The Real Deal - The Top 5 Overrated, Underrated, and Dual Land Future Sight Cards
Hey everyone, Ben here! Instead of a full set review this week, I'm going to run down fifteen cards in Future Sight that I think are currently being overvalued or undervalued. The list will be broken down into three sections — first I'll list the five cards from Future Sight that I think are being the most undervalued, then I'll list five that I think are being most overvalued, and then I'll talk about the five new Dual Lands from this set.
This article is virtually all strategy talk — so if you're looking for my typical glib look at the flavor, art, mechanics, history, trivia and such for Future Sight, that'll be coming next week!
Let's start this off with the five cards in this set that I currently think are being the most overlooked or undervalued:
I picked Aeon Chronicler as my “sleeper hit” of Planar Chaos. This time, I'm picking Tarmogoyf. He's low on the radar right now, and some people have been talking about him, but I'm just going to say that he's flat-out nuts.
What are the applications for Tarmogoyf? Well, he fits into Aggro-Loam in Extended. If you cast Devastating Dreams, you're going to end up with at least a creature, a land, and a sorcery in your graveyard (3/4 for G1). Depending on your opponent or your hand, you might get an Instant or artifact as well (4/5 for G1). He fits into that deck.
Aside from aggro-Loam, Tarmogoyf works wonders with dredge, fits like a glove in a deck that has burn to kill opposing creatures, and works just as well late-game as he does early (if built around). How often does your opponent cast turn 3 Compulsive Research, discarding a land, and follow it with turn 4 Wrath? That gives you a 3/4 creature for two mana (Sorcery, Land, Creature), which is nothing to laugh about — especially if you're Blue/Green and can now counter against retaliation.
Will Friggorid run Tarmogoyf in Extended? It's entirely possible to dredge up a first-turn Golgari Grave-Troll, and end up with an artifact, sorcery, enchantment, creature, and land in your graveyard on turn 2 — making for a 5/6 Tarmogoyf. Chances are you'll at least end up with a creature, land and sorcery, and that's discounting if your version reverts to playing Tolarian Winds for the explosive start (making the start even more explosive thanks to Tarmogoyf).
Pick up a playset of these while they're cheap.
Day of Destiny was a Legendary Enchantment, so you could only have one in play at a time, and
Legendary Creatures tend to either have a low power / toughness to mana cost because of special abilities, or cost a lot of mana (5+) for a large effect. This does not make for Day of Destiny being at the top end of the curve.
Let's be straight here — White Weenie (and now Mono-Green Aggro) has played Glorious Anthem (and Gaea's Anthem) in the right metagames. Muraganda Petroglyphs gives double the boost of power/toughness than either of those cards, but at three drawbacks — it costs one more mana (four versus three), it affects your opponent's creatures (if they have no abilities), and you can only use it with Vanilla creatures.
Well, let's take a look at the creatures in Standard. I've compiled a list of every vanilla creature in the format. This also includes every morph creature (a face-down morph creature is a 2/2 creature with no abilities), and token-creature generators (ones that make token creatures with no abilities). After combing over the list, here are the notable cards:
Savannah Lions (W, 2/1)
Watchwolf (GW, 3/3)
Blade of the Sixth Pride (W1, 3/1)
Elvish Warrior (GG, 2/3)
Selesnya Guildmage (GG or GW or WW, 2/2. G3: Make a 1/1)
Fists of Ironwood (G1, 2x 1/1)
Nessian Courser (G2, 3/3)
Trained Armodon (GG1, 3/3)
Call of the Herd (G2, 3/3 and then G3, 3/3)
Thelonite Hermit (Morph, GG3: Make 4x 1/1's)
Sprout Swarm (G4, Make a 1/1, convoke)
Zoetic Cavern (Land, Morph)
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree (Land, GW2: Make a 1/1)
Urza's Factory (Land, 7: Make a 2/2)
This doesn't include splashing Blue for any number of good morph cards, splashing Red for Mogg War Marshal and Pact of the Titans, or interactions with Empty the Warrens. From just a list of the White/Green cards above, you could make one really aggro deck.
I'm sure there's a much, much better build than this, but even without the Petroglyphs — this deck can clearly beat down. Imagine getting a draw like this:
Turn 1: Savannah Lions
Turn 2: Blade of the Sixth Pride (Swing for two)
Turn 3: Morphed Thelonite Hermit (Swing for five)
Turn 4: Muraganda Petroglyphs (Swing for thirteen)
Turn 5: Swing for thirteen, turn Thelonite Hermit face-up to make four 4/4s (1/1s that get +1/+1 from the Hermit, and +2/+2 from the Petroglyphs).
That's not bad.
Two for a 1/1 isn't that great. Two for a 4/4 is bloody fabulous. The first time you play Epochrasite, it's most likely going to be a 1/1 (unless you're doing some Zombify shenanigans). After it dies, it'll be back as a 4/4 — and one that keep recurring.
Let's say you're playing control, and you get Epochrasite on turn 2. Your opponent attacks, and you block. On your turn 3, Epochrasite has two counters. On turn 4, one counter. On turn 5, you get a free 4/4 creature.
Let's say you're playing aggro, and you get Epochrasite on turn 2. Your opponent Wraths on turn 4. On turn 5, it has two counters. On turn 6, it has one counter. On turn 7, you get a free hasty 4/4 creature.
Epochrasite, to me, crosses over the line from “bad suspend” to “good suspend” because it'll keep coming back. Kill it as a 1/1? I'll be back in 2-3 turns (depending on whose turn it died!). Kill it as a 4/4? It'll be back in 2-3 turns (see above). The ability to have a recurring 4/4 haste creature every 2-3 turns just seems like a really good deal for two mana, and I'd definitely test with this guy in both aggro and control builds.
Which would you rather have:
GG1, 2/5. Can't attack. Draw a card.
GG1, 2/3. Draw several cards.
The former is Carven Caryatid, and the latter is Heartwood Storyteller. The Storyteller is an absolute gift to Green, and one that people have not been latching onto due to its less-than-stellar power / toughness to mana ratio. My question?
Did you play Ohran Viper because of its power / toughness, or because it's an Ophidian? Do you play Shadowmage Infiltrator because it draws you cards, or because it can deal a point a turn? Heartwood Storyteller is a better card-drawing mechanism than either of those cards, because it will most likely draw you multiple cards, and does not require a swing to get through.
Once Heartwood Storyteller is on the board:
You draw a card every time your opponent kills one of your creatures with a spell.
You draw a card every time your opponent counters a spell.
You draw a card for every Rite of Flame / Seething Song your opponent casts (not great against Dragonstorm, better against Empty the Warrens).
You draw a card for every Faith's Fetters / Pact / Call of the Herd / Compulsive Research / whatever your opponent plays, that isn't a creature.
Yes, Heartwood Storyteller cuts both ways. However, the Green mage is well equipped to play a deck sans non-creature cards (excepting lands), so this isn't necessarily a drawback.
As of the writing of this article, this is the answer to the question: “What is the most preordered card at StarCityGames.com?”
And the answer is that even with this being the most preordered Future Sight card, even with this already tipping the $2 range as a preorder, it's still underordered, and still too cheap.
Every block has that one Uncommon that rises to the price level of “mid-range rare” — the $5-6 range. Past inductees into this club have included Aether Vial, Skullclamp, Isochron Scepter, Eternal Witness, Sensei's Divining Top, and Remand (although Lightning Helix is creeping up there lately — we have been unable to keep them in stock at $3 each). Delay is going to be the newest member of this club — it's an insane counterspell for combo and aggro-control decks, and it's amazing in the control-on-control match. Is it better than Remand? Remand has the advantage of being a cantrip, but it is usually less-useful in the long game. Delay is equally good on turn 2 and on turn 10 — it stops a spell for three turns, and that is often all you need to finish off a game for good.
Now it's time for the Overvalued / Overhyped list:
Linessa, Zephyr Mage and Oriss, Samite Guardian:
I love the grandeur ability — I think it's a great way to work around the Legendary Creatures restriction, and encourage people to play four copies of any given Legend in their deck. With that said, your chances aren't great in any given game to draw multiple copies of the same four-of card, without a little help from things like tutors, extra card-drawing, or stacking your deck. And since one of those three methods will earn you the Mike Long memorial Howling Wolf prize, chances are you'll only see one Linessa or Oriss per game.
Let's take a look at the five Legends with Grandeur, and imagine them without Grandeur:
Baru, Fist of Krosa: GG3 for a 4/4 creature with “whenever a Forest comes into play, Green creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain trample until end of turn” — very good, especially since it triggers on Forests coming into play, meaning that you can do stuff like Farseek a Ravnica Shockland into play, give everything +1/+1 and trample, and then play your land for the turn to give them an additional +1/+1.
Korlash, Heir to Blackblade: BB2 for a */* creature (where * is equal to the number of Swamps you control) with B1: Regeneration. This is a great mid-range Black creature, and the type of creature that Black decks have been missing for a couple of blocks now. Going all the way back to Kamigawa block, the only good Black four-drop creatures in Standard have been Dimir House Guard, Infernal Kirin, Keening Banshee, Mindslicer, Nekrataal, Plague Sliver (which is very underplayed), Razorjaw Oni, and Yukora the Prisoner. Of these, about half are bad offensively, and the other half are bad defensively. The only two cards on this list to see widespread play were Dimir House Guard and Nekrataal, so take from that what you will. Korlash, especially with help from Urborg, will often come down as a 4/4 regenerator, and grow from there.
Tarox Bladewing: RRR2 for a 4/3 Flying, Hate creature — certainly playable, but nothing great.
Linessa, Zephyr Mage: U3 for a 3/3 creature with “UUX: Return target creature with converted mana cost X to its owner's hand”.
Which of these is played competitively?
Heidar, Rimewind Master: U4 for a 3/3 with “2, Tap: Return target permanent to its owner's hand. Play this ability only if you control four or more snow-covered permanents.”
Temporal Adept: UU1 for a 1/1 with “UUU, Tap: Return target permanent to its owner's hand.”
The answer is “neither of them,” and both of those guys hit non-creatures as well. Linessa, with her worse-than-Repeal ability, wouldn't get played with Grandeur either. You'd play either Repeal, Boomerang, or Wipe Away if you want bounce, or play Temporal Adept if you want bounce that can potentially lock down an opponent's mana.
Oriss, Samite Guardian: WW1 for a 1/3 with “Tap: Prevent all damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn.”
Now, let's take a look at these guys with Grandeur:
Baru, Fist of Krosa: Baru has the best Grandeur ability for two reasons. One, it makes large creatures at the end of an opponent's turn for no mana cost. Two, you can easily search out a second copy of Baru thanks to Summoner's Pact.
Korlash, Heir to Blackblade: Korlash's Grandeur ability has a lot of synergy with Korlash himself (+2/+2 permanently, plus accelerating two lands), and every now and then you'll get the “I win” draw with a turn 4 Korlash while having a second one in hand.
Tarox Bladewing: Discarding Tarox to Tarox gives him +4/+4 if unaided, but can quickly get out of control if combined with things like Brute Force (+7/+7) or Fatal Frenzy (+8/+8). An unaided Tarox to Tarox Grandeur is worse than Korlash's ability, but an aided one (Might of Old Krosa, etc) can result in a one-turn swing for the win.
Linessa, Zephyr Mage: By discarding Linessa to Linessa, you make your opponent return a land, creature, enchantment and artifact — of their choice. Basically, you Curfew their board for each permanent type. Half the time it'll only hit two permanent types (land and creature), and another decent portion of the time, they'll want to return a permanent to hand (Whitemane Lion, Venser, Mystic Snake). The lack of a pinpoint targeting on this ability makes Linessa sorta junky.
Oriss, Samite Guardian: The Grandeur ability on Oriss is a kickered Orim's Chant. Orim's Chant is good for two reasons: 1) You can play it early for a single White mana and disrupt a combo player as they are going off, and 2) You can stick it on Isochron Scepter and lock your opponent down for the rest of the game. Oriss doesn't let you do either of these — you need to first cast her on turn 3, hope she doesn't die right then and there (remember kids — a 1/3 creature for three mana with no synergies is significantly worse than a two-mana artifact that has synergy with another dozen cards in your deck!), hope to have a second one in hand, and then use it to... stop your opponent for one turn? How are you planning on recurring the Oriss that you discard? Is this some wacky combo deck?
Night's Whisper: B1, lose two life, draw two cards.
Murmurs is worse. To equal Night's Whisper, you need two creatures in play — and it Murmurs costs twice as much mana.
Ambition's Cost; B3, lose three life, draw three cards.
Ambition's Cost was Standard legal for two years, and never saw serious play. You'd need three creatures in play to equal a card drawing spell that wasn't played, and chances are you won't have that many creatures in play if you're the Black deck.
I just want to compare Foresee to other options in Standard right now:
Sleight of Hand (Sorcery): U. Look at two cards, put one in hand, and one on the bottom of your library.
Telling Time (Instant): U1. Look at three cards, put one on top, one in hand and one on bottom.
Careful Consideration (Instant): UU2. Draw four, discard three. If you cast it as a sorcery, Draw four and discard two.
Tidings (Sorcery): UU3, draw 4.
Court Hussar (1/3 Vigilant creature): U2, look at top 3. Put 1 in hand, 2 on bottom.
Now granted, I can definitely come up with scenarios in which Foresee would be better than the other options (mostly when all four cards on top of your deck are ones you don't want to keep), but in general I believe there are better options. Compare this to Telling Time, which is half the mana (U1), an instant, and essentially reads "Scry three, then draw one" compared to the "Scry four, draw two” of Foresee, at twice the mana and sorcery speed. It just seems to compare unfavorably to every one of those above spells.
Pact of Negation:
This has emerged as the far-and-away chase rare of Future Sight, and it's really good. It's not the best card in the set. In combo decks, it has advantages and disadvantages over Force of Will.
For Combo decks:
The Advantages: Pact of Negation doesn't cost you a life or a Blue card (which you might need to go off), and it can be played in combo decks that don't run Blue.
The Disadvantage: If you don't win that turn, you likely won't have UU3 the next turn and will lose the game.
For Control decks:
The Advantages: Pact of Negation doesn't cost you a life or a Blue card. It's great in a counter war, because you can trump their number of counters to stop / land that one key spell that will win the game.
The Disadvantages: It'll tap you out the next turn. It can't stop aggro decks from casting their spells on turns 1 through 3 (and probably 4, unless you have a Signet or acceleration).
For Aggro decks:
There are definitely decks and situations where Pact of Negotiation will win you games where no other card could (or could do as efficiently — Pact ups your storm count!), but too many people are going to try using this universally like Force of Will, and it's not as versatile as Force of Will — mainly, you can't play it to stop early threats, you can't play two in a turn (unless it's really, really late game), you only have the alternate mana cost (Force of Will is Pitch a card or pay UU3. You don't have a choice with the Pact, as you will always need to pay UU3 the next upkeep).
The Five Dual Lands
Wizards introduced a cycle of five Dual Lands in Future Sight that are potentially parts of another bigger cycle down the road — or they are just a really neat way of doing a cycle that isn't a cycle, but it is. I approve. Are they any good? The answer is yes — and they are all being undervalued because of the Ravnica Shocklands. Remember — those guys are rotating out in a few months, and who knows what'll be in Tenth Edition. For Block Constructed play, these guys are pretty much the be-all-end-all of land-color fixing, outside of Terramorphic Expanse. The storage lands are nice, but they don't have the immediacy of these five. Let's look at them one-by-one, from best to worst:
Nimbus Maze: Easily the best of these five, especially since it works insanely well with Hallowed Fountain. It's a modified Tainted land from Torment (See: Tainted Isle), except that it'll be “turned on” more often than a Tainted land. This is really solid for almost any Blue/White deck, and I'd even go so far as to say that it's better than Adarkar Wastes.
Graven Cairns: This is comparable to the Odyssey filter lands (see: Shadowblood Ridge), with three distinct differences: it can tap for colorless mana, you need to have a Black or Red mana source in play to get a Black or Red mana out of it, and it can tap for any combination of BB, BR or RR. This makes it unique among dual lands in that it can help you fix double-colored spells on both colors, with only one land. Compare this to Blood Crypt or Rakdos Carnarium. I would argue that Graven Cairns is better (from a mana-fixing perspective) than both of those cards, and Sulfurous Springs as well — as long as you play a Swamp or a Mountain on the first turn, you'll be able to cast any BB, BR or RR card in your deck on turn 2. The drawback, of course, is that the Cairns doesn't count as a Swamp for cards like Korlash or Tendrils of Corruption. Also, Black/Red is one of the least popular color combinations in Standard.
River of Tears: Aaron Forsythe gave the example of “Tap for Duress on your turn, Tap for Force Spike on your opponent's turn!” People are going to lose games because they play (or don't play) a land before trying to tap River of Tears for mana — for instance, playing a land, and then being one Blue mana short of casting a key spell. This is because River of Tears has a lot of memory issues involved. If you can add that to your mental clutter, it's a very solid Dual land, and one that should be included in most Black/Blue decks. It's just that with all the little errors you can make while playing, River of Tears leaves you more error prone than Underground River, Dimir Aqueduct, or Watery Grave.
Grove of the Burnwillows: Nifty with Kavu Predator. Most Red/Green decks are aggro, and don't want to let an opponent gain life. You also can't get a first turn 2/3 Kird Ape with Grove of the Burnwillows. Is this better than Karplusan Forest? Probably not — most Red/Green decks would rather be at eighteen life for their mana, rather than have their opponent be at twenty-two.
Horizon Canopy: This will be discarded initially compared to the other four lands, because it's the only one where there is no “painless” tap ability. If you tap this land for mana, you're going to lose a life. End of story, no way around it. However, when you don't need this land any more, you can convert it to a card — much like with Mind Stone (which will be a big part of your 10th Edition breakfast). This might make it a good include in something like that Petroglyphs deck above — or with Crucible of Worlds, which is also coming back in Tenth Edition.
Let me know what you think about this article in the forums! See you all there, and then see you next week when I give you Ben Bleiweiss's Semi-Complete Guide to Future Sight, with only the cards that I care about!