Oath of the Gatewatch Limited Review: Multicolored
10.0: A card that earns a ten is unbeatable, or close to it. In a well designed set, there won’t be any cards that warrant this score, as they “break” the format.
9.0-9.9: These are bombs. If you see one, you’re going to take it, and you’re probably going to splash for it, mana costs be damned.
8.0-8.9: This range is for exceptional cards. You won’t go out of your way to play them, but they offer great value. Efficient removal spells end up in this range.
7.0-7.9: Cards that fall here are the upper band of playables – that is to say, above replacement level, but not necessarily exciting (some could be, I guess).
6.0-6.9: This is probably the most common score. These cards aren’t great, but they make up the majority of Limited decks.
5.0-5.9: These are cards you’ll end up playing, but are below replacement level. You may be disappointed running these in the main deck, but you could be doing worse.
4.0-4.9: This batch of cards are those that you should be avoiding. You’ll occasionally be forced into a scenario where you have to play one, but you will be actively unhappy.
3.0-3.9: When an opponent plays cards with this score, I’ll actually be pretty happy.
2.0-2.9: … what are you even doing at this point?
1.0-1.9: If these cards are in your deck, your deck is a disaster. Something went very, very wrong along the way.
0.0-0.9: These cards should be burned in a dumpster fire, probably along with their designers. Just kidding, we love you WotC employees.
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Ayli is probably more of a Constructed card than a Limited card. That being said, she’s still pretty powerful in Limited, largely because she’s only two mana. The 2/3 body is better than average for two mana, and Deathtouch makes her quite good. But really, the two activated abilities are insane. The first is kind of underwhelming, but the fact that it enables the second is what pushes it over the top and turns it into Vindicate on a stick. Want to know something? Vindicate is a powerful card. There’s a lot of setup required, but I think it’s manageable, since there are other ways to gain life outside of sacrificing creatures.
Jori En, Ruin Diver
You’re not often going to be casting multiple spells in a turn in Limited. There are times when you will, definitely, and on those occasions, drawing an additional card will definitely be a nice upside. But most of the time, Jori En is going to be a vanilla 2/3 for three. That’s fine, but it’s not excellent or anything. Jori En is an exciting card in other formats, but in BfZ/OGW Limited, I don’t think there’s really a great place for her.
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Mina and Denn is exactly the engine that the Red/Green Landfall deck needed in BfZ Limited. It may be coming a bit late, unfortunately, but at least we’re getting it. The card guarantees consistent Landfall triggers – two per turn, if you have enough mana. Since the deck that wants these two is aggressive with a low curve, you may be able to reach a point in the game where you’re just spending your turns bouncing and replaying Lands to consistently trigger Landfall. Plus, it adds value to Lands with ETB triggers, and there are quite a few of those in both OGW and BfZ. Even if you aren’t taking advantage of the activated ability, the card does help you ramp up to six or eight mana pretty rapidly, which is important in this set. The card also has a decent body, as a 4/4 for four mana. Even though it requires two different colors it shouldn’t be hard to cast and is a worthy first pick, though not one you’ll go out of your way to play.
Baaloth Null is decent. Its stats are a bit underwhelming, of course – a 4/5 is big, but at six mana it’s easily behind the curve. However, the ETB trigger is pretty powerful. Sure, it returns the creatures to your hand, rather than the battlefield, but it still gives you card advantage. The floor is quite low, of course, but how many times are you actually going to get no value off of Baloth Null? Creatures die in Magic, it’s just a thing that happens, so you’ll consistently be able to get two creatures. Now, how good those creatures are will vary, you could be getting back a bomb, or just some mid-level creatures you could have lived without. Either way, rebuying creatures is going to be a powerful effect, so if you’re in Black/Green, this is the type of card you’ll want.
If there were more packs of BfZ in this Limited format, Cliffhaven Vampire would be quite powerful. The thing is, OGW doesn’t necessarily have the cards necessary to facilitate the engine that this guy needs. A 2/4 for four just doesn’t cut it on its own, even if it has Flying. The triggered ability is powerful, and if you can pull off consistent triggers, Cliffhaven Vampire will shine. It’s not exactly a build around, but it’s definitely close to being one.
Nettle Drone was a great common in BfZ Limited, in the right deck. Flayer Drone is, in a lot of ways, a better version of Nettle drone. The First Strike alone makes this card infinitely better, since attacking and blocking are actually reasonable most of the time. That being said, it can’t ping opponents unless you play a colorless creature. Not a colorless spell, a colorless creature. That’s mostly not a huge deal, since those are everywhere in both sets. It can attack better, but it can’t tap for a free ping – you have to cast something. It’s still good though, and definitely something you’ll be happy to play.
Joraga Auxiliary is pretty mediocre – probably the worst of the allied color Uncommons. Six mana to support two, at best, is overcosted, even though it’s repeatable. At worst, it’s a useless activated ability and you have a lone vanilla 2/3 on the board. That probably feels great. It’s probably a playable card, but it’s not one that should be picked highly by any standards. Unless you’re doing a backdraft, I guess, but I’m not actually going to take that into account.
Mindmelter is a 2/2 with unblockable. Considering that Ingest and Processing aren’t going to be as huge in this set as they were in BfZ, the activated ability is nowhere near as good as it could have been. It’s still better than it would be in a normal set, because there are processing synergies, but the ability is overcosted regardless. A 2/2 unblockable for three is decent, but not super impressive. So, you know, kind of like Mindmelter in general.
Reflector Mage is pretty much the best Man O’War we’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s more mana specific, considering it’s a gold card. But man, not only does it return a creature to its owner’s hand, it prevents them from immediately recasting it. Plus, it has a slightly better body than the original Man O’War. It can’t hit your own creatures, but man, is that really a downside? the tempo hit from Reflector Mage is nearly unparalleled. This card is probably pickable over many Rares in the set, and could very well be the single best Uncommon.
Relentless Hunter is a decent card. As a 3/3 for three mana, it has satisfactory stats, and passes the “vanilla test,” to use the lingo of Limited Resources. Sure, two of those are color specific, but this is an uncommon and no one will be jumping onto these early. The activated ability is pretty much just gravy. The +1/+1 is decent, but it’s the Trample that edges this ability into the realm of being great. Trample is far from the best form of evasion, but it is indeed evasion, and any form of evasion is pretty great. Plus, you can activate it any time, making it a solid mana sink in the late game, though pumping in an additional three mana just for +1/+1 may be better used elsewhere.
Two mana for a 1/3 is the kind of card that I would usually say “hey, there’s a deck for it, but outside of that deck, it’s not very good.” However. a two mana 1/3 that is Hasty, Flies, and has Prowess to top it all off. This card is a great evasive effect in a Blue/Red deck, especially considering those decks are usually packed with fun Instants and Sorceries to trigger Prowess with. The Surge theme also seems to be centered in UR, so this card is just additional incentive to cast multiple spells in a single turn.
Void Grafter is almost a Mystic Snake. It’s a mana cheaper, and it only “counters” removal spells, but it also has better stats than Mystic Snake, so the card is definitely playable. A 2/4 Flash for three is actually perfectly acceptable even if you don’t get to save a creature. Obviously it’s better if you do, because hey, 2-for-1’s are pretty cool, am I right? Void Grafter is just an all around solid card that would be a pretty high pick, if it weren’t a Gold card. Regardless, you probably will still want to pick this guy up early, if given the chance.
Weapons Trainer should be a great card. It really should be, and that frustrates me. As a 3/2 for two, it’s an efficient threat, and it is an Ally, so it’s a good card in the Red/White or Naya Allies deck. Unfortunately, its ability is just not good, due to a lack of playable equipment in the format. There is some, but not enough to really get this theme going. It feels like a fairly pushed theme, but the bonuses just aren’t enough to justify playing bad cards in your deck. That said, it is an efficiently costed creature so Red/White or Naya decks will probably be happy with this card.