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Strixhaven Limited Set Review: Mystical Archives

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Mystical Archives cards are an interesting new addition to the Limited format. It would seem that these were largely printed to add cool new alters for highly sought after or nostalgic cards for Constructed players, but they will actually still have a huge impact on Limited.

Unlike the Masterpiece and Expedition series these will appear in every pack at varying rarities in place of the basic land. This means each draft will have 24 of these Mystical Archive cards opened. They will be seen less often than other combat tricks and removal, but often enough to keep them in mind when considering plays.

This article is the first of five, and in it I will be evaluating every Mystical Archive card and scoring them on a scale of 1-5. These ratings are purely based on Limited formats and have no bearing on Constructed play. I would also like to note these ratings are based on how I believe the card will perform in an AVERAGE Sealed or Draft deck. Often this means a lower score for cards with great potential in a highly synergistic deck.

Rating - Explanation

1 - Ideally not making the cut in any of my Limited decks.

2 - Not good, but a necessity for curve filling and smoothing out draws.

3 - Value cards I am happy to fill my deck with.

4 - Cards to get excited about and Premium Removal.

5 - Reserved for cards that will win the game if left unanswered.

White

Approach of the Second Sun
Approach of the Second Sun - 2 - An interesting win condition to say the least. This is more of a Constructed card, but I would still run it in my White decks. 7-mana do nothing turns are never ideal, so play it patiently. Longer grindy decks will be able to sneak in a few wins with this card.
Day of Judgment
Day of Judgment - 4 - It is hard to ask for more from a board clear. Day of Judgment is cheap and has no restrictions. This can help break boardstalled games or help stabilize against a more aggressive deck.
Defiant Strike
Defiant Strike - 2.5 - Any combat trick that draws a card to replace itself is never bad to play. The ability itself is relatively low impact, so this can be an easy cut from most decks. With a few Magecraft cards this becomes way better.
Divine Gambit
Divine Gambit - 2 - This card was just printed in Kaldheim and it was not very impressive. If the deck is short on removal this will do in a pinch for the late game. Casting it too early can help an opponent tempo you out of the game.
Ephemerate
Ephemerate - 3 - The second half of rebound cards tends to fizzle in Limited because the deck is not built to take advantage of them. This will likely be a one-for-one by protecting a creature from removal, but with a little luck there is a fair amount of upside. Triggering an ETB effect or freeing a creature from enchantment based removal can produce a ton of value.
Gift of Estates
Gift of Estates - 1 - This will likely only see play in Constructed. If a deck has a lot of Learn and no Lessons to get from the sideboard I would consider playing this to get extra cards to discard.
Gods Willing
Gods Willing - 3 - Gods Willing offers a lot with its flexibility. This card can push through lethal damage, protect against removal, and even remove enchantments from creatures. This is a great addition to any White deck.
Mana Tithe
Mana Tithe - 1 - Counters that only force an opponent to pay one are rarely worth playing in Limited.
Revitalize
Revitalize - 1.5 - There is a life gain deck in the format, but strangely enough it is not in White this time! Witherbloom (Black/Green) is where I would expect to see this type of card. The only real reason to consider this card is if you are short on playables and need a cycle or if there is A LOT of Magecraft in the deck.
Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares - 4 - Giving an opponent a little life is minimal downside and makes this an amazing removal spell for White. One mana. Exile. Instant. I am in love. Still the best removal spell ever printed.
Teferi's Protection
Teferi's Protection - 2.5 - This is an interesting card. Remember that phasing out is different from flickering. It will not remove enchantments from creatures or trigger ETB effects when the creatures phase back in. It is unlikely that this card will prevent a lethal attack and bring you back to win the game, but it is decent against removal or combat heavy decks.

Blue

Blue Sun's Zenith
Blue Sun's Zenith - 3.5 - A dead card early in the game, but it will absolutely crush opponents with card advantage in the mid to late game.
Brainstorm
Brainstorm - 2.5 - Brainstorm is great at smoothing out early draws in Limited, however, it is not nearly as good as it is in Constructed formats. Being able to shuffle away unwanted cards with fetch lands is a huge part of what makes this card so good normally.
Compulsive Research
Compulsive Research - 3.5 - Normally these draw three cards but require a spell to be discarded, but this one allows a land to be discarded making it way better in the late game. It is slightly weaker than a Divination in the early game when actively looking for more lands.
Counterspell
Counterspell - 3 - The original counterspell. No restrictions with a low mana cost. Cannot ask for more than that!
Memory Lapse
Memory Lapse - 2.5 - This is more of a tempo card then a true counterspell. This will not take care of a big bomb for long, but it does allow you to pull ahead on board and play around combat tricks and removal in the future.
Mind's Desire
Mind's Desire - 1 - Not a card that will see any Limited play. Rare draft it for extra gems if there are no playables for the deck.
Negate
Negate - 1 - This is a great card to have access to in the sideboard. If the deck is short on playables this is a reasonable card to add because it is likely to hit SOMETHING...
Opt
Opt - 2.5 - Opt is always a fine card to run. It helps smooth out draws and cycle to more powerful cards.
Strategic Planning
Strategic Planning - 2 - Cards that replace themselves and help smooth out drafts are always fine to play if the deck has room, but I find that these get cut more often than not. If the deck has high quality cards or splash colors to dig for this becomes more valuable.
Tezzeret's Gambit
Tezzeret's Gambit - 3.5 - Colorless draw spells are amazing. I will happily play this in any deck. This gives card draw to colors that typically struggle to find it. It is slightly worse when played in Blue because it is a bit more expensive than a typical Blue card draw spell.
Time Warp
Time Warp - 4 - Time Warp is cheap enough to allow you to progress the board the turn it is played if behind, and it is insane if you are already ahead.
Whirlwind Denial
Whirlwind Denial - 2.5 - Getting to counter abilities is a nice bonus for any counter spell. That does make this a bit more flexible and worth playing if there is room in the deck.

Black

Agonizing Remorse
Agonizing Remorse - 2 - Getting to exile the card is a nice bonus not typically included in this type of card. This is a decent card to play, but I would rather have them for the sideboard.
Crux of Fate
Crux of Fate - 4 - This is a reasonably cheap sweeper with some slight upside if the deck happens to have a Dragon in it.
Dark Ritual
Dark Ritual - 1 - Spending a card to ramp for only one turn is going to rarely be worth it in Limited. Most Limited matches are won by having more cards or value than an opponent, not by throwing extra cards into the graveyard with minimal value.
Demonic Tutor
Demonic Tutor - 2/4 - Tutor cards are 1 for 1 value, but they make the card you find even more expensive. The value of this card goes up as the deck gets stronger and has better targets to choose from for flexibility.
Doom Blade
Doom Blade - 4 - Premium removal. Even if an opponent is in Black you will still find a solid target to kill with this spell.
Duress
Duress - 1 - This card often misses because the majority of cards in a Limited deck are lands and creatures. It is also a horrible draw after the first few turns of the game. I would pick these up for the sideboard against rare and mythic instant and sorcery spells.
Eliminate
Eliminate - 3.5 - This is great removal for the early game. It has the added bonus of killing 2 of the Planeswalkers in the format as well - though that will not come up often.
Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of Kozilek - 1 - This is a Constructed card that will not see play in Limited. Rare draft it if there are no other playable on color cards.
Sign in Blood
Sign in Blood - 3 - Drawing extra cards is always a welcome addition to any deck. Paying two life is typically not much of a downside. Keep in mind it does say "target player" so you can target an opponent to kill them. It comes up more than you might think.
Tainted Pact
Tainted Pact - 1 - This is another card for Constructed that requires a deck to be built around it to work.
Tendrils of Agony
Tendrils of Agony - 1 - This is a bit too expensive to get any storm value out of. With a lot of Witherbloom life gain payoffs this might be worth considering.
Village Rites
Village Rites - 2.5 - Village Rites has a fair amount of synergy with the sacrifice deck. Witherbloom wants to use pest tokens to gain life and this allows you to draw cards in the process. This can also be boarded in against decks with a lot of removal to ensure you are actually gaining some card advantage when creatures are killed.

Red

Chaos Warp
Chaos Warp - 1.5 - Not great removal, but if there are no other options it will do in a pinch. Try to find anything else!
Claim the Firstborn
Claim the Firstborn - 1 - I typically only play this type of ability when the deck has several consistent sacrifice outlets. This card is too restrictive to get much value in Limited. Only a hyper aggressive deck with a fair amount of burn will want to play this card (the burn is for reach once your hand runs out of gas).
Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting - 1 - More of a Constructed card. Even if lands are being discarded, this still works out to be a fair amount of card disadvantage. I would much rather look for Thrill of Possibility which is actually printed at a lower rarity.
Grapeshot
Grapeshot - 2 - This is the only storm spell that is cheap enough to get a trigger or two out of. It is likely that this is a sorcery speed Chandra's Pyrohelix, nothing exciting.
Increasing Vengeance
Increasing Vengeance - 1 / 3 - Another amazing spell for Prismari that can ramp into large spells quickly. This is not likely to see much play in other decks.
Infuriate
Infuriate - 2.5 - This combat trick offers a fair amount of stats for a low mana cost. Only the most aggressive decks are looking for this card, but it can be played in any deck
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt - 4 - Premium removal in any format! This is a great reason to be in Red.
Mizzix's Mastery
Mizzix's Mastery - 1 / 3.5 - Any Prismari deck will be over the moon about this card. This is everything the big spells deck wants, but not worth playing in any other deck.
Shock
Shock - 3 - The value of Shock changes from format to format based on the strength of its X/1 and X/2 creatures. I am always happy to run a Shock or two.
Stone Rain
Stone Rain - 1 - Never been a fan of land destruction in Limited. In Kaldheim I would consider playing this with all of the powerful utility lands, but in this set it just isn't worth playing.
Thrill of Possibility
Thrill of Possibility - 2.5 - This is a card I am always willing to play in Limited but often does not make the original 40 cards. Magecraft might make this a bit better than it typically is.
Urza's Rage
Urza's Rage - 3.5 - Normally this would just be considered a three damage 3-mana spell at instant speed - Decent+, but the Prismari school loves casting big spells and they have a few things to help you kick this card.

Green

Abundant Harvest
Abundant Harvest - 2 - A bit too random to be excited about playing this card, but it does help smooth hands at the start of the game and ensures spells later in the game while also triggering Magecraft.
Adventurous Impulse
Adventurous Impulse - 2 - This is always a fine card to have in a deck. It helps smooth out early draws and helps draw stronger cards in the late game. It is an easy cut when there are too many playables. This will be played a lot more in Sealed and in decks with more than two colors.
Channel
Channel - 1 - This is a Constructed combo piece. It will not see any play in Limited.
Cultivate
Cultivate - 3 - Cultivate is always a great ramp spell. It fixes, ramps, and thins your deck - there is nothing not to like.
Harmonize
Harmonize - 3.5 - Getting to draw cards in Green seems really strong. I doubt this will be cut from any Green deck.
Krosan Grip
Krosan Grip - 1 - These are great to pick up for the sideboard, but there are not enough powerful targets to consider putting this in the original 40.
Natural Order
Natural Order - 2/4 - If you have more than one stupidly large creature this would be great to run. If the deck has just one it would likely not be worth running this. Bookwurm seems like a good low rarity target for this.
Primal Command
Primal Command - 4 - Getting to pick two modes on this gives a fair amount of value that Green does not typically get. I love the flexibility each mode offers.
Regrowth
Regrowth - 2 - This sort of one-for-one card is typically not worth running. If the deck has more than one game winning bomb with a few premium removal cards this might be worth running. Getting back a decent card for two extra mana is not the business I want to be in.
Snakeskin Veil
Snakeskin Veil - 3 - Snakeskin Veil was recently printed in Kaldheim as well and I have been extremely happy running it in every Green deck. It is not hard to find spots in the game where this card can get a ton of value.
Weather the Storm
Weather the Storm - 1 - Storm is not an ability I typically want to play in Limited, but this might be a card worth considering in the Witherbloom deck that has a bunch of lifegain payoffs.

Multi

Despark
Despark - 3.5 - This is a great removal spell that should be run in any deck that can play it. It is a bit restrictive, so make sure you board it out against more aggressive decks.
Electrolyze
Electrolyze - 3.5 - The value with this card is getting to draw another card after playing it. Killing something small is fine, but getting to kill it without costing any cardboard is great.
Growth Spiral
Growth Spiral - 2.5 - There is a ramp deck in the Quandrix colors that will want to run this card. Even without the mana in hand to ramp it is at worst a cycle. This card is an easy cut if the deck has a lower curve.
Lightning Helix
Lightning Helix - 4 - Three damage for two mana (though hard to cast) is a great rate. This is a great card for any deck, but it is the perfect type of removal for an aggressive deck.
Putrefy
Putrefy - 4 - Flexible and cheap. There is nothing not to like about this removal spell. This is even worth splashing if the deck is already in one of the colors. Play as many as you can get your hands on.

Overall, these Mystical Archive cards seem to be a bit of a mixed bag for Limited. They add a fair amount more cards to the set and will make it harder to play around removal with so many more spells in the mix. Getting one per pack means they are not extremely common, but certainly worth remembering when considering plays.

These articles are used for the draft ratings on Untapped.gg, and because of this we will be updating them periodically with new information and insight. Comments and discussions help me improve the articles and provide the best information for both other readers and Untapped.gg. So please feel free to comment below and give me your thoughts.

Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow!

Twitter: @MTGNerdGirl

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