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M14 Set Review: Blue
Feature Article from Conley Woods
Conley Woods
7/16/2013 11:02:00 AM
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Welcome back to day two of our week long review of M14. Yesterday, we took a look at all of the black cards that our newest core set has to offer and to keep things moving along, today we will continue with the blue stuff. Of course, we will be reviewing each card in the context of both limited and constructed, so if you only play one, or both, we got ya covered. At the end of the week, we will then be going over the Top 8 cards for constructed out of M14, so be sure and join us each day until we get to that!

But let's get to the cards shall we? To rate each of the cards for both limited and constructed, we will be using the following pair of scales:


Constructed

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. 4s tend to see both Modern and Standard play, but have not made the jump to Eternal formats.

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


Limited

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%)


And with that, let's move on to the cards!

High
Mid
Low
 Air Servant
$0.85
$0.17
$0.01
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Air Servant

Constructed: 1

While I can envision a world in which this might actually be good, I don't think that world will come into existence anytime soon, if ever again.

Limited: 4.0

A very strong card that will usually end up beating all of the comparable power level cards such as Sengir Vampire in a fight. Splashable at just a single blue, this will be a reason to be blue and a card to steal if you aren't.

High
Mid
Low
 Archaeomancer
$0.60
$0.12
$0.02
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Archaeomancer

Constructed: 1.5

This effect is fringe playable due to how unique it is. For example, if Warp World were reprinted, this would be a sweet addition to the deck. In general though, don't expect too many things from this guy.

Limited: 2.5-3.5

This is going to fluctuate not only based on the number of spells you have, but also on the quality of them. Two Doom Blades is a heck of a lot more valuable than four copies of Cancel for example. There is also a shot at a build-around strategy that uses Archaeomancer to great effect, so watch for that.

High
Mid
Low
 Armored Cancrix
$0.64
$0.14
$0.01
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Armored Cancrix

Constructed: 1

Really? Do I have to explain why this crab ain't clawin' its way into Standard?

Limited: 1.0-1.5

Not a strong card, but one that serves a role blue decks tend to need. You end up running some number of these either because of needed defense or because of a lack of five drops but in either case, he will be fine.

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 Cancel
$0.62
$0.13
$0.02
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Cancel

Constructed: 2

Always fringe playable and rarely played due to so many other more specialized but powerful options. That is likely going to remain the case but you might see one or two of these pop up from time to time.

Limited: 1.5-2.0

This is an ok one-of in just about every blue deck but definitely goes up in value in control decks looking to abuse it a little more. I like having one of these in my side at the very least to deal with any number of crazy bombs that the opponent might have. Other countermagic can take the spot of this though, so it isn't crucial to have one I suppose.

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Mid
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 Claustrophobia
$0.64
$0.14
$0.02
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Claustrophobia

Constructed: 1.5

This is actually a decent answer for some blue decks to run in their sideboard. With the multicolor metagame we have right now, there is less of a reason to do so, but the option exists and this is actually fine.

Limited: 3.5

Sorcery speed and the ability to potentially remove this are both drawbacks but at the same time, blue is not used to this high quality of removal, especially at common, so they will gladly take it. An easy first pick in many packs.

High
Mid
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 Clone
$1.74
$0.38
$0.15
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Clone

Constructed: 1

You can use this to kill opposing Geist of Sain... wait a second, no you can't! Now that the legend rule has changed, Clone is almost unplayable in constructed. Sure, you can do some neat stuff with your guys, but that is almost never worth four mana. He might see very minor play, but his usefulness has gone way down.

Limited: 3.0

Generally a solid pick up that is not quite a bomb but could very well end up being one if you know what I mean. Solid blue creature that you should certainly rarely pass.

High
Mid
Low
 Colossal Whale
$1.35
$0.27
$0.09
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Colossal Whale

Constructed: 1

While this is a very neat idea for a card and a powerful effect, the casting cost, size, and other protection is just not there. For example, what if this had hexproof instead of islandwalk? Is that card constructed worthy? It seems like much more of a discussion at that point but as is, it just misses on too many fronts.

Limited: 3.5-4.0

This suffers from being a seven drop but outside of that, he is a pretty solid bomb. It's really difficult to kill this by blocking it due to its ability and soft evasion, so you basically need to have a removal spell ready or he will quickly take over a game. Be careful of opponents saving a Doom Blade for your combat when the Whale had two creatures in its belly to turn the combat into a blowout.

High
Mid
Low
 Coral Merfolk
$0.64
$0.14
$0.02
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Coral Merfolk

Constructed: 1

This guy doesn't do anything special but he does have a useful creature type, if ya know, you're desperate...

Limited: 1.5

Nothing special to see here. This guy will make your deck when you need cheap filler and he does a decent job both on offense and trading with opposing bears.

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Mid
Low
 Dismiss into Dream
$1.30
$0.26
$0.10
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Dismiss into Dream

Constructed: 1

This is an interesting effect but at seven mana, I don't think it is any threat to the real world of constructed.

Limited: 2.0-?

I am a little unsure of this as a card. On the one hand, it is a seven mana enchantment that requires other cards to do anything of value. On the other hand, that thing of value is particularly potent and potentially game winning. If you can draft around this with a lot of free activated abilities that target, let me know how it goes!

High
Mid
Low
 Disperse
$0.62
$0.13
$0.02
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Disperse

Constructed: 1

While Boomerang effects are generally playable, they are only playable in two scenarios. 1)They are the best Boomerang available, pushing all other Boomerang effects out of the format or 2)There is a mass amount of Boomerang effects to be used like land destruction. Since this cannot target lands, it falls into the first category where it is a lot worse than Cyclonic Rift

Limited: 1.5-2.0

In limited, Boomerang rarely targets lands anyway, so this has basically the same power level but is easier to cast. Unsummon was a little easier to keep up but this should still be pretty good.

High
Mid
Low
 Divination
$0.62
$0.14
$0.02
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Divination

Constructed: 2

There are some pretty decent additions to draw spells in M14, like Opportunity, but Divination will still see a little bit of play in decks that want something a little cheaper.

Limited: 2.0

Divination is one of those cards that the first copy of it is usually pretty good, but additional copies often go down in value unless you have a dedicated control deck, which is certainly a possibility. In general I would take my first Divination over Disperse though.

High
Mid
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 Domestication
$1.60
$0.32
$0.05
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Domestication

Constructed: 2

While this didn't see much play the first time it was printed, that was also at a time were Primeval Titans and Ulamogs roamed the land. I feel like if the metagame continues to be aggressive creatures, this can easily end up being a solid sideboard card in Standard.

Limited: 4.0

Sure, it isn't Control Magic, but what is these days? In general, you would prefer Mind Control to this in limited which is why it gets a half a point deduction, but it is still very solid and worth first picking just about every time.

High
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 Elite Arcanist
$1.98
$0.56
$0.19
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Elite Arcanist

Constructed: 1

Spending four mana on a 1/1 body had better come with some serious upside to it. Elvish Piper comes to mind as a must deal with threat that can win you the game with those stats and it isn't even great. The Arcanist just allows you to get two-for-one'd very easily which is obviously very bad. If he sticks, sure, you have something sweet, but that will rarely happen.

Limited: 3.0

This is a little better here since he isn't basically destined to die. If you can set this guy up with a Duress or something and then get a removal spell on to this, it will feel like a legitimate bomb. Be careful of what you do exile with this as there is a chance this will instantly die and you don't want all of your eggs into such a fragile basket.

High
Mid
Low
 Essence Scatter
$0.65
$0.15
$0.02
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Essence Scatter

Constructed: 2

A valuable Counterspell to have around even when it is not seeing the most play in the world. We need access to two-mana countermagic against a lot of decks and this is a fair version of said spell. Expect these in main decks and sideboards alike.

Limited: 2.0

In general this is a nod better than Cancel due to the easier time casting it (a mana and a blue symbol less). While you will often want to counter a creature though, not being to hit removal is definitely a problem. Another card that having access to one or two of is a wise choice for.

High
Mid
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 Frost Breath
$0.58
$0.12
$0.02
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Frost Breath

Constructed: 1

Feeling of Dread did good things for a short time in constructed but the ability to stagger the turns on it was a big deal as was the fact that milling it via something like Thought Scour leads to card advantage. Frost Breath cannot really do those things and is more expensive, so I don't like its chances.

Limited: 1.5-2.0

In general, this is about the same power level as Disperse. Clearly each has some advantages over the other but if you are ever comparing the two, just factor in curve as a tiebreaker when need be.

High
Mid
Low
 Galerider Sliver
$4.00
$1.65
$0.50
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Galerider Sliver

Constructed: 2.5-3

While it is hard to know just how big of an impact Slivers will have in Standard, we have a few clues as to how good this will be. First, Winged Sliver has seen play as recently as last year in Legacy. It is a strong card and this is half the price. Second of all, if Slivers is going to be a deck, evasion is key and this is about as efficient a form of evasion as is available so I would expect stirrings from this guy.

Limited: 3.0-4.0

Of course, this guy is only passable by himself but can get out of hand with enough Slivers backing him up. One mana for Wonder is pretty strong plus this guy is going to be receiving all of the bonuses from your other Slivers, making this one of the most efficient one-drops you can have in the late game.

High
Mid
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 Glimpse the Future
$0.87
$0.20
$0.01
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Glimpse the Future

Constructed: 1

If you compare this to Forbidden Alchemy (a card that is not even seeing much play lately) you can see why it isn't very impressive. You are digging one card less deep, at sorcery speed, and are losing the flashback option. Any one of those nerfs and there is a chance this is viable but with all three, I wouldn't count on it.

Limited: 1.0-1.5

This is basically just always worse than Divination, but it is playable and can help you find bombs, which is nice. Unless I had some reanimation stuff in my deck I would play every copy of Divination before this but it is still passable.

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Mid
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 Illusionary Armor
$0.80
$0.16
$0.03
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Illusionary Armor

Constructed: 1

Auras are not the strongest card type in Standard but even when they are occasionally good, five mana is a bit of a stretch. This just begs for you to be two-for-one'd as even if you manage to resolve it, a Lightning Bolt is going to take out your freshly minted 7/7 creature... awkward...

Limited: 2.5

This actually seems pretty decent in limited. I have not gotten the chance to play with this yet, but this is a big boost to provide some flying creature or whatever. You need to be careful for midcombat blowouts that this card can lead to, but if this sticks, it is incredible and once you have gotten in one or two attacks with it, it has done its job and can gladly be sacrificed.

High
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 Jace, Memory Adept
$12.99
$8.55
$6.90
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Jace, Memory Adept

Constructed: 3

This guy has been proving himself in Standard for a while now and I suspect he will remain in a similar place. One thing to note is that once Innistrad rotates, milling people will no longer be a potential liability, so perhaps his play will kick up a bit.

Limited: 4.5

This is basically suspend 3: Win the game. Sure, your opponent can interact with it, but if you have adequate blockers or anything to stall for a few turns, this will just mill your opponent out. If that route is not available, this will gladly draw you three to four cards in the same time frame, so it's kind of a win-win.

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 Jace's Mindseeker
$1.65
$0.33
$0.10
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Jace's Mindseeker

Constructed: 1.5

This is basically the same thing as the Primordial was in Return to Ravnica. The key difference is that this is a mana cheaper (with a smaller body) and it enables itself by milling for five. If there are any type of control decks that want to abuse creatures for value, this could be key in the mirror, so I give it a small shot of seeing play.

Limited: 4.0

This is a little tough to cast, but when you do cast it, it should be awesome. A 4/4 flying body is pretty good on its own and when you hit removal or a draw spell off of this, it will feel very unfair. Occasionally, the mill for 5 will be relevant independent of the ability to cast a spell from it.

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 Merfolk Spy
$0.61
$0.13
$0.02
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Merfolk Spy

Constructed: 1

While this may be a Merfolk, giving it some shred of hope, a 1/1 for one mana with effectively no relevant abilities needs a lot more than a creature type to be a threat.

Limited: 1.0

Tom Ma may have Top 8ed a Pro Tour with two of these in his main deck during the second draft of PT Amsterdam, but that doesn't make it good. It is a decent sideboard option if you have some auras or equipment to make it formidable against opposing blue decks but outside of that, avoid this.

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 Messenger Drake
$0.62
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Messenger Drake

Constructed: 1

While this is probably better than something like Sky Eel School for constructed purposes, that is not saying a lot and this will not see any play.

Limited: 3.0

This is significantly better than the four mana 2/2 with the same text that we have played with for the past nine months. A 3/3 flier is so much better than a 2/2 that this actually adds substantial presence to your board and has a contingency plan should it be killed.

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 Negate
$0.65
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Negate

Constructed: 2.5

This has always been a little bit better than Essence Scatter and should continue to be. Negate is a common sideboard card against control where you actually have time set up two mana in your advantage. Against aggro, if you fall behind on board, the number of Essence Scatters you draw is irrelevant whereas that is not a fear against control.

Limited: 1.5

I tend to run both Cancel and Essence Scatter before I run Negate but Negate is arguably the best sideboard card of the bunch in terms of efficiency at least. You can definitely get away with a copy of this in your main if need be though.

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 Nephalia Seakite
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Nephalia Seakite

Constructed: 1

Speaking of poor four-cost fliers. This guy is actually pretty sweet in limited but his constructed prowess is not quite the same.

Limited: 2.5

Seakite is a relatively strong card in that his existence alone benefits blue and secretly gives them a few extra life points each game. He is better than things like Runewing are because he will get you a card some amount of the time through flash, but is a little tougher in his battles in the skies.

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 Opportunity
$0.57
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Opportunity

Constructed: 2.5-3

Opportunity is a card that I have never gotten to cast in a competitive event. By the time I began playing, the last reprint of Opportunity had moved off to Extended and beyond and it was never good enough for those formats by the time I began playing them. Its back and I am still excited to get some redemption. Sphinx's Revelation is going to suppress the amount of play this will see, but decks like UB control are potentially viable now that they do not HAVE to go white for Revelation.

Limited: 3.5

This is a complete beating if and when you finally cast it. You pass the turn with six mana up and your opponent suspects a removal spell at best. Then, BAM, four more cards at the end of their turn! Demoralizing and powerful, I dig it!

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 Phantom Warrior
$0.85
$0.17
$0.03
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Phantom Warrior

Constructed: 1

The old Phantom Warrior has had many years to try to make his mark on constructed Magic and then Invisible Stalker comes along and puts the Phantom to shame. Bant Hexproof is a deck but I don't think it will be exchanging those Stalkers for this even after rotation. Poor Phantom...

Limited: 3.0

A strong unblockable body is always good. Find some auras or equipment to throw on this guy and he will go to town on your opponent's life total. Even alone, this is a clock that will wear on the opponent, so take him high and win with him.

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 Quicken
$4.50
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$0.25
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Quicken

Constructed: 2

This is a very niche card that doesn't pop up often, but it usually does some cool things when it does. This saw play in Dragonstorm and other combo decks to enable the combo at instant speed to surprise unsuspecting opponents. Beyond that, it is just a one mana cantrip which makes it bearable during inopportune times. This might go unplayed but its name will come up often.

Limited: 1.5-2.5

Basically just a card you include to cycle but with a timely Mind Rot or sorcery speed removal spell, you can definitely get some extra value out of this.

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 Scroll Thief
$0.60
$0.13
$0.02
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Scroll Thief

Constructed: 1

While the dream of Ophidian is still very much there for me, the practicality of it is not. Removal is too good and blockers too cheap to expect this to get through. Planeswalkers have basically become the new source of this type of card advantage.

Limited: 2.0

I love this card in limited and always have. Sometimes, you will get in three or four hits and win the game. Other times, you will connect once then lose your Thief which is fine. But ALL of the time, you force your opponent to be more conservative, playing in such a way to prevent the disaster of this connecting, giving you advantages elsewhere.

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 Seacoast Drake
$0.61
$0.14
$0.02
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Seacoast Drake

Constructed: 1

Concordia Pegasus is back under disguise as a drake! Technically, this guy has a very outside shot at being a sideboard card, but the conditions are so rare that I would not expect it.

Limited: 1.5-2.0

The more defensive your deck is, the better this guy becomes. In an aggressive blue/white skies deck, he will be fine, but he feels much more at home in something like blue/black control where you need inexpensive creatures and defensive creatures, of which he fits both.

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 Sensory Deprivation
$0.60
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$0.02
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Sensory Deprivation

Constructed: 2

I actually think this is an acceptable card for decks like blue/white control to run as their makeshift Condemn for the early turns. You are planning on casting a sweeper at some point anyway, so the fact that the creature hasn't actually died isn't as big of a deal.

Limited: 2.5

This was a surprisingly powerful card in Innistrad where I found myself happily playing two to three copies of this in most decks. I suspect that in a core set this might be even better due to the higher concentration of combat oriented creatures with less tricky activated and triggered ability stuff.

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Mid
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 Spell Blast
$0.87
$0.19
$0.03
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Spell Blast

Constructed: 1

Spell Burst saw some play back in Time Spiral era due to its ability to generate card advantage and actually lock an opponent out of a long game. Even then, decks only played a single copy. Without the buyback, the spell wasn't actually efficient at countering spells and with the buyback, you didn't need a second one. With so many decent Counterspells in the format, this one won't enter the picture.

Limited: 1.0

Worse than Cancel but an easier splash if that is something that you value.

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 Tidebinder Mage
$5.14
$2.36
$0.90
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Tidebinder Mage

Constructed: 3

Talk about a powerful Merfolk. In Legacy, this card will actually feel more like a 4.0 but his effectiveness peaks there and goes down as the format gets newer. This will still see play in Modern as a strong tempo creature and then it will probably pop up in Standard from time to time.

Limited: 2.5

Obviously a strong card in one or two of your three match ups but worth a mid-pack gamble some of the time. A difficult to cast bear isn't great, but it isn't the end of the world either.

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 Time Ebb
$0.55
$0.11
$0.02
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Time Ebb

Constructed: 1

I am sure there was a time where things were ebbed in constructed, but this effect has almost never been playable in the modern era with only a few exceptions.

Limited: 2.0

The value of this is completely dependent on what you do with the tempo you gain off of this. If the answer is get in six damage and play another dude, that is more than enough. But if you are just fogging a creature for a few turns, there are better options.

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Mid
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 Tome Scour
$0.64
$0.16
$0.03
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Tome Scour

Constructed: 1

People seem to Insist on trying this one but it has not worked out yet. Mill is unique enough that if you want it and this is available, you will play it, but it has not been particularly impressive since originally seeing print.

Limited: 1.0

There is no second common to really help the mill archetype in the way that you would expect. Instead, there are some rares and mythics and then Millstone at uncommon. Millstone does not really need any help in doing what it does, but feel free to combine the two.

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 Trained Condor
$0.60
$0.13
$0.02
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Trained Condor

Constructed: 1

Well you could... no, no you can't. But there is the combo with... no, no there isn't. Shall we move on?

Limited: 3.0

This guy seems like he will be taken relatively high. His 2/1 flying body is certainly passable even if not impressive, but granting jump to something else every turn is a pretty strong ability. Expect this to compete with all of the other strong blue limited cards we have discussed today.

High
Mid
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 Traumatize
$3.55
$1.73
$0.44
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Traumatize

Constructed: 1

There was a day and time where this was playable but nowadays, five mana to not even come close to winning the game is not very good.

Limited: 2.5

This is a strong reason to be a mill archetype as you wait to lead with this and then follow up with a few Tome Scours and Archaeomancers but you need to get this early and build around it. Otherwise, it is a decent control mirror breaker out of the board.

High
Mid
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 Wall of Frost
$1.00
$0.22
$0.04
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Great Lakes MTG 1 $0.07
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Wall of Frost

Constructed: 2

This made some appearances the last time it was in Standard and I think it has a chance again. With so many relentless threats, having a way to lock multiple down with a single card long enough to deal with things on a permanent basis is potentially very strong.

Limited: 2.5

Blue is getting some very solid removal in this format and this is just another thing to add to that list. This is the perfect creature to clog up the ground while you win in the air.

High
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 Warden of Evos Isle
$0.87
$0.20
$0.04
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Warden of Evos Isle

Constructed: 2

I have no idea what this can do, but I know that flying is insane and cost reduction is often broken, so I am just rating this as playable in the dark so I look like a genius somewhere down the line.

Limited: 2.5-3.0

While this certainly has an ability tacked on to it, I think you basically are taking a Wind Drake when you take this. If it's late and you know your flier quantity, it should shift your value of this, but early on, just expect it to be Wind Drake and be happy when it outperforms that, which is often will.

High
Mid
Low
 Water Servant
$0.80
$0.16
$0.01
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Water Servant

Constructed: 1

So obviously this guy isn't worth his weight in water in constructed but what is up with the power of these blue limited cards? Geez!

Limited: 3.0

This guy is not quite as good as an evasion creature, but he is still very strong and difficult to block effectively. The number of fliers might push this back in terms of pick order, but don't let that fool you as to how good it is.

High
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 Windreader Sphinx
$4.05
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$0.30
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Windreader Sphinx

Constructed: 1

While this is pretty cool, it also costs seven mana and if we get all the way to reanimating it, there are better options like Griselbrand.

Limited: 4.0

Another one of those cards that should win when it hits the table. If you are lucky you will get to draw a card or two right away and then unless your opponent is playing black, this is sticking around as it has SEVEN toughness. Good luck dealing with that.

High
Mid
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 Zephyr Charge
$0.60
$0.13
$0.02
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Zephyr Charge

Constructed: 1

Maybe some extremely adventurous person will be trying this out in something like Bant Hexproof but it doesn't really belong in 75 card lists.

Limited: 2.5-3.5

I can't tell if this is a certified bomb that wins the long game or if it is a bit of too big an investment for the output. I will certainly be giving this plenty of chances though as I think it looks pretty strong at first glance.


Wrap Up

Blue looks incredibly strong in M14. For constructed, the color has a lot of powerful things that will need to be tested such as Opportunity and Galerider Sliver, but most of what we are getting are the proven staples. In limited though, the color looks to be extremely dense in terms of power and playables. I don't know what color pair will end up being the strongest in M14 limited, but I would be surprised if it did not involve blue.

If nothing else, M14 limited is looking like it might be a pretty awesome format to fall in line with a recent tradition of core sets. Of course, tomorrow we will be continuing our journey through M14 with a look through the trees and into green. Until then, thanks for reading!

--Conley Woods--



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