Back in the usenet days, I used to go by the name Poker Face. If you go to the Google newsgroup archives, you can find plenty of articles written by yours truly. One series I regularly updated was”Poker Face’s Guide to Everything Type Two.”
What’s that you say Timmy? You want to know what’s up with the Poker Face? Therein lays one hell of a tale, full of anguish and torment. It involved a one-legged pirate named Marge, Mark Rosewater, and a tub full of sardines.
And/or Brian David Marshall realized that I couldn’t bluff at all, and gave me the utterly ironic nickname. You can choose which version of this story to believe.
Either way, I’m tired of people giving diluted, hackneyed set reviews every time there’s a new release. A lot of players try rating cards in both Limited and Constructed, but it ends up diluting their valuations. Others attempt to rate each and every card in the set. My approach is more holistic: I have no ratings at all. Instead, I’m going to talk about the cards that will see Constructed play (sorry guys, no Limited strategy here), or that have potential to see Constructed play in the not-too-distant future. I’m gonna throw out some thoughts and ideas, and I’d like to hear what you have to say about these cards!
Special thanks goes to Mtgnews.com for providing the spoiler information for Darksteel!
Auriok Glaivemaster (White Weenie)
CC: W (Common)
Creature – Human Soldier
As long as Auriok Glaivemaster is equipped, Auriok Glaivemaster gets +1/+1 and has first strike.
The Buzz: Wizards is attempting to make White Weenie decks work by pairing up the weenies with a plethora of playable Equipment. The Glaivemaster begs to be put in this sort of deck, in place of sub-optimal creatures such as Tundra Wolf or Suntail Hawk currently reside. On the second turn, he could easily be a 4/2 first striker when paired with Bonesplitter. He also works decently with Empyrial Plate, given that you want to have a one drop ready to attack by the third turn.
Echoing Calm (Sideboard)
CC: W1 (Common)
Destroy target enchantment and all other enchantments with the same name as that enchantment.
The Buzz: Echoing Calm might potentially find a niche should a repetitively enchantment-heavy deck emerge in any given format – for instance, against Enchantress decks in Extended it might have its uses. Nothing amazing, but could see play in the right metagame.
Emissary of Hope (Block, Sideboard)
CC: WW1 (Uncommon)
Creature – Spirit
When Emissary of Hope deals combat damage to a player, you gain one life for each artifact they control.
The Buzz: White’s particularly susceptible to affinity-based strategies in block, so this might be as good as it gets for a mono-White deck looking to fight the good fight – at least until Broodstar hits the board.
Leonin Shikari (White Weenie)
CC: W1 (Rare)
Creature – Cat Soldier
You may attach Equipment cards any time you could play an instant.
The Buzz: Definitely better than Auriok Steelshaper, the Shikari might be the card that leads Equipment-based White Weenie decks to respectability. Some people claim that with Lightning Greaves in play, he makes all of your creatures virtually unkillable. Why is your WW deck playing Lighting Greaves? You want to smash face with power-enhancing equipment, not fooling around with haste. The ability to shuffle Empyrial Plate, Swords of Fire/Light/Shadow/Ice and Bonesplitters to blocked (or unblocked) creatures is the true power of the Shikari. It helps that he’s also a 2/2 body for two mana, as opposed to the 1/1 of an unequipped Steelshaper.
Pristine Angel (White Control)
CC: WW4 (Rare)
Creature – Angel
As long as Pristine Angel is untapped, it has protection from all colors and artifacts.
Whenever you play a spell, untap Pristine Angel.
The Buzz: Once Onslaught block rotates out, will this be able to compete with Blinding Angel and Serra Angel as the replacement for Exalted Angel in White control decks? Will White control decks even be viable without Decree of Justice, Akroma’s Vengeance, Wing Shards, Eternal Dragon, and Exalted Angel? At the worst, it’s Iridescent Angel for one less mana. At the best, it’s a virtually unkillable Serra Angel. Either way, it seems to be more in the vein of Akroma, Angel of Wrath than Exalted Angel. It can’t completely turn around a losing game on its own, but it can hold off a virtual army if the game reaches parity.
Pulse of the Fields (White Control)
CC: WW1 (Rare)
Gain 4 life. Then, if an opponent has more life than you, return Pulse of the Fields to owner’s hand.
The Buzz: This is not a bad lifegain card. If it were a sorcery it would be unplayable, but instant speed gives it that extra oomph to push it into respectability. Four life is a pretty decent chunk of life to gain in recursion. Remember, this is the same mana cost as an uncycled Renewed Faith, and we’ve learned that sometimes you just need to hard cast Renewed Faith to gain six life. This is only four life, but unlike the Faith, it comes back for seconds… or thirds… or fourths. Can a goblin deck outrace eight points of lifegain a turn each and every turn, while you search for that Wrath you so desperately need? Would this work in a Zur’s Weirding-based control deck?
CC: W1 (Uncommon)
Destroy target artifact creature or black creature. It can’t be regenerated.
The Buzz: A perfectly respectable sideboard card. Is it good against Affinity, given that it’s a dead card against Broodstar? Are there any Black decks currently being played in any format that would require this taking up a sideboard slot instead of Karma or Circle of Protection: Black?
Razor Golem (Potential)
CC: 6 (Common)
Affinity for Plains
Attacking doesn’t cause Razor Golem to tap.
The Buzz: One of two golems which tap you out exactly at optimal affinity, Razor Golem ends up being a 3/4 vigilant creature for only three mana in a mono-White deck. This reminds me of Phyrexian War Beast (a staple in Extended White-based decks for a long time), except that it has no drawbacks and an additional advantage. It’s as big as Anurid Brushhopper for the same cost, but the question is whether there is a deck that can take advantage of this guy – he might be a little too unwieldy for the Equipment-heavy White weenie deck, and is definitely too small when compared to the heavy hitters in MWC.
Test of Faith (White Weenie)
CC: W1 (Uncommon)
Prevent the next three damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn. Put a +1/+1 counter on it for each point of damage prevented this way.
The Buzz: Offensively minded White decks don’t really have great sideboard options against goblins these days. Circle of Protection: Red doesn’t really help you win any faster, nor does Sanctimony. Sure, Silver Knight backed with Empyrial Plate ends the game in a jiffy, but that’s a main deck combo anyhow. Test of Faith gives White a tool to really frustrate Red decks. Suddenly White Knights become 4/4 First Strikers against Shock, or Savannah Lions lives as a slightly larger kitty after running into a blocker.
Chromescale Drake (Affinity)
CC: UUU6 (Rare)
Affinity for Artifacts
When Chromescale Drake comes into play, reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all artifact cards revealed in this way into your hand and the rest into your graveyard.
The Buzz: The obvious first question about this creature:”Is it better than Broodstar?” The answer is no. Broodstar ends the game in a hurry as a 7/7 or more, while the Drake barely weighs in at 3/4 at all times. The second question then is: do Affinity decks need a second finisher? Does the triple Blue in Chromescale Drake’s casting cost make it too prohibitive to play in this 5-color affinity world?
Darksteel Citadel (Affinity)
Artifact Land (Common)
Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.
The Buzz: While this is a land, it’s also the absolutely best affinity card in the set. It gives Affinity a way to survive Akroma’s Vengeance, especially given that it will carry Glimmervoid on its back. This was a gift from Wizards to Affinity players, a card which really fills a hole in the deck’s weakness to mass artifact destruction.
Darksteel Ingot (Affinity)
CC: 3 (Common)
Darksteel Ingot is indestructible.
Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
The Buzz: This falls under the same category as the Citadel, but does it cost too much mana? Most affinity builds aren’t running Talismen, which cost one less than this guy. On the other hand, it does produce all five colors of mana (a huge plus for five color affinity sideboards), and it does survive Akroma’s Vengeance (and Naturalize and Shatter and any other number of nasty destroy effects). Will this see play due to the sheer amount of artifact hate in Type Two right now?
Eater of Days (Potential)
CC: 4 (Rare)
Artifact Creature – Leviathan
When Eater of Days comes into play, you skip your next two turns.
The Buzz: Everyone and their brother knows that Stifle plus Eater of Days equals much beating. However, two card combos such as these do not a winning deck make. Giving your opponent three turns in a row is absolutely devastating at any point in the game. Could this work in a Zur’s Weirding based deck, where you can sit behind a 9/8 flyer for a couple of turns while denying your opponent their next few draws?
Last Word (Control)
CC: UU2 (Rare)
Last Word can’t be countered by spells or abilities.
Counter target spell.
The Buzz: This is the counter magic that Blue mages have been waiting for, but is it worth it? In the control mirror match, it’s leagues better than Rewind or Discombobulate – it’s essentially the end word in countering. In these cases, Last Word is appropriately named. Against any deck which can’t counter back, the other two spells are a lot better fit for today’s Type Two environment. Will this make any sort of impact in Type 1? I’ll leave that question to the Type 1 experts, but any card which can end a counter war before it starts deserves at least a glance. Keep in mind that in a counterspell war, your opponent can simply go back and counter your original spell, making Last Word vastly overcosted.
CC: UU1 (Common)
Look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the number of artifacts you control. Put one of them in your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library.
The Buzz: Impulse, but for Affinity builds only. Thoughtcast and Thirst For Knowledge already fill the card drawing slots in this deck, so will a tutor-style card fit into this archetype? Is digging seven cards deep for a single card better than digging three cards deep for all three cards?
CC: 7 (Rare)
Artifact Creature – Wizard Legend
UU1: Target permanent becomes an artifact in addition to its other types (This effect doesn’t end at end of turn).
3U: Gain control of target artifact (This effect doesn’t end at end of turn)
The Buzz: In Block, this guy could be an absolute house, stealing everything in sight while sitting comfortably out of Electrostatic Bolt range. He also allows you to kill any creature in play with artifact destruction, in the case that you don’t want to outright steal them. Once he’s in play, his activation cost is but a pittance. Will this see play in Metalworker decks in Extended, where it can absolutely wreck havoc on the mirror match?
Pulse of the Grid (Constructed)
CC: UU1 (Rare)
Draw two cards, then discard a card from your hand. Then, if an opponent has more cards in hand than you, return Pulse of the Grid to owner’s hand.
The Buzz: Once again we have another card drawing card which compares to Thirst for Knowledge. Unlike Machinate, Pulse of the Grid lets you keep multiple drawn cards. In addition, it’s a potentially renewable source of card drawing. Affinity decks can empty their hands extraordinarily quickly, and so Pulse of the Grid might give them a little more staying power for a long game (that being one that doesn’t wrap up in an insane Frogmite/Myr Enforcer/Broodstar turn 3 draw) then Thirst for Knowledge otherwise might have. Pulse is also another card that might merit Type I consideration – although while it could end up being nothing more than a Blue-intensive Catalog, it also might be decent enough a card filterer to see play.
Quicksilver Behemoth (Affinity)
CC: U6 (Common)
Creature – Beast
Affinity for Artifacts
When Quicksilver Behemoth attacks or blocks, return it to owner’s hand at end of combat.
The Buzz: This monstrosity can down regularly on the third or fourth turn, and does not have the double-Blue drawback of Broodstar. Much like Chromescale Drake, you’d be using the Behemoth as a supplemental finisher, and not as the focus of the deck. Is this good enough to find a place in the Affinity deck?
It’s very possible to play the Behemoth down both as an attacker and blocker on the same turn, plus it’s another non-artifact creature (which is a plus – Shatter and Naturalize and Oxidize can’t deal with it, and they are the most likely to be sideboarded in cards vs. Affinity decks). However, its lack of evasion might hurt this creature in the end – but it definitely merits a test in Affinity.
CC: UUX (Rare)
As an additional cost to play Reshape, sacrifice an artifact.
Search your library for an artifact card with converted mana cost X or less and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
The Buzz: Many a player have pointed out the two failings of Reshape: 1) It costs only one more mana to cast Fabricate and then cast the artifact outright, and 2) Many Tinker decks have trouble generating double Blue mana early in the game. However, Sapprazan Skerry saw play in the past and might yet see play again to solve problem number two. As far as number one goes, there are a lot of times that one mana makes a difference – and if you resolve Reshape, the opponent can’t stop you from tutoring the artifact directly into play. Since Reshape can be X or less, the X can be an arbitrarily large number if you feel like making a bluff.
Retract (Type 1)
CC: U (Rare)
Return all artifacts you control to owners’ hand.
The Buzz: Hurkyl’s Recall decks have not been tier one for a long time, but will this less-mana intensive version make the difference? Again, another card Type I players should at least give a passing glance to, although I would tend to think in the end Retract will not prove up to snuff.
Spire Golem (Constructed)
CC: 6 (Common)
Artifact Creature – Golem
Affinity for Islands
The Buzz: On the flip side of Razor Golem you have Spire Golem, which effectively is an Azure Drake for only three mana – if you’re playing an approximation of mono-Blue. While there isn’t really a deck to take advantage of Spire Golem in Type 2 right now, he might be a guy to watch post-Onslaught rotation, or in Mirrodin Block Constructed. If mono-Blue control ever makes a comeback in Extended, this might be a creature to watch in that format as well. On turn 6 (the Stalking Stones turn), Spire Golem comes down as a free 2/4 flyer.
Synod Artificer (Potential)
CC: U2 (Rare)
Creature – Vedalken Artificer
X, Tap: Tap X target noncreature artifacts.
X, Tap: Untap X target noncreature artifacts
The Buzz: It’s hard to tell what use this little guy might have, but combined with cards like Gilded Lotus and Thran Dynamo, the Artificer is capable of giving quite a mana boost. It can also double as a Mishra’s Helix against affinity builds. On the other hand, it could also be a steaming pile of junk against decks that have no artifacts. Think of him, at worst, as a Voltaic Key which can only hit non-creature artifacts.
Vedalken Engineer (Potential)
CC: U1 (Common)
Creature – Vedalken Artificer
Tap: Add 2 mana of any color to your mana pool. This mana may only be spent on artifacts and activated abilities of artifacts.
The Buzz: Who would have thought Wizards would print a”fixed” version of Mishra’s Workshop in Mirrodin block? Not only can this guy produce two thirds of a Workshop’s mana, but it can also be used for activation costs as well. Previous efforts of this sort of card have fallen short (Soldevi Machinist, Thran Turbine). Vedalken Engineer is going to see a lot of play in a lot of formats.
CC: U2 (Common)
Counter target spell. That spell’s controller may draw a card.
The Buzz: Compare Vex to Arcane Denial. The card disadvantage is the same amount, but you lose the ability to counter your own spell and come out ahead. It is a true Counterspell, and it does fill a major void between Mana Leak and Rewind/Last Word/Discombobulate in Type 2. Despite the drawback, expect this to see some play.
Voltaic Construct (Tinker)
CC: 4 (Uncommon)
Artifact Creature – Golem
2: Untap target artifact creature
The Buzz: Just thought I’d point out that in most situations, Voltaic Construct + Metalworker = infinite mana.
Death Cloud (Potential)
CC: BBBX (Rare)
Each player loses X life, then discards X cards from his or her hand, then sacrifices X creatures, then sacrifices X lands.
The Buzz: The new Pox, Death Cloud finally fills the space left by the exit of Mutilate in standard. People will build decks around this card – you can’t just throw it into an Extraplanar Lens deck and expect results, given the imminent loss of life, cards, and lands upon casting. There are ways to stilt this card in your favor obviously, and inventive MBC players will be packing these in multiples of four come February 20th (the day Darksteel becomes constructed legal).
Dross Golem (Potential)
CC: 5 (Common)
Artifact Creature – Golem
Affinity for Swamps
The Buzz: This little guy fits straight into Suicide Black builds. With a Dark Ritual, he’s a 3/2 fear creature on turn 2. He’s two mana on turn 3. Dross Golem is costed aggressively enough that almost any aggressive black based deck would be hard pressed to find a reason not to add him. A very good creature for the color.
Emissary of Despair (Sideboard)
CC: BB1 (Uncommon)
Creature – Spirit
When Emissary of Despair deals combat damage to a player, that player loses 1 life for each artifact he or she controls.
The Buzz: Black can’t kill artifacts, so why not run this instead? While Emissary of Hope isn’t a great anti-Affinity choice, this guy might hammer home the final points of damage for a Zombie deck. Definitely worth a look for Black-based decks looking to battle the evil Affinity empire.
Geth’s Grimoire (Potential)
CC: 4 (Uncommon)
Whenever an opponent discards a card, you may draw a card.
The Buzz: Just like Well of Lost Dreams would precipitate a lifegain deck, Geth’s Grimoire just screams”build a discard deck around me, stupid!” It’s quite good against many decks in Extended, if a little expensive (Psychatog and Madness in particular), not withstanding playing a deck filled with Specters, Blackmails, and the such yourself. Definitely an improvement over Megrim for discard strategies.
Greater Harvester (Potential)
CC: BBB2 (Rare)
Creature – Horror
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a permanent.
Whenever Greater Harvester deals combat damage to a player, that player sacrifices two permanents.
The Buzz: If only Dark Ritual were still around! The Harvester has a huge body for the casting cost, and has a very game-altering special ability. You’re able to sacrifice it to itself in a pinch, so the drawback of losing a permanent a turn can be shut off at virtually any time. Is this better than Visara? It comes down a turn earlier and has a larger body, though it doesn’t have evasion and can’t selectively kill creatures. Another good card without an immediate deck to play it in, Greater Harvester is powerful enough to warrant some testing.
Mephitic Ooze (Affinity)
CC: B4 (Rare)
Creature – Ooze
Mephitic Ooze gets +1/+0 for each artifact you control.
When Mephitic Ooze deals damage to a creature, destroy that creature. It can’t be regenerated.
The Buzz: Technically this card should be in the Blue section, since it’ll be part of Dark Affinity if it gets played. Five mana for an X/5 isn’t the best, but it’ll usually be 6/5 or larger by the time it hits the board in these decks. This will compete with Quicksilver Behemoth for a slot in post-Darksteel Affinity builds.
Nim Abomination (Potential)
CC: B2 (Uncommon)
Creature – Zombie
At the end of your turn, if Nim Abomination is untapped, you lose 3 life.
The Buzz: In Zombie decks, it’s Serpent Warrior mixed with Erg Raiders – it doesn’t have to attack every turn, but you’re going to want to. It would have been a better fit as a 4/3, but it’s still a large man. It does compete with Rotlung Reanimator, Nantuko Husk, and Lord of the Undead for the three spot in the Zombie deck, but it might just be large enough to be worth playing.
Screams from Within (Sideboard)
CC: BB1 (Uncommon)
Enchanted creature gets -1/-1. When it is put in into a graveyard, return Screams from Within from your graveyard to play.
The Buzz: If White Weenie catches on, this reusable creature kill card will be right there. If not for so many sacrifice effects in the Goblin deck (Sledder, Prospector, Siege-Gang Commander), it’d be amazing against that deck as well. It utterly decimates Elf decks. Keep an eye out for this one, especially since it can take out an entire weenie team in one cast.
Drooling Ogre (Extended)
CC: R1 (Common)
Creature – Ogre
Whenever a player plays an artifact, that player gains control of Drooling Ogre.
The Buzz: A little too risky to run in Standard right now, the Ogre fits into any number of Sligh builds. How many Extended decks are currently running artifacts? The Rock typically has none. U/G Madness doesn’t game with artifacts. Psychatog decks might or might not run Isochron Scepters or Chrome Mox, but chances are the Mox would come down on turn 1. Another card worth testing to see if it’s worth a damn.
Echoing Ruin (Sideboard)
CC: R1 (Common)
Destroy target artifact and all other artifacts with the same name as that artifact.
The Buzz: The best of the defensive Echoing cards, since multiples of the same artifact are more likely to be in play than multiples of the same enchantment (the Black Echo doesn’t outright kill creatures, and the Blue one can’t hit lands). This can act as a mini-Armageddon against Affinity decks, or take out multiple Frogmites/Myr Enforcers. Will it possibly see play in Extended if Metalworker-type decks become eminent next year?
CC: RX (Uncommon)
Fireball deals X damage divided evenly, rounded down, among any number of target creatures an/or players.
As an additional cost to play Fireball, pay 1 for each target beyond the first.
The Buzz: If a Red/Blue control deck emerges in Type 2, this might see play as an early game weenie sweeper/late game finisher. Much better than the alternative choice of Blaze.
CC: RRR (Rare)
Flamebreak deals 3 damage to each player and each creature without flying.
Creatures damaged this way cannot be regenerated this turn.
The Buzz: There’s no deck in Standard that would auto-include this card right now, and there aren’t too many bothersome regenerators outside of Troll Ascetic. With that said, there are also no Earthquake-type cards which are viable right now in Standard, and this would be quite good against Zombies, White Weenie, Goblins, and Elves. Is it better than Pyroclasm? No, but that’s more because of the triple Red cost than anything else.
Furnace Dragon (Block)
CC: RRR6 (Rare)
Creature – Dragon
Affinity for Artifacts
When Furnace Dragon comes into play, if you played it from your hand, remove all artifacts from the game.
The Buzz: A little too expensive to see Standard play en masse (though doubtlessly people will try getting him to work – even though you’d need to lose a sizable number of permanents yourself in order to cast him early enough to matter), Furnace Dragon will probably get a nod in Mirrodin Block Constructed, where Akroma’s Vengeance doesn’t exist as the board-sweeping answer to Affinity.
Goblin Archaeologist (Why God Why?)
CC: R1 (Uncommon)
Creature – Goblin Artificer
R, Tap: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, destroy target artifact and untap Goblin Archaeologist. If you lose the flip, sacrifice Goblin Archaeologist.
The Buzz: I hate this card, because it’s a coin flipping non-skill tester that can’t be ignored. Against Affinity decks, Goblin Archaeologist looks to be a potential Shatterstorm on a stick, capable of decimating an entire board position in a single turn. Unfortunately, he’s also a”flip to win” card – you have a 50/50 shot in any chance of either having it wreck house or do nothing.
Oxidda Golem (Potential)
CC: 6 (Common)
Artifact Creature – Golem
Affinity for Mountains
The Buzz: There are three types of Red haste creatures. The first are creatures which have a disproportionately high power-to-toughness ratio, but are designed to die at the end of the turn in which they are played (Ball Lightning, Blistering Firecat). The second type are those creatures which leave play at the end of turn, but return to hand instead of going to the graveyard (Viashino Sandstalker).
The third type is the straight haste creature, which tends to be a 1/1 for one or a 2/2 for three. These include Lava Runner, Goblin Warchief, Goblin Chariot, and Suq’Ata Lancer. Oxidda Golem pushes this creature just a notch higher, making the three drop slot for non-goblin-based Sligh decks a 3/2 haste creature for three mana. While this surely won’t cut into current Goblin builds (it would have to compete with Goblin Warchief and Goblin Sharpshooter, at the least), it will merit a close look in both block and post-Onslaught Type 2.
Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] (Potential)
CC: RR1 (Rare)
Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] deals 4 damage to target player. Then if that player has more life than you, return Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] to its owner’s hand.
The Buzz: Much like Pulse of the Fields, this Pulse fits more in a deck seeks to make a mid to late game comeback more than in an offensively minded build. It does have a few benefits over more conventional burn spells: if you’re down five or more life, it’s eight damage for six mana. This is considerably more than comparable”to the head” burn spells, such as Lava Axe or Searing Flesh. It can be cast as an instant, allowing you to take an attack head-on, and then even the life totals back up during the end of your opponent’s turn. While it can’t hit creatures, it can turn a damage race around single-handedly, and at a very reasonable cost.
Shunt (Potential, Sideboard)
CC: RR1 (Rare)
Change the target of target spell with a single target.
The Buzz: This is a reprint of Deflection, except it is Red and costs one mana less. It also gives Red the ability to engage in counterspell wars, although that use is more situational than retargeting player and creature affecting sorceries and instants. Between Shrapnel Blast, countermagic, Terrors, Persecutes, Shatters, and other targeted spells which are being used right now, this might just be cheap enough to be a sideboard option for Red decks, especially given that U/W control (filled with Cloudposts, Coastal Towers, artifact and Urza lands) isn’t as affected by Flashfires or Boil as it used to be.
Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer (Affinity, Extended, Tinker)
CC: R1 (Rare)
Creature – Goblin Artificer Legend
Sacrifice an artifact: Target artifact becomes indestructible until end of turn.
The Buzz: Tinker decks in Extended ran Welding Jar as a way to deal with artifact destruction post-board. Slobad turns every artifact you have in play into a Welding Jar – except slightly better since indestructible artifacts don’t tap when they are”destroyed.” Expect this to see Slobad pop up quite often in the sideboard of affinity decks, and in Extended if a Metalworker build emerges by the next season.
Vulshok War Boar (Beasts, Beast Affinity)
CC: RR2 (Uncommon)
Creature – Boar
When Vulshok War Boar comes into play, sacrifice an artifact or sacrifice Vulshok War Boar.
The Buzz: Comparisons will be made between the War Boar and Balduvian Hordes. A better comparison would be to Rathi Dragon, which required the sacrifice of two Mountains, whereas the War Boar only needs one artifact to come into play safely. If it were to see play in a beast deck, would the beast deck be willing to run four Great Furnace and four Tree of Tales in order to power the Boar up? Will he fit as the top of the curve in Sligh-type deck, which can afford to run more artifacts than the mana-intensive, two color beast deck? As a note, both Broodstar and Quicksilver Behemoth are both Beasts. Would it be possible to build a three-color Affinity deck incorporating Contested Cliffs, so that your entire creature base would both be invulnerable to artifact kill, and be able to pick off much smaller (keep in mind, the smallest of these three creatures is 4/5) creatures?
Ageless Entity (G/W Lifegain)
CC: GG3 (Rare)
Creature – Elemental
Whenever you gain life, put that many +1/+1 counters on Ageless Entity.
The Buzz: R&D is trying to make a push for a lifegain deck to emerge, between this, Well of Lost Dreams, and Nourish. On one hand, Ageless Entity is Durkwood Boars without any support cards. However, pair him with Nourish, and he’s a 10/10. Pair him with Ravenous Baloth, and he’s an 8/8. Could a Green/White deck emerge based upon these cards, plus Renewed Faith, Exalted Angel, and some control-based cards?
Fangren Firstborn (Potential)
CC: GGG1 (Rare)
Creature – Beast
Whenever Fangren Firstborn attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on each attacking creature.
The Buzz: Hard to fit in any but the most intense of Green decks, Fangren Firstborn might just be the card that Elf decks have been seeking as the finisher. He’s cheaper than Tribal Forcemage, Coat of Arms, and the not-too-long-departed Overrun. He can beat down quite well, has the effective power and toughness of Juggernaut, and makes a case for a revival of a Wirewood Hivemaster-based Green strategy.
CC: GG2 (Uncommon)
Creature – Beast
Karstoderm comes into play with 5 +1/+1 counters on it.
Whenever an artifact comes into play, remove a +1/+1 counter from Karstoderm.
The Buzz: The Beast deck has all but died out in Standard. Darksteel introduces a trifecta of playable beasts, including this guy, Fangren Firstborn, and Vulshok War Boar. Karstoderm won’t win any awards against Affinity. It can’t do much against Goblin Charbelcher and Proteus Staff decks. In fact, it’s pretty bad against half the field right now, given the concentration of artifact-based strategies. However, against the other half, it’s pure gold. Goblin decks in particular will not like facing this monstrosity… if it ends up getting played.
Nourish (G/W Lifegain)
CC: GG (Common)
You gain 6 life.
The Buzz: Wizards surveyed several pros in their now defunct”Ask the Pros” column, and one of the questions was”How much life would you have to gain off a one casting cost spell in order to make it playable?” The consensus was seven life, so Nourish is at least an attempt to get closer to that number. Compare this to Natural Spring (eight life for five mana, and a sorcery to boot) and it compares favorably. While it’s one less life than Heroes’ Reunion, it also exists at the same time as Isochron Scepter. Green and White have a lot of good Instants to throw on the stick (Naturalize, Oxidize, Nourish, Purge, and Raise the Alarm to name a few of the better ones) so it might be worth it to cobble a G/W lifegain deck together and see how it pans out.
CC: G (Uncommon)
Destroy target artifact. It can’t be regenerated.
The Buzz: It’s better than Shatter, it’s better than Naturalize in Standard right now, and it’ll see play in every single format. This one is a gimme.
Pulse of the Tangle (Beasts)
CC: GG1 (Rare)
Put a 3/3 Green Beast token into play. Then if target opponent controls more creature than you, return Pulse of the Tangle to its owner’s hand.
The Buzz: At the worst, it’s a token-generated Trained Armodon. There’s also not a huge chance of your opponent having two more creatures than you in the early game if you’re running a Green creature-based strategy. Will there be any sort of control deck that uses this as a comeback mechanism? Doubtful, since you really don’t want to fall behind an offensive deck too badly while making a single 3/3 creature as a sorcery.
There is a place for this card though: the aforementioned Beast deck. That deck has been notoriously bad on three-drops (Branchsnap Lorian, Leery Fogbeast, Krosan Warchief, and Ridgeline Rager have been the non-morph creatures available thus far to the deck), so it really plugs a hole quite nicely in the offensive structure of the deck. Even though you might only be casting it once, three for a 3/3 tribal creature isn’t the worst deal in the world. If on the off chance your opponent does have more creature than you, and you’ve got Ravenous Baloth in play, this also can double as a much better Bottle Gnomes.
Tangle Golem (Potential)
CC: 7 (Common)
Artifact Creature – Golem
Affinity for Forests
The Buzz: All five of the golems were pushed to the limit of playability in Constructed. All of them require somewhat mono-colored builds to play. Tangle Golem comes down on turn 4 for three mana (or on turn 3 if you have an elf/bird to power him out), and that’s simply huge. Once again though, it’s a matter of finding a deck to fit this in, as opposed to just throwing him into a deck right now. Is this better for an elf deck than Fangren Firstborn? Probably not. Just as a side note: with all the dual lands in Type 1 and Type 1.5, will these golems have the chance of seeing play due to their greatly reduced mana costs? Only one of them has a shot, but it’s not this one.
Creature – Elf Shaman
Creatures you control are unblockable as long as defending player controls an artifact land.
The Buzz: I promised I wouldn’t talk about Limited, but I just have to note that this is the best common or uncommon card for Limited formats in this set. It’s virtually guaranteed to turn all of your creatures into Neurok Spies, which is just insane. In Standard and Block Constructed, this might see play in the sideboard of Green-type decks to combat Affinity. It would allow your elves to alpha strike against Broodstars and Myr Enforcers, and gives Exalted Angel a way to slip past Broodstar in a pinch. Is it a better anti-Affinity choice than Naturalize or Oxidize? Probably not, but if Affinity decks begin running a larger quantity of Blue creatures (Quicksilver Behemoth, etc), then it might be better in offensively minded Green decks.
Viridian Zealot (Staple)
CC: GG (Rare)
Creature – Elf
G1, Sacrifice Viridian Zealot: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
The Buzz: Much like Oxidize, this guy is going to see play in virtually every format. The Zealot is Naturalize, except it can beat down in the early game. It’ll have a place in Genesis-based Rock strategies. It fits into a Verdant Succession build. Elf decks will love him, as suddenly Wirewood Herald can tutor immediately artifact/enchantment hate instead of having to get the summoning sick Scrapper or Lyrist. Aside from the double Green mana cost, there aren’t many reasons to not run this guy.