I’m back today with blue cards! Everyone loves blue cards as much as I do, right? We’ve got a couple really interesting and powerful ones in this set so let’s get right to it!
I was torn between this card and Artificer’s Epiphany as the last blue card to make my list. Everyone knows divination effects are borderline standard playable and also, divination is kind of boring. This card is sweet so it got the nod. Though, that said I’m not sure if there’s a deck for it just yet. It has three main things going for it
- can protect your threats in an aggressive or tempo based deck such as Jeskai or monoblue. Additionally this makes it an awesome collected company hit in Ug devotion.
- can protect a heroic creature from removal while potentially surviving itself (lightning strike, wild slash, bile blight) and then provide insurance against a foul tongue invocation since it stays in play as a 1/4 body.
- can redirect lethal burn spells that would otherwise kill you. I’m glad it can redirect spells and abilities that target players since that adds another dimension to the card. Specifically when trying to play around it, though I suspect nobody will expect this guy.
A 1/4 for 3 is rarely making the cut in constructed and while the redirect ability is awesome you’ll need to do a bit of work to make this guy really good. Verdict, hopeful but unsure. There’s a definite upside here.
1) Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound
This is awesome. Next card…..okay, fine. I’ll talk about why it is so awesome. Jace is great because he allows you to loot away excess lands and consequentially fuel things like Dig Through Time. Also, he threatens to flip very quickly and immediately replace himself by flashing back something (likely removal). He is great alongside other creatures that must die (Goblin Rabblemaster, Mantis Rider, Soulfire Grand Master) or even other planeswalkers (Ashiok, Kiora, etc). People will eventually catch on and Jace will become a lightning rod for removal. This allows your follow up creatures and planeswalkers to take over the game unimpeded. The synergy with Dig Through Time and Ojutai’s Command is beautiful. He also works great with graveyard fillers like Gather the Pack and Satyr Wayfinder. Gather the Pack will put Jace in your hand and he will already have a full enough graveyard to flip. Jace is really impressive in the Rally the Ancestors combo deck that did well in Chicago this past weekend. You can activate Jace before rally exiles him and if the yard is full enough he will flip and stay in play after the removal clause from rally happens. Jace is exactly what Jeskai decks needed. A 2 drop that’s good early and good late allows the deck to go long more efficiently and takes some pressure off Soulfire Grand Master who was previously shouldering the burden of late game inevitability. This card does ridiculous things when paired with Jeskai Ascendancy and flashing back token makers for added threats is a way to make the minus ability a threat itself instead of just a way to accrue value. Lastly, since I could talk all day about this little guy, I’ll note that he can do tricky things with sweepers. You can activate jace, flip him, then cast your Anger of the Gods, End Hostilities, or Languish and don’t have to worry about losing your Jace to the sweeper since he’s now a planeswalker. He can also block and then flip, removing from combat and coming back as a walker. Or be flipped in response to removal that targets him. This is my pick for best card in the set and Im glad blue gets tricky goodies like this again.
2) Harbinger of the Tides
Another blue two drop, another fist pump for team Jeskai! Also, if monoblue ever makes a comeback this card is why. Harbinger is awesome in racing situations and can usually bounce something more expensive than itself. The ability to cast it at instant speed makes for nightmarish combat steps for your opponents. Yet another card that works great with both Ojutai’s Command and Collected Company. Your opponent plays around the Remove Soul mode of Ojutai’s Command by refusing to add another creature to the board only to have their creature bounced end step costing them a whole turn worth of mana. It isn’t completely ridiculous because it can often be awkward or hard to get value from and it is ultimately only a 2/2 body. But it comes with at least half a card worth of value on the ability. Bouncing mana creatures and Lions’ or Anafenzas’ is great but the awesome stuff is when you’re bouncing big red Dragons or even an attacking Dragonlord Ojutai before it can hit you. Your opponents will learn a lesson quickly when they minus Ashiok only to have you bounce your own creature back after it attacked. Same holds true for creatures stolen by Dragonlord Silumgar. You rarely want to bounce Siege Rhino or Den Protector but it’s nice that you could bounce almost anything if you really had to. Overall harbinger is a great tool for blue aggressive and tempo based decks.
Verdict, two thumbs up!
3) Talent of the Telepath
This card was overlooked by almost everyone I’ve spoken to about the set thus far and Magic Origins has been legal in standard for three weeks. I think it’s very good. It’s terrible against devotion decks but when cast with spell mastery it should win you the game against most other decks, provided you don’t miss. I think total whiffs will happen very rarely. Talent is especially exciting because lots of decks in standard play cards that are great wen ahead or behind. Talent hitting Thoughtseize and Dig Through Time against control is a dream scenario. I’ve cast it in my Jeskai deck against UB control and nabbed a Hero’s Downfall for their Ashiok and a Thoughtseize for their Dig. It was one of the best cards in the Jeskai mirror. Though I suspect that the weird nature of the mirror has led to some bias there. You can cast this card when staring down a Rhino and a Courser and hit two removal spells and stabilize. On an empty board you can hit Abzan Charm and Thoughtseize for some serious value. I really like this card when people have incentive to play commands and charms since you can always choose the mode that is most relevant when you cast it. I think people will start to pick up on this one and it will ultimately see some play. It only appeals to spell heavy blue decks like UB, Esper, and Jeskai though.
Verdict: thumbs up!
4) Thopter Spy Network
This card is objectively very powerful but the drawback is significant. You’re required to play a fairly large number of artifacts to use this reliably. In addition to Darksteel Citadel and Hangarback Walker the blue and red creatures that make Thopters have reasonable rates and come with two bodies. Because none of the artifact cards mentioned are terrible on their own and because artificer’s epiphany and spy network are pretty big payoffs I think the control decks playing the artifact package are likely the real deal. I would be interested in seeing whether or not a UR aggro deck based around artifacts could be good enough. Definitely something worth brewing. If you draw a card the turn network comes down or if you’ve untapped and got a token from it then it’s unlikely that the ensuing Dromoka’s Command will be as crippling as it could be. Command is likely good against this card because playing a lot of artifacts and a lot of enchantments isn’t really feasible. So it’s probably going to be your only enchantment making command a reliable way to handle this. Conversely, I don’t think Dromoka’s Command is particularly well positioned right now. Almost no enchantments makes it an unreliable protection spell and an unreliable removal spell. Also, boarding in Dromoka’s Command against a control deck can’t be a good idea. What if they board out their network and win with Planeswalkers or Dragons? This card isn’t too hard to support if you’re not dedicated artifacts. Also, dedicated artifacts might also be really good. Both of these facts lead me to believe that spy network is awesome.
5) Clash of Wills
I won’t write to much about the latest syncopate variant to grace standard with it’s presence. It fills a nice niche for the control decks that are heavy 2 colors with colorless lands or 3 colors. It’s easy on the mana and gives these decks a way to answer Rabblemaster, Mantis Rider, and other tough 3 drops like Anafenza and Courser on the draw. It’s not like Ultimate Price or Bile Blight because it can answer their Elspeth just as well as their 2 or 3 drop. Clash is one of the only ways to stop a turn 3 Ashiok from resolving. I don’t like it in decks with Jace because you’re persuaded to discard excess lands which will prevent your clash from scaling well throughout long games. Overall, it is still plenty good enough for standard. This isn’t a windmill slam inclusion for any blue deck but provides an effect that some archetypes really needed. For example, I don’t think Jeff Hoogland’s UW artifact control deck would work without this card.
Verdict: fine, just fine.
That’s it for blue, thanks for reading. Black is next, stay tuned!
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