Magic’s newest expansion has us returning to Kamigawa. A new set means new cards to examine, and in this article we’ll talk about the multicolored cards and what they mean for the game in different formats and how they’ll play.
In our last article we looked at the set’s monocolored cards; this time around we’re looking at the rest of the set, with the exception of the Commander decks – we’ll be reviewing those on Thursday. If you missed Parts 1 or 2, you can find them here:
BPhillipYork: This seems decent enough to get the ball rolling to have more pilots to crew with.
FromTheShire: Nothing splashy but a nice solid inclusion in the Vehicle decks.
BPhillipYork: Very cool little ninja planeswalker, neat enters play ability that phases him out to protect him, unblockable ninjas are pretty nice to have.
TheChirurgeon: I really like how this creates Ninja enablers. Phasing out on your opponent’s turn is basically protection from Sorceries and being attacked for a single turn (phasing in doesn’t count as entering the battlefield), which is a reasonable amount of protection on a 3-mana planeswalker.
FromTheShire: Fits in the timeworn mold of plus for advantage, minus for a token so nothing unique there. Still kind of eh in Commander outside of the Ninja decks, in 60 card where you know you’re going to activate at least twice because of phasing out I like him better.
BPhillipYork: Her ability is neat, though less good in commander sort of, but still neat. But at 5 mana I think it’s a bit lackluster. Needs Ninjutsu 4 or 3 or something like that.
FromTheShire: For Commander you get to steal a card and get information on their hand and deck which is nice, but not being able to swap this repeatedly is a definite downside. That being said, it’s a perfect card in the 99 of our next entry…
BPhillipYork: Everyone is talking about this but I just don’t see it. One, it’s tremendously threatening, if this is sitting on the board, you’re basically asking someone to kill you with a Blightsteel Colossus that’s been ninjutsu’ed out. But that’s the trick. Ninjitsu out a huge threatening creature with massive mana value. Or an Eldrazi, but they all have cast or attack triggers. Or you can go infinite with Palinchron. Wow someone broke Palinchron. I dunno, I just am not seeing it.
TheChirurgeon: I dunno, giving every creature in your hand Ninjitsu goes a long way in that sub-competitive commander space where cheating out big creatures is still good and not every deck is designed to go infinite and win in a single turn. It’s a really fun set of abilities, but then I am inclined to agree that you have to put a ton of work into protecting him once you put him on the table.
FromTheShire: Yeah this card is a certified bomb that’s going to see a ton of play and rack up a body count. The vast, vast majority of Commander play is not competitive and is played with decks with a few pieces of targeted removal, a few board wipes, and that’s it for answers. Satoru immediately joins the ranks that are a capital P Problem when they hit the board and will have the whole table looking at each other asking who has answers. A lot of the time, everyone is going to have answers in their deck but not in hand, this will get equipped with Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots, and a whole lot of value is going to start popping out. Your options are basically limited only by your budget and scruples at that point – Eldrazi coming in attacking for super cheap on turn 3 or 4 is still a huge hit to someone, and when they annihilate 4 on turn 5 since they’re still in play you’re going to be effectively ending people quickly.
BPhillipYork: Fun for fun ninja decks, “good” ninja decks just use the cheapest ninjutsu abilities for card draw and damage, so not really relevant there.
FromTheShire: Really nice signpost card, gives you both a cost reducer and a lord effect.
BPhillipYork: Extremely strong saga. Part 1 is amazing, has amazing control value, and exiling graveyards can be useful, but part 3 is pretty fun, IMO, but I really think this ability should’ve been on the mechatitan core, which as fun as it is is extremely underwhelming.
TheChirurgeon: This is insanely good. I’m surprised they gave this to black and red, but I suppose there aren’t actually enough 1-mana enchantments that matter for this to make it feel out-of-pie. It’s a neat card.
FromTheShire: Really like this one as well, until I have to play against it. In Modern I’m already envisioning this dropping and completely decimating several turns worth of Goblins, Humans, Arbor Elves, Utopia Sprawls, Aether Vials, affinity pieces, burn creatures…. basically a huge swathe of stuff you would really prefer not to be blown up. Sweeps the graveyard which is great, and then it flips into an ever growing trampling threat with a rider that hoses the occasional life gain deck. In Commander I can’t wait to hit this with a Hatred and murder someone out of nowhere.
BPhillipYork: Nice, really nice artifact triggering, plays nicely with Reckless Fireweaver and Disciple of the Vault, but unfortunately limited to only 1 trigger per turn unless you set up an elaborate loop, which is definitely possible with this trigger.
FromTheShire: Already hearing rumblings about some of those loops in Standard that sound pretty fun, I like it.
BPhillipYork: Very playable for its haste effect, handing out +1/+1 counters nicely balances its a limited number of charges. Plays really nice with proliferate effects, disappointing that Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice can’t run it.
TheChirurgeon: Fires of Yavimaya, but for modified creatures. Seems decent.
FromTheShire: Maybe this will be the time Fires really gets there.
BPhillipYork: Enchantment cost reduction is nice, especially with all the new shrines and saga’s, and is itself an enchantment creature which is nice.
TheChirurgeon: If you were an enchantress deck player at any point in the last 30 years this set is basically your dream come true. There’s so much good stuff for WG enchantress.
FromTheShire: Agreed. Cost reduction on a decent, lifelinking body is excellent.
BPhillipYork: I think this is a really neat card, though I think you should get to choose. It’s a bit limiting to force the counter to go on every saga, there might be reasons you want it to continue, but letting you accelerate through the saga’s is really cool, and having it die and recur a saga or return one in play is really neat, leading to some cool loops. I do think it’s a bit sad it’s not itself an enchantment creature.
TheChirurgeon: There’s no shortage of good Sagas and the fact that they all conveniently put themselves in your graveyard over and over makes this very playable.
FromTheShire: I’m glad this exists and it looks like it might do some interesting things in Standard. In Commander, between the color restrictions and the general power level of Sagas it’s not for me.
BPhillipYork: This is a strange card but for vehicle heavy decks, especially those that want to sacrifice artifacts for gain, it could be great.
FromTheShire: Pretty sweet ability and gives us a credible second avenue for building Vehicle decks other than the Azorius precon route. Now how do I get this Parhelion II in my graveyard…
BPhillipYork: I think this “if you control an artifact and an enchantment” idea is a neat one, but this ability is a bit lackluster, especially in those colors, to justify a 5 mana value creature.
FromTheShire: The condition isn’t hard but the effect still isn’t worth it.
BPhillipYork: This is potentially really powerful, though you’re hopefully cheating out something with massive mana value, and this itself costs 5 mana, so you probably aren’t netting too much there, and it’s your endstep. That being said cheating out a Jin-Gitaxias or something like that is fairly scary. Or potentially you could use this to juggle stax effects, having them come into play during your end step to lock your opponents down, and then having another way to sacrifice them.
FromTheShire: 5 is right about the upper limit for enchantments like this these days, but this is a very nice tool for something like a reanimator deck to have access to.
BPhillipYork: This is obviously a strong card, it’s obvious what it does, no real surprises here, it’s just another artifact cost reducer in Izzet colors.
FromTheShire: Cost reducers are always good, artifact ones even more so. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain basically lives for this card.
BPhillipYork: Too expensive for this new samurai exalted, unless your plan is to go wide with Samurai or Warriors.
TheChirurgeon: It doesn’t help that it’s not in Bant colors.
FromTheShire: We’re getting some interesting support for this new archetype, and I don’t hate it. Once you stack a couple of these attack alone buffs you end up with a creature that is pretty good at breaking up board stalls while still keeping you protected.
BPhillipYork: I think this card has a ton of potential in weird ways. You can use it if you punish opponents if you have creatures, say Impact Tremors or cards to buff creatures like Glorious Anthem or punish your opponents for having creatures like Hookshot Massacre.
FromTheShire: I’m out on this one. I hate giving my opponents value in general, and the setup to break the symmetry here just isn’t really worth it.
BPhillipYork: Auto-triggered additional combats with untap is dangerous, especially for Voltron-type deals and just killing people in commander. Also plays really nicely with Jisshi, really, really nicely. Though I think the untap triggers will work out in unfortunate ways.
FromTheShire: Another solid piece for the new archetype, extra combats are extremely valuable when you’re trying to attack with a single creature in each one.
BPhillipYork: I’m glad to see the return of ability counters, but this card just feels kind of meh. Why doesn’t it have vigilance? That would make a lot more sense, like some kind of new Veteran Bodyguard.
FromTheShire: I’m pretty much here for the creature type, conditionally protecting itself isn’t exciting on a 3/3.
BPhillipYork: This new attempt at Phyrexian mana is far more reasonable, and includes a real penalty, so I could see it being less imbalanced. This version of Tamiyo seems fine, much more reasonable than an omniscience emblem, which is sort of absurd.
TheChirurgeon: Reducing the starting loyalty is a big deal, and while I’m always hesitant to see another 3-mana UG walker, this one looks much more reasonable, even with the cost reduction. It’ll be interesting to see if they bring back Compleated in the inevitable future Phyrexian set.
FromTheShire: Whaaaat the fuuuuuuck. It’s a planeswalker, it’s Commander, whatever. The real talking point here is HOW IN THE FUCK has a walker been compleated? Up until this point we have believed/ it has been indicated that walkers were immune to the effects of glistening oil and phyresis, so what’s the story here? Is this a post-Mending thing? A new process the Phyrexians have developed? If it’s not a one off, this represents another terrifying development for the rest of the multiverse and I am HERE FOR IT.
BPhillipYork: I think this is a really really fun commander, his trigger doubling plays really nicely with exalted and the new Samurai/Warrior exalted, as well as other on attack effects, and he doubles permanents, not just creatures, unlike Wulfgar of Icewind Dale. Really nice card design IMO, fun, interactive, neat but not overwhelming but also potentially powerful. We will see a lot of Isshin decks.
TheChirurgeon: This is my favorite commander in the set, in part because there are enough RW creatures who cause additional attack steps to trigger on attack that I’m imagining building around that.
FromTheShire: I’m inclined to agree, doubling things is always incredibly powerful and this is a new design space that I can’t wait to explore. There’s a ton of really fun things you can do here, and worth remembering that this isn’t just your attacks, so things like Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs have value here as well.
BPhillipYork: This is a potentially really powerful effect with some awesome x-spells in blue and red, also there’s the cute destroy all enemy permanents combo with it and Enchanted Evening and Heliod’s Intervention.
FromTheShire: This is going to be a real serious deck that’s already putting up results in Standard. Magma Opus for 2 is uhhhhh, sure A Thing.
BPhillipYork: This seems really fun, and slow enough to be pretty balanced, I could definitely see trying to build a true saga deck now, between the reanimator, the monk who moves it up a tick, and this monstrosity. Also nicely balanced with the “return to play” trigger as opposed to transform so it will have summoning sickness.
FromTheShire: It’s a little slow for what you’re getting for me, but most likely it’s not actually threatening enough to eat enchantment removal before you flip so that’s not bad. The actual creature is pretty good even if it’s just getting you back a ramp spell or similar each turn.
BPhillipYork: This is okay, it’s fine, cool, whatever, draw cards when it leaves play, neat. It’s not sad robot.
FromTheShire: This has the benefit of gaining you life and being a leaves the battlefield trigger rather than a dies which is fantastic when you’re looping it for free with Animar, Soul of Elements and drawing your entire deck.
BPhillipYork: Uh yeah this card is a hugely big deal, it gives red a huge advantage with red’s looting mechanics but it’s a 2 cost artifact creature with all colorless mana so many many ways to tutor for it. This will be a cEDH staple.
TheChirurgeon: This is huge with rummage/looting and it’s going to be extra fun in UR decks. Already thinking of picking up a set of these and Enthusiastic Mechanauts.
FromTheShire: Turning your ‘downside’ into no downside at all, it’s extremely good, and for only 2 mana.
BPhillipYork: I guess this is fine, but I think it should get bigger for each creature exiled with it, right? Like, logically, thematically.
FromTheShire: In theory this is super cool and is cheap enough to cast and equip that you can actually get there. In practice I suspect this will suffer from the Door of Destinies problem, where the second it looks like it might actually be threatening it will eat removal.
BPhillipYork: Solid land tutor that then gets sacrificed for a +1/+1 counter but offers no ramp. Weak colorless mana fixing is useful sometimes.
TheChirurgeon: I like this in monowhite decks that will have a reason to add counters with mana late-game and otherwise have few ways to ramp. Of course, this means that it needs a very specific deck/metagame to be useful.
FromTheShire: Wayfarer’s Bauble sees play in over 100,000 deck lists according to EDHrec, and this fills a similar role. It doesn’t put the land into play but it’s one cheaper and it sticks around for more value if you have a way to flicker it, and in the many non-green decks that want this, making sure you hit an extra land drop or two is very valuable.
BPhillipYork: Why is it not doing the Akira slide? Like come on, we know what you’re referencing, don’t try to be coy about it. The card is fine, nice flash ability, low crew cost if you’re trying to get vehicles going.
FromTheShire: Shaping up to be a crucial piece of the 60 card Mindlink Mech Vehicle decks, it taps down key blockers and gives you further tempo by being a 2/2 flier.
BPhillipYork: This is a fun fun card but also I find it kind of disappointing. The whole thing with the actual Voltron is they had unique pilots, frankly I would’ve gone all the way, make it exile 5 piloted vehicles and the pilots and create an unblockable hexproof monstrosity that just kills you. Still, I’ll make some kind of deck around it.
TheChirurgeon: The pilots in Voltron weren’t necessarily anything special, though – one of them even gets replaced early on. Also it’s the sword that kills you; the robot just gets beat up for 3 minutes before they get the sword out and finish things.
FromTheShire: This is going to be the new Kaldra – a very fun achievement unlocked moment that is going to make the person trying to do it have their hopes dashed at the last minute or get killed in the process countless more times than it actually goes off, and I still love it.
BPhillipYork: Well more ways to make legendaries not legendary is always useful for certain kind of decks, like Krakishima. So this will see serious play in certain kinds of blue copy decks, or avengers assemble kind of legendary creature decks usually lead by Sisay.
FromTheShire: This can either serve as a backup copy of Mirror Gallery in the decks already running it, a Coat of Arms for Shadowborn Apostle or similar any number of copies decks, or just a powerful anthem in clone decks.
BPhillipYork: This is definitely a leg up on a lot of the 3 cost tap for 1 mana of any color rocks, so I like it. The backup discard/draw is really nice for when you don’t need mana you need cards.
TheChirurgeon: I like this quite a bit. The added value gives it a lot of extra utility over say, Darksteel Ingot and Commander’s Sphere, which is essentially the baselines all these 3-mana rocks are measured against.
FromTheShire: 3 mana rocks are seeing a lot less play than they used to, but on the scale of casual-competitive down to kitchen table players, a lot less still equates to a fuckload of play, and this is probably the 3 mana rock of choice since it lets you filter as the game goes long.
BPhillipYork: I want to understand, thematically, wtf is going on with this card. What does removing the charge counters symbolize. Are you breaking into a bank or, what? I guess you’re freeing someone or, I just find it really confusing. Anyway, 4/4 with crew 3 is uh, fine. Making a pilot is uh, fine I guess.
FromTheShire: Part of the backbone of the powerful looking Izzet Vehicles deck in Standard, in no small part due to the interaction with Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh.
BPhillipYork: Interesting for vehicle decks. Other than that seems kind of underwhelming.
FromTheShire: Another key piece of the Standard deck, serving as removal and eventually helping close out the game as an evasive threat.
BPhillipYork: Yeah this card is just strong as hell and is going to be all over the place. Like, dual purpose lands that enter untapped and tap for colored mana and also have a spell you can activate (not cast) to do something, is just nice. And potentially killing any commander on the board means this is basically an auto-include for any white deck in commander. This card alone will change the outcome of games.
FromTheShire: Any time you can get a useful effect on a land it’s excellent since it’s basically letting you double up slots in your deck and lands are generally unlikely to be interacted with, can’t be countered, etc. Not going to be your removal of choice but having the option is great, and the land doesn’t even enter tapped when you need to just play it.
BPhillipYork: Again just… super super strong. Toolboxy, useful, just replaces an island. Auto-include territory for 1-3 color decks.
TheChirurgeon: This is just very good to have around as a consolation for a late-game land draw.
FromTheShire: Really useful as well.
BPhillipYork: Unfortunately this one IMO is not as strong as the other channel legendaries, but still definitely playable for mill decks, or decks that want to have cards move into and out of your graveyard.
TheChirurgeon: You’re still getting back a creature or planeswalker, which is pretty solid for a land, since replacing itself with something in your graveyard is rarely going to be a bad thing.
FromTheShire: A lot of the time the type of deck this wants to go in will also be running things like Life from the Loam to get it back into your hand.
BPhillipYork: Spirits are okay, I guess, but this is probably the weakest of these channel lands. Still some upside if you just don’t need land.
FromTheShire: Definitely more narrow, but again it’s basically a free roll so.
BPhillipYork: This might be the strongest of these channel lands, and this one is basically an auto-include in almost all decks with green (in part because green is one of the best colors at mana fixing) but an un-counterable destroy target artifact, enchantment, or nonbasic land is really really strong.
TheChirurgeon: This is so, so very good. The fact that it only costs 1G for the effect is also bonkers, and a reason why it’s the strongest of these effects.
FromTheShire: Agreed to all of the above. Even today it’s not embarrassing to run a Naturalize, and this also hits nonbasic lands while being stapled on to a land itself. Outstanding.
BPhillipYork: Yeah this is okay for a vehicle deck I guess. It seems like it should reduce crew by 1 instead of what it actually does, but maybe it got iterated in playtesting.
FromTheShire: Solid in the Vehicle decks, being able to animate one when you have no creatures to crew one is very useful.
BPhillipYork: Okay, another 5 colors for a certain creature type card but it has a really useful secondary use to activate an ability of a creature of that type which sometimes really matters – so I like this as a substitute for some of the other 5 colors for a certain creature type lands.
FromTheShire: Are you a 3 color or more tribal deck? Then you’re running this.
Next Time: Commander Decks
That wraps up our look at the set’s multicolored and colorless cards. Join us next time as we do a deeper dive into the Commander decks released alongside the set, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.