Magic’s newest expansion takes us back to Ravnica once again, to a party at Karlov manor and the body of Zegana, former leader of the Simic guild. A new set means new cards, and we’re continuing our review with the colorless cards.
Last time we covered the multicolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this primarily but not exclusively with an eye for Commander play.
Case of the Shattered Pact
BPhillipYork: Weird card but for any kind of multicolor matters it’s thematic, fetching a basic land is solid for 2 colorless, and it get double strike if you have a permanent of each color, which is doable with things like Transguild Courier even in a monocolor deck, which is a cheap way to get double strike and a bunch of evasion.
Marcy: This is weird because while this seems prime for a Domain deck, which Standard has, the creature cards it runs are… not really interested in taking advantage of the last effect on the card. Also, I don’t know if this is really worth slotting into a Domain deck.
Loxi: This might be a neat way to finish out a game in limited, but it’s suuuper telegraphed. I can’t imagine a universe where you want this in Commander unless you’re asking for one turn cycle where everyone just punches you in the mouth.
FromTheShire: I actually think this is very playable in Commander. It doesn’t ramp you by one like Wayfarer’s Bauble but it’s also one mana cheaper, and a card that can make sure you hit your land drops is solid if unexciting in non-green decks.
Marcy: Too slow for Standard is what I’d like to say, but the Irencrag gets some play in some decks. I think the bigger issue for Standard vs that card is that you need cards in your graveyard.
Loxi: It’s not a terrible two mana rock if you’re in one of those “self-mill decks that doesn’t really care about the total number of cards in my graveyard decks,” which is niche but an existing niche. I think most decks will pass on this, but if you’re some sort of spellslinger/flashback deck, you might be able to leverage both parts of this. My main issue is that it doesn’t really ramp you early unless you really come out swinging or milling.
BPhillipYork: Angels and Demons sucked even more than The Davinci Code. Fight me. This card is uh, whatever, a 5-turn clock to draw 3 after exiling a bunch from your yard. Potential use for decks that want to move creatures in and out of graveyards, caring about triggers from things like Syr Konrad, the Grim that care about cards leaving graveyards. In which case this is a way to get back them out for another trigger, and a 2-cost mana rock to boot.
FromTheShire: Interesting internal tension here. You have to be milling early and often for this to do what you want a 2 mana rock to do, but usually if you’re doing that it’s because you want those cards in your yard for a purpose. It feels like you want to play exactly Stitcher’s Supplier on one like a number of Standard and Pioneer decks are doing, but those formats aren’t really conducive to mana rocks. In 100 card singleton you’re much less likely to have exactly those two in hand to turn it on right away which makes it much worse. The draw effect is a nice little bonus if you make it there before a sweeper.
Loxi: Flavor-wise, this is super fun. This card is objectively not worth playing, but I highly suggest you tech this one in your deck if you have a buddy who plays Morph. You will not regret it.
BPhillipYork: Not really relevant for Commander, a 5 cost 4/5 Golem is so-so but might matter for Golem tribal.
Marcy: Flavor and nothing else. I don’t even think the activated ability is useful.
FromTheShire: It’s meta dependent, yes, but this card is an incredible way to troll your friends playing Commander decks from this set, and Golems are only getting more and more support over time. There’s even a possible politics angle if you want to either reveal or lie about people’s morphs to each other, and now is the time to expect to see the strategy being popular.
Loxi: Anteater metaldetector is pretty good actually. This can be a pretty clean way to win the game if it pulls a nice piece of equipment and can start ramping. Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender might like this one. A bit expensive, but not unplayable by any means, especially in a dedicated colorless deck.
BPhillipYork: The triggered ability is a bit scary if you’re using a lot of Clues or Treasures, though 5 for a 4/4 beater is probably not that worthwhile for Commander, the ability to fetch back and equip something could be a bit scary if you have a way to bury equipment.
Marcy: Five mana is a little expensive but then again, there are a lot of scary artifacts you can fish up, and artifact decks rarely care about mana very much if they can get going. Standard wise, though… I don’t think this has a ton of use. There aren’t many strong equipment cards at the moment.
FromTheShire: Equipment based Voltron decks are a staple of Commander, and especially in Boros once they go to your yard, it’s going to be a struggle to get them back if you want to. It may seem like 5 is a bit much, but you’d be happy to spend 3 for an Eternal Witness and pay to recast the equipment if you could, and this not only returns it directly to the battlefield but already attached to a solid body.
FromTheShire: I’m on the fence about this one. The effect isn’t huge but cards like this such as Ichor Wellspring can really serve as fuel for Daretti, Scrap Savant style decks. The question is if this does enough to supplant one of said existing pieces.
BPhillipYork: Not really a Commander piece unless it’s construct tribal.
Marcy: Some of the self-mill decks might like this, although the effect is not that great versus a lot of better Surveil or self-mill related creatures and 2 mana cards. Limited, maybe?
Loxi: Pass, it still puts you down a card in hand in more scenarios than not when you’d actually want to be playing a card like this.
Branch of Vitu-Ghazi
Loxi: First off: absolutely blown away by this art, fantastic stuff. Second, this one has a cool tech: Ezuri, Claw of Progress can leverage this as a utility land to gain extra counters if you need them and are in a pinch. I play Zoetic Cavern in that deck for the same reason, so I can see this going in there. Aside from that, I’d keep this to the Disguise/Morph decks.
BPhillipYork: Neat to turn a land into a man-land late game, seems like more of a card to help balance 4 of decks unless you really care about disguise and morph and turning things face up.
Marcy: Pretty card, kind of whatever effect. At least if you are flooding it can be a body, but that’s… about it.
FromTheShire: Solid land for morph decks for sure.
Marcy: I do kind of find this interesting. Evolving Wilds isn’t really used at all in Standard right now, but there is a glut of tapped lands. That said, I’m unsure this card’s effect is also useful. Mono-red doesn’t want to waste the time to go off tempo to use the other effect, and not many other decks are looking to get something small in under the radar except perhaps Poison decks, which also really want mana over this ability.
Loxi: Babe, wake up, new Evolving Wilds just dropped.
I confess, I used to adore these kinds of lands as a certified Budget Enjoyer™, but I think they shouldn’t go in every deck. I still will put them in any 4-5 color decks as well as some 3 color decks that don’t have as much hard green ramp, but I think there are enough other dual lands in the game at this point that even with the bonus effect, I can’t see running this any more than those unless you really have synergy with slipping a small creature through, like pumping it up with some combat tricks or Infect or something (you monster, you).
If you play this in Mono color, you just have a better gaming chair than me I guess.
FromTheShire: Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse see play in budget and landfall decks and I think this slots in just fine in those spots. Maaaaaybe there’s a 60 card deck that wants one or two of for the unblockability to close out the game but I suspect not.
Scene of the Crime
Loxi: Neat, if you’re in some sort of 5 color Zoo-esque deck, like say Allies or Slivers, this is probably pretty alright. I wouldn’t play this just for the Clue synergy most of the time, but it’s not the worst if you want more artifact lands.
Marcy: Convoke with extra steps, and only for a single creature. Still, it… I don’t know. Not a fan.
FromTheShire: It’s an extra artifact, an extra Clue, can possibly use a utility creature to make colored mana, can sac to draw a card…. there’s a lot of little bits of value here but I suspect it still only finds a home in heavy artifact decks.
Surveil Land Cycle
TheChirurgeon: These are fine dual lands. Not as good as lands which can enter untapped, but on par with the scry duals. You could do worse when it comes to duals, especially in slower decks.
Marcy: So, I think that these lands expose something more specifically wrong with this set: that this was a set developed during a period in which Standard actually rotated. This seems very obviously meant to replace many of the tapped life-gain dual lands, and ironically, unlike a lot of the cards in this set that feel underpowered in comparison to the bloated and overpopulated Standard, I think these might actually be better than the life gain lands because they allow you to filter your deck on the off turn of not getting mana out of your land drop. That said, we also have Fast Lands and Slow Lands, which have generally replaced the other duals that already exist anyway, so I… I just don’t know. This might be the first set to really expose the issue of Wizard’s new rotation experiment.
Loxi: This is obviously quite similar to the Temple lands/Scry lands, which I am a big fan of because they run real cheap. If you have the option for a duel that enters untapped, that will almost always outclass this, but as far as taplands go this is a solid choice and I would jam this in most blue and white control decks that tend to play the slow game.
FromTheShire: This cycle is actually great, they’re power-crept Temples which already see play in a bunch of places. The surveil is better than scrying since it gives you the option to put things into your yard which is key to a ton of decks, and they’re fetchable which is a huge upgrade. Such a big upgrade that I think these are going to see at least one of play even in formats like Modern.
Next Time: Monocolor
That wraps up our look at the set’s colorless cards. Join us next time as we review the sets monocolor cards, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.