This article originally appeared on cmus.cz and forms part of the Blackborder.com / cmus.cz partnership.
About Adam Koska
Adam is an experienced player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:
- 9th at Worlds 2009
- 9th at Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
- 38 Lifetime Pro Points
- Top 32 GP Vienna 2008
- Top 64 GP Krakow 2007
- Two times Czech Nationals Top 8
welcome to another evaluation article. This time, we‘re going to inspect the
uncommons from the newest set – Worldwake.
find my Zendikar uncommon review here:
Today, we‘re going to look at all the uncommons from
Zendikar for the purpose of Limited formats. I'll share my view of each particular card that
you can draft or open in sealed deck and if you feel like you have anything to say about my
evaluations, share your views in the comments!
the evaluation of each card consists of two parts. The first one is a brief
paragraph that sums up the uses and value of each card, the second part is a
numeric rating that tries to put each card on a scale, so that you can see how
each card compares to others in terms of value. Of course cards change value
during draft according to the needs of your deck (mana curve, color commitment
etc.), so take the numeric evaluations with a grain of salt. It‘s mostly there
just to give you an impression. The numeric evaluation uses a scale of one to
ten, the borderline of where cards are still playable is somewhere around
number five. The higher the number is, the better.
evaluation consists either of a single number or of a small scale. If it is the
first case (4/10, etc.), it means what I believe should be a „median value“ of
this card for different decks (where the value of the card changes slightly
depending on how problematic a double-colored mana cost can be, for example).
The value of other cards, however, can vary so much for different types of
decks, that the evaluation consist of a „two number scale“ (5-7/10, for
example). This means that a single number is not enough to describe the value
of a particular card, since the value differs so much.
Allies that I want to play on their own without any further Ally support,
however, this is definitely not one of them. If White is one of your dominant
colors and you have an Ally subtheme, then this guy is ok, but I wouldn‘t want
to play him with less than seven to eight Allies.
This is a
very solid bear that is by all means maindeckable, as long as the double-white
cost is not a problem for you. The average Limited deck plays two colors and
since there are five colors in Magic, approximately forty percent of your
opponents will play Red* - and to those forty percent, Kor Firewalker will
cause considerable difficulties.
* I am
aware of the fact that this number is somewhat decreased by mono-colored decks.
However, Red is one of the better colors in ZZW draft and it will be usually
played by more players at the table than Green or Blue, which should balance
the statistics a bit.
This is very
good in the midgame and incredible in the lategame. A flyer with toughness 4
will often be the biggest bird in the sky that most flying creatures can‘t
profitably attack into (with the exception of Windrider Eel). The lifegain
ability is also very important, since it enables slower decks to regain some
tempo lost during the early turns. For obvious reasons, Lightkeeper works very
well with Kor Skyfisher and also with bounce spells provided by Blue.
much point in evaluating this guy outside of Green-White, but if you do have
access to Forests in your white decks, Loam Lion will be really good. One drops
that actually do something (meaning the ones that are not 1/1 with a marginal
ability) are high in demand in Limited and if you play Loam Lion on turn one,
he will almost always connect at least two or three times before your opponent
will be able to muster some defense.
Kraken Hatchling v. 2.0, this time with even better accessories than before! It can‘t
attack with an Explorer‘s Scope like the good old Kraken could, but apart from
that, he‘s strictly better and even provides some additional value to your
other defenders as well, Makindi Shieldmate in the first place. Not every deck
can make use of Perimeter Captain, just like Kraken Hatchling, but for those
that can, this card will do its job very well.
too hard to squeeze some card advantage from this card – and card advantage is
one of the things that determine if you win or lose in Limited. Four mana is
just about the right price for such an effect.
looking creature that can – however – do really impressive things if you
support it with the right cards. It works really well with all the landfall
creatures, since it grants you one extra landfall each turn, but also with all
the nonbasic lands that have some comes-into-play effect. And sometimes it can
even fix your mana a little, since you can get a second colored mana (other
than white) when you only have one basic land of that color in play. I wouldn‘t
want to play this card in a deck with less than two or three cards that
cooperate with it, but considering how late you can get the common nonbasic
lands in draft, it shouldn‘t be that hard to get Seriji Steppe when you open Ruin Ghost in pack three.
This is an
aggressively costed flyer and one of the better answers to your opponent‘s
Zendikons. Pick it early, quality creatures are always in high demand.
quite Sleep, but it can still win some games here and there. Being instant is
nice, because you can tap two attackers before the combat phase on your
opponent‘s turn, which means skipping two attacks for the two permafrosted
creatures. It doesn‘t take away the need to deal with the creatures somehow, it
just gives you some time to build up your defenses (or draw an answer). The
card is really good when you‘re in a tight race and quite useless at other
times and I would bear this in mind when trying to determine what role my deck
is supposed to play and also when sideboarding.
filler card that can help your curve if you don‘t have access to White or an
excellent two-drop killer if you do have some Plains.
somewhere near the borderline of playability and this card will usually be
below it. When I play counterspells in Limited, I want to be sure to actually
counter something with them and unfortunately, Spell Contortion doesn‘t give
you this kind of certainty, especially in the lategame. And the fact that you
„cycle“ it for five mana doesn‘t really help all that much.
Tideforce Elemental belongs to the better part of Worldwake creatures. With landfall and
enough mana to spare, it can tap down two creatures each turn, one of which has
to be tapped on your turn, which makes it slightly better in aggressive decks
than in defensive ones, also because those decks tend to have a lower curve and
thus more spare mana to invest into this guy. Also, with tricks like Harrow and Khalni Heart Expedition, you can often tap down the whole opposing team and go
for an alpha-strike.
„control magic“ kind of cards traditionally tend to be the cream of the crop
among Limited tricks and it‘s definitely not any different with Vapor Snare.
The ability that makes you bounce a land each turn will usually be more of an
advantage than disadvantage, as it grants you a landfall trigger each turn.
Also, the single blue mana in its cost makes it really appealing to splash this
card. The only thing that decreases the value of this card a little is the
presence of a lot of common bounce spells in the format and also some
disenchants in the common slot (Kor Sanctifiers, Iona‘s Judgment). However, if
you don‘t rush with slamming this card down, it‘s quite possible that your
opponent „burns“ his answers before Vapor Snare hits play.
flyer that can provide you with some nice lategame alpha-strikes through the
air, or just grant some additional damage in the midgame when it tosses one of
your creatures over the opponent‘s defense lines.
not look like much, but Bloodhusk Ritualist actually is a very powerful card.
You need a heavy-black deck to support him, but unlike Mind Sludge, this card
is good even in a regular two-color deck. Also unlike Mind Sludge, the
Ritualist does something even if you‘re under pressure or in the lategame,
where your opponent might not have any cards left in hand. He works wonders in
combination with some of the blue cards like Whiplash Trap or Aether Tradewinds, where he can act as a removal spell.
Caustic Crawler is solid on his own and excellent with cards that allow you to trigger
multiple landfalls per turn, which usually means green cards. Five mana is not
the cheapest price ever, but Caustic Crawler can decimate your opponent‘s lines
if you give him enough time and support.
seriously consider leaving this card in the sideboard in a pure aggro deck,
first, because it‘s quite expensive, and second, your opponent has to be
attacking you. However, in any deck that couldn‘t be labeled as „pure aggro“,
this card will be fairly good, since it pretty much has written „2 for 1“ all
over it. Against White, it can execute two attacking creatures, against Green
it‘s a bit slower, but the value you are getting is usually a bit higher. Nemesis Trap tends to be at its worst against non-white, non-green decks, but a
six-mana removal is not the end of the world, and if worst comes to worst, you
can always board it out.
your opponent for one or two cards per turn is reasonable in a dedicated mill
deck and gaining a couple of lives along the way doesn‘t hurt either. Apart
from the mill strategy, I would almost always leave this guy in the board,
except for maybe when playing a mirror of two really slow decks where you don‘t
have anything better to board in.
Without Blue, Shoreline Salvager is a black Hill Giant, which is reasonable. With the access
to Blue, this guy becomes quite a beating.
the range of creatures that are out of Smother‘s reach is a lot more
significant than in Constructed, but even if it can‘t kill everything, Smother
is still an ok removal that will always find some targets.
removal than Smother, Urge to Feed can shrink a bigger creature mid-combat, so
you can even kill some fatties with it. The ability that lets you tap Vampires
is also more useful than it might seem, since there‘s quite lot of them in
Zendikar and Worldwake and the difference between a 2/2 Lacerator and a 3/3
Lacerator can be quite important. The double-black casting cost will rarely
pose a problem, since Black tends to be the dominant color in ZZW drafts.
creature that can have a big impact on the board. There‘s plenty of dorks with
one toughness running around in the current format and Sparkmage can even ping
some of the Allies like Umara Raptor or Oran-Rief Survivalist with the +1/+1
counter hovering on the stack. In his spare time (not that there would be too
much of it), this shaman can slowly reduce your opponent‘s life total or help
you trade your smaller guys for bigger enemies. Haste means that if your
opponent wants to shoot him down, he can‘t avoid losing one of his creatures,
which will also often mean a 2 for 1 trade. As long as I‘m in Red, I can‘t
imagine many cards I would take over Cunning Sparkmage.
A bit slow,
but still playable. I don‘t mind siding him out when facing an aggressive
opponent or siding him in against a slow one, as he can have a big impact in
would be bad even in a deck full of Goblins, as long as you don‘t play it on
turn one. And taking such a risk for a card that doesn‘t even have a huge
impact when it‘s „online“ – that‘s just not worth it.
is just a bit too much for a Misdirection in Limited. It does create card
advantage when you cast it, but it‘s just far too unreliable in doing so, as
you have to wait with four open mana and risk some tremendous tempo losses. I
would consider siding this card in against a deck full of removal – provided
the curve of my deck is low – but it‘s really not very suitable for
too slow and situational. It‘s just not worth to even try to break it.
„Goblin Piker“ (a.k.a. „filler card“) without a Swamp, Slavering Nulls don‘t
get that much better if you do have some Swamps in your deck, even if they
might look really good. The thing is, when you play the Nulls on turn two, in
95% of cases, they‘ll just trade for the first Grizzly Bear your opponent
drops. If you kill the bear and swing for two, you just spent your third turn
wasting a removal spell on a two-drop and taking the worst card out of your
opponent‘s hand – and next turn you have to do the same, or your Nulls won‘t
get to attack anymore. I‘m not saying this card is bad, it‘s a reasonable
two-drop that punishes your opponent for missing his two-drops, but Hypnotic Specter this is not.
no Mirrodin block, but there‘s still a reasonable amount of playable artifacts,
so when you play Tuktuk Scrapper, the odds of hitting an artifact are actually
not that bad. The games in which the Scrapper eats a Stonework Puma or Kitesail
make up for those where you have a four mana 2/2, in my opinion, so I would
play this guy maindeck more often than not. And that‘s just for decks with no
other Allies, since if it can trigger some Ally abilities in addition to
blowing up artifacts, its value goes up considerably.
the best green non-rare card from Worldwake. Three creatures in one card, and
at quite a reasonable price, that‘s definitely a great bargain.
overly excited about Canopy Cover, but I guess it‘s a reasonable card for the
right decks – and against the right opponents – that’s quite terrible if used
in decks that don‘t need it. In order to make good use from this card, you need
creatures that bash hard and are easy to (chump)block otherwise, like Timbermaw Larva or Territorial Baloth, and the right opponent, which generally means a
player who tries to hide behind defensive cards like Giant Scorpion or Kraken Hatchling. However, bear in mind that even though the enchanted creature can‘t
be touched, the Aura itself can, so a single Into the Roil can mean that your
attacking creature gets „ambushed“ by non-flying defenders.
don‘t have any troubles casting this monster, then its value is quite high,
however, in a similar way as Gatekeeper of Malakir, this generally only applies
to mono-colored decks. There is a slight difference here, since Green has
access to cards like Harrow and Arbor Elf that can help you out a little with
casting the Baloth, but still, I would like to be heavily in Green when playing
this guy, which means at least eleven or twelve green sources (Arbor Elf counts
as one source as well in this case).
that‘s relatively easy to achieve, but the reward is somewhat poor and usually
you‘ll have troubles finding some good use for it, apart from giving your
creatures „vigilance“. I would probably consider playing this card in a deck
with multiple Cunning Sparkmages, but then again, such a deck should be winning
even without a shaky card like this quest.
use of this card makes it sideboard material, but it can be good in games two
and three against opponents with a lot of flyers. Four mana is a fair price
against a deck with a bunch of cards like Living Tsunami.
want to have this Ape in my deck without any Mountains to support it, since it
trades with most creatures that are two mana cheaper than itself. In Red-Green,
though, the Summit Apes will be quite an offensive machine. They‘re pretty
vulnerable to any sort of removal, but it will be difficult for your opponent
to defeat them in combat without falling into the card disadvantage trap.
that‘s designed for heavy-Ally decks only. The borderline where it becomes
playable is usually somewhere between six and seven Allies, but even then it
depends on what sort of Allies you have. The more „+1/+1“ Allies, the better.
can be really handy if your deck needs some acceleration. There‘s not much to
add here if I don‘t want to write the obvious – it‘s usually not that difficult
to tell which decks needs such cards and which ones don‘t.
Not quite a Trusty Machete, but still a reasonable equipment. The lower the curve, the
better this gear becomes.
Razor Boomerang gives you the opportunity to create the world‘s most expensive Prodigal Sorcerer ever. However, as ridiculously overpriced as it might be,
this equipment might still be playable under certain circumstances. The first
possible scenario is that your opponent has a couple of really annoying dorks
with one toughness that you can‘t get rid of that well, for example a deck with
multiple Marsh Threaders against your black deck with scarce removal (as weird
as that phrase might sound). Or, if you have the feeling that the next game is
going to be a long, drawn-out affair, you can also side this gem in, since if
you invest about a million mana, you can actually shoot down even some
creatures with power two.
manland that makes it into the maindeck most of the times. Mono-colored decks
can make a very good use of it, but if your manabase is not so stable, you can
still run this card instead of some spell as a 18th / 19th land. It gives you
colorless mana in the early game and later it works more or less like a regular
I don‘t see
any good use for this card in Limited, maybe a sideboard for a mono-red
opponent with Valakut, but that‘s about it.
Thanks for reading!