Gisela, the Broken Blade | Clint Cearly

Friends, hello! It’s Dan again, here to eat donuts and evaluate cards, and I’m just about out of donuts. I thank you all for tabbing away from catching Pokemon for half a sec to check out part 2 of my Eldritch Mythics review-thingy. If you missed part 1, that’s ok, I got your back. Check it out by clicking on this link: This one here, ahh, click me!

Today we’re going beyond WUBR to look at Green, Multicolored, and Colorless mythics. There’s some good stuff coming up, including one of my favorite cards in the set. Even though this is yet another set going by without a “Creature - Lizard Wizard,” there’s a lot to be excited about. But why just cryptically hint at sweet things? Let’s kick it.

RANKING SYSTEM:

Just like the other day, I’ll be ranking these cards on a 1 to 10 system. A 9 isn’t necessarily better than a 6 or 7, but it will likely be more widely played. Use these numbers as a rough estimator, or, you know, ignore them. You’ll get a lot more information from reading the ramblings than from reading the number.

1-2: Not a very strong card, or only has an extremely niche application. Incidentally some of my favorite cards, and a lot of EDH bombs are at this level. Some mythical examples of this would be Clone Legion, or Alhammarret’s Archive.

3-4: These cards are best in the Sideboard, are only being shoved main for specific metas, are strong cards without a home, or are just sort of mediocre. Good examples include Drana, Liberator of Malakir, Geralf’s Masterpiece, or Undergrowth Champion.

5-6: This tier consists of cards with an average power level, strong sideboard cards, or powerful cards that only fit into a very specific deck. Stuff like Quarantine Field, Dragonmaster Outcast, and Crush of Tentacles live here.

7-8: These bigguns are potent cards, or extremely powerful and focused sideboard hate. They require very little build around, and will almost definitely see play. Dragonlord Dromoka, and Nissa, Vastwood Seer are good examples of both camps.

9-10: The ballingest cards alive. If you’re in these colors, one of these cards is probably the reason. They will make you sad if you aren’t the one casting it. Archangel Avacyn, Chandra, Flamecaller, and Nahiri, the Harbinger (in retrospect, because we all misevaluated her) reside in this upper echelon.

The extra hands near the face are very upsetting.

A 3/5 reach for five mana is a decent bod, even if it is terrifying and has too many legs. He (she? I dunno how to tell spider gender) blocks Avacyn, blocks and kills Gisela, and stops most five mana or lower creatures in their tracks. S/He has an absurdly expensive damage ability, which thanks to our amazing spider tribal support in standard is… basically useless. So, one out of ten, pack it up. Right?

Oh wait, there’s a huge chunk of text in the middle. If you’re a little bit delirious this spider will be much kinder to you. Three 1/2 spider bros may not seem intimidating, but four entire bodies is a lot to cope with, and that’s a lot of additional power and toughness coming along to party. The spideys also have reach, meaning they can catch some thopters in their web or chump a huge flier if needed, which is a real upside. If you plop this late and untap with all of them, the life loss actually becomes an acceptable clock as well, even if it isn’t the most mana-efficient.

Does this awesome arachnid have a home in standard, though? The current green decks aren’t looking for a defensive long-game five drop, and the G/B delirium deck that’s being pushed seems a bit too fast for this as well. But this does seem like an acceptable side-board card to deal with any sort of flier-based deck, and Abzan or G/W delirium could leverage this duder quite well. Once you have delirium, he is actually insane with an Eldrazi Displacer on the field, since displacing him twice gives you a bucket full of spiders, and if you untap with the spider after that (assuming your opponent is just like… comatose, or something) then you get to pay seven to drain for ten, which is very scary.

Ramp decks could take advantage of dropping this turn four against flier based aggro decks, since he/she stonewalls Goldnight Castigator, and if delirium is enabled, the mini spiderlets let you trade tokens for any Rattlechains or Dimensional Infiltrators floating around. Overall, I think this spider offers a bit more power than people are giving it credit for, and I’m willing to give it a five out of ten as a mainly sideboard card, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go up once we get some earnest testing in, or if the Delirium decks become popular.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow - 5/10


Still not sure if she has horns or just a goofy hat.

Let me preface this with a sturdy holy cow. Wow, Tamiyo is a crazy planeswalker. Four cost in three of the best colors, and four loyalty. That’s a good start. Three colors is normally a huge drawback, but in the current standard with Oath of Nissa and easy-mode three color decks, it’s not as painful of a cost as it normally would be. Let’s get right into her outrageous abilities.

+1: Choose up to two target creatures. Until your next turn, whenever either of those creatures deals combat damage, you draw a card.

Holy butts. This is one of the most versatile and impactful +1’s I’ve seen in in a bit. The obvious application is to plus two of your peeps, bash, and bathe in cards. But it’s so much more than that. You don’t even have to target your own creatures with it! Plus her on your creature along with their best blocker to discourage them from blocking. Plus on two of their creatures to make blocking and attacking sad - if they block, you draw, and if they attack on their turn, you draw again. Same for plussing on your vigilance creatures. Man, if only there were some good white or green vigilance creatures in standard right now!

-2: Tap up to two target nonland permanents. They don’t untap during their controller’s next untap step.

Just in case the Goggles decks had any sort of resurgence, Tamiyo is here to absolutely ruin them. The mode that will be most commonly used, locking down two scary creatures, is super potent as well. She can even do it twice in a row if you’re bored of playing and feel like winning. It shuts off a Hedron Archive that was just played, it taps down a Gideon that might animate, it shuts down Crypt Breaker just in case Zombies tried to be relevant. It’s an amazing ability, and being able to hit more than just creatures makes it exceptional.

-7: Draw three cards. You get an emblem with “You may cast nonland cards from your hand without paying their costs.”

Yeah, screw it, let’s make her ult great, too. The ult obviously is irrelevant most of the time, but the decks that play Tamiyo are going to have some insane cards to play for free if they manage to snap this. Avacyn, Gideon, Linvala, Dragonlord Ojutai, Gisela, etc.

Tamiyo is love, Tamiyo is life. This gets my vote for best mythic in the set, only edging past Gisela because of how stupidly versatile it is. Tammy, enjoy your ten out of ten rating; stoked to see several hundred copies of you absolutely demolishing me for the next year or so.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher - 10/10


Based on flavor text alone, I’d watch a sitcom about these two.

G ’n’ G are featured on one of the cards that I am most excited for in this set. I’ve been hyping Zombies pretty hard, and this is the exact four drop we’ve been needing. A 4/4 is a reasonable body, even though it does flop to Grasp of Dankness and Languish. Those of you with keen eyes may have noticed that there are a few more lines of text on the card, though.

The first half of GnG’s text is nice, but not game-breaking. Milling four is zomething a Zombie deck loves, and any opportunity to get Prized Amalgam, Geralf’s Masterpiece, or a Fleshbag Marauder (the best Relentless Dead reanimation target) into the graveyard is welcome. The second line of text is a massive boon to the Zombie Zamboni. Being able to play Zombies from the graveyard - even if it is just one per turn - is bonkers. You can play out Relentless Deads which have accidentally died or have been milled, you can force them to sacrifice to Fleshbag Marauders over and over, you can get more mill with the new Wailing Ghoul. Most importantly, with our new one drop lord and savior Crypt Breaker, it’s very likely that a turn 5 could look like this:

  1. Play GnG.
  2. Pay B to bring back Crypt Breaker
  3. Accidentally retrieve two Prized Amalgams
  4. Cackle manically like Gisa, or smugly grin like Geralf.

I personally identify as Gisa, so expect some cackling if you play against me. All in all, GnG look to be a bro and sis duo that will exclusively slot into a Zombie tribal deck, and won’t see any play elsewhere. I’ll give them a respectable six out of ten for their build-around status, though from me personally they get a ten out of ten because I am the embodiment of hype and I’m just way too excited for this card.

Gisa and Geralf - 6/10 (but actually 10/10)


He takes “Coat of Arms” a bit too literally.

Grim Flayer seems like a fine duder. A 2/2 tromple for two isn’t a terrible rate, though he does require two colors, which makes it hard for him him to come down on curve. That isn’t the end of the world though, since he’s a 4/4 once you get delirium on, keeping him relevant later in the game. Between this, Mournwillow, Gnarlwood Dryad, and Mindwrack Demon, there is a B/G Delirious aggro deck rattling around somewhere this Standard.

Sylvan Advocate is keeping small aggro decks in check, but all of the low-cost delirium creatures at the very least trade with Advocate until there are six lands, and Flayer can even beat it for that short period of time between delirium coming online and Advocate becoming gigantic. The card selection/delirium enabling on damage is nice on Flayer as well, and trample ensures you’ll get that trigger even if they chump. If G/B delirium does become a real deck, Grim Flayer will be a key component.

So what’s the verdict for Mr. Grim? It’s a bit hard to tell - if Bant Coco stays the huge wrecking force it is, I find it hard to believe that a G/B aggro deck could put up results. Reflector Mage, Advocate, and Lambholt Pacifist muck up the ground very effectively. They also get new Thalia, which turns off haste, so the brand new Mournwillow may not be too relevant. I’m not super optimistic, but at the very least, Grim Flayer is a strong card. I’ll give him a five out of ten for a decent build-around. He can do some damage and be very annoying for G/W’s plant tokens, but in the end, I think Sylvan Advocate will remain the green-based two drop of choice.

Grim Flayer - 5/10


He is identical to my Dwarf Hunter from WoW. He’s even using a Blunderbuss!

Our legendary Werewolf is here! Commander players everywhere, rejoice! Or you know, don’t, cause this card is kind of unexciting. Ok, that’s not being fair; Ulrich does a lot, he just doesn’t do a lot for your other werewolves, which makes him a mediocre commander. Whatever, commander is for nerds*. How about Standard?

*Disclaimer: I love commander and am also a nerd.

His front side pumps something on the field, which could even be himself if that’s how you roll, and gives you another hefty pump if he flips. If you have a transformed Geier Reach Bandit, this can dole out a huge +4/+4 the turn he enters the battlefield, and punch one of their creature as a massive 6/6. Sure, this requires some stars to align, but coming down at five mana means you can take turn four off to Collected Company on their turn so your bandit flips, then follow up with Ulrich for a massive swing.

Is this enough to propel him to stardom? No. Well, possibly, but I’m leaning towards no. He is just so uninspiring on an empty board, and a removal spell in response to his pump totally shuts down your awesome play. He also dies to Languish and Grasp, which is not great for a fairly-vanilla five drop. Sadly I’m giving Ulrich a three out of ten. He isn’t totally unplayable - the sequence I mentioned in the 2nd paragraph here is possible and extremely powerful in a Coco Pups deck, I just don’t see it being reliable enough to compete with something like G/W tokens or the Bant decks, and he’s just too slow to cope with Human aggro.

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde | Ulrich, Uncontested Alpha - 3/10


The full art of this is sweet, by the way.

As you’d expect, Emrakul, the Promised End is big. Wicked big. Weighing in at a whopping 13/13 for 13 (totally predicted by Gaige), Emma is gonna be the biggest girl on the battlefield. She comes packing both flying and trample, making chump blocking impossible, and then on top of that she has protection from instants. That makes her a tough eldrazi nut to crack, and unless you happen to have a Declaration in Stone, she’s probably going to smack your face for a ton. But wait! There’s more!

When you cast Emrakul - so even if she gets countered - you get to take control of target opponent’s next turn. Now, I don’t know how many of you have played with an effect like this, but it’s absurd. It feels like the good old days when you were playing a game, got angry, and took your little brother’s controller away from him so you could win. You cast Emrakul, look at your opponent’s hand, and then think of the absolute worst way for you to use his resources.

Remember that Declaration in Stone we thought would take care of Emrakul? What if instead we cast it on your opponent’s scariest creature? Oh - that’s a nice Sorin, Grim Nemesis you have over there. It’d be a shame if he -6’d on the Ob Nixilis Reignited you also have. Then, naturally, you make their Brisela, Voice of Nightmares attack, which gets blocked and destroyed by your fat butt eldrazi titan. Good job, Emrakul. You just destroyed about $80 worth of mythics!

Emma is expensive, but made cheaper by getting more card types in your graveyard. As the game progresses, you’ll naturally get more and make her cheaper, but obviously the best way to power her out is going to be in a ramp deck. In that deck, she is an amazing top end, and easily earns a nine out of ten for her game-busting power, toughness, and abilities.

Emrakul, the Promised End - 9/10


Kessig Dire Swine got buff.

Let’s just say I’m glad I don’t live in Canada, ‘cause the provinces are in for a bad time. Decimator, a humble 7/7 with trample and haste, isn’t content to just kill you by his lonesome. When you cast this Boar horror (boarror?) your entire team gets a +2/+2 pump, and gets trample to make any plant tokens or thopters very sad. The real question, though: is he big enough to make everything else sad?

Decimator, at first glance, is comparable to Craterhoof Behemoth; a huge, expensive guy that pumps your team and gives them trample. The similarities end there, though. Craterhoof is clearly more at home in a deck like Elves, where you’ll have a giant pile of tiny dudes to exploit the X creatures clause. Thanks to Emerge, the Boarror can be at home in a deck with only a few massive threats, since it gets to eat one to come out cheaper. Or if hard cast on a board with a World Breaker or an Ulamog, Decimator comes down and lets you swing for a massive amount of trample that’ll be difficult for the opponent to block, and even if they live through it, they’re going to lose half of their creatures. Decimator could also do well with a lot of smaller creatures, as a board full of 4+ power tramplers is nothing to sneeze at. As an aside - that phrase makes no sense at all to me. Why would you sneeze at something? Are there people who can sneeze on command?

He’s a big pig, and looks like he could make the cut in either ramp or a go-wide strategy. The fact that without any creatures he can go all hastey as a 7/7 trample is a nice fail case, and overall lands the boarror at a cozy six out of ten. I could see him being a finisher and seeing a good bit of play, but I don’t see him being nearly as widespread as something like Gisela.

Decimator of the Provinces - 6/10


That’s it, folks! Now you know about the bomb-diggity cards in Eldritch Moon. Get used to them, because if you’re playing competitive Magic, you’re going to see these bruisers a whole bunch. Good luck brewing, my fellow wizards. I look forward to you sending me to an 0-5 finish at every event thanks to these new cards.

A photo of Dan Ruffing Dan Ruffing

A lot can be said about Dan Ruffing, but most of it is super unimportant/unimpressive. In addition to his work with 5 Color Combo, Dan is an author for Team Heavy Salami’s blog, and likes to pretend he is good at Standard Constructed. Dan’s favorite part of Magic is brewing up new decks. Not necessarily good ones, but if there is a zany combo or interaction available, he will find it. You can pester Dan with anything you’d like on Twitter @Heavy_Salami, or on Team Heavy Salami’s official blog.