Time Spiral in Constructed — Gold, Artifacts, and Land

Put your Chamops deck to the test at the Star City $1500 Standard Open!

Last week, Ted covered the cards of each color, rounding out on Friday with the hideous Green offerings. Today’s installment is a lot more upbeat – the Gold shines, the artifacts are in fine working order, and the land is fertile. Indeed, some of Time Spiral’s finest cards dwell in the far-left column of the deck registration sheet. Ted also adds his choices for the strongest non-Timeshifted cards in the set. Do you agree with Mr. Card Game’s analysis?

[Part I: White][Part II: Blue][Part III: Black][Part IV: Red][Part V: Green]

Greetings, and welcome back to the set review for the set that never ends. I am your host Ted Knutson, outfitted in smoking jacket, pipe, and otter fur house slippers. Today shall include a dignified look at all of Time Spiral Gold, Artifacts, and lands, or as some like to call it, “The Bling.” The bling is one of those areas that typically provide some of the most powerful cards in Magic, though Time Spiral feels a little different in this respect. It seems clear to me now that Wizards of the Coast has counterbalanced the free love, easy colored mana ways of the slutty Ravnica Block (put that one on the flyers, boys) with a density of heavy hitters that require a more sever color commitment than you might otherwise expect. In addition reviewing the final new cards in Time Spiral block, there will also be a wrap-up at the end where I discuss the top new cards in the set plus hand out some design awards.

For those of you looking for a recap of the story thus far, White, Blue, and Red are seem to be in fine shape when it comes to new cards. Black is sound, but a little meh, and Green (as certain editors would say) sucks the badger’s tadger. Yes, that’s right, Craig’s into school-kid animal porn. [School-kid?! How’d ya get that from “badger’s tadger” …? – Craig] I think he told me he picked up that particular bent during some previous trip to Japan as part of a “theatre troupe.” Don’t worry — I’ve promised to protect Gadiel and Julien from any Michael Jackson-esque shenanigans (to be fair, I think they can protect themselves), so Kobe should still be good times. And now, on with the show.

(But first a word about our system)

**** – A card I consider “list worthy” for inclusion in my top ten cards in the set. (Purples get their own list.)

*** – A good Constructed card that offers something you want at a reasonable price

** – This card isn’t that great a deal, but it’s worth playing in the right situation or when there are few alternatives.

* – This card is unworthy of Constructed play. It might be a first pick Limited card, but that is beside the point.

There are no halves, and the system is intentionally approximate. If it’s close, I’ll chose one side or the other. If you want the real answer, it’s 42.

Dementia Sliver – 3UB
Creature – Sliver (U)
All Slivers have “{T}: Name a card. Target opponent reveals a card at random from his or her hand. If it’s the named card, that player discards it. Play this ability only during your turn.”

This could be a Mind Twist on turn 5 that leaves a 3/3 body behind if you know what’s in your opponent’s hand and you get a little lucky. Then again, it could just be a 3/3 donothing Kelly Kapowski itchies. (Ignore that last bit, I threw that in there hoping to win over the cranky Dutch vote.)

Rating: *

Dralnu, Lich Lord – 3UB
Legendary Creature – Zombie Wizard (R)
If damage would be dealt to Dralnu, sacrifice that many permanents instead.
{T}: Target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard has flashback until end of turn. Its flashback cost becomes equal to its mana cost as you play it. (You may play that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)

The effect is intriguing, but is it worth the price you have to pay for the body that encompasses it? For five mana and an untap, you can cast any instant or sorcery out of your graveyard for its mana cost — this creates a weird sort of card advantage, especially for decks that are busy dumping a lot of cards into the graveyard. I think this effect is quite powerful, creating a somewhat more fragile Yawgmoth’s Agenda-like situation (minus the drawback) for decks that are set up to abuse it. Agenda saw both Block and Standard play and while this likely isn’t good, I would not be surprised to see it get use somewhere along the way.

Rating: **

Firewake Sliver – 1RG
Creature – Sliver (U)
All Slivers have haste and “{1}, Sacrifice this creature: Target Sliver gets +2/+2 until end of turn.”
“They are here, and they are hungry. And what they do not eat, they burn. Yavimaya is lost. We must leave now for Skyshroud.” -Edahlis, greenseeker

Twin Peaks: Firewake With Me? Remember when Sherilyn Fenn was the hottest thing on TV? Now she’s just the MILFy mother of Luke’s illegitimate daughter on Gilmore Girls. Remember when they actually let David Lynch have his own TV show? Who exactly greenlighted that one? Oh how times have changed… Anyway, is a three-mana 1/1 the creature that puts slivers over the top as an aggressive deck? It’s clearly costed this way for a reason, meaning some people were likely tearing up the Future Future League when this cost either two mana or was a 2/2. The colors are definitely right for this to see play, but as with all slivers, it’s really difficult to judge this on its own merits.

Rating: **

Ghostflame Sliver – BR
Creature – Sliver (U)
All Slivers are colorless.
“This breed is on the cusp of evolution. It burns away the markings that connect it to a queen that no longer heeds its call. It seeks a new master. Perhaps I can give it one.” -Freyalise

The best part about this sliver is that it’s another 2/2 for two mana. The worst part is that it’s difficult to cast on turn 2.

Rating: **

Harmonic Sliver – 1GW
Creature – Sliver (U)
All Slivers have “When this creature comes into play, destroy target artifact or enchantment.”
“Since the last sliver arrived, even our mightiest relics splinter into shards as soon as we bring them against the hive.” -Llanach, Skyshroud ranger

Strictly a sideboard card, and even then you’d probably rather have a spell.

Rating: **

One of Time Thpiral'th more thpectacular offeringth

Ith, High Arcanist – 5WU
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard (R)
{T}: Untap target attacking creature. Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to and dealt by that creature this turn.
Suspend 4 – {W}{U}

Assuming you suspend this, on turn 6 you get a vigilant, legendary 3/5 that stops one attacker a turn at the cost of untapping it (and this is a cost). This doesn’t seem to be a particularly good deal, though Ith obviously can attack and use his ability in the same turn. Sadly, if you pay full price, he costs you seven mana. If you pay eight mana, you can have Akroma. Not exactly a replathement for our favorite two dragons, ith he?

Rating: **

Kaervek the Merciless – 5BR
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard (R)
Whenever an opponent plays a spell, Kaervek the Merciless deals damage to target creature or player equal to that spell’s converted mana cost.
“Rats and jackals feast in his swath, but even they will not walk with him.” -Mangara

What do we study here?
Strike first! Strike hard! No Mercy!

Oh Kaervek, how I wish you were the new John Kreese. Sadly, my dream was not to be. You see, much like the Cobra Kai sensei, Kaervek doesn’t stand up to his bluster in a fight. His Torch and his Spite are nasty, but in a battle of beasties, Kaervek mostly punches through windows and falls down, quite the annoying trait when you cost seven mana.

I don’t want to pay full price to put Kaervek into play, but his ability is pretty damn good. Therefore, it’s at least worth pondering whether you should be using him as a reanimation target. If Kaervek had any evasion at all, the answer would be an obvious yes, since he makes your opponent pay for nearly every single thing they do. Unfortunately, Kaervek doesn’t, and therefore must battle non-legendary laypeople like an everyday peon, quite the insult from R&D. Compare this to Akroma for reanimation and you’ll understand why I’m disappointed, and yet Akroma doesn’t even know how to sweep the leg.

Rating: *

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy – 1UBR
Legendary Creature – Human Artificer (R)
Whenever you play an artifact spell, you may search your graveyard, hand, and/or library for a card with the same name as that spell and put it into play. If you search your library this way, shuffle it.
A sojurn through time gave dark inspiration to one gifted young mind.

Mishra is obviously good, delivering a very sound body for the price (he does yoga) and pushing card advantage a step further by actually creating permanent advantage. That’s the sort of effect you expect from future planeswalkers. The only questions are a) is he too hard to cast and b) can you break his effect with the artifacts in the environment? At the moment I don’t think you can, but there are always Japanese deckbuilders lurking and breaking cool effects like this is right up their alley. Getting a lot of extra Signets doesn’t do much for you, though I can see wanting free Icy Manipulators. As for being too hard to cast, three colors is perfectly doable with suitable regularity these days.

Untap, upkeep, buy a vowel...

Let me put this another way — Zur is a real beast, and you don’t see him running around everywhere right now, do you? In fact, while we’re on the subject, we often want to play the kickass cool legends of yore, but these legends rarely lend themselves to being quite good enough or castable enough to see play. There’s a reason why Vorthos-Spike is a rare goddamn combination to put together, and that’s because if you want to win, you don’t get to make flavor sacrifices if the cards don’t let you. Ith, Kaervek, Mishra, Zur, maybe even Jaya – these are names long-time Magic players know and love, and yet I don’t think you’ll get to see too many of them gracing Top 8 decklists. At least we get the Teferi consolation ceramic Dalmatian.

Rating: ***

Opaline Sliver – 1WU
Creature – Sliver (U)
All Slivers have “Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell an opponent controls, you may draw a card.”
“When struck, its hide shimmers through sequences of color-a signaling language I am eager to unravel.” -Rukarumel, field journal

The body isn’t unreasonable, so let’s take a look at the ability. How much targeting will be done in the new Standard? Well there’s a ton of targeted removal, so that’s a guarantee and makes it likely that this will replace itself at the very least. Additionally, you have cards like Glare of Subdual and TK Sliver running around, making this a strong sideboard card against certain decks. As a basic effect it’s nothing to marvel at, but in certain matchups Opaline Sliver will be strong like bull.

Rating: **

Saffi Eriksdotter – GW
Legendary Creature – Human Rogue (R)
Sacrifice Saffi Eriksdotter: When target creature is put into your graveyard from play this turn, return that card to play.
“I make a habit of running away…and no one complains about seeing my butt all the time either.”

With Resurrection, Adarkar Valkyrie, and Saffi, one gets the sense that keeping some creatures in play is a new mandate for White. Saffi is excellent in size and ability, allowing you to use Wrath of God on your turn and still keep your fattie going, doubling up on comes-into-play effects. Don’t even get me started on what happens with this and the Valkyrie in play. I’m not sure White/Green needed more good cards to work with, but they got them anyway. Oh, and the mana is really messy if you want to cast and enhance both, but you might want to look into synergy this has with Crypt Champion.

Rating: ***

Scion of the Ur-Dragon – WUBRG
Legendary Creature – Dragon Avatar (R)
{2}: Search your library for a Dragon card and put it into your graveyard. If you do, Scion of the Ur-Dragon becomes a copy of that card until end of turn. Then shuffle your library.
“I am the blood of the Ur-Dragon, coursing through all dragonkind.”

This is one of those danger cards for reviewers that’s nearly impossible to cast on its own merits (even with Ravnica mana, it’s not easy), and the abilities look meh, so you write it off as unplayable. Of course, there could be some hidden combo that gets discovered that suddenly makes this awesome, and gets laughs years from now when people review what you said (like Elliot Fertik and Oath of Druids, except that one wasn’t exactly hidden). Thankfully, the casting cost makes me pretty sure this is not one of those times.

Rating: *

Stonebrow, Krosan Hero – 3RG
Legendary Creature – Centaur Warrior (R)
Whenever a creature you control with trample attacks, it gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

A 6/6 trampling attacker for five mana is none too shabby, and one that gives fellow tramplers +2/+2 is worth a long, hard look. So what else has trample that is good enough to possibly see play?

Giant Solifuge (Ouch)
All the Aurochs
Assault Zeppelid
Foriysian Totem
Creatures with Fists of Ironwood
Lightning Serpent
Panglacial Wurm
Phyrexian Totem
Simic Sky Swallower
Scab-Clan Mauler
Spectral Force
Creatures pumped by Skarrg, the Rage Pits
Creatures pumped by Loxodon Warhammer
Anything post-Tromp the Domains
Weatherseed Totem
Creatures with Wildsize
Void Maw
and uh… Akroma.

That’s a good amount of material to work with, and a number of them are excellent creatures in their own right. I don’t think Stonebrow is quite good enough to push its way through in Standard, but he certainly seems good enough for Block Constructed. Just the thought of 5/5 Maulers and 6/3 Solifuges will give some opponents the willies.

Rating: **

Artifacts (21/21)

Assembly-Worker – 3
Artifact Creature – Assembly-Worker (U)
{T}: Target Assembly-Worker gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
With their factories long destroyed, some of Mishra’s creations still toil in remote areas, endlessly performing and reperforming their last orders.

Hey, at least they are interchangeable.

Rating: *

Brass Gnat – 1
Artifact Creature – Insect (C)
Brass Gnat doesn’t untap during your untap step.
At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay {1}. If you do, untap Brass Gnat.

Rating: *

Candles of Leng – 2
Artifact (R)
{4}, {T}: Reveal the top card of your library. If it has the same name as a card in your graveyard, put it into your graveyard. Otherwise, draw a card.
“A tome stored in its light is as crisp as the day it was written.” -Ettovard, Tolarian archivist

With an environment packed with cheap mana fixing and excellent card drawing, this is too expensive to matter. It is, however, an utter smashing in Limited.

Rating: *

Chromatic Star – 1
Artifact (C)
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Chromatic Star: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
When Chromatic Star is put into a graveyard from play, draw a card.
“This item is not from . . . now. It reflects a sky no longer ours and gleams with hope that does not exist.” -Tavalus, acolyte of Korlis

The Star likely doesn’t matter in new Standard unless Mishra gets rowdy, but it should see play in Extended, Legacy, and Vintage. Once Ravnica disappears, expect the Star to see occasional Standard play as well.

Rating: ***

Chronatog Totem – 3
Artifact (U)
{T}: Add {U} to your mana pool.
{1}{U}: Chronatog Totem becomes a 1/2 blue Atog artifact creature until end of turn.
{0}: Chronatog Totem gets +3/+3 until end of turn. You skip your next turn. Play this ability only once each turn and only if Chronatog Totem is a creature.

Now granted, I am not a smart man, but I can’t figure out how this will possibly be good in new Standard

Rating: *

Clockwork Hydra – 5
Artifact Creature – Hydra (U)
Clockwork Hydra comes into play with four +1/+1 counters on it.
Whenever Clockwork Hydra attacks or blocks, remove a +1/+1 counter from it. If you do, Clockwork Hydra deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
{T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on Clockwork Hydra.

Clockwork creatures have rarely seen Constructed play, and when they have, it’s been with creatures like Clockwork Dragon that can get arbitrarily large with unlimited mana. Clockwork Hydra cannot get arbitrarily large, nor does it have the usefulness of something like Ancient Hydra, because you have to use the Hydra ability one at a time and only when attacking or blocking.

Rating: *

Foriysian Totem – 3
Artifact (U)
{T}: Add {R} to your mana pool.
{4}{R}: Foriysian Totem becomes a 4/4 red Giant artifact creature with trample until end of turn.
As long as Foriysian Totem is a creature, it can block an additional creature.

An excellent, versatile mana producer for Red decks. It lives through Wildfire and has trample, though it’s a smidge expensive to activate every turn.

Rating: ***

Gauntlet of Power – 5
Artifact (R)
As Gauntlet of Power comes into play, choose a color.
Creatures of the chosen color get +1/+1.
Whenever a basic land is tapped for mana of the chosen color, its controller adds one mana of that color to his or her mana pool.

Yet another combo-riffic card, but one that costs five to put into play. In the right deck, this is actually Mirari’s Wake and… hey, darn if there isn’t Mirari in the format as well. Can a pair of five-mana artifacts terrorize a new format? Probably not yet, but it won’t take much to get there.

Rating: ***

Hivestone – 2
Artifact (R)
Creatures you control are Slivers in addition to their other creature types.
Rath’s evincars used hivestones to control the slivers, but the overlay put their power into unwitting hands. Now the stones make not masters, but slaves.

It could be useful if you want to make a host of other creatures into slivers. It could also be useful if your opponent controls a host of slivers and you want to piggyback off their abilities. However, it will never be particularly good.

Rating: **

Jhoira’s Timebug – 2
Artifact Creature – Insect (C)
{T}: Choose target permanent you control or suspended card you own. If that permanent or card has a time counter on it, you may remove a time counter from it or put another time counter on it.

Much like Hivestone, the Timebug will be useful when you need it and worthless when you don’t. It gives non-Blue decks a way to accelerate out suspend cards, but that’s about it.

Rating: *

Locket of Yesterdays – 1
Artifact (U)
Spells you play cost {1} less to play for each card with the same name as that spell in your graveyard.
Every hour, at the turning of the glass, its owner had whispered to the locket, seeding it with secrets. This would be her legacy, her memory, if the rifts should take her.

I can see this being somewhat valuable in a format with Intuition, but I don’t think you actually want to spend a card on the effect.

Rating: *

Lotus Bloom
Artifact (R)
Suspend 3 – {0} (Rather than play this card from your hand, pay {0} and remove it from the game with three time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When you remove the last, play it without paying its mana cost.)
{T}, Sacrifice Lotus Bloom: Add three mana of any one color to your mana pool.

Much like Ancestral Visions, Lotus Bloom is as annoyingly swingy as its Alpha counterpart. You can’t cast it when you need it, but if you draw it early, you get an absolutely explosive start. If you draw it late you get… absolutely nothing. That sort of effect is annoying and frustrating as hell to build a deck around, but it’s also too powerful to ignore.

Rating: ***

Paradise Plume – 4
Artifact (U)
As Paradise Plume comes into play, choose a color.
Whenever a player plays a spell of the chosen color, you may gain 1 life.
{T}: Add one mana of the chosen color to your mana pool.
A last wisp of paradise in a fallen world.

A flexible Dragon’s Claw that produces mana. Uh… yay?

Rating: *

Phyrexian Totem – 3
Artifact (U)
{T}: Add {B} to your mana pool.
{2}{B}: Phyrexian Totem becomes a 5/5 black Horror artifact creature with trample until end of turn.
Whenever Phyrexian Totem is dealt damage, if it’s a creature, sacrifice that many permanents.

I’ve heard a number of opinions on this one, many of which have lamented the fact that this is not as good as Phyrexian Negator. I’m here to tell you that this is still a very strong effect in the right deck, mostly because you never have to put it out there until you feel safe. In the meantime, Totem is a slightly below-average mana producer, but the ability to whip out a 5/5 trampler whenever you want to – even with a significant drawback – is excellent, though instead of seeing play in a suicide-type deck you get the feeling this one may have a place in control.

Rating: ***

Prismatic Lens – 2
Artifact (C)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
It bends not light but mana, aligning its chaotic currents into the sharp angles necessary for the mystic’s purposes.

For post-Ravnica format use only. Grab the foil ones and put them in your closet for a year.

Rating: **

Sarpadian Empires Vol.VII – 3
Artifact (R)
As Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII comes into play, choose white Citizen, blue Camarid, black Thrull, red Goblin, or green Saproling.
{3}, {T}: Put a 1/1 creature token of the chosen color and type into play.
The past still lives within its pages, waiting for its time to come again.

Creature generators that don’t actually do anything until you spend six mana and then only spit out one creature a turn at the cost of three mana should generally be avoided.

Rating: *

Stuffy Doll – 5
Artifact Creature – Construct (R)
As Stuffy Doll comes into play, choose a player.
Stuffy Doll is indestructible.
Whenever damage is dealt to Stuffy Doll, it deals that much damage to the chosen player.
{T}: Stuffy Doll deals 1 damage to itself.

The rating on this one is a reach, but not a large one in my opinion. This is the type of card that just looks silly at first, and then you play with it to find out it’s good to ridiculous in the right situations. First of all, it acts like a colorless Souls of the Faultless on the ground, except it’s indestructible. In addition, it sucks up damage from spells like Pyroclasm and Wildfire and spits it directly at your opponent. Finally, regardless of what else you are using it for, it pings for one a turn. If it flew or cost one mana less, it would be the full three stars. As it is, it’s more like two and a half with a lean for great design.

Rating: ***

Thunder Totem – 3
Artifact (U)
{T}: Add {W} to your mana pool.
{1}{W}{W}: Thunder Totem becomes a 2/2 white Spirit artifact creature with flying and first strike until end of turn.

All of the totems are good. There’s less immediate use for Thunder Totem than for most of the others, but it could still see play in some sort of Mono-White Control deck.

Rating: **

Triskelavus – 7
Artifact Creature – Construct (R)
Triskelavus comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it.
{1}, Remove a +1/+1 counter from Triskelavus: Put a 1/1 Triskelavite artifact creature token with flying into play. It has “Sacrifice this creature: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”

With the Urzatron running around out there and decks looking for efficient, versatile kill conditions that don’t require too much colored mana, this could fill a dance card rather quickly. It feels like it’s one mana too expensive to really see a lot of play, but the effects are significant, and that one mana could just be my dragon hangover from the last format.

Rating: ***

Venser’s Sliver – 5
Creature – Sliver (U)
Venser admired his handiwork and smiled. His first prototype had joined with the hive mind all too well, running with the brood and becoming a predator itself. This one, he thought, would be accepted into the hive but still obey his commands.

The prototypical vanilla snidd… er, sliver.

Rating: *

Weatherseed Totem – 3
Artifact (U)
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
{2}{G}{G}{G}: Weatherseed Totem becomes a 5/3 green Treefolk artifact creature with trample until end of turn.
When Weatherseed Totem is put into a graveyard from play, if it was a creature, return this card to its owner’s hand.

GGG is a lot to ask of most decks, but in return you get late mana acceleration and a recursive 5/3 trampler. That last bit will matter, since it causes fits for control decks on a very fast clock that trades efficiently and doesn’t care all that much about chump blockers. Another sound design.

Rating: ***

Academy Ruins
Legendary Land (R)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}{U}, {T}: Put target artifact card in your graveyard on top of your library.
Its secrets once wrought the greatest artifice ever known. Now crabs loot the rubble to decorate their shells.

Volrath’s Stronghold has seen a lot of play over the years, and it does for creatures what Academy Ruins does for artifacts. Of course, there are always more useful creatures to abuse in any particular environment than there are artifacts, a fact that is especially true in Standard and Block. A card that would have been insanely good in Mirrodin Standard, expect to see Academy Ruins occasionally in Vintage and Legacy, and maybe as part of some lock deck for Extended, but I don’t think it will see much play in Standard. This doesn’t fit very well in Affinity decks because it ruins the whole “affinity” thing by not being an artifact. Then again, you don’t have to pay Kataki mana for it, so maybe it will…

Rating: **

Calciform Pools
Land (U)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Put a storage counter on Calciform Pools.
{1}, Remove X storage counters from Calciform Pools: Add X mana in any combination of {W} and/or {U} to your mana pool.

In an environment replete with karoos, new dual lands, all ten painlands and more mana fixing than you can shake a stick at, these lands are darn near worthless. In an environment without all of those things, they still aren’t good.

Rating: *

Dreadship Reef
Land (U)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Put a storage counter on Dreadship Reef.
{1}, Remove X storage counters from Dreadship Reef: Add X mana in any combination of {U} and/or {B} to your mana pool.

Rating: *

Flagstones of Trokair
Legendary Land (R)
{T}: Add {W} to your mana pool.
When Flagstones of Trokair is put into a graveyard from play, you may search your library for a Plains card and put it into play tapped. If you do, shuffle your library.

People have described this as a fetchland, which is a misnomer unless you have an active way to sacrifice it. Yes, you will occasionally get to trigger that by virtue of its legendary status or something silly like Vesuva, and yes the effect is pretty valuable if you do. The effect is also quite valuable when facing a land destruction strategy or when you can abuse the effect (see also: Smallpox). That said, some of the hype on this card is just that — hype. It’s not a live-in maid that does the cooking, the laundry, and acts as your mistress on the side. It probably won’t see play in every single deck that can play it, because some decks would just rather have dual lands there. Caveats aside, Flagstones is very, very good.

Rating: ****

Fungal Reaches
Land (U)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Put a storage counter on Fungal Reaches.
{1}, Remove X storage counters from Fungal Reaches: Add X mana in any combination of {R} and/or {G} to your mana pool.

Rating: *

Gemstone Caverns
Legendary Land (R)
If Gemstone Caverns is in your opening hand and you’re not playing first, you may begin the game with Gemstone Caverns in play with a luck counter on it. If you do, remove a card in your hand from the game.
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool. If Gemstone Caverns has a luck counter on it, instead add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

The card originally submitted with this idea was far too good to see print. Instead we get a card that is just barely good enough to see play. The cost of a card in order to trigger the luck counter is a harsh one, but what really sinks Gemstone Caverns is that it doesn’t produce mana of any color without the luck counter and it’s a legendary land, meaning you aren’t playing four of them, meaning you have to get really lucky for this to produce colored mana for you. I’m not saying it won’t see play, but it won’t see a lot of play, and some of the play it will see, it probably shouldn’t.

Rating: **

Kher Keep
Legendary Land (R)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}{R}, {T}: Put a 0/1 red Kobold creature token named Kobolds of Kher Keep into play.
“They’re still here?! The cockroach may have finally met its match.” —Teferi

The effect is notable for producing cheap, sacrificial lemmings. Why you would want this, I do not know, but it’s here if you need it.

Rating: *

Molten Slagheap
Land (U)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Put a storage counter on Molten Slagheap.
{1}, Remove X storage counters from Molten Slagheap: Add X mana in any combination of {B} and/or {R} to your mana pool.

Rating: *

Saltcrusted Steppe
Land (U)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{1}, {T}: Put a storage counter on Saltcrusted Steppe.
{1}, Remove X storage counters from Saltcrusted Steppe: Add X mana in any combination of {G} and/or {W} to your mana pool.

Rating: *

Land (R)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{T}: Regenerate target Insect, Rat, Spider, or Squirrel.

I would just like to note for a moment that this does not say “sliver” or “saproling.” It’s not terrible if you really want the effect because it produces mana, but it’s not colored mana and it’s not particularly useful right now.

Rating: *

Terramorphic Expanse
Land (C)
{T}, Sacrifice Terramorphic Expanse: Search your library for a basic land card and put it into play tapped. Then shuffle your library.
Take two steps north into the unsettled future, south into the unquiet past, east into the present day, or west into the great unknown.

Sometimes the simple cards are very effective.

Rating: ***

Urza’s Factory
Land – Urza’s (U)
{T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.
{7}, {T}: Put a 2/2 Assembly-Worker artifact creature token into play.
“Though their ideals are leagues apart, Urza’s and Mishra’s creations have a surprising harmony with one another.” -Tocasia, journal entry

There are better creature producers out there, but they aren’t lands, and the totems don’t aggregate Worker tokens. It’s really expensive to get this effect, but that just means play less of them and then have time to dig through your deck to find your Factories and start making men.

Rating: ***

Land (R)
As Vesuva comes into play, you may choose a land in play. If you do, Vesuva comes into play tapped as a copy of the chosen land.

Let me set the record straight on Vesuva. For starters it always comes into play tapped. This is, how do you say? Suboptimal. Additionally, it’s almost never useful on the first turn, and it’s downright bad in a deck with a lot of bouncelands because it decreases your consistency. On the other side of the coin, it’s useful for copying certain dual lands when you have a sketchy manabase or you want to take advantage of something your opponent is doing with their manabase. Personally, I prefer simply building my manabase right in the first place, and most smart deckbuilders will too.

Rating: **

Set Conclusions

Here’s my list of top cards in the set:

1) Serra Avenger
2) Ancestral Vision
3) Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
4) Magus of the Scroll
5) Careful Consideration
6) Magus of the Disk
7) Sudden Shock
8) Smallpox
9) Knight of the Holy Nimbus
10) Flagstones of Trokair
11) Thelonite Hermit

I realized in the middle of last week that the Knight is just that good and deserved an extra star. The rest are as noted in the reviews. Super Mario Star Counts for each color are as follows:

White — 78
Blue — 86
Black — 82
Red — 89
Green — 76

As you can see, Red and Blue came out on top, with Black’s depth putting it in third as White and Green bring up the rear (as usual). This is in spite of White getting three four-star cards, but it’s typical simply because White’s mechanics are typically less valuable than those of the three colors ahead of it.

Tomorrow we’ll start in on the Purps, where star counts will be off the charts, and where another special guest star will report in on one deck archetype you may have been pondering for Champs. Until then, stay cool.

Teddy Card Game
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