Just like when Avacyn Restored was released a few months ago, this week I’m going to go over what I feel are the best cards in each color in M13 and why.
Pretty simple, right?
But before I do that, I want to see how right and wrong I was about my Avacyn Restored predictions. I don’t mind being wrong in my predictions because I abide by a quote I heard during a TedTalk being given by Sir Kenneth Robinson:
Â "If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original."
With that being said, let’s take a look at my Avacyn Restored guesses:
Oddly enough, this card has seen more play in Legacy than any other format. The combination of Sensei’s Divining Top and Terminus was a known entity upon Avacyn Restored’s release, but its power was greatly underestimated. Not only is Top + Terminus good at clearing the board of dedicated creature decks like Maverick and Goblins, but the threat of it makes it borderline impossible for a Combo Elves player to ever go off.
The correct choice: Restoration Angel
Blue: Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
This is an interesting one. I still think Tamiyo has plenty of time to be a devastating card in Standard, but U/W Delver made the new planeswalker obsolete very quickly once Gerry Thompson revamped the deck. Fast-forward to today and you’ll find that green decks are beginning to take over Standard and have gotten even more help from M13 (nice to meet you, Thragtusk). If Standard continues to turn into midrange green decks fighting each other, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage is the perfect card to take advantage of that situation.
The correct choice: Tamiyo, the Moon Sage (only because the rest of the blue cards suck)
Do I really to explain this one? Didn’t think so…
The correct choice: Griselbrand (Blood Artist is a very surprising runner-up though)
Red: Zealous Conscripts
The interesting thing about this choice is that I didn’t get it wrongâ€”quite the contrary in fact. Zealous Conscripts has seen a lot of play in both G/R Aggro as well as the many forms of Birthing Pod while simultaneously making casting Titans a liability for their owners.
Zealous Conscripts should be celebrated for everything it has done for the Standard format!
There’s just one problem…
And it costs XXR.
The correct choice: Bonfire of the Damned (Embrace. The. Variance.)
Green: Wolfir Avenger
This is the one I was the most wrong about, which is surprising because Wolfir Avenger is such a good card on paper. Three mana for a 3/3 with flash and regenerate should be a card worth getting excited about, but Wolfir Avenger isn’t even the best card at its mana cost in Avacyn Restored (that title belongs to Borderland Ranger)!
The real winner is the card that defined Pro Tour Avacyn Restored and will go on to dominate green mirrors for many months to come.
The correct choice: Wolfir Silverheart
Land: Cavern of Souls
"The format is ruined!"
There was a lot of hype about Cavern of Souls before Avacyn Restored was released, but the truth is that Cavern of Souls ended up making the mana of tier 2 decks like Zombies and Naya Pod more consistent and has had very little impact elsewhere as Mana Leaks are still countering spells and will be until we all Return to Ravnica.
The correct choice: Cavern of Souls (by default mostly)
Now, let’s see if I can do better than three out of six!
White: Ajani, Caller of the Pride
A card after my very own White Weenie-loving heart, Ajani, Caller of the Pride is a very difficult card to evaluate as we’ve never seen anything quite like it. Ajani very clearly doesn’t protect itself, but four toughness is an unprecedented amount of loyalty for a card that can be cast on turn 2 so easily. So where does it fit in?
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Mirran Crusader
- 4 Hero of Bladehold
- 2 Blade Splicer
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 1 Geist-Honored Monk
- 4 Strangleroot Geist
Kenny Oberg played the above decklist to a 16th place finish at Grand Prix Lille and his partner in crime for the weekend, Martin Juza, finished 24th. Obviously the above decklist is outdated, but the principles of the deck (eight accelerants, the most efficient threats in green and white, and playing four Gavony Townships to mitigate mana flooding) are ones that play favorably with Ajani, Caller of Pride. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an update to this deck by Oberg and Juza moving forward.
At the end of the day, Ajani, Caller of the Pride has too much starting loyalty and the creatures nowadays are too good for a card like this to not see some play. At the very least, you should beware of the Immolating Souleater combo as I expect a healthy amount of people to try that week one with moderate success.
The reason I picked this card should be pretty easy to understand:
This card is ridiculously powerful!
I don’t expect Omniscience to see a lot of play in Standard, but in older formats, this is an extremely dangerous card. Anything that lines up this favorably with Show and Tell, Hypergenesis, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn while being able to be removed for Force of Will or Misdirection is a very scary card to me. Admittedly, I’m not the kind of player who builds decks around these types of effects very well, but I won’t be surprised when those players who do love to brew break this card in half.
It’s far too early to call Omniscience a mistake, but I will be truly shocked if it doesn’t hit the ground running in Eternal formats.
Black: Disciple of Bolas
Liliana of the Dark Realms and Mutilate are the easy choices, and I hate taking the easy way out. I like Disciple of Bolas for a lot of reasons, but I love the potential this card has to be the curve topper for Zombies in Standard the most.
Zombies has always lacked a very good four-drop. Sure, Phyrexian Obliterator has had its moments crushing Wolf Run Ramp decks underneath its foot, but it has never caught on permanently for good reason (read: it’s laughably bad against U/W Delver). The reason I like Disciple of Bolas in Zombies so much is because it provides an effect that Zombies wants more of (sacrificing) and an effect that Zombies is in desperate need of (card drawing). Thankfully, there are plenty of creatures we don’t mind seeing bite the dust:
- Geralf’s Messenger
- Anything when Blood Artist is in play
- Most things that Phantasmal Image or Phyrexian Metamorph will be copying
- Turns on Tragic Slip
Obviously, the 2/1 body that Disciple of Bolas provides is rather underwhelming given its mana cost, but Blood Artist isn’t exactly blowing the roof off the joint by being an 0/1. Zombies is a deck built around synergy, and I believe Disciple of Bolas is another card that can help further those synergies along.
Red: Thundermaw Hellkite
It’s frustrating to me that Thundermaw Hellkite is so in your face with how good it is. Five mana for a 5/5 flyer with haste is enough to get anyone’s attention, but the fact that it kills Lingering Souls tokens and Birds of Paradise shows how badly red needed a shot of adrenaline to get back on the map.
Ideally, I see Thundermaw Hellkite giving false hope to those wanting to play an aggressive Mono Red deck, but I think it fits in very nicely in a G/R Aggro deck that is looking to cast spells of both colors (Flinthoof Boar is that good) instead of the green-centric one I wrote about last week.
Get your Thundermaw Hellkites while you still can because they are going to be rather expensive for the foreseeable future. And they’re going to kill a lot of people.
I’d like to start this section off by saying that green got A LOT of good cards in this set:
– Rancor: Easily puts hyperaggressive G/R decks back on the map while making Infect decks a real player.
– Yeva, Nature’s Herald: Something that powerful should not go ignored. The card is all upside.
– Flinthoof Boar: If you can get the mana to work, a hyperaggressive G/R deck is a very real possibility.
I won’t insult your intelligence and explain to you how good Thragtusk is against Vapor Snag or how good it is in combination with Birthing Pod because those things are obvious. The reason I’ve decided to go with Thragtusk as the best green card in M13 is because I want it to be. I don’t want a card with all this upside to be relegated to the bench because Wolfir Silverheart is too good in green mirrors and there are better options against U/W Delver. Thragtusk is just a really cool, well-designed card that does a ton of different things, and I think Standard will be a more enjoyable format if that card is a part of it.
Colorless: Akroma’s Memorial
Pickings were slim throughout the lands, artifacts, and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. I don’t think Cathedral of War is all that impressive, the creature Hellion Crucible makes doesn’t fly so it’s quite underwhelming, and while I’m a huge fan of Obelisk of Alara, Trading Post is not Obelisk of Alara. So my pick for the best other card from M13 is Akroma’s Memorial because I want to see Nick Spagnolo live the dream one time:
Until next time!
Tuesday = 4:00-6:00 PM PST
Wednesday = 4:00-6:00 PM PST
Thursday = 4:00-6:00 PM PST
Next event = July 21-22 at SCG Open Series: Las Vegas with Patrick Sullivan (I’m as excited as you are!)