I spent way too much time figuring out how I would break down this set review. Doing 10 or 15 seemed excessive, but thankfully the Guild-aligned split cards did it for me. So these semi-shard reviews include all the cards in a single color, along with the multicolor cards of two different guilds. That make sense? So this review includes all White cards and all multicolored cards from the Orzhov Syndicate and the Selesnya Conclave.
Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya
Nothing starts a review of a set off like a limited common fodder. Boros Mastiff isn’t exciting, or playable in most multiplayer formats. With the small cost, the conditional lifelink makes it just another random lifelinking two drop that white keeps getting.
Haazda Snare Squad
The rules on this seem finicky to me, especially since it can only tap an opponent’s creature. It is an interest variant on the Master Decoy, but as a common, this isn’t a card I see getting much play at kitchen tables.
Detain is fun in multiplayer due to the timing of it, but it works so much better when it isn’t tied to single shot sorceries.
The Maze cycle is fascinating when it comes to commons. With big abilities, I see these potentially getting used in pauper cubes and the like. In a dedicated multicolor deck, they’re okay. Maze Sentinel holds down the ground well and assists his friends. While much more expensive than Serra’s Blessing, there simply aren’t that many options for giving vigilance.
Renounce the Guilds
I love this kind of card. Barter in Blood is a lot of fun, and Renounce the Guilds gives White an interesting twist on a “balanced” mechanic. For monowhite, this is an incredible piece of removal… against the right deck. Depending on your metagame, this can be either an amazing piece of removal or a near dead card. It sounds weird, but as someone who still plays White Weenie, I love it.
Congregate is still played with terrifying regularity, and Riot Control manages to take the worst parts of it and add in a weird Fog Variant. As a Congregate replacement, this is terrible. As a Fog-variant, I’m intrigued by the potential of Riot Control. I don’t see it winning games, but I see it completely destroying combat math.
Scion of Vitu-Ghazi
So for 5 mana you get an elemental… and two birds? How is this a rare? Remember Cloudgoat Ranger, because he was pretty close to the same. Populating is nice and worst case you get six power for five mana but this elemental is just… boring.
If you’re playing 5 mana for a 3/1 flying creature with first strike… you should reconsider your options for multiplayer.
Is this an inverted set? I am much more excited about the commons than rares here! The cylce of gatekeepers all make use of some of my favorite mutliplayer dual lands thanks to how abundant they are – especially now that Dragon’s Maze includes them again! Sunspire Gatekeeper gives you a 2/2 knight which is decent attached to a 2/4 body at four mana. This isn’t a card that wows me, but in gateheavy decks, it provides great defense.
Wake the Reflections
I think this card may have the least amount of text on it of any card. The only thing close is a vanilla creature, but those has power, toughness and a creature type. This card isn’t flashy and being sorcery speed hurts it more than I’d like, but this is the perfect kind of combo card to get Johnnies everywhere happy.
The Orzhov Syndicate
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Wizards is slowly working out the kinks of how to make a Serra Ascendent that isn’t completely bonkers. As a mythic, this card is one solid vampire. Life link and protection from the colors most focused on removal make for a nice little creature. While the life clause is clunky, it evokes the “bloodied” feel of Zendikar and Worldwake vampires which I love – and it is harder to abuse in multiplayer formats like 2HG. Oh, and this can be a 10/10 with flying for only 5 mana. Delightful.
Debt to the Deathless
Because Exsanguinate wasn’t enough. This scares me because if it doesn’t kill you outright, it will probably make your opponent far too strong to take out. For weird formats, like Archenemy, this fits in a little too well. But Debt to the Deathless is an expensive spell that does exactly what a spell of this caliber should do: bring the game to an end.
Maw of the Obzedat
I like Thrulls. I like sacrificing this and GOOD LORD THIS ART IS TERRIFYING. Sacrificing a single creature for either a killing blow or surviving an assault feels so white-black it’s kind of amazing. While not a great card, it already has a spot in my Thrull deck. There wasn’t much competition.
This card is amazing in Commander. Reanimating anything from a land, enchantment, planeswalker, creature or artifact is completely worth 5 mana. While it is a shame this only hits your graveyard, that still doesn’t stop this from being a fantastic spell for reanimation.
The first time I saw this, I assumed it was like Mesmeric Fiend or Faceless Butcher… then I read it again. There is no getting this card back. Commanders will love this as an early way to permanently fix a problem, while late game it is just begging for some bounce to really be abused.
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
One of the smartest things Wizards did here is make all the guild champions rares. Teysa lost a lot of goodwill after the M10 rules changes, but this new version shows how she’s grown up. As a commander, she’s incredible. In combat, she survives pretty much anything, while vigilance allows her to hold the battlefield at the same time. Then there is her No Mercy ability that still leaves me impressed. She kills anything that touches you – and then gives you a 1/1 flyer! It’s like I need to open a temporal rift and play both versions alongside each other.
This card feels like a Black/White Knight to me. Two abilities on a 2/1 for WB is interesting, especially since the initial round of Extorting creatures was disappointing to me. Tithe Drinker isn’t ground breaking, but can easily result in a 10 life swing with little to no effort.
Profit & Loss
I love split cards and think that the original Ravnica block ones have been forgotten unfairly. With the new ability Fuse, which is basically entwine, Split cards are now very interesting. Is it worth 3WB to give all your creatures +1/+1 and all your opponents’ creatures -1/-1? Maybe not always, but being able to divy it when needed is great – especially since you can choose to just be negative on combats you aren’t even involved in!
The cluestones as a whole are interesting. For commander players, they aren’t anything special but knowing they are never a dead draw is nice – even if it does cost 5 mana to “cycle” it. But when dealing with color identity, they can be useful.
I love the expanded art on these – especially John Avon’s exceptional work! As duals, I think these are perfect for casual players. They’re cheap, bountiful and do exactly what you want.
The Selesnya Conclave
Advent of the Wurm
As someone who has played Magic a long, long time, I see this card and think “How is this not a reprint from Odyssey block?” Instant speed wurms are nice, but instant speed wurms you can then populate for only 4 mana are even nicer. This is just a solid piece of token generation.
It takes a lot for me to care about a vanilla creature. This is not a vanilla creature I care about.
Between all of Avacyn Restored flickering effects, Selesnya’s populating and Magic’s long history of putting creatures onto the battlefield, this is a little 2/2 that looks like a lot of fun. It won’t take much to turn this bird into a rampant killing machine.
Oof. This is just awkward at best. She’s somehow a giant elf with a very limited ability. In the right deck, she can work wonders as a commander but when compared to the rest of the legendary creatures in this block, poor Emmara is clearly the bottom of the barrel.
I love super expensive 1/1s, but seven mana for 10 power is a solid deal. Getting a 1/1, a 2/2, a 3/3 and a 4/4 for 7 mana makes this card a godsend to Evolve decks, and populating decks will enjoying the boost as well. She’s expensive, but I’m sure you can think of a way to cheat her into play – and then keep making tokens.
Armadillo Cloak is one of my favorite cards ever – it’s up there with Skyshroud Elf and Lightning Helix (see a pattern?), but Unflinching Courage is not an Armadillo Cloak. While I’m thrilled to be able to play a second on with Uril in Commander, the subtle change to lifelink drastically weakens the card. In multiplayer, Armadillo Cloak is an amazing piece that works are creature enhancing, political dealing, quasi-removal and more. But now, it just doesn’t do all those things and that is a shame.
Voice of Resurgence
It’s a shame that this is the card Emmara Tandris was supposed to be. But even if this leaf-elk is a mythic and non-legendary, that doesn’t stop him from being incredible. Even if your opponents aren’t casting spells out of turn, you get the token if this measly 2/2 dies! But if you get lucky, he will make you your own army and then you can crush your opponents with ease.
Alive & Well
This reminds of an inverted Assault & Battery. Alive is a fine token generator, while Well is just a Peach Garden Oath. But combined, you’ve got a 5-drop with one massive trigger and that seems to be just fine.
Identical to all the others, the Cluestone isn’t terribly exciting but in two-color Commander decks, you could do worse for a rock.
Another beautiful art expansions and another common that shows exactly what lands should be.
Ready & Willing
Wow.. that name is just… wow. Ready is one hell of a combat trick. On the offense, it allows for reckless attacks, while the Vitalizing nature of it allows you to overexert and still defend! Willing gives a dangerous pairing of abilities that makes blocking near impossible. But then these two are fused together, you get a single expensive spell that says: the game ends now.
Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya