It wasn’t me. I didn’t do it. I’m not responsible, honest. I know I said I’d be doing a series of MMD Limited reviews for every color in Magic, but I was misquoted. You misinterpreted me. The check is in the mail. It’ll be done tomorrow. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a Leonin Scimitar in my eye.
Okay, not really. The time for MMD reviews has passed, sorta like how the ideal window for the purchase and wear of acid-wash pants has slipped off into another epoch. How have I been? You know what I *haven’t* been doing – I haven’t been writing. Mostly I’ve been drafting and *trying* to write, which is a lot different from actually writing. It’s that species of scrivening where you bang your head fruitlessly against a computer desk, watching the empty space crawl along while eating ice-cream sandwiches and drinking a Coke, every hour on the hour. Tasty, but not gangbusters in the productivity department.
Ted decided to jumpstart me by actually giving me an assignment. It’s a Fifth Dawn Limited set review of the Green, Black, and Red cards. I’m in regal company as my ride rolls up on Review Street – the other legs of the race are being run by players with more credentials than this poor Canadian boy – so settle in while I try to make up for my shortcomings with big words. It’s the way of the budget compensator to fiddle around with a thesaurus in his spare time, because Mercedes don’t grow on trees.
We’re off. As a piddling little prologue to this spectacle, I should mention that I’m glad that I’m not doing the artifact review because of the all or nothing nature of some of the cards (“this is useless…fuh fuh fuh…unless you’re playing five colors…fuh fuh fuh…”) though I’m sure Tim Aten will offer up something very readable regardless of the pitfalls offered by the Sunburst mechanic (“I like [insert angst-spouting musician here], by the way Bram Snapvengers smells…fuh fuh fuh…PS: I want to jump off a balcony…fuh fuh fuh”). I do wish I was writing about White, because I think White did very well in this set, especially as far as commons are concerned.
Well, I actually wish a lot of things. But writing about White is in my top ten. Bonus points for guessing the other nine. I’ll even give you a few”Orb of Insight entries” from Tait’s full list of Top Ten Wishes:
Krouner – 1
Aten – 1
Samms – 1
breasts – 874526
chicken – 1
Hungarian coachman with ruddy complexion – 0
Let’s move on. I’m coming up, so we’d better get this party started.
Fifth Dawn BLACK- Commons
This guy is the Wretched Anurid of the set. Ebon Drake’s text is closer to that of the Ugly Frog Of Turn Two, but Blind Creeper is actually a more comparable card with regards to game impact. Blind Creeper may actually be better than the Anurid. Consider! You get the same 3/3 body, but with a different drawback. This drawback allows you to rule the early game in much the same way as the Anurid, but doesn’t kill you in the lategame like our Wretched friend would often do – the Blind Creeper is considerate enough to die off instead of plinking you right out of the game.
You will be able to get in tons of damage with this guy, especially going first. Let me give you a sample opening. You play second turn Blind Creeper. Your opponent plays second turn Myr. You attack for three, he doesn’t block. You play Chittering Rats. Your opponent taps out to play… I don’t know… Cobalt Golem or something. You attack with Blind Creeper. At this point, your opponent can either block with the Cobalt Golem and prevent you from playing a spell on your turn (which would make the Creeper a 2/2 and cause it to die), or let you through and once again take three damage. Since you can simply decline to play a spell, the right play is to let the Creeper through. Another three damage. You can then cast your four-drop.
Your opponent is on his turn 4 and curves out with a Loxodon Mystic. He still has no block against your Creeper unless he wants to trade the Mystic for it. If he does, fine – your Creeper just did six damage and killed his five-drop. If not, you’re up to nine damage. Blind Creeper is very good against strong, Sligh-style draws that use every possible bit of mana each turn.
I like men, and trust me when I say I’m more than happy to play with the Cack. Why doesn’t this card have the text”When this comes into play, target opponent discards a card?” That’s tradition for Cackling creatures.
Oh well. I like this guy because he attacks until he can’t, and then he starts causing life loss. You can certainly do a lot worse, but the mana is ugly – if I’m playing a U/B affinity deck, I don’t want this sort of inconvenient color requirement staring me down. A fine creature for heavy Black decks.
Check it out, y’all – now, in addition to losing your first, second, and third turn drops to that enemy Longbow, you can also lose your fourth turn to it. This card is awful. I’m sure someone will beat me sometime by throwing Whispersilk Cloak on it, but until that day comes, I have Bows cocked and loaded. If you want to swing with 5/1 creatures, I suggest Nim Shrieker as a good alternative. They’re just as fast, they fly, and they can beat Ben Hogan in a fight.
Fill with Fright
Pure card advantage. I’ll be squeezing this into my decks at first, in the 20-24th card range. If it turns out to be as useful as I suspect it may be – knocking those last two cards out of the opposing hand and setting up my next draws, I’ll actually go on the hunt for it. No card that doesn’t affect the board can ever really dominate a game of Limited magic, but some in other formats have come close – cards like Probe, for example. This isn’t on the same power level, but it’s not by any stretch of the imagination unplayable.
I love this as a beater. The ability to trade artifact lands, useless lategame Myr and copies of Welding Jar for opposing blockers is something that I find deliciously erotic. This card will work well with such cards as Crystal Shard (return my useless Myr, pitch), Vedalken Mastermind (return my anything, pitch) and Fireball (I’ll just cast it for ten and kill you, and by the way I have a Fleshgrafter).
You can also throw out artifact creatures for free damage before returning them with Moriok Scavenger, or baubles and spellbombs before returning them with Leonin Squire. It may be cheesy, but trust me – after a few attacks, your opponent will be Graft Dinner.
Die Myr! PS: I’ll look at my top two. Great in the early game for the same reason that Electrostatic Bolt is, this has the added effect of setting up your early draws. Obviously it isn’t as explosive as Electrostatic Bolt in the unconditional removal department, but if you kill off an opposing Myr with barely a blip on the mana curve radar screen, while simultaneously bolstering your own development with better draw quality, you’re in good shape. No late game power, though. It’s the polar opposite of Irradiate in a way, and probably the superior card.
One benefit of a one-mana Scry card is that you can lower your landcount without too much fear. If someone with three Myr is waffling between fifteen land and sixteen, it’s pretty easy to just play the Lose Hope and fifteen land.
This card should have been called”All In.” With poker references in Magic now well beyond”clever” and into”tiresome,” I’m sure that many of you might disagree and opine that what we need is less crap like that, but this one seems to fit. As such, while I’d normally agree that the next guy to call Fact or Fiction”the flop” should be shot, I’ll let this one slide.
The card? It’s bad. Very bad. Even at Instant speed it would have been mediocre, but in this form, Vicious Betrayal is trash that you should never play. Also, did we need another card for buffoons to mistake for Murderous Betrayal? I suppose it doesn’t matter, since no one will ever play this. Well, no one good. I fully expect to lose to this card at least once, though.
Fifth Dawn BLACK – Uncommons
Devour In Shadow
Creatures. They’re what’s for breakfast. Black’s premier uncommon in the set – I like the fact that it’s BB, so it won’t be so easily splashed into all the annoying Sunburst Affinity decks that are sure to crop up. Chow down on those enemies! I’ll tell you what, constant reader, when it comes to cards that murdalize with no questions asked, you can rest assured that Devour in Shadow is a cereal offender. Decks with this card will leave opponents no choice but to run two scoops. You have every raisin to milk this card for all it’s worth.
A lot is being said about Ebon Drake as we wind our way through the infancy of this fine set. All I know is that if you cast this guy, you have your opponent on a seven turn clock. And if both you and your opponent cast a spell every turn, you take twelve or thirteen damage during that time. So I hope you can stop yourself from taking eight damage during those seven turns.
I hope your opponent doesn’t have a Viridian Longbow. Or a Leonin Bola. Or a Granite Shard. Or an Arrest. Or a Neurok Spy. Or a flier to swing back with. Or an Icy Manipulator. Or… well… let’s just hope that he or she sits there and dies. There is a big difference between this drawback and the drawback that Wretched Anurid had. I expect to see a lot of Ebon Drakes played, and if the math turns out to work well for the attacking player, I’ll certainly start playing it myself.
Grotesque casting cost, for sure. This guy can certainly be large (there aren’t any comparable creatures in the environment, not even Trolls of Tel-Jilad has the same sort of potentially massive offensive power), but this isn’t an environment that is kind to Towering Baloth-style size and speed. You can tap it, chump it, Arrest it. A guy with a Spawning Pit can probably block this for the entire game without feeling too much heat.
I’ll be looking for any excuse I can find not to play this guy. If I have to put a creature in, though, I’ll give him a try. After the removal flies and the board is clear, I can think of worse things to plunk down than a 7/6.
A bad Grey Ogre in Limited. The ability will very, very seldom be relevant. FFF drafts only last a week, after all.
I like this card. It doesn’t totally blow me away, and it’s weaker in the lategame than something like Duress or Fill with Fright (as people tend to hold tricks in hand, not artifacts), but it should some maindeck duty and even more sideboard action. No one likes losing to Platinum Angel. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I believe it’s a sideboard card – there are too many G/W decks out there to risk having a dead card, and it’s easy to bring it in for Game 2 and Game 3 against U/B/x Sunburst affinity.
Fifth Dawn BLACK – Speedy Rare Rundown!
Time for the lightning round!
Beacon of Unrest – Not always good, but sometimes amazing.
Bringer of the Black Dawn – Surprise surprise, it’s ridiculous once you get it on the table.
Desecration Elemental – No trample? No play.
Endless Whispers – Pssst… this card sucks!
Mephidross Vampire – Not as big a bomb as you might think, but very playable.
Moriok Rigger – Possibly the best rare in the set for Black- this card looks to be amazing.
Plunge into Darkness – Playable, and will sometimes be great, not unlike Read The Runes.
Fifth Dawn RED – Commons
A very solid man. Though the drawback will rarely come back to annoy you, it’s nice to have a creature on hand that can handle himself without resorting to Bonesplittery and Skullclampery. I envision myself doing a lot of Brawler beatdown in the days to come – and of course he’s also great on defense, something you don’t see too often in a Red card.
Ah, Falter effects. I expect this gentleman to end quite a few games. You do some early damage and then sacrifice a bunch of trash to force through the final four, or five, or seven. One less pack of Ogre Leadfoots and one more pack of this guy at least gives Red an upgrade in the creature department. Now if only there was some way to make up for the loss of E-Bolt, Shatter, Spikeshot Goblin, and Pyrite Spellbomb.
I like to booster draft – a format where eight players sit in a circle and battle until only one is left standing.
This card was designed for a format where eight people sit in a circle and battle until only one is left standing. Unfortunately, that format is multiplayer.
Rain of Rust
Why is the entwine cost on this card 3R instead of, say… R? One less pack of Shatters, one more pack of this gem, which is basically a far slower version of Shatter. Even if you have the mana to entwine it… who cares? It destroys a land! Red players have had steak in MMD and you’re about to try some ground chuck.
You want screaming fury? How’s this:
Why Are Red’s Commons So Awful?!? Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg! (Another card I’m sure I’ll lose to while simultaneously never playing it myself.)
See Screaming Fury. A bit of explanation is in order, I suppose, for those of you that might consider this card a good deal. Well, it’s not. It’s bad. It can’t trade with an opposing creature. Best case scenario you get three damage. That’s the same as Clockwork Beetle. Clockwork Beetle is awful and so is this.
The best Red common in the set. Will dominate games and wreck people in much the same way that Granite Shard does, though it’s far more fragile. Still very, very good. I can’t get enough of board control, and with one fewer pack of Longbows, something has to pick up the slack.
Fifth Dawn RED – Uncommons
Feedback Bolt? When did the StarCityGames.com forums win the Magic Invitational?
Some drafters I respect are intrigued by the thought of this card in their U/R and R/B artifact-heavy decks, where it will presumably function as a Lava Axe that could possibly deal even more. (Phil Samms is also intrigued by it.) I’m not sold yet, but this is one card that I have no experience playing, and I’m not afraid to admit it. All I can say to you, the consumer, is that you shouldn’t discount it quite yet – Feedback Bolt may have potential. If you can deal the first fifteen and then entrench with artifacts, it’s very possible to go to the dome and walk away a winner.
That said, I fully expect Feedback Bolt to be much more effective in games between board-clogging bad players than good players, who play far less”line Magic.” By the way, some quick trivia… Can you name the only creature in the Fifth Dawn set that fights with a leafy houseplant lodged in its rear end?
That’s right, it’s”Fern-Ass Whelp.”
/me cracks his knuckles
Still got it.
This card is quite good, by the way. He’ll end the game in a hurry if allowed to smash face for the full amount. You’ll have to watch yourself, though, in much the same way that Hematite Golem players have to be careful with their pumps. It’s important to develop your board, to not”Time Walk” yourself by overpumping and then losing the Whelp to an Echoing Decay or something. Heavy Red decks are going to be easier to come by, too, since the color is going to be so much weaker without that second pack of Mirrodin.
Red may even become a”niche” color like Green is now. It does still have the best common in both Mirrodin and Darksteel, though, so maybe not.
Beatdown. Beatdown! *Beatdown*! Iron-Barb Hellion hits hard and fast. Aggressive decks are going to love this card. He can’t block, but he’ll still win you games in a Frenetic Raptor sort of way. He’s too big, too fast, hits too hard for many decks to handle.
I like the Engineers, but I really wish they were 2R to cast instead of 3R. For me, that would make all the difference. The ability will be relevant more often than not, especially during a war of attrition (where it will have a Spawning Pit-like effect on the game), and it’s certainly feasible that you might want to throw any two artifacts at an enemy bomb when you can’t find any other answer. As a creature, though, the Engineers leave a lot to be desired.
I think they’ll be about as playable as Voltaic Construct is now – certainly not amazing, but sometimes very useful.
A great card all around. Kills a good percentage of the men in the format solo, gives you a han’ with your future draws. As much as I like running my mouth, I don’t think there is much more to say about Magma Jet. It’s a star in any deck, sure to help you come out on top in the Limited wars. I think it’s safe to call it the best of the red uncommons – the debate is really quite cut and droid. No other card takes care of business early while simultaneously helping to smooth your mana draws and get you the lando you need. Yep, all in all, I’d say that Magma Jet is (Jabba the) Hott.
How wookie. How wookie indeed.
Fifth Dawn RED – Rare Rundown!
Beacon of Destruction – Bacon of Destruction? When did Phil Samms win the… oh wait. Well, it’s a very good card.
Bringer of the Red Dawn – Yawn. Amazing if you can cast it. Wins if it gets out. You get the idea.
Cosmic Larva – A lategame beater, but you better win quick. Seems playable to me, but there’s a lot of potential for disaster.
Granulate – Insane. If you’re playing Red, you want to see this.
Reversal of Fortune – Awful.
Fifth Dawn GREEN – Commons
I just don’t know. I figure there are going to be two kinds of Sunburst-style decks. The first type will be base-Blue Affinity decks that also happen to run every artifact land, Ingot and off-color Myr they can find. The other type will be the base-Green ones, and they might actually want this card. Since I haven’t had a chance to play a Sunburst deck in MD5 yet, I can’t tell you whether or not this card will be integral or just some piece of crap that you don’t need. It seems slow, but the Sunburst cards are powerful enough that you can recover quickly from a bit of lost tempo.
Time will tell. I’ll have more on this card in future articles. By the way, what do you get when the wife grabs a credit card or two and heads downtown? Well, more often that not, a…
What’s not to like? A Fireblast-like damage boost that helps you make blocking situations ugly for the enemy, you get a nice two-card scry subscription bonus when you sign up for this puppy, which can be likened to twelve issues of”Punch Your Face Monthly.”
Anything that takes the topdecking lucksackery out of the game is terrific in my opinion.
I hope I draw my Ferocious Charge.
It’s a Myr, but not. People will want these for Sunbursting purposes, but they’re fine even if you’re just playing G/R. This guy will get the G/x goodstuff deck running and off to the races starting on turn 2, and when that happens, I bet it will be hard for such decks to lose.
It sits around and waits to trade with something that was picked much higher. He kills even first strikers and is great for taking out solid beaters like Razor Golem, Fangren Hunter, Tangle Golem, and those quick Vulshok Berserkers and Oxiddas – but Pewter Golem is still a pain in the Asp.
I suppose you could do worse for a two-drop. I’ll be looking for reasons not to play this guy, though – he’s certainly no attacker. My deck won’t miss him should he not appear in my Fifth Dawn packs, that spot in my mana curve won’t feel bereft should this slippery customer go on vacation. There are tons of other men waiting in line to fill my Asp hole.
Let’s move on.
I’m no slogan man, but how about:
“Lifebreather. It blows.”
I hate five-mana cards with two toughness that don’t fly. I don’t think there has ever been a playable one printed in Limited, unless it had some insane CIP effect. How often did you play Spurred Wolverine? Were you glad to have it in your deck? Let’s just go on to the next card – this Lifebreather sickens me. No amount of life-laden breath could clear the choking bile of failure from the throat of this abomination.
Crush! Smash! Destroy! Pillage! Flatten! And that’s just during the pregame dice roll. Built by damage dealers for damage dealers, R & D knows that once you get your Sylvok Explorer out and you have your Ferocious Charge in hand, something has to actually do the attacking. Tyrannax is very tough to deal with, and he’ll end the game quickly, too. That’s a solid combination. I’m sure the choice between this card and Sylvok Explorer (a less flashy, but very useful facilitator) will come down to how many Tangle Golems, Fangren Hunters and so on you already have in your pile. If you’ve already got a high curve, you want the Explorer. Otherwise, take the fatty. Like Fangren Hunter, he is very, very hard to remove. Shatter ain’t gonna cut it.
Fifth Dawn GREEN – Uncommons
Channel the Suns
I prefer ESPN.
Playing this in order to cast a Bringer or Manta is a bit like playing Seething Song in order to cast Arc-Slogger. What happens, though, if you draw one without the other? At least you can hardcast Arc-Slogger before turn 1,000. Click. What else is on?
I love it. We’ve been getting cheap artifacts and artifact creatures back for a while now, but it’s rare that there’s been Limited-playable card that just lets you pick up your Electrostatic Bolt and get it ready to go. Especially fun if you can return the Eternal Witness to your hand. And are there any more demoralizing words than “Eternal Witness, I’ll bring back my Fireball“?
Will make every Green deck you play. Better than any Green common.
This guy loves to attack with Tangle Golem. Fifth Dawn is turning green into the sort of”Six-mana fatty” color that it was back in Onslaught Block. The thing is, it’s damn hard to remove these monsters. A lot of the lightning fast cards that people so adore, cards like Auriok Transfixer, Echoing Decay, Barbed Lightning, Electrostatic Bolt, Shatter, Oxidize… they just don’t do anything. Once it comes out, Fangren Pathcutter is a question that has to be answered – and unless you’ve got an Arrest or Terror handy, you might find yourself fumbling for a retort.
And by that, of course, I mean “Oof!”, the sharp exhalation of breath that so often accompanies a physical trauma. Just in case you didn’t get my little joke. You see, because the two sound the same – “Ouphe” and “Oof”, heh.
Let’s move on.
This is nothing but quality. The best Scry spell in the set, this will be the first Green pick out of 90% of the packs it’s in. Strictly better than Shatter. I can see this card blowing so many people right out in the late game – knocking a fat Golem of some kind out of the box, blowing some land off the top of the deck and keeping the draws aggressive.
That’s quite an activation cost, but I guess that makes sense since it’s a good ability, and the creature is very good by itself in any case. Mirrodin is low on Hill Giants. Sometimes you see something huge on turn 3 or 4, true – it’s usually a land affinity Golem – but barring that, there are a lot of 2/3 creatures for four mana and so forth. Viridian Lorebearers is a welcome addition to any Green deck. And yeah, you’d better believe that a flier will be getting in there for seven or eight in the lategame.
Fifth Dawn GREEN – Rare Rundown!
All Suns’ Dawn – Usually it’ll be a Restock. Sometimes you’ll get more.
Beacon of Creation – A fine spell for heavy Green decks. The more forests, the better!
Bringer of the Green Dawn – Fits right into a Green Sunburst deck. But you already knew that.
Joiner Adept – Will make your deck every time, but don’t pass any bombs to get him.
Rude Awakening – Eight mana, but if you catch them tapped out, it’s probably over. The jury is still out here.
Tornado Elemental – Not hard to see that this guy is a game-ender with a nice 187 tacked on.
This has been a story about a man named Ted,
a poor edit-eer, barely kept his writers fed.
But then one day, he was bout’ to get fired, because half of them were lazy and the rest of them retired.
Tait, that is. Black gold. (Osyp?) Texas Tea. (Fletcher Peatross?)
Ted, well he knew that he had to save his job
So he drew up an assignment, mailed it out, started to sob,
Tait n’ Krouner took the task and they wrote some stuff you see,
Aten did it too n’ mentioned Nick Lynn (“Beverly”)
Hills, that is. Swimmin’ pools. Movie stars (Ed Fear?)
So there you have it – the Fifth Dawn Limited Review for Black, Green, and Red. I hope you enjoyed reading it just as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ll be back next week (I promise this time!) to talk about Mirrodin and Darksteel card valuations that are changing with Fifth Dawn, so stay tuned. Same Samms time, Same Samms channel. While you wait, chime in on the forums, drop me an email (I’ve been awful at answering them of late, but I *do* read them all, I promise!) or surf around Star City and check out some of the other excellent articles on the site.
See you on the flip side. I’m no Jed, but I sure like to Clampett,