Gatecrash Set Review Part 6/6 – Hybrid, Artifacts and Land by Grant Hislop

Analysing the Modern Ban List – Spread the Sickness with Grant Hislop

Gatecrash Set Review Part 6/6 – Hybrid, Artifacts and Land by Grant Hislop

Wow. It’s been a week. I’ve fully immersed myself in Gatecrash over the course of the week. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed hearing my ramblings about the set as a whole, as I’ve certainly enjoyed writing about it. It’ll be nice to get back to actually playing Magic again, as I’ve really not had much time, what with the writing and all. Interestingly, with the changes to the ban-list announcements on Monday morning, we’re going to have an update, which will hopefully give me something to write about next week as well.

gatecrash magic poster

Anyway, onwards, through Hybrid, Artifacts and Lands, to conclude the Gatecrash review, before we start thinking about anything else. Hybrid has three of each represented combination, with one common, uncommon and rare for each.

Up first:-

Arrows of Justice

Arrows of JusticeConditional removal is still removal, and the fact that this is either red or white is very promising. It will easily kill most of the non-rare creatures in the environment. Once people become sufficiently familiarised with the format, it’ll become easier to play around, but for now, it’ll be pretty easy to ‘get’ people with.

Beckon Apparition

This is a known quantity, and it’s considerably worse than the other options available in the colours, namely Cremate and Purify the Grave. The set really isn’t Graveyard based, so it’s pretty much useless in limited too.

Biomass Mutation

This is a game ender for the Simic guild in limited, where the counters will continue to pump them, but in Constructed, it’s underwhelming. Mirrorweave was so good because you could copy a Wizened Cenn or the like, but I just can’t see this being as good as that, which was already pretty marginal.


BioshiftCan you say ‘mirrorbreaker’? Out of that, I don’t see much in the way of applications. It’s really narrow, and the effect isn’t nearly powerful enough. I’d almost always rather just play another land than such a marginal card.

Boros Reckoner

Another quasi-removal spell, though it’s one that’s really easy to dodge. A 3/3 is easy enough to ignore though, so the Firebreathing really makes it into a proper bomb. Opponents will be unable to ignore it for long, and it’ll almost always generate at least a two for one, and plays defence well too. Jack of all trades.

Burning Tree Emissary

While it’s essentially free, in terms of mana, it still costs a card. Is a ‘free’ 2/2 worth a card? That’s a question that I’m not quite sure of. It’ll need to be tested extensively, but my initial impression is ‘no’. Players with more aggressive tendencies than me may have differing opinions though.

Coerced Confession

Coerced ConfessionThis is really very inconsistent. Sometimes you’ll draw four, and be happy as Larry, and other times, you’ll mill four already dead lands and your opponent will mentally fist-pump. I doubt it’s good enough, and five mana is a considerable investment to draw an indeterminate number of cards. Might be better than I think.

Deathcult Rogue

Effectively a Phantom Warrior, this is a perfect creature to Encode your Ciphers onto. Will be a very, very high pick for Dimir drafters, while not being particularly good in Orzhov or Simic, due to the heavy colour commitments.

Massively below the curve for any serious Constructed considerations though.

Gift of Orzhova

Seems like it’s a little underpowered for Limited and Constructed, but will likely be worth boarding versus the lightning fast Boros decks, as a way to pump a creature, and get back into the game. Can’t see it being all that good at that either, admittedly, but it’ll have its uses.

Immortal Servitude

Immortal ServitudeWhen I first read this, I thought it was X or less, and I thought it was crazily good. Sadly, it’s not, and it’s not really all that great. Unburial Rites is just so much better than this, and so long as Standard is more about singular fatties than mass reanimation, there’s no way this sees any play outside of Limited, where it’ll be an excellent topdeck in the lategame, but a dead draw at every other time. Much better in Sealed than Draft, as Sealed is a few turns slower typically, and restocking your board is a lot more realistic.

Merfolk of the Depths

Well, it’s a Merfolk…. This is far too expensive to do anything other than enable Evolve in Simic decks. Even then, it’s likely that there will be better options. Poor Merfolk, I was really expecting a decent number of them, and went embarrassingly deep on a Master of the Pearl Trident speculation due to my belief that there would be a decent number of playable Merfolk in this set. Oops, I guess.

Nightveil Spectre

Nightveil SpecterInteresting, and really difficult for any non-Dimir deck to cast. It’s going to be excellent in some games, and effectively dead in others. Any Gruul or Boros deck doesn’t really care about the second ability whatsoever, outside of getting their lands stolen. It’s way below the requisite power level for Constructed though, which makes it an odd choice as the buy-a-box promo.

Pit Fight

Is one colourless mana worth it to make Prey Upon an instant? Probably not for Constructed, and Prey Upon was always solid in limited as is. It’ll be a very good removal spell, and Simic especially will want this, as they’ve really got very little in the way of other options outside of a splash.

Rubblebelt Raiders

Solid Gruul card, for certain. Plays into the Simic theme, but it’s likely too tough on the mana for them to want. I see this as one of the best Gruul rares going, and can’t see me passing up on it all that often.

Shattering Blow

There are better options than this in both colours, and it’s too narrow by far for Limited play, given that outside of Keyrunes, none of the Artifacts are actually all that good (foreshadowing alert).

So, that’s every coloured card in the set covered, so it’s time to move on to Artifacts:-

Armored Transport

This is a curve filler for aggressive decks, particularly Boros, where it’ll enable Battalion until such time as an opponent has had enough, and throws a kill spell at it (unlikely). It’s easy enough to ignore, at only two power, but it’s decent enough, and costing three mana isn’t too bad for what you’re getting.

Boros Keyrune

Boros KeyruneThis is one of the weaker of the Keyrunes. 1/1 Double Strike really isn’t particularly impressive on offence. Fencing Ace at least doesn’t require the mana activation, and he isn’t exactly prevalent. Really good in limited, play them to enable splashes etc. I don’t think Keyrunes are like Signets, where you play them off colour, but in slower decks, they might be worth it.

Dimir Keyrune

This is to Creeping Tar Pit as Coldplay are to Van Halen. They do the same thing, but one of them is just so much better than the other. With Tar Pit, there was no opportunity cost, as it was a land, while Dimir Keyrune, costing three, doesn’t enable you to trim a land, as it likely would at one or two. Also, in straight Dimir decks of old, it wasn’t uncommon to have no win conditions in your deck outside of four Jace, the Mind Sculptor and four Creeping Tar Pit, and this doesn’t enable the mass of other spells that that deck design allowed. Artifacts are also easier to hit than lands, with Ancient Grudge being a semi-popular card in the format.

I’d expect this one to be resigned to the Limited tables as well, which is a shame. My kingdom for the man-lands in M14…

Glaring Spotlight

Glaring SPotlightLet’s get this straight. This is not a real hate card for Hexproof. What are you going to do, side this in, keep all your otherwise dead removal in, and just hope to draw it? Seems pretty loose butt-holes to me. There are other answers, in Supreme Verdict and Liliana of the Veil already in standard, and those aren’t effectively combo cards, and actually do something without other cards in hand or play.

I expect people to realise this, and start reminiscing about Trinket Mage, and how little we actually did with him while he was in Standard last time.

Gruul Keyrune

This is one of the better Keyrunes in Limited, although it’s still not likely to make a splash into Constructed, due to the aforementioned opportunity cost.

Illusionist’s Bracers

Illusionists BracersThis one strikes me as one for the EDH crowd. When I could be bothered building decks for that format, Rings of Brighthearth was one of my favourite cards. It enabled infinite mana in concert with Grim Monolith and Power Artifact, and doubled up on Oona, Queen of the Fae activations, among a host of other things. It’s safe to say my decks weren’t particularly in the spirit of the format, but now that the casuals have sufficiently beaten me down with complaints akin to ‘Ebony Owl Netsuke isn’t an EDH card’, etc, I’ve pretty much given up on it.

There’ll be some stupid combos in Standard with this, for those who’re inclined to look for them, but that’s just not for me. It’s super slow, vulnerable to hate in the form of the aforementioned Ancient Grudge, which would rise in popularity of such a card ever became widespread, and just strikes me as far too much of a glass cannon for any serious tournament player.

Millennial Gargoyle

This is standard. It’s a colourless creature, so it costs about one more than it should, due to going into any decks. Dimir will likely want this, as evasion will be at a premium in that deck, and most decks could use fliers. Nothing exciting to see here, move along.

Orzhov Keyrune

Orzhov KeyruneThis is, again, not on Standard level, but might see play in block, if mono-red is a thing (mono-red is always a thing). It’s decent, but unspectacular.

Prophetic Prism

This is a known quantity, having previously appeared in Rise of the Eldrazi. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember this doing much of anything during its run through standard, and with the plethora of other mana-fixing we have available, I don’t really see it being any different on this instance either.

Enables splashes for very little cost, and even replaces itself when cast. This belongs in almost every limited deck that can afford the loss of tempo.

Razortip Whip

Awfully expensive, and effectively requires an upkeep for what it does. No versatility to speak of, so this is trash.

Riot Gear

Riot GearEquipment is good in Sealed, and this is no different. It’s not on Trusty Machete level, but it’s at least comparable to Civic Sabre in Return to Ravnica, which was pretty good in Sealed. It’s nothing particularly special, and most draft decks won’t want it either, but when it’s good, it’ll be very good.

Simic Keyrune

Bleurgh in constructed, decent in limited, you know the drill by now.

Skyblinder Staff

The equip cost is just too steep for what you’re getting. It’s not that bad, I suppose, but mostly, I’d rather just have a Bone Saw, and that’s not even a card that was omnipresent in its limited environment.

That concludes the Artifacts, and pretty slim pickings there, from a Constructed perspective, for sure. Fortunately, the lands are sweet.

Boros Guildgate
Dimir Guildgate
Gruul Guildgate

Orzhov Guildgate
Simic Guildgate

I’m grouping these together, as they’re functionally identical. Having seen the first wave of Gates go through the format, we’ve seen almost all of them see play in some capacity, even the more traditional aggro combinations like Rakdos. I expect these to do the same. It’s kind of sad that the best mana we used to get was Elfhame Palace and co at rare, and now we’re getting the same lands at common. How times change…

Breeding PoolBreeding Pool
Godless Shrine
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Watery Grave

Again, for the sake of convenience, I’m grouping these together.

With the introduction of the second wave of Shocklands, our standard mana-bases become pretty much as good as they’ve ever been. We’re already seeing three colour aggro decks, and this just makes the mana that much better. Naya Aggro is a thing, it’s just been gifted eight additional lands that come into play untapped on turn one. Esper control is the de-facto best control decks, and here are eight more shocks to ensure you’re able to run Liliana of the Veil and Supreme Verdict in the same deck.

The age of five-colour is here.

As before, I’d like to express my distaste for the use of new art on these, given that Rob Alexander’s art on the originals was basically perfect, but that’s small potatoes. Looking forward to running these again, for sure.

Thespian’s Stage

Thespian's StageThis is a somewhat disappointing way to conclude the set. A poor man’s Vesuva isn’t terrible in slower formats, like EDH, but really, what are you copying in Standard? There’s nothing that’s able to generate more than one mana, and the utility lands aren’t that great. I guess as a way to double up on Nephalia Drownyards, it’s ok, but I think the right number of this card to own is one.

Top Five Cards I Want To Play With In Constructed:-

1. Watery Grave
2. Breeding Pool
3. Sacred Foundry
4. Stomping Ground
5. Godless Shrine

That was easy.

Thanks for reading all the way through, hopefully you’ve found some food for thought. Normal(ish) service should resume next week, and I’ll take a look at some sample decks that the new set enables. See you soon!

You can get all your Gatecrash singles here!


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