Champions of Kamigawa in Limited
I know what youíre thinking. You want to know how in the world I, of all people, could be writing a Magic strategy article. On one hand, Iím a Tournament Organizer and a level three judge, how good could I possibly be? On the other hand, limited play is pretty much all I do. I booster draft whenever I can, and I do sealed deck quite often, and therefore have a pretty good understanding of what makes a strong limited deck.
Although most people do a ďnumberingĒ of picks for each color, Iíd prefer to review the cards individually. Many cards in limited vary in their value based on the deck you are drafting. While Soulless Revival may be good in certain decks with bombtastic creatures with special abilities, in a weenie rush deck youíd rather just have another small guy to throw at your opponentís face, rather than slowing yourself down two mana to try to get back one they have already killed. With this idea in mind, my review will talk about the cards themselves, without a real rating system behind it.
Iím glad we started with a splice card, because it brings forward an amazing point for me to start off with in limited play, splice is overrated. Its very rare that you will get to use splice on a card, and even rarer when it will actually be of significant benefit. Unless you plan on drafting a deck full of splice cards, you should rate the card ignoring its splice ability. That being said, Blessed Breath is a nice little combat trick. It normally saves a creature, and can even make a creature unblockable at a critical time to get through the last couple of points of damage. Hardly a first pick, but a card that will often make the cut.
And now Iím glad we have a flip card next, because the concept is almost the same. Many of these flip cards you will never get to actually flip (aside from a couple of the lack ones), so your best is really to analyze them solely on how good they are unflipped. For this guy, a 1/1 for one white mana is not so amazing.
Cage of Hands
A Pacifism that you can use multiple times has a lot of use in this game. No matter whether you are drafting a control based or an aggressive deck, the ability to get a creature out of the way at the right time make this card well worth it.
Call to Glory
While the untap function of this card can be a neat combat trick, its not enough to make this card worth playing. Grab this card only late, and only if you are into a nice red white samurai deck.
Speaking of nice combat tricks, this one is a little higher on the scale. Itís normally saves a creature, and gains you a bit of life. While I still rank this below Blessed Breath, even though this one can directly help you, its not a horrible pick, and can definitely make the cut.
There are not enough enchantments in this format to make this worth playing. A late pick sideboard card at best.
He fills a creature slot, but heís hardly a beat stick. His Bushido makes him at least useful as a low drop, and being a Samurai helps in building the Samurai deck. A nice mid level pick.
Eight and Half Tales
So, ignoring the rest of his abilities, a 2/2 for two white mana is a steal in this format. His ability to basically protect any creature for W11 makes him a first pick down the line. If you want to play white, you want to pick this guy.
Itís good like Fog was good. Itís even slightly better than Fog, but that doesnít mean itís playable. Pick this only if youíre playing an almost all creature deck, where the win normally comes down to an Alpha Strike. Stopping your opponents alpha strike, and being able to come back with yours for the win can be amazing, but keep in mind most good players can play around this card. Itís too predictable, and just doesnít work out.
While tempo is not the same as it was for the last block, anything that slows down your opponent is worth a look. In a control deck, this is a must, but even in a more aggressive deck, something that slows down your opponent can be helpful. Just keep in mind that if your opponent isnít attacking, heís likely got blockers, so this can work against you as well.
I am not a huge fan of the deceivers over all. Itís not that they are bad creatures per se, itís that, for most purposes, the ability costs three mana to activate, and thatís a lot for what they do. That being said, this guy is often a nice trick, being able to untap and be a 2/5 blocker as an instant. That being said, he still costs one too many mana to play, and Iíd rather play something more aggressive in this slot.
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
I remember 4/4 fliers for WW3. I remember liking that and winning many games with them. Having other abilities is all the better. This guy is a first pick.
Hold the Line
While incredibly situational, in certain decks this card can actually work out. In a blue white or green white control deck, your opponent will often go all out on a strike not to win, but to try to kill off a few blockers and his card can turn that attack into a win for you. However, itís still too situational to be useful, and is normally a pass unless you draft by set icon color.
Honden of the Cleansing Fire
In a green white or blue white control deck, this card can be a great card to keep parity with the faster decks. In anything else, itís a wasted pick.
Five Mana for a 2/1 flier is too much regardless of its ability. In this case, even the ability isnít worth it.
Five mana for a 2/3 flier isÖ well, not quite as bad, but still not great. The Soulshift ability makes it a bit better, but the main reason to play this guy is that he wins the fight against all of those 2/1 fliers out there.
This is a fantastic combat trick. Very strongly suggested as a high pick.
Five mana for a non-flying 2/3 creature is Ö you know, why do I keep paying five mana for two power creatures? Whatís with this format? At least this guyís ability makes him worthwhile in a control deck. A mid ranged pick.
Insamru, Hound of Konda
Yes, you do draft the 2/2 for one mana. Next question?
This guy is wonderful. Heís a 2/4 flying blocker, or a creature pumper/saver. An early Moth can give your opponent fits for the whole game. A high pick.
Kami of Ancient Law
Two mana for a 2/2, as Iíve said before, is always a safe bet. His extra ability is just icing on the cake.
Kami of Old Stone
While he is correctly costed, I donít need to pay four mana for a wall.
Kami of the Painted Road
Well, at least we finally have a three power guy for five mana. This guy is trickier as well, and worth the occasional play if you have a few spells to feed his ability.
Kami of the Palace Fields
Look, if Iím going to pay six mana for a flier, it better have ďdragonĒ or ďmotiĒ somewhere in the name.
At three mana for a 2/2 first striker, with bushido, this card is a very solid creature, and curve filler. As a samurai, he can even feed off some other cards in the set. A high pick.
I liked Master Decoy. Did you like Master Decoy? Heís not quite the powerhouse at a 0/1, but heís a solid creature for the format.
Remember my strategy on flip cards. Would you pay four mana for a generic 2/3? Neither would I.
I think this guy would be a top pick if he flied, but even without flying, he still is a solid pick for a defensive white deck. For the aggressive decks, try something else if you can, the double white in his casting cost can often be a hindrance.
Konda, Lord of Eiganjo
I really donít want to pay seven mana for my 3/3. But in a limited format, with a heavy control deck, he can definitely have his use. If youíve already been drafting all the Cage of Hand cards, you may want to give him a shot
If you have a legendary samurai, heís a top pick, if not, he can still fill in the aggressive deck curve pretty well. Keep him in mind when drafting red white samurai.
Unless you have some amazing pump spells, pass on this guy. Evasion is nice and all, but a 1/1 will rarely go the distance.
Masako the Humorless
Masako is Humorless because, when I looked up ugly in the dictionary, it showed a picture of Masako. Nonetheless, Masako IS a good combat trick, especially in White Green with some big fatties, in the worst case itís a 2/1 for three mana, which is normal in this format, but in the best case, this card can wreck your opponent, providing an extra blocker and letting that Moss Kami block that they thought was out of the way this turn.
In any other format, I might consider a 2/2 flier a bit expensive, but in this set, this guy seems to shine just fine. Bushido makes him an exceptional blocker, and flying is a handy ability to have. A moderately high pick.
Myojin of Cleansing Fire
If you have mana acceleration, or if you are playing mainly white, this guy is pretty nice to pick up. Keep in mind games are slower now. You are likely going to be able to cast these huge things in limited format.
Nagao, Bound by Honor
This guy is a first pick every time for me. He is probably my favorite uncommon in the set. Heís a 3/3 for four mana that turns into a 4/4 when attacking, and with bushido he can be a 5/5 if blocked, not to mention the bonus he gives to OTHER samurai you may have. And with only one colored mana in his casting cost, heís easy to have hit the table on turn four. Pick him every time.
This card is a great combat trick. It can often be used to kill an opponentís creature while at the same time making yours permanently better. It may seem unimpressive when you think how little Battlegrowth was played, but Battlegrowth couldnít save a guy from Terror-like effects, and have the guy come back bigger, nor could it be used to remove that one blocker to get through the last attack for the win. This card can shine in a lot of situations, and is a high pick.
Three mana for a 1/2 is where I draw the line. Perhaps if this guy had a good ability Iíd think about it, but the life gain is not worth the general suck factor this card exudes. Pass it.
Unless youíve been passing a lot of Mystic Restraints, Cage of Hands, or Uncontrollable Angers, pass on this card.
Removal like this is always handy, and cheap at a mere one mana. You have to wait for them to hit you, which can some times hurt, but I donít think youíll ever regret drawing this card. A high pick.
Reverse the Sands
I know you can cast the big spells now in slower games, but that doesnít mean the big spells are automatically good. Pass on this highly situational card.
This guy is a house! Grab him early and watch him wreck your opponent when he hits the board. A first pick.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Heís a 2/2 for two mana. We already discussed this. These guys are high picks.
Sensei Golden Tail
Another two power creature for two mana, with the ability to give other creatures bushido? Yes, please.
Silent Chant Zubera
The worst of the Zuberas, ship this card to your wonderful friend next to you.
Takeno, Samurai General
At six mana for a mere 3/3, I normally would say no to this guy. For the same cost you can get the Samurai Enforcers, with one more power and toughness, and the same Bushido, or for one less you can get Hikari, the flying beat stick, or for two mana less you get Nagao, a 3/3 as well with a slightly better ability. If you really need a creature and have a lot of samurai, take him, but in general thereís better things to take.
Good for the aggressive red white samurai deck to push through that last attack, but in general too situational to be useful. I suggest another creature over this card.
Draft only if you are picking by icon color.
Creature enchantments have to be amazingly good to play. This card is not amazingly good.
Yosei, the Morning Star
A first pick. Heís a 5/5 dragon that can Time Walk your opponent. Thereís nothing bad about this guy.
Well, I hope you liked the first installment of this review. More to come next week when we go over blue, land of the fliers andÖ.. hurmmÖ. Land of the fliers!
E-mail me at rayp-at-primenet.com.
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