Cook’s Kitchen – Analyzing Gatecrash
To be perfectly honest, I’m a bit disappointed with Wizards of the Coast. Gatecrash as a whole doesn’t really impress me at all. If I had to compare it to a recent set it would be very similar to Dark Ascension where there are a few playable cards and some value here and there, but lacks good cards across the board. I believe that Return to Ravnica was great. Despite what some have said, I think it was an above average set. It has value distributed pretty well between its Mythics and Rares, there are tons of playable cards as well as the “Shock-Lands.” Gatecrash’s main appeal to me is the other set of Shock-Lands, outside of that I’m a skeptic.
Before I start analyzing the cards, let’s look at this set’s abilities:
Battalion — Whenever this creature and at least two other creatures attack, (trigger an ability).
Bloodrush — (Pay cost), Discard this creature: Target attacking creature gets (Insert ability).
Cipher — Cast this spell (Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.)
Evolve — (Whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control, if that creature has greater power or toughness than this creature, put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.)
Extort — (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay . If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)
Angel Skirmisher is interesting. Normally I would dismiss this creature, however, with the current Standard most games are a mid-range attrition war. I can really see the value in morphing the creature’s abilities to suit the board state. It certainly makes up for the power toughness ratio being below its mana cost. I don’t see this card as playable in any other format, but it’ll find a niche home in Standard.
The new Gideon; the only reason I’m even discussing this is because of my “mistake” with Jace, Architect of Thought. Initially after Return to Ravnica, Jace was everywhere in Standard and was probably the best card in the format. That was short lived. Once the format found itself and the decks stopped “durdling” around, Jace stopped being as good as it was. Currently, it’s a two of in some blue decks. Far from what it was at its peak and more towards what my analysis thought it would be.
For Gideon, I’m not expecting much. It’s really only good when there’s a clogged board state or if Gideon goes unchecked for several turns in a row. Both of which are not very likely. The previous Gideon protected itself while forcing awkward positions for the opponent, this Gideon does neither. My advice is if you open this card during the prerelease this weekend; trade it as fast as possible.
Is this an attempt from Wizards at showing that all of these Hexproof creatures are a mistake? Potentially, either way, I’ve never really been with the crowd that thought these creatures were too good. Annoying? Definitely, but nothing to warrant cards specifically designed to answer them. AEtherize is a fantastic card for answering Hexproof menaces such as Geist of Saint Traft as well as token decks. I’m expecting this card to see some fringe main deck play as well as plenty of sideboard action.
Glaring Spotlight? C’mon, R&D, was this really necessary? I guess it’s kind of nice that it’s tutor-able with Trinket Mage. I don’t expect this card to see much play, even as a sideboard option. The problem with it is that you’re trading a card for nothing. You’re better off running an actual card that answers the Hexproof creature rather than a card that allows your other answers to work. Its trading two cards for one, I’m sure your Hexproof playing opponent doesn’t mind.
At first glance everyone’s first thought was, “OMNISCIENCE!” Yeah, well, why not just play the card you’re trying to find? In Legacy, play Emrakul or Griselbrand instead and save the spot in your deck list. This card could find its way into the Standard Omniscience deck as there is currently a lack of ridiculous cards to cast off Omniscience. I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I opened this card this weekend.
These two are probably my favorite Cipher cards out of the set, I’ve always been a big fan of tempo cards and these cards fit the bill. Hands of Binding is great, in limited I see the card being incredibly strong at locking the opponent down. Especially in draft once the block is complete if you obtain a Rogue’s Passage from Return to Ravnica. Last Thoughts is the card every person who read Cipher thought of instantly, I think it’s great that this spell was created.
Both of these Counterspells want to see play in Standard. I don’t know how likely that wish is, they both seem like they could pass as singleton copies in tempo decks. The problem is their casting costs. Four mana for a creature only Counterspell is just very slow and often won’t Counterspell a turn four Thragtusk against most of the green decks. Spell Rupture’s issue is that it requires a creature in play, although, it is very reasonably costed.
These two are both pretty cool, I saw AJ Kerrigan working on an interesting Belcher list. The deck milled itself using these creatures, then won Cephalid Breakfast style by casting Dread Return sacrificing Narcomoebas. These creatures are both definitely sleeper picks. I expect at some point down the road there will be a combo deck that successfully uses them in a fun way.
Crypt Ghast! You were so close to being phenomenal! But not for the reasons one may think. This card had tons of Commander potential being a four mana block “Gauntlet” effect, the downside is that it has “Extort”. This is a problem because there’s a split white and black symbol in Extort. Part of the rules of Commander are that cards can’t have mana symbols that aren’t on your General. It’s the same reason Trinisphere can only be played in a deck playing black. I suppose Crypt Ghast could still be good if your General is Obzedat, Ghost Council with black being the dominate color.
Obzedat, Ghost Council is interesting, it’s an update to Ghost Council of Orzhova from the “Old Ravnica”. While the new Ghost Council costs a mere one mana more than the previous, it certainly has more bang for its buck. The fact that it automatically flickers in and out of play to drain the opponent is fantastic, the downside is that unlike the previous Ghost Council you can’t use this ability to protect it from creature removal. I think at five mana, it’s just cheap enough to see some Standard play, expect to see pairs of this creature in the Orzhov decks.
This card really wants to be good in Standard. A one sided, potentially recurring Smallpox! The downside is that its really expensive for its effect. For six mana, I’d expect a larger effect, not to mention the creature has to live for the potential to repeat the spell. I think overall, if this spell was five mana it would be a whole lot more playable. Currently, its trade fodder.
Hellkite Tyrant, I really want this card to be good enough for my Godo, Bandit Warlord Commander deck. The problem is, I just am not convinced that it is. I play in a very competitive enviroment. As of right now Hellkite would replace Ingot Chewer, half of the beauty of Chewer is that it’s quick to kill a turn one Sol Ring or Mana Crypt. There’s also the downside of Hellkite Tyrant having to do damage in order for its effect to work. There’s often times where I’m sitting underneath Ensnaring Bridge looking for an artifact destruction spell. I’m willing to try Hellkite out, I’m just unsure of how good it actually is.
I have very high hopes for Skullcrack. The only Legacy playable card in my eyes, I think it will certainly be played in Standard as well to reject Sphinx’s Revelation as well as Thragtusk. In Legacy, Skullcrack will be a fantastic answer for red decks against Stoneblade to stop Batterskull from stabilizing the control deck. Although, I think Skullcrack is more of a sideboard card in Legacy, in Standard, I’m expecting to see it in all red main decks in multiples.
These cards are all potentially top of the curve items in a Boros aggro deck in Standard.
More than likely Aurelia, the Warleader is overcosted slightly. Six mana is very difficult for an aggressive aggro deck. It’s certainly possible for the angel to see play as a singleton for people who want to have a Boros theme to their deck that’s less competitive. Where I see Aurelia being playable is in Commander… Kaalia of the Vast certainly does not need two attack steps.
Aurelia’s Fury and Spark Trooper are both highly Standard playable, these are the top of the curve spells that I expect to see out of Boros aggro. I see Fury in a similar light to how Sphinx’s Revelation will soon be played, two or three copies in each list. Any more than that and you’re risking them becoming clutter in your hand. Spark Trooper I want to see played, it may not happen until Hellrider rotates out or the metagame shifts. The two creatures are going to fight for the same spot. Either way, like Skullcrack, these are a couple of cards in the set that I think will be highly playable.
Cute. Simic enthusiasts will create decks based around this Standard combo, while not highly competitive, I’m expecting to see a few of these decks at the local FNM. Combos like these are important to keep the more casual players happy too, not everyone is a Johnny or Spike. Sometimes it’s important to make Timmy happy too. I’m really looking forward to the day that I witness someone playing Biovisionary in Commander only to have their opponent play Rite of Replication with kicker on it.
Boros Charm is probably the best Charm we’ve seen so far with three highly relevant modes. I think this will be an automatic four of in every Boros deck in Standard and possibly Modern. It’s going to be difficult to find room for Boros Charm, Skullcrack, Pillar of Flame, and Searing Spear. I think it’s certainly possible for Spear to see the short end of the stick. The fact that Boros Charm negates Supreme Verdict or can hit the opposing player for four damage is just ridiculous.
Dimir Charm has a lot of flavor, it’s very sneaky, as I would expect blue and black mages to be. The ability to mess with draws, counter Rakdos Return or kill a small creature will allow this card to see slight play. It’s certainly not nearly as playable as Boros Charm, but Dimir players will take this over Gruul Charm. Probably the worse we’ve seen.
Simic Charm is exactly what I hoped it would be, Unsummon, Giant Growth, and… Hexproof! It’s essentially a Counterspell for removal spells. This is the level of playable I hoped all the Charms would be. Simic Charm is perfectly balanced, I think this will see plenty of play.
I think this is actually a highly playable Planeswalker with some great abilities. If my Kresh, the Bloodbraided Commander deck ran more creatures I would consider Domri Rade. I think that Rade could see play in Standard and Modern, even though it’s going to be difficult in Standard. There are plenty of playable Green and Red cards, they just aren’t from this set. I said it! Gatecrash had next to no playable cards for Gruul outside of Domri Rade, this Planeswalker may not see play. Not because it’s bad, but from a lack of support. I hope this isn’t the case, because this card has potential.
Some people have very high hopes for this card, I’m a bit unsure of what to think. It could very likely be format impacting or not playable at all. What’s interesting to me is its ability to punish all of the midrange decks with their high mana cost cards. Duskmantle Seer is going to propose a real threat to Thragtusk if it does become playable. Negating their five life, while flying over Thragtusk to deal four damage can be devastating. If I had to pick if this card was going to be a “Boom” or a “Bust”, I’m picking “Boom”. I want to see Thragtusk wars end and I think this is just the card to do it.
All of the Primordials are pretty awesome! I don’t think they will see play outside of Commander, but I’m fine with that. They’re big, splashy monsters much like Praetors with an effect built for multiplayer. I think Sylvan Primordial will see the most play out of the group since Green mages have spent countless hours looking for a replacement for Primeval Titan. Which was wrongfully banned in my eyes, but that’s beside the point.
This card has Doug McKay written all over it. For those of you who don’t know Doug, he loves cards that are fringe playable or barely playable at all. He’s also a fan of unknown Emrakul or Griselbrand decks. Rather than play Sneak and Show, he opted to play AEthermage’s Touch. I’ll wait for you to finish looking up what that card is.
Yes, AEthermage’s Touch. Now can you see why Unexpected Results has Doug McKay all over it? I’m going to be pretty saddened when that card reveals an Emrakul against me. I don’t think Results will see any Standard play but definitely some Modern and Legacy play from brew monsters like Doug.
Is this card good enough to be competitive anywhere? I’m not exactly sure. Vesuva already exists but can’t morph mid game, will decks become 16 post? I’m looking forward to see the results of how this card pans out. I can’t predict this one, it’s either going to be the next Vesuva or a dime rare. This is certainly a card that is high-risk, high-reward for people who like to horde multiple copies of cards over time.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource