I've been writing this column for like 4 and a half years and I have done a ton of set reviews in that time and I still don't feel like I have them dialed in correctly. I am attempting to avoid doing just a blanket "Good in EDH" review because other people do that and I'm not paid to do what everyone else is doing. I also want to avoid "Corner cases for weird commons" because I don't want to waste ink on cards that will realistically never see play. So, I am going to try something new this time and go more in depth on fewer cards that I think will get played in 75% builds which means I am going to talk about the decks themselves a bit, why they're 75% builds specifically, and whether the new card is just a bad version of a card that already exists, or whether it will actually impact the build. It's ambitious, but I feel like saying "this could be good" on 3 dozen bad cards doesn't add much. This is a 75% set review, so let's really talk about 75% builds, how they're different, and what new tools and toys this set gives us. Also, if I just like a card, I'm going to talk about it. This is my column and you can't stop me. Let's do this, shall we?
Bounty Agent - This is a pretty limited effect, but effects like this being stapled to a body means you're going to have an easier time looping it, therefore making it worth it. You can't get Legendary lands, which is a bummer, but you can murder commanders, equipment, pesky enchantments and you can do it reliably.
The decks - The decks I could see using this would include Karador, Alesha, Athreos and basically any deck that can use Debtors' Knell, Karmic Guide, Reveillark and shenanigans like this. We're limited in the permanents we can hit, but all of the truly pesky stuff is usually Legendary. Getting Paradox Engine at Instant Speed, repeatably, seems very powerful to me and I expect this card to go overlooked by constructed players because the Legendary requirement is much more prohibitive to them. This plays a little different from how Mangara plays but look at both of Mangara's EDHREC pages for building ideas anyway since there are similarities. Check Karmic Guide and Reveillark while you're at it. I think this is a powerful tool, and Thalia's Lancers can even find it for you.
Citywide Bust - I like cards that are asking to be built around, and this seems very good. This is another Retribution of the Meek in a lot of cases, but the fact that it's toughness rather than power means you can play X/3 creatures, you can nuke Arcades wall decks and Doran decks, something you can't do with Retribution. I think this is a second copy of a wrath that could potentially leave you as the only person with creatures and I like it.
The decks - It's harder to find decks this is good in besides the obvious ones like Alesha, Trostani/Emmara and other small/wide creature decks. It's much easier to find which decks this card destroys by looking at the decks that use Retribution of the Meek to keep their high toughness/low power creatures alive after they wrath. However, once you weed out Doran and Arcades, you find decks like Gaddock Teeg, Darien, King of Kjeldor, and Queen Marchesa which basically got a second "unfair" wrath. I think all of the new Selesnya decks will make great use of this. A 75% deck might sacrifice running the "best" creatures to run wrathproof creatures that will survive both Bust and Retribution and having both is a real benefit.
Crush Contraband - There isn't a lot that needs to be said, but I wanted to take this opportunity to point out that modal cards are very good in 75% builds. We tend not to run tutors as often, so having a card in the deck that can be used in multiple situations is important. This can be a slightly worse Return to Dust, but I like not having to play it Main Phase. Run modal cards, and while we're talking about modal cards, Rakdos Charm is getting better because it's good against Selesnya Swarm decks AND graveyard-based decks and we're about to get more of both.
Dream Eater - Every time I think about the possibilities with Surveil cards, I get more and more excited. If you have access to the cards in your 'yard based on the colors you're playing, Surveil is a much better scry. I think Dream Eater being attached to a body makes him ripe for shenanigans with cards like Deadeye Navigator. Being able to order up to 4 cards on top of your deck is very strong and getting to Venser a permanent to boot is too good.
The decks - Maelstrom Wanderer, though not new, came to mind immediately. I want this in there in the worst way. Aminatou can make use of knowing what is on top of the library, Yuriko will love to swing with this and ninjitsu it back to the hand, Muldrotha will love being able to bin 4 cards - the possibilities are endless, really. I think pairing this with flicker effects is strong and I expect this to go in a ton of decks, 75% or otherwise.
Omnispell Adept - 75% decks love to cheat to break parity and cheating by playing a huge spell for a lower rate is a good way to get after it. Spellvish Piper is going to be casting Enter the Infinite and Apex of Power all day. Even getting something like Rishkar's Expertise a turn earlier, playing Storm Herd during their precombat main or firing off two big spells with six mana and Paradox Engine is enough value to embrace this spell-slinger.
The decks - If I am building around this card, which is not Legendary despite her suggestive flavor text, I would want some redundancy. There are lots of other ways to cast big spells for free, like As Foretold, Omniscience, Narset, and Jhoira. The decks already running those big spells can make good use of Adept and we can add Jodah to that list. If I were to create a deck that didn't already exist that made good use of this card, I would like to do some sort of Wizard spellslingy thing with Heartstone, Training Grounds, and a ton of creatures with useful activated abilities. Blue is a must, but I like Green for the addition of Murkfiend Liege, Seedborn Muse, Elvish Piper, and good mana. Rashmi would be a good shell for a deck like this, I think. Temporal Adept, Patron Wizard, Arcanis - there are plenty of good creatures with tap abilities to abuse with your Intruder Alarm and Paradox Engine goodness. Adept casting a Time Stretch should be enough of an advantage to help you win the game.
Burglar Rat - Ravenous Rats is dead, folks. We have a new ratty boi on the block and he's all about sheltering you from the oppressive hand of parity by making sure only your opponents (all of them) have to discard. Blinking this is fun, reanimating this a ton is fun, both is fun and fun-ny. Drain everyone's hand and watch them rage. This critter is going to do work.
The decks - I sound like a broken record, but Alesha will love this. Grenzo, too. If you have a way to sac and bring this back, you can just nuke their entire hand. Yuriko might like the swing and ninja this back. Gift of Immortality is a nice pairing. This is also a rat, so classic rat destinations like Marrow-Gnawer, Shirei, Athreos, and Ink-Eyes will want this. Basically every deck that has Ravenous Rats gets this, PLUS this has more upside than Ravenous Rats given its asymmetry, which I hope people exploit. That's a 75% thing to do - find a way to loop something small but advantageous so that if the loop is disrupted, you still got some value and if they aren't equipped to stop you, you can take over the game but they can't say you didn't give them a chance to interact. It also gives you more decisions so you can stop the loop whenever you want if it's a more casual table.
Mausoleum Secrets - This is a pretty 75%-looking tutor to me. Face-up and late-scaling, unlike Demonic Tutor, this solves a lot of the issues I have with Black tutors from a 75% building perspective. I like that they see what you're up to and can react and I like that you can't just wing this out there right away. It takes some work to make this great, but even playing it on turn four to get Waste Not or Go For the Throat is worthwhile in a lot of decks. This is more likely to be used as a toolbox card since it gets the best card it can get at the time you cast it, not necessarily the best card in the whole deck, meaning you have to do a lot of work to make this as boring and linear as Demonic Tutor. That's perfect! I think we may have found the best Black tutor for a 75% build.
Ritual of Soot - I don't like this as much as Citywide Bust because with this, you benefit most by doing what everyone else is trying to do - play big creatures. This feels like more of a sideboard card than a build-around. I don't like this much, but I felt like I should address it since I said so much about Citywide Bust.
Experimental Frenzy - I think 75% decks have less pressure on them to be good. They shouldn't be bad, but if you want to do something goofy and chaotic, you're really embodying the 75% principals because you can go as hard as you want if you're inconsistent. Inconsistent but strong means you'll whiff against casual players and randomly KO good ones. That means you can play a fun, chaotic, powerful deck in any playgroup and it's the right power level for the table since anything can happen. Chaos also ensures a new game experience each time, meaning it takes much longer for the deck to get boring. Why bring up chaos when this card is anything but chaotic? Because of what I want to pair this with!
The decks - Possibility Storm came to mind right away since playing the exact card you expect to play mitigates the nature of Possibility Storm meaning everyone else is making crazy stuff happen and you just get to Future Sight like a boss. Pair this with Uba Mask to avoid having hands at all. Donate this with Zedruu or Harmless Offering or Gauntlets of Chaos for fun against a non-Red opponent. This isn't a great card but it's wacky and I like wacky sometimes.
Mnemonic Betrayal - What could be more 75% than casting their spells? If you managed to make them discard a bunch of good stuff and didn't let them play those cards in the first place, I guess that's better, but any time you can get a bunch of their stuff, you're bound to benefit. You will want to have a ton of mana on hand when you play this, but being able to cast any spell from any opponent's 'yard is very exciting. I think this may be the most 75% card in the set, frankly.
The decks - Dimir is part of Esper, Grixis, and Sultai and all of them can use this. Nicol Bolas decks that made them discard early likely made them discard a big spell they weren't going to get to play soon, or a small spell which means it will be easy to play it on top of other spells. I like the idea of using Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to have a ton of mana to play as many spells as possible and I like that spells you countered or made them pitch are yours, now. Sen Triplets are equipped to play this, and cards like Gonti, Thada Adel, Acquire, Bribery, and a dearth of spells that use their resources can give you a ton of mana rocks to power a big Betrayal. This is a second Villainous Wealth in those decks, as well. I think Tasigur, Damia, Muldrotha and Yidris decks that are optimized to run Villainous Wealth are the ideal home for a spell like this, but just Dimir-containing decks that don't have Green now have the option. This is a spicy card!
Thief of Sanity - Everything I said above basically applies here. This is just a solid 75% card that lets us cast their spells, which is the best thing you can do in a 75% deck imo.
Thousand-Year Storm - I wish this could be my commander. Cantrips are suddenly better, Sunbird's Invocation and Swarm Intelligence are even nuttier, and if you live long enough to cast a pile of big, expensive enchantments, you're going to have a great time. A deck built around this makes Seething Song deadly if you're copying it.
The decks - Mizzix and friends seems like an obvious destination for this, but I kind of like casting a bunch of pre-combat cantrips, and getting a solid Jeleva or Narset trigger. Narset can even jam that Storm into play making it much more affordable. You can even pair this with Nekusar to wheel them into oblivion. If you can cough up the mana to Windfall, Winds of Change, and Wheel of Fortune in the same turn, Nekusar is going to straight murder them with triggers. Any deck that likes to cast spells will love this. This makes cheap but limited versions of powerful spells like Savor the Moment especially good since you can usually afford a Savor and a Time Warp on the same turn meaning you get a double Time Warp after your extra Savor turn (or two). This is great with Gitaxian Probe, Treasure Cruise, Gush, and other free spells. This is my favorite card in the set.
It looks like I skipped a great deal of cards, and I did. There are a lot of "obviously real but really obvious" cards in the set that aren't as much good in 75% builds as they are just good in everything. I think there are some cards worth talking about briefly from that list but I'm way over my word count and I'm surprised you're still reading! Let's close out with a few lists to demonstrate I paid attention to every card.
My Guilds Commander Ranking (in terms of 75% potential)
Top 10 cards in the set for 75% EDH decks
- Divine Visitation
- Thousand-Year Storm
- Doom Whisperer
- Knight of Autumn
- Thief of Sanity
- Mnemonic Betrayal
- Dream Eater
- Mausoleum Secrets
- Connive // Concoct (specifically Concoct imo)
- Hatchery Spider
I hope you enjoyed this set review format. You don't need me to tell you Divine Visitation is a good card and ignoring obvious good cards like that allowed me to drill down on a few less-obvious, quirky 75% cards. I will at least keep this format for the next set which gives us the last five Ravnica guilds. Thanks for reading and thanks for continuing to read after I went long. You're the best. Until next time!