FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – LET’S TALK M15, PART 2

Greetings readers! This week, I’m continuing my string of content on M15 by giving a second review of the set. However, I’ve made a grievous error in my timing for writing this article, as M15 was spoiled in almost its entirety as of last week, so with the rest of the set spoiled and not much else to talk about, I decided I’d make this article more about Limited than EDH. Shocking, I know, but at this point I think I’ve gained the right to take the time to make a lengthy discussion about Limited.

Speaking of Limited, it’s that time of the season again; prerelease time! Rather than post times, I’ll just copy the image my benefactors at the CG Realm have posted as a reference to this weekend’s events:

Be sure to come out and support your local game stores!

Moving on, this week I’ve decided to take the time to discuss M15 from a Limited perspective. Having won the last two major prerelease events (I can only hope I place similarly well this upcoming Friday. Fingers crossed!), I feel I am in a good position to educate others on the format, so in this article, I’m going to be going over the bombs you may be running into at the prerelease events, and how to evaluate them when playing them, and how to deal with them playing against them. I’m not going to waste too much of your time by going over every single rare, but most of the noteworthy ones. Mythics are for the most part auto-include if they’re not Sliver Hivelord or The Chain Veil.

I feel that the biggest key to winning a Limited event is to know what to expect from your opponents. Knowing what promos your opponents are playing, and expecting common and uncommon creatures and tricks are things that need to be taken into account when playing this Limited format. Granted, like in most Core Set Limited formats, luck is a huge factor; while balance is a factor, it’s arguably less so than in the expansions. If you open a Soul, you’re almost assuredly playing it unless your pool literally can’t support it.

WHITE:

Avacyn, while not her original incarnation, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, is actually an absurd bomb in Limited. While she has a steep, restrictive casting cost, she’s a powerful body at 5/4 with flying and vigilance for 5, and her abilities are extremely potent on offense or defense. Her first activated ability allows her to basically make creatures indestructible, reminiscent of her first incarnation, and her second ability makes it virtually impossible for your opponent to break through. Oppressive Rays, Encrust, Flesh to Dust and Pillar of Light are good answers for her at common (Encrust doesn’t tap her, but it prevents her from making creatures invincible), and she’s not unbeatable, but she is extremely tough to break through.

Spectra Ward, on the other hand, breaks stalls and adds pressure to a board state, in addition to making even the most mediocre creature extremely threatening. Mind you, Tyrant’s Machine still deals with the enchanted creature, and there are many post-board answers for it (Back to Nature, Naturalize, Solemn Offering, Reclamantion Sage). That being said, Heliod’s Pilgrim is at common, and giving this to a flier just seems gravy. Careful an aggressive start doesn’t get you buried by this card.

White’s promo, Resolute Archangel, is a card that’s painful to evaluate for a Limited format. It has value in a race, and it screws over decks running things like Lava Axe pretty hard, but Netcaster Spider, a 3-mana common creature, effectively walls your 7-mana “bomb rare”. If something about that doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what to tell you, to be honest. Granted, I like its interaction with Roaring Primadox a fair amount, and I’d play the card in most situations, but it seems a tad overcosted for its stats. A single point of toughness wouldn’t have really made that much of a difference, in my opinion, but as is, it just feels underwhelming.

BLUE:

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my 4/4 fliers costing 5, don’t you? I also prefer when they do something other than gain you life. Granted, anyone who guesses over 4 is doing it wrong, but there is the real chance that you can just cast some superbomb for free. That comes down to luck a lot of the time, but if you have a half-decent curve, there will be few instances where you’ll have something more than 4 to cast with this. Needless to say, this is a bomb rare at its best, and while luck is a huge part of getting a trigger out of it, it’s something you can’t outright ignore.

Lorescale Coatl got a massive upgrade. This thing is downright terrifying in a stalled board state, as it will inevitably tower over your blockers soon enough. Killing it isn’t enough, either, as if you don’t kill it fast enough, it produces an army of octopi that will Overwhelm you (I know, I’m too clever.) It looks underwhelming on the surface, but this thing gets pretty scary pretty quick, especially when cast on turn 3. There’s a fair amount of removal that can deal with it; Festergloom and Forge Devil can snipe it fast, and Pillar of Light can stop it cold once it gets large, but if you aren’t playing red, good luck finding the proper answer for this thing.

Having a Clone effect as your promo is always going to be powerful, even though it comes at the cost of not being able to Clone your opponent’s creatures. Granted, this one has the potential to backfire on you if the best thing on the board is a vanilla 3/3, and an opponent removing what you intend to Clone in response to casting this is downright miserable. You have the safety net of the added ability to self-bounce, which actually gives it credence as a decent Clone effect overall, but with how durdly the set can be (you cast bears and bombs, I’ve surmised), this is either the best or worst card in your deck. While it has great best-case, its worst case is impossible to ignore.

BLACK:

Ob Nixilis, while clearly designed for EDH, has some real worth in Limited as well. Very few effects in Limited really search your library (you could potentially be against the Aura subtheme deck, but they’ll have cast their Heliod’s Pilgrims before the ability is relevant), but it’s more the fact that it’s a 4/4 flying trample creature for 6 that grows whenever a creature dies that makes it such a bomb in Limited. It’s something that you can’t outright ignore, because black is notorious for having its removal (though, oddly enough, no Doom Blade this time around; something I found rather jarring, in all honesty), and the threat of potential growth at instant speed can make his ability an interesting combat trick as well. Your opponent blocks him, you remove the blocker and trample over that much harder!

Cruel Sadist, like Chronomaton before it, has the ability to come down turn 1 and threaten a large amount of damage if left alone. Mind you, the 1 life makes it stack poorly against the uncommon construct of old in theory, but when you consider Cruel Sadist doesn’t die to Smelt, things look up for it. It’s a card that’s unwise to underestimate, because it can just give itself a bunch of ammo and eventually remove any ridiculous bomb you play, which makes it quite valuable. In addition, it has decent synergy with Living Totem, as well as Eternal Thirst.

Black’s promo is more and more evidence that putting the decision in your opponent’s hands is never going to be for your benefit. Mind you, none of the choices your opponent has are particularly attractive, but this just seems outright pitiful against the token subtheme M15 brings with itself. In addition, while 5 power for 5 mana and flying has the potential to just end people, 3 toughness on the back of that means a fair few commons and uncommons can go toe-to-toe with it. It’s powerful, and it has a fair amount of incremental value, but it’s not particularly suited to survive, and historically, cards that give your opponents a choice have never been very powerful.

RED:

While an Aura at the end of the day and just asking to get 2-for-1′d, this card does an absurd amount of work if it sticks. That’s not to mention if you stick it on one of the random deathtouch creatures this set graces us with, which is just disgustingly powerful in Limited. It’s very clearly got its weaknesses, but the longer you can keep this around, the more hard-pressed your opponent will be to muster a counterattack against you, even if they do end up removing it eventually. By then, it might just be too late for them.

This little explosives expert is an easy pick for me as a slept-on rare of the set. There is an unquestioned factor of luck that plays into how useful the Kaboomist will be, but Inferno Fist is a card I wouldn’t cut, so I similarly wouldn’t cut this. At its worst, it produces one mine and you remove their early attacker. At its best, you control Paragon of Fierce Defiance, and you drown your opponent’s army in a field of explosives.

Red’s promo, Siege Dragon, is best described as…awkward. It’s powerful, that’s for sure, but one thing I’ve noticed is that while it’s nice to have an unblocked 5/5 flier, most Walls in this set lack the ability to block it, and you always want to be Pyroclasming their board when this attacks. That being said, the Walls in this set are also for the most part all solid blockers, so you’ll at least get 1 or 2 per event you sleeve this up for. It’s bomby, being a 5/5 flier, but if you go red, it may very well be one of the few bombs you open. (Most of red’s rares are where the misses of the set lie, which I’ll cover in next week’s Hits & Misses article.)

GREEN:

Mind you, Kalonian Twingrove has the potential to be paltry when you first cast it (because on average you’ll have 3 Forests when you cast this on the sixth turn), but the potential for both it and its token to grow out of control quickly is what makes it such a powerhouse. In addition, your opponent has double the Twingrove to worry about, and while it lacks trample, it makes up for in being able to crush just about anything it attacks into, and is a superb topdeck in the lategame.

Hornet Queen might not seem impressive on the surface, as its stats are rather paltry, but Hornet Queen‘s worth as one of the most disgusting defensive brick walls to break through is unreal. Paired up with blue, you also gain access to Into the Void, Peel from Reality and Quickling, which allow you to self-bounce and replay the Hornet Queen for more bugs. She’s arguably one of the best cards to pair with Overwhelm in the set, and she does a ridiculous amount of work at keeping your opponent’s offenses at bay.

Green’s promo, Phytotitan, has a lot of merits. First of all, opening it alongside Life’s Legacy is nothing short of hilarious. Second of all, it dodges an otherwise fatal opponent in Pillar of Light (though it doesn’t dodge Dissipate). While it’s relatively easy to block (especially with a first strike blocker), it has pretty easy potential to bury your opponent over time, as it doesn’t ever fear death, so you can swing with impunity with the hopes that you’ll eventually bury your opponent in the combat advantage it provides. Ignoring it is something you’re rarely, if ever granted the privilege from in this format, and while counterplay options for it do definitely exist, they’re few and far between.

COLORLESS:

Scuttling Doom Engine is actually a rather ridiculous bomb, and I’m surprised they went ahead with this one. It has pseudo-evasion, as your opponent can’t just chump block it forever (unless they have a Soul of Zendikar), and you can’t just Naturalize it and call it a day, because you’ll take 6. In addition to that, it has 6/6 stats on a 6-mana body, which is unheard of in a set not dedicated to artifacts. Regardless, a bomb that doesn’t require color commitment is a dream for Draft and even in Sealed can do an absurd amount of work.

Don’t for a second underestimate how powerful this card is. At 1/2, it’s a better Darksteel Plate in almost every Limited circumstance, as short of Soul of Innistrad, nothing is going to be able to kill what this is attached to. While it seems a little wonky, it makes combat for your opponents a nightmare, as they’ll have to throw multiple blockers in front of a 3/3 in order to kill it, and the right combat trick can spell doom for your opponents. Like the Doom Engine, draft this card early and often, as especially in white-based decks, this can just be a more powerful Darksteel Plate.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

That’s it for my review of some of the bomb and sleeper rares of M15 for Limited! Next week will conclude my review of the set with my Hits & Misses entry, so stay tuned for that! Until then!
~L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586

M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Journey into Nyx - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3101

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Part 14 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2933
Part 15 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3086
Part 16 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3134
Part 17 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3153

Let’s Talk Conspiracy:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3138

Let’s Talk Journey into Nyx:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3015
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3030

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk M15:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3159

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Oh My God:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3118

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Esper - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2957
Five-Color - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3156
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Grixis – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2984
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Izzet- http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2710
Jund - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3124
Naya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=3146
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

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