Magic 2013 review for my limited card pool, part 2
This is gonna be another long ride, so let me just post the link to part 1 and get into the action:
Attended Knight – a fine card, but just not interesting enough for me. There’s a difference between a card which provides you with multiple creatures and a creature with an additional 1/1 tacked on, and I found the latter doesn’t play that great.
Guardian Lions – a 5-mana defensive card. No thanks.
Healer of the Pride – a 4-mana creature not even really great on defense, but in some situations able to drag out a game indefinitely. Repeated lifegain is annoying and shouldn’t come by too easy or efficient.
Odric, Master Tactician – It seems some players love these cards which, after reaching a certain threshold, just win. I hate them. Note that Odric is already a very efficient body by itself.
Rhox Faithmender – White really has a theme in Magic 2013 consisting of trying to win because your opponent falls asleep. Just another card bent on dragging out a game indefinitely.
Sublime Archangel – already too powerful without the third ability, beyond broken with it.
Touch of the Eternal – And yet another card to stall the game endlessly. Just disgusting.
War Falcon – I very sparingly use cards referring to two different tribes ( I believe Stonybrook Banneret is actually the only one left), because they force me to use both tribes to make sense. Also, I retired the knight tribe, and soldiers don’t need this.
Augur of Bolas – this is just too random, and other than – for example – Faerie Mechanist, doesn’t support its theme both ways. Will play badly.
Spelltwine – too unreliable and quirky.
Switcheroo – this would make sense in Red, since Red lacks outright control effects (and has an abundance of little dorks to spare), but Blue can just steal creatures and tends to play less of its own. Also, most blue control effects I use can later be undone with enchantment removal, but this can’t. Less reliable but more frustrating for your opponent – I pass.
Diabolic Revelation – a single tutor effect is already something to watch out for, since tutoring tends to make games revolve around the same cards every time, but in an environment without clear bombs will often play as a kind of toolbox effect and reward skill and creativity. Tutoring for several cards, however, will nearly always set up the same (winning) sequence of play. Undesirable.
Disciple of Bolas – Depending on the game state, this can be a card you cannot afford to cast or a card winning you the game on the spot. Interestingly, Momentous Fall, while similar, takes the edges from both of these extremes, being more flexible but not quite as advantageous (since it doesn’t provide you with a creature). If Black needed card advantage as badly as Green does, I might give it a second thought, but it doesn’t.
Public Execution – this is basic, massively overcosted black creature removal with a bonus which will very seldom be of any relevance. Not useful at all to me.
Veilborn Ghoul – Black has numerous options to recur creatures, for example Necrosavant and Haunted Crossroads. The Ghoul sits in a strange spot – inefficient in every game revolving around tempo, but providing nearly unbeatable inevitability in really long games. It doesn’t make the cut for me.
Vile Rebirth – okay, it can be a cheap 2/2 with flash in Black – is that a good thing? I’d probably only use it as graveyard hate in a cube, and for that I have much more reliable alternatives in that color which do not only remove creatures (Offalsnout, Cremate).
Xathrid Gorgon – slow, hard to deal with and completely taking over the game in a few turns without actually ending it. What a terrible design!
Chandra’s Fury – does two things at once but none of them well. I prefer more elegant designs.
Firewing Phoenix – 4/2 flying for 3R is already as good as I find acceptable in this color. The relatively cheap return cost pushes the card far out.
Krenko, Mob Boss – even though MTGSalvation posters are (as could be expected) too stupid to see this, Krenko is of course a goblin lord! However, he is a card of the kind “slow, but spinning out of control fast”, which I hate. 4 mana isn’t nearly expensive enough for a card which can win a game on its own.
Mindclaw Shaman – extremely swingy, which I abhor.
Slumbering Dragon – Aside from shenanigans involving counters directly on it, just another of those cards punishing an opponent for trying to end the game. I suppose the EDH crowd loves this stuff…
Thundermaw Hellkite – Just to put things into perspective: I’m not going to obsolete Fire Elemental. This dragon is beyond all reasonable power levels in limited.
Boundless Realms – something is really, really wrong when players pay 7 mana for a ramp spell – you ramp up to 7 mana to end games! But of course, I know, there is EDH, where games start with 7-mana creatures… This is completely pointless in limited.
Elderscale Wurm – And yet ANOTHER card preserving your life total ad infinitum. Well, at least this one enables you to actually end the game in the meantime, but Green has much less ridiculous ways to do so at its disposal.
Fungal Sprouting – why not just put a fixed number of tokens into play? Why make this card that situational? I usually avoid this mechanic (power matters) and this is no exception.
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker – I’m wary of tutors, and this sets off my doesn’t-play-well-alarm – it will likely almost always find the same creature each game, and in Magic 2013 limited, most likely an especially annoying one. But even aside from the tutoring issue, I would never want a card for my pool which forces me to analyze every cube I build for the distribution of several keywords.
Primal Huntbeast – hexproof. Nuff said.
Timberpack Wolf – name-calling, specifically its own, is a no-go for my singleton cubes. Also, this kind of card drafts horribly.
Yeva, Nature’s Herald – one 4/4 for 4 with flash is strong enough. Giving all your green creatures flash just makes attacking too hard for your opponent.
Yeva’s Forcemage – a little boring, especially since the bonus will in many situations be wasted.
Trading Post – there’s way too much going on here (and I’m not allowing 0/1 tokens). This card will, in casual drafts, often have two players reading it for 5 minutes, then have one player overwhelmed with options read it again every turn.
So, those were the cards I do NOT want for my pool – now to the ones who made it (still in order of the pictures in the card gallery – this is no chart):
1. Captain’s Call – the next step after Raise the Alarm, maybe a bit on the expensive side, but still very playable. It will push out my old favorite Icatian Town, which is a bit clumsy and produces tokens with a silly creature type.
2. Downpour – it’s a shame that Blue does this better than Red (compare Unearthly Blizzard), but things just are that way, and it’s the red card which is underpowered (I only keep it because of arcane). This is perfectly elegant, typically blue and in just the right power spot.
3. Talrand, Sky Summoner – I shudder to think what a blue deck untapping with this could do in constructed, but in limited, it is a really nice “lord” for the sorcery/instant theme, although certainly at the upper end of the acceptable power spectrum.
4. Talrand’s Invocation – great, elegant token producer.
5. Void Stalker – so, Blue is getting ever worse countermagic, but is now allowed to have creature removal instead? I should make sure I get my hands on one of those before everyone realizes just how strong this 2-drop is. However, in limited, it is important that all decks have access to creature removal (see Avacyn Restored as an example for an environment where removal is too sparse – shudder!), and this makes more sense in Blue then Psionic Blast, which I retired for that reason.
6. Cower in Fear – a simple effect missing in Magic way too long (at least in Black). -1/-1 isn’t so strong that it needs to be symmetrical. This will push out Shrivel and Stench of Decay as a nearly completely superior alternative.
7. Crippling Blight – a Weakness version that actually makes sense! Usually, -1/-1 either kills a creature or is not worth spending a card on it. This is an ingenious design!
8. Mark of the Vampire – A simple, useful lifelink aura was missing, and Black could do with another playable aura intended to be used on its own creatures. Also, good power level here.
9. Murder – yes, this was also missing. Black could already kill almost anything in a number of ways for two mana, now it can finally kill anything for three mana!
10. Cleaver Riot – I wrecked my mind a long time to find reasons why this isn’t just a much stronger Relentless Assault. There are reasons, but they’re not convincing at all. Relentless Assault was always disappointing. This won’t be.
11. Dragon Hatchling – another card which was just missing. Surprisingly strong for a red common creature, but Red really can use it, especially in the 2-mana slot.
12. Smelt – why did that take so long? (And why can’t it exile the artifact to line up with Erase?) I retired Shatter LONG ago but didn’t have a perfect replacement – Smash to Smithereens is fine, but shows an aggressive bias instead of general utility. Now I have it. Incidentally, this also means that I no longer need Crush.
13. Sentinel Spider – I already explained it in the comments: I don’t like Spiders much, since they tend to bog the game down. However, this one allows you to attack while still protecting you from flyers – it’s actually an inferior Serra Angel (which is okay in Green). I’ll take the opportunity to add a big spider to my card pool which doesn’t play terribly.
14. Chronomaton – I am SO happy about this card! Energizer was just too bad, and I really missed a useful generic artifact 1-drop. This is it!
15. Staff of Nin – artifact-based card draw which is more efficient than Jayemdae Tome is a useful tool. For 6 mana, the additional ability isn’t too strong. I didn’t intend to at first, but now that I think about it, I will not just use the opportunity to retire Urza’s Blueprints from my pool (very clumsy, and not needed for an echo theme at all), but also get rid of Mind’s Eye – a card I love, but which punishes some cards randomly too harsh (cantrips and card filtering like Compulsive Research) and is otherwise not an interesting alternative to the Staff.
16. Cathedral of War – I’m always on the lookout for good designs of colorless lands, which make drafting and deckbuilding more interesting. This one’s really nice, even if not used in a cube with an explicit exalted theme.
And that was it! Remember that, as a reaction to the ever-growing amount of available cards, my standards have become really high in the meantime. I ruled out quite a good number of cards which play perfectly fine in limited, but weren’t among the very best options. Nonetheless, a core set is usually a great source for generic, useful cards, and while this wouldn’t be true in almost any other area, in this aspect Magic 2013 hasn’t disappointed me!