When Odyssey first came out, there were a lot of reviews of various elements of Odyssey. This happens with every set. People look at the way the cards ‘look,’ and then go on long diatribes about how much the set sucks, or how much it kicks ass, or what’s too broken or whatever.
This is a review of Odyssey Limited Synergy. It is not really about how high you should pick a card or what cards are good: Gary Wise has been writing a review of this nature, and so have a lot of other players. I’d trust them to tell you what is good or not. What I am trying to do is three things:
First, I will provide insight into how a card plays. I have played just about everything in this set at least a few times, some cards I’ve probably played fifty times each.
Second, I will talk about how cards work together, and what combos each card can get into that I have noticed. I might miss a few, though.
Third, I will make fun of bad cards mercilessly.
Let’s get something out of the way: Ferrett’s generate-a-review form!
I have played Magic since:
_____The days of Tempest and Urza’s Saga, where I lost all my games by the end of upkeep on my second turn, which means that I’ll be so pathetically happy for a slower game that a Raging Goblin for 3R seems fair and equitable;
(Actually I’ve played since Ice Age, and don’t necessarily feel Tempest was ‘too fast’; it just required really, really tight draws, which I wasn’t all that big on.)
I’ll be reviewing this set for:
_____Limited, where I’ll point out the obvious gamebreakers and make snap judgements about the tricky cards’ usefulness, since I can’t be bothered to playtest – I have to get this finished before the set even comes out!;
(Actually I have played the set extensively, both in real drafts, in standard and in endless netdrafting sessions. Which is why this review is out in December and not … Uh, months ago. I think I promised Ferrett I would send it in like, two weeks ago? I’m a bad kid.)
I’ll be using the following method to rate these cards:
_____Between one and five stars, but the cards that I claim are”moose-suckingly awful” will still receive two stars, leading us to wonder what sort of card merits a single star – a card that explodes when you sleeve it, perhaps?
(Okay, okay, I admit it … I was often too nice. I tried to actually”explore” and”test” pieces of garbage. Hell, I didn’t even damn overeager apprentice for the worthless piece of turd it so”truly” is. Really.)
This new set:
_____Is a”challenging draft set,” which is secret code for”Wizards made this set so bad that only drafting can save it.”
(Actually, I think it’s a decent Constructed set. Not as cool for Constructed as Invasion block, but still not as bad as people think. On the other hand, it’s an amazing draft set.)
_____This is a powerful card, but I’m too stupid to realize this, and a year from now someone will dig up this review and mock me on IRC for missing it;
(Sorry, had to go for the self-mocking one. Although I am tempted to say I am Gary Wise! I’ve had people do that in Netdraft; they come in and start screaming I am Gary Wise! That’s right – there are people out there jealous enough of Wise that they’ll impersonate him. Don’t look at me; I’ve had people doing this to me, too. Stop doing it, people!)
_____Here is a reprinted card with a different name and suckier art.
(I <3 Battle Strain)
_____Now if only I could buy someone to play Type One with….
(I shouldn’t answer this one)
The new mechanics:
_____I still haven’t done any play testing, but am mindlessly hopeful about it;
(Really – this threshold thing sure sounds neat-o!)
The mid-level cards:
_____Even though there are at least thirty cards in each set about which absolutely nothing noteworthy can be said, I’ve copied the spoiler off of MTGNews – and by God, I’m going to comment on every single one come hell or high water!
(GUILTY AS CHARGED!)
The suck cards:
_____Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, why does Wizards print these cards?
Once again, _____ got the shaft:
(I just thought I’d pair that up because Gary Wise getting the shaft sounds vaguely sexual and Ferrett, why are you talking about that???) (But he’s so cute and cuddly! – The Ferrett, who wishes he could imitate Gary Wise)
A few basic notes before I begin:
Green is strongest in this set for a couple of reasons that become painfully obvious to anyone who’s played the set. It is not really that green’s cards are better, precisely; it’s that green’s cards a simply generally good quality. Green’s cards are just generally good overall, with few duds or hard-to-use cards. A hand full of green will usually drop a few fatties and serve beats. That’s what it does, and it’s damn well good at it.
Green is also”better” because the removal in Odyssey is generally piss-poor compared to other sets; the bounce is all right, though. With few good mass damage or pinpoint effects, creatures rule in Odyssey – and green has the overall best creatures.
Threshold, or Thresh as you might be tempted to call it – or perhaps even t-hold – is often the deciding factor in Limited matches. There are decks which can work and work well without threshold effects, but generally many of the most powerful cards have it built-in, which you will benefit from. I do not, as a matter of design, build decks around the principle of threshold, though. But some cards shine as being”just that much better” when you factor in threshold. Predict is an okay card, but with threshold it becomes a whole heck of a lot better.
An important rule when building around threshold is to only use a few”needs threshold” effects. Springing Tiger and Metamorphic Wurm are both fair creatures before threshold; Krosan Beast is not. A hand full of Krosan Beasts and Frightcrawlers (as rare as that might be) won’t likely win you the game. There aren’t a lot of cards like this.
Don’t throw away cards to reach threshold unless reaching threshold is going to promise you the game or kill opposing cards to pay back your lost card advantage in some measure. A lot of people make the mistake of not pitching when they should, or pitching when they shouldn’t. Don’t throw away creatures or use up resources when you can’t be sure will get you anywhere. Any empty hand is still a very negative thing no matter what.
I’ll talk about this a lot as I go through the cards: The option to get threshold through a card’s mechanics is a very powerful effect. It adds whole new dimensions to how your opponent must think about the cards you have in hand and the cards you have on the table. Breaking your opponent’s brain and watching them ship him off to the mental hospital in a straightjacket is almost as good as attacking for two.
Flashback is generally a slow thing to use. Elephant Ambush, Earth Rift, and Morgue Theft are all examples where the flashback is expensive and won’t see play early on. However, Odyssey Limited is a slower environment and you will often reach seven lands or so in the general course of a game. So keep an open mind when dealing with Flashback cards and assessing deck construction.
I’m not going to tell you how high to pick cards or what first pick you should make. I might tell the odd story or really, talk about the synergy between cards and what I feel works with what. Many cards in the set require certain other cards to work: Recoup stinks if you don’t have Concentrate, Diabolic Tutor, or Shower of Coals to work with it. But then, if you do… Well, a whole new can of possibilities gets opened up. A big part of making good picks it picking based on the cards you have already drafted. This is what I will often make comments on.
Aegis of Honor
Although an interesting card, I cannot honestly see this card working well. There are precious few burn spells that the opposing player is going to aim at you; instead, they’ll choose to aim it at your creatures. Even as a sideboard card, I see it as painfully situational. I suppose you could, for example, Divert a burn spell to you and then blast it back at your opponent. This would likely be fair card usage (save a creature from dying, deal damage to opponent instead; he wastes one and you save one) but the odds of this happening – considering it’s a two-rare combo – aren’t what I call good.
If you ask people about this card they will most likely say that it’s crap. This is fine for them to think – and in fact, on the most part they’re right. What’s nice about tribute is its synergy with, for example, Cephalid Broker or Cephalid Looter, Cephalid Scout, Laquatus’ Creativity, Cephalid Coliseum, or anything else that fills your graveyard up and gives you decent card choices. If you can cast it, a twenty-point life gain is a pretty steep barrier to put up against your opponent – especially when he knows you’re going to cast it again for even more life in a few turns. I’m certainly not suggesting you high pick this card, but if you see it and you’ve got the cards that work with it, give it a try.
This is moderately useful card, very good for stalling out your opponent early on. What I like about this card is it’s natural usage with Psionic Gift, which forms a pretty nice combo. The wall is fairly difficult to remove, and it doesn’t plan on tapping to attack any time soon. This can produce card disadvantage, but it should be obvious to most people when to play and when not to play Gifts.
When I first saw this card, I retched. I thought it was just plain awful! However, having played the set a lot more, I begin to realize the card has a bit more potential than I expected. First, the obvious ability to”sac a creature after damage is on the stack” is nothing special. However, sometimes you would rather put a creature you control into the graveyard. If you’re playing black/white, you will likely draft some recursion – and nothing annoys you more than seeing a creature banished forever with Second Thoughts. This card prevents that from occurring on the most part, and grants a small reward. Same thing, to some extent, with Afflict, Execute, and whatever else gives them card advantage. You can obviously just sac the creature and then play a Gravedigger for a token amount of life. This card’s most powerful usage is in combination with Chamber of Manipulation – I’ll get into Chamber’s other usages later on, but this one is important because it occurs at instant speed. You can start the turn by stealing his best creature, forcing him to either stall his attack or make bad trades, and then eat the creature for life even if he doesn’t attack. This can be done with a three-mana and then a four-mana card, making it pretty easy to cast and rapidly effective. If your opponent can’t deal with this combo, his odds of winning are about zero.
The most obvious use of this card is recycling Patriarch’s Desires to kill another creature, which is pretty useful. Similarly, if your opponent is rather enchantment rich (unlikely), you can use it to recycle Tattoo Wards to kill two enchantments. You can use it to pull back ‘bomb’ enchantments or make Psionic Gifts a somewhat less risky proposition. Auramancer is three mana for a pearled unicorn body, which is fair enough on its own anyways, making it a good creature if you have the enchantments to utilize it with. They tend to go late, and its usage depends totally on your deck, but I’m not unhappy 11th picking these.
My experiences with this card have been regrettable. He’s not a bad creature, that’s for sure – but his body is fragile for five mana, he’s expensive, and his ability is expensive to boot. To me, this adds up to an overall poor creature. He even has two mana symbols, making him bad in three-colour decks. All he ever seems to do is tie up my mana and then die to a Flame Burst. Woo hoo. There aren’t just better white creatures; there are better white fliers. That’s sad for Serra Angel’s casting cost.
While I don’t like the Archer very much, I don’t mind Cloudchasers. They’re a bit iffy, since you tend to use more Kirtar’s Desires in white than your opponent has enchantments, but they’re probably the best maindecked enchantment kill you can use in this set. A 2/2 flier for four won’t usually win you the game, but the potential for card advantage is nice. Again, like a number of other white cards, they combine well with black’s recursive powers to allow you to remove enchantment after enchantment.
I’m a big fan of this card. It’s splashable, it’s a bit bigger than the average flier power in this set, and it’s pumpable. It’s obviously better if you have a lot of white mana free – but even if you don’t, it tends to be able to frustrate your opponent.
I can’t understand why the lifegain shrine does less than the damage shrines. Isn’t that a reversal of R&D theme? This Shrine is at best, only going to gain you three or more life than your opponent. Painfully useless.
If you had a lot of non-creature flashback spells in your deck, and you tended to use them up rapidly in the early game and then make a comeback by reusing them, I could see this spell as useful. Ideally you’d want to have a small hand and only four lands on the board, which could be possible – but it seems like the card would only work if you were being beaten on badly. Granted, it might work nicely in the late game to force your opponent to lose a lot of his land and hand – but really, I don’t see it as practical.
I love this little guy! He’s a thorn in any one’s side – except for maybe black, which will just Afflict him. He can block any non-evasion creature fearlessly, and attack without fear of being blocked. He works nicely with a number of white cards, which will prevent his untimely demise, and anything which allows him to use his unblockable status to do more damage is nice as well. He can be especially cute with a Tattoo Ward. Oh yeah; keep in mind that he is a cleric, so he does work with Master Apothecary.
Another great cleric, this fellow helps out your side by bringing every dork on your side of the board out of Gift, ‘Flinger, Afflict, or Engulfing Flame range. That’s not bad in itself, and it also makes a lot of your defensive or even offensive cards a much safer bet. He’s a 1/4 cleric as well, which makes him a rock-solid blocker. His cost is a little high, but his effect can be a major strain on your opponent’s plans.
Oddly, this is the only ‘vore I would never even consider playing. For three mana you get, at best, a 2/2 or so early on. Later on he might be bigger, but then, he also might sit in your hand as a 0/0 creature for the whole game, while Kirtar’s Desires and Psionic Gifts roam happily on the board. Might work if both players were running three to five Patriarch’s Desires and Standstill, but how often does that happen? Oh yeah; he has two mana symbols, making him a crummy card in previously mentioned Desire/Standstill”deck.”
This spell can buy you some time if you need it, and it replaces itself while adding one to your threshold count, which isn’t bad in itself. Ideally used in a blue/ white deck, you can utilize an Aether Burst to bounce your opponent’s big flier back to his hand at the end of his turn, preventing it from blocking your fliers, and then cast Cease-fire on his turn to keep it out of your hair a little longer. This situation is plausible, but not exactly something you’d get excited over.
And oh yeah, if your opponent has Upheaval, and he floats a big pile of mana, you can cast this in response to his Upheaval to prevent him from being able to replay creatures and give him a nice dosage of mana burn. I rather doubt this will occur very often, but if you were able to say,”Cease-fire … You burn for four and die” the look on your opponent’s face would be worth it, wouldn’t it?
I’d just let him pass on by. Of course, if you opened two Nefarious Liches and got some Zombie Infestations, you could die with him and the Infestation on the board, a Lich in hand, and only three black mana sources in play. Wouldn’t that be just priceless? Bet you wish you played that Overeager Apprentice you lit on fire right after you finished drafting, eh? And hey, you’d even gain a point of life for that Apprentice-based discard! Priceless.
The Martyr looks bad, and he likely is bad. However, ‘lemming’ creatures (creatures that can be made to die easily) aren’t as bad as they would be in other sets. At very best, you’d get him on the board early, attack for one or two points, have him sit tight, then pop him to reach threshold when your opponent tries to deal four to your Hallowed Healer, gaining three life to boot. That’s not so bad. Oh yeah – and he’s a cleric. If your opponent has a lot of one-toughness critters and you’ve got a threshold lover deck, by all means, side him in.
(Just a side note, you ever look at Bottle Gnomes and think,”I wonder if they scream when you twist their heads off to drink them?” Well, what about this guy? Ewww)
I suppose you could do something like,”Opponent casts Overrun. Take twenty-four points of damage. Put twenty-four counters on delaying shield. Sacrifice shield to Atog. Smile mildly and wish you drafted better cards” and then the shield would be good. The Shield fits into your deck if your opponent plans on picking you off with slow or small evasion creatures – at which point, I’d put it into my main deck. Extra props if you’re using an Aven Windreader to know you don’t have anything to do with your mana next turn. Don’t maindeck it, though.
The ‘taker is a bit over-rated. Her main job is to make sources in your opponent’s hand dead cards for a couple of turns, until she manages to die to something or other. She does tend to die, although usually in exchange for two cards. I’m not saying I won’t maindeck her in a white deck, since trading two cards for a 1cc creature is fair game, but I am saying she isn’t always that great.
This card is either a bomb or utterly dead. In a deck where you tend to reach threshold with a horde of nomads on the board, it becomes a horrible situation for your opponent – and it’s excellent. Mystic Penitent transforming into a Serra Angel is just never a negative thing to pull off. The problem is, it requires your opponent is not playing white, that you have a strong white creature base, and you need to reach threshold with creatures on the board to do so. This can be hard to do – but if you draft it earlier enough you can pick cards with an eye for this. Oh yeah, this card also brings your Hallowed Healers out of Afflict/Gift range. That’s good, right?
Never maindeck this card. Never high pick this card. He isn’t a cleric, he’s overpriced, and his power/toughness brings nothing to the table. Slide him in if you see Squirrel Nests or Calls, but otherwise I suggest not touching him. Oh yeah; and he’s a kind of fun with Puppeteer. Be great to drop him a few turns”late” and eat up all your opponent’s tokens in record time.
I welcome the chance to turn Atogatog into an unblockable, unblocking drunken Atog machine – and this is just the card to do it! Okay, I’m lying. I could see this card as useful when you’re playing red/white, your opponent is playing red/green, and using his red for removal. Even funnier that he can’t cast Muscle Burst to save his tiger when it gets blocked by a Halberdier. I’m not sure where this card would be useful, unless of course you have four Wild Mongrels in your deck; then you could pull off some funny tricks.
A very fun card, it’s one of the few flashback cards with a lower flashback than initial cost, which can be interesting. For example, keep in mind that if your opponent blocks your Mongrel and you have only two mana open, you can discard the Embolden and then play it from the grave for less. That’s an amusing trick. The card prevents up to eight damage, which is a lot, and it can be used to force your opponent into awful, awful trades. Probably one of the best flashback cards.
This card works rather well when you’re facing a fast green deck with little removal that plans on beating you upside the head with groundpounders, or any situation where your opponent isn’t going to be able to save their dying creature or fast remove the blocker. Keep this in mind: Opponent attacks with creature. He has something in his hand to save his creature should you use gallantry, but he’s assuming you won’t trade one of your creatures for the attack. Declare blockers, wait for damage to go on the stack, then cast Gallantry in response. There are a couple of spots where this works best: Say he’s attacking with a smaller flier, you have a small flier, and he plans on Aether Bursting to save the flier. If you get damage on the stack, he can’t burst your creature to fizzle Gallantry and save his creature. Keep that in mind.
It’s sort of like Gaea’s Liege, only it’s very placid. The key to the Antelope is slipping it through when your opponent doesn’t expect it to slip through. Once he’s gotten through, your opponent will be either casting white spells or watching the antelope slowly nibble him or her to death. Ideally, you would keep him off the table and then Reckless Charge him by surprise when your opponent has no blocks or is forced to make a bad block. Much funnier would be killing your opponent with an Aboshan’s Desired antelope. Ho ho ho! It’s a good rare in that it’s narrowly maindeckable and if undealt with, it’s going to stall or end the game; however, it’s pretty easy to deal with.
This is the best common in Odyssey, whether people want to admit it or not. An active healer on the board is a nightmare for your opponent, being hard to remove and very, very powerful once you hit threshold. If you have recursion, this creature can single-handedly absorb disturbing amounts of removal. By the way, unless Hallowed Healer will win you the game by doing so, never ever attack with him. When your opponent sneaks out a Vivify and your Healer gets beaten up by an angry island, don’t blame me.
If you have a lot of powerful noncreature spells like Mirari, Caustic Tar, or Centaur Garden, and you expect that he plans on dealing with them, then this card can be useful to side in. It doesn’t prevent your card’s destruction, but it will take out their best permanent in response, or at least nuke one of their lands. That’s not so bad. The card isn’t maindeck worthy, and it might not even be sideboard-worthy if you don’t have noncreature cards, but there are situations where it’s a 13th pick you’ll get use out of.
Cheap and effective, this enchantment deals with problem in the form of big fat creatures pretty well. With white, you often don’t mind that he can block, especially if you’re running white/blue with evasion aplenty. It doesn’t prevent interactive tapping creatures from doing their job, but it will keep big creatures from wrecking up your face. If your opponent packs enchantment removal or lemming effects, Auramancer can give you a double-cast – and with Desire’s cheap casting cost, that won’t be too hard.
It’s a Wrath effect. It clears the board and sometimes even gives you little spirit tokens to gnaw on your opponent’s ankles while the board gets refilled with creatures. It’s good in the early game, even better in the late game; an all-round winner.
I really like this guy. I don’t get to see him often, but he fits over white/black like a glove. 3cc for a 2/2 flier is fine, and the”sacrifice to remove” effect is nothing to smirk at. He will likely attract a bit of removal, which is why I like him in black/white; he tends to get Morgue Thefted back over and over again, then banish another creature or get removed again.
It’s pretty narrow application. In a deck with a Mirari and four of these, you could gain massive amounts of inexpensive life – but generally, it’s not going to work too well. I suppose if you had a lot of instants you could play it with Holistic Wisdom and either reuse it or reuse Second Thoughts; but again, combos with rares are fickle beasts.
A pumpable 1/4 for four mana isn’t all that bad. The ability to block more than one creature is rarely useful – but when it is, you’ll like him just fine. He’s a solid, splashable blocker, not something to get excited over but a useful card if you can’t pick anything finer.
A massively powerful card, this little lady justifies her three-mana symbol casting cost over and over again. Unlike Healers, she is active when she hits the table, she works with your other clerics to tie your opponent’s hands, she allows your healers to tap when they come into play (sorta) – and oh yeah, she’s 2/2, putting her out of Afflict/Gift range. She works exceedingly well against red decks when paired with a Pilgrim of Justice, transforming every burn spell in his deck into a frustrating situation. She may be a hard splash, but she’s horrifically powerful, and you may want to play her late to protect her anyways. And please, stop passing this card around the table like it’s a Confessor. Really. Sixth picking these things is wrong.
I both like and dislike this card. Against a red- or black-toting deck, he is very frustrating and promises to become an offensive machine later on. Against other colours, he’s just horrible pre-threshold; a three-mana, 2/1 groundpounder. If you’re playing Psionic Gifts and your opponent won’t be able to remove him but you can’t get him into battle (it happens a lot; consider facing red/green where he has green blockers) he can be a good Gift target, but this boy is no Paladin en-Vec.
For one mana you get a 1/1 who doesn’t tap to attack. This is somewhat amusing, but it’s not exactly a star ability. If played after you have threshold, it’s an easy to cast, decent flier, but the Penitent is more likely to contribute to threshold than actually getting there.
A solid early play, if you knowing you’re going to reach threshold or you need to face off early aggression, it’s not bad. Much like the Crusader, though, sometimes it does little else than be a target for Psionic Gift, with the drawback that the visionary has one toughness and doesn’t plan on getting any more.
My favourite Mystic by far, the Zealot is just trouble. He’s common, he’s splashable, he gets bigger and gains flying, and he’s very playable pre-threshold – unlike the other Mystics, who tend to be iffy or sucky. Although a 2/4 for four isn’t amazing, hey, you can do fun stuff like activating threshold in response to them declaring Windreader as an attacker and beat up their birds.
The power of this card is obvious. He’s excellent before threshold and superb afterwards. I rate this boy slightly above Hallowed Healer, as his body is just a bit more solid, but either way he’s an excellent white creature on both offense (tapping blockers) and defense. (Didn’t you say that Hallowed Healer was the number one pick in Odyssey? – The Ferrett, confoozled) Keep in mind that you can surprise an opponent by making a sudden threshold surge and tapping down two blockers.
A solid 2cc creature, Patrol Hound is a bag of tricks akin to Wild Mongrel. Although it’s true he’s not quite the mongrel, he’s a very nice creature. He’s fast to get on the table and first strike tends to disrupt opposing defense or offence for a few turns. The ability to ‘pitch’ cards at an instant speed to reach threshold can not be understated. Mystics bursting into the sky or Healers suddenly healing an extra two points can (and will) win games if executed well.
Pianna, Nomad Captain
The Nomad Captain is well priced and can add up to some strong additional damage to your opponent… But it isn’t quite a first pick. The card can do a ton of early damage, especially if combined with red creatures like Pardic Firecat, Ember Beast, or Reckless Charge, but it’s a pretty blah late game card. This, oddly, may be one of the few cards that combines with Touch of Invisibility well, allowing you to pass Pianna alongside your evasion creatures for a whack of extra damage.
Pilgrim of Justice
Solid enough to place in the main deck, I’m a fan of the Pilgrim’s effect on red decks. With a basic”this must go first” attitude, or simply attacking for unblockable damage, the Pilgrim is kind of nice. Its casting cost is also pretty fair, with 1/3 being a nice early blocker. If you don’t have great groundpounders, he’s nice – and his effect, as I said, is just great when your opponent expects to be able to burn your hallowed healers off the table.
Pilgrim of Virtue
On the other hand, the Pilgrim of Virtue isn’t quite a main deck card. If you were playing against a black deck, his effects would be reasonable; not quite as dominating as the Justice’s, but worth siding in. If you need cheap blockers, though, don’t be afraid to utilize this fellow.
Ray of Distortion
I’ve often drafted this and wondered if I might end up siding them in. I never have. Perhaps I’m just being forgetful, but there just don’t seem to be a lot of powerhouse artifacts out there, and I often maindeck what I consider livable enchantment kill. I won’t be exactly unhappy to late pick these, but they are certainly not ever going in my main deck.
A very solid creature, the Wanderer is one of my favorite white creatures by far. With an even better”pitch” reward than patrol hound, the Wanderer is a delightfully hard to remove (or she can block creatures) as long as you can keep your hand filled up. Don’t forget that you can use her ability to get past tough blockers if you need to do a few more points of damage if you need it. Be wary of blocking Wild Mongrels, though; the Mongrel’s ability allows it to keep changing colours, which can make for a lot of discarding. A nice target for creature enchantments as well, since you can one-for-one any removal cards that go her way.
I suppose if you needed to boost all your creature’s toughness in a pinch, this card would do. However, I can’t imagine a situation like this coming up and giving me card advantage – at least not easily.
What has rapidly become a staple white card in Odyssey drafts, Second Thoughts is just a win-win situation. If it resolves, you banish a creature from the game, put a card in your graveyard and replace it with a fresh draw. Even if he manages to save the creature, you’ll probably still be making a one-for-one trade, which isn’t bad. It is five mana, but must of the ‘threat’ creatures in Odyssey that can get around a Hallowed Healer’s ability are that or more.
Shelter has myriad of uses, all of which almost always end up netting you card advantage. You can use it to protect a creature, make a good block even better, or just ward off irritating spells. All of this usually comes with card advantage, giving you a card for foiling your opponent’s advances. Keep in mind that if you need to, you can cycle Shelter at any time you feel you need to. Don’t forget, if he only has one colour of decent blockers, you can use it to force an attacker through.
The idea that this will be the”first flier to die” isn’t so bad. It’s true that it’s a frail little thing, but that’s not necessarily negative. I’m not exactly eager to play these, but there are situations where they can be remarkably abusive. The effect is costless and automatic, which can make for its usefulness in the right spots. A cute combo would be bouncing a pair for fliers in and out of the graveyard with Awakening. If those two were already actively combining with the Awakening, the Soulcatcher would simply add an additional bonus. If it attracts a burn card on turn two, just one less burn card to target your Hallowed Healers. I’m not saying this is a great creature, but any turn two play that has the potential to bloat up to a 4/4 flier later on in the game isn’t necessarily a bad late pick.
Sphere of Duty
Well, Green does tend to produce a lot of midsize to large creatures, and this can put a damper on them. It’s a bit slow, though. There’s a rule to the spheres: Do not side in Spheres that do not oppose their weaker colour. If they’re playing black/green, don’t side in the Sphere of Grace. It’s unlikely to do much.
Sphere of Grace
It’s sad that this set’s version of Pestilence is a worthless rat and an even worse enchantment. I suppose you could combo it with the rats to protect you while the rats clear off the board, but that’s not exactly a”power” combo. Black creatures are not often your opponent’s method of damage if they have another colour, so this one is a little bit less likely to stall their offense.
Sphere of Law
Red doesn’t have a mountain of monstrous creatures, nor do its burn spells do a lot of damage to the dome, so this sphere is about the peak of useful spheres. It just tends to put a major damper on red primary mages and tends to slow off their offensive admirably.
Sphere of Reason
Why do I think SoL is better than SoR? Well, it isn’t by much, but against a red primary you expect some burn and some creatures, while a blue player is likely to only have a few evasion creatures. It’s a pretty pointless comparison, anyways.
Sphere of Truth
White does tend to have a lot of small critters, but it also tends to carry some enchantment removal. I’m quite delighted at giving their Cloudchasers more strafing targets.
I have yet to actually drop this card in a game. It’s inexpensive, self-replacing, and could net a fair amount of damage, but I just don’t see white creatures dealing out enough damage to consistently utilize this. If you were to run white/green with some nice fat, it could accomplish a fair sized life boost. White/Blue could also put it to use, running an evasion creature through and using the life boost somewhat like a blocker. If you draft Wayward Angel, obviously the card can produce the best of swings possible. Extra points if it’s the seventh card placed in your graveyard when the Angel hits a blocker.
I said I liked Cloudchasers and I’ll say I rather like the Ward as well. Okay, let’s make this plain – Odyssey has two kinds of enchantments: Not often seen powerhouse ones, and a whole load of crap no one plays. The only one in the middle is Kirtar’s Desire, which is fairly common. Would I run Tattoo Ward maindeck? Maybe. The general point is the same enchantments are just devastating. If your opponent drops a Tar, Awakening, Nest, or Chamber, you want to get rid of it or it’s going to become a serious headache.
So why is the Ward so good? Because even if you run it and he never plays an enchantment, it’s going to be somewhat useful – and that’s important to me. It’s never a dead card. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be used to really punish people who use a lot of enchantments. Note that you can use it to make a Desire fall off, right? Well, notice the Ward doesn’t read”play only on a creature you control”; you can also drop it on an opponent’s enchanted creature, making their enchantment fall off and then blowing up the Ward to knock out another enchantment. The Ward isn’t a high pick, but it can be very useful… And I hate losing to Caustic Tar.
Testament of Faith
If this wall gets set up and working properly, it’s a huge detriment against groundpounders. It’s expensive, but the ability to make an 8/8 blocker that cost an initial 1cc to get into play is far from negative. Keep in mind that it is an enchantment and if traded for an attacker, you can use an Auramancer to pull it back.
When compared to the Penitent, he isn’t very good. When compared to Caretaker, it’s really bad. If you sorely need the ability to pitch cards and block */1 creatures, I suppose the Tribe could find a place in your deck. I’m just not thinking that’s going to happen often.
It’s pretty hard to lose the game if you get an Angel in play. It’s even harder to lose if you have a decent number of critters and she hits threshold. She’s combo-able with Chamber, which is nice, and amazing as both a blocker and defender. I rather like this card; I’ve opened her a few times and been quite pleased. She’s one of the best rares, although many other, large critters can turn the game harder than she can, she’s harder to deal with.
–Iain Telfer (Taeme on IRC)