magic: the gathering tagged posts

Theros Casual & Commander Review: White

Theros is a weird set. Over the last few years, Wizards has really pushed limited formats but that comes at a cost of complexity in cards. But this also means a lot of cards that are only playable in limited and not even something I would consider fringe playable at the kitchen table. Theros’s Voltron-inspired design makes for some odd choices that just don’t seem to quite click just yet but I’m hoping it will come together in the next two sets.

Like all of our Casual & Commander reviews, I will be looking at each card individually and comparing it against all the cards in Magic’s history to see which ones make the cut to the kitchen table and which ones should just be tossed into your Bulk box now. First up is white.

Theros Casual & Commander Review
White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Multicolor, Artifacts & Lands

Battlewise Valor

Simple pump spell with a dash of scry isn’t bad, and the addition of Heroic makes this card a little more exciting than Mighty Leap. But it still isn’t terribly exciting. What a way to begin!

Cavalry Pegasus

As mentioned in our Heroes vs. Monsters review, Cavalry Pegasus is a new human lord… and a flying horse. In limited, this is good but outside of it, eh.

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Arena Review: Duel Decks: Heroes vs. Monsters

My love of Duel Decks isn’t a well kept secret. I know, it sounds absurd to say that I love these little pre-constructed decks that draw across the planes of Magic, but I really do love them! With the September releases acting as a preview for the upcoming set, Heroes vs. Monsters is a good, old-fashioned battle of giant creatures. While Sorin vs. Tibalt soured on me as time went on (well, mostly just Tibalt – even I can’t get him to work), Izzet vs. Golgari are both intact in my deck box because they’re so much fun!

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 2 players

  • Two ready-to-play 60-card decks
  • Two deck boxes
  • Two creature tokens
  • A strategy insert
  • A Magic “Learn to Play” guide

Retail price: $19.99 available at

Duel Decks is a series of decks that Wizards releases biannually in the spring and fall. In the spring, they are based around a duel of two planeswalkers from the previous block, while in the fall they act as a preview of the upcoming fall release. In the case of Heroes vs. Monsters, both decks are drawing a great amount of inspiration from the upcoming Theros set.

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Magic: the Gathering: A personal retrospective, part 1 of 3

With Magic: the Gathering celebrating its 20th anniversary this week, I wanted to look back at my own history of this incredible game. So here’s my tale…

When I first started playing Magic, I was introduced to it by my brother in the summer of 1994, only a year after the game had debuted. My brother and his best friend collected basketball cards and were exposed to the game thanks to visiting sports card stores. I don’t know how he ended up with a handful of Revised cards, but he “taught” me the game with great rules like Fireball always returning to his hand and my lands getting destroyed after using them once.

I lost. A lot.

I don’t think my brother was good at Magic either. But like many things, I tried to shadow my brother’s interests. Soon he set the cards aside and never picked them up again and we moved on.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual & Commander Review: Artifacts & Land

What secrets are hidden inside M14 for the colorless crowd? Normally I have some elusive comment giving a hint but I’m flying blind for this one. Maybe I need to pay more attention to spoiler season since quitting… Anywho, here are the artifacts and lands of M14 through the eyes of the kitchen table! Will they hold up (usually not) but every now and then, something comes along that turns a head or two.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Bubbling Cauldron

This card is hilariously awkward and part of a beautiful mega cycle. Part of me wishes the second ability worked on any newt, but the card benefits from not being 100% useless without newts. Add in the exceptional Soul Feast ability and you’ve got a card that can be very dangerous with a copy effect or two.

Guardian of the Ages

Yep, everyone has been clamoring for a colorless version of Elder Land Wurm. While I love the continuation of giant but slow creatures, the 7 mana cost makes this one a tough pill to swallow. Still, a 7/7 trampler for 7 isn’t awful and in multiplayer game you can easily hide behind one of these late game for a turn or two.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual & Commander Review: Green

As we wrap up the M14 review for casual and commander, we look at the last of WUBRG: Green. Traditionally in core sets, Green is a bit on boring side. It has a lot of creatures and a handful of spells, but rarely does it do something really exciting.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Advocate of the Beast

This feels like a card that should have come out in Shards of Alara or Onslaught given the creature types. In a dedicated beast deck, it is an okay creature but it doesn’t wow me the same way Ivy Lane Denizen did.

Elvish Mystic

Llanowar Elves is finally replaced with a singular elf! Elvish Mystic is a great creature, and I don’t think anyone is complaining about Llanowar Elves 8-12 (thanks Fyndhorn Elves!).

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Red

I am a red mage a heart, even after playing Magic for nearly two decades. Sure, I enjoy a cold, calculating control deck but that the end of the day, no play is more satisfying then tapping a Mountain and saying, “Bolt.” M14 follows the trend of new cards for Red, but also introduces some new and refined mechanics for my favorite color. As always, this review only covers new cards printed in M14, not reprints.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Academy Raider

The Red Ophidian, Academy Raider is a fascinating little common. While the power level isn’t quite good enough for the kitchen table (three mana for a 1/1? That isn’t happening.), I love the combat ability on this card. Red’s reverse looting is slowly building up and I really like the idea of being able to pitch a dead card in hopes of drawing something better. It’s just too bad that Academy Raider isn’t quite there.

Awaken the Ancient

Giving haste is a nice touch, but makes the card feel overpriced. A 7/7 for 4 and a land drop is decent, but this card really opens you up to too much 2-for-1 disadvantage. Against one player in limited formats, it’s a bomb, but when three or four turns may pass before you get your next untap step, it isn’t worth the risk.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Black

Black is always a fun color at the kitchen table when it comes to making enemies and the short-term-allies. The color of death, destruction and selfishness often provides lovely card advantage and iadds some new toys to the necromancer’s toybox! As with the other M14 reviews, this will only cover new cards in the set, not reprints. Spoiler alert: Doom Blade is still really good.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Accursed Spirit

Mathmatically, this card is fine. It is basically a buff Dross Prowler, which is great in limited but at the kitchen table, it has to compete against every other four drop in the history of Magic… which makes it less impressive.

Artificer’s Hex

It has been ages since the notion of a “Cursed Artifact” has been in Magic and Artificer’s Hex brings back the ability with a bang. Historically, black is very weak at artifact removal but giving them this new skill is appreciated. While Artificer’s Hex doesn’t outright destroy the equipment, it does make wielding it much more dangerous.  It’s a neat little card and makes living weapon weird, but I see it being fringe play at best. In Commander, it could be more valuable depending on your playgroup. Oh, and it allows black to get around protection from black!

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: Blue

Core sets in Magic have been interesting for a few years now, thanks to the fact that Wizards is printing new cards in them. But at the end of the day, core sets are about introducing people to Magic to the sheer insanity level of cards like in Return to Ravnica block, but that doesn’t mean every card in Magic 2014 isn’t worth looking at.

As a reminder, this review only covers cards that are new in M14, so all reprints are ignored.

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Colossal Whale

What a beautiful way to start! My initial annoyance is that this is a whale, so it doesn’t work in my Quest for Ula’s Temple deck! I want to love this card, the flavor is perfect with it being a giant whale that can devour ships (and it has the wonderful new exiling language like Banisher Priest to make it very interesting in multiplayer), but how is this creature only a 5/5?

Dismiss into Dream

I wish this worked with Overload, but sadly it doesn’t. Dismiss into Dream is a clunky, almost unbearable enchantment that is probably perfect for a Nin, the Pain Artist deck. In multiplayer, it can get really fun when all of your opponents’ spells become removal against everyone who isn’t you.

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Magic 2014 M14 Casual and Commander Review: White

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?

Magic 2014 (M14) Casual & Commander Review
White Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands

Ajani’s Chosen

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.

In Commander, Ajani’s Chosen needs to play a support role with a commander. Thankfully, plenty of legends care about enchantments – like Hanna or Bruna. Or Uril. Gulp.

Angelic Accord

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.

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Magic: the Gathering Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Review: Green, Golgari & Gruul

The final piece of the Dragon’s Maze casual and commander review takes a look at the green offers (not much), explores the undead Golgari (so much fun) and unleashes the Gruul clans on some unsuspecting individuals. As an added bonus, I also talk about a land!

Dragon’s Maze Casual & Commander Reviews
White, Orzhov & Selesnya | Blue, Simic & Azorius
Black, Dimir & Rakdos | Red, Izzet & Boros
Green, Golgari & Gruul

Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review
Orzhov Syndicate | House of Dimir | Simic Combine | Gruul Clans | Boros Legion
White | Black | Blue | Green | Red | Other

Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Reviews
Azorious Senate  | Izzet League | Cult of Rakdos | Golgari Swarm | Selesnya Conclave
White | Blue | Red | Black | Green | Gold, Artifact & Lands

Battering Krasis

LAND SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAARK! A decent little beater, I wouldn’t mind trying out the fish beast in some version of 10-land stompy, but he’s more limited than I’d like.

Kraul Warrior

The newest Invoker, Kraul Warrior doesn’t do a whole lot and is hampered by his creature types.

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