While I was at the Invitational this week, I was lucky enough to draft the whole Champions block which of course includes Saviors of Kamigawa. Any time that sixteen of the top players in the world get together and draft fifteen times in a week, you would expect to learn a few things and I sure did. We got to see almost all the cards and certainly learned lots of useful interactions with Betrayers cards that you wouldn’t have received from the prerelease. So this is what I’ve come to understand from the format so far. They are just my first impressions so don’t take everything to be set in stone as my opinions may change in the coming months as I get to play more with the new cards. This is just the White, Blue, lands and artifacts at the moment, the others will follow.
Celestial Kirin: 1st pick.
If you are White, then there is no better card in the set for your deck. It is simply retarded. A selective Wrath of God that you can use every turn is one of the most powerful effects you can get in Limited Magic and it is especially good if you have a nice mana curve so that you can destroy whatever your opponent plays. Even if it had no ability then a 3/3 flier for four is very, very good and I can hardly ever see the ability being a drawback, although it might happen.
Enduring Ideal: unplayable
Okay so it’s not entirely unplayable, but even if you had 4 Hondens, then it will probably not be making the cut.
Kataki, War’s Wage: 4-6th pick
Two-mana 2/1’s are usually good in Limited and this format is no exception. This is especially true in White, as White tends to be the beatdown color in this block. The bonus this card gets is very unlikely to ever come into effect, but you never know.
Kiyomaro, First to Stand: 1-3rd pick
The turn after you cast this guy, he is quite likely to be a 4/4 vigilance which is good for five mana and if you ever have a sweep card that you can play as an instant when they try to block him then that will be game right there.
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker: 7-9th pick
If this girl had read “sacrifice that permanent,” she would’ve been really good. As it stands she is pretty mediocare. She does have some uses such as stopping an opponent’s 1/1 flier or Frostwielder from doing you that annoying six points of damage in the middle of a game, but on the whole four-mana 2/2s need a better ability than this.
Promise of Bunrei: 1-3rd pick
This gets especially good when you have creatures that sacrifice themselves for useful effects such as Frostling or Moonlit Strider, but even if you don’t it makes creature combat nightmarish for your opponent. Just casting this card and then chump blocking immediately to get the four dudes is probably not going to be the correct play because you want to maintain card parity.
Pure Intentions: 15th pick
This card should not go 15th because it is a rare and therefore will be worth 0.33 of a ticket on MODO. But that is its only redeeming feature in Limited. It might, however, find its way into some Constructed sideboards.
Reverence: 2-4th pick
This one is very hard to gauge as to how good it is. I’m really not too sure myself, but my instincts tell me that it won’t be as high a pick as I have placed it.
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant: 7-9th pick
Just another random gray ogre. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s not too exciting even with some useless ability attached.
Aether Shockwave: 8-10th pick
This looks like more a sideboard card to me, and even then my opponent would need an awful lot of creatures it would effect. This is most definitely not Ensnare.
Charge Across the Araba: 1st pick
So… Overrun at instant speed, anyone? I mean…it’s quite quite ridiculous. The one White in the casting cost is deceptive as it is probably not splashable but Oh my God is it good in any deck with 8+ Plains. This will be the card from this set that you will lose the most games to due to it being uncommon and a game winner every time it is cast.
Descendant of Kiyomaro: 1-3rd pick
2/3 for three mana is obviously pretty good in itself and this guy is no slacker when he really gets going. It is reasonable to assume that you will have more cards in hand than your opponent about 35-40% of the time, making cards that have extra effects when this requirement is met pretty good in my view (assuming they are playable when you have less cards too).
Eiganjo Free-riders: 2-4th pick
When I first saw this card I thought it was insane, but the more I played with it the less I liked it. He is very susceptible to B/R decks packed with removal that can keep him off the board by destroying your other White creatures. Sometimes though, his drawback can be a bonus, for instance if you have a Lantern Kami and a Waxmane Baku, then you are getting a free counter every turn but that is a three-card combo and thus mildly unlikely.
Ghost-Lit Redeemer: 5-7th pick
Kind of a cross between Split-Tail Miko and Honden of Cleansing Fire, and although not as good as either one of those, it is still certainly playable.
Hail of Arrows: 1-3rd pick
A game winner, splashable and all round really good card. It is something that might become a bit more obvious the more practice that you have with the set, but whenever it is your opponent’s last card, you will be wrecked by it without there being much you can do about it.
Hand of Honor: 2-4th pick
Now Samurai of the Pale Curtain is one of my favorite cards in CHK and this guy is I an upgrade, although I’m sure how much of one. He will always make the cut and might be game versus many decks.
Inner-Chamber Guard: 7-9th pick
There aren’t many walls that are good in Limited and for all intents and purposes this guy might as well be one, and a pretty bad one at that. If your deck is slow or your opponent has lots of early beaters then this guy isn’t the worst, but I wouldn’t want to be starting him in the main.
Nikko Onna: 4-6th pick
I could see myself making this one of my pet cards of the format. I really like the look of him at this early stage, as there are a surprisingly large amount of annoying enchantments in the format and he turns each of your instant arcanes into a Blessed Breath that can only target him (which is still fine).
Presence of the Wise: 8-10th pick
Just unplayable. There are very few life gain spells that are good in Limited, they usually have to have draw a card on them somewhere. Not to say that you couldn’t win a game with this card, but on the whole it’s just another turd.
Araba Mothrider: 5-7th pick
Most people I’ve talked too liked this card more than I did, so maybe I am underrating it, but it just doesn’t do enough for me. He doesn’t trade with any more of the good common fliers than a Lantern Kami and although he is better at holding down the ground, why would you want your fliers on defense.
Cowed by Wisdom: 6-8th pick
This card will probably only stop the early beats from any given creature as when your opponent runs out of spells he will just spend his mana on attcaking with this dude. I don’t like ghostly prison and this card seems worse.
Curtain of Light: 6-8th pick
Sure, sometimes this will win the odd game by cantrip countering a Strength of Cedars, but I would class it as a barely playable 22nd card. Any warm body with power and toughness will probably be better.
Kitsune Bonesetter: 7-9th pick
This creature just needs to be able to do something when you don’t have more cards in hand than your opponent. He is actually the nut-low when you have less cards, being about as skilled as a paulsy victim doing brain surgery with a pipe-wrench. He doesn’t even prevent to players after you go to all the effort of turning him on.
Kitsune Dawnblade: 5-7th pick
Not the worst, but I’m not too happy with having him in my starting 22. He will trade with most of the other five-drops and his ability might even swing the race in your favor. The problem here is that white has such an abundance of 5 drops I usually find, and this guy isn’t at the top of the list.
Kitsune Loreweaver: 2-4th pick
When I got home to England one of my flatmates told me about how he was wrecking everyone with this guy at the prerelease. He is hard to attack into if you can afford to leave mana open and he does get his beat on in the early game being the two-power two-drop that he is. An all round decent monster. [This phrase is far more amusing if you say with an English accent. – Knut]
Moonwing Moth: 2-4th pick
You can’t be so excited to open a Moth in this pack as you are in CHK, but this guy is still a fine addition to your stack. The only problem is the double White casting cost is never great on a three-drop, as it makes you want to play 10 Plains.
Plow through Reito: 5-7th pick
Not a great trick but a trick nonetheless in a set where White has very few other options in this department. I’m still not sure whether a card having sweep in the text box is a good or bad thing yet/ I guess it will depend on how much synergy it has with the rest of your deck. This card will always make the cut in a deck with 16+ creatures with only a few spells and will just be ok everytime you cast it.
Shinen of Stars’ Light: 4-6th pick
Average dork. Very flimsy on the butt, although he can hold off a few guys if your opponent has no removal or tricks. I can’t see the channel coming in useful very often and even when it does it is unlikely to gain you card advantage, so casting him as another creature is just as good in the long run.
Spiritual Visit: 4-6th pick
How highly you will take this card will obviously depend in the rest of your deck, because you definitely want to splice this a few times before you end up casting it. It is absurd in the Dampen deck if you get lucky enough to draft a working version with the whole block, which I’m not sure is possible.
Tori Watchward: 5-7th pick
Just another random five-drop in your White deck. This is a little more exciting than the rest, as it has a few good abilities so you will probably play it over the Kami of the Painted Road and Kami of the Tattered Shoji, both of which always seem to make the cut in my draft decks.
Cloudhoof Kirin: 1st pick
An out and out first pick no doubt about it. Possibly the best Blue card in the set and all it needs to be is an Air Elemental. It will almost always kill your opponent through attacking before you manage to deck him, but it is always an option to be looking out for.
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant: 6-8th pick
This guy doesn’t look like he will ever flip to me unless you have a very strange deck with an awful lot of instants to play in your opponent’s end-step after they have cast a few guys. If and when he does flip, he is unbeatable. Apart from this rare occasion he is just a 1/1 flier for two, which isn’t great but might make it if you have some ninja’s
Eternal Dominion: 8-10th pick
I can certainly see myself trying to squeeze this into a MODO draft deck at some early hour of the morning when I’m winding down and drafting for fun, but other than that, ten mana is way too much to pay for a card that doesn’t win the game instantly.
Kaho, Minamo Historian: 1-3rd pick
Pretty slow, but very good when he gets going. It is important to notice that you can only play each one of the spells once, but that means he has the possibility to still be a giant 3-for-1 with a 2/2 monster left over.
Kami of the Crescent Moon: 6-8th pick
The problem here is that your opponent always gets the bonus before you do, so is always a card up on you throughout the game. Any mirrored effects have to be able to be abused on your side to make them playable in Limited and just having both players draw additional cards is not one that I can see being broken. If however you are drafting a splice deck of some sort, be it Dampen Thought or just Ire of Kaminari, then he might be just the card for you need. I would expect him to table if I opened him.
Meishin, the Mind Cage: 7-9th pick
Seven-mana do-nothing-itchies is what I would say about this. You won’t have many cards left in your hand on turn 7 and even if you had a few, it affects both of you so you aren’t really getting anywhere.
Sakashima, the Imposter: 1-3rd pick
He will probably be better against Green decks so that he can just trade with a fatty, but you might get lucky and snag a rare every so often, although you can’t activate colored mana abilities from Kumano and the like. He will be almost unbeatable in the late game as an unkillable creature that is always as big as the largest monster in play.
Soramaro, First to Dream: 1st pick
This guy is insane. Even if you cast him as a 2/2, he can attack as a 5/5 next turn, and after that he is just infi/infi. Probably the best card from the cycle of new Maros and they are all good.
Twincast: 5-7th pick
Not very worthwhile unless you have a lot of cheap targets to copy, as you can’t always rely on your opponent having any. Even when you do cast this, it doesn’t really do that much, as their original spell still resolves with all of its targets, unlike a Sideswipe where you just steal the spell. It really feels like this card wanted to have splice itself, which would make it much much better.
Evermind: 1st pick, 1st pick, 1st pick, 1st pick, 1st pick
Well maybe not, but I do love this sort of card as it fits straight into my favorite archetype in this format (any sort of splice deck). It is probably about a 7-9th pick unless you have five or more arcane cards, but that is a very high number in a non-splice deck.
Ghost-Lit Warder: 6-8th pick
This card is not even comparable to Soratami Savant, which is its closest companion in CHK block Limited. It is very unlikely to lock your opponent out of the game, as they would have to be so screwed for him to be useful that there should be no way you could lose that game anyway.
Kiri-Onna: 2-4th pick
I have never played with Man-‘o-war before but if he was anything like this card, he must’ve been a joke. In any sort of race he is really good and you can’t even imagine what happens if you have Reach Through Mists open when you cast him. He can also return himself with his own ability, so as to create infinite free triggers for your Waxmane Bakus and Soul of Magmas.
Oboro Envoy: !st pick
The best Blue card in the set. Simple as that. While it is in play you cannot lose, just like Platinum Angel. It is also very splashable, lacking any colored mana in its ability and only one Blue in its casting cost. Don’t ever expect to see this card going around the table. I was fortunate to have this card in the prerelease and no matter how bad the board looked when I cast it, I never lost those games. Remember, if you are going to activate it several times in one turn, then you can respond to yourself paying the cost and target another creature, so that every creature you target throughout the turn will receive –X power, where X is the amount of cards you have after the final activation.
Overwhelming Intellect: 4-6th pick
On a par with Time Stop, although this one is a bit more likely to win you the game when it is cast, Time Stop has a lot more uses such as an expensive fog or just a Time Walk. It is also a lot worse after sideboarding if you cast it in game 1, as I expect most decent players to be able to play round it with ease.
Rushing-Tide Zubera: 3-5th pick
Blue has a real lack of decent sized creatures at the 3-4 drop and this guy solves all your problems. He is very hard to attack into for your opponent, as trading and drawing 3 cards should result in you winning.
Secretkeeper: 2-4th pick
This card was really good for me in the prerelease I played, even though I didn’t think it would be. Maybe I was just playing against sub-optimal players, but nonetheless there isn’t much that can stop a 4/4 flier. The only problem is you need to be aware of your opponent changing the number of cards in each of your hands at instant speed so as to bring this guy down to earth and then block him.
Shape Stealer: 2-4th pick
So he trades with almost every other monster in the format, but is a very fragile body outside of combat. This makes him good versus Green decks, but pretty poo against a Red deck due to all the pingers. Still he is just the thing to gum up the ground while your fliers do the job they are supposed too.
Shifting Borders: 15th pick
I can’t envisage a situation where this card is playable, but I’m sure one exists somewhere if you look hard enough. Good luck with that.
Trusted Advisor: 11-13th pick
Turd. Giant turd. You would need so many combos with him to even consider putting it in your deck, like 4-5 Quillmane Bakus or something.
Cut the Earthly Bond: 8-10th pick
Definitely not maindeckable and is probably only boardable versus 2-3 targets such as Genjus and Mystic Restraints.
Descendant of Soramaro: 5-7th pick
He just doesn’t excite me whatsoever. I would really rather not have this guy in my deck unless I had only one other four-drop, then he might make it just to pad out the curve. His ability isn’t the worst I suppose, but at 2/3 for four mana, he won’t have much impact on the board.
Dreamcatcher: 6-8th pick
Again, I wouldn’t want to be playing him unless I had two Ninja of the Deep Hours or at least three instant arcanes to gain some card advantage out of him.
Freed from the Real: 3-5th pick
I thought this card was really good the first time I saw it, but on reflection it isn’t as good as Mystic Restraints, though it essentially is the same thing with a different positive effect. The reason is that it doesn’t deal with the problem creatures that your average Blue deck has. These are the Matsu-Tribe Snipers and Frostwielders of the world, plus the upkeep can be really annoying when you want to cast your 4-5 drops. Obviously if you have two Frostwielders of your own or a Kiki-Jiki, then this card can become ridiculous, but that won’t happen very often.
Ideas Unbound: 7-9th pick
You might think that you could just save up land and then use this card as “card quality advantage”, but with the introduction of Saviors, every last card in hand is ever so important. I may not be giving this card enough respect but every time my opponent has cast it so far it feels as though they have just discarded a card to no effect.
Minamo Scrollkeeper: 6-8th pick
At first, I thought this guy would be playable but after trying him a few times I wouldn’t advise putting him in your deck. He simply doesn’t do anything. He sits around while you trade with other relevant cards until you are finally down a card and suddenly losing. He might be sideboardable versus a suicidally aggressive deck sporting Goblin Cohorts and random two-drops, but on the whole I would never start him.
Moonbow Illusionanist: 2-4th pick
Any two-power, three-mana flier is good in my book unless it has some serious drawbacks, and this guy is no exception. His ability is very useful if you are splashing a card or it is a crucial turn and you want to lock your opponent out of Greed mana or whatever scary spell they might be trying to cast.
Murmurs from Beyond: 4-6th pick
Surprisingly good. I think it is a lot better than Counsel of the Soratami due mainly to it being instant, so you can leave mana up for a counterspell, regeneration mana or whatever you might need it for. It is also arcane, which is as important as ever with the introduction of Saviors.
Oboro Breezecaller: 5-7th pick
Yet another 1/1 flier for two, but this one has almost no ability at all. I guess his ability makes it easier to return all your land to your hand than any other Soratami creature, but this will very rarely be something that you would want to do.
Oppressive Will: 5-7th pick
I never mind a counterspell in Limited as long as it only costs 2-3 mana. The only problem here is that it might become redundant in the later game, where a Thoughtbind will probably have a target before the game is over.
Shinen of Flight’s Wings: 1-3rd pick
By far the best Blue common and the only one that would make it onto the list of Top 10 Saviors commons. His channel effect is almost useless, as a 3/3 flier is going to be better than Jump 99% of the time. He may even be good enough to splash if you feel that you have a defensive deck with no real ways to break through.
I hope you have enjoyed my debut here at StarCityGames.com, and you should check back later this week for my response to the dastardly Mark Herberholz PT report, and early next week for Part 2 in my Saviors Limited Review.