Betrayers of Kamigawa Limited – I Got Da Blues

I can’t remember a time when Blue wasn’t my favorite color in Magic. I’ve heard a number of top-notch players say it is one of the worst colors in triple Champions draft, and while I believe they have some good arguments to back this statement, I simply cannot agree with it. It could be a matter of personal preference, my extreme dislike for Black, or a number of other things, but I still draft Blue quite often in CCC (on MTGO) and believe it to be one of the top colors in the format. With that in mind, it’s time to look at the impact that Betrayers will have on my beloved color.

I can’t remember a time when Blue wasn’t my favorite color in Magic.

I’ve heard a number of top-notch players saying how it is one of the worst colors in triple Champions draft, and while I believe they have some good arguments to back this statement, I simply cannot agree with it. It could be a matter of personal preference, my extreme dislike for Black, or a number of other things, but I still draft Blue quite often in CCC (on MTGO) and believe it to be one of the top colors in the format.

With that in mind, it’s time to look at the impact that Betrayers will have on my beloved color.



Most people will initially dismiss this little guy saying that he is just worse than Soratami Cloudskater. They are wrong to be so judgmental, however.

While they are both one-power fliers for two mana, there are a number of differences between them that are worth taking a look at.

First off, Floodbringer has two toughness. This has suddenly become very important with the addition of First Volley to the old standbys Scuttling Death, Frostwielder, and Yamabushi’s Storm in the “we wreck one toughness guys” department.

Moving on to the abilities on these little guys, I think we can all agree that Cloudskater’s ability will be better in general. That doesn’t stop Floodbringer from filling an important niche with its ability though. He can shut off important colors of mana during your opponent’s upkeep, stop Genjus, and become very annoying in the mid-late game where you can his use his ability multiple times since you have nothing better to do with your mana.

Finally, of course, he’s great with Ninjitsu.

So while Cloudskater may be slightly better, I really like the extra point of toughness on Floodbringer as well as its built in way to deal with annoying Genjus.

Minamo’s Meddling

Wizards seems to have a thing for making four mana counters with marginal abilities. I think the only time they truly succeeded with one of these was with Dismiss, since cantripping is such a great bonus to put on a counterspell.

If Dampen.dec were still running rampant, this would be yet another good answer to the problem. It’s not though, so I believe this will remain as mainly a sideboard card against someone with a few bombs or just too many Glacial Rays for their own good.

I don’t see a problem with maindecking it either if you are lacking in four-drops or just don’t have any real answers to the things your opponent might play.

Fly little ninja, Fly!

Mistblade Shinobi

Wow, is this guy good.

The one-mana Ninjitsu cost is just amazing, allowing you to get him down with ease. Where he really shines though is when you have a deck that can reuse his ability every turn with things like Teller of Tales, Kami of Fire’s Roar, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Minamo Sightbender, Phantom Wings, etc. If you get it going with Mirror-Guard or Sightbender, the game will be over in short order, so it’s well worth drafting with that idea in mind.

Keep your eyes open for unblockable options if you’re in Blue because it’s quite likely you’ll have a shot at grabbing one of these.

Ninja of Deep Hours

The posterboy ninja here is quite good himself, though if you have the unblockable tech going on he will be slightly less valuable than the Mistblade. In all normal cases he’s a better card, as he’s bigger and the extra card will prove more important in the early game. If you have lots of removal he becomes reminiscent of the old days where you would cast Ophidian and then just blast everything out of its way.

Some important notes on these Blue Ninjas would be that if you have two or more Ninja of Deep Hours, it becomes worthwhile to run a couple Teardrop Kamis or even Wandering Ones just because if you are able to drop the Ninja on turn 2 going first, it’s usually lights out for your opponent. Kitsune Blademaster is also nuts with Ninjas as you can apply first strike damage and then use Ninjitsu and basically do double damage and get the Ninja’s effect.

Generally you want to be taking Deep Hours over Mistblade Shinobi, because of the way it can just win games if you get it out early, however if you have a few unblockable tools, I’d prefer the Shinobi as it has a bigger effect in long games if you can get it through.

Phantom Wings

Variations on “Flight” have never been really successful in the past with the exception of Ghostly Wings and possibly Dragon Wings since it had Cycling.

This time is a little different though since we now have Ninjas, which would love to have evasion.

Phantom Wings doubles as an easier to cast Eye of Nowhere, since you can use it as a Sorcery Speed bounce spell. I think at least for a while this card will go basically unnoticed and then gain some appreciation as people get more experience in the new format. It will mainly be good in U/G where you can give something like Moss Kami flying, as well as in any deck with a few Ninjas. A decent “trick” that is well worth picking up and playing.

Quillmane Baku

Hello, Sea Snidd, it’s been awhile.

Unfortunately for our old friend, he’s not nearly as useful in this format as he has been in the past. The Quillmane will be essentially a “gap” card in this format. By that, I mean that he will generally be a five-drop for decks that don’t have any, and could possibly be useful in a deck that can trigger it a million times like a U/B Devouring Greed deck.

There are a few problems with this though in that he costs five, and that he requires tapping to use his ability. Costing five means that by the time he comes out you’ll probably have emptied your hand of most of the things that will trigger his ability and I’ll be extremely surprised if anyone finds a way to activate this multiple times in a game that doesn’t last forever. I also have no clue why he has to tap to use his ability. Waxmane Baku is absolutely insane and it doesn’t have to tap, so why a creature with a worse ability would require a tap condition I do not know. I guess the designers were worried about some imaginary world where you could get forty counters on this guy and Evacuation your opponent’s entire side. Gimme a break.

Anyway, he’ll fill a whole in your mana curve, but I wouldn’t be overly excited to have him in my deck. Don’t forget that you can return an activated Genju for the cost of zero counters as well.

Ribbons of the Reikai

Ribbons is like a restrictive Petals of Insight.

I really think it should’ve been Uncommon, since the times you can actually use it to good effect are going to be few and far between. Maybe it’s a tester card though so that lesser players will try to run it in decks with less than 12-13 Spirits, who knows. It is much better than its predecessor, Airborne Aid, since it has Arcane, and Spirits are much more common in this format than Birds were in Onslaught block. That alone won’t make it playable though and it will merely be a niche card for decks with 12 or more Spirits. I’d also like to advocate that you not take it very highly because you’ll surely get it late, since no one else will want it.

Shimmering Glasskite

The best Blue common for all intents and purposes, this guy comes as a nice package deal.

The fact that he has three toughness is a nice bonus over the usual 2/2 flier with an ability for four that has become the standard in Limited (think Aven Fisher and friends). The ability is also exceptional, since it’s a real pain to deal with this guy.

He’s a great addition to any Blue air force, and also is nice because he’s a Spirit. I would take Mistblade over him if I had the unblockable package, but otherwise he’s the top dog in the color.

Teardrop Kami

At first glance this guy looks like any other dorky one-drop that doesn’t really do anything. What I’ve been finding out though, is that he’s actually quite solid and I’m never unhappy to run one and sometimes even two copies.

As I said earlier, he’s great for getting out an early Ninja of Deep Hours. He is also useful in the mid-game where you have one crucial combat step and you can use him to tap down a key blocker. He acts as a threat to your opponent, since you can untap one of your guys that has attacked and defend with it.

Finally, he’s also a nice Soulshift target in U/G or U/B as well as a trigger to all of the cards that work off of Spirit and Arcane spells. You’ll be able to get them late too, but I wouldn’t play more than two copies unless I had a very specific reason for doing so.

Toils of Night and Day

Twiddle just found a big brother.

The only thing that’s really appealing to me about this card is that it’s Arcane and acts as sort of a less versatile Choking Tethers effect. It’s obviously nowhere near the power level of Choking Tethers, but in some decks it can be close if you have enough things that will trigger off of casting Arcane spells. It’s also a fine addition to anyone out there still trying to draft Dampen Thought, as Betrayers in general is pretty unkind to the archetype.

Veil of Secrecy

This is a tricky little number. There are a lot of things you can do with this card and it can serve a few very different purposes.

The first is obviously to get through Ninjas or huge men for damage. That in and of itself isn’t hugely exciting until you add in the fact that it has an interesting Splice cost. The card can crunch out some massive card advantage in the right situation by making a guy untargetable (countering an opponent’s combat trick possibly), and bouncing one of your guys after lethal damage is on the stack. It can also be used for something as simple as forcing through the final blow with a Green fatty. The card is a big package deal so make sure if you’re playing it that you’re constantly aware of all of the things it can be doing for you so that you don’t miss a great play with it. There’s just a lot going on with the card.


Unlike with the White commons that we looked at last week, we’ve got some power here. A tentative pick order for the commons (which will obviously fluctuate based on your deck) would be as follows:

Shimmering Glasskite

Ninja of Deep Hours

Mistblade Shinobi


Phantom Wings

Quilmane Baku

Veil of Secrecy (can easily move up in the right deck)

Teardrop Kami

Toils of Night and Day

Minamo’s Meddling

Ribbons of the Reikai (this will obviously be a much higher pick if you have lots of spirits, the only reason it’s all the way down here is because it wont make the cut most of the time)


Callow Jushi

I said a couple weeks ago that all of the flip guys were quite good. This guy is by far the worst of the bunch and he’s still pretty decent.

The nice thing here is that Blue is the color of cheap Arcane spells, and if you manage to get him down and flipped early, he could really throw a wrench in your opponent’s game plan. The key word here is “early”, since his ability will not be very effective in a long game. The only thing really holding him back is that he somehow doesn’t have flying while the White flipper does.

Genju of the Falls

So while Blue may have gotten the shaft in the flip creature department, it certainly didn’t in this one. My initial reaction to the Genju cycle was that the Green was the best followed by a close match between Red and Blue. After playing with them more though, I think the Blue might actually be the best just because it is such a quick clock.

I’ve seen numerous games where this was cast semi-early and then a player just attacked 6-7 times for the win. It will kill almost any common flier it encounters in combat and then come back to your hand to try again next turn. The fact that it has three power is what really puts it over the top – it would be much worse if it was a 2/2. This is better than all of the commons by a mile.

Heed the Mists

Erratic Explosion draws cards now apparently.

This card is not really playable in general, though it can find a place in a U/G deck with lots of acceleration. In order to make it work, you ideally want a Sensei’s Divining Top to set up the top of your deck, or at the very least a Deceiver to take a look at what’s coming. If you do have a lot of big casting costs and Divining Top, this should be fine, but otherwise it’s toilet paper.

Jetting Glasskite

So apparently Dragons are now being printed in the uncommon slot.

Seriously, this guy is just absurd. Try to kill it, just go ahead and try.

And it’s a Spirit too, sheesh. No question that it’s better than all of the commons, and probably a little better than Genju of the Falls, but it’s close and I doubt you’ll ever have to make that pick anyway.

Kaijin of the Vanishing Touch

This is a weaker reprint of the 0/4 wall from a long time ago. At least it’s a Spirit though, and the format is chock full of two power beaters so it should be fine in a more controlling deck. I think I still prefer River Kaijin simply because it stops Blademaster, Gnarled Mass, and basically any other common weenie. This should be alright though at slowing someone down if it chumps a big creature and bounces it. It’s playable but I wouldn’t take it that high unless it was right for my deck.

Fast as fast can be, you'll never block me

Minamo Sightbender

This one sneaks in under the radar unless you’ve seen it in action.

I expect this card to be underrated for at least a little while and most people will consider it to be trash just because most of the cards like it in the past were also trash. The fact of the matter is that it’s actually ridiculous and easily better than all of the commons, if your deck is set up to abuse him. It’s insane with big guys, Ninjas, and other things like Blademane Baku that can get bigger after only requiring one mana to be unblockable.

The nice thing about this guy is that you can probably pass on it early and expect to get it back at least in the first few weeks after the set is released online simply because most people will have no clue how good it is.


I find it hard to come across a situation in Limited where this is actually going to have an impact. Even if your opponent has that many instants, a bunch of them are probably Arcane and Minamo’s Meddling is probably just better. At least it has a cool picture.

Soratami Mindsweeper

Best Soratami yet? Quite possibly.

While the Mirror-Guard and Mirror-Mage both have excellent abilities, this guy is a great blocker at 1/4 for four mana, and also doubles as a win condition if the game ever stalls out. Talk about unfair, he’s essentially a walking millstone. Pick this very high, over all of the commons a great majority of the time (though the two Ninjas may be better in certain builds).

Stream of Consciousness

Stream of What?

Stream of Life?

Hmm, nope. Stream of Life looks like a bomb in comparison to this piece of junk. The card essentially reads: “This spell doesn’t do anything…but it has Arcane!”

Walker of Secret Ways

Interesting little guy here, as he can be fine just on his own by being an infinite blocker. I doubt you’re ever going to Ninjitsu it out unless you play a crappy one-drop like the aforementioned Wandering Ones and get a quick peek at your opponent’s hand. It seems more like a perpetual blocker and protector of your other Ninjas than something you’re going to be beating in with. I wouldn’t pick it high, but it becomes fine if you have other Ninjas to go with it.


Chisei, Heart of Oceans

This is probably going to be unplayable the large majority of the time, but when you do find a deck that can use it, it will be pretty solid. You can also bank on picking it up late. Some of the things it works best with are Pious Kitsune, Bloodthirsty Ogre, and anything else that accumulates counters quickly.

Disrupting Shoal

There’s already been plenty of discussion about this card in the Constructed realm of Magic. All signs seem to point to the fact that Spell Blast isn’t really a good effect, even if it is free. As Zvi said, there may come a time when this will be desirable, but that time is not now.

The same type of thinking applies to Limited except that this card is even worse in the forty card decks.

Higure, the Still Wind

The boss Ninja here is reminiscent of Lin Sivvi in some ways, but obviously nowhere near as broken.

Even if you only pick up one other Ninja or none, he’s still got a good body on him, can Ninjitsu out there, and is a 3/4 unblockable that will break any stalemate. Tops all the commons – don’t pass it.

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

If you were looking for an absolute bomb rare in this color, I think you just found it.

All of your men are now essentially unable to be removed once this chick is out and it’s also quite an efficient flier. Just remember to try and skimp on combat tricks if you have this in your deck because you won’t be able to use them very easily once you cast it.

Patron of the Moon

Another rare that I would take over all of the commons, a 5/4 flying with potential ambush is sick. The ability is also abusable if you have Mirror-Mage or Mindweeper or some other goofy effect.

Reduce to Dreams

Move along, nothing to see here.

This is like one of those times when you’re driving down the road and see a huge car wreck ahead. Don’t get caught staring at the accident or you’ll end up just wrecking into someone else. If you start reading this card you may actually board it in or something and you can guarantee it will be a trainwreck.

Sway of the Stars

For those of you who still think “all” of my decks have bombs in them, just last Friday I had a deck built around this expensive thing. Unfortunately I don’t have the decklist, but it was a U/W/G monstrosity which also contained Journeyer’s Kite, The Unspeakable, and some other mana acceleration. Oh, and no bombs.

This is a card tailor-made for me, however. If you get something like Heartbeat of Spring, the Kite, or just a few Kodama’s Reaches, you can easily get enough mana out that you can float some and cast this and then drop a creature out and just win since they’re only on seven life.

For the record, I only got this off once, but that was because my deck wasn’t that great at building up mana. The time it did work though I floated five, drew my new hand, played a land and Moss Kami. Just imagine if your opponent cast Moss Kami on the first turn of a game and then politely reminded you that you were only at 7 life. Seems fair.

Tomorrow, Azami’s Familiar

The effect on this card is great if it gets to stay in play. This will mainly be good in a deck with Green mana acceleration or just something that can stall long enough to get it out. It helps make sure you get to the stuff you need and draw out of a stalemated midgame and into something you need. In general though I’d take most of the commons over it simply because it is just so slow, unless of course it does fit your deck.

Final Thoughts

So Blue picks up a nice group of commons and maybe will move up on the color ladder if you were disappointed with it in Champions. Remember that the top three commons can easily fluctuate depending on your deck as well.

There are also a lot of really nice uncommons in the color, and an underrated gem in the Minamo Sightbender.

Next week we’ll take a look at the color that has gained the most from Betrayers and become the best color in the format in the minds of a few people in my CMU group.

Nick Eisel

Soooooo on MODO

[email protected]