Tag Archives: Pre-Release

MTG Reflection: Battle for Zendikar Pre-Release

Conduit of Ruin

A Tale of Two Local Game Shops

For those of you who have somehow missed the bus Battle for Zendikar’s Pre-Release, it was last weekend, and it was one hell of a time.  There has been a lot of hate in the MTGFinance community going on, and claims like the only value will be the Expeditions.  Today I would like to talk about a totally different value I found, and the BFZ Pre-Releases I attended over the weekend.

After playing Magic for some time there are a lot of things we forget, and of which I was reacquainted with this past weekend.   First, we trekked out Saturday to play at a different shop.  There are three things I want to point out of which I had forgotten about: One, not all shops are created equal.  Two, not all decks are created equal.   Keep these two things in mind.  Thirdly, cracking packs is always fun.  That last one isn’t as relevant.

New Game Shop

It’s always fun going to a new game shop.  It was a nice change from the typical MTG shop I go to. I opened a ton of value you can see here on Twitter.


Now the thing I love most about the game is how things can be very unpredictable.  Honestly, I thought my deck was going to be terrible.  I thought there was no way in hell, my Red/Black non-ramp Eldrazi 5+ 6 drops deck was going to cut it.  I had pretty much chalked the day up to: “Awesome I opened an Expedition, my blessings were counted for the day.  Time to go home.” Kind of a day.  I was proven wrong, and even more so realized how fun it is to play “BIG ASS CREATURES”.

Once, my Eldrazi’s were up in place they fed themselves. I also have a love hate relationship with Bane of Bala Ged.  Bane is a lovely sight when you aren’t defending against him.  Another card that really worked well for me was Conduit of Ruin.  The conclusion I came to with Eldrazis, is if my opponent didn’t have any to match the might of my own, or the removal…they were toast!  I also, never ran my Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.  I probably could have actually cast him every game too. As you can see this turned out to somehow be a killer deck.

The thing is I don’t actually know if the deck was really that good.  I mean my friend, and I met in the Finals, split the packs and went home.  However, it left something lingering with me.  Did I actually build a good deck, or was it the level of players at the shop?  I think I may have to go back a few times to find this out, but I do know that the shop doesn’t host weekly either.  It was also a nice experience being able to help players learn about the new mechanics.  I was asked what is exile anyway? In short I responded with, “Exile works like a second graveyard.”  If anyone has a better explanation I would love to see it in comments.


My Game Shop

I feel like everyone has that game shop that they call home, at least the one they go to the most.  Anyway Sunday went way better than planned on the cracked packs. I didn’t expect to get anything good because Saturday had gone so well.  However, I was wrong.  I pulled Ob Nixilis Reignited as my promo, and my buddy pulled Ulamog as his.

Today was not my decks day though.  I ran a red/white ally deck. Surprisingly, I had a lot of cards for it. Two Lantern Scouts, Dragonmaster Outcast, Radiant Flames, Angelic Captain, and a ton of Allys.  I also had a Retreat to Emeria, and loved hitting two for ones with my evolving wilds and cracking them during combat to spike all my troops.  A lot of players did not see this coming.  So, keep it a secret between us.  Alas, my day ended going 1-1-2, and my buddies did go as well either.

Again, I put myself into a similar question.  Was my deck really that bad or were there just better players here?  Typically this game shop I consider to have decent players, which play a lot and know the mechanics of the game.  They also invest a lot of their time outside of the shops learning as well as prepping for things like releases.

Can’t Anticipate Everything

Overall, thank you Wizards for a fun new Block.  The Pre-Release was a great gaming experience, and nice change in format.  I also, need to remember that even if you think your deck is going to be amazing or be terrible, you can’t fully anticipate the outcome of the day.  With that we may never know if I build good decks, or was it the fact that everyone showed up with their “A” game.  Enjoy the new Battle for Zendikar block, and if you didn’t catch the Pre-Release at least try and get out for the Release.  I believe you will get amazing value with your time, even if the cards don’t end up being worth much.

Battle for Zendikar Archetypes: Tokens

Unified Front


For the next installment of our Battle for Zendikar: Limited Archetypes series I’m going to talk about token strategies.  Everyone is perfectly aware that there are Eldrazi Scion in the set, and there are also a couple other interesting token-themed cards in the set.  It’s actually difficult to put a specific color to this archetype, but you can expect it to include some combination of Green, Black, and White.  I actually foresee in many cases have a white or black splash.  It’s worth noting at the front that the order I’m posting these isn’t in an order of power level.

The main reason tokens is the next archetype is that often times in draft you see a couple early picks and you start leaning in a direction.  I consider this a fallback option for when Ramp or Converge isn’t coming together but you have some of the pieces.  This is both a viable archetype on its own and is what many aspiring ramp/converge decks will end up switching to late in pack one or early pack 2.



This is likely the core of the deck because it provides help in the splashing department and has the largest array of token generators.  Importantly for Green it also has a couple reliable ways to pump your team and start converting the tokens into pressure.  Cards like Tajuru Beastmaster and Tajuru Warcaller are the primary ways to do so.


Black has a sacrifice theme and that will play heavily into the tokens deck that features Black as a core color.  While it lacks premium token generation, the sacrifice outlets provide tempo positive ways to clear out problematic creatures and start pecking away. Bone Splinters being the premiere option here.


White has both some pump and ways to generate tokens.  However, if white is one of the core colors in your tokens deck you’re likely to also be more of a curve out Allies deck with the ability to make tokens.  Rather than strictly a tokens deck, but if you’re splashing for white you’ve found yourself with cards like Retreat to Emeria and Unified Front.  Unified Front being one of the reasons to splash here.  Normally splashing for a sorcery speed make three 1/1s isn’t exciting but here Retreat and Unified front provide multiple things.  Retreat works as a pump spell and both cards produce Allies, which can get additional triggers off of both your keyword Rally cards and the Rally pump creatures in Green.


Blue gets an honorable mention as a possible player in this archetype strictly because of Ruination Guide.  I think that’s a key card that could signal a GU player to start considering tokens more highly.  Turning all of your Eldrazi Scion into 2/1s is a big game as they start trading with real cards.

Key Cards:

Despite being slightly redundant the core cards here are mostly in green and are the big time token generators.  Eyeless Watcher, Call the Scions, and Brood Monitor are all key players that put multiple bodies on the table all along the curve.  Brood Monitor seems slow for a tokens deck but the reality is that this tokens archetype is likely to play like a mid-range deck.  If you’re in white early Retreat to Emeria is a huge player here as well.  It also combos really well with Fertile Thicket which can help you get to Brood Monitor and set you up for a huge pump from Retreat or just a new set of tokens.  If you find yourself in black it’s important that you find the removal early.  Bone Splinters, as mentioned, is great here and Swamp Surge is a late pick-up that works as a win condition is you’re light on creature pump.

Signal Cards:

If I were drafting this I would be looking for the Rally pump cards as late pickups as well as Unified Front, Bone Splinters, and cards that are just weak in every other deck like Inspired Charge and Cliffside Lookout, both pump spells that no other deck wants.  The key difference in signal cards between this and ramp is that you can pick up impactful cards late in packs.  Retreat to Emeria is an interesting one because I think it is likely to float to the middle of many packs, but I could be underestimating how much a non-tokens deck wants that card.


I don’t think there’s a single first pick that makes me really want to be the tokens drafter, but this is a fine option when you start to see that the archetype is open.  Keep your eyes peeled for the signal cards in the back half of packs and prioritize token generators, especially the Eldrazi Scion versions so that you always have an out to move back into ramp.  I think this deck will manifest with a few different color combinations and that will be one of it’s strengths. In my opinion, BFZ doesn’t boast one clear cut tokens strategy but has the card quality and depth to let drafters build their own tokens deck.  This may not be the strongest archetype in the format, but it’s one you’re likely to play against and may end up drafting a time or two.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions, comments, or a specific archetype request let me know in the comments.


Battle for Zendikar Archetypes: Green Ramp

Eldrazi Scion

Green Ramp

Battle for Zendikar was just fully spoiled this past week, and this set has a few clear cut archetypes.  It’s hard to get an accurate read on how strong each will be right away, but at the very least we can be aware of what archetypes are really looking for what cards and what cards should signal that an archetype is open.

I’m starting with Green Ramp because with the Prerelease events this weekend Sealed is going to be on every one’s mind and ramp lends itself very well to most sealed formats and should be a strong option this weekend.

Color Pairs:


I expect Blue to be the natural pair for Ramp decks because it also has a couple excellent Eldrazi Scion generators with Eldrazi Skyspawner and Incubator Drone to help ramp and stabilize the board.  Another all star for a G/U ramp strategy is Murk Strider, it isn’t the easiest to enable this card in G/U but if you can this is an example of just one great tempo spell this color combination can use to buy time to get their large threats online.


The great thing about Red as a ramp pair is having access to the many great removal options Red brings to bear in the new format.  Cards like Stonefury and Rolling Thunder are great versatile answers that scale great with the additional mana Ramp is going to generate.  There are other great cheap removal options in Red.  The one drawback to this color combination is a lack of quality cheap threats to stabilize the ground game, many of these threats are aggressively costed and are much better when turned sideways then they are when left back as blockers.  For this reason R/G can find itself with many of the creatures that get pumped with Landfall triggers and perform as a midrange beatdown deck.


Similarly to Red, Black has solid removal.  It lacks the versatile answers that red provides but has a couple unconditional removal spells that have the upside of exiling the creatures they kill to enable cards like Void Attendant that both stabilize the ground and help ramp up.  Black also has a strong tokens sub-theme that can be exploited for additional win conditions.  Catacomb Sifter is a perfect example of a card in this color combination that helps ramp and provides fantastic card selection when sacrificing Scion to ramp.


This is likely the worst color pair for a pure ramp strategy just because white is more aggressively slanted.  However, White does bring some solid removal to bear and ways to pump Eldrazi Scion and capitalize on going wide.  There are also great Awaken options like Sheer Drop in white that are great mana sinks for a ramp deck that hasn’t found its big threats.


Green provides great fixing in the format and in Sealed you can expect to splash a third color very often.  Blue is the best color pair and a decent splash color, although Red/Black provide the splashable removal these decks will be looking for.  I would be looking for ideally a GU shell splashing either Red or Black for some versatile answers to ensure the deck can consistently reach the late game.

Core Cards:    

The highest priority commons are those that generate Eldrazi Scion.   Eyeless Watcher and Call the Scions ramp and provide multiple bodies for pay offs in splash colors.  Cards like Outnumber and Swamp Surge provide ways to utilize Eldrazi Scion if you lack large win conditions.  These cards also ramp you up two mana the following turn, Natural Connection and Lifespring Druid are just barely behind and are the two remaining core cards.  In draft these four are fairly interchangeable and a good mix of the four is ideal. Brood Monitor is the final core card, this can be ramped into and helps get into the 7 to 9 drop range reliably.

Ramp Pay-Offs:

As stated earlier, ways to utilize tokens for damage can be a fairly reliable way to win if you lack the efficient Eldrazi.  But at common and uncommon the win conditions that are truly great are Plated Crusher, Eldrazi Devastator, and Bane of Bala Ged.  Two cards that really shine in this deck are Titans Presence and Scour from Existence because you can reliably ramp into Scour and have the top-end to reliably turn Titans Presence into a powerful and efficient removal option.

Signal Cards:

If you’re only interested in Sealed then this probably isn’t for you.  These are the cards that you see after pick 5 or 6 that should indicate that the archetype is open.   Natural Connection and Lifespring Druid will rarely reach this point but if they do you can be confident that a player to your right isn’t in either Converge or Ramp since these are core to both strategies.  The high quality pay off cards should also indicate this, especially Plated Crusher.


This will be a powerful and very common strategy for both the prerelease and release events for BFZ.  However, if you don’t have the enablers found in the Core Cards section this shouldn’t be pursued as actively.  You generally want between three and five solid direct ramp options in your deck.  You don’t need as many pay off cards you need enablers, so just because you open three Plated Crushers doesn’t mean you should be attempting to run a ramp deck.  It’s much more important you find the enablers and work with whatever large threats you open in your pool as they are much more common than the actual ramp cards.

So, I 4-0’d a Prerelease

Hi internet! This is Emily; you may know me from my new weekly segment, “The Other Side of the Coin.” We really need a tag for that. Anyway, I have exciting news! See the title above! Wheeeee!

As you all probably know, Origins came out this weekend and a lot of the cards look totally sweet! I was a fan of white from the second I saw Kytheon’s Irregulars, bears with upside at common, and the return of Celestial Flare. The renown mechanic is awesome, and tapping the board down while crunching in for a bunch just looked like every Sealed player’s dream. So I picked Team Gideon and came to smash.

And that worked out really great. I mean, really, REALLY great. I don’t want to discredit my skills at all; certainly a less experienced player would not have built the deck correctly, or played it with the opponent’s plan in mind. Still, it must be said that sometimes you get lucky and hit the deep end of your Sealed pool. This Sealed pool had one of those nine-foot deep ends, the kind you can dive headfirst into without getting hurt. The god draw. So, into the depths I dove.

The seeded pack (which I always sort of hate for existing, but that’s another post’s topic) had Suppression Bonds, Stalwart Aven, Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road and an Enshrouding Mist as some great playables. The promo rare? Hixus, Prison Warden! He’s a creature with flash, he gets rid of problem creatures, and I already had a way to protect him from damage. Neat!

Cracking into my next few packs, I quickly realized how ridiculous this deck was going to be. Topan Freeblade and another Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road at common. A War Oracle at uncommon. Rares looked… a lot whiter than normal. Knight of the White Orchid. Relic Seeker. ANOTHER Hixus. (“Yikes, I have two of a legendary creature.” What an awesome problem for Sealed!)


Molten Vortex and Soulblade Djinn were off-color, but the Djinn made blue look extra-nice for a second color. Finally, those fantastic Irregulars showed up, really cementing that heavy commitment to white. The other color would not be a support so much as a splash to fill out the curve where it needed filler.

Ultimately it came down to bears and removal. When I looked at the spread of white cards, I decided that any single splashable kill spell would clear the bar on that front. As for the other…

The case for bears is pretty simple. When you wanna be the beatdown in Sealed, it must be said that you need decent two-drops, and anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t play aggro very often, or is lying. You need at least four, up to six, and if they’re more than just a 2/2 for 2, you’ll really be happy. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many Grixis bears in Origins; they’re mostly white or green.

So that was goodbye to blue spells, including Soulblade Djinn and his small team of 4-drop flyers. They might have worked, but green was probably better.

Black had enchantment removal and a gold card, but no other creatures to contribute for me. Red had a ton of serviceable 3-drops, also with a gold card, but for best creatures on-curve, always remember that a 3-drop is not a bear.

So what did I have for green?

Two excellent bears in Undercity Troll and Elvish Visionary. When your “worst” bear is a 1/1 that draws a card, your Sealed deck must be in nice shape. Five really good bears. Awesome.

A Wild Instincts got added to the small contingent of noncreatures, for its solid use as removal. Good enough.

For every other unfilled spot in the curve, there was a playable creature. Perfection.

Decklist ended up like this:

11 Plains
5 Forest
1 Evolving Wilds

1 Anointer of Champions

1 Undercity Troll
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Topan Freeblade
1 Relic Seeker
1 Knight of the White Orchid

2 Knight of the Pilgrim’s Road
1 Stalwart Aven
1 Orchard Spirit

1 Charging Griffin
1 Kytheon’s Irregulars
1 Somberwald Alpha
1 War Oracle

2 Hixus, Prison Warden
1 Rhox Maulers

1 Skysnare Spider

1 Enshrouding Mist
1 Mighty Leap
1 Suppression Bonds
1 Wild Instincts
1 Throwing Knife


1 Caustic Caterpillar
1 Evolving Wilds
2 Enshrouding Mist
1 Nissa’s Pilgrimage
1 Totem-Guide Hartebeest
1 Titanic Growth

So… yeah. This crushed.

The first two rounds flashed by, two 2-0 rounds. My opponents never seemed to draw into anything that contributed to their board, or cleared mine. The biggest inconveniences were a Yoked Ox holding a Mantle of Webs (yes, really) and a turn-two Harbinger of the Tides… when I had no creatures to bounce (again, yes, REALLY). Nice guys, probably less lucky in their pulls, but their plays telegraphed inexperience with the format. No big challenges in the first half.

Round Three got more interesting when I kept a 7-card hand with green dudes and no Forests… consequently getting mauled. The opponent was on blue-green tempo – lots of annoying spells for bounce and value. For the record, Anchor to the AEther is GROSS. And in future I will draft as many of them as I can find, because the tempo swing is hilarious. I mean, the guy had good stuff going on.

Game Two of that round saw me holding yet another sketchy hand AND on the play. The mulligan to six was correct, and a beautiful mana curve emerged. Hixus flashed in to the rescue against a Skaab Goliath, and that was that.

I noticed that my opponent, while more experienced than the last two, exhausted all of his bounce spells too early, and didn’t realize that waiting to bounce Hixus (or at least a giant Renowned guy) could spell disaster for me. He feared for his life total too much. I know how to exploit that fear.

In Game 3, he bounced all my bears and I basically pretended to be annoyed until my board came back. CRUNCH. Win.

It turns out that Renown plays a lot like Bloodthirst from old-school Ravnica. Putting that deck on the back foot is the only real way to win. A tempo deck CAN do that, but it needs to get really hurt before attempting to stabilize. Despite the Game 1 mulligan terrors, I held on.

Round Four – King of the Hill table! And a guy whose birthday it was… man, I don’t wanna beat a guy on his birthday, you know? That feels bad. But I wasn’t giving up so easily.

Game One, I lost again. Very frightening. It got a little ridiculous when a Claustrophobia hit Kytheon’s Irregulars… and the Irregulars could still tap down the board. But Birthday Boy had a blue-white flying army, and played creature after creature until enough of them pecked through.


At this point I ought to have sideboarded, and forgot. I also mulliganed to six, but had the right land.

Game Two thankfully saw no enchantment removal, but could have been a terrible blowout otherwise. Skysnare Spider got Turn to Frog‘d and eaten up by a 4/4 Ringwarden Owl. Mighty Leap couldn’t save it; a second copy of Mist would’ve been okay. Another close game, but my renown guys just won the race.

Sideboard time! In with the Caterpillar! Out with Orchard Spirit! In with a second Enshrouding Mist! Out with Mighty Leap!

Game Three saw me with an okay starter, on the draw, but it turned out that I got stuck on two land for a turn. I didn’t mind accepting some extra damage to add to the board, though, because this was a race I could win!

Topan Freeblade‘s vigilance and Undercity Troll‘s regen, two abilities that are fantastic when you’re behind, bought me time. The Freeblade got hold of Throwing Knife (SUCH FLAVOR!) and that was enough to bring it on home.

So, good plays.

– I picked the correct support color. Black attrition is slow, and red 3-drops are small. I needed big cheap things fast. Check.

– I built a deck that mulliganed well, once I knew what to mulligan for. Rounds Three and Four both forced me to do that, and the staying power of the deck paid off in a big way.

– There was enough removal, different types of removal, and ways to find it (Relic Seeker and Hartebeest in sideboard for matchups favoring Suppression Bonds). For a creature deck, the sheer amount of answers was staggering.

– I paid attention to when the opponents were tapped out, when they had mana, and what they might have. Mostly.

Lessons learned.

-Never forget to sideboard between matches. Even if all you do is LOOK at the sideboard and pretend to switch stuff.

-Keep focused. Even when you’ve got a 6/6 with vigilance and reach, an attacker that would normally get eaten should make you very suspicious.

-Be a good sport and don’t worry too much if your opponent isn’t. There were a couple of moments where my plays were questioned. It kind of happens a lot when you’re a female player. “You used a kill spell on THAT?!” Yes, I did. And now your life total is zero. Deal with it.

-Apologize for any excessive snark or salt. Losing Skysnare Spider made me annoyed, and so did some bad blocks in that final game. But I said, “sorry. Good plays on your part. I need to just eat that.” And I did.

Here’s to the prerelease! I hope everyone attended one, had some fun, maybe won some packs, and loves the new set! 🙂

See you on The Other Side of the Coin!

Reading the Bones – Origins Rares Speculation


Every season, LSV does his color-by-color review of the upcoming set as pertains to a limited environment. While these are always a good read, I’m always more interested in the follow-up geared toward constructed play. Sure, it’s important to know which cards are good in draft, but for those of us who also play constructed, it’s good to know what’s good (or valuable) to walk away with. As such, I’ve gone through the rares of Magic Origins with a similar lens. It seems foolhardy to guess actual numbers, so I’ll be keeping it nice and vague.

Planeswalkers: keep those. Everyone is talking about how great Gideon is, but from a speculation standpoint, they all have the potential to be played (at least in standard).


Archangel of Tithes
This card feels strong. Really strong. It has effecient stats for its cost and will likely see play. Feels like a keeper to me.

Starfield of Nyx
I still don’t know what to make of this card. At face value, this is a five-drop enchantment that has a slim chance of affecting the board the turn it’s played. At its worst, it’s turning your banishing lights into vulnerabilities. I don’t have high expectations for this card or its price.

Hixus, Prison Warden
Hixus has a neat effect, but as the rare featured in the white intro pack, his price is never going to stay at anything higher than a dollar.

Gideon’s Phalanx
This card costs seven mana. Sure, it puts 8 power onto the board at instant speed, but it’s already outclassed by Secure the Wastes and Empty the Pits. I have a feeling the Spell Mastery will be trinket text, as no one wants to play a seven-mana defensive spell.

Hallowed Moonlight
Hang onto this card. It is extremely playable. Oh, you’re playing Deathmist Raptor? That’s fine. Oh, you’re flashing back Lingering Souls? Fine by me. Trying to cheat out an Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn? Neato. I’m essentially going to counter that and draw a card. In white. (This is probably my favorite card in the whole set).

Knight of the White Orchid
I wasn’t playing during Alara, so I’m not sure if this card was good then, but from an evaluative standpoint, the flamboyant lion rider comes bearing only upside. It will likely see standard play, so they feel like a hold to me.

Kytheon’s Irregulars
A vehicle to tap your opponent’s biggest creatures without having to tap itself seems very strong, and its stats are nothing to scoff at. Speculatively though, I’m not positive this limited bomb will be a huge moneymaker.

Relic Seeker
What a great card for all the sweet equipment in standard! Like… Um… Godsend? He’s holding Godsend, right? This is an efficient creature and all, but relying on hitting your opponent for his ability will likely be a drawback on the price frontier.

Sigil of the Empty Throne
I can’t tell you how quickly I’m going to pair this with Myth Realized. This is already a $4 card, and it historically hasn’t been expensive. So, pricewise, I wouldn’t expect greatness.

Tragic Arrogance
This card feels very interesting. Immediately, it has very high interest from the EDH crowd, and it will likely see some sort of play in standard once people figure out how best to use it. I’d say hang on to this one.

Vryn Wingmare
Nonlegendary Thalia traded first strike for flying. You all know that nursery rhyme, right? This will see play in standard, much to the dismay of control players. I have big doubts about it in modern because of the sheer efficiency of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben herself. Seems like a card to pick up for the standard price bubble though.


Disciple of the Ring
She seems full of potential just because you don’t often get a creature like this with modal abilities. I’d be cautious on guessing her price, as she reminds me of a certain mythic Flamespeaker from Theros.

Day’s Undoing
This is another card that’s just dripping with potential. I expect someone to abuse this, be it with quicken effects, or something unexpected. I’d pick up at least a playset of these.

Alhammarret, High Arbiter
One of the things that makes Meddling Mage playable is that she costs two mana. Big Sphinx, however, costs seven. Sure, his ability could be construed as a form of protecting himself, but once again, the rares from the intro packs are almost guaranteed not to make you money.

Talent of the Telepath
Of all the new cards, this might be my favorite instance of Spell Mastery: if you have Spell Mastery, it doubles the effect. I’m confident this will at least make the sideboard of control decks. I’m imagining that hilarity might ensue if you hit an opponent’s copy in the mirror. I’d hang on to at least a few copies.

Displacement Wave
Scaleable cards like this are often used very beneficially. This will always hose an aggro deck, but the sorcery speed gives me pause on speculating price.

Harbinger of Tides
You know that merfolk deck people sometimes play in Modern? They all want this guy. He’s efficiently costed, and he can come down at instant speed without you having an Æther Vial online. Not only that, but last time we were on Zendikar, there were merfolk. Pick up as many of him as you can.

Jace’s Sanctum
I’m not positive this will see standard play. It does have large appeal to anyone who plays blue in EDH. Likely not going to be expensive.

Mizzium Meddler
This guy is neat. The single-use Spellskite with flash. I can see him being appealing for budget players who don’t have $20 to shell out for the real thing.

Soulblade Djinn
With a name this badass, I will be personally insulted if this guy doesn’t command a fortune.

Thopter Spy Network
I’m not sure on this card. It might be a little expensive, mana-wise, but if an artifact deck emerges, giving them all curiosity and replenishing the air force will be a powerful effect. Could be worth picking up for speculation.

I personally don’t like this card. It doesn’t protect itself, it costs 5 mana, and usually, when I’m targeting something, it’s dying. I don’t have high hopes for the Willbreaker.


Titan of Erebos
I love that my favorite god got a shout out in Origins. Not only that, he’s pretty good. I’m optimistic on this guy’s price.

Demonic Pact
You can make all the deals with the devil you want, I still don’t see this ever being an expensive card.

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder
This fellow is where the “intro pack rares are worthless” mantra falters. Yes, he is the face of the black intro pack, but he’s actually pretty cool. 6/6 for 6 with flying and upside? I think he may see play, but his availability will cause his price to suffer.

Dark Petition
“I’ve got an idea: let’s put Demonic Tutor and Dark Ritual on the same card! Flavor win!” Unfortunately, the major appeal of both of those cards is that neither requires the startup cost of having 5 mana. For that cost, I can play Sidisi, Undead Vizier and get the tutor attached to a significant body. Pessimistic on price.

Despoiler of Souls
This freaky little horror has the potential to be a rock star. He’s an efficient attacker that keeps coming back. And, if you’re missing the glory days of mono-black devotion, you can pair this guy with a Titan of Erebos and for a few months, baby, you got a stew!

Gilt-Leaf Winnower
We’ll have to see how the elf decks shape up. This guy will either be too expensive (doesn’t get hit by Collected Company), or he’ll top the curve nicely. I do like that he affects the board the turn he comes down. Cautiously optimistic on price.

Graveblade Marauder
I can see this guy and Blood-Chin Rager/Arashin Foremost being best friends. B/W warriors wants this guy, but I’m not sure that’s enough to command a high price.

Infinite Obliteration
I really like this card. It’s nice and proactive, and it doesn’t need to live in just the sideboard. Would pick up.

Is it Damnation? Nope. Does it take care of most problems? Yes. I would get at least a playset of these.

Priest of the Blood Rite
Five mana for seven (five of which is airborne) power isn’t bad. In magical Christmas land, we’d have flicker effects at instant speed in standard. All we have is Gift of Immortality, which just isn’t the same. This card isn’t a money-maker,

Tainted Remedy
I’m a big fan of this card. Totally nerfs an opponent’s lifelink (and not yours) and makes Siege Rhino a sadder, more symmetrical play. It probably won’t be worth much, but a one-sided Rain of Gore isn’t anything to scoff at.


Avaricious Dragon
This card is exactly what red decks want: a curve-topper that draws extra cards every turn. I can see this guy and Thunderbreak getting along nicely. Would keep these.

Abbot of Keral Keep
This is a strong card, and it would be without the prowess. He feels like a sleeper winner to me.

Pia and Kirin Nalaar
Chandra’s parents are efficiently costed up until their ability. Unfortunately, they fall right back into the intro pack slump.

Exquisite Firecraft
“Can’t be countered” is probably the least exciting Spell Mastery bonus out there, but I can see it coming up. This feels like fairly efficient burn (for a standard meta). Worth picking up.

Chandra’s Ignition
Meh. This could easily be a green card, but they made it red instead. Nonplussed.

Embermaw Hellion
Why do effects like this always end up costing 5 mana? He could end up being cool since his effect applies to any red source, not just your instants and sorceries. Probably not going to be expensive.

Flameshadow Conjuring
This has EDH written all over it.

Goblin Piledriver
I shouldn’t need to tell you to pick these up.

Molten Vortex
I love the design on this card. It’s costed at the bare minimum, and it turns flooding out in red into a burn engine. This feels like a winning card to me.

Scab-Clan Berserker
This will be a good card, especially once Coursers and Caryatids are gone. I think she’ll be a sleeper.


Woodland Bellower
This feels strong. Even if you’re just tutoring out an Elvish Visionary, that’s still a big advantage and a great value. Expect this guy to be played.

The Great Aurora
Finally, that board wipe all those mono-green control decks have been waiting for… I don’t like anything about this card. It costs 9 mana for a total gamble. I don’t even want this in EDH.

Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
This is the other legendary that, like Kothophed, will probably see play but will remain relatively low in price due to availability.

Animist’s Awakening
Unlike The Great Aurora, this is a card that every green EDH deck wants. The spell mastery is pure upside and the thinning of your deck can lead to some real advantage. I’m definitely picking up at least an EDH playset.

Evolutionary Leap
Again with the interesting card design! This is almost guaranteed to give every combat some sort of benefit for you. I can see this being played in most green decks.

Gaea’s Revenge
Sideboard against control? Yes please. This reprint already commands a staggering $1.50, so I wouldn’t count on it being pricy, but I can see its value in the standard meta.

Herald of the Pantheon
Where were you during Theros? Hiding in R&D, because Courser of Kruphix for GG is pretty busted. This will be a house until Theros officially rotates. Ride that bubble.

Honored Hierarch
This guy gets a lot of flak, but that’s mostly because he’s not very good. I’d rather play Leaf Gilder and not have to worry about Renown shenanigans. Pass.

Managorger Hydra
At the same CMC as group EDH’s favorite bull, Taurean Mauler, the hydra trades in jiving with tribal decks for good ‘ol trample, making it a real threat. Can’t say for sure if he’ll see standard play, but there’s definitely a market for him.

Nissa’s Revelation
I really like how the art shows a creature known for its CMC of 15, as if to say “look at how good this can be!” 7 is a little steep, but I wouldn’t totally discount this card.

Outland Colossus
Super-efficient stats, but I’m not sure that catapults this giant from limited bomb to standard playable. Unless you can reliably give him trample, I’d ignore him as what will likely be a $1 rare.


Alhammarret’s Archive
This card is just beckoning “Play Sphinx’s Rev! Do it!” This might find a home in UW tron in modern, and definitely in most EDH decks, but I’m skeptical about this in constructed.

Pyromancer’s Goggles
Red only got one mythic, but it got this too. Again with the 5-mana thing. The repeatability of the effect makes this a strong card, but it’s a little pricy mana-wise. At mythic, I’d hang on to this.

Hangarback Walker
Sometimes, I like a little Halo 2 while I’m playing magic. This guy is neat. He’s like Scuttling Doom Engine‘s cooler younger brother. Seems usable. I’d pick these up.

Helm of the Gods
Efficiently costed as possible, I can see this being played in some Boggles brews as a reliable way to push the damage over the top, as well as something that sticks around after the creature dies. Not sure there’s a place for it in standard, but I know a pretty GW angel from Innistrad who would be happy to wear this during an EDH game.

Mage-Ring Responder
Lot of sevens in this card. That means it’s good, right? This card has bulk rare written all over it.

Orbs of Warding
Witchbane Orb that costs 1 extra to give you Absorb 1. It’s a little expensive at 5, but I think this will see play (maybe even in modern sideboards) as it completely hoses token decks.

Sword of the Animist
I can just see that scene where Nissa pulls the old “my walking stick has a secret sword” trick on someone. I like this card, and it’ll be even better if we see the return of Landfall in Battle for Zendikar. Very efficiently costed. Would play.

This set was very interesting to review from a future financial standpoint with the change of putting all of the non-planeswalker legendary creatures as the flagship rares of the intro packs. Made for a strange price calculation. As you can imagine, it’s much harder to predict the impact on a constructed meta (and thusly a financial standpoint) than it is to evaluate the effectiveness of the cards in a standalone set within a limited environment. Of course, I could be completely wrong on some of these, just like the people who instantly wrote off Treasure Cruise as unplayable. Did I miss anything? Leave your responses in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,