Welcome back! Guess what time of the year it is? That's right...new set time! Gatecrash comes out soon and we have the Prerelease weekend right around the corner, so what better time to dive right into the entire set, card for card? For the rest of this week and the first few days of the next, we will be evaluating every card in Gatecrash for both Constructed and Limited. It's a lot of work, but someone has to do it!
An important thing to remember about Gatecrash, is that it will be drafted alone. Return to Ravnica was three packs by itself and Gatecrash will be the same. However, once Dragon's Maze comes out in three months time, all three sets will drafted together like a traditional block. So if some of the cards in this set don't make all that much sense for limited, remember that this set will be in two different limited environments. As for this set review, all of the limited ratings will just be for triple Gatecrash. Without the information of what is in Dragon's Maze, trying to figure out that format seems less than useful right now.
As always though, to help us rate the set, we have two scales. One will be assisting us with constructed while the other tackles limited. Those scales are as follows:
5: These cards are all-stars and their greatness spans multiple formats usually. Generally the chase cards of a set such as Tarmogoyf or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. 5s should not be given out lightly as the really have to have a big impact across formats.
4: These cards are going to be seen in decks of their color more often than not but may be less universal than 5s. These will usually be dominant in certain formats but not so much in others much like Bloodbraid Elf or Baneslayer Angel. Note that with a shift to how Extended is, 4s tend to see both Extended and Standard play, but have not made the jump to eternal.
3: These are the backbone of Standard and usually serve some utility but are more restrictive in archetype, like a Makeshift Mannequin or Mind Spring.
2: These cards are generally much more restrictive in use and application. Occasional sideboard appearances or cameos in some combo deck are the most frequent uses here such as Splinter Twin or Acidic Slime.
1: These are basically unplayable and only see use in the most rare of occasions such as bad card poster boy One with Nothing.
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card's color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I'm playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I'm playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I'm playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I'll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)
Obviously just intended to be a combat trick in limited. Constructed players, move along.
This effect is pretty nice, but I think that to value this moderately high, you have to want to take advantage of this on offense as well as defense. Defensive, this will often be a Neck Snap, but if you want to both do that, as well as attacking with your six power creature in the air, this goes way up in value.
Versatility is nice, but it sure as heck ain't worth five mana.
I can't be sure of the speed of the format as a whole, but the slower it is, the more powerful this becomes. Unconditional removal is great, but five mana is a lot at sorcery speed, so keep that in mind when you are debating multiples.
This is just too expensive and reliant on other cards to be great. It might see some fringe play in some strange reanimator deck, but I wouldn't expect anything more.
A pretty giant bomb in limited. This has an impact the turn you play it by providing the trigger at least and then from that turn on, it is going to be difficult to lose the game. A 4/4 is easier to deal with than most dragons though, so keeping it in play might be tricky.
While I do think some extort cards might interest a deck or two in constructed, I don't think it is going to be on a Horned Turtle that cannot attack.
I am pretty sure most extort cards are going to be powerful, as possessing a potential Drain Life on a stick can really swing races. This guy is tough to kill and holds the ground, something I think Orzhov will really need as it bleeds you with Extort.
I am not sure exactly where this wants to go, but it is two potentially powerful effects on a tough to deal with permanent. Maybe you are trying to counter the Eggs deck in Modern, or Splinter Twin even. This has use defensively as well as offensively and should show up from time to time.
Any card with extort that is tough to deal with is going to be strong in my opinion as it just wears down the opponent as the game goes long. This little puppy also has the opponents blockers irrelevant the turn in which they play them. That is also pretty strong, making this a solid pick up in my opinion.
I just don't see this guy making it. Sure, he can be a one mana 3/3, but that isn't realisitcally happening until turn three at the earliest, and only on offense at that. If you open up with this, into two drop, into three drop, this guy was a 1/1 for two full attack steps…bleh.
Also not a huge fan of this guy for most limited decks. That said, in the right hyper-aggressive Boros deck, this moves up to a 1.5 or even 2.0 given the right tools. Most decks won't be that though, so this is basically unplayable there.
I can see this being very fringe in Standard if a white weenie deck seems to be having issues with some midrange deck. This could be a cool way to interact there. Otherwise, its just not good enough.
In limited, this is a powerful offensive tapper that doesn't require any mana. If you draft around this, most of your creatures can be white, since this works with multicolored ones, but even if only 66% are like you might have on average, this is still powerful. Not a great defensive tool for people like Orzhov, but that's fine.
Another five mana card, except this one is secretly six mana if you want it to do anything. Oh, and then a mana each turn. Oh, and what it does? Sucks. Oh...
This card is going to be decent in a deck like Orzhov that wants to grind the game down, but five mana is an awful lot to spend on a removal spell that requires an upkeep of one. That puts it out of what Boros wants to be doing for example.
Its kind of like a Spectral Lynx mixed with a Drudge Skeleton. Ok, definitely leaning more towards the Skeleton here...
This is the type of card that Orzhov should enjoy. It is similar to the Pulprit in being one mana a turn to lock down an attacker, but this has other utility as well and might even get in a few damage early.
This guy is mostly dependant on whether or not some white aggressive deck becomes popular. GW Humans might even be enough as is. The attack trigger is decent, and will keep your guys from suiciding into Thragtusks and Restoration Angel while the counter ability is a good way to fight things like Bonfire of the Damned and Sphinx's Revelation. Still the second ability is not really powerful enough on its own, meaning you will want to be getting value out of the first before deciding to play this.
If you can get this guy to your attack step, good things are going to happen. Of course, keeping a 3/3 around is not the easiest thing in the world. Still, incredibly powerful in Boros and still fine in Orzhov.
This guy is a Planeswalker, so I can't completely write him off, but my initial opinion has me not liking this guy very much. Unlike the first Gideon, in order to net counters from this, your opponent must be unable to attack it, or have creatures with less than one power. His third ability is nigh unreachable unless you happen to be playing TurboFog as well. His middle ability has some merit against control opponents, just like the last Gideon, but I still feel like this is quite underpowered.
Not as powerful as most walkers due to his immediate impact being low, but this guy will quickly turn into The Abyss if he is too large. You can actually Threaten his ultimate in limited too, which is a nice bonus.
The stereotypical “3/3 flier for five with upside” and it will prove to be as stereotypically unplayable in constructed.
I have to imagine this guy is quite good. His stats are on par with what you would expect and then he offers two modes. If you're Boros, you probably want to beat down with your 3/3 flying guy but if you're Orzhov, you might choose to take advantage of his blocking clause, holding off many enemy creatures potentially.
Spending a mana and more importantly a card, on such a minimal effect that will rarely do all the protecting your guy needs is just not an exciting use of a card.
This feels like a sideboard card most of the time. Obviously sometimes you will need the card or have some deck where this synergizes well, but most of the time, I would leave this in the board for specific situations.
This is interesting in that it technically scales infinite, depending on the number of Gates in your deck. That fact might be abused if Pyroclasm effects get popular, but not helping much on offense and requiring you to play with Gates are both big negatives.
I think this is actually quite strong if you end up with five gates in your deck, as +0/+2 and Vigilance is worth your three mana. With less than three gates though, this is basically unplayable, and at three or four it really depends on your deck. This is never a high pick unless the pack is terrible but should be an interesting card to see in limited.
Despite auras seemingly taking off in Both Standard and Modern thanks to a critical mass of hexproof guys, four mana is just too much to expect this to join them, especially for this weak ability.
This feels like it can be quite strong in Limited. Again, in an Orzhov deck, this won't be as good due to the deck being defensive, but in a deck like Boros, this will often build your own unblockable fatty to end the game. Solid middle of the pack pick up.
Extort is a neat mechanic, but putting it onto 2/4 creatures for four mana is not getting any constructed players excited.
This guy does a good job of holding the ground while making his presence felt on offense as well. Extort just takes over long games which is what this card is designed to do. Should be an essential pick up for the Orzhov guild whole only being acceptable in Boros.
Ha ha, very funny play on words WotC. If only it had been on a more constructed playable option...
There is no Populate to make this card highly sought after, so the pressure goes on Boros to make use out of a bunch of dudes. I think this accomplishes that, even if it does not do so in a particularly exciting way. Knightly Valor is a far superior card to this, but it does occupy a similar space in the confines of Gatecrash.
I can see this being a reanimation target in Standard as you do get a huge removal spell out of it. That said, I do not expect it to be popular or oppressive, but it might see some fringe play from time to time.
Orzhov definitely has the ability to stall the game out long enough for this to resolve. Having a giant Nekrataal is never a bad thing, but the body this leaves behind is quite manageable, despite being seven mana. No flying or evasion means it won't just end the game on the spot, but it is still gigantic and has a lot of utility.
While this can theoretically be used in some weird five card combo deck that makes 1000 dudes, that deck is more than likely a casual only experience.
This is an interesting card in that it offers the same blowout potential that most auras do, two-for-one'ing yourself, but once in play, it acts as insurance, protecting your creature. You can use this proactively, sacrificing said creature for an army, or defensively, almost as though this gave your creature hexproof.
This spell has been in Standard before, in about 20 different shapes and sizes. Until now, I never blinked an eye at it but I could see it being an option for token strategies. Normally they will want to stick to the Crusade effects, but this might have a chance.
This is going to be pretty mediocre in Orzhov, as the deck is not going to be attacking with a lot of guys, but for a Boros deck, that wants to turn all of its creatures sideways, this will often be a cheaper, less powerful Overrun.
While I fully expect this to never see play, these are the strange sideboard cards that people play to make sure something like Kor Firewalker can't be killed by a Moonglove Extract against Mono Red, so ya never know.
This is a decent combat trick that will allow you to win what would otherwise be a trade, chump block an extra time, or counter a burn spell. Not insane by any means, but with Blood Rush in the format, I expect this to be used as a Counterspell to a combat trick most of the time.
Been there. Done that. Not played. Nothing's changed.
A pretty strong generic removal spell that gains even more value in Boros since it is going to be the aggressive white color. Orzhov will still be doing some attacking, maybe to trigger cipher or something, so this will come up for them too.
While I personally don't see this guy as being good enough, I am willing to admit that that is not a 100% confident statement. This could be good enough for a beatdown strategy lacking just a little bit of reach, as the rate is at least passable.
Meanwhile, as I have been saying all along, extort is going to be clutch in limited. Having to waste a removal spell on an otherwise useless 2/2 in the late game because he is just draining you is going to be frustrating, but reality. And Boros will want to pick this up as it is an aggressive burn spell on legs, making it desirable by both white guilds.
I may be overrating this a half point or so, but a 4/4 flier for 6 mana would be close to a 3.0 on its own, so I have to give this the benefit of the doubt. Even just generating a chump blocker helps the power level of this from that theoretical card. Add in blinking effects or other synergies and this can be a bomb.
I would look up what Zarichi is, but chances are its just a made up word, so I am going to pretend this is a Dinosaur Tiger, because Zarichi should mean dinosaur. Good enough for me.
Now into the land where this is actually a card. Again, Boros will not want this due to its bad rate, but a deck like Orzhov might find use out of the reusable life gain for when it isn't drawing spells to trigger extort. If you aren't defensive though, look elsewhere.
While a 6/6 for four mana is not even the greatest rate, it is pushed enough to help find this a niche home. The drawback is real, but plenty of decks won't view it that way, like control decks that just want a permanent Blocker for Thragtusk and Geralf's Messenger alike.
I rate this high, but it could be the case that the lifelink drawback is much more severe in limited to the point of this being lower. As I see it, this basically turns into The Abyss on turn 4 and will hold off most creatures from attacking if you need it on defense. The body does lose value as the game grinds on, but a 6/6 is rarely going to be too small.
This type of rate is acceptable if the ability is desired, like Tidehollow Sculler, but requiring the resource of a creature basically eliminates this from the discussion altogether.
While the cost is high on it, there are some things in Orzhov that make the ability appealing. Orzhov has quite a few strong auras that it might want to be suiting up on guys. While the deck won't always be in full out attack mode, this thing wearing some flying lifelink pants is pretty awesome.
The ability is cool, but it would need to just be “Tap: Sacrifice” in order for this to be considered. Spending six mana repeatedly to get a 5/5 is not the greatest deal in the world, not to mention you need to protect a 1/1 token in the meantime.
A giant unkillable flyer is pretty absurd. Obviously the chances of two removal spells out of the opponent are low, but that is basically the only way they won't lose to this card aside from exiling it somehow. A 5/5 flier does need assistance to win the game, but it doesn't need much.
I can't imagine people wanting to play a hard to cast removal spell that requires you take damage first and even then not just outright kill the creature. Stick to your Ultimate Prices and Searing Spears.
This is not the premier level of removal, but it does work well with all of the high toughness Orzhov creatures. Plus, with extort, Orzhov has the ability to take a few hits on the chin if need be to gain access to what amounts to Dismember.
I give this a two because of its application against Monored or red/white decks, where it is often a removal spell, sometimes a two-for-one, and always a good turn two play. That is not even accounting for whatever crazy interaction people come up with to abuse his ability. But even played fair, this seems fine out of the sideboard.
The opponent gets to interact with this, so it isn't reliable removal, but this can make an opponent play totally differently. Maybe they stop attacking altogether, maybe they let this through time and time again with a Cipher spell on it, unwilling to lose their bomb to a block. This is basically super deathtouch with upside, which is kind of neat.
Wind Drake, etc. Sure it comes with upside, but it is also harder to cast and not really worth your time.
Wind Drake is quite viable in limited though and this comes with a more than relevant ability. You see, Wind Drake often gets in for some amount of damage and then a three toughness flier hits the board and the Drake is useless. This comes with a sustained source of damage though, which is really useful.
I would give this a higher rating, but I am fairly certain that is play will be limited to Standard with maybe some fringe Modern play. The card is extremely powerful in Standard though. He represents a two point drain every turn, a more than reasonable rate for his size, and the ability to always dodge sorcery speed removal. These are all pretty neat functions and the card should inspire some number of new decks on its own.
Basically unbeatable. The body is large and tough to manage, but the inevitability that the drain provides and the immunity to sorcery speed removal are both so strong. This allows you to just drag out a game and be assured victory.
Very strong removal that will slowly wear down the opponent, allowing extort to win that much more quickly. Being four mana is a big drawback, as the early game is still weak, but this is still very strong.
I really enjoy this charm, if for nothing else than the destroy a creature mode. Sure, it can be punishing against a Zombies deck or whatever, but if that Hellkite was going to hit you anyway... The other modes on this are interesting and need to be built around. Martyr of Sands immediately jumps to mind for the recursion aspect for example. Should be an interesting addition to the metagame.
Unconditional removal is always solid and this comes with other modes that should be useful in limited. Returning Thrull Parasite or saving your guy suited up with a pair of Auras is pretty nice versatility. I think you should generally take this over One Thousand Lashes, but I could be wrong about that.
While this guy has some level of Sun Titan in him, he is not quite all the way there. A 4/4 for six is significantly less exciting, and drawing the card as opposed to putting it into play is a big deal. This isn't unplayable by any means, but I don't see it seeing much play.
Extort is awesome. Recurring things from your graveyard is awesome. Big bodies are awesome. Need I say more?
Man, how badly do I wish this guy were a three mana 1/3 and therefore an actual constructed threat. As is, this might see fringe play with Restoration Angel for control mirrors, but it will not be wildly popular.
Any extort card is going to have value and this can randomly nag a bomb out of your opponent's hand. That said, it is a five mana 1/3 so it does not have much impact on combat and the discard ability weakens as time goes on and your opponent empties their hand. Still a fine card that you will play most times though.
While the second ability on this is intriguing, I don't think requiring three mana in order to do any sort of combo with this is going to impress people in Constructed.
While the combo between these two abilities might not come up all the time, the simple ability to grant lifelink to creatures is huge. It wins races, keeps you alive on defense, and makes opponents feel helpless. In the late game, you can easily double lifelink up, activate the second ability, and then just win the game.
Any card that grabs things out of the graveyard is potentially viable. In this case, it would be if a token deck wanted a little assistance against Reanimator or something. Not a great card, but it might see play.
I think this needs to be a sideboard card almost always but occasionally, some deck will just want the conditional flying man. There are not a ton of graveyard matters cards floating around, but this will be a nice option against them.
While I would like to think that is is unplayable in constructed like most auras of its kind, the rise in popularity of hexproof creatures combine with auras makes me think this has a chance. Lifelink is a powerful ability and this comes with natural evasion as well, so ya never know.
I expect this to be a nightmare for a lot of decks. Dimir might want this to trigger Cipher spells while Orzhov will enjoy creating their own Baneslayer Angel to keep them in the game or end it in their favor.
This is a weird card. It is not strong enough to be a value card in a deck, as it requires a lot to go right. Because of this, this card is either unplayable in most decks, or a degenerate win condition at the center of your deck. When you play this for four and return a huge number of creatures like in legacy, it will feel extremely powerful, and it will be, but I don't see many uses for it outside of that, similar to a Doomsday feel.
I expect this to be a pretty big beating in a late game situation. If you return two to three creatures with this at three or four cost, this is getting really good value. If nothing else, this can be an expensive Zombify for your bomb, but I think building around this will be very strong.
And that's it for Orzhov! Well, they have a few black cards too of course, but we will check in with those tomorrow when we go over all of the black cards as well as the house Dimir. As for Orzhov themselves, their constructed offerings are not the most exciting thing ever once you get past the top two to three cards, but there is a lot of utility stuff in there as well. In limited, I fully expect them to be defensive and look to grind you out in the long game.
Well, that's it for today. Again, check back here tomorrow for black and the Dimir and then we will continue on with a guild and color each day. And as always, we will have our Top 8 constructed cards from Gatecrash at the end of the whole journey. Until tomorrow, thanks for reading!
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