Last updated on September 29, 2023
Grafted Identity | Illustration by Manuel Castañón
Editor’s note: Looking for a MID draft guide with archetype guides? We just published our Ultimate Guide to Midnight Hunt Draft.
I’ve always loved reading set reviews over my 12+ years playing Magic. This time around, I get to write my own! Hopefully it’ll help guide you as you jump into playing Limited with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt.
I’ll be breaking down every single card from the main set of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt for its use in both Sealed and Draft formats. These reviews are based entirely on my initial impressions of each card as a long-standing Limited player. I don’t know the speed of the format or the strength of each color pair yet, so these reviews will naturally change over time.
At some point in the future I’ll come back to this article and see which cards I got right and which ones I got completely wrong. With that being said, let’s jump right in!
To view the card ratings used in the draft simulator and Arena Tutor for Midnight Hunt, click here
Each card will have a rating out of 10 along with a short explanation justifying its rating*. The system I’ll be using is as follows:
- 10: The absolute best of the best. 10s will make a meaningful impact on any game regardless of when you play them and will be extremely tough to beat. Examples: Devil's Play or Olivia Voldaren.
- 8-9: Extremely good cards, usually game-winning bombs and the most efficient removal spells, though not quite good enough to be a 10/10. Examples: Balefire Dragon or Bloodline Keeper.
- 6-7: Important role-players. These are typically going to be the best uncommons that really drive you towards playing a particular color, such as build-arounds and good removal. Examples: Burning Vengeance or Slayer of the Wicked.
- 3-5: The average limited card. Most commons and uncommons will end up in this range and most of your limited decks will be made up mostly of these. Examples: Villagers of Estwald or Spectral Rider.
- 1-2: These cards are generally pretty bad and ideally you won’t play any of them, but they can be good in the right scenario. Examples: Brain Weevil or Fortress Crab.
- 0: Absolutely awful cards. Virtually unplayable in every scenario and you should never put these cards in your deck. Examples: Maw of the Mire or Curse of Exhaustion.
Without further ado, let’s get right down to it!
The Set’s Mechanics
Coven is a keyword that marks abilities that work as long as you control at least three creatures with different powers. Creatures with coven are generally easier to trigger than non-creatures with the keyword since they count themselves towards the required conditions.
Expect creatures with coven to be rated higher than instants and sorceries with coven.
Daybound / Nightbound
The Day/Night cycle refers to the keyworded abilities that allow double-faced werewolves to transform between each of their faces. If it’s Day, a player casting no spells during their turn will change it to Night the next turn. If it’s night, a player casting at least two spells during their turn will cause it to become Day the next turn.
The Day/Night cycle begins when a player plays a “daybound” permanent or a card with an effect that tells you to make it either Day or Night. A daybound/nightbound creature enters the battlefield on the nightbound side while it’s night.
This mechanic is much better than the versions we saw in the original Innistrad and Shadows Over Innistrad sets. Having werewolves enter on their nightbound side at Night means that all of the werewolves will be synchronized to the same faces at all times.
Having the conditions require only the player whose turn it is cast 0 or 2 spells also stops players from being able to cast their own spells to stop their opponent from transforming their permanents. This should make it a lot easier to go from Day to Night and vice versa. There are a number of cards that trigger when this happens so we’ll have to see how easy it is to trigger them.
These tokens are 2/2 creatures. Given that they can’t block and will be sacrificed after they attack, they don’t really equal a full card. The key to evaluating the cards that make these tokens will be figuring out how much of a card they equal. Most effects that create them do so alongside another effect.
There are also a lot of sacrifice effects in this set which synergize nicely with this mechanic. You even have a window to sacrifice them after they’ve attacked, so instant-speed effects are of higher value than usual.
Disturb is an alternate casting cost that appears on some double-faced creatures in the set. It lets you cast the creature from your graveyard for its disturb cost. When you do, the creature enters the battlefield transformed. All of these disturb creatures have a clause that exiles them if they then go to the graveyard.
This is generally a very good mechanic, a sort of flashback for creatures similar to abilities like embalm and eternalize that we’ve seen in the past. Assuming that at least one side of these creatures is strong enough to see play, the card will be excellent for Limited since the lesser side is straight-up value.
Flashback is an alternate casting cost that appears on instants and sorceries. You may cast these spells from your graveyard for their flashback cost. When you do, it’s exiled instead of going back to the graveyard on resolving.
Flashback is an exceptionally strong ability, one that’s made a significant impact on both Limited and Constructed when it’s appeared in the past. In most cases it’s simply a free bonus; a way of getting two shots of the same spell. This free value is usually a big boost in card advantage.
The White Cards
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar certainly packs a punch. Even without other creatures in play Adeline is a 1/4 with vigilance that creates an attacking token whenever it attacks. Not only that but it grows with each token you make.
Adeline doesn’t even need help to win a game. It’s a bit vulnerable to blocks and removal but reminds me a lot of Hero of Bladehold which was one of the best creatures in Limited and Constructed back in the day. I imagine if you see Adeline in your first pack for a draft, you should just take it and be very happy with it.
Ambitious Farmhand / Seasoned Cathar
I love everything about Ambitious Farmhand. It replaces itself immediately, it gets you the second white source you need to activate its transform ability, it does a good job of contributing to coven with a power that you’re less likely to already have. And then we have the endgame of a 3/3 lifelinker which is really tough to beat without removal. Really solid all round.
Beloved Beggar / Generous Soul
Vanilla 0/4 creatures typically don’t cut it in Limited, but 0/4s that can later become Serra Angels sounds absolutely absurd. Beloved Beggar can stick around to absorb a bunch of damage and eventually chump block later down the line to get set up for being cast out of the graveyard.
Beggar’s biggest downside is that there’s a good chance that it simply won’t die when you cast it. Your opponent might fly over it or never play a 4-power creature for you to chump block. If you can find any sacrifice outlets to kill it off on your terms, its value increases considerably.
Bereaved Survivor / Dauntless Avenger
I don’t like how underpowered Bereaved Survivor is before it transforms. Even when it does transform it’s not guaranteed to do anything. Reanimating a 2-drop is a good ability, but you can’t even be sure that a 3/2 will be able to attack profitably.
Lifelink is nice on Blessed Defiance, but creating a 1/1 spirit token isn’t a great exchange for not saving your creature in combat. Probably not worth playing at all.
A Banishing Light functional reprint is still a Banishing Light. Borrowed Time will probably be one of white’s best and most flexible removal spells. All I’ll say about it is that enchantment removal is a lot more prevalent these days, so these kinds of cards aren’t quite as impervious as they once were. It’s a great removal spell and one I’m happy to put into any deck.
Brutal Cathar / Moonrage Brute
Banisher Priest would be an easy 7 so Brutal Cathar looks like an awesome card. It’s easier to cast and has a big upside in being able to transform into a more effective attacker. If you’re really lucky you may even get to exile multiple creatures, at which point you really are getting rewarded.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a Banisher Priest during Night with the way that Day/Night work in this set so it’s a little bit more situational than usual. I still don’t think that’s likely to matter too much.
Candlegrove Witch seems like a really strong creature for any white aggro deck. A 2-drop 2/2 with upside is always good. When that upside is that it sometimes has flying, it’s even better. This is likely to be one of the better white creatures in the format.
Candletrap is a weird take on your usual Pacifism. On one hand costing just a single is a nice bonus but allowing the creature to still block isn’t nothing. If you put this on a big creature it can still act as a wall, reducing the effectiveness of your attacks.
That being said, being able to exile the creature when you have coven active helps. I think this is likely going to be much worse than Pacifism overall, but it’s probably still fine removal. It’s especially good on smaller creatures that won’t be able to brick wall your team.
Cathar Commando has a few things going on. A vanilla 3/1 with flash is already a fine card, giving it the flexibility to ambush creatures in combat or let you leave mana open. Throwing on the ability to destroy artifacts and enchantments is a sweet bonus.
Flash also has extra functionality in the set as it helps you trigger the Day/Night cycle. Flash creatures let you pass the turn casting no spells to change Day to Night to then cast your creature on your opponent’s turn. All in all this looks like a great 2-drop for your white decks.
I really don’t like auras in Limited. They have a laundry list of downsides and rarely do enough to make up for them. Only granting vigilance isn’t enough to turn your creature into a better threat and Cathar's Call has to have been in play for at least three turns to have made enough tokens to be good enough. Just don’t bother with this one; it’s destined for the bulk pile.
Celestus Sanctifier is a mediocre creature with a largely irrelevant ability. It’s little more than a vanilla 3/2 for three mana but some decks may want those so it won’t be completely unplayable.
Chaplain of Alms / Chapel Shieldgeist
I just don’t like Chaplain of Alms. Neither side is particularly good. Usually you can take two below-rate creatures and giving you a card that has the option of either or both of them is a good card. I just don’t see that happening here and I think you can do better.
Four mana for a 3/3 and a 1/1 like Ambassador Oak is a really good deal, though one that has waned a bit in recent sets. Clarion Cathars does work pretty well with coven, though, so I’ve bumped up its rating. I think this will be a great card for a lot of decks.
Curse of Silence
Curse of Silence is a constructed plant and nothing more. You should never put this in your Limited deck. Even if you know a good card to name that’s a big “if” to get right just for a white cantrip.
I’m pretty low on Duelcraft Trainer. As far as payoffs go granting double strike to your other creatures is a good bonus, but a 3/3 first strike on its own is pretty unimpressive. I’m sure it’ll play out fine but this is the kind of card that I’m just not happy to play.
Enduring Angel / Angelic Enforcer
Enduring Angel looks like it’s going to have a very nasty effect on board states. It’s a must-kill that’s impossible to race. Simply put, your chances of losing the game decrease considerably when this resolves. in the casting cost is a little rough but getting to cast this on six or seven mana where it’s more likely is still powerful.
It may not seem like killing a creature and giving your opponent a Clue in return is that good of a deal, but the flexibility of killing any creature or planeswalker makes Fateful Absence worth using. You don’t want to kill any random dorky creatures with it but having a surefire way to kill bomb rares is excellent. Like Declaration in Stone before it, this should definitely be good enough to see a lot of play.
Flare of Faith
2-mana for +2/+2 is just not good enough to grab my attention. +3/+3 and indestructible is a bit better so Flare of Faith is more appealing if you have a lot of humans in your deck. You’ll be hard-pressed to find enough humans to warrant this card’s inclusion into your deck in most cases, though.
As a start, a 3-mana 3/3 with ward 1 is very good. On top of that you get a free trigger for doing pretty much nothing so long as you’re switching from Day to Night or vice versa. White looks like it has a nice aggro deck available with coven so it’s not hard to imagine a deck where Gavony Dawnguard has lots of hits to find. This card only needs to draw once to provide excellent value.
Gavony Silversmith has got to be one of the best white commons. Back in M21 Basri's Acolyte was the best white common by a wide margin. While this new version doesn’t have lifelink it’s easier to cast and has the ability to put counters on itself.
But the biggest upgrade is how well Silversmith works with coven. Assuming you have two other creatures on the battlefield you can use these counters to manipulate the powers in play to make sure you have three different ones. If you’re planning on running white you definitely want to be playing this.
White’s “tapper” creatures like Master Decoy and Benalish Trapper have always played well in Limited, basically functioning as removal spells that keep your opponent’s best creatures from attacking. While two mana is a bit much to activate Gavony Trapper, being a 1-drop and having 0 power are both advantages in this format.
0 power counts towards coven and is the one that you’re the least likely to have in play. This is bound to be good enough to make it one of the better white commons, if not the best.
Equipments live and die by the size of their equip costs and Hedgewitch's Mask is just too much to justify a +1/+1 bonus and a really underwhelming evasion ability. There might be a deck that wants this but my guess is that you can usually do better.
I’m not a fan of cards like Homestead Courage but I can’t help but notice the similarities it shares with Travel Preparations which ended up being the best common in Midnight Hunt. Being able to put your counters anywhere is great to enable coven plus being cheap enough to cast and then also flashback in the same turn should let you have a great combat step at the same time. It’s possible that your aggro white deck wants this.
At two mana you get a 3/1 with lifelink which is decent. At four mana you’re now 4/2 lifelinker that buffs your whole team. I believe the sweet spot for Intrepid Adversary will be at six mana where a +2/+2 bonus to all of your creatures is usually more than enough to swing the outcome of a game.
If you draw this with access to eight or even ten mana then we’re getting into the realm of silly effects on the board state. Intrepid isn’t that great when you’re really behind since it gets better the more creatures you have in play but a large lifelinker is still good to help you get back into things. Either way the choice between a solid 2-mana creature or a variety of other potential sizes makes this a very powerful mythic.
A simple Wind Drake (3-mana 2/2 with flying) would already be a good card. Throw on flash and the ability to save one of your creatures from removal and you have a really nifty card. I’ve always liked Whitemane Lion and other similar cards, so Loyal Gryff is a winner in my books.
Lunarch Veteran / Luminous Phantom
I have to assume that Soul Warden with an extra disturb mode after it dies is a good card, but I don’t see any Ajani's Pridemates or other life gain triggers to synergize with Lunarch Veteran, hence the lower rating.
Mourning Patrol / Morning Apparition
Both sides of Mourning Patrol are a little small but not embarrassingly so. This looks to me like a fine average playable that you won’t be disappointed to put in your deck.
I’m not sure how easily you can prioritize a 2/4 for four mana in an aggro deck, but it does look like we have the makings of an Orzhov sacrifice deck where Odric's Outrider will fit in very nicely. This card could represent a hefty amount of stats if left in play for a few turns even in an aggro deck. It requires a bit of effort on your part but this does look strong.
Not a bad 3-drop, certainly a better one than Celestus Sanctifier. Lifelink is really good at winning races, making Ritual Guardian a great card in a low-curve aggro deck. You’ll definitely want this as long as you can reliably get coven to work.
Ritual of Hope
Cards like Ritual of Hope aren’t usually that strong. You just don’t have a lot of room in your deck for cards that don’t permanently affect the board. Inspired Charge has had its moments for sure, but a situational one feels like it won’t be good enough to see play.
Search Party Captain
We just saw how good Priest of Ancient Lore was in Forgotten Realms draft and I’d be happy to play Search Party Captain even if it didn’t have the ability to reduce its cost. Casting this for three or two mana sounds like a great deal but casting it for one mana is just ludicrous.
If this is the kind of card WotC wants to print to make white a better color then I’m all for it. I love cards like this and you should too.
I’m really not sure what to make of Sigarda's Splendor. It’s hard to figure out at first glance but what it basically says is this: At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card if your life total isn’t lower than it was on your last upkeep. On top of that you gain one life each time you cast a white spell.
I really like cards that let you draw an extra card each turn but I don’t know how easy it will be to trigger it. If you can force a board stall then this will do a great job breaking it through raw card advantage but it won’t do anything for you if you’re behind. I’ll have to play with it to figure it out more but it has the potential to be really powerful.
Sigardian Savior doesn’t feel very mythic to me but it’s absurdly powerful in Limited. Just a few sets ago we got to see how powerful Shepherd of the Cosmos was and this is significantly more powerful. Getting three bodies for one spell is great especially to enable coven. Granted you need to have those bodies in your graveyard already but that doesn’t seem too difficult to accomplish in the right deck.
We’ve seen vanilla 3/4 flying creatures in white do some good work in the past with cards like Shining Aerosaur and Prized Griffin being solid picks in their respective formats. Exiling a card in a graveyard is a nice bonus especially with all these flashback and disturb cards running around, so I can see Soul-Guide Gryff being a solid curve-topper if you need one.
Removal spells like Sungold Barrage aren’t usually very good. This one seems destined to stay in the sideboard, waiting for the right matchup. I’d run one in Sealed since you see a lot more rares in a Sealed deck and many of them have four toughness or more.
Sungold Sentinel is an interesting 2-drop that isn’t likely to set the world on fire but it probably does enough work to be one of the better ones you can find. This easily goes up to a six in the right deck where you can reliably activate its protection ability, and getting to exile flashback or disturb cards is definitely a relevant ability in this format.
I love Sunset Revelry for Constructed, not for Limited. It’s certainly plausible to imagine you’ll get two tokens off it a lot of the time but that’s the only mode we care about here. This will do nothing enough of the time that I don’t think it’s worth playing.
Back in the original Innistrad, Urgent Exorcism was surprisingly useful and made main decks more often than I figured it would. Thraben Exorcism likely has enough targets to be a potent sideboard card. Depending on how good blue and white end up being in the format it wouldn’t be strange to assume this might also end up in main decks.
Unruly Mob is a nice, fun reprint. It’s appeared in both Innistrad and Shadows Over Innistrad so it’s kinda fun to see it back here with the same artwork. The card isn’t all that great unfortunately.
It’s in the weird space of being a 2-drop that’s bad on turn 2. The card can definitely have its moments, especially if you play it right before a big alpha strike where you trade off a few creatures. This time around it does have the Orzhov sacrifice theme going for it as well as decayed zombies dying a lot so it’ll likely be better this time round.
Vanquish the Horde
Wrath effects can certainly be hit or miss in Limited. They only work well if you can get your opponent to overextend before pulling the trigger on them and Vanquish the Horde gives you a nice bonus for doing that. At six mana you can kill two creatures which isn’t terrible. Its cost starts going down very quickly assuming you have a creature or two in play.
The ideal scenario is getting down to the sweet cost of just where you’ll undoubtedly have enough mana left over to rebuild. Being the first player to cast a new creature after a board wipe is a huge advantage. All in all this is likely to be a more effective sweeper than most, and one that you’ll be happy to jam into all but the most aggressive decks.
The Blue Cards
Baithook Angler / Hook-Haunt Drifter
Component Collector is a cute card but not one that I think is all that good. While you have some amount of control over when the Day/Night cycle changes, I think you’ll find it won’t work when you really want it to.
You’ll have situations in the late game where it’s Night and you won’t have two spells to cast to get your trigger. Or it’ll be Day and you really need to cast a spell to catch up. This might be a fine control card but it’ll be risky to rely on it.
Opt is a card with a checkered past in Limited formats. It excelled in some sets and flopped in others. Here we have Consider, a small upgrade to the card in a set that will likely really want it. There are heavy instant/sorcery themes as well as flashback and disturb cards that want to be put into the graveyard. I think it’s likely that this will be one of the better blue commons as it fuels all of these archetypes.
Covetous Castaway / Ghostly Castigator
I think Covetous Castaway looks like a really good package for the inevitable self-mill deck in this format. A 1/3 for two isn’t going to do a lot on the board but the ability to mill yourself and later disturb it makes it worth casting as a chump blocker. It’s also great to get milled by other cards as a big threat later in the game. The ability to shuffle spells back into your library also goes so well with that strategy and this looks like a really well-designed card that I’m excited to play with.
Curse of Surveillance
Curse of Surveillance has a lot of text to do with Curses which isn’t going to be relevant, but the key thing to note is that the effect counts itself. That means this is a 5-mana enchantment that lets you draw an extra card each turn. Honden of Seeing Winds is a very powerful card in the right deck and I expect this to be the same.
Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration
Oh dear, oh dear. Delver of Secrets is one of the most overrated cards in Magic’s history in my opinion. Players hear about how good and format-defining it’s been in the past and assume it’s just amazing. It’s incredibly powerful in Legacy but only because Ponder and Brainstorm exist. Delver is bad in Modern, was bad in Standard after Ponder rotated, and even got usurped by “Delverless Delver” decks when it was still being played.
How good is it in Limited? It’s absolutely awful. Delver is a vanilla 1/1 that has about a 25% chance of transforming into a Moon Heron. It’s always been a card that’s only as good as the cards around it and you just won’t be able to support it enough in a draft deck. Even if you can support it, you can’t guarantee it transforms early enough to be relevant. Every turn that Delver doesn’t transform is painful and it’s just too big of a risk to take for not much of a payoff.
Don’t get me wrong, I own a sweet playset of Japanese Delvers and I’ve used them to win Legacy tournaments here in the UK. But if I had to guess, I’ll never put it in a deck outside of Legacy and I certainly won’t be drafting it any time soon.
We last saw Devious Cover-Up in Guilds of Ravnica where it overperformed to the point where two of them functioned as a viable win condition for a control deck. Given how powerful the spells deck looks this time around I’ll go ahead and say I think it’ll be just as good here. Use one to shuffle the other back into your deck and rinse and repeat so you never deck out and your opponent never resolves spells. It’s pure Magic the way it was intended to be played.
Each set we have to ask, “Is Cancel good in this format?” Usually I’d put it at a 2 or 3 out of 10. I’m guessing that there’ll be a good spell-based deck in this format so it’s very possible that deck will want Dissipate. Nabbing flashback and disturb cards is a nice upside but I’m far more interested in picking up Devious Cover-Ups for my control decks, so this card won’t be valued too highly.
You can probably do better. Most decks don’t need more than one or two 5-drops so you can probably pick up one better than Drownyard Amalgam. Like Wormhole Serpent out of Strixhaven, this will probably just disappoint you.
Fading Hope has to be the worst name in the set because my hopes are certainly not fading when I read the card. I love Unsummon effects when I draft so I’ll definitely take a strict upgrade on it. They require effort to get value from but that value can be incredibly high.
Bounce one of your opponent’s creatures to swing a double block in your favor, save one of your creatures from a removal spell, reuse an enters the battlefield trigger, and so many more applications make me really excited for this. Plus it was Draftsim’s exclusive preview card for this set!
Do you like Wind Drakes with upsides? I certainly do. Falcon Abomination reminds me a lot of Aven Eternal which ended up being one of the best blue commons in War of the Spark. I don’t see this card being any less good.
Maybe I’m missing something here but it doesn’t seem like Firmament Sage is very likely to trigger a lot. It’s an undersized creature that’s easy to kill and isn’t guaranteed to draw you cards. You could play this and then not cast any spells on your next turn and draw a card then. That’s a whole turn cycle it has to survive while not being big enough to get into most combats. A lot has to go right for you to just draw a card or two and it does nothing else.
Flip the Switch
Convolute isn’t all that unreasonable but not likely to be a card that every deck wants. Getting a decayed zombie out of the deal is definitely a good upside, but not enough to push Flip the Switch much higher than an average common.
Galedrifter / Waildrifter
Like I said with Fading Hope, I love Unsummon effects. Disperse has often been a fine card to pick up and one that rewards you when you use it to save your own (possibly even disturb) creature is something I’m very interested in.
Control Magic variants are always very strong in Limited. Not only do you remove an opponent’s creature but you gain one, making it a very simple 2-for-1. Is it still good if you have to sacrifice a creature as a cost making it just a 2-for-2 exchange? Yes, definitely.
Grafted Identity is a way for a blue deck to deal with any creature it needs to and you’re likely to have some spare bodies lying around thanks to all the decayed zombie tokens in the set. The rating on this could very well be higher in the right deck with plenty of sacrificial lambs to throw at it but this is still going to be strong in most decks.
1/3 creatures aren’t all that useful especially when they can’t attack. The ability to surveil when you’re not attacking with your creatures is also not that useful so I don’t see Larder Zombie being any good.
Lier, Disciple of the Drowned
Lier, Disciple of the Drowned gives your opponent a simple ultimatum: kill me immediately or lose the game. You can’t do anything with your counterspells but getting to reuse all of your removal spells is where this card shines. At five mana you’re not too likely to get to cast a removal spell on the same turn as Lier but you’ve already been paid off if you do. Untapping with Lier is nothing short of game breaking. This is probably one of the best payoffs for the spells deck that you’re likely to find.
Locked in the Cemetery
Claustrophobia variants are fine in Limited but they’re very good when they cost two mana like Unquenchable Thirst or Winter's Rest. Even if you don’t have the five or more cards in your graveyard to tap the creature down, the fail case is that you can put Locked in the Cemetery on an already-tapped creature. This is likely going to be one of the better blue commons in the set.
Malevolent Hermit / Benevolent Geist
Malevolent Hermit can be very annoying for your opponent whenever you leave blue mana open. A counterspell they can see coming is something they can play around but it’ll make things difficult for them. Being a 2/1 it can also trade off for cheap creatures and then come back as a Wind Drake later which is a huge bonus. This won’t be the most exciting rare to open but it looks very solid.
Getting to draw the best two cards out of your top four is a great effect and one that makes for a decent Limited card. Give it flashback with a stronger effect the second time round and you have an absurd card. Assuming you can control a game enough to have the time to go digging for more cards Memory Deluge is probably one of the best effects you can find.
Mysterious Tome / Chilling Chronicle
I have to love an artifact that can draw me a card every other turn. Mysterious Tome has the potential to do a lot of work in a good control deck. This isn’t as good as Icy Manipulator which we should all be thankful for. Only being able to Icy something every other turn is definitely a downside, but getting to draw extra cards on those other turns likely makes up for it.
Faerie Duelist was probably my most drafted common out of Ravnica Allegiance, so switch its power and toughness around for just one extra mana and I’m still up for it. You can use Nebelgast Intruder to ambush an attacking creature or shrink a blocker to help you win a combat. This is practically a Flametongue Kavu with flying if you can set up the right scenario. At worst it’s a 2/1 with flying and flash which is also a fine card. I’ll likely draft a lot of these and I think you should, too.
Now this is a build-around! I’m having some weird feelings of déja vu from this time last year looking at Roost of Drakes and my jaw dropping. I love Limited build-arounds and Ominous Roost looks awesome. The birds not being very good blockers is a knock on it for sure, but getting a trigger right away and then triggering again every time you cast a disturb or flashback spell means I can see this getting out of hand very quickly. This is the card you want to pick up and go all-in on as your win condition in a flashback deck.
Organ Hoarder looks great and will likely play a key role in a few different decks. A zombie that cantrips when it enters and also fills the graveyard for flashback and disturb decks means there’s likely not a single blue deck that won’t want this.
I’m sure some people might look at Otherworldly Gaze and think it’s worth playing but it really isn’t. Index effects have always been spectacularly unplayable and giving them flashback doesn’t change that. Dream Twist was borderline playable in Innistrad for the self-mill combo decks so this isn’t quite a flat 0 from me but you’ll lose games more often if you put this into an average deck.
Overwhelmed Archivist / Archive Haunt
The base rate on Overwhelmed Archivist is really good. A 3-mana 3/2 that loots on entering is a decent card and adding on a disturb cost, even for a fairly mediocre creature on the back, makes this a pretty good card overall.
Air Elemental is still decent at six mana and one that sets you up with a spell to cast the following turn sounds really sweet to me. Phantom Carriage is likely going to be the best top-end creature for your blue decks, especially if you’re Azorius with lots of good disturb creatures.
Poppet Stitcher / Poppet Factory
Poppet Stitcher has to be one of the coolest spell payoffs I’ve seen in quite some time. It has the potential to overwhelm any opponent with decayed zombies and being able to transform into the Factory to stop all of those tokens from sacrificing themselves is huge. The only reason I’m not rating it higher is that it does need a good amount of spells to work so you can’t just stick it in any deck. But if you see it early I’d advise you take the Stitcher and build around it.
Revenge of the Drowned
Revenge of the Drowned seems like it’ll be a good, solid removal spell for blue. Spinning a creature to the top or bottom of your opponent’s deck is a pretty effective way to remove it as Aether Gust has proven in Constructed for the last couple of years. Getting a decayed zombie token out of the deal pushes this up to top-tier common removal for me.
Secrets of the Key
Secrets of the Key seems fine but that’s about it. For one mana I’d like to draw a card and then draw two cards at four mana, but instead I have to pay extra mana on both halves to crack my Clues. Given that it’s a flashback spell that doesn’t affect the board it’s definitely a card I’ll enjoy casting but I don’t have very high hopes for this unless the flashback deck is very good.
Shipwreck Sifters doesn’t look like anything special to me. Looting on entering the battlefield is a fine effect but only getting buffed when you do something you don’t normally want to do isn’t great. Discarding spells is never desirable, even if you can cast them from the graveyard later. Most of the time you’d much rather cast them normally and have them die first.
We’ve already seen how easy it is to create decayed zombies. Skaab Wrangler is a great payoff that helps you use them to great effect without attacking. It’s not unreasonable to imagine having a bunch of zombies in play, tapping two or even three creatures down on your opponent’s turn, and then untapping and tapping maybe one more before getting in an unblocked attack.
I’ll admit, Sludge Monster has me stumped. One the one hand, if it dies to a removal spell it won’t have had any lasting impact on the game. But on the other hand, it can dominate the board if it doesn’t die. By the time it gets to attack it’s already incapacitated two creatures on the board and it’s hard for 2/2 creatures to reliably take down a 5/5 in combat.
A multi-block opens up the possibilities for blowouts by removal and combat tricks. My best guess is this is a strong card but it’s vulnerable to a lot of removal spells. Granted that’s not enough to make it a bad card, but exactly where on the scale it falls I’m not sure. I’ll make the assumption that it’s good and then see how it plays out.
Spectral Adversary is only a little better than Loyal Gryff, but better nonetheless. A 2/1 flier for just two mana is a great card in Limited and it gets a little bigger and saves a creature at four. Like the other Adversary cards, a different picture starts to form when you start kicking them multiple times.
Saving two or more creatures at a time could be useful but it’s not likely to come up in Limited. You could use this ability to phase out your opponent’s creatures and get a big attack in. This combination of possible modes adds up to a pretty alluring card to me.
Let me get this straight; I have a combat trick that lets me beat a creature in combat and also creates a zombie token and even lets me draw a card to replace it? Sure, I might be overrating Startle a little bit, but I really love tricky little cards like this. All I want to know is, where do I sign? Get this in my deck right now!
Stormrider Spirit is a fairly mediocre creature but not a particularly embarrassing one if you have a home for it. Flash is good in this set, letting you pass without casting a spell more often to trigger the Day/Night cycle. Most of the time this’ll just be a bit too small for the mana you’re spending.
Suspicious Stowaway / Seafaring Werewolf
In the daytime Suspicious Stowaway is basically just Looter il-Kor, a card good enough to make it in Legacy and Vintage cubes. But at Night I’m very interested in this. A 2/1 unblockable Scroll Thief is just absurd.
If you cast Stowaway on turn 2 and your opponent has no 2-drop it immediately transforms. Then you get to hit and draw a card on turn 3 and your opponent won’t be double-spelling any time soon since they had no 2-drop. Turn 2 Stowaway is probably one of the most dangerous opening plays in the format alongside the other 2-mana werewolves and one of the reasons that I’ll be prioritizing 2-drops when I draft the set.
I have a feeling this rating might surprise a lot of people. Triskaidekaphile looks very gimmicky and designed for Commander or kitchen table play. But if you ignore the first two abilities what you actually have is a 1/3 Azure Mage, a card which was one of the best uncommons in M12 and even made a splash in Constructed.
If you have the time to activate this effect a few times then you can easily win a game. If the format is too fast, though, it’ll be unplayable. I’m going to go ahead and say that I hope we live in a world where this card is good so my rating is speculative based on that. But if the format is fast, this card is likely a 2/10 at best.
Unblinking Observer looks like a good little enabler for a spells deck and one that I’ll be happy to play with. I’d rather it was less vulnerable to removal like Vodalian Arcanist was but I’ll still take a nice mana dork that can rumble in the red zone if it needs to.
Sacrificing a creature is a really high cost to cast a spell but there are lots of expendable zombie tokens floating about so I don’t think Vivisection is too bad. Concentrate is an absurd Magic card so if you have access to it at the cost of sacrificing a token you got for free off another spell, that seems good enough to me.
The Black Cards
Arrogant Outlaw is basically a textbook definition of a 4/10. A 3-drop 3/2 with a minor upside is usually what I want in an aggro deck and I definitely want this. The life loss clause shouldn’t be too difficult to meet if you’re aggressive and a 3/2 for three isn’t all that embarrassing even if you can’t. Perfectly solid little card.
Baneblade Scoundrel / Baneclaw Marauder
There’s a reason we don’t see flanking printed anymore. It’s a very punishing mechanic especially against double blocks. That being said, Baneblade Scoundrel isn’t much more than a vanilla creature that’s just a little hard to block. It’s good but nothing too special. The nightbound side only gets some minor upgrades over the daybound side so there’s not a lot to get excited about.
I’m not sure why the vampires on Innistrad are so interested in helping out the warlocks, but this works really well to enable coven. That might be relevant if you’re in Orzhov or Golgari but Bat Whisper looks like a nice aggressive card that gives you two bodies for the price of one outside of that and that looks like a good enough deal to me.
When Bladebrand first showed up in Ravnica Allegiance it looked like the latest in a long line of disappointing combat tricks for black. It turned out to be really good and often a high draft pick to the surprise of many players. We have a bunch of throwaway creatures in black in this format which likely makes this a good card again.
We’ve seen Dark Bargain and other similar cards do well in recent formats, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blood Pact do well, too. Being able to cast it on turn 3 means it also helps you find important land drops for future turns. I don’t think every deck will want this, but enough of them will love it.
-5/-5 for three mana is a really good rate on a removal spell. Having the flexibility to wipe away a bunch of tokens means Bloodline Culling will be a great card in any deck that plays it.
I’m very interested in a sizable flying creature for black’s top end, especially one with a nice upside to go with it. Cards like Mardu Skullhunter have had great success in previous sets so there’s no reason to believe Bloodtithe Collector won’t also be strong. Discarding a card is an ability that becomes less useful later in the game but this is a strong finisher even without that.
Champion of the Perished
I love this little throwback to the original Champion of the Parish. Champion of the Perished looks very solid, though it does have the major drawback of getting worse the later you draw it. The multiple zombie token makers in the set lead me to believe that this is going to be big enough to warrant playing even in the mid-late game. Not to mention that playing it on turn 1 in a zombie deck makes it a must-kill in a matter of just a few turns.
Covert Cutpurse / Covetous Geist
These effects from recent sets like Jarl of the Forsaken and Manticore have been pretty hit or miss. Not having flash is a big downside but I think that balances out by having a disturb cost. Covert Cutpurse may not have flash but we do have a lot of decayed zombies that want to attack and try their luck with blockers, so the threat of having this postcombat does help you get away with an otherwise unprofitable attack.
Crawl from the Cellar
If Crawl from the Cellar was nothing more than just a Raise Dead with flashback I’d have been sold on it. Chuck in a couple of +1/+1 counters and you have something I want to prioritize. It can only buff zombies, true, but even your average vampire deck is probably going to have one or two zombies lying around. And like I said, I already loved this as Raise Dead with flashback.
Curse of Leeches / Leeching Lurker
So long as it’s Night, Curse of Leeches is a 3-mana 4/4 lifelinker which is a nasty deal to get. The curse side isn’t so good, but draining for a guaranteed one life per turn isn’t completely irrelevant. You really want this to be nightbound as often as possible which I think isn’t too difficult to control. Not casting spells is a lot easier than casting multiple spells in the same turn, so I can see this being worthwhile.
Flavor Rating: 10/10
My brother saw this card and asked me, “What would be the best name for a card that hasn’t been printed yet?” When I couldn’t think of an answer, he showed me this freshly spoiled card. In case you’ve never seen this word before it’s a verb meaning “to throw (someone) out of a window.”
I’m very happy that Defenestrate looks to be very strong. Sadly a lot of bomb rares have flying and you really want your black removal to be able to kill them, but this can still kill most creatures in the set and all for the low cost of . Plus being an instant is a nice buff. Love it, love everything about it.
Even my most conservative guesstimates on the value of these tokens suggest that Diregraf Horde is a great deal. If you exile some relevant cards from a graveyard then the potential value here is off the charts. Not to mention that it provides you with three whole zombies in one go which is great for the Cryptbreaker-style cards in the set. A lot of decks aren’t too happy to play many 5-drops but this looks like one of the best ones I’ve seen at common in a long time.
Dreadhound reminds me a lot of Syr Konrad, the Grim and he ended up being extremely powerful, even in a high-powered limited environment like Throne of Eldraine. Dreadhound being a 6-mana 6/6 as a starter means it can rumble with some of green’s biggest creatures and it makes combat very awkward for your opponent, dealing them damage even when they’re forced into chump blocking or trading off creatures. It’s not often that black gets good 6-drops like this but even an aggro deck is going to be tempted by this.
I’m so glad to see Duress reprinted in this set since it was going to be rotating out of Standard otherwise. But the card is garbage in Limited. The chance of hitting something is far too low. The only reason it gets a 1 from me is that I could see there being some spell decks with very high spell counts in them. Even then the chance of missing is too high to make this worth playing.
We have our typical common black removal spell. Like Spark Harvest before it, the base rate on this is 3BB to exile any creature as a Sorcery. That’s pretty good, especially when you also have the option to play this for the Bone Splinters mode. You also have plenty of throwaway tokens to sacrifice which makes this a good deal in any deck, no matter which mode you’re more likely to use.
Ecstatic Awakener / Awoken Demon
I think this looks like a nice, synergistic card. The best application is being able to sacrifice a Decayed Zombie after attacking with it, trading it in for a card and making this a 4/4. Only costing four mana total to get a 4/4 and an extra card while sacrificing a creature seems like something you really want to be doing. Plus, being a one drop means you can transform this as early as turn 3 if things go right for you. All in all, just a very nice card for your sacrifice decks.
I like an Annihilate as much as the next limited player, but this one is a bit restrictive for my tastes. Being a sorcery and only killing a few creatures means you won’t find many opportunities to cast this, but if you do it will be very good. You’ll probably want one of these, but not the second one.
This looks like quite a strong card to me, but I’m a little skeptical of it. Decayed Zombies are quite weak and not likely equal to a whole card of value, so how many tokens does this card need to make before it’s been worth it. My guess is that at two, it’s an average card, and at three or more, it’s looking good. It may trigger when you kill opposing creatures, but due to only triggering once per turn, you will only get a single token if you trade off creatures in combat. I find this just a bit too slow and infrequent at providing value and it’s also a terrible late-game topdeck, so I doubt this will be a particularly dominant card. Though it is a sweet one, so I’d love to be proven wrong.
Gisa, Glorious Resurrector
Gisa is a pretty sweet card. Exiling creatures that die is not too bad of an effect and then getting all of those creatures on your next turn for free is a huge bonus. You can play her before a combat and your opponent is put in an incredibly difficult position. They can either block and trade off, giving you a new army next turn, or let through more damage than they’d like. If they don’t have removal for Gisa, she will inevitably dominate a game. Especially if you have some removal for their creatures too.
Graveyard Trespasser / Graveyard Glutton
Here we have a really aggressively-sized creature with a relevant ability for a graveyard-themed set. What really pushes this over the edge for me is the really dumb Ward cost of having to discard a card. For your opponent to kill this, they have to 2-for-1 themselves. This means they’re heavily incentivized to try dealing with it in combat, giving you an edge with regards to knowing when to use your own removal or combat tricks. We just saw Westgate Regent in AFR with the same Ward ability and it was one of the best rares in the set. This just looks like a great card for any deck that wants it.
Heirloom Mirror / Inherited Fiend
I think this is a good enabler for a few different decks. Looting for one mana is a good deal, plus the extra card milled can make a big difference for self-mill decks. Unlike other enablers, it actually does something later on by turning into a very real threat that can dominate the game. Yep, seems good to me.
I do like cheap Deathtouch creatures in limited. I’m not used to them having upsides though. I can see this being a very high pick for black decks, much like Deathbloom Thallid has been. This can instead trade off with any creature it can block, likely making it more useful.
Ok, here we go. Simple and to the point, this card is awesome. Killing any creature in the set for just two mana is a sweet deal. I would just point out that the loss of life is a very real drawback. A lot of the time it won’t matter, especially when you’re killing a big bomb rare, but this card is going to be significantly worse at killing small creatures than your average Doom Blade would be, and sometimes you’ll be on too low a life total to cast it at all. All in all though, that’s not enough to take away from the flexibility and efficiency of the card.
Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
This is a hard one for me to evaluate, mostly because it’s hard to know how good a 2/2 with Decayed really is. What I do know is that getting a free token every turn is a sweet deal, especially as they have a built-in sacrifice option to make it so that you won’t have one around on your end step very often, allowing this to trigger frequently. I’m aiming high on this one for now, especially because of how good Ophiomancer can be in cube, but I could certainly end up being wrong on it.
Jerren, Corrupted Bishop / Ormendahl, the Corrupter
The base rate of a 2/3 plus a 1/1 token for just three mana is never going to be bad. I suppose the question we must ask is how likely we are to get to Ormendahl, the Corrupter. On one hand, getting to exactly 13 life doesn’t seem impossible, given that Jerren’s abilities let us both gain and lose life in increments of 1, so we have a good amount of control over our life total. However, having to pay 4BB to transform it is quite restrictive, especially as that means you won’t be able to cast other spells or activate Jerren’s Lifelink ability in the same turn. My rating is largely based on a 2/3 that creates a 1/1 and then pays you off when your humans die and can randomly give them Lifelink. I don’t think Ormendahl’s transformation is that likely to happen, but if it does, then you’re going to win that game.
Lord of the Forsaken
A 6-mana 6/6 with flying and trample would probably already be an 8 for me. Throw in the ability to Channel out your flashback and disturb spells and you have a pretty powerful mythic. Depending on how many creatures you have available to sacrifice to it, you could also deck out your opponent for an instant kill, making this card one very strong package.
Mask of Griselbrand
This has so many applications in this format I hardly know where to start. Equip this to any creature and you can win most damage races. Have the creature die and you can draw a fresh hand to rebuild with. You can equip this to Decayed Zombie tokens and they will sacrifice themselves, letting you cash them in for new cards. While this does cost a lot of mana to cast and equip, Flying and Lifelink is an extremely potent combination that can swing any race in your favor.
The Meathook Massacre
This looks like a really absurd mythic to me. You have a sweeper that drains your opponent while restoring your life? I’m in. You could technically cast it for just BB and have an enchantment in play that can drain your opponent when your creatures die. That’s not a very likely mode for this card, but the fact that it’s there is just another sweet bonus.
Even if this can only trigger once per turn, we really never see this kind of effect lower than rare. With the black/white sacrifice archetype and the Decayed Zombie tokens, a lot of creatures die in this set, so while some decks won’t want this, others probably will.
Like I keep saying, sacrificing a creature doesn’t seem like the hardest thing to do, and a 7/6 Menace for five is a pretty strong pay off for doing so. But I think enough of the time this will have to cost seven mana or sacrifice a real creature for it to not be that good. It seems like an average playable at best, but one that can go up in value in the right deck.
My rule is always to avoid auras that aren’t Pacifisms. I don’t think this one provides you enough value to warrant a slot in your deck. It does replace itself, but you still open yourself up to bounce spells and your creature being killed in response. I wouldn’t touch this at all. You’ll probably win more games if you avoid this completely.
No Way Out
Mind Rot has always been a fine but below average card. But when you tack on some small bonuses, it tends to be good enough, like we saw with Mind Drain in Zendikar Rising. That leads me to believe that this will also be good enough if you want this kind of effect. It will at least be a great sideboard card against control decks.
This could be a good card in certain decks, but being so small, its only options are really to chump block or be sacrificed. That really limits its use, making it a fringe playable at best. If you’re playing a sacrifice deck of some kind, you could definitely do worse, but it wouldn’t be something I prioritize.
Olivia’s Midnight Ambush
I’d be pretty happy with this if all it did was give -2/-2, but sometimes killing any creature means this is going to be the most efficient common removal spell in the set. Each color has at least a couple of ways to trigger the day/night cycle, so even if you’re not playing with or against werewolves, it’s likely you’ll be able to find opportunities to get to nighttime. But like I said, -2/-2 is still a respectable spell, especially in combat. You should probably just take as many of these as you can get your hands on.
Exiling cards from graveyards is definitely a positive effect in a format that has Flashback and Disturb spells, but the big reason to play this card is that you get two Decayed Zombies for three total mana, which is probably a good enough deal to make this playable.
Shady Traveler / Stalking Predator
A 2/3 with Menace for three mana is below average, but being a 4/4 Menace at night balances this card out into an average playable.
I like this. A simple Walking Corpse to fill out your curve with a nice upside. This effect makes particularly good use of the Decayed Zombie tokens you keep creating, giving them a use when you can’t quite get in a lethal attack.
You really don’t want to give your opponent free value, but the upside of a two-mana 3/3 that grows without much effort is definitely worth it. Assuming you can back this up with some removal or combat tricks to get the first couple of counters, this will dominate the early game and without being an embarrassing late-game topdeck.
This is basically the same effect as Contortionist Troupe in green, so I suppose we’ll find out over the course of the format which one is better. My guess is that this is a little too difficult to trigger, but it should still be strong. You can cast it after a combat where you dealt damage to guarantee getting the counter in your end step. From there, any extra bonuses you can get from it are icing on the cake. It’s also worth remembering that even if you don’t have any vampires, it can always buff itself, so it can be played outside of a tribal deck.
A two-drop 2/3 with Deathtouch is awesome, I’m in. Then, for every additional three mana you can put in you can get a 5/5’s worth of stats. The key to valuing this card lies in knowing how much you should value a Decayed Zombie token. Getting to eight mana is very unlikely, though not impossible. The most common modes at two and five both seem good, though not exactly game-breaking.
Vampire Interloper is a welcome reprint, having first been seen in the original Innistrad. A really strong and aggressive two-drop that is going to be one of the best two-drops if you want to be beating down. Vampire tribal (and life loss) being an archetype in this set makes it even better there.
Vengeful Strangler / Strangling Grasp
Another sweet flavor hit, the evil man being burned at the stake leaving behind his charred, severed hands to kill his executioner. This card is great. We had Inevitable End in Theros: Beyond Death and it ended up being great there. In the right deck, you can just sacrifice the Strangler once you find something to stick Strangling Grasp onto and if you’re really lucky, your opponent might end up trading for it and then you get to enchant a second creature to kill it. When your opponent chooses to sacrifice permanents other than what you’ve enchanted, it ends up usually being good for you. Because they will eventually need to sacrifice what you chose, if you can afford to take more things with it then it’s awesome.
The Red Cards
Abandon the Post
We’ve had a variety of Falter effects throughout the years with varying results. This one having Flashback gives you the flexibility to make all four potential blockers unable to block in a single turn or make two potential blockers unable to block across two turns. That flexibility makes this a particularly good version. It’s an exact copy of Nightbird's Clutches, which did perform well in the original Innistrad set, so I could see this being good too.
Archaeomancer is one of my favorite cards in limited and in this spell-heavy set, I can see this being a great card. Most recently, Ghitu Chronicler in Dominaria was a great card for spell-based control decks and although this doesn’t have the flexibility of being to cast it as a cheap blocker, the effect is very powerful and worth paying attention to.
I am liking this cycle of mythics. This one is also not likely to get kicked more than once, much like its zombie counterpart, so what we’re looking at is a card with two main modes. A 2/2 haste for two mana or a Goblin Dark-Dwellers with haste. I quite like both modes and combination with the choice of either side makes it a strong card.
This is fine. The day/night triggers on it are largely inconsequential, so the real question is, do I want a 2/3 menace for 2R? The answer is usually no, but I’m sure it could end up being a decent curve-filler.
Burn Down the House
Five damage to each creature should be enough to kill most creatures in the set, so this is essentially just a red Wrath of God. But you also have the option to create three very useful devil tokens if you don’t need a sweeper. Sweeper cards that have an option to function as something else when you don’t need a sweeper are incredibly powerful, so I imagine this card will be a very high pick.
Burn the Accursed
Five mana burn spells are usually quite weak, but this one looks like it does enough to be a solid card in the format. Being an instant and exiling the target are both big enough upsides to make me think this will be a little bit better than your average big burn spell, but still not one that I would be picking highly.
Lightning Strike-style spells always perform well in limited. Cheap and effective removal is the most premium kind of card you need in a good draft deck, making this likely one of the best non-rare red cards.
Curse of Shaken Faith
Completely unplayable. All your opponent has to do to avoid taking any damage is cast one spell per turn, and even if they don’t, a little bit of damage is hardly worth a whole card. This is entirely for constructed; leave it in the sideboard and move on.
Thrill of Possibility and Tormenting Voice have been very reasonable cards in various sets over the last few years. Giving it Flashback is a huge bonus. Over the course of casting it both times, you end up trading three cards to draw four, which is a good deal. This looks like something you will likely want in any spell-based deck that you draft.
Sure, this is a fine two-drop. It also triggers the vampire theme of needing an opponent to have lost life without having to actually connect. Your opponent will take damage whether they block or not, so this is a good enabler for that deck but also just a decent aggressive two-drop.
Falkenrath Pit Fighter
Discarding a card and sacrificing a vampire is a fairly steep cost for this ability and on top of that only being able to activate it in a turn where an opponent lost life means this won’t get activated very often. Normally it’s a good thing if you can sacrifice a creature for value because it can be done in response to removal, but this one is far too situational to make that a likelihood. This card therefore is only a tiny bit more valuable than a vanilla 2/1 for one mana.
If you can get the trigger to work, then being able to double spell on turn four is no joke. If you can’t, then a 4/3 for 3R isn’t the worst and the ability to loot away lands in the late game is very strong.
Fangblade Brigand / Fangblade Eviscerator
This is a textbook example of the concept of ‘Threat of Activation’. Two mana is quite a bit to pay to activate this ability, but granting First Strike means just the threat of doing so is enough to make this impossible to brawl with and even more so at night. This is just a great aggressive four-drop for any red deck.
I’m not a huge fan of this card, but it has the potential to be good. The problem comes from how often you can trigger it. In most cases, the answer to that is “not very often”. How many instants and sorceries are you likely to have in your deck? At the point at which you get enough for this card to be good, you’d probably prefer to have a better payoff.
Flame Channeler / Embodiment of Flame
This does look like a really good card, but finding a burn spell in limited isn’t trivial. You might have about 2-5 such spells in your deck depending on how well your draft has gone, meaning in some games you might not even draw one when you have this. A red Grizzly Bears is fine and one that might get an opportunity to transform is worth remembering, but this is not the best payoff.
This card reminded me a lot of Firemind's Research, a card which ended up being fun but pretty bad. I was going to grade this card as such, but then I noticed that the final ability doesn’t cost charge counters to use. This is basically an artifact which lets you draw an extra card per turn and if you do get to cast a bunch of instants, and sorceries, then you can also control the board or even finish your opponent. This looks like a good, solid build-around card for the spells deck and not too bad of a card outside of it either.
Harvesttide Infiltrator / Harvesttide Assailant
A 3/2 for three mana with Trample is fine, and transforming into a 4/4 Trample is pretty good. This looks like a nice, solid common that I’ll be happy to play, especially in a werewolves deck.
A curious little reprint from Legends back in 1994, this will make for a decent removal spell for small creatures. I don’t recommend putting this on your own creatures too often, but that does give you a way to deal damage to your opponent if you need to finish them off.
Leaving the activated ability aside, this is a simple two-drop with a relevant creature type, which is something you definitely want. The ability does add something to the equation, making the creature good when you draw it late as well as early.
Light Up the Night
Fireballs are really disgusting cards in limited. A removal spell that scales with the game and lets you kill anything while also having the extra mode of finishing off your opponent. I got a bit excited seeing this had Flashback, but sadly the Flashback cost is unattainable in limited. This is just an exceptionally good rare and if you do happen to also have a planeswalker in your deck, then this easily bumps up to a 9.
This is an interesting combat trick, but one that is not likely to ever be better than Sure Strike. The trample is a nice bonus, but not enough to make up for the fact that this requires a lot of mana to be an effective trick.
A three-mana burn spell that does three damage to any target would already be a likely contender for best red common. Throw in an ability to make it a full on Lightning Bolt and it’s no contest. This is the best red common, plain and simple.
A 4/4 with Flying for just 3R is an absurdly good rate and it’s even splashable. Tack on two somewhat niche but very relevant upsides and you have got yourself a powerful card. The first is of course better when you have no hand to discard, but it’s a great bonus when your hand is down to useless cards. If the dragon dies, it could also take something with it if you have any other permanents in play. All of this adds up to a pretty good card and one that should be taken early if you’re drafting.
Five drops are not at a premium in modern limited sets, but a potential 6/5 with Trample is definitely one to consider. If your aggro deck needs a curve topper, this could fill out the spot nicely.
I generally like Zap variants. At the end of the day, drawing a card and getting some benefit is never all that bad, but if the one point of damage doesn’t often do anything then this won’t be worth using. If a lot of one-toughness creatures are good in the format, this card’s stock goes up astronomically.
2/2 two-drops that are relevant in the late game are very strong and cards that you actively want to prioritize. Rummaging away lands in favor of new cards is a pretty big upside, especially in the late game where the day/night cycle is more likely to trigger frequently.
We have our Threaten effect of the set. It isn’t much different from usual, but it might be very powerful here. The sacrifice deck appears to not be red, but there are plenty of spells and abilities that can sacrifice the creature you steal with this card, making it a potentially very powerful spell.
Play With Fire
How good is Shock? Well, it’s fine. There have been some formats where it’s great and others where it’s virtually unplayable. The scry 1 clause on this card is pretty much irrelevant as you should be pointing this card at a creature 90 percent of the time. In the right formats, Shock does some good work, and it looks like there are enough good 2-toughness creatures to make it a solid removal spell.
A 4/3 with Flying for just five mana would already be a pretty good card, but pinging creatures each turn is a nice upgrade. Killing Zombies is even nicer and this is definitely best friends with Bladebrand. I can’t see this being a bad card at all and it looks like it will be quite effective.
Raze the Effigy
Modal spells are usually good, but in this case, both modes are too narrow to make this a main deck card. It could make a fine sideboard card though, so bear that in mind.
Reckless Stormseeker / Storm-Charged Slasher
Since this can target itself, the base rate is a 3/3 Haste for three mana, or a Charging Monstrosaur at night? I’m in. Hasting out each of your threats for the rest of the game is a sweet bonus too, so I think this is going to be something I want to prioritize.
Seize the Storm
It looks like instant and sorcery decks are getting all of the toys in this set. Of course this is useless in other decks, but if you build around it, this can make really sizable tokens and can even make two of them for just one card. You could definitely do worse for a win condition in a spell-based deck.
Smoldering Egg / Ashmouth Dragon
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, but Thing in the Egg is not going to be good enough unless you have a bunch of instants and sorceries in your deck. Unlike Thing in the Ice, you can sometimes get away with only casting a couple of spells to transform it and it actually likes more expensive ones. If you have the right deck for it though, this seems like an incredibly powerful threat and one that pays you off massively for casting more spells.
Spellrune Painter / Spellrune Howler
An average-sized creature with pseudo-prowess is nice and getting massive at night is a good upgrade too, but I don’t think this is too exciting. Even if you cast a bunch of spells and make this huge, it can just get chump blocked. If you can give it Trample or some kind of evasion, then maybe we have a combo card on our hands, but that’s a lot of extra work to make this more than just a solid, average creature.
I haven’t been impressed with red’s combat tricks in this set, and this one is no different. It’s not a bad card, but it does a bad job of helping to protect your creature in combat.
Mythic Phoenix that uses the set’s mechanic to return from the graveyard should have been one of the Mystery Booster playtest cards. These cards are usually very strong, after all we have a 4/2 with Flying for a good cost that can be brought back from the graveyard for a very cheap cost. It doesn’t do much else but that. It is good and should be hard to kill.
Tavern Ruffian / Tavern Smasher
I’m not interested in a Wishcoin Crab in most of my red decks and if the only upside I get is sometimes being a 6/5 vanilla creature, I’m still not sold. You can probably do better than this.
The last time we saw Thermo-Alchemist, it did some pretty good work. Some versions of this kind of effect like Lobber Crew, Brimstone Trebuchet and Lightning-Rig Crew have been much better than their counterparts because they can always deal 1 damage each turn even when you’re not triggering their untap clause. The bump from common to uncommon should at least be a slight indication that this card will be good again whether you need a blocker or a win condition for your spells deck.
Village Watch / Village Reavers
I generally want the five-drops in my aggro decks to be a bit better than a 4/3 with Haste. Even at night, granting Haste to other creatures and only being +1/+1 over the daybound side isn’t a big enough bonus for the mana you’ve invested.
A situational Flametongue Kavu can still be a Flametongue Kavu. You have to jump through two hoops to make it work, but in a vampire deck, you will probably hit both of them without trying. Like I say, you do have to put the work in for this but straight-up killing another creature and leaving behind a 2/2 body is a really good deal and one that’s likely worth the effort.
Depending on your point of view, it looks like Fearless Pup has become considerably less cute. But it shouldn’t be any less effective. Pup was a fine card and I would imagine that the Stinger will be just as good. It’s a perfectly serviceable one-drop if you need it and the threat of activation makes it very difficult to block.
The Green Cards
Augur of Autumn
Augur is doing its best Courser of Kruphix impression, and a pretty good job at that. At any given time, most of your deck is likely to be lands, so this will turn up extra cards for you more often than you might expect. In the right deck, Coven allows you to play nearly any card from the top of your deck. This adds up to a pretty potent card-advantage engine. The main knock against it will be that the Coven deck looks to be very aggressive and also one flooded with 2-power creatures, so this won’t add as much to those decks as it could do.
Bird Admirer / Wing Shredder
A 1/4 Reach for three mana is, once again, a little below the rate you want these days. But there do appear to be a good number of Flying creatures with 1 toughness and transforming into the above rate 3/5 Reach side I think balances this out to be a solid playable.
This is a somewhat innocuous creature, but one that I think will be very welcome in werewolf decks. Having Flash means you get to pass without casting a spell, transform all of your werewolves, then still have a creature to deploy in your opponent’s turn. Having Reach is a sweet benefit too, being able to bat down a bunch of the spirits in the set that your green decks might usually struggle with.
Four mana is a hell of an expensive equip cost. It’s large enough to make most equipments unplayable. Getting a full discount on the first equip makes this certainly defensible, but still not one that I think most decks are likely to want.
Thraben Inspector has been eating her vegetables! A three-cost 4/3 with Vigilance is a great rate and one that provides a power that is much harder to find for the Coven deck. On top of that, you get a clue to crack on a later turn? This just has everything I’m looking for in terms of value.
There was a time when Giant Spider was one of the better green commons in whatever set it appeared in. One that replaces itself with another very real token is like a dream come true (not the best of dreams mind you; I’ve never liked spiders). Nevertheless, this is no Penumbra Spider but still a very powerful midrange creature that if played right could end up trading for two creatures.
Burly Breaker / Dire-Strain Demolisher
This is a five-drop I can get behind. A 6/5 with Ward 1 is respectable, but being an 8/7 with Ward 3 at night is a massive upside and one I’d be interested in supporting.
These days, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to creatures that cost five or more mana. A five-cost 5/5 vanilla creature has to do a lot more than sometimes have trample to be noteworthy. You’ll play this sometimes, but probably only when there are no other options.
Green doesn’t usually get a lot of removal spells, but this is one of the better ones it’s ever had. As with similar cards like Wildsize or Consume Strength, it’s really not difficult to turn this into a 2-for-1, which is why it gets such a high grade. Say your opponent has a 2/2 and a 3/3 and you just have a 2/2. They attack you with the 2/2 creature and you get to block it with yours and then Clear Shot will clear out both of their creatures with just one card. If you can’t set up a 2-for-1 trade, then you have an instant-speed Rabid Bite with a buff.
So you’re saying that for five mana I can get a pseudo-Tarmogoyf that spits out pseudo-Tarmogoyf tokens on my end step? This is just absurd. This keeps churning out tokens every turn, and in a set that likes filling the graveyard, even if this is just a 2/3 or a 3/4, churning out tokens of the same size every turn means this has to be killed immediately. Biogenic Ooze was incredibly broken in Ravnica Allegiance draft and even drifted into constructed a little bit.
If you cast this on a turn where your opponent can’t interact then you get your first token unimpeded. They then have only a single turn window before you get your second token. This will simply dominate a game and as soon as I have this, I will look to find cards that will fill my graveyard and probably make sure I have at least one artifact or enchantment to increase the power of all the tokens. I just know I definitely don’t want to play against this card.
Ivy Elemental meets Luminarch Aspirant? I really like this card. A flexibly-sized (pun intended) creature that in the right circumstances can buff your creatures every turn? Given how Luminarch Aspirant was easily one of the strongest rares in Zendikar Rising, I’m excited about the prospect of playing an uncommon version that you have to put a little bit of work into. You do get the counter on the end step which is a slight knock, but I think this card is still great.
This card turns on Coven pretty much by itself. For three mana, you get a 0-power creature and a 1-power creature, two of your three powers needed. But more than that, these are likely two of the hardest powers to find. A lot of the good Coven creatures have 2 or 3 power, so giving you the other two powers in a single card makes this a really good enabler for the archetype. It does have a fairly weak Coven ability itself, but it’s a free upside that I’ll happily take. If you are drafting green/white or just a green deck that wants to trigger Coven, this card will be a high-priority pick for you to find.
I’m a sucker for cards like this. Centaur Nurturer was one of my favorite commons in War of the Spark! I can see this making a five-color deck a reality and that thought really warms my heart. Realistically, playing this on turn four lets you hit a six-drop on turn five whilst keeping you in the game by gaining you life and being a decent-sized blocker.
Deathbonnet Sprout / Deathbonnet Hulk
This looks like a fine payoff for a self-mill deck, but one that’s a bit too slow for my liking. Even if you have this on turn 1, it will take a long time before it can transform. In addition, milling one card per turn does not make for a great enabler.
Defend the Celestus
This is just a 3-for-1 right? Well, it’s unlikely, but certainly possible. The reason I like this is that it’s an instant. Combat tricks that stick around after use are pretty strong. One that can split its buffs across multiple creatures is one to pay attention to for sure. You can even use one of the counters to save your creature in combat if that’s all that’s necessary while putting the other two on a more valuable creature, like one with Flying or Lifelink. I hope I get to 3-for-1 someone at some point during this format, but I like this enough even without that potential.
I really am supposed to like this card, but Regrowth variants tend to struggle these days, as they’re just too expensive to care about. Having Flashback is appealing, but other than there being a sweet combo deck that wants this, I don’t think this will be too exciting. Still, it’s something to keep in mind. After all, Memory's Journey and Runic Repetition were thought to be awful until the Spider Spawning deck appeared in Innistrad draft.
Duel for Dominance
That’s a lot of text for what is essentially just a Pounce. The Coven buff is definitely relevant, but I generally don’t think you can rely too heavily on Coven cards that are not themselves creatures, as they don’t contribute to the three creatures you need. It’s also worth noting that if you rely on getting the +1/+1 bonus to win the fight, you can get blown out by a removal spell removing the third power from your field and turning off the Coven ability. Still, Pounce is a perfectly fine card in limited and one that I think green decks are likely to want.
Creepy artwork aside, I really like this card. A simple three-drop that is going to probably let you pick up a land from your graveyard. You’re not guaranteed to flip over a land in the top three cards, but there are other self-mill cards and also Evolving Wilds to put lands into the graveyard beforehand. If it can work, a 2/3 that draws a card, even if it only draws a land, is a great draft card.
Another two-drop which has a little bit of relevance in the late game makes this a fine card. Definitely one that your Coven decks could want.
Hound Tamer / Untamed Pup
This looks obscene to me. The ability to repeatedly get a +1/+1 counter as an activated ability is one that always performs well in limited, as it’s a great way to spend excess mana in the late game and it will help you to win board stalls. Stick that ability on a creature that’s already very efficient and you have an excellent draft card.
Howl of the Hunt
Auras usually suck in limited, but having Flash means that this card is essentially just a combat trick that sticks around after blowing out your opponent, making this a really nifty trick to keep around. Feral Invocation always played well, and if you have a wolf/werewolf deck then this goes way up in value. It’s likely I will not be attacking into many werewolf decks that have three mana up on my turn.
Might of the Old Ways
Two mana for just a +2/+2 buff isn’t a very good rate for a combat trick. If you can reliably draw a card from the Coven ability, then this card goes way up in value. Given that it modifies your creature and then checks Coven, you probably only need to have three creatures in play for it to work, but that is still a tough ask for a card that isn’t one of those creatures. I think you’ll play this sometimes but usually you’d be better off with anything else.
Outland Liberator / Frenzied Trapbreaker
I really can’t overstate just how busted werewolves are at one or two mana, which is why there are no one-drop werewolves in the set. If you cast this on turn two on the play, your opponent must have their own two-drop or this will be transforming immediately. That’s even more powerful in this set as once it becomes night, all of your other werewolves will enter on their much more powerful Nightbound sides and you’ll have a huge advantage. I would take this very highly and it’s likely to be the best green two-drop in the set, even before considering it can randomly destroy artifacts and enchantments.
Path to the Festival
Although Rampant Growth spells for three mana are not the best, one that gives you a small bonus for finding a splash color and that can also be flashbacked is one that is worth using. Between this and Dawnhart Rejuvenator, it looks like there might be enough support for a 3-5 color deck in this format and that just warms my heart.
I like this. A nice, solid little two-drop. I do like playing with cheap deathtouch creatures in limited, so I will probably like this one. Three mana to activate is a lot, but you only need the threat of it to matter and besides that, a 2/2 for two that isn’t dead in the late game is always good.
We’ve seen Plummet in a bunch of sets and it’s always about the same. Exceptional sideboard card against several Flying creatures or just a few big ones, but really not one that is good enough for main decks.
This has to be the best of the adversary cycle for limited. A 4/3 with Trample for three mana is absurdly strong already, but throw in the kicker ability to turn lands into 3/3 creatures just throws this way out of proportion. Five mana gets you a 5/4 with Trample and a 3/3, while for seven mana, you get yourself a 6/5 with Trample and a pair of 3/3 wolves. All three of these potential modes can swing a game in your favor and are great at any point in the game. This is just another of green’s many great rares in this set.
Return to Nature
Like Plummet, we’ve seen this card many times before and it falls into a simple category: It’s a sideboard card and nothing more. The mode to exile a card in a graveyard is the one to pay keen attention to in this format, as exiling something like a big Disturb creature or Sunstreak Phoenix could be a very important target.
Rise of the Ants
Kaldheim and AFR both showed us how good Ravenous Lindwurm and similar creatures can be. If you split them in half and give them Flashback they’re bound to be good still. It looks like there might be a multicolor green ramp deck supported in this format and this is probably going to be one of the better things to ramp into. And in that deck, the hefty Flashback cost doesn’t seem too unreachable either. Ramp decks are my favorite thing to draft, so despite my dislike of the idea of real giant ants, I can definitely assuage my fears for this card.
Saryth, the Viper’s Fang
I think this card looks pretty decent. Essentially, she gives all of your attacking creatures deathtouch and can protect your creatures from removal. Playing her right before an alpha strike can be really annoying for your opponent, as they’ll have no choice but to lose their blockers or lose the game. The main reason I don’t believe she deserves a higher grade is her lack of protection for herself. You could play this, swing with all of your creatures, then get blown out by your opponent making favorable blocks and using a removal spell to kill Saryth, removing the deathtouch bonus.
These days, many sets have a common 4/4 creature with a nice upside for four mana in green. The ability to Flashback this creature in the late game is a nice upside, even if it has the downside of being a token and therefore more vulnerable to bounce than a regular creature. I like this card and it works with a bunch of the set’s themes, so it’s bound to be a high pick.
One-drops have gone way up in value in the last few years and this one seems pretty good too. I remember playing with Basking Rootwalla in limited, and the card was still good when you just cast it. Having a good creature type for the set also makes this a card I think you’ll actively want in the right deck.
Storm the Festival
I have seen some murmurs about this card, but to me this is just unplayable. For this to “hit”, you need to hit big enough creatures for it to be worth it. If you were to run enough of these “hits” in your deck to make this likely to hit, your deck would be unbalanced and bad. And even if you did have enough valuable targets, the likelihood of hitting other spells, lands or cheap creatures is far too high to warrant ever casting this. Just don’t bother and leave this one in your sideboard.
Tapping at the Window
The ability of this card to mill cards into your graveyard should make up for the times in which you cast this and miss on finding a creature card. Therefore, I wouldn’t try playing this card in a deck that doesn’t want to use the graveyard, but in those decks it should be quite effective.
This card design has always impressed me. The base rate of the card is that you can just play it as a two mana 2/2 by putting the +1/+1 counter on itself. By putting the counter elsewhere, it can be especially useful in enabling Coven, which makes me think this is going to be just as good, if not better, than it has been in previous sets.
Tireless Hauler / Dire-Strain Brawler
Five-mana french vanilla creatures are usually not what you want to be spending your mana on. So while this is certainly a fine card, I’m sure you can do better.
Tovolar’s Huntmaster / Tovolar’s Packleader
“Wait, is that? Grave Titan? Hey! How you been buddy? I haven’t seen you in, what, 10 years?”
I have read this card over and over again assuming that I must be seeing things or misreading it but no, it really is just Grave Titan. If you cast this on the Nightbound side, you will probably just win the game. It wins you the game when you’re ahead, breaks board stalls wide open and catches you up when you’re losing. It is even sometimes better than Grave Titan since you can use his ability to fight your opponent’s creatures! Sure, it also has a Daybound side, where it only gives you a 10/10’s worth of stats for six mana. I really can’t believe this card exists. It’s everything I want in a limited bomb as well as everything I don’t want to see across the table from me..
Turn the Earth
This is basically Memory's Journey, a card that was unplayable outside of the very narrow application it had in the Spider Spawning deck. This is too niche for limited play, but you never know. If a combo deck shows itself to us then maybe this and Dryad’s Revival will be worth playing.
This looks deceptively powerful, but I can’t see this being remotely castable in limited with a quad-green casting cost. It’s probably not worth trying unless you have a lot of ways to fix your mana. In a typical 9/8 mana base this is completely unplayable.
This card looks interesting in constructed, but it takes too long to get this to a good enough size that it’s worth investing a whole card into. If you draw it late then it’s just going to take far too long to get to the point where it competes with what your opponent is likely to have in play.
Wrenn and Seven
In the words of one of my colleagues when I showed them this card, “You had me at giant tree mech suit”.
Oh my lord, what have we here? I can’t imagine a world where Wrenn and Seven isn’t one of the best cards in this set. The most common play pattern will be to play it and immediately create the Treefolk token with the -3 ability. If you do that on turn five, you have a 5/5 reach token plus the Planeswalker sticking around. Next turn, you can use the +1 to fill your graveyard and potentially draw another land or two, buffing the Treefolk token even more. A couple of turns later you can make another one, by which time they’re probably 8/8s or bigger.
The 0 ability is mostly irrelevant and the ultimate -8 ability is game-breaking. Also, fun ruling for you, if Wrenn is on 8 loyalty when you use the -8, it’ll be in the graveyard when the ability resolves, returning to your hand and letting you recast it immediately.
Planeswalkers are usually good when they protect themselves and provide you with long term advantage, which Wrenn does in spades. The only downside I can see is that the +1 ability mills you out too fast, so if your deck can’t take full advantage of that, it may end up hurting you in the long run. But at the end of the day, we’re here for the Treefolk tokens anyway. I can’t wait to open this in one of my drafts!
The Multicolor Cards
I really don’t like cards like this in general, but giving two +1/+1 counters and a whole bunch of very good keywords I think makes this card more than good enough. It is a bit expensive to cast it the same turn as a creature to make the Haste relevant, but Vigilance, Lifelink and Trample give you a huge game-swinging attack and Indestructible makes it so that you can do so without fear of reprisal. Above all else, getting two shots of it makes it worth your attention.
I’m not sold on this to be honest. I hate having to say that because I love casting blue/red spells that do nothing to the board. I just think that in your average limited deck, even one focused on spells, this will fail to find anything too much of the time. Though with Flashback it could find a home in the set.
Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope / Arlinn, the Moon’s Fury
They’re really hitting it out of the park with the planeswalkers in this set. Arlinn has some very interesting lines of play for sure. In the daytime, you will most likely play her and immediately get two wolf tokens, which do a decent job of protecting her. After that, her +1 ability giving creatures Flash for a whole turn cycle also does a great job of protecting her, as your opponent will have to guess what nasty threat you have to flash in as a blocker. At night, she gets to attack for an absurdly large amount of damage and can’t even be killed in combat. If you can’t attack profitably, you’ll at least have two mana as a failsafe This is a really powerful combination of abilities on both sides and it’s hard to imagine a game where she doesn’t perform well.
This looks pretty good. It’s a decent-sized tribal lord, which would get itself a nice grade in most sets. But where it really shines is buffing all of the Decayed Zombie tokens you’ll be making. Getting them through blockers will be difficult at times, but giving them all an additional point of power is a great way to do that.
Can’t Stay Away
Art Rating: 10/10 (I like cats…)
If I was rating the card Unearth, I’d probably be giving it about a 5 or a 6 depending on the context. Make it multicolored and give it Flashback and we still have a very nice card on our hands. This is no Unburial Rites though, and the limit to the power level of creature you can bring back means this really can only do so much.
This is a weird one, but it’s cheap enough to make some sense. There are two real ways I can see this card working. You can cast it in response to removal to replace your creature with an equally-sized menace token, which isn’t too bad. But the dirtiest thing you can do is attack your opponent with a bunch of Decayed Zombies and then sacrifice them before they get sacrificed to make a massive token in their place. And once again, we have Flashback on this to give you extra functionality too. I do like this, but it’s a bit too niche and you probably won’t want the second copy.
Flavor Rating: 10/10
For those who don’t get the reference, this is a callback to Cackling Counterpart from the original Innistrad. That card was pretty nuts and a really easy 2-for-1 at rare. This one is not that good. Getting a 1/1 token copy is a big downgrade as stats are incredibly important in a game of limited. It means that you really want to be finding good abilities to copy before this can be useful. An interesting interaction you can get is that you can make a copy of the Nightbound side of a double-faced card and it won’t transform when it turns to day. I think enough things have to go right for this card to work, but I can see it happening at some point.
This doesn’t excite me as much as some of the other Coven cards we’ve seen, but it’s still a solid creature with a good rate. The Coven trigger will always give you at least 3 extra power for your combat step which is a very real amount. It’s a good card for sure, just nothing too exciting.
Dennick, Pious Apprentice / Dennick, Pious Apparition
Dennick looks like a great deal on both sides. A 2/3 Lifelink for two mana would already be a great card that I would want in my deck, so add on a Moon Heron Disturb side that can Investigate for you and I think you’re on to something. This looks like a decent payoff for your Disturb decks, but I’d be happy playing this in any blue/white deck, even if I didn’t have a heavy focus on Disturb.
Devoted Grafkeeper / Departed Soulkeeper
Another Disturb creature with good rates on both sides as well as being a good enabler for its own deck. Whether you’re using Flashback instants to tap creatures on your opponent’s turns or using Disturb spells to proactively tap creatures for good combats, this seems like a nice build-around for this white/blue spirits deck.
Once again, we have a weird card with a lot of text that at first glance looks unplayable. What it can be however is basically a Harrow with Flashback. Harrow is a good card, though being multicolored does contrast poorly with the fact that it should be good at fixing your colors for you. In a pinch you could also Path to Exile an artifact or enchantment, but around 95 percent of the time you play this, you should be doing so because you want a ramp spell.
Just a few cards ago I claimed that Can't Stay Away isn’t Unburial Rites. Diregraf Rebirth, on the other hand, nearly is. The costs are a bit high, but with the built-in cost reduction ability I have a feeling that they’ll be easier to cast than they look. Morbid abilities might be difficult to control, but even at full price this is an easy 2-for-1 that just becomes more powerful the better your deck is.
The callback to Faithless Looting makes this card fairly easy to evaluate. Looting is currently banned in Modern and has seen a lot of play across every constructed format. However, for us, the card is just bad in limited. There are incentives for casting spells from your graveyard, so I won’t give this a flat 0, but even in those decks this card just isn’t good.
With probably the creepiest artwork in the set, we have a sweet payoff for this black/white sacrifice deck that looks possible. Not only is it a sacrifice outlet itself, but also paying you off for sacrificing creatures. Sadly we have to spend mana to sacrifice our creatures, but that can be forgiven since we also get a bonus whenever anything sacrifices them. We should also remember how frequently you’ll be able to sacrifice Decayed Zombies, so you’ll get a bunch of triggers from this in most games anyway. This just looks like a great build-around for what will be an interesting take on this classic archetype.
Florian, Voldaren Scion
Florian starts out at a well-sized aggressive creature that you will want in any aggro curve in black/red. The ability of course will let you draw into more cards, but being forced to use the card you find on the same turn is a little restrictive. Costing three mana himself means that unless you cast him on turn five or six at least, you just won’t be able to use the card on the same turn you play him. Though to mitigate that, you can get land drops with him, so you probably want to save your land drop until after he triggers. If Florian gets you a card on the same turn he gets played, his value is a lot higher than if he doesn’t. The cheaper the cards in your deck are, the better he becomes.
Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in a card this narrow. Not only do you have to find a spell to copy, it has to be worth it to copy it for two mana and you have to have the mana to cast both spells in the same turn. The only reason this isn’t in the 1-2 range is that it has Flashback, which has the potential to make this a little bit more playable. We’ll have to see, but I am willing to try it.
Spider Spawning this is not. Decayed Zombies are not worth whole cards, so the question becomes how many tokens are you happy to get for this card to be good? Two is fine, but that requires three or four creatures in your graveyard. At the point at which you’re casting this, you probably want more of a payoff than just a couple of Decayed Zombies. Let’s say you turbo-mill your deck and flashback this with about ten creatures in the graveyard. Then, you get five tokens. But they don’t block, so it’s very hard to leverage that advantage. The best part about Spider Spawning was how well an army of 1/2 Spider tokens were able to block, giving you enough time to create enough to win the game with. This will be a fine card in the right deck, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is as good as its predecessor.
This is a really nice rate on a creature. 4/3 Trample for four mana is pretty decent. The Morbid ability isn’t usually very easy to pull off, but black does have access to a lot of self-sacrificing tokens. If you have this on turn four and it will just be a 4/3, it’s probably worth just running it out. If you can afford to wait for a better turn, you can trade off in combat and/or have a bunch of zombie tokens decay away, making this an absurdly big threat. Ultimately, it is only a french vanilla creature, but one that scales nicely with the game and can get big enough to dominate a game.
I just don’t get it. Why have we taken Momentary Blink, given it a ton of downsides (harder to cast, sorcery, only targets non-legendaries, etc.) and buffed it to rare? Flicker spells at sorcery just aren’t good. At instant speed, they give you the flexibility to have creatures dodge removal as well as reusing triggered abilities. But at sorcery they’re only good for reusing triggers and even then, some triggers would be better if they were used at instant speed. The +1/+1 counter bonus is largely irrelevant as it isn’t anywhere near enough to make up for what is otherwise a bad card.
Hungry for More
Hellspark Elemental was never that good in limited and giving it Lifelink and pushing it into a second color isn’t likely to change that any time soon.
Join the Dance
I really like this. Two mana for two 1/1 tokens has always been a good rate on a card, but tacking on Flashback for the late game is a huge bonus. I’m not sure why this is a G/W card, as it doesn’t exactly help Coven work, but regardless, the card looks very good.
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
A two-drop mana dork, even one that’s multicolored and rare, would already be worthy of a 6/10. They are just that good in limited. But one that can also buff your team permanently in the late game is absurd. Even better, by making your other humans tap for mana, the hefty mana cost doesn’t look quite so expensive. This reminds me of cards like Selesnya Guildmage and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, which looked a bit expensive to activate, but were both mythic uncommons in their respective formats.
Kessig Naturalist / Lord of the Ulvenwald
I was already happy with having a two-drop that can give me mana for a four-drop on turn three, but one that can also be a tribal lord while doing the same thing is just nuts! Cards like this make me think that I want at least six turn two plays in every deck, because not having a two-drop and allowing this to transform before it attacks will just be devastating. Gatstaf Shepherd was a nightmare back in the original Innistrad set and this is even more back-breaking to play against. There are three two-mana werewolves in this set and they’re all incredibly powerful.
Liesa, Forgotten Archangel
Liesa really packs a punch. Flying and Lifelink really is one of the most powerful combinations you can have on a limited card and Liesa is big enough that she will carry you to victory by herself. She may not have First Strike like her predecessors, Baneslayer Angel and Lyra Dawnbringer, but she does gain the obscene ability to pick up creatures back to your hand when they die, making combat virtually impossible for your opponent to win. She can catch you up from behind, put away games you’re already winning and easily break board stalls. The only knock against her is her rather prohibitive casting cost, but as long as I was already white, I’d just take her and find a way to splash for the black. I just wish she was a mythic rare so I wouldn’t have to play against her so often.
Ludevic, Necrogenius / Olag, Ludevic’s Hubris
I’m getting some serious Lazav, the Multifarious vibes from Ludevic. I think Ludevic is doing enough good things to warrant attention, but five is a lot of mana to invest in an ability to just have Ludevic killed in response. If everything goes right, this can definitely be a powerful threat, I just think that it requires too much work to be much better than a slightly above average playable.
I think a few too many things have to go right for you to want Old Stickfingers. It doesn’t have any power or toughness by itself and while the X in its casting cost does let you fill the graveyard, it isn’t a big enough payoff to just have this be really big. I can see this being an enabler for some kind of combo deck that really wants a bunch of creatures in the graveyard, so I will rate it based on that. If you’re self milling a little bit then GB for a late game big creature isn’t the worst either, I just don’t think this is all that special.
Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer
Skyknight Legionnaire is a great limited card and while this looks like it does more, it often won’t be any different. Rem still dies to burn spells if that’s what your opponent has and I guess if you happen to draw one of your couple of burn spells alongside him then you can get a little bit of extra value. But generally this is just a solid body, one that any white/red aggressive shell will be happy to play.
Rite of Harmony
Yeah, just don’t bother. This is a constructed plant and nothing more. It does work with token makers, but it has to be cast alongside such an effect and this is dead the vast majority of the time you draw it.
Rite of Oblivion
Let’s face it, when you read the words “nonland permanent”, then in the context of limited it really just means “creature”. This is basically a two mana Bone Splinters with Flashback, and that sounds amazing to me. We can already see there’s a black/white sacrifice archetype going on and this spell looks actively good. You have plenty of Decayed Zombies to sacrifice as well as other throwaway permanents. Being able to deal with two powerful threats with one whole card makes this incredible in my eyes.
I do love me a mana dork, even one in two colors (they’re the two best colors anyway, so that hardly matters). Accelerating you to a four-drop on turn three is a great effect in limited. Tack on some extra ramp for Flashback and Disturb spells and the ability to sacrifice it in the late game to get a spell back adds up to a really great card.
Two damage just isn’t a lot these days. But having Flashback really is a legit bonus here. I remember Fires of Undeath being a great card all the way back in Dark Ascension and this card is probably better. Just don’t go assuming this is Lightning Helix because you will likely be disappointed.
Sigarda, Champion of Light
Sigarda’s value, like her Shadows Over Innistrad counterpart, will vary depending on how many humans are in your deck. Luckily, she is of course in the right colors for that to be accomplished. As a four-mana 4/4 with Flying and Trample, she’s already at the 6-7/10 range. Buffing your humans and potentially drawing you cards pushes her up a bit, but her power level will heavily depend on how often these abilities are relevant to you.
If it looks like a Think Twice and quacks like a Think Twice… Don’t get me wrong, I do love the design of Think Twice, but where I draw the cards from isn’t much of an upgrade. Getting your choice of two cards however is nice and there is a spells-based deck to draft that actively wants this, so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this.
Slogurk, the Overslime
Slogurk is basically a 3/3 Trample for three mana with a bunch of minor upsides. I would probably play this in any blue/green deck, but where it will really shine is in a self-mill deck, where the lands you end up milling will buff this and also make its last ability relevant when it dies. Also worth remembering that Evolving Wilds is in this set and they combine nicely.
You’ve gotta love a chonky Wee Dragonauts. I said earlier on Festival Crasher that getting a bonus for casting instants and sorceries is not good enough, as you won’t always have them. That is still true, but the difference between these two cards is that a 2/4 with Flying is still a respectable creature when you have no spells to cast. The cost reduction is also good as it makes it a lot easier to cast multiple spells in the same turn, making this maybe even a 6/4 on the turn after you play it.
A 3/3 for three mana with Trample and Haste is extremely powerful and is already something I want for any aggressive deck. I don’t know how likely you are to pass the turn without casting a spell in an aggro deck, so going from day to night might be tricky. But if your opponent does that because they need to leave instants open, going from night back to day will be very easy to accomplish. It’s not hard to imagine games where this dishes out a couple of counters before trading off — and that’s an exceptionally good rate for a three-drop.
Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset
We have three planeswalkers, and while Wrenn and Arlinn are both busted, the third one was bound to be a bit worse. Teferi does not protect himself with either of his abilities, which is the main problem here. If you play Teferi and immediately draw a card with his -2 ability, at 2 remaining loyalty he is very vulnerable to an attack. If he dies immediately, you basically just cast a four mana Anticipate when Anticipate isn’t even good at two mana.
His +1 can help protect him a little bit by untapping a creature you just attacked with, but that still requires you to have a big enough creature to block with. The fact that Teferi is bad regardless of whether you can support him makes him an underwhelming card. I can see him being fun to play and of course you can rare draft him, but it will very often not be correct to take him in a draft or play him in your sealed pools.
Tovolar, Dire Overlord / Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge
Did you ever wonder what Toski, Bearer of Secrets might look like if he was a werewolf? No? Me neither, but apparently WotC wanted to answer the question anyway. Making it always night on your turn as long as you have enough werewolves is big enough buff on its own, but turning them all into Ophidians is really scary. You can’t let in a single creature with this in play, making it a must-kill threat which sometimes is just not going to be possible and you will likely lose on the spot. Coming back against Tolovar is going to just get harder every single turn that he remains on the battlefield, which makes him, for my money, one of the best Werewolf payoffs we’ve ever seen.
Moonmist was never a card we really cared about for transforming our werewolves. But give me a proactive Moonmist that also lets me push damage through with a creature and draw me a card for my troubles and you’ve got a deal! Oh, and it has Flashback too because, well, why not? I can see this being a great payoff for being in the werewolf deck.
Vadrik, Astral Archmage
The base rate on this card is not that exciting; a three mana 1/2 that reduces the cost of spells by 1 is just bad. However, in a deck where you frequently hold up your mana to cast instants, changing the day/night cycle isn’t going to be too hard to do. Once this starts growing and reducing your spells by a lot, it’s something I am interested in. You could even buff this with other effects if you wanted to and get bigger reductions on your costs. I don’t think this will necessarily be a high pick for the spells deck, especially as it is just bad before you start buffing it.
Tribal lords tend to perform well in limited. Here, we have buffs that last even after the Socialite dies, but they’re also situational. I think that likely balances out and this deck does want to be highly aggressive, so I’m guessing the life loss clause won’t be too difficult to trigger. This should end up being a good card assuming you have the right deck for it.
Wake to Slaughter
I’m really torn on this one. Punisher mechanics (ones where your opponent chooses the outcome) are never that good of an idea, but both options on this seem fairly decent. Black/red looks to be the go-to aggressive deck in the format, so getting a haste threat out of the graveyard while also getting a Raise Dead effect seems like it should be good regardless of which way round your opponent puts them. This can just be your big finisher in a deck like that and it even has Flashback to give you two rounds of it. I’m pretty high on it right now, but it definitely has the potential to end up disappointing me.
I‘m not sure what they’re trying to do with this one. Sorcery speed Frost Breath spells are not that exciting, but one with Flashback might be? I can get a +1/+1 counter out of the deal too, which definitely does make this more exciting. The combination of being able to dish out two counters and tap down two blockers for five mana total is quite enticing if I’m playing a blue/green tempo or aggro deck, so this is definitely a playable card. Just how playable is hard to gleam without playing it a bit first. For now, I think this is an average card but I could see it being a bit better than that as the format progresses.
The Colorless Cards
Three-mana mana rocks aren’t all that good in limited, so they need to do a lot more than just provide mana to be noteworthy. I think The Celestus is doing enough to pique my interest. Being able to control the day/night cycle can do a lot for you, by transforming your own creatures into the better side or downgrading your opponent’s. Even if you just sit back and use it for mana, when the day/night cycle naturally changes you get a free loot effect, which is what I’m really interested in here. A mana rock that can loot by paying three mana would already be a card I’m interested in and this has enough extra functionality to make me want it.
We saw a very similar card in Throne of Eldraine called Signpost Scarecrow and there it was fine, but not exciting. Having an extra point of power and being able to eat a Flashback or Disturb spell on entering I think does make this quite exciting. It’s not good enough to be more than just an average common, but it has basically gone from well below average to average, meaning you’ll likely be happy with it in a lot of decks.
This is a nifty little card, but one that doesn’t really have much of an impact on any game. I really like the second ability for a self-mill deck, giving you a way of fixing for a powerful Flashback spell or something like that.
This really doesn’t look that good, but if we start by looking at it as a slightly more expensive Traveler's Amulet, then it doesn’t look all that bad. By being more expensive, it gains the ability to search for an artifact that has a mana ability, which might sound bad, but there are a couple of good targets. You can grab Crossroads Candleguide or Mystic Skull if you want to find a creature, or you could even find The Celestus to get some continuous advantage going. I don’t think every deck will want this card, but it doesn’t look as bad as it might do at first glance.
Mystic Skull / Mystic Monstrosity
I’m really not interested in a Mana Cylix, but what I do like is a colorless seven-mana 5/6 vanilla creature that I can pay for in two installments. That’s not too bad of a deal in my eyes, and then on top of that it can help fix your colors in a pinch.
Another constructed plant and not one you should bother playing with. If I had access to this and my opponent played Wrenn and Seven against me, I’d be tempted to bring it in, but this is too niche to be anything more than a bad sideboard card.
Cards like this are rarely good, but they also never cost as little mana as this. Four mana total to deal 3 damage to a creature seems like a good rate in a deck that might be short on removal. I think where this will have the best application will be as an anti-werewolf sideboard card, which a lot of decks will actively want as some of the werewolves are too big to be hit by normal removal spells.
As much as I love the flavor of the card, spending a whole card to have a creature that you need to animate every turn just isn’t that good. We saw almost this exact same card in AFR draft with Mimic and that was straight-up unplayable.
We’ve seen Evolving Wilds a bunch of times before and it’s no worse or better in this format than any other. It’s a good card that literally every deck wants. You should prioritize taking it over average, boring playables but never over the best removal spells, build arounds and great uncommons.
Field of Ruin
Thank you WotC for keeping this legal. But we really don’t care for limited purposes. There is only one utility land in the whole set and in my opinion it’s not good enough in the first place (see below). If you play this in your deck it is just going to be a Wastes in the vast majority of cases.
Hostile Hostel / Creeping Inn
If I were a betting man, I’d bet that this is the card I’m most likely to be wrong about in this review. I just don’t think it looks good. Colorless lands have a very real cost to putting them in your deck. Setting that aside, the Creeping Inn side is extremely powerful, but getting to it is not a trivial matter. You have to sacrifice three creatures across three separate turns and can’t even do so at instant speed, meaning you can’t sacrifice Decayed creatures after they’ve attacked, you can’t block and sac on your opponent’s turn and you can’t sacrifice in response to removal. That just sounds all-in-all like far too much work to make up for the downside of being a colorless land.
The ‘Slow’ Land Cycle
Like many dual lands, these aren’t really anything special for limited. Sure, you’ll want them if you happen to be in the right colors for them, but you won’t miss them too much if you don’t have them.
Arrogant Outlaw by Aurore Folny
I may not have enjoyed Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, but I am immensely excited for this new set. Given the rotation for standard, I can finally sink my teeth into playing Magic again. It has been my absolute pleasure to write this review for you and I hope you can take something away from it. I would love to hear feedback, so if you have any, leave it in the comments.
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