After getting lots of positive feedback about the style of the M13 review, I’m going to format it the same way. We’ll talk about cards in four categories: "Probably Won’t Get Played," "Might Get Played," "Probably Will Get Played," and "Definitely Will Get Played." Remember that this is a Commander only review. There are great cards for other formats, especially Limited, that don’t translate well into 100-card decks.
Probably Won’t Get Played
Multicolor: Auger Spree; Coursers’ Accord; Heroes’ Reunion; Frostburn Weird; Golgari Longlegs; Hussar Patrol; Rakdos Cackler; Rakdos Shred-Freak; Rakdos Ragemutt; Risen Sanctuary; Slitherhead; Trestle Troll; Vassal Soul
Artifact: Â Civic Saber
Might Get Played
Multicolor: Â Call of the Conclave; Carnival Hellsteed; Centaur Healer; Common Bond; Deathrite Shaman; Dramatic Rescue; Dreg Mangler; Fall of the Gavel; Judge’s Familiar; Loxodon Smiter; Lyev Skyknight; Rakdos Ringleader; Rites of Reaping; Search Warrant; Sluiceway Scorpion; Spawn of Rix Maadi
Neat in design and viable for other formats, the Guildgates just don’t measure up to the other multilands in Commander.
Probably Will Get Played
Azorius Arrester:Â I like Detain. Perhaps getting a little set of handcuffs (you know, like the size of a Monopoly piece) to put on top of detained creatures would be cool.
Azorius Justiciar:Â Guess I’ll need two of those.
Keening Apparition:Â Being a Spirit provides some soulshift possibilities, and more enchantment destruction is always helpful.
Palisade Giant:Â It seems pretty likely that someone will play this and then try to make it indestructible. In the worst case, against Overrun decks that don’t run much spot removal it’s an expensive Fog.
Trostani’s Judgment:Â Strangely enough, I think the otherwise shrug-worthy populate mechanic raises this from "might" to "probably will." It’s nice that it’s an instant, but 5W is really expensive since it has to compete with Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile.
Chronic Flooding:Â The most likely case of this getting played is obviously in a self-mill deck. It’s a little difficult to force someone to tap a particular for mana, but notice that the trigger is only on the land being tapped. I suppose that means this plus Rishadan Port could be a thing.
Conjured Currency:Â Embracing a fair amount of Chaos, I like the "you never know what’s going to happen" aspect of this card. Zedruu will like it because he doesn’t have to pay any extra to Donate things. Just make sure everyone is playing in different sleeves.
Inspiration:Â Drawing cards as an instant is a favored arrow in the quiver of decks with counterspells in them, so it’s pretty likely that this gets played. It’s not quite as good as Fact or Fiction at the same cost, but it stacks up favorably against a bunch of other "draw 2" instants.
Dread Reveler:Â Hey, it’s a Zombie. We’re willing to accept less from them.
Desecration Demon:Â There are enough good dies triggers that I’m a little wary of giving opponents the choice of sacrificing dudes, but this guy is pretty aggressive. The politics of who will sacrifice something is what makes it most interesting.
Pack Rat:Â If someone was already thinking about building a Rat deck (of the non-Relentless variety), this one might push them over the edge.
Sewer Shambler:Â Again, it’s a Zombie, and Zombie is hot these days.
Shrieking Affliction:Â Someone is going to build a discard deck because of this card, play it, and then realize that making everyone else discard their hands is enough. They’ll then get Orc-piled in ensuing games and realize that players get grumpy when you resolve Myojin of Night’s Reach.
Bloodfray Giant:Â This guy’s getting unleashed all the time. Giants don’t block!
Guttersnipe:Â I actually don’t think this card will get played in the format, I just want to put everyone on notice: BURN IS BACK, BABY!
Mizzium Mortars:Â I think some folks are going to try to make this work. Its overload cost makes it one more expensive than Flame Wave, but it hits all your opponents’ dudes. Ruhan may try to make use of this with Repercussion.
Deathbridge Goliath:Â I’m not overly fond of scavenge in the format, but this creature’s size-to-cost ratio gives it a reasonable chance of getting played and used.
Gatecreeper Vine:Â I’d like to see the Gates be a little better before committing to this one, but in the worst case it’s a dude that gets a land. If I had Rampant Growth in Karador, he’d probably replace it, even though the land goes into your hand, simply because he’s another body for the graveyard.
Gobbling Ooze:Â I prefer my sacrifice outlets to cost zero mana, but one green isn’t so bad.
Oak Street Inkeeper:Â Winner of the "Cards I Had to Read Ten Times" competition, decks that like to attack like the Innkeeper. The problem is that she’s unlikely to attack herself, meaning she won’t be tapped and protected. Nonbo with Seedborn Muse.
Seek the Horizon:Â I haven’t seen this played much in the format because of cards like Explosive Vegetation and the infinitely awesome Skyshroud Claim at the same cost, but I think that reprinting it might give decksâ€”especially the three- and five-color onesâ€”something to think about.
Azor’s Elocutors:Â Filibuster counters!!! It’ll be epic to see it go off, but I think it’s highly unlikely. Still…filibuster counters!
Blistercoil Weird:Â When something untaps because of a trigger, I always see the combo players sniffing around.
Chemister’s Trick:Â The overload cost makes things a little expensive if you want to also do some other combat tricks, but creating a scenario where they have to attackâ€”just not youâ€”is a cool idea. For sure this is going into my Ruhan deck.
Collective Blessing:Â What’s keeping this from being on the "definitely" side is that it doesn’t give your creatures anything else, like trample, vigilance, or hexproof. At six mana, you might want that little extra something.
Cryptborn Horror:Â Reasonable for the Rakdos decks, but in this format might fall into the same problems that bloodthirst hasâ€”you need to be able to get in for damage.
Golgari Charm:Â Probably the weakest of all the Charms but will still probably get played, again because of the flexibility.
Hellhole Flailer:Â Will probably always be unleashed and likely additionally buffed up.
Jarad’s Orders:Â One that I think looks better than it actually is. At least it can’t Tutor up Prime Time.
Korozda Guildmage:Â Nice flexibility, nice (if slightly expensive) sacrifice outlet.
New Prahv Guildmage:Â Again, nice flexibility, but the second ability is a little expensive.
Nivmagus Elemental:Â Again, better Magic minds than mine will have to figure out how to break this card, but it seems like the kind of card that could be at the bottom of something absurd.
Righteous Authority:Â The thing that might keep it from getting played is the mana cost. That said, Bruna says hello.
Rix Maadi Guildmage:Â Still a little underwhelmed by most of the Guildmages, but this one still has some possibilitiesâ€”like finishing off a player who someone else has dropped to low life.
Skullrend:Â I think some folks will play this then go back to playing Syphon Mind instead.
Skymark Roc:Â There are plenty of slightly annoying but not powerfully dangerous small utility creatures running around the format, creatures that you might not want to spend your targeted removal on, instead holding it for the bigger and badder. The Roc might be some help in keeping those pesky guys in check.
Thoughtflare:Â There might be some better draw options, but when you want to sift through your deck and set up some flashback stuff, this will be a go-to.
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage:Â Meh. Sure, not having to tap for the abilities is good if you have a pile of mana and the populate cost is affordable, but still, meh.
Wayfaring Temple:Â Not a great upside, but not really any downside given its mana cost.
Chromatic Lantern:Â We see Prismatic Omen getting played, and the Lantern does what that does and more, although it obviously doesn’t change land types (which probably most significant with Last Stand).
Volatile Rig:Â Someone is going to play it just because they like flipping coins.
Definitely Will Get Played
Angel of Serenity:Â Certainly played in Angel theme decks, this new twist on Faceless Butcher / Fiend Hunter is powerfully flexible. You can clear a path for attackers with it, get rid of tokens (perhaps slightly more important with populate around), or you can effectively have it as a Regrowth for some of your own creatures.
Martial Law:Â I see this one as quietly very good. Once your original investment is paid, you get to do it for free every turn, which I think is quite significant.
Rest in Peace:Â Ouch. Those of us with heavy graveyard strategies need to think about getting our yards shuffled back in on demand AND getting some quick enchantment removal. Karador right now is thinking "Its burns us…" I think it’s slightly undercosted. 2W or even 1WW seems a little fairer.
Sphere of Safety:Â The Zedruu deck is going to play this. Enchantment decks are going to play it. Maybe even any deck that just wants to make their planeswalkers slightly more difficult to kill will play it. A little expensive at 4W, but that’s the price for making Ghostly Prison and Propaganda even better.
Cyclonic Rift:Â One of the most talked-about cards ever since it was spoiled, it’s not a game-breaker like Upheaval. It’s going to be really, really good, but in no universe is it ban- or panic-worthy.
Inaction Junction:Â On the surface, it seems like a card that would go on the "probably" list, but I think the cantrip part of it makes it a definite.
Jace, Architect of Thought:Â Let’s face it. The card starts with "Jace," so if all the abilities just said "Durdle," people would still play it. Fortunately, it’s pretty good. The first ability plusses up the loyalty counters while keeping the one-power dudes from being able to knock it down. I think this will end up being more significant than people originally thinkâ€”a minor annoyance turned into a major downside. The ultimate isn’t as broken as say Tamiyo’s, but it’s still pretty saucy.
Psychic Spiral: Â This will be absolutely bonkers in any kind of mill deck. I have it slotted for The Mimeoplasm, which mills everyone so that there is stuff to Reanimate but has the secondary strategy of being able to simply mill out people. Getting to kill someone AND set up my stuff for reuse is insane.
Guild Feud:Â Oh, the humanity! Another Chaos-Embracing card that’s sure to get big roars from the table when unexpected things get revealed. Unfortunately, you can’t really do anything to buff up or protect the revealed creatures, so you had better have fatties on your side. From a flavor standpoint, easily my favorite card in the set.
Street Spasm:Â Being an instant is probably the only reason this will get played, but it’s a pretty good reason. It’ll get used in emergency situations for its normal cost, but most often for the overload.
Utvara Hellkite:Â HOLY MOLY! FIRE RAINS FROM THE SKY!!! I believe Karrthus just had a Jundgasm.
Vandalblast:Â Another one that I think is actually going to slip under a few people’s radar, six mana to blow up everyone else’s artifacts seems pretty spicy. The one-mana blow up something now also gives it great flexibility.
Urban Burgeoning:Â I’m SURE that clever players will figure out how to best abuse this card. Anything that taps the land to do something other than produce mana, like Underworld Connections, is a good place to start. How about having your Maze of Ith available on EACH opponent’s turn?
Wild Beastmaster:Â I’m already dreaming of scenarios in Animar with this and Forgotten Ancient. I think the card is quite good but doesn’t cross the line into great because it doesn’t give trample. Still, it’ll be worth exploring. Doubling up on Overrun power could be pretty cool. Or enchanting it with Eldrazi Conscription.
Worldspine Wurm:Â If you don’t love 15/15s, then you don’t love this format. If you don’t love 15/15s that give you three 5/5 tramplers when they die, you need to seek professional help. Sacrificing Worldspine Wurm to Greater Good will get you the -1 penalty "Dookie" in the Aramda EDH League (for putting into your hand more than ten cards in a turn cycle), but I’m doing it anyway. Well, once. Penalties hurt.
Armada Wurm:Â No, Armada Games didn’t have input in naming this card. It’s a fatty that makes another fatty (for you to then later populate). Ten trampling power for six mana is what Selesnya is all about.
Azorius Charm:Â When the abilities on Charms are mediocre, they are worth playing for the flexibility. When the abilities are awesome, they become must-includes.
Counterflux:Â More likely played in formats where Storm is a real thing, the uncounterable counterspell will still get played in this one.
Detention Sphere:Â There was a good deal of hype when this card was spoiled, all of it justified. It’s Oblivion Ring that will wipe out a token army. Before the banning, it would have probably gotten rid of multiple Primeval Titans.
Dreadbore:Â The fact that it also kills creatures is secondary. Murdering planeswalkers without attacking them is tech.
Dryad Militant:Â Combo breaker!!!
Epic Experiment:Â Epic indeed. It’s Genesis Wave for non-permanents. I can see some pretty crazy stuff happening off of this, including some kind of infinite or near-infinite combos involving taking extra turns.
Firemind’s Foresight:Â I’m sure the combo guys have already figured out how best to abuse this, although I suppose the best game-breaker combos are sorceries that cost a little more. Maybe we should run a "best Firemind’s Foresight" contest.
Goblin Electromancer:Â Speaking of combo cards…
Grisly Salvage:Â The Reanimator decks love this simply because of the low cost.
Havoc Festival:Â Games just got shorter. How very Rakdos.
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord:Â This will be this set’s card that gets the most calls for banning. It is VERY strong, and Kresh is already striking up a relationship with Jarad. It is in no way ban-worthy. Certainly, there’s a danger point in that it’s difficult to prevent the life loss since it’s not targeted and not damage. It’s simply a card that we’ll all have to look out for, both as a general and one of 99. Will people lose to it? Yes. Will it warp the format? No.
Lotleth Troll:Â I have to put this on the "definitely" list because Bennie Smith has already announced his intention to marry this card. It does have quite some possibilities, but it also has quite some risks in that graveyard hate in this set is really hateful. Probably still destined for my Karador deck. Â Â
Mercurial Chemister:Â This guy would get definitely get played with only one of those two abilities. Having them both makes him kind of absurd. I actually expect to see him in Grixis/Reanimator decks more than just Izzet.
Nivix Guildmage:Â Perhaps the best of the Guildmages, I see this one also being pretty good with some black in the deck.
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius:Â He was strong enough as the Firemind. As Dracogenius, he’s kind of absurd. Probably swapping him in for the original in Ruhan.
Rakdos Charm:Â Talk about a card that I love to play and hate to see. This singlehandedly does awful things to many of my decks with the first ability. On the upside, it kills the guy that just put a million tokens into play. The middle ability will almost never get played.
Rakdos, Lord of Riots:Â In his colors, there’s no problem casting him, and there’s no problem making his last ability work. Aggressive if a little narrow, which is just fine. Nicely thematic.
Selesnya Charm:Â The Charms are officially better than the Guildmages. The first two abilities will see plenty of use, the third not so much. If it had deathtouch instead of vigilance, all bets would be off.
Slaughter Games:Â The answer to single linchpin combo decks. Sure, it’s only getting one card, but that might be THE ONE card you have to get.
Supreme Verdict:Â Either an additional Wrath or a replacement, this card is getting played.
Teleportal:Â Another overload card that probably won’t get played much normally, it can still simply be a game-winner when cast for two, the unblockable part being the operative.
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice:Â I think people underestimate the value of life gain in the format. Sure, if someone can do infinite damage your life total doesn’t matter much and if they can kill you with general damage it doesn’t matter much, but otherwise it keeps you alive longer. This will be a nice, kind of inoffensive general, and certainly the one I’m going to build the white/green deck around in my one of each color combination project.
Vraska the Unseen:Â Planeswalkers that do a great job of protecting themselves and then have crazy ultimates are certainly going to get some attention. This one will probably make more of a splash in Standard than Commander.
Pithing Needle:Â It’s getting played already, and there are cards that deserve to be shut down. Jarad could be one of them.
Blood Crypt, Hallowed Fountain, Overgrown Tomb, Steam Vents, Temple Garden:Â Nothing needs to be said about these lands. They’re already wildly popular in the format. Bringing them back is very nice for us, especially those of us who like the foilies, since these should eventually be cheaper.
Rogue’s Passage:Â Unblockable generals will kill you dead.
Return to Ravnica is a super-solid set for Commander. With a full 60 of the cards in the "Definitely" pile (30 of them multi-color, which makes sense given the guild-driven nature), it will have an immediate impact on the format. The only card that I think is absolutely crazy is Jarad. People are definitely going to have to start playing more graveyard hate, which impacts a number of my decks (Karador and Kresh specifically) in a way that makes me a little twitchy. The good news is that the set also gives many of my decks some nice new fuel. Expect a full report on the changes in the coming weeks.
Next week, tune in for Part 2 of Reader Mailbag.
Interestingly enough, my Magic play style and my personality seemÂ rather different. I’m at heart a Jund player, so I half expected that I might end up Golgari.Â I took the Guild test, answering as me the person, not me the Magic player.Â Turns out…
I am Azorius.Â I suppose that reflects my strong sense of justice (white) and that I know better than everyone else how to bring it about (blue).Â "I serve only justice. But through that duty, I serve all of Ravnica."