Review: Armored Guardian

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Penetecost.

Discussion:

I remember cracking open the very pack that holds the Armored Guardian inside my stack to this day. It was during an Invasion limited event of some kind. I remember looking at it somewhat confused and wondering exactly what the hell it was supposed to be–both from a fluff and gameplay perspective. It’s a”Guardian”, sure… what is it a cat, an ape, or what? And what’s with the supremely stupid hat with the little banner coming off of it?

In game I was equally confused initially as well, because I was wondering who the hell has enough mana to use those abilities after casting a 2/5 for five? It turned out it was actually an ok ability for stalemates but not a whole lot else. Armored Guardian was just kind of a confused mess.

But infinite mana has a way of sorting out things that are even grossly unclear. For Armored Guardian, the guiding hand of copious resources makes his job pretty obvious; he’s support staff for your whole team, handing out invincible auras and remaining largely untouchable by himself. In a way, Armored Guardian might be considered too powerful for Stack because he’s pretty tough to kill once he’s on the table, and extends these immunities to the other creatures you control. It’s truly devastating. But I haven’t seen him single-handedly escape with a game yet, and on his own, with only 2 power he can’t really hose a table down all that quickly.

Overcosted pile of crap in other formats. Perfect Type 4 card.

Overall: Five rugby-cap banners out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

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Review: Karador, Ghost Chieftan

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Solid staple fo sho.

Discussion:

This card ended up swapping places in my mind with The Mimeoplasm after they had been released and got some pretty serious play at my local groups. I was intially worried that Karador would eb the big enabler for extremely boring, slow, repetitive graveyard recursion decks but the truth was the Mimeoplasm ended up being worse. Part of this is because Karador is relatively fair with lots of innate balancing, and part of it was there’s no blue in his colour identity. Either way, I’m pleased to report Karador should go into just about any stack, but can go into them safely without much fear of producing too many groans.

The fact is that by himself, he sucks. He needs the game to develop, and can only draw on tricks your opponents have presumably already dealt with. It just means he’s very good without threatening to overpower the game. While he can be a bit crazy with some of the Flash creatures if you can combine it with a means to sacrifice them (Bogardan Hellkite jumps to mind), those are rare Rube Goldberg machine scenarios that are still disruptable at many points.

Factor in the fact that he has an awesome ghost bear partying up with him on the side and there’s no substantial reason to protest using Karador in any stack.

Overall: Four reversed expectations out of five

Review: Mirrorweave

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 5

Stack Status:
Stacker Pentecost. Man, I’m getting a lot of must-haves for review lately.

Discussion:

I’m sure you can imagine some of the things this card can do. Mirrorweave is, in general, a pretty high-impact card regardless of environment because the effect is big and undercosted in my view. Whether you’re turning a bunch of 2/2s and 3/3s into 1/1s for defensive trades in Cube or turning a swarm of junk utility ETB disposable bodies into 8/8 tramplers in EDH, when Mirrorweave gets played, it’s going down. Obviously, the craziness is directly proportional to the creatures available in play. So in Type 4, where you’re essentially playing with a compilation of the most elite and inefficient screaming T-Rex predators, Silverback alphas and other assorted metaphors for big-ass ass-stomping assheads, then Mirrorweave is liable to make boards blow up.

I will provide a ward of caution; when creatures that you can target are in the vein of Bloodfire Colossus, employing some caution in where and when you use Mirrorweave is pretty important. It can absolutely backfire, especially if somebody copies it in an inopportune way or has Flash creatures or something. When the numbers get big enough, small changes in the math make a huge difference. Don’t get killed by your own Mirrorweave play.

On the other hand, if you’re about to lose, feel free to play a quick, chaos-inducing Mirrorweave to mess with everyone before you ‘gracefully’ step out. It’s the classy thing to do.

Overall: Four and a half ass asses out of five

Review: Awe Strike

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
Staple.

Discussion:

A combination of being an obvious throwaway limited card and a CMC of one really conspire to keep this card out of the extra-flossy Type 4 limelight, but the fact is that Type 4’s bizarre, high-numbers environment actually makes this card playable. In just about any other context, this card just doesn’t do enough. It sort of delays the inevitable, chews up a draw step, and yadda yadda. You probably know exactly why this sucks. But when you’re preventing getting clobbered for 6-10 damage, and GAINING that life in an environment where the board might change radically enough soon that you don’t have to worry about being a good target anymore–suddenly Awe Strike is actually pretty appealing.

Couple that with people’s tendacy to do ‘infinite damage’ to something with a creature like Scourge of Kher Ridges, and suddenly this card can win you games. That’s not too shabby.

Lifegain is reasonably useful, Fogs are pretty good, the numbers are out of whack. Put it all together and suddenly Awe Strike is quite playable despite all your perfectly valid instincts to throw it into the garbage.

Overall: Three ascensions from garbageland out of five

Review: Brilliant Ultimatum

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

Fact or Fiction is like Mulldrifer in a lot of ways; it’s a very good card, it’s fun to play with, but people also just say it’s really good because they hear people say it is that they respect or want to be. Unlike Mulldrifter, Fact Or Fiction also isn’t so skullfuckingly obviously good and requires some finesse to play with and around.

So Brilliant Ultimatum is a super Fact or Fiction. This takes away all the subtlety and nuance but replaces it with Earth-shattering power. It’s obvious for Type 4 in every way. Take it and ALWAYS rip on the guy who splits the piles while secretly knowing you have no idea what you would have done, and always act like another split was SOOOOO obviously better.

MAGIC IS A SKILLZ GAEM

Overall: Five Mulldrifters out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

Review: Maelstrom Nexus

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

With absolutely no *6* scores and–spoiler alert–no Glare of Approval, you might be wonder if after a couple hundred of these reviews whether I’m losing my touch.

Maybe you’re right.

…well… I guess that aside, there’s a good reason for that. This is an obviously-powerful card and I think the ratings reflect that but the random nature of cascade hampers it a lot, and that’s when you get to actually use it. For all that potential it carries, keep in mind that you need to cast spells to use the cascade, you can only cast one spell per turn, and a lot of those spells are going to be lower-cost instants on opponents turns trying to cascade into other low-cost instants. The result can be a sort of ‘traffic jam’ of spells where you’re flipping untimely counterspells and bounce spells that are good, but require precise application to make efficient and effective. Malestrom Nexus is like loading those into a shotgun and just spraying the scene.

Another side-effect is that if you get enough of those low-cost Cascades off, you find your deck is lacking those ‘transitional’ spells that give you a lot of your action and interaction, and you’re just drawing big, sorcery-speed windmill slammers. That said, if you get off enough triggers you’ll probably be winning by that point, so whatever.

Overall: Five lonely drinks out of five

Review: Eternal Dragon

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
Reasonable inclusion.

Discussion:

Eternal Dragon is a card I’ll always imagine is more valuable than it actually is, because I longed for a set back int he day but didn’t have the money for it as I was super-broke. Now that I’m rolling in Internet Website money and can easily afford them, I don’t really want them anymore and even in Type 4 he’s a bit milquetoast. There’s nothing offensive or poor in terms of Eternal Dragon’s performance; he’s a dragon, he comes back, and continues to dragon around doing dragon thangs. But that’s a kind of narrow lane, and you can usually switch things up with a better Main Phase spell than “5/5 Flyer REPEAT FOREVER”. Worth including? Yes, especially in bigger stacks. A mandatory big-money player? Absolutely not. In long, grindy games or instant-heavy decks his value goes up but otherwise, he’s pretty meh.

Also a card victimized by a recent reprint, which is excellent, with awful art, which is unfortunate. The original art is sublime. The new art is some albino lizard on steroids eating it’s own tail.

Overall: Three Internet Website cheques out of five

Review: Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Hoss money hustlin

Discussion:

What is it with black and white legends and posting up on thrones? I mean, make no mistake. It’s a boss look. Peep game at the wonderful heritage of this power pose through the ages.

Behold, Richard the Lionheart. A well-known badass of the middle ages who did the following:

  • His one-two thang

And didn’t:

  • Give a fuck

While this is an early prototype of the “throne post-up” image, you’ll notice it lacks some of the common later features like getting a nasty gangsta lean to the one side, especially with the fist propping up the head. However, it’s a solid foundation for one of the most based poses in history.

Conan the Cimmerian. Popularized by the classic Arnold flick in the 70s, Conan’s dope-ass roots are often tragically overlooked by nerds in favour of garbage like Lord of the Million Boring Pages. But make no mistake, Conan is like an olde-type Scarface who came up through the ranks and ended up doing the above after vanquishing everything from horrendeous ape-creatures summoned from beyond what a sane mind can process to regular ass thugs in a bar. And as you’ve probably noticed, he does it in style. Look at those armrests.

Don’t go getting it twisted and thinking only men have throne game. This image should probably have a TRIGGER WARNING for EXCESSIVE BALLIN. Queen Elizabeth II turns the throne scene on it’s head with throwing a forward posture and a scepter intot he mix, implying she doesn’t even need to use force like Conan and Richard; instead she can either politically dominate her enemies, or she has thugs to handle that nastiness for her. When you don’t need to get your hands dirty like some street soldier in a criminal organization, it’s time to start bumping Ghostface’s “We Made It”.

Then, we end up with Vish Kal. Yeah he’s alright.

Overall: Four overdue analysis of throne sittings out of five

Review: Evangelize

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost. 9 CMC with Buyback? C’mon son.

Discussion:

Inspired by one of the all-time greats, Preacher, Evangelize presents an even more likable package for Type 4. None of that ‘summoning sickness’ horseshit, no risk of the creature getting blown the fuck out, nothing. Just as the art depicts; a disembodied voice from the sky with an accompanying Price-styled laser show and a new creature is yours. This is pretty obviously a good card for Type 4 but you may be surprised by the distinct lack of an Academy-sanctioned image of Idris Elba at the bottom of the review letting you know he’s ddisdainful but knows the card is question is too baller not to recognize as such.

The issue is that when you’re using Evangelize, you tend to get in this Evangelize loop where you’re stealing creatures but not doing anything else. You steal a guy, your opponent kills it. You steal a guy, somebody forces you to block with it. Nobody seems like they’re going anywhere, and eventually, you cast something else just to mix it up. The trick with Evangelize is realizing it’s often NOT the best-value move. Don’t fall back on it. Use it occasionally (also to prevent the counterspell messing with it), recognize it’s powerful, but also remember everything in your hand is pretty strong is is often a better play even if it seems to present less ‘value’.

Overall: Four and a half Preachers out of five

Review: Isperia, Supreme Judge

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 3
Staple. It’s not a super-Stack-y card or anything, but certainly fits.

Discussion:

This is a really good card that unfortunately happens to just be in a category of cards I don’t especially like. It’s decentĀ on it’s own. The six power on a flying body is nice. But the ability is something your opponents have 100% control over. While attacking people is usually going to happen, you never know when, and your opponents might decide to wait for Isperia to disappear before doing so. Or, as I recently witnessed, they might say “If anybody removes Isperia, I’ll attack whoever they want.” This type of card is supposed to turn eyes away from the person controlling it, but every now and then you play with a bunch of stubborn bastards who resent being told what to do and will turn it around on you badly.

The other thing is that this is a ‘new’ card that was just obviously designed to be hammered into decks for being generally ‘good’. It’s not especially interesting or unique, it’s just ‘good’. So boring. Ugh. Although to me most of the new Ravnica block fit into that category.

– incoherent mumbling shit-talk –

Overall: Three and a half bitter endings out of five