Friday, 30 November 2012

Blazing Slavo

Blazing Salvo
This card is either a Lightning Bolt or a Lava Axe and that makes it great. Using this on first turn to target something important like a Birds of Paradise or a Dark Supplicant is always a great use since your opponent might just be willing to take the 5 damage in order to save the creature. Often you can use this card to put your opponent into an unwinable situation. Usually it will be either let you kill them through combat damage by bolting a creature or kill them through the Lava Axe to save the creature. The one problem with this card is that it does allow for the choice, so if you need to kill a creature, your opponent might just take the damage instead. It also won't kill something like a Hypnox.

Pros: Lightning Bolt or Lava Axe, quandary for opponent 
Cons: Gives opponent choice, doesn't kill big things
Rating: 4/5

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Thicket Elemental

Thicket Elemental
You'd think thickets would be less threatening, but not this guy! If it was just a 4/4 vanilla for 5, this card would be terrible, but luckily it has that large chunk of text attached to it. It's kind of like Gamekeeper, only better since it doesn't put the revealed cards into the battlefield. In a well constructed deck, this guy will probably bring along either his friend from work Progenitus or his acquaintance Iona, Shield of Emeria. Now, while it's effect is awesome, it does have some drawbacks. Instead of bringing along a cool friend, some mana dork like a Llanowar Elves might get in the way and ruin the party. It also doesn't have any evasion at all, but it doesn't really need it since it does its job by showing up. For 7 mana, you can't really get a much better deal for getting creatures (except for Hunting Pack and Protean Hulk)

Pros: Brings a friends, doesn't put cards in your graveyard
Cons: Might bring a lame friend, no evasion
Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Razia's Purification

Razia's Purification
In my review of Shishizaru's art, I mentioned this card for its great art. What I failed to mention was this card is also awesome. It's main awesomeness comes from the word "sacrifice". This gets around 2 major sticking points with certain permanents: indestructibility and regeneration. Day of Judgement and its kin allows for regeneration whilst Wrath of God and co. don't hit Indestructible things. This card sends both Thrun, the Last Troll and Darksteel Gargoyle to the graveyard with the same swipe. Now, this card does cost 6, is at sorcery speed, and allows for choice for your opponents. However, the last point is outweighed by the fact that by turn 6 your opponents will probably have a hard time picking with 3 things to save since they'll be losing at least 3 lands (if they don't care about what's on their field) and considering Rain of Salt also costs 6, I think it's definitely worth it. 

Pros: Hits Indestructible and regenerating permanents
Cons: Pricey, allows for choice
Rating: 4/5

Monday, 19 November 2012

Assassin's Strike

Assassin's Strike
New cards aren't always better and this is a key example of that. It's a Murder with a Cry of Contrition attached, yet it's worse than both somehow. Murder is faster and Cry of Contrition happens twice. Also, even when combined, both of those cards are cheaper. It might be good in draft (in fact, it can really hurt in draft depending on what your opponent has) but it's unplayable outside of that. It does do what it's supposed to do, but it costs too much to be worth it.

Pros: Kills a creature with no restrictions, card discard
Cons: Costs way too much, slow
Rating: 1/5

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Teferi's Response

Teferi's Response
Why? Why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why? This is way too narrow to be playable! This is another reason to NOT listen to the community on Gatherer.  "It counters Rishadan Port". So does land destruction, land bounce, land tap, or just ignoring it. Rishadan Port doesn't need a response. Even back in the day, I fail to see why Strip Mine wasn't used against or instead of the Port. Sorry, sorry; I'm getting back on my pedestal with Rishadan Port. Back to this card. 

This card is nigh unusable. There's not enough targets for this spell. Seriously, run Negate or Trickbind instead. They're more multipurpose. The card draw is nice, but it will never work since you'll never get to cast this.

Pros: Possible counterspell maybe (if it's a Tuesday), card draw if you cast it
Cons: Barely functions, few targets
Replacements: Any other counterspells or Strip Mine if you're using this to counter Rishadan Port
Rating: 0/5 

Friday, 16 November 2012


People don't really see the troll potential in this card (see what I did there?). Your opponent has an Increasing Confusion in their graveyard? Boop! It's on the bottom of their library. Do you have an Idyllic Tutor in your hand but your Eldrazi Conscription is on the top of your graveyard? Shwoop! Now it's searchable.  It also helps that this card is pretty big (it's out of Explosive Impact range) and it's colorless, so it can be run in every deck. It tucks a lot of big reanimator and recursion targets too making it really multipurpose. The only problem is that that is it's only real use. If your opponent has no recursion or anything that relies on graveyards, this card will only help you against milling yourself out slowly, which still isn't bad.

Pros: Colourless graveyard hate/recursion, big 'n' beefy
Cons: Only graveyard hate/recursion, only targets 1 card
Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


This guy's kind of like Ulvenwald Tracker except better in most situations. The biggest flaw with Ulvenwald Tracker is that is usually requires a big creature in order to be effective. Even if you put a Basilisk Collar or a Sword of Kaldra on the Tracker himself, he's going to die upon resolution. This card, on the other hand, won't die if the targeted creature no longer exists after it's dealt damage. It's that crucial split in the middle of the ability that makes all the difference. Now, this card is a smidge more expensive than Ulvenwald Tracker, but for slower format like EDH, it's a great source of creature removal in green if used with the right cards. Despite that, it's still a pretty good card.

Pros: Doesn't receive damage if other creature isn't there to deal it
Cons: Slightly expensive when compared to Ulvenwald Tracker, requires another card
Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, 12 November 2012

Artist: Steve Argyle

Working only on recent sets, Steve Argyle's artwork is nonetheless widespread and loved. Just like Jason Chan, a lot of Steve's work is on really good cards; the main difference being that Steve's cards are mostly affordable.

Best Art: Liliana of the Veil
Liliana of the Veil
I love this piece! It's sexy, dark, and shows off Lili's power quite well. Another really nice thing about this piece is that you can see the full art on the card given that the text box is semi-transparent. Her dark dress, the flames in her hands, her piercing stare; Steve's portrayal of Liliana proves that she's not a chick to be messed with!

Worst Art: Everflowing Chalice
Everflowing Chalice
This art is still good, but I like it the least since I don't think it fits with what the card actually is. It's a chalice for sure (although it kind of looks like a candlestick) but it's not really overflowing per se. It's more glowing than anything else. 

Blandest Art: Kranioceros
Art on cards is supposed to pop out and bring the card to life, but this one just sort of sits there (kind of like what this creature does). It's just... there. It's a beast that kind of looks displeased, like someone poked lightly with a blunt stick.

If you want to see more of Steve Argyle's work (something I highly recommend), check him out here. His art is definitely worth the peruse. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Farrel's Mantle

Farrel's Mantle
I'm a big fan of this card. Put this on something like a Ferropede, and you're basically casting Thunderclap each turn. Put it on a bigger creature, the more damage you'll be dealing. It's really effective because your opponent either has to block the creature, thus freeing up a slot for another creature to get through, or allow you to destroy an important creature (like Immerwolf or Insectile Aberration). It's a little expensive, but it has the capability of doing a lot of damage. A funny thing to do with this card is put it on a Laccolith creature (like Laccolith Titan) and, no matter what your opponent does, a creature on the other side of the field will die. Now, a problem with this card (aside from cost) is that the creature needs to be unblocked for the effect to trigger, meaning that a Thrull can ruin your plans altogether.

Pros: White direct damage, repeatable creature removal
Cons: Requires that the creature gets through
Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Riding the Dilu Horse

Riding the Dilu Horse
Oh Portal Three Kingdoms; why did you come up with horsemanship? For those who don't know, horsemanship is a mechanic that reads "creatures with horsemanship may only be blocked by other creatures with horsemanship" (think shadow on meth). The only card that I know of that was officially released in North America with horsemanship was the recent reprint of Sun Quan, Lord of Wu. This card, because it gives horsemanship, is amazing. For 3 mana, you give a creature +2/+2 and you also make it unblockable, which is really nice for green. A lot of big creatures in green don't normally have evasion in order to balance them out (see: TerastodonWitherscale Wurm, or Krosan Cloudscraper for examples of what I mean) and the main way in green to give evasion is with trample (which can be absorbed by blockers), having a way to make things unblockable in green is great. My only real problem with this card is that it's only at sorcery speed, which means you can't use the buff during combat. I guess that means you also can't block something like Cao Ren, Wei Commander with your Ghoultree, but how often does that come up? It is a little expensive too, but considering there are only 2 cards in mono-green that actually makes a creature unblockable (Tanglewalker and Trailblazer), it's well-priced.  

Pros: Essentially green Artful Dodge with Mutagenic Growth attached
Cons: Sorcery-speed, expensive when compared to non-green unblockable cards
Rating: 4/5

*Note: I really hope that Wizards smartens up one day and prints Three Kingdoms in North America. It may piss off some collectors, but the flavour of the set is worth it alone. If they printed Kamigawa (Japanese set), why not print the Chinese set? The set might not have been the greatest, but people would snatch it up really quickly and Wizards would be able to add more to their mountain of money.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Spy Network

Spy Network
I'm honestly surprised I don't see this card played a lot more. It's a Glasses of UrzaMerfolk Observer, a weaker Index, and a cheaper Aven Soulgazer. It gives you a bunch of power over your opponent since you know what they have in their hand, what they;re going to draw, and anything that they're hiding (if anything). It also lets you stack your deck a little bit with that mini-Index. There's really not much that's bad about this except that you only really get the full benefit if your opponent is playing with Morph card and most of the time the only morph card you'll see is Willbender.

Pros: Lets you see a lot of your opponent's secrets
Cons: Only works at 100% efficiency if your opponent has Morph creatures
Rating: 5/5

Friday, 2 November 2012

Artist: Shishizaru

Shishizaru is, as you may be able to discern, a Japanese artist with a very Asian style. Unfortunately, his line of work in Magic is limited to only 25 cards. So here's 12% of his work.

Best Art: Razia's Purification
Razia's Purification
When you've got a card that goes *BOOM*, the art for the card should mirror that effect. This art is wonderful and it really sets the tone for the entire card. I also really like the fact that the yellows and reds in the art really blend well with the gold background of the card, giving it a seemingly full-art feel to the entire thing.

Worst Art: Dovescape
Now, this category was a real toss-up. Quash and Unblinking Bleb were strong contenders for this title, but I think this card is really the worst of Shishizaru's art. The art is still good, but I have no idea what's going on here. At first I thought it was a charm-like card (see Esper Charm for an example) with the charm firing a laser out of the center but I don't think that's what's being represented. 

Most "Huh?" Art; Unblinking Bleb
Unblinking Bleb
It didn't win the "worst art" contest, but it definitely wins this one. Just like Dovescape, I have very little idea what's going on here, but at least with Dovescape, you can at least guess what's going on in that picture. With this art, I can't even tell where the creature is (although I think the giant eye may be a clue).

It's sad Shishizaru didn't do much art in Magic, but I guess he's busy doing other stuff. Feel free to visit his website here (be warned, it's in Japanese).