- M13 DRAFT UNCOMMON REVIEW - by Stephen Murray (Views: 543)Friday 27th July 2012
- I hope everyone had a great time at a Pre-release events and the various special FNMs and sealed events people had going on the week after! I know I had a sweet time battling people with wildly different decks, and after Avacyn Restored limited season I am pretty psyched up to be having this change.
As I like to keep mentioning about uncommons, they are always more interesting to me than rares/mythics simply because you'll see them more often. While you will open an on colour rare and see 'this card is blatantly insane', uncommons are generally a bit less obvious, and maybe you should just be passing them for the good common in the pack.
On the other hand, this set has a bunch of interesting cards that get better when you are drafting certain strategies and synergies. Today, I am going to talk about the uncommons people are taking too highly, dazzled by their silvery appeal, and the uncommons people should take higher when the circumstances arise.
During these I will mention 'premium commons' to which I refer to removal like Pacifism, Murder and Searing Spear, or awesome creatures like Sentinel Spider, Aven Squire, Welkin Tern or Faerie Invaders. 'Mid-tier commons' would be the regular not-insane-but-usually-make-the-cut cards like Wind Drake,
Bloodhunter Bat, Centaur Courser or Silvercoat Lion.
Angelic Benediction - Overrated
For it to be good, you need to be REALLY focused on exalted. I mean, basically all of your creatures. Once you get some Attended Knights or Silvercoat Lions on the field, this starts looking pretty embarrassing when they get multiple large blockers in play. The creatures with exalted on your field still get to form part of a large army that can swarm or block. This not having a body attached is a real detriment, rendering it dead more than I'm comfortable with.
Summary: Secretly unplayable in normal decks. It's a trap!
Healer of the Pride - Overrated
The main downsides to this card are that the body is too small and 4 mana is a lot. There will be a whole lot of times where if you have this in your hand and your opponent is beating down with 3/3 monsters, flying monsters and giant exalted men, you simply won't have the time to deploy this before your other guys to gain the life. If you are making a 2/3 now, your board position will be improved so little that you might still not be able to block and just take another 6 damage while they make another, better creature. Whereas if instead you'd made a 2/3 flier, a pair of drakes, or even a 0/4 you would basically be gaining life immediately by not being punched for a million damage that turn and the next.
Which brings us to the cost. If you are slamming these guys over say, Aven Squire or Attended Knight, you are less able to take the initiative and punish a slow draw by your opponent. If your hand is full of Healers and Captain's Call, sure you may gain a bunch of life on turn 5, but you only need to gain all that life *because* your hand is too slow.
I would have this in my deck if I was super defensive, but I'd hope not to need to. Sideboard her in if your opponent is mono-Goblin Pikers and Chandra's Fury, or other weak aggressive decks.
Summary: Not actually good at defending you, best in the sideboard.
Crusader of Odric - Under-appreciated
I wouldn't start off my draft by taking this over a premium common. Not YET anyway. But by pack 3 or even 2 and I'm already deep into the tokens archetype? I could definitely see me taking one of these 1st out of a powerful pack. These are pretty okay even in a regular deck with just a bunch of monsters, but when I've got a few Captain's Call and a couple Attended Knights? Maybe even some Fungal Sprouting because I'm a maniac? These suddenly become basically the best cards you can play on turn 3, as they just kill your opponent stone dead.
Sure, this does get killed by a Murder or Pacifism. But sometimes they don't have it, and they die. You can also fairly easily play around things like Searing Spear, and have answers to Pacifism in your deck in the form of War Priest of Thune, Oblivion Ring, Unsummon or Acidic Slime. Sometimes you will make a second one!
Summary: An actual monster in the right deck. When you have it, go for it!
Jace's Phantasm - OverratedRing of Evos Isle that you want to put on creatures and curve our with your Welkin Tern, then maybe 1/1 flier for 1 is good enough.
But when you start thinking 'maybe I should draft some Mind Sculpt to make it big' then it all goes down hill. I dunno if you noticed, but a lot of decks simply never put many cards in the graveyard by themselves. Decks with a ton of creatures tend to just play them and land, so their 2/3 removal spells combat tricks aren't going to get the job done. Once you have to use your second mill card, you might as well be trying to kill them through library damage! If your plan is to mill them twice, then beat them to death, what happens when they remove your guy? It's like you just spent 3 cards for their 1, and you're suddenly out of action.
This is different from someone say, removing your Crusader of Odric, because the cards you are playing to make that good can still beat your opponent to death, but simply milling them for 14 cards isn't going to win many matches.
Summary: Would you windmill slam Flying Men? No, so pick this appropriately.
Switcheroo - Under-appreciatedPersuasion? No? Then how about Mind Control. This card is not those cards, but it's not as far off as people seem to think. Mind Control effects are clearly insane in limited, and this requires a little bit of work, but you should be taking this early and getting the cards you need for it to work. Sure, maybe you'll have to pass it in pack 3 and your whole deck is full of only 1st pick quality men, but then you could probably pick a ham sandwich and get the same result in that case.
Just a quick scan for commons in this set gives you plenty of expendable things to give your opponent. White provides several soldier making cards, green has Elvish Visionary and Bond Beetle (if you have enough things to make that card worth it), red has Krenko's Command, black has Ravenous Rats, and Blue has Archaeomancer and Unsummon. When you venture into other rarities you can occasionally get some super sweet value bonus, such as giving them Roaring Primadox for their only guy.
But let's face it, you don't need super value cards like that. Things like 2/2 ground men become outclassed often, so you won't mind giving them a real body for their best guy most of the time. And would you really complain about giving them a Watercourser in exchange for a Sublime Archangel or Nefarox?
If you have absolutely zero synergy with this, I guess you are forgiven for taking premium commons over this, but even then, I don't think you should. This even goes well with opponents using Encrust and Pacifism on your guys!
Summary: Even a 'bad' Control Magic is actually a very powerful magic card.
Blood Reckoning - OverratedHissing Miasma they called it. And it was almost unplayable. This card is more expensive, and all the creatures are better now. Sure, sometimes you will have the perfect deck/opponent match up, where they have all 1/1's and 2/2's and you have all walls and life gain and a couple of unblockable guys where they simply won't be able to win. Maybe YOU are the super aggressive one, and you dealt them a ton of damage early, and all they have are 2/2 Drake tokens to kill you with.
Most of the time, you will play it, falling further behind on the board, and your opponent will lose 5-6 life before you get killed. If their deck is not totally single-minded on swarming you, they can still pretty easily just stop attacking if they need to and beat you up with a Serra Angel or something. Worse, if they have a Vampire Nighthawk or Arctic Aven, they might actually be able to completely ignore this card.
Summary: Don't put this in most decks. Use your judgement as to whether your deck can actually use this effect, and sideboard in or out appropriately.
Veilborn Ghoul - Under-appreciated
But if you look at this more as a card you can do interesting synergy tricks with, then it's a lot more appealing. The main cards to pair this with are things like Rummaging Goblin and Wild Guess. Black/red decks often have this issue where they have all these sweet removal cards but bad win conditions, so sometimes you just lose from being attritioned out of a game when they just draw a bunch of average men.
This card fills the role of actually giving you a reasonable win condition, and being really able to charge up the effectiveness of the red 'looting' cards, letting you win those battles by pulling ahead of your opponent. Squee, Goblin Nabob might not be around to be best friends with your Looting, but Veilborn Ghoul does a decent impression. If you're already stocked well on removal, consider Veilborn for your RB deck.
Summary: Actually very sweet when discarding him for fun and profit.
With Mindclaw Shaman, the dream of hitting awesome spells is so alluring that sometimes people don't consider sideboarding something like this out when faced with an enemy with say, only a few spells in their deck. Imagine playing it against a deck that is 20 creatures and a Ranger's Path. For all the times your opponent's deck is sweet and you get to borrow his Murder, don't forget that one match where this is a 5 mana 2/2, and sideboard accordingly.
Similarly, Volcanic Geyser makes people take notice. An instant X spell! While a nice solid removal spell/Lava Axe, the extra mana makes this much worse at killing creatures, and if you are a 15/16 land super-fast beatdown special, sometimes this simply isn't going to be very good unless you are losing to flood and need to topdeck 6 damage to the face. I take Searing Spear over this most of the time, and for hyper aggressive decks I can see an argument for Chandra's Fury for the role of 'Lava Axe'.
Summary: Good card most of the time does not equal good card all of the time!
Arms Dealer - Under-appreciatedTurn to Slag, except it can attack or chump-block instead of destroy a Ring.
With other Goblins, this can totally dominate boards. Krenko's Command and Goblin Arsonist suddenly become incredible value for mana with this guy in play, and suddenly their sweet defence is not so sweet any more.
Knowing how powerful this is if you get to draft around it, and without your opponents taking your sweet Goblin spells, I am inclined to say take this over the best commons, since the pay-off is so worth it.
Summary: Recurring removal spells are good, even if vulnerable!
Roaring Primadox - OverratedRavenous Rats, Bloodhunter Bats, Attended Knight and so on. Just stop taking it when your whole deck is 5 mana Spiders and Centaur Coursers. A 4/4 for 4 is not such a great deal that you are willing to play it without abusing the effect, and it's just awful returning things constantly with no benefit.
Summary: Is pretty bad without creatures that benefit from the 'drawback'. Pick high if you want, but be prepared to support it.
Rancor - Under-appreciated
Fungal Sprouting - Actually under-appreciatedPredatory Rampage or Crusader of Odric or indeed Odric himself, this will almost certainly give you minimum 3 Saprolings, and very easily 4. This is usually as good or better than Captain's Call, which means it really shouldn't be in packs during picks 12-14.
It certain looks win-more (as in, it's only good when you're winning) and unlike Captain's Call it won't help if you top deck it on an empty board. However, as a way to keep up pressure with your generally uninspiring monsters, (looking at you Spiked Baloth!) you can do a lot worse than unleash the Saprolings.
Summary: Not unplayable. Not wonderful or anything, but not total trash. Pick it over random weak hate-drafts!
The Rings – OverratedI'm not saying the various Rings (Evos Isle, Thune etc) aren't playable to good, they can be. Just that most of the time, you need to have a ton of creatures in the appropriate colour to play them, barring weird scenarios where you REALLY want that haste ability for your giant monsters.
Try not to end up with 3 rings of various colours alongside removal, leaving yourself without enough guys to wear them!
Summary: Watch out for the Legendary Ring that gains control of all creatures equipped with Rings.
Chronomaton - Under-appreciated
Sure, sometimes you will have 2, 3 and 4 drops and this won't grow for a long time. But then, hey, it will join in the beat down. Sometimes you'll draw it turn 10 and it won't be that great, but neither will a random 2/2.
But any games where you don't curve out well, or you have combat tricks to hold up then don't use, you will have a threat that they can't ignore.
It DOES get punished quite severely by Unsummon and such. But just play around things: don't get too greedy and go for 10/10 when 4/4 will do.
Summary: Turns into a fatty without much help.
I think that about covers it. Don't take this as a 'best and worst' selection, since everyone knows Talrand's Invocation and Oblivion Ring etc. are amazing, but more as a challenge to your card evaluations. And even if I'm wrong about every card on this list, it's better to experiment with pick orders than always pick the same things every time!
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