We’re down to the home stretch in our look at Fifth Dawn, and today’s installment takes a gander at the effect of the last set of the artifact block on Standard play. Just like with Darksteel, my look at Standard isn’t so much about”this card will or won’t see play” as much as painting a picture of why certain cards might be useful. As per usual on my Standard reviews, take these cards with a grain of salt – I intend to throw out ideas and concepts more than actual decks and the such.
Quickly now! To the review mobile!
No no, wait. No review mobile for you yet! There’s on important issue to address:
Assume for all the reviews below that Skullclamp is banned on June 1st, 2004 for Standard play. If this is not the case, then discard all opinions below and put Krark-Clan Ironworks, Engineered Explosives, and Steelshaper’s Gift as the playable cards in the set.
The Buzz: This is one of the best cards in the set, fitting perfectly into the current Affinity deck. It allows the Affinity player to fix their mana (discarding one artifact land for another), tutor for the appropriate Spellbomb (Aether or Pyrite), thin their deck, grab Ornithopter or Arcbound Worker in a pinch, and/or play with other one-drop tools. There’s very little that the Intuition can’t fetch that is of use in an affinity deck – not to mention Chalice of the Void and Engineered Explosives.
Beacon of Tomorrows
The Buzz: This Beacon might be used to resurrect both DNA and Tight Sight – it combos quite well with Spellweaver’s Helix and Mind’s Desire, and allows Tight Sight to keep itself from being decked.
Bringer of the Black Dawn
The Buzz: The ability to set up all your draws for the remainder of the game is quite powerful, and it’s entirely possible that mono-Black control decks will run a copy or two of this Bringer should that deck archetype make a comeback. Even in a tight race, losing two life a turn to fetch Consume Spirit several turns in a row (fuelled by Extraplanar Lens) seems like a sure way to win.
Bringer of the Blue Dawn
The Buzz: The Bringers all have powerful effects, but will there be a domain deck which uses them? Unlike the Black and White bringers, there isn’t a deck that would hard cast the Blue Bringer. Wouldn’t Arcanis be a better choice in many cases for a hardcore Blue deck? Is drawing three cards a turn better than tutoring your draw every turn?
Bringer of the Green Dawn
The Buzz: Easily the worst of the five Bringers by ability, but custom fit to the color most likely to be able to cast it. Wait a second – if you’re playing a Green deck, and can get access to a full domain by turn 5, why is this one more likely to be cast than any of the other four Bringers?
Bringer of the Red Dawn
The Buzz: How does this Bringer rate in relation to the others? Unlike the Black, Blue, or White ones, it translates to a heavy swing in board position against creature decks – few decks can race when you’re Threatening their biggest threat every turn.
Bringer of the White Dawn
The Buzz: While the Black and Blue bringers have initially more impressive effects, this is the Bringer most likely to see play, as mono-White Urzatron decks will love to get this monster in play, if only to recurse Mindslaver every turn of the game. Once this happens, the game is over. Definitely one to watch out for.
Circle of Protection: Artifacts
The Buzz: Not many of the other Circles of Protection are seeing play right now – this is because Affinity kills through loss of life and artifact creatures. Circle of Protection: Artifacts fills that last hole, but very badly – spending two mana to prevent one Ravager is too much to spend, given that many times Affinity can kill before the Wrath of God turn. This might be more of a solution against Darksteel Colossus than against Affinity.
The Buzz: Sun Droplet has seen marginal play against aggressive decks, but hasn’t really broken through to the mainstream due to its reactive nature. Clearwater Goblet allows a domain deck, should one emerge, to proactively gain four to five life each turn. This is not an insignificant amount of life, especially given that Goblets can stack with one another. Is it worth a slot in the domain deck, or should the domain deck concentrate more on threats and less on delaying tactics?
The Buzz: U/W control will love this card, and it will quickly become the second best counter magic in Standard behind Mana Leak. It’s not an unconditional counter like Rewind or Discombobulate, but it works better in the early game than either of these, and the Scry ability seems quite suited for getting you to the spells you want – unlike Discombobulate, you can entirely get rid of trash instead of delaying it coming up.
The Buzz: It’s not a goblin, so it’s not likely to have haste in a goblin deck. Plus, Clickslither seems like a better finisher in that deck anyhow. If Big Red makes a move into Standard, will this guy fill the void? Is it better than Blistering Firecat in an aggressive non-Red goblin deck? A 7/6 trampler that sticks around for three or four turns is nothing to discount, even given the massive drawback.
Crucible of Worlds
The Buzz: Quite decent in Slide, as you can cycle your lands and then put them into play. It also seems like a decent anti-land destruction card for non-Sacred Ground decks – although the ability to bring back lost Urza land pieces and Cloudposts in the mid game should you lose them before you draw a Ground might give this card an edge. Unlike other formats, it doesn’t seem like there’s a way to break this as a combo card, since there aren’t any useable Fastbond effects.
The Buzz: A double Fertile Ground for twice the mana. Will this be used in a combo deck designed around Rude Awakening? Will domain run this card in addition to Fertile Ground – remember, it’s still a mana accelerator in addition to being a mana fixer. Is this card just too expensive to compete in a world with Sylvan Scrying, Reap and Sow, Rampant Growth, and Birds of Paradise?
Devour in Shadow
The Buzz: The deck which made the most gains (perhaps not the best, but the most) is mono-Black control. This is another piece of the puzzle that will compliment Terror a lot more nicely than Dark Banishing, due to the lower casting cost. Is it better than Smother? In an environment with Frogmite and Myr Enforcer, signs point towards yes.
Door to Nothingness
The Buzz: Domain decks in the past were able to get up to double Legacy Weapon mana over the course of a long game. Will domain decks run a copy of the Door as a win condition?
The Buzz: Many are heralding this as the best card in Standard from Fifth Dawn, and while I don’t agree that it’s a clear-cut winner, it is definitely one of the best. Set to zero, one or two mana (the number that most likely will be hit in non-domain decks), the Explosives deal with most of the problem cards in the format – Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault, several of the early Goblins, and all sorts of token creatures. The inability to hit artifact lands hurts the card, but it makes the card really good instead of outright unfair.
The Buzz: Possibly good in a combo deck, the Witness isn’t as solid in Standard as he will be in The Rock in Extended. He will see play, but right now there isn’t a deck that can incorporate him to maximum effect – perhaps The Rock will make a comeback in Standard?
Eyes of the Watcher
The Buzz: Potentially good in a Tight Sight type deck, and a decent combo enabler. However, it doesn’t actually allow you to draw cards, so that’s a major strike against the Eyes.
Fold into Aether
The Buzz: Aside from uses such as countering your own Ornithopter to drop Darksteel Colossus, Fold is inferior to both Discombobulate and Rewind. It is another hard counter, so it at least deserves a mention.
The Buzz: It fills a void left by the departure of Fledgling Dragon from Standard, and will serve much of the same purpose that the Dragon did – it’s better early in the game and worse later, but overall at about the same power level.
The Buzz: Is this the piece of Equipment that White Weenie decks have been waiting for? Probably not, but the zero equip cost makes it awfully attractive, especially given that it’s a one time investment as opposed to a multiple two-mana investment for Empyreal Plate.
The Buzz: Since it doesn’t hit lands, it doesn’t outright decimate Affinity decks – Myr Enforcer, lands, and Disciple will survive. However, nothing else will. It’s quite good, but it’s not the be-all end-all of Akroma’s Vengeance against that deck. This will see play.
The Buzz: The most elegantly designed card in Fifth Dawn, Guardian Idol both accelerates and provides an attacking/blocking creature. Unlike Darksteel Brute, the Idol has a secondary purpose. While there might not be a deck that outright supports this card, it will see play – either now or post Onslaught Block.
The Buzz: These will be a staple if domain takes off. Otherwise, paying four mana for two charge counters isn’t a good deal – and that’s the most that many decks will be able to put on this sunburst card.
The Buzz: One of the few cards which says”build a deck around me” in Standard. Is this better than Lightning Rift? Are there any cards which work well when combined with Ion Storm in Standard right now?
The Buzz: B/G Death Cloud will love this little beater. I ask – why not just play Rampant Growth instead? You accelerate and fix your mana at a much less vulnerable price than by playing a 2/1 creature. Domain will also want this guy – but again Sylvan Scrying, Fertile Ground, Birds of Paradise, and Rampant Growth all seem like better early game plays for long-term development than the Adept. Overrated.
The Buzz: The buzz card of the set. There are oodles of mana to be made from this card – if you play it on turn 3 with, let’s say, a Talisman, then you are set with seventeen mana on turn 4 (4 artifact lands = 3 mana each, + 2 from the Ironworks + 3 from the Talisman). It works well with Myr Retriever, Pentad Prism, and Roar of Reclamation. This will see a ton of play and spawn entirely deadly artifact combo decks which can generate obscene amounts of mana in the early game.
The Buzz: Oops, sorry. No Skullclamp. A solid little beater, and possibly good for getting back Engineered Explosives or Pyrite Spellbomb – or Bonesplitter if you’re playing a white weenie deck. Is there a competitive R/W aggro-control deck that would be viable? Probably not, if it doesn’t involve Slide and Rift.
The Buzz: I’m a huge fan of this card – it fills a gap in Black control decks as a kill card for Skirk Prospector, Disciple of the Vault, Arcbound Worker, Birds of Paradise and other one-drop one toughness creatures. Another card which gives a huge boost to Mono Black control.
The Buzz: An amazing Tooth and Nail target, and one that fills a major gap in the deck. TwelvePost decks will run a copy of this main, in order to tutor out Pyroclasm against several aggressive deck types.
The Buzz: Is this better than Shock or Volcanic Hammer, neither of which are seeing much play right now? It all depends how well the Scry ability is received, but chances are that this will fall by the wayside for the time being.
The Buzz: Did Affinity really need another four copies of a solid kill card? Quite powerful and able to combo perfectly with Arcbound Ravager and/or Krark-Clan Ironworks if the need should arise – think of him as Disciple numbers five through eight – less powerful but still very deadly.
The Buzz: One of the best card drawing cards printed in years, and another boon to mono-Black control. I’d go so far as to say that if your deck has a heavy Black component (zombies, clerics, Death Cloud), then this card is a near auto-include.
The Buzz: A card which seems to be underrated, but undeservedly so – the mana you put in is the mana you get out, so you’re heavily accelerating yourself the turn after you cast the Prism. Turn 2 Prism for two lets you cast five mana spells on turn 3, plus it fixes any off colors you might want in your deck. In a Krark-Clan Ironworks deck, this is four mana towards Roar of Reclamation – the two White and two colorless. It helps enable sunburst/domain decks. Worth playing, though not an auto-include in every deck.
Plunge Into Darkness
The Buzz: Do you see a theme here? Fifth Dawn has pushed Mono-Black control into the best place it’s been since Odyssey block rotated out of standard. Between this, Lose Hope, Night’s Whisper, Devour in Darkness, and Shattered Dreams, I’d be very happy if MBC is my deck of choice.
The Buzz: Powerful and large, but which deck fits it right now? Visara is better in MBC, it’s too slow against both Affinity and Goblins, and the drawback is insurmountable against slide. Another overrated card. Much like Joiner Adept, the Masticore is playable but not all it’s cracked up to be.
The Buzz: The big question is how many Relentless Rats do you play in a Relentless Rats deck? The answer seems to be between twenty and twenty-eight, with compliments of discard and Chrome Mox in between. Time will tell how playable these guys are – but expect them to be popular nonetheless. A great card to goldfish your deck against.
The Buzz: Quite playable against Affinity, as it can stop early game Ravagers and Enforcers. A much better sideboard card to stop artifact-based decks than COP: Artifacts. It can also lock down artifact lands in the early game. A good tool for Black, Blue, and White decks which otherwise would have to splash Red or Green for artifact removal.
The Buzz: Are these Wrath of God numbers five through eight? Retaliate is quite good, and given that it is simplistically named, I’d look for this to possibly rotate into ninth edition in the place of Wrath of God. However, is it better than Wing Shards in today’s current Standard environment? Does it matter if you kill all the Goblins if you’re taking thirty damage post-Patriarch’s Bidding?
Roar of Reclamation
The Buzz: Many people have discounted this as an overcosted combo card. I say that it’s quite good – Replenish decks abused enchantments quite well, and enchantments weren’t exactly known for accelerating your mana. Every piece of a Roar deck would get you closer to casting the Roar, which is the hallmark of a good combo deck – each piece enables each other piece. Expect this to see play.
The Buzz: This card enables Tight Sight to compete again. It also enables Tight Sight to play significantly fewer Green mana sources, since the deck no longer needs double green to”go off.” It costs more than Early Harvest. It’s a sorcery, making it somewhat less efficient in the Tight Sight deck. It also acts as an alternate kill method in that deck, giving it another edge. Worth a look.
The Buzz: The best Blue cantrip in a long, long time. How does this compare to Sleight of Hand, Brainstorm, Opt, or Portent? Obviously Brainstorm is the best of these three, as you get to see all three cards at once and then pick/choose which you want to keep. However, Serum Visions lets you ditch any of the two cards you get to see. This makes it better than Portent. While you are stuck with the card you initially draw before you can Scry, Serum Visions will find a place as an early cast in blue based decks.
The Buzz: Amazing against Affinity – it effectively reads”target player discards a card of your choice” against that deck. The only cards it can’t hit are City of Brass, Disciple of the Vault, Glimmervoid, and Auriok Steelshaper. Given that Steelshaper will no longer be a part of that archetype (along with City of Brass), Shattered Dreams comes out as a major winner.
The Buzz: Is this any good at slowing down an initial Goblin assault? Probably not, but it’s a potential sleeper card for the set against aggressive-minded decks.
The Buzz: The best naturally double-striking creature in Magic. Six points of damage when equipped with a Bonesplitter. Much better than Slith Ascendant. A neat fit into an all-flying White Weenie deck, to top the curve ahead of Suntail Hawk and Leonin Skyhunter – but ahead of Exalted Angel.
The Buzz: One of the best sideboard cards in years – this is pure sideboard, able to hose any number of other hosers in a single bound. An answer for answers. This will also see play. U/W control finally has a good answer to Flashfires.
The Buzz: Pacifism still has yet to see serious play in Standard, despite it being a solid Limited removal spell. Stasis Cocoon acts as a one permanent Damping Matrix, except with the benefit of being able to double as land destruction (it works on shutting off mana abilities). Definitely worth a look, as it is much better than Purge or Arrest.
The Buzz: This would be the best card in the set, easily, were Skullclamp not about to get banned. If Skullclamp doesn’t get banned, this is the best card in the set, easily.
The Buzz: Quite a good artifact destruction spell, but is it better than Oxidize (can’t regenerate – important against Welding Jar) or Naturalize (equally good against pesky enchantments as it is against artifacts, which is significant in the Slide match)? It is not a better card than those two, which will keep it from seeing extensive play in Standard. However, I have quite a bit to say about this card tomorrow, when I explore Mirrodin Block Constructed (foreshadowing!)
The Buzz: Merfolk Looter was a great card in its time. That was partly because of the Madness mechanic, and partly because of Opposition. Neither of these cards exist now. Will this see play in any sort of deck now? The effect is really powerful – you can filter your draws every turn at no cost past the initial creature. It also works well for getting cards into the graveyard (and there are several decks in Standard which would not mind this effect), making it workable with Oversold Cemetery, Patriarch’s Bidding, Roar of Reclamation, and others. Worth playing, though how well it works will be tested in the coming months.
The Buzz: A fine addition to the Tooth and Nail deck – Magma Giant allows the deck to deal with Goblins more readily. Tornado Elemental can kill Platinum Angel (whether or not it is protected by Leonin Abunas), Visara the Dreadful, Exalted Angel, Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and Eternal Dragon. Slide will have fits with this guy, as it can attack through Eternal Dragon and can’t be slid out in a race situation. A solid card in an already playable archetype.
The Buzz: Might see play in a Krark-Clan Ironworks deck, as many of the pieces of that deck will have zero or one converted mana costs. Will be incredible should Skullclamp miraculously not be banned in Standard on June 1st.
The Buzz: Goblin Sharpshooter is quite incredible, and able to dominate an entire board in the Goblin on Goblin mirror (not to mention against several other creature based deck). The Sorcerer can act as a trump card on the Sharpshooter, should you not be able to get your own Sharpshooter online first. For this reason alone, it’s worth a look. Will it be playable otherwise? Possibly – giving a Tim haste is a big deal, since it can immediately deal with threats. Goblin Sharpshooter wouldn’t be nearly as good without the presence of Goblin Warchief.
Coming tomorrow: The last part of my look at Fifth Dawn in Constructed – MD5 Block play!