by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Many Magic the Gathering players have an affinity for Angel cards - although they do not affect players' casting costs. With Seraph of the Sword from the Magic 2014 Core Set, we have an Angelic version of Fog Bank for 4 mana that conveniently has no Defender on it. Would she prove to be a good card in Constructed, as well?
Seraph of the Sword was an obvious Limited bomb when it was first spoiled. Not only is Seraph of the Sword a 3/3 flyer that’s very splashable, but she can’t be dealt combat damage. This means that she could single-handedly block bombs - except things like Colossal Whale from the same set, which will just "devour" it. Even creatures with deathtouch can't affect Seraph of the Sword in combat, since at least 1 damage must be dealt for deathtouch to activate. It’s an easy first pick, hands-down. But, since we're obviously not drafting Magic 2014 anymore, what does she do on her own?
Is the Seraph good enough for Constructed play? As far as Core Sets rares go, this is in the middle of the pack. There are just a lot better creatures that cost four mana in Constructed, so it's little surprise that Seraph of the Sword never found a home in Standard. Outside of some casual Angel decks, there are just better options for this deck slot. However, she does she play in some Budget Cube Drafts as a creature who's solid both on offense and defense.
Of course, Angel cards are always popular, and most tend to find a home somewhere. Seraph of the Sword would seem welcome in a wide array of Commander decks. However, she hasn't found many homes. You would think a 4-mana Angel would find a home, considering that there aren't all that many. But besides seeing play in the occasional Lyra Dawnbringer, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, or Gisela, Blade of Goldnight Angel Tribal deck, Seraph of the Sword sees inconsistent play in EDH .
Really, the Seraph could see more Commander play than she does. Perhaps, someday a new Angel Legendary Creature will be printed that will be happy to run her on a regular basis. Until then, she's just a nice card to have in your collection
by Phoenix Desertsong
The Sliver creatures printed in the Magic 2014 Core Set were a fairly impressive bunch. While Slivers never became a Tier One deck in Standard, they were a deck to beat for a time at Friday Night Magic events at local game stores. With Cavern of Souls around for another three months after the release of M14, and Mutavault being reprinted, too, there was a pretty solid Sliver tribal deck being played at the time.
There was a very important difference between these Slivers and those from the past. Unlike older Sliver cards, which affected all Sliver cards on the battlefield - possibly including even your opponent’s - these new cards affect only your Sliver cards. This means that in Sliver mirrors, if you can get the more powerful effects on the board before your opponent can, you likely have the game won. Having double striking Slivers is certainly one way to do that.
Would Bonescythe Sliver be a part of that competitive Sliver puzzle? It was certainly possible. Having a casting cost of 3W seemed fair, especially with Manaweft Sliver from the same set giving all of your Slivers the ability to produce any color of mana. Double strike is quite relevant, as well. With how quickly Slivers can mass an attack, this could help you stage a finishing blow.
When I first took a look at this card in July of 2013, I thought that people would find a way to stick at least one copy of this card in a Sliver deck. It seemed clear to me that White wasn’t going to be a big color for Slivers, although Sentinel Sliver and Hive Stirrings were definitely playable cards. So there seemed to be room for this card to work out. Double Strike seemed too good to ignore.
Unfortunately, outside of casual Sliver decks and Commander players running the several very good Sliver Legendary Creatures, Bonescythe Sliver never saw much play. Even when the Magic 2015 Slivers made the archetype even better in Standard, Bonescythe was basically forgotten. It just didn't seem worth the deck slot for a deck that could win even without the double strike.
While it proved to not be an optimal play in competitive 60-card Magic, Bonescythe Sliver has become a staple in Sliver Commander decks everywhere. This Sliver’s value has only increased with the Modern Horizons printings of The First Sliver and Morophon the Boundless as additional Sliver Commanders. It's also often played as a four-of at the kitchen table, so this card definitely will retain value as long as it’s not reprinted. There’s also a foil Duels of the Planeswalkers promo that’s even more valuable.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Haunted Plate Mail was pretty cool in Limited when it was first released in the Magic 2014 Core Set. Sure, it wasn’t going to see much play in Constructed, but getting a free creature whenever you didn’t control any was pretty cool. Yeah, it could die to removal, but then again you could always just equip it to your best creature and give it +4/+4.
Quite a few players liked it in that Limited environment. Also, a Blue/White Trading Post deck ran two copies with some success back in 2013. That was an actual thing that happened. In Commander, while hardly one of the best Equipments you can run, there are plenty of players of Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer and Kemba, Kha Regent that have run it out there. It’s a bulk rare, but as they go an Equipment that can also be a creature is never a bad thing.
When the Mail was reprinted in Magic 2015, however, it was much more mediocre in that Limited environment. It was still somewhat playable, but it wasn’t a rare anyone wanted to see. It was fine in Sealed if you didn’t have any good creatures to play… but you’d never actually want to draft it, despite being able to fit into literally any color. Whatever the case, it’s a well-designed card that was just printed in one too many Core Sets.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Goblin Diplomats is a card that I’ve always been a fan of, even if he’s not so solid in Constructed. The ability to force an opponent to attack is actually underrated. It’s certainly very important in Limited.
At one time, I considered that Boros Aggro could play a singleton of the Diplomats to force opponents to run into their Boros Reckoners or first-strike Ash Zealots, but that dream never came true. That being said, he wasn’t a bad card in Magic 2014 Limited (which was a brutal format, in my experience). He just is a bit weak for Constructed play, as he’s not as aggressive as you want a Goblin to be.
However, in Commander, it’s a different story. Causing chaos on the board is some thing red players love doing in Commander. Forcing an opponent to make their creatures attack is pretty mean. It can cause a lot of drama in a multiplayer game. Goblin Tribal decks often can find room for this guy, and he was an auto-include in my Krenko, Mob Boss deck. That is the Commander deck in which the Diplomats see the most play.
He also happened to be the rare Top 8 foil promo for Magic 2014 Game Day… oh, how exciting!
Oh, don’t they look precious!? Actually, this is a promo that fetches a few dollars online, believe it or not. Hive Stirrings was the promo that everyone got. Despite how cool that card looks, neither that or Diplomats wasn’t enough of a reason to come out for a Game Day tournament. To be fair, the best part about that Game Day was the Chandra, Pyromaster Champion play-mat! That being said, Goblin Diplomats a good enough card for Commander that picking up a promo isn’t a terrible idea for the binder or Commander toolbox.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Awaken the Ancient is a very interesting card. Clearly, the possibility of a 7/7 with haste on Turn 5 (technically, it’s a 4-drop, but you need an open land to make it worth playing) is extremely frightening, especially in Limited. But at 1RRR and only being able to enchant a Mountain, it’s only good in Red Deck Wins. In Sealed, it could be ridiculous with the right card pool. In draft, if you see yourself going mono-red, then it was a definite rare draft in the M14 Limited format.
However, perhaps this card, despite being an Aura, was quite playable in Standard at one point. There was a time where the only non-damage based removal in Standard was Doom Blade (in M14 as an uncommon) and Dreadbore, plus Murder and Grisly Spectacle, neither of which were really ever really played in Constructed. Abrupt Decay could work (because the land itself has a CMC of 0) and Smite (which some White decks did sideboard at one time). Still, oftentimes, I saw your opponent often just taking the 7, or having to chump block, or expending some combat trick. As it turned out, though, no one decided Awaken the Ancient was really worth it.
Awaken the Ancient may have been at least a fringe Constructed-playable card when the meta wasn’t heavy on answers for it. I still think there’s value in this card, and as Red usually doesn’t invest highly on the higher-end of the mana curve. If you can get in for 7 for only 4 mana, the potential cost of a losing a Mountain is minimal. Played correctly, it can be a huge blow for an efficient price. Unfortunately, it looks that it will ever only truly find a home in some strange Commander brew. Being the Timmy I am (one who likes to win with big crazy spells like this), I just have always wanted to see this card help someone win out of nowhere. I’m still dreaming. In any case, I still love the concept.
by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
Bogbrew Witch is part of a very interesting combo that Wizards built into the Magic 2014 Core Set. Later, they would reprint it into Iconic Masters, as well. The combo has to do with a common creature card, Festering Newt (a functional reprint of the old favorite Festering Goblin with a twist), and an uncommon artifact, Bubbling Cauldron. The witch allows you to tutor out these cards directly onto the battlefield for only 2 colorless mana and a tap. Let’s see how this works.
Festering Newt is a slightly better functional reprint of Festering Goblin from the Scars of Mirrodin block. When it dies, a target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-1 until end of turn. Unlike Festering Goblin, one of your own creatures will never get hit as it would under the Goblin’s mandatory ability. It turned out to be useful removal in Magic 2014 drafts.
The Newt has an added ability, too. If the Bogbrew Witch happens to be on your side of the battlefield when the Newt dies, that creature instead gets -4/-4 until end of turn. Suddenly, this little one-drop becomes a much nastier removal spell. Plus, it can be tutored up by the Witch. It’s a solid one-drop for Limited, even without the Witch.
Bubbling Cauldron is where things really get interesting. First of all, it’s a two-drop artifact that can be put right into play with Bogbrew Witch using her ability. So you never have to draw this to play it. It has two inexpensive abilities that allow you to sacrifice a creature.
The Cauldron’s first ability costs 1 and a tap: you sacrifice a creature and gain 4 life. This obviously can come in handy if you’re chump blocking and 4 life is no joke. But the other ability is what makes the Bogbrew Witch & Festering Newt combo all the more interesting.
The second ability allows you to sacrifice a Festering Newt, and each opponent loses 4 life. Not only that, you gain life equal to the life lost that way. So you can at the very least give an opponent’s creature -4/-4, have them lose 4 life, and gain 4 life, all for 1 mana and a Festering Newt. Note that the second ability reads “each opponent.” That you can gain a lot more life in a multiplayer game is somewhat fascinating.
To be fair, Bogbrew Witch made for a good Limited card, even just for the life-gain off of doomed chump-blockers. It’s even better if you run Festering Newt and the Cauldron. All three of these cards are good to watch out for, but it rarely made sense to first-pick the Witch without having both of these other cards already in hand.
Outside of Limited, this three-card combo has seen play in Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker Commander decks. But, honestly, it’s a combo best suited for play at the kitchen table.
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