Here we go; here we go! Have you taken a deep dive into the spoiler for the latest set from Wizards of the Coast yet? I have and I have my top 12 cards from the set in two Honorable Mentions and then my top ten proper.
In order to make this list a card cannot be good alone in Modern or Legacy, it needs to be good for kitchen table play in formats like Commander.
Let's do it to it!
Honorable Mention #1. Chef's Kiss
Why is this card on my list? Don't consider it a fun chaotic card, consider it in the vein of a Heroic Intervention. Did someone target your dork with a Swords to Plowshares? Cast this and now you have two STPs and they cannot target your stuff. Did someone target yourself with a discard spell like Thoughtseize or Hymn to Tourach? Cast this and have two of those discards target other players! Is someone trying to Vindicate your precious planeswalker? Cast this and now two of those are being cast and you'll be unaffected by their target. The only thing this won't answer? Multiple targets like an overloaded Cyclonic Rift and effects like those of a Nekrataal. That makes Heroic Intervention effects more reliable, but this is card advantage and in Red. Plus, this card is really fun, and the last time I checked, that's why we play the game! Love it!
Honorable Mention #2. Sword of Hearth and Home
All of the Swords are iconic enough to get a lot of play at the casual table! This one gives +2/+2, two protections, and then when it deals combat damage to a player you net a basic land and a flicker effect. It's card advantage over time and immediately outclasses several pieces of equipment and effects out there. Blink decks will love it and ramp decks as well, and any deck should be able to get value from it from control's love of lands to mid-range's love of creatures to blink like Solemn Simulacrum, Acidic Slime and Flametongue Kavu.
Mana costs matter. Cheaper (costed) effects regularly get played more even when other effects are around and cost less money to acquire. Compare the cheaper but life-pricey Reanimate ($14.99 and in 30,895 decks at EDHREC.com) vs Zombify ($0.25 and 1,231 decks at EDHREC.com). Despite the heavy life loss difference and price cost one, Reanimate, is a Commander staple and Zombify isn't. Mana cost matters. Enter Persist. For just 2 mana you can reanimate a nonlegendary dork from your yard with a -1/-1 counter.
Now there are some key issues with Persist that keep it from hitting higher on this list. It's -1 to its toughness, which is worse than Animate Dead ($0.99 and 34,592 decks at EDHREC.com) which is only just -1 to power and has the same cost as Persist. You cannot bring back something with 1 toughness at all. It must be your graveyard unlike most reanimation effects. It cannot be legendary so no to things like Avacyn, Angel of Hope or her fellow in-set player Griselbrand. But outside of that's it better and it cannot be answered with enchantment removal like Animate Dead can be. I think you'll see at least 20k of these as the other two both have more than 30k. It's also been getting a lot of ink from fellow writers over the last week or so as it adds a very cheap reanimation effect to Modern. Welcome to the club!
Our penultimate common is this list is a certain storm bad boy. Why is it here at #9 spot? It's because of Empty the Warrens. Empty is heavily played in casual town and is arguably the most played storm card in print. There are more than 5k registered over at EDHREC.com and it's great when you seek to go wide or have a lot of storm built up. It costs 4 mana and nets you two 1/1 Goblins. This is 2 mana and nets you one 1/1 Squirrel - half the mana, half the result. The cheaper mana should help with more storming fun times. It's really strong! And if you are a fan of Squirrels or storming? This should prove to be nice indeed.
8. Kaldra Compleat
The Avatar has fallen to the dark Phyrexian side! I don't know why Kaldra Compleat doesn't turn the equipped dork into an Avatar, that feels like a flavor foul to me, but I adore this artifact that combines aspects of Shield of Kaldra (indestructible), Sword of Kaldra (the combat damager ability and equip of +5/+5), and Helm of Kaldra (first strike, trample, haste). You get the whole thing in a single card and I know that casual fans are going to adore this as much as I do and only it's mythic status will keep it from being a nasty amount of play.
7. The Bridge Cycle
I love Darksteel Citadel and it gets played in decks outside of artifact themes because it cannot be destroyed by Armageddon or similar mass destruction, as well as Wasteland and Strip Mine proof, which is very valuable in metagames that care about LD and run it in numbers. Right now, the Citadel is run in 27,657 decks over at EDHREC.com. Having indestructible mana fixing? That's very strong, and we get all ten cards in this set! In a metagame heavy in LD this is arguably the top card(s) in the set, and outside of heavy LD this wouldn't even hit my list at Honorable Mention, so I am averaging those and giving this cycle of ten cards a 7. They are most welcome!
6. Serra's Emissary
Hello fans of big White cards! This bad mythic is 7 mana for a 7/7 flyer which is very on curve for a big mythic. When I saw this card, I was reminded of Mirror Golem, which wants to imprint an artifact creature to give it protection from creatures and artifacts, but if not you'll just choose creature. I run the Golem in my Commander Cube. You'll usually want to choose creatures for Serra's Emissary as well. Protection from instants? Sure it'll protect your stuff from Swords to Plowshares and Utter End but not Vindicate and sorcery and creature-based removal. Sorcery protection is worse than instant. You won't need land or enchantments or planeswalkers typically. Protection from creatures is where it's at. You can swing though any defense, you can survive any block, and you cannot be targeted by creature-based removal like Ravenous Chupacabra. It's great stuff!
Now let's turn to our Top 5 proper!
5. Ignoble Hierarch
Our third-highest scoring Mono-Green creature is Ignoble Hierarch. This is a very Green list I admit in my Top 5 as you'll see. I love Noble Hierarch, which is heavily played at the kitchen table. There are 11,275 of them in decks over at EDHREC.com and I wouldn't be surprised to see this version in a similar number of decks. It's great in Jund builds as it taps for all colors of mana and exalted is very pertinent and it's a 1/2 early if you don't need the mana and it's not bad as a drop later. Exalted is great with Commanders you seek to kill with Commander Damage, which isn't that uncommon in Jund. If you gave me any three-color choice that includes Green I'd prefer Sultai first and hopefully we'll see one of those at some point in time now that we have this one since we now have a cycle.
4. Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
This card is an echo of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, which is a better card because of deep Black cards from the first set in Nightmare through Cabal Coffers and more. The card this styles is so heavily played at the kitchen table that we have 63,389 decks registered with it in them over at EDHREC.com. Nasty! This won't get that play as we don't have as much synergy, but we'll get a lot of Yavimayas as well! It's pretty good at making all of your lands tap for Green as well as Forest and this is the best Forest ever printed.
3. Timeless Witness
Our highest-scoring uncommon is this Eternal Witness variant. The original card is one of the most played Green cards at the kitchen table with 82,630 decks over at EDHREC.com, which is 30% of decks. This is a four-mana Eternal Witness with the ability to eternalize for 7 mana later after it invariably dies. Which should happen given it's 2/1 body quite a few times! I like it a lot a lot. It's card advantage on the first go, and even more on the second go. It's a fun card that everyone can run and play. Love it!
2. Dakkon, Shadow Slayer
Our penultimate card over and top gold card is this planeswalker. Now I want to see Dakkon, Bladeless when he had given up his sword to the 'walker that commissioned it. This one clearly has Blackblade on it as it's loyalty counters are equal to the lands you control when it arrives to the party. On the third this is 3 mana 'walker is sitting at three loyalty, which is enough to exile a dork or surveil 2 and give him 4 loyalty. Surveil is better than scry as you can fill up your graveyard with those goodies, which a lot of cards in Esper colors care about in all permanent types, from White and Blue loving artifact recursion and White and Black creature recursion and abilities like jump-start and flashback in these colors.
Dakkon's loyalty builds as your land base does and scales up with the game. If you have at least 6 lands, easy enough in casual land, then you can ultimate on the turn you drop it, and then play, for free, any artifact like Blightsteel Colossus from your hand (or graveyard in case you surveilled it there.). Pretty good!
1. The Evoking Incarnation Cycle
Hello my friends! Wow, do I have a cycle that will hit the highest notes! Have you seen these bad Incarnations? They have a cost from 3 to 5 mana and three of them have a timely flash. They each can be evoked for no mana by exiling a card from your hand of that color. Each has an enters-the-battlefield ability that's pretty good. They have a few words like reach and double strike. They each have 3 power.
Let's look at them each in turn in color order.
- White's Solitude is a Swords to Plowshares on a creature that can flash and has lifelink for 5 mana.
- Subtlety has flash and flying and on arrival will tuck a creature or planeswalker spell on the top or bottom of a library, making it a better Counterspell against those types. It's pretty good as a 4-mana counter that can be free for the same cost as Force of Will, save for no loss of life and with a more limited target range.
- Grief has been getting the most ink as it's crazy with cards in the format. It's a 4-mana 3/2 with menace and on arrival will force the discard of a nonland that a foe has at your request.
- Fury will shoot creatures and planeswalkers for 4 damage divided as you choose, which is pretty good for just one more mana than Flametongue Kavu since you can target planeswalkers, get double strike, and can split targets to take out more than one opposing card.
- Endurance is the cheapest at 3 mana for a 3/4 with reach and flash and on arrival to the party it tucks all of one player's cards into their library from their graveyard. Pretty good on yourself to reload your gas and to protect from graveyard removal and you can use it on a foe abusing their graveyard at instant speed.
I love this cycle and the only thing keeping this cycle from seeing heavy play is its mythic nature.
And there we go! So, what did you think of my choices and order thereof? Anything in here that you agree or disagree with? Tell you what, let's do this again next week!