Gisela, the Broken Blade | Clint Cearly
Ahoy Magic peeps, this is Dan. Some of you may recognize me from our blogaroni, where I and a friend masquerade as a Heavy Salami and write about Magic. If you do recognize me, neat! If not, well that's fair. I don't know who you are, either. Gaige and I recently hooked up with 5 Color Combo, and will be writing for them as well as our own blog. We're excited to be on the team, and as giddy as a highschooler before Prom.
Let's get down to the good parts of this article, though. We're going take a moment to reflect upon this spoiler season. I dunno about you folks, but it was so good for me. Like extra-crispy compared to original recipe, this spoiler season was much more delicious than some other ones I've witnessed. I mean, we've got zombies, vampires, melty-fused eldrazi-angels, a legendary spider, and even trees!
The tree comes to pick you up for your own hanging. It's like a convenient underworld taxi cab.
Not all of these cards are created equal, though. Some get a little shiny burnt-red set symbol, and this means they're better. Or at least more expensive. Yarr, these be the Mythic Rares.
Honestly, I don't even trust rares.
Mythics are often the format defining cards, and though WotC has stated that Mythic rarity will not be a list of the strong tournament staple cards, let's call it like it is. The list of Mythics in a set often reads like a list of the best tournament staple cards.
But that's ok, because we're all really lucky and are gonna open like 8 during the pre-release. Right? I'll keep telling myself that, even though I know I'm just gonna open exclusively Prism Arrays.
“How'd he get five of those? That's not even in this block.”
In the mean time, let's check out all of these sweet Mythic cards. I'ma give you a quick rundown of the card's abilities, give it a rating for how playable it is (Standard only - I'm too bad at Magic to understand other formats), and maybe give some ideas for decks the card will fit in. So, let's look at some stuff!
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 and 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 them. Archangel Avacyn, Chandra, Flamecaller, and Nahiri, the Harbinger (in retrospect, because we all misevaluated her) reside in this upper echelon.
Alright, let's get kickin'.
There's a good Collected Company with Planeswalkers pun hiding in here somewhere.
When you light the Gatewatch-signal, you get to Dig Through Time for two planeswalkers that flop directly onto the battlefield. It's like someone saw G/W Tokens playing on stream and was like “Yeah, but what if they got both of those planeswalkers at like... the same time?”
As much fun as it sounds to slap down Nissa and Gideon as some sort of planes-walking-super-couple, this card seems too expensive. At this mana cost you're competing with Linvala, flashing in Avacyn, or a Secure the Wastes to flip Ormandahl. On top of that, there are a lot of situations where this card is really bad. Facing lethal in the air? What about a big trampler? Neither Gideon, Nissa, Chandra, or most of the ‘walkers in standard can help with that. And to most likely scenario if you're playing G/W - you already control a Nissa/Gideon, or both. This card at best resets their loyalty. Not the strongest six mana play.
I don't think G/W will be interested in this card. Or anyone, really. I'm sure we'll see some Superfriends brews floating around, and they'll use this to devastating effect, but I would be surprised if we see any Deploy the Gatewatches being cast on top 8 GP streams (assuming Wizards even does those anymore). I'll give Deploy the Gatewatch a mighty four out of ten, and honestly that might be generous. It's power-ceiling is insane - just imagine dropping both a Sorin and Chandra off of this - but its fail case is really, really bad.
Deploy the Gatewatch - 4/10
That blade looks entirely intact, you liar.
Ohhh, you wanted insanely pushed Mythics that look like tournament staples? Wizard's has your back. They even made it in white,
their your favorite color! Gisela continues the white-mythic-angel trend of “see how many keywords we can attach to this card,” and they picked a good pile. Flying, first strike, and lifelink on a 4/3 make sure that Gisela is a tough four-drop to tumble with. She kills everything but the most gigantic of critters without taking damage herself, and she gives you a fairly massive life-gain when she connects. Sometimes she fuses with her sister Bruna, the Fading Light to form one big misshapen cosmic horror, which is weird, but kids will be kids.
I personally would be shocked if this didn't land in a huge swath of decklists. It fights aggro extremely well by being both an insane blocker and lifegain-on-a-stick, it flies over defenders to take out opposing walkers, and it's an extremely fast clock when going straight for the face. She fits in as a mid to late game drop in a deck going late, or even as a curve-topper in a fast deck. White mages rejoice - Gisela is one of the strongest mythics in the set, and I'm just going for it and giving her a nine out of ten. If she doesn't see any play, I'll record a video of me singing Chumbawamba's Tubthumping as I stream Vintage Thallids. Or something.
Gisela, the Broken Blade - 9/10
Is that Shiva from Final Fantasy?
This card is more my style than Gisela - it's blue, overcosted, and does stupid things. So first thing's first. This card isn't good, which cements the fact that it's my style of card. First off, you spend seven whole mana to cast this goober. Then they Dromoka's Command it. Then you gently weep. But ok, let's pretend for a second that the deck you're playing against doesn't have Dromoka's Command (can I play at your store?). You land this on the field, pass turn. They cast something innocuous - let's say Sylvan Advocate. They flip up the top card for you to steal, and… drumroll...
Against any deck in the format that you're able to make it to seven mana against, you have about a 40% chance of them just flipping up a land. And you don't even get multiple chances! Just once per turn. Most likely you will cast this, sprout a smug grin, and then look dumb as they ignore it and smash you. I mean, against G/W or Bant coco, even if you flip up a Gideon, Nissa, Coco, or a lot of other mainstay cards in their deck, it doesn't help you. Any ‘walker that you cast for free they just squish right away, since you don't get to make a token until your turn, and Coco probably doesn't hit anything in your deck. Mind's Dilation is a certified two out of ten, only avoiding a one because I think this is hilarious and will of course be building a deck around it.
Mind's Dilation - 2/10
I already used my tree-based-murder-taxi joke earlier, so I got nothin here.
This is one dope tree. Tree of Redemption was awesome for potential shenanigans, and I'm inclined to believe that its perditious form is much more shenanigany (totally a word). As a 0/13, this tree blocks… everything? Going above it with flying or threatening to kill it with deathtouch are your only real options, otherwise you sort of bump into its trunk. That's well and good, but if this is in your deck, I imagine you aren't using it as a boring defender.
The obvious synergy with Tree of Perdition is Triskawhatever. Set their life total to 13, wait for your next turn, collect prize packs. Hooray! But like some sort of tree-based Transformer, there is more than meets the eye. Let's roll all the way back to Magic Origins and check out Tainted Remedy.
I never thought I'd suggest putting this in a deck outside of EDH.
When Tree of Perdition changes an opponent's life total, that opponent gains/loses life to hit the new total. Set them from 20 to 13? Technically the effect is “Opponent loses 7 life.” More importantly, let's say you already did that, so your tree is now a 0/20. You swap with your opponent, who is at 13 life. That means they would gain 7. Tainted Remedy steps in and goes “Nah man,” and instead the opponent loses 7 life, putting them at 6, and making your tree a 0/13. See where this is going?
The next turn, swap again to make your tree a 0/6, and put them at 13 life. This would mean they gain 7, which thanks to Remedy, means they lose 7. RIP opponent. Some sort of R/B shell to use X-cost burn to set their life total might make this a quick win with Trisk. Alternatively, you could go U/B for countermagic to defend the combo pieces. Whatever the choice, this tree actually lands a respectable six out of ten. It can't win the game on its own, but there are more than enough tools to help it get the job done, and I'm pleasantly optimistic that this will take plenty of people by surprise.
Tree of Perdition - 6/10
Someone alter this so the art is the Night's King from GoT re-animating his wights.
Our Liliana isn't the three-cost one everyone was hoping for, but come on, did you really expect them to reprint LotV? LtLH not only isn't as catchy of an acronym, it also isn't as powerful as Innistrad's first Lili. Luckily, she can do some good work in her own right.
+1: Up to one target creature gets -2/-1 until your next turn.
This is a very powerful +1. It can kill off a small creature, shrink a medium one into obscurity, or make a huge creature much more manageable. Look at some of the common threats in standard and how this stacks up against them. It kills plant tokens, it makes Reflectors and early Advocates 0/2s, it can kill/gimp any of the white humans, makes Avacyn a much slower clock, makes Reality Smasher easier to block, and so on. It's quite versatile; it helps reduce damage coming at her, and can even outright kill some things. A+.
-2: Put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard, then you may return a creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
In the early game, this is a bit of a crapshoot, and it may not be great to snap off as soon as you can. Later, though, this is much more likely to grab you back a strong creature, or maybe even one of your best. This will shine in either the G/B delirium deck that seems to be getting support, or in the U/B Zombie Zamboni deck that I've been pretending is good. Though not a totally busted -2 ability, and in most situations not nearly as good as Liliana, Defiant Necromancer's minus ability, it is powerful and welcome addition.
-7: You get an emblem with “At the beginning of your end step, put X 2/2 black zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is two plus the number of zombies you control.”
Seems alright. It's nice that even if you have no zombies, this still gives you a steady stream of creatures. As far as I'm concerned though, a planeswalker ult that starts off four turns away is just a “win more” ability, so I'm not really factoring this into my evaluation.
Lili is quite strong, though not totes busto. I'll give her a seven out of ten. She obviously does good work in any deck based around the graveyard, and can help in a deck that isn't, but my initial thought is that flip-lili from Origins will be the preferred 1BB planeswalker, even if she takes some work to spark.
Liliana, the Last Hope - 7/10
Why dual wield when you can quintuple wield?
Board wipes are getting weird, man. The good ol' days of “pay 4, everything explodes” are well and gone, and now we have to get more creative to blow everything up. Luckily, Nahiri is na-here-ee to show us the way. I originally thought this hit every creature and ‘walker, not just X targets, so I had it rated pretty highly. Needless to say, discarding cards equal to the number of targets is… sad. But let's at least look at some possibilities.
We can all agree that G/W Tokens is scary - it's a deck that presents tons of different threats that aren't easy to cope with. Board wipes are ok, but they leave behind planeswalkers. Targeted removal on walkers is alright, but they leave behind tokens. Tragic Arrogance can be huge on some boards, and on others it can do nothing. Angry Nahiri, like me, hates G/W though. Can she help?
Pay three, pitch a four cost spell, and you might kill a walker. Meh. Later on in the game, paired with madness, this card can be more impactful. Discarding an Incorrigible Youths or some such isn't bad, since you get to pop something for five damage and get a hasty guy at the cost of 6 mana. This also pairs well with Fiery Temper to hit two targets for three damage each, though four mana and two cards isn't awe-inspiring. Alternatively, consider this in a Ramp deck! Discarding a World Breaker is a sure-fire way to nuke something without totally losing the card you've discarded, or you could even discard a Kozilek's Return which you can then trigger later. All of these options are… mild. Overall I'd give this card a disappointed four out of ten. In the right deck, with the correct miracle of a hand, this can kill some big annoying things; I'm just not sure if it is asking for your hand to be too perfect to get good value out of it.
Nahiri's Wrath - 4/10
Judges: Prepare yourselves for pre-release confusion.
Another zany card? And in my colors? And it's a dragon?! Middle-school-me just had an aneurysm. This card is so unique that it's hard to judge. Just reading it, it's simple to think “Wow, my opponents can't kill this without killing everything they have! I win!” Oh, sweet summer child. I hope you enjoyed the optimism while it lasted, cause I'm about to shut it down.
Sure, against a creature based deck, this shuts down things like Ultimate Price, non-awakened Ruinous Path, and Declaration in Stone. Against creatureless decks though, this is just a 4/5 flier for five. Same if your opponent's board is empty. More important, though, is the fact that there is a ton of removal being played right now that coincidentally gets around his flavor text. Dromoka's Command has multiple targets, so that ignores it. Stasis Snare isn't an instant or sorcery, so that ignores it. Clip Wings doesn't target, so that ignores it. Reflector Mage is huge against this too, since bouncing your five-drop is big business. Even something like a hefty Fall of the Titans can take him out. As cool as this card is, I'm giving this particular mythic dragon a two out of ten, since he just isn't impactful or reliable enough to perform. That being said, play this in a deck with Silverfur Partisan and Zada, Hedron Grinder to pump everything.
Mirrorwing Dragon - 2/10
Ayy friends, that's it for the day. Don't fret - there's more! A part two article will be following shortly that will cover the Green, Multicolor, and Colorless mythics. We have some sick cards to work with, and EMN is looking to be a set with plenty of fun toys. Got any other neato burrito ideas knocking around with these cards? Think my evaluation is grossly incorrect for some reason? Please let me know! I like hearing people talk at me.
Until next time!