The Kitchen Table #384 - Top Ten Cards From Magic 2013
New sets bring on new cards and new loves. This injection of awesome into our Magic lives keeps us going until the next dose of new arrives. We have to get our Magic fix and M13 is no different. With another set comes another cavalcade of cards.
Today I want to look at the ten new cards from Magic 2013 that I think will have the most impact for casual players everywhere. From multiplayer to duels and including all sorts of formats these ten cards really seem to have what it takes to impact the board and your position. What cards should you look for?
Let's take a look!
Honorable Mention: Healer of the Pride
Every Top 10 list should begin with at least one card that just missed the cut so consider this cleric the #11 card on our list. By the way Magmaquake was #12 and also narrowly missed the cut. Ever since Soul Warden saw print we've seen a large number of similar cards join our collections. The ability to the Wardens and their friends has been legendary at multiplayer tables everywhere. Not only do they gain life in normal situations but when combined with combos they go off.
The Healer is more expensive and won't trigger life gain from other players so it's not a Top 5 card. But our good Cat makes up for it with double the life gain for your guys plus she's useful on the table as a 2/3 creature. It's not the biggest body on the block but it matters. The double life gain is nasty in many combos. When combined with the flicking theme of recent sets and white in general this is a potent card. Now let's begin the Top 10!
#10 Attended Knight
There are a few reasons to really support the Knight. First of all you acquire three power of creatures for three mana and two of it has first strike. A removal spell to the Knight leaves behind a 1/1 to keep up the fight. Second of all with all of the various Flicker and self-bounce effects running around right now this is the right time for a cheap on-curve beater who makes a dude. It's almost like this guy was printed in Avacyn Restored. Another reason I like this card is how well he works with #7 below. Don't think I didn't notice!
One change I would have seriously considered because we are following Avacyn Restored would have been to pull Captain of the Watch add a new Soldier enabler and made this make a 1/1 Human Soldier token instead. You can't have multiple effects in the set with one making a 1/1 Soldier and another a 1/1 Human Soldier but the Human aspect would work really well coming on the heels of AVR. However we still have a really strong common that plays well with a lot of cards and themes from White Weenie to Pauper to Tokens and Flicker decks; this seems to have a lot of gas.
Someone always seems to be playing a deck that tosses a lot of cards into their graveyard. Maybe it's just through dredge or perhaps they are using one of many options in Innistrad Block. Whether it's through Forbidden Alchemy Fact or Fiction Wheel of Fortune or whatever else is checking the boxes a lot of cards hit the yard quickly. With so many cards blowing into the discard pile the likelihood of this Phantom being a 5/5 for one mana is very good.
It's never going to be a 5/5 on the first few turns but dropping a beater later for a simple mana while doing other things or after tapping to play Tidings sacrificing a Memory Jar or pumping a storm count this guy can really add to your force for very little. With this much value in many situations and almost always being a respectable 5/5 flyer it can slide into quite a few decks.
Searching your library for a creature and placing it on top is an ability we've have had ever since Worldly Tutor and Sylvan Tutor. We've seen various forms including creatures like Brutalizer Exarch or the Harbinger cycle from Lorwyn. This is one of the best we've seen because it plays so well in different color combinations. Every color combination improves your chance of finding powerful creatures that work with the Tracker. Blue can grab good hexproof creatures (Geist of Saint Traft says hello) black good deathtouch creatures ("Rawr" goes the Grave Titan) and everyone loves trample (Akroma the First Boartusk Liege Bringer of the Blue Dawn Gleancrawler Phantom Nishoba and Simic Sky Swallower come to mind). Then add in reach targets such as Silklash Spider and its Stingerfling friend and you can easily build a powerful deck around the Beast Tracker.
The fact that this is a cheap creature with an enters the battlefield trigger is very potent. Just like Eternal Witness was better than Regrowth despite costing more (because it was on a stick) this guy has a lot of potential. The combo here is significant and works with cards from Call of the Wild and Gate to the Aether through kinship triggers and Proteus Staff. Quest for Ula's Temple can get a counter you can set up Sapling of Colfenor for a massive attack of life gain and draw the card you can find abilities for Skill Borrower play it with Garruk's Horde haste it out with Impromptu Raid find a use for Descendants' Path and so forth. This is a card with a massive amount of power.
Combat is the lifeblood of Magic and any card which changes the rules of combat packs a lot of power. Masako the Humorless was a nice surprise that allowed your tapped creatures to jump in. It's sort of like untapping your creatures and giving them all vigilance but not as good. Odric does something even better. When you attack with a large enough army which includes Odric you make all decisions about blocking. The sheer ability to mess with combat math is staggering. You can rack up card advantage by slaying blockers and deal damage by slipping your important players in. He's sort of like a white Sun Quan Lord of Wu. He makes your whole team unblockable if you want to.
Because he wants to swing to use the ability give him haste with Swiftfoot Boots Lightning Greaves or Sword of Vengeance. Creatures which have abilities when they are unblocked or deal combat damage to a player are guaranteed to hit. The same is true of creatures that trigger when being blocked. Take a look at Laccolith Titan or Sylvan Basilisk. You can trigger ninjutsu or draw cards from Ophidian creatures such as Scroll Thief and more. This is a card with a lot of potential for your decks.
The highest charting legendary creature is probably the least combo-tastic of them (either her or Nefarox). All of the others can work well in various decks but all Yeva does is beat and flash your green dudes. Netting a 4/4 for four mana is great. You can easily drop her on turn 3 with just one piece of acceleration such as Birds of Paradise Llanowar Elves Rampant Growth or Everflowing Chalice. Then your creatures all procure flash as long as they are feeling green.
Flash is one of the most powerful evergreen keywords in multiplayer along with indestructible flying haste and vigilance. Dropping your creatures at the end of another's turn and then untapping allows you to keep your mana up for other effects or instants. You can flash out a creature to block so that permanent which gives you flash acts like a real big rattlesnake on the table shaking that rattle and keeping people away. Then you can flash out a creature to use its ability and trigger that ability at instant speed such as Eternal Witness the aforementioned Beast Tracker or a simple Acidic Slime (which likes Beast Tracker by the way). The result is a powerful ability on top of a creature that is right on curve for your deck.
This is one of those cheap rares that will never be worth more than a buck due to a lack of play in tournaments but which is a big hit for casual land. Like many X spells Diabolic Revelation looks like a bad deal for the first few payments. You tap six mana to Tutor for one card? Horrible! Seven mana for a double Tutor? Horrible! But what about nine mana for four cards? Consider twelve mana to Tutor for seven cards to fetch yourself a new grip. It's like Blaze—it might not be good when X is equal to one or three but what about seven?
The Revelation is amazing in any deck that wants to Tutor for a lot of cards. Perhaps you have a Highlander deck that wants specific cards and can't find them. Maybe you're just rocking a combo deck and want to assemble all of the pieces in one spell. It's not like black can't make the mana *cough* Cabal Coffers*cough*. You have Nirkana Revenant joining artifacts such as Gauntlet of Power and M13 friend Liliana of the Dark Realms. I'm sure you can find the value of this card quite easily when you look at what wants it.
The second highest charting common is also the highest charting creature making the cut solely based on its enters the battlefield ability. For a long time we've had creatures that enter the battlefield and bring you back a sorcery or instant but they cost a lot of mana—see Scrivener and Anarchist from Exodus to witness how far back they go. Other entries have been printed over the years but Archaeomancer is a clean four mana applicant that brings back either one of the two targets and isn't in two colors.
The ability to mono-blue a creature for four mana to bring back a critical spell is priceless. Whether you are recurring something fair such as Tidings or Cancel or something very unfair such as Tinker or Fact or Fiction this is a card with a lot of gas. It fits in many decks and can be acquired for little money down. I look at it like a fair Snapcaster Mage. This is a card that will be played in decks for years and years so make sure you acquire some now. Okay Top 3 time!!!
It might sadden some to see a creature make the Top 3 based on nothing but pure beats. Of course Thragtusk isn't here on pure beats because when it leaves you make a 3/3 dude for your trouble. And you gain five life when it enters the battlefield so there's that too. So let's see what you harvest for a very splashable cost:
Five mana spent: 1). Five life; 2). A 5/3 beater; 3). A 3/3 token when it leaves the battlefield.
Note that you produce the token when it leaves play so a Terminus leaves you with a 3/3 dude. If it's exiled bounced or otherwise taken out you make a guy. Nothing barring a Stifle or Time Stop will prevent you from getting that 3/3 token and that's essentially reaping eight power of creatures after sowing five mana. Note that in this Flicker heavy environment not only will you gain the token from it leaving play but you'll also drink another potion of five life when it comes right back again. A simple Cloudshift or Restoration Angel is downright broken with Thragtusk.
It has high value because of its usefulness in tournaments but it's also a powerhouse for casual land and you can't deny that. I don't think it will be at this high price point forever as many beaters high in play value drop after they fade from tournaments (such as Baneslayer Angel Chameleon Colossus or Loxodon Hierarch). But this card is worth it and you'll be closer to winning for sure.
Yes it's another beater and I know that's sad to some. But WotC has intentionally pushed the power of creatures to make this a game about swinging and slaying and not as much about spells and stuff. Eight of the Top 10 cards in today's list are creatures as well as our honorable mention. Creatures are how you normally win a game and the Hellkite is certainly no exception to that!
For Baneslayer Angel mana you receive a 5/5 flyer with haste who taps down any potential flying blockers and deals a damage to them. I would be shocked if this didn't stay an expensive card throughout its lifespan in Standard because it's a Dragon that's clearly built for Spike. Considering how much Timmys love Dragons and how much Spikes love winning this is a card with high desirability for both camps. It is the Baneslayer Angel of red and Dragons and will always have an iconic power level for the rest of its life. Don't trade those you find and make sure you pick up someone else's. This is not going out of style.
Flying and haste are both two of the most important keywords to have in multiplayer. With haste you can swing first after a board wipe or smash face an extra time before removal drops. Flying can assist in making sure you block flyers and swing over ground pounders. The combination of both is a potent intoxicant as any player of Akroma the First will attest. The sheer value of this Hellkite cannot be overstated or overemphasized and it only misses out on the #1 spot due to a technicality. What common spell beats it and what is that technicality? Let's see the top card on our countdown.
Throughout the ages black has had a lot of spells that destroy a target creature. They've had a lot of different flavor. Many wouldn't kill a black creature while some would stop at taking the life of an artifact dude. Some would allow regeneration and others wouldn't. A few would cost a lot of mana for little bonuses. Another group would have restrictions that made sense in their set such as Chill to the Bone or Rend Flesh. All had a restriction of some sort or a huge casting cost until now. Today we see the printing of the single best pinpoint removal spell ever printed for black.
You can immediately take out every Rend Flesh Eyeblight's Ending Doom Blade and Go for the Throat you have in all of your decks and replace them with this common. In Commander you can add this alongside of them for a lot of power. I suspect that players who build a few decks will need at least 50 copies of Murder for all of the decks it goes in. You might occasionally have a better card for a specific deck such as Expunge in a cycling deck or Spread the Sickness in a proliferate deck. Outside of those specific decks Murder is always going to be the best choice for slaying others because it's an instant and has no targeting restrictions. I would not be surprised to see the foils on these at huge levels.
Now sure it costs an extra black mana over some cheap two-mana options or it's a bit harder on the mana than the single black and two colorless of Eyeblight's Ending but it is worth it. This is casual land and that extra mana is almost never going to matter because it's not like you've been Doom Blading on the second turn consistently. However there are times when you couldn't answer a black creature or Elf or Spirit or whatever. Now you can with one spell. This is your new Terminate and its only weakness is that it allows regeneration (which most removal spells of this era allow as well). Find these and harness them.
Anyway I hope that you enjoyed today's look at my choices for the best casual cards in Magic 2013. There are a lot of cards with a lot of uses and any type of player can show some excitement for the new stuff. After all that's why we constantly look forward to every new set right?