white 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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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: White, Orzhov & Selesnya

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

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

Boros Mastiff
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.

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Magic: the Gathering Duel Decks Review: Sorin vs. Tibalt

The newest Magic: the Gathering Duel Decks got released over the weekend, and like always, the price kept climbing so I waited until I spotted them for MSRP and picked up a pair. Once a year, Wizards release a set of Duel Decks focused on a pair of Planeswalkers battling it out and this year, we’re going back to Innistrad as Sorin and Tibalt go head to head.

Suggested Ages: 13+
Suggested Players: 2 players
Contents:

  • 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 Amazon.com

Like the other Duel Decks, Sorin vs. Tibalt is two 60-card decks specially made to battle one another. For the spring releases now, it seems like Wizards is sticking to two planeswalkers from the previous block which I love for two big reasons: it makes planeswalkers super accessible to casual and new players and it ties back in with sets you can currently buy. These Duel Decks also include two spirit tokens with Magic card backs (with the Avacyn Restored art),  two deck boxes (which can’t fit sleeved decks), a how-to-play insert and a strategy insert outlining how the decks work.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: White

With the guilds out of the way, it is time to turn to the guildless of Ravnica. These mono-colored cards have no affiliation beyond basic lands.

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

Aerial Maneuver

What is with these reviews starting with a whimper? As a combat trick, I wouldn’t play this outside of limited.

Angelic Edict

While expensive, I love the utility of this card. Exiling a creature or enchantment for 5 mana is expensive and the sorcery speed slows it down a lot too, but at the end of the day, this is unconditional removal. It isn’t a great card, but in slower formats it does okay.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: Boros Legion

One of my favorite cards in Magic is Boros: Lightning Helix. I love Lightning Bolt and Armadillo Cloak was one of my favorite spells too. So when it comes to Magic, I feel right at home in the aggressive style of Boros.

Weenie decks are difficult in multiplayer formats. The traditional system of applying pressure and keeping it on doesn’t exactly work when you’re facing off against 60 or 80 points of life. And RDW faces the same issue. You might burn out one player and maybe half of another before getting crushed into the ground.

Amazingly, Boros manages to avoid both of these pitfalls.

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

Boros Elite

I love when I say things and then immediately get proven wrong. Boros Elite is an interesting variant of the Savannah Lions archetype in white weenie. But weenies aren’t always the best. As far as batalion goes, it’s a nice mechanic that encourages attacking – which is a great way to break stalemates. Sadly, you can’t do crazy tricks but putting creatures onto the battlefield tapped and attacking …usually.

Daring Skyjek

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I found Blade of the Sixth Pride to be interesting, and for an aggressive deck, this is a fine two-drop. The biggest issue is it doesn’t do enough late game.

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Gatecrash Casual & Commander Review: Orzhov Syndicate

A new Magic set is about to be released. Normally, I look at all the cards in the set (and I’m still going to do that), but to start things off – I’ve got to say wow. Wizards really knocked it out of the park with Gatecrash and there really is something for every kind of player. Like with Return to Ravnica, I will be going through each of the guilds first (WBUGR), then each unaffiliated set of cards so the final review will probably be 11 parts in total!

First up is the crime syndicate masquerading as a religion: Orhovz! This white-black guild introduces a new mechanic that is beyond multiplayer friendly. Extort allows you to pay a W or B whenever you cast a spell, to drain all your opponents for 1 life and you gain one. And to make it even better, the hybrid in it doesn’t apply to color identity rules in Commander! And it doesn’t hurt that this color combination is the best when it comes to removal either.

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

Basilica Guards

While not the most exciting card, getting additional sources of extortion is a good thing. For multiplayer, the defender aspect is a plus. It holds down the ground early game and is deceptive about just how much damage it is dealing.

Blind Obedience

Kismet is a great card… to draw a lot of attention to yourself. Blind Obedience gives you a cheap way to slow the game while you whittle away at life totals, but after a turn or two stalling the board… this card becomes the clear problem.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: White

Now that the five guilds are done, I’m looking at all the non-affiliated cards in Return to Ravnica. So if you don’t have a guild watermark, you’re included! I’ll start with white since they usually go first.

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

Angel of Serenty

Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand…

This card worries me. Not because Kaalia will throw her down every turn, but because of how easy this card is to abuse. Oh the exiling trigger is on the stack? Bounce it. Or flicker. Either way, you now don’t have three permanents for good and three more are gone. I don’t rage quit often, but this might make me do it. A lot.

Armory Guard

I’m so glad this guy gains vigilance and doesn’t do something like “loses defender.” I kind of want to see what the Gates end up doing by the end of this block, but for now, don’t bother.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Selesnya Conclave

As a guild, I loved Selesnya. I’ve been a green-white player since the days of Ernhamgeddon. The only guild I possibly like more is Boros, but giant armies of creatures brings me back to how I remember playing Magic on the playground in grade school. And now, they have an ability perfect for combo players to abuse.

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

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

As a commander, this is pretty good. Sure the mana cost is clunky, the life gain doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but that last ability makes me giddy with excitement. Populating on demand sounds like so much fun, especially in eternal formats where any and all token generators are available. I also see this pairing getting along very well with Doran.

Armada Wurm

Ten power for six mana? That’s absurd even in green. It’s great because it costs twice as much removal to work and it is basically a Titan. The casting cost isn’t nearly as prohibitive as it looks and I fully expect to see this abused for years to come thanks to Sneak Attack, Reanimation and good old fashioned ramping.

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Return to Ravnica Casual & Commander Review: Azorius Senate

I don’t know why I’m listening to people on Twitter, but the readers spoke and said I should review Return to Ravnica by guild, not color. That’s a great idea except a good chunk of the monocolored cards in this set aren’t tied to a guild. But that won’t stop me from trying. Like always, I review every. Single. Card. in this set – including the awful limited pieces of fodder.

Return to Ravnica is a great set. I barely played Magic when the original Ravnica block came out (but returned with a violent vengeance thanks to Time Spiral), so this is giving me a chance to experience Magic with a unique twist because Ravnica is essentially Magic with 10 colors, not 5. To start off these reviews is Azorius! Also, I’m not going alphabetically this time because that often results in me slamming my head into my desk repeatedly thanks to most sets starting off horribly.

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

Isperia, Supreme Judge

Legendaries are always fun in Commander because each one is a new chance to make a deck! Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a Craw Wurm kick, but I love that he’s a 6/4 for 6! But what I love even more is him being a twisted reverse Edric. Drawing cards whenever you or one of your planeswalkers gets attack is amazing. It deters a lot of attacks, but thanks to new cards like Courtly Provocateur, Azorius has plenty of ways to force unfavorable attacks.

The big downsides though to Isperia are the cost and the fact that this card doesn’t do anything when it resolves. The double-blue, double-white makes this a hard cast (though great reanimating bait). Just make sure you have a pair of boots waiting upon resolution.

Sphinx’s Revelation

As a mythic, this doesn’t completely wow me. The fact that it is instant though makes me excited since so much card draw lately has been sorcery speed. I love that this card just combined Alabaster Potion and Stroke of Genius into one delicious package. This card is good, especially late game, but it doesn’t do anything mythical.

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