Duel Decks: Elspeth vs. Kiora

Here’s a neat little product coming out soon-ish. A little thing to tide you over until Game of Thrones Season 5 will come out after a few months of winter hell:


e vs kio

Elspeth looks alright but Kiora could of been much nicer.

The knight Planeswalker Elspeth Tirel sees herself as the protector of the Multiverse. She has pledged her sword and shield to all who suffer, and she summons forth impressive armies to assist her. The merfolk Planeswalker Kiora calls upon the creatures of the deepest oceans to fight at her side. She is the master of the world beneath the waves, her true power only now beginning to surface. How will these Planeswalkers measure up when they meet in battle?

So, just like Duel Decks: Koth vs. Venser, we get two ‘face’ (or good guy) planeswalkers duking it out. It’s also just a good excuse to give newer players some good value on two 20$+ planeswalkers before they rotate from Standard in November 2015. Not sure what nice little reprints or new art cards Wizards of the Coast will be including in these babies, but they seldom disappoint.

elspeth art kiora art

Release Date:

February 27, 2015

Theros GameDay Playmat

mtg theros playmat

Elspeth going -3 on that hydra

I’m really excited about the new Theros Game Day playmat. It’s way nicer than any of the previous ones and features the sizzling hot Elspeth taking on a Hydra. The word ‘Champion’ is floating over Elspeth between hydra tnetacles, reminiscent of a videogame player indicator. Arm yourself with a great deck for Theros Game Days everywhere because the competition will be fierce.

The illustration was used for many promotional items and is featured on the art of Vanquish the Foul, a card that costs way too much mana for what it does.

theros gameday events

Find a Theros GameDay near you!

Is it Safe?

is it safe


by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

We’ve been used to a creature-filled standard packed with ‘enter the battlefield’ permanents and little to fear but Supreme Verdicts and the odd counterspell here and there. It’s time we switched it up a bit. At first, when Theros was revealed to be an ‘enchantment matters’ set people went and snatched up any seemingly worthwhile enchantment they could. It stood to reason that these would rise in price because they should be seeing some play. It was almost all for naught, as Theros brought in its own set of enchantments with not so many cards that would interact with them. We got Nykthos instead of a functional reprint of Serra’s Sanctum and no Argothian Enchantress -style card. That’s fine though, we can still do quite a bit with that.

The following list is not my own invention but rather Sam Black’s. I really like the decks that he comes up with as they seem to emerge from another world. He made the now-famous Zombie Bombardment deck that sees some niche Legacy play. The following decklist may seem super weird, but upon testing it and seeing the various synergies …. Well, it’s really something else.

UW Sphere Control

4 x Azorius Guildgate
4 x Hallowed Fountain
2 x Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
9 x Plains
7 x Island

26 Lands

2 x Heliod, God of the Sun

2 Creatures

3 x Sphinx’s Revelation
3 x Supreme Verdict
3 x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2 x Gideon, Champion of Justice
2 x Spear of Heliod
4 x Sphere of Safety
3 x Martial Law
4 x Blind Obedience
4 x Detention Sphere
4 x Security Blockade

32 Other Spells


2 x Jace, Memory Adept
2 x Rest in Peace
2 x Solemn Offering
2 x Gainsay
1 x Gideon, Champion of Justice
2 x Negate
3 x Celestial Flare
1 x Glare of Heresy

15 cards


Don’t let the little number 2 fool you next to the word ‘creatures’. Technically, Heliod is a creature. In a lot of the games you play he will either never become one or become one in the late game. The original list featured only one Heliod and 3 Gideons. I decided to switch it up a bit because I wanted to see Heliod in action. The other advantage that Heliod has is that he can pump out creatures that block/attack and contribute towards your enchanment count for Sphere of Safety. Sometimes with Nykthos in play and enough enchantments you can churn out 3 tokens a turn which is pretty insane.

As far as the Gods from Theros go, Heliod has proven to be a beast both in limited and constructed for me. Granted I have not seen many of the others in action save Purphoros, but he has not been all to great (except for the combo with Elspeth in Sealed play). It’s also worth noting that while not extremely impressive,  Security Blockade is pretty much a creature as well. If you’re planning to play this deck be sure to pack your tokens.

heliod token

That’s quite a unique token

No Counters ?

Woah! now it’s getting weird. We are used to almost creatureless Blue/White or Esper builds that only run something like 1 x Aetherling as a win condition, but this is just too much. No counterspells means we can’t really protect ourselves from some nasty spells. It’s actually not that true. While we don’t have a counter for something like Rakdos’s Return, we probably don’t need one. Thee thing with counterspells in the beginning of a format is knowing what you need to have an answer for. Seeing as though most new formats are filled with quick monored decks and other aggressive decks, counterspells are a lot less appealing. This is also somewhat my argument for not running something like Thoughtseize in your maindeck at the moment eventhough you have a strong urge to do so. It’s a card that is more effective in a format like Modern due to the speed of the format and the prevalence of combo decks.

The deck is more of a tapout control deck. I floods the board with hard to remove permanents and eventually overtakes it with a Gideon, Elspeth or Heliod. Sure it runs Sphinx’s Revelation to get some more cards mid to late game, but that and Supreme Verdict are the only non-permanent cards in the main. With cards like Blind Obedience and Detention Sphere, it’s almost like you had countered their haste creatures anyhow. The main thing this deck is countering is your opponent’s ability to attack you. This is the main way most decks win, right?

The Gameplan

You probably want to run out the Azorius Guildgates and Hallowed Fountains out first. It will let your opponent know that you’re probably running Supreme Verdict and that you mean business. It may not cause the ‘no fear’ players to care about potentially losing their whole board to a Supreme Verdict, but that’s ok. With 0 possible turn 1 plays, you then try to drop a Blind Obedience on Turn 2. This is not to say that you absolutely need to keep a hand with it, but it’s probably good to have it in your opener.

Turn 3 is where the ‘action’ begins. You’re either going to:


A) Detention Sphere one of their permanents that’s already beginning to annoy you

B) Cast Spear of Heliod because you eventually need to start casting stuff

C) Cast Security Blockade so you can make a 2/2 Knight token and be ready to trade with one of their small aggro dudes

D) Play a land that comes into play tapped so you don’t have to look like an idiot when you need to cast Supreme Verdict on turn 4




The best option is probably C) and sometimes D). You probably want to be ready to tangle with their creatures by turn 4 and those are the two plays that prepare you for it.

Turn 4 is pretty crucial. You cannot yet animate a Heliod, but it can be a good turn to cast him versus black-based decks that are just itching to Hero’s Downfall what would otherwise be a Gideon, Champion of Justice. Alternatively, you may want to prepare for setting up a ‘fat’ Sphere of Safety and minimizing damage by playing a Martial Law (yay!). Against a more control-oriented deck I feel that Gideon is the correct play since he can just start attacking as a 5/5 on the following turn and put your opponent on a 4 turn clock that dodges a lot of removal (except for Detention Sphere and Hero’s Downfall).

Supreme Verdict is the most common card you will be needing to cast on this turn. If you get any kind of value, go for it. Don’t just burn the card because it’s sitting in your hand and you feel the need to absolutely take out his random attacker though. Just because you clearly have too many options does not give you the right to make the worst choice. Play safe 🙂

Congratulations you have reached turn 5 and are not yet dead! Your main goal should be putting that Sphere of Saftey into play as soon as  possible. Just cast that bad boy and watch your opponent pick up the card, read it and let out a great big *SIGH!* You should have pretty much mitigated most of the aggro that your opponent will be trying to win with. Please feel free to repeat this play on Turn 6 as well in order to make it almost impossible for your opponent to attack with more than one creature.

You now have X turns to win the game. What is X you ask? Why, it’s a variable of course.

It’s approximately measured as the # of turns your opponent can draw enough land to eventually attack you, the # of turns it takes you to draw Elspeth and spam the battlefield with filthy 1/1 soldier tokens, the # of turns it takes you to attack your opponent down to 0 with Gideon, the # of turns it takes you to ultimate a Gideon or the # of turns it takes you to make enough cute little inoffensive-looking 2/1 tokens and beat rain down the wrath of Heliod on your unsuspecting opponent.



anger of the gods

if you squint hard enough you can see that those are 2/1 Cleric Tokens raining down at that poor guy

Regardless of your ‘Hero’s Path’, you will eventually draw a win condition. You can almost last an insane amount of time on this board state without ever being in trouble. What’s your opponent going to do? Cast more creatures? Yes, they might have a random answer to your Sphere of Safety, but probably not in Game 1. Just draw your cards and the Gods will guide you to victory! Well, maybe not… but you get the picture.

Why would I play this?



For starters, it’s actually fun. It’s just different. It’s not a 10-planeswalker superfriends deck. It’s almost all entirely Sorcery Speed, runs pretty smoothly and just messes with people because you run so many WTF? cards. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to play instead of just goodstuff.dec, then give it a shot. I got so many weird looks just by playing Security Blockade and putting down a token. People were amazed at how awesome the cards is. Truth is: it’s really not, but it’s the card for the job. It allows you to minimize some burn or combat damage by tapping your land and you can probably trade your 2/2 Knight token for anything that’s attacking you or just chump block to buy yourself more time.


knight token


Not all tokens are created equal

You get to even kill a few creatures with Spear of Heliod if you absolutely have to. I mean, how cool is that? You almost never have the mana or time to do that in a White Weenie deck running that fabulous Legendary Artifact Enchantment. You also have the opportunity to maybe potentially drain your opponent with Blind Obedience. Spam more enchantments, use the extra mana to drain your opponent’s life little by little and stay alive.

You get to finally play with Gideon, Champion of Justice.



gideon champion of justice

Finally, you get to show everyone that Gideon doesn’t suck!

Between threatening lethal late game and detaining their irrelevant creatures, you can force them to block with creatures they don’t want to block with. The deck grinds everything to a halt that you can achieve his ultimate and go ‘better than a Planar Cleansing‘ on their @$%. If you have to ultimate him while at 15 loyalty, please make sure to at least float some mana and be ready to cast something like Elspeth, Heliod or another Gideon afterwards. At the very least, just go for a huge Sphinx’s Revelation with enough mana left to cast one of the above cards should you draw it. Also, please remember that your Detention Spheres are going to go bye-bye so have something ready for whatever is coming back (unless it was just some random God that can’t do much when nothing else is left in play).


Sometimes you don’t necessarily want to pop everything on the battlefield. You can just keep swinging with a really big Gideon and win that way, forcing your opponent to lose creature after creature. If your opponent is running Black, please beware that Hero’s Downfall is a real card. If you feel that your opponent will eventually draw something like a Detention Sphere (well, maybe just a Detention Sphere since Oblivion Ring is no longer in the format) you can go ahead and rush that ultimate even if it means losing Gideon. The more dedicated control decks will have a really tough time recovering from this as they tend to play all the lands they can.

The Detention Sphere warning is a double-edged sword however, since whatever your opponent exiled with it would come back as well. Be sure to watch for that and don’t just blindly D-Sphere things, especially since a Detention Sphere can’t target another Detention Sphere.

Side what out?

Your sideboard is a mish-mash of anti-control strategies. First there’s the obvious Negates that are there to take out other Sphinx’s Revelations, planeswalkers, Fade to Antiquity (you never know) and maybe a random big burn spell. You also have a couple of Gainsays that are going to probably perform similar duties as well as maybe countering something like an Aetherling or Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver.

jace m14

There’s still another Jace in Standard …

Despite the sudden rise in Popularity of Jace, Architect of Thought, some people forget that there’ another Jace that you’d rather have in play during control mirrors. You might also want to sideboard him in versus the suddenly more popular Maze’s End decks that are surfacing.

Celestial Flare is another nod to the aggro decks. You get to slow them down on Turn 2-3 and maybe even hit a real baddy like Blood Baron of Vizkopa who is just really bad news for this deck. Casting it against an attacking God is probably more dream than reality though. Still, there are nuissances like Witchstalker that can be taken out with this little gem.

glare of heresy

White on white hate? Can’t we all just get a long?

Glare of Heresy is there because sometimes you will each have something like an Elspeth in play and casting Detention Sphere is kind of bad. It can also be used on opposing Detention Spheres as well. Depending on how popular white decks are in your area you might want to increase the count. I hear it’s also very good versus opposing Heliods.

Finally we have Solemn Offering, a card that has not really seen play in forever. It’s probably something I would carefully consider siding in versus decks that can win with Assemble the Legion or even some black decks running Whip of Erebos. Of course you’ll also side it in against opposing Detention Spheres, Crackling Perimiter ( Maze’s End sideboard card) and maybe even Pithing Needle ( a card that affects your deck a whole lot),

gideon champion

It’s about time!

Finally, the odd Gideon can porbably better serve as another Glare of Heresy or Solemn Offering. It’s just that I was so excited to be running it that I kept the overall number of Gideons intact.

Ready to take to a Pro Tour Qualifier?




Probably not just yet. Most people will probably know what you’re up to and be somewhat able to interact with your deck. Cards like Ashiok can be a real pain unless you can find your Detention Sphere early on, otherwise you’re stuck attacking him (which is not where you want to be). I would really play this often at local store FNM’s or GPT’s and tweak it based on what I found to be under-performing.

More to Come …

I will be completing my article on Modern Mill and some more Standard stuff in the very near future. If you have anything you would like to write about please do not hesitate to contact carteblanchehobbies AT yahoo DOT com. It doesn’t need to be about any Magic: the Gathering format in particular, so give us a shout.



heliod big

Theros Previews: Wave 2

previews wave 2

by Steve ‘DDT’ Giannopoulos

A whole lot has been revealed since the last Wave, so let’s get down to it.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

elspeth thero

The ‘big’ Elspeth

The first thing you’ll notice is the increase in mana cost over the previous two Elspeths. Of course there has to be some reason behind it, right? Well, we get a +1 ability that gives us a nice ‘comeback’ ability. Putting three tokens a turn for the initial investment of 6 mana is really not a bad deal. She pretty much protects herself really nicely (as Elspeth has historically been known to do).

At -3 loyalty we get a Retribution of the Meek.

retribution of the meek

Last time I saw this was in my Legacy ‘Death and Taxes’ deck a few years back

We can immediately activate this ability and potentially have Elspeth stick around long enough to continue churning out three tokens a turn. Not too shabby! Especially if we consider that we are playing a white-based deck versus cards like Blood Baron of Vizkopa, who is especially against us. We get to kill quite a few ‘monstrous’ creatures as well, since they pretty much all grow past 3 power once their ‘monstrosity’ ability is activated. This is probably why she is shown slaying a Hydra in some of the promo art.

elspeth promo art

Monster Extermination service fee: 6 mana

This ability becomes even more relevant considering that our opponents will probably be enchanting their creatures as well It works so-so versus bestow, since it will kill the original enchanted creature but the aura then becomes as creature itself. So far I don’t think there’s any Bestow creature that seems particularly competitive so that might just be a moot point.

Let’s take a look at that ultimate:

-7: You get an emblem with “Creatures you control get +2/+2 and have flying.”

Nice ultimate bro! Once you finish coming from behind, you get to lay the smackdown on your opponent by buffing your team forever. If you’re really lucky you can even ultimate twice in one game (though it’s doubtful that your opponent isn’t dead by that point). I’m sure the Doubling Season casual decks will have tons of fun overkilling with that ability, since you can ultimate the turn she comes into play.

In a regular Standard game of Magic: the Gathering, I’m not sure how often you’ll get to even ultimate once. I would just content myself with the three tokens a turn. All in all, this Elspeth wasn’t as awe-inspiring as the original but she’ll definitely see some play. People tend to dismiss the higher costed planeswalkers, but I think that last Standard season showed that some of them (like Garruk, Primal Hunter) are quite good despite the higher than average mana cost.

Chained to the Rocks

chained to the rocks

Journey to Nowhere, with a twist!

Of course the initial thought  is: ‘ I’m going to need some Sacred Foundry‘. While the card is a cost-reduced Journey to Nowhere, it does require you to probably splash red (unless there is a Blood Moon effect that is yet to be spoiled). Imagine a mountain enchanted with both this and the following card:

awaken the ancientThen again, maybe not

The card is 100% playable in a format where each color has at least one indestructible ‘God’ card (soon to be previewed). You get to handle them once they become creatures. Thing is, they are all pretty content in remaining in play as enchantments too. You might never get to really use it on their ‘Legendary Enchantment Creature – God’ cards. It might just become a test of patience in which they delay in ‘animating’ their God card until you play your ‘Chained to the Rocks‘. Will the other colors get some good creature removal such as this?  Continue following the spoilers to find out.

Gift of Immortality


Great flavor and sweet card

So not all Auras are going to be Bestow creatures, but this one has a heck of a lot of value attached to it. Whether it’s saving your creature from ‘Supreme Verdict‘ effects or repeatedly sacrificing it each turn to get its ‘entered the battlefield’ ability to trigger over and over, Gift of Immortality has you covered. This is also going to go into many Bruna, Light of Alabaster Commander decks as well (so are quite a few other Auras in this set).

You can also maybe use this on one of your creatures that the opponent took from you and then regain control of it when it dies (or more likely when you use a removal on it). Imagine this thing with a sac outlet on an Acidic Slime ? Good times! This is probably why the slime did not get reprinted in Magic 2014, on top of beeing really good versus an ‘enchantment matters’ block.

Heliod, God of the Sun

heliod god of the sun

from the greek ‘Helios’ meaning Sun

Another God card revealed in Theros! At first glance he seems pretty good although not nearly as good as the blue one – Thassa. He can spam some tokens at a steep cost, but for some reason they are enchantment creature tokens? This is obviously relevant, with cards that are soon to be spoiled no doubt. The Serra’s Blessing your team ability is better in Standard than any other format, where creatures are more dominant.

Maybe he can team up with Gideon, Champion of Justice and form some kind of ‘creatureless’ weird control deck. You can be sure that with the increasing number of  noncreature permanents that are likely to see play in Standard, Gideon is in a good position to shine. We can always hope right? You can always run some weird 5-color God control in which you do nothing but spam tokens and never have devotion to make them creatures (to obviously make them even more ‘indestructible’, since they can’t be unsummoned, -x/-x’d and ‘sacrifice a creature’d. It’s probably just sill talk, but if this game has taught us anything it’s that almost anything is possible.

Like Thassa, Heliod is pretty undercosted for a creature. You can easily run him in a White-based aggressive deck just for his statistics and Vigilance to all your creatures ability. If the two gods spoiled so far are any indication, these cards are going to be one of the hottest commodities in recent memory.

Hundred-Handed One

hundred-handed one


On statistics alone, this guys is pretty decent but his Monstrosity ability is soooooo flavorful and feels almost Unglued-like. He basically becomes a 6/8 vigilance and can block up to 100 creatures. It seems fairly ridiculous that it would ever need to block that many creatures. I can think of a Modern deck that can make that many creatures, times a hundred or more : Splinter Twin/Pestermite or Kiki-Jiki/ Deceiver Exarch. The problem is that they make infinite tokens and that this guy doesn’t get a bonues when he blocks, so he’ll just die to one wave of attackers.

I know, I know, it seems harsh. The truth is that it’s the kind of card that has a good casual appeal as well as being borderline playable. Since Monstrous can be activated at instant speed and he has vigilance, he can shut down most would-be opposing counterattacks.

Phalanx Leader

phalanx leader

Finally, a smaller creature!

Here we have another example of the Heroic ability (the anti thesis to the Monstrous ability). It’s actually not a bad Heroic ability, since you get to put counters as opposed to just temporarily boost your creatures (as we saw with a few other Heroic abilities before). He includes himself in the boost, so understandably he’s just a 1/1 creature to start.

I can picture him in a Boros-style deck (one that didn’t quite materialize in Return to Ravnica/Innistrad Standard). Play a few efficient Red/White creatures and then a cheap instant/sorcery that can target 2 or more creatures (unfortunately ‘Overload’ won’t work in that respect, but Martial Glory seems good now).

martial glory

Maybe, just maybe ….

Vanquish the Foul

vanquish the foul

Removal at a great cost

I really don’t like much about this card, save maybe the artwork. It’s sorcery speed for starters, which is something you almost never want your removal to be. It feels like we’re basically paying too much for the ability to Scry in white. Reprisal cost only 2 mana and was Instant speed. I can understand that it might not seem quite fair comparing newer cards to older ‘powerful’ cards, but Reprisal was hardly a power card.

In sealed formats (which most of you will be participating in during Theros Pre-releases), feel free to include this in your deck as the format is much slower. There’s almost no excuse to put this in your Constructed decks, ever!

Gods Willing

gods willing

Some reasonably costed Heroic action

As opposed to the above card we reviewed, Gods Willing is not charging us much to Scry. In essence, it’s practically free.  Apostle’s Blessing saw a bit of Standard play and continues to see some play in various Infect builds in Modern. For one less mana (or 2 less life), we get the ability to Scry as well. With Snapcaster Mage gone from Standard, we won’t be abusing this any time soon. This is not to say that it’s not going to find its way into a deck or two.

Wingsteed Rider

wingsteed rider

More white cards featuring Pegasi

Before you ask: Yes, I had to Google the plural of Pegasus! Other than that, there is not much to say about this card. It doesn’t benefit the rest of your creatures for its Heroic Trigger. Pht! Some ‘Hero’ this turned out to be.

Artisan of Forms

artisan of forms

Conditional Clone. Good of Bad?

Before even getting to compare this thing to Clone, there’s an important keyword that appears on this and is not on Clone: Target. I’m not talking about the retail giant that has taken over Zellers here in Canada either.

target store

We basically now have to work harder to copy another creature. The card costs half as much. The creature can exist on the battlefield on its own. We can’t copy shroud or hexproof guys. We can switch what we copy by simply targetting our creature. The clone ability can be responded to. We don’t get to copy ‘enters the battlefield’ abilities.

The above is a quick summary of Pros and Cons initially observed on Artisan of Forms. We do get to potentially copy an Monstrous creature, activate Monstrous and potentially copy a creature that can then make further use of the +1/+1 counters. It just seems like som much work in a Magic: the Gathering world where we have become increasingly accustomed to ‘instant gratification’ on our creatures (with about two years of ‘enter the battlefield’ effects.

There are probably going to be some neat tricks to perform with this card, although none come to mind at the moment where I have to review about 30 or so new cards. I would pick up four early just in case.

Curse of the Swine

curse of the swine

Mono blue gets ‘mass’ removal too

Based more or less on Circe from Homer’s Odyssey as seen here. This card may seem rather funny at first, but it’s potentially very playable in Standard. It exiles, for starters. This means that the ‘Gods’ are not safe from it due to indestructibility. It’s good early and late game as well. There may be the odd play that requires you to ‘upgrade’ a few 1/1 creatures on your end into 2/2 green boars ( don’t laugh! ok, maybe giggle a little).

“Ready your boar tokens, because tonight we swine in hell!”

Lost in a Labyrinth

lost in a labyrinth

Look out for those Minotaurs!

Not a particularly exiting card, Lost in a Labirynth is clearly destined for some Limited action. Perhaps if Wizards of the Coast had contacted us to have an exclusive preview on this card, I would have a more detailed account on how ‘awesome’ it is.



It’s clearly no Sea Gate Oracle

At one mana less than Sea Gate Oracle, this card is just not quite good enough to make the cut in any competitive deck. It does not net you a card (like Augur of Bolas could) and that is argument enough to not consider it when deckbuilding. Unless of course some combo deck were to see the light and you absolutely need to Scry mad for all the pieces.

Sealock Monster

sealock monster

Another candiate for Quest of Ula’s Temple

Perhaps even more evidence that Kiora Atua is in this block?

kiora atua

Dare we dream?

Thassa’s Emissary

thassas emissaryNot too ‘ shcrabby’ eh?

A decent-sized creature that’s bound to be picked up high enough in drafts and thrown into a couple of Sealed decks. Good ability, Hill Giant-sized body/cost and potential bonus later game with the Bestow ability. Unfortunately for you sea creature lovers out there: does not ‘combo’ with Quest for Ula’s Temple.

Voyage’s End

voyage's end

Unsummon+ Scry = this little gem

Yes, you are basically paying extra for the Scry cost. If you were dissapointed that Unsummon was not in M14, you should be glad right now. You can prevent Monstrous from triggering since it checks on resolution to activate the actual Monstrous ability as per the F.A.Q.

Both Unsummon and Vapor Snag saw their fair share of Constructed play so it’s not a stretch to imagine this in some kind of temp-oriented deck.

Wavecrash Triton

wavecrash triton

Such a rude little Merfolk!

So you get to tap their creatures while pumping your Wavecrash Triton? I somehow don’t see that occuring in the realm of the playable. In limited it can get interesting with a 4-drop Bestow ability to get a lead when damage racing. I do like how at first glance you think the merfolk wizards seems gigantic compared to the ships until you realize that he’s simply in the foreground and the ships are in the background.

Cavern Lampad

cavern lampad

Nymphs are black?

So here we have another Bestow creature or, as I like to call them ‘Reverse Living Weapon’. As opposed to the Living Weapon Mechanic, you cast these as enchantments first THEN they become creatures. Interesting … Other than that you get a generic enchantment which then becomes a generic creature. Not so interesting …

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

gray merchant of asphidel

An interesting take on Corrupt

This innocent enough looking card can get out of hand quickly enough. You can run cards like Dark Prophecy and Underworld Connections to ‘ramp’ up into this. Assuming you had a turn 1 or turn 2 black permanent as well, that can add up to an 8-point life swing!

Allright,I might be stretching it a bit. The fact remains that this card should not be totally ruled out as unplayable. To top it off, it doesn’t target an opponent. Your opponent will not be able to save himself by making himself Hexproof.

That is also the most cartoonish Zombie I have ever seen on a Magic: the Gathering card.

Read the Bones

read the bones

Let the Sign in Blood comparisons begin!

Part Divination, part Sign in Blood, part Serum Visions. All very very decent. You can pretty much dig up to 4 cards deep with it but not be able to potentially kill your opponent with it (like with Sign in Blood). It also allows you to splash another color to your black deck more easily. Well, maybe not if you run blue (as they usually have the bulk of the card draw).

Also, the quote is very philosophical/creepy. I expect it will be fighting with Underworld Connections for the 3-drop slot in an enchantment matters block.

Rescue from the Underworld

rescue from the underworld

Just when you thought reanimator was dead

A two for one if it’s countered or a two for one the other way if it’s not. You essentially want to sacrifice a value creature so that you get more out of it when it returns to the battlefield again. Sacrificing a Monstrosity seems ok too, if you wish to remake it Monstrous and activate its sweet effect.  Angel of Serenity anyone?

angel of serenity

Just when you thought it was out of the question …

The instant speed on this is reminiscent of other great reanimator cards like Makeshift Mannequin. With more or less enough hate, the reanimator archetype has been left alone at the time being. I believe that it is poised to make a comeback at one point or another. What better time than the very beginning of a new format?

Whether it ends up being the reanimation target or the sacrificed creature, you’ll be glad either way.



Is that Socrates? I mean, is that really Thoughtseize?

The great moment most Modern players have been waiting for is at hand: Thoughtseize reprint is confirmed! For starters, this will probably know down the ridiculous 60$ price tag of the Lorwyn version by quite a bit. It’s great to have it back. Not simply because it obviously increases the value you can open in Theros, but because it gives you a very good reason to play Black. You see, black has been very very underplayed in Standard as of late (criminally underplayed, even).

Thoughtseize is a bit of a skill-testing card (especially now with Snapcaster Mage gone). Sure, sometimes you will cast it on turn one and completely punish a greedy opponent who kept a bad hand. For example, someone who kept a one Forest hand with Elvish Mystic and 5 2-cost or higher cards.

The thing is: you don’t necessarily want to cast it on turn one. Against slower decks, you have much more time to cast it at an opportune time. It can force a counterspell so that you can then cast and resolve your threats. It can also stop their ‘bomb’, gamechanger,etc by casting Thoughtseize it the very turn before they can possibly play it. Of course that last part applies a little less versus decks packing countermagic.  The main card it may end up hitting on like turn 4 is Sphinx’s Revelation which is sure to still be a heavy hitter in the new Standard format (eventhough  it’s usually the time where quick red decks tend to appear).

Sphinx's Revelation

You’re only kidding yourself if you think you’ve seen the last of this card

In older formats, however, it’s not uncommon to see Thoughtseize cast on turn one. The format is much faster and more combo-oriented. Sometimes you may even end up discarding an opposing Thoughtseize/ Inquisition of Kozilek just to protect your hand from backlash.

Akroan Crusader


akroan crusader

Sweet art and abilty

Akroan Crusader is going to no doubt be part of some kind of Boros Weenie deck in the new Standard environment. You might have to target him pre-combat to fully benefit from his Heroic ability, but you will at least always get the 1/1 token. As with many heroic cards you want to try and find multi-target instants and sorceries to trigger more than 1 Heroic ability each times. Remember: cheap Auras also do the trick. It’s a shame Rancor just rotated, but if you’re more into casual Magic nothing’s stopping you from playing it in conjunction with Heroic creatures.


You will be missed once October rolls around, little Rancor!

Flamespeaker Adept



Scry me a river!

This card is rather odd in the usual red card + set mechanic combo. Cards like Lightning Rift and Burning Vengeance actually pump out damage while you go around cycling cards and flashbacking stuff. This card does not guarantee any kind of damage, it only provides a few tricks here and there without possessing any form of evasion. Still, decently sized to continuously attack as a 4/3 first strike and can do somewhat ridiculous damage with Magma Jet in the set as well.

For now, strictly a card you would see in a 40-card deck.

Magma Jet


More to come later today…