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Attention to Detail #7 - Days Gone By Part 2
by Jordan Kronick
December 30, 2005

Welcome back to Attention to Detail. This week I’m bringing you the second half of my overview of some of the Cards of the Day from 2005 that I didn’t get the chance to review. It’s good fun, and we all know the format by now. So I won’t spend too much time on exposition, but rather just get right to the cards.

Erayo, Soratami Ascendant (reviewed May 31st)

I have to say right off that bat that I love Erayo. I’ve always been a fan of Arcane Laboratory combos, and Erayo represents the ultimate in Arcane Lab technology. I knew Erayo was going to end up unused for the most part. He’s just not the kind of card that shows up in big tournaments. Even with the Lab, it’s a fragile combo. And with the Channel cards that were released at the same time, everyone was given something to do even if they couldn’t cast spells. Erayo isn’t too good in limited, either. Except maybe as a 1/1 flying legend. Having extra legends can sometimes matter. Of course, Erayo did get his day in the sun. When Two-Headed Giant was codified as a format, Erayo stormed (no pun intended) the scene briefly until it earned the distinction as the first (and so far only) card banned in Two-Headed Giant.

Constructed Rating – 2.0
Casual Rating – 3.0
Limited Rating – 2.5

Hand of Honor (reviewed June 9th)

I couldn’t go through all these cards without a word about the Hand. Ever since Alpha came out, white and black have had dueling mirrored creatures. Black Knight and White Knight. Order of the Ebon Hand and Order of Leitbur. Order of Stromgald and Order of the White Shield. Black seemingly got the long end of the stick when it came to these creatures, as they were getting a discount over what a black creature for two could usually do. The same thing happened when the Hands of Honor and Cruelty showed up. For the first time in a long time, however, both side of the coin got some time in the sun. When Kamigawa Block Constructed ramped up, there was a quick black deck and a quick white deck, and both utilized the Hand. How does Hand of Honor stack up against other creatures for WW? Honestly, not so well. The pump knights clearly have the edge, and White and Silver Knight each have First Strike, which is arguably more useful than Bushido. Still, there’s nothing wrong with the Hand.

Constructed Rating – 3.8
Casual Rating – 3.6
Limited Rating – 3.8

Sakashima the Impostor (reviewed June 13th)

The Impostor represents the newest level of Cloning technology. Ever since Alpha, we’ve had Clone, Vesuvan Doppleganger and then all the copies of copiers throughout the years. While Clone seemingly holds the title for best static copy, it’s been a long time since we had a really decent changeable copier. Past shapeshifters to attempt this have either been awful (Escaped Shapeshifter or Shifty Doppleganger) or way, way too good (Morphling or Volrath’s Shapeshifter). Sakashima sits somewhere between these two extremes. While I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Impostor dominating extended any time soon, he’s proven to be tricky enough for some fun. And he does something new – he copies legendary creatures. Since Sakashima keeps his own name, he can let you get extra copies of your legends. That’s always fun, isn’t it?

Constructed Rating – 2.9
Casual Rating – 3.5
Limited Rating – 3.2

Land Tax (reviewed June 24th)

Enough with the new cards. Let’s talk real power. Land Tax seems simple and harmless to a lot of new players. It seemed that way to most people when it first showed up in Legends boosters, way back in the early 90’s. And then someone, somewhere, realized that getting 3 extra cards every turn for a one-time commitment of one white mana is downright ridiculous. It sounds pretty crazy when you say it that way. Land Tax has been combined with just about every conceivable strategy, and almost always produces strong results. Whether it’s being used for the intended role of stripping land out of your deck or used in combination with Scroll Rack to generate ridiculous amounts of non-land cards flowing to your hand, Land Tax is among the best of the best. I don’t think they quite knew what they were printing when it went into 4th edition.

Constructed Rating – 4.8
Casual Rating – 4.8
Limited Rating – 3.9

Bazaar of Baghdad (reviewed July 1st)

Once upon a very long time ago, Bazaar of Baghdad was a “bad” card. It’s value was mostly in nostalgia. It does nothing but generate card disadvantage, after all. Then, similar to Land Tax (and often in conjunction with it), people realized what it was. Bazaar draws two cards for no mana. Sure, the price is hefty, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. Whether you’re discarding three lands that you pulled with Land Tax or three Madness cards or big fat reanimation targets, Bazaar has been proven to be broken beyond reason. If this card has a really big flaw, it is not the discard but rather the fact that it doesn’t tap for mana. Library of Alexandria produced lots of card advantage (once again, a favorite friend of Land Tax – is there anything Tax isn’t good with?) but it also provided a point of colorless if you needed it. That doesn’t mean Bazaar isn’t incredible. I want to make a special note here that the Limited rating I’m giving the Bazaar isn’t just speculation. I’ve had the chance to play Arabian Nights limited, so this is from experience.

Constructed Rating – 4.5
Casual Rating – 4.5
Limited Rating – 4.2

Nekrataal (reviewed July 4th)

‘taal has long been a player favorite, both for casual and constructed. Combining a Terror with a 2/1 First Striker is powerful in itself, and the cost can’t be beat. Back in Mirage-era play, Nekrataal was huge. And now it’s huge again. It showed up in both 8th and 9th edition, and has proven just as popular now as it ever was. My favorite thing about the resurgence of Nekrataal is his new creature type. First there’s the Human part. We never really were sure whether or not it was human, but I guess so. And then there’s the Assassin part. Nekrataal makes Assassin tribal (a favorite of mine) way more effective. Simple, elegant and effective.

Constructed Rating – 3.8
Casual Rating – 3.8
Limited Rating – 3.9

Karplusan Yeti (reviewed July 14th)

I have to start this one with a complaint. My favorite part of Karplusan Yeti was the beautiful Ice Age art by Quinton Hoover. His beautiful smooth tones and sharp lines have always been favorites of mine. And the Yeti is particularly hilarious. The focus of the art is the two characters in the foreground. It takes a moment to notice the Yeti sneaking up behind them and crunching one of their friends. Because the art is so pretty, this card always came up high in my list of cool old cards. But the 9th edition art just leaves something to be desired. It’s very literal. There’s the yeti. Yep, he’s just standing there looking ugly. Ah well. When it comes to power, the Yeti actually does have some significant numbers. He wasn’t the first card to utilize this kind of ability (or the best – that would be Contested Cliffs). But creatures that can smack other creatures for at least 3 points every turn are real strong in limited. Yeti can control the swarms of little guys very well and take out problem creatures like Master Decoy. He gets an A for effort.

Constructed Rating – 2.4
Casual Rating – 2.9
Limited Rating – 3.5

Hypnotic Specter (reviewed July 22nd)

Ah, Hyppie. I imagine that somewhere in the world, a pack of Alpha was opened and someone found both a Dark Ritual and a Hypnotic Specter together. And that person gets the title of first person to recognize how powerful this could be on the first turn. Back when the number of cards that could quickly deal with this were limited to Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt, Hyppie was a dominating force. Then he disappeared for years. With 9th edition, a whole new crop of players get to dream of the first-turn Hyppie (or they would, if they knew what a Dark Ritual was). He’s shown up in tournament decks already and the price on Magic Online is absolutely out of control. The new art puts Hyppie in line with the other specters, and looks pretty sweet to boot. I must say I don’t like that we didn’t get the old flavor text back, but I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

Constructed Rating – 3.7
Casual Rating – 3.8
Limited Rating – 3.8

Counsel of the Soratami (reviewed July 26th)

Counsel represents something of a sore spot for me. I think R&D has gone a bit too far when it comes to toning down blue’s instant-speed card draw. Counsel entered 9th edition as a replacement for Inspiration. Was Inspirating really that powerful? Did it really need to get the axe? I don’t think so. Sure, this way we get a cheaper spell, but blue mages like to keep their options open and the lack of that makes Counsel just a little too junky. When, for one more blue mana, we get Concentrate, Counsel just seems outclassed. I didn’t play Counsel in my Kamigawa draft decks, and I don’t play it in my 9th edition decks either. Consider it a form of protest.

Constructed Rating – 1.8
Casual Rating - 2.5
Limited Rating – 2.8

Berserk (reviewed August 5th)

For years, Berserk was my favorite Magic card. Those years started when I opened my first one about a week after I started playing and ended when I discovered the mind-bending sillyness that is Chains of Mephistopheles. Back before the Chains warped my brain, I was a huge fan of incredible aggressive red/green decks. Ball Lightning, Blood Lust, Berserk. Six mana for a 20/1 hasted trampler. I came up with a million ways to make it happen on turn two. Orcish Lumberjack was the last piece to that puzzle, for sure. For years, Berserk remained restricted in Type 1. It was a holdover from a time when green decks with big creatures actually had a chance in the format. Then they unrestricted it and everyone drew a sharp breath. But nothing happened. Berserk is a product of a bygone era. Sure, it’s still way too powerful by today’s standards. But compared to the things that dominate its legal formats, it just can’t compete.

Constructed Rating – 3.6
Casual Rating – 4.0
Limited Rating – 3.9

Shahrazad (reviewed August 9th)

Another old favorite of mine. It was banned for years due to its unusual effect. Then they unbanned it in Vintage. And I jumped on that opportunity. I built a strong version of my Chains of Mephistopheles deck, notorious for supplying long games. Then I loaded up the sideboard with four copies of Shahrazad and four Burning Wishes. I played a couple matches only in the one tournament where I tried this deck that this came into play, but it was a blast. The tournament was using a 50-minute round structure, perfect for my deck. I would spend half an hour at least winning my first game. Then I would board in the Shahrazad engine. I created so many sub-games that there was no way for my opponent to win the one game that mattered. I got three 1-0 wins in that tournament. Then I sold my Shahrazads because I knew that I could never use them again and avoid getting beaten up in an alley.

Constructed Rating – 1.0 (or 4.0 if you like getting dirty looks from your opponent when you win on a technicality)
Casual Rating – 5.0
Limited Rating – 1.0

Blood Clock (reviewed August 15th)

Here we are, back in the modern era. Blood Clock is a functional reprint of an old favorite of mine, Umbilicus. It’s got a lot of little things going on with it that makes it lots of fun. It lets you reuse your comes-into-play effects. It (probably) slows down your opponent. And when it doesn’t, it drains their life. Umbilicus was a big friend to Sarcomancy, back in the day. We don’t have any 1-mana Zombie generators these days, but there’s some fun choices anyhow. Blood Clock isn’t going to break any records on the Pro Tour, but it’s a fun favorite for casual, and I’m glad a new crew of players get a chance to try it.

Constructed Rating – 2.0
Casual Rating – 3.9
Limited Rating – 2.4

Imaginary Pet (reviewed August 23rd)

I’ve always liked the Pet. I’ve never had much use for it, but I think that might change. Pet has a couple things going for it. First of all, and most simply, it provides a decent blocker in the early game. That’s something blue can often really make use of. Secondly, it’s a decent sized creature that comes into play repeatedly. There’s a number of ways to take advantage of this. Thirdly, it plays nice with aggressive decks. Blue isn’t usually known for aggressive strategies, and likes to keep lots of cards in hand. But if you can keep those cards on the table, instead… well, then the Imaginary Pet becomes very, very real. Among the 4/4s for 2 mana that exist, this is not too bad.

Constructed Rating – 2.3
Casual Rating - 3.4
Limited Rating – 3.3

Stormbind (reviewed September 2nd)

Remember that big Berserk-powered red green deck I was talking about earlier? Stormbind was the backup plan. A cheap reusable source of direct damage. Just what the doctor ordered. If only we’d had madness cards back then, I coulda been a contender! Stormbind is also really cool looking. It’s not too often that a red/green card gets some cool wintery looking art (even in the Ice Age). Stormbind isn’t too effective in tournament play anymore. It’s far too slow and outclassed by later cards that used the same theory. Still, I keep one in my 5-color deck. It’s just too cool not to.

Constructed Rating – 1.9
Casual Rating – 3.6
Limited Rating – 4.0

Boros Guildmage (reviewed September 5th)

The first Ravnica card to show up in this pair of articles. I want to make mention of it because I think my opinion has shifted. Back in September I was of the opinion that the Boros Legion was going to be outclassed in Ravnica drafting. I’ve had my change of heart. I’ve seen the way. Boros Guildmage is now a very high pick for me. First strike is a huge asset and even the haste ability matters. The hybrid mana cost makes it easy to cast, and even splashes into non-Boros decks. That’s going to matter even more once Guildpact comes out. All three of the Guildpact guilds (the Gruul, the Orzhov and the Izzet) can make use of Boros Guildmage. Sure, it’s a little harder to cast, but each will find a use for it, I guarantee.

Constructed Rating – 2.8
Casual Rating – 2.5
Limited Rating – 3.8

Glimpse the Unthinkable (reviewed September 16th)

Back when I first saw this card, I was ecstatic. I thought that finally milling was going to return to the fold as a reasonable constructed archetype. I was wrong. The Dimir have proven valuable, but for aggressive creature strategies of all things. I’ve only owned one or two Glimpses. Both were drafted very high, as I firmly believe that Dimir Milling is still the best draft archetype out there for RRR. However, I sold them quickly. I’m glad that Glimpse the Unthinkable exists. But it’s just not going to get its chance.

Constructed Rating – 2.6
Casual Rating – 3.1
Limited Rating – 3.6

Plague Boiler (reviewed September 22nd)

Here’s another one that people thought would really take off. And it hasn’t. Plague Boiler turned out to be just what it advertises. It’s a slightly uncontrollable time bomb. Sure, it can clear the board... but can it do it when you want it to? The boiler is still a huge draft card, where any board sweeper is in high demand. And it’s certainly useful as a cheap sweeper for people who can’t afford the more expensive options in their Prismatic decks. Like Glimpse before it, I’m glad it exists.

Constructed Rating – 2.5
Casual Rating – 3.0
Limited Rating – 3.7

Selesnya Guildmage (reviewed October 1st)

Who’d have thought this would turn out to be a format-defining card? For those of you who don’t know what I’m babbling about, I’m talking RRR drafting. Glare of Subdual is generally regarded as the best limited card in the set. And the Guildmage is certainly the best uncommon. It not only combines with the above-mentioned Glare, but provides a game winning scenario all on its own. It splashes into both Boros and Golgari decks with strong results. When Guildpact comes out, it goes into the Gruul and Orzhov with equally predictable results. Selesnya Guildmage is going to remain a top pick for the entirety of Ravnica block limited.

Constructed Rating – 2.8
Casual Rating – 3.2
Limited Rating – 4.1

Vinelasher Kudzu (reviewed October 5th)

I love the Kudzu! I was a huge fan of Quirion Dryad, back in Planeshift. The Kudzu is a card in the same vein. Maybe not quite as ridiculous, but certainly just as neat. It’s cheap and it gets progressively larger. That’s the kind of card that green has always had, but usually hasn’t had a use for. Kudzu actually shows that this kind of slow-building card can really matter. I fully expect at least two different Ravnica Block Constructed decks will be sporting the Plant Attack, in the coming year.

Constructed Rating – 3.8
Casual Rating – 3.8
Limited Rating – 3.6

Blood Funnel (reviewed October 12th)

They can’t all be winners. Blood Funnel is awful. Sometimes it’s a good cleanser for the mind to look at something that just stinks. And I’ve looked at this card a lot. It’s such a seemingly powerful effect. Cost reducers have been broken over and over again in Magic’s history. But not the Funnel. Some day, someone is going to put the ‘Fun’ back in Funnel, but it won’t be today.

Constructed Rating – 0.2
Casual Rating – 2.0
Limited Rating – 0.1

Darkblast (reviewed October 24th)

I want to come up with a personal title for Darkblast. It’s not my favorite Dredge card (that’s Life from the Loam). It’s not my favorite Ravnica removal card (that’s Last Gasp). It’s not my favorite black card from Ravnica (that’s Dark Confidant). But I really like it. I really do. Darkblast has worked its way into my RBC Dimir deck as an answer to little problem guys. It’s worked its way into my BU control deck for Standard as a way of controlling WW decks and killing Dark Confidants. I think Darkblast is one of those blue collar cards that just does it’s job and does it well. Here’s to you, Darkblast.

Constructed Rating – 3.5
Casual Rating – 3.2
Limited Rating – 3.5

Firemane Angel (reviewed November 4th – Pojo’s 1000th card of the day)

I had to get in on the 1000th review, even if it did happen the week before I arrived to the writing pool. So what can I say about Firemane? It’s great. It’s seeing lots of play in block and it’s a huge draft bomb. It gets a lot of casual play and nobody seems to think it’s overpowered. It’s classy. It looks good. It’s fun. It’s everything you could want in an angel. Kind of a dull note to end on, I suppose. But it is what it is.

Constructed Rating – 3.6
Casual Rating – 3.8
Limited Rating – 3.9

That’s it for 2005! I’ll be back next week with some resolutions and maybe a bit of news. Anything can happen in 2006 – it’s the fuuuuuture! Until then, don’t let old acquaintance be forgot.

 

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