This is big enough that it should be able to attack productively, and even if it dies on its first expedition, you still get something back. Raising creatures that cost 3 or less means that it’s easy to hit as well, where the 2-or-less cards we’ve seen in the past missed more often than not.
This is actually a less glorified version of Serra Angel, but I’m more than willing to pay 4 life to build my own. You don’t have to pay the life all that often, and when you do, it’s likely to force through damage or save you life on the attack back.
Not only is Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle sick in a Vampire deck where it triggers right away, it also can take matters into its own hands and make a Vampire when it attacks. That gives you a good build-around and a good standalone card, with high upside if it works. You should prioritize combat tricks once you have this, as the opponent will 100% be blocking.
Not only does this give you a 3/3 flyer for 4, which is a gift fit for a king, it also forces through a good chunk of damage. This is a great deal for any deck, and not one I’m leaving by the wayside.
While I’m aware this costs 8 mana, it does do exactly what you want your huge bomb to do. Against all non-Dino decks, it should win you the game on the spot, and even in the Dino mirror it can pick up a decent amount of value. If you draft Wakening Sun’s Avatar, you have to go hard on ramp and ways to survive until 8 mana, but the payoff is there.
This is a 4-mana Oblivion Ring with trinket text, and you know what? You’ll play it, and you’ll like it. Especially given how good some of the expensive Dinos seem to be, this has to be nothing less than solid (unless this format is somehow as fast as Amonkhet).
Kinjalli’s Sunwing has good stats and a brutal ability, which makes it a slam in any aggressive deck. If you are pressuring your opponent, which is easier with a 2/3 flyer in play, making their blocking wait a turn is almost impossible to beat. Even in midrange or control, the price is right on this, though I’d lean toward drafting aggro if I picked this up early.
Unconditional removal with a bit of lifegain attached is always a welcome sight, and Pious Interdiction is even relatively efficient to boot. It doesn’t stop activated abilities, but you can’t have it all, and this is not going to be a card you will be passing very often.
I judge this worthy. It kills most of the cards you care about killing, and for the bargain price of 3 mana. You may have to side Legion’s Judgment out in some matchups, but I’d gladly play the first one or two and would be willing to take them early.
Not only is Paladin of the Bloodstained a solid set of stats (4/3 total), it’s spread across two creatures and features some nice lifelink action. I’m in for all that, and would look for rewards for going wide if I picked up a couple of Paladins.
A 1/1 lifelink for 1 isn’t a good deal, but it’s not that hard to flip this, and a land that makes 1/1s for only 3 mana gives you a significant long-game advantage. I have this a bit below premium removal since it does so little on the back foot, though it’s going to be a great card in good aggressive draws.
I’m not looking forward to playing against this thing. While on the board, it makes any attack or block precarious, and even if you have large enough creatures to survive 3 damage, it can help finish them off. It is mitigated a little by its weakness to flyers, as it can’t block and shoot them, but I still think Steadfast Armasaur will be a pest to deal with.
Explore looks like a profitable mechanic. It’s not quite “draw a card,” but it’s close enough that I’m playing any explore card unless it’s wildly overcosted. This is not, and I’d gladly include it any deck.
A 3/1 aggressive beater that’s hard to kill is worth a lot, and it can even get indestructible on defense. If your deck isn’t interested in attacking, this loses a good amount of value, but it’s still probably worth getting in there.
These stats plus an enrage ability that’s very dangerous make this a fine addition to any white deck. It’s likely to trade for a card and buff your team, and will often go unblocked for many turns as a result (or hold off bigger creatures on defense).
The rating here isn’t strictly for aggressive decks, as a 2/3 for 3 is passable outside of them, but aggro is where this really hits the nail on the head. If your opponent is trying to block you, this makes things nearly impossible for them, and it’s my prediction for the most annoying card by far out of an aggro deck.
The combination of efficiency and scrying makes me want to play Sheltering Light in any deck with 13+ creatures. It’s often going to trade for a card and pick up a little extra value, which is really hard to beat for just 1 mana.
I’m in for this in any deck, aggressive or defensive. A 2/2 for 2 that gains you a couple of life is a great deal for 2 mana, and if you can hit unopposed once or twice it’s basically checkmate.
I wouldn’t exactly call this inspiring, but it is a solid body that fills out your curve and keeps you alive. You could do a lot worse for 3 mana, though don’t be afraid to side it out against control decks or when a 3/2 lines up poorly against opposing 2-drops.
Not every deck is going to want Rallying Roar, but the bar is pretty low, thanks to the untapping effect. It’s not that hard to get a card out of this, and in a go-wide deck it plays well both on offense and defense. It’s great that you can attack all-out, and even if the opponent suspects a trick, they can’t attack back without this punishing them.
Sunrise Seeker is quite the acceptable 5-drop, and one that makes it more likely for you to have a smooth late game. As with all 5s, they don’t stack super well, so don’t worry too much about picking these up early.
This is not as good as it looks—let’s just settle that now. It’s not a bad card, but the most often use case will be a 4-mana Path to Exile that only works on defense, as wary opponents aren’t going to run four creatures into this. You might get a couple of creatures the first time you play it, if you don’t make it too obvious (passing on turn 4 vs. 2 creatures counts as obvious), but that is unlikely to happen in subsequent games. It’s also of limited use in aggressive decks, and overall seems like a fine playable but far less likely to wreck your opponent than most people might think.
Dinosaur decks seem like they could be a little top-heavy, so I’m wary about loading up on too many 5+ drops. That said, Shining Aerosaur does get a cost reduction from the Caller, and that alone makes it more appealing than it would be otherwise.
I’d want a couple of ways to take advantage of the tokens this makes before getting excited about it, though it’s not unreasonable to just play Queen’s Commission as a defensive measure if needed. Mass pump spells and raid cards both work well here, so be on the lookout for those.
You’ll run Raptor Companion more often than not, both for the stats and because it’s a cheap Dinosaur that enables a variety of tribal effects. That’s a fine deal for 2 mana, so don’t expect to float these late.
This card isn’t as good as it looks—trust me. I’d always play it in a defensive deck, but I’d have second thoughts about playing it in any proactive deck. When this kills a 5/5 attacker, it seems like the best card ever, but against a wary opponent it runs the risk of rotting in your hand. Don’t assume it’s always going to be awesome, though it has a real upside if it works.
I don’t love 7-drops with only 3 toughness, but this does strike me as threatening enough to be worth the effort. It’s better than a 6/3 on its own, and it makes the rest of your squad bash for a ton if you get to attack with it. Still, this is a 7 cost card that doesn’t play defense all that well and has to survive a turn before it generates value. That doesn’t make me excited, and I think it’ll slot in as an acceptable finisher for some decks without being a high pick.
You don’t need very many Dinosaurs to make Pterodon Knight passable, as a 3/3 for 4 is already nearly good enough (or in the case of mediocre decks, definitely good enough). Just watch out for your Dinosaur being bounced or removed midcombat, as a Knight falling from the sky is not a pretty sight.
These combat tricks all seem passable, even if first strike isn’t a huge addition (+2/+2 is likely enough to win the fight). Aggro decks should play Vampire’s Zeal, regardless of the Vampire count, and other decks pretty much shouldn’t.
Vampire beatdown is here, and that’s where this shines (though not too brightly, for obvious reasons). If you are playing an aggressive Vampire deck, Skymarcher is great. It chips in for damage easily, and makes combat very difficult for the opponent if you are sending in other Vampires. In defensive or Vampire-light decks, this will be disappointing, though I predict people will jam it anyway.
I’d only run Keepers if the base version has some value to your deck, which in this case is a 1/1 first strike. An aggro deck could want that, but no other deck will, and waiting until 8 mana means that the sacrifice ability won’t go off all that often. This is another card you probably should play a bit less often than you think.
A Shock that can only target attackers or blockers is not a card I love, especially if there are a lot of large Dinosaurs stomping around. It does pull its weight in control decks, but I suspect most decks can find more talented spells to fill out their removal suite.
If you want a 1/3 for 2, well, you’re in luck. If you have a specific reason to stop triggers, this does do that, and I can see Tocatli Honor Guard being a solid sideboard card against bombs like the various Sun’s Avatars and whatnot.
The best use for Skyblade of the Legion seems to be a cheap raid enabler, which it doesn’t suck at. Otherwise it’s a little small, and not something I’d be that excited to main deck.
A 2/1 for 1 isn’t as good as it looks in Limited, and this only becomes that later in the game, at which point it might just get blanked. Even in a Dinosaur-heavy deck, I’m not excited about this.
Looming Altisaur is a defensive Dino that isn’t easy to kill, which seems worth it in a dedicated Dino/control deck (ideally both). Otherwise it’s not something I’d be looking to play, though I do like it as a sideboard card.
In a Dino-heavy deck (is that a deck heavy with Dinos, or a deck that has heavy Dinos?), this shines. It buys you time to cast your huge stompers, and can go find whatever you need in the late game. With 5+ Dinos, including at least one really good one, I’d slam Priest of the Wakening Sun, especially if you lean toward midrange/control. With fewer, or in an aggressive low-curve deck, I’d leave it by the wayside.
I’d call Kinjalli’s Caller a complete miss in a non-Dinosaur deck, and not even absurd when you do have a bunch of Dinos. It’s likely playable with 7+ good Dinosaurs, especially if the format has a lot of 2-power ground creatures, but the ability is niche enough that I wouldn’t prioritize this.
A 2/2 for 3 that draws more 2/2s for 3 isn’t going to do a whole lot of conquering. I suppose I would play this if I had two and needed to fill out my curve, but wasting a bunch of time playing Gray Ogres isn’t something you can get away with in modern Limited.
While this does force the opponent to kill you in one shot, it’s still a 6-mana play that doesn’t affect the board. That’s a lot of mana to spend without any guarantee of getting value, and in a world without mana burn I’m less inclined to take a shot on this.
While Ritual of Rejuvenation does replace itself, it’s kind of hard to justify spinning your wheels for such a minor effect.
Is this the Elixir of Immortality of Ixalan? Is this the win condition we’ve all been waiting for? The idea here is that you deck your opponent by drawing and casting this for 20 life a turn, but actually getting that to work seems difficult in practice. Have no doubt—I’ll try if I can, but for the most part Sanguine Sacrament seems wildly unplayable. It doesn’t affect the board, and without self-mill, getting to no cards in the deck seems challenging.
This is purely a sideboard card, and not a particularly effective one at that. I’d want to see 3 good targets before boarding this in.
Dreamcaller Siren doesn’t need other Pirates to be a potent threat, as a 3/3 flyer with flash is a fantastic deal for 4 mana. Being unable to block ground creatures does make Dreamcaller Siren less likely to completely snap off the opponent, though it’s still nice to play this end of turn and start smashing. Once you factor in the huge combat swing when you do have Pirates, this goes from an efficient beater to a game-changer, and a card I’d certainly call a dream.
Stealing opposing creatures has always been bomb-level territory, and no matter how many times you hear the same song, it doesn’t get old. This isn’t the most efficient iteration we’ve seen, but paying 2 mana on top of the cost of the creature is still a price I’ll gladly pay for such a swingy effect.
From the first pack of Revised I ever opened until now, Air Elemental has been a powerhouse. A 4/4 flyer for 5 is a great addition to any Limited deck, and you’ll be happy to have it.
The bulk of Jace’s power is in the -2 (and certainly not his arms—I’m gonna say that Jace does not lift). Making a 2/2 and sticking around to provide value isn’t bad, and if you can protect Jace and get to 5, you get multiple tokens and a lot of card flow. If you are ahead, Jace is very good. If you are at parity, he pressures the opponent, and unless you are too far behind, he’s still worth the low investment of 3 mana. Jace may not be a windmill slam like some other planeswalkers, but the combination of affecting the board and getting to an ultimate quickly does make him a good early pick.
Bouncing your opponent’s entire board is quite the bounty, and well worth paying 6 mana for. If you start with this, aim to draft an aggressive deck, and you will be rewarded richly.
I really like this as a build-around. An enchantment for 2 mana that scrys each turn is almost good enough and flipping into an Island that also doubles as a card-advantage engine makes me very excited to begin searching. It’s not great without a lot of spells in your deck, but if you can put together a good control deck, this will help you crush the late game.
The ratings system breaks down a tiny bit here—I’ll always play Opt since it makes your deck more consistent at little cost, but it’s not a card I’d take over premium removal or cards that fill out your curve. It is a nice addition to any deck, and I’d happily play 2 or even 3.
This is both a raid reward and a raid enabler, and does a very good job on either side. I’m a fan of Storm Fleet Aerialist in any halfway aggressive deck, as triggering raid isn’t hard and getting a 2/3 flyer for 2 is a very good deal.
The same largely goes for Storm Fleet Spy—if you have 10+ creatures in your deck, I’d run this, and there’s even less need to be aggressive. This is just good value, and it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to get an extra card from it.
In aggressive decks, this is a great finisher, while also being fine to run out on turn 5 or 6 to get a couple of damage through. I wouldn’t call it a bomb, but it’s exactly what aggro needs to close out games.
At worst, this is draw 2 then discard 1, which is a serviceable deal for 2 mana. At best, it’s a straight-up draw 2, and a card I want in any Limited deck. It’s not hard to enable this, and you should be happy to have it in every deck. Even aggressive decks, which often don’t want card draw, will play this, as you will almost never have to discard thanks to your frequent attacks.
This is the most prized of all cards, a 2-drop that’s great on turn 2 and very strong late in the game. Chipping in for 2 and looting is a good deal already, and being able to slip by defenses once you have extra mana makes this an auto-play in every deck.
I’m happy playing Run Aground, as it trades for a card and leaves you either up mana or neutral in almost every case. That plus the ability to mess up combat and disrupt the opponent’s plays makes it a solid playable that I’ll always run.
Either this is a 3-mana 1/2 flyer that draws you a card or it’s a 2/3 flyer that lets you scry 1. Those are both fantastic deals, and it doesn’t take an alluring song to get me to play this.
I like this effect in just about any deck, as it helps push aggression or stabilize when you are behind. It’s even a Merfolk, which is a substantial bonus for some decks.
It’s a shame this doesn’t reward you for bouncing the cards you really want to bounce (expensive ones), but it’s still a cheap bounce spell with upside if you do bounce something cheap. Not being able to target your own stuff is a real drawback, so keep that in mind—this has lost a lot of flexibility as a result.
I really like Prosperous Pirates in a ramp deck. As the top of your curve, they aren’t quite as exciting, but getting you to at least 7 mana makes them useful for enabling sweet plays while playing good defense themselves.
I like this card quite a bit. It is a 1/1 flyer for 1, which I always warn is overplayed, but being able to protect you or a creature you control later in the game more than justifies its inclusion. There are matchups where I’d side this out, as you do want the ability to be useful in order to make the cut, but I’d be happy maindecking it (especially in a raid-focused deck).
I’d almost always run the first one of these, as a bounce spell that doubles as 1-shot ramp plus minor color fixing is a good deal for 3. Bounce spells do tend to get worse in multiples, as they are intrinsically card disadvantage, but I suspect most decks will desire one or two of these.
I will always be on the lookout for this in a dedicated Pirate deck (6+), and it’s a fine playable even in decks with just a few Pirates. I’ve played Convolute before, and getting a counter for 2 mana can lead to some mana-efficient turns.
I like the combination of drawing cards and getting a bonus mana to pay for them, though I’m aware that not every deck will want expensive card draw. The Prize also goes down as you get multiples, as there are only so many slots you can dedicate to effects like this. As for how many slots, I’m guessing 2-4, though I’m willing to find out what the upper limit is.
There isn’t a huge cost to having this without other Merfolk, as a 2/1 for 2 is only slightly below average. As such, I’d prioritize it in a heavy Merfolk deck, but would still play it with just a few other fishy friends, assuming your curve needs a 2-drop.
This set of stats and abilities always performs worse than it looks, so I’m going to start low on Wind Strider. 5 is just a lot of mana, and this rarely ends up ambushing the opponent, making it unexciting in a format with a lot of powerful things going on.
I like the support for blue ramp here, as this fits perfectly into a control deck. It gives you a good blocker and a one-shot mana accelerant, all of which costs you only 3 mana. Aggressive decks will pass on this, but midrange and control shouldn’t.
Now this is an interesting one. A 3/2 that can’t be blocked is very powerful, and this nominally has a drawback of bouncing one of your creatures in order to make up for that (note that this will bounce itself if it’s your only creature). But bouncing creatures with good enters-the-battlefield abilities seems like a natural fit, making Storm Sculptor a powerful engine and a substantial threat. I like this card, though some decks won’t be able to play it (decks that are creature-light or have too high a curve). Decks with a low curve or lots of synergy will easily be able to sculpt games where this is awesome, and I think this may be the most interesting common to evaluate. Its value is going to fluctuate wildly, and figuring out when you want it will be a way to gain a good edge.
Making your Merfolk a little harder to target isn’t going to make waves in most games of Limited, and a 3-mana 2/2 just doesn’t excite me. I’d play this in a dedicated Merfolk deck, but it’s not a build-around and not something I’d prioritize. All too often, the opponent is just going to ignore it, point their removal at non-Merfolk creatures, or just pay 2 mana and have it not disrupt their plans.
Cancel always hovers between a 1.0 and a 2.5 or so, with the most likely grade being 1.5. Most formats aren’t that kind to 3-mana counters that require double-blue, as the payoff for casting it is that you traded 1-for-1 and the punishment for having it sit in your hand is severe. I’d start by assuming this is marginally playable, and upgrade that if it turns out the format is slow enough.
One-shot looting is a good way to make this relevant in the late game, though it’s not so powerful that it is a card I’m excited about at any point. It’s got the same fail case as Shaper Apprentice with a much lower upside, and in a tribe that seems to care about critical mass a lot less. In this case, not looting may be correct.
If you land this on an expensive spell, you really did swindle your opponent. That said, leaving 5 mana up is not trivial, and you aren’t even guaranteed to have expensive cards to play with all that hard-earned Treasure. I like this in control decks, especially ones with lots of other instants (so that you don’t waste your mana if you end up not being able to play this).
This is essentially graded as a 7-mana 6/6, because milling half the opponent’s library just isn’t that relevant an effect if you are attacking with such a monstrous creature. There are some games where that will matter, but for the most part this is an expensive finisher, and not a very notable one at that.
This can help you make headwater in filling out your curve, but that’s about it. If you really need a 4-drop, or are a heavy Merfolk deck, there are fishier things you could spend 4 mana on.
I am not a leaf on the wind, and hopefully none of my creatures will be either. I will grant that this card gets games over with quickly, and putting it on a 4/4 Dinosaur is threatening, but I don’t mind working a little harder for my wins, instead of hoping the opponent doesn’t have a removal spell. If you end up in a blue aggressive deck without many flyers, that’s the most likely place for this to appear.
If you have two good hits, I’d be happy to run this. With only one, it’s playable but not exciting. With none, it’s clearly dregs, and all that sums up the card nicely. There aren’t so many targets for this that I’d take it early, but once I had one good one I’d have my eye on this.
In most decks, this is unplayable, but once you have 7+ flyers, especially cheap ones, it becomes a potent build-around. It’s a little tricky because most decks full of flyers are already great, but why not make a great deck even better if you can?
You shouldn’t play this in a non-Merfolk deck, though I suspect it’ll sneak its way in more often than it should. In an aggressive Merfolk deck this looks great, and an easy way to clock the opponent for a solid 2 damage a turn.
In most decks, this isn’t a playable. Spending 7 mana and not affecting the board is no way to go through life. In a control deck, this seems like a passable win condition, though it’s still rough to stabilize, then play this, then hope to untap one more time. I’m certainly interested in using this to win the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was worse than just a 7-mana 6/6 or the like.
In a Pirate deck, especially one with many ETB effects, I’d happily run this. Outside of that, it’s a sideboard card against removal, and not a particularly powerful one at that.
In no deck is this amazing, though I will be playing it in my control decks. If you’re in the market for an 0/3 blocker, this is a keeper, though I know you really just want an excuse to play an un-delved Treasure Cruise. That actually seems legit to me, and I’m curious if Trilobite Control is a viable strategy, especially given the random Treasure counters floating around.
Goblinslide returns, and with hexproof! Merfolkslide is an intriguing card, and rewards you pretty heavily if you can get 10+ Merfolk into your deck. I wouldn’t snap this up too early, as nobody else is likely to want it, but it does provide a good ground army if you get it in the right deck. Hexproof is a funny ability to have on 1/1s, but it’s better than nothing.
In the right deck, this is a playable finisher, though it often won’t be necessary. If you’re doing a good job accumulating +1/+1 counters, the last thing you need is a card that makes your creatures better at evasion, and a 2/3 for 4 isn’t something I’m excited about. The main thing this makes me think of is someone streaming on Twitch without telling anyone, which then leads me to mention the best slogan I’ve seen on a shirt: “Stream like nobody is watching.” Also, you probably shouldn’t play this card.
Combat tricks that don’t increase power tend to be suspect at best, and I’m somewhat down on this as a result. It’s a fine sideboard card against removal, or if you know the matchup is going to feature a lot of 3/3s and 4/4s on each side, but I wouldn’t start it.
The uses for this are few and far between. You need to have the odd combination of multiple great tribal payoffs while also failing to have enough ways to fulfill them. Even then, if you draw those payoffs and don’t draw Adaptation, or vice versa, your deck doesn’t really work. I’d pass on this in all but the strangest circumstances.
This is an awesome Constructed reprint, but a marginal Limited one. Side it in only if your opponent has multiple expensive spells, or if the matchup is very fast and they have a good amount of cheap removal spells they are inclined to play early.
This card is aptly-named—not only does there not look to be a supported mill deck, this requires you to attack each turn in order to mill the opponent. That goes against the primary advantage of mill decks, which is that you can play defensively and not waste resources trying to put together an offense. I’d avoid this.
I’m in for a non-hasty Hellrider that has the upside of being larger and draining the opponent instead of just pinging them. You do need to draft around it, but given how many Vampire tokens there are running around, that seems quite doable. This is also playable all by itself, so don’t expect to see it late even if your neighbors aren’t in Vampires.
Extra unconditional removal that even gets around all sorts of things is well worth 4 mana, and this gains you 2 life to boot. I’m in.
Unless you’re unlucky enough to play against the all-Merfolk deck, this is going to be excellent. It’s cheap, basically unconditional, and certainly an early pick.
Cheap explore creatures are great, and this is no exception. It’s either a 2/3 for 2 that scryed, or a 1/2 that draws a card. That’s all you can ask from a 2-drop, and no deck would ever cut this.
All this needs is a little action, and then it can start to go on all sorts of expeditions. With Deadeye Tracker in play, you are by default winning the war of attrition, making it a must-kill threat in all but the fastest games. That’s a great deal for just 1 mana, and I’m likely to slam this anytime I have the option to.
Unconditional kill is a fine deal at 4, so paying 5 and getting two Treasures is a contract worth signing. This is playable in every deck but especially good in ramp, so be on the lookout for that strategy if you can pick up a couple.
While this does ravage your life total as well as the opponent’s, if you play this while you have the initiative it does a ton of work. A 4/4 menace deathtouch is a beater, and blocking it means losing two solid creatures, while being very exposed to combat tricks. If I see this early I’m taking it and drafting aggro, and I’d still play it in all but the most controlling decks.
Not only is a 2/1 menace for 2 a good deal on its face, this snowballs out of control quickly if you can enable it. I can’t fathom not picking this early, and even later in the Draft it’s worth trying to make work. Plus, the fail case is so good that you can run this with as few as 1-2 other Pirates and feel good about it.
Greatness at a very low cost—all you need to do is attack with a 2-drop and play this on 3 to get great value, and I’d play this in any deck with a reasonable amount of creatures. Note that it isn’t optional, but attacking is. This is better in aggressive decks (duh) but it’s powerful enough and cheap enough that it’s good outside of them too.
Every now and then, this is going to backfire, but most of the time it’s going to be great. The drawback becomes smaller in the late game, and the early game power here is hard to ignore. As long as you don’t play against the deck full of Lightning Strikes, this is a wanted card indeed.
Dark Nourishment at uncommon is a bit surprising, but it’s still a fine removal spell and you’ll always play it. Being an instant is a relevant upgrade over similar cards we’ve seen in the past, and against all of the non-Dinosaur decks this should kill whatever needs killing.
An efficient flyer with a drain 1 attached sounds good to me, and I don’t imagine this will be riding the sideboard very often. I suppose some control decks might not be looking for this level of aggression, but pretty much everyone else will.
I really like how this is going to play. It rewards good combat decisions, and can even pick up a 2-for-1 if you get to kill a 1-toughness creature and win a fight. I’d maindeck up to two without a second thought, even if sometimes you do need to side them out.
Overpaying by 1 mana isn’t too bad when you factor in the ability to rise from the grave. In a dedicated Vampire deck this is the perfect finisher, and given all the ways to make tokens, it seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to assemble the necessary squad. I’d still play this outside of a Vampire deck if you are lacking finishers, though it does lose a lot of its luster.
Zombie or Fiction seems like a good card to me. It does cost 7 and requires there to have been five creatures killed, but by the time you can cast it that doesn’t seem like too tall an order. At that point, you either get two good creatures or three decent ones, assuming the creatures that have died aren’t all abysmal. I think that’s worth 7 mana and at the top end of a control curve, it could help finish games. You can actually cast it with fewer than five creatures, but it loses a lot of value at that point.
Off just one trade, this is a 3/3 for 2 mana, and that’s not all that hard to accomplish. If you can go bigger than that, you are really doing it, and with some clever maneuvering, you can get a very good deal.
This hits targets in every deck and does so at instant speed, which is a deal I’ll take for 3 mana. Much like every other conditional removal, there is some risk when you have multiples, but unless I was completely smothered in these, I wouldn’t worry about it.
A Duress with a 1/2 flyer attached is much more interesting, even if it’s not a complete freeroll, as the opponent can get their card back with a removal spell. Still, I’d always maindeck this, especially in Pirate/raid decks, and side it out if I saw that my opponent didn’t have many targets.
I’m a huge fan of all of the explore cards, though this one is a tick below auto-play because of how badly it fares on defense. It’s still a good card, and one you will play almost every time, but in a control deck you can’t always afford to spend 4 mana on a creature with a mostly offensive slant.
The stats on this make it playable, and the ability gives you a decent way to spend your time and mana. It gets quite a bit better in a token-based deck or one full of Treasure generators, but the rate of exchange is never so efficient that you really feel like you’re getting away with anything. It at least isn’t sorcery speed, so blocking and sacrificing can be a good way to get value.
I’m a fan of Mind Rot in general, and Mind Rot with a Treasure attached is a great deal. Even in decks with few creatures, this will have high points, and midrange decks can make very good use of this card. I wouldn’t always slam it in aggro since discarding two isn’t an effect they care about a ton, so this is not quite an auto-play.
I’m a big fan of this card. It’s elegant, it plays well, and it’s powerful in the right deck, while not being a total miss if things don’t line up for it. I’d play this in any deck with 4+ Pirates, and if you have some awesome creatures, you can just run it as Raise Dead without feeling bad.
Decks that want 2/1s don’t usually have a super high curve, but Treasure is valuable for every deck, even if it’s better with 6+ drops. This looks like a solid way to make sure you have early plays, and has decent value up until the very late game.
If you can reliably attack and trigger this, it’s both efficient and annoying for your opponent. I wouldn’t be dead set on playing it in a midrange deck, and likely wouldn’t play it in a control deck, because missing the raid trigger makes this the height of mediocrity.
These work well in a defensive deck and are roused to fight at the sight of Treasure, which makes them good in most U/B decks as well. I’m not desperate to pick them up, but I’ll be happy to play them more often than not. Later in the Draft, their value can increase as well if you’ve got a lot of artifacts or are lacking 2s.
This is an explorer that really wants to get that +1/+1 counter, especially since you don’t really need lands once you’ve already hit six. I like this as high end, though it can be outclassed by Dinosaurs fairly easily. I also like adding more lifelinkers to the Vampire clan, as it gives you more and more incentives to run pump spells.
This is a solid way to top off your curve in an aggressive Vampire deck, and works exceptionally well with 1/1 lifelink tokens. Being able to throw a creature a turn at them and force trades is good, and at the very worst this attacks as a 5/3.
This existing will greatly increase the success rate of bluff attacks, as sending 1/1s into 3/3s looks mighty suspicious. Given the raid mechanic, it’s good to keep people on their toes, and this does a lot of work even if you don’t have it in your hand (or deck). That said, the ability is solid, though definitely on the aggressive side, and it won’t go off against crafty opponents as often as you’d like. This also is a card you can side out after showing it to the opponent, as it will impact their play in subsequent games.
I love that there is now a (the) Chupacabra, as it’s a sweet piece of lore to exist in Magic. The game play is solid too, and I’d play this in any deck with 3+ ways to explore. Once you are at 5+, it becomes awesome, though it sucks if you aren’t triggering the ability at least once.
In a deck with a light Vampire theme, this doesn’t do a lot. It’s passable, but you really want to make a huge bloody mess, not just sprinkle a little onto the ground. In a dedicated Vampire deck, this looks like an awesome finisher, and I can imagine it doing 4+ damage easily. Make those tokens and reap the rewards.
While this can make things look grim for the opponent, it does take a fair amount of work to do its thing. You have to be in a position to attack the opponent each turn, while spending 4 mana on a card that doesn’t affect the board at all. For each game that this dominates (which will happen), I suspect there will be multiple games where it does little to nothing. Overall I’m willing to try it as a finisher/high end in a low-curve raid deck, but I’m not high on its prospects.
If you need a 2-drop Vampire, old Bay here has your back. It’s not the spiciest addition to your deck, but it’s playable if your curve is in need of help.
This is a cheap raid enabler and a way to handle large creatures, though it’s inefficient against small or medium threats. I like it as a sideboard card against Dinos, or a way to make sure your raid cards are active (though watch out for clever opponents blocking and making you spend a mana).
Slamming this on an evasive creature or something with hexproof is a big game, and does go a long way in making up for the inherent weakness of Auras (they open you up to getting 2-for-1’d by removal and are dead if you don’t have a good target). I think this will make its mark in decks with specific targets, and is a fine sideboard card against removal-light opponents. Likewise, feel free to take it out against decks with ample removal and bounce.
Can I call this Tidings, or is that too much? In a deck where you are only getting one creature back, this is unplayable, but it gets pretty good once you are up to two or three reliably. Most decks won’t be that diverse, but if you get the mixed bag tribal deck, this will make things grim for your opponent. Drawing three creatures for 3 mana is awesome, and if you get the full four I think you should get to declare victory.
Even in the most aggressive deck, this has a pretty bad fail case. The opponent can let you have ineffective or mediocre cards (or lands), and only pay life if they really need to stop something. In any deck that isn’t attacking, this is worse than useless.
A single 2/2 and this has to stop attacking, which makes it significantly less vicious than advertised. This is more of a Constructed card than a Limited one, though I can see it making the cut (slash?) in very aggressive Vampire decks.
I don’t like either side of this card very much, which does not bode well for its prospects. Paying 2 mana and 2 life to draw a card is not a great deal, and flipping into a land that lets you eat creatures for life doesn’t make up for that. Plus, once this becomes the Temple, you no longer have a card out that lets you spend the life.
Here’s one of the 1/1 flyers for 1 that I try to keep you from playing. I can see this being playable in a raid deck, but outside of that it doesn’t do enough early and the ability is too expensive to rely on later.
This is a little too much work to draw two cards, and I love drawing two cards. Sacrificing a Treasure token is cute, and eating Vampire tokens is fine, but I’m not looking to run this very often. I do like siding it against Aura-based removal, so keep that in mind.
Besides rotting in your hand, this will also rot in your sideboard. I do see some value in siding this against the rare flip lands, but past that it’s a pass.
Like Spell Pierce, this is another Constructed staple that’s relegated to sideboard duty in Limited. The odds of whiffing are just too high to maindeck this, though it can be effective against spell-heavy decks.
You have to go real deep before this is a legit win condition, and getting a Treasure each time a creature dies isn’t worth 5 mana. Obviously I’m going to try and win the game via the Mr. Moneybags route, but I revel in that sort of thing, and can’t in good conscience recommend it.
A 6/6 for 6 with a free Searing Blaze attached? Yes please. This is powerful, provides card advantage, and is a bargain at 6 mana. Chomp.
Both sides of this are fantastic, and you even have a lot of control over when you flip this to boot. Drawing (most) of an extra card every turn is great, though it’s much worse than Outpost Siege because it misses on lands. Once you get to the late game, you can play three spells and turn this into a repeatable Lightning Bolt, which will dominate as easily as an extra card would. This is powerful, worth splashing, and a very high pick.
Now this is a brutal card to play against. When your opponent kills your 4-drop and has two creatures out, it feels like you are in a gigantic hole. I’d play a 3-mana 3-damage spell without question, and having the ability to buy it back is huge upside. It works well with evasive creatures, with big creatures, and can even be enabled by reckless attacks if need be. At the risk of repeating myself, take this card early and play it often.
Repeatable Threaten is a powerful ability, and you aren’t even paying for it, given that this is a perfectly serviceable 4/3 for 4. This is incredibly hard to beat if you had a good aggressive start, though I wouldn’t cut it from control decks either. The opponent has to leave tons of blockers back out of respect, giving you extra time to develop your board, and maybe even get up to 8 mana for the double steal. Consider me captivated.
This is some high-quality removal, and I’m going to have a blast killing my opponent’s 6-drops with it. This clears the way early and snipes large things late, which is a very good deal for only 3 mana.
A 3/3 menace for 3 is big game, and the aggressive ability should favor you as a result. This races effectively, and really pressures the opponent early or late.
Lightning never strikes twice, especially now that this is uncommon. It’s still just as good as every other time we’ve seen it, as 3 damage for 2 mana is not a deal I’ll ever turn down.
Draw three plus discard two at random is definitely upside, and can often be better than just “draw a card” (mostly when your hand isn’t that good, which is true for me almost all the time). As for how often this will be big, I’ll just leave you in the hands of Frank Karsten, PhD. This card is good and you should play it, though it’s not a bomb by any stretch.
Ground Rorix has never been so aptly named, as this charges in and puts a beating on the opponent. If you curve into this, you’re going to win easily, and even in a not-great draw this carries a lot of weight. It’s just too gigantic and runs over chump blockers, making it an awesome threat.
A 5-mana 4/4 that picks up a 2-for-1 a good chunk of the time seems like a deal to me, and I’m happy running this as the top end of aggro or the middle of the curve in midrange. As long as you have some creatures that can plausibly attack, this will pull its weight. There are decks where sacrificing a land is extremely painful, and even against aggro, this does add up. Resources are resources, and losing one is bad.
The Lobbers have upgraded their rig, and now have an extra point of toughness. I like the defensive body in control decks, and like the unblockable damage in aggro decks. All told, this is a card I’m happy to play everywhere, even if I don’t have tons of Pirates. Also note that this can attack to trigger raid, if such a thing is needed.
Being able to hit the opponent makes this a card I’m happy to see, much like any good friend. It’s fine to have multiples, and even though it’s not the most efficient card in the world, you are never cutting it.
Captain Storm (that’s me when I’m Cube drafting, by the way) takes no prisoners, and she gets in there for value as soon as you play her. She attacks as a 3/2 at worst, and can ramp your mana if you don’t need to sac the Treasure right away. She’s a good addition to any deck, aggressive or controlling, on rate alone.
Even without combos, this provides a solid roadblock on the ground, and will save you some damage before giving you a 3/3. Once you factor in how good it is against 2/1s and how sick it becomes with enrage combos, you have a nice little card on your hands.
Headstrong Brute is going to be one of the aggressive Pirate mainstays in the set, as a 3/3 menace for 3 is a fantastic deal. This will beat the crap out of most opponents, and especially if backed up by removal, can never be effectively blocked. Given that it can’t block itself, the normal caveats about not playing this in control decks apply.
Aggro decks should snap this up, as the stats are well worth the potential to be stranded. It’s definitely not a good fit for control, but the power level is there if you’re ready to enable it.
In a midrange Dinosaur deck, this will thrash your opponent very quickly. A 5/3 trample is a great deal for 4, and this plays nicely with fight cards and combat tricks. Outside of Dinosaur decks, this is a marginal playable, but a 3/3 for 4 isn’t so bad that you can’t run it with just a few other Dinos.
Try saying this three times fast, or just skip that and play it in your aggressive decks. This is good on turn 2 and does a respectable job later, which is all you can ask for out of your 2-drop.
Assuming this doesn’t maul your own creatures, I like it in the main deck. It’s very effective against Merfolk and Vampires, and can even help against Dinosaurs. Feel free to side it out aggressively, as it’s going to be quite bad in some matchups.
Storm Fleet Pyromancer is a fine way to spend 5 mana in a beatdown deck, and can pick up a little value out of a midrange deck as well. You will sometimes end up in a spot where it doesn’t have good targets, at which point it’s a pretty weak play, and without raid this is quite bad. That all adds up to a fine card, but not one of the better pyromancers I’ve ever seen. I do like attacking a 2/2 into a 4/4 with this in hand, though if they don’t block and you just play a 3/2 that shocks the opponent, that isn’t huge.
I really like this as the top of the curve in a Dinosaur aggro deck, or even red-black Pirates. It puts a ton of pressure on the opponent, and is one of the enrage cards where you can just kill them if you combo off. I don’t think this is great in a Dinosaur Ramp deck, as you want your 6-drops to be a little more defensive, but picking up the first one of these seems worth it for most red decks.
More aggressive Pirates, more exploring, and more hoping to hit a +1/+1 counter. Ahoy!
In hyper aggressive decks, this can really bring some beats, and if you start with 2-drop into 2-drop plus Rigging Runner, your opponent will certainly feel like things are rigged. Outside of those decks, this is wildly unplayable, so only run this if you are sure that you can support it.
A 7-mana wrath is a few mana more than I like, making this less of an all-star and more of a solid build-around. Destroying a land is a nice bonus, but I’m still not looking to slam this and run with it
It’s pretty odd to have both a 7-mana double striker and a 7-mana double damage creature, but I guess both Pirates and Dinos like doubling. This at least takes effect immediately, opening the door for some sweet alpha strikes if you’ve got evasive creatures on deck. Still, it’s a 7-mana card, and not every deck is in the market for that, on top of the need to have a board presence to begin with in order for this to be good. It is also good with burn spells, which is a nice little upside.
This is a decent finisher. It does have the downside of doing nothing for 6 mana, but if you can follow it up with a few spells, it should crush the opponent in a landslide of free cards. Slow decks will have a ton of trouble beating this, and if you can stabilize against a fast deck, this will ensure eventual victory. I could see this being even better than a 2.0, but I’m starting it here because skipping turn 6 is a substantial drawback.
It does look like the low-curve Dinosaur beatdown deck is being pushed, as this Knight fits in perfectly. If you are attacking and have 8+ Dinosaurs, go for it, but otherwise leave this out.
The whole point of clones is that they let you copy your opponent’s cards when you are behind, which this doesn’t do. It does lead to some really aggressive beatdown draws, and if you can play a good 4- or 5-drop into this you will probably run away with the game. That’s still a bit win-more for my tastes, and if they bounce or kill the creature you target in response, you get totally owned. For the most part, I recommend against crawling in your skin, and suspect this will be one of the more disappointing cards despite the high upside.
This sure is a mediocre combat trick. You will win almost every fight, which is nice, but it costs 2 mana and doesn’t pump toughness, limiting it to in-combat applications only. I suspect you won’t feel too bad if you don’t pick one of these up, so I wouldn’t prioritize it.
The best place for this looks to be a lower-curve aggressive Dinosaur deck, likely red-green. Otherwise, it’s a mediocre 2/1 that doesn’t scale all that well into the late game, though I suppose it can steal a game if you are in a close race.
In a deck with a couple of good enrage targets, this seems like a fine addition. Outside of that, it’s not a card I’m excited to play, as giving trample is clearly not worth going through this effort. If you want this, you’ll be able to pick up some copies.
Taking a turn off to cast this is usually of dubious value, and having to discard before drawing makes this a lot worse than an actual looter. Add those up and you have the definition of a marginal playable.
I don’t like this in the big Dino deck, as 6+ drops are finishers in their own right. Where it is interesting is in the more midrange/aggressive red-green Dino deck that focuses on 2-5 drops instead. I could see this making the cut, and adding a much needed 4-6 damage at the end of the game.
4/2s trade down for 2-drops too easily for this to be a high priority, but it will make the cut if you care that it’s a Dinosaur. There are plenty of decks where that is enough, and it’s unlikely anyone else at the table will be stealing this from you.
In a dedicated Dinosaur deck, this is the perfect ramp card. It helps cast your gigantic threats, and gives them haste to enable some very fast draws. Even in the late game, this is quite relevant, which isn’t true of most mana dorks.
Maybe this makes waves in Constructed, but I don’t see it in Limited. It’s too small and too hard to cast early, making it a card without a home.
This is a very strange card, and I am indeed tempted to try it. Making a mana per turn isn’t quite good enough, but being able to stack them up and use them to play something really big is a real upside. Forcing the opponent to attack is cute too, though if they have any reasonable attacks then this does nothing since they just need to send one creature. If the stars align and you have a controlling ramp deck with good midrange blockers, maybe this does the trick, but I have my doubts.
While I do like mana sinks in general, the Keeper cycle has mostly been a miss for me. Eight is just so much, and I don’t really want a 1/1 menace in my decks either.
Outside of formats with a dedicated sacrifice theme, Threaten effects tend to be pretty bad. Hijack isn’t a card I expect to play, though I can see siding it in against big Dinosaurs every now and then.
Here is your sacrifice deck, I suppose. It still does seem pretty makeshift, and I’m not excited about the prospect. The rate here is just too inefficient, and there aren’t enough steal effects to really justify going for it. You can throw Treasure, but making it isn’t free, and paying 1 mana and a Treasure per damage is just too much.
This is another sideboard option, mainly used for preying on Vampires (just like in Shadows Over Innistrad).
In hyper-aggressive Pirates decks, maybe, just maybe, this is a 24th card. It’s just not worth a card to get +2/+2, and playing it in the same turn in order to get haste is pretty hard to set up.
Now here is a Raptor that actually belongs in the Hall of Fame. This would be awesome without the enrage ability, and it punishing the opponent for blocking or pointing damage to it seems absurd. I’m definitely slamming this.
This effectively draws you a card every time you activate it because lands in the late game are often a resource you have tons of. A 3/3 for 4 that makes 5/5s and 6/6s is awesome, and this is one of the better cards you can open.
The name is perfect here, as this is both savage and a stomping. If you can play a 4-drop Dinosaur and eat their 4-drop on turn 5, you are almost assuredly going to win, and this even has nice enrage bonuses. This is playable outside of Dinosaurs too, so taking it early can never go wrong.
Apparently this is a lot more mythic than Scaled Behemoth, but I guess being uncounterable and getting trample goes a long way. Regardless of the rarity symbol, this will cause carnage, as it’s impossible to stop except via combat, and big enough that it’s hard even with creatures. It’s nice being able to tap out and slam this, and know that almost nothing can go wrong.
This ranges from good to great, and it’s very hard to imagine the Raptors doing worse than getting a 1-for-1. Most of the time it’ll trade and pick you up a land, which is fantastic, and if you can trigger the ability yourself you will feel like a clever person indeed.
This may seem like a mighty high grade, but a mana Elf (Druid) that becomes a relevant body later is a really big deal. Cards that are great on turn 2 and still solid later are prized possessions, and this works well even in non-Dinosaur decks.
The common fight spell is usually pretty good, and having enrage synergies (plus large creatures) means this doesn’t disappoint. Take it, play it, and be happy you have it.
Given that this can target itself, it’s at worst a 2/4 for 3, and often much better than that. This is a real reason to draft Merfolk, and is good even if you don’t quite get there.
I like how much life this gives you, as it basically stabilizes the board all by itself. It laughs at bounce, and makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to win a race.
This hits pretty hard, as getting through even once adds a ton of value. It’s also a solid 4/3 for 4, so you aren’t even paying for the ability. I’d take this, and I’d prioritize ways to get it through once I had it.
I really like the cost and stats on this one. Every deck will gladly play as many of these as they can—even control. It doesn’t count as branching into aggro if your 2-drop draws you a card, right?
If your opponent attacks into this, you get to snap them off and keep a 5/5. If they are clever and play around it, you aren’t even punished, as you get to drop this end of turn and just attack on your turn. A card that’s a blowout when it works and still very good when it doesn’t is a good card.
Grazing Whiptail is the definition of solid playable. A 3/4 reach for 4 is a good defender and decent attacker, and it’s even a relevant creature type.
7 is a lot of mana, so I’m not over the moon about this, but it’s still going to be great when you ramp into it. It’s an engine all by itself, and is a legit way to finish the game in a ramp or control deck.
I like the combo of a solid defender and a nice little ping ability. This will pick off 2/1s, stop 3/3 flyers, and can even trigger your 2/3 or 3/2 enrage creatures (being able to fight your own creatures is uncommon).
Deathgorge Scavenger is oozing with value. It’s a 3/2 that will often gain 2 life right away, and can attack as a 4/3 or gain additional life over the course of the game. It’s not a bomb, since the buff isn’t permanent and it does require cards in graveyards, but it’s a nice value creature that you will always play.
This is slightly worse than Carnage Tyrant, mainly because of the worse stats and the lack of great abilities. It’s still a perfectly acceptable finisher, and a card I’ll play multiples of in a ramp deck. It doesn’t even sound bad to play one in a red-green beatdown deck, as a 6/6 trample is no laughing matter for the opponent.
I’m actually in for this. It’s a 3/3 hexproof for 4 at worst, and there are plenty of Merfolk that could use +1/+1 counters. I also like that Mark of the Vampire and One With the Wind give you some sick combos, allowing you to build a gigantic Jade Golem if that’s what you want to do.
As long as your curve has a decent amount of 5+ drops, this is a fine addition. In a beatdown deck, I’d leave it by the wayside, but otherwise I’m in.
I’m reasonably happy with this no matter what the outcome is. Explore is a powerful mechanic, and an 0/3 that draws a card or a 1/4 with “scry” is certainly worth 2 mana (though I wouldn’t run this in aggressive decks).
While strictly a beatdown card, Deeproot Warrior does its job, and does its job well. It gets in without fear, and will be a sought-after part of any aggressive strategy. This is a good card to be aware of since it’s quite the on-the-board trick if you block with a 2/2. I expect its kill count to be high at the prerelease.
Spending 3 mana to get a creature isn’t great, though once this flips you are up a very good card. I’d run this in creature-heavy decks unless I was very aggressive, which makes it a fine mid-pack pick but nowhere near a bomb.
In a deck with 10+ Dinosaurs, this provides a good amount of flexibility. A 1 mana spell that can find you lands or threats, depending on what you need, is valuable. The price is that you need Dinosaurs, or this becomes a glorified land, but once you pay that price this is a good addition. It also has what I assume is a playtest name that somehow slipped through, but that doesn’t affect game play.
I have to admit, I’m curious about this card. It’s a mediocre way to save a creature, as you have to re-cast it (though that does re-trigger enter-the-battlefield abilities). But it not only is a 2-for-1 when it works—you can effectively cycle it by just firing it off. I think that adds up to enough value that you should almost always play it, and I can see moving up the rating after playing with it a few times.
In the right deck, this could be one of your best cards, though green-based spell decks are few and far between. Most of the time this will play as a 1/1 that becomes a 2/2 or 3/3 eventually, which is fine if you are Merfolk and probably not good enough otherwise. I’d want 10 or more spells before I started really getting excited here.
Crash the Ramparts lives up to its name, as it will let you crash through for the final points of damage effectively. It’s expensive enough that you don’t get a ton of value in the early/midgame as you end up spending your whole turn on it, so I wouldn’t prioritize it. You want one of these to finish things off, but aren’t going to feel too bad if you don’t get it.
Alongside other 2/2s for 2, this is fine if that’s what you’re in the market for. The ability costs a ton, so you really are just playing this because you are keeping your curve in mind.
Gift of Paradise ended up being a bit better than it looked, and this does have more of an effect on the board. That said, you do need to be a serious ramp deck before this does what you are looking for.
As someone who is also always ravenous, this gets a pass from me. It’s not a bad card by any stretch, but a 3/2 that trades and gains you 2 life isn’t a high priority. You also don’t get the life when you need it, so it’s not going to save you in many close games.
In blue-green, this is a fine playable, but outside of that I think I’ll pass. I don’t want my 2/2 relying on having other creatures in play, as a 2/2 isn’t even that good once the game gets to turn 5 or 6.
I really like this in Merfolk decks, and think it’s unplayable outside of them. Getting two +1/+1 counters at instant speed is a giant beating, as you will win combat and be left with a bunch of value. You can spread the counters out or put them in the same place, and combined with +1/+1 counter synergies and hexproof Merfolk, this becomes awesome.
In a deck with 5+ explore cards, I’m willing to play this. It’s not the worst fail case in the world when you miss, and a 2/4 that gains you 3 is already worth plenty.
Your opponent can toss their worst creature in front of this, making it an expensive and slow removal spell. It’s also susceptible to bounce and other instant-speed interaction, making me skeptical that I’ll ever play it.
This won’t actually block very many additional creatures because I won’t be playing it often. It’s kind of a dorky vanilla dude, and you can do better.
I like the combo of a solid defender and a nice little ping ability. This will pick off 2/1s, stop 3/3 flyers, and can even trigger your 2/3 or 3/2 enrage creatures (being able to fight your own creatures is uncommon).
I don’t know how this format is shaping up exactly, but I’d be shocked if this wasn’t purely a sideboard card. It looks like a very good one since some decks will just get owned by it, but drawing it on turn 5 against a deck with only a few interactions seems too bad to risk.
Here’s a secret: Don’t play Jungle Delver. It’s too small and the ability is too expensive, even in a Merfolk deck.
Two sideboard cards in one—hooray. This is mainly for flyers, but it’s nice that it can also hit enchantments if need be.
I’m not a big fan of fogs in general, and this can’t even save you from dying to an alpha strike (only prevents damage to creatures). It does protect your creatures from removal, but that’s not enough to blind me to how bad this is.
This is an aggressive rating, but it’s for a reason. I do think it’s possible that this fits into an aggro deck, but it seems horrendous to me. Compare this to Wanted Scoundrels, for example. A land is a little better than 2 Treasures early, but the main difference is that they get the land when you play this, not many turns later when it dies. Playing this on turn 1 seems like an easy way to lose the game, as the opponent just plays a 3/2 on turn 2 and trades, or a 4/4 on turn 3 or 4. Where it might be good is on turn 3 or 4, alongside another drop, but that seems too situational to count on. Maybe this will grow on me as the format goes on, but my initial impression is that this is quite bad
I’m a big fan of this in any tribal deck, especially low-curve ones. It has an effect immediately, and works well with creatures that come before or after it. That’s a way to conquer the opponent if I’ve ever seen one.
It’s amusing that you don’t always want to flip the Dagger, as a +2/+1 equipment for 2 and 2 mana is a good deal. Giving them Plants is a little annoying, but you can mow them down easily enough, and snagging a Gilded Lotus will be good at almost any point in the game. This looks like it fits best in midrange, as you don’t care a ton about the extra life the Plants give them, while still having enough creatures and presumably some good things to cast with the extra mana.
I’m in for a treasure hunt, as this provides a little value each turn until the third, at which point you get showered in a bounty of riches. Like many of these cards, this is a late-game engine more than anything proactive, so don’t overload your deck with nonsense or you will get run over.
In a deck capable of crewing it easily, this gives you the tools you need to conquer the opponent. Having Conqueror’s Foothold in play means you win the long game by default, which is worth spending 4 mana and the crew cost. There will be draws where this is a blank, but as far as finishers go, I wouldn’t ship it.
I would never cut this from a Pirate deck, and would even run it with as few as 4 Pirates. The rate is solid enough on its own, and if you can get the first equip for free, you’ve come out way ahead.
Crew 1 and a low cost do make this sleek enough to run in any deck full of creatures, even if it’s not all that exciting.
I love the idea of grinding out my opponent with this, as it looks like a solid addition to any control deck. It’s as slow as they come, so don’t go adding it to your aggro decks, but in midrange or control it can be effective. Once it flips, it does an amazing job of keeping you alive, giving you time to finish the game with whatever you desire.
In a Pirate deck, this does a lot of work. It makes all of your Pirates better (which also reduces how hard it is to crew this), and might poke in for a card or two if the way is clear. That’s a lot for 3 mana, and this can even be a flagship card if your deck is tribal enough.
In a creature-heavy deck, this is a fine 5-drop. It’s got a lot of stats, a reasonable crew cost, and even vigilance (which is weaker on Vehicles, given that you need twice the crew to take advantage of it).
In a heavy tribal deck, this is likely worth it, though not by a ton. It does add colorless for other cards, but not fixing mana when it comes to spells is a big drawback.
You need to be doing tons of exploring for this to be worth it, as it won’t be all that valuable until it becomes a 4/4 (or bigger). It looks more like a Constructed engine than a Limited one, given how many explore cards you need for this to be great.
If your deck is extremely heavy on a tribe and that tribe has a lot of 4+ drops, maybe this is worth it. Not casting spells or off-tribe cards makes this a pretty risky addition, as it’s very easy for it just to be dead.
In a non-spell deck, this is clearly a blank. Once you have tons of spells, like 12+, maybe it does something, but even then it comes out so late that it might not give you a ton of value. I think I’d leave this one to the Constructed masterminds.
If you really need another warm (cold) body, here you are. A 3/3 for 4 is not exactly the gold standard, so only run this if you are really short creatures.
I can see siding this in for a matchup that always goes to a board stall, but I suspect you can do better. This just doesn’t pack enough punch to be worth a whole card.
I see this mostly as a sideboard card against a deck full of small creatures, because paying 6 mana for 2 damage, then 4 mana plus a card for each subsequent 2 damage is not a good deal.
A Treasure-generator that requires you to get through for damage is not something I’m interested in. Combining cheap, evasive creatures and expensive spells seems pretty bad, so this card ends up being a mix of two clashing strategies.
I still don’t like this card, though the flavor of including it in this set is nice. Adding a mana to the cost of your spells is big, and I’d only run this if I were 3 colors and had a lot of cheap cards.
So few cards have activated abilities that are worth spending an entire card to negate them, so I’m not seeing the reason to run this. It’s potentially a sideboard card, but I’m skeptical of that too, even with the bonus peek you get at the opponent’s hand.
Draining for 1 isn’t something ramp decks care about a ton, and a 3-mana ramp spell is not exciting enough to be worth running (especially when it doesn’t fix colors). I’d avoid this.
I’d side this in against the rare flip lands, but otherwise it’s not worth a slot.
Vraska is expensive, but she delivers. Making a blocker and going up to 8 loyalty is the stones, and she can eat anything that looks threatening (and to continue the analogy, she uh, digests it and turns it into Treasure?). Sorry, Wizards creative. Vraska is splashable, and impacts any game very well, all while having such a high loyalty that I’ve got to give her the highest grade. Plus, her ultimate will end the game very quickly, especially once you’ve made two menace Pirates on the way there.
These make your deck a bit more consistent, and you should always run them. Don’t take them early unless you are looking to be 3 colors, but be happy if you pick them up.
In the aggressive Red-Black Pirates deck, this is a threatening beater. Outside of that, things look a little more dire, and I’m not all that interested in playing this. It’s a good addition to the deck if you can pick it up later, but I wouldn’t take this early and go into it.
This is both the alpha and the omega, as it gives you an incredible 7/7 of stats and a persistent haste ability. It’s great when you’re ahead, great when you’re behind, and overall just a fantastic card. It’s likely the best card in the set, thanks to how little it asks of you and how much work it does.
This is big, aggressively costed, and even triggers enrage, which I’m surprised those clowns on Limited Resources didn’t mention. Take this and play it.
If all this did was exile the target, Hostage Taker would be a prized early pick. Given that she lets you cast it and keep it forever, she’s on the short list of best cards in the set. The opponent has maybe one turn to kill her and prevent the blowout, after which you end up insanely far ahead. I would also prioritize ways to get her back from the graveyard, or cards like Siren’s Ruse, since the only thing better than taking one hostage is taking two.
This will frequently be a 4/4 or 5/5 immediately, and grows while giving you tokens that have their own intrinsic value. That’s more than enough to make me interested.
The gold uncommons in this set are on point (except you, Belligerent Brontodon—get your butt into gear). Shapers of Nature is an efficient beater with two very powerful activated abilities, plays well in any deck, and would be especially great in a Merfolk deck.
A 7-drop that requires a board presence to be good isn’t exactly high on my list of bombs, though this will have games where it draws you three cards and is a 6/6. If you are playing ramp/control and have a decent amount of creatures, this is a fantastic finisher. In aggressive or creature-light decks, it’s more noise than actual power.
Besides sharing a name with one of the most iconic Diablo bosses, Vona is also one of the best bombs in the set. The clear play pattern here is to attack and to use the ability on their biggest blocker, which is cute. You also have the option of just playing this and crushing, which will work fairly well too. The only reason it doesn’t get a 5 is that it dies to removal, which is a feature that the best of the best don’t have.
These make your deck a bit more consistent, and you should always run them. Don’t take them early unless you are looking to be 3 colors, but be happy if you pick them up.
Huatli fits the traditional planeswalker mold as she adds to the board each turn, can defend herself, and has a minor plus ability to tie it all together. You’ll be making Dinosaurs most of the time, but sometimes you might +2 into a nice -4 or -5 to finish the game. Either way, she’s a powerful 5-drop and a card worth splashing.
This has a rough mana cost and requires more Dinosaurs to be great, but the payoff is there. Smashing for 7 immediately is huge, and getting a blocker, plus having this untapped and ready to go, makes it a solid defensive play too. At least for now, if I open this, I will be taking it and trying to make it work.
You’d think that I’d be in for a sweet Grixis Pirate lord, but once you get down to brass tacks, this is too much work for too little payoff. Casting a 3-color card is a little easier due to Treasure, but still isn’t trivial, and getting through with three Pirates is not easy. In a Pirate deck with good sources of Treasure, I would play the Admiral, but I’m not starting a Draft with her and going for it.
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