Talen: Dear Forum Whiners:
Azorius is good.
Aaron Forsythe and everyone who can build a decent deck.
Fox: Oh, sexy!
Talen: Well, damn. That’s some pretty art.
As for the non-arty bits, I stopped caring about the same point I saw it was a 2/2 spirit for four. That provided flashbacks to such platinum hits as Horizon Steed and Kami of the Painted Road – and they actually did something.
Fox: … Is this a good card? I mean, I know I value damage prevention more than I should because I treat my creatures like tiny rarity-graded children, but does she make up for it just by being a 2/2 that comes back over and over?
Talen: I think her main lure is the being a recursive spirit. And that’s not enough.
Fox: Gawrsh, she’s pretty.
Talen: Cute effect… shame it’s, uh, poo?
If he didn’t have the bad defensive ability, and maybe had an extra point of power, or was harder to block somehow (maybe protection from enchantments? Heh), I’d be a little more interested in him. As it is, while he’s a serviceable wall in mono-White that can beat down for … one a turn… that’s not what I want. I want a creature who gives my opponent as small an amount of time as possible to stop me, and I want those dudes to be coming out of the gates as fast as possible.
Fox: … And he’s ugly. A little perspective would have made this thing (which, by the way, is certainly not hawk-shaped) look like it was soaring gracefully over the landscape. Instead, it looks cramped and uninspiring. Either I’m drunk, or those buildings are the kind of crooked that’s calling for a demolition crew.
Bound / Determined
Fox: Why isn’t she – wait, no, that joke was never funny in the first place. Seriously though, Ms. Determined is quite sexy for someone who’s bald and green.
Talen: I don’t like the Bound Half much; ultimately, it feels like an Invasion escapee, with its focus on more colors rather than on emphasizing the pair it is. The only thing that keeps it from earning a true “pheh!” from me is that it’s able to return any card. However, I feel it could have been better served by focusing more as a Golgari card than as a bad All Sun’s Dawn.
Determined, on the other hand, is a saucy cantrip I will be sticking into many decks, including Witchety Gwub.
Fox: … Oh, hey, there’s a second spell there!
I have to say, I’d want it (Determined) regardless.
Talen: True. This split, perhaps because the halves are less allied-friendly, seems to be very aggressively costed — though the best use for it’s going to be a five-color format, like Prismatic or Five-Color (to state the bleeding obvious). Actual five-color creatures are rare in those — but even a three-color or two-color man can do the trick, and as long as you have Blue, you can throw Bound away.
Brace for Impact
Talen: I remember when this cost two mana and was good.
Fox: Ouch. I was really liking the look of this until I spotted the “4”… that’s just a bit steep. Who really wants another big ugly elephant, anyway?
Talen: Well, with this, when someone might let him get hit, provided he’s multicolor – and yes, we have a total of one gold elephant, let me remind you – he might get some counters, and be a bigger and uglier elephant, all for the rock-bottom price of five mana and a card.
Or you could just put Moldervine Cloak on him and romp face.
I do like the flavor text in this one, though.
Fox: Indeed. Though, amusingly, the flavor text is deliriously Red for a mono card.
Talen: It’s true.
Conan Jokes aside, why oh why oh why are the “actual” burn spells – where we smash people in the face – classically done by guys, but when we want a wily, cunning effect that involves smacking someone upside the head, it’s always a woman?
To be fair, Shunt itself depicts a chick with metal hands who could probably do as much damage to you as an entire football team. On the other hand, Reversal of Fortune features a pair of gigantic knockers wrapped in a bra and stapled onto a girl.
Fox: Yeah, fair point. Every “Shunt” type mechanic shows a wily mage-girl.
So, what’s a “Carom” anyway? I’m sure you know, trivia-boy…
Talen: I had to look it up, actually. It’s another word for “ricochet.” [Trains do it, too. — Craig, the Fat Controller.]
Fox: And now I know.
Talen: And knowledge is power!
Well, okay… Aside from the freaky head-part making it look sort of like a turkey, I gotta say, the art is real purty. Looks rather more Blue than White, but meh. Shimmery and snowing.
Talen: Tallowisp blah blah blah, Ben Goodman touches himself at night, blee blee blee, Armadillo Cloak for the roffle, yadayadayada. Five mana 3/3s should be a bit more schmick than this, but I’m still going to see if I can get this guy working in UW Ninjawisp – when Pacifism also says “And Overrun” on it, I should stop complaining. Shame it’s an Elemental, of course… it does look spirity – though this might be an attempt to keep Tallowisp Interaction from being “too easy.”
Fox: Oh wow! I only just noticed the mechanic.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m so very pissed that it’s not Green. But… oh my… Timmygasm.
Talen: Kinda nice to see that, at least according to the flavor text, vigilante justice, provided it has the right reason, is still White. But then, it’s probably putting the needs of the group at large over the needs of the individual (the dude being executed). That makes more story options for White – you can have a White vigilante who roams the streets of his largely Blue-Black society, trying to eke out some fairness and good in a world that hates and despises him. And you can have Frank Miller write it, so it can feature plenty of whores.
Fox: Eh, it’s that kind of mentality that led to Rebels being White as a matter of course. You can only take it so far.
Crime / Punishment
Talen: Hey, it’s Not-Deed and Not-Zombify!
Fox: I gotta ask… is that a flock of vengeful ducks?
Talen: Beetles. Locusts. Plagued insects bearing the suffering of all mankind on foul and brackened wings.
Fox: For a bunch of bugs, they have awfully feathery wings.
Talen: I find the idea Ben Bleiweiss put forward – that people using the Punishment half would not use the Crime half – to be a really bad example. If I’m playing Punishment, I’m playing GB control – and that means I’m sure as hell playing Elders, Reachers, and the like, at least for a few more months. In that case, I’m damned if I’m not going to find room for a singleton Plains or two to feed my Crime spree. It’s Dragons #5-8, after all.
Fox: On that note, this one is a really lovely pair, and both sides are represented very well.
Talen: As for the cards… well, I’m pretty happy. Not-Zombify is solid, since there are plenty of enchantments you can bring back. Even if it just recurs something like a Faith’s Fetters, I can’t see that being a bad option, and Punishment can even be used to wipe the board of those very same pesky Fetters your opponent is using.
Punishment is expensive, though – don’t go trying to cram it into aggro decks, which are already having issues playing four-drops, let alone six drops to get rid of your opponent’s four-drops.
Fox: Awww… man!
Talen: Hmm. 2/2 flier, 2W… it’s kinda odd that White gets a vanilla creature like this, of course.
Fox: It’s not like I didn’t want to see Rebecca Guay drawing Magic cards again. Really, her work is lovely; she actually puts effort into attractive creatures, unlike all the big blubbery smashy guy artists. But… this is really not her best work.
Talen: I spy navel. And is that underboob?
Fox: I’m just going to comfort myself by saying that it’s not the Pegasus who’s a stumpy mutant, but rather that the woman is a giant. Because that’s hot rather than sad.
Guardian of the Guildpact
Talen: Mr Hooper again!
Fox: Hmm… not nearly as impressive as the fiery one, but still some good (but.. pinhead! Grar!).
Fox: Nice idea for the ability, though.
Talen: He’s probably quite, quite broken in a format like Tribal or Creature Feature, by the way – formats older than the current, gold-infested colored format, where people’s removal is going to be saucier. Hell, he’s immune to Swords, Bolt, Terror, Unsummon, and Char. That’s a pretty nice list to ignore in the bigger world of Legacy.
Talen: It appears that shields are best mastered by men who are only two feet tall.
Talen: He’s a bad Circle of Protection. Easily killed, and expensive to maintain. If a mono (or nearly-mono) White deck that has difficulty dealing with G/W crops up in the future, then this guy might find himself some sideboard slots.
Fox: Nice use of the term “guilded,” though. Very subtle.
That said, I like. Don’t get me wrong, I doubt either half is going to do much – though in Vintage, I’d love to hear a story about Seeking an opponent’s Darksteel Colossus for a healthy wad of eleven life for two mana, meaning that you have a nice slab of time bought against the backup Triskelion.
In fact, now that I think about it, both halves are great against Darksteel Colossus…
Hit / Run
Talen: Run deserves a “!”
Fox: … Is it just me, or is that a Kavu on Run?
Talen: Sure looks like it!
Fox: No, wait… is it an Anurid?
Talen: It could be a Wurm…
Fox: Okay, so Green has too many giant toothy bastards for them to be identifiable.
By the way, it’s all over now. There is a card called “Hit.” Red officially has no more options.
Talen: Hit is going to sting mid-game based decks pretty hard. The kind of deck that sweeps the board, drops a fatty, and waits to start hitting you with it, is really going to hate losing the dude it’s got and taking five or six damage to the face as part of that particularly lopsided bargain. And Run adds a lot of value to any mid-sized or bigger assault, making it valuable for a cheap-and-dirty style of Red-Green play. Maybe a variant on Zoo, that uses Black instead of White, is going to see some play using both halves of this particular toy.
Talen: Not to pick on someone for doing something I couldn’t, but this particular horse does look like it’s leaning a bit too far forward. Yes, I know it’s a silly thing to say, what with flight dynamics. It still looks wrong.
Proclamation of Rebirth
Fox: Have I mentioned yet that I think forecast is an awesome ability, especially in the colors in questions, and all the Blue players who’ve been whining about it should be damn glad they got it? Oh, and the art’s nice too – I can’t quite make out whether the heads are tiny shapeless things or just obscured, but I can’t help but admire the rest of it.
Talen: Hmm… alas. This can be used, in a pure weenie strategy, to topdeck into, say, Isamaru, Suntail Hawk, and Savannah Lions, if your opponent’s been Wrathing your board a few times. But right now, the presence of Sakura-Tribe Speedbump has edged Savannah Lions out of the format, nudged Isamaru into prime place, and 1/1 fliers aren’t doing the job when your opponents are either hitting you harder than they are, or dropping a Dragon on turn 5. So this card makes you look at what you might be happy to play it for. I can’t see more than two or three plays which would blow my hair back; plus, redundant hits (like getting three Savannah Lions) are statistically unlikely.
So which three one-drops are you happy to gank back into play?
I think you’ll find the answer is “none.”
The only cute thing I can imagine doing with this deck is using it to recur Kami of False Hope endlessly. That’s the best play I can imagine. We already have a way to do that, and that’s Debtor’s Knell – which can also recur good cards, like, say, Dragons.
Talen: Lifegain, sucking, yadayada. Four-mana enchantment, doesn’t affect board, gives you what you want least when you lose what you want most… just a swing and a miss.
Fox: Seems a little weird for White to be setting things free, thematically. I wouldn’t trust it.
Pure / Simple
Talen: Well, hells. A three-mana Vindicate for Hierarchs, Angels of Despair, Pillories, and Glares; it’s only a shame that Pure can’t destroy artifacts as well – oh, wait, courtesy of Transguild Courier, it can! Huzzah!
Pure isn’t as special as it looks, being merely a banishing effect for Green. Not a real stress, really, since you’re not likely ever going to want both halves of this card. Simple, on the other hand, is just plain out card advantage. With a veritable festoon of dorks like Silhana Ledgewalker, Dryad Sophisticate, and Black-Red’s similarly tuning-fork-inclined ilk routinely getting suited up with fancy duds of variable shapes and sizes, Simple can net you a temporary board advantage in these fights, which will be nice. It also has the charm of getting rid of Fetters and Pillories. The only shame there is that if you’re in Green-White, you’re probably running Fetters yourself. Still, they can’t all be perfect.
Fox: I think it’s awesome that “Pure” does not in any way include a pretty girl. Of course, that’s not quite as nifty in the context of the card’s actual effect, but still, it’s something different at least. I reckon these are two of the better split-card artworks, in that they don’t look too cramped, even on the half-size card face. I could take or leave the actual creatures depicted on Pure, but Simple looks very cool, if only for the aura effect around her hips looking nice and shiny.
Research / Development
Talen: Cute tidbit for those of you who didn’t read Aaron’s article on the matter? You can go and get this and play either half with a Sunforger. It’s a Red instant with a converted mana cost of 2 and 5.
Thinking about it, that’s a really rude play to make in your opponent’s end step.
That being said, I like the Research half for those decks that like to cheat creatures into play, like my Chord of Calling deck. It can be used to make sure you don’t draw a creature before its time, or that if you do, you have an out. Something for me to consider.
Fox: Okay, screw Pure / Simple, this is by far the sexiest of the new split-cards. I mean, damn! The lighting is gorgeous – I love when they put effort into making the entire card look like its colors, rather than having distracting backgrounds – and the contrast between the two halves makes it all the more effective. Definitely a winner, art-wise!
Rise / Fall
Talen: This one is a card that you’ll very rarely see in a deck that wants both halves. No biggie, though – Rise isn’t exceptional, but Fall is the closest thing to a fair Hymn to Tourach you’ll ever see. Unlike a lot of cards like it, though, Rise isn’t leaping into my mind with saucy plays that I’d love to see happen. It’s a more quiet, staid card – a way to steal a bit of tempo in the mid game, or to give you a second chance at removing a threat from your opponent’s repertoire – or, if you’re of the mind, a way to set up a board-sweeper of your own.
Supply / Demand
Talen: This card alone, when I saw it, was enough to compel me into UGW mid-game as deck theory. I love the way this card works out for you – the Saproling effect is technically overcosted, in the vein of Decree of Justice, but it when you’re mustering up 7-8 of the dudes, that you “overpaid” by two mana isn’t really a concern. Also, it benefits massively from Mirari’s Wake – which also quite likes the Demand half of the card.
I like it overall in a Ghazi-Glare style deck that splashes Blue for sideboard options, Chord targets, and Demand. I like it in general, and am really glad it’s an uncommon. Supply can get some nice, saucy turn 4 targets, much like its brother in Black, the Dimir House Guard. While Supply can’t go get Wrath, it can go for Loxodon Hierarch, Augustin, Glare of Subdual, Assault Zeppelid, Master Warcraft, and Ghost Council of Orzhova. Top drawer all around, and unlike the other uncommon splits, I would expect to see it played in decks that can play both halves.
Trial / Error
Fox: I’m curious; were the collaborative artworks part of the split theme, or did Wizards just decide it would be fun?
Talen: Trial fits with the Skies philosophy that we’re getting right now. You’re not going to see an amazing series of gang-blocks go wrong – let’s not kid ourselves about gang-blocks happening in Constructed formats – but it will sometimes be a fantastic little trick to bail a ninja out of a Saproling-related death. Because when I’m playing UW, the colors of uniformity, rigidity, control, and uptightness, nothing is more important to me than the protection of my ninjas as free-voting citizens.
Valor Made Real
Fox: I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this cards is pretty useless, but I like the art and I like the flavor text. The name is possibly a little awkward, but that’s unfortunately the ultimate result of an ever-expanding game.
Fox: Once again – White creatures representing rebellion and liberation. Once again, whu?
Talen: So, White and the Split cards leave us somewhat adrift. For the splits, I really want all of the uncommon ones, with the possibly exception of Trial / Error (and even that’s decent), and in the rare slot, Crime / Punishment has got the kind of game I like.
In the White itself, though, there’s slim pickings. Condemn and Celestial Ancient are the “best” mono-colored White spells by my eye — and by that, I mean the Ancient stimulates deck ideas, and Condemn is just going to be solid utility.
I guess the real guts of Azorius are in Blue.
Anyway, you’ve all been great (at least, I assume you have, and if you haven’t, shame on you). Thanks for reading, and by all means, complain about my omitting Wrecking Ball in the forums.
Until next time,
Talen and Fox