Gatecrash Set Review: Blue and Simic!
Welcome back to the third day in our trip around the world of Gatecrash. So far we have taken a look at white, black, the Orzhov, and the Dimir. Today, we continue with that, moving on to blue and the Simic guild. The Simic have some crazy things brewing these days with Frog Antelope Boar Beasts and stuff. And in limited, evolve is looking like one of the more fun mechanics I have seen in a long time. We will be taking a look at their creations in both constructed, as well as limited and giving them a ranking to weigh appropriately against each other. To help us out, we will be using the following two scales:
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 4s tend to see both Modern 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%)
And with that, let's move on to the cards!
I could see this being a very narrow sideboard for control or combo decks looking to drag a game out against some aggro deck. The other thing it can do, is be a Wrath against attacking tokens, so if tokens becomes popular, this might see some counterplay.
I really like this as a limited trick, but it can be tricky to set it up for value. Because you are not killing the creature, you really do not want to use this on a single creature unless you have to. So having four mana up when your opponent is attacking with three to four creatures is going to be tough, but when it happens, it will be very strong. As always, early on in the format, this will be much more productive due to players not knowing about it.
I like the name, the art, and the flavor, but nothing about this is constructed worthy.
I actually really like this in theory. Losing five power is a lot and will almost always blank a creature on offense and then you can move this around when the going gets tough or they play a bigger threat. If you leave mana open going into combat, they can't just block with their 0 power guy looking to kill it off, because you can return the aura at will. Granted, you need to make sure that creature isn't now killing your attacker, but this is still a lot better than most -X power spells.
A creature that grows bigger is cool, but not being able to attack pretty much rules out any chance of this being good.
Not the most exciting creature with evolve, but this still serves a big purpose. With four toughness, it is able to trigger Evolve on almost any creature play on curve before it. Later on it might lack that ability though.
This isn't exactly Delver of Secrets, but it can grow to a pretty big size pretty easily and when that is possible for only one mana, the card generally sees play. This, into Delver, into Snapcaster Mage, into a Restoration Angel already has you a 3/4 flier for one mana that can potentially continue to grow. Will be interesting to see if this finds a home.
This might even be a 3.0 to be honest, as in limited, this has no real problem growing bigger, even into the four and five power range, which for a single mana is amazing. This is a good creature to trigger cipher with as well, so expect both guilds to want it.
Much like the Black Primordial, I can see this being played in narrow situations like control matchups or reanimator matchups just because the ability is so strong.
A dragon-sized body is always going to be good, even at seven mana. This will often be casting a removal spell out of the opponent's graveyard too, which is never a bad thing. Both of the blue guilds can end up being aggressive, so make sure you tailor your deck to afford playing this.
Enter the Infinite
Even if a deck could cast this for free, would it want to? This is expensive and powerful, so some combo deck being built that utilizes this might come up but even then, I don't see this being played much. Twelve mana...TWELVE MANA!
Just don't do it, ever. You will kill yourself and be sad.
This is kind of an awkward mix between Aquamoeba and Basking Rootwalla, which is kind of a cool throwback to UG Madness. That said, this is not as powerful as either card and will almost certainly not see play.
I would like this a lot more if you could pump with evolve on the stack to hit bigger things. But alas, you cannot. Still, this guy is a solid defender and attacking with a 3/5 on turn three is still really good.
This is not Gigadrowse, but i can be used in a similar manner. Gigadrowse was so powerful because Counterspells could not interact with it profitably and its primary purpose was to beat counterspells. This is tougher to resolve, but Counterspells are only one issue these days, and they are generally more narrow.
This is basically Sleep in that it Fogs for a turn and allows you to attack back for the win, but being an instant gives you some extra versatility, as does the variable cost.
Hands of Binding
While turning any of your creatures into a Frost Titan is attractive, I don't think many decks will want to spend an entire card on doing so. Perhaps the build-a-giant-cipher-monster deck will be a real thing, but I am not optimistic for Hands of Binding.
In Dimir, where you have an unblockable creature much of the time, this turns into a legitimate removal spell. In addition, even if your guy isn't unblockable, this can rid them of their one creature, enabling cipher in that way. It is a sorcery, so you won't be getting blown out by any tricks on your opponent's turn, but this should still be a solid part of the Dimir identity.
There are enough decks out there that want to cast two spells a turn anyway, which would turn this into a 3/3 unblockable for two mana. Delver decks may want to look at this guy as a strong 2 drop to follow up Delver with.
It is significantly tougher to get off two actions in a turn in limited, but you will probably get this to happen once or twice a game. This is a solid cipher target but not the most consistent, so take it but don't rely on it.
While this can act in the same way as a Restoration Angel, it makes you replay the creature, which is a lot tougher to work with. In addition, the lack of flash is pretty bad. So, the drawback is basically a true drawback, ruining the allure of this.
Meanwhile, in limited, you can afford the time that the ability sets you back and actually try to use it like an upside. Sometimes it will be a drawback, but even then, you are getting a three power unblockable creature, which is especially valuable in this set.
This would have been pretty awesome as an instant because the rate which this was at least Inspiration would go way up. (No blocks? I'll play this and cipher my guy before damage.) As a sorcery cantrip Curiosity for four mana though, no thanks.
Turning one of your unblockable creatures into an Ophidian is powerful and at least you get to replace this card immediately, so you are never being caught losing card advantage. Not a great card, but it will be fine in Dimir.
A 5/5 for five. Sweet! Now let's check out what additional cool stuff this does for me! Wait, that's not cool stuff, that's bad stuff...
This is big and will defend you well, or lay down a hurtin on the opponent, but it requires a lot of resources and time to do so. This is great at triggering evolve though, so in Simic it moves up in the rankings.
And yet another clunker for the depths of your common box.
This guy is actually pretty good given the context of the set. The fact that you get to trigger cipher with this as well as an early Evolve creature is pretty nice. Then, for the cost of one mana, you get a Stormfront Pegasus in blue, which is below rate, but fine.
I would quote myself from a card review ago, but unfortunately, this one is an uncommon, so you need to find another box for it to go into.
A 2/5 flier for five mana has proven to be fine in the past, with Belltower Sphinx doing good work in the original Ravnica. This guy gives you a flat rate for your mill but happens a little more consistently. In addition, five toughness is triggering most evolve, so this should be pretty strong in every deck.
When this was in Time Spiral block, it saw a little play, but the world was quite different then. Cards like Snapcaster Mage and Cyclonic Rift make this a little more appealing, especially since it can take out anything from a Thundermaw Hellkite to an Angel of Serenity. Restoration Angel having four toughness is also quite relevant.
While giving your opponent a 3/3 is not that great, being able to deal with any bomb or utility creature for a single mana is still quite valuable. Remember that you can also kill your own creature to transform it into a 3/3, should the situation arise.
I can see this being really strong, but I am not sure where. Modern or Legacy could easily have some combo or card that really desires this effect and even in Standard, this provides mana fixing along with some tricks.
More than reasonable as a mana fixer for yourself but not great at doing anything else. If you need the mana fixing and are blue, pick this up, otherwise, let it pass you by.
Sage's Row Denizen
I give this a slight nod to constructed because it could be used in something like Aluren as a win condition. I don't think that will be the case, but you never know.
This guy is pretty strong in the Dimir mill deck, which will be the primary drafter of this card. He is an okay defensive creature for Simic, but I think in general Simic will not want to touch this.
The effect is an abusable one, but not for a six mana price tag it isn't.
Meanwhile, in limited this approaches bomb status in Simic. Imagine if it just said "creatures you control have flying" because in Simic, that is often the case. Of course, being a reasonably costed flier himself, Dimir might be dipping into the card pool for it more often than Simic would like.
I like this card a lot. In a control mirror, this will often end up duplicating Dismiss but is easier on the mana. It does suck that it is not the most versatile counterspell and four mana is a lot to keep open, but the payoff is pretty high.
Four mana counterspells that don't hit bomb creatures in limited are significantly worse than in Constructed. That said, this does replace itself and counters a late game removal spell, so it will be main decked on occasion and boarded in often.
Limited to only use his ability once each turn and for an upkeep of two mana sets this guy up to be a limited only kinda dude.
I like this guy despite him being a bit expensive. Once online, he gives your team an on-board combat trick, resizes Evolve creatures to help them out a bit, and has other synergies like with the Drake we just talked about. Moderately high pick if you are Simic and even if you are Dimir, he isn't bad.
One second, let me read this for a 10th time. Alright, so I am tenatively saying this is unplayable, but this type of card does not come around often, so it could end up being very strong. The biggest issue, is that this looks like a control card, but evolve is more of an aggro or midrange mechanic. Will this see play? I have no idea, so throw your thoughts down in the comments section.
This is really weak to removal for a turn or two, but once it gets going, reusable Mind Control is quite powerful. First pick this and take your opponent's team, if they let you.
Might I point you to the line that informs you this is an Aura for a land and then point you to the name line where it does not say Squirrel's Nest and then ask us all to calmly walk away... just walk away.
I am not a big fan of this card, but it does work in Dimir decks trying to trigger cipher spells, so it has a use, but it should never be taken highly and I would imagine it often gets cut from your deck.
A two mana Counterspell that relies on the stats of a single creature is a little too risky. If your opponent kills said creature, or if you don't have one, this could literally do nothing.
Not a great Counterspell, but a viable one if you did not pick up enough hard counters. Usually going to be found in the sideboard though.
Six mana for a Clone is a heck of a lot to expect players to spend, especially when decks getting to six mana, that might want a Clone, are less likely to have a creature attacking the opponent. Fun card for Commander though!
As just a Clone, this is powerful, but if you get two to three copies of a creature out of this, it will just win you that game. It is still six mana and depends on there being both an evasive creature in play as well as a creature you want to copy, so it is not as cut and dry as other bombs might be.
Did a Magic name just use the word “Totally”?....
This is expensive, but being an instant, hitting anything outside of lands, and being easily splashable makes me think this is Totally Reasonable to pick up semi-early in a draft. You can't rely on this as it is not hard removal, but it makes for exciting tempo plays in the mid to late game.
I like Momentary Blink a lot and it is worth noting that this can also hit opposing creatures, but being a four mana sorcery really turns me off here. I feel like the majority of the cipher cards were costed one to two mana too much to really excite me for constructed.
Limited: 1.0- 2.0
This should be pretty sweet in limited even if it isn't good. It clears a path for you cipher creature and then provides you with a blink effect to use as you see fit. That said, it is more narrow than most cipher cards, so it probably won't be drafted too early in the pack.
Way of the Thief
You can pretty easily control a gate in constructed, but I still feel like this is missing some pizzaz needed to make it better than all of the auras and equipment already available. At two mana, this would be a contender possibly.
This is pretty strong once you have a gate unlocked and pretty mediocre otherwise. If you have two to three gates, this is a reasonable include and more than likely a 23rd card or so if you don't. If nothing else, without the unblockable clause, this is still good on a different creature with unblockable.
This is one of the sweeter designs in the set, but I don't think the dream is all that realistic for constructed. There are a lot of ways to abuse it, like Cloning it, or specifically Rite of Replication, but are any of those going to be good enough to actually win games? Doubtful.
Play this as a Grey Ogre and nothing more. If that seems appealing to you, go wild!
This is not Trygon Predator by any means but it should still be strong in limited, which is what it was designed to do, so let's move over to that realm.
This is a strong Flier that will have difficulty living in trades, but with Bloodrush in Green, that problem is circumvented a little bit. This does a good job of triggering Evolve on curve as well, which is always a plus.
My instinct is to give this card a one in Constructed, but then I got to thinking about it more. At three mana, this can realistically hit three power pretty quickly. At that point, you have a huge toughness, unblockable threat. And even when you are not attacking with this, like when it is a 0/4, you can still be doing things like blocking Geralf's Messenger and stuff. If nothing else, I will be seeing if this card is viable.
This guy seems very strong in limited. Tough to kill, impossible to block, and a ceiling that basically does not exist. Of course you need to keep your power and toughness counts in mind while drafting, but if you do, this guy can get out of hand.
Man how I wish this cost three mana. Still, this is a very powerful effect even if it is a little clunky on a four drop. By drawing extra cards, you are increasing the chance you have to draw creatures that will trigger this. A cool interaction, if you Restoration Angel, triggering to draw a card, and then blink this with the ability, it will go back to a 1/1, allowing you the chance to draw a ton of new cards.
This guy is very strong once you get him in play but he needs to stay there. The first turn you play him he is essentially a sitting duck. If you get to replace this, it is all upside from there and this should win many a limited game by being a 5/5 that drew you four cards.
It has been a while since these types of cards were often seeing print in green, but even in the years since that has been true, people have not forgotten about how terrible they are.
This is a decent combat trick that might Ambush a player from time to time, but the biggest issue with it, is that it is so situational, it is barely worth main decking to put the fear into them. This kills three toughness attacking creatures, who have less than three power (assuming we want to keep the land, otherwise that is the other stipulation). Sure, it can be an offensive card, but even then it is just a two mana Lava Spike that dies to removal and blockers. This is fine and you will get it to be a removal spell from time to time, but don't count on that often.
I might be rating this a tad high, but I really like the potential of this guy in some midrange deck and his ability to combo people out is already known. He works in the Melira combo for example as a replacement for Melira. Plus, a four mana 2/4 isn't even that prone to removal.
This guy is pretty straight forward. Without any help at all, he will be double Crusading your team that follows him. With help? Well, have fun!
I am already having dreams of countering Sphinx's Revelation for 10... Realistically though, this is not great, but it is a Counterspell, and it does have an ability that produces a threat, so it has a shot. If you view this as a five mana, ground version of Draining Whelk, you can see a potential use for this fellow.
This seems like a solid two-for-one removal spell that is a little difficult to set up, but insane if you can do so properly. You need not even counter their giant bomb to get value here. Counter their 4/4 and enjoy one yourself!
If they had not printed Frontline Medic, this would probably be tearing up the pro scene, but sadly for our little flying friend, the Medic lives!!!
This guy is always behind the curve but has the chance to end up bigger than anything else in the air. For four mana, a 2/2 flier is a bit disappointing. For 5 mana, 3/3 flier is typical. Then at 6 mana you have a legit threat. Anything beyond that is game winning potentially.
Prime Speaker Zegana
This is essentially the Garruk middle ability, plus one card and a big body to be left behind. Garruk's middle ability is quite impressive though so I think this has a chance, even if that is just in some Birthing Pod list. This costs the same as Armada Wurm, so that isn't good news for the Simic half, but the effect is abusable in the right setting.
Tough to cast, but this is going to draw you three to four cards almost every time unless you happened to top deck this without a board or a hand. The body it leaves behind is always bigger than anything else on your side of the table too, which is kind of neat.
It feels like a lot of the creatures in this space from the first Simic offering were more playable. Plaxmanta over this thing. Plaxcaster Frogling over an X cost flier. The limited environment should be a good one though.
Your solid, middle of the road evolve dude. He will probably make it to four or five power before the game ends if he goes untouched, but he also gets to trigger your other evolve guys at instant speed should they be small enough. That gives him a little bit of versatility.
I like this charm in that it combines three useful effects, but none of which would be good enough to run on its own with the possible exception of Unsummon. Giant Growth is never on people's minds when it comes to constructed, but there are certainly sometimes when it would be awesome. And protecting all permanents you control is just a nice touch.
In limited, all three of these modes are really powerful considering you have a choice in the matter. Unsummon is a fine card. Giant Growth is an early pick. And countering removal is always a plus. This is quite the Workhorse for just two mana.
The results of this are most certainly unknown and likely unexpected, but I am hoping we have a really sweet card here with at least a little bit of consttructed application. This just has so much potential and it excites me thinking about it.
This seems good in general. It either thins your deck of lands and ramps you, or plays spells for free. Not a bomb or anything, but I want to play with it and think it can do some cool things for the right deck.
Needless to say, I love this card and I hope that it sees play. Explore plus Concentrate on the same card is just awesome in every way. I know Sphinx's Revelation has been the king of the hill, but hopefully there is some room for this.
Drawing three cards is always nice and getting to seven mana in this format, especially a turn early, seems very strong. I can't imagine passing this for too many non-rare/mythics in the set.
Drawing cards for two mana is powerful and if Simic looks like I think it does, there are a few Evolve creatures you can pair this will beyond its own internal combo.
This guy will take over long games a little worse than Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, but still quite powerful nonetheless. Your deck does need to have actual ways to win that the Zameck Guildmage can find, but he can find just about anything.
This seems like some sort of combo card more than a midrange value card, but maybe it can be both. I am not sure any deck in Standard wants this right now, but there may be soon enough.
Essentially an instant speed Overrun or a huge combat trick. You need to put a lot of mana into this to just outright win the game, but its definitely going to come up. I may have overrated this by a half point or so, but it looks good at first impression.
This is intended to be a limited combat trick for the most part. There are applications for this, but other cards have already been there and done that to no success.
This is a valuable combat trick for Simic or a weapon against them for any other blue or green guild so I expect it to be occasionally main decked and often sideboarded.
Merfolk of the Depths
What in the hell happened to this card? Did it, like lose three toughness and a set mechanic or something?
My constructed review applies here as well. This will be a situational six mana Neck Snap, but that is not exactly good. This is just bad...
Well, that is Simic in a wrap. They are a tricky bunch to figure out. Most of their constructed worthy mentions still leave me puzzled as I cannot be sure just how good or bad they will be. Everything has some weird interaction or synergy that might help it be good or never get off the ground in the first place. Limited looks similar as well. During the draft, you need to actually be keeping track of the power and toughness of each of your picks compared to evolve creatures in order to have the most refined deck. This will be a huge thing early, when orders are not public and people have to just go off of their own instinct, so take advantage.
Remember to tune back in tomorrow when we will be going over the old Gruul guild. They went from blood thirsty to having a bloodrush, so we will see where they stand these days. Until then, thanks for reading!