M15 Over And Underachievers

Two-time Pro Tour Champion Brian Kibler sifts through M15’s brand new cards and shares with us which cards outperformed his expectations and which did not live up to their hype!

Like the rest of you, the Prerelease last weekend was my first opportunity to get my hands on M15 cards. I spent my Saturday spellslinging at San Diego
Games and Comics in Mira Mesa, CA, taking on all comers in Standard, Modern, and Sealed deck with a bounty on my head of a booster pack for each win.
Unsurprisingly, I faced a lot of challengers that day, most of them in Sealed deck, so I got a chance to see a lot of cards from the new set in action.

Today, I want to share what I learned from that experience. The bulk of my commentary will be about cards in my own deck, since they’re the ones I got the
best feeling for, but there were quite a few cards in my opponent’s decks that stood out to me as particularly impressive that I wanted to touch on too.

So let’s take a look at the overperformers and underperformers from my first weekend with M15. I was mostly pleasantly surprised by a number of cards
seeming better than I expected, but I was underwhelmed here and there too.


When I saw this card on the spoiler, I thought it was cute but unlikely to be a big deal, however, its impact on my prerelease was certainly very big.
Granted, my experience with the card was enormously colored by the fact that my deck had not only the promo Siege Dragon but a second copy as well. This
meant I was frequently able to use one of my three Generator Servants to power out a huge flier that could wipe my opponent’s board.

Even without a Siege Dragon level bomb, though, I can see Generator Servant having a big impact on M15 limited games. It’s a 2/1 creature for two mana
which is a reasonable body to start with, and while it’s in play, your opponent has to live in constant fear of some giant hasty monster coming down to eat
them for lunch. My guess is that this card will be at its best in G/R decks where it can power out giant monsters like Siege Wurm.


I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this guy, but he seemed like he ought to be decent in my deck. I was playing an aggressive heavy red deck
splashing blue that had a lot of small creatures along with some artifact synergies like Aeronaut Tinkerer, Shrapnel Blast, and Hoarding Dragon. My thought
was that I would get in some early damage with 2/1s and the like and then use them to convoke out the larger body once my small creatures couldn’t get

The way the games played out were nothing like that. I’d end up trading off some of my early creatures attacking, or lose them to removal, or just not have
a good opportunity to actually use them to convoke out a quick Golem for whatever reason. By the time I actually could play the Golems, they were often
outclassed or the ground was otherwise generally gummed up and they didn’t have a particularly high impact.

I didn’t think the Golems were going to be superstars by any means, but I certainly thought they would be better than they turned out to be. I imagine
they’re probably more effective in decks that are capable of generating token creatures to convoke them out more efficiently, or perhaps have stronger
artifact synergies, but they just were not impressive for me at all.


Speaking of token generators, this is one that shaped a lot of my experiences in the tournament. Remember what I said about my decks being based around
attacking with a bunch of 2/1 creatures like Generator Servant in the early game? Well, there’s nothing quite as terrifying for that plan as an opponent
with 1W open.

After losing an errant creature to Raise the Alarm in one of my early games, I started playing around it almost every time my opponent had the mana
available in the first few turns. It put a huge damper on my ability to actually pressure my opponents, but I felt like I just couldn’t afford to risk it
most of the time.

There are a lot of one toughness creatures in M15, and a lot of them are going to get ambushed by soldiers over the next year. Everything from Generator
Servant and Torch Fiend to Elvish Mystic and Child of Night to Oreskos Swiftclaw and Necromancer’s Servant–they’re all going to walk down the wrong alley
at some point and find some surprise soldiers waiting for them.

Between the ambush value and its effectiveness at enabling convoke, I expect Raise the Alarm to be a very significant card in the format when it shapes up.
Surprise soldiers will be everywhere!


Now, this is my own fault because I tried to get greedy, but I’m sure a lot of you out there are going to make the same kind of mistake. I played Shrapnel
Blast in my deck with just a handful of artifacts to sacrifice to it, and almost every time I drew the card, it was pretty much dead. I had a couple of
Bronze Sables who always seemed to die off in combat, the aforementioned Golems, Haunted Plate Mail, and a Meteorite, and eventually I just cut the
Shrapnel Blast from my deck entirely after it clogged up my hand for the half-dozenth time or so.

Word to the wise: don’t try to play Shrapnel Blast in a deck without a good density of artifacts, preferably ones that have a tendency to stick around.
Given that the only common artifact in the set is Ornithopter which you should almost never put into your limited deck, you probably don’t want to draft
Shrapnel Blast except in very unusual circumstances.


Meteorite is awesome. I actually love the flavor of Meteorite more than anything else. Players have been calling artifact sources of mana “mana rocks” for
a long time, and this is a mana rock that fell from the sky on someone’s head. How great is that?

Even beyond the flavor home run, Meteorite is a pretty awesome card. I actually started it in my sideboard when I had my deck configured more aggressively
at first, but then I realized that I was both a little light on removal and could use the mana ramp to cast my Siege Dragons in the games where I didn’t
have a Generator Servant (or my opponents followed me on Instagram and knew to kill them). It was also a nice
option to fetch removal with Hoarding Dragon and helped turn on my artifact synergies.

Meteorite isn’t an all-star by any means, but it’s the glue that can hold a lot of different elements of a deck together. Oh, and did I mention it’s a mana
rock that fell on someone? Because it is and that’s awesome.


My first thought was that this card seemed pretty good, since at the very least it’s an inefficient shock effect, and removal is rarely bad. As it turned
out, Inferno Fist is even better than it looks. The combination of +2 attack and the ability to hit either a creature or player with the damage ability
makes Inferno Fist a very efficient way to swing a race in your favor. I finished off multiple opponents throughout the day by playing Fists on an evasion
creature and sending the damage to their face.

I expect aggressive red decks featuring this card alongside cards like Frenzied Goblin and Hammerhand to push damage through will end up being very popular
in M15 draft. All the more reason Raise the Alarm stands to be a major player, since those decks are likely to be loaded with cheap one toughness creatures
that are looking to attack.


Speaking of one toughness creatures, this guy preyed on them all day long. The list of creatures that I killed with Forge Devil is too long to spell out,
especially considering the number of times I combined it with Peel From Reality to take out two toughness creatures as well. I first thought of this as a
sideboard card, but the more I played, the more juicy targets I saw for it. By the end of the day, I was happily playing two of them in my main deck.
Prerelease deckbuilding rules are great for letting you try out all kinds of new stuff like that!


All of the new Kird Ape cycle seems pretty powerful, but this is the only one I really got a chance to see in action, and it is an absolute monster. In my
first reading of the card, I actually glossed over the fact that its activated ability gives trample in addition to +2/+2, since it’s the only one that
seems to give both a temporary keyword and a stat boost.

In the one match I lost at the prerelease, Kird Chieftan pretty much single-handedly destroyed me. Sure, he got a little bit of help from Ranger’s Guile
protecting him from my Peel from Reality in both games, but my opponent literally just played the big ape and kept attacking and pumping him and I died.
The ability for him to attack as a 6/6 trampler as early as turn 5 is no joke.

Have you seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? Basically, this guy is Caesar, and if you have him around all of your creatures can build themselves a tree
city and learn to ride horses and fire machine guns and pretty much dominate anything in their path. He’s an ape you want to have on your side. Ape may not
kill ape, but if you’re across the table from him, you’re no ape, and he’s going to kill you.


So this card completely blew me out in one game. My opponent had Avacyn, Guardian Angel and a Hoarding Dragon to my board of Siege Dragon and Aeronaut
Tinkerer with Haunted Plate Mail. He was at four life, so he couldn’t afford to let either creature through, and he only had three mana available. I
figured that if I attacked, at best he could block each of them and use Avacyn to protect his dragon so I’d trade my Dragon for his Avacyn and I’d have a
bigger flier left on the board. I certainly didn’t want to let him untap with a lot of mana so he could stall out the game and use Avacyn to protect
himself, so I attacked.

What actually happened is that he protected his Dragon with Avacyn and tapped his creatures to play Ephemeral Shields with convoke to make his Avacyn
indestructible which meant that neither of his creatures died and suddenly he was able to attack and kill me in two turns instead. Not exactly what I had
in mind.

All of the convoke combat tricks can lead to blowouts, but this one may be the strongest candidate of them all, especially among the commons. Be sure to
keep it in mind when you’re figuring out what can go wrong when you attack. The answer, it turns out, is often a lot more than you think.

What about you? What cards stood out to you in your M15 prerelease experience? What cards were better than you thought they would be? Which were worse?