I didn’t end up reviewing Modern Masters from a casual and commander viewpoint for two reasons. 1) The set is ungodly expensive and under produced. 2) The entire set is reprints so when I eventually do my review of every Magic card ever, I’ll talk about all of them then (I’m not kidding). But with a new core set having just been released, that means some new cards.
So here’s the plan, every new card will get reviewed. Every reprint will get ignored. I mean, what else is there to say about Giant Spider besides it is one of the most perfect Magic cards ever?
The big white cat returns with some new followers in M14. Ajani’s Chosen is the perfect rare for the kitchen table. The build-around-me nature of these cats allows it to find a home in your WG Enchantress deck, or create an entirely new kind of deck that mirrors Kemba in a weird way. Creating armies out of nothingness and the mega weird aura moving ability make this just a fun card. Easy combos include Flickering Ward for a free cat for only two mana and offers up better combo potential than Sigil of the Empty Throne since you don’t need to cast them.
Whenever I read the word “each” on a Magic card, I start paying attention. Angelic Accord is a fine card but way too much of a board threat. Either this card is pumping out an angel every turn – while your life total keeps getting higher, or your opponents will unite to put a target on your head. It reminds me a lot of Luminarch’s Ascension, but that’s another card that drew too much hate to be playable at the kitchen table more than once.
Archangel of Thune
Mythic angels tend to be really good and Archangel of Thune already has a home in my Soul Sisters deck. But turning all of your creatures into Ajani’s Pridemate allows you to really recover. While I don’t see many white decks messing around with counters, Archangel of Thune is just a good angel. In Kaalia though… did Kaalia need any more help?
To most players, Banisher Priest will act just like another Fiend Hunter, but to experienced players, this falls into the worse category since you can’t do any of the tricks with it. But that’s a good thing. Weird manipulation of the stack, while fun at times, is a major hurdle for new players. With Banisher Priest being part of the New World Order, I am fine with it.
Another big change is how this card works in multiplayer. From the M14 FAQ:
In a multiplayer game, if Banisher Priest’s owner leaves the game, the exiled card will return to the battlefield. Because the one-shot effect that returns the card isn’t an ability that goes on the stack, it won’t cease to exist along with the leaving player’s spells and abilities on the stack.
That is awesome. The fact that killing a player caused all their stuff to cease to exist was annoying, and now killing someone off won’t mean another player is out of luck. For commanders, here’s basically Fiend Hunter two.
And now we get to the first sliver in M14. I remember when Slivers first came out in Tempest, they were quirky and fun but kind of dumb. Then more came out in Stronghold that made some of them good. They came back every now and then, but this is the first time that slivers have changed.
While the humanoid form is odd, I honestly don’t care that these slivers are one-sided. The number of times where slivers being slivers has actually mattered at my table is few and far between (and to be honest, changelings are the culprit). So now we have slivers that look a little different and only help you, yeah, that’s fine.
As for Bonescythe Sliver, it’s better than Fury Sliver for sure but for Commander players, you now have a second Fury Sliver. It’s a good sliver but that means at the kitchen table, as soon as you cast your first creature, everyone knows what you’re playing.
White removal is interesting and Celestial Flare is a nice twist on Wing Shards or Neck Snap. In multiplayer, the value of this card is much more interesting since you can cast it during a combat you aren’t even involved in. At two white, this is a decent removal spell but still not at the same level as Swords or Path.
Oddly, this is a new card and I could have sworn it already existed. If you can abuse multiple combats in a single turn… it’s still not great.
Having played too much DotP’14, I hate this card. The vigilance and lifelink combo is nice and the 2/4 body makes it an exceptional defender… in formats where things like removal come at a premium. At the kitchen table, this is just a knight that does too little, too late.
This feels like what Archangel’s Light was supposed to be. As a mythic, this is a nice take on Day of the Dragons and I’m eager to try it out with some haste. It’s expensive, clunky and awkward. But if you can resolve this and get an attack, you’ll probably win.
M14’s cycle of rare hate is interesting. At first glance, I want to immediately compare this to Paladin en-Vec, but this isn’t quite the same. First strike and lifelink is a nice combination, but the not-quite-protection part isn’t as strong as I would like. Being able to dodge Terminate, Sudden Shock or Doom Blade is nice, but this Fiendslayer isn’t doing anything against a demon or a dragon.
It seems like every set now has some version of this card. The fact that it makes slivers is nice, but the fact that it isn’t a tribal sorcery – sliver is a bit of a disappointed, but not unexpected. It’s a fine card, but not an exciting one.
While not as weird as Masako the Humorless, Imposing Sovereign can make for some interesting combat choices in a bigger game. Knowing that each creature isn’t automatic protection can allow the more aggressive decks to push. An annoying bear, I kind of like her.
Master of Diversion
An updated Master Decoy, this isn’t nearly as good. Needing to attack to trigger it is clunky and dangerous, and only being able to tap a creature the defending player controls is even more disappointing.
Path of Bravery
A huge thank you to Wizards for finally realizing we can’t just have cards that say, “if your life total is greater than 20” or something. Path of Bravery is a neat little Anthem, but more importantly, it pairs beautifully with Boros battalion. But while I like this card in theory, on the battlefield, it seems like something that will keep holding you back more than you would like.
Continuing the trend of slivers being drastically cheaper, Synchronous Sliver is completely outclassed! A fine sliver, especially in white.
Seraph of the Sword
Well, this is kind of … boring. It isn’t a bad card, it’s just… boring. I mean, it’s a really good blocker. Not Wall of Denial good, but really good.
The fact that this bearded man exists alongside Soul Warden is hilarious.
Hey, it’s Veteran Armorer but almost worse. Take that Slivers with your stupid good cards!
Look, I don’t know what you’d rather spend 12 mana on, but something tells me it will be cooler than a 4/4.
Top 5 new White M14 Cards for Casual & Commander
5. Bonescythe Sliver
4. Path of Bravery
3. Banisher Priest
2. Ajani’s Chosen
1. Archangel of Thune
As a whole, core sets aren’t quite as exciting for the more eternal formats. Reprints are known variables and don’t get new life, usually, when released again unlike in standard. In M14 though, cards like Banisher Priest and Path of Bravery really impress me because they show that Wizards is actively taking a look at formats that aren’t standard, modern or legacy and making cards that work for casuals.