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Ikoria Limited Set Review: Blue and Black

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Welcome back to Day 2 of the Ikoria Limited set review. Today I will be taking a look at all of the Blue and Black cards and evaluating them 1-5 based on how I expect they will perform in Sealed and Draft. Please keep in mind that I will be ignoring ALL aspects of Constructed play.

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.

Check out the other parts here:

White | Red and Colorless | Green and Lands | Multicolor

Blue

Aegis Turtle
1 - It makes me sad that the turtles are never good enough to make the cut. Sea turtles should be all powerful.
Anticipate
2.5 - This card should make it into more of my decks than it does. It is always easy to cut this card when looking to remove cards. It is better than I give it credit for.
Archipelagore
4 - Even though it is a little expensive, I think this card will be a great top end in a deck built around tempo. I think this card will surprise a lot of people.
Avian Oddity
3 - Cycling seems to be where the value is on this card. Gaining flying permanently and replacing itself as a card in your hand will add a lot of value. I also love the idea of using this as a trick to eat a flying creature during combat.

Boon of the Wish-Giver
3 - 6 mana is a lot, but so is four cards. This can be a huge swing in a game of Limited.

Capture Sphere
3.5 - Blue always struggles to deal with threats once they have hit the board, and that makes this card a must have. It will always make the cut.

Convolute
2 - "Pay X" counterspells always feel so bad to me in Limited. The number of high CMC spells in this set make this card playable, but I am not happy about it.
Crystacean
1.5 - 5/5 art, but sadly it just does not impact the board enough to put it in a deck. I can see adding this to a deck that might have a unique win condition.

Dreamtail Heron
4 - Everything you want in a card can be found right here. It is rare to see commons win games outright, but I believe this one will.
Escape Protocol
1 - Absolutely unplayable in most decks. As a build around card this can be very good, but I think it will be hard to get enough of both cyclers and ETB effects. 4/5 in the right deck.
Essence Scatter
3 - It is always easy to get value out of this card, and I am happy to run it. The low mana cost often forces opponents to play into it.
Facet Reader
2.5 - Stats that will help slow down aggressive token decks and an ability that will lead to great card advantage late game.
Frost Lynx
3 - I love the tempo cards like Frost Lynx can generate. Happy to play this card in any type of Blue deck.

Frostveil Ambush
1 / 3 - I'm not excited to play it, but I am sure it will make the cut in many decks. Also keep in mind the one mana cycling ability will make it a key piece in the cycling deck.
Glimmerbell
3 - The more I see this card, the more I like it. It has minimal impact on the board, but it is an early flyer with a good ability and is the perfect card to mutate onto. Casting Pouncing Shoreshark on turn three, creating a 4/3 flyer that bounces a card and can be untapped seems strong.
Gust of Wind
3 - Even without the reduced cost I think this card is very playable. Typically I like my bounce spell to be instant speed, but getting to draw a card is also very valuable.
Hampering Snare
1.5 - Finding removal in Blue can be hard, and though this card isn't great, the cycling does make it far more playable.

Keep Safe
2 - An extremely situational counterspell. That said, it is cheap, negates removal, and replaces itself. This is the kind of card I want to find room for but often does not make the cut.
Mystic Subdual
3 - The loss of an ability is where you will get most of the value from this card. This can be really important with all the mutate cards stacking on top of each other. It will even prevent a mutate ability from happening if cast in response!
Mythos of Illuna
3.5 - Most often this spell will copy a creature in Limited even if you can pay the bonus cost. This card is good if you can find something reasonable to copy.
Neutralize
3 - Cancel with upside. Hard to not want to play this card in any Blue deck.
Of One Mind
3 - Divination with upside. It is interesting to see that most of the Limited staples have just been reprinted but better. Excited to see how all of these small things shape the format.
Ominous Seas
2 / 3 - Seems too slow to be in most decks, but with any card draw or looter this could be really good. Be on the lookout for cards like Boon of the Wish-Giver and Facet Reader.
Phase Dolphin
2 - Playable with cards like Thieving Otter. I would also consider this a good sideboard card against aggressive token decks.
3 - A 2-drop that can help develop an early board. This card is not a bomb in its own right, but will certainly win many games.
Pouncing Shoreshark
4 - Looking forward to casting this card. Tempo and aggression all rolled into one.
Reconnaissance Mission
2 - Reasonable card that can easily gain value with a few evasive creatures. Could also be a great way to activate Ominous Seas.
Sea-Dasher Octopus
5 - However good you think this card is - it's better. Placing this on an early Glimmerbell can gain a lot of card advantage.
Shark Typhoon
5 - A bit of a late game card, but can easily win games given the chance. Don't be afraid to cycle this on your opponent's turn to create a blocker. Easy value.
Startling Development
1 / 3 - Another 1-mana cycler that really only fits into one deck.
Thieving Otter
3 - It might take some planning to ensure that this card earns card advantage, but with Pouncing Shoreshark and Frost Lynx in the format it shouldn't be hard.
Voracious Greatshark
4 - Easy card advantage with this card. It is a little expensive, but it is well worth it. 10/10 would never cut this card.
Wingfold Pteron
2.5 - This being the only hexproof creature makes this card a prime target for any deck with mutates.
Wingspan Mentor
4 - This is probably the best Mentor. Insanely easy to synergize with and adds a lot of value to the board on its own. This card is absolutely 1st pickable.

Top 5 Common Blue Cards

  1. Dreamtail Heron
  2. Capture Sphere
  3. Thieving Otter
  4. Essence Scatter
  5. Frost Lynx

Black

Bastion of Remembrance
1 - Outside of Two-Headed Giant, I would be surprised if I ever played this card.
Blitz Leech
2 - Reasonable ability that will remove ability counters if it's not outright killing something. A bit expensive so I can see cutting it in most decks.
Blood Curdle
4.5 - I am always happy to see instant speed removal spells. The mana cost is reasonable even if you are not getting to use the menace counter. Reasonable 1st or 2nd pick.
Boot Nipper
3 - Two-mana deathtouch creatures are always welcome in my deck. I doubt the lifelink will be used much, but it is nice to have the option.
Bushmeat Poacher
3 - Can be extremely useful in any deck that generates tokens. Also a nice ability to use for chump blocking or in response to removal. Will turn a lot of negative exchanges into positive ones.
Call of the Death-Dweller
1.5 - I doubt most decks will have enough 1- and 2-drops to make this playable. Even cards like Serrated Scorpion don't have deathtouch on their own as they might normally, so this card won't make the cut.
Cavern Whisperer
3.5 - Great value on turn four. As close to a bomb as a common can come.
Chittering Harvester
4 - The mutate cost is very reasonable. This card is 1st pickable, and will raise the value of all cheaper mutate cards.
Corpse Churn
2 - A 1 for 1 that is only good in a bomb heavy deck. Instant speed makes it better, but it won't make the cut in most decks.
Dark Bargain
2.5 - Always happy to have instant card draw in my deck. Keep this in mind when holding countermagic or removal.
Dead Weight
3 - With the mutate mechanic, creatures that are weak to Dead Weight may outgrow this card before you draw it. It will still be good, but not as good as it has been in previous sets.
Dirge Bat
5 - It will not be hard for this card to get value. The high mutate cost makes me want to cast it normally and use cheap mutates to make the trigger happen sooner. I want to place most mutates on a small creature to make it larger, but this one's a bit of the opposite. He is very good, so make sure to protect him.
Durable Coilbug
2.5 - A bear with big upside to fill your curve. I would also consider this card with Mutual Destruction to ensure you have a reasonable sacrifice target. It also allows you to always have a good mutate target.
Duskfang Mentor
3 - Not as strong as the Blue mentor, but there is a fair amount of lifelink in the format with the added ability counters.
Easy Prey
2 - Great card to stop the aggressive mutate decks. Many decks will want to mutate 1-2 drops on turn three and four. Remember if you kill it in response, the creature will still come into play!
Extinction Event
4 - As close to a one sided board clear as we can get. It will be difficult for an opponent to notice you are setting up for this card. Playing a 3-drop on four is perfectly normal if you don't have a 4-drop!
Gloom Pangolin
1 - WHY ARE THE CUTE CARDS NOT PLAYABLE?!?!?
Grimdancer
4 - Great stats for the cost. The flexibility of keywords makes this card very good. It will adapt to your different needs in each game.

Heartless Act
4 - The low cost and instant speed will make this card very playable. Killing creatures as they place ability counters on them will create a lot of value. Even if you can't kill the creature outright you can still use it mid-combat to remove things like deathtouch and kill the creature anyway.
Hunted Nightmare
4 - The downside on this card is almost nonexistent. The opponent might not even have a creature to get the deathtouch counter, and even if they do, they still need to double block Hunted Nightmare creating a likely 2 for 1 scenario.
Insatiable Hemophage
3 - With a lot of mutate synergy I am happy to put this in my deck, but if it is likely to trigger only 1 or 2 times, this card will be an early cut. Looking forward to playing this in Two-Headed Giant though!

Lurking Deadeye
3 - I think this card will perform better than its stats suggest. With the addition of mutate, boardstates will be going taller rather than wider. This should increase the value of any removal spell.
Memory Leak
3 - Normally I undervalue this type of card because of how bad they can be after a few turns of the game, however, this one has cycling!
Mutual Destruction
3 - Removal that requires sacrifice is always difficult because you might not always have a creature you are willing or able to sacrifice. With all of the creatures that create 1/1 soldiers it shouldn't be as big of an issue as it is in most sets. Just make sure you consider this when cutting down to your final 40 cards.
Mythos of Nethroi
4 - Not going to lie - I had to read this card three times. Three-mana instant creature removal is always worth taking. The added cost is nice if you have the free splash mana, but it is not needed for the card to be good.
Nightsquad Commando
2.5 - Reasonable curve filler that will help smooth out draws. I can see this being good in an Orzhov deck with payoffs for building a wide board.
Serrated Scorpion
1 - "Dear Wizards, You forgot to add a keyword to this card - deathtouch." The only reason to play this card is if you have a bunch of deathtouch counters and want small bodies for them.
Suffocating Fumes
2 - I have a bit of a soft spot for this card. Unlike most spells of this type, Suffocating Fumes is an instant and one sided! Excited to three for one someone with this card.

Unbreakable Bond
2 - Typically not happy to run these five-mana return spells. Filler in most decks unless you have multiple bombs it can target.
Unexpected Fangs
2 - The lifelink counter is a really interesting addition. I am looking forward to seeing how this card performs in a racing scenario.
Unlikely Aid
2 - Cheap trick that allows you to trade up or protect a valuable creature from removal. I would only play this card if I had creatures worth protecting.
3 - The free deathtouch counter makes this card playable when you cycle it. Look for ramp and trample cards if you decide to try to play this card.
Whisper Squad
1 - A very low impact card that only rewards you when you fill your deck with other equally bad cards. Ideally this will never be played.
Zagoth Mamba
3 - Perfect early drop creature that will allow you to mutate early, and it comes with an added bonus. The -2/-2 won't always kill something, but it is a nice option to have.

Top 5 Common Black Cards

  1. Blood Curdle
  2. Cavern Whisperer
  3. Lurking Deadeye
  4. Dead Weight
  5. Dark Bargain

Thank you guys for checking out the second article in the Ikoria set review! Of the three colors we have looked at Blue seems the strongest so far. Tomorrow I will be taking a look at the Red and colorless cards. I don't know about you, but I am getting excited to get my hands on these cards.

Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you liked or what I missed! See you tomorrow.

Twitter: @MTGNerdGirl

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