The Betrayers of Kamigawa Limited Review - White
As I mentioned last week, this isn't something I usually do.
Since I prefer to pick my article topics based on what I think is important at the time or what cards people seem to be undervaluing, I don't usually do the full color by color analysis that many other people have done in the past to review a new set for Limited. With the last few sets though, it doesn't seem like that information is getting covered well, and I figured why not try something different anyway, even if it is the old school approach.
I'm going to separate by rarities instead of just doing one big list, since I don't think there's a huge amount of value in ranking the rares among each other, though I will specify if an uncommon is generally better than the rest of the commons in the color. I also want to include decklists, pick orders, and tough picks when possible to show where a certain card will be valuable, though this won't happen until the later colors when I have more experience with the set. My point is that I don't want this to be a usual boring series of set reviews - I plan to spice it up as much as possible.
Heart of Light
And so we begin with Sandskin. This will mainly be useful as a sideboard card, and I wouldn't really recommend running it maindeck because it's not very good in most normal games of magical cards.
Clearly you shouldn't get out of hand here though as the card does create an infinite blocker, which is a bad thing if you can't deal with it. Overall this will see marginal use at best.
This is an interesting little combat trick and I think it will continue to move up the rankings as I draft more with it.
It's as cheap as Blessed Breath, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. When you leave one White mana up, your opponent is now aware that you could have either of these, and is going to be more inclined to play around them since there are more tricks you can have now. This could be a good thing if it gets blockers through (though eventually he's going to have to just bite the bullet and block), though it could also devalue the card slightly since it will have to sit in your hand and may not do nearly as much in the late game. Maybe I'm just overanalyzing though.
Getting back to the actual card, the easiest thing to compare it to would be Guided Strike from the past, which was only decent and never really an insane trick. The Talon Strike trades the cantrip bonus that Guided Strike had for a nifty little splice cost that is actually quite good, since your opponent will not be expecting you to be able to do as much when you only have a few mana untapped. The splice cost is generally going to be better as a blocking trick, since you can block with the guy that you are tapping, though I can see it being alright on the offense as well.
So far I've had good results with this card, and I really think it has a place in the format since at the very least it's a cheap splice "vessel" and is also a solid trick. I don't think I'd ever want more than two of these, but it is definitely a solid pick for any aggressive White build.
Kami of False Hope
Hmm, you're interesting.
Wait, no you aren't.
Fog on a stick, it's also a Spirit so I guess it's playable, but not exactly something I'd want in my deck unless I was in Dampen.dec. One thing that's for sure though is that Fog loses a lot of value when your opponent can see it coming. One of the nice things about playing Ethereal Haze is that you can actually gain card parity from it if your opponent uses some kind of combat trick because he doesn't suspect the Fog. With this guy, that's not the case.
Kami of the Painted Road has now found a mediocre friend with the same casting cost and relative power level. Wonderful, exactly what I'm hoping to open when I crack my Betrayers booster.
Seriously though, this guy is alright and playable if you don't have many creatures in the five slot. His ability is very mediocre, since even if it triggers, he's only going to attack for a whopping two damage and a lot of the fliers in this format have three toughness anyway, so this bad boy may never get off the ground. He's got a big butt though, so whatever... I still prefer the Painted Road nine times outta ten.
This one I'm not sure about yet, though I imagine it's fine since it does prevent a good deal of damage and is a one-mana answer to every burn spell in the format, Torrent of Stone included.
White does have a lot more tricks than usual in this block, so you have to be careful not to overload on them and skimp on creatures. I have yet to play with this card, and I would guess you can easily get it late, though I have seen some people use it to good effect and it should fill a hole in any deck that is short on combat tricks. Unfortunately it can't gain four life and be strictly better than Healing Salve, but I guess you can't have your cake and eat it too.
I really don't understand what Wizards is thinking. They keep printing these mediocre cards that are just improved versions of older mediocre cards. Running low on ideas possibly? Who knows, but this guy is one thousand times better than Harsh Deceiver could ever hope to be.
The protection from color ability is solid as anything, and the fact that it can Soulshift is just gravy in combination with the sac ability. Mystic Restraints just got worse. Again. If that was even possible.
"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
The above quote is an annoying saying that originated around Tangle Spider, which was bad enough that people expected you not to play it and would therefore blindly attack into six open mana from time to time. At that point you would ambush them and announce the aforementioned annoying quote. Exciting, huh?
If Tangle Spider was bad (and it was), this guy is simply atrocious. I find myself hard pressed to play Samurai Enforcers and this thing is much worse than ol' Sneaky.
Then again, someone will always be out there to play it just so they can ambush you and never let you hear the end of it. My recommendation would be to play around this card if your opponent is bad or seems to be lacking a few playables and may have slipped this guy in as the 23rd card, but rarely play around it if your opponent is a good player, since he generally won't have it in his deck.
Wait, what is this? A good White common? Surely you must be joking.
Thankfully, this isn't a joke and this guy is actually quite good.
He is however very fragile, having only one toughness and also requiring a mana to activate every turn. Regardless, it's nice to actually see a good common in this color and this guy gets my pick for second best White common.
My little pony!
Talk about overcosted. I thought Devoted Retainer cost one, not four. The ability is hardly going to be anything worthwhile unless your opponents deck is filled with Kamis of the Waning Moon and Lunacy, or you have some other way to ping like Frostwielder or Nine-Ringed Bo.
This is a marginal sideboard card at best, and if you end up having to maindeck it, I offer my sympathy in advance.
Last, but certainly not least, we arrive at the bread and butter White common for Limited play.
This guy is simply amazing.
As I said last week, he is reminiscent of Leonin Bola, and while not as good, certainly can be in the right situation. The nice thing here is that he doesn't tap to use his ability and it only costs one mana to remove any amount of counters. If you play with this guy once, you'll see exactly why he's the best White common and if you manage to get multiples it will be hard to lose.
So what happened here?
These cards all seem very mediocre save the Waxmane and Split-Tail Miko. White got the shaft bigtime in Betrayers commons, and I'm expecting that it will get a big boost in the last set of the block just like it did in Judgment a few blocks ago.
The Waxmane does offer a huge boost to aggressive decks like W/R though, and once everyone realizes how bad the White commons are in this set, it should start getting drafted less and you should be able to pick up the two good commons much later. Hundred-Talon Strike is also a nice trick, and something you should be considering whenever you're deciding what type of tricks your opponent could have if he has an untapped White guy.
I guess we had to wait for the uncommons to finally see some good stuff.
This guy is the second best flip guy in my opinion, behind the Green and in front of the Black flippers. The reason being that he always has evasion and his ability is actually quite good if there is any kind of combat going on. All of the flip guys are quite insane though, and I talked plenty about them last week. This guy is better than all of the White commons for sure.
Genju of the Fens
Interesting combination of abilities here, though this guy isn't nearly as good as some of his brothers. It's still going to always get played, though I'd take Miko and Waxmane over it.
The nice thing about this Genju is the lifegain aspect, since it's really hard to kill it and it will come back even if it somehow dies, so use it aggressively if possible.
Solid little dude here, and a good blocker with a good ability should you have targets. Cage of Hands of course, is the top priority, followed by things like Phantom Wings, Lure, Indomitable Will, etc.
I'd still play this guy even if I only had one enchant creature, simply because it's a good blocker and a free tutor for said enchantment. Solid.
Someone messaged me on AIM one night a few days before the set came out and tried to tell me that this card was insane. While we won't get into names, what the hell were they thinking?
It's a mediocre body with an ability that will rarely come into play and not really have much of an impact even if it does activate. Clearly it's insane...or maybe whoever said that is just insane. Playable, but certainly not better than the two good commons.
Kami of Honored Dead
I think it's safe to say that Honored Dead don't stay in the Super 8 Motel, because they certainly aren't cheap.
Hilarious, I know. This guy is not something you want to be running on a regular basis, but if your deck is good at stalling and can get to seven mana reliably with the board stabilized, it becomes somewhat of a bomb. 3/5 flying, spirit link though is still a bit pricey at seven mana even if it does have Soulshift. Soulshift is largely irrelevant to me if I'm casting this card because I'm doing so with the intention that it is not going to die.
Our little friend here is deceptively powerful, especially once the board gets cluttered. I had two of these out once and it became near impossible for any sort of big battle to occur in the attack step because all of my guys would be healed for two. The nice thing is that this guy heals you too and can block and heal, so he's actually pretty good and you'll get him late.
Scour & Terashi's Grasp
It's important to note that Grasp is a Sorcery here so that you aren't an idiot like me and try to cast it in your opponent's attack step on Uncontrollable Anger. Yeah, that went over well...
These are both good sideboard cards now, especially with the introduction of the Genjus. Also, mad props to anyone who actually searches out something with Scour, since it's just so damned unlikely.
This little Arcane instant is a very strong spell. This will deal with most of the relevant threats in the format like Nezumi Cutthroat, Gnarled Mass, etc, and has Arcane. All for two mana!
This is better than Split-Tail Miko for sure, and possibly Waxmane though it's really dependent on what's in your deck. Quite the package though for two mana.
I guess this could be useful in a mirror match or something? I'm really not feeling it though with this guy, as it basically says "Protection from your own combat tricks."
I've seen it in play multiple times and it hasn't really done anything, so maybe it could be sideboarded in but it's really not very attractive.
Ward of Piety
Hi. I cost you a card and essentially do nothing. Keep me in your sideboard and you'll stay out of trouble. Don't try to get cute and actually try and play me, it won't work.
Riight... Like this card actually needed to be printed.
I understand that its main intention was for Block Constructed purposes, but the fact that it removes from the game instead of just destroying also stops any kind of Dragon or Zebra nonsense. This is insane, nuff' said.
This guy is a monster against Green as long as they don't have too many Orochi Sustainers since they rely on casting so many big men. He's great in a U/W deck with a lot of fliers since you can drop a couple and then put the nail in the coffin with this guy, basically ensuring that your opponent won't be able to deal with your air force in time.
Clearly he's good in an aggressive deck too. Overall, solid guy, though I'd probably take Waxmane over it most of the time.
Kentaro, the Smiling Cat
Interesting, though I'm not sure how often its special ability is going to matter, so it's basically just a 2/1 for two with some alright abilities. Nothing to really get excited about though.
Opal-Eye, Konda's Yojimbo
This, on the other hand, is something to get excited about.
This guy will get out of hand quickly once you get a lot of mana out, and is essentially a damage vacuum that makes it really hard for your opponent to do anything. This would rate as a bomb if you asked me and anyone who's played against it will agree with me when I say that it is really annoying to overcome if you can't banish it.
Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens
If you untap with this in play, the game should just end most of the time. It does cost seven mana, but it has a big butt so that it can actually block if you're in danger, and it's also splashable. Doubtful that I'd pass this card unless I wasn't in the color and there was a Blue or Green Genju in the pack or something else like Budoka Pupil. Even then, this guy is really hard to pass up if you can get it into play.
This guy is simply amazing. So, I guess White makes up for the fact that the majority of its commons are garbage by having a ton of bomb rares? Somehow this thing costs six for a 5/6 which is mind boggling considering it has Fox Offering (which allows for an instant ambush), and has a completely insane ability. Simply unbelievable in Limited.
Probably the best of the Shoals for draft, though the Black one is also pretty good. The Captain's Maneuver effect is pretty versatile since you can redirect damage off of multiple creatures if it is all from the same source (something like Pyroclasm), and also because of the free ability it is a sneaky trick if your opponent tries to Yamabushi's Storm away your team. I'd usually take Waxmane over it, though that may be wrong and I haven't seen it used enough yet to make a clear distinction. A strong card for sure.
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way
I really have no clue how this guy could be of any use to you unless you really want that seven mana 4/4. The ability is basically a joke since it's never going to do anything special. Leave Jimmy in the booster and hope one of your opponents plays it.
As a whole, I don't feel that White was a big beneficiary here in Betrayers. The commons are largely unexciting, and if it weren't for all of the bomb rares there wouldn't be much to talk about.
I have seen White being played a lot still regardless, as it's still a pretty good color overall and most of the Champions cards are good. Waxmane Baku is a great addition to an aggressive deck as I've already said a million times, and the color is still a great pair to Blue or Red. The nice thing about White in this format is that it can be good as both an aggressive archetype and a control one, since it has lots of tools that fit both categories.
Next week we'll delve into the much deeper common pool that is available in Blue.
Soooooo on MODO