Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review -Artifacts and Lands by Grant Hislop
I saw yesterday evening that Manaleak had posted a question on Facebook, asking whether M13 or M14 was better. While they’re both legal for a short while, I have to say, M14 doesn’t look as obviously powerful as M13 was. Look at the list of format staples that won’t be with us any more:-
[card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card]
M10 Lands – [card]Glacial Fortress[/card] etc
That’s a pretty big list, and to be honest, the cards we’ve seen so far haven’t really been as obviously powerful as any of these. Slivers are unlikely to be as powerful as a couple of the Exalted cards have been, and the utility cards seem to be a little worse this time around.
It’s interesting to see if they end up being regarded as such during the course of their run, but this set has much more of an old Core Set feel to it, whereby it’s just a list of cards that are Standard legal.
Probably the biggest addition to Standard currently in [card]Mutavault[/card], and really, that’s probably going to be the most played card in the set. I can’t see many of the other cards slotting into the decks that already exist, and for the most part, the power level seems slightly off to consider building new archetypes. While Slivers is the obvious one, it’s probably still 2-3 one and two drops short of being playable, and the mana’s always going to be somewhat suspect.
Without any further complaints, let’s take a look at the remainder of the set, for completion’s sake.
Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – Artifacts and Lands
The decks that want Metalcraft really badly notwithstanding, this was almost always unplayable in Scars block decks. Remove the Metalcraft requirement, and we’re looking at something which is really just not worth a card.
This card is pretty bad in non-Black decks, as extracting a little extra value from your chump blocks is seldom a winner, but in decks with multiple [card]Festering Newt[/card]s and [card]Bogbrew Witch[/card]es, it might actually be quite good. It’s not the greatest, but I’d consider the power level of the engine as a whole to be worth considering the Witch P1P1, and the Cauldron pretty high on the list if you’ve seen a decent number of [card]Festering Newt[/card]s going around.
It’s always going to be a tough sell, as this card doesn’t actually do much by itself, but if the pieces actually come together, it’s not the worst.
This card is inexplicably expensive. I honestly have no idea how this is a £10 card, given that it only sees play on kitchen tables and [card]Sharuum the Hegemon[/card] EDH decks.
Hopefully this printing will get its price down to a reasonable level, in the same vein as last year’s [card]Gilded Lotus[/card]. Other than that, there’s really very little cause to expect [card]Darksteel Forge[/card] to see play, as Artifacts just aren’t as prevalent as they were, and even then, nine mana’s a hell of an investment just to protect them.
An indestructible mana rock isn’t what many decks are looking for. I just don’t think the format exists in such a way that [card]Darksteel Ingot[/card] is actually any good. Perhaps that changes post rotation, but I wouldn’t bet my house on it, as the Keyrunes will still be around.
[card]Door of Destinies[/card]
This is another primarily casual card that’s presumably just here to play with the Slivers, as there’s not really much in the way of Tribal decks, outside of Naya Blitz, which wouldn’t want this anyway. Another inexplicably expensive card that serves very little purpose, and whose printing will probably tank any perceived value in the card. Ouch.
[card]Elixir of Immortality[/card]
This just seems like a perfect Core Set card. It’s very generic high fantasy, and it’s well designed. The ability is decent, and is actually good sometimes, if we’re protecting from super fast aggro, or to prevent being milled. It’s fine at what it does, but how good it is is entirely metagame dependent. I’m sure this will see play in some capacity in the next year, as it’s done so before.
When RTR was introduced, I played an Azorius control deck with literally no way to win other than decking the opponent through them actually drawing every card in their deck, and used this card to continually cycle through [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]s, wraths and [card]Counterspell[/card]s. It lead to some truly impressive three and four digit life total games, while people flat out refused to concede. I had fun, at least…
This is fine Sealed deck equipment, though it’s a little on the expensive side. It’s unlikely to be good enough in Constructed, and it certainly wasn’t last time it went through Standard.
[card]Guardian of the Ages[/card]
Is just far too expensive for Constructed. A solid ground pounder in Limited though, where people are less liable to kill you in one swing. I don’t see this making it too far round the table in a draft either, as big, colourless idiots usually don’t. This is a fine Limited card though, and should be treated as such.
[card]Haunted Plate Mail[/card]
I like this card a decent amount, and it reminds me of Control staples of the past like [card]Steel Golem[/card] in almost creature-less control. While those types of decks probably wouldn’t measure up well to the Modern crop of strategies, it’s nice to get something so clearly reminiscent of days gone by.
So, even though it plays nicely with [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] and friends, it’s probably worse than just about any Planeswalker. What would I rather clear the board behind, [card]Haunted Plate Mail[/card] or [card]Jace, Architect of Thought[/card]? That’s not even close…
They recently printed a better [card]Millstone[/card] on a land. That saw a decent amount of play, and didn’t require a spell slot devoted to the kill. I don’t think [card]Millstone[/card] measures up particularly well in a Modern environment. Would [card]Grindstone[/card] have been overpowered in a multicoloured block?
This costs far too much to see any play. I have no idea why [card]Pyromancer’s Swath[/card] wasn’t printed instead, and we could maybe get a playable Artifact here. That would’ve been lovely.
This will see much more play than it did last time around. The format is so fast, everything’s so cheap, and this seems much better positioned. The fact that it’s been printed so recently too means that what probably have been a £10 card ends up being much more reasonable. Dig out your Scars of Mirrodin folder and pull these out, you’ll be needing them again soon.
[card]Ring of Three Wishes[/card]
Ten mana to draw a card…. Ten mana to draw a card…. Ten mana to draw a card…. Moving on.
[card]Rod of Ruin[/card]
Play every single one of these you can in Limited, but it’s never going to see the light of day in Constructed. As a known quantity, it makes it much easier to make sweeping statements about cards like this. I liked it fine when it cost twice as much and drew a card every turn as well, but this is just too underpowered.
[card]Stonework Puma[/card] for Slivers. Fine in Limited, underwhelming for Constructed. Nothing particularly exciting to see here, I’m afraid.
Staff of the Death/Flame/Mind/Sun/Wild Magus
These are all pretty bad. The only one of a similar cycle that was actually decent was [card]Dragon’s Claw[/card], and even then, that was used against Red decks, to trigger off their spells rather than your own. This whole cycle is just awful, and takes up way too much of the uncommon slot, that could have been devoted to actually decent cards in the colours in question. These would be my picks:-
White – [card]Path to Exile[/card]
Blue – [card]Mind Control[/card]
Black – [card]Vampire Nighthawk[/card]
Red – [card]Ember Hauler[/card]
Green – [card]Leatherback Baloth[/card]
Wishful thinking, eh?
This isn’t my type of card. A lot’s been written about potential applications of this card, so I won’t retread old ground. I’m not the player that this type of card is aimed at. Probably best left to EDH, where you could do something stupid with Seedborn Muse or something and be obnoxious. Other than that, I just don’t see this doing much.
I played this as a one of in Esper as a way to get some lifegain against Red decks. While it’s fine this way, when you build your deck around it, it gets sufficiently dumb. Again though, this isn’t my sort of card, and once the Wellsprings from Scars block rotated, [card]Trading Post[/card] found its way into my Trade folder, and quickly disappeared.
[card]Vial of Poison[/card]
Will almost never be worth a card. I don’t like the idea of two for one’ing myself, which is almost always what this card is going to do. Gotta kill [card]Shivan Dragon[/card] somehow though, I guess…
Given that [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] is basically [card]Strip Mine[/card] now, this probably doesn’t see play. It might make an impact post rotation, or as a way to combat [card]Mutavault[/card]s, but I don’t see this getting much play in the current environment.
This is the biggie of the set. Best card, most wanted Rare, for sure, and a Modern plant. Those who’ve never played it before are in for a treat, as manlands are the stones. In lieu of the [card]Glacial Fortress[/card] cycle, I would’ve liked to have seen either the original [card]Treetop Village[/card] and co make a reappearance, or even better, the Worldwake [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card] ones. We can but dream…
In any case, this obviously fits with the Slivers nicely, but most decks would be able to make use of a copy or two in the seventy-fives. I’m delighted to get the opportunity to attack with Lands again, and applaud the decision to put it through Standard again to get it into the player’s hands rather than stuffing it into the already value-laden Modern Masters, where it’d have been likely to get lost in the shuffle.
This is decent fixing, and while I’ve played it in Constructed, I’ve seldom been happy to do so. Five colour Control just doesn’t work as well as it used to with Vivids and [card]Reflecting Pool[/card]s.
Stay classy folks, and thanks for staying with the series ’til the end. Hopefully you’ve learned something that’ll offer you some benefit at your Pre-release.