Yay, more Legends generals… I know they were trying to have lots of legendary creatures in the set, but I wish they were better.
Bartel Runeaxe is a 6/5 for 3GRB with vigilance and protection from auras. Honestly, the greatest part about this guy is the flavor text.
Thundering down from Hammerheim, no foe could slow Bartel’s charge.
This would have made a lot more sense if he had trample instead of vigilance… The only other thing of note about Bartel is that he cannot be the target of enchant creature spells, so he can’t be the target of Aura-based removal such as Prison Term, etc. Otherwise, he’s pretty plain, and nothing to build around.
This card was spoiled yesterday:
A very far-away picture of a card from our new set, Return to Ravnica! Here’s the card itself:
|Creature – Insect
|Scavenge (, Exile this card from your graveyard: Put X +1/+1 counters on target creature, where X is this card’s power. Scavenge only as a Sorcery.)
Credits goes to mtgsalvation for posting this on their site. You can find their spoiler page for Return to Ravnica here.
Now, Deadbrdige Goliath is a 5/5 for 2GG; a pretty solid card in my opinion. With Rampant Growth he’s an easy turn 3 drop. On top of his 5/5 for 2GG, he introduces the new mechanic for the Golgari, Scavenge. Unlike Selesnya’s Populate (which appears to be confirmed) Scavenger exiles the creature from the graveyard to make the ones you control bigger; in that they give +1/+1 counters equal to his power. In this case, it’s 4GG to put 5 +1/+1 counters on a creature you control.
Sadly, it does have to be all to one creature, but this could be interesting if Birds is reprinted in Return to Ravnica, as our mana-bird didn’t get printed in the core set like usual. I like Deadbridge Goliath, and it appears to be the first FNM promo for the set. I like the card, and I hope the rest of the set will be even better.
A Legendary Minion lord! Not that minions really needed much of a lord, as there’s less than 2 pages of them on the gatherer. Balthor the Defiled for 2BB is a 2/2 with 2 abilities. His first ability is his static ability, giving your minion creatures +1/+1. Sadly, Minions are a rather old type, the most recent being a blue creature from Ravnica. However, his other ability is very good; for BBB, you can exile Balthor the Defiled to return all black and red creatures from all graveyards to the owner’s battlefield. Sadly, this isn’t a great attribute in Commander, as it’s each player, and you won’t be able to take advantage of bringing back red creatures, as he is a mono-black commander. I’d certainly play him in a Red/Black deck, however. Or even Grixis; River Kelpie combos well with him, letting you draw a card for each creature entering the battlefield under your control.
However, Balthor the Defiled is the second version of Balthor, after he sacrificed himself to destroy Burke. His original card, Balthor the Stout is different:
Balthor the Stout is a 2/2 for 1RR, and has been errata’d a little bit:
Other Barbarian creatures get +1/+1.
: Another target Barbarian creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
Nothing too significant. He gives Barbarians other than himself +1/+1. Sadly, there aren’t many more barbarians than there are minions, but you can find the list of barbarians here
. His second ability gives another target Barbarian fire-breathing; a respectable ability for a 3-drop 2/2.
Sadly, he can’t target himself with his second ability, and his first ability doesn’t affect him. Lovisa Coldeyes
is a slightly better general, though more expensive.
Avacyn, Angel of Hope is a very impressive card in my opinion. As one player on the gatherer said:
If only reanimator didn’t have so many better targets. Still an amazing casual card and insane in EDH.
Avacyn, the opposite of Griselbrand, is an 8/8 Legendary Angel with Flying and Vigilance. Not quite Akroma, but it’s her static ability that’s impressive; Avacyn, Angel of Hope and other permanents you control are indestructible. The only thing that really stops Avacyn in EDH is Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, and -X/-X abilities. -8/-8 is harder to come by, but Black Sun’s Zenith can manage.
In standard, it’s considered not all that great, but it still goes for about 10; Starcitygames has it for 11.99 and foils for 34.99, namely due to the fact it’s amazing in Commander/EDH.
I personally wouldn’t play her as a Commander, but it’s not a bad idea. Armageddon and Worldslayer both combo very well with her.
Csrds to play with Avacyn, Angel of Hope :
- Boardwipes in general
- Akroma’s Memorial
- Cavern of Souls
- Platinum Angel
Cards to play Avacyn with:
- Unburial Rites
- Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Ashling the Pilgrim is a 1/1 Elemental Shaman for 1R from Lorwyn. Personally, I think that Ashling is a little under-powered for a commander, but she can get big pretty fast, though you can only increase her power by +2/+2 per turn before she sacrifices her self to blow up and deal 3 damage to each creature and player. Sadly it doesn’t trigger at the end of the turn, so you can’t go above the 3 counters to squeeze more damage out of it. Personally, I think she’s a better utility card than a commander.
However, when she reached Shadowmoor on her pilgrimage (despite the card being in Eventide), she became The Extinguisher:
Ashling is now a 4/4 for 2BB, reminiscent of the 3 +1/+1 counters when the original Ashling would have incinerated the board. Instead, whenever she deals combat, she sacrifices one of your opponent’s creatures, even getting rid of indestructible enemies. Personally, I find her to be a much better general than the original.
While it’s a bit of an underwhelming mythic rare, The Reaper is a 6/6 flyer for 3BBB, which is OK, except for that triple black cost. The Morbid element is the best part of this guy, as at the beginning of each end step, if a creature died this turn, you destroy target non-Demon creature. As it reads non-Demon creature, he can’t target himself and commit suicide.
The major downside to his Morbid ability is the fact it’s mandatory. If you were to play a straight-up demon deck, which currently is a bit awkward and rather impossible to build at the moment, you can destroy your own creatures if your opponent has none. He does however find a place in some permutations of the Birthing Pod deck. It’s a fair ability for that deck, and it’s a nice stepping stone to Sheoldred, Whispering One or Elesh Norn.
So, in all, the only thing really wrong with this guy is that he’s a mythic rare with an archetype that has had some bad-ass cards, but not enough pawns to really create a solid front line to set the table for him. It has a decent Morbid ability, but besides the fact that it can also fly, it’s a poor choice for a mythic rare.
Olivia Voldaren wasn’t what we expected when we thought there would be a Red and Black Legendary Vampire; we assumed it would be a high costed but decent General for Commander. Instead, we got a very good mythic rare that may see Standard play. As the picture is rather low quality, I’ll post what she does here:
Legendary Creature – Vampire
1R: Olivia Voldaren deals 1 damage to another target creature. That creature becomes a Vampire in addition to its other types. Put a +1/+1 counter on Olivia Voldaren.
3BB: Gain control of target Vampire for as long as you control Olivia Voldaren.
She’s a very good card, namely for her first ability, giving you a consistent way to kill opponent’s creatures and boosting herself in the process. If you really want to, you can always hit a creature and then take it over with her second ability, or just take control of opponent’s vampires in the mirror match. Being a flyer is always a plus here.
So, all in all, it’s a great card, and I hope the rest of Innistrad is as good as they’ve shown us so far.
Yet another Innistrad update; apparently, these are connected to the transform mechanics.
This, I assume, would be the transform for the Mayor of Avabruck, but the curious thing about this card is that is has no converted mana cost, and doesn’t have a second power and toughness like the Mayor does, so it’s curious. There are two others that are revealed, being of Screeching Bat and Ludevic’s Test Subject, respectively:
Plague Boiler is a thing that is going to blow up everything you hold dear if you don’t keep removing counters from it. However, I think this card is a perfectly valid card in Commander decks that play out of the graveyard, like Dredge decks in Commander, that use Karador, Ghost Chieftain, which likes blowing the board up every turn (seeing as black/green/white gets access to damnation, life’s finale, day of judgment, wrath of god, etc), and then dredging and playing their entire board again with Karador, who will rarely cost more than 3 due to him costing 1 less for each creature in your graveyard. Plague Boiler isn’t great, but it has a place in Commander.
In yet another installment of Bang for Your Buck, I’m going to review the recently spoiled Ajani Vengeant vs Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker Duel Decks. Unfortunately, beyond the great new alternate artwork on the aforementioned planeswalkers, these decks really are nothing to get excited about. Besides giving Boros players easy access to Vengeant and Grixis EDH players easy access to a previously rather difficult planeswalker to obtain, there are very few cards in these decks even worth mentioning. I would hardly consider $20 worth what’s actually in these decks.
Ajani has an interesting contigent of Naya cards in his deck, with Wild Nacatl, Qasali Pridemgte, and Ajani’s Pridemate all included in the deck. There’s also a Lightning Helix. But beyond that, there’s nothing incredibly special that’s worth any sort of money.
Nicol Bolas on the other hand at least has Cruel Ultimatum working for him. There’s a Profane Command, Deep Analysis, and Countersquall included, as well. None of these are money cards, though.
As for playability, they’re probably fairly fun decks to play, but there’s nothing really here that you’ll run in any sort of competitive deck. As far as “Bang for Your Buck” is concerned, they’re not really worth it besides the cover cards. There’s just too much jank in these decks to really be worth it. I just don’t think they’re worth the money beyond curiosity – if you want the planeswalkers they’ll be more easily available as singles.