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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Sep 28 2018 1:00pm
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State of the Program will be back next week.

So, a couple weeks ago, I explained why I didn’t do set reviews anymore. Then people said they wanted to read one of mine. I was tempted, and decided to pull down a text version of the spoiler. And I started looking and thinking about what I might say. And I thought some more. 
 
Then I started writing. And writing. And writing. 
 

Sorry, Joshua. It’s going to be long.  Really long. 

I started writing this late last week. And I’ve put time into it every day. A lot of time.
 
It’s been fun, though.
 
Some caveats: I have not reviewed every single card. We know what many of them do, and how good they are. Or how good they are not.  And what can I really say about Wall of Mist that isn’t pretty obvious? (Wait – checking that I didn’t, in fact, write about Wall of Mists… Okay, onward.)
 
I am also going to talk about the set as a whole, and the guilds, at the end. I will comment on the mechanics as they come up. We’ll see how that goes.
 
I should also note that I am pretty cynical about cards, and am not really a Sligh player. I may underestimate Boros as a result. So take all this with a grain of salt.
 
Finally, I have worked off the spoiler. I have not had time to read anyone else’s reviews, or listen to podcasts. (I have Limited Resources and Magic Mics queued up, for when I finish.)   The ideas, opinions and errors are my own. Ditto typos – I’m twenty plus hours into this, and am barely going to have time to finish. I’m not going to have time to proofread much. Sorry again, Joshua.
 
So I’m going right down the card image gallery – or the scryfall.com version, depending on which was working better at the time. Let’s get started.

 

WHITE:

 

Blade Instructor {2}{W}  C Creature — Human Soldier 
Mentor (Whenever this creature attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on target attacking creature with lesser power.) 
3/1
 
We have seen a ton of 3/1 creatures over the years. Vanilla 3/1s for 1W start with Blade of the Sixth Pride, back in Future Sight. 3/1s for 3 mana with an ability have a longer lineage, dating back to at least Jamuraan Lion in Visions.   The two mana versions are sometimes playable in very fast decks, but not always. The three mana versions need the ability to be very good.   The Mentor ability requires the creature to attack, which makes the one power a serious drawback, since the Mentor creature is not getting pumped, and it dies to anything not called a Wall. We will see. This is a common, and probably filler at beast, but I do want to talk about the Mentor ability.
 
Mentor has the ability to pump creatures – but one per Mentor creature per attack, and only creatures with lower power. You need to be careful how you stack these abilities. Mentor targets a creature with lesser power, and it checks that on resolution of the ability. If you attack with, say, a 1/3, a 2/1 with Mentor and a 3/1 with Mentor, and you want to put both counters on the 1/3, you need to put the ability of the 3/1 Mentor on the stack first, then the 2/1. Since the stack resolves top first, the 2/1 will makes the 1/3 a 2/4, then 3/1 Mentor will pump it to a 3/5. Reverse the stack and the second Mentor ability will fizzle. 

Bounty Agent {1}{W} R Creature — Human Soldier 
Vigilance. {T}, Sacrifice Bounty Agent: Destroy target legendary permanent that’s an artifact, creature, or enchantment. 
2/2
 
The theory on this card is nice – it has Vigilance so it can attack, but keeps its ability in reserve. However, it is only a 2/2, and only can kill Legendary creatures, artifacts and enchantments. It does not hit Planeswalkers, and without haste it cannot kill things immediately. That probably makes it too narrow for constructed play, even in Modern humans. In limited, it is basically a 2/2 Vigilance creature for two. It might be useful in Commander, or as a one-of in toolbox decks, but that’s about it. This would have been great if it had lost either the tap or Legendary-only restrictions, but the combination makes this a very narrow card. 
 
Candlelight Vigil {3}{W}  C Enchantment — Aura 
Enchanted creature gets +3/+2 and has vigilance.
 
It doesn’t even give us a Knight token. Filler to unplayable in draft, and completely unplayable in constructed.   Note: from here on out, I am just going to skip bad or mediocre creatures. Joshua will have plenty to edit even if I skip over the (Gray Ogre)s and Hill Giants of the set.
 
Citywide Bust {1}{W}{W}  R Sorcery 
Destroy all creatures with toughness 4 or greater.
 
This set’s Wrath of God / Day of Judgment costs one mana less, but doesn’t kill small creatures. This could be played in a goes-wide deck, which tries to create a flood of tokens, then kill all the big blockers. Of course, this is exactly the sort of strategy that Goblin Chainwhirler shuts down.   Maybe Wizards is expecting this multicolor set to force players away from triple red creatures. Time will tell.   In limited, however, white might be good at a go-wide strategy. I that case, this card might be good against some opposing decks. It’s pretty bad against opposing 2/4s and 3/3s, though. Maybe sideboard? 

Collar the Culprit {3}{W}  C Instant 
Destroy target creature with toughness 4 or greater.
 
We have seen this type of card targeting power 4 or more. This one targets toughness 4 or more. I expect to see a lot of people get this wrong at the prerelease.
 
Conclave Tribunal {3}{W}  U Enchantment 
Convoke (Your creatures can help cast this spell. Each creature you tap while casting this spell pays for {1} or one mana of that creature’s color.) 
When Conclave Tribunal enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls until Conclave Tribunal leaves the battlefield.
 
Oblivion Rings are generally good, especially in Limited. This one costs one more mana than O Ring, but has Convoke. Convoke has the potential, if tokens are readily available. However, I don’t remember this being all that amazing in any constructed format, and I didn’t like playing Selesnya in past Ravnica sets. YMMV.
 
Crush Contraband {3}{W} U Instant 
Choose one or both — 
• Exile target artifact. 
• Exile target enchantment.
 
Nice sideboard card, but four mana is a lot. I’d prefer (Wear // Tear), but you use the tools you have.
 
Dawn of Hope {1}{W}  R Enchantment 
Whenever you gain life, you may pay {2}. If you do, draw a card. 
{3}{W}: Create a 1/1 white Soldier creature token with lifelink.
 
Wow. This will see play in tons of white Commander decks.  This is white card draw of a type never seen before. It even has the potential to see play as a finisher, like Kjeldoran Outpost was twenty years ago. However, this really needs a consistent, durable source of life gain. A land that tapped for 1 life could do it. Too bad Inventor’s Fair is rotating.

 
Demotion {W} U Enchantment — Aura 

Enchanted creature can’t block and its activated abilities can’t be activated.
 
Pacifism is 1W and stops attacking and blocking. Arrest is 2W and stops attacking, blocking and abilities. This is W and stops blocking and abilities. Demoted creatures can still attack. Is this useful? Maybe as a sideboard card against powerful walls or something, but I’m not sure.  
 
Divine Visitation {3}{W}{W}  R Enchantment 
If one or more creature tokens would be created under your control, that many 4/4 white Angel creature tokens with flying and vigilance are created instead.
 
This seems great in Commander or multiplayer, and could be a bomb in a tokens deck in limited, but it seems too appropriately costed for Constructed. The effect is strong, but can you really take your fifth turn off for this? Time will tell, but I don’t know that even Standard is that slow. 
 
Flight of Equenauts {7}{W}  U Creature — Human Knight 
Convoke 
Flying 
4/5

 
This is an excellent example of the Convoke mechanic. If you can play 3-4 small creatures, and keep them alive, this is an excellent four drop. If your opponent keeps the board relatively clear, this is just bad.   Okay, 4/5 Flying is never completely bad, but seven mana is a ton. 

Gird for Battle {W} U Sorcery 

Put a +1/+1 counter on each of up to two target creatures.
 
Warning: this is a sorcery. It is not a combat trick. Play this only if you really need counters – and I mean REALLY need counters.    I can’t imagine ever needing counters that badly in any competitive format.
 
Haazda Marshal {W}  U Creature — Human Soldier 
Whenever Haazda Marshal and at least two other creatures attack, create a 1/1 white Soldier creature token with lifelink. 
1/1
 
It’s sort of like Raid, but all you get is a replacement 1/1.   I guess this works fine if you have Divine Visitation, but you are almost certainly throwing this weenie away when attacking.   I don’t see it. 
 
Healer's Hawk {W} 
Creature — Bird 
Flying, lifelink 
1/1
 
Once upon a time, Flying Men – a 1/1 with flying – was considered overpowered and was banned in constructed formats.   Nowadays, Suntail Hawks are barely playable in limited. However, it looks like Wizards is really pushing lifegain in this set. If you have enough things that trigger off lifegain, this should be very good.
 
Hunted Witness {W} C Creature — Human 
When Hunted Witness dies, create a 1/1 white Soldier creature token with lifelink. 
1/1
 
It’s a very good chump blockers in limited, but cards like this tend to excel in constructed formats. Just ask Sam Black, or google WB Aristocrats deck.
 
Inspiring Unicorn {2}{W}{W}  U Creature — Unicorn 
Whenever Inspiring Unicorn attacks, creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn. 
2/2
 
A minor payoff for the go-wide token strategy, but barely enough. Unplayable outside limited. Mediocre and unplayable outside limited also describes Intrusive Packbeast and Ledev Guardian

 
Light of the Legion {4}{W}{W}  R Creature — Angel 

Flying, Mentor, When Light of the Legion dies, put a +1/+1 counter on each white creature you control. 
5/5
 
Should be solid in limited, especially sealed, but not going to make it in competitive constructed formats. It is a nice big Mentor creature, but that’s not enough.
 
Loxodon Restorer {4}{W}{W}   C Creature — Elephant Cleric 
Convoke, When Loxodon Restorer enters the battlefield, you gain 4 life. 
3/4
 
About here, I really started questioning whether white was really going to be this bad. A 3/4 for six mana is terrible, even with 4 life tacked on, and Convoke does not help enough.   However, Ravnica is a multicolored set, so the good stuff should be in the Gold section.  I hope.
 
Luminous Bonds {2}{W}  C Enchantment — Aura 
Enchanted creature can’t attack or block.
 
It’s an over-costed Pacifism, but that does not make it bad.   Highly playable in limited, but we have better options in Constructed. We’ve seen this before often enough to know what it does. That’s also true for Parhelion Patrol,  Righteous Blow, Roc Charger, he assorted white weenies and so forth. Skipping those. I did note the token maker Sworn Companions makes just two tokens. Not sure that is wide enough.
 
Venerated Loxodon {4}{W}  R Creature — Elephant Cleric 
Convoke.   When Venerated Loxodon enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature that convoked it. 
4/4

 
This is an interesting use of Convoke, but I’m not sure this is enough to be excited about. Of course, you can convoke larger creatures, to pump them while getting a 4/4 in the deal. I am a bit disappointed that this is a rare. That’s sort of an indication that this is the best convoke can do, and it is not blowing my socks off. That said – gold set. Let’s see what Selesnya has for us.

Capture Sphere{3}{U}  C   Enchantment — Aura
Flash
When Capture Sphere enters the battlefield, tap enchanted creature.
Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step.

Solid blue removal, of a type we have seen before. Sold in draft, very good in sealed, but not good enough for constructed. 

Chemister's Insight{3}{U}  U Instant 
Draw two cards. 
Jump-start (You may cast this card from your graveyard by discarding a card in addition to paying its other costs. Then exile this card.)
 
It is Inspiration with flashback (sort of). This nets you one card both coming and going, but both are at Instant speed.   Like Inspiration was back in Visions, this will be solidly playable unless we get something better. 

 
Citywatch Sphinx{5}{U}   U Creature — Sphinx
Flying
When Citywatch Sphinx dies, surveil 2. (Look at the top two cards of your library, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on the top of your library in any order.) 
5/4

Since there are almost always more ways to interact with cards in your graveyard than on the bottom of your library, Surveil is going to be better that Scry in nearly every meaningful instance. This should be a good card in draft, great in sealed, but too expensive for constructed. 

Dazzling Lights{U}  C Instant 
Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn. 
Surveil 2.
 
Filler. You can do a bit of digging with this and it is a marginal combat trick, but with any luck you will have better cards.
 
Devious Cover-up {2}{U}{U}  C Instant 
Counter target spell. If that spell is countered this way, exile it instead of putting it into its owner’s graveyard. 
You may shuffle up to four target cards from your graveyard into your library.

 
A four mana counterspell is not amazing, but it is not bad. It is also a way to get back cards you Surveiled away. Is that combination enough to make this playable outside of sealed? We will see.

Dimir Informant{2}{U}  C Creature — Human Rogue 
When Dimir Informant enters the battlefield, surveil 2. 
1/4

This is a playable common. Cards like this make the white go-wide strategy seem really questionable.  So many of the Mentor cards we have seen so far die to this.

Disdainful Stroke {1}{U}   C   Instant 
Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

I wrote the preview article on this, back when it was first printed. As I said then, solid in sealed, playable in limited, decent sideboard card in constructed.

Dream Eater{4}{U}{U}  R   Creature — Nightmare Sphinx 
Flash 
Flying 
When Dream Eater enters the battlefield, surveil 4. When you do, you may return target nonland permanent an opponent controls to its owner’s hand.
4/3

Wow. I’m old, so this is where you get my “back in my day” rant.  This is a seriously good card, way, way better than the creatures I grew up with. Dream Eater would be playable with any two of the four abilities, and a not-disappointing first pick with any three. As a flying, 4/3 ambush viper with surveil 4, its close to insane. It might even be a finisher in control decks, if those exist in the new Standard.   It’s hardly Torrential Gearhulk, but unlike the Gearhulk, it is still legal.

Drowned Secrets{1}{U}  R Enchantment 
Whenever you cast a blue spell, target player puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard.

Not enough in limited. Hopefully not enough in Constructed. No one likes mill – and I’m saying that despite playing mill in two recent Modern events.
 
Enhanced Surveillance{1}{U}  U Enchantment 
You may look at an additional two cards each time you surveil. 
Exile Enhanced Surveillance: Shuffle your graveyard into your library.
 
This is a highly durdely card, but the power is real. If the format is slow enough that you can build around it, or if the format lets you really abuse cards in your graveyard, this could be a thing. The one limiting factor will be the number of Surveil cards available. You might be able to do this in limited, but I’m not sure there are enough solid Surveil cards in constructed to power the deck. 
 
Guild Summit{2}{U}  U  Enchantment 
When Guild Summit enters the battlefield, you may tap any number of untapped Gates you control. Draw a card for each Gate tapped this way. 
Whenever a Gate enters the battlefield under your control, draw a card.
 
Guild Gates were high picks in past Ravnica sets. They may be again. If you can get a bunch, then cards like this will be really powerful. If you cannot, then they will be traps. The only way to know will be to play the set.  In constructed, any deck that relies on a bunch of comes-into-play tapped lands is likely to be dead long before Guild Summit does much of anything.  (Later edit - this is not part of a cycle, so it will not drive Gate acquisition.  Also, Gates should appear once per pack.  I draft, if you prioritize them you should get them.)
 
Leapfrog {2}{U}  C Creature — Frog 
Leapfrog has flying as long as you’ve cast an instant or sorcery spell this turn. 
3/1
 
This seems like filler, although it might get in some damage in a UR spells deck. If it is not flying, the best it can expect is to trade with a blocker.
 
Maximize Altitude{U}  C   Sorcery 
Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains flying until end of turn. 
Jump-start
 
This could be a one-of in UG decks, but it is unlikely to be great. It can, however, steal wins in decks by lofting fatties over blockers.   Something to think about when playing against a deck with blue mana and large creatures.
 
Mission Briefing{U}{U}  R Instant 
Surveil 2, then choose an instant or sorcery card in your graveyard. You may cast that card this turn. If that card would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead.
 
This is not Snapcaster Mage, but it is not that far away from it. Mission Briefing does not beat down, but it does dig a bit in addition to letting you recast a spell. This has potential in most constructed formats.   
 
Murmuring Mystic {3}{U}   U   Creature — Human Wizard 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, create a 1/1 blue Bird Illusion creature token with flying. 
1/5
 
Another reason I am questioning white’s x/1 Mentor cards. This blocks everything, and will generally take a combat trick to get rid of.   The tokens are also fliers, so they have value.  
 
Narcomoeba{1}{U}  R Creature — Illusion 
Flying 
When Narcomoeba is put into your graveyard from your library, you may put it onto the battlefield. 
1/1

 
Another potential reason to play the Surveil deck, but remember that Dredge never really wanted the Narcomoebas as beatdown creatures. They were creatures to sac to Dread Return or Cabal Therapy.   We will see what role they have in the new Standard.   They may prove to be Stitcher’s Suppliers new best friend.

Omnispell Adept{4}{U}  R Creature — Human Wizard 
{2}{U}, {T}: You may cast an instant or sorcery card from your hand without paying its mana cost. 
3/4

This seems like the spell version of Elvish Piper. This card is decent blocker and marginal attacker, but its real value depends on the spells you can have it cast for you. You want something that costs significantly more than 2U, and has an impact. Nexus of Fate is the first spell that springs to mind. Also note that you can cast a Sorcery spell at any time using this ability – meaning you could cast a Mind Rot during your opponent’s draw step, or a Time Warp end of turn. Powerful card, and one which people will try to abuse in multiple formats.   We will see whether they succeed. 

Passwall Adept{1}{U}  C Creature — Human Wizard 
{2}{U}: Target creature can’t be blocked this turn. 
1/3
 
Another common 1/3 with an ability that can be useful in the later game. This is yet another reason to doubt that the white x/1 Mentor creatures will be playable.
 
Quasiduplicate{1}{U}{U}  R Sorcery 
Create a token that’s a copy of target creature you control. 
Jump-start
 
In limited, you are creating two copies of your best creature, but note that this targets. Unlike a regular Clone, this cannot copy opponents’ creatures, and if the target is removed before Quasiduplicate resolves, the spell fizzles. In constructed, this is only playable if you have creatures worth copying. I can’t recall many Standard or Modern decks playing Clone, so I doubt a double clone will see more play. 
 
Radical Idea{1}{U}  C   Instant 
Draw a card. 
Jump-start
 
This is not card advantage, it is card filtering. This is basically cycling: 2 mana, discard a card, draw a card. Jump start just lets you cycle an additional time.  I guess you could get some benefit from this in a deck that really wants to see spells cast, but even in those decks you should have better options. 
 
Selective Snare{X}{U}   U   Sorcery 
Return X target creatures of the creature type of your choice to their owner’s hand.
 
When I first saw this, I assumed it was an instant. It isn’t. It is yet another way in which blue can mess with white’s go-wide strategy, since this can kill a bunch of soldier or Angel tokens.   It will also kill auras and save your creatures from Pacifism, but that’s about it. If it were an instant, it would be great. It isn’t, so it is just mediocre. Playable in limited, maybe a sideboard card in Standard if someone makes Divine Intervention deck work.  That’s a big if.
 
Sinister Sabotage{1}{U}{U}   Instant 
Counter target spell. 
Surveil 1.
 
It is a better Cancel. It is not clear that it is better than Negate. It is also not clear that the format is slow enough to want a Cancel, but I would expect to play it in all my blue sealed decks.
 
Thoughtbound Phantasm{U}   U   Creature — Spirit 
Defender 
Whenever you surveil, put a +1/+1 counter on Thoughtbound Phantasm. 
As long as Thoughtbound Phantasm has three or more +1/+1 counters on it, it can attack as though it didn’t have defender. 
2/2
 
This seems really good in the surveil deck.   Early on, it blocks white’s tokens, then grow to a respectable size fairly easily.  Outside of Surveil, this is nothing special.   It certainly won’t see Constructed play unless we get a lot more Surveil cards in future blocks, which seems highly doubtful.
 
Unexplained Disappearance{1}{U}  C   Instant 
Return target creature to its owner’s hand. 
Surveil 1. 
 
A very solid part of the Surveil deck, and decent card in most decks with blue mana. It can rescue your creatures, and kill enemy tokens and auras.   It’s Unsummon with a slight upside, which almost justifies the extra mana.   Not spectacular, but playable in draft and sealed. In constructed, it would require a very unusual metagame to justify this card seeing even sideboard use.
 
Watcher in the Mist {3}{U}{U}   C Creature — Spirit 

So you can save one creature, or get three knights for six mana. Both of these are reasonable. Too bad it is a rare – Selesnya decks need a card like this. 

Flying 

When Watcher in the Mist enters the battlefield, surveil 2. 

3/4
 
Wow – this is common? The Surveil deck may be a thing. Wizards is certainly supplying a nice collection of surveil cards at a variety of mana costs.  

 

BLACK

 

Barrier of Bones {B}  C   Creature — Skeleton Wall 
Defender 
When Barrier of Bones enters the battlefield, surveil 1. 
0/3
 
Surveil is a Dimir mechanic, so black obviously has Surveil cards. This is one example, but a pretty mediocre one. It’s a 23rd card, and one I would hope to mill with one of my other, better Surveil cards. 
 
Bartizan Bats {3}{B} 
Creature — Bat 
Flying 
3/1
 
Fine in limited, never going to see constructed play. It should enjoy looking down at white’s tokens as it sails overhead. 
 
Blood Operative {1}{B}{B}  R   Creature — Vampire Assassin 
Lifelink 
When Blood Operative enters the battlefield, you may exile target card from a graveyard. 
Whenever you surveil, if Blood Operative is in your graveyard, you may pay 3 life. If you do, return Blood Operative to your hand. 
3/1
 
This card is weird. It does not have flash, so it is not a method of countering a reanimation spell. It is a very slow way to clear out graveyards, but fear too slow to really counteract decks that are built to use their graveyards as a resource. It could be a reusable beater, but you can only return it when you Surveil. My first thought is that Wizards did not push this hard enough to be anything more than okay in black decks, but we will see.
 
Burglar Rat {1}{B}   C   Creature — Rat 
When Burglar Rat enters the battlefield, each opponent discards a card. 
1/1
 
We have seen Ravenous Rats before, but this one hits all opponents.   Commander and 2HG players take note. 
 
Creeping Chill {3}{B}  U Sorcery 
Creeping Chill deals 3 damage to each opponent and you gain 3 life. 
When Creeping Chill is put into your graveyard from your library, you may exile it. If you do, Creeping Chill deals 3 damage to each opponent and you gain 3 life.
 
If this were just “drain opponent for 3” it would be pretty much unplayable. I don’t know that the chance that you get the effect when you dump this via Surveil makes it any more playable. 
 
Dead Weight {B}  C Enchantment — Aura 
Enchanted creature gets -2/-2.
 
We’ve seen this before. It is solid removal – solid enough that it has even seen Standard play.
 
Deadly Visit {3}{B}{B}  C Sorcery 
Destroy target creature. 
Surveil 2.
 
Five mana sorcery removal spells are playable in pretty much every limited formats, except super-fast ones like Zendikar. It seems perfectly playable here, in draft and limited. Five mana is too much for constructed, even with Surveil tacked on.
 
Doom Whisperer {3}{B}{B}   M   Creature — Nightmare Demon 
Flying, trample 
Pay 2 life: Surveil 2. 
6/6
 
Bomb. A 6/6 flampler for five mana is nuts, even without the Surveil.   With Surveil, this will help drive Surveil and Aftermath decks – but that’s just gravy. It’s a 6/6 flying, trampling, undercosted beatstick.    Seems like a windmill slam First pick. 
 
Gruesome Menagerie {3}{B}{B}  R Sorcery 
Choose a creature card with converted mana cost 1 in your graveyard, then do the same for creature cards with converted mana costs 2 and 3. Return those cards to the battlefield.
 
This will require a ton of set-up, and it costs four mana. And even if you get it off, you are just getting some cheap creatures.   I can imagine some sweet best possible outcomes, but the typical result of casting this will be a couple useless dorks that are not worth five mana and a card. 
 
Kraul Swarm {4}{B}  U Creature — Insect Warrior 
Flying 
{2}{B}, Discard a creature card: Return Kraul Swarm from your graveyard to your hand. 
4/1
 
This has flying, so it can likely get through eventually.  This is the sort of payoff the Surveil and Undergrowth decks may be looking for. It is solid, although the mana costs are a bit high to call it great. That said, it is probably a high pick in any deck running black. Late game, you are likely going to draw some early game creatures you would willingly spend some mana on upgrading into a four power flier.
 
Lotleth Giant {6}{B}   U   Creature — Zombie Giant 
Undergrowth — When Lotleth Giant enters the battlefield, it deals 1 damage to target opponent for each creature card in your graveyard. 
6/5
 
If this is the “payoff” for the Undergrowth deck, I wonder if it will be worthwhile. Undergrowth decks want a lot of creature cards in the graveyard, meaning that they want a lot of creature cards. That limits the number of self-mill or other non-creature helper cards they can play.   I have my doubts.  
 
Mausoleum Secrets {1}{B}   R Instant 
Undergrowth — Search your library for a black card with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of creature cards in your graveyard, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library. 
 
Cheap, instant-speed tutors are always interesting, and this one is no different. In limited, you are only going to want it if you have an undercosted bomb creature, like Doom WhispererBeyond that, it might work to find toolbox creatures, but I question whether you will ever get enough creatures into the graveyard to let your search for something like Lotleth Giant. In constructed, however, the card might be more useful.   Collected Company decks might be able to use this to find combo pieces, if they can find room for it. 
 
Mephitic Vapors {2}{B}   C Sorcery 
All creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn. 
Surveil 2.
 
Have I mentioned that I think the white x/1 Mentor creatures may not be all that viable? 
 
Midnight Reaper {2}{B}   R Creature — Zombie Knight 
Whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, Midnight Reaper deals 1 damage to you and you draw a card. 
3/2
 
Relatively cheap card drawing is great in pretty much every format. The only downside is that this is not a “may” ability – meaning that opponents can force you to lose life by killing your creatures. That’s close to a corner case, though – in nearly all cases, you are going to want to draw those cards. In limited, I am going to play this card if possible.   In constructed formats, this may be a card to build around.   Necropotence, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, and Dark Confidant have all proved that life for cards is a bargain.    A (Yawgmoth’s Bargain).
 
Moodmark Painter {2}{B}{B}   C Creature — Human Shaman 
Undergrowth — When Moodmark Painter enters the battlefield, target creature gains menace and gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard. 
2/3
 

Another potential payoff for the undergrowth deck – and another underwhelming one. This card’s ability is only really useful in the late game, at which point it is just giving menace, not trample. Not exciting – and certainly not playable beyond limited. 

Necrotic Wound {B}  U Instant 
Undergrowth — Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard. If that creature would die this turn, exile it instead.

 
Here’s the first undergrowth card that is seriously playable. At the very worst, it can kill creature you had to chump block. In other cases, it is a combat trick or just straight up removal. Solid card, and one I expect all black decks to want. It might also see play in constructed formats, especially in decks that abuse their graveyard – like Dredge. 

Never Happened {2}{B}  C   Sorcery 
Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from that player’s graveyard or hand and exile it.

For B this would be broken.   For 1B this would be very good. For 2B, I am not going to say that it will never happen, but I think the name is appropriate. 

Pilfering Imp {B}   U Creature — Imp 
Flying 
{1}{B}, {T}, Sacrifice Pilfering Imp: Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery. 
1/1
 
It’s a bad beater and a bad discard spell.   We have seen these cards before, and they have never been better than mediocre.  No reason to believe that the Undergrowth mechanic will make this all that much better. 
 
Plaguecrafter {2}{B}   U Creature — Human Shaman 
When Plaguecrafter enters the battlefield, each player sacrifices a creature or planeswalker. Each player who can’t discards a card. 
3/2
 
Fleshbag Marauder keeps getting better and better. It’s always been playable, and the undergrowth mechanic makes it even better. So does the extra toughness and the “discard if you have no creatures” clause.   And the ability to hit Planeswalkers. Solid in limited, and may well see play in Standard.   I expect that Mausoleum Secrets may search for this card fairly often. 
 
Price of Fame {3}{B}    U   Instant 
This spell costs {2} less to cast if it targets a legendary creature. 
Destroy target creature. 
Surveil 2.
 
Great removal. Every deck that can easily splash black will want this. Always playable in limited, and likely playable in Standard control decks, as part of a mix of removal spells.
 
 
Ritual of Soot {2}{B}{B}   R   Sorcery 
Destroy all creatures with converted mana cost 3 or less.
 
White has destroy all creatures with high toughness, which is situational but playable. This seems far more situational. It beats up on tokens (like everything in the set so far), but in most limited games the little stuff is not what you need to kill. This is sideboard at best in limited, but may have constructed applications. Specifically, this looks like it was purpose-built to kill off Humans in Modern.
 
Severed Strands {1}{B}   C Sorcery 
As an additional cost to cast this spell, sacrifice a creature. 
You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature’s toughness. Destroy target creature an opponent controls.
 
This is likely to be a two-for-one going the wrong way, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.   I would note that black has a lot of strong removal, much of it at common.
 
Sorcery 
Vicious Rumors deals 1 damage to each opponent. Each opponent discards a card, then puts the top card of their library into their graveyard. You gain 1 life.
 

I would prefer than this milled me one card, instead of my opponents. In multiplayer, though, opening with this on turn one and Burglar Rats on turn two should make you super popular. Seriously, though, this is another example of Wizards stapling several bad effects together. However, all of the effects, even the lifegain, can trigger other benefits. The combination might make the card playable, but I would have to see it happen. 

Whispering Snitch {1}{B}   U Creature — Vampire Rogue 
Whenever you surveil for the first time each turn, Whispering Snitch deals 1 damage to each opponent and you gain 1 life. 
1/3
 
It is a payoff for the Surveil deck, sort of. It is also yet another way to kill the x/1 Mentor creatures. (Mentor now looks so bad to me that I have stopped capitalizing it. If you see capital letters, it means my editor has done a ton of work.

 

RED

 

Arclight Phoenix{3}{R} M Creature — Phoenix 
Flying, haste 
At the beginning of combat on your turn, if you’ve cast three or more instant and sorcery spells this turn, you may return Arclight Phoenix from your graveyard to the battlefield. 
3/2
 
A 3/2 hasty flier is nice. Casting three spells precombat is a tough ask – most limited decks don’t run more than a half dozen instants or sorceries. It is possible an Izzet deck may run more, but you are unlikely to be able to do this more than two or three times even if everything breaks perfectly. In constructed, decks can run more instants, but most spells based combo decks, like Storm, have better options. In Standard, it’s hard to imagine wanting this over Rekindling Phoenix

 

Barging Sergeant{4}{R}   C Creature — Minotaur Soldier 
Haste 
Mentor 
4/2
 
Now this is a more useful Mentor creature – but five mana is a lot for a 4/2.
 
Book Devourer {5}{R}  U Creature — Beast 
Trample 
Whenever Book Devourer deals combat damage to a player, you may discard all the cards in your hand. If you do, draw that many cards. 
4/5
 
The artwork is silly, but the card seems better. This is one mana more than Barging Sergeant, but both abilities are better, and the toughness is much better. Decent in limited (although six mana is almost too much), unplayable in constructed.
 
Cosmotronic Wave{3}{R} C Sorcery 
Cosmotronic Wave deals 1 damage to each creature your opponents control. Creatures your opponents control can’t block this turn.
 
Once again, Wizards has stapled two marginal effects together – but both of these effects are almost good enough on their own.   A Falter is almost always solid, and the 1 damage does kill most of – wait for it – White’s Mentor creatures. This one seems playable in limited.
 
Direct Current{1}{R}{R}   C Sorcery 
Direct Current deals 2 damage to any target. 
Jump-start
 
Three mana is a lot to pay for a sorcery-speed shock – but it is a shock. Direct damage to any target is almost always worth it in limited.   The fact that you can discard a redundant card to do it again is gravy. That gravy is needed – at three mana the meat is pretty flavorless.
 
Electrostatic Field{1}{R}   U Creature — Wall 
Defender 
When you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Electrostatic Field deals 1 damage to each opponent. 
0/4
 
Izzet is clearly trying to set up a spells matter deck.   This is an early blocker, and a slow, slow win condition when you are casting and jump-starting spells.  But assuming you have other sources of damage, this is fine.
 
Erratic Cyclops{3}{R}  R Creature — Cyclops Shaman 
Trample 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Erratic Cyclops gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is that spell’s converted mana cost. 
0/8
 
Now this is what the spells matter deck wants. The super high toughness makes it hard to kill, even if gang blocked. And if you cast and jump start Direct Current, it is a 6/8 trampler. This seems like a decent card for limited, and a potential card for Standard.
 
Experimental Frenzy {3}{R}  R Enchantment 
You may look at the top card of your library any time. 
You may play the top card of your library. 
You can’t play cards from your hand. 
{3}{R}: Destroy Experimental Frenzy.
 
This is not a limited card. In constructed, you would have to pair it with some way to manipulate your library. Even so, this is like playing with a one card hand. You can still put a land into play from the top of your library, but if you see a second land card you are doing nothing until you draw that land or play it next turn. In theory, you could play this, then Mana Severance to get rid of lands, then play a whole bunch of zero casting costs stuff and go for a grapeshot win, but that seems convoluted.  
 
Fire Urchin{1}{R}  C Creature — Elemental 
Trample 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Fire Urchin gets +1/+0 until end of turn. 
1/3
 
Yet another common two drop that messes with all those x/1 Mentor creatures. 
 
Goblin Banneret{R}  U Creature — Goblin Soldier 
Mentor 
{1}{R}: Goblin Banneret gets +2/+0 until end of turn. 
1/1
 
A pumpable Mentor means that it can mentor larger creatures, but it still has a 1 power. It still dies to all those 1/x blockers. At best, it will give something a counter, then trade.
 
Goblin Cratermaker{1}{R}   U Creature — Goblin Warrior 
{1}, Sacrifice Goblin Cratermaker: Choose one — 
• Goblin Cratermaker deals 2 damage to target creature. 
• Destroy target colorless nonland permanent. 
2/2
 
Nice flexibility. This is an answer to Karn, or even Emrakul. In limited, in this set, it is pretty much just a 2/2 for two or a shock, but those are both decent.   

 
Gravitic Punch{3}{R}  C Sorcery 

Target creature you control deals damage equal to its power to target player. 
Jump-start
 
Best case scenario – Yargel hits your opponent for nine precombat on turn five, and again on turn six. Typical scenario: this is a Lava Axe that your opponent can counter by killing your best creature.   Not surer that’s something I want to be doing, at least not against a deck with open mana. 
 
Lava Coil{1}{R}   U   Sorcery 
Lava Coil deals 4 damage to target creature. If that creature would die this turn, exile it instead.
 
It is a sorcery, which is a downside, but it deals four damage for two mana. That’s solid. The fact that it exiles cards like Rekindling Phoenix is even better. This isn’t a bomb, but good removal is playable in every format - unless you have something better. Not sure there is anything all that much better in the new Standard.
 
Legion Warboss{2}{R}   R   Creature — Goblin Soldier 
Mentor 
At the beginning of combat on your turn, create a 1/1 red Goblin creature token. That token gains haste until end of turn and attacks this combat if able. 
2/2
 
This is not the return of Goblin Rabblemaster, but it comes close.   Legion Warboss is going to stay a 2/2, and will only pump the token if you attack with the Warboss. However, if you cast Warboss on turn three, it can create 4 power worth of attackers on turn four. It could be as good as Rabblemaster against control opponents, and should pressure Planeswalkers pretty well.  
 
Risk Factor{2}{R}  R Instant 
Target opponent may have Risk Factor deal 4 damage to them. If that player doesn’t, you draw three cards. 
Jump-start
 
Browbeat has been the one “punisher” card that is almost good enough to see play. It gave players the choice of taking five or giving your opponent three cards. Risk Factor offers pretty much the same choice – twice. Is this enough for a dedicated burn or aggro deck to want it? Is Boros a real deck in the new Standard? We will see.

 
Runaway Steam-Kin {1}{R}   R Creature — Elemental 

Whenever you cast a red spell, if Runaway Steam-Kin has fewer than three +1/+1 counters on it, put a +1/+1 counter on Runaway Steam-Kin. 
Remove three +1/+1 counters from Runaway Steam-Kin: Add {R}{R}{R}. 
1/1
 
This creature has a ton of potential, but I’m not sure whether that potential can be realized. It can be used as a mana battery – and opponents may forget that that mana can be used at any time. It can become a 4/4 beater fairly easily, and early. It can help power the storm deck. However, the fact that it only triggers on red cards and is limited to three counters at a time means it isn’t a great battery or beater. Is it too limited? Time will tell.
 
Wojek Bodyguard{2}{R}  C Creature — Human Soldier 
Mentor 
Wojek Bodyguard can’t attack or block alone. 
3/3
 
We have seen this sort of thing before. Mogg Flunkies was printed in Weatherlight late last century and has been reprinted on occasion since. It has never been all that good. Giving it Mentor and an additional mana probably does not fix it – but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is enough of a critical mass of Mentor creatures that they grow too large to be blocked by all the 1/xs in the format.   

 

GREEN

 

Affectionate Indrik{5}{G}   U Creature — Beast 
When Affectionate Indrik enters the battlefield, you may have it fight target creature you don’t control. 
4/4
 
This is a solid green creature. In the past, a 4/4 could probably at least trade with almost anything in the set. Today, a 4/4 might be too small to tangle with even a lot of the commons, but you can always pump it in response to the trigger. That said, this is a good limited card, but will never see play in constructed.
 
Arboretum Elemental{7}{G}{G}  U   Creature — Elemental 
Convoke 
Hexproof 
7/5
 
This is a partial “payoff” for having a deck full of tokens and smaller creatures.   Hexproof means that it won’t die immediately, but the 5 toughness means that it can die to most gang blocks. Even so, it has the keywords “big” and “hard to kill,” so that’s something.   Okay in limited, but this will be left on the table after draft, since it will never see constructed play.
  
Beast Whisperer{2}{G}{G} 
Creature — Elf Druid 
Whenever you cast a creature spell, draw a card. 
2/3
 

In limited, I want this.   Any source of card advantage is good, and this one will trigger a lot. Opponents pretty much have to kill this quickly, or it will get out of hand. Three power and not hexproof means it isn’t that hard to kill, but it requires the opponent to have that answer quickly. I like green decks, so I want to open this every draft. Probably never going to see play in constructed, though.  It isn’t that good.

Bounty of Might{4}{G}{G}   R   Instant
Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn. 
Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn. 
Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

This is one bug pump spell. Or three medium pump spells. Or one large pump spell and one Giant Growth. Practically, think of this as three separate Giant Growths, each targeting independently.    It’s cute, and will certainly win combats and games, but six mana is a ton for combat tricks. Fine in base green limited decks, but probably never going to see play in constructed.   Probably.    

Circuitous Route{3}{G}  U Sorcery 
Search your library for up to two basic land cards and/or Gate cards and put them onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
 
This is an improved Explosive Vegetation, in that it can get Gates as well as basics. This should be quite important in green good stuff decks, and decent ramp in big green or Selesnya decks. This could see play in Standard; Explosive Vegetation did.
 
District Guide{2}{G}   U Creature — Elf Scout 
When District Guide enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card or Gate card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library. 
2/2
 
Base green good stuff decks want this. Otherwise, not so much. It does fetch a land or gate, but it just puts it into your hand. That’s a long way from Sakura-Tribe Elder.
 
Creature — Elf Warrior 
Haste 
Undergrowth — Golgari Raiders enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each creature card in your graveyard. 
0/0


A green haste creature seems weird.   More importantly, this is only playable if you have a bunch of creatures in your graveyard. How many can you reasonably get there early enough for this to matter?   I’m skeptical. 

Grappling Sundew {1}{G}   U Creature — Plant 
Defender, reach 
{4}{G}: Grappling Sundew gains indestructible until end of turn. 
0/4
 
Why? It slows weenie rushes and fliers, but you cannot expect to sit behind this with 5 mana up. I don’t understand this card.
 
Hatchery Spider{5}{G}{G} 
Creature — Spider 
Reach 
Undergrowth — When you cast this spell, reveal the top X cards of your library, where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard. You may put a green permanent card with converted mana cost X or less from among them onto the battlefield. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. 
5/7
 
When I first saw this card, I assumed that it was going to give me all the permanents with CMC X or less, like Genesis Wave. Then I saw that it was just green permanents, so no lands. Then I saw that this just got one green permanent. Then I stopped caring.
 
Kraul Foragers {4}{G}  C Creature — Insect Scout 
Undergrowth — When Kraul Foragers enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life for each creature card in your graveyard. 
4/4

 
Once upon a time, a 4/4 for five mana would be impressive. This isn’t.  

Kraul Harpooner{1}{G}   U   Creature — Insect Warrior 
Reach 
Undergrowth — When Kraul Harpooner enters the battlefield, choose up to one target creature with flying you don’t control. Kraul Harpooner gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the number of creature cards in your graveyard, then you may have Kraul Harpooner fight that creature. 
3/2
 
In most cases, if you have this X/2 fight a flier you will be trading. Still, sometimes that’s worth it.   But even if you don’t have it fight a flier, this is a 3/2 for two mana.   That’s something.
 
Nullhide Ferox{2}{G}{G}    M Creature — Beast 
Hexproof 
You can’t cast noncreature spells. 
{2}: Nullhide Ferox loses all abilities until end of turn. Any player may activate this ability. 
If a spell or ability an opponent controls causes you to discard Nullhide Ferox, put it onto the battlefield instead of putting it into your graveyard. 
6/6
 
What a weird mix of abilities, or non-abilities, or whatever. First of all, this is a 6/6 for four mana, which is great. It is also difficult to kill – and by difficult, I mean that opponents have to pay 2 more mana for their removal spells. You also have to pay two more mana for your non-creature spells. Finally, there is the random chance that an opponent is playing discard.   I’m clearly playing this in my green decks in limited. It could also see play in green aggro decks.   Turn one Lawnmower Elf, turn two Steel Leaf Champion, turn three this is quite a start.
 
Pelt Collector{G}   R    Creature — Elf Warrior 
Whenever another creature you control enters the battlefield or dies, if that creature’s power is greater than Pelt Collector’s, put a +1/+1 counter on Pelt Collector. 
As long as Pelt Collector has three or more +1/+1 counters on it, it has trample. 
1/1
 
We have had Evolve creatures like Experiment One do quite well in the past. This, however, only gets a counter when a creature dies. Until then, it is a 1/1and vulnerable to all the removal in existence.   However, if you can keep it alive while your better creatures are dying, it could turn into a big trampler.   In theory.   I will have to see it to believe it. At the moment, I think it will be too hard to trigger it enough to make it at all dangerous.

 
Portcullis Vine{G} 

Creature — Plant Wall 
Defender 
{2}, {T}, Sacrifice a creature with defender: Draw a card. 
0/3
 
More walls.   Is Wizards giving us the tools for an Arcades, the Strategist deck in Standard? If not, this is kinda pointless.
 
Sprouting Renewal{2}{G}   U   Sorcery 
Convoke 
Choose one — 
• Create a 2/2 green and white Elf Knight creature token with vigilance. 
• Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
 
I guess that, sometimes, I may need a sorcery speed Disenchant. The other mode – a 2/2 Knight – seems really small in this world of fat-butted 1/Xs and medium-large walls.
 
Urban Utopia{1}{G}   C Enchantment — Aura 
Enchant land 
When Urban Utopia enters the battlefield, draw a card. 
Enchanted land has “{T}: Add one mana of any color.”
 
Wow, Fertile Ground got better!  No, it didn’t. This does not add mana, just fixes colors. But at least it cantrips.

 

MUTICOLOR

 

Artful Takedown {2}{U}{B}   C   Instant 
Choose one or both — 
• Tap target creature. 
• Target creature gets -2/-4 until end of turn.
 
Removal and a tap effect, at instant speed. This will be useful in limited, but probably not in constructed. We have so many better options. 
 
Assassin's Trophy {B}{G}    R    Instant 
Destroy target permanent an opponent controls. Its controller may search their library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle their library.

 

It kills everything, at instant speed, and cheaply. This is – arguably – the best card in the set. People are already talking about playing it in Legacy.  Legacy!
 
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice{2}{R}{W}  M   Legendary Creature — Angel 
Flying 
Mentor 
At the beginning of combat on your turn, choose up to one target creature you control. Until end of turn, that creature gets +2/+0, gains trample if it’s red, and gains vigilance if it’s white. 
2/5
 
Remember, you can choose Aurelia to get +2/+0 and Vigilance. A 4/5 flier is tough to deal with, even if it isn’t mentoring anything.
 
Beacon Bolt{1}{U}{R}  U    Sorcery 
Beacon Bolt deals damage to target creature equal to the total number of instant and sorcery cards you own in exile and in your graveyard. 
Jump-start
 
This is decent late game removal in an Izzet spells deck, but since it only hits creatures, I don’t see this getting much play outside limited. But it’s great in limited.
 
Beamsplitter Mage{U}{R}   U   Creature — Vedalken Wizard 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery that targets only Beamsplitter Mage, if you control one or more creatures that spell could target, choose one of those creatures. Copy that spell. The copy targets the chosen creature. 
2/2
 
I am having trouble figuring out what spell I want to cast on Beamsplitter Mage that I don’t want to target directly. Do I want to just duplicate a pump spell?   A cantrip?   I’m just not seeing it. I vaguely remember creatures with an ability that would radiate spells to all creatures with similar colors or tribal identity – something like that. They were bad, too.
 
Boros Challenger {R}{W}   U Creature — Human Soldier 
Mentor 
{2}{R}{W}: Boros Challenger gets +1/+1 until end of turn. 
2/3
 
Okay, a Mentor that does not die when blocked by a 1/X is nice. Maybe, if there are enough of these, the archetype could work. That remains to be seen.   Outside of limited, though, it’s going nowhere.
 
Camaraderie{4}{G}{W}    R   Sorcery 
You gain X life and draw X cards, where X is the number of creatures you control. Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn.
 
Here’s my problem with Selesnya – it assumes that you are going to have a bunch of creatures in play all the time. Creatures to convoke with. Creatures to pump.   Creatures to fuel lifegain. I just see too many times when I will have had to block with some, or had some killed.   I expect this might often gain me 3-4 life and add a couple counters to my team. That is not a lot for a six mana spell.  If it was an Instant I could play at end of turn, maybe, but it is a sorcery.
 
Centaur Peacemaker {1}{G}{W}  C Creature — Centaur Cleric 
When Centaur Peacemaker enters the battlefield, each player gains 4 life. 
3/3
 
A 3/3 for three is a reasonable rate. Giving each player 4 life seems strange. It’s a great card for multiplayer games, since playing cards like this makes you popular.   It’s the “I like you. I’ll kill you last” scenario. But other than the political angle, I just don’t see it.   If Selesnya really was going to dominate over time, I could see the delay being worth it, but I 'm not sure that will happen.  
 
Chance for Glory{1}{R}{W}   M Instant 
Creatures you control gain indestructible. Take an extra turn after this one. At the beginning of that turn’s end step, you lose the game.
 
The best case scenario is that you have a big creature stall and eight mana. You cast this, then a destroy all creatures effect.   Your creatures live, theirs die, and you have two attack phases to kill your opponent. The worst case scenario is that you attack, they have a removal, a fog, or block strategically enough to survive the two attack phases, and you lose.   Final Fortune effects have been around for literally decades, and they have been too risky for play outside a couple combo decks and some real high-risk, high reward urn decks. In this case, however, the combination of indestructible and extra attack phase might be enough. A fair number of players who are relying on their deathtouchers and trade bait gang blockers are going to lose to this card.  
 
Charnel Troll {1}{B}{G}   R   Creature — Troll 
Trample 
At the beginning of your upkeep, exile a creature card from your graveyard. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on Charnel Troll. Otherwise, sacrifice it. 
{B}{G}, Discard a creature card: Put a +1/+1 counter on Charnel Troll. 
4/4
 
In some respects, this reminds me of Masticore, which was also a cheap 4/4 with a tough upkeep. Charnel Troll also has a mandatory upkeep, which will kill it if you forget to pay. Note, however, that the trigger goes on the stack, so you can use the second activated ability to put a creature card into your graveyard. You can play Charnel Troll on turn three, with an empty graveyard, then pump it to a 5/5 and attack on turn four. If you have BBGG available, you could even add another counter. This is high rick, high reward, because if you ever run out of creatures in the graveyard, this dies. Note also that this card has the Golgari watermark, but works against undergrowth. Interesting dynamic. This seems decent in limited, especially five color good stuff decks with lots of Surveil cards. It might be playable in a Standard deck with a bunch of ways of feeding the graveyard. Maybe.
 
Conclave Cavalier {G}{G}{W}{W}  U Creature — Centaur Knight 
Vigilance 
When Conclave Cavalier dies, create two 2/2 green and white Elf Knight creature tokens with vigilance. 
4/4
 
A solid creature that replaces itself with 2 solid creatures. The only downside is the mana cost. If you are playing this, it will be tough to splash, and you will want all the GW Gates you can get. In Selesnya, it's great.  Outside of limited, though, decks will have lots of better options.
 
Conclave Guildmage {G}{W}   U Creature — Elf Cleric 
{G}, {T}: Creatures you control gain trample until end of turn. 
{5}{W}, {T}: Create a 2/2 green and white Elf Knight creature token with vigilance. 
2/2
 
Giving all of your creatures Trample seems decent. Spending six mana to create a 2/2 seems way too high. Mana sinks are nice, but I could only see this being used if you are in a huge ground stall – and even then you might get decked long before this could turn the tide. I could be wrong, but six mana and tap…   I’d rather have the 4/5 convoke flier.
 
Crackling Drake{U}{U}{R}{R}   U    Creature — Drake 
Flying 
Crackling Drake’s power is equal to the total number of instant and sorcery cards you own in exile and in your graveyard. 
When Crackling Drake enters the battlefield, draw a card. 
*/4
 
Now this is the sort of uncommon I want for my guild deck. Izzet decks should have an interesting set of useful instants and sorceries, so this should be a reasonable threat fairly soon.   The instants and sorceries should be able to clear the skies, so this should be able to win the game. I expect this to be a high pick for UR decks. I could even see it being played in Standard.    UURR is a tough mana cost, but in a format with Opt and other cheap cantrips, this should be doable quickly. I’d expect such a deck to have a bunch of cantrips, counters and burn spells – maybe with a minor Wizards theme thrown in. 
 
Darkblade Agent {1}{U}{B}   C Creature — Human Assassin 
As long as you’ve surveilled this turn, Darkblade Agent has deathtouch and “Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card.” 
2/3
 
I like this card. Early on, it gums up the ground. Later on, it can attack. Imagine if an opponent has two of these, and turns them sideways. You have a couple large creatures – say a 4/4 and 5/3. Do you block, and if they have an instant surveil card, you lose both creatures. If you let them through, and the opponent has the surveil, the opponent draws two cards. Or maybe they are bluffing. There are six instant speed surveil cards in the set, and two of them are counterspells. Do you call the bluff? Great in surveil decks, but since (IMHO) there aren’t enough cards to make a Standard surveil deck, this is unplayable in constructed.
 
Deafening Clarion {1}{R}{W}   R   Sorcery

 Choose one or both —
• Deafening Clarion deals 3 damage to each creature. 
• Creatures you control gain lifelink until end of turn.

Once again, I find this a really strange combination of abilities. In the Boros decks, and even most Selesnya / Naya builds, the three damage is going to kill a lot of your creatures. And giving your remaining creatures lifelink after the majority have died seems insignificant.   I would expect this to see play in five color good stuff decks in limited. In Standard, this should slaughter the weenie and token decks, so it might well see sideboard play. 

Dimir Spybug{U}{B}   U Creature — Insect 
Flying 
Menace 
Whenever you surveil, put a +1/+1 counter on Dimir Spybug. 
1/1
 
Another decent minor payoff for the Surveil deck. Not exciting, but certainly highly playable in that archetype. Menace helps.
 
Disinformation Campaign {1}{U}{B}   U   Enchantment 
When Disinformation Campaign enters the battlefield, you draw a card and each opponent discards a card. 
Whenever you surveil, return Disinformation Campaign to its owner’s hand.
 
This will be super-annoying in 2HG, but it could be bad enough in a Surveil deck. The question, however, is whether you will have enough time to be casting and recasting this while your opponent actually develops their board.    Maybe if you have some of the Surveil bounce spells, you could. 
 
Emmara, Soul of the Accord{G}{W}    R    Legendary Creature — Elf Cleric 
Whenever Emmara, Soul of the Accord becomes tapped, create a 1/1 white Soldier creature token with lifelink. 
2/2
 
Ideally, you cast her early, then use her to convoke out a lot of other creatures.   The best case is pretty good. In the worst case, you don’t draw many convoke cards, she cannot attack favorably more than a time or two, and the handful of 1/1 lifelinkers do nothing but chump block. I am not convinced that 1/1 and 2/2 tokens will be that effective in a world of 1/X blockers. Where is the Overrun
 
Erstwhile Trooper{1}{B}{G}   C Creature — Zombie Soldier 
Discard a creature card: Erstwhile Trooper gets +2/+2 and gains trample until end of turn. Activate this ability only once each turn. 
2/2
 
This is not the return of Putrid Imp. Both are 2/2s that can become a 4/4 beaters, but you pumped Putrid Imp with life.   Erstwhile Trooper costs a card – which might help with Undergrowth, but still, cards are expensive. Likewise, Trooper costs three mana, while Putrid Imp costs two.   That does not make Erstwhile Trooper bad, but it will mean the Trooper will not make the jump to constructed.
 
Etrata, the Silencer {2}{U}{B}   R   Legendary Creature — Vampire Assassin 
Etrata, the Silencer can’t be blocked. 
Whenever Etrata deals combat damage to a player, exile target creature that player controls and put a hit counter on that card. That player loses the game if they own three or more exiled cards with hit counters on them. Etrata’s owner shuffles Etrata into their library. 
3/5
 
I expect I will get plenty of questions about this card at the prerelease. Etrata is an unblockable 3/5. If it attacks and connects, you exile target creature your opponent controls. Then you shuffle Etrata into your library. Note that this is all one big ability, with one target – your opponent’s creature. If that creature is not exiled, either because it was bounced or protected, you don’t shuffle away Etrata.  
 
This should be a bomb in limited. It’s cheap. It’s a good blocker the turn it comes down, and it is hard to kill. If it lives to attack, it should get rid of your opponent’s best creature permanently. Then, if you draw it again, you can do it again. This is the sort of card that makes playing the black undergrowth tutor worthwhile. In constructed, this could conceivably see play, since this is one of the few Legends that you would be happy to play four of. If you draw multiples, just attack with one, then play the other second main phase, after the other has been shuffled into your library. The game ends if the player has three hit counters – and all three can be from different copies of Etrata. 
 
Firemind's Research{U}{R}    R   Enchantment 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, put a charge counter on Firemind’s Research. 
{1}{U}, Remove two charge counters from Firemind’s Research: Draw a card. 
{1}{R}, Remove five charge counters from Firemind’s Research: It deals 5 damage to any target.
 
If you can drop this early, it will be a source of some late game advantage. Drawing it late, on the other hand, will be pretty much a blank. In an average limited game, assuming you draft a spells heavy deck with a fair amount of jump start, I would expect this to let you draw a couple cards and maybe Lava Axe your opponent.   In constructed, I would be surprised if this would be enough to power a spells deck, but I could see a couple backstopping other win conditions. In Modern, the Storm deck has, well, Storm.   I can’t imagine playing this over Grapeshot.
 
Glowspore Shaman:GRN) {B}{G}   U Creature — Elf Shaman 
When Glowspore Shaman enters the battlefield, put the top three cards of your library into your graveyard. You may put a land card from your graveyard on top of your library. 
3/1
 
This is an early beater and undergrowth enabler. I like the touch of allowing you to recoup a land. Playing this on turn two will allow you to ensure a land drop. Lands also have no effect on undergrowth – it just counts creatures. That said, I wish this were a 3/2 – 3/1s look too fragile in this limited environment.
 
Golgari Findbroker {B}{B}{G}{G}   U Creature — Elf Shaman 
When Golgari Findbroker enters the battlefield, return target permanent card from your graveyard to your hand. 
3/4
 
This is not Eternal Witness – this can only get permanents.    The casting cost – BBGG – is also harder than Eternal Witness. This will, unless you are lucky enough to open a Planeswalker and get it killed, likely just return a land, a creature (which will work against your undergrowth), or a Dead Weight. That last is probably the best use of this card. On the plus side, the 3/4 body is a lot better than Eternal Witness’ anemic 2/1.
 
I probably don’t need to add that this will not see constructed play.
 
Hammer Dropper {2}{R}{W}   C Creature — Giant Soldier 
Mentor 
5/2
 
Maybe I’m wrong about the Mentor decks, but I would really love to find at least one that can attack repeatedly without just trading with a 2/2 on the first attack. Well, one besdes the Mythic Angel, that is.

 
House Guildmage {U}{B}   U   Creature — Human Wizard 

{1}{U}, {T}: Target creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step. 
{2}{B}, {T}: Surveil 2. 
2/2
 
Mediocre. Important note – the first ability does not actually tap a creature. It just prevents an already tapped creature from untapping. This will not prevent an attack from an untapped creature. The second ability, though, does what you would expect, and at instant speed. That matters.
 
Hypothesizzle{3}{U}{R}   C    Instant 
Draw two cards. Then you may discard a nonland card. When you do, Hypothesizzle deals 4 damage to target creature.
 
I love the name. I also love the card. An instant speed draw two is not a great deal for five mana, but tacking on discard, burn for 4 seems fine. Yet another reason I’m much more excited about the Izzet spells deck than the Boros Mentor or Selesnya Convoke decks. 
 
Ionize{1}{U}{R}   R   Instant 
Counter target spell.   Ionize deals 2 damage to that spell’s controller.
 
This is a really good card.   The counter will fit nicely into the good stuff and Izzet spells decks, while the shock to the dome is not amazing, but it is pretty close to free.    If the shock would hit any target, it would be busted, but its reasonably good as is.
 
Izoni, Thousand-Eyed{2}{B}{B}{G}{G}  R   Legendary Creature — Elf Shaman 
Undergrowth — When Izoni, Thousand-Eyed enters the battlefield, create a 1/1 black and green Insect creature token for each creature card in your graveyard. 
{B}{G}, Sacrifice another creature: You gain 1 life and draw a card. 
2/3
 
So the best payoff for undergrowth is a bunch of bugs that don’t have deathtouch or anything useful? This seems okay, and the ability to draw card is nice. I might still first pick this, but more because I like playing BG than because it is all that good. The best I can see with this is that I play it, get a half dozen or so generic 1/1s, then draw some cards when those creatures chump block. Color me unimpressed.
 
Join Shields {3}{G}{W}   U   Instant 
Untap all creatures you control. They gain hexproof and indestructible until end of turn.
 
Wizards, is this another of your vaulted “skills testers?”   Five mana is a lot for what is basically either a counter to a removal spell, or an ambush. Yes, you can mount an alpha strike, then save all your creatures and reset them for blocking duty – but I would think you are telegraphing that pretty hard. 
 
Justice Strike {R}{W}   U    Instant 
Target creature deals damage to itself equal to its power.
 
Just solid removal. I will want this in every five color good stuff deck, which might mean Boros decks will have to fight for them.
 
Knight of Autumn{1}{G}{W}  Creature — Dryad Knight 
When Knight of Autumn enters the battlefield, choose one —  
• Put two +1/+1 counters on Knight of Autumn. 
• Destroy target artifact or enchantment. 
• You gain 4 life. 
2/1
 
This is fairly versatile. I have always loved creatures that Disenchant as an ETB trigger. (Maybe too much.) As such, I will always want this in any deck that can play G and W,  I can see playing it as a 4/3, and disenchanting something. Gaining four life is a stretch, but stranger things have happened.
 
Lazav, the Multifarious {U}{B}   M   Legendary Creature — Shapeshifter 
When Lazav, the Multifarious enters the battlefield, surveil 1. 
{X}: Lazav, the Multifarious becomes a copy of target creature card in your graveyard with converted mana cost X, except its name is Lazav, the Multifarious, it’s legendary in addition to its other types, and it has this ability. 
1/3
 
This looks like a fine way to reuse creatures that you have surveilled away, or that have died. Early on, this can block Mentors. Later on, it can become something better. The only downside is that you cannot get the comes-into-play triggers of those creatures.   Seems solid in a Surveil deck, fine in 5 color good stuff, but probably not good enough in Standard. 
 
League Guildmage{U}{R}   U   Creature — Human Wizard 
{3}{U}, {T}: Draw a card. 
{X}{R}, {T}: Copy target instant or sorcery spell you control with converted mana cost X. You may choose new targets for the copy. 
2/2
 
Like all of the Guildmages, the abilities seem okay, but expensive. Four mana to draw a card is high, but card draw is great. Copying a burn spell seems fine – but you have to repay the casting cost. If I’m in these colors, I’ll play it, but I’m not excited. 
 
Ledev Champion {1}{G}{W}   U   Creature — Elf Knight 
Whenever Ledev Champion attacks, you may tap any number of untapped creatures you control. Ledev Champion gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each creature tapped this way. 
{3}{G}{W}: Create a 1/1 white soldier creature token with lifelink. 
2/2
 
It’s the mini-me version of Myr Battlesphere. Sort of. Once again, the token creation is really expensive, and slow. I’ll play it, but reluctantly. On the other hand, if the format really is slow enough that spending 5 mana for a 1/1 is worthwhile, then maybe the Boros decks have a chance.

 
Legion Guildmage{R}{W}  U Creature — Human Wizard 

{5}{R}, {T}: Legion Guildmage deals 3 damage to each opponent. 
{2}{W}, {T}: Tap another target creature. 
2/2
 
And the list of overcosted abilities continues. I like the 2/2 in Boros, since it may get a counter or two, and may live through the attacks.   Three mana to tap a creature is way above what I am used to playing (think Benalish Trapper or Ballynock Trapper, but it is consistent with more recent sets. The three damage to the head gives long game inevitability, which Boros may need. For that matter, the five color good stuff decks may also snap this up.
 
March of the Multitudes {X}{G}{W}{W}  M    Instant 
Convoke (Your creatures can help cast this spell. Each creature you tap while casting this spell pays for {1} or one mana of the creature’s color.) 
Create X 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens with lifelink.
 
I may just have a blind spot, but I am not seeing how getting a bunch of 1/1 lifelinkers is going to help outrun the red, blue and black fliers. Through all the 1/xs and in the face of common -1/-1 to all creatures effects. 
 
Mnemonic Betrayal {1}{U}{B}   M   Sorcery 
Exile all card from all opponents’ graveyards. You may cast those cards this turn, and you may spend mana as though it were mana of any type to cast those spells. At the beginning of the next end step, if any of those cards remain exiled, return them to their owner’s graveyards. 
Exile Mnemonic Betrayal.
 
This is not quite a Mythic effect: it is only going to be amazing if you have a ton of mana available. In most cases, I expect this to be comparable to a Rise from the Grave, and playable in the same cases Rise was. Best case scenario is that you have ten mana, get 3-4 small creatures and shrink the opponent’s undergrowth numbers. Or get one large creature – but you are paying 1UB plus that creature’s CMC for the privilege.   
 
Molderhulk{7}{B}{G}   U   Creature — Fungus Zombie 
Undergrowth — This spell costs {1} less to cast for each creature card in your graveyard. 
When Molderhulk enters the battlefield, return target land card from your graveyard to the battlefield. 
6/6
 
This seems fine, provided you can stock your graveyard. It is a 6/6 for eight, but in a decent surveil or undergrowth deck, this should cost a lot less. The extra land is gravy, but since lands don’t count towards undergrowth, it’s tasty gravy.
 
Nightveil Predator {U}{U}{B}{B}  U Creature — Vampire 
Flying, deathtouch, Hexproof 
3/3
 
This has the Dimir watermark, but I don’t see many Dimir abilities, other than good. A hexproof flier is going to be tough to deal with. Fine in Dimir decks, but the mana cost is probably too steep for five color good stuff, so Dimir can expect to get any that are opened.   
 
Niv-Mizzet, Parun{U}{U}{U}{R}{R}{R}   R   Legendary Creature — Dragon Wizard 
This spell can’t be countered. 
Flying

Whenever you draw a card, Niv-Mizzet, Parun deals 1 damage to any target.
Whenever a player casts an instant or sorcery spell, you draw a card. 
5/5

If you can cast this (a big if) and you untap with it, you should win. The card gives you plenty of inevitability, even if the opponent has a flying, hexproof deathtoucher.    A bomb I limited, if you can make the mana work. Also potentially playable in Standard – with the same caveat.
 
Notion Rain {1}{U}{B}   C   Sorcery 
Surveil 2, then draw two cards. Notion Rain deals 2 damage to you.
 
I would willingly pay 2 life and a card to draw two cards – I’ve done it before. Adding Surveil two makes it even better. This card will be playable in Surveil decks, and in five color good stuff decks. If Surveil decks are going to be playable in Standard, this card will be in them.

 
Ochran Assassin {1}{B}{G}  U Creature — Elf Assassin 

Deathtouch 
All creatures able to block Ochran Assassin do so. 
1/1
 
The Lure/ Deathtouch como is great – but only if the creature has enough power to kill the blockers. To massacre the opposing side, you need to pump this. However, this can also break a creature stall – just be wary of removal or bounce on the other side. They only have to stack blockers in front of this 1/1 if it lives to the declare blockers step.
 
Ral, Izzet Viceroy{3}{U}{R}   M   Legendary Planeswalker — Ral 
+1: Look at the top two cards of your library. Put one of them into your hand and the other into your graveyard. 
-3: Ral, Izzet Viceroy deals damage to target creature equal to the total number of instant and sorcery cards you own in exile and in your graveyard. 
-8: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, this emblem deals 4 damage to any target and you draw two cards.” 
Loyalty: 5
 
In limited, if you have anything to protect him, this will get out of hand quickly.   Drawing an extra cad a turn in an Izzet deck is great, and the emblem is insane. It’s a Planeswalkers – Planeswalkers are always fine in limited. In constructed – well, I don’t know. It seems playable, but I am not that good at brainstorming control decks.   An Izzet or Grixis control deck might want this, or might be better off with Nicol Bolas or Niv-Mizzet.
 
Rhizome Lurcher {2}{B}{G}   C   Creature — Fungus Zombie 
Undergrowth — Rhizome Lurcher enters the battlefield with a number of +1/+1 counters on it equal to the number of creature cards in your graveyard. 
2/2
 
Another payoff for having a lot of creatures in your graveyard. If you can do it, the payoffs seem good to great. However, I am still not seeing how you are going to fill that graveyard.   So far, the best option might be to fight the Surveil deck for black Surveil cards – but many of those are not creatures, and you cannot play too many non-creatures without diluting your undergrowth count.  
 
(Skyknight LegionnaireC {1}{R}{W}  
 
I had cut Skyknight Legionnaire from the reivew, since we all know what this does. It is just great in any Boros deck. However, this might be the card that make Mentor work. If you can put a counter or two on a Legionnaire, who cares if your throw away your 3/1s.
 
Sonic Assault{1}{U}{R}   C   Instant 
Tap target creature. Sonic Assault deals 2 damage to that creature’s controller. 
Jump-start
 
This seems fine. I just keep seeing Izzet cards I like, and Boros and Selesnya cards that seem underpowered. I could be wrong, but and maybe Boros does have enough to power through the blue cards.   You will probably know how wrong I am soon enough. But I suspect this is a decnt filler card in the Izzet spells deck, and unplayable in Constructed. 

 
Sumala Woodshaper  C {2}{G}{W} 

Creature — Elf Druid 
When Sumala Woodshaper enters the battlefield, look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a creature or enchantment card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. 
2/1
 
Really – the extra cards do not go to the graveyard? What is this card doing here? I am willing to play cards like Ancient Stirrings because they cost one mana, and all I’m giving up is the first turn. This comes down turn four, leaves a 2/1, and might not give me anything – or just something as bad as this. If it helped enabled undergrowth, great, but as written, this should lose its Golgari watermark.
 
Swarm Guildmage {B}{G}  U   Creature — Elf Shaman 
{4}{B}, {T}: Creatures you control get +1/+0 and gain menace until end of turn. 
{1}{G}, {T}: You gain 2 life. 
2/2
 
The Menace I like – it could help break a ground stall. The lifegain is at lest not completely overcosted, I guess. Or, at two mana and tap, maybe it is. I’ve been pretty down on most of the Guildmages (except Boros), but I would not be sad to have this in my Golgari decks.
 
Swathcutter Giant {4}{R}{W}   U Creature — Giant Soldier 
Vigilance 
Whenever Swathcutter Giant attacks, it deals 1 damage to each creature defending player controls. 
5/5
 
This is a sweet card. I am going to enjoy playing this – in my five color good stuff decks. At six mana, it doesn’t belong in Boros decks. If Boros decks get six mana – something they definitely don’t want – they should be dumping it into the Guildmage. 
 
Swiftblade Vindicator {R}{W}   R   Creature — Human Soldier 
Double strike, vigilance, trample 
1/1
 
Even if you gave it Lifelink, Haste and Banding, it would still be just a 1/1. (Well, I’d play it if it had Banding – no one knows how to play against Banding.)   You have to pump this to make it useful. You need a combat trick to get it through. Or counters. ...  Like Mentor counters.  ...  This is what Boros Mentor decks want to dump counters on.   Too bad it is a rare, and you will probably never see it turn one in limited. But maybe this is what Standard Mentor decks are supposed to build around. Seems a stretch, but I am not a Sligh / Burn / RDWs player. If someone can make it work, great. Cause everyone loves it when fast red decks are good.
 
Tajic, Legion's Edge{1}{R}{W}   R   Legendary Creature — Human Soldier 
Haste 
Mentor 
Prevent all noncombat damage that would be dealt to other creatures you control.
{R}{W}: Tajic, Legion’s Edge gains first strike until end of turn. 
3/2

 
My quick read was “sweet – he doesn’t just die to the first Pillarfield Ox around. Then I saw the “noncombat” and “other creatures. So, sure. Nice Mentor card, but I am still not convinced that Boros can get a critical mass. But I’m coming closer to being a believer.

Thief of Sanity {1}{U}{B}   R   Creature — Specter 
Flying 
Whenever Thief of Sanity deals combat damage to a player, look at the top three cards of that player’s library, exile one of them face down, then put the rest into their graveyard. For as long as that card remains exiled, you may look at it, you may cast it, and you may spend mana as though it were mana of any type to cast it. 
2/2
 
Man, I want to open this. Mill three, play their cards, flying specter. I love it. This is the first really cool specter since Hyppie. Ingrid is going to love this – way, way back when we started playing, she owned a Hypnotic Specter, and some Dark Rituals.   I owned one Lightning Bolt, so I really, really hated the Hyppie. Back to the present: windmill slam first pick.  It’s great. And you can keep casting the exiled cards even after Thief of Sanity leaves play.   Awesome card – and I hope I never have to face an opponent with it.
 
Thought Erasure {U}{B}  U Sorcery 
Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. 
Surveil 1.
 
The Surveil cards look decent – not amazing, but decent. However, I am beginning to see how the Surveil decks could waste so much time durdling around that Boros can run them down.
 
Thousand-Year Storm{4}{U}{R}    M    Enchantment 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, copy it for each other instant and sorcery spell you’ve cast before it this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.

 
This is super expensive, but if you can cast it, and have a decent selection of spells left, plus jump start spells in the graveyard, this could be nuts. Cast something like Dazzling Lights, then Opt and a copy Opt. Then Chemister’s Insight (with two copies) to draw six cards. Then Shock, and get three copies. Imagine dropping this on turn six in Modern, and untapping with a couple Rituals, a Sleight of Hand and a couple of Manamorphoses in hand.   Actually, just imagine untapping on turn seen when you deck just plays weird enchantments, mana acceleration and card draw. Magical Christmas land.

Trostani Discordant {3}{G}{W}   M    Legendary Creature — Dryad
Other creatures you control get +1/+1. 
When Trostani Discordant enters the battlefield, create two 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens with lifelink. 
At the beginning of your end step, each player gains control of all creatures they own. 
1/4

Have I mentioned that Wizards seems to staple random effects onto cards in this set?   And is my five mana Mythic really just a 1/4 that arrives with a couple 1/1s and a pump everything ability? Is that enough?   I’m trying to like this Trostani, but can’t I just have the Summoner?   Please? With convoke on top?  

Truefire Captain {R}{R}{W}{W}   U   Creature — Human Knight 
Mentor 
Whenever Truefire Captain is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to target player. 
4/3
 
Okay, now I get it. This can attack, can Mentor, and it is going to go to Boros decks. Five color good stuff decks can’t handle the mana requirements, so Boros might see it table. When this attacks, it will take a lot to kill it = and that might mean that is hits back. Even three damage can matter. Of course, bounce and Terror effects don’t care, but this is an ucommon. You might have two.
 
Undercity Uprising {2}{B}{G}   C   Sorcery 
Creatures you control gain deathtouch until end of turn. Target creature you control fights target creature you don’t control.

 
Maybe I can splash this in a Selesnya deck. It would be nice to have a wave of 1/1lifelinkers with deathtouch on the attack. At the very worst, it probably means your worst creature trades with their best one. In most cases, it also means that combat gets really messy for your opponent. Fight cards are pretty good, even at four mana, and this one means your creature wins – or at least draws – the fight. 

Underrealm Lich {3}{B}{G}   M   Creature — Zombie Elf Shaman 
If you would draw a card, instead look at the top three cards of your library, then put one into your hand and the rest into your graveyard. 
Pay 4 life: Underrealm Lich gains indestructible until end of turn. Tap it. 
4/3
 
This does a great job of powering undergrowth. You will also be looking at three cards every turn. That’s the sort of thing that makes Jace, TMS good. (Okay, Jace draws an extra card, but Jace is beyond busted.)   About the only downside is that you could deck yourself. This seems like a reason to go into Gogari.
 
Unmoored Ego {1}{U}{B}   R   Sorcery 
Choose a card name. Search target opponent’s graveyard, hand, and library for up to four cards with that name and exile them. That player shuffles their library, then draws a card for each card exiled from their hand this way.
 
This seems like a potent sideboard card for Eternal format. It is probably not something you will want in Limited, unless they have an insane bomb you cannot beat any other way. Even if you get that card, most of the time you will pull that card out of the library, where they may never have drawn it, but you have given them an extra card.   
 
Vraska, Golgari Queen{2}{B}{G}  M    Legendary Planeswalker — Vraska 
+2: You may sacrifice another permanent. If you do, you gain 1 life and draw a card. 
-3: Destroy target nonland permanent with converted mana cost 3 or less. 
-9: You get an emblem with “Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game.” 
Loyalty: 4
 
It’s a planeswalker. It’s great if you can protect it. Note that the +2 ability does not require you to sacrifice anything: you can just get the two counters. 
 
Wee Dragonauts {1}{U}{R}   U    Creature — Faerie Wizard 
Flying 
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Wee Dragonauts gets +2/+0 until end of turn. 
1/3
 
This reprint is the sort of thing Izzet spells decks want. It just flies over the little Soldier dudes.
 
Worldsoul Colossus {X}{G}{W}   U   Creature — Elemental 
Convoke 
Worldsoul Colossus enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on it. 
0/0
 
How big can you really expect this to get?   And when it does, what is it going to do? It trips over weenie chumpblockers, gets bounced a lot, and dies to most black removal.   I have been playing with Craw Wurm equivalents for 20 years. I don’t like big fatties with no evasion. If only it had trample… Actually, with trample it is probably busted. 
 
Fresh-Faced Recruit {1}{R/W}   C   Creature — Human Soldier 
As long as it’s your turn, Fresh-Faced Recruit has first strike. 
2/1
 
In this list, this is about where I have to admit that Boros probably has the tools to make Mentor work. Pumping this guy even once seems good, twice would make him really tough to deal with.  And if Boros is good, this set could be really interesting. 
 
Whisper Agent {1}{U/B}{U/B}   U     Creature — Human Rogue 
Flash 
When Whisper Agent enters the battlefield, surveil 1. 
3/2
 
Remember when I talked about the Instant speed ways to Surveil, that could turn on deathtouch in Darkblade Agent?   Add one more.

 

SPLIT CARDS

 

Note: these are classic split cards. No Fuse, no casting one from the graveyard. You choose on side, and just cast that side. That said, most of the sides are pretty good. 

 

Assure{G/W}{G/W} R Instant
Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. It gains indestructible until end of turn.
Assemble{4}{G}{W}   R   Instant
Create three 2/2 green and white Elf Knight creature tokens with vigilance.
So you can save one creature, or get three knights for six mana. Both of these are reasonable. Too bad it is a rare – Selesnya decks need a card like this.
Connive{2}{U/B}{U/B}  R   Sorcery
Gain control of target creature with power 2 or less.
Concoct{3}{U}{B}   R Sorcery
Surveil 3, then return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield.

 

 
The way these cards are structured is interesting.   One side uses hybrid mana, so it can be played by a variety of decks. Connive could be played in an Izzet, Dimir or Golgari deck with jus normal mana for that Guild. Concoct would require Izzet or Golgari to splash a third color. The card itself is also reasonably interesting.  I suspect Izzet and Golgari would be willing to splash for Concoct if they can get their hands on it

 

 
Discovery{1}{U/B}  U   Sorcery
Surveil 2, then draw a card.
Dispersal{3}{U}{B}   U    Instant
Each opponent returns a nonland permanent they control with the highest converted mana cost among permanents they control to its owner’s hand, then discards a card.

 

Once again, this looks like a solid card for Dimir or Golgari. Dispersal is not Recoil, but it will bounce Hexproof creatures, like the last card in this review.

 

 
Expansion{U/R}{U/R} R   Instant
Copy target instant or sorcery spell with converted mana cost 4 or less. You may choose new targets for the copy.
Explosion{X}{U}{U}{R}{R}   
Instant
Explosion deals X damage to any target. Target player draws X cards.
 

 

 
Expansion seems pretty meh, mainly because it is really situational. We have had plenty of Fork effects before.   Explosion, on the other hand, is great. Wizards could see that, and made the mana really restrictive. For good reason. Image if every five color good stuff deck could cast this.

 

 
Find{B/G}{B/G}  R Sorcery
Return up to two target creature cards from your graveyard to your hand.
Finality{4}{B}{G}  R   Sorcery
You may put two +1/+1 counters on a creature you control. Then all creatures get -4/-4 until end of turn.

 

 
Another card that will be great in five color good stuff, as well as Golgari. Finality answers the Mentor decks and the Selesnya horde.  The only question is whether the five color decks can survive until turn six.

 

 
Integrity {R/W}   U   Instant
Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
Intervention {2}{R}{W}   U Instant
Intervention deals 3 damage to any target and you gain 3 life.

 

 
This is the sort of thing Boros needs – a combat trick for the early game, or a decent removal spell later. I’m a believer.

 

 
Invert {U/R} U Instant
Switch the power and toughness of each of up to two target creatures until end of turn.
Invent {4}{U}{R}   U Instant
Search your library for an instant card and/or a sorcery card, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle your library.

 

 
This card has one important purpose: killing walls.   Invent is nice, but killing two walls for one mana is better. If you are Boros, consider this.   This might see play as a one-of in Grixis or UB control decks in Standard. 

 

 
Response{R/W}{R/W}   R   Instant
Response deals 5 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
Resurgence{3}{R}{W}   R Sorcery
Creatures you control gain first strike and vigilance until end of turn. After this main phase, there is an additional combat phase followed by an additional main phase.

 

 
Another solid Boros card that will also be snapped up by Selesnya decks.

 

 
Status {B/G}   U   Instant
Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains deathtouch until end of turn.
Statue {2}{B}{G}   U Instant
Destroy target artifact, creature, or enchantment.

 

Putrefy has always been a highly playable card. Statue costs one more mana, but also kills enchantments. I’d happily play just that side. The Status side is also useful.   It can make sure your chump blocker kills what its chumping. In some cases, like when my 3/3 is blocked by your 3/5, Status can make sure my creature wins the fight. This seems great in limited – certainly worth stretching your mana to play in sealed if you are already black or green.   It may also see play in Standard, if Golgari-based decks are a thing.

 

ARTIFACTS

 

Boros Locket {3}   C   Artifact 
{T}: Add {R} or {W}. 
{R/W}{R/W}{R/W}{R/W}, {T}, Sacrifice Boros Locket: Draw two cards.
 
We have one for each Guild in the set:  Boros, Dimir, Golgari, Izzet and Selesnya. All are decent mana fixing early, and can be cashed in for cards later. At two mana, these would be great. Three mana is more of an investment - the sort of investment you cannot afford in fast formats. We will have to see whether Guilds of Ravnica draft is that fast. Sealed should be slow enough to make these playable. In constructed, these could see play in control decks. Hedron Archive did.
 
Chamber Sentry {X}   R Artifact Creature — Construct 
Chamber Sentry enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it. 
{X}, {T}, Remove X +1/+1 counters from Chamber Sentry: It deals X damage to any target. 
{W}{U}{B}{R}{G}: Return Chamber Sentry from your graveyard to your hand. 
0/0
 
This is not the second coming of Walking Ballista – not even close. It does not have an add counters ability, and removing counters requires mana and tapping.   In five color good stuff decks, this could be the world’s slowest machine gun. In most draft or sealed formats, this will likely come into play with 2-4 counters, and you will not be able to recover it. In five color good stuff deck, though, this does give you inevitability. In constructed, this seems way too slow. Yes, you could kill someone, but it would take 40 mana and at least five turns.   In a format in which Banefire is legal, why would you do that? 
 
Chromatic Lantern {3}  R   Artifact 
Lands you control have “{T}: Add one mana of any color.” 
{T}: Add one mana of any color.
 
This is the ultimate mana fixer. If five color good stuff is a viable archetype, this is a first pick. Even in three color decks, this is both mana fixing and acceleration. Great card for the set. In Standard, it could see play, if the format is slow. In Modern and beyond – well, it is already legal and sees no play.
 
Gatekeeper Gargoyle {6}   U   Artifact Creature — Gargoyle 
Flying 
Gatekeeper Gargoyle enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each Gate you control. 
3/3
 
You need two or three gates to be happy playing this for six.   If you have more, this is great. This is something to pick up if you are getting passed a lot of gates in draft, but don’t count on it. Not constructed playable.
 
Glaive of the Guildpact {2}   U Artifact — Equipment 
Equipped creature gets +1/+0 for each Gate you control and has vigilance and menace. 
Equip {3}
 
Another payoff for having gates. This is not cheap – it costs a card and two mana to play, and three mana to equip. It is not really exciting unless you have two or more gates in play. Given that in a typical limited game, you will see a third to one half of your deck, that means you want to have at least six gates in your deck to consider this. Even with six gates in the deck, is +2, vigilance and menace worth this?   I sort of doubt it.
 
Rampaging Monument {4}   U   Artifact Creature — Cleric 
Trample 
Rampaging Monument enters the battlefield with three +1/+1 counters on it. 
Whenever you cast a multicolored spell, put a +1/+1 counter on Rampaging Monument. 
0/0
 
Seems fine if you have ten or so multicolored cards in your deck. If not, this is at the very worst a 3/3 for three.   And it does have trample. In constructed I would expect decks to have better options.
 
Wand of Vertebrae {1}   U   Artifact 
{T}: Put the top card of your library into your graveyard.

 {2}, {T}, Exile Wand of Vertebrae: Shuffle up to five target cards from your graveyard into your library. 

This both feeds the Surveil and Undergrowth decks, and helps make sure you are not going to be decked by Surveil. The Wand seems rally important to making undergrowth decks work, and I expect those decks to snap it up.   This could also see some play in Constructed, as a way to fil you graveyard, but that assumes Standard is slow enough to for that to matter.   The wand will not see play in prison / mill decks, since it can only affect your library.  

 

LANDS

 

Gateway Plaza  C   Land — Gate 
Gateway Plaza enters the battlefield tapped. 
When Gateway Plaza enters the battlefield, sacrifice it unless you pay {1}. 
{T}: Add one mana of any color.
 
We have seen this card before, under names like Rupture Spire. They are important in multicolored sets. This version is even better, since it is type “Gate,” which means it triggers those things that need gates. 
 
Guildmages' Forum  R  - Land  
{T}: Add {C}. 
{1}, {T}: Add one mana of any color. If that mana is spent on a multicolored creature spell, that creature enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.
 
This should play well in five color good stuff decks in limited. I am reserving my opinion on constructed. To use this, you have to be willing to pay an additional mana to put a counter on a multicolored creature. This assumes that you are playing a multicolored creature deck that is more concerned with a counter than fast development. I’m not even certain that multicolored creature decks will exist, much less that this will be the answer. It could be, but it needs to be tested. A lot.
 
We have seen all of these before.  Two colored lands that enter the battlefield tapped. These will likely be necessary evils in Standard, and high picks in limited. In past Ravnica sets, five color good stuff has been a common archetype, and the gates have powered that archetype. In this set, cards like Guild Summit (draw cards based on gates) will make gates even more valuable.  
 
I understand that we will get a Gate in place of the basic land in these packs. That’s helpful – it means 24 Gates per draft. They should still be moderately high picks, but there will be enough around. Just grab the ones in your colors before the five color good stuff decks get them.

 
Overgrown TombSacred Foundry,  Steam VentsTemple Garden, Watery Grave  

Once upon a time, Hallowed Fountain was a $20+ card online. Now they have been reprinted often enough that that will not be a problem, but the lands are still good. Ravnica is a multicolored set, so you need lands that produce multiple colors. 
 
Impervious Greatwurm{7}{G}{G}{G} – SPECIAL - Creature — Wurm 
Convoke 
Indestructible 
16/16
 
This is the buy-a-box promo in the paper world. Online, it is only found in treasure chests. It is big and clunky – and does not trample. It is also not Hexproof, so this can be exiled by any number of cards in the set and in Standard. I have a green Commander deck that will enjoy slapping a Lightning Greaves and Rancor on this, but I question whether this will see Standard play. If a deck can open with plays like Llanowar into Steel Leaf Champion into Nullhide Ferox into Ghalta, do you need Impervious Greatwurm? Probably not.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

The more I worked on this review, the more I like the set.  That does not always happen. I’m now wondering if I can sneak out to additional paper prerelease this weekend, in addition to the ones I’m running, and the one I plan to play in. Also, by the time you read this, MTGO prerelease leagues will be live. Which means you may have more experience with the set thanI have. I can’t play until I finish this article.
 
Boros: I’m convinced. I kept finding more cards that fit into the deck, and more commons – like Skyknight Legionnaire and Fresh-faced Recruit – that will really benefit from being Mentored. Yes, a lot of the Mentor cards will die to chump blockers, but they may train something that won’t.  Also, Boros has enough combat tricks in the set that blocking a 2/1 with your 1/3 or 1/4 is not free or safe. I had a lot of doubts early on, but I expect to get run over by Boros fairly often in limited this time around.
 
Dimir: I really like some of the Dimir cards, and I love Surveil. I started out really high on this Guild, but my enthusiasm waned.  Dimir does a ton of great things – but it does them fairly slowly. Bounce your dude and Surveil is sweet, but merely a delaying tactic. You cannot delay forever.  Wizards seems to have built some tension into the Guild, and it should play out fairly well. Dimir may be able to win the long game, but it is not certain a Dimir deck car get to the long game.
 
Izzet: Izzet looks to have a ton of great spells, and cards like Crackling Drake are super sweet.   If they draw those pump fliers quickly, plus some counters to protect them and enough removal to clear the way, that seems unstoppable. However, spells decks need to draw the right spells at the right time. They also need just enough creatures to gum up the ground.  I suspect drafting Izzet will take some time to master, but will reward you when you do it right.

 
Golgari: If you can fill your graveyard with creatures, the archetype should be really powerful. I’m just not sure how easy filling your graveyard will be. I suspect Golgari drafters will need to take black Surveil creatures early and often, but we will see. GB is one of my favorite archetypes – I hope I can make it work.

Selesnya: This is the archetype I have the most trouble with. I remember drafting it, back in original Ravnica, and having very little success with it. I also have trouble believing in go-wide strategies when ou are doing that with 1/1s, in a format with Nausea effects at common. Maybe those effects are all that widespread, and maybe Selesnya can play around of power through them.  Selesnya does have a 4/5 flier and some decent creatures, but I’m still really skeptical. But I’ve been wrong before. I hope I’m wrong on this one.  

Overall: After reading, thinking about and reviewing the entire set, I’m more enthused than I was going in.   That’s actually fairly unusual. I have come out of reviews thinking that the set is unbalanced, or self-evident, or going to be another Mercadian Masques (sorry, Joshua, but my memories of the set is tons of mediocre creatures and abilities, plus Rebels. Not good.)  Now I’m going to wrap this up and get it posted, so Joshua has a couple hours to work on it.
 
The regular State of the Program will be back next week, with thoughts on GerryT’s boycott of Worlds and more.
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO

 

 

4 Comments

How many colors by Sensei at Fri, 09/28/2018 - 17:05
Sensei's picture

RAV was all about wedges+shards, RTR less so.

I wonder how this will play out. I don't see playing Cackling Drake in a tri color deck. Izzet worth it? Probably not

Might want to re-read Pelt by Claw at Fri, 09/28/2018 - 17:06
Claw's picture

Might want to re-read Pelt Collector

Thanks for this!! by Alphi at Fri, 09/28/2018 - 19:02
Alphi's picture

Thanks for this!!

Gate Deck by IYankemDDS at Sat, 09/29/2018 - 15:52
IYankemDDS's picture

The Gate Deck was my go-to by the end of full block Return to Ravnica. I imagine the gatekeepers were really helpful, but maybe after I try some other things, I'll see what I can do with it.

Thanks for your work on the set review!