Time Spiral in Constructed — White

Teddy Card Game begins a ten-part review of Time Spiral for Constructed. Color breakdowns, deck ideas, theories, and strategy are promised along the way, with guest articles appearing from a number of big-name writers and players. Today’s installment begins where all set reviews should… with the White cards. Looking for the edge on the Time Spiral metagame? Look no further!

What time is it? Set review time, huh! I realize that my face is probably not the one you are accustomed to seeing with set reviews. Faces like Zvi Mowshowitz, Kai Budde, and the esteemed Michael J. Flores are more traditionally associated with these bad boys, but this time we are switching it up. Instead of the learned opinions of Magic Hall of Famers or the curmudgeonly directness of michaelj, you get my humor, good looks, and excited opinions and ideas. That said, my plan is to return to the gold standard that Zvi over his many years of exceptional reviews. I will use his system for reviewing cards, while pointing out where cards should get the most use, and which cards are looking for archetypes to be built around them. I also hope to return a sense of fun to the review process. These cards are new friends that will be with us for the next two years; I’ll at least offer most of them a drink when they walk through the door.

Due to the utter freaking enormity of the task in front of me, this review will be broken down into 9-10 parts. The new colors, artifacts, and lands will come first, and then we’ll visit the throwbacks, those villains we have already met and judged – or as I like to call them, “The Purps.” For those who have not had the privilege of a reading a set review by Zvi or who need a refresher course on the system, here it is:

Cards are rated for Constructed play only. It is my belief that the only way to properly evaluate a card for Limited play is to try it out and see if it’s any good. You can still tell the basic stuff – Serra Angel good, Eager Cadet bad – but I don’t need to point that stuff out. At least, I shouldn’t have to and I won’t. Instead I consider all sanctioned Constructed formats, from block up to Vintage. In addition to the analysis, a star rating is included for those who want to see at a glance whether a card has potential. The ratings translate as follows:

**** – 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, read what I have to say. Like Zvi, I’m not here to soothe a card’s ego.

Amrou Scout – 1W
Creature – Kithkin Rebel Scout (C)
{4}, {T}: Search your library for a Rebel card with converted mana cost 3 or less and put it into play. Then shuffle your library.
The people of Amrou were scattered by war and driven into hiding. Scouts maintain the beacon fires that signal "return" and "home."

A 2/1 for 1W is actually below the power curve for White Weenies, but there are mitigating circumstances – the rebel search mechanic. This card is acceptable (though slightly weak) if it doesn’t have the search capability, but since it does, it’s card advantage on a stick (assuming you have men you care to search for). The cost to search seems like it’s one mana too much – it’s nice to have other things to do on turn 4, but historically White gets rather spicy around the five- and six-drop area, and you get to do either but not both. Ramosian Sergeant this man is not, but if there are other good rebels around, his value increases dramatically. If not… well, Amrou Scout is likely unplayable.

Rating: **

Amrou Seekers – 2W
Creature – Kithkin Rebel (C)
Amrou Seekers can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or white creatures.
The paradise of Amrou Haven had become a field of cinders. Its people struggled to survive, hoping to see visions of its past in the strange storms that quickly passed.

Once again, having the rebel mechanic results in a White creature that is overcosted by half a mana or so. In return, you get a standard Gray Ogre that has reasonable evasion, provided you are not playing a mirror match, X/White Control, or some new archetype sporting bad robots. Unfortunately this is Ravnica time, meaning there are an awful lot of White-ish creatures that could be running around. Oh, and one of the Top 5 cards in this set is also White and will probably see a ton of play. These guys aren’t DOA, but they are on life support directly from the womb.

Rating: **

Angel’s Grace – W
Instant (R)
Split second (As long as this spell is on the stack, players can’t play spells or activated abilities that aren’t mana abilities.)
You can’t lose the game this turn and your opponents can’t win the game this turn. Until end of turn, damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 reduces it to 1 instead.

“Burn you. Die.”
Angel’s Grace.”
“Okay, burn you again in response. Die anyway.”
“Sorry dude, no responses.”
“What do you mean, no responses? There are always responses. Die die die.”
“Read the card. It can’t be done. No period. Responses period.”
“But I want to.” *sobs, kicks the table*

Only three cards in and we get our first brain-bender. How much is this card actually worth? Well, if it stays in play, it’s some combination of Worship/Platinum Angel, meaning we will pay a lot for that muffler. If it only lasts until end of turn, it’s worth considerably less… though the effect is not inconsiderable and has legitimate value, particularly against certain archetypes. Split second is what makes this bad boy particularly inviting, because once you cast it, you aren’t dying. Split second in general is a particularly spicy mechanic because it breaks a fundamental rule of Magic, especially at the upper levels. Players always expect to have a chance to respond to spells, whether that means via counterspell, or sacrificing creatures, or adding another burn spell to the stack or whatever. Now they don’t get to, and my brain gets decidedly petulant when it tries to wrap its head around that concept.

The environment we live in has cards like Demonfire (next summer will bring Incinerate) that don’t allow damage to be prevented. Casting this in response to a hellbent Demonfire will keep you from dying, as prevention is not the same as reduction. Yes, that sounds ridiculous. Who knew? From the FAQ:

* The last sentence is not a prevention effect, but it does stop unpreventable damage from reducing your life total below 1.

Overall, a clever card but one whose cool factor likely eclipses its usefulness. Sideboard, perhaps?

Rating: **

Benalish Cavalry – 1W
Creature – Human Knight (C)
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
"My people swore to protect Benalia to the end. It is battered, but yet stands, as do we."

I am Spartacus!

Meet your Hand of Honor replacement. Oh fine, it’s not nearly as good as the Hand, but it doesn’t cost WW to cast it either, so no real complaints, aside from the fact that it has to swing to get any real bonus. Efficient men, women, and children like this always seem to see play at some point during their time in Standard, and this one is easier to cast than most.

In other news, did Paolo Parente change his name to simply Parente? If so, is it official or is it just a line he’s trying to feed us? When does it become acceptable to switch to the one name – are there certain awards that are bestowed/ceremonies that take place? When he goes through lines at immigration, is he just Parente or is he still Parente, Paolo? Both are good names, but unless his passport says the singular, I call bullsh**. If you are going to one-name it after having two for basically ever, it better damn well be legit.

“Who wants to sex Parente!”

Rating: **

Castle Raptors – 4W
Creature – Bird Soldier (C)
As long as Castle Raptors is untapped, it gets +0/+2.
"Each place we see is as ruined and lifeless as the last. So here we stay, because this ruin is ours."

It is a truism that, unless they are spectacular, Snidds (3/3s for five mana) do not see play in Constructed. Castle Raptors are decidedly sniddy in composition. Sure, they will whisper in your ear that they are really flying 3/5s that aren’t big on attacking. Don’t believe them. When was the last time Aven Windreader saw play in Constructed? A snidd is a snidd is a snidd.

Rating: *

Cavalry Master – 2WW
Creature – Human Knight (U)
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
Other creatures you control with flanking have flanking. (Each instance of flanking triggers separately.)

Oo, a flanking lord. What to make of this fellow? First of all, he has solid stats, delivering a 3/3 flanker for four. Second of all, he makes all your other men better in combat, and doubly good if they already have flanking. Not bad at all.

On the other hand, this isn’t Limited. Combat in Standard, while it does occur, usually takes place among giants, weenies, or both. Middle-men like this get shoved aside, as the market strives for pure efficiency. In fact, relying on cards that are only maximized if you opponent blocks is a bad deal. In short: it’s a cute idea, but cards like this rarely make good unless it’s in block or some guy’s casual deck.

Rating: *

Celestial Crusader – 2WW
Creature – Spirit (U)
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.)
Split second (As long as this spell is on the stack, players can’t play spells or activated abilities that aren’t mana abilities.)
Other white creatures get +1/+1.

In Celestial Crusader, you get a double dose of brain teasing mechanics plus a Crusade in man form. My first response to this creature is that it’s either overcosted by one or it needs to affect itself for me to care about playing it. My next response was that it’s probably better than I’m currently giving it credit for because flash is pretty good and so are split second and flying. Even so, it could see play if folks get desperate for this sort of mechanic. Take away the flying or split second and make it an avatar that works when this is in the graveyard, and you’ve won me over – as it exists now, I am not a believer.

Rating: **

Children of Korlis – W
Creature – Human Rebel Cleric (C)
Sacrifice Children of Korlis: You gain life equal to the life you’ve lost this turn. (Damage causes loss of life.)
"We have a proud history of self-sacrifice. But it is easy, in these bleak times, to find one among us who is eager to die for any cause." -Tavalus, acolyte of Korlis

Hooray, another rebel, and this one has the most curious ability of the bunch. For this guy to work optimally, you need to have lost a lot of life, but not all of it. It’s not a Fog, nor does it prevent you from dying. Because of that, it’s probably only good in Limited or with a stout rebel package, but at least it does something new.

Rating: *

Chronosavant – 5W
Creature – Giant (R)
{1}{W}: Return Chronosavant from your graveyard to play tapped. Skip your next turn.
"In my dreams, I hear the voices of my future selves who have died in times yet to come. I use that knowledge to avoid those dark futures and continue my search for peace."

Did they add Stasis back to this set? How about Smokestack? Tangle Wire perhaps? If they did, this hefty man with the cheap reanimation cost merits consideration. Otherwise, I’m not skipping turns for nobody, especially when this doesn’t even come into play untapped.

Rating: *

Cloudchaser Kestrel – 1WW
Creature – Bird (C)
When Cloudchaser Kestrel comes into play, destroy target enchantment.
{W}: Target permanent becomes white until end of turn.

Normally you pay four for this sort of card. Kestrel costs you one less for a greater White commitment and he also makes friends White too, making him like an evangelical Michael Jackson. This isn’t an effect you will want all the time, but it is something to keep in mind should you play a heavy White deck and find yourself wanting to remove enchantments via the man plan. Then again, Disenchant is part of the Purps, and it’s just so much better…

Rating: **

D’Avenant Healer – 1WW
Creature – Human Cleric Archer (C)
{T}: D’Avenant Healer deals 1 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
{T}: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.
"One arrow keenly fired might prevent more battlefield wounds than I could treat."

First of all, most of your opponents (hell, most people playing this card in the first place) won’t be able to pronounce this correctly. That said, whatever they/you come up with will be light years better than the abominations I heard during Kamigawa block, so bully for you. My recommendation is that however you decide “D’Avenant” actually sounds, you at least say the word in a haughty French accent, and one that is likely to irritate or delight opponents in about a 50% ratio on either side. This is strictly a Limited card, now move along or I shall taunt you a second time-ah.

Rating: *

Detainment Spell – W
Enchantment – Aura (C)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature’s activated abilities can’t be played.
{1}{W}: Attach Detainment Spell to target creature.
Bind the mind rather than the wrist, and you stop the intent to harm before it starts.

*Glares at card* You are not a Pacifism… you don’t even look like Pacifism. Who exactly are you trying to fool? What’s that? You don’t care about peace at all, you simply are around to annoy the opponent and the opponent’s creatures as cheaply as possible? Alright fine then – you aren’t useless, but you aren’t exactly good either, and don’t try to convince me otherwise.

Rating: *

Divine Congregation – 3W
Sorcery (C)
You gain 2 life for each creature target player controls.
Suspend 5 – {1}{W} (Rather than play this card from your hand, you may pay {1}{W} and remove it from the game with five 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.)

It used to be that Wizards would give us useless competitive cards that were moderately to totally broken in multiplayer. Now they don’t even do that. Screw you and your “target player” clause, screw you!

Rating: *

Duskrider Peregrine – 5W
Creature – Bird (U)
Flying, protection from black
Suspend 3 – {1}{W} (Rather than play this card from your hand, you may pay {1}{W} 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. It has haste.)

I am of the general opinion that the vast majority of suspend cards are unplayable without some help. Duskrider Peregrine looks borderline, but let’s work through the math here to figure it out. It essentially forces you to give up your two-drop for a 3/3 with flying and pro-Black that attacks on turn 5. If you simply cast a Leonin Skyhunter on turn 2, you get in four points of damage before the 3/3 ever comes online, after which it takes four turns to make up the difference. Is protection from Black worth the change in the beatdown clock? In almost every case the answer is no.

Rating: *

Errant Doomsayers – 1W
Creature – Human Rebel (C)
{T}: Tap target creature with toughness 2 or less.
"Heed my words, traveler. Plagues, war, desolation . . . all mere hints of what is yet to come from Dominaria’s vault of horrors."

A searchable rebel and one with a useful ability, assuming you take off that whole “toughness two or less” clause. I get the feeling that most creatures in the environment will simply ignore the Doomsaying and go about their lives as normal. We will not give in to terr-ah.

Rating: *

Evangelize – 4W
Sorcery (R)
Buyback {2}{W}{W} (You may pay an additional {2}{W}{W} as you play this spell. If you do, put this card into your hand as it resolves.)
Gain control of target creature of an opponent’s choice that he or she controls.
Illus. Randy Elliott

I’m not going to lie to you – you know a card is probably not very good in Constructed when Anthony Alongi gets to preview it. That said, Evangelize may have its uses in control mirrors, where giants exclusively roam, and mana is abundant. It would obviously be better if you flip the cost and the buy back.

Rating: **

Flickering Spirit – 3W
Creature – Spirit (C)
{3}{W}: Remove Flickering Spirit from the game, then return it to play under its owner’s control.
It disappears each time with the hope that it will not return to the same desolation it left behind.

Blinking Spirit didn’t see any play in Standard in spite of spiritcraft incentive. This is around simply to be obnoxious in Limited.

Rating: *

Foriysian Interceptor – 3W
Creature – Human Soldier (C)
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.)
Foriysian Interceptor can block an additional creature.
A focal point for time rifts, Foriys contends simultaneously with foes both new and old.

I don’t care if he can block three additional creatures (one for each point of mana), he’s still a wal-ack… defender that costs four mana, and will never be seeing play. The least they could have done was made him a rebel.

Rating: *

Fortify – 2W
Instant (C)
Choose one – Creatures you control get +2/+0 until end of turn; or creatures you control get +0/+2 until end of turn.
"Where metal is tainted and wood is scarce, we are best armed by faith." -Tavalus, acolyte of Korlis

As most of you can already tell, we probably don’t care that much about the +0/+2 side of this card, though versatility is always welcome. What really matters is the attacking bonus, which unfortunately, is just like Rally the Righteous, minus the bonus untap. Rally hasn’t seen any play at all, and I highly doubt Fortify will either, even with the bonus mode.

Rating: *

Gaze of Justice – W
Sorcery (C)
As an additional cost to play Gaze of Justice, tap three untapped white creatures you control.
Remove target creature from the game.
Flashback {5}{W} (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost and any additional costs. Then remove it from the game.)

For the low, low price of just one White mana (and three White creatures), you too can remove any creature you can target… from the game! That’s right folks, it doesn’t just kill creatures, it removes them… from the game! Giant shadow creature got you down? Remove it! Tidespout Tyrant terrorizing the town? Remove it! Obnoxious Angel of Wrath preventing your from carrying out your lawful plan to control the world? Remove her! With Gaze of Justice, it’s just that easy! Not only that, but once you have six mana in play, you can do it again! What a deal!

(Offer not valid with any other offers, and does require three White creatures in play and untapped to simply cast the spell. Mileage may vary. Do not cast this spell if you are on prescription medication or expect to be driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery. Gaze of Justice may cause anal leakage, unsightly discharge, or a number of other minor, non-fatal side effects listed on our website. Consult your doctor before casting Gaze of Justice. Offer only valid in Newfoundland, Arkansas, Benalia, or any realm overwhelmed with whiteys to help cast this spell.)

Rating: *

Griffin Guide – 2W
Enchantment – Aura (U)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has flying.
When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, put a 2/2 white Griffin creature token with flying into play.

Now this is a spell I can get behind. Elephant Guide made your creatures bustier, but it didn’t give anybody evasion, nor did it leave behind an evasion creature in its wake. If it had, Wild Mongrel would have taken even more scalps than he already did, especially during a full Odyssey block season. There are any number of uses for this card, from White Weenie and Boros Aggro to fun with the entire Selesnya family and possibly some other forms of aggro that we haven’t even considered yet. It’s possible that this will even act as a magic feather for a certain set of power pachyderms to take to the air like you’ve never seen them before.

I saw a front porch swing, heard a diamond ring,
I saw a polka-dot railroad tie.
But I think I will have seen everything
when I see an elephant fly.

Rating: ***

Gustcloak Cavalier – 3WW
Creature – Human Knight (U)
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
Whenever Gustcloak Cavalier attacks, you may tap target creature.
Whenever Gustcloak Cavalier becomes blocked, you may untap Gustcloak Cavalier and remove it from combat.

This is not a snidd. It is worse than a snidd. Ah ah, don’t try to feed me any bunk about flanking or cool gustcloak abilities – at 3WW and with those stats, it would have to do my damn grocery shopping before I’d be interested.

And hey, who made this fellow a knight? I thought knights were supposed to be good!

Rating: *

Icatian Crier – 2W
Creature – Human Spellshaper (C)
{1}{W}, {T}, Discard a card: Put two 1/1 white Citizen creature tokens into play.
A thousand years removed from her home, her news of war had lost its context, but not its relevance.

I tend to keep things pretty bottled up, but Icatian Crier is almost a card I can get behind. For 1W and a land I don’t need, I could get two 1/1s (easily made larger by any number of White enchantments or creatures). Unfortunately, the Crier is also a 1/1 and he costs three to put into play the first time around. I think I just ruined the mood… Icatian Crier is probably too weenie to put in a White Weenie deck, and not cheap enough to be super useful in the meantime.

It’s too bad this fellow isn’t a rebel, or his cost might make sense, and I so wanted to smash with citizens again.

Rating: **

Ivory Giant – 5WW
Creature – Giant (C)
When Ivory Giant comes into play, tap all nonwhite creatures.
Suspend 5 – {W} (Rather than play this card from your hand, you may pay {W} and remove it from the game with five 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. It has haste.)

If I’m reading this correctly, assuming I draw this in my opening hand, on turn 6 I get a 3/4 hasted dude that probably taps all my opponent’s blockers. That’s an effect I might be willing to get behind if I’m playing an aggro deck. But what happens if I don’t draw it in my opening hand? I either have to wait 5 turns or my land-light deck has to cough up seven mana in order to put Mr. Merchant and Ivory Giant into play? That just makes me sad. Despondent. In fact, I feel like I should be in a movie with sir Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Fiennes, dwelling upon how to make my life more miserable.

Rating: *

Jedit’s Dragoons – 5W
Creature – Cat Soldier (C)
When Jedit’s Dragoons comes into play, you gain 4 life.
After Efrava was destroyed, the cat warriors scattered across Dominaria. Those who followed Jedit’s example were strong enough to survive the ravages of apocalypse.

In some blocks, six mana gets you a dragon that, when it dies, basically forces your opponent to skip a turn. Granted that creature was rare and one of the best fatties ever printed, but compare it to the Dragoons, which for six mana give you a Teroh’s Faithful with vigilance and a 1/1 boost. I liked a Faithful, but only because I also liked an Astral Slide. While “Dragoons” is much more fun to say, it won’t see as much play as ye olde 1/4 in Constructed, thought I get the sense it may be perfectly playable in Limited.

Rating: *

Knight of the Holy Nimbus – WW
Creature – Human Rebel Knight (U)
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
If Knight of the Holy Nimbus would be destroyed, regenerate it.
{2}: Knight of the Holy Nimbus can’t be regenerated this turn. Only any opponent may play this ability.

I am Spartacus!

Excellent. Not only do we get a good kniggit, but said kniggit is also a rebel and has a cool ability that is interactive. Due to the flanking and the automagic regeneration, opponents are going to have a miserable time killing this bear in the early game, and the flanking will even make blocking problematic later as well. The design on this card is outstanding, and I heap kudos upon the person behind it. This is your real Hand of Honor replacement. Expect to see KoHN plenty in the years to come. KoooooooooHN!

Plus, Nimbus is just fun to say.

Rating: ***

Magus of the Disk – 2WW
Creature – Human Wizard (R)
Magus of the Disk comes into play tapped.
{1}, {T}: Destroy all artifacts, creatures, and enchantments.
Studying the journals of the necromage Nevinyrral leaves disciples gripped with the urge to exercise his draconian judgment.

I’m not going to lie to you, Nevinyrral’s Disk was nearly as miserable to play against as it is to type, and don’t let any nostalgia-filled control player try to tell you otherwise. Due to its casting cost and the fact that it is a creature, Magus of the Disk is not immediately as problematic as its artifact forefather, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there will be at least some degree of sailor-worthy epithets and obscene rants directed at this card before its time in Standard is done. There’s no reason to play Mono-White Control archetypes right now, but the tools are all there if you want to test it out. In the meantime, expect the presence of this card to usher in a full-fledged Blue/White Control revival, complete with sweaty preachers, snake dancing, and some mighty fine cornbread to boot. For more on this card, check out Flores’s preview at MagictheGathering.com.

Rating: ****

Mangara of Corondor – 1WW
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard (R)
{T}: Remove Mangara of Corondor and target permanent from the game.
"I have been brought to this place and I cannot leave. I may be free of the amber, but I am still in prison."

Remember that bit only one card ago where I was discussing Mono-White Control and its tools? Here’s another one, and despite being a bit fragile, it’s very good. The cost on this bad boy is exactly right, nestling in the Vindicate sweet spot, while trading the immediacy of sorcery for a 1/1 body and a “Remove From Game” clause. Mangara should be a Block Constructed stalwart, and could easily push the Standard envelope if control archetypes feel the need for it. Just be glad this fella doesn’t merely destroy something and go to the graveyard, or you’d have Mangara plus Angel of Despair plus Smallpox plus Adarkar Valkyrie decks everywhere, likely making Mike Flores and myself very happy, and the rest of the world very sad. Oh, and word from the birds says this works really well with Astral Slide-type effects.

Rating: ***

Momentary Blink – 1W
Instant (C)
Remove target creature you control from the game, then return it to play under its owner’s control.
Flashback {3}{U} (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)

Due to the fact that it targets only your own creatures, I don’t see an immediate use for this card (not even Mangara), but the flashback on it means its something to keep in mind should the need arise.

Rating: *

Opal Guardian – WWW
Enchantment (R)
When an opponent plays a creature spell, if Opal Guardian is an enchantment, Opal Guardian becomes a 3/4 Gargoyle creature with flying and protection from red.
It was a moment in time, cast in stone-a moment whose time had come again.

If I offered you a chance at a 3/4 flying Gargoyle with protection from Red with WWW, you would rightly consider it to be a strong Constructed playable with a problematic casting cost viable only in White Weenie decks. Now what if I told you that it’s an enchantment instead, and doesn’t become a creature until your opponent chooses to make it such. Is that still something you might be interested in? I don’t think it is, but this sort of card is tough to evaluate. It could be a trump out of the sideboard, or it could be a card that interests Johnnies alone.

Rating: **

Outrider en-Kor – 2W
Creature – Kor Rebel Knight (U)
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
{0}: The next 1 damage that would be dealt to Outrider en-Kor this turn is dealt to target creature you control instead.

The stats say this guy isn’t good enough to play straight up in Constructed, but a) he’s a rebel, and b) he’s a combo maker. Viewing Outrider in that light means you may see him from time to time in sixty-card decks.

Rating: **

Pentarch Paladin – 2WWW
Creature – Human Knight (R)
Flanking (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks this creature, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
As Pentarch Paladin comes into play, choose a color.
{W}{W}, {T}: Destroy target permanent of the chosen color.

See, this is where you have to be careful… Pentarch Paladin looks vaguely like an expensive snidd, and I ranted earlier that snidds are unplayable in sixty-card decks. Unless, of course, they do something spectacular, like this guy. When you add in flanking, he has stats that don’t make you completely miserable, but the ability to blow up whatever color of cards suit your fancy is excellent. In fact, it looks like Wizards built and entire series of cards into White this time around that want nothing more than to blow sh** up – lawfully of course – like an Azorius demolitions team, designed to carry out eminent domain projects.

The logical side of me says Pentarch Paladin is just a little too White or a little too weak to see much Standard play, in spite of the cool ability, but the little kid in me hopes that I’m wrong.

Rating: **

Pentarch Ward – 2W
Enchantment – Aura (C)
Enchant creature
As Pentarch Ward comes into play, choose a color.
When Pentarch Ward comes into play, draw a card.
Enchanted creature has protection from the chosen color. This effect doesn’t remove Pentarch Ward.

Strictly a Limited card. Next!

Plated Pegasus – 2W
Creature – Pegasus (U)
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.)
If a spell would deal damage to a creature or player, prevent 1 damage that spell would deal to that creature or player.

2W for a 1/2 doesn’t pass the threshold for consideration, even if it’s an instant creature.

Rating: *

Pull from Eternity – W
Instant (U)
Put target face-up card that’s removed from the game into its owner’s graveyard.
It is best to conquer dragons before they hatch. -Femeref adage

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not particularly impressed by most of the suspend cards in Constructed, but the ones that do see play will be good, and this is a solid sideboard answer for the entire mechanic.

Rating: **

Pulmonic Sliver – 3WW
Creature – Sliver (R)
All Slivers have flying and "If this creature would be put into a graveyard, you may put it on top of its owner’s library instead."
Like a great bellows it hisses, and its kin, both living and dead, are lifted to safety.

There are a lot of slivers in this set. What you want from these guys are ones that are solid on their own, and then get truly nasty when you put them together in combinations, sort of like any illicit Pam Anderson tape released in the last ten years. I like Pam, and I like Tommy Lee/Bret Michaels/Kid Rock, but put them together and it’s just nasty. Since there are so many slivers scampering about, there has to be a particular set or two that are actually good when played together. Right?

Pulmonic Sliver is a flying Wonder Snidd that doesn’t go away. He’s good, but seems a bit too expensive for Constructed play.

Rating: *

Quilled Sliver – 1W
Creature – Sliver (U)
All Slivers have "{T}: This creature deals 1 damage to target attacking or blocking creature."
"They have long kept us under attack, but we do not lack for ammunition. The very bodies of our foes arm us against them." -Adom Capashen, Benalish hero

This little guy, on the other hand, will downright dominate combat. As I stated earlier, Constructed doesn’t see nearly as much combat interaction as you do in Limited, but Quilled Sliver will be a force out of the sideboard if he is needed. Still though, he’s a 1/1 for two, which isn’t anything to get terribly excited about.

Rating: **

Restore Balance
Sorcery (R)
Restore Balance is white.
Suspend 6 – {W}
Each player chooses a number of lands he or she controls equal to the number of lands controlled by the player who controls the fewest, then sacrifices the rest. Players sacrifice creatures and discard cards the same way.

Words, words, words… *puts card in nonplayables pile* – hey wait a second, did that just say “Balance”…? Oh man, now I have to actually pay attention.

Alright, so what this says is I get to cast Balance again in Standard. Kickass! Except now my opponents have six turns to prepare for it? That seems less good. A lot less good, in fact. Most Magic players can’t plan two turns from now; how do they expect to make this work six turns out? If there a way to make the process immediate, I might be interested, since there are certainly some interesting cards out there designed to break the symmetry here in half. Unfortunately, the only things I’ve seen that negates the suspend does so on the second-plus time you cast it, which is a little too late to be useful. Expect to revisit this in later sets if anything changes.

Rating: *

Return to Dust – 2WW
Instant (U)
Remove target artifact or enchantment from the game. If you played this spell during your main phase, you may remove up to one other target artifact or enchantment from the game.
Some timelines forever fray, branch, and intermingle. Others end abruptly.

I like it. I don’t know what I like it for just yet, but between this and its purple cousin, I am quite comfortable knowing that white can deal with any problematic enchantments and artifacts that come along.

Rating: **

Serra Avenger – WW
Creature – Angel (R)
You can’t play Serra Avenger during your first, second, or third turns of the game.
Flying, vigilance
"Those who endure in the face of suffering, those whose faith shines long in evil days, they shall see salvation." -Song of All, canto 904

Let me tell you something right now – Serra Avenger is one of the 5 best cards in the set, and it might even be in the Top 2. Multiple people have scoffed at me when I told them this is the case, but it’s true. For WW, you get a 3/3 flying attacker that blocks well too. So what if you can’t play it until turn 4? The cost-to-stats ratio is absurd. This card will see play in both aggro and control strategies across the board and likely across formats for at least its legal time period in Standard. It also helps that it has one of the nicest pieces of art in the set. Snap them up while you have a chance, because the price won’t stay low.

Rating: ****

Sidewinder Sliver – W
Creature – Sliver (C)
All Slivers have flanking. (Whenever a creature without flanking blocks a Sliver, the blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn.)
"They encircled our patrol with the stealth of snakes, corralling us like livestock." -Merrik Aidar, Benalish patrol

Another ability that only matters in Limited.

Rating: *

Spirit Loop – 1W
Enchantment – Aura (U)
Enchant creature you control
Whenever enchanted creature deals damage, you gain that much life.
When Spirit Loop is put into a graveyard from play, return Spirit Loop to its owner’s hand.

Back when I first started playing Magic, Spirit Link was a favorite card among the guys in my group because it played both offense and defense. Since that time, Spirit Link hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse in Constructed unless it came free as part of a morphed Angel, but I still have love for it. This card is Spirit Link that only plays offense, but it comes back to you, just like Rancor did. That said, it doesn’t add any power or toughness, or give a creature flying, thus making it that much tougher to actually get full value from the bonus. It’s a nice throwback and will win some races at the draft table, but you aren’t going to want to waste a card on this for Constructed.

Rating: *

Temporal Isolation – 1W
Enchantment – Aura (C)
Flash (You may play this spell any time you could play an instant.)
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature has shadow. (It can block or be blocked by only creatures with shadow.)
Prevent all damage that would be dealt by enchanted creature.

Hey look, another enchant creature. Moving right along…

Rating: *

Tivadar of Thorn – 1WW
Legendary Creature – Human Lord (R)
First strike, protection from red
When Tivadar of Thorn comes into play, destroy target Goblin.
His blade came down upon the neck of a goblin-but not the one he had charged. When Tivadar looked up, the world he had known was gone.

2/2, Protection from Red, First Strike. It’s Silver Knight! Except it has a bonus ability that is entirely format relevant, thus adding one generic mana to the cost, and turning it into a legendary creature (the last part matters because goblins breed like rabbits. Little, obnoxious, green rabbits). You are obviously continuing to play Paladin en-Vec in Standard until a new goblin menace arises, and I can’t exactly remember goblins turning into a force to be reckoned with in Extended last season either. Tivadar and his angry red face will likely sit on the sidelines unless we get desperate for his skills.

Rating: **

Watcher Sliver – 3W
Creature – Sliver (C)
All Slivers get +0/+2.
"I have spied them, wandering and watching-but for what? I fear they watch for us." -Yonat of Amrou

This is probably how much I would pay for a sliver that gave all slivers +2/+0. In fact, I’d likely pay a little more. I will not, however, pay anything for one that gives them +0/+2, at least not in Constructed.

Rating: *

Weathered Bodyguards – 5W
Creature – Human Soldier (R)
As long as Weathered Bodyguards is untapped, all combat damage that would be dealt to you by unblocked creatures is dealt to Weathered Bodyguards instead.
Morph {3}{W} (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for {3}. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

A heavily overpriced morph creature with abilities you don’t care about in Constructed anyway.

Rating: *

Zealot il-Vec – 2W
Creature – Human Rebel (C)
Shadow (This creature can block or be blocked by only creatures with shadow.)
Whenever Zealot il-Vec attacks and isn’t blocked, you may have it deal 1 damage to target creature. If you do, prevent all combat damage Zealot il-Vec would deal this turn.

I like the card design, I love the art, and I hate the stats. One gets the sense that this guy got neutered somewhere along the way either because he was too good in Limited or because R&D didn’t want any Rebels to get out of hand… at least not just yet. That’s also a reason why Whipcorder didn’t appear as part of the Purps, even though he’d be a pretty logical inclusion since he sports a pair of throwback mechanics and is solid by himself. I wouldn’t be surprised for Rebels to become a solid (though not dominant) strategy in set 2 or 3 of this block, but there aren’t enough good ones to matter just yet.

Rating: **


As always, White gets a bunch of cards that don’t matter in Constructed, but it also gets some outstanding additions. Serra Avenger is absurd – certainly one of the best cards in the set – Magus of the Disk is a new reason to play White, and Knight of the Holy Nimbus is an outstanding weenie. Additionally, White players get another solid knight from Benalia, the most excellent Griffin Guide, and Mangara of Corondor – an exceptional White removal spell. Last but not least, you also have a healthy sampling of Rebels, though I’m of the opinion that they are not good enough to matter in new Standard.

Beyond all the top tier cards, White also gets a solid sampling of role players and cards that might be good enough to see play if they get help in future sets or if the environment requires them.

Tomorrow: Blue… or as I like to call it, “This color is completely ridiculous!”