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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Jul 20 2012 8:58am
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M13 is almost here!  Exalted is back!  On top of that, we get a new legendary creature in each color.  This is all pretty sweet.  The new legends are pretty interesting to me, as they seem much lower on the power scale than most of the other recently printed legends.  Either they require specific deck construction, or they don't just immediately change the game.  But that's all right, they provide more deck building challenges.

I'm just going to jump right into things.  As you may or may not remember, I am only going to cover brand new cards that I think are interesting.  Yes, I know that Rancor was reprinted, but you won't see it here because I already talked about it when it came online a while back.

With that out of the way, let's get on to the new stuff!

LEGENDS

Krenko, Mob Boss - Tokens are fun!  Goblin tokens aren't bad either.  Goblins aren't typically a route that you go with goblin deck, especially mono-Red decks that use Kiki-Jiki or someone similar.  But it isn't horribly tough to make a mono-Red goblin token deck.  Especially with stuff out there like Empty the Warrens, Goblin Offensive and Warbreak Trumpeter, there are more than a few ways to make goblin tokens.  He may not be the easiest guy to go off with, but he isn't horrible.

However, as a back up dude in your goblin decks, he can be pretty freaking awesome.  Whether you are playing with Wort, the Raidmother, Wort, Boggart Auntie, or any other multi-colored goblin legend (is there another one?) he can definitely help you out a ton.  And with the variety of goblin tutors, from Moggcatcher to Goblin Matron to Imperial Recruiter, you should have no problem tutoring him up.  It's strange that I think he's better as a support card, but that's just what I think.

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis - Nefarox is a limited Thraximundar with flying.  Yes, he is a demon, and demons are inherently cooler than zombies.  However, you only get his benefit when he attacks alone.  There aren't a whole bunch of Black exalted cards out there, so that's not the best way to go when building around Nefarox.  But Avacyn Restored did give you some stuff like Homicidal Seclusion to make him a little better.  Unfortunately, even with his sacrifice ability, I don't see him being a major player.  Sure he can take out people that rely on voltron Commanders.  But Thrax just gives you way better options, plus haste, for a similar effect.

He's a decent guy as a beater in your Commander deck I guess.  I mean, I just have a hard time seeing him as more playable than Kagemaro or someone else.  Just looking at my old demon deck, I don't see him taking anyone's place aside from maybe Abyssal Persecutor.  Of course, if you wanted to go hard core demon tribal he would make the cut.  But limiting the attacking of your army isn't the easiest way to do things, unless your name is Rafiq.

Odric, Master Tactician - Soldier tribal baby!  There are lots of ways to go about building a soldier deck, but as along as you have a lot of them Odric will be happy.  You can try and go hard core token deck using Darien, King of Kjeldor, Kjeldoran Outpost, Mobilization and Captain of the Watch, and you can fill in the gaps with Daru Warchief, etc.  Of course, you don't have to go with soldier tribal, but that's one of the easier ways to make tokens and get pump that helps everyone.  There are also kor tokens, angel tokens and spirit tokens.  But I think people are going to mostly take him in the direction of soldiers.  He's powerful though, don't get me wrong.  And don't forget Windswept Heath!

As a regular beater, he's probably pretty good in any token strategy.  So look to use him in Hazezon Tamar and Rith decks, and also possibly Rhys as well.  The question will become whether the combat trick is a priority for you, or if you would rather make more tokens.  I guess that's really just a question of personal taste.

Talrand, Sky Summoner -  Getting 2 fliers every time you play an instant or sorcery isn't a horrible deal.  Mono-Blue isn't really known for its token making ability so this is a nice change of pace.  My guess is that there will be a decent amount of decks using this guy with some Time Warp effects, Blatant Thievery cards and recursion in the form of Snapcaster Mage and Mnemonic Wall types of cards.  I'm not really sure that you're going to be able to make enough tokens with Talrand to consistently Overrun people, but it's worth trying out at least.

I have seen some pretty creature light Grixis builds that I think Talrand to easily slide into.  Aside from that he really sort of needs to be built around.  I mean, if you're playing a bunch of powerful sorceries and instants, do you really need the tokens that Talrand provides?  Maybe, I guess.  He is certainly interesting though.

Yeva, Nature's Herald - Yeva just doesn't do it for me.  Sure, her ability is pretty nice.  She's basically a personal Vedalken Orrery that is limited to just creatures, or just a less powerful Teferi.  But with my Commanders what I really want is to be given a little bit of direction as to how to build around them.  Sometimes it takes a little bit of work, but it can be done.  With Yeva, there's no real puzzle:  Just play creatures.  She seems overly simplistic to me.  Don't get me wrong, I like that flash creatures are becoming Green's part of the color pie.  It's just that she doesn't spark me as an interesting Commander.  Heck, even Nefarox, with his liabilities, is more interesting to me.  I do like that she is the second biggest of all the new legendary creatures though.

As a regular beater I think she will be pretty good.  She will slide right into Momir decks as a back up to Teferi, although limiting her to Green creatures isn't something that Momir players will like.  But she is worthy of consideration in just about every other mono-Green deck as well.

CREATURES AND PLANESWALKERS

 Ajani, Caller of the Pride - Ah, new Ajani.  I just wanted a little something more out of your +1 ability.  I guess it is pretty similar to the original Ajani's +1, in that the effect is pretty minimal.  But the second ability is really what people are going to be playing him for.  Making your dudes hit hard is great, especially when dealing with Commander damage.  Plus, the fact that he only costs 3 mana means that he comes out quick and can be brought back by Sun Titan

 Archaeomancer - Combining Scrivener and Anarchist to make a cheaper Izzet Chronarch and Mnemonic Wall, this card is good.  If your deck is sorcery or instant heavy you should definitely consider him.  Especially for stuff like Warp World, Primal Surge, or Exsanguinate.

 Crusader of Odric - The crusader is "just a beater" but can get really big in the right decks.  Rhys, Ghave, even Rith can make this crusader huge.  Then if you combine with Champion of Lambholt, or Behemoth Sledge, watch her go to town.

 Disciple of Bolas - Among my favorite cards of the set, this one does a little bit of everything.  You get to gain life and draw cards when he comes into play.  And there's not shortage of huge dudes running around for him to target.  So it's like a Momentous Fall, except you typically can't cast him at instant speed.  That is sort of annoying and limits his usefulness, but doesn't make him any less good.

 Elderscale Wurm - Sort of a Worship on a decent sized creature, I don't really see this guy getting played that much outside of corner situations.  Sure, he's a 7/7 for 7, but people usually expect more out of their big beaters.  Even the Worship ability isn't all that great since creatures are especially fragile in this game.  Don't get me wrong, I like that they are trying out new stuff with wurms.  But I can't see a whole lot of decks that this guy will fit into.

 Firewing Phoenix - Another phoenix for Red.  With all of the different fiery birds that Red has, there is a fair amount of recursion in the color, which I think is a good thing.  Although not as good as Kuldotha Phoenix due to the lack of haste and lower toughness, it's still nice to be able to get a flier out of your graveyard whenever you need it.  Of course, it requires a heavy commitment to Red, but that's not horrible.

 Healer of the Pride - A bigger Soul Warden, the Healer can be pretty nutty in the right decks.  Again, good with token creators.

 Liliana of the Dark Realms - This is going to be a favorite of Black players everywhere.  The first ability is great.  Although it doesn't necessarily accelerate your mana, it does insure that you continue to hit your land drops.  Keep in mind that it isn't limited to searching up basic Swamps, and it can go get your Badlands if necessary.  The second ability can take out indestructible creatures, or just pump the crap out of your big flying demon.  The ultimate is a mono-Black player's wet dream.  Just a super, solid card.

 Liliana's Shade - This probably isn't something that is going to make you sit up and take notice, but the fact that they gave Black a better version of Ondu Giant is worth talking about.  Again, the land search doesn't limit you to a basic Swamp.  And it is a pumpable shade, even though no one plays with them.  If you need a little mana fixing and you aren't playing Green, this shade is worth looking at.

 Master of the Pearl Trident - Yay merfolk!  You do occasionally see merfolk decks built around both versions of Sygg.  Combine with Lord of Atlantis and Clone effects to make your merfolk big!

 Mindclaw Shaman - This card is pretty interesting.  I think that it's worth adding to decks that like to copy creatures, like Kiki-jiki or Riku.  Combine with Splinter Twin or Deadeye Navigator for additional shenanigans.  Sometimes there isn't that much to pick from, but most of the time there's a player with 9 cards in hand.  You have to figure at least one of those cards is going to be something that you'll want to cast.  Of course, sometimes you can come up empty.  But that's the chance you take.

 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker - The Beast Tracker will better be known as the Primeval Titan finder.  My guess is that most of the time that's what this card is going to do.  Of course, it can do a whole lot more.  It can grab answers like Acidic Slime, threats like Sigarda, or even just big crazy tramplers like Akroma.  So in a properly constructed deck it can do a lot.  But honestly, most of the time people are just going to grab Prime Time.  And the art is horrible.

 Rhox Faithmender - I never liked the Boon Reflection, because it never did anything by itself.  But putting the doubling effect for life gain on a creature is a good idea.  Now, the creature can attack or block, and becomes much more of a threat with equipment.  I don't know if he is worth including in any deck that isn't specifically built around life gain, but he is worth knowing about.

 Rummaging Goblin - Another Red looter, in the vein of Mad Prophet.  Despite costing 1 more, the Prophet is better, just for being slightly bigger and having haste.  But these aren't the worst cards as they can help you dig through land floods or put stuff like Anger in the graveyard or for use in a reanimation strategy that doesn't have access to cards like Merfolk Looter.  Yes, it is similar to Tibalt, but the discard isn't random.  Despite the fact that I have heard people give success stories regarding their use of Tibalt, I would still rather have the Rummager or the Prophet.

 Sublime Archangel - This card is trying to pull you into 2 different directions.  In order to really get the most out of it, you are probably going to want a bunch of creatures out, which means a token strategy.  However, in order to use exalted you can only attack with one creature.  Which seems to go against what a token strategy is really trying to do (attack with all your tokens).  Of course, if you have a big, evasive Commander who produces tokens it could be really good.  As such, I don't think I would really recommend this for (Rhys, the Exalted) or Ghave, Guru of Spores, but I would use the Archangel in Rith, the Awakener decks.  Of course, the Archangel does fly, so she can pretty much just become her own army in these decks.  This is a card that I would have to see in action before really determining just how good it is.

 Thragtusk - If there was a card that like Deadeye Navigator, this is it.  In Commander games, the advantage of blinking this guy is incremental, but can be significant over time.  A pretty decent card.

 Thundermaw Hellkite - This guy is pretty good.  A hasty 5/5 flier, that gets rid of all other blockers, is essentially a better version of Thundermare.  Except it leaves all your guys untapped so that they can attack.  The damage dealing isn't a bad thing, and can be incorporated into a strategy with Death Pits of Rath or used to wipe out hordes of faerie tokens, but most of the time it will be inconsequential.  An auto-include in dragon decks.

 Void Stalker - Another tuck effect to get rid of opposing Commanders, this card will get played a lot.  Usually you will have a turn to find an answer to the Stalker, either by getting rid of it or giving your Commander shroud.  But it is also good at getting rid of problem creatures as well.  This is a card you should see a lot of.

ARTIFACTS, ENCHANTMENTS AND LANDS

 

    
Ring of Evos Isle, Ring of Kalonia, Ring of Thune, Ring of Valkas, Ring of Xathrid

All right, so each of the Rings are worth considering, especially in mono-colored decks.  I think that the Red one, Ring of Valkas, is likely to be the most popular because haste is so valuable.  That would be followed by the one that grants trample, then vigilance.  The hexproof one is probably just after that, as it requires an activation.  People aren't always going to have mana up, and then it just puts counters on your dude.  Regeneration is an under utilized ability, but I don't really see it getting any more love on the Ring of Xathrid.  On top of the abilities, the fact that it makes your dudes bigger, albeit slowly, is nice.  Just make sure and use Doubling Season or proliferate effects to make your creatures get bigger faster.  And don't forget, the +1/+1 counters go on the creature, which means that the creature stays large even if the Ring is taken off them.

 Blood Reckoning - This is a decent deterrent, although it likely won't stop anyone from attacking you.  But if you have cards in play like Wound Reflection or Exquisite Blood, they may think a little bit before deciding to attack someone else.  If you like pinging people to death with Blood Artist and Falkenrath Noble, you might like this card as well.

 Cathedral of War - I wasn't too excited about this card, but then I saw someone mention that it makes Skithiryx a 2 hit killer.  Freaking fantastic.

 Gem of Becoming - A better, although more costly, version of Armillary Sphere.  This Gem can grab non-basics, as well as basics.  Your mana fixing issues should be solved if you are playing Grixis colors, or even if you are playing a 5 color deck.  The high casting and activation cost means that the earliest you can get these lands is turn 4.  The other bummer is that unless you have Reliquary Tower or Ivory Tower in play, if you use the Gem on turn 4 it's likely you're going to have to discard something at the end of your turn.  But really, those are just nit picks.  This card is pretty much a Commander staple now.

 Mark of the Vampire - Power and toughness boost, along with lifelink?  Sounds good to me.  Interestingly Black isn't really a color known for voltron strategies.  But if you do decide to go that route this isn't a horrible card to do it with.

 Sands of Delirium - With the printing of each new set, winning by milling becomes more and more of an option.  And even if you don't want to win through milling, you can add this to a deck featuring The Mimeoplasm or Wrexial, the Risen Deep to make sure that you get extra targets.

 Staff of Nin - Now everyone can have a painless Phyrexian Arena!  The pinging ability isn't horrible either, as it can get rid of random utility guys like Weathered Wayfarer, or just add onto enough combat damage to kill something.  For mono-Red decks and other decks that have a hard time drawing cards, the Staff isn't a bad thing to include.

 Touch of the Eternal - Sort of the opposite of Barren Glory, this card wants you to have a ton of permanents, which usually means that you want to go with tokens.  It's actually pretty similar to Eternity Vessel and that card sees occasional play.  So you may see it in decks that also like to pay life to do things.  However, it is more resilient than the Vessel.  I'm sure that someone will find a way to abuse this card but I can't think of anything really off the top of my head.

 Trading Post - I like this card a lot just due to the versatility.  Of course, you have to pay a little bit (or more) for each of the effects, but they can all come in handy.  I can see this card especially going into token decks, like my Marton Stromgald deck I showed last week.  Having choices is awesome, and this card gives you a bunch.

 Omniscience - All right, so the dream is to play this when you have Myojin of Seeing Winds in hand so that you can take of its counter or a Recurring Insight in hand.  Essentially, to really make it work you need a good amount of card draw.  Is it possible to set this up?  Of course.  But this isn't a card that automatically wins when it hits play.  Mind Over Matter is probably better as a combo piece, but this card will make you feel strong when you play it.  I'm sure that someone will drop it and win shortly thereafter, but for the most part it takes work to use.  And if you are working that hard, you may deserve to win.

INSTANTS AND SORCERIES

 Boundless Realms - Ok, so this is a pretty good card, but you need to realize that there are some limitations on what it does.  First, it only searches up basic lands.  This means that it likely only goes in mono- or dual-colored decks.  Next, you really don't want to ramp into this using artifact or creature mana, since that limits just how much land you can grab.  Instead, Skyshroud Claim type of cards are better.  With those in mind, however, this is a fantastic card.  It's great with landfall triggers and obviously accelerates you a ton.  Of course, it costs 7 mana, but the jump from 7 to 14 mana is amazing.

 Cleaver Riot - At first I thought that this card was good.  Then after considering it, I still think it's good.  Sure, Rage Reflection costs just one more for a permanent version of the same effect.  But the Riot doesn't have the problem of accidental blow outs when someone Naturalizes your enchantment.  Of course, it needs a creature heave (read: token) theme to get the most out of it, but it's still not bad.

 Diabolic Revelation - In the land of Commander where huge amounts of Black mana are easily made, this is bound to see a ton of play.  Sure, it's 6 mana before you get your first card and 7 mana for your second.  But if you're playing combo or looking for specific pieces that shouldn't be a horrible price to pay.  However, consider Tooth and Nail, which puts the creatures you search up directly into play.  That makes the Revelation not seem so bad.  At least to me.

 Faith's Reward - A one sided Second Sunrise seems interesting, right?  However, how many times have you seen Second Sunrise used in a Commander game?  Even though it's symmetrical, it's pretty easy to abuse.  Even so, I've never seen it played.  So I don't really think the Reward is worth the price most of the time, even if it is pretty good.

 Fungal Sprouting - Green is good at making large dudes, and this is a decent way to make a bunch of critters.  If you like saprolings, this will help you out.

 Magmaquake - A Starstorm that can hit planeswalkers, but doesn't cycle.  Since you can still play it at instant speed, it's pretty much just as good.  Unless you're playing with a bunch of planeswalkers that is.

 Murder - It's crazy that it has taken this long to create a card that just says "destroy target creature" and I'm glad they finally got around to it.  Plus, WotC is getting a little more daring with their card names.  I don't think they would have named it this 10 years ago, or even 5.  Crazy how far things have come.

 Predatory Rampage - Not nearly as good as Overwhelming Stampede.  I say pass.

 Public Execution - This is a combat trick that likely won't see much play.  I just wanted to point out that there's a card called Public Execution!  Holy crap!

 Ranger's Path - Pretty much a superior version of Explosive Vegetation just due to the fact that it can grab non-basic lands.  But why not just play both?

 Spelltwine - Just like Memory Plunder, this can be a very powerful spell.  But you give up instant speed for copying multiple spells.  That sounds like a good trade off to me.  You also get the opportunity to exile a spell from an opponent's graveyard, which is nice.  This will go well with those strategies that like to fill up people's graveyards, from Wrexial to The Mimeoplasm.

  Switcheroo - I don't think I've ever seen anyone play Cultural Exchange in a Commander game, and that card is pretty much superior to this one.  However since it is new I'm sure a few people will give this one a shot, goofy name and all.  If you make a bunch of tokens, it might be worth a slot.  But I have a feeling Treachery and Control Magic are usually better. 

 Vile Rebirth - Could possibly see use in zombie decks, since a surprise creature is always fun.  Will mainly be used to get rid of creatures as players try to reanimate them.  Being an instant means it may get played, although people usually like bigger answers, such as Tormod's Crypt and Nihil Spellbomb.

 Wild Guess - Red's version of Sign in Blood, this is a pretty good card for mono-colored decks.  Discarding a card isn't usually a horrible thing to do, and if you're running incarnations like Anger, or a phoenix or 2, you can use your graveyard to your advantage.  If you play Night's Whisper, you should strongly consider this card as well.

 Worldfire - Yes, Jhoira players will try and use it.  If they are willing to play with Decree of Annihilation, then they'll be willing to play with this.  It's probably not going to get banned since it isn't a format warping card.  But who knows, maybe I'm wrong.

CONCLUSION

All right, here are the cards that have the best shot at becoming staples in my humble opinion.

These cards were picked based on overall utility.  On top of those and all the legends, I think I'll be grabbing Ajani, Disciple of Bolas, Firewing Phoenix, Liliana, Liliana's Shade, Mindclaw Shaman, Sublime Archangel, Thragtusk, Thundermaw Hellkite, Ring of Kalonia, Ring of Valkas, Trading Post, Fungal Sprouting, Murder, Spelltwine, Vile Rebirth and Wild Guess.  These are all cards that I think that I may end up playing at some point in the future.  Although it's entirely possible that I may never use them.

There is actually a decent amount of usable stuff in this set.  This makes me pleasantly surprised.  A lot of the stuff is fairly narrow, but they obviously built a bunch of Commander specific cards into the set.  I guess at Comic Con this past weekend they announced that there would be some form of new Commander product coming out every summer for the foreseeable future due to the outstanding success they had last year.  That's good news for us I think.

On a side note, once again I attended Comic-Con this year.  Although I didn't have the chance to go to the Magic panel (work problems) Magic had a pretty significant presence on the scene.  I guess they were handing out cool looking little Nicol Bolas hats with horns, pretty much the same as the ones they handed out at PAX, and a ton of people were wearing them.  It was great to see the support for the product.  I didn't get to see any of the Iron Man 3 or Ant Man footage, but the new Total Recall looks sweet (with both Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, how can you go wrong?).

One last note:  I was planning on showing a new deck today.  I had played about 8 games with the deck, and was having a tremendous success rate.  Unfortunately not a single replay was usable as they were all corrupted.  I don't know what the heck is going on but it is really pissing me off.  I'm hoping that I get a good one soon.

Anyways, enough of my problems.  I hope you guys enjoyed the overview.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com

CONQUEROR & COMMANDER ARCHIVE

10 Comments

great breakdown, but can by JustSin at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 09:51
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great breakdown, but can anyone explain to me Ajani's +1 wording? if it only generates a single +1 counter then why do they need to say "up to one target creature" I would find it hard to put a single counter on multiple creatures...

+1 on Ajani by Marcelo Tiellet at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 09:54
Marcelo Tiellet's picture

It is made this way so you can use without any creature on play.

ah I get it now thx by JustSin at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 10:21
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ah I get it now thx

Ajani by Adam_the_Mentat at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 09:55
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

it says u[p to one creature so you can still add a loyalty counter onto ajani and actually notput a counter on anything. It allows you to pump loyalty when ou have no creatures on the board

You can play Omniscience by smack8001 at Fri, 07/20/2012 - 10:05
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You can play Omniscience pretty easily with Rasputin Dreamweaver as general. And that puts you in white, which lets you play with Academy Rector and various enchantment tutors as well.

!!!

Nice write up you pretty much by bogtrog at Sat, 07/21/2012 - 11:51
bogtrog's picture

Nice write up you pretty much covered all the cads I am interested in.

Thanks for pointing out Lillian's shade, I missed it some how. I definitely will be grabbing one for my mono black creatures deck.

Can I just say I hate boundless realms? It is big and brainless and it will be ubiquitous. As if ramp needed that kind of help. Man I really wish they would come up with an effective and "fair" ramp hoser.

I am quite excited about odric and krenko. Not so much as generals, but I think they will make great additions to some decks.

Trading post seems like an interesting card, and seems quite versatile. I think it will fall into the same camp a Druidic satchel and journeys kite for me. They just seem a little slow and mana intensive for me. I know others love those cards though.

One card I want to try out in some mono red decks is hellion crucible. It might be handy, and a nice mana sink. I want to give it a try anyway.

Last I hope to be able to finally pick up a gilded lotus at a cheap price.

Great job, thank you for by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 07/21/2012 - 19:47
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Great job, thank you for doing this each time. I like that your point of view is so Commander-based that probably your average Standard player would read these evaluations and wonder if you're insane. :) I still think you sometimes should say stuff like, "This is going to be DA BOMB in Standard, but here's why it's just meh in Commander" (or vice versa, "This will see zero play in Standard, but it'll be awesome for us").

Nitpicks:

"Goblins aren't typically a route that you go with goblin deck"
I assume something went wrong with this sentence. :)

"Odric, Master Tactician. (...) And don't forget Windswept Heath!"
You lost me here. What's the link between Windswept Heath and the Tactician? Or was that supposed to be another card name?

"Ranger's Path"
You say a superior version of Explosive Vegetation, I say an inferior version of Hunting Wilds (or even Skyshroud Claim, for that matter).

It took me a minute, but I by bogtrog at Sat, 07/21/2012 - 20:25
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It took me a minute, but I think windswept Heath was supposed to be windbrisk heights.

*Snap!* Right! by Kumagoro42 at Sun, 07/22/2012 - 18:41
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*Snap!* Right!

Whoops, you caught a few by Leviathan at Tue, 07/24/2012 - 00:47
Leviathan's picture

Whoops, you caught a few issues. Fire the copy editor! (ummm, that'd be me. doh.)

The first Goblins in that sentence should be Tokens.

Windbrisk Heights is the card that I meant. Just misremembered the name. Usually I catch these screw ups when the link doesn't work, but in this case I picked a name that's associated with an actual card.

As for Ranger's Path, you are right, Hunting Wilds and Skyshroud Claim are better. However I chose to use Explosive Vegetation as my comparison card simply because I see it played much more often. Probably because it came in last year's Commander decks.

I do recall once someone not seeing that these were Commander based reviews and being really confused. Was pretty funny actually. As for making comments about Standard playability, I really have no basis for making those statements. I haven't played a game of Standard in over a year. I mean, I never thought Emrakul would have seen Standard play but it did. So I have no idea if Boundless Realms is a horrible Standard card or not. I'd rather not make those assumptions.