Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – White by Grant Hislop
Well, here we are again. Already. There isn’t much of a gap between the last set of a block and a core set these days, and it couldn’t come at a better time for me. I’ve not been playing all that much since the Standard PTQ season, but there are few things I like better than a new set, so an new influx of cards is almost as welcome as a woman from Glasgow who wears a bathing suit commensurate to her body shape.
I’ve been keeping up to date with Standard, as there’ve still been PTQ’s, GP’s and online play to follow, and while I haven’t managed to find the time for dailies lately, I’ve actually managed to play a decent amount of Modern two mans, just in time for the Kansas City GP to be over. I actually had an article on my favourite Modern deck – Jund in mind, but when I logged on today, I saw that the spoiler had been published. I thought we had at least another week, but more fool me, I guess.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Core Set limited too, and am one of about twelve people worldwide that is actually looking forward to playing Core Set Sealed as a PTQ format. Sadly, we won’t get that this time round, but next year, we can look forward to playing M15 Sealed for blue envelopes.
Traditionally, the cards in core sets are evaluated more on an individual basis rather than for any synergies with the rest of the set. With expansion sets being expert level this means that you’re drafting decks rather than cards. While this is still true in Core Set, to an extent, the environment in typically more about the individual cards than the deck synergy as a whole. This tends to make deck construction easier than usual, as you’re not worried about your artifact count for Metalcraft, your Human count for [card]Hamlet Captain[/card] and co, or your token makers for Populate shenanigans, to borrow examples from recent memory.
Anyway, as this is a mono-coloured set, we’ll look at the review in a standard White to Artifacts + Lands progression, with analysis, jokes and mistakes on each card. I’ll try my hardest to actually read the cards properly, so as not to embarrass myself too much, but inevitably there’ll be one or two that slip through the cracks. This is my first time looking through the spoiler, and I’m writing as I look at the cards.
Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – White
[card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card]
Another feature of Core Sets is that they feature a higher than usual number of reprints. This is one of them. Fortunately, Ajani’s already in the format, so we know what sort of impact he’s going to have. Sadly, that impact is pretty much negligible. I see him from time to time in fringe Boros and Selesnya decks that pop up from time to time, frequently in concert with [card]Gideon, Champion of Justice[/card] and the [card]Champion of the Parish[/card] and friends.
It’s somewhat surprising to me that this sees as little play as it does, given the cheap cost, high starting loyalty and immediate board impact. Perhaps once Innistrad rotates, the format will be kinder to kitties, and Ajani can start seeing more play.
Planeswalkers are all stupid in limited, and this one is no different. The mana cost makes it difficult to splash, but it’s still one of the best limited cards in the set. Not quite as good as his original incarnation was, but still one of the best.
You could play this. It would be your choice. I wouldn’t make that choice though…
Were [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] still around, it might be different, but the Azorius decks, that could use [card]Detention Sphere[/card] haven’t typically been in the market for an awkwardly costed [card]Hill Giant[/card] of late, and I can’t see that changing. We’d need to see a huge push on playable enchantments before this was worth much consideration.
In limited, it’s solid just as a body, and any incidental value you can get out of it will be gravy, though it’s not like you need too much help to make Pacifism better in Core Set limited.
This strikes me as a generic do-nothing enchantment. While we still have access to cards like [card]Sigil of the Empty Throne[/card] in Modern and Legacy, it seems that this won’t be bothering many Constructed decks. Even the stupid Modern [card]Martyr of Sands[/card] decks wouldn’t want this, as it’s just too low impact by itself, even if you do get the ‘combo’ together, as a 4/4 flyer isn’t exactly the best return on investment.
This has been in the format since Avacyn Restored, and I’d wager it’s seen literally no play. I doubt that will change. Insert another entreaty for [card]Wall of Omens[/card] or Blossoms here.
[card]Archangel of Thune[/card]
This is actually a card I can get behind. I’d obviously prefer [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card], but it might be too Thune to see her again, and nostalgia’s not what it used to be. This card acts as both a solid threat on its own, as well as a pseudo Anthem effect. It strikes me as being very similar in power to [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card], which saw very little play initially, but quietly crept up in value while everyone realised just how good it was. Plus, this is an Angel, which while not as casually friendly as it used to be, thanks to Planeswalkers, should be good for an extra couple of quid on the price.
I’d expect this to start out at somewhere around £12-15, sink down to £10 or so, which I’d expect to be the floor on this, and wouldn’t be surprised if it hit £20 at some point in the next year.
This is the definition of a stupid limited Mythic rare. Pretty much takes over any board state, even if it only gets to attack one. Untapping with an [card]Archangel of Thune[/card] is a very good sign that things are going to go your way.
This one was recently Standard legal, and after a year’s hiatus, it’s back to dominate the format again. Wait, what do you mean that didn’t happen? Really? But it’s a [card]Grey Ogre[/card] with a minor upside, how could that see no play? Oh, right, that’s just not good enough in Constructed is it? Sorry folks, I got confused.
I suppose it’s a [card]Fiend Hunter[/card] with slightly more aggressive stats. This will replace Fiend Hunter in decks that weren’t trying to use triggers like [card]Angel of Glory’s Rise[/card] decks, so Naya Blitz and Junk Reanimator, as the two that have made use of the Hunter in the past, off the top of my head. Outside of that, I don’t see too much new demand, given that it’s very similar. In fact, the Standard environment becoming the largest it’s going to be means primarily upgrades like this to existing decks rather than new strategies emerging. There’s just been so much work done at this point for the new cards to make too much impact.
Would the metagame look the same as it did today, were all the sets in it released simultaneously? Absolutely not, but given that we’re not building decks in a vacuum, we have to keep what’s come before in mind.
Solid limted card, play as many as you get, even though the body’s unimpressive.
This turns every creature into a White [card]Frozen Shade[/card], which is fine for limited. Mana sinks are always welcome, and this is high impact enough that it’s worth risking the two for one, in the way that previous hits like [card]Holy Strength[/card] just didn’t. I doubt it’s good enough to make the jump to 60-card decks, but realistically, under the New World Order of Magic design, few things are, and even fewer Auras make the jump. [card]Rancor[/card]’s not been as omni-present as I would have guessed last year, and in fact, I never felt the need to pick up my fourth old-bordered copy at all, which was a surprise.
Here’s the thing – There aren’t enough slivers in this set for a real Standard deck. That’s not the best. Either Theros has a Sliver theme, which these supplement, or all that ends up happening is that the see limited only play, with some possible Modern impact, along with the Time Spiral block Slivers that actually do interesting things as opposed to these who offer pumps and Core Set keywords.
Bonescythe’s probably a little bit on the expensive side, though if the game ends when he comes down, I suppose it doesn’t matter too much. He’s solid, and will probably be one of the key cards in any potential Sliver deck, as he’ll (she/it) will make combat a nightmare for any opposing creature deck.
In limited, how good this is ties into how many of the little buggers you’ve got. It’s got realistic enough stats on its own, so it’s fine, but if there’s enough of them running around, it’ll goes far up in power level. That’s obviously true across the board for the Slivers, so keep that in mind when building decks.
[card]Brave the Elements[/card]
The fewer colours people are playing, the better. This was previously in Zendikar, and it was pretty good in the aggressive White decks, and even made the jump into Constructed from time to time in the types of decks that Craig Wescoe and Paul Rietzl enjoyed playing, and no one else could actually win with. I’ll be interested to see what impact this has in a multi-colour heavy block, where it’s even more likely that you’ll be able to shut out an opponent’s team.
This is a limited mana-sink, and should be treated as such. It’s solid, but terrible in multiples. I wasn’t playing during [card]Capashen Knight[/card]’s original printing, so I’ve no idea how he was back then, but I’d be surprised if this made the move to Constructed, just due to the format being so fast, and aggro decks not really being in the market for mana sinks.
This isn’t the worst. The double coloured mana means it’s probably not going to see too much play in constructed, outside of White Weenie type decks that are looking to clear the way, though there, it occurs to me that it would want to clear the way before letting their creatures get blocked, making Pacifism a better proposition. I like this card, but it’s probably in the wrong colour to really make the jump.
In limited, this is very much tier two removal. There’s no reason to pick this over Pacifism, for example, but really, beggars can’t be choosers. In the early days, it’ll be important to work out what tricks you have to play around, and double white telegraphs this quite a bit, though I suppose not quite so much as an Overwhelming Intellect. Do be aware of the playable instants in the format, though that’s very much Limited 101 there.
This is pretty good. Attacking as a 3/3 in the air for only four mana is pretty sweet for the aggressive white decks, and he’s not overly taxing on the mana either. Obviously not worth a splash, but still, it’s nice to cast all your spells. Doesn’t really play defence particularly well, but that’s fine. Most White skies decks want to be the aggressor, unless they’re playing against the red deck. Solid, unspectacular card, but it’s the type of card you want to be looking for when you’ve opened an [card]Archangel of Thune[/card].
There’s a special subset of players that will get excited by cards like this. These are what we, in the business, refer to as ‘bad players’ There’s no reason to play this card maindeck, and very little chance to play against a deck that will warrant it post-board either.
This is a solid body that does a very good job of holding the fort. It’s a shame that this slot wasn’t filled by something like [card]Plover Knights[/card], [card]Seraph of Dawn[/card] or even [card]Silverclaw Griffin[/card], who’d be welcome additions to the Core Set limited environment, but this does a similar job. I’m not really a fan of the Vigilance keyword, as I feel that it takes a lot of the decision making out of combat, and disliked [card]Intangible Virtue[/card] for similar reasons. Still, this is a solid body, and while it’s a little too expensive for Constructed, I guess stranger things have happened.
This is just too expensive for serious Constructed play. I’d expect this card to appeal to the player with the [card]Ghave, Guru of Spores[/card] Commander deck, and not many others. It’s hard to see a deck that has a sufficient token / mana dork theme to it that could afford to spend a turn eschewing attacking with them to make an Angelic Army.
To reiterate, I think one copy of this is the perfect number to have. Someone might want to trade for it, and it MIGHT see some fringe play, though probably only as a one of. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a bulk mythic by the time m15 rolls around.
Again, Americanised spelling is forced upon us on the fair British Isles. Luckily this card is pretty bad, so it’s unlikely I’ll have to write it on any decklists any time soon. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of many Americanised cards that I’ve played particularly often. Wonder if there’s a link in there somewhere?
This strikes me as a sideboard card if Mono-Red gets out of hand, as it frequently does, with eight sets worth of redundancy. There was a time in recent memory where [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], [card]Incinerate[/card] and [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] were all legal, and Mono-Red won plenty of SCG opens. This gives me hope that this card might not be the bulk rare that it looks like at first glance.
While it’s spell Protection is obviously not as good as out and out Protection, and it’ll still die to blocking creatures that are too big for it, it’s still decent at what it does, and should be treated accordingly.
A little known fact about Fortify is that it actually has two modes, and isn’t just a [card]Trumpet Blast[/card]. This has a home in my Pauper cube, so I’m well versed on just how good this card is. This is absolutely one that you need to play around, especially in the early stages, where people will be jamming any combat trick that seems halfway decent.
It’s actually probably not that far from being Constructed playable either, as a one shot Anthem effect. I can see this in some sort of Selesnya based tokens deck actually being very good. It’ll be interesting to see if this actually makes the grade this time through Standard.
This card is entirely format dependent. If there are sufficient creatures that it kills or stonewalls, it’ll be very good. If not, it’s a filler card. While there are a decent number that bounce off him, there aren’t really all that many X/1’s that people are going to be playing, so he’ll not be too unpleasant this time round, not that he was last time either, to be fair.
We’ve seen variations of this card quite a bit in recent memory. [card]Knight Watch[/card], [card]Lingering Souls[/card], [card]Gather Townsfolk[/card], [card]Master’s Call[/card], off the top of my head, though I’m sure there are several more. My point being, we know exactly what we’re getting with this card. Outside of [card]Lingering Souls[/card], none of those have seen much Constructed play, and given that I’ve already dismissed Slivers in Standard for the time being, it’s difficult to get too excited about a card that’s well below the bell curve compared to a multi-format superstar like Lingering Souls.
Limited, even more than most Slivers, this one is entirely contextually dependent. More Slivers = Better Stirrings. Nice and simple.
We already have [card]Blind Obedience[/card] if we’re in the market for the [card]Kismet[/card] effect, and Extort is much better than a 2/1 body. I’d imagine that this will be confined to limited curve filler status, rather than making much of an impact. Still, a 2/1 for two is nothing to be sneezed at in Limited, and this one even comes with an upside to let it hit an extra time, which is pretty sweet.
No. Outside of suiting up an [card]Archangel of Thune[/card], I see no value in this card, in either forty or sixty card formats.
[card]Master of Diversion[/card]
The cost on this is real enough in relation to its ability. I think people often get distracted by cards like this, and decry them as bad, even though this strikes me as one of the better commons in the set, purely for his ability to temporarily clear the way and keep swinging. This, in conjuction with the aforementioned [card]Imposing Sovereign[/card] would create a very difficult to break through board state for many decks, not to mention that this being a common makes getting multiples a very realistic proposition, and the prospect of that has me coming over all inappropriate. Very, very high pick, in my opinion.
I like that the flavour text basically coaches on how to play it….
We all know what we’re getting here. Premium, constructed level removal. Lovely stuff.
[card]Path of Bravery[/card]
Again, another solid pseudo-Anthem for token strategies, which is welcome. Often, these decks have the token generators, but not the Anthems, which isn’t ideal. In this instance though, it appears we have an abundance of both. I’d like to see Junk Tokens making a comeback, as that’s been a deck that’s been on the periphery of playability before. Sadly, this does nothing to combat that decks most obvious weakness – an inability to beat [card]Angel of Serenity[/card]. Given that the decks playing Angel typically play [card]Unburial Rites[/card] too, it’s unlikely that we can even go particularly deep on something like Nevermore either. Shame.
[card]Pay No Heed[/card]
Single source Fog. Not good enough. I can’t see this making any impact in any format. This has 14th card written all over it. [card]Pay no heed[/card] to this card.
This has been around for a while, and it’s generally fine in limited. It’s a big enough body to hold the ground against all but the most offensive attackers, and doesn’t attack particularly badly either. It’s solid, but is very much a filler card. I don’t see this format being sufficiently unique to render this otherwise.
The ultimate reset button. I’ve cast [card]Planar Cleansing[/card] this year, and been really happy about it. I expect I’ll do the same this coming year again.
The mana’s pretty prohibitive, admittedly, but the effect is so powerful, and quite rarely will it be a turn 6 spell anyway, so it’s not the worst. I’m a fan of this, and have been since its initial M10 printing.
This is playable, regardless of how many Slivers you have. [card]Grizzly Bears[/card] are almost always playable, and this one’s even French Vanilla, at worst. Any Sliver deck will likely use these as a core, in a similar way that Allies used [card]Kazandu Blademaster[/card].
[card]Seraph of the Sword[/card]
This is a limited only Rare, but it’s a pretty good one. It’s sufficiently sized that it can’t be ignored for long, and very little actually lives through its relentless assault. I can’t see it making the jump to Constructed, and I’d probably take a [card]Serra Angel[/card], a [card]Doom Blade[/card] or a [card]Pacifism[/card] over this, but it’s solid enough, which is what we’re looking for in Core Sets these days.
We know how good this card is. Since Magic’s inception, people have been attacking for 4 with this, and blocking. Super efficient, and very often, the person with the double Serra Angel pool can tear up the swiss off the back of these alone.
[card]Show of Valor[/card]
Generic limited pump spell, with generic American mis-spelling. I’m not going to waste my time writing about this any more.
This is another known quantity, and you can basically copy and paste what I said about [card]Pillarfield Ox[/card] in here too. Solid, unspectacular, curve filler, no bull, you know the drill.
This is more of an Eternal format card than a Standard one, and has been ever since we first got it. I think this is its third printing, but I don’t care enough to look and confirm. In any case, any value that Silence may have had is dead now. It’s not really Standard playable, and the eternal demand isn’t enough to have this card maintain any semblance of value, which is sad, given that I’m pretty sure I’ve got north of fifty of them in a box somewhere in my house.
This is very much a Core Set card. I’d always MD this, were I White in Sealed, as everyone will have some equipment, or a Staff, or a stupid Enchantment that they’ll be playing, so you’ll seldom be short a target, but it’s sideboards only in draft and up. If Standard calls for this effect, this isn’t a bad Disenchant variant, but that’s entirely conjecture at this stage. I’d go with ‘no’, were I pressed though.
This is a trap card. It’s low impact, and the body is terrible. If you’re playing these, you’re either super strapped for playables, or you don’t know how to evaluate cards properly. I’d go for the latter in almost 99% of cases though.
I suppose that this is effectively a 2/3 for three, which isn’t the worst, and gives your Hive the bad end of an Anthem. This is the same as all of the Slivers. There more you’ve got, the better this will be. It’s not awful on its own, but curve-filler isn’t exactly what we’re desperate for.
This is interesting. Obviously it’s not good enough for Constructed, but as a mana-sink, solid body, and very relevant abilities, it’ll be very, very good in Limited. I like him a lot more in Sealed than Draft, but he’ll probably be fine there too. I’ll need to play with it a few times to gauge properly, but this strikes me as a very solid card.
Another trap. It’s just too low impact, and unless the opponent has no fliers whatsoever, it’ll quickly get outclassed, and it’s just not worth the card.
[card]Wall of Swords[/card]
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Wall of Swords. I don’t think it’ll be very good though. Creatures have evolved to the point where this is just not good enough, and deck design is such that a card that serves one purpose isn’t really what we’re looking for, even if it serves that purpose quite well. Versatility kids, that’s the name of the game.
Top 5 Cards I want to play in Constructed
Top 5 Limited Commons
2. [card]Celestial Flare[/card]
3. [card]Master of Diversion[/card]
4. [card]Dawnstrike Paladin[/card]
5. [card]Charging Griffin[/card]
What is your list of top 5 White M14 cards you’d want to play in Constructed?
Stay classy folks, and I’ll see you tomorrow, when we can cover the best colour in Magic – Blue,