It's a cheap flyer for one mana, in either white
or blue. Both white and blue have gotten 1/1
flyers at one mana before, so nothing new there.
The interesting part here is the sacrifice
ability. You can sacrifice this Bird to counter
a spell... if that spell was an instant or
sorcery... and if the caster doesn't have an
extra 1 to pay to make it go through anyway. So,
in the late game when a 1/1 flyer is no longer a
relevant play, you can still get some utility
out of this bird.
As counterspells go, this is pretty limited.
Judge's Familiar is better than Cursecatcher
only by merit of having flying, and Cursecatcher
only saw play in Limited decks that needed an
extra Merfolk and didn't much care what it did.
Blue has much better option for countermagic
than this... but white doesn't. I'd like to
think Judge's Familiar's counter ability had to
be weakened because it's a hybrid card, but then
that line of reasoning made me think
Cursecatcher was better than it was. White does
get the ability to make opponents pay extra for
their spells though. I can see a monowhite deck
that uses this as cheap beats as well as a bit
of utility-- maybe comboing it with Reveillark
or Proclamation of Rebirth?
I'm a big, big fan of this card, and not just
because I dislike the way certain people are so
dismissive of anyone who suggests there could be
non-blue counterspells. Minus the line that
everyone's eye is drawn to, this card is an
easier-to-cast Suntail Hawk, a card that is much
better than its reputation might suggest. And
when you're in white, as you probably are with
this card, you have more trouble dealing with
instants and sorceries anyway - even in formats
without Path to Exile, aggressive white
decks are well capable of racing or killing
Today's card of the day is Judge's Familiar
which is a one mana White or Blue 1/1 with
Flying that can be sacrificed to counter target
instant or sorcery unless the controller pays
one mana. A one mana 1/1 with Flying is already
a decent card for many decks, but the added
benefit of countermagic is a great psychological
threat that can slow down an opponent's tempo.
This working in mono-White or on the first turn
in Blue/White regardless of the untapped land
played is also strong and it should remain
popular in both maindeck and sideboard slots for
a long time.
In Limited this is a great card both for low
cost evasion as almost any
1/1 for has value, while the hybrid mana adds
the flexibility to be available to seven of the
ten guilds. It is a strong first turn play that
still has value later in the game with both
evasion and a tempo altering psychological
aspect. A worthy second or third pick in Booster
and barring a Rakdos, Gruul, or Golgari only
Sealed should always be included.