Check Out the Quality Uncommons Cards from Saviors
by Jeff Zandi
June 3rd, 2005
uncommon cards found in Saviors of Kamigawa are uncommonly
good for limited play. In last week’s article, I rated each
common card in Magic’s newest expansion with respect to each
card’s value in limited formats like booster draft and
sealed deck. This week, we turn our attention to the
fifty-five uncommons of the set.
I believe the relative quality of the uncommons in Saviors
of Kamigawa is easier to determine than the commons. That’s
the good news. The bad news is that you have a lot fewer
uncommon cards available to you in limited formats. You
definitely have to make the most of the good uncommon cards
that come your way in order to end up with an above average
After another week of playing with Saviors of Kamigawa, I am
prepared to stand behind the ratings that I gave the commons
of Saviors last week. At the same time, I am certain that as
each week passes, there will be cards from the set that
seemed terrible at first glance that will emerge as very
important cards. As subtle as some of the commons of the set
are, I find that the uncommons are just the opposite. The
uncommons of Saviors reveal their value, or lack thereof,
for booster draft and sealed deck in a much more
In each color, I have rated the cards from worst to best,
with regard to their usefulness in limited formats.
5. Ivory Crane Netsuke causes you to gain four life at the
beginning of your upkeep anytime you have seven or more
cards in your hand. Snore! Gain life cards are generally too
defensive to fit into the better limited decklists.
Wizards is constantly attempting to lure players into the
warm, cuddly embrace of Gain Life Cards. I hope this one
doesn’t pull too many of you offsides.
4. Ebony Owl Netsuke is a lot like its cousin described
above, except that this one deals damage to your opponent at
the beginning of his turns when he has seven or more cards
in his hand. The biggest problem with both of these cards,
of course, is the simple fact that neither you nor your
opponent are going to start your turn very often already
holding seven cards. Hey, Zanman, how can we remember which
of these Netsukes is which? Here is a simple trick to keep
these two cards straight in your memory. Ebony Owl Netsuke
features an owl in its artwork. An owl is also the mascot
and trademark for Hooter’s. A lot of people find Hooter’s
OFFENSIVE because it caters to men and employs primarily
buxom ladies who serve you wearing low-cut t-shirts. The
Ebony Owl’s power is OFFENSIVE because it deals damage to
your opponent. Now that you have these two cards straight in
your mind, forget about both of them and don’t put them in
your limited decks.
3. Soratami Cloud Chariot costs WAY TOO MUCH at five
However, the Cloud Chariot then gives you two very
interesting abilities, one offensive and one mostly
defensive. For two mana, you can give a creature you control
flying or prevent all damage dealt to and by target creature
you control until end of turn. One downside of this card is
that you can only target creatures that you control, but the
biggest problem is that this artifact simply costs too much.
The world of Kamigawa drafting slows down a good bit with
the addition of Saviors, but I find it hard to believe that
its going to slow down enough to make the Soratami Cloud
Chariot a good card. Call it slightly playable at best.
2. O-Naginata is a very good card because it provides a
colorless way to give any creature you control the very
enviable Trample ability. Of course, the creature in
question has to have a power of three or greater in order to
be equipped with O-Naginata. Of course, once equipped, your
creature not only gains Trample but +3/+0 as well. This is a
quite a payoff, and one that I think makes O-Naginata a very
high pick for two kinds of decks, decks with lots of
creatures with a power of three or more, and decks that have
power-up effects. In a green deck, if I didn’t have a three
power creature in play already, I would think seriously of
spending a giant growth type spell to give a creature the
higher power needed to allow it to be equipped with O-Naginata.
1. Manriki-Gusari is slightly better than O-Naginata all the
time, and A LOT better some of the time. Imagine, equipment
that is cheap to cast, cheap to equip that gives any
creature +1/+2 (making this card a reusable Holy
Strength) that ALSO has the ability to destroy other
equipment. Equipment may not be as big a deal in the
Kamigawa block as it was in the Mirrodin block, but the
ability to get rid of an opponent’s equipment will
definitely come in handy sometimes. This is clearly the best
of the five uncommon artifacts in the set.
10. Dense Canopy seems pretty useless to me. No one
understands better than me how dangerous it can be when I’m
playing green and my opponent is playing a bunch of flying
creatures. However, the problem is generally that they are
attacking with their flyers while I have no creatures
capable of blocking them. This card doesn’t solve the
important problem that green has with flyers.
9. Haru-Onna does a nice thing, allowing you to draw cards,
an unusual ability for green. However, the price is high.
This card costs way too much mana (3G) for far too little.
8. Molting Skin sounded okay to me at first, and I’ve tried
it in a few decks, but I think this card is too slow to be
ultimately valuable in limited play.
7. Seek the Horizon is exactly the kind of card you DON’T
want to be playing on turn four. On turn four, you need to
be playing cards that put threats on your side of the board
or get rid of threats on the other side of the board.
The most obvious problem with this card is that it solves a
problem, the need for mana, only after you are able to pay
FOUR MANA to cast it. On the plus side, you can’t minimize
the effect of getting three cards from your library for the
cost of just one card from your hand. Obviously, this card
loads up your hand with cards, which can certainly be an
important factor in Saviors of Kamigawa. In the end, I find
this card to be too situational to be very useful.
6. Descendant of Masumaro is suboptimal because it depends
on situations outside of your control. Namely, the number of
cards in your opponent’s hand. The turn you play this Human
Monk, he’s just a 2/1. At the beginning of your next turn,
he will get bigger or smaller depending on the difference in
the number of cards in your hand and the number of cards in
your opponent’s hand. This COULD be a good card for you on
turn three, but how good will he be when you top deck him on
turn eleven? Not very good. This card is situational, it can
be good or bad. Let’s try to draft cards that are good ALL
5. Kashi-Tribe Elite gives Legendary Snakes you control the
ability to not be targeted by spells or abilities, but the
real value of this card is his
2/3 body for three mana and his ability to keep creatures
that it deals damage to tapped. For an uncommon, this card
is not particularly exciting or valuable to your deck most
of the time.
4. Stampeding Serow is amazing, a 5/4 Beast with Trample
that, by way of downside, requires you to return a green
creature to your hand at the beginning of your turn. Count
me in! This card gives you WAY TOO MUCH power on the table
for WAY TOO LITTLE risk. Yup, you better include some little
green creatures in your deck, no problem, it’s a small price
to pay to have a creature of this magnitude available to you
on turn four.
3. Kami of the Tended Garden is slightly better, in my
opinion, than the mighty Stampeding Serow simply because it
gives you less to worry about. A
4/4 for four mana is downright SICK, and the downside of
having to pay one green mana during your upkeep seems MORE
THAN FAIR. Early in the game, count on attacking a lot with
this guy. They even gave this guy Soulshift 3.
2. Ghost-Lit Nourisher gives you a dependable way to pump a
The activation cost of this card is high, but in aggressive
decks, this will not matter as much as you think. You attack
with a creature, if your creature is blocked and the +2/+2
from the Nourisher would destroy the opponent’s creature and
keep yours alive, go ahead and pay the big activation cost
with your head held high, you just achieved what we in the
business like to call CARD ADVANTAGE. Many times, your
attacker will NOT be blocked simply because of the threat
posed by your Nourisher. If they don’t attack, and you would
like to cast another creature that turn, feel free to NOT
activate the Nourisher. Definitely DO NOT save mana to
protect the Nourisher itself from effects that deal a single
point of damage. If your opponent can get rid of the
Nourisher, that will have to just have to happen. The
Nourisher is in your deck to use on your attackers.
1. Briarknit Kami is the best uncommon green card in the set
because it provides an effect very close to card advantage
every time you play a Spirit or Arcane card with it in play.
Free, permanent +1/+1 counters are unbelievably good in
limited play. This creature’s ability can help your team
become too big to deal with in a big hurry. If you are
playing green/white or green/blue, your +1/+1 counters will
seem even bigger when they land on your flying creatures.
The ability to add these counters in response to your
opponent’s effects is another important strategic advantage
that this card give you.
10. Footsteps of the Goryo is quite a bad spell. It ALMOST
says “put a creature from your graveyard into play, then
return it to the graveyard”.
What I DO like about this card is its ability to put a
Soulshift card back into play in order to ultimately return
a Spirit card to your hand from the graveyard. Frankly,
there are plenty of better cards in the world of Kamigawa to
use to return a creature to your hand from the graveyard. If
this card was an instant, it would be very playable, giving
you the ability to surprise an opponent’s attacking creature
with an instant blocker from your graveyard. If this card
gave the returned creature Haste, it might be playable. As
it is, this card isn’t very good at all.
9. Measure of Wickedness gives you a complicated way to
POSSIBLY cause your opponent to lose eight life points. This
card is like a time bomb that you hope you can hand off to
your opponent before it explodes in your face.
Obviously, you wouldn’t play this card unless you had a way
to move it to your opponent’s control before the end of the
turn. Even when you do pull this part of the trick off, you
have no way of controlling whether your opponent is able to
ship this card right back over to your side of the net.
No matter who ends up losing the eight life points, your
deck is worse because YOU are the one who decided to include
this card in your deck.
8. Exile into Darkness gives you a renewable way, at a heavy
cost of five mana, to make your opponent sacrifice a
creature of three or less mana cost.
In most games, this card will cause your opponent to lose an
average of one creature, and the opponent gets to choose
which creature he sacrifices. This card is too hard to
depend on. Look elsewhere for creature removal.
7. Locust Miser gives you a 2/2 creature for 2BB and reduces
your opponent’s maximum hand size by two cards. Not quite
valuable enough. I know, I know, if you manage to get a
couple of these in play at the same time, your opponent’s
hand size will be greatly reduced. In the meantime, your
chances of winning are becoming greatly reduced as you
continue to pay four mana for
2/2 creatures with no board-changing capabilities.
6. Ghost-Lit Stalker is a little guy, but his ability to
make your opponent discard TWO cards is quite mighty.
Moreover, he’s a one-drop and a Spirit creature as well.
This card’s ultimate power level is quite high for a one
mana cost 1/1 creature.
5. Kemuri-Onna is a 3/3 Spirit that makes your opponent
discard a card when it comes into play. Normally, I doubt
you would want to use this card’s secondary ability very
often, which is to return Kemuri-Onna to your hand whenever
you play another Spirit or Arcane spell.
4. Skull Collector is a big, really big, 3/3 for just three
Regeneration for 1B keeps this guy coming back again and
again. On the downside, you have to return a black creature
to your hand at the beginning of your turn. This might be a
bigger downside with this creature than with others with the
similar stipulation because Skull Collector is only 3/3 as
opposed to the 5/4 trampler you get with the similar green
uncommon. Still, I like this Skull Collector a lot.
3. Hand of Cruelty is the second coming of Black Knight, he
is a 2/2 Samurai with Bushido 1 and protection from white
for just two black mana. Black and white are the two most
popular colors in Kamigawa limited play, making Hand of
Cruelty (and his white twin brother Hand of Honor) very
valuable cards in the current limited formats.
2. Razorjaw Oni is a monstrous 4/5 Demon Spirit for just 3B.
In order to allow us to have such a BIG creature for such a
LOW mana cost, Wizards of the Coast R&D have given Razorjaw
Oni the “downside” of making all black creatures unable to
block. I don’t know about you, but when I have a 4/5 monster
in play, I’m thinking about attacking, not blocking.
1. Kiku’s Shadow is the best black uncommon in the set for
limited play. As good as several of the uncommon black
creatures are, you simply cannot beat a removal card that
can destroy almost any of the creatures in the Kamigawa
block for just two black mana. Black removal in Kamigawa
almost always limits itself to destroying non-black
creatures. See Befoul and see also Horobi’s Whisper. This
card is probably the best single target removal spell in the
entire Kamigawa block.
10. Presence of the Wise will probably be a part of some
very successful combo deck in constructed play. In limited
play, I can’t imagine a worse card. Simply put, this card
can’t help you win, it can only help delay losing.
9. Inner-Chamber Guard is functionally a wall (oops, I
forgot that Wizards doesn’t make walls anymore…I meant a
creature with the Defender ability).
However, this card’s cheap casting cost and Bushido 2 make
it possibly useful in more defensive white decks in limited
8. Aether Shockwave is an instant, and this is the most
important reason this card could be good enough to play
sometimes. Played at the end of an opponent’s turn, you
could find yourself attacking while the greater number of
your opponent’s creatures are tapped. However, this card is
situational and not particularly cheap at four mana. You
certainly don’t want more than one of this in your deck at
7. Ghost-Lit Redeemer a 1/1 for one mana that you can tap to
gain two life.
While this is still a very defensive card, the ability to
gain two life a turn for just one mana is interesting. In a
pinch, you can discard Ghost-Lit Redeemer to gain four life
by using its 1W mana cost Channel ability.
6. Nikko-Onna is a little unusual in the world of Kamigawa.
Most creature abilities in Kamigawa require your creature to
be in play already to activate, or else require your
creature to be sacrificed. Nikko-Onna delivers the goods
when this 2/2 Spirit comes into play. The goods, in this
case, is the ability to destroy target enchantment. Be
careful, though, because this is NOT an ability you can
ignore, meaning you don’t want to cast her when you are the
only player with enchantments in play. The ability to return
Nikko-Onna to your hand makes this card the ultimate answer
to opponent’s enchantments.
5. Charge Across the Araba is a great finishing card,
allowing you to give all of your creatures a big pump up for
a final attack, or even simply to swing combat unexpectedly
in your favor when several of your creatures become blocked.
4. Eiganjo Free-Riders is, at worst, a 3/ 4 flying wall
(oops, I did it again, I meant DEFENDER) that you have to
recast each turn. At best, this card is a potent three
powered flyer that simply requires you to recast some OTHER
white creature every turn. Very playable in any white deck,
but probably better in more defensive, control minded deck
3. Hail of Arrows is a rarity in Magic, a white instant that
can remove multiple creatures from your opponent’s side of
the board while leaving your own army intact. It is true
that opponent’s will know something is up when you pass the
turn with large amounts of untapped mana, but I doubt it
will stop them from attacking with plenty of creatures to
turn your Hail of Arrows in to literal card advantage.
2. Descendant of Kiyomaro is a problem for your opponents
Anytime you have more cards than they do, your little three
casting cost Human Soldier turns into a 3/5 monster that
gains you three points of life whenever it deals combat
damage. While keeping a full hand of seven cards, as some
Saviors cards want you to do, may be too difficult, white
players will very often have more cards than the other guy,
making this little bald man a very bad dude.
1. Hand of Honor is a one card answer to most of the threats
in the most popular color in the limited format, black. This
makes Hand of Honor the best uncommon white card in Saviors
10. Shifting Borders is a retread of an old Magic card
The ability to exchange lands with an opponent simply is not
relevant in the current limited format.
9. Evermind is a funny card. Every once in a while, Wizards
of the Coast likes to mess with us by printing some strange
oddity. Evermind is just such an oddity. Evermind has no
casting cost and, as a result, cannot be cast.
This is a sign that things are not going well for a card.
The ability to be played is an important and generally
overlooked feature of all the really good cards ever printed
in the game of Magic. Research and Development hopes that
you will put Evermind in your deck so that you can splice it
to your Arcane spells in order to draw a card. I can’t see
how this card is good enough to help any but the slowest
control decks in the current limited format.
8. Trusted Advisor seems to be whispering to another figure,
“You know, I’m the weakest uncommon creature in this set
that requires the return of a creature to your hand.” On the
plus side, Trused Advisor offers a toughness of two for a
casting cost of just one blue. Despite what you may have
heard on late night television, (hand) size is not
7. Kiri-Onna bounces a creature back to its owner’s hand.
Unfortunately, Kiri-Onna costs five mana and only leaves
behind a 2/2 Spirit. The ability to return Kiri-Onna back to
your hand when you play a Spirit or Arcane spell doesn’t
make this card much more interesting to me.
6. Shape Stealer is a little 1/1 that takes on the power and
toughness of any creature blocking it or that it blocks. In
short, two blue mana gives you a creature that can block and
trade with a wide range of threats. This card might be
better from the sideboard against decks with massive green
5. Overwhelming Intellect is one expensive counterspell, but
its hard to argue the power of countering a late game spell
AND drawing a number of cards equal to the number of cards
in your hand. I would probably only want to play one of
these, but I have seen two played by the same player IN THE
SAME GAME and I know that this card can be quite powerful.
4. Ghost-Lit Warden is more dangerous than he looks. The
first time I saw this guy in play on my opponent’s side of
the board, I rolled my eyes. I doubted that my opponent
could actually leave four mana untapped just in order to
counter my spell (spell would be countered by the Warden’s
ability unless I can pay two mana). In control decks,
however, this card can be very powerful. Just as
importantly, you can discard this card from your hand to
counter a spell unless its caster can spend four more mana
by using Ghost-Lit Warden’s Channel ability.
3. Oboro Envoy is a small 1/3 flyer that can allow you to
lower the power of a creature by the number of cards in your
hand by returning a land to your hand. Of course, the land
you return to your hand is included in the count of cards in
2. Rushing-Tide Zubera will often just be a 3/3 Hill Giant
for you, but in those times that this card lays down his
life blocking a creature larger than he is, you get to draw
three cards. Specifically, Rushing-Tide Zubera must have had
four or more damage dealt to it the turn that it is put into
a graveyard from play. Imagine, in a red/blue deck, that you
attack with this creature and are blocked by a smaller
creature. After combat, you could decide that you would
rather draw three cards than hold onto the Crushing Pain in
your hand any longer. It is also important to remember that
this card is a Zubera.
1. Secretkeeper is a 2/2 Spirit for four mana that gains
+2/+2 and flying whenever you have more cards in your hand
than your opponent. Let’s say that at the beginning of your
turn, you have Secretkeeper in play and the same number of
cards in your hand as your opponent. You could draw your
card for the turn and attack with your 4/4 flying
Secretkeeper. After your attack, if Secretkeeper was not
blocked, you have now successfully dealt four damage to your
opponent and can feel free to go ahead and play at least one
card from your hand. Chances are, you will get the chance to
do the same thing next turn. Blue has always been the
hardest color to play in Magic: the Gathering, and in a
challenging set like Saviors of Kamigawa, it’s no surprise
that the blue cards are BY FAR the most challenging to play
Having said all that, most of the blue uncommons in Saviors
are playable in limited formats, but I think Secretkeeper is
10. Gaze of Adamaro only damages your opponent, making it
less than useful when what you really need is creature
removal. The best case scenario is ALWAYS a card that can
deal damage to a creature or player, but when a card can
only target one or the other, the better card is the one
that can target a creature.
9. Sunder from Within is yet another land destruction card
for constructed play. In limited formats, the ability to
destroy a land or artifact is strictly a sideboard
consideration, if it is a consideration at all.
8. Yuki-Onna destroys an artifact when it comes into play,
and can even be returned to your hand when you play a Spirit
or Arcane card. This card is slightly better than Sunder
from Within simply because Yuki-Onna is a creature. For four
mana, you can usually find a better card for your deck.
This card is perfectly reasonable for use from the
7. Feral Lightning could be a great finishing card late in
the game, a top deck that most opponent’s won’t have an
answer for. On the other hand, the usefulness of this card
is too narrow to include in most limited decks.
6. Captive Flame is an enchantment that essentially gives
all of your creatures Firebreathing, the ability to pump up
any creature +1/+0 for one red mana. The problem with this
card is finding a slot for it in your deck.
Red decks generally need to limit themselves to creatures
and cards that help them destroy other creatures. I am
interested in this card, but I believe the best limited
players will leave it on the sidelines.
5. Godo’s Irregulars is just a little guy, but his ability
is strangely good. If this little 1/1 is blocked, and I
can’t imagine why anyone would block him, he can deal a
point of damage to the blocker for just one red mana. If he
gets blocked by a 3/3 creature and you use the Irregular’s
ability three times to deal three damage to the blocker, it
can be destroyed before damage time, leaving Godo’s
Irregulars completely intact. If this card’s ability worked
when it blocked as well as when it is attacking, Godo’s
Irregulars would be extremely good. As it is, this creature
is just playable enough to fill out the lower end of a
limited deck’s creature base.
4. Sokenzan Renegade is a little too unstable and
situational to be automatically included in every red
limited deck, but there may be many times where he will be a
tremendous creature for you. If you are able to keep more
cards in your hand than your opponent, this card will be
very good. I believe there are too many ways for many decks
to surprise you, however, and turn this card against you by
taking control of it away from you. I might be more
interested in bringing this card in from the sideboard
against certain kinds of decks or including it only in decks
that are designed to minimize the risk of this creature
turning against you.
3. Burning-Eye Zubera delivers plenty of beatings as a 3/3
Zubera Spirit on offense, and deals three damage to a
creature or player if it goes to the graveyard from play in
the same turn that it received four or more damage.
This card’s double red casting cost means that you won’t be
able to splash it as a third color, but honestly, only a few
of the red uncommons would be useful at all as a splash
2. Oni of Wild Places is the best of the creatures in this
set that require you to return a creature to your hand at
the beginning of your upkeep. This card has the impact of a
dragon or other “power rare”. For six mana, you get a real
monster for your money. This 6/5 hits the ground running
with Haste and is not easily killed by a single blocking
1. Ghost-Lit Raider is the most powerful uncommon in the
set, in my opinion, and is easily the best red uncommon in
Saviors. The ability to deal two damage to a creature each
turn WITHOUT the combo of Shuriken and Ninja make this a top
pick for booster drafts. Unlike Frostwielder, which some
consider the most powerful common creature in Kamigawa
limited play, Ghost-Lit Raider can be easily included as a
small third color splash. If needed, you may decide to
discard Ghost-Lit Raider from your hand instead of playing
it, in order to deal four damage to a creature by spending
3R and using this card’s Channel ability. Very, very
TOP TEN UNCOMMONS FROM SAVIORS
Drumroll, please, for the top ten Saviors uncommons,
For the ability to make EVERY creature in your deck better
while eliminating competing equipment, Manriki-Gusari is the
TENTH BEST UNCOMMON in Saviors of Kamigawa.
For worrying the opponent every turn he is in play,
Descendant of Kiyomaro is the NINTH BEST UNCOMMON in Saviors
For providing the two best colors in Kamigawa limited play
with a pair of perfectly symmetrical creatures, Hand of
Cruelty and Hand of Honor are the EIGHTH and SEVENTH BEST
UNCOMMONS in Saviors of Kamigawa.
For providing the biggest trampling creature for the lowest
casting cost in the entire Kamigawa block, Stampeding Serow
is the SIXTH BEST UNCOMMON in Saviors of Kamigawa.
For best performance by a black uncommon fattie EVER,
Razorjaw Oni is the FIFTH BEST UNCOMMON in Saviors of
For providing the means to leave a lasting impression on all
the creatures on his team, Briarknit Kami is the FOURTH BEST
UNCOMMON in Saviors of Kamigawa.
For playing like a rare in the body of a mere uncommon, the
game-changing power of Oni of Wild Places is the THIRD BEST
UNCOMMON in Saviors of Kamigawa.
For providing the best single-creature removal option in the
entire Kamigawa block, Kiku’s Shadow is the SECOND BEST
UNCOMMON in Saviors of Kamigawa.
Finally, for providing reusable creature removal in a
splashable and cheap casting cost, Ghost-Lit Raider is my
choice for the NUMBER ONE BEST UNCOMMON in Saviors of
Any of these ten could easily be a very good choice for
first pick in booster drafts.
AFTER REVIEWING ALL THE UNCOMMONS
I find that all but one of the white uncommons is good
enough for booster draft and sealed deck play, making white
the deepest color in Saviors for uncommons. White was
already very popular in Kamigawa limited play before
Saviors. This new set will only make white more popular.
I found blue to be the weakest color of the five, where
uncommon cards are concerned.
Level II DCI Judge
Zanman on Magic Online