For every new set release I like to list ten of the cards I don't think are getting enough attention. Cards that I think should be getting a little more attention.
Specifically I'm talking about cards I'm excited to brew with rather that cards that are simply "sleepers," per se. As I often mention, sometimes I'm way off and sometimes I'm right on the nose with these articles, but either way, the thing I try hardest to accomplish is to provide you guys with a perspective on some cards that you might not have initially had. Maybe you'll see a card in a new light, or discover an application you might not have thought of, and if so, then I consider my work a success.
If you're looking for simply a list of the Top 10 Magic 2015 cards you're in the wrong place. You will find no Garruk, Apex Predator, Nissa, Worldwaker, or Ajani Steadfast here. Only some of the unsung heroes of the set that I would personally like to brew with based on the merit I see them possessing.
Without further ado...let's begin!
10. In Garruk's Wake
Okay, let's get it out of the way now: yes, this costs nine mana. But let's consider something else: every other iteration of this effect has been played, from Planar Cleansing to Fated Retribution, and this is the first one that's one sided. That benefit is huge. While this costs more than both, we have to remember one of the most recently printed cards that everyone is simply going gaga over (myself included): Nissa, Worldwaker. Boy, I'm using a lot of colons here. Assuming we have no form of ramp whatsoever in our deck, playing a Nissa, Worldwaker on turn five theoretically gives us access to an In Garruk's Wake on turn six (again, assuming we have three forests in play). This is awesome, and it doesn't even address the other potential forms of ramp we could use to get this out, such as Kiora, the Crashing Wave or Sylvan Caryatid. The fact that those creatures and planeswalkers don't die when we cast In Garruk's Wake is a beautiful upside.
Some people are looking at this as an alternative Aetherize. I'm not sold on that. Unlike Aetherize, this card does the one thing that no player ever wants done to them. This card does the one thing that made Plow Under so reviled in its time. The tempo gained from your opponent putting all their creatures on the top of their library, and having to draw each one over again, one at a time...that's really hard to recover from, especially against the control deck. It's the reason why Memory Lapse is such a beating. And if they end up putting the creatures on the bottom of their library instead, well, great! That simply makes this an instant speed Supreme Verdict. While this definitely won't see play as a four-of, I would be surprised if it didn't eventually make it into control decks as a one or two-of.
8. Necromancer's Stockpile
This is a card that I had no idea where to put. There are some folks that are talking about its applications, but it isn't completely on everyone's radar just yet. If nothing else, Necromancer's Stockpile provides us a great way to cycle through our deck of unwanted or unnecessary cards...but it does do something else. Depending on our game plan, Necromancer's Stockpile can allow us to amass...well, a stockpile of zombies. While the discarded card must be a creature card, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of this ability through deckbuilding, from the recent souls in M15 to something like Gravecrawler in Modern. I could even see us discarding zombies like Gray Merchant of Asphodel in Standard, only to use Whip of Erebos to get them back.
7. Hornet Queen
Okay, let's also get this out of the way now: yes, Hornet Queen costs seven mana. But seven mana in a green deck is kind of like four or five mana in a regular deck. Aside from that, this card has been an all-star in Commander ever since it was released. Aside from that, we also have Chord of Calling in the format. There are so many signs that point to this five-for-one evasive creature being a great investment for our green mana, especially when all the little babies also have flying and deathtouch. This is a hard lady for aggro decks to get around, and I can only imagine that doing something like reanimating her is going to be even worse. Well, worse for the opponent anyway. I would also be surprised if I didn't end up seeing Hornet Queen as at least a one-of in green decks or decks that can afford Chord of Calling.
6. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
Boy was I surprised at this card when I first saw it. I mean...it's a Birthing Pod! I kept reading it. I expected you to have to sacrifice a creature, or have the creature in your hand, or the creature had to be green. But no! None of these previous restrictions were present. The worst part about Yisan, and the reason he's so far down the list, is simply because he's a three toughness creature. Otherwise, for three mana a turn, he's tutoring up any creature you want, casting cost aside, and they're going to get bigger and bigger. Sure, Yisan is going to have a huge target on his head once he enters the battlefield, but if he manages to survive...I mean, free creatures are free creatures.
5. Scuttling Doom Engine
Whenever I'm playing a new format, I always want to ask other people what they think of certain cards, even if it's painfully obvious. I opened Scuttling Doom Engine in one of my Prereleases and I asked Melissa, "this is good, right?" I mean, I knew it was, I just wanted confirmation, because who knows, maybe I was missing something.
Melissa was like, "Are you crazy? This is a Wurmcoil Engine!" My friend Mike and I laughed, because it wasn't exactly a Wurmcoil Engine, but it certainly was insane in Limited. It can't be chump blocked by anything that isn't worth killing and even if your opponent manages to get rid of it, they're taking six damage. Most of the situations I was casting this in were those where my opponent was at less than six life. So you can imagine how difficult their choices were. Based on how powerful this was whenever I was casting it, I can't help but imagine it can find a home somewhere in Constructed Magic.
4. Master of Predicaments
What can I say? I'm a sucker for Sphinxes. I liked Sphinx of Jwar Isle. I liked Sphinx of Lost Truths. I liked Prognostic Sphinx before it saw any play. I obviously loved Consecrated Sphinx. The first thing I thought when I saw Master of Predicaments was "Cruel Ultimatum." Yeah, it will probably never happen, but I think that example does a great job of showcasing the potential of this card. You can pick a card that costs four or less every single time, relying on your opponent to try and avoid giving you a free spell that costs a ton of mana. And every once in a while, once they realize you're always going to pick four or less, you can pick something huge! While the days of 4/4 fliers for five mana seeing extensive play are pretty much over, I can only hope that a Sphinx with a mechanic this cool and flavorful and potentially powerful might see some play.
3. Perilous Vault
This card is interesting to me because no one is really talking about it. I can't help but compare it to something like Nevinyrral's Disk or Oblivion Stone, both of which saw an incredible amount of play both during their time and afterward. One of the upsides worth noting is that Perilous Vault doesn't enter the battlefield tapped. This is kind of a big deal as it allows the control decks to both cast and activate it on the same turn if they have the requisite amount of mana. While nine is a lot, it actually isn't that much in a control deck, and that doesn't even address the fact that you can just cast and activate it on two separate turns if need be, four going into five for example. For UW Control looking for an answer to all of the planeswalkers that decks like Gruul and Jund can dish up, along with things like Underworld Connections and Desecration Demon from Monoblack, this could be the perfect complement to Supreme Verdict as the preferred sweeper. The fact that it exiles the cards and can be used by every color, including black who has no answers to things like enchantments, is just awesome.
2. Resolute Archangel
That's right: my number two card is a seven mana creature with four toughness. And I don't even care. When I first saw this thing, I immediately knew it was going to be backbreaking. And every single game I cast it in at the Prerelease...it was. Can you imagine if one player started the game at 30 life? How about 35? This is kind of what happens with this card. We're not gaining two or three, like with something like Kitchen Finks. No, I see this card coming down in the mid to late game against midrange decks and resetting the game for one player. This card could even find a home in control decks as not only a finisher, but a way to buy an immense amount of time. If a card that can repeatedly blink a creature ever shows up, boy can this become obnoxious. Sure, it dies to most removal, but at that point the damage is already done.
1. Chasm Skulker
Bet you didn't see this coming. This card was completely underwhelming to me at first. But the more I looked at it, the better it seemed. While I don't expect running this guy out there on turn three to always be the right choice, if we're able to flash this guy in somehow (ala Prophet of Kruphix) then draw a ton of cards, we're actually in pretty good shape. Not only does the Chasm Skulker himself get larger, but if they manage to kill it (with something other than a Banishing Light effect, of course) we're going to get a handful of tiny squid gentlemen. The fact that they have islandwalk is just gravy considering two of the most popular decks in the format are blue-based. While I know the biggest stipulation to this guy being good is being able to survive, and while that might not always happen, when it does, this guy seems like he could be a real threat.
Whew. And that's that. Magic 2015 is an interesting set. I couldn't talk about something like the souls because they seem pretty obviously good, and I don't think any single one is a sleeper. I also think cards like Spirit Bonds and Return to the Ranks are pretty obviously good. All in all though, being a core set I was pretty thrilled there were not only enough brand new cards, but enough brand new cards for me to pick ten of the less appreciated ones and write about them.
I know some of you are going to assuredly disagree with some of these picks, and maybe some of you are going think a few of my choices aren't sleepers. After all, we can't always agree, and if we did, what would the point of trying to provide new information? I would never be able to convince you of something since we would already be predisposed to agreeing with one another!
Anyway, I hope I've given you some things to think about and maybe you've seen some of these cards in a new light. Maybe comparing them to older cards might have helped, or maybe you just think they're all junk! Either way, thanks for reading and hopefully we can discuss some things in the comment section.
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