Friday, September 16, 2016

Magic Origins - Junior Varsity

Confused as to why we started with Origins and skipped DTK? Well, we didn't. Check out the Dragons of Tarkir Junior Varisty post by clicking these words!

Jace was definitely not Varsity. Look at that dork get bullied by those gingers.
My fellow gentlenerds, hello. It's Dan, and I'm here packin' a high-quality shitpost. Today we're going to take a look at the other set rotating out of Standard along with DTK - Magic Origins - and check out a certain subset of cards from it.

We all know the feeling. It's spoiler season. A new card is spoiled. You click on the link, it sends you to some shitty blog with 400 ads on every available piece of real estate, your computer freezes, you swear as you exit your browser, re-open it, and then click on the Reddit comments and hope someone gave you an Imgur link. You find it, and it's in Japanese. You keep looking, and like seven hundred miles from the top of the thread someone typed up the text. It's a red card! Your favorite color! And it looks like it's going to be great!

Scratch that, it looks amazing! You pre-order a dozen for an absurd price, and fist pump now that you for sure have a ton of awesome cards coming. The full set drops, you make a deck, and the card blows. Womp womp. Every new set that comes in, you try to jam this card, but it still sucks. The time finally comes for the set to rotate out, and your sick over-hyped bomb card turns out to be a dud. The card has officially qualified to be Junior Varsity.

I still don't regret it.
Every set inevitably has a pile of these cards. When spoiled, hundreds of nerds breath through their mouths even more loudly in anticipation, yet nothing comes of it. Magic Origins is no exception. There were a handful of cards that people were stoked about that in the long run ended up being disappointing bulk.

On the other hand, though, Magic Origins had some mad hotness. Even tons of cards that were thought to be flops at first, such as Day's Undoing and The Great Aurora, ended up landing in some Standard decks that had some decent results. The five top JV cards were difficult for me to pick, and not just because I'm drunk right now, but because there really weren't all that many powerful cards that didn't get played.

But don't worry. I persevered. I grabbed me another Busch Light and dug down, and found five cards that didn't get much action, despite everyone wanting to get active with them during spoiler season. So let's batten down the hatches (whatever that means - I'm not a boat) and get to it.

Heralding nothing but disappointment:

In her off-time she's a member of Theros University's Color guard.
Phew, finally. Just as all of this alleged enchantment-matters crap in the Theros block gets ready to rotate, Herald shows up so that we can make a real enchantment deck. This lovely horselady was all a dedicated enchantment deck needed to push it over the edge. She ramps you up, gets you life to stabilize, and is a nice little 2/2 for your trouble. What went wrong?

Well, first off, this card was printed during the dark days of our Rhino Overlord.

Is there anything that this card didn't ruin?
This standard was very powerful, and a 2/2 that didn't immediately do something crazy just wasn't a good card. On top of that, with Dromoka's Command in the mix, enchantments weren't particularly powerful. Drom-com was already poised to be an insane card with three of the modes, so they figured "fuck it, might as well go all in," and they had it totally hose enchantment strategies as well.

Now, granted, Herald saw some fringe play, and there were some fun times to be had with her and Eidolon of Blossoms and Sigil of the Empty throne, but it never got much past FNM jank level. Soon after, Theros rotated, and took with it a majority of the great enchantments. She remains a $0.50 rare, so if you want to build a casual deck focused around enchantments, she's a great cheap card to include.

Gorging himself on over-inflated pre-order prices:

Three heads is perfect artistic representation, cause one he hit three power that's usually when he died.
Gorgeous over here started out not too expensive, but kept a fairly steady price throughout his existence. It was safe to assume when he came out that he was a total wombo-combo with Hardened Scales, so naturally everyone wanted to try. And try they did. And fail they did.

Well, that's not entirely fair. Gorger saw sideboard play against decks without a lot of removal. He was definitely played casually in jank decks, and people had some success with him and Hardened Scales. I am some people, for example. Abzan Charm really made Gorger sad though. As long as he was under three power, he wasn't a threat, and then once he started to get any sorts of scary, he just got exiled right away. There was also Valorous Stance, and any sort of exile effect (even temporary ones, like Banishing Light) totally crushed him.

Ah well. You win some, you lose some. Unless you're on team Heavy Salami, and then you just lose 'em all. Managorger belongs on our team. After rotation I can't see him ever costing more than a buck, so pick him up if you have some copies of Hardened Scales looking for some friends.

Four abilities, zero hope:

Look how pissed she is that she was left on the bench.
In theory, Disciple does a lot. It can counter removal, it can pump itself, and then it can tap or untap whatever critter you see fit, all of the low price of one mana and exiling an instant or sorcery from your graveyard. Being able to counter and pump herself definitely makes her a difficult to remove threat, and the need for plenty of instants and sorceries makes her perfect for a control deck.

Unless, of course, you are interested in playing her on curve. She comes down as an embarrassing 3/4 for five with no abilities if you don't have the extra mana available. Even if you wait until turn six, your opponent then has even more mana to try and fight through the tax you could make them pay on removal. Not to mention she just dies to Languish if you don't have mana to pump her.

Obviously, she didn't do a lot. I forgot she was a card if I'm gonna be honest. But for only $1.50, maybe I'll pick up a copy to toss in my U/R Spells commander deck. Or maybe I won't. I probably won't cause I'm lazy. But you know, if I did want one, that's where I'd put it!

Standard was not a good habitat for Fish:

Him and Kiora should get together for some tentacular shenanigans.
Harbinger is a powerful card. A 2/2 for two is an ok baseline, and when Theros was in Standard, the devotion was relevant as well. He has a nice enter the battlefield effect that can secure your lead in a racing situation, which is something quite a few blue decks are interested in, and on top of that, his alternate cast mode makes him very relevant late game. At his release he had a fairly hefty price tag, and plenty of people expected him to do work.

But as it turns out, bouncing a 4/5 trample that has an insane enter the battlefield effect isn't a great spot to be. Once again the sudden boom in the Rhino population held this card back. In addition, for most of his time in Standard, the meta favored three or more colored decks. Not good news for a two drop that costs UU.

Fish dude did manage to make his way into non-rotating formats, though! Modern Fish (and occasionally Legacy) lists run a few of him, since when he's paired with other strong tribal synergies in an already powerful tempo deck, he is a force to be reckoned with. Right now he costs less than a buck, so if you're working on a blue tempo deck, or at some point plan on buying into an old school Merfolk deck, pick up a copy or two of this wizard.

He can increase the price of spells, but can't increase how much he's played:

Flying into our bulk bin.
Any sort of effect that taxes opponents can end up being wicked inconvenient. When paired with a few other cards that cause minor annoyances, they make the game damn near impossible for your opponent to play, and then you slowly kill them with shitty creatures. A 2/1 flying for three is definitely a shitty creature, and his powerful taxing element makes the game a headache for whomever you're playing against.

But the horse from Vryn had no one to help him out. He was the only real taxing type spell available, and just a one-off increase to the cost of non-creature spells didn't really hamper any competitive deck. So much of standard has been based on pushed ahead-of-curve creatures throughout the past few sets that there wasn't much point to running such a sub-par critter, even if he did screw with non-creature spells. Even control decks run a healthy amount of creatures, and if they were set back a turn on a Planeswalker, they could easily use up their mana on Kalitas, Jace, or one of the Dragonlords.

There were dreams for this card in Legacy Death and Taxes, and I dunno, maybe it's played there. I don't think so, since Thalia is still a thing, but I don't keep up with the Legacy meta because I can only comprehend a format with a few hundred cards in it. But, if you want to make a deck that just annoys your opponent, this horse is only $0.50, so pick up a pile and laugh as your friends look at their hand full of sorceries and weep.


Well peeps, that sums up the two sets rotating! I hope you all enjoyed this rotation's Junior Varsity posts. I can't wait to play with all the dope new Kaladesh cards, and I hope you guys are ready to drift into a new Standard. I'm almost positive I've already pre-ordered some cards that in a year or so I'll be writing a Junior Varsity article about. What can I say - I love a good underdog story. Also I'm terrible at card evaluation.

Expect a lot of posts about Kaladesh coming up! Tips for Two-Headed Giant sealed, a slew of budget Standard decks we'll be making, and which cards are prettiest are just a few of the topics we have coming down the chute. Until next time, friends.

Gonna miss Origins? Was one of these cards much more doper than I gave it credit for? Have you ever ate six donuts in one sitting? Well I just did, so send us a message or leave a comment below if you are just as disgusting as I. As always, follows us on Twitter @Heavy_Salami for dank memes and updates from Team Heavy Salami.

1 comment:

  1. Also tragic: all of the JVs are at least B+s in the art department too (with my boy Seb McKinnon on the Wingmare) The real loss is aesthetic. But in another, more accurate sense, it's the money spent. But also art!

    This is a fun recurring column, keep up the self-flagellation!