First Impressions of Saviors in Kamigawa Block Limited: Black and Red

“Since I first started writing this article, I have been waiting to talk about this card. It is so much fun when it’s in the right deck, yet so useless when you don’t have enough triggers for it. I first learnt of its powers when Tim Aten taught us all a lesson in a draft at the Invitational.” What card is Sam talking about? You’ll have to check inside to find out!



Akuta, Born of Ash: 2-4th pick

Very solid monster. His only problem is the double Black in his casting cost means that sometimes he won’t be coming down on turn 4 where he really looks good, but that is largely irrelevant as he is still fine on most turns. I could see a situation where you are sacrificing a land every turn and they have to keep trading guys just like a Genju, but with no mana costs.

Choice of Damnations: 1-3rd pick

I’ve drafted with this card and it was very good for me every time I played it. It will usually do your opponent 6-7 damage if you cast it on turn 6 which might well win you the game, and if you are under no pressure then you can just sit back and let them accumulate permanents just for them all to be sacrificed.

Infernal Kirin: 1st pick

Another ridiculous rare, which there seem to be an awful lot of. Even if your opponent never has to discard a card, then just getting to see your opponents hand every turn is very useful. If you are on the play and have spirits to cast on turns 5 and 6, then there is no way you can lose.

Kagemaro, First to Suffer: 1st pick

So it’s a five-mana Maro or a six-mana Wrath of God. You should be able to work out which is best in any given situation. Either way, you’re winning for sure.

Kuon, Ogre Ascendant: 8-10th pick

I don’t think that you ever want this guy flipped unless you have some combo with him as the game will deteriorate into who can draw the most creatures. He is also incredibly hard to cast at BBB, meaning you need about 12 Swamps in your deck to try to run him. Although he is reasonably sized for his price, I would not put him in my deck.

Maga, Traitor to Mortals: 7-9th pick

A very very very late game card if ever there was one. He will do nothing relevant until you have at least seven mana out and enough Black to cast him, and even then he isn’t a star. If you gained life as well, he might be a lot better, as he would get you back in the game after you do nothing while waiting to be able to cast him.

Neverending Torment: 3-5th pick

This is very hard to judge whether it is good or not, and also very hard to play with I would imagine. I could see winning games where you cast this on turn 6 and let it go all the way, but I think it is more powerful to play it as your last spell (as are all of the Epics, obviously). You need to have a good board position as well but once you do, you can take most of their relevant cards within the first few activations.

One with Nothing: 15th pick

Not a card designed for Limited unless it was in Odyssey block. Worst card in the set.

Pain’s Reward: 3-5th pick

I can’t really see if this card is good or not but I suspect its okay in a reasonably aggressive deck where you are often ahead in the game. You can never play it when you are behind and even when you winning you might unwittingly put yourself into burn rage.


Exile into Darkness: 2-4th pick

I’ve drafted this card and it was extremely good for me. Even if you never buy it back, then it is just a removal spell and you can usually work it so that they only have one creature that they could sacrifice by making trades with the other monsters in play. Any card that will eventually kill a Kabuto Moth has to be pretty good.

Footsteps of the Goryo: 8-10th pick

They wouldn’t have to change too much on this card to make it vaguely playable, but as it reads it is just useless. If it said that creature gains haste, then it might make the cut every once in a while, if it was an instant then it wouldn’t be the worst, but alas no, it’s just terrible.

Ghost-Lit Stalker: 4-6th pick

I like this guy more than most I think, so he might not be as high pick as I give him credit for. Most one-mana spirits are okay in this format and this guy’s ability will increase the power of your Saviors cards dramatically. You probably shouldn’t be activating it on turns 5 and 6, but a bit later on in the game it will take your opponent’s tricks such as Blessed Breath and Reciprocate out of their hands before they get the chance to cast them. You might get the chance to activate him early if your opponent has mulliganed and you can take his last few cards.

Hand of Cruelty: 1-3rd pick

If you can support him with your mana base (9+ Swamp), then this guy is ridiculous. Not just against White decks – he is a two-drop that trades with almost every creature in the format up until turn 5, by which point he will have got in for about 4-6 damage. He might even be good enough for Constructed, if WW keeps on showing strongly.

Kemuri-Onna: 4-6th pick

This is not going to be the best five-drop in your deck, but I would never mind having one. At 3/3 he will trade with something on the other side of the board and he has the opportunity for some really good card advantage if you have some instant arcanes.

Kiku’s Shadow: 1-3rd pick

Kabuto Moth is the only annoying creature that this card doesn’t kill in almost the whole format, so I would be very happy to first pick it. Unlike most of the Black removal ever printed, this can target Black creatures as well, so you don’t have the problem of having to Befoul lands due to lack of targets with this card.

Locust Miser: 6-8th pick

Four-mana 2/2. Not good where I come from. His ability is quite useful in the war over who has more cards in hand that can occur with Saviors, but he will have no effect on the board, so I would rather not be playing him.

Measure of Wickedness: 5-7th pick

I thought this card was going to be insane in the first deck I drafted it in, which was a very aggressive Black/Red deck with three Frostlings to sacrifice themselves so as to abuse the Measure. It did not turn out as well as I would’ve hoped, though it did win me a game. Eight life is an awful lot, and if you play it when your opponent has no cards and nothing to sacrifice in play then it is a good bet that if you can ship it over, it will stay with them and you might well win because of it.

Razorjaw Oni: 2-4th pick

This guy is similar in many respects to Ogre Recluse and I don’t like him too much either. I’ve found he really isn’t too hard to beat by racing, as his drawback is very big indeed. He would me more powerful as a splash where he is the only Black creature in your deck or against another Black deck, so both players are affected.

Skull Collector: 6-8th pick

I haven’t actually tried this guy out or seen him in play yet, but he doesn’t look too hot. He would be better if Skullmane Baku were cheaper so you could set up some recursion.


Death Denied: 3-5th pick

When I first saw this card, I thought it resembled Braingeyser, which is a bit of an overestimate sure, but the effect can be just as powerful in Limited. It would be a higher pick, but I think you will be able to pick one up later as people won’t be taking it too highly at the moment, and no one would want a second one.

Death of a Thousand Stings: 7-9th pick

Five mana for a one-point life swing is way too much. If it were a two-point swing, or God forbid a three-point one, then this card would be a lot more powerful. In a game of Limited if a card is only going to change life totals, you want about 6-8 points of life swing. With this card that would be 15-20 mana, and that is way too much, as you would be doing nothing else on those turns.

Deathknell Kami: 6-8th pick

It can never attack or block in the early game if you have any sort of mana curve, but in the late game it might be able to hold of a few fliers and very rarely you might be able to Fireball your opponent out with him.

Deathmask Nezumi: 3-5th pick

A Gray Ogre is never a particularly bad thing to have in your deck, although you don’t want too many of them. However sometimes this dude wins games almost on his own. This cycle of creatures are all better when you are on the draw and this guy won’t let you down. I have seen him singlehandly win a game, so any card that can do that must be good.

Gnat Miser: 6-8th pick

I am not a fan of this sort of card. It only shines on turn 1 when your are also on the play, so maybe it is a sideboard card for that circumstance. On the whole, your opponent only being able to have a six-card hand doesn’t make the difference as to who has the most cards in hand on the crucial turns of the game. It is very rare that both players are trying to build up cards to use powerful effects and nothing happens until they have seven each.

Kagemaro’s Clutch: 1-3rd pick

Any removal is always decent and this card kills most annoyances that you might face. It is useful being a creature enchantment too, as it is not effectively countered by Green pump spells that only last until end of turn like Pull Under is.

Kami of Empty Graves: 5-7th pick

I’m personally not a fan of any creature that has one-butt unless it has some pretty good abilities, which this guy does not. He is more matchup dependent than just being a solid card. Against a Green deck he can be really good, trading with a fatty and then soulshifting. Versus a Red deck, I would be looking to board him out due to the pinging effects that Red has to offer.

These guys block like it's their job.

Kuro’s Taken: 3-5th pick

This guy didn’t look too hot the first time I saw him, but I had two in my deck and wanted to see how good they were. Boy, was I surprised. They are literally impossible to attack into unless your opponent has two 3/3s which won’t happen early on very often. Even if they do, then it only takes a double block with a 1/1 and this guy to kill one of the aforementioned 3/3s and your opponent can’t attack again. Perfect for holding the ground in any deck with fliers and in multiples one can work the O and the other D until they are forced to find a largish monster or start chumping.

Raving Oni-Slave: 5-7th pick

I have a thing about creatures with built in drawbacks. I actually think they are all almost unplayable. This goes for Blind Creeper, Wretched Anurid, Painwracker Oni and Scourge of Numai. I am alone amongst the pros on some of these cards, but whenever I play this guy he does my opponent 3, me 6, and I feel like a tit for having played him. This is just me though – he is probably okay, but I never want to see him again.

Shinen of Fear’s Chill: 6-8th pick

Another creature with a sizeable drawback when comparing his stats to casting cost ratio. He really needs to be able to regenerate or something to make him playable. As it is, he will just trade with your opponent’s two-drop and even then only if your opponents wants too. They might just prefer to keep attacking if a damage race is on and there is nothing you can do about it when this guy is your five-drop.

Sink into Takenuma: 5-7th pick

I generally like a discard spell, but the loss in tempo required to strip your opponent’s hand with this card is too great. Whenever you take a turn off developing your board by making your opponent discard you fall a bit behind at the cost of gaining card advantage. This card causes you too miss out on 2-3 turns of board development, which could cost you if they topdeck after you make them discard.



Adamaro, First to Desire: 3-5th pick

He is very good on turn 3 and will stay a reasonable size until about turn 6-7, when he will just die. Sometimes a large creature in the early game that gets in for about ten damage and then dies for lack of card parity is what a deck wants and sometimes it isn’t. You have to judge which one your deck needs. The problem with him is that you will draw him late game and wish he was just a 2/2.

Hidetsugu’s Second Rite: 1-3rd pick

This card is so disheartening to lose to, and is the biggest finisher in the block I believe. It will make many unwinnable games an easy victory with very little your opponent can do. However, if your opponent says “So you go to 10” when they attack you, then I would strongly suggest taking a point of mana burn in the end of combat step even if you haven’t seen this card from them yet (unless the point is going to change the race by a turn).

Homura, Human Ascendant: 3-5th pick

Okay, when he’s flipped it is impossible to lose, buuuttt, he is very hard to flip as they can just keep taking four for a while then chump block if the damage is relevant. If he were one mana cheaper, then I think he would be substantially better as he would need to be blocked earlier.

Izuka the Ruthless: 2-4th pick

Red doesn’t have many large creatures in this format without a drawback, so this guy fills that hole in your deck. I can’t see his ability becoming useful very often as I haven’t managed to draft an out and out samurai deck since CCC. Still, if you pick up 3-4 samurai, then it might become relevant.

Jiwari, the Earth Aflame: 1st pick

Very hard to lose with this guy in play. It’s the best Red card in set, and although not quite as good as Kumano, I would never complain about opening one. It is probably going to better to cast him 9 times out of 10 and cross your fingers on getting to untap with him still in play.

Rally the Horde: ?

So I read the card, then read it again, and then again. I understand it, but have no clue if it will be good or not. If someone could post some numbers in the message boards about how likely it is to generate X amount of guys with 17-18 land in your deck, I would appreciate it.

Skyfire Kirin: 1-3rd pick

Looks to me like a four-mana 3/3 flying version of Kami of the Fire’s Roar, because the creature you steal doesn’t have haste, so you can’t attack with it. This is still fine obviously, as I have first-picked the Kami many a time. Where he really shines is when you get to steal a creature that has a sacrifice effect such as Scuttling Death or Frostling, then he acts as recursive removal, which is basically the best thing ever.

Thoughts of Ruin: 4-6th pick

Now I really wanted this card to be insane, but I’ve had it many a time and the problem I found was that everyone is holding back their lands now because cards in hand are so important. Not to say that this can’t win you the game after going two-drop, three-drop and they miss casting a guy, but you are probably winning that one anyway.

Undying Flames: 2-4th pick

I have only played this once and I just ran it out there on turn 6. In hindsight this wasn’t the best idea, but I was just testing it out. It is obviously very good when played correctly (in the midgame) to finish your opponent off. You do need to be careful when shooting creatures because the cards you flip get removed from the game, so you can get decked if you target his guys too many times and the ones you have left in play don’t finish off the job.


Burning-eye Zubera: 2-4th pick

Decent-sized creature for any Red deck with a very good ability that is unlikely to get a two-for-one unless your playing versus someone quite bad. It straight up trades with any fat Green monster, which is something only Frost Ogre does in your average Red deck.

Captive Flame: 3-5th pick

If I’m not mistaken, this is a reprint, but it is from a time before I was playing Magic so I never experienced it before. The people that I have talked to that have played it before said that it used to be very good in Limited, although I will not be convinced until I play it for myself. It does have other uses like targeting your opponent’s Glasskites so you can remove them without two-for-oneing yourself.

Feral Lightning: 5-7th pick

The first draft I ever did with this card was at the Invitational and there were two in the draft. I think they went about 8th and 10th, which must be a mistake as it could be a good finisher in many circumstances, although there are many times that it will be very bad.

Gaze of Adamaro: 3-5th pick

Pretty good finisher that will probably do about 4-5 damage and has the possibility to be a Searing Flesh. Of course, quite a lot of the time it will sit in your hand and you might wish it’s a Lava Spike, which is a sad place to be.

Ghost-Lit Raider: 1st pick

Retarded. This is how Sparksmith should’ve read. He is very fragile whilst in play, but if he hangs around for a while he will make the game very unfair. His channel ability is insane too, as an uncounterable Torrent of Stone that can be recursed with soulshift in any non-blue deck. Probably worth splashing unless there is a very good for your deck in the pack.

Godo’s Irregulars: 6-8th pick

He just doesn’t do anything, anything at all. He has no relevant creature type (samurai or spirit) and he isn’t much use on blocking detail. On the offense he is a 1/1 unblockable when your opponent wants him to be and if he can kill it without losing a card, then it again does nothing. It might be okay with Lure if your opponent doesn’t have much in play, but it is a very fragile creature.

Oni of Wild Places: 2-4th pick

Really, really big. Gets the job done no problems. He will usually have to be double blocked to prevent them from taking twelve to the face, and with a five-butt that should be a nice two-for-one. Even if you have to return him, the fact that he has haste makes him one of the better one of these creatures in this cycle.

Sokenzan Renegade: 9-11th pick

I can’t see why you would ever want to play this guy. If your opponent mulligans to five you will get to keep him for the game, but that’s about it. While he is in play, there is no real reason as to why either person should control him and mirrored effects like this are only good if you can easily control them.

Sunder form Within: 8-10th pick

That is about high I would take a sideboard card with very few targets in the format. There are not many artifacts powerful enough to require boarding hate in against in CHK block (mainly just Jitte). Having a Wear Away is a lot more important, as there are a lot more enchantments that are worthy of boarding against.

Yuki-Onna: 6-8th pick

As before, his destroy artifact effect won’t have too much relevance, but you might be able to gain some advantage by bouncing him back to your hand with damage on the stack. The fact that he only has one toughness makes him very vulnerable to all manner of pinging effects, which is why I would not be to fond of playing him.


Akki Drillmaster: 3-5th pick

I was really surprised with how good this guy was, and he seems to get better and better every time I play him. He can be a real surprise with creatures like Frostwielder and Initiate of Blood, but is not such a high pick in W/R and B/R I shouldn’t think.

Akki Underling: 3-5th pick

I wouldn’t pick the first of these guys too highly unless it turns out that Saviors has such an impact on the format that it turns out to be correct to draw first even in draft. However, if the chance comes to get a second (let alone a third) then you should take them and choose to draw every game. Casting these guys on turns 2 and 3 on the draw is so unfair you won’t believe it until you’ve done it to someone.

Barrel Down Sokenzan: 1-3rd pick

Really good removal spell that can kill almost any creature at a price, and has some awesome synergy with the Saviors cards-in-hand mechanic. Any time an instant can effect the cards in your hand as a surprise, it has the possibility to be really powerful.

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Glitterfang: 2-8th pick

Since I first started writing this article, I have been waiting to talk about this card. It is so much fun when it’s in the right deck, yet so useless when you don’t have enough triggers for it. I first learnt of its powers when Tim Aten taught us all a lesson in a draft at the Invitational. He was R/B and had a Thief of Hope plus a few Souls of Magma and Kami of the Fire’s Roar. The Glitterfangs were simply insane every time he drew them and he 3-0ed the draft. Once you have about 4-5 triggers in your deck, then they become a very high pick.

Inner Fire: 15th pick

Not a card made for Limited. There is basically no mixture of cards or circumstances that would make me want to play this card in a forty-card deck ever, although I did play Seething Song a number of times. This card is even worse than that.

Into the Fray: 11-13th pick

I would prefer to never even have it in my stack on principle, because it is that bad.

Path of Anger’s Flame: 7-9th pick

This isn’t the worst card if you have an aggressive deck with a high creature count, although I would still prefer to play a random Gray Ogre over it unless I had 20+ guys. Better in Green decks due too having late game mana producers that can now get in for a relevant amount of damage. Definitely a card that will need to be played around for the next five months.

Ronin Cavekeeper: 5-7th pick

This guy has never made the cut yet in any of my decks, but he doesn’t seem unplayable by any means. If you have no six-drops and will be running 17-18 land, then one copy of this guy should be in your deck for sure. Most other common six-drops in the format are way better and don’t die to three-point burn spells, which is something you don’t want to happen for an investment of six mana.

Shinen of Fury’s Fire: 5-7th pick

Three-mana two-power haste mean are usually a good deal, but this guy just isn’t exciting. He may get in for two once, but after that he will just trade with a 1/1 and not much else. Looks deceptively good, but when it comes down to it a vanilla 2/2 for three is better.

Sokenzan Spellblade: 2-4th pick

I wasn’t impressed with him when I first saw him, but that didn’t last long. In the very first draft I did, everyone else was raving about him and I wasn’t convinced, but that all changed when he gets into play. He may look like a 2/3 for five mana, but actually he is a 10/3 that wins the game if he goes unchecked. Unless they remove him or block him next turn without you having a trick, then you can probably just ride him to victory.

Spiraling Embers: 1-3rd pick

This card gives you everything you could want from a removal spell. It kills any creature on turn 4 so you can keep attacking with your dudes, or can just go to the dome for seven in the late game as a cheap Searing Flesh. Having multiples in your deck is a nice feeling in a beatdown deck, as you know you only have to do your opponent 13-14 damage before you draw one in the mid game and finish them off.