Core sets are always kind of odd when it comes to reviews. Most of the commons and uncommons are awkward at best and intended for drafting or introducing new players to core concepts, while the rares range unplayable to niche. Occasionally you’ll get a card that does something truly unique though and that’s what these reviews are all about.
With over half the set being reprints, the Magic 2013 Casual and Commander Review will only cover brand new cards. And I’m going to comment on every single one of them. I’m really glad they cut down on vanilla creatures. As always, the biggest rule about reviewing sets like these for the kitchen table is that there is never a card that is truly unplayable – just very, very close.
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Planeswalkers are always interesting in casual but more often then not, they are quickly killed off. But this version of Ajani lands quickly and works in a variety of decks. His first ability, while awkwardly worded, can work well in group hug style decks as he can pump any creature (or none at all).
His second ability is less useful thanks to the sorcery timing requirement, but on the offensive the combination of evasion and double strike makes for a terrifying beast in the air. But the fact that it costs -3 makes me wary. Finally there is the ultimate which evokes his original ultimate nicely. Getting an army with power double your own life just four turns after Ajani resolves can quickly end games. Plus the fact that he essentially starts the game at 5 loyalty means he will be a challenge to kill.
White Weenie usually doesn’t have enough staying power to control the kitchen table past turn three and Ajani’s Sunstriker doesn’t do enough. The biggest issue is the simple fact that this 2/2 for WW only has one ability – it’s just a worst version of Knight of Meadowgrain. If you’re putting together some weird cat-cleric tribal deck, this could work to lower your curve, but otherwise it falls into the strictly worse pile.