Everyone here knows the drill. Each week, I will give some sort of mildly entertaining rant or other”extra,” then I will discuss all the cards in a color in approximate draft pick order. If you want to consider just the commons, by all means ignore all the rares and uncommons on the list. It’s not hard.
This week’s champion is not a dragon; Yosei, the Morning Star has to settle for second. Before I get into more detail about that, though, I have an interview to present. I finally got to sit Michigan gamer Dan Cato down for some Q+A about his wondrous ecosystem of barns…
Tim Aten (thaaaaat’s me!): How long have you been playing Magic?
Dan Cato: I started playing right around the release of Homelands, the greatest set ever.
TA: Other than the fact that you were a well-established hull even before you finished 9th at a Pro Tour, is there anything else we should know about you before I get into questions about your
DC: I suck at Magic.
TA: Well alright. How long have you known Jesse Caulkins?
DC: I think three years now.
TA: How did you meet?
DC: He used to play at the former FNM in the area.
TA: When did he realize that his”rightful place” was as your subordinate? Any idea?
DC: I’m not sure he even will admit it to himself now. It’s like he just woke up one day and that was how it was.
TA: Interesting. Other than the fact that he is typically seen following you around, what makes Jesse Caulkins a good barn? What does he do for you?
DC: He’s actually a pretty poor barn, [which comes] mostly from lacking a car. His best barn quality is just taking abuse.
TA: What’s the most outlandish thing he’s ever done for you?
DC: Outlandish… that’s not really Jesse. He’s pretty shy and it usually takes some coaxing for him to do mundane things.
TA: How many sodas would you say he’s fetched you, lifetime?
DC: Not enough! A barn’s job is never done. I can’t recall how many Jesse has fetched for me, but a newer barn, Mattis, fetches them two to three times a week. Sometimes without me even asking, he just sets one down next to me.
TA: That’s impressive. So Caulkins more or less just likes to bask in your reflected glory without really doing much for you?
DC: Yeah. Despite how he may appear to you, he’s one of my lower-ranking barns.
TA: I will now repeat the previous line of questioning, this time concerning your right-hand man. How long have you known Chase Cosgrove?
DC: Nine years.
TA: Wow. How did you two meet?
DC: We went to the same middle school. He is actually the person who introduced me to Magic.
TA: You were probably in the same homeroom or whatever, eh?
DC: Yeah, we had a few classes together.
TA: When did he realize that his rightful place was as your subordinate?
DC: I’m not sure when he moved from being just a friend to a friend and barn, but it was likely sometime after I Q’ed for PT New Orleans.
TA: It’s a shame how success causes that reaction in people, in my opinion. Other than the fact that he is typically seen following you around, what makes Chase Cosgrove a good barn? What does he do for you?
DC: He keeps the other barns in line; he’s sort of in charge of them when I’m not there. He also was the only person willing to split driving time and a room for PT: New Orleans. Many barns offered, but only one followed through.
TA: Is Mr. Cosgrove in barn denial?
DC: No, he knows and will admit to being my barn.
TA: Is that a recent development?
TA: Who are some of the other barns in your stable?
DC: Let’s see…I have Mattis, Gillis, Big Charns, Travis…I’ve lost a few who have quit the game, and there are others who aren’t quite barns.
TA: Is there anything special about any of these people?
DC: Well Mattis seems to wants to be your barn too. He just told me that your”new article is goodfunny;” the Gillis provides me his mother for favors (wink wink); Big Charns doesn’t own any cards
anymore as they were left to his old hull, so whenever he plays any Limited, he gives me his cards. They’re a good bunch.
TA: I don’t think people calling my articles funny is”barning.” It’s That They Can Appreciate Higher Quality Art Than The Other Stuff They’re Exposed To Absnldjnsakld
DC: Hey, I like reading your articles too. I was just trying to add something interesting to the interview with him wanting to be your barn.
TA: Who’s Big Charns’s old hull?
DC: Ray Yolkiewicz
TA: I’ve never heard of him. What’s Big Charns’s real name?
DC: Brandon Charnesky
TA: I have heard of him. Who’s this Mattis chap?
DC: Well, he’s not the greatest player, but if a barn were good enough, he’d have his own, right?
DC: He’s totally committed to barning me.
TA: When I see Brandon Charnesky, I just think”barn.” Didn’t he Q for Nats last year?
DC: I don’t think so. You might have seen his name when he made Day Two of Grand Prix: Columbus. He played on the last PT: Boston as well.
TA: Do your barns copy your mannerisms, musical preferences, lingo, and the like?
DC: Not musical preferences, but they definitely copy lingo and mannerisms.
TA: What’s your current hip lingo?
DC: None of it is really hip, is it? When you think of it outside of the”Magical” world, it’s all kind of lame anyway. Mostly I just make many lame”your mother” jokes and bash with my guys.
TA: I’m partial to”clown shoes” lately…and”Good eye, Sniper.”
DC: I noticed all those”clown shoes” in your previous article. I like to throw out any quote from Kevin Smith movies or from Dave Attell’s Comedy CD.
TA: Do you enjoy being the master of your ecosystem?
DC: Yeah, it’s good to be in charge.
TA: Does it ever get embarrassing to have these people shower you with adulation?
DC: Yeah, but I’m not going to complain.
TA: What do you do when a barn gets uppity? Has anyone ever tried to take on the throne?
DC: They don’t try to take on the throne, but sometimes they forget their role.
TA: So what do you do?
DC: I suppose it really depends on the situation and what barn was”uppity.” They all respond differently.
TA: Can you give an example?
DC: There isn’t a clear example I can recall, but ignoring them or very maturely making many jokes at their expense can work well.
TA: What do you think it is about people like yourself (and Gerry Thompson and Joey Bags) that makes the weak-willed flock to them?
DC: It’s got to be partly the success, but I think I’m pretty easy guy to get along with and share a joke or two, as well. Maybe it’s because I’m willing to share what I know about the game with others. I can’t speak for the other hulls you mention, but I like to see others succeed.
TA: One last question.
DC: Fire away.
TA: How come you still haven’t gotten Caulkins to fetch me a soda?
DC: I told you he’s not a very good barn. I tell you what: Next time I see you at a tourney, I’ll have Mattis fetch you one. No sweat.
TA: I want Caulkins to bring me one!
DC: That might be tough, but I’ll see what I can do.
TA: Thank you for your time.
Wasn’t that fun? I’m sure that’s only going to be of special interest to a few dozen people, but after I gave Minnesota the star treatment, it was only fair to give another state its due. Now it would appear that I have to write cutesy little blurbs for fifty cards. As usual, these are approximate pick orders, and you should pay attention to your mana curve (and creature count), possibly with this set more than Onslaught or Mirrodin. The power level on a lot of white creatures is quite similar, so curve becomes an even more important consideration for this color. If you have two Mothrider Samurais, or if it’s pack three and you only have one two-drop, you may want to consider taking that Kami of Ancient Law. And oh, what the heck, I’ll actually take the time to list JUST my common pick order at the end of the article.
1. Hikari, Twilight Guardian
I don’t know whether to agree with Joey Bags or Kibler on this one. Joey Bags says Hikari is”fresh,” while Kibler seems to think it’s”awesome.” Either way, I wouldn’t recommend passing the Twilight Guardian. If you play a spirit after combat, you can Flicker him out, and he’ll be ready to block on your opponent’s turn. Unlike the Dragons and most other bomb creatures, Hikari can actually protect himself from removal; a simple Reach Through Mists or Soulless Revival can easily fizzle a Rend Spirit. If the removal spell in question is Mystic Restraints or Cage of Hands, an arcane sorcery or random spirit will gitRdone just as easily. Awesome.
2. Yosei, the Morning Star
I’m fairly confident I don’t need to waste much time telling you to take the f***ing dragon. It’s a f***ing Dragon, man. F***. The only problem I can see with this card is that if you open it pack three and raredraft it, you probably won’t be able to splash it like you would with Ryusei or Keiga.
3. Eight-and-a-Half Tails
There’s a lot that can be said for a card that’s good early and insane late. If you don’t have any other two-drops in the opener, you can just plop the fox legend down and start attacking for two. If your opponent answers back with a random two-drop, he probably won’t block, since you’ll just be able to make the opposing creature white and give 8.5 Tails protection. As the game progresses, you’ll be able to make your guys unblockable, save them from removal, prevent any combat damage they would take, and so forth. It’s a 2/2 for two mana that lets you make good use of all of your mana throughout the entire game. It’s debatable whether this is better than the flying monsters ahead of it, but since it’s a completely asinine distinction, we’ll move on.
4. Nagao, Bound by Honor
This card isn’t remotely fair. As a 4/4 attacker for four mana that grows to 5/5 if you put something in its way, it’s almost impossible to block effectively in the early game. If your opponent tries to double- or triple-block Nagao, there’s a decent chance you have a nice little combat trick ready to save him. Nagao is the apotheosis of a Kamigawa White Limited creature: aggressively priced, reasonable stats, and likely to emerge the victor in one-on-one combat with like-costed creatures in other colors. I can’t even fathom what a tremendous loring it would be to attack with this and a Kitsune Blademaster at the same time.
5. Ghostly Prison
Since balls-to-the-wall aggression seems to be the order of the day, how about a nice enchantment that slows attacks down to a trickle. Like Fatespinner, this serves to severely limit your opponent’s attacking options. First, if your opponent has three creatures and only five lands, he clearly won’t be sending with all of them. Second, if he’s tapping a lot of mana just for the privilege of attacking you, he won’t have much left over to thwart your combat tricks or play his own. Finally, the decision to attack will often mean a decision to not commit more threats to the board. There are a select few cases when this doesn’t do much-if your opponent is just stomping over with a lone Moss Kami, for instance-but usually, this will be very strong. If you manage to get two of these, which is possible with three packs of Champions, then that probably is.
6. Cage of Hands
One problem with removal is that it can be hard to tell whether an opponent’s threat is worth handling with one of your precious spells. Nicolas Cage’s return ability easily circumvents that issue. You needn’t have any qualms on putting this on an opponent’s lone blocker, even if it is a 2/2, just to squeeze extra damage in; if a juicier target comes along, all you have to do is pick up the Cage and replay it. This is a great card in handling Dragons since it neutralizes them without forcing you to suffer some horrible drawback, and it takes care of Konda and the few other random Indestructibles. As long as you have 1W open, the Cage can’t even be destroyed with enchantment removal or bouncing the afflicted creature. These reasons are why I consider the Cage to be the best White common. Kitsune Blademaster is a good man, but he’s still just a man, and one that can be Glacial Rayed or even blocked by River Kaijin.
I don’t like how this card won’t save you if you’re facing down lethal damage. Sometimes a creature only needs to hit you once to seal your fate. That said, you really have to respect the mana cost on this one. Reciprocate isn’t susceptible to being telegraphed like Soul Nova and Tangle Spider were; if you have a lone Plains open, you could have the Reciprocate, or you could just have been a hair short in maximizing your mana efficiency on your turn. Unless your opponent gets greedy, this can’t deal with utility creatures like Kabuto Moth, but it is still an answer for Frostwielder, Kumano, or just a plain old Nezumi Cutthroat. Solid removal like this is scarce and not easily replaceable, so I’ll probably be taking it over all but the most powerful creatures. It’s possible that this belongs as low as #10.
8. Masako the Humorless
I haven’t gotten to play with this card, but I’m pretty sure it’s ridiculous. All your creatures now serve double-duty, and Masako’s peculiar ability is superior to granting all your men vigilance, since Mystic Restraints and Terashi’s Cry won’t override your ability to block. When you first play her, there’s a potential to massacre your opponent’s side of the board. At her worst, Masako is a 2W instant that deals two damage to target attacking creature (unless said attacking creature has Bushido or first strike). Granted, a 2/1 for three isn’t the best deal; Masako probably won’t be doing much blocking of her own. Fortunately, there are considerably fewer”1 damage to target creature” effects in Kamigawa than in Mirrodin. If I had to choose between a deck with 23 Blademasters and one with 23 non-legendary Masakos, I would opt for the Blademaster deck. However, as long the rest of your deck looks strong and features solid creatures, I think Masako will benefit you more than a Blademaster.
9. Kabuto Moth
Some people have speculated, and this is probably correct, that this format is about 2/2 creatures bashing into one another. This lil’ gem ensures that your 2/2s will win in scuffles with all the other 2/2s. With the Moth’s help, a random bear can finally stand up to one of those dreadful Bushido bastards. Once active, Kabuto Moth serves as a 2/4 flying blocker. An untapped Moth really hampers the effectiveness of a Glacial Ray or Yamabushi’s Flame in your opponent’s hand. Finally, if the coast seems to be clear, the Moth can soar gracefully across the board for a point of damage or two. The Moth is probably even better in CoK than Nantuko Disciple is in 888 drafts. The bonus is slightly smaller, but the Moth comes out a turn sooner, and its ability costs no mana to use.
10. Kitsune Blademaster
Here we have the best common attacker in the set, the benchmark by which every other card is judged. A 1/1 creature with Bushido will trade with a 2/2. A 2/2 creature with Bushido defeats a single 2/2 but can get double-blocked and killed by a pair of bears. The Blademaster slaughters one 2/2 and survives an encounter with two of them. It takes a 1/ 4 to stop this or a 3/ 4 to kill it. Since it’s a Samurai, there are a few tribal effects that can further enhance it, including Call to Glory, Nagao, and Takeno. There seems to be a great deal of debate about which is better, this or the Kabuto Moth. My strategy will probably involve taking two Moths first and then Blademasters for the rest of the draft, or perhaps alternating Moth, then Blademaster, then Moth, et cetera.
11. Myojin of Cleansing Fire
Can I be a giant dork for a minute? I usually try to keep up this quasi-cool faÃ§ade, what with my team name standards and my sparing application of Ebonics and the fact that I probably won’t talk to you if I see you irl*, but it’s important to keep it real every now and then. Alright, here it goes:
I THOUGHT ABOUT A CLEANNNNSING FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE
I THOUGHT ABOUT A CLEANNNNSING FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE
I THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVE
I mean, yeah, that’s completely embarrassing for myself, anyone who catches the reference, and anyone who doesn’t catch the reference (in that order), but I just couldn’t help myself. I’m really sorry.
I feel like a tool for putting the Myojin this low, but perhaps I’ve matured a bit as a set appraiser. If it costs eight mana, there’s a decent chance it doesn’t belong in the top 10. This is preposterous in sealed; if you’re considering playing White and you have this card, I would strongly recommend putting it in your deck. It’s weaker in Booster draft because it’s so slow. You’ll probably win the game if it resolves, but you may not live long enough to cast it. It’s weaker still in Rochester draft; not only is it slow, but your opponent will know you have it in your deck and may well be able to tell whether it’s in your hand. That being the case, he will be able to hold back some threats for the post-apocalyptic game state. In Booster, and especially Rochester, this may drop a bit on the list, and I can understand refusing to draft or play it entirely.
12. Mothrider Samurai
As anyone who has ever played Limited before knows, 2/2 fliers for four mana are pretty standard. This one trades with 3/3 fliers in combat, making it somewhat more respectable. As should be readily apparent, this card is basically the same as a Kitsune Blademaster; all things considered, switching first strike for flying doesn’t justify an additional mana in the casting cost. Evasion is still really good, though, so draft this puppy highly.
13. Innocence Kami
Tappers are quite powerful for the same reason as Cage of Hands – at any given point in the game, you get to choose the most threatening creature and prevent it from doing anything. Innocence Kami is pretty sluggish, though, and I really don’t see the need to take away a point of the Loxodon Mystic’s power. Innoncence Kami’s value naturally goes up in a heavy spirit tribal** deck or if you have a decent amount of instant arcane spells. Every pre-combat Spirit you play keeps another man from blocking. Even though it only costs one white mana to use, I’m sure having to tap that land for each iteration can become cumbersome in some cases.
14. Indomitable Will
I saw some half-wit in the forums compare this to Battlegrowth. If you’re gonna compare a Hanzo sword, you compare it to every sword ever made that wasn’t made by Hattori Hanzo.*** Or in this case, Test of Faith. Like Test, it saves a creature from removal or lethal combat damage and leaves an even larger monster in its wake. In a pinch, you can even rawdog this for some extra damage. I’m not quite sure why, but two is a lot greater than one in the Magic world. It’s probably because the relevant statistic when considering attackers is not that two is one higher than one, but rather that it’s twice as large. In the case of Will vs. Battlegrowth, Growth only saves your creature from combat or removal that deals just enough to kill it, whereas the Will can help even if the offending damage source deals slightly greater than lethal damage. A 2/2 creature can survive Yamabushi’s Flame or take out a Bushido bear in addition to being able to survive a Glacial Ray or normal bear-on-bear combat. Pants are good. You might get two-for-one’d, but the enchanted creature will be a lot harder to kill, and there’s a decent chance that you netted card advantage over your opponent the turn you played this.
15. Konda, Lord of Eiganjo
I felt like a tool for not putting Indestructible Wrath Man in the top 10, and I feel like an even bigger tool for putting this below a glorified Holy Strength. This is a bomb in sealed, and it’s fairly strong in draft. If you have a strong enough early game that you aren’t too far behind when you get around to playing Konda, he should play an integral part in carrying you to victory. Nothing is big enough to block him, and gang blocking is fruitless. The options are chump or take three. Then, when your opponent attacks back, he loses his best, biggest ground attacker. Other than its cost, though, there are two major problems with this Pristine Angel wannabe. First, it doesn’t fly. It’s possible for your opponent to chump block it while he smashes you with fear guys or fliers or just flat-out swarms you. Second, there is a common spell in each of three colors that effectively shuts him down-Cage of Hands, Mystic Restraints, and Pull Under. Indestructible my ass.
16. Samurai of the Pale Curtain
This card is excellent. I am a sucker for 2/2s for two mana, and Bushido certainly sweetens the pot. Its other ability is marginal but still might become relevant in case of Soulshift, Soulless Revival, or Dragon Spirit Legends. The double White in the casting cost can be annoying. While the fox samurai would be perfectly acceptable at three mana, cutting the cost by one is what truly makes him shine. If you don’t have at least nine or possibly even ten plains in your deck, you won’t necessarily be able to consider him a two-drop for every game.
17. Candles’ Glow
I put Indomitable Will above this because you can’t use the Glow proactively. This is probably better than Will in decks with a decent amount of other Arcane instants for splicing or creatures with Arcane triggers, like Hikari or Kami of the Painted Road. The Glow can save a creature from damage-based removal or lethal combat damage, or it could thwart an ostensibly lethal counterattack. Efficient beaters and combat tricks are the backbone of W/x decks in Limited; you’ll want some of each to stay competitive, and Glow is one of the better tricks available to white.
18. Kami of Ancient Law
It’s a 2/2 for two mana. You’ll need these. Just by choosing a somewhat arbitrary number, I would estimate that every White deck will want at least three two-drops, hopefully four. Since this Kami happens to be the only common 2/x in White, he’s rather important to watch for when drafting. This would have been just fine as a Glory Seeker reprint, but thanks to Cage of Hands, the instachantments, and a few other cards, the Kami’s ability will often prove useful. If you get a couple of these, you probably won’t have to worry about boarding in Quiet Purity or Cleanfall in the face of nasty opposing enchantments.
19. Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Blah blah blah bears are important. Repetition of that tenet has already grown rather wearisome. The important thing to realize about the Hound is that trimming a mana off the cost of a bear can be an important distinction, but sometimes won’t. If your deck has a really fast curve, the Hound becomes better, as you can play a Kami of Ancient Law and a Hound on turn three, or a random three-drop and the Hound on turn 4. Needless to say, he’s pretty durn good on turn 1, certainly a lot better than any two-drop would be. In the mid- or late-game, though, the one-mana discount loses its luster, and you’d rather have the ability to kill an enchantment or Bushido. Once your hand is empty, this isn’t the most exciting topdeck. And it’s not like your opponent isn’t playing creatures; a 1/3 can block the Hound, and a 2/3 will completely outclass it.
20. Sensei Golden-Tail
The Sensei’s ability is strong over a long and drawn-out game, but it’s pretty slow and mana intensive for the early game. It sucks that you can’t use it at instant speed, but he had to be printed this way to avoid confusion that some players would experience if they thought blocking, then tapping to give Bushido accomplished anything. He’s probably an excellent stalemate breaker, and there’s a chance I’m underrating him a little, but the fact that a single removal spell can counteract several turns’ work troubles me. All things considered, he’s still a two-power creature for two mana…and he doesn’t die to Zuberas, which is important, since trading with a Zubera is embarrassing.
21. Takeno, Samurai General
Takanobu is fairly expensive, and he moves down to 30th or lower if you don’t have a decent amount of other Samurais. If you do have plenty Bushido men, a Crusade combined with a 3/3 body is nothing to sneeze at. Additionally, this guy is a Super Happy Fun Mega Combo with Konda, Lord of Eiganjo. That’s 8/8 and Indestructible, playa. Taka attacks, he blocks, he gets bigger, he sleeps with his eyes open; I’m running out of stuff to say. Keep in mind that he doesn’t grant himself the Crusade-like bonus.
22. Otherworldly Journey
Here’s another two-mana White trick. It provides the same functions as Indomitable Will and Candles’ Glow, and it can also remove a key blocker for a turn or, unless I’m mistaken, return a flipped creature to its unflipped state. It can’t prevent damage to you like Glow, and it isn’t as useful in combat as Indomitable Will, but these three cards are more or less interchangeable.
23. Hundred-Talon Kami
The Hundred-Talon Kami is a bit slow, but it’s still a flier. As I mentioned, a lot of White creatures are about the same, so this isn’t that much worse than cards that appear way above it on the list. Can this really be far inferior to the Mothrider Samurai? White doesn’t have too many quality Spirits that this guy can Soulshift back, so that ability fluctuates in usefulness depending on your other color.
24. Kitsune Diviner
This is a nice, cheap tapper, but unfortunately, it can’t attack and it can’t target all creatures. Yes, I know, you could technically attack for zero or pump it with Kodama’s Might, but it doesn’t do anything in combat on its own. I really haven’t done extensive research on the topic, but I imagine this is useful against 40% or less of the creatures in CoK. Your opponent will almost certainly have some spirits, but they may not be the creatures that are causing you the most problems in a given scenario. I can’t deny the usefulness of tappers, especially since this one can lock down the Dragons and other bombs, but I’ll be looking for any excuse to take something that attacks over this.
25. Kami of the Palace Fields
This is very similar to the Hundred-Talon Kami; it’s a decent but overcosted flier with Soulshift tacked on as a bargaining chip. This Kami has a really cool and creepy picture, and it trumps nearly all the fliers and a lot of ground creatures in one-on-one combat, but it does cost six mana, and it does die to Glacial Ray. All told, he’s a perfectly respectable man, but he’s probably a lot better in sealed.
26. Honden of Cleansing Fire
Most of us learned the long, slow, painful way that Sun Droplet is a force to be reckoned with in MDF. Unless your opponent happens to have one, the Honden of Cleansing Fire is superior to Sun Droplet since the two life per turn isn’t conditional on having been damaged. With any other Shrine on your side of the board, this becomes very difficult to race against even if your opponent’s troops are somewhat lacking. I would rather gain two life per turn than deal my opponent one damage per turn, as you can tell by the fact that Lantern Kami is below this on the list. This is not to say I think this is better than the Red shrine, as the Red shrine can clearly damage creatures as well.
27. Kitsune Healer
The reusable ability to prevent one damage to any target, while not nearly as strong as the ability to prevent two damage, has always had a home in Limited Magic. It makes creature-on-creature combat a little more painful for your opponent, and it slows down the bleeding from anything you can’t block. Once in a great while, its second ability may even get activated. Four mana is an awful lot to ask for a simple 2/2, though, so don’t take the Healer too early. Loxodon Anchorite this ain’t.
28. Terashi’s Cry
The most apt comparison for this card is to Panic Attack. You don’t want to see it early and often, but it can be just the kick your deck needs to finish an opponent off. Aggressive decks will definitely want one if they’re short on fliers or removal, but you can definitely leave this in the sideboard if you’d like.
29. Samurai Enforcers
This is a powerful curve-topper and a welcome addition to most decks. Your opponent’s Moss Kami will not be troublesome if you have this on your side of the board. This is as low as it is on the list because it’s fairly expensive for something without evasion, and because of the small power disparities between the cards. If you have six Kami of Ancient Law, you may want to consider taking Enforcers (unless you’re going to try to cheat on land or you’re playing a spirit-themed deck).
30. Hold the Line
This is either pretty good or pretty bad, so I’m doing what any self-respecting Limited writer would do-straddling the fence. If your opponent has multiple attackers and if you have multiple blockers and if those blockers are the same size as or smaller than the attackers, then this card is a powerhouse. Here’s my current stance on this card-it’s a 23rd card if need be, but your best option is to keep it out of the maindeck and board it in against Green and some White decks. Hold the Line follows the time-tested”a little better in sealed, a lot worse in Rochester” formula.
31. Kami of the Painted Road
This 3/3 for five mana is solid, if unspectacular. That’s one of those damned hokey go-to phrases for Magic strategy articles.”Solid, if unspectacular.” Doesn’t it make you ill? Some of my least favorites are”more often than not” and”When it’s good, it’s great.” Granted, I myself have been guilty of the former offense, and man this paragraph was better when I wrote it the first time before my computer crashed, but I really wish Magic strategy articles would stop using those phrases. Get you own s*** and stop riding Gary Wise, or something.
Ah, fudge ya. I’ve been doing this for as long as he has.
This gets better if you have non-White arcane instants, since the White arcane instants probably would have saved it anyway. In a spirit-heavy deck, he can often get in for a few essentially”unblockable” attacks. I had an opponent Lure up an Order of the Sacred Bell and smash into me just to get this off the board. That’s probably more ambitious a fate than you can dream for your Kami of the Painted Road.
32. Lantern Kami
A quality one-drop, the Lantern Kami will usually attack for three or more damage in the air before your opponent can answer it. What makes the Lantern Kami especially good is that it trades with quite a few of Blue’s more expensive, more prestigious common fliers. Even so, it is just a 1/1 creature, so it’s not an early pick.
33. Kitsune Riftwalker
I am not nearly as impressed with this fox as some people. I think it’s better in sealed; for some reason there seem to be more spirits in sealed than draft. Unlike the Kitsune Diviner, this can’t stop Dragons or Moss Kami effectively. It’s only unblockable if your opponent’s untapped creatures are all spirits. You can’t protect it with Candles’ Glow, and if someone really wanted to waste a Yamabushi’s Flame to kill this, he could. Combine all this with the fact that it has double White in the cost and is vastly inferior to the other two white three-drops, and you have the makings of an overrated card.
34. Harsh Deceiver
This card bores me, but it can block Ronin Houndmaster and the like without blinking an eye, so it deserves some respect. Your opponent might be able to tell whether or not you have a land on top of your deck by how you’re playing and plan his attacks accordingly. The Deceiver ability seems like a colossal waste of mana to me, but sometimes the extra damage or the gift of flight can be just what you need to keep momentum on your side. Or whatever.
35. Kami of Old Stone
Kami of Old Stone has one job, and he does it very well-he prevents a ground creature of your choice from damaging you each turn. If your opponent has x/1s, this Kami will likely deter those from attacking entirely. Hopefully, you have some fear guys or fliers to attack your opponent while this guy holds the fort. I’d rather just play all aggressive creatures, but if you don’t have this luxury and/or your deck is more defensive, the Kami of Old Stone is perfectly playable.
36. Kitsune Mystic
You probably won’t be flipping this card, so it will generally be a vanilla 2/3 for four mana. Not impressive. Naturally, this moves up the pick order if you’ve drafted a deck with several good enchant creatures that stand well on their own; unfortunately, there are only about five of those in the set. Putting Cage of Hands on this to flip it and then moving the Cage with Autumn-Tail’s ability doesn’t seem spectacular, but it’s certainly an option.
37. Konda’s Hatamoto
The Hatamoto isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, but it can block bears all day long. If you happen to have two legendary Samurais, as one of my opponents did, this increases in value from”marginal” to”rather good.” If you’re lacking in early game, there’s no shame in playing this even without any legendary Samurais.
38. Devoted Retainer
This may be better than the Hatamoto, since it comes out a turn earlier, and it may be worse, since it trades with bears rather than killing them while itself surviving. There’s also no potential for this to gain extra abilities. Regardless, these Samurais are both borderline cards that go up in value in ultra-aggressive decks, and I wouldn’t stress too much over which one to take if they were in the same pack.
39. Call to Glory
I would play this in a deck with a large amount of Samurais; otherwise I’d leave it in the board. Without the +1/+1 bonus, this card is far too situational. You need to control tapped creatures that are larger than your opponent’s attackers or tapped utility creatures for this to do anything worthwhile. Untapsies never really cut it as a powerful ability in limited. How often did you play just that half of Roar of the Kha to good effect (not counting when you did it right after a Blinding Beam)?
40. Blessed Breath
I would hope not to maindeck this card unless I was fairly certain I’d splice it at least once. It seems like a semi-respectable 23rd card, and I’d board it in against removal-heavy decks. My current consideration for comparison to this card is Razor Barrier, which was maindeck-optional in MDF.
41. Quiet Purity
This is a great sideboard card with all the instachantments and Shrines floating around. You could probably even maindeck it if you notice a lot of powerful enchantments passed around at your draft table, but that’s not the best option unless you’re in a Rochester and you know there will be a few good targets for it in your opponents’ decks. As I mentioned earlier, ideally you’ll pick up a few Kami of Ancient Law and won’t have to consider maindecking (or possibly even sideboarding) this.
I think instant speed targeted removal is better than mass, indiscriminate sorcery speed removal, since your deck is bound to have an enchantment or two. If it doesn’t, or if your opponent has four or more enchantments, this becomes better. Like with the one-power Bushido fellas, this and Quiet Purity are basically the same card, so don’t worry too much about which one you’re drafting for your sideboard.
43. Bushi Tenderfoot
Oh, that Paddlefoot! He funny, silly dog. He think totem pole alive! He Bushi tenderfoot! That totem pole been here forever!
Again, my apologies for my nerdery. You will never flip this card. I’ll say it again. You. Will never. Flip. This card. Kenzo the Hardhearted is a figment of your imagination. [He’s right. Even when you do get a chance to flip it, you will be so surprised that you will play that turn incorrectly and won’t be able to flip the damned thing anyway. – Knut, speaking from numerous cases of experience]
44. Silent-Chant Zubera
In my two-on-two draft, my White opponent and I each played one of these. My deck was spirit tribal featuring two Devouring Greeds and several creatures with spirit c.i.p. triggers, and my opponent was probably short on playables. It’s interesting that a card this bad is actually a fringe playable, but try really hard not to cast this one. It’s the worst of the Zuberas, which isn’t the most noble distinction one can obtain.
45. Ethereal Haze
Your opponent has three creatures, and you have none. You have no cards in your hand. You draw a card and pass the turn. Your opponent turns his men sideways in what would be a lethal attack. You drop Ethereal Haze on the table. He passes the turn. You draw a card. It’s not another Ethereal Haze. You lose. Continue?
46. Pious Kitsune
If I’m paying three mana for a creature, I hope for at least two-power or, barring that, at least three-toughness. The life gain is negligible unless you have an Eight-and-a-Half Tails, and the body is smaller than a standard two-drop’s. A real clunker that you should only play if you have at least Seventeen Tails in your deck.
47. Horizon Seed
Sure, the reusability of the”spirit or arcane” triggers is attractive, but this is a 2/1 for five mana. That’s right, I’d rather have a Pious Kitsune than this piece of crap. Now watch me get destroyed by one on my way to 0-2ing GP: Austin.
48. Reverse the Sands
It’s a powerful effect, but it’s way too expensive. This is like a more situational Biorhythm that’s even harder to cast since it’s not Green.
Rather than allowing one of your creatures to attack and still be back on defense, why not play another creature? You leave yourself open to getting two-for-one’d, and drawing it when you have no guys to put it on is embarrassing.
50. Vassal’s Duty
What can I say about Vassal’s Duty that hasn’t been said about Afghanistan? Even if you had the four legends you would need to make a card that can affect only legends worth playing, the effect doesn’t seem worth the card slot. Maybe if it said”spirit” instead of”legend”…
As promised, for your convenience, here’s the list from above sans uncommons and rares:
Cage of Hands
Kami of Ancient Law
Kami of the Painted Road
Call to Glory
Join me next week when we braid each other’s hair, talk about cute boys, bake chocolate chip cookies, and discuss Champions of Kamigawa Blue for Limited.
Happy happy joy joy
Happy happy joy joy
Happy happy joy joy
Happy happy joy joy
Happy happy joy joy
Happy happy joy joy
Happy happy joy joy joy!!!
The Most Diabolical Hater This Side of the Mississippi
I Don’t Think I’ve Mentioned John Pelcak Yet So I’ll Do It Here to Be Safe
Maka2184 on AIM
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[email protected] (<- and that one's NOT a lie)
Just relax, just relax, just go to sleep…
*That’s actually because I’m shy and antisocial. I don’t really think I’m a”better person” than you.
**I know I’ve been using the phrase”tribal” to make fun of how Wizards is running out of ideas, but I actually do think the whole Spirit/non-Spirit dichotomy is an interesting new twist.
***This quote isn’t remotely relevant, and in fact may be contradictory to the tone of the point I’m trying to make, but it has the word”compare” in it and it’s from Kill Bill 2 and Kill Bill 2 is kickass.