To see the first part of this article (which was broken up into three parts because it came in at seventy frickin’ pages!), check it out here.
Aboshan, Cephalid head dude
Well, apparently Cephalids are pretty good at picking out their rulership. It’s hard not to like this guy; he’s fairly large and acts as an Icy Manipulator and a reusable Deluge. I think he’s somewhat overestimated, though; 3/3 isn’t invincible by an stretch of the imagination, and his Deluge ability is unfortunately very blue-intensive. Obviously, no less of a first pick, but I would suggest keeping some mana free to guard him if you can.
At the same cost of Kirtar’s Desire, Aboshan’s is little less useful… But perhaps underestimated. It’s blue’s only threshold card and it does, indeed, pack two of the best abilities you can put on a creature for a single blue mana. You need a deck that will work with the Desire and threshold, which should be well known as blue/green. I’m not saying it’s amazing, mind you, but it comes with the threshold trick of being able to fizzle spells target at the creature by reaching threshold. And come on, tell me you’re not entertained by the prospect of a flying elephant? The number of decks it works in and against is small, but it could be good if you have instant speed tricks and fat green.
A solid blue card, Bursts hold all the advantages of normal creature bounce cards with the added bonus of becoming bouncier as more Bursts get used. I think people may pick these a little high in the hopes of pulling a full set of four. I’m sure you’ve heard of the”one Burst in the graveyard, Scrivener, Burst” combo which allows you, at the expensive cost of seven mana, to bounce your opponent’s best creature to their hand repeatedly.
It’s a gigantic blue flier that pretty much ends the game if it gets active. I should note, however, that at seven to cast initially, if prepared your opponent can kill it when you first drop it. Of course, that its 6/6 should make killing it difficult, and it’s able to shake off Kirtar’s Desire for the cost of a card and whole whack of mana. Still, a decent rare and it would be certainly pleasant to open.
I don’t think that the Graft belongs in your mana deck unless you’re capable of laying down enchantments that you’re going to want to move around. I’m not really sure being able to move a Seton’s Desire after every opposing creature is forced to block your Rabid Elephant is really all that big of a deal, though. If your opponent shows off impressive enchant permanents, then obviously you’d consider siding it in.
I’m a big fan of the Fisher, I really am. They’re decent for their price, a 2/2 flier being a useful creature almost always, and they replace themselves when they die. This part is obvious. What I really enjoy is combining them in black-blue with recursive elements. You can use them as a slow card drawing engine with Awakening, or use Morgue Theft/Gravedigger to repeatedly replay it. If you’re costing your opponent an opposing creature or spell for each time the Fisher dies, you will rapidly gain some nice card advantage, as well as keeping your 2/2 flier on the board.
The Weaver is a great creature, for the most part. The ability to avoid being burned is a tasty treat when stacked on top of a fair priced (for this set) 2/3 flier. The Weaver works best in situations where your opponent can’t use their prime removal to be rid of it, and you have something to make them regret this, like a Seton’s Desire or Nantuko Disciple.
The big daddy of the Aven cards, the Windreader rules common fliers with it’s”massive” 3/3 body. Add in the useful reading ability and you have yourself a choice flier. The Windreader works nicely if you want to actively utilise a Millikin to gain threshold, allowing you sort your draws, but other than that it’s just a generally huge pain in the ass for your opponent. Keep in mind that it reveals the card, allowing your opponent to see it as well.
I suppose that if you somehow managed to get a Beguiler out, reached threshold and slap an Aboshan’s Desire on it, plus he had no fliers, well… The Beguiler would still, somehow, manage to be crap. You generally don’t want to help your opponent put cards in his graveyard, as reaching threshold is something most decks strain to do; doing it for your opponent is just no good. Not only that, for some reason he’s three mana for a 1/1 body, which means a Woodland Druid can beat him up and live to tell about.
On paper, the Griffin looks excellent and on the most part I’m good with it’s abilities, but I think I would prefer a Windreader or Smokeweaver. Two toughness puts it in Firebolt, Patriarch’s Desire, or Flame Burst range, which you’ll gladly trade for a card and two mana, right? The problem is that blue is not a fast colour, and while you’re chewing turn after turn on the Griffin, your opponent can be pushing your life total further and further down. I’m not saying the Griffin is a bad card, but be careful with how you use it. Sometimes just letting it die will better for you.
If this card was an instant, I might like it, but generally this card has the same problem Beguiler does: Occasionally, you’ll catch something you want to be rid of, but other times you’ll do nothing more than sift through your opponent’s deck for him and pushing him closer to threshold. You can cast it on yourself, though, which moves two dud cards and itself out of the way. That’s not quite as bad… But it doesn’t actually draw any cards. Unless you combo it with Pedantic Learning, that is. Oh boy.
Battle of Wits
This is a Limited review.
I am not a big fan of this card, but it can be useful. Unfortunately, it’s not an instant, which makes me which they had just reprinted Catalogue… But then, Catalogue isn’t fundamental card disadvantage. If find your deck looks like it would really benefit from hitting threshold, it’s a useful card for pitching away late lands, but only if you didn’t manage to draft any Cephalids for some reason.
The power of this card is gigantic. If you played one card to reach threshold with, the Broker would be that card. He combos well with threshold elements of your deck, combos well with flashback, and combos well with my personal favourite joke, Ancestral Tribute. Beyond that, the Broker works disturbingly well with Ghastly Demise or Painbringer, allowing you relative impunity when it comes to their usage. He can provide a functional manner to discard creatures for Mortivore and Zombify as well. Basically, this card is amazing.
The Looter does everything the Broker does, while being faster to hit the table but more vulnerable. The Looter dies to Engulfing Flames, Afflict, Gift, Chainflinger, and so on, which can be a bit frustrating for three mana creature. I still love Looters, obviously; I’m just pointing that out.
The Retainer is just a problem waiting to happen for your opponent. At three toughness, it’s not going to get put out of the way easily – and oh yeah, it’s a walking Flood. It eats up your opponent’s blockers and attackers, and renders white’s mighty cleric army useless near singlehandedly. Even worse, if it’s up to job, the Retainer can tap down blockers and then attack itself. How can you not love this card?
Even the 1/1 Cephalids manage to be decent. At two mana for a 1/1 flier, the Scout is about fair priced for blue flier without a penalty. Its ability will not come into play until later on in the game, but it allows you to play lands and then later pitch them when you need to get your hands on nonland cards, or just reach threshold. Although expensive to utilise properly, the Scout is decent. As an added bonus, it’s also a wizard, meaning it can tap for Patron Wizard and Aboshan. Not a first pick, but certainly a useful critter.
This shrine has to be the worst of them. (And that’s saying a lot when it comes to Shrines – The Ferrett, commenting despite Rizzo’s concern for me) Even if they do have cards in graveyard, it accomplishes nothing more than increases their casting cost by one or two points. Aces!
Chamber of Manipulation
I’d be pretty willing to argue this as the best uncommon in the set, if not one of the ten best cards in the set period. The Chamber on its own is powerful, allowing you to stall your opponent or force their best creatures to work for you in whatever fashion. In combination with other cards, though, the Chamber really shines. I’ve already explored Wayward Angel and Animal Boneyard – but the Chamber combos with a number of black cards as well. Most obvious is likely Innocent Blood, which allows you to trade two cards in hand (the Blood and the discard) to remove your opponent’s best and worst creature. You can repeat a similar effect with Cabal Patriarch. Sadistic Hypnotist or Braids allows you to build up card advantage, although they can’t be used during your opponent’s turn, which makes them somewhat inferior defensively. If you’re playing red/blue, you might play Reckless Charges; the Charges will allow you to steal and then attack with creatures they own for additional damage, making for frustrating”do I block and lose two, or take X+3 damage?” decisions. You can use a Puppeteer to untap enemy creatures if they try to tap an effect creature like a Hallowed Healer while launching an attack, to rid yourself of the horrible Healer.
Lastly, the Chamber’s effect is land-based, not blue, so the Chamber is capable of stealing Iridescent Angels and sacrificing them to various effects.
The funny thing about this ‘Vore is, it’s pretty much a”If you can get this on the table, you’ll win” card. At eight mana, though, it’s pretty tough to play the ‘vore in the first place. Ideally, you’ll play the Vore in a Green/Blue deck that utilises a lot of instants, Werebears, and Diligent Farmhands. It could also work well against slower decks that rely on lots of instants to control the table. If you have the ideal deck, for it, go all out; if not, you may find this Vore is a functional sideboard card. Massive fliers, no matter the price, can be good!
It draws three cards. There isn’t much to say about this card; pick and play it. No matter what blue deck you’re running, this card is always good. Sure, it’s not Ancestral Recall, but it does do the same thing as Recall.
Although expensive, the Exchange essentially allows you to trade your worst for his best. The Exchange is basically always going to be lopsided, and in your favour, allowing you to hand your opponent and army of squirrel tokens for his Healers, Chainflingers… Whatever. For extra points, trade your opponent Phantom Whelps, which will happily bounce back to your hand when they get into combat.
Viable as a defensive or offensive card, Deluge is useful piece of tech to hold onto. If played at the right time, it can not only cripple your opponent’s defensive force, but render his mighty army of Hallowed Healers useless and easy pickings. It’s a situational card, but it is an instant and it can buy you time if you need it.
If this card was an instant, I’d be personally all for it’s usage. It is bounce, which a lot of people utterly swear by… But it’s also extremely expensive and very slow. It combos with Cultural Exchange, allowing you to retake what is yours over time, and if really necessary you could use it to bounce a Scrivener to pull back a choice instant from your graveyard. It does allow you to break off enchant perments, so if you have no answer to these, its usage is not a bad idea.
Divert’s defensive usage is very obvious. Your opponent casts a burn, removal or pump card and you use it instead to his disadvantage. This ability tends to wear off in the late game, but it still does have a usage. For example, let us say you play a Second Thoughts. Your opponent responds to Second Thoughts by Aether Bursting his creature. You may then, if you can’t Divert to fudge the burst, change the Thoughts’ target to another attacking creature, keeping the Thoughts from fizzling and still knocking out a creature. This is probably the best usage for a late-game Divert, since it’s cheap and surprising. If you have a lot of spells where you’d like to be sure they reach their mark or at least hit something, like Refresh, Thoughts, Desires, or Afflicts, Divert can be useful for this.
This 4/3 Serpent is a reprint, as we all likely well know. What is different about this reprint is the fact that Dreamwinder is much more at home here than in Mirage. The ‘Winder allows you to cheaply throw away islands that you don’t want or need, to accelerate your threshold at instant speed, which can lead to the Winder becoming more useful than just another fat body. That it’s fair priced for its power and toughness, as an excellent compliment to blue’s style, makes Dreamwinder one of my favourite picks in blue threshold decks.
Alone, the Artist is a useless card. The ability to deal a point of damage a turn is better utilised by Psionic Gift, which can target opponent’s creatures at the risk of card disadvantage. However, when paired with other cards, the Artist can be pretty useful. With Reckless Charge, he becomes a cheap source of eight points of very evasive, very early damage, and when paired with Ember Beast, he gives you a partner which isn’t going to die attacking and can be played before the beast. The Artist is also nice with Nantuko Disciple, Tattoo Ward, or Seton’s Desire, basically, if you can increase his damage output to something decent, he can rapidly become a thorn in your opponent’s side. The Disciple is the best of those cards.
This isn’t a main deck card, but if your opponent shows off a bomb rare that you don’t want to see hit the table, extract can be a nice way to nip it at the source. I’m not sure what rare would justify that, but maybe Kahaml or Patriarch if you didn’t have cards to deal with them.
Counter magic is generally so rare in Odyssey Limited that the Denial’s five mana costing cost doesn’t upset me too much. Your opponent just isn’t going to expect his spell is going to be countered. I’m not likely to play a whole load of them, but one can make for an advantageous effect. Honestly, there are enough mana-intensive, game-ender cards in Odyssey that you may just want to play a counter or two.
I have tried playing this card, but the results are generally poor. If the creature isn’t tapped when you play it, it’s not going to get tapped until your opponent needs it. If it is tapped, he’s going to untap it when he needs it, since the effect doesn’t read anything like”use this ability only during your upkeep.” If you played it on a Hallowed Healer, he would consider it mostly dead, until that defining moment where he discards three cards and prevents twelve points of damage in one turn. Wouldn’t that be special?
However, the ink becomes fairly useful if you possess nomad decoys or puppeteers to re-tap anything he chooses to untap. It’s still risky giving your opponent any operational mode of gaining threshold.
It’s unfortunate that this card is not an instant, because I’d rather like it if it was. It works much in the same way Tolarian Winds or Windfall works… But at five mana, it’s a pricey spell that might not have the effects you’re dreaming of. If you’re playing with a lot of threshold creatures, it works like a burst of Cephalid Brokering would probably work… But otherwise it’s not going to help much. Keep in mind, though, that if your opponent has a big hand and not very many cards left in this deck, which does sometimes happen in Odyssey, you can use it to push the anthill over.
At UUU for a 2/2, the Wizard’s effect better be damn good! Well, it’s all right. The Wizard is a solid body and works with your other wizards to slow your opponent’s casting down to a crawl. That is, if you have other wizards. If you have Cephalid Scouts, Puppeteers, Auramancers, and Escape Artists for some reason coming out off the wazoo, you can use them to lock up your opponent’s mana while you kill him with other cards. That’s not horrible, but it certainly doesn’t come up to the mark Master Apothecary does. Then again, it’s not Seton, Krosan Protector, either.
Not only is it fairly unlikely that you’re going to trigger Pedantic learning’s effect, but it also makes you pay mana for the card drawing. And it’s rare. Ugh. Sure, maybe you could play this and Predict,”predict” you’re going to hit an island, hit an island, and draw three cards for three mana… But maybe you can invent time travel and go back in time to smack yourself for even thinking about drafting this card, too?
One mana, cantrip, lets you see your opponent’s hand. I like Peek because it pushes towards threshold, and as a one mana spell I can sometimes take lower-land hands with more confidence than I would otherwise. As cantrips go, I prefer Predict, but Peek is never a bad draw. Also, if nothing else, you can Peek, then play a Scrivener, pull back the Peek, and use it to Peek later on and draw another card.
Well, I said in other cases, it’s nice to be able to sacrifice your own creature at will, and this one is a good reason for that. An opposing Persuasion tends to extremely screw up your playing, with your best creature suddenly deciding to fight for the other side. It’s odd that it’s five mana for what Control Magic did for four, but I believe it’s simply set to the pace of the set. I think that Persuasion may be one of these few cards you might want to play alongside Aura Graft, but I’m not so sure how that would work.
At first glance I disliked the Whelp, but after playing it a few times I’ve grown to like this li’l doggie. The Whelp can actively make its way back to your hand, which is somewhat negative and at the same time somewhat positive. If you aren’t going to be casting anything else, you can use the attack effect, which is akin to paying 1U to untap the Whelp… So its drawback may or may not be as bad as you’d think. The Whelp is also solid alongside Ember Beasts in blue/red, with Reckless Charge speeding up the second Beast/Whelp assault.
In a draft, a player once said”Predict is silly” and dismissed the card offhand as useless. I’m somewhat surprised by this ignorance, as Predict is actually a pretty good card. Predict works fine on it’s own, it allows you to either a) Mill the top card of your opponent’s library; either you’ll hit one of his basic lands (15% or so) and draw two cards, or knock out something he might use. Or, B) you can Predict yourself and pick your most common basic land, which will mill two cards into your graveyard and replace the used Predict, if not allowing you to draw two cards as well. Predict works nicely with Repel, allowing you to pick off your opponent’s best creature and draw two cards, which is a very good deal. It also works well against Aven Windreader, both on your side and on your opponent’s side. You can watch his library for bomb cards and then get them out of the way – or, if he is watching your library, Predict when there’s a useless card coming up, and effectively get through three cards in your library. Predict is also one of the best instants to use with Mirari or Holistic Wisdom, especially if the two other combos are going on. I once double-Repelled and double-Rredicted using Mirari, which – needless to say – had a huge effect on my opponent’s board position and my hand size. Predict is simply one of my favourite tricks, and it’s unfortunate it’s uncommon.
The Gift fills in blue’s weaknesses when it comes to dealing with opposing trick creatures. It’s a risky card, with the standard enchantment disadvantage risk, which is why I happen to really like playing Gifts on (as I mentioned earlier) Angelic Walls. It combos, of course, with Puppeteer to produce an additional point of damage when needed, which is a nice synergy. The real key to the Gift is to play it at the right time: If your opponent is tapped out and has a juicy one toughness creature on the board, throw the Gift down and make sure he won’t be able to gain card advantage from it.
I really hate this card. It’s 0/1 half the time, which isn’t a good place to be in this set, and it doesn’t grow unless you discard cards. I’ve seen people play it repeatedly, and I admit: It ends up being a card sink for them. You tend to throw one removal card at it, and then play another, often at card advantage, like throwing an Engulfing Flames and then an Afflict at it.
If forced to choose between this guy and Nomad Decoy, I think my head would explode. The Puppeteer is a little less solid for locking down attackers, but his ability presents more combo skills and works somewhat better aggressively. If you have a strong creature that can attack freely, like a thresholded Mystic Zealot, remember that you can untap the Zealot to keep it as a functional blocker instead of tapping down an opposing attacker. Puppeteer works well with Cephalid Broker, Chainflinger, Whipkeeper, and various Nantuko dorks to a great extent. Essentially, it’s one of the most useful creatures you can draft. And it’s even 1/2 for three, putting it out of Afflict/Gift range.
Although four mana is a bit expensive, Repel has only one mana symbol, is an instant, and doesn’t lose card advantage like Burst does when used on opponent’s creatures. It obviously works nicely with Predict or, if really desperate, Bamboozle, making it a solid pick. I wouldn’t play a lot of these, since they’re expensive, but I’m not complaining either.
Rites of Refusal
All of the Rites cards are generally bad, but this must likely the best of a bad crop. Countermagic is just that – countermagic – which can sometimes swing games when your opponent overextends himself, or sometimes be functionally useless. It’s not a bad idea to run a Rites of Refusal if you see threshold as useful… But without that, it’s not so great.
The Scrivener is a natural pick in this set, seeing as the number of powerful instants is pretty high. He’s overpriced for his body, but he functions nicely in a deck where you have cantrip instants to recast. I especially like pulling back Shelters, which probably already screwed my opponent up once to begin with.
It’s three mana for a 1/1. I can, if necessary, use it to spring a blocker into play! And then my opponent Ghastly Demises the blocker. My Doppelganger never comes back, and I just lost card advantage. I’m sure if you wanted to something weird like loop a pair of Gravediggers in and out of your graveyard this would work nicely, but I can’t see why you’d want to do that.
Debates have raged over this card repeatedly – and you know, I wonder how much people have actually played it? It fits in nicely with blue, which tends to have evasive fliers that your opponent must either remove or die to, or where you can Repel/Burst his advantage back to his hand at the end of his turn and then lay down the Standstill to muddle his thoughtmaking process. There are essentially two types of limited games, one where someone is being horribly beaten down, or a back-and-forth game where you keep trading resources till one player falls over. The latter is, in my opinion more common, and the Standstill can work nicely to make your opponent ‘skip a beat’ in those matches. I wouldn’t pick this card highly, but if you have the deck for it – either fast muscle or a lot of evasion – the Standstill can work well.
This card fits in nicely with the set. It can be hard to use, but it can also provide a permanent solution to a card your opponent may want to using recursive effects on, or just general flashback spells. It’s splashable, but it does usually require some level of mana advantage to use effectively. I wouldn’t first-pick this card, but it’s a solid addition to a slow blue deck, and works very nicely with Scrivener.
The Tank works a lot like a Cephalid looter, except that it’s harder to remove and works fine if you don’t want to discard a card. It’s very selective, but also otherwise useless, which can be a bit of a toss up. The card functions well if you have a lot of threshold, obviously, but also if you have a lot of cheaper cast creatures that you either don’t want to draw or don’t want to see in the midgame. I believe this card can actively combo with Pedantic Learning, which isn’t too bad a proposition, but the Learning is generally a very bad card unless you’re running a lot of Think Tanks and Predicts to back up its draw power. The Tank alone is a functional card that I have no problems playing in decks where I don’t have Looters and Brokers. If I do, I don’t use it, since it isn’t a creature and I can’t turn it ninety degrees if need be.
It’s a huge flier with a drawback that isn’t necessarily a drawback at all. Dropping your hand size allows you to pitch cards towards threshold; although blue is already excellent at this, the Devourer just reinforces an already excellent blue skill.
The Eater is nowhere near the creature the Devourer is, but it’s a favourable card. At 2/2 for two, it can present some early damage, assuming you went first and dropped a 1cc spell on the first turn; I’m not a big enough fan of threshold to want to pitch cards early on in the game.
I’ve tried playing the Nibbler and it’s just generally bad. Escape Artist does its job better, and I don’t even much like Escape Artist.
The spell is simply too much mana to be used consistently. Seven mana is about the limit for Odyssey, with seven lands being seen in about 75% of the games I’ve played unless mana screwed or horribly rushed. The Stretch is simply too much mana, and even if you had the option of playing it and knowing you could play it, you’d probably just Broker or Scout-sac your extra lands.
Touch of Invisibility
The Touch is a mana too high for its effect. There are a few creatures it works well with, like Pianna or an Ember Beast where you want the Beast’s partner to survive, but generally it’s unplayable.
This card is not completely unplayable in Limited. If you deck was built around stalling, you could use it to accelerate your opponent’s demise. If you had a lot of flashback and threshold, Traumatise can be used as a sort of mass card drawing engine/tutor, combined with immediate guilt-free threshold. If you had enough sorceries in your deck and Holistic Wisdom, you could happily replay Traumatise a few times to eradicate your opponent’s deck. After two Traumas, a thirty-card deck is soundly very close to drawing themselves out of cards, which could be combined with Cephalid Broker to end them very rapidly. The card is very powerful – but at the same time, it’s narrow focus.
I prefer Smokeweaver over the Sentinel, simply because the Weaver’s ability applies outside of blocking large green fat. The Sentinel can lock up one of your opponent’s attackers – but then, so can a Puppeteer. It’s still a very strong flier and four mana for a 2/3 with evasion and an additional, useful skill is nice, but green isn’t going to be blocking the Weaver or Reader very often and the Sentinel can’t really kill much on defense, either.
This card, despite all things, could work. If you were running a lot of cheap flashback, you could use it as a card drawing engine of moderate speed. The ability to go, say”Chatter of the Squirrel – draw a card. Chatter again, draw another card” is not negative, and it’s unlikely to help your opponent as much. Another good place would be alongside black, where your creatures are being recurred at a consistent rate. Although it’s a whooping six to cast/activate and then three to sac, bouncing a pair of Fishers or Gravediggers in and out of the graveyard could refill your hand nicely. That being said, I wouldn’t play this card main deck – but if my opponent’s deck showed signs that it couldn’t effectively capitalise on it, I think it could work.
Well, it’s akin to Wrath, only it affects everything on the board. If your opponent is winning, he’ll likely have more permanents on the board, which will lead to, hurray hurray, him discarding more cards. If you’re having trouble breaking his defenses and you have a lot of mana, you are given the option of float-casting, while he isn’t. The card isn’t in my mind as good as a lot of other bomb rares, but it’s probably a first pick.
Words of Wisdom
I’ve seen other people play this card – guess what? Those people lost. Giving your opponent a card is just bad. Sure, drawing two cards for one is nice, but Predict has a decent change of pulling that off and your opponent gets nothing. Blue has better cantrips and better card drawing – heck, so does white.
This card is not damage – it’s negative toughness, which can kill off one-toughness regenerators and Hallowed Healers. Funny thing is, there are only four regenerators in the set anyways, and two of them aren’t like to have one toughness. Krosan Avenger needs threshold but it’s a fair enough target, Patchwork Gnomes are pretty dorky. The other usage, killing Healers or Cephalid Looters or Kamahl, Barbarian guy, dead is a lot more useful. And hey, it draws you a card, which is always good. Don’t draft this card too high, but it’s likely to always have a target, so it’s a fair pick.
Braids, Cabal Minion
Braids is iffy to me. If played at the right moment in time, she will basically dominate your opponent until they either cast Firebolt on her or die, with the latter being quite possible. However, she ends up earning the same stigma as Standstill does in my book. Note that I’d play both! She combos with Squirrel Nest, Nut Collector, or anything that will provide you repeated sacrifices.
If you were running a lot of Gravediggers, Morgue Thefts, Awakenings, or threshold creatures, Buried Alive will fit nicely into your deck. Having stuff to pull out of your graveyard with these spells is what makes these spells either good or bad. The ability to essentially tutor for your three best creatures and pull them out turns later is fairly useful. It’s slow, but much of Odyssey is just that.
If I’m going to be removing stuff from my precious graveyard, I either want to do it before I have threshold or be flashing it back for more useful effects. The Inquisitor accomplishes neither of these things.
The Patriarch has the unique advantage of taking all the other colour’s legends and bending them over his knee. He’s also a relative bit of domination in melee combat, pounding on your opponent’s door with big five-power fists. I warn you, though, if you have this guy on the table, try to keep three mana open while attacking. Black presents itself with mighty recursive powers that grant it solid staying power, but having someone give your Patriarch Second Thoughts isn’t so fun.
I think Bloodcurdler is better than this.
At six mana and risking card disadvantage, the Tar is a mighty costly move. It’s also an unstoppable three point life loss per untap. Damage prevention doesn’t stop it, so it gets around Hallowed Healers or other barriers who might otherwise block off damage dealing from a black player. The Tar is costly, but it does tend to end the game, unless your opponent pulls off massive life gain or removes it from play.
Four mana for a 2/2 flier is about par for the course in Odyssey. If you reach threshold or play the horror after reaching threshold, the Horror boots up to a 4/4 but can no longer block. Of course, as 4/4 fliers are pretty hard to stop in this set, you probably don’t care if the Horror can block. Keep in mind that the Horror can be declared as a blocker and then you can pull off tricks to reach threshold to kill 2/3 or 3/3 flying attackers.
The Purge isn’t generally going to be useful, but I have heard of it being played. The spell is an instant, which allows you to pull your opponent’s graveyard count down two cards for two mana in response to them playing a trick to gain fast threshold. If this is used during combat, it could potentially equal a killed creature. Thus this might be worth pulling out of the board if your opponent counts on threshold.
While Coffin Purge and other graveyard removers tend to be a somewhat risky play, Crypt Keeper is one of my favourites. A 2/1 for two mana is a fair deal to begin with, and the ability to make threshold one more card or remove a flashback card from the game before the other player can use it is useful. If he does nothing else, he can trade for an attacker and then remove an opposing card once damage is on the stack.
I really can’t make up my mind on this creature. A 4/3 flier for five mana is a fair deal – not excellent – but it can end the game rapidly in this set. On the other hand, its drawback makes it ridiculously easy for your opponent to deal with. In each game the Monstrosity often either wins or sits in my hand a completely dead card. The discard effect is not always negative, as once you’ve reached five lands you are unlikely to want to go very far past that… But at the same time, the fact a single Chainflinger can mess you up badly is pretty awful.
I generally can’t see the card as functioning well.
If your opponent is playing a lot of flashback and threshold in the same deck then this card may be worth siding in. As graveyard removal goes, though, Steamclaw and Crypt Keeper are better.
The Tutor is only as good as the best card in your deck. If your deck doesn’t have any bombs and relies on general card quality, then the tutor is a dud. However if you do draft a number of situational or bomb rares, then the tutor is exceedingly useful, acting something like a”second Aboshan to draw” or a”Gravedigger when your Cabal Patriarch gets Liquid Fired.” One of these is usually safe, while drafting two can be worrisome. Having two in your hand slows you down.
It’s rare that a creature benefits from and accelerates threshold all by itself. The Wererat often pitches card to save itself, or, if it feels like it, to suddenly gain +2/+2 in combat and survive even if your opponent uses a trick to try to outmuscle it. The Rat is also pretty nice if black is your secondary colour, using only one mana symbol in its casting cost. Overall it’s one of my favourite black creatures.
Although having one toughness on a three-mana cost creature that doesn’t have an overwhelming effect is a setback, it’s hard to argue with the quick damage a Dusk Imp is often capable of dealing out. If nothing else it serves as a useful critter in the air, which isn’t a negative thing to have.
I suppose this card would be useful in a deck running four Gravediggers or whatever so as to consistently pull out the Entombed card and use it. Otherwise, it’s a dud rare.
Seeing as white has a number of fairly strong creatures, and is in fact a fairly strong colour, Execute is a useful card to pick up later on in the draft. I wouldn’t draft it over maindeck-worthy cards, but once sideboarded in, Execute can be a pretty decent game swing.
Face of Fear
Compare the Face to Frightcrawler. Both have access to one of the strongest evasion skills in any format. However, the Face has to discard cards to feed it’s ability and pay mana. The Frightcrawler starts out at a measly 1/1 creature, while the Face is rather large 3/4. The Frightcrawler drops on turn two and begins slowly pecking the opponent’s life off; the Face comes out at turn 6 or later and can’t consistently use its ability due to the discard effect. The Face can block; the ‘Crawler, pre- and post-threshold, really can’t. Basically, the Frightcrawler is better designed for using its ability, while the Face seems an overpriced and undersized creature that should be left out of your deck.
I like Crypt keepers a little more than Ghoul, since black has other strong four-drops, but the Ghoul is a useful tool in the right hands. A two-card drop is a firm push away from threshold, and 3/2 for four mana is nothing to laugh at. The ability does require mana, which makes it require a little bit more situation, but the Ghoul is a fitting card if you want to keep your opponent from getting threshold while still being useful if he doesn’t.
Don’t play the Cur unless you can something to do with the useless body in turn 5 and on. A Hypnotist, Awakening, whatever, and it’s isn’t quite as bad. On the most part, the Crypt Keeper is a better two-drop and stays useful longer.
There are times when you draft a black deck, reach the third pack, and realise you only have ten creatures interested in getting into combat. This is where the Imp shines. The Imp is not an ideal creature in a fast deck, but its ability is a useful tool both when facing fliers or when you need to discard cards to power a threshold block or trick.
The ‘Crawler is easily dismissed, but more powerful than you’d expect. If the opponent can’t block it, the Crawler promises to break stalled games and slowly whittle off their life. Once you hit threshold, he balloons up into a serious problem that either gets dealt with or dies. The Crawler, unlike his blue brother the Escape artist, doesn’t need any cards to make himself into a threat – just an unwary opponent. Although I wouldn’t fill a deck with Crawlers, there’s nothing like watching your opponent Second Thoughts it because he won’t be able to ever deal with it.
In a set filled with threshold and graveyard action, the Ghastly Demise fits right in. It’s true that it can’t kill regenerators, but there are only four regenerators actually in the set – two of which are black anyways. The Demise is cheap and quick; a more subtle card than Terror, but useful in a set filled with three or less toughness critters.
The Digger is a bit trickier than you’d expect. If you’re looking to hit threshold or utilise your graveyard, pulling yourself a card back can be troubling. However, it’s usually worth it, with the Digger allowing you to pull back anything large or tricky to resume thrashing on your opponent. He also allows you to slowly refill your hand with Awakening, but that’s not likely to come to pass.
Considering it’s impact on threshold or card advantage, you’d expect Gravestorm would be a little more valued. It’s not a bad card, but it’s casting cost can be prohibitive, considering black is often the secondary colour in a deck. The effect of the card is twofold; either it draws you cards or denies threshold, but this is up to your opponent.
The Echoes remove threshold, pretty much, and lets you scan your opponent’s deck for duplicate cards. I wouldn’t main deck it, but if your opponent seems to be relying on threshold or graveyard recursion, the Echoes might just be worth siding in.
Hint of Insanity
It’s not a Limited card.
The Vermin aren’t bad, but three mana for a one-point Pestilence effect makes them hard to use. I’m not even sure they’d be able to effectively kill off Hallowed Healers, which makes them pretty unideal when it comes to killing 1/1s. If you have the ability to increase their toughness, though, you can use it as a consistent thorn in your opponent’s side… But I’d prefer to use Frightcrawlers for that.
The Blood is hard to use, but cheap and powerful if you can get it rolling. It pairs up nicely with squirrels or effects which allow you to steal opponent’s creatures, or just in decks where you plan on killing off most of your opponent’s creatures. The blood isn’t targeted, so it can kill off Devoted Caretakers, Angels, or Mystic Crusaders, which are useful things for black decks to do.
Much like Rites of Refusal, Last Rites is a previously printed card which allows you to discard cards to fuel a large effect. Now, if Rites of Refusal acted like a Mana Leak and Last Rites a Coercion by themselves, and then had the ability to fuel up large effects, they’d be quite impressive. Given their printed forms, both are usable in the right deck. Last Rites allows you to lose card advantage to ruin your opponent’s card quality. If your deck is fine with dropping cards shamelessly into the graveyard, or ends up running a lot of land/late game duds, Rites might work out.
Because of the way damage on the stack works, obviously Awakening has the natural ability to sac a soon-to-be-dead creature and give you back something else for your trouble. Although slow, effects like this will allow you win a drawn-out game. If not the Awakening allows you trade inferior creatures for superior creatures. Either way, the Awakening is only useful in the late game, but it’s one of the best late-game cards.
Mind Bursts are hard to draft. Like Life Burst, you basically need to draft a full set of four or more in order to see the card’s”power” kick in. Mind Burst has potential, but playing it requires a deck that slows the opponent down while playing burst after burst to ransack their hand. Ideally, you’d be playing red/black with land destruction and Innocent Bloods, but I’ve yet to actually draft this deck.
Although well priced for it’s power and toughness, the Slicer is a hard to use critter. It is black, which sets it up in a colour that is actually quite slow in Odyssey. Its ability has power, assuming your opponent has a full hand and you have no cards or near no cards in hand while awaiting threshold. If you are building a deck which drops fast threshold creatures – black/white or black/green – the Slicer may fit in.
The Hunger suffers from being a little more expensive than comparable counterparts for its flashback. Is it worthwhile? I believe so. Usually taking out two creatures and gaining you a fair amount of life, the Hunger is useful spell against almost any deck – especially considering that Black often wants to stall the game into threshold mode. The Hunger pairs up nicely with Anarchist and Morgue Theft. Although as slow as molasses, your opponent will never appreciate Hunger being cast five times over a handful of turns. Also, the fact you’ll be killing off each creatures and regaining life will slow down the best of offensives.
Any creature worth putting in your deck is worth seeing again as long as you can make one-for-one trades, right? Theft is powerful in that it allows you to continually reply powerful or utility creatures an additional two times. Creatures to watch for are obviously”comes into play,””leaves play” or sacrificial creatures: Lieutenant Kirtar, Anarchist, Aven Fisher, and Barbarian Lunatic, to make a short list. Of course, any creature you’d rather see on the board than in the graveyard fits this.
In any game which reaches the midgames, the Mortivore will be at least a 3/3 regenerator for four mana, which is a fair priced creature. As the game wears on the ‘Vore becomes larger and larger, often at the expensive cost of killing an opposing blocker. By virtue of its colour and regeneration, the Mortivore is immune to most spells which will take it off the board, making it hands-down ideal creature in any black deck.
The lich is simply too difficult to see as functional. Although casting a Life Burst for four cards or Morbid Hungering for three is certainly not bad, the Lich puts too much on the line to risk using in all but the late game. In the late game, a black deck should have reached and want to maintain threshold, or have some other use for cards in the graveyard. I’d rather play Gravestorm, which steals opponent’s cards, costs one black less, and doesn’t risk me the game.
On paper, everything makes the Apprentice looks like a bad, horrible, awful card. But, if the Apprentice was every going to be useful card, it would be in this set. Compared to Dark Ritual, it’s horrible, barring two things: The first is that the Apprentice lets you discard a card. This is not always negative. Second, it actually offers an additional mana over dark ritual, since it costs nothing to activate. As creatures go, the Apprentice is awful, but, it also allows for a turn 3 Roar of the Wurm, which could be cool. (You need a Werebear or a Diligent Farmhand, though.)
The Painbringer is an essential choice bound up in one single spell: Do I care about threshold or not? If the answer is no, then the Painbringer offers you kill after kill after kill. Any small creature your opponent plays will meet with a swift demise. And, using combat tricks, the ‘Bringer can often bring down larger creatures, trading less cards in your graveyard for bigger and bigger heads. The ‘Bringer can be tricky to use, but once he gets rolling it’s hard for your opponent to do well without being able to keep a creature on the board.
After playing this card a number of times, I have begun to lose interest in using it. Four mana to kill a two toughness creature before threshold isn’t a good deal. Four mana to kill a four toughness creature is still not really a good deal. It is kill, and a certain amount of kill is always necessary, but both Demise and Afflict are better cards. Unless your opponent is playing with Blessed Orator, Afflict will likely deal with the creatures you would want to kill with Desire anyways, the Afflict being cheaper, instant speed and a cantrip. The Desire does have the ability to work with the inexpensive Auramancer to kill another creature, but you could really do the same with Scrivener anyways.
A straight 3/3 flier for five mana is not a bad deal. Aven Windreader is much the same, but the Vampire’s ability are slightly more powerful in the right situations. Obviously, combining the Vampire with a Psionic Gift allows the vampire to get kicks in and receive counters for either killing an opposing creature or just poking them before a kill card targets them. The threshold ability is either useless or quite potent, with the slight drawback that if your opponent has Execute or Persuasion it can work to his advantage.
The Giant is not a 3/3 for two mana, as blocking or attacking leads to stripping your graveyard clean – something you’re unlikely to be able to do early on. Given that, it’s a 3/3 creature, which isn’t big enough to justify using up a valuable resource on standard combat. The one good use might be using the Giant with a Gorilla Titan, but I’d rather play Painbringer for this.
Very few decks have emptied their hand in Odyssey draft by turn 5. If the Hypnotist is dropped alone on the table, it can alone remove a pair of cards which can put you ahead. If you have cards which give you access to good sacrifices, the Hypnotist becomes a dangerous card that can completely disrupt your opponent’s game plan and force them into top deck mode. Cards to pair with the Hypnotist are Chatter of the Squirrel, Squirrel Nest, Chamber of Manipulation, or Druid’s Call.
Screams of the Damned
Wow! It’s Pestilence… Only it’s not. Not only does Screams cost more mana to initially play, its activation cost is a high, high price to pay. Considering that cards like Painbringer can better use the graveyard, and that there’s a mountain of threshold cards to utilize your yard, I’d personally avoid the Screams. They’re unlikely to do what you need them to do, especially considering the small size of Black creatures pre-threshold.
Using up dead cards, mana and life to draw cards is costly, but the Scrying is an instant and losing cards in the grave for cards in hand nullifies two of the draw backs. The third, the life loss, has been proven time and time again to be usually worth paying. I wouldn’t play more than one Scrying, seeing as you will not want to see it in your opening hand, but trading four life and five mana for four cards is a generally strong effect to pull off once the game reaches the midgame.
Although I like Sadistic Hypnotist and I’m impartial to Mindslicer, Skull Fracture I seem to instinctively dislike. Unlike Mindslicer or the Hypnotist, the Fracture isn’t going really strip your opponent’s hand; instead, it gives him the asset of freely choosing and discarding a card. In Odyssey, you usually do not want your opponent’s graveyard to fill up unless you can negate whatever else he’s going to be playing. If you’re playing red/black with the ability to blow away your opponent’s creatures easily, then the Fracture will fit right in. If not, it’s an iffy proposition at best.
It’s large, it’s black and it flies. It’s ability is stellar, fits into the set, and helps it to deliver the beatdown. And I’ve never opened this card or been passed in it a draft. Woe is me.
In Limited, the Pact is basically a”filter the crap I don’t want out of the way and give me what I need.” I’m impartial to playing the card early, it’s best used once you have enough mana to cast anything in your deck and don’t want anymore lands. At worst, you’ll cast it at the end of an opponent’s turn and skim two basic lands you don’t want out of the way. At best, you swim through some useless lands and sink your teeth into something you want.
This is one of those rares I’d never want to open. It doesn’t even put the counters on the creature.
Four mana for a 1/1 often leads to a end-of-turn Afflict and lost board position. The Shade is hardly an ideal creature, needing both black as your primary colour and the enemy to be using swamps to work well, but pumpable creatures are pumpable creatures, using up useless extra mana to deliver large beats or hold off creatures while evasion creatures do the job. I wouldn’t want a lot of these, though, unless I was facing an opposing black deck.
Five mana for a 3/2. An ability which removes five cards from the game and requires tapping. Besides all this, the Assassin is a reasonable card. Kill is kill no matter how you look at it – and unlike the slightly quicker Patriarch’s Desire, the Assassin can turn ninety degrees to deal three damage or block one creature, then tap to kill another. Don’t use too many of these, seeing as 3/2s for five mana can really choke your deck, but one or two will prove useful.
Here’s the funny thing about the Cannibal; it’s not as bad as it looks. If he gets through unblocked, he has the odd effect of pushing your opponent away from threshold, eating their flashback cards and generally making a nuisance of himself. As he’s one mana for a 1/1, there’s nothing really wrong with the Cannibal. If you have later uses for him, like an Awakening or Hypnotist, it’s actually one of black’s best weenies.
The Infestation can obviously combine with Upheaval or useless lands in hand to creature masses of Zombies. The fun thing about the Infestation is more the threat of a zombie or zombies popping into existence and overrunning attacking creatures. The threat is more powerful, generally, than the usage, but this is one of the most rewarding discard effects in Odyssey.
Do you want to trade four mana and a card in hand for a creature in your graveyard? The problem here is getting that creature into your graveyard and then getting it back out before you’ve put enough mana on the table to have cast it anyways or lost the game. If you have the ability to actively discard creatures and the creatures to discard, or just creatures you will want to be sure are on the board, Zombify is not that bad. But it’s not always a good card and can sit in your hand dead.
–Iain Telfer (Taeme on IRC)