by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Slag Fiend has a really cool concept. For one mana, he can be quite a large creature. The trouble is, he’s really only good later in the game. For a one mana creature, this is a bit bizarre. Admittedly, he’s not a bad card. When New Phyrexia was being drafted, this was a pretty strong pick. Notice that his power and toughness consider all graveyards. He could be a big body in a format full of cheap artifacts that were played in every deck. It seems that his original design was to counter all of the artifact-heavy decks of the day.
Unfortunately, outside of draft and Scars of Mirrodin block Limited formats, Slag Fiend really never found a permanent home. There were some decks in the New Phyrexia era that used him as part of a bigger strategy built around the sorcery Scrapyard Salvo. Today, he's just a bulk rare that doesn't really fit into any larger strategies. But because of his raw power, you never know if he'll pop up again some day!
Magic the Gathering (MTG) - A Planeswalker's Reflections on Chancellor of the Annex from New Phyrexia
by Phoenix Desertsong, Gaming Successfully
Funny thing in Magic about Angel cards. A lot of them end up being pretty good.
Chancellor of the Annex was pretty underwhelming to Standard players back in 2011. Of course it was. The ability to prevent your opponent's one drop was cute, but when were you going to get 7 mana to drop her onto the board? Then, making your opponent's spells essentially cost one more mana was more annoying than anything else.
Here's the thing. Legacy found a home for her... in Reanimator decks! Having her in your opening hand is pretty good in that format, as shutting down a turn one spell is a lot more important. Then, with all the ways you can discard the Chancellor into your graveyard, you'll easily be able to bring her back later. A 5/6 flyer is really tough to deal with, and since the spells in Legacy are so much more powerful than in Standard, keeping your opponent one mana off from potentially "going off" can win you the game while you bash in with this Angel.
The Chancellor cycle was pretty cool to play with in draft with New Phyrexia. Chancellor of the Tangle was the best for Standard play, but Annex is probably the best of them in the long-run. She was bulk forever, but now people realize, she's pretty good. And in Commander, since she affects each opponent, she is really, really annoying. Great card, and you should own at least one if you play any kind of Reanimator strategy.
by ElspethFTW, Gaming Successfully Staff
Back on June 16, 2011, I reviewed Chancellor of the Forge, a rare Red Giant from New Phyrexia. It was one of my first ever card reviews. This is what I had to say about him at the time.
I must say that the Forge Chancellor’s artwork is pretty superb. He’s a cool card… until you realize he’s just a 5/5 for 7 mana. His effect sounds fun. If you have him in your opening hand, you get a free 1/1 red Goblin creature with haste, which is good for you if you’re on the play, and just sort of nifty if you’re on the draw. When you actually do get around to play him, you get as many 1/1 red Goblin tokens with haste as you have creatures on the board at that point. Problem is, many mono-red decks don’t keep a lot of creatures on the field, so you may only get 2 or 3 tokens out of his ability. Enough said, he’s not worth the 7 mana, and certainly not worth the triple red in any competitive red deck.
Let’s keep in mind that back in 2011 I knew nothing about EDH or casual formats. I really only knew what was good in Standard and Extended at that point. This card wasn’t even particularly good in draft or sealed deck from what I recall, either. At the time, of the five Chancellors from that set, it makes sense that I’d be unimpressed with this one.
However, now, Chancellor of the Forge is actually extremely good in Commander, especially in “go-wide” strategies. Recall that Krenko, Mob Boss and many other popular Goblin commanders didn’t exist yet. The commander that utilizes the Chancellor the most, Purphoros, God of the Forge, definitely didn’t exist yet. Also, the three Red mana symbols are extremely important for Devotion purposes, for cards like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. The fact that this doubles the amount of creatures you have on board is especially important to Purphoros (who deals 2 damage to each opponent for each creature that enters), Krenko (who doubles your Goblins), and Impact Tremors (an Enchantment that is essentially half of Purphoros).
While this Chancellor is still a bulk rare, it’s a heck of a lot better now and actually fits into some powerful strategies in Commander. It’s not really good anywhere else, but if you play Mono-Red or some other deck that wants to make a lot of Goblin tokens, this guy is definitely worth a look.
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by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Back in May 2011, I began a review blog called Elspeth for the Win. At the time, I was just getting back into Magic after a horrible, very expensive experience with Yu-Gi-Oh. I saw the card Elspeth Tirel and fell in love with her, remembering Elspeth, Knight-Errant from my Magic Workstation days during the Shards of Alara block.
But oddly enough, I didn’t review Elspeth Tirel as my first card. That would come later. Instead, I pulled what at the time was one of my more exciting early pulls from a Magic: the Gathering pack.
Around my birthday, I went to the local New Phyrexia pre-release and pulled this guy, Urabrask the Hidden, in my second pack from the prize pool! (My first had Puresteel Paladin, which would turn out to be a pretty awesome card in Standard and later in Commander.) Here’s what I had to say about him.
The First Review
Without a doubt, Urabrask was the best card I opened at the sealed deck this past Saturday, Urabrask the Hidden is a great card. Unfortunately, it was not pulled during the tournament, but in one of two packs acquired afterward in the prize pool. If I’d had this for my deck, it would’ve wreaked some serious havoc.
The praetors in this set (New Phyrexia) are all pretty good, but this is probably my favorite. What makes this card in particular very good is that its converted mana cost is only 5 for a 4/4 with two amazing permanent abilities. The idea that you could have this on turn 5, and possibly even earlier (especially in a red/green deck) is unbelievable. There are so many decks that a copy or two of this guy is capable of being splashed in! It’s not hard at all to produce 2 red mana, not with all the dual lands around.
This is easily one of the better cards in the set. I’m looking forward to reviewing the black praetor next, a card that I know everyone has seen already, and one that I actually think I may try to build a deck around in the near future. Let me know what you all think of this card, and stay tuned for more card reviews!
Of course, I went on to take a look at Sheoldred, Whispering One, who was the pre-release promo for New Phyrexia, and a lot of the other extremely good cards in that set. Yeah, this wasn’t a very in-depth review, but this was never meant to be a serious thing. But as I wrote a few more reviews, people started commenting positively and the reviews were getting a lot of views for a brand new blog. Not long afterward, I decided to change the name of the blog to Win Target Game - with the intention of writing much more in-depth reviews and not just snap judgments - and the rest is history.
What Made Urabrask So Cool?
All I did back then was gush praise for Urabrask. But as we look at his abilities, we see that praise was definitely well deserved. I wasn’t incredibly well-versed in the ins and outs of Magic’s competitive metagame at the time. I didn’t realize that at 5 mana, Urabrask didn’t do quite enough to become any sort of staple. But his abilities were really solid.
First of all, a 4/4 for 3RR with Haste is plenty good. On top of that, his first ability giving all of your creatures haste, himself included, is a nice start. But it’s his second ability that stood out to me: forcing all of your opponent’s creatures to come into play tapped. Back during Shards of Alara, my first decks were red/green or red/green/white (Naya). Drawing on that experience, I obviously saw this being a super strong card in Constructed.
Of course, it didn’t fit well in the Standard meta of the time. The infamous Splinter Twin combo and Caw-Blade decks ruled the day at the time. While Urabrask, interestingly enough, actually stopped the Splinter Twin combo by making all of the “infinite” tokens come into play tapped, he really didn’t see any play. The mono-Red decks that were good at the time didn’t bother to include him since they wanted to win by the time he would even be cast. In Modern, it’s simply outclassed in the 5-drop slot by Xenagos, God of Revels and Thundermaw Hellkite. It’s a great card that just never got a chance to really shine in Constructed.
So What Became of Mr. Urabrask?
So while Sheoldred later became a Standard playable and Commander all-star, a lot of people forgot about Urabrask the Hidden. My good friend Urabrask didn’t go on to see much Standard play. However, he has been a very strong Commander card ever since his release.
He’s mostly played in Animar, Soul of Elements, Aurelia, the Warleader and Rakdos, Lord of Riots decks. Urabrask has also become a key contributor in fringe Commander decks such as Adamaro, First to Desire and Fumiko the Lowblood. Other popular Commanders that have included him more than 25 percent of the time include Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. He’s serviceable as a Commander himself, but with only about 25 decks listed on Tappedout and Deckstats, it’s clear he’s a pretty fringy choice for field general.
I don’t recall if Urabrask saw any Block Constructed play, as I didn’t know much at all about that format back in 2011, but it was still an actually supported format at the time. I’m just glad that New Phyrexia was my re-introduction to Magic. Without pulling this red Praetor, I may never have been excited enough to want to post a blog about my new Magic card adventures. I’ve had a lot of fun writing hundreds of reviews over the years, and I look forward to writing many, many more.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
To this day, I’m a big believer in good old Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. Even at the New Phyrexia pre-release, Jor Kadeen was identified as a fine choice for a Commander - back before the format even became popular. All you would need to build is an artifact-heavy deck built around Metalcraft, a mechanic which activates when you have 3 or more artifacts in play. Jor Kadeen's Metalcraft ability gives all of your creatures a +3 power boost, including himself, which is pretty ridiculous.
With Metalcraft, Jor Kadeen alone is an 8/4 with first strike for 3RW (3 colorless, Red, White). If you can build an army of small creatures around him, you can end up with an unstoppable force never afraid to make an Alpha Strike.
There was a deck floating around in Standard not long after New Phyrexia's release that featured this guy. It revolved mostly around Kemba, Kha Kegent, Goblin Gaveleer, and a janky enchantment called Bludgeon Brawl.
Goblin Gaveleer is a little Goblin with Trample that got much, much bigger the more enchantments that you stuck on it, and Kemba, Kha Regent (a very popular Commander in her own right) puts out a Cat token for each Equipment attached to it during each of your upkeeps. Jor Kadeen is essentially the finisher, making all of your Cats into 5/2 beaters and increasing Kemba’s and the Goblin Gaveleer’s power. Immolating Souleater, which can get very big if you pump enough mana (or life) into it, was another big beater in that deck that could combo with Bludgeon Brawl.
As cool as that kind of deck was, however, it was pretty inconsistent. On the other hand, with so many amazing artifacts in Commander, that sort of deck certainly be fun and have a load of win conditions if Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer is leading it. If you love playing artifacts, but like to also play aggressively, Jor Kadeen a great Commander to consider. He’s also very good in decks like Mayael the Anima, who can take advantage of his 5 power.
Basically, any Commander deck with Boros colors that’s aggressive can use him, due to the fact that having three artifacts under your control is pretty easy to do; Sol Ring, Darksteel Ingot, and Boros Signet are all you need in play. Any Equipment that you can play also helps. Artifact lands such as Ancient Den, Darksteel Citadel, and Great Furnace are another cheap way to get Metalcraft online. The fact that Jor Kadeen pumps your whole team makes him a game-changer. He’s definitely a super solid card for Commander, even if he never had his potential realized in Constructed.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Psychic Surgery did not appear to be very good at its release in New Phyrexia. However, new cards expanding the mill archetype are appearing all the time now: Jace, Memory Adept from Magic 2012 and 2013, the Dimir cards from Gatecrash, Auriok, Nightmare Weaver from Theros, and Phenax, God of Deception from Born of the Gods, to name a few. With the growing likelihood that mill could once again blossom into a major archetype, this card could end up becoming quite handy.
It’s a decent little Enchantment that’s 1U (one colorless and one blue) to cast. Whenever an opponent shuffles his or her library, you can look at the top two cards of their deck. You may exile one of those cards and put the other (or both) back on top of the deck. The best part about this effect is that you get a choice of what to remove or put back. It is a sort of “fate sealer,” as well. If you’re milling your opponent, then chances are they are running out of their key cards that they can beat you with. This gives you an opportunity, albeit only when your opponent shuffles, to remove a key card from the game. It also allows you to know what card or cards they may draw next.
Ordinarily, this card would not be that great, and a bit under-powered for a rare. At the time, it was argued that this card was more deserving of an uncommon slot. But that ability to choose what cards get exiled or go back on top is what makes this good. Obviously, if you have two or three of these in play you can repeat the process for as many triggers as you get to truly muck up your opponent’s game. It does need a deck that is primarily focused on being a blue-black control deck that relies on mill as a win condition; otherwise, it’s just taking up space.
Still, Wizards seems to be doing all that they can to make mill a serious Modern contender for competitive game-play. With all of the shuffling from fetch-lands that goes on in that format, Psychic Surgery could prove to be a part of that strategy, even if only as a sideboard option.
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