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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Jul 20 2010 1:40am
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My Magic 2011
Part II

by Nafiz Erman

Hello dear readers and mages from all over the multiverse, welcome once again to Rogue Play. Healers, illusionists, necromancers, pyromancers, druids and all other kinds of hybrid mages are all welcome here. Last week dear readers mages, in this article I talked about the first three colors of M11. In this second and final part, I will talk about the remaining colors and finish my M11 set review. This is a very interesting core set and in my previous article I talked about some very exciting cards. And now I have more excellent cards to talk about and if you'll excuse me, I would like to start right now.

Thank you!


Dragon's Claw

So what does Red offer us in M11? Why should we tap Mountains instead of other mana sources? Is Lightning Bolt a good reason?

As a matter of fact it is dear readers but that's a reprint, and I'm not talking about reprints in this article. We did enough "Wow!" and "OMG!" last year when we first saw Lightning Bolt with a new art. So no, Lightning Bolt doesn't count. But as we are in Red and as this is the color of burning things, Combust for example perfectly counts.

So this card's game text can be also read like this:

Choose and kill one - Baneslayer Angel; or Sharuum the Hegemon; or Sovereigns of Lost Alara; or Enlisted Wurm; or Sphinx of Lost Truths; or Magister Sphinx. Or even Yoked Plowbeast if you like.

Now this card dear readers is a good start. This might be a reason why we should be tapping Mountains instead of other lands. But is this enough? Of course not! But this next card looks very convincing:

A 4/4 for four is already decent but the difference between an excellent 4/4 for four (such as this one or Loxodon Hierarch) and a mediocre 4/4 for four (Rhox Brute for example) is its game text. In our case we have a creature that casts Flame Slash every time it attacks. And if you still didn't get it, this is a thing that should make you say "Wow!" or "OMG!".

So does your chicken-livered(!) opponent hides behind a Wall of Omens? Cool, attack with this dude and the wall is dead and the road is clear. Are those Birds and Snakes and Hierarchs getting boring? Okay, kill them without spending a precious burn spell. Which happens to be card advantage... in Red!

Of course I'm not getting into all the trouble of listing the creatures it can kill after being the target of Teetering Peaks! Mono Red rarely gets good mid game creatures and therefore Zendikar's Obsidian Fireheart was an interesting card. But this one dear readers, is much better. And finally imagine this dude carrying a Sword of Vengeance. Brutal! Oh and...

This one + Basilisk Collar = A very sad opponent.

Okay, I did enough talking for just one card, so let's move forward. What do we have next in our list of good Red cards of M11? We actually have a Dragon which happens to be Hoarding Dragon.

First of all I must say that the new Covetous Dragon this one is NOT but still somehow it reminds me of it. And secondly, Hoarding Dragon is awesome in terms of flavor; it steals a precious artifact and you only get it after you kill the dragon... very nice WotC, very nice.

Of course there are few problems with it such as "what to exile" and "how to kill the dragon". I can also add "why kill the dragon" to the list too. Currently I cannot think of something worthy all the trouble but only WotC knows what kind of crazy targets it will have after Scars of Mirrodin.

So Hoarding Dragon is a card that won't mean much for the next few months. But just like you did get your playset of Thada Adel, Acquisitor and your Lodestone Golem, you should also get your Hoarding Dragon while it stays as low as $0,10 or something (preferably a playset of course and not just one). Because then it may be too late. I really did see some such "crap rares" skyrocketing in an instant. Ask Ashes of the Fallen if you don't believe me!

The next card I want to talk about is the Red Titan called Inferno Titan. Now this is a card that makes me really sad. It's such a great card but apart from being a true Limited nuclear bomb, this card sadly has no home in Standard. I mean, which deck(s) would need it? RDW? Are you kidding me, when was the last time that deck played something that costs six mana to cast?!

Grixis perhaps? Why bother I say. Why bother when his Black brother is available? Grave Titan is excellent in every way and it's far better than Inferno Titan. So no, Grixis isn't the answer.

Of course I do understand the desire to play this dude; a 6/6 body that casts a more "versatile" Lightning Bolt every time it attacks, is surely cool. And there is also the new mini Seething Song called Pyretic Ritual which may help to play it sooner than normal. Oh, and in Extended you can even make it cost cheaper by pairing it with Stinkdrinker Daredevil. But none of those are enough to make it a tournament worthy card. I can safely say that between the White, Black and Green titans, there will be no place for this one other than the Casual Room. Sad but true.

But hey, we need bombs for the Casual Room too, right?

Okay, after two "nice but not nice enough" cards, I want to talk about something really nice and playable in tournament decks. The next card I want to discuss is the Red Leyline called Leyline of Punishment.

Even though this isn't as nice as Leyline of the Void or Leyline of Anticipation, and even though it has a much narrow use, it is still a great card if used in the right deck... which happens to be RDW of course.

The funny thing is this: RDW has burn, very fast guys and now a way to stop life gain. On the other hand, White centric decks have Baneslayer Angel, Kor Firewalker and the new Leyline of Sanctity. Which one will be superior I wonder? Red or White?

Actually at this moment, it seems to me that Red looks slightly advantageous. Leyline of Punishment kills Kor Firewalker, kills damage prevention effects and kills all sorts of other life gain and this is very important. And what does this "service" costs you? Free? Yeah, free! Well, I'll take it then. Now RDW can finally get rid of that horrible Unstable Footing in its sideboard and replace it with something "real".

Oh and please do note that while Leyline of Punishment is on table, Gideon Jura might not look that horrible (block it with something and then finish him off with Lightning Bolt or Burst Lightning). On the other hand, thankfully and for the sake of balance, White is still good at destroying enchantments and I'm looking at you Mr. War Priest of Thune. Which reminds me...


Do not underestimate this guy because Shatter on legs will be very important in just a few months and then you'll have quite a few reasons for vandalism. Even now it may be a good idea to keep one or two of this guy in the sideboard of Red decks just in case of Basilisk Collar or Phylactery Lich.

The next card on my list is Wild Evocation

At first this looks like a typical Johnny card and if you aren't a Johnny, then that first look might as well be your last one. But believe me dear readers; there's more than that... much more.

So let's examine this card closely. At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player reveals a random card from his hand and plays it. It might be a land or Path to Exile or Jace, the Mind Sculptor or better, it might be Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

Of course I'm aware that just like Howling Mine, the opponent gets to use it first; which is a bad thing. But if you build your deck around this one, then your changes of exploiting it will be much higher than an unprepared opponent.

Imagine this: Your opponent has his Jace, the Mind Sculptor on table who just reached to the critical level. You play Wild Evocation and kaboom; he reveals his second Jace he has in hand and kills the one on table. Wouldn't it be nice?

And what would you do with this? 

Emrakul is of course the first card that comes to my mind. A Eldrazi mana ramp deck would love to play Wild Evocation. Use your Eye of Ugin just at the beginning of your upkeep, tutor your Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and cheat it into play. And when will you do this? Well, with a little bit help from some Birds and Snakes, I think turn five would be ideal. Or you can pair this one with the new Survival Elf called Fauna Shaman too to have the same effect.

All in all I believe that this is a great card and it will be very effective in the right deck using the right strategy. So yes, this card will be played and abused... beware!

The final card I want to talk about is Destructive Force. Now this one isn't a joke. This one isn't something one can take lightly. Destructive Force is the new Wildfire and I do remember how deadly those Magnivore / Wildfire decks were. But of course times have changed and we don't have Magnivore in Standard. But what we have dear readers is much more deadlier than that creature; we have planeswalkers!

Any combination of planewalkers that can pay would simply love this new Wildfire variant. Jace, the Mind Sculptor will definately be there. Until Shards of Alara rotates out, Ajani Vengeant and Elspeth, Knight-Errant might also be in the team.

Or a new planeswalkers deck might emerge and a new deck can be build around this card. This version would use Green for mana ramping and for Garruk Wildspeaker. It would be very cruel to kill all creatures and lands and then "spawn" 3/3 beasts onto the table without paying anything.

One other good thing about Destructive Force is that is deals five damage to creatures. Back in the days of Wildfire, four damage was enough to sweep the board. But back then we didn't have problems like Baneslayer Angel... not even Leatherback Baloth! So I'm fine with paying more than Wildfire as long as it kills Baneslayer Angel.

And finally I think that a future Ponza deck would love this one too. We already have Acidic Slime, Tectonic Edge, Spreading Seas and Goblin Ruinblaster, and this is another fine addition.

And after all these words, I want to share with you my Red podium and move on to Green.


I never denied that I have a Johnny side in me and Wild Evocation is therefore my favorite Red card in this set. If I can build a powerful rogue deck with it and please the Spike in me too, then I would be the happiest Magic player on earth. 


Wurm's Tooth

Green has two real bombs in this set and everyone knows what they are; Fauna Shaman and Primeval Titan. Everything has been said about these two cards and I have not much to add to the discussion.

You know that the Titan is a house in Turboland decks and in Valakut decks. And you also do know that the Survival Elf is just plain good and that she's superb in a Vengevine deck together with Bloodbraid Elf. You also do know that if there ever will be a new Dredge deck in the future, she will be the key card of that deck.

Other than those, I really don't have anything new to say. But in this article I want to highlight the other interesting cards of Green. We received a high number of great Green cards with M11 and some are really amazing. Such as the new Loxodon Hierarch variant (or call it the new Ravenous Baloth if you like) called Obstinate Baloth.

Other than being an awesome 4/4 creature, this new Beast is also a very good anti-Blightning weapon. And the life gain ability is awesome for midrange decks too. Those decks must survive the first waves of Aggro decks and in order to do that, life gain is very important. Therefore I believe that we will see Obstinate Baloth in every Green deck's sideboard; at least until the Jund menace ends. But even after that, it is a very good option for sideboards against fast decks.

There are some other excellent sideboard options for Green in M11 and I think that they do deserve a few words too.

All these three are useful but all have their uses in different formats. In Standard, Plummet will clear the sky from nasty flyers and considering that Standard is now full with nasty flyers, it will be -without doubt- very useful. Autumn's Veil will be great in new Extended against the Fae which is getting stronger and stronger with each set (hint: A leak in the mana pool!) And finally Back to Nature will be a great sideboard card against Enchantress decks in Legacy. It's an instant and costs only  to play. Tranquility should be ashamed of itself!

Another card that makes me happy is the new Kodama's Reach; this time the name is Cultivate. There is nothing special I can tell you about this card because everybody who played Kodama's Reach back then knows how useful it was. And every other player who hasn't, will experience it now thanks to Cultivate. It's such a great card and I have fond memories with Kodama's Reach. Let's hope that Cultivate will be as successful as Kodama's Reach was.

Speaking of mana ramp cards, there is also one other in M11 and it's really an interesting one; it is this:

I read a few good words about her from pro players and they all say this: Mana fixing at two mana is much more important than at three. And I think they're right. And I also do believe that Sylvan Ranger is much better than Borderland Ranger. Of course I know that one is a 1/1 and the other is a 2/2, but we're not talking about game finishers here! These are utility creatures and the lower the cost the better.

The next card I want to mention is really an interesting design; it is Mitotic Slime.

As we all know, Standard right now is full with very powerful removal spells. From Lightning Bolt to Maelstrom Pulse, from Doom Blade to Terminate, and from All is Dust to Earthquake, there are tons of nasty cards that are waiting to kill creatures... but not this one! Because killing this one is a real suicide. So this is why I said it's an interesting design. It's a creature that doesn't have any kind of protection built into it, but it is still free of fear of removal. Nice!

But to get the most out of it, we must send it to the graveyard. It's obvious that the opponent won't touch it and let it live. But we want it dead! So we will pair it with sacrifice outlets such as Bloodthrone Vampire and/or Carnage Altar. And then we'll get ourselves a whole army of Oozes. Even Eldrazi Monument would be an excellent idea. In older formats you can even pair it with Recurring Nightmare for some good time.

But I think that a Standard Rock deck would be its real home. Something like this:

Abyssal Persecutor Gatekeeper of Malakir Consuming Vapors

These cards together with Mitotic Slime and Bloodthrone Vampire would be really something interesting.

And besides, Oozes are always fun if nothing else!

And the last card of Green I would like to talk about is this elemental:

Never mess up with nature... never!

What I said for Inferno Titan above, I will repeat here for Gaea's Revenge. This card, just like Inferno Titan, makes me really sad. Because this is another excellent creature without a home. It is true that the Standard meta has some Control decks but none are Permission decks or draw-go style of decks. Meaning decks with a very light (if none) counterspell package. And therefore the "can't be countered" part of Gaea's Revenge is kind of useless these days.

The "only Green spells please" part of it is interesting but it loses all its appeal because of the lack of a word on the card; trample! Without trample, this gigantic body can be stopped by even a mere Eldrazi Spawn token which can be generated constantly with an Awakening Zone for example. Planeswalkers.dec also has Elspeth, Knight-Errant and her tokens to stop it, and the rest of the field is Aggro like crazy; meaning the red zone will always be crowded.

And don't you also think that the name of it is a bit awkward? Gaea's Revenge is an okay name but definately not a creature name. It absolutely sounds like an anti-Blue sorcery that does something horrible to those who try to tame the nature or something like that. But a creature? No, definately not.

So, in the right meta this card could be a real house but this current one is unfortunately not that one. Maybe we can see it played after Shards of Alara rotates out. But sorry, not now. Oh and finally, it also fails the Baneslayer Angel test too. If I pay seven mana for something, that something at least should be able to kill Baneslayer Angel. This one can't do that either. Which is another proof that this one is the wrong meta for Gaea's Revenge.

And now it's time for the Green podium.


By the way did you also notice that Protean Hydra is a Rare in this set? As you know, it was a Mythic in M10. Which means... nothing actually! Just saying.


Ersatz Gnomes

Now this is the most important part of M11 just because the next big block is an artifact based block. I examined the artifacts of this core set very closely which is something I normally don't do. Normally there are only a few interesting artifacts in core sets and the rest is, as you also know, Rod of Ruins, Spellbooks, Angel's Feathers, Millstones and such stuff.

But this time there are different things going on.

First of all I realized this: There are three very interesting artifacts and they all cost mana to cast.  

I might be daydreaming but do you also "smell" a Trinket Mage in the air?

Speaking of one mana artifacts, maybe we should examine them closely. First I want to talk about Elixir of Immortality and not because it reminds me of Feldon's Cane and not because it is something playable, but because of the flavor text. Baron Sengir? Wow, really?! Intriguing. As you also know, there's a Black creature called Barony Vampire in M11. Are we sometime soon returning to Ulgrotha?

Then we have Brittle Effigy which is a card that makes me very happy. So now mono Red can kill Kor Firewalker. Mono White can kill Malakir Bloodwitch and mono Black can kill Devout Lightcaster. Very nice. The price might be a little bit high but something is always better than nothing, don't you think? Now we have the option to kill protected creatures. Before Brittle Effigy we didn't. So yes, I'm happy with it.

The next card I want to talk about is not Voltaic Key (I'll talk about it at the end) but it is the new Robot Lord(!) called Steel Overseer. So this card has "buy me now, be happy later" written all over it! It is definately designed with Scars of Mirrodin in mind just like Vampire Nocturnus was a design with Zendikar in mind.

But even now I think it's possible to build a nice Esper Aggro deck using Steel Overseer. How about starting like this:

4x Steel Overseer
4x Lodestone Golem
4x Etherium Sculptor

This is definately a nice start to a nice deck, and there are several ways you can go from there. One way is to use Master Transmuter and cheat robots like Sharuum the Hegemon, Darksteel Colossus or Sphinx of the Steel Wind onto the battlefield. One other way is to use Ethersworn Canonist and Sen Triplets together and try to lock the opponent (and play his cards!).

Or you can use a pure beat down strategy with Sphinx Summoner and Master of Etherium. But no matter which way you choose, I think you may end up with something nice if you can build the deck properly. I know I will try it as soon as I have my Steel Overseers. 

Oh and its flavor text really makes me scared of what's to come with Scars of Mirrodin. Rise of the Machines? I think yes.

One other interesting artifact in M11 is Temple Bell. As you know this card has replaced Howling Mine in M11 and it's MUCH better than the Mine because now you have control over the timing of the draw. Both players now draw cards whenever YOU want. And why is this important? Because now you can cast Time Warp and still make the opponent draw a card on your extra turn. This was impossible with Howling Mine for example. Also you would want to activate the Bell at the end of opponent's turn so that he can't use his card that turn. And that was also not possible with the Mine.

And of course this with Voltaic Key is double the fun! Also don't forget that Howling Mine will be Standard legal at least for a few more months. So who knows, maybe the Bell together with the Mine can form the most deadliest of Turbo Fog decks in existence. Of course a little bit of Red for Runeflare Trap wouldn't hurt too.

But I know I'll try it in some other deck:

Underworld Dreams Howling Mine

Add Font of Mythos and a few counters to the mix, and you may really end up with something nice. I wish we had Teferi's Puzzle Box too! But yeah, that would have been really sick.

Then there is Crystal Ball and I must say that I liked it a lot. Control is going to be much more powerful after M11 and therefore this card will surely see some play; maybe not as a playset but definately as a two-of. Surely it isn't Sensei's Divining Top but scry is a good mechanic to smooth out the draws and therefore I'm sure Crystal Ball will see play.

Okay normally I should end the Ersatz Gnomes part here but I must talk about Voltaic Key. Normally I don't talk about reprints in core set reviews but this one deserves an exception.

So yes, Voltaic Key is back. Apparently something huge is coming in Scars of Mirrodin and WotC is really preparing the stage for it. Because otherwise why would they resurrect the Key?

But let's leave the future aside and talk about the present. What can we do with this? First, we can use it with Temple Bell in our "Howling Bell Mine" deck. Secondly we can use it with Everflowing Chalice to get double the mana out of it. Similarly Dreamstone Hedron would give us five mana instead of three. Or we can scry one more time with Crystal Ball. Of course we can always untap any artifact creature with the Key too such as Steel Overseer and/or Master Transmuter.

Or how about Voltaic Key + Obelisk of Alara? Six damage to the face each turn! Ten points of life gain! Crazy stuff... Oh and now Scepter of Dominance taps two creatures and Scepter of Fugue makes the opponent discards two cards. Nice! And finally, if you are really that obsessed with the Key, you can also add Unbender Tine to your deck to have eight untap effects!

But there is one side effect of having back Voltaic Key in Standard and in new Extended. Do you want to know what that is?

Well, from now on every time WotC prints an artifact with the TAP symbol on it, we will all turn into paranoids and start thinking of its possible (broken) uses with the Key!

And finally a few words about the new land; I say land and not lands because there is only one new land in M11 which is the fixed Maze of Ith called Mystifying Maze. First be aware that this new maze doesn't work on your own creatures. That's a pity because it would have been much cooler that way. Secondly I think it will go in directly to the deck lists of Control decks as a two-of.

Also do note that when the creature it exiled is back, it comes in as tapped. And don't forget that it kills tokens, gets you back your stolen creatures via Mind Control or similar stuff, and that you can use it on the transformed Gideon Jura. It can also be very amusing in Legacy against an opposing Phyrexian Dreadnought too.

And now it's time for the Colorless podium.




M11 is really a great core set. The reprints are nice and most of the new cards are simply awesome. There's no doubt that M11 will bring a fresh air to the Standard meta. It will surely spawn a few new strategies and make the existing ones more powerful. And exactly that this dear readers, is what I expect from a new set.

And here's my final podium.


Thank you for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman


Nice article again LE but no by Flippers_Giraffe at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 03:23
Flippers_Giraffe's picture

Nice article again LE but no mention of Ancient Hellkite I was looking forward to seeing what you thought about that card. There was no mention of Reverberate either, that card could be amazing.

Baron Sengir could be a Planeswalker in Scar's. I haven't read the books if there were any for Homelands so dont know if he's still alive in the magic universe but then again he's a vampire.

Interestingly, I think it's by StealthBadger at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 08:05
StealthBadger's picture

Interestingly, I think it's the rise of planeswalkers which will prevent destructive force being played. They're so commonplace in standard that your destructive force isn't guaranteed to leave them with nothing. Wildfire never had this problem really.Leaving them with Jace and you with garruk (for example) is only really a good idea if you have two lands in hand (I suspect).

I still love the card, and will definitely be playing some kind of neo-wildfire deck, but I suspect that the omnipresence of planeswalkers might limit it's effectiveness.Garruk and Gideon are probably the two obvious planeswalkers to go in the deck.

I suspect that the viability of the destructive force deck will be very dependent on the metagame at the time, rather than it being a commonplace "big player" in the metagame.

Great article I think what's by ArchGenius at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 10:28
ArchGenius's picture

Great article

I think what's interesting about red is what is missing. Earthquake and Ball Lightning aren't reprints, which means that a lot of red decks might be slowing down a bit. Sure there is still the Devasting Summons / Bushwacker combo, but I think it's a bit early to dismiss Inferno Titan.

Thanks for the comments. by Lord Erman at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:31
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks for the comments.

Sorry to disappoint you Flippers but I personally see no future for Ancient Hellkite other than Limited games. It's an incredibly powerful creature in a limited environment, but it just isn't good for Constructed purposes... it is just a new and better Shivan Dragon. Nowadays we have creatures like Knight of the Reliquary at three mana, Vengevine at four mana, Baneslayer at five, Grave Titan at six. So if I pay seven for something, it better be REALLY good. Avenger of Zendikar at the moment is the only playable seven mana creature in Standard.

But of course I can be wrong about it as well(but I don't think I am).

On the other hand, it is true that the new Fork deserves at least a few words. But I can say that next week's article is about a few new deck ideas I'm currently toying with, and one will have Reverberate in its sideboard. There I will at least mention it and say what's there is to say about it.

I had the priviledge of playing with/against Destructive Force and saw firsthand what it can do... and it can do really destructive things. I will talk about it in the future in detail.

Mono Red will surely miss Ball Lightning as well as ALA elementals, but who knows what Scars will bring. This archtype never dies and I'm sure there will be enough cards for it to survive post Scars meta as well.

Thanks again for the comments.


I know a RGW planeswalker/D. by ShardFenix at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 12:53
ShardFenix's picture

I know a RGW planeswalker/D. Force deck top 4'd a ptq recently. Not sure if it has staying power, but it looked exciting.

My main reason for thinking by ArchGenius at Tue, 07/20/2010 - 13:40
ArchGenius's picture

My main reason for thinking that Inferno Titan may see play is because of the existance of the Basilisk Collar/Cunning Sparkmage combo. Inferno Titan with a collar on it is about as broken as you can get....

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