Gatecrash Set Review Part 3/6 – Blue and Simic by Grant Hislop

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

Gatecrash Set Review Part 3/6 – Blue and Simic by Grant Hislop

Welcome back. It’s now time for part three of my Gatecrash set review. We’ve previously covered White, Black, Orzhov and Dimir, and now, it’s time to move onto Blue and Simic.

While the black cards were pretty underwhelming for constructed purposes, it looked pretty solid for limited, with an excellent alternative way to win the game, which is always fun. Hopefully there can be some more support for the Dimir deck in here, as well as beginning to look at the Simic and their mutants.

gatecrash magic poster


Moving on:-



It’s a limited combat trick, but it’s a solid one. It will definitely be ‘getting’ people in the early days of the format, where it should be easy enough to fool your opponent into thinking they’re able to swing for the win, only to return three or four creatures to their hand, and kill them on the back swing. This is an impressive card, for sure.


I’m a fan of the Cage of Hands/Forced Worship style of quasi-Pacifism effects, as they’re able to stunt the early game development, and then move on to more appropriate targets in the late game. These are traditionally better in fliers decks, typically UW skies or the like, so as not to just have them chump block with their creature and kill the Enchantment for future use. I see Dimir filling that role in Gatecrash limited, and while this is a high pick for other blue decks, it’s going to be Dimir that can put it to best use.

Clinging Anemones

Clinging Anemones

It costs one more than Horned Turtle, but for that one mana, we get the Evolve mechanic. I see this as being more of an enabler for the other Evolve creatures than a lynchpin of the strategy, as its high toughness will trigger just about everything else on the board. Solid card, as Horned Turtles usually are.

Cloudfin Raptor

People will definitely attempt to make this work in constructed, but I’m not sure it’s good enough. Delver of Secrets type decks typically didn’t want to overcommit onto the board with swarms of creatures, so I can’t see this being better in Blue-based aggressive decks. As with Delver, there are diminishing returns every turn after one that this comes down, and this doesn’t work as well in multiples as Delver did.

Diluvian Primordial

Diluvian Primordial

The Primordial Cycle continues with this, the blue effort. Memory Plunder is certainly a popular card in EDH, and I can’t see stapling a 5/5 flier onto it would make it any less so when you scale the effect up to each opponent. In my (limited) EDH experience, I found myself using Memory Plunder to steal Kodama’s Reach and Cultivate far more often than the more EDH type spells, like Insurrection and co, which always made me a little sad. This means I can cast two of those type spells, and one business spell, all for the low, low cost of seven mana. And I even get a 5/5 flier as well from the deal. That sounds pretty exciting to me, and I expect this to be omnipresent in Blue EDH decks ad infinitum.

Limited bomb, as dragons always are.

Enter the Infinite

This is best buddies with Omniscience, but that deck’s never really been serious anyway, and I can’t imagine that an eleven mana sorcery is the card that’s going to push it over the top. Amusingly, it gets countered by Dimir Charm, at around one fifth of the cost of actually casting it. If you’re ever doing it the fair way, it gives you one turn to win the game, assuming you don’t just win on the spot, which would be depressing.

Enter the Infinite has bulk mythic written all over it. £3 card max, and that’s being generous.

Frilled Oculus

Frilled Oculus

While it’s no Basking Rootwalla, this is still a solid creature, even without the frills. I tend to value mana sinks very highly in limited, and this is certainly a good one. This creature generates awkward blocks in the early game, and spending two mana every turn to make this a 3/5 isn’t the worst return on investment in the world.

Definitely way below the curve for constructed play, but this is going to be an important part of the Simic deck in draft, and it’s not likely to get splash-picked like some of the other key parts of strategies would.


I see this as the Teleportal of the set, in that it’s just going to end games whenever it’s cast. It’s easily one of the best cards in the block for breaking a board stall, and I expect a lot of games to end as a result of Gridlock over the next few months.

As discussed above though, this isn’t just one for Simic or Dimir, as the single U symbol makes it easy to splash, and I can easily see the strain on the mana being worthwhile.

Hands of Binding

Hand of Binding

I suppose, feasibly, if the format becomes entirely about single creature battling, this could be the game breaker. More likely though, you get a bad Feeling of Dread, and your creature dies at some point in the very near future. This seems like trash to me, as does most of the Cipher mechanic. Lets pretend it doesn’t exist, for all the relevance it’s going to have on Constructed.

Incursion Specialist

With the rotation of Phyrexian mana (hooray), it’s increasingly unlikely that there are enough cheap spells that can enable this with anything approaching reliability, which is a shame. Even if you do manage to get it off, you’re still only looking at three points of damage. This really doesn’t compare favourably to Delver of Secrets, and that’s pretty much trash now, without Ponder and co to turn it on reliably.

Limited wise, I suppose it’s decent enough. It’ll cause some damage early on, and is large enough to brick wall many of the common creatures on the other side of the table in the early game. Again, it’s not spectacular, but it’ll do the job.

Keymaster Rogue

Keymaster Rogue

This is really interesting. If you can build a deck with a decent number of ETB triggers, you turn the drawback into a bonus, ala Roaring Primadox in M13 limited. 3/2 unblockable isn’t exactly easy to ignore for long either, and if you can re-buy anything worthwhile, you’re looking at an excellent amount of value.

I can’t imagine this being sufficiently powerful to warrant constructed play, as it’s just not as good as Restoration Angel.

Last Thoughts

Thoughts on this card? Garbage.

Leyline Phantom

It’s a huge body for a common, at a reasonable price. It’s strange in that at one mana less, it’d be a legitimate bomb, but as is, it’s practically unplayable. The mana investment, coupled with the regular loss of tempo, and the fact that it’s piss poor when you’re behind on the board means that it’s unlikely to be particularly prevalent in the draft decks that I’m envisaging making up the landscape.

Metropolis Sprite

Metropolis Sprite

Well, I suppose it’s a mana sink of sorts… This doesn’t stack up favourably compared to most of the other fliers, which isn’t ideal. It’s fine, I guess, but I’m not overly excited by this. At least it powers up Cloudfin Raptor, and that’s pretty much the nicest thing I’ve got to say about it.

Mindeye Drake

More milling cards for the Dimir deck, and even if the body is underwhelming, the backside is large enough that it blocks every non-rare flier that I can think of, and when it does die, either due to you or your opponents machinations, one eighth of an opponent’s starting library is a pretty big chunk out of that resource. If Innistrad block taught us anything, it’s that given an appropriate amount of support, decking an opponent is an excellent way to win a game of Magic, and it certainly seems like we’ve got enough to give it a serious go in this set.

Rapid Hypridization

Rapid Hybridization

This is a functional reprint of Planar Chaos’ Pongify, which was always a solid card for blue decks to have. This go around though, the mana is much, much better, so there are going to be better options for base blue decks in Constructed.

Premium blue removal, turning any bomb into something far easier to manage, especially in the Simic deck, where you’re likely to have bigger creatures than a 3/3 on the ground.


This is a bulk rare, if ever I saw one. I can’t imagine ever wanting this over Chromatic Lantern in Constructed, and it’s in no way worth a card in limited either. Trash.

Sage’s Row Denizen

It’s a decent sized body, and more incidental mill. I’m not the biggest fan of dedicated mill, but anything incidental seems very good. Goes in the Dimir deck, where it’s likely very good, and easy enough to pick up multiples of. The high toughness to curve ratio means Simic might be able to put this to use too as a way to turn on their Evolve creatures, which against, isn’t bad.

Individually uninspiring, but I think this is going to be a very valuable card, regardless of what guild you’re leaning into.

Sapphire Drake

Sapphire Drake

Sapphire is easily my favourite word to say in a faux-Jamaican accent.

This seems like an excellent curve topper in the Simic deck, while being solid everywhere else too. The body is significant, being almost Dragon-sized, and the cost isn’t super prohibitive. I’m expecting this to be a relatively high pick, possibly even over a large proportion of the rares in the set, and certainly most of the blue ones, which seem to have a high number with a touch of the bulks about them.

Scatter Arc

No thanks. Four mana counters, aside from Cryptic Command or Dismiss are unplayable, and this isn’t joining that very short list.

Simic Fluxmage

The Fluxmage is an excellent enabler for the Evolve mechanic, as he’ll move his counters where they’re needed, and keep triggering. It’s pretty slow, granted, but it’s solid enough for both the mana and the opportunity cost. Realistically though, it’s only good for the Simic deck, as Dimir is very unlikely to have sufficient bodies that would benefit from this, and it’s not worth splashing for in non-Blue decks.

Simic Manipulator

SImic Manipulator

I’ve had to read this a couple of times to work out what it does, and it really wasn’t worth it. I suppose a bad, telegraphed Mind Control is still a Mind Control, but this just seems far too slow. Another bulk Blue rare, which is a shame.


More Enchant Lands = more awful cards. I suppose this isn’t the worst thing in limited, as a way to punch through some damage, but realistically, an awful lot of creatures that are playable in this colour fly anyway, so realistically, we’re looking at a Simic card, which is more likely to have big, dumb ground guys that could do with the evasion. It’s very narrow, and I’m not convinced it’s worth a card.

Spell Rupture

This is just so much worse than Cancel it’s caused my stomach to rupture. This is effectively unplayable in any format you care to mention. Bleurgh.

Stolen Identity

Stoeln Identity

Ooh, a semi-exciting Cipher card. This is a bulk rare, but it’s going to be excellent in limited, for certain. Any time the creature it’s Encoded on connects, it’s basically game over, unlike the other cards with the mechanic. Clones are always strong in draft, and while six mana isn’t exactly great value, the ability to repeat is well worth the extra mana.

I’m actually excited by a Cipher card, which surprises me, given how underwhelming I’ve found the mechanic thus far.

Totally Lost

Yeah, so, this is rubbish. It’s so expensive, Azorius Charm costs two fifths of what this does, for a similar effect with more options, both of which combine into a pretty bleak picture for the playability of this card.

Tempo cards that cost this much aren’t likely to be playable in limited either, so I can’t see too many people getting Totally Lost over the next few months.


VoidwalkIf Keymaster Rogue wasn’t exactly exciting, imagine how tough it is to find something positive to say about Voidwalk, given that they’re so very similar. Sure, this hits an opponent’s creature the first time, which is nice, but it’ll not do anything until it’s far too late to care about it once Encoded.

Way of the Thief

Four mana Aura… Whatever it does, it’s not going to be good enough. +2/+2 and conditionally unblockability isn’t any different.

A somewhat depressing way to end the best colour, but hopefully we can make up for it with the Simic cards.


At first glance, this card seems like one for the EDH crowd to kick Rite of Replication on, but realistically, there are a decent number of Clone effects in Standard at the moment, so really, it’s probably not that far away from working. I’d be a lot more interested in Biovisionary combo if Phantasmal Image was still around, as the cheapest Clone maker we have is Cackling Counterpart. It’s one that’s best left to FNM’ers, as there’s no way this deck become consistent enough to become a tier one strategy, but it’s certainly interesting.

Drakewing Krasis

Drakewing KrasisThis is way behind the curve for all but the most dedicated of Simic Evolve decks, which are unlikely to be top tier.

In limited, it’s an excellent Evolve Enabler, as all creatures with a weighted power-to-toughness ratio are going to be. Trample adds further evasion, and while the one toughness means it’s very likely to trade down for minimal value, its utility in the Simic deck will be more than enough to make it one of the key cards of the archetype.

Elusive Krasis

You can pretty much copy and paste what I said for the Drakewing Krasis in here, minus the one toughness part. This plays defence very well in the early game, and reminds me somewhat of Halimar Wavewatch from Rise of the Eldrazi limited.

I don’t understand why it’s a Fish Mutant, and not a Merfolk though. Was Master of the Pearl Trident really that powerful that the support had to be cut?

Fathom Mage

Fathom MageThis is the prerelease card for those who select Simic as their weapon of choice, and is, as with most of those cards, is very solid. While on its own, it doesn’t do much, it’s very easy to imagine this keeping the gas flowing through the mid-to-late game.

It’s not going to make a constructed impact, as a four mana 1/1 that might draw a card is best left on the EDH tables, if anywhere.


I suppose it’s a Simic Searing Spear, of sorts, which isn’t bad, but it’s probably below the level of for sixty card decks of these colours, but it’ll be decent in limited. I enjoyed the Zendikon cycle from Worldwake, even going so far as to play the Wind Zendikon in my nationals qualifier winning Polymorph deck. This is no Zendikon though.

It’s far too low impact for the use of an entire card, and with nothing extra tacked on, like ‘draw a card’, it’s difficult to picture this being a worthwhile use of a turn.

Master Biomancer

Master BiomancerThis card is really exciting to me as a double Glorious Anthem for everything entering the battlefield after it. It’s probably a bit ‘best case scenario’, but imagine curving this into Thragtusk, or this into Huntmaster of the Fells. Seems filthy, no? If this takes off, I can see the current £8 price tag being a drop in the ocean.

It’ll be utterly insane in limited, where its body is substantial, and the ability is game breaking. Brilliant stuff.

Mystic Genesis

I’m forced to admit that Mystic Snake would probably have been too good to reprint in a format with Restoration Angel, but we can dream, right? The Snake, along with big brother Draining Whelk are easily two of my favourite cards of all time, and this is reminiscent of it, which probably affords me an unwarranted fondness for the card. Five mana is a lot more than four, but the body has the potential to be much, much bigger. I can see this as a one or two of in a Bant control deck, but realistically, going in one or two decks as a one of isn’t enough to warrant a much higher price than the £1 it’s currently commanding.

Limited wise, it’s always a two for one, which isn’t bad, and it can blow the opponent out quite easily. It’s not an uncommon, like Overwhelming Intellect was, so it’s less likely to be telegraphed from a mile away. I’m really excited to experiment with this card.

Nimbus Swimmer

Nimbus SwimmerThis card seems nuts to me. It scales up from turn three onwards, and is a fantastic card anytime from turn five onwards. A solid enabler for the Simic mechanic, and on an evasive body to boot. Easily one of the linchpins of the strategy.

Prime Speaker Zegana

This is easily my favourite card in the set, and it’s not close. I love drawing cards, and this does that by the boatload. It’s insane value, assuming you can find a way to stall on the ground until this comes online. It slots right into the Farseek based control decks, and is crazy in combination with other green format staple Thragtusk. The thought of blinking it with Restoration Angel has got me coming over all peculiar, and I’m really looking forward to experimenting with this.

Prime Speaker Zegana easily has the potential to follow a similar trajectory to Sphinx’s Revelation pricing wise, though I’d be surprised if it took as long to curve up as the Revelation did, as it’s so much more overtly powerful. I’d speculate it being a £20 card in a months time.


ShamblesharkThis does a lot of work, for a seemingly innocuous card. It’s power is high enough to turn on Evolve in multiple creatures, and Ambush Viper was a solid card in Innistrad block. This seems like almost exactly what the Simic deck wants to do. Hold up mana, and have things to do with it. As a common, and one that’s unlikely to suffer splash-picks, it’s not unreasonable to expect two or more of these in the Simic deck, so be aware when attacking into UG that a bunch of creatures could be about to get bigger, and an additional blocker might be on the cards.

Simic Charm

Charms are good. All the modes are relevant, and it’s easy to see wanting access to all of these over the course of both a Constructed and a Limited game. Unsummon, Giant Growth and Ranger’s Guile makes quite the split card, and this is definitely one of the better cards in the cycle.

Unexpected Results

Unexpected ResultsI suppose, in a format with Brainstorm, this is a reasonable way to cheat an Emrakul into play. It’s far too inconsistent in any format that doesn’t allow top of library manipulation though, it’s going to be underwhelming far more often than it’s not. Foils might command a slight premium, but unless something unexpected happens, this has bulk rare written all over it.

Urban Evolution

At the point where I’m able to tap five mana, I’m not really in the market for an Explore. This really doesn’t compare favourably to Sphinx’s Revelation or Prime Speaker Zegana, which admittedly, as an uncommon, it shouldn’t, but for those who’re not affected by card availability, this isn’t ever going to seem worthwhile.

It’s going to be ok in limited, where it’ll be a fine topdeck, though sadly the fact that it doesn’t impact the board, or get you back into a race you’re behind in, it’ll still be good enough to play one of them. Two is sketchy.

Zameck Guildmage

This is probably a little too slow and inconsistent for Constructed play, but it’s an utter house in limited. Providing both creature pump and a way to keep the gas flowing on one card is exactly what decks are looking for, and this is effectively an uncommon Planeswalker in draft.

Top 5 Cards I Want to Play in Constructed:-

Simic Charm

1. Prime Speaker Zegana
2. Mystic Genesis
3. Simic Charm
4. Voidwalk
5. Stolen Identity (slim pickings again…)

You can get all your Gatecrash singles here!

What are your top 5 cards pick from this guild?


Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways