For the second chapter of my RTR Review, I’m moving to Blue. As usual, this is a review focusing on the RTR-Block Limited formats; you will find sections reviewing the cards in each rarity group, followed by an overall analysis at the end.
Rating Scale: From 1.0 -Worst To 5.0 -Slobberknocker; when found, ranges are explained in the notes.
Mythic and Rare:
Conjured Currency: 2.0: I’m really tempted to give this one a lower rating. However, its effect says that A) Only you get to trigger the exchange (and asymmetric effects are the key to winning), and B) You may trigger the exchange, but don’t have to. So… although the CC is high, and you can’t target permanents you own (which is to say you can’t grab back something you exchanged in a previous turn), there’s potential in this one. Imagine trading your 1/1 tokens for each of your opponent’s best permanent in play.
Cyclonic Rift: 4.0: Under the best circumstances, this will lead to a quick win. In all other cases, you can use this as a quick bounce to get yourself some more time in the game, or edge on the tempo battle.
Jace, Architect of Thought: 4.5: It doesn’t read “I win”, but it gets pretty darn close. The fact is that its ultimate ability (the one costing -8 loyalty counters) is pretty close to winning the game outright, as seems to be the case for all/most Planeswalker spells. However, this Jace’s lower abilities (+1 and -2) are both very strong in Limited as well – hence its great rating.
Search the City: 0.0: Unplayable (in Limited – and I won’t speak, yet, about its chances in Constructed).
Sphinx of the Chimes: 4.0: Yes, it will win a game just by virtue of being a 5/6 flyer. Yes, it is as susceptible to spot removal and counters as all creatures. No: the extra ability is not that relevant (but once in a Blue moon you’ll get some value out of it during a stalled game). But let me sum it up for you: 5/6 for 4UU.
Aquus Steed: 1.0: At 1/3 for 3U, with the activated ability costing 2U (AND tapping), this is underwhelming, and I consider it a simple filler.
Blustersquall: 3.5: Believe me: this is a great card in limited! It can’t win you a game by itself, but it will be the key for tempo decks. It’s no Sleep, but it’s an Instant… Oh yeah, and it can be used without paying the Overload cost when needed.
Faerie Impostor: 2.0: 2/1 flyer for U is always a decent pick. Its ETB/187 requirement/effect is a bit of a double-edged sword because it makes this unplayabe until you have something else on the board. However, it has potential for abuse with other ETB/187 creatures and that seems to outweight its downside.
Psychic Spiral: 2.5 – 4.0: The high-end of the rating range is for mill decks. However, even if you’re not mill-centric, you can get a lot of value out of this card (and even win a late game stall outright).
Skyline Predator: 3.5: You must compare this with Isperia’s Skywatch, at the same Converted Casting Cost, and providing a +1 on Toughness. The Flash ability also means you should be able to surprise 9and kill) an opoonent’s creature with it, so it’s definitely a strong creature. The UU in the Casting Cost makes it more difficult to play for multi-color or off-blue-centric decks, but by the time you’re paying 6 anyway the double blue should not always be a problem.
Soulsowrn Spirit: 2.5: The higher CC is justified by the evasion ability and the detain effect. Its miser 1 Toughness is a downside, but its un-block-ability means he won’t ever get in a straight fight anyway, so it’s really a problem when facing direct damage (which more often than not can deal with creatures up to the 3-Toughness mark) and direct removal 9which doesn’t care about your Toughness anyway).
Syncopate: 3.0: The worth of this card is not so much in the exile clause, but rather in the fact that you can cast it on any turn after 2 when your opponent taps out, asking just one more mana.
Cancel: 2.0: A solid counter option, although the extra mana in the casting cost dampens it.
Chronic Flooding: 1.0: Yes, I think we can all think of one or two scenarios where Chronic Flooding can help, but I believe those are too rare and elaborate for the card to get any solid value. Mill decks will be tempted, but in limited there’s fewer mill decks than we think (especially RTR-Block Limited), and the opponent can play around this effect. Multi-color opponents with a key land in their splash color (or a key land producing mana of the color you wish for) will simply suffer the consequences of this enchantment as little as possible and move on. Plus, you may end up helping the graveyard-manipulating opponent (Scavenge, anyone?). And – if you’re thinking of milling yourself to help your scavenging strategy, you will end up throwing to the graveyard all the other non-scavenging resources in your deck – not the perfect play, imho.
Crosstown Courier: 2.0 – 2.5: I like this guy a lot. Of course, his value increases in a mill deck, and decreases when facing a Scavenge-centric deck. Even in the worst conditions, he is still an acceptable 2-drop. In the best conditions (which I will leave to you to imagine) he’ll put a dent in your opponent’s resources.
Dispel: 1.5: Dispel may not even belong to your maindeck, but in Limited formats Instants can swing the battle (just think about all those cards we qualify as Battle Tricks), so maybe you might as well include one of these? Regardless, a Dispel in the sideboard may be handy when you face the right opponent.
Doorkeeper: 2.0: While its milling ability is valuable only in the right deck (and making that deck in a Limited format won’t be quite that easy), I think this 0/4 wall for 1U is good enough to include in any deck looking for… a wall.
Downsize: 1.5: Can swing a battle phase in your favor, whether to remove one or more of your opponent’s creatures, and can be used to minimize damages when your opponent is swinging at your empty/tapped side of the board. But that’s pretty much it, and it’s hard (maybe impossible) to create those conditions and maximize the value of this spell in Limited.
Inaction Injunction: 2.5: Detaining is great in the decks designed to abuse it, but can still be a game-winning mechanic in other decks. And this cheap sorcery replaces itself in your hand.
Inspiration: 1.5: Drawing extra cards is great, and better at instant speed. Yet, the 3U CC is a tad too high to make this an awesome pick. For 4 mana, you can activate Jayemdae Tome every turn, after all.
Isperia’s Skywatch: 3.0: Very nice and valuable spell. Check your mana curve before overloading on these though.
Mizzium’s Skin: 2.0: The +0/+1 bonus is usually fluff, but the hexproof shield makes this much more valuable, especially in Limited environments where a well-placed removal by your opponent can spell defeat for you.
Paralyzing Grasp: 2.0: Not the best removal, but we’re playing with Blue after all, so any form of removal will do.
Runewing: 2.5: 2/2 flyer for 3U is not that bad. The CC is a bit higher than we would wish, but that’s offset by its -187 ability (that is to say “when this dies”).
Tower Drake: 2.0 – 3.0: ok in a Blue deck, Quite strong when paired with White.
Voidwielder: 2.0: I’m not a fan of this guy, due to the high CC of 5. However, I can see the potential for abuse with 187 effects, much like the Faerie Impostor, which have a much more affordable CC. On the other hand, the Voidwielder can do a better impersonation of a wall…
The CCC Chart shows us blue has a solid range of spells at almost all CCs. The dip at 5 and 7 shouldn’t be a problem. However the latter comes at a critical spot in the curve, since you’d like to have bombs that can win you the game straight out when you hit 6+ CC.
The P/T Chart for blue creatures shows an overall bias towards Toughness, which illustrates the defensive nature of the blue creatures.
More interesting, I think, is the fact that the Average Toughness is bound above at 4.3, the power at 3.6, and both come at the high CC of 6. In other words, blue creatures won’t win you the game unless they have great evasion (and companions to defend the fort while they swing). Certainly, a typical scenario for blue, but it’s good to see the numbers give confirmation.
It seems blue has to find a solid creature-based companion to win in Limited, or gather most of its good threats to win the tempo battle.