Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Gatecrash Commander Review - Review of Rare cards in Commander (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my review of the Gatecrash rares in Commander! I will be writing a short review of every rare (except the shock lands) from Gatecrash. Please note this review contains my opinions on the cards, and some of the cards have been untested. When talking about cards, unless otherwise stated, I am talking about the cards use in a multiplayer setting, with evenly matched fair decks.

Back to part one! 
Continue to part three!
Mythics review!

Frontline Medic
Frontline Medic does a bit of everything! A 3/3 for 3 is low on your curve, and when you attack with it and 2 others, battalion triggers and your creatures are indestructible this turn. This can lead to a lot of interesting situations, making blocking hard, or being able to wrath in your second main phase and your creatures will survive! It makes all creatures indestructible too, not just attacking creatures. It then has the added bonus of countering an X spell unless the controller pays 3. Whilst it won't stop the ever popular infinite mana exanguinates, it will slow down an opponent drawing a new hand with Blue Sun's Zenith or Sphinx Revelation, and make your opponent put more mana in to kill your team with a fireball.

Decks it could be useful in? White decks with creatures, mono-white control
Overall Opinion - A nice 3 drop for aggro decks and control decks alike, indestructible is no laughing matter, and the added sacrifice bonus is nice, slowing down players relying on X spells.

Glaring Spotlight
Wizards finally admitting Hexproof was a mistake! A one mana artifact that makes creatures with hexproof your opponents control targetable. The one mana is extremely relevant as it means Trinket Mage got another goody. For 3 mana you can sacrifice it and give your creatures hexproof AND unblockable until end of turn. Whilst this is a very situational card, I expect it will see play in any group that has a Geist of St Traft, Sigarda, or Uril player amongst them, and in playgroups in general to combat Swiftfoot boots and the various other aura's and equipment that grant hexproof. The sacrifice ability can be used to counter someone targeting your creatures, or for an alpha strike with an army of unblockables.

Decks it could be useful in? Any deck with Trinket Mage, Control decks
Overall Opinion - Had this cost any more than 1 mana, I don't think it would see much play, but as it does I expect to see it in many decks that have a way to tutor for it reliably. Its very situational so it might not fit in every deck however. If you have problems with hexproof, you should strongly consider this card.

Gruul Ragebeast
A 7 mana 6/6 with built in removal whenever a creature enters the battlefield! I expect to see this in R/G aggro decks with large creatures to clear the way of blockers before they attack. Whilst it looks like its always an upside, the ability is not optional however, so it also means you won't be able to cast smaller creatures without potentially sending them to their deaths if your opponents only control larger creatures.

Decks it could be useful in? R/G ramp/aggro decks
Overall Opinion - A nice addition to decks with lots of large creatures, though it could hinder your ability to play utility creatures, unless those creatures are expendable.

Gyre Sage
Gyre Sage is a 2 mana 1/2 with evolve, that taps to add mana equal to the number of counters on it. A mana drop with Evolve seems like it could get pretty powerful, allowing you to tap for mana or attack with is as it grows larger. In practise it is often slower than you would want it to be, as it doesn’t accelerate you in the early turns until you have cast a creature larger than it to cause evolve to trigger. If it does stick around and you can get it to evolve a few times it can create a lot of mana however, especially if you have other ways of putting +1/+1 counters on it. If you are looking for straight up ramp, Gyre Sage isn’t the answer/ However, as a flexible creature that can be used for mana ramp, or a beat if it gets large enough, Gyre Sage works wonders in the right deck

Decks it could be useful in? Mayael, Eldrazi Ramp.
Overall Opinion - Great in decks with high numbers or large creatures, though not worth it in decks with lots of smaller creatures like elves or Edric.

High Priest of Penance
A 1/1 Human Cleric that destroys a non-land permanent when it’s dealt damage. Thats dealt damage from anywhere, not just combat damage. Whilst in most decks, this card will probably be worse than a Baleful Strix, I think it could easily be abused. Recurring this creature to repeatedly Vindicate whenever you block with it, or making it undestructable or boosting its power and toughness and just damaging it yourself could make this a powerful inclusion in the right deck. It’s easier to recur than vindicate, though it doesn’t hit non-lands, and it does nothing if its killed or exiled before it is deal damage however.

Decks it could be useful in? B/W stax, recursion decks.
Overall Opinion - I wish I could play it in shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, but alas, I cannot. I think it could be a powerful card in the right deck, and at worst a deterrent for people attacking you.

Illusionist's Bracers
Its essentially Rings of Brighthearth on some equipment! Rings of Brighthearth is already an auto-include in so many decks because it combo’s with everything, and now with the bracers you don’t even have to pay. Any general with an activated ability would love these bracers. Whilst it doesn’t let you ramp with fetch lands like the rings do, not paying for the copy effect makes up for it. I don’t think they will replace the rings in a lot of decks, especially ones that use non-creature activated abilities, but they will probably be played along side them in decks with generals that have activated abilities.

Decks it could be useful in? Decks with generals with activated abilities! Krenko, Ghave, Olivia Voldaren, Sliver overlord
Overall Opinion - Probably not as good as Rings of Brighthearth most of the time because you can only copy one creatures activated abilities at a time, and only creatures activated abilities, but definitely better in certain decks.

Immortal Servitude
Mass creature reanimation spells are very popular in EDH, this one is probably going to be popular too. For X w/b w/b w/b you return each creature with CMC X to the battlefield. Whilst the restriction of only returning creatures with CMC equal to X is definitely going to hurt this card, decks with a lot of creatures at the same CMC are going to love this. Its most likely going to be used to recur utility creatures at 1-3 mana, or occasionally to return a fatty or three when you have mana to spare.

Decks it could be useful in? W/B creature decks, Teysa, Vish Kal
Overall Opinion - Another card that would go perfectly in Shirei if it weren’t for the white mana.

Legion Loyalist
Goblin decks got a nice new one drop, that works perfectly in Boros Weenies or R/G aggro too! A hastey 1/1 goblin with Battalion that gives your creatures First Strike, Trample, and cannot be blocked by tokens whenever you attack with it and two others. Whilst the low power and toughness make it easy to kill, it having haste means you can drop it late game for an alpha strike and give all your creatures trample. In goblin decks, where its power and toughness can easily be boosted, even blocking this probably won’t end well for your opponents.

Decks it could be useful in? Krenko, Wort, Jor Kadeen
Overall Opinion - A nice one drop for aggressive decks, and an absolute house in goblins, though its all too easy to kill. Useful early game to attacking favourably in aggro decks, and haste makes it useful even late game for an alpha strike, giving your creatures first strike and trample.

Luminate Primordial
The white Primordial with a free Swords to Plowshares when it enters the battlefield, attached to a huge 4/7 vigilance body. Even after exiling your opponents threats, you are left with a nice attacker and blocker all in one. When it enters the battlefield, for each opponent, you exile one creature they control, and they gain life equal to its power. Like all the primordials, it gets more powerful with more opponents, though then there are more opponents who are likely to have an answer. If you can blink this thing or recur it, it can get very scary, and the 4/7 vigilance body is far from irrelevant.

Decks it could be useful in? U/W Blink, Mono-White Control.
Overall Opinion - Removal is always nice, especially when added to a creature, and it removes a creature from each opponent. Like all the Primordials, with a way to reuse the ETB effect, this card becomes insane.

Merciless Eviction
An extremely powerful sweeper, and one of the few ways to get rid of multiple planeswalkers. This may become the sweeper of choice in B/W decks, exiling one of: planeswalkers, enchantments, artifacts or creatures means this card will be useful in most situations. Sometimes you may draw it and wish it was austere command however, if you need to get rid of more than one type, only being able to hit one at once is a definite downside. It exiles the chosen permanent type as well, so it gets around indestructible, but may also cause problems if you were planning on recurring your own permanents when you play it. Make sure you have a sac outlet ready so you can cast it without fear of exiling your own permanents forever.

Decks it could be useful in? B/W decks needing a sweeper, 5 colour planeswalkers
Overall Opinion - A very powerful sweeper, just have to be careful of your own permanents in case you exile something you need later on.

Mind Grind
U/B mills newest toy, it mills your opponents until they hit X land cards for X UB. The important bit is that it hits each opponent, not just one. This cards seems like a nice inclusion for decks that want cards in their opponents graveyards, such a Wrexial, but its always dangerous filling up a graveyard, as most decks use it as an extra resource. If you use mill as a main win condition, this card will make a nice addition, as always make sure you have graveyard hate though.

Decks it could be useful in? Wrexial, Lazav
Overall Opinion - I dislike mill strategies in general though this is one of the more powerful for decks relying on opponents graveyards

Molten Primordial
The red primordial does exactly what you would expect it to! When it enters the battlefield, it steals a creature from each opponent, untaps them and gives them haste, until end of turn. It comes on a hastey 6/4 body to boot. You can take an opponents threat and beat them down with it, or even just take a blocker and hit them with your hastey 6/4. I strong recommend having a sac outlet in every EDH deck, and if you have one out when you play this guy you can sacrifice your opponents creatures so they won’t get them back.

Decks it could be useful in? R/x aggro, Brion Stoutarm
Overall Opinion - A definite upgrade of Conquering Manticore, I’ll be playing this in Brion (sometimes Gisela) and probably other red decks too. It gets more powerful with more opponents and can steal threats to end the game quickly.

Mystic Genesis
5 mana counters have Force of Will to contend with, and while this isn’t as easy to cast, it still has a fairly powerful effect. When you counter a spell with it, you get an X/X ooze, where X was the spells converted mana cost. Curving out at Voidslime, Mystic Snake, Mystic Genesis in a control deck would be the most amazing feeling. I can imagine this seeing play in many decks, countering a game ending spell and getting a huge slime to end the game yourself.

Decks it could be useful in? Edric, Damia, G/U midrange
Overall Opinion - A nice counter spell, whilst expensive to cast, has a very powerful effect. Countering a huge exsanguinate would give you a massive ooze, but countering a 2 cmc spell would feel very underwhelming.

Nightveil Specter
A 2/3 flyer that generates card advantage for 4 mana sounds great, but due to the rules of commander, this card is often going to be underwhelming unless your opponents are playing the same colours as you are. Whenever Nightveil Specter deals combat damage, you exile the top card of the defending players library and can play it. This includes lands. While it may be nice to occasionally get something you can play, outside of effects like Celestial Dawn and Mycosynth lattice that would allow you to cast cars in colours other than your commanders, its probably not worth a slot.

Decks it could be useful in? Sen Triplets (along side Celestial Dawn and Mycosynth Lattice)
Overall Opinion - What should be a great card is really hurt by the rules of commander, and isn't worth it unless you are playing against another U/B deck, or consistently can get Celestial Dawn or Mycosynth Lattice out. If you can, then its a valuable source of card advantage, but even there there are probably better options.

Ogre Slumlord
Relentless Rats have a new lord! (And yes, you can have any number of Relentless Rats in an EDH deck) A 3/3 body isn’t much in EDH, the land of huge creatures, but it does have nice abilities. Whenever a non-token creature dies, you get a 1/1 rat token, and all rats have death touch. This is a nice way to protect your rats from wraths, and make it hard for opponents to block your rats, or attack into them profitably. B/x sacrifice decks could use this guy too, such as Teysa, to get some value out of sacrificing your creatures.

Decks it could be useful in? Marrow Gnawer, Rats Tribal
Overall Opinion - I have a sweet spot for rats, I have pretty fun Damia Rats deck, and this card is definitely going in. It stops the deck form just losing to wraths, and gives all the rats deathtouch which is very nice.

Back to part one!
Continue to part three!
Mythics review!

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