Commander Set Review – Modern Horizons (Blue)

Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019 by KingRamz
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Posted in mtg, serious business

Howdy folks! You can stop holding your breath now, because I’m back to review some blue cards. You can find the review I’ve already written here:

White

I talked all about the rationale behind my reviews last time, so if you missed that, just go back and read it in the white review. It’s time to talk about Magic cards!

Archmage’s Charm

This charm seems solid to me, though you pretty much need to be mono-blue to run it. A lot of charms have the problem that there’s only two modes that you realistically want to use. You’re unlikely to cast Dromar’s Charm for 5 life or Boros Charm for 4 damage. This one reminds me more of Bant Charm or Sultai Charm in that I’m happy with all three modes. The first two are obviously good, but even in our format of eight-drops, snagging a Sol Ring is a big game. Don’t hesitate to fire it off for extra cards if you’re low on gas.

 

Bazaar Trademage

The body looks sweet, but how often do you see Serendib Efreet do anything? It sounds bazaar, but maybe a three-mana 3/4 flyer isn’t good enough. Now, if you can abuse the Bazaar trigger, like if you’re madness or have a lot of flashback spells, this is a fine card. If you’re a deck that would run Bazaar of Baghdad if you had one – and yes, you can run it; it isn’t banned – then this might be a consideration.

 

Blizzard Strix

Ugh. I’m a big fan of snow; I almost exclusively run snow-covered basics and for a long time I put Scrying Sheets in every monocolored deck I built. I really want snow to be good. But five mana is where shit gets real in this format. For five mana you could be casting Aetherspouts, Evacuation, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, or Surrak Dragonclaw. And you have to be selective about the five-drops you put in your deck, because you will often be committing an entire turn to casting one. If you spend a turn flashing this in, do you feel good about it? It’s a 3/2, so it’s not like there’s a lot of ambush value here. I guess one thing to note is that it hits any permanent, so there’s a little more combo potential here – you can reset a planeswalker, remove a blocker, kill an Aura… but I want to spend two mana to do those kinds of tricks, not five.

 

Cunning Evasion

When you evaluate this card, keep in mind that it is a punisher card. Your opponents get to decide whether your creature gets bounced or not. Unless your opponents are way less cunning than you, they probably aren’t blocking Mulldrifter. That doesn’t mean it’s unplayable, but it means you need to specifically be attacking with creatures that your opponents really want to block, and that either won’t survive being blocked or that you would really like to be able to cast again. The archetypes that come to my mind that fit that description are Infect and Ninja tribal. I’m skeptical that Infect would want this effect over something like a pump spell that punches through a blocker, but I could be wrong. But Ninjas get to ninjutsu back out, and that could be sweet.

 

Echo of Eons

You know when it’s worth paying six mana for Timetwister? When it untaps six lands. This is likely an upgrade over Time Reversal if you’re running that; maybe in Nekusar? There will certainly be niche uses for this, but before you go out and buy one for your deck, ask yourself – would you run Timetwister if you owned one? It’s legal in the format, after all. And if you wouldn’t, why would you play a worse card?

 

Everdream

I’m more excited to draw a card for three mana than to make a vanilla 3/3 for 4, but it still feels like a bit too much. Here’s a dream for you, though: Splice a bunch of sweet effects onto like a pump spell and then Radiate it.

 

Faerie Seer

If you were expecting me to seer this card with a flippant remark, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I actually like Faerie Seer. Scry 2 isn’t quite “draw a card,” but it’s not that far off either. It’s got two relevant creature types, and I expect it to play wonderfully in a Ninja deck. Could be good in a blink deck, too. It’s no Mulldrifter, but you can get the Seer down on turn 1. There aren’t many one-drops that make profitable blink targets.

 

Force of Negation

I think this card is interesting… for Modern. In Commander, I find the best application for free counterspells is tapping out for something degenerate and keeping shields up, especially if said degeneracy involves drawing 20+ cards. If you’re tapping out on your own turn, Force of Negation doesn’t help you. We can already run Force of Will, Foil, Pact of Negation, Misdirection, and even Commandeer. I’m saying “no” to this one, and as a master of the arcane, I’m going to savor it.

 

Marit Lage’s Slumber

Hey, a snow card that isn’t embarrassing! On its own, landfall to scry 1 probably doesn’t make it; we already have Retreat to Coralhelm and people only play that to combo with the untap trigger. Of course, this also lets you make Marit Lage, which is pretty sweet. But not that sweet – the token does not have haste, so even if you have ten snow permanents, it’s going to be two turns after you cast this before you get to attack. It’s pretty likely someone will find a way to deal with your token by then. We’re still talking about a two-mana enchantment that gave you some value in the meantime, so it’s not horrible. It’s just not a reason to play snow. You should put this in your deck if you are snow, but you shouldn’t be snow so that you can run this.

 

Mirrodin Besieged

The Mirrans’ construction isn’t as efficient as what you’d find on Kaladesh, but I still like this card. It manages to reference the old Siege cycle from Fate Reforged while also being evocative of the mortal combat between the Phyrexians and the Mirrans. You can go the unfair route and build a deck laser-focused around loading up your yard and killing people as fast as possible, but it only kills your opponents one at a time, which means there are better ways to play unfairly. If you’re playing it fair, you need to make sure you have good ways to use Myr tokens. If you have this in your opener, you should probably just slam it and start getting value, rather than holding it for when you can immediately kill someone. Luckily, finding a use for Myr tokens isn’t difficult, so I expect most blue artifact decks would be able to make use of this. Another great thing about Mirrodin Besieged is that it can work early game with any hand – if you’re casting it on turn 3 and you’re loaded with artifacts, go Mirran. If you kept a 6-lander and have no follow up, go Phyrexian and start looting. It’s versatile, powerful, and only costs three mana. Run it!

 

Mist-Syndicate Naga

I love Ninjas and I’ve built a Ninja deck more than once. You probably don’t want Mist-Syndicate Naga outside of a dedicated Ninja deck, though. The Naga doesn’t provide as much value as a Ninja of the Deep Hours or Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni, but it does threaten to get out of hand pretty fast if there’s someone at the table that can’t block a 3/1. Or if nobody at the table can block your 3/1s…

 

Moonblade Shinobi

Like Mist-Syndicate Naga, you aren’t going to want this outside of a dedicated Ninja deck. I think it’ll play a little better than it looks, though – the flying token won’t be too hard to turn into another Ninja. I haven’t gone through and counted how many playable Ninjas there are now; if there’s too many, this one would be one of my first cuts.

 

Phantasmal Form

This card’s pretty forgettable, except for one thing – creatures that have a 0/0 in the bottom right that get all their power and toughness from +1/+1 counters are big phans of this card. Three mana, give Reyhan, Last of the Abzan and Endless One +3/+3 and flying, draw a card, smash someone’s face in. Fun for the whole family!

 

Phantom Ninja

We’re at the point where three mana for an unblockable creature that does nothing else isn’t really playable in a Ninja deck – if you just want something that’s hard to block, you can get that for less. So to want this, you not only have to be a Ninja deck, you have to specifically care about the Ninja creature type. Yuriko cares about that, so you likely still want this, but if you’re building around Vela or some other commander, this is not the Ninja you’re looking for.

 

Pondering Mage

Five mana is a tough sell for this effect, but at least you get a decent body out of the deal, unlike with something like Salvager of Secrets. It’s probably not good enough unless you’re Azami, Inalla, or Naban. Just be careful not to run too many durdly five-mana ETB creatures. If you’re not tribal, this is competing with cards like Mulldrifter, Sphinx of Lost Truths and Cloudblazer, and it doesn’t look good next to those. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to stop talking about this card, because I need to go back to the lab to prepare for tomorrow night.

 

Rain of Revelation

It doesn’t rain supreme as the best four-mana instant card draw spell – Fact or Fiction and Glimmer of Genius are both usually going to be better, especially if you’re digging for something specific. But I think it’s worth keeping in mind that this is available now, and if you’ve got madness or graveyard stuff going on, this might even be better than Jace’s Ingenuity. If you’re running Dark Bargain and are blue, this is a pretty easy upgrade.

 

Scour All Possibilities

I looked at this card and I wanted to like it, but then I scoured all possibilities for effects like this we can already play, and I realized that I just don’t. We get to play actual Preordain and have several other good options at one mana. At two, Impulse and Anticipate let you leave up a counter and Strategic Planning fills up your yard. This is better than Planning if you don’t care about your graveyard, but I’ve never had Planning make my deck when I didn’t. Think twice before running this.

 

Scuttling Sliver

I was all set to say that the most interesting thing about this card is that it’s the first Trilobite, but apparently it isn’t! Electryte and Shore Keeper are also Trilobites! You learn something new every day.

 

Smoke Shroud

Aren’t going to want outside a dedicated Ninja deck, blah blah yadda yadda. I think this is probably better than Sai of the Shinobi, for what that’s worth.

 

Tribute Mage

Trinket Mage fetches Sol Ring and that’s usually better than any mana rock this can fetch. This does fetch a nice pair of boots, though. And there’s probably other stuff in your deck to fetch, too. We have an embarrassment of Mages at this point (that’s actually the collective noun), so you have to look carefully at your artifacts and figure out which ones you’re really going to want to be able to tutor for. I don’t think you want to run all four – you have to actually put artifacts in your artifact deck.

 

Urza, Lord High Artificer

As a commander:
Yeah, this card is nuts. It doesn’t really open up any new archetypes; there are already several commanders that lend themselves to mono-blue artifacts, but this might be the most busted of all of them. I do love the callbacks to Tolarian Academy and Temporal Aperture. I wouldn’t want to shell out 40 bucks for this, though, because I’d be worried it’d get banned right out from under me. But some folks like to see how close to the sun they can fly, and if you’re one of those, Urza’s plenty high enough for you.

In the 99:
Throw him in your Breya or Saheeli deck and he’ll do a bunch of stupid stuff. His token seems like a pretty good Brudiclad target, too. Look, what do you want me to say? He’s probably one of the best nonartifact cards to put in your artifact deck.

 

Watcher for Tomorrow

Remember all that stuff I wrote about Pondering Mage earlier? You can just ignore most of that and run this instead. There are situations where Pondering Mage is better, but that’s not enough to offset the three extra mana except maybe in Azami, because she really wants her Wizard buddies to enter the battlefield untapped.

 

Winter’s Rest

If you’re dedicated snow, this is a playable removal spell and might even be better than On Thin Ice because it doesn’t get hard-countered by Strip Mine. If you’re not dedicated snow, leave this in the box with the rest of its cursed narcoleptic ilk.

 

Top 3:
3. Mirrodin Besieged
2. Watcher for Tomorrow
1. Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza’s absurd and is easily the best blue card in the set for Commander. Mirrodin Besieged is better than Watcher for Tomorrow, but it only goes in artifact decks. Watcher’s good in tribal decks, but I can see plenty of blue decks just running him for value, and that’s why I gave him the nod. Overall, blue got some good stuff. We’re not really looking at any new archetypes, but if you’re a fan of blue artifact decks, cheap value creatures, or Ninjas, then you’ve got some new and exciting toys to play with.

 
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