sleep with them anyway. Their arguments are ridiculous, unwarranted, and downright pathetic. The two classic examples of white knights in the MTG community are Geordie Tait and Chris Lansdell, but a new challenger has thrown his hat in the ring.

You see, the catalyst for this entry was the ridiculous fucking drama started by an extraordinarily ignorant article published on by one Jesse Mason (@killgoldfish) saying that the artwork for Triumph of Ferocity is all sexist and rapey. This article was also heavily defend by the constantly annoying Chris Mascioli (@dieplstks). I will now go through the article and tear it a new asshole, because it is the stupidest pile of shit I have ever read, and Gathering Magic should be ashamed of themselves for publishing it. Here is how he described the art:

“So, what’s happening here, objectively, is . . . the much larger man has his thick veiny arm around the woman whose back is pinned against a rock (looking up at him), and the aforementioned large man has his fist raised to punch the pinned-down-and-choked woman. Also, her hands are on fire . . . or something.”

Yeah, his arm and chest are all veiny and stuff from Liliana cursing him. You know, that thing he’s all pissed off about. And trying to kill her for. Her hands are “on fire….or something” because she’s decided to fight back. I know, right? Women fighting? How inappropriate! Also, you may want to consult a dictionary as to the meaning of the word “objective.” I do not think it means what you think it does.

“And a bit of her upper leg is peeking out from under her dress.”

You can blame either Steve Argyle or the art direction for that, but that’s how Liliana dressed. It just is. If a tiny bit of her thigh offends you, you should go to your local comic store and buy an issue of Tarot or Grimm. You’ll have a whole new crusade to go fight!

“And his leg is between her thighs.”

Oh no! But that’s where her vagina lives! Seriously, what exactly is the complaint here? They’re fighting and he’s got her in a choke hold about to cut her head off. Unless he’s a geist floating in midair, he has to have fucking legs SOMEWHERE. Sorry if the placement bothers you, but what are you suggesting, that Garruk is going to fuck Liliana with his knee? Last time I checked, that doesn’t happen. And no, this is NOT an opportunity for you to invoke Rule 34.

“There is no humorous way to say that the above image, to me, is reminiscent of sexual assault in a really creepy way, nor should anyone assume that anything related to this is hyperbolic for the purpose of writing or comedy.”

Jesse, were you raped by a huge fuckin’ guy? But seriously, what about the above image is sexual? Garruk looks like he’s about to impale Liliana (not in the sexy way), and Liliana looks like she’s going to burn Garruk’s face off if she breaks free. Are you such a dickless nerd that a millimeter of fictional thigh gets you so fucking hard that this artwork needs justification as something sexual? If ANYONE else sees something sexual here, please let me know where. Actually, don’t let me know. If you see this artwork as sexual, let a psychiatrist know, because you have serious fucking problems. Also, as pointed out by Carol Tavares (@robotouef), even if this was sexual it wouldn’t necessarily be derogatory towards women as many women like to be choked.

“That’s why it frustrates me when people give some story-based explanation for a piece of art looking the way it does. Liliana isn’t being portrayed in a sexist way . . . it’s just that her character is (as described by an R&D member) “a bitch.” It’s all right to show Liliana and Garruk in that pose because Liliana wins in the end! So?”

Um…what do you mean “so?” So the entire fucking point of the artwork is to represent the storyline? And this is the perfect example of why the white knights are so fucking impossible to deal with. No one wants a card like this with a picture of Liliana and Garruk having tea together. You wanna pretend that the problem with this card is that it will scare away new players, especially females? How about this art:

Oh, we’re okay with this? This isn’t going to scare away new players? Alright, just thought I’d check. Okay, I’m done ranting about that awful article. Let’s get onto the main point of this section.

Magic has powerful female characters. Some of these characters are good, and some of them, like Liliana (Whose name is an anagram for Villainess), are evil. When you have important female characters, bad things are going to happen to them. There has to be conflict. Liliana curses Garruk. Is that supposed to be a good idea? He’s a giant…man…beast…thing. So Liliana keeps poking at Manbearpig, and he’s not supposed to do anything about it? That’s insane. It’s not misogyny for a story to have conflict. In a game that takes place in a fantasy setting where you are a planeswalker (like Liliana and Garruk!) and the point of the game is to FUCKING MURDER EACH OTHER, I think it’s fair to assume that there is going to be violence amongst the planeswalkers in the stories. You can have all the glib comments and pithy comebacks you want, but even Bond and Trevelyan eventually fought.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Aye, there’s the rub. What do we do? I mean, I’ve kinda been all over the place here. The solution is pretty simple though: don’t be a dick to someone because of their gender, race, or any other factors beyond their control, and don’t create controversy where there is none. With any luck others will follow suit, but the world isn’t going to hold hands and start singing together overnight, so just chill the fuck out. Oh, and remember: white knighting, as best as I can tell, works on the assumption that women are incapable of defending themselves and so they need you to step up and protect them from every (often nonexistent) slight against them. Isn’t that behaviour a lot more misogynistic that this stupid piece of artwork?