Dissension Constructed Review, Part 1: White

Pre-Order Dissension Today!The prereleases are officially over, and Dissension is upon us! Each day this week, Mike tackles a selection of the new cards, examining them for their playability in the Constructed arena. Some cards will be hits, some cards will be misses… can you tell the difference?

You know the drill.

Aurora Eidolon
Let’s see… 2/2 for four mana… Not so hot on the stats.

Squee regretted leaving his coat at the dry cleaners

As with the other members of the Eidolon cycle, the amount of raw card advantage available with this card makes it not completely useless, but then again, I don’t see it as being very good. If you could gain three life rather than just prevent three damage, I think this card would be a good deal better. That said, in a deck heavy with multicolored spells, perhaps it can play Squee, Goblin Nabob. For example you can play Aurora Eidolon with Thought Courier as part of a draw engine.

I am giving it the Role Player rating but I’m not exactly jumping out of my socks over it.

Playable – Role Player

Azorius Herald
This card is absurd. Unlike, say, a Feral Shadow, no one can mess with it… in a fight that is (Azorius Herald still being vulnerable to Zaps, Darkblasts, whatever). The Loxodon Hierarch effect is really strong, especially given the “evasion racer” theme the Azorius beatdown wing seem to have.

PS: Are you dead yet?

The message his Herald is bringing seems to be “take two.”

Playable – Staple

Beacon Hawk
I suppose it’s a semi-annoying Limited creature. Not in sixty card decks, thank you.

Constructed Unplayable

Blessing of the Nephilim
I was about to say something snarky and smug like “So I’ve done all this work to get my five-color mana base online and now that I have my Sliver Queen in play, you know what I want to do? Give her +5/+5!” Then I remembered some people did a lot of work over the previous Extended to play Tribal Flames and Gaea’s Might, so the concept is not as ridiculous as it might seem.

That said, I still don’t suspect most people have much interest in this kind of card for Constructed. “Give my Watchwolf +2/+2 or whatever…” Unlikely.

Constructed Unplayable

Brace for Impact
1) This card costs five.
2) The effect isn’t even that powerful.

Constructed Unplayable

I am one of those people who wanted to get Kor Chant in Constructed decks back in 1998, so take this with a grain of salt. Shining Shoal has been an all-star in B/W and G/W decks (especially Ghost Dad), so there is definitely a market for the kind of effect Carom provides. Additionally, the price is right, and the cantrip bit is just gravy. I can see this as a sideboard or support card for little creature decks that might want to win fights with other little creature decks, mayhap in Block (though I’m not holding my breath and neither should you).

Playable – Role Player

Celestial Ancient
I had this in a draft and it was pretty awesome; I had taken a bunch of Strands of Undeath in the first pack and a Pillory of the Sleepless in the second and was feeling positively Ben Goodman (or fake Hat, more like it) when Shark shipped me this spicy little Faerie Squadron; I lost 0-2 to Jonny Magic, but won all the games I drew this piece.

For Celestial Ancient to be good in Constructed, though, you probably want to have a lot of creatures, and you want to have a critical mass of enchantments to make up for the sub-par stats. Can you think of any decks like that that also want to play a 3/3 flyer for five? Same.

Constructed Unplayable (and it’s sad, really)

For what it does, Condemn seems pretty optimal. People played with Exile and Chastise in the past, and while Condemn gives the life to the wrong side of the table, this instant’s one mana-ness is a significant trade-off. Look for Condemn to enable slow, do-nothing, U/W decks to shoot down Dragons without any downside for the next two years and beyond.

Playable – Staple

Freewind Equenaut
Somehow I don’t think the “enchanted” clause is going to be the make-or-break element of this card. It’s one Red mana better and one keyword worse than a heavily played Ravnica flyer for the same Converted Mana Cost that made Staple. Freewind Equenaut is not the best 2-power flyer available to White in this set, but it will possibly still make the flying beatdown swarm team on pure volume.

Playable – Role Player

Guardian of the Guildpact
Sadly, this card has real Constructed applications. Voice of All was only 2/2 and had protection from only one color at a time, and was a staple creature in its day. Like Iwamori, this four drop just lives in the wrong era. In formats that aren’t all Kamigawa, Iwamori can sometimes win games (as opposed to, say, giving the other guy a free Keiga). In another Block, Guardian of the Guildpact would probably be decent if not great… but in Ravnica? He can’t tangle with the better two-drops.

Voice of All has the same power but flying, too, and it isn’t tearing up Extended… You’d really think a card called Guardian of the set we’re in would be tougher than this guy.

Constructed Unplayable

Haazda Exonerator
I was suggesting this for a Block Constructed test deck just this morning when Steve Sadin pointed out that it wasn’t quite Elvish Lyrist.

“You mean I can’t kill Glare of Subdual?”

“Just Auras… Though you can kill Moldervine Cloak… sort of.”

“Maybe we just start on two drops then?”

Playable – Role Player (probably a small role with a limited engagement off-off-Broadway, if you know what I mean)

Haazda Shield Mate
I’m probably a bit biased, but I am the kind of person who forgets to pay upkeep on his Masticore (just ask Pat Sullivan about our first meeting).

The main issue with this card is that it’s a random 1/1. If you put Shielding Plax on it (replace “Shielding Plax” with the lame 1/1 Kevlar vest of your choice), it might be a nice soft lock (assuming you have the lands for WW plus X*W). Haazda Shield Mate is not the kind of card that I normally try to break… it’s more the kind of card Tony Tsai sideboards and then beats you with when you’re not expecting it.

Playable – Role Player

Mistral Charger
Obviously this guy is going to be behind Leonin Skyhunter in Standard and probably the mighty Azorius First-Wing in Block (and possibly Standard again), but that doesn’t mean it won’t be played. Welcome to the Shock of White’s flying bear brigade. It ain’t Lightning Helix or Seal of Fire, but when there’s a spot open on the bench, this horsie goes right in.

Playable – Role Player

Paladin of Prahv
I think the creature half of this card is a bit mediocre, but the Forecast ability is quite annoying for many decks; it might even be a breaker in U/W on U/W in Block. I don’t know if Paladin of Prahv is going to live up to such Paladins as en-Vec, but I’d be surprised if the new guy weren’t propping up the spirits of his lessers somewhere, and soon.

Playable – Role Player

Proclamation of Rebirth
In the right deck, this is a three-for-one with built in reanimation mana for only three mana, so it seems like Proclamation of Rebirth might be powerful. That said… I just don’t know why you would want to do this. Who pays six to get back a Birds of Paradise and an Ornithopter? Maybe Ghost-Lit Stalker?

Playable – Role Player (kind of)

Proper Burial
I wouldn’t really want to spend a card on this effect, let alone a four mana spell, even though it may be powerful long run. Even when it is good, Proper Burial probably won’t be that good, though it will steal cards from a Red Deck in the same way that Warmth would. I could see someone who intends to get into a long fight with a Red Deck play this card… but many modern Red Decks are playing Kami of Ancient Law, which portents some rather macabre results for Proper Burial in any case.

Playable – Role Player (probably not a very good one)

Soulsworn Jury
Finding playable Defender cards is not the easiest task in the world. The ones that are doing the best right now either draw extra cards or let you search your library… And also have five toughness. That said, my guess is that Soulsworn Jury is pretty awesome, regardless. It will probably soak up four points most games (assuming it doesn’t eat a removal spell, which is also good) whether or not it ever actually counters a creature spell.

Playable – Role Player (not quite staple, but will be pretty good)

Steeling Stance
I actually think this card is pretty good. The Forecast ability will be relevant for a lot of decks, and – free or no – Ramosian Rally was a heavily played card in Masques Block, so there is precedent for this kind of instant speed pump in Constructed, at least Block.

Playable – Role Player

Stoic Ephemera
First of all, this card has a great name. The adjective and noun really combine nicely to give us as readers and players a feeling of what the card does while also eliciting the PSAT vocabulary word “Huh?” from the right (or wrong) segments. It’s a wall… of course it’s stoic. It goes away after a single use… pretty ephemeral.

As for the functionality of the card itself? Did you know that Tidal Wave was in the sideboard of a Pro Tour winning Standard tournament? This card doesn’t have the same surprise value of an instant… But it flies. No one wants to trade his Dragon for this. Stoic Ephemera could be a nice sideboard card for a defensive deck that has precious few ways to stop Giant Solifuge.

Playable – Role Player

Valor Made Real
Not in 60 card decks, thanks. Who blocks?

Constructed Unplayable

Wakestone Gargoyle
The price on this isn’t bad, and the body seems fine for its abilities. If this were just a 3/4 flyer for four mana, Wakestone Gargoyle would be on the short list. The fact is, it has Defender, so it’s probably not. On the upside, only two mana is required to turn on all your walls, which is not exactly a glowing recommendation, either, but Carven Caryatid is seeing a lot of play, so who knows? There just seem to be better drops in both the lower and upper points of the in-block White curve… That said, maybe Wakestone Gargoyle could be a reasonable defensive sideboard card? That’s a possibility, but a Wall deck isn’t likely to be very competitive.

Playable – Role Player

Dissension White cards of note:

Per the rest of the multicolored block, the cream of the Dissension crop is in the gold spells. That said, these are the White cards that I think will be the three most important in 60-card decks moving forward:

1) Azorius Herald
2) Condemn
3) Soulsworn Jury

Carom comes fourth, and I don’t know if there is a fifth. Hopefully that short list is not too much of a cop-out, given that Azorius Herald and Soulsworn Jury are both essentially Gold cards.

Up next: The best color in Magic.