On Saturday, I played M10 for eleven hours straight, making the finals of a twenty-five man tournament and then drafting an utterly horrid Blue deck that went 1-2. As usual, here are my impressions of the cards as I saw â€˜em; some looked good and played poorly, others looked terrible but were better than expected.
Note that I’m not going to discuss reprints we’ve seen in the recent past, except if they’re considerably different in this environment. I mean, I hope by now you know that Shivan Dragon is pretty good, Ajani Goldmane is an auto-include in a White deck, and that there’s not much of an excuse for playing Ornithopter.
That said, let’s take a look at the cards!
Considering that pretty much everyone will be playing with some form of enchantment or equipment in this environment, Acidic Slime’s a handy overexpensive Naturalize that comes with a 2/2 deathtouching critter on top. And if not, given that people seem to like to play with three colors in this environment (who doesn’t want to splash that Lightning Bolt?) you can often lock folks out of the color they need to be in. I knew I’d like it; I didn’t know how much I’d like it.
I kept having arguments with my friend Adam over this all weekend. Weaker players kept playing this, and I kept smashing them right back down. But Adam loved this damn card.
“It usually buys you two extra turns,” he explained. “That’s two extra chances to draw the creature you need.”
“Or you could just swap that out for an actual good creature and draw the creature you need right then,” I said. “Essentially, you get one or two extra turns out of it, but it doesn’t do a damn thing about what I have on the board. If I’m ahead, you still die. If you’re ahead, it doesn’t seal the game. The only time this is useful is when we’re in a tight race, and even then it’s still usually better to have an actual threat than a chance at drawing two cards that might be better.”
“I guess,” he said, and kept it in. When he played against me in the last round, he drew Angel’s Mercy when I had eight damage on the table and he had no creatures. One good creature might have saved his life then.
I wonder if he’s changed his mind.
I really didn’t think much of this little dude when I saw him — he’s a 1/1! I can kill him easy, right? Except that a) I don’t want to waste a Lightning Bolt on him, and b) most of the other removal I’d like to use on him is sorcery speed, or depends on him attacking.
He looks weak in theory, but in practices the decks that beat me had an astonishing consistency in going, “Okay, turn 3, cast Awakener Druid, attack you with my 4/5.” Which would be mildly irritating in a non-Green deck, but in a Green deck it meant that they’d have this 4/5 that they’d keep attacking me with until they cast Cudgel Troll or some other huge fatty to keep me on the back foot.
Yes, it’s as crazy as it looks.
No, I didn’t open one.
Yes, I’m still bitter.
Berserkers of Blood Ridge
It’s not the greatest in every deck, but I will say that I won two games by casting this. My opponent said either, “Ah, I have enough on the board to kill it” or “Why, I’ll just block it with my Drudge Skeletons!”
Next turn, cast Whispersilk Cloak, equip, swing. And keep swinging for four turns. That usually did it.
There are times I open a rare and go, “Well, there’s no chance in hell I’m ever going to play with this in a Constructed deck, so I either experience it now or never.” And so I put it in my Sealed deck.
Is it good? I have no idea. I liked it on a crowded board, when I had a 66% shot of killing the opposition, but when it was just me against, say, an Air Elemental, I didn’t lik the odds. In one game, I managed to win three consecutive rolls to kill the exact three creatures in the order I needed them dead to win that game and make it to the finals; in many other games, he died.
In general, I thought of him as a one-turn wall that was a very expensive way to ward off Craw Wurms. If someone attacked and wanted to trade, well, I traded, because too much of the time he was going away anyway. That seemed fair.
Oh! And one of the things that I could have been a rules jerk about is that there’s no window to react between the time you roll and the time the destruction happens. It’s like a Persecution; by the time your opponent names the color, it’s too late to do anything. If you want a regeneration shield on something that might be hit by the Efreet, do it while the effect’s still on the stack. If you want to see the results of the roll and the permanent you wanted to save is targeted, it’s dead before you get a chance to react.
Captain of the Watch
Again, another card that’s as good as advertised. Sure, they can (and will) kill it, but you still have three tokens, and if they don’t kill it right away you get three 2/2 tokens to attack with.
I lost in the finals with this ludicrous play; he casts Captain of the Watch. I kill it (after taking a round’s beating), then on the next turn I Rise from the Grave to get his Captain working for me.
He looks guilty after his draw, then lays his foil Captain of the Watch. No wonder he was in the finals, man! Now that’s a deck.
Child of Night
I love this card, and want it to have my babies. Whenever it hit the board, it never failed to have some impact — whether it was just beefing up life totals, keeping me in the game with a Whispersilk Cloak, or destroying me on turn 3 with an Oakenform. Yeah, it’s a 2/1 but it’s now one of my favorite commons.
Playing Red/Black, this was invariably the card I didn’t want to see. The 4/3 is good enough to trade with almost any non-Green common, and the regeneration means it’s deucedly hard to deal with using just direct damage or combat. I didn’t play with Green, but when I do in the future I’ll be hoping I open a couple of these.
Just as good as advertised â€” well, almost. The “it can’t be regenerated” clause from Terror is greatly missed, especially when playing against Cudgel Trolls. But instant speed death from the skies is always welcome.
Also, you are legally mandated to sing Gir’s “Doomy Doom Doom Song” when playing this card. Just so you know.
You may not have played with this in a while. You may go, “Meh, it’s an overpriced 2/3 flier. I’ll pass.” Except that 2/3 can block and survive most common fliers, and if you have enough Red mana you can either trade with just about anything non-First Striking or blow your opponent out of the skies. You really do want this in your Red deck, I swear.
It used to be Orcish Artillery, but I guess Goblins are more traditionally stupid. In any case, don’t be fooled; I’m not saying you want to take three damage, but there are several cases where you can either a) pay three damage up front and be done with it, or b) have that damn Blinding Mage tap your best blocker and get through for six damage over the next few turns. In this case, reusable removal is very good, especially if you can combine with, say, Child of Night or Lifelink to get your life total back.
The Illusionary Servant, I find, is actually pretty good. Of course they can (and will) target it when they get the chance, but often before then it’ll get in for three to six damage in the air, which is nice. Third- and fourth-turn Illusionary Servants, I have found, are often very hard starts for your opponent to recover from. Just be sure to have a plan to side them out, and know what you’ll be siding them out for.
Ice Cage, on the other hand, is much weaker than I thought. If your opponent has any equipment, well, he’s out of the Cage. And a Giant Growth or Blinding Mage means you’re in trouble. It just seems too easy to shatter this Cage, so I am not a fan. I’ll use it if I’m forced into Blue, but I really hope I’m not here.
My complete all-star. Yes, he’s a tad pricey at six mana, but unless you have multiple guys with four-plus toughness you can’t multiple-block him, and in general unless your opponent has a critter with seven or more toughness it’s going to die. Every time I cast this I felt almost completely secure in serving the next turn, and he hardly ever got blocked. He got removed, sure, but isn’t that what happens to your good men?
Hey? You know what has two thumbs and loves this card? This guy. Well, and every guy at the prerelease. Except for that Dr. Curt Connor over in the corner, who shuffled his cards with his good hand and kept scratching his reptilian skin, and even he seemed to enjoy Lightning Bolt, so it kind of works out.
I’d like to tell you that I quivered in fear whenever I faced this man. I mean, I was playing a Red/Black deck! He should totally be my nemesis, right?
Well, except that I was playing Red/Black, so I Fireballed him, or Consume Spirited him, or Doom Bladed him, or just blocked with Drudge Skeletons. He never connected with my face. He certainly has a potent effect, and I wouldn’t not play with a 4/4 first striker, but not having protection from the colors he’s fighting makes him considerably worse.
Green creature pump enchantments are still good in Limited, no matter what they’re called. Or did you really need to know?
Rise from the Grave
An all-star all day for me, he was the reason I kept peering over and asking, “So what’s in your graveyard?” It either enabled me to make seemingly awful trades with my opponent (and then bring my best dude out, ready to fight, after combat), or to use my removal and then bash them with their own Baneslayer Angel.
…that was my plan, anyway. He had the Pacifism the next turn. So it goes. But still, had he not had the Pacifism, I would have had my own Baneslayer, so I’m still counting Rise as an awesome card here. (And I did Rise someone’s Siege-Gang FTW, so I’m counting that. Speaking of which….)
Whaaaaaah. He’s not as good as he was before the rules changes! Except you get three free tokens, and the ability to tap out the next turn to do six damage, and potentially more in the long haul if you have Goblins! Despite his being weakened, he’s still plenty good and should make the cut in any Red deck of note.
Seems unfair. Is unfair. Did not see any in the Blue deck I drafted, which is a large portion of the reason my Blue deck was so underpowered. That’s the unfairest thing of them all!
I didn’t think much of this guy at first, but as it turns out he’s very good against White, Black, and Red decks, because he’s a perfect foil to their second-turn plays most of the time. You’d think I would have learned from Blister Beetle, but no, I am that slow. Fortunately, I was smart enough to try him, and he paid off nicely.
Not only is he a good bargain for his mana cost, but I stayed in a couple of games with double-Black mana open by hurling Drudge Skeletons high into the air. They blocked, regenerated after tussling with the Air Elemental I didn’t want eating my face, then I put another regeneration shield on to enable them to survive the fall at end of turn. Mana-intensive? Sure, but better than taking four damage.
Also, if your opponent has seen the Drudge Skeletons trick, they are sometimes surprisingly willing to believe that you can do the same with Wall of Bone. You can’t, but it did keep â€˜em away for a turn or two.
That’s it; I’ll have my tourney report for you next week, along with the decks I played. In the meantime, let me ask you the usual two post-prerelease questions:
- What card performed better than you thought it would, and why?
- What card performed worse than you thought it would, and why?