While the article refers to "sleepers," they're not really that anymore so much as cards I don't think are getting enough attention, cards that I think should be getting a little more attention, and cards that I personally am really excited to brew with. That being the case, let's try not to nitpick my use of the word "sleepers" in the comments; don't be that guy.
Typically I review ten different cards from the newest sets, but as you may have heard me bemoan in previous articles, that is becoming more and more difficult to do; not only do the good cards seem to be more obviously good, but the stinkers are also just that: more obviously stinkers. That being the case, this time I'm giving you my Top 8, as it seemed more fitting with Top 8s being such a prominent term in the game.
As I often mention, sometimes I'm way off and sometimes I'm right on the nose with these articles, but 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 a list of the straight-up Top 8 best Magic Origins cards you're in the wrong place. You will find no transformational planeswalkers or Day's Undoing here. Only some of the unsung heroes of the set that I would personally like to build around based on the merit I see them possessing.
Without further ado...let's begin!
8. Animist's Awakening
This card is super interesting. The fact that you can potentially put the lands into play untapped is huge. The fact that you can snag any land in the deck with this and not just basics is even huger. While I don't know how good this card will be in Standard, it is worth noting that we are going back to Zendikar which has a sizable land theme to it. The last time we went to Zendikar we also received some sweet manlands. If there is anything similar this go around, we could have a Bountiful Harvest of lands that "do things" other than tap for mana.
But enough about Standard! I'll be honest: the one place I'm really looking forward to see this potentially have an impact is in Legacy...in Lands. Thanks to things like Punishing Fire and Crop Rotation you should definitely have spell mastery enabled, and being able to "hit" such a high percentage of lands could actually make this huge. Even hitting just three or four lands could be incredibly powerful. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I'm pretty much a Legacy novice so I don't know if people are talking about this card there, but I would actually be surprised if they weren't.
7. Relic Seeker
Except for the fact that he doesn't have a way to cheat it into play, this card reminds me a lot of Stoneforge Mystic. Only he's much better in the red zone than the 1/2 Kor Artificer. I guess the other card he could potentially be compared to - quite loosely - would be Puresteel Paladin: he's an efficient white body that has a benefit when it comes to equipment. While this guy is only as good as the equipment he's able to search up, finding a random Sword or even a Batterskull in Modern is no small feat, especially when you're also getting a 3/3 out of the deal. Two mana is a great price for this guy, and if we have even one good equipment in Standard (or if Sword of the Animist ends up being good), I can definitely see this guy finding a home in some white decks.
6. Nissa's Revelation
Another card that reminds me of something else! This time we're talking about Sphinx's Revelation, however. Come on, you had to see it...it's an expensive spell that draws us cards and gains us life. It makes total sense. There are numerous other green cards that have tried to do similar things as this, such as Life's Legacy or Momentous Fall. Heck, one of my all-time favorite creatures is basically Nissa's Revelation on a stick: Disciple of Bolas. Ah, memories of sacrificing Thragtusks to her…
But seriously, in green decks this could be better than all of those aforementioned cards. Not only do we get to scry five, which is perhaps the largest scry that has ever been scryed, but we get to draw cards and gain life afterward. And even if we hit something as "small" as a Whisperwood Elemental, we're still drawing four cards, gaining four life, and having some control over what cards we're drawing after all those scrys. But think about the times we hit Dragonlord Atarka! The only downside I see this card having is that it costs seven mana, but come on...we're playing green.
5. Gilt-Leaf Winnower
Here we have a Shriekmaw! I'm telling you, this entire set is cards that remind you of other cards. Unfortunately the Winnower has a couple strikes against it - most notably the cost and the limiting factor of its ability - but I still think it's a very solid card. Not only does it kill something, which is a consistently desirable ability, it also has a pseudo form of evasion in the menace ability. I started taking doing some research to see what creatures currently in Standard the Winnower could kill and I found the following: Courser of Kruphix, Dragonlord Silumgar, Dragonlord Ojutai, Siege Rhino, Wingmate Roc (either half), Den Protector, Dragonlord Dromoka, Rattleclaw Mystic, Hornet Nest, Boon Satyr, Monastery Swiftspear, Goblin Heelcutter, Master of Waves, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. And that doesn't include any new creatures from Magic Origins or Battle for Zendikar when it gets released.
Ultimately creatures that kill other creatures upon entering the battlefield always end up seeing some amount of play, and I don't think Gilt-Leaf Winnower will be any exception.
4. Hangarback Walker
When I first saw this card I thought it was terrible. A 3/3 for six mana? a 4/4 for eight mana? These aren't reasonable stats. I imagine that everyone who doesn't like this guy has or had a similar thought as well. But then I realized something: if you play this guy as a very respectable 1/1 for two mana, then simply invest a mana into him each turn, he becomes quite difficult to deal with! Like, really difficult to deal with. While I'm not sure he has a place in Affinity, he definitely reminds of both Arcbound Ravager with the way he gets larger when he's alive and gives something back when he dies, and Steel Overseer with the way he gets larger and also distributes his +1/+1 counters in other ways. While I don't see this guy making appearances at very high casting costs, if you're in the late game and you manage to top deck this guy with eight mana in play, he still scales very well. As a bonus, I can't stop saying his name to the tune of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." So I've got that going for me.
3. Managorger Hydra
Hey, what's up, it's the love child of Taurean Mauler and Quirion Dryad! This is the most common comparison people have been making about this card but I think it has two incredible differences. The first is that it not only triggers on your opponent's spells, or specific color spells, it also triggers on all spells, which is insane. It's very possible to live in a world where we cast this, then cast a Gitaxian Probe and a Dismember or keep up mana for Gods Willing making this an immediate 3/3 or 4/4 against removal. Mark my words: triggering on both players' spells is going to make all the difference.
The other thing that separates the hydra from the other two aforementioned slackers is that he has trample. No longer will you grow your creature to an immense size only to have it chump blocked turn after turn. Managorger Hydra is not messing around; it basically has heroic, only instead of triggering when you target it, it triggers whenever you cast a spell, only instead of triggering whenever you cast a spell, it triggers whenever anyone casts a spell.
2. Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Mama and papa Siege-Gang Commander right here! No, but seriously, it's downright eerie how many cards have reminded me of other cards. I can't help but wonder if it's deliberate. What we're looking at here is four power over four mana and three bodies. This is a great deal. One of the other sweet parts of this deal is that Pia and Kiran Nalaar enable the number one pick on my list. While I wish the sacrifice ability on this legendary pair was a little cheaper, being able to shock a creature or player on a whim is pretty useful. Even a toned down Siege-Gang Commander is still pretty good, especially when you're making flying artifacts which not only have evasion, but could potentially have a ton of synergy with the other strategies in the format.
The only other mark against the pair is that they're legendary, but if they have the impact on the board that I think they will, mom and dad probably won't be sticking around too long to begin with.
1. Thopter Spy Network
Maybe the reason I'm so attached to a lot of the cards on this list is because they do all feel like other versions of powerful cards. In the case of Thopter Spy Network, it feels like Bitterblossom and Bident of Thassa in one. These are two cards that were both in incredibly powerful and dominant archetypes at one time or another, which is definitely making me give pause to the four mana blue enchantment. Sure, you don't draw a card for every artifact you Deal Damage with, you only draw one card if you Deal Damage, but the Spy Network also isn't going to kill you in the long (or short) term either.
While I can see this finding a home in Standard while things like Darksteel Citadel are present, I could also see it making its way into Modern as a turn three play off of a Signet, perhaps in a Tezzeret deck of some sort. I don't know about you, but having an indestructible way to enable this card while it also dodges things like Smash to Smithereens and Abrupt Decay sounds pretty good to me.
And that's that! The last and final Core Set. Magic Origins seemed to have an abundance of good cards, which was one of the main reasons I had to chop the list from ten to eight; I simply couldn't include cards like Starfield of Nyx or Goblin Piledriver. This set looks really great and I can't wait to start trying out some of the new cards, especially after Battle for Zendikar gets released, as we all know R&D puts cards in sets that interact well with future sets.
I know some of you are going to assuredly disagree with some of these picks, and maybe some of you are going to think a few of my choices aren't sleepers. Like I said in the beginning, these articles have basically become cards I'm excited to build decks around rather than cards that are "sleepers." This is why I suggest looking at this as more of a "Cards I Want to Brew With" article if you must.
Either way, 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!
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